Wilf's Sims Stuff: Changing NPC skins with Strings Scavenger
In this tutorial, I'll show you one method of changing the appearance of NPCs in the game. There are other ways of doing this - the easiest by far is to use NPC Creator, available from Paladin's Place. NPC Creator has one drawback - it only lets you change the "normal" skin of an NPC, and sets all the other skins (swim, nude, etc.) to the default nude/swim/whatever skin. Anyone who is using costume-changing items on their lots, or are using the hostess/dancer NPCs from this site, might want a bit more control over which skins are used.
One program you can use to do this is Strings Scavenger from the Blueprint website. This utility lets you change some of the text strings inside an .iff file - and in a character or NPC file, some of these text strings hold the skin information. Let's take Mandy the Dancer - one of the Version 2 hostesses available on this site - as an example.
Mandy the Dancer's .iff file is NPC_HostessV2_01.iff. Load this file into Strings Scavenger (either by running the program and using the File/Open menu option, or by dragging and dropping the .iff file onto the program's icon), and you'll see this (click on it to see a larger version):
The list in the left hand box contains the "STR# resources" - basically, collections of strings - inside the .iff file. The one we are interested in is #200: Hostess bodystring. This, as its name suggests, contains the information about the .cmx amd .bmp files that are used to skin the character. (Note: in other character/npc files, the text after the #200: might be different - it may just say bodystring, for example. However, it's always STR# resource #200 that we're interested in - the text after the number isn't important)
Select STR# resource #200 by clicking on it, and you'll see on the right the individual strings that are held in this resource. Some of these contain the skin information, as follows:
#1: Normal body skin #2: Head skin #15: Nude skin #16: Swimsuit skin (pre-Hot Date) #17: Left hand open skin #18: Right hand open skin #19: Left hand pointing skin #20: Right hand pointing skin #21: Left hand closed skin #22: Right hand closed skin #27: Formal skin (pre-Hot Date) #28: Formal left hand skin #29: Formal right hand skin #30: Formal skin (post-Hot Date) #31: Swimsuit skin (post-Hot Date) #32: Nightwear skin (post-Hot Date) #33: Winterwear skin (post-Hot Date)
(Some of the later strings might be missing from pre-Hot Date characters.) Any of these can be edited by selecting the ID number of the string (the #16, or whatever), and editing the text in the editing box near the bottom right of the screen. The format of the skin strings is as follows:
for the bodies, head and hands respectively, where the names used are the names without the .bmp and .cmx extension (but see later). (And yes, it's HEAD-HEAD - that's not a typo.) So, if you wanted to change Mandy's normal body to B001FaFit_01.cmx with the B001FaFitLgt_Summer01.bmp texture, you'd change the string with ID #1 from:
In a similar way, make all the changes you want, then save the file.
One important thing to watch out for: the name of the CMX file that you should use is its internal name, which is not neccessarily the same as its file name. Open the CMX file using a text editor, and you'll see the internal name on line five of the file. You should use this name exactly as it is written in the NPC or character file - it's case sensitive.
Other strings in STR# resource #200
You should leave most of the other strings alone, as tampering with them can cause problems, but it's safe to alter #12 and #14. #12 contains the sex of the NPC - either female or male, and #14 contains the skin colour - drk, lgt or med.
A final note: you can also use Script Station to edit the strings in STR# resource #200 - look in the top right of the main window.