Making a "blank slate" base
Note: this tutorial assumes a basic familiarity with LNZ Pro. You may want to read my tutorial A tour of the breedfile in LNZ Pro if you need to get yourself up to speed on the contents of a breedfile.
One of the first things I do when making a breed, is to strip down the base breed's LNZ so that I have a blank slate to work with. Whether or not you want to do this depends on what you're making. For example my Eyeamese breed is just a modded Siamese, so I don't want to get rid of the Siamese look. But for something more complex like my spotted hyena, which began life as a B+W Shorthair, I wanted a blank slate to work from, because it looked so different. So it really depends on how much of the base breed's look you want to preserve.
The goal of stripping down a LNZ file is to get rid of stuff you don't want in your finished breed - addballs you won't be using, variations, scales, etc.
Note: if you just want to get started, scroll down to the bottom where I've included a stripped down dog and cat .lnz for download. Just copy-paste over your breed's LNZ and you're ready to go!
For this tutorial I'll be using the Dachshund breed as an example. I find it's a good base in general because its LNZ file is relatively uncomplicated. Remember that different files have different features and they might not all be in the same order. That means I might cover something that isn't of interest to you, or miss out something that your file has. This isn't intended to be a comprehensive study of every file - it's just a guide to the sort of things you might want to do. If you get lost, remember that the LNZ Pro helpfiles can tell you what every feature is.
- Stripping out the file
- Premade blank LNZ
Stripping out the file
Open up your breedfile and go to the main adult LNZ - as always, make sure to make a backup before you start. I like to go from top to bottom, stripping out things I don't need.
At the top you'll probably see these three sections - Default LNZ File, Sounds, and Little One. You probably don't want to touch these (in paticular if Default LNZ File points to the wrong place, it'll crash the game), but you may want to edit Little One to point to the adult LNZ so you can preview your breed as an adult in the AC. I'm going to do that here, so now we get an adult appearing dog when we take out our dachsund:
Next in this file is 256 Eyelid Color. You can see the daschund has a few variations, which correspond to the main fur colours.
You can blank this out entirely and the game will default to black eyelids. Or you can give it something else - I like to set it to white, because I like making my blank slates white, like a sheet of paper. But it's really up to you.
Next up comes the default scales and extensions, that control the rough size and shape of the pet. These might be different depending on your file, but you'll probably have something like this:
I usually blank these out completely, leaving the headers with nothing underneath:
This will set the values to their defaults, which are hidden somewhere in the game code (don't ask me where). That's exactly what we want - we can then fill them in with the values we want later when we build our breed. Here's what the dog looks like now:
As you can see the proportions are different - notice that the legs, for example, are longer.
Move and Project Ball
These two sections more finely control the shape of the pet by controling where to position the balls relative to their default positions. Just like with the scales and extensions, I like to blank them out:
And the result:
Now things get a bit more complicated, because the addball section is different for every breed. What you want to do here will depend on what you need to keep.
First of all are the utility addballz. These aren't visible but control the way the pet interacts with objects. You will not want to touch these unless you really know what you're doing!
As the comments tell us, numbers 77 onward are "animator's addballz" and what they are and what order you see them in will depend on your species and breed. In general cats will have nose and ear addballz and dogs will have tongue, cheeks, mouth corners, and ear addballz. These are then followed on by breed-specific addballz such as the Alley's fangs or the Bulldog's jowls. Fortunately the progammers were good at leaving comments to say what the ballz are. Here's the Dashschund's animator's addballz:
In general if you don't need an addball, you can remove it. However keep in mind:
- The number of an addball is dependent on its order in the list. So if you remove an addball with more after it, all those subsequent addballs will change their number. You might find it easier to list the addball under Omissions if you want to remove something but don't want to mess up the ball numbering.
- Addballz may be linked to other ballz via linez, so if you remove an addball you may need to check if it has any linez associated with it and remove those too. Otherwise you might get glitchy graphics if you try to add clothes to the pet.
This isn't an addball tutorial so I can't tell you want to do, but for this file I've decided to remove everything except the tongue cheeks and mouth corners. These are universal to most breeds and form an important structural part of the face, so I thought it was best to keep them. If you're making something really out there though, maybe you'll want to get rid of those too!
And the result:
At the bare minimum this will contain the utility addballz, and as before you don't want to remove those from the list unless you know what you're doing. However there might be other things you can safely remove. Our dachshund contains a variation in which ballz 3 and 27 (part of the eyebrows) are omitted:
We can safely remove those:
This is a large section but you probably won't need to do much apart from remove any variations (the dachshund has some colour variations you can safely remove, just make sure to leave one set or you'll end up with a disjointed tail and legs). However if you removed any addballz earlier, pay careful attention to this part of the file. Earlier we removed all of the addballz with a number higher than 81, and some of those ballz had lines connecting them elsewhere. To avoid any graphical glitches when we dress up or breed the pet, or edit in more addballz later, we need to go through and find any lines that start or end with ball numbers higher than 81, for example the highlighted:
Go through and find all of the unneeded linez, and you're good.
At the bare minimum your breed will have pawpads. I like to leave these in unless I'm making something that won't need them, it's your choice whether to keep them in or not. The dachshund has some colour variations, I stripped these out so there's just the one set.
Color Info Override and Outline Color Override
These will probably have a lot of data under them, because they're used to create body and eye colour variations. They can be blanked out and you can add in your own variation sets later, if needed. If there are any others, like a fuzz override, you can do the same.
Thin/Fat and Head Shot
These don't have anything to do with one another, but I'm grouping them together because they appear one after the other in this file, and because I usually leave them alone. You can always edit them to other values if you really want, though.
This one will vary a lot depending on your base breed. The dachshund has three listed, but here I'll cut it down to one to keep it tidy - as always you can add more later. However if you remove any files from the list make sure to check no ballz use it!
Another big section. I don't blank this one out, as it would be too annoying to put it all back, but I do like to:
- set all ballz (excepting things like eyes, tongue etc) to one colour. As mentioned earlier I like to make them all white, like a blank sheet of paper. (If you have any addballz left, you might want to set those to the same colour too.)
- set all fuzz to 0 (or leave as -1 if it's set to that).
- set all size differences to 0.
With all that done, we have the blank slate!
Adjustments, markings, and LNZ Version
We've done most of our work, but usually after the ballz info section there's a few extra bits and pieces that you might want to tidy up, related to markings or clothing usually.
You'll need to look at the helpfiles to see exactly what these do, but you can safely blank these out and add them back in as needed. However don't change LNZ Version - it doesn't have any immediate effect, but it may have knock on effects down the line, so best to leave as is.
Premade blank LNZ
If all that sounds like too much work, I've made some blank slate LNZ you can use, complete with helpful comments and added sections. They're in plain text format - you can copy-paste them over your breed's existing linez (remember to set Little One to the correct kitten/puppy!) and get hexing straight away.