The NPC Replacer

The NPC Replacer allows you to alter the appearance of an...

The NPC Replacer

The NPC Replacer allows you to alter the appearance of an NPC as easily

as you can change a sim's appearance with my other programs.

1. Introduction

The NPC Replacer allows you to radically alter the appearance of any NPC in the game. You can select any available head, body and matching skins to make the NPC look the way that you want. The program will also extract all available NPCs from The Sims and it's expansion packs.

2. Legal Disclaimer

The software is provided strictly on an "as-is" basis, without any warranties of any kind, whether expressed or implied, including without limitation any warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement or compatibility with your computer hardware or software. The author has no liability of any kind or nature in connection with your use of the software (including without limitation liability for any consequential or incidental damages), and the entire risk of use (including without limitation any damage to your computer hardware or software) resides with you.

3. Installation

Put the file NPC_Replacer.exe into a directory (folder) all by itself. It should not be located in the same directory as The Sims. I have placed mine in C:\games\Maxis\The Sims\NPC_Replacer.

The program requires Visual Basic 6 runtime files. The VB 6 runtime files may be downloaded from the following locations:

http://www.tweakfiles.com/misc/vb6.html

http://www.softwarepatch.com/windows/vbrun6.html

http://download.microsoft.com/download/vb60pro/Redist/sp4/win98/EN-US/VBRun60sp4.exe

No additional files are required by the NPC Replacer.

4. Using The NPC Replacer

Extracting NPCs For Editing

NPC IFF files must be extracted from the FAR files before you can make any changes to them. The NPC Replacer has a built in utility for extracting these files from The Sims and it's expansion packs.

Click on the "Extract NPCs From FAR Files" in the Tools menu. This will bring up the Extract NPC window. The Sims and it's installed expansion packs will show up in the list box on the left side of the NPC Extraction window. Clicking on one of the game's modules will bring up a list of NPCs from that module in the center list box. Any NPCs that have already been extracted will show up in the list box on the right side of the window.

Note: The process of finding NPCs within the games modules can take 15 to 20 seconds on a average machine. A red status bar appears on the window to show the progress of the operation. Please see the known issues section for details on why this operation takes as long as it does.

Once the NPCs from a game module are listed, the may be extracted by selecting them in the center list box and clicking on the extract button. NPCs that have already been extracted can be removed by selecting them in the right list box and clicking the delete button. Deleting an extracted NPC will only removed the extracted copy of the NPC, not delete the NPC itself. Deleting an extracted NPC will cause the NPC to revert back to it's original appearance.

Editing an NPC

The Sims and it's expansion packs are listed in the list box in the upper left corner of the main window. Clicking on the game module will display the extracted NPCs that can be edited. If their aren't any NPCs extracted for editing, you will be informed of this at this time.

You can select an NPC for editing by clicking on the NPCs picture and then clicking on the [Edit this NPC] button. Double clicking on the NPCs picture will also load the NPC. Once an NPC has been loaded, the NPCs head, body and hands may be changed.

After an NPC is loaded the head, body and head bitmaps may say "skin not found". As of version 2.0, the NPC Replacer can see bodies, heads and skins that are located in FAR files of The Sims and it's expansion packs. If the skins listed in the NPC's file are not in the Maxis FAR file or in the \GameData\Skins directory then you will see this message in place of the skins. This is not really any cause for alarm. The program is just letting you know that the skins currently used by the NPC are not available for views

The head, body and hands of the NPC can be changed by clicking on the [Change] button for that piece. This will bring up the Select head, Select body or Select hands window respectively. When selecting a head or body, the selection window will display a list of head or body models in the \GameData\Skins directory. The models are listed in the upper left corner of the window in alphabetical order. Selecting a model causes the skin selection panel (the giant square on the right) to populate with skins that match the selected model.

Once a skin is selected, it's name and a full size image will be displayed in the text box and picture box in the lower left quadrant of the window. Clicking the [Select] button will close the window and load the selected skin. Clicking the [Cancel] button will close the window without taking any action. Double clicking a skin's thumbnail in the selection panel will select the skin and cause it to be loaded immediately.

The Select Hands window works almost the same way except for the model selection. The model used for the hands is based on the NPCs age and gender. There is not a list of hand model displayed; they are chosen automatically.

The three option button groups, body type, gender and skin tone control the models and skins shown in the Select Body, Select Head and Select Hands windows. The gender of an NPC affects the walking animation that the NPC uses. Skin tone has no discernable effect in the game itself. Some NPCs do not have the skin tone set correctly in their files by default.

Version 2.0 no longer supports changing the "age" of an NPC. This feature was of no use to most people and it just caused more support e-mail because of the "missing animations" messages.

Loading NPC Bitmaps

There are a number of bitmaps within the NPCs file that are used within the game. One of these bitmaps is used in any dialog displayed as a result of an NPC interaction. Other NPC bitmaps are displayed in sim speech and thought balloons. It is not necessary to change the bitmaps in order to successfully change the NPC's appearance.

The NPC Replacer is not capable of creating the bitmaps used in the NPC IFF files. These bitmaps are identical to the bitmaps found in a sims user IFF file. The logical solution was to allow the program to harvest bitmaps located in a sim's file.

In order to use this feature it is necessary to create a sim that has the same head as your modified NPC will have. One the bitmaps have been extracted this "donor" sim may be deleted. This was really the only way that the bitmaps could be created.

To change the bitmaps, click on [Load Bitmaps] on the main window. This will bring up the Load NPC Bitmaps window. There is only one option on this window. Click on [Select Source Sim] to select a sim to extract the bitmaps from.

The Load Sim window works just like the Load NPC window. Once you have selected a sim the bitmaps contained in it will be displayed in the Load NPC Bitmaps window. Click on [OK ] to use the bitmaps or click [Cancel] to abort the bitmap update process

Use of "Hidden Skins" in The NPC Replacer

I personally don't like the fact that both Hot Date and Vacation use just any skin in your skins folder to make townies and tourists. I don't want to got downtown and see three female sims wearing my maid outfit in the Value Saver Mall. Because of this I now support "Hidden Skins" in the NPC replacer.

Hidden skins have names that follow the standard skin naming conventions, but are not actually a name that is used by the game. Specifically, I use X as the first letter of the skin's name for bodies and Z as the first letter for head skin names.

I maid a new maid set named like this:

(head)

Z001fa_maid.cmx

Z001falgt_maid.bmp

(body)

X001fafit_maid.cmx

X001fafitlgt_maid.bmp

I made the CMX files with CMX Maker using the existing SKN files. It's nice to have custom skins that the game doesn't see. I won't have any custom maids walking around downtown!

Hidden skins are a purely optional feature that I added for my own use. It's up to you as to whether or not to use this feature in your own game.

NPC Formals, Simwear and Nude Skins

There are some hacked objects like doors that will change any sim or NPC passing through them to be wearing formals, etc. It soon became obvious that many of the Maxis NPCs did not have the right gender or skins tone for these other skins. The NPC Replacer will set the NPCs Formals, Swimwear and Nude skins to the Maxis default that are correct for the NPC's body type, gender and skin tone.

5. Known Issues

Viewing NPCs In FAR File is Slow

On a 1GHZ machine with 512MB of RAM it takes about 10 seconds to display the NPCs located in a FAR file. On a 200MHZ Pentium this process takes just short of forever. The NPC Replacer does not have a preprogrammed list of NPCs contained within it. The program dynamically searches the FAR files for NPC IFF files. In order to do this it must load each IFF file that it finds and then test them to see if they are an NPC. This gives the program the ability to work with future expansion packs without modification. (Assuming that the expansion pack FAR files are located and named like LL and HP.)

Some NPCs Have Wrong Skin Tone.

Skin tone isn't really used by the NPCs. Some of the NPCs have the wrong skin tone encoded in their file. When the program loads them the wrong skin tone is displayed.

Can't Change (or View) Bitmaps For Vacation Mascots

The Vacation mascots have some really weird bitmap names. Because of this the program can not display them or change them. Don't blame me, blame the guy who made those freaks.

6. Questions and Answers

Q: Can altering my NPCs cause The Sims to crash?

A: Yes. If you use defective CMX files for the body or head, the sims might very well crash. If you suspect that an altered NPC is causing problems you should delete the extracted NPC file from the NPC Extraction window. Modifying an NPC's appearance can not cause permanent problems in you game.

Q: How do I restore my original NPCs?

A: Delete the extracted NPC file from the NPC Extraction window.

Q: Can I modify Santa or the Sim Freaks leprechaun with the program?

A: It's possible. In order for this to work, you must extract all of the pieces from the FAR file for Santa or the clover and put them into the correct places. The NPC files themselves must be put into \GameData\Objects in order to show up in The NPC Replacer. This is not something that I recommend that you try. You might screw up Santa, the clover or your game.

7. Support

You can find The NPC Replacer support forum at:

http://support.simwardrobe.com

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