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System Shock 2 Modding Guide
Mods. From texture upgrades to total conversions, they can make old games look and feel brand new again. Here's a selection of some of the best ones out there as well as how to apply them. You'll also learn about Fan Missions here and how to play them.
On Windows, the Program Files folder is a protected folder that works differently from other folders on your computer.
The long story short is that if you have your copy of System Shock 2 located within either the Program Files or the Program Files (x86) folder, you may encounter problems and some, or all, mods may not work at all. This varies from machine to machine and some people may not have a problem at all.
If you think you might be being affected by this, try moving your copy of Shock 2 from the Program Files folder into another folder like 'C:\Games' and launch it. If mods are installed correctly, they may start working for you.
If this is the case, you can make another Steam Library Folder using the Steam Library Folders feature. Go to View > Settings and Click the 'Downloads' Tab to find it.
Click Add Library Folder and make it anywhere you want. Here is where I keep my games when I'm gaming on Windows.
Once you've done this, you can reinstall System Shock 2 into this new folder and move any save files and mods you have from your old installtion into this new installation!
Using SS2Tool to get your game mod ready
SS2Tool is a great program that allows you to apply multiple fixes to the game as well as getting the game fully up and ready for using mods.
Download this tool, run it and point it to your System Shock 2 installation. Make sure that everything in 'Getting Mod Ready' is checked and Install the tool.
This tool will NOT function if your copy of System Shock 2 is installed in the Program Files folder. You will need to follow the steps in the Program Files section above.
Multiplayer is NOT disabled in this version of the game. However, if you use SS2Tool without Enabling it in the Game Features option screen, it will become disabled again. If you intend to play Multiplayer co-op, remember to Enable it.
SS2Tool will install the "SS2 Blue Mod Manager" for you.
How to use the "SS2 Blue Mod Manager" to manage your mods
If you haven't used the SS2Tool, it is HIGHLY recommended that you manually install the SS2 Blue Mod Manager[www.systemshock.org]. This will be doing all the mod managing for us. If you used SS2Tool, it will be installed for you in your SS2 folder and ready to use.
Go into your System Shock 2 folder. You can quickly go there by, in Steam, going into System Shock 2's properties and clicking "Browse Local Files" on the Local Files tab.
Extract the SS2 Blue Mod Manager into your SS2 folder if it isn't there and double-click SS2BMM.exe to run it.
If you have a DataPermMods folder present in your SS2 folder, the Mod Manager will prompt you to delete the folder.
Mods can come in the following: Standard .ZIP / .7z file. Simply extract with ZIP software. I highly recommend the open source tool 7-Zip[www.7-zip.org]
SS2Mod file. SS2Mod files are ZIP files with renamed File Extensions. You can either rename it's extension back to ZIP or extract the contents of any SS2Mod file with your ZIP software. These are really old and becoming rarer. It's safe to say that if you find an .SS2MOD file out there in the wild... the mod hasn't been updated in quite a long time.
Inside these files you will find one or more folders. Fam, Mesh, Snd and Obj are just a few examples of what these files are called.
SS2 Blue Mod Manager just created a new folder in your SS2 installation called "DMM". All your mods will go inside their own folders inside this new DMM folder.
Mods go inside their own folder inside the DMM folder.
I created a folder inside the DMM folder called "Four Hundred". I then move the mod's contents into that Four Hundred folder.
As soon as you insert the files into the folder, SS2 Blue Mod Manager will update with the name of the folder that the mod is installed in (so be sure to name the folders so you can recognize them easily (don't use more than 30 characters in the folder names), its Status (is it Active or Inactive?) on your current copy of System Shock 2 and what type of mod it is.
To activate a mod, simply hit "Activate / Deactivate" or double-click on the mod in the list.
Clicking the X in the top-right will save the setttings, close the mod manager and will not launch the game.
Having more than one active mod in the list will allow you to change the "priority" of the mods. The higher up the list a specific mod is determines when it will be loaded against all the other mods.
Mods that are higher up in the list take priority over mods that are further down the list so you probably want the most gameplay changing mods higher up.
Some mods may have "Gamesys" listed in the Type column. This means that the mod in question uses a custom Shock2.gam and only one Shock2.gam can be used at a time. If you have two mods that have a custom Shock2.gam file, SS2 Blue Mod Manager will inform you that the two mods conflict with each other and recommend you only have one Gamesys mod active at a time.
So now you know all this, all that needs to be done now is to choose what mods you want to use. Here are some of the best ones...
Shock Community Patch by The System ShockEd Community Current Version – Beta 3 https://www.systemshock.org/index.php?topic=9111 The name pretty much says it all. This is an unofficial patch created by the community to fix bugs, tweak balance issues and essentially continue to improve the game in the way Looking Glass / Irrational Games could have done if given more time on the project.
Also included is the latest version of the SHTUP mod (Beta 1)
SHTUP by ZylonBane et. al Current Version - Beta 6 (Vanilla), Beta 1-ND (NewDark Patched) For Vanilla Shock 2[www.shtupmod.net] For NewDark Shock 2 This mod upgrades all of the object textures as well as fixing typos, graphical errors and continuity errors. This mod sticks to the Shock 2 artstyle very closely and is highly recommended for all players.
Hi-Res Space Textures by Vurt Current Version – v1.1 http://www.systemshock.org/index.php?topic=4135 For a game set in space, you'll need some brand new space textures! A huge improvement over the original textures and definately worth checking out. Highly recommended for all players.
Flora Overhaul by Vurt Current Version – v1.0k http://www.systemshock.org/index.php?topic=3181 Upgrade the plantlife onboard the Von Braun with his very nice collection of improved models and textures. Highly recommended for all players.
Hi-Res Water by Vurt Current Version – v5.1, older versions available http://www.systemshock.org/index.php?topic=4167 Water water everywhere so let's all upgrade the old water textures with these hi-res, better animated water textures. Highly recommended for all players.
Organics / Goo - Potential Spoilers by Vurt Current Version - Varies http://www.systemshock.org/index.php?topic=4139.0 Improves the visuals of the annelid goo, egg textures and other smaller elements. You can mix and match from many different pieces of this one. Recommended for all players.
Weapon Model Mods
Tacticool Weapon Replacement Mods by Mercurius Current Version – 1.05 (Eldron's Psi-Amp included) http://www.systemshock.org/index.php?topic=691 Here are some of the best weapon mods out there. Looking extremely cool whilst staying very close to the original's look and feel. Grab the complete pack to download everything you see or mix and match which weapons you want from individual downloads.
Enhanced Psi-Amp by Eldron Current Version – v2 http://www.systemshock.org/index.php?topic=82 Every OSA agent will want to wrap his mind around this new Psi-Amp model. It stays faithful to the default look and feel of the original Psi-Amp. Highly Recommended.
Enemy Model Mods -Potential Spoilers Ahead-
Rebirth 02 by Cyberblutch, ZylonBane, Voodoo47 Current Version – 02 http://www.systemshock.org/index.php?topic=8 This mod package vastly improves the models and textures of all of the monsters aboard the Von Braun and the UNN Rickenbacker including the Hybrids, Midwives, Assassins and Rumblers. It is worth seeing the default monsters first before you decide on using this but if the thought of looking at an enemy model made with less than 100 polygons fills you with disgust for your fellow man then go ahead and apply this mod.
Alternate Hybrid RebirthSkins by ImpyNickers Current Version – v2 http://www.systemshock.org/index.php?topic=4219 If you feel that you want a Hybrid texture that looks closer to the original game's version then simply apply this set of textures over your installed copy of 'Rebirth 02', it will not work unless you have that installed first.
SS2 Vintage Song Remake by Vaxquis Current Version – v1.0 https://www.systemshock.org/index.php?topic=6849.0 Shock 2 uses dymanic music recorded at a very low bitrate and split into many small pieces. This mod replaces the music files with higher quality versions taken from the soundtrack of the game. Highly recommended to all players.
Miscellanious Mods -Potential Spoilers Ahead-
Impossible Multiplayer Difficulty by Crion http://www.systemshock.org/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=61.0;attach=1750 This mod will, upon creating a co-op session, set the difficulty to Impossible over the standard 'Hard' difficulty setting the game defaults all co-op sessions to. If you intend on playing co-op with this mod installed, make sure any people playing with you also have this mod installed.
No Spiders by Jocke Current Version – v2 http://www.systemshock.org/index.php?topic=134 Attention all arachnophobiacs! Now you need no longer fear the corridors of Deck 4 and beyond as all spiders have been completely removed from the game. If you intend on playing co-op with this mod installed, make sure any people playing with you also have this mod installed.
Please note however that if you are running the game on a machine that has an Intel graphics chip, the game will probably not work properly if Anti-Aliasing is enabled. You will see a black screen and the game will be playing in a tiny window in the corner of your screen.
If you want to try something a little different after you've played System Shock 2, you could always try one of the many Fan Missions released for the game.
You can find System Shock 2 missions at the Thief Missions[thiefmissions.com] website
Once you have a few, you may be wondering what to do with them. You may even try to extract them into your Shock 2 folder. Fan Missions (FMs) will not function properly if you simply dump them into certain folders and try to do things yourself. You will end up breaking things!
Luckily, The NewDark version of System Shock 2 comes with a built in Fan Mission loader called FMSel.
To use FMSel, Right click on System Shock 2 in your Steam Games list and click Properties.
Click Set Launch Options... and in that box, enter in -fm and click OK.
When you launch System Shock 2 again, FMSel will start and ask you to create an FMs directory. Click Yes.
Once you've done that, FMSel will ask you to specify a folder in which you keep your FMs so put all your FMs in one folder and have FMSel use that folder.
Once you've done that, FMSel will list all the FMs it finds in that folder.
From here you can do many different things: Skip FM - Will Launch System Shock 2 without using any FM. Play FM - Will Launch System Shock 2 with the currently selected FM. It will ask you to Extract Archive which, when Yes is selected, will install the FM into the FMs folder. Start FM - Will Launch System Shock 2 with the currently selected FM and set your Status to 'Playing' (I presume this is used for things like Windows Live Messenger and other software)
You can also rate your FMs, Search for an FM in the Name text bar, Read any Readmes inside (Right click > View Info File) and many other things.
Here are some questions you may have:
All my Shock 2 save files have gone! What have you done?! Don't Panic! Your save files are still there. When Shock 2 is launched with an FM, you get to have seperate saves! These are stored in your FMs folder and every time you launch that FM, you'll see your saves there again from the last time you played.
Will my installed mods work with an FM? They should do! As you can see from the screenshot above, I'm using the Assault Rifle from the Tacticool bundle whilst playing 'Shocking Ruins'.
Can I install mods this way too? No.
Can I play Multiplayer with any of these FMs? That depends on the FM. Read the readme and see if it mentions Multiplayer support.
Can I hold you responsible for anything daft I do like try to install Thief 2 FMs into Shock 2? Nope.
Always room for more
Thats all the mods I'll list for now. If you know of any others, leave a comment below and I'll consider adding it to the list.