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Higher resolution textures for characters (PC Mod)


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#1
JeanLuc761

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You can find all the downloads for this modification at the far bottom of this post, past the demonstration screenshots.  I will be uploading detailed comparison shots throughout the upcoming week in order to make the difference more apparent. 


What is This Mod?


This modification is designed with the sole purpose of improving select textures (mostly for characters) in Mass Effect 1 and 2.  When the game was released, character textures ranged from a resolution of 512x512 to 1024x1024.  Because of this, many of the textures appeared to be pixellated or blurry.  Much speculation has been thrown around as to why Bioware used these textures when they have sources of 2048x2048, and the most probable argument is the limitations in disc space and texture memory for the Xbox 360. 

This mod aims to improve that.  My goal was to massively improve character detail while keeping Bioware's fantastic design as intact as possible.  Character textures now range from 2048x2048 to 4096x4096, which is 4x more detailed than the default textures.  The modification comes in a several flavors, which I will explain below. 

How Does this Mod Work?


Because Mass Effect 2 is not very mod-friendly, this mod requires Texmod, which you can download HERE.  In order to get Texmod to work with Mass Effect 2, here are some steps for both Retail and Steam customers.

Retail (Disc):

1.  Extract Texmod to a separate folder on your hard drive (ex: C:\\Program Files\\Texmod)

2.  Create a sub-folder inside your Texmod folder called "Modifications" (or anything else you'd like, this is just for organizing.

3.  To save time in the future, create a shortcut to Texmod's EXE on your desktop.

4.  Open Texmod, and click on the folder at the top of the interface.  When it prompts, select masseffect.exe or masseffect2.exe for ME1 and ME2 respectively.  This tells Texmod what game to replace textures for.

5.  To load a modification (or several), make sure Texmod is on the "Package Mode" tab, then click on the small folder icon in the center of the interface (directly to the left of "Created By...).

6.  Choose what mod(s) you wish to use, then click "Open."

7.  Click "Run" and you're ready to go! 


Steam Users:

The process is very similar to Retail users, but there a couple steps you'll need to take in order to trick Steam into properly using Texmod.  MAKE SURE STEAM ISN'T RUNNING FIRST.  The steps below will be the trick itself; for the rest, use the steps outlined above:

1.  Locate your masseffect2.exe (ex: C:\\Program Files\\Steam\\steamapps\\common\\mass effect 2\\Binaries)

2.  Create a back-up of the exe and place it in a separate folder, just in case anything goes wrong.

3.  Rename masseffect2.exe in "Binaries" to something like "masseffect2texmod.exe" or whatever you prefer.

4.  Create a copy of texmod.exe in the ME2 Binaries folder, then rename it to masseffect2.exe so Steam recognizes it when loading the game.

5.  Open Steam, then load Mass Effect 2.  Texmod should come up, and you can follow the same steps outlined for "Retail (Disc)" in order to load the mods you want.

What's the Difference Between "Optimized" and "Ultra" Textures?


Optimized


The difference between the two is much as it sounds.  The Optimized Pack is a complete compiltation of all 10 Non-DLC squadmates (with Zaeed and Kasumi linked separately).  All characters in the optimized pack use a balance of 1024x1024 and 2048x2048 textures in order to achieve the best balance between quality and performance that I could achieve for this mod.  Exceptions to this are Tali and Garrus, who continue to use 4096x4096 textures.  The reason for this is that those two became very blurry when I lowered their armor to 2048x2048, and the trade-off simply wasn't worth it. 

Benefits of the Optimized Pack:

1.  Vastly improved loading time over the "Ultra" textures.  I clocked start-up time at just under five minutes, as opposed to the Ultra textures taking anywhere from 12-15 minutes. 

2.  Balance between texture resolutions ensures that characters still look very detailed, even at half the resolution of what "Ultra" offers. 

3.  In-Game performance appears noticeably smoother and more stable than the ultra-pack, with far fewer framerate dips and reduced loading times. 

Ultra


The ultra pack is composed primarily of 4096x4096 textures for armor/body models and a mix of 2048x2048 and 1024x1024 for faces.  These textures are the absolute highest quality I could make for this modification, though it does come with a couple downsides. 

Known Issues with "Ultra Textures"


1.  Because the textures are so high resolution, the Ultra textures have a MASSIVE loading time (anywhere from 10-15 minutes or so, depending on how powerful your system is).  

2.  I've noticed stability problems with the ultra pack, resulting in brief game lock-ups.  That said, the game never crashed so it's not game-breaking.


If you can get past those two issues (which appear to be a problem with Texmod itself), then the ultra textures are the highest quality you can get. 


Anything Else I Should Know?


As said above, no matter if you chose one modification or 20, optimized or ultra, there WILL be added loading time to start-up of the game.  During this time, the screen will go completely black while Texmod loads the textures.  DO NOT WORRY, as this is entirely normal.  All you need to do is be patient.  

Secondly, the ultra textures are currently avaiable only as separate packages for each squadmate/armor/NPC.  I will be releasing a combined pack for the 10 Non-DLC squadmates later on. 

Lastly, Tali's mod comes in two flavors.  The difference between the two is minor, but the one labelled "w/face visible" is a little tweak I made that makes Tali's facial structure more visible than what the ingame presented.  Not everyone prefers this, so I made the option available to use high res armor and keep the default, barely-visible face. 



CGI PROMOS*

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*Not representative of final quality.


INGAME SCREENSHOTS


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COMPARISON SCREENSHOTS (Taken with Optimized Pack)


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More coming soon...



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Garrus ME1 Face fix Download here.


DOWNLOADS


ULTRA TEXTURES (Squadmates)


Updated September 24, 2011

Tali'Zorah w/visible face    Tali'Zorah w/default face
Jacob Taylor
Miranda Lawson
Garrus Vakarian
Legion
Mordin Solus
Zaeed Massani
Jack
Thane Krios
Samara
Grunt
Kasumi

OPTIMIZED PACK (Non-DLC Characters):


You can download the pack here.  Remember, this does not include Zaeed or Kasumi's optimized textures, so you can select those below. 

OPTIMIZED (Separate Characters):

Garrus
Jacob
Jack
Kasumi
Legion
Miranda
Mordin
Samara
Thane
Zaeed
Grunt

MISCELLANEOUS (OTHER RELEASES)


I have released other mods as well, which you can find here.


Posted Image
Casual Outfit: Cerberus "formal": Download Here.

http://img233.images...kestral1.th.jpg

DLC Kestral Armor: Download Here.


http://img204.images...02022018.th.jpg

LotSB Liara T'soni: Download Here.

http://img225.images...uniforms.th.jpg

Normandy Uniforms: Download Here.

http://img192.images...03190001.th.jpg
http://img42.imagesh...03182355.th.jpg

Shepard "Formal" Outfit: Download Here.

http://img718.images...31909392.th.jpg

Doctor Chakwas ME1 Texture: Download Here

http://img703.images...32500582.th.jpg

High Resolution Face for Sheploo (Mass Effect 1): Download Here.

http://img28.imagesh...03291344.th.jpg

High Resolution Face for Sheploo (Mass Effect 2): Download Here.

http://img64.imagesh...04181018.th.jpg

Default N7 Armor:  Download Male Version Here
Download Female Version Here

http://img43.imagesh...alfvisor.th.jpg
Miranda AAP Armor:  Full Visor
Half-Visor

Edited by JeanLuc761, 01 March 2012 - 04:20 AM.


#2
Estelindis

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Very nice. :-)

#3
Domar

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A commendable project, JeanLuc! I'll be very interested in seeing the end product of this.



Q regarding consequences: I don't have the most powerful PC at the moment, so how much a drain on the frame rate do you think such a mod will be?

#4
The Naked Pen

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Looking great so far. Are Tali's eyebrows there but not visible in the vanilla texture, or are they something you added?

#5
adriano_c

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Nice work.

#6
Another Dave

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Good work so far, Jean Luc, those shots look great. I'd be interested to know what the performance hit is like? I'd imagine mid-range and below computers would struggle with something like this.


@The Naked Pen: Tali's original textures don't have any eyebrows.

#7
JeanLuc761

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Domar wrote...

A commendable project, JeanLuc! I'll be very interested in seeing the end product of this.

Q regarding consequences: I don't have the most powerful PC at the moment, so how much a drain on the frame rate do you think such a mod will be?

For reference, my PC specs are as follows:

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ 2.6ghz
4.00GB RAM
Windows 7 64-bit
GeForce 8800GT 512mb

So far, the performance hit has been minimal, maybe a loss of 5fps at worst.  I'll keep everyone updated as I add more and more characters.  The game does take substantially longer to load (we're talking 4096x4096 textures here), but once it's loaded into RAM I don't notice any problems.

The Naked Pen wrote...

Looking great so far. Are Tali's eyebrows there but not visible in the vanilla texture, or are they something you added?

That was just something I added for fun.  I'll be releasing two versions of Tali, one with the face visible and one without so people can decide which they prefer.

@Everyone
Thanks for the positive feedback!

#8
xiiz

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Looks awesome, keep up the good work!

#9
kaff33nd

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These look great so far Jean Luc. Just wanted to know what you're doing with the normal and spec maps?

#10
JeanLuc761

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kaff33nd wrote...

These look great so far Jean Luc. Just wanted to know what you're doing with the normal and spec maps?

You might have to be a little more specific, but I'll explain the best I can. 

The specular map is an altered version of the diffuse map which, thanks to everything being on separate layers, is fairly easily to manage.  The tricky thing is testing exactly how the engine responds to different values (it's really easy to make everything far too shiny). 

I'm keeping most of the normal map the same as it is ingame since it generally does a good job.  However, some of the alterations I'm making on the other textures require me to alter the normal map as well so textures line up properly (and to compensate for the fact the normal maps are generally 512x512 while the diffuse and specular are 4096x4096).

#11
MaaZeus

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Holy hell! This is what ME2 (and ME1 for that matter) should have looked like in the first place on PC version. I will be following this project with great interest. Good job!

*edit* I like the eyebrows on Tali for some reason. Even in this static picture they immidietly give a touch of extra personality on her. I'd like to see them on motion and how they affect her conversations.

Edited by MaaZeus, 25 November 2010 - 06:51 PM.


#12
JeanLuc761

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MaaZeus wrote...

Holy hell! This is what ME2 (and ME1 for that matter) should have looked like in the first place on PC version. I will be following this project with great interest. Good job!

*edit* I like the eyebrows on Tali for some reason. Even in this static picture they immidietly give a touch of extra personality on her. I'd like to see them on motion and how they affect her conversations.

Thank you very much :)

#13
xiiz

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Bump for ya. :wizard:

#14
JeanLuc761

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Hey folks! I know it's not much of an update, but here's a new image of Tali. Added some grime to her hood and it holds up really well in detail shots. Hope to have more characters to show in the coming days!



Posted Image

#15
Domar

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Looking at that last shot, your mod certainly looks very promising, JeanLuc! Keep up the good work!

About Tali's face being discernable, do you plan to add or change something else than the eyebrows?

#16
JeanLuc761

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Domar wrote...

Looking at that last shot, your mod certainly looks very promising, JeanLuc! Keep up the good work!

About Tali's face being discernable, do you plan to add or change something else than the eyebrows?

I'm not quite sure yet, to be honest.  Her face barely animates (makes sense, given you aren't supposed to see it), so anything I add to it would have to be the impression of more..."alien" features. 

#17
Loki330

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Probably best if you try and keep the tweaking to a minimum. Tali's so populer in part because the helmet hides so much. Hell, you might need to reign back the transparency (or something) to make it harder to make her face out again. Otherwise, yeah, this is very nice work. Must say that I'm waiting for Jack with anticipation, partly because I'm a fan of her, but also because I imagine her tattoos will be even more fascinating.

...and I wonder what the hell you're going to do that the loyalty outfit. :P

Edited by Loki330, 28 November 2010 - 03:58 PM.


#18
JeanLuc761

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Loki330 wrote...

Probably best if you try and keep the tweaking to a minimum. Tali's so populer in part because the helmet hides so much. Hell, you might need to reign back the transparency (or something) to make it harder to make her face out again. Otherwise, yeah, this is very nice work. Must say that I'm waiting for Jack with anticipation, partly because I'm a fan of her, but also because I imagine her tattoos will be even more fascinating.

...and I wonder what the hell you're going to do that the loyalty outfit. :P

I'm planning to release two separate versions of Tali, one with the face visible and one without, so people can decide which they prefer.  From the reaction on other websites, it's been about 50/50.

And yeah, Jack will be very interesting (and time consuming :lol:)

#19
Marcus22Khaar

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MaaZeus wrote...

Holy hell! This is what ME2 (and ME1 for that matter) should have looked like in the first place on PC version. I will be following this project with great interest. Good job!

*edit* I like the eyebrows on Tali for some reason. Even in this static picture they immidietly give a touch of extra personality on her. I'd like to see them on motion and how they affect her conversations.


I completely agree with you. PC version Mass Effect should have better textures. I wish Garrus in ME1 would look something similar to those textures :innocent:

I really love it. I was just wondering, how much time for loading are we talking about? I know every computer is a world, but I would like to know approximately the difference between with and without new textures, if possible. Also, I don't know, which NPCs you may be working on, but I would really love high resolution textures for scientists outfits. They have a really poor quality.
Keep up the good work! I definitely use this once it's done.

By the way, you have slightly change Tali's hood, isn't it?

#20
JeanLuc761

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Marcus22Khaar wrote...

I completely agree with you. PC version Mass Effect should have better textures. I wish Garrus in ME1 would look something similar to those textures :innocent:

I really love it. I was just wondering, how much time for loading are we talking about? I know every computer is a world, but I would like to know approximately the difference between with and without new textures, if possible. Also, I don't know, which NPCs you may be working on, but I would really love high resolution textures for scientists outfits. They have a really poor quality.
Keep up the good work! I definitely use this once it's done.

By the way, you have slightly change Tali's hood, isn't it?

On my system, the start-up time for Mass Effect 2 has increased by about two minutes.  A little frustrating, I'll admit, but it seems unavoidable.  As for Tali's hood, it's roughly the same as the default texture, just much higher resolution.

#21
MaaZeus

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Loki330 wrote...

Probably best if you try and keep the tweaking to a minimum. Tali's so populer in part because the helmet hides so much. Hell, you might need to reign back the transparency (or something) to make it harder to make her face out again. Otherwise, yeah, this is very nice work. Must say that I'm waiting for Jack with anticipation, partly because I'm a fan of her, but also because I imagine her tattoos will be even more fascinating.

...and I wonder what the hell you're going to do that the loyalty outfit. :P



Agreed. I love the eyebrow addition as they give her some extra character, but I doubt any other addition to her face would work, especially since we have next to no idea what Quarians look like (at the moment anyway.)

Edited by MaaZeus, 28 November 2010 - 05:47 PM.


#22
Marcus22Khaar

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JeanLuc761 wrote...

On my system, the start-up time for Mass Effect 2 has increased by about two minutes.  A little frustrating, I'll admit, but it seems unavoidable.  As for Tali's hood, it's roughly the same as the default texture, just much higher resolution.


So, it has increased two minutes with just two characters re-textured, or are we talking of more re-textures you are not showing us right now?

By the way, how does the mod work? Do we have to use Texmod?

#23
Big stupid jellyfish

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I approve of this mod. Or, how much do I approve.



As the game takes longer to load maybe it's be possible to release not just all textures in one file, but a file per character? There's no need to load textures for X as we didn't take X to some particular mission we're playing now.



I'm eager to see Thane, Miranda and Aria. Oh, I do hope Aria counts as an 'important NPC' =)



Whaen would the beta be available?

#24
JeanLuc761

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Marcus22Khaar wrote...

So, it has increased two minutes with just two characters re-textured, or are we talking of more re-textures you are not showing us right now?

By the way, how does the mod work? Do we have to use Texmod?

Texmod is a requirement as I don't know any other means of texture replacement for Mass Effect 2.  And yes, the two minutes extra time is just factoring in the two characters.  However, the loading time doesn't seem to change if I just load Jacob as opposed to loading Jacob and Tali.

#25
JeanLuc761

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Big stupid jellyfish wrote...

I approve of this mod. Or, how much do I approve.

As the game takes longer to load maybe it's be possible to release not just all textures in one file, but a file per character? There's no need to load textures for X as we didn't take X to some particular mission we're playing now.

I'm eager to see Thane, Miranda and Aria. Oh, I do hope Aria counts as an 'important NPC' =)

Whaen would the beta be available?

I will be releasing the characters all in separate files so people can pick and choose.  I won't be releasing a beta as mods like this are either done or they aren't; no middle ground. 

Aria is definitely an important NPC.  NPC's are going to be the most difficult because there are so many different texture/models to work with.