Mass Effect: Advanced Modding Made Easy

Some of you have been trying to use my awesome mods for Femshep and don’t know how … well, it took me a while to fumble my way through it as well with the scattered tutorials I’ve found on the internet, but none of them really dumbed down the process for texture and mesh replacing enough. ¬†So here I am sharing my limited findings so you can make your Shep as badass as mine :)

You will generally encounter three types of mods (and the programs you need to use them):

1.  .tpf (Texmod)

2.  .upk/.dds (ME3 Explorer)

3.  .mod (ME3 Explorer)

Texmods are really easy. ¬†You just download the Texmod program and run the .tpf through it – very simple and there are some good tutorials out there so I won’t really go into it (check here and here for instructions on how to use .tpf and create your own using Texmod).

I’m going to focus on how to use .upk and .dds files to replace meshes and textures in the game because it’s a little more advanced and there aren’t a lot of tutorials out there on how to do it.

First, you’ll need ME3 Explorer.

Got it?

Then you’ll need the to download the modding files that you want to use. ¬†If you download one of mine, you’ll see that each folder comes with a .upk file and at least three .dds files with “diff,” “norm,” and “spec” in their names.

Step 1.  Open up ME3 Explorer and navigate to Meshporer:

2013-10-20 11_19_41-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider

2.  Open up Meshplorer.  It should look something like this:

2013-10-20 11_19_51-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [Meshplorer]

3. ¬†Load the PCC if you know what file you’re looking for in the CookedPCConsole folder or select Load from Database to populate a list. ¬†If you’re replacing one of Femshep’s textures, you will be looking for BIOG_HMF_ARM_CTH_R.pcc (casual clothing) or BIOG_HMF_ARM_SHP_R.pcc (armor). ¬†Let’s select the former so we can replace Shepard’s black dress with something else.

2013-10-20 11_20_15-Open

4. ¬†When you load the pcc, you should see a screen similar to this (except the mesh model on the right should look like Shepard’s black dress – sorry, I took this screencap after I’d already replaced it!):

2013-10-20 11_20_23-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [Meshplorer]¬†5. ¬†Select the last choice in the left hand column (as seen in the screenshot) ending in CTHk to replace Shepard’s black dress. ¬†Once that is selected, go to Transfer > Import from UDK.

2013-10-20 11_20_28-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [Meshplorer]

6.  Go to File > Open UDK Package and navigate to where you saved the mod you want to upload.  Select the .upk file.

2013-10-20 11_20_35-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [UDKCopy]

7. ¬†You should then see a screen like the one below. ¬†Select the item on the left column and you should see LOD 0 appear in the right column – select it. ¬†Go to “Import LOD” at the top of the screen and click it.

2013-10-20 11_20_53-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [UDKCopy]

8. ¬†You should get a “Done” popup. ¬†Close the window (not the big red X in the upper right hand corner but the little x below it) and you should see the mesh screen again. ¬†Select a different mesh and then go back to the CTHk mesh – you should see that it has changed into the armor you uploaded.

2013-10-20 11_21_01-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [Meshplorer]

9.  Ok, you can close out that window now.  You should be back on the home screen.  Time to upload the textures by going to Developer Tools > Texplorer.

2013-10-20 11_21_11-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider

10. ¬†The database will need to populate and this takes a few minutes, but luckily it only needs to be done once. ¬†Once it is finished, you should get a bunch of folders in the left hand column. ¬†Navigate to the folder that says “CTHk” to replace the black dress texture. ¬†When you click on the folder, a bunch of images should appear on the right. ¬†You’ll see the HMF (female) and HMM (male) textures – if you’re modding Femshep, you only need to change the files that start with HMF. ¬†Right click the image > Easy > Add Biggest Image. ¬†Find the folder that your mod is in – replace the Diff, Norm, and Spec files accordingly.

2013-10-20 11_21_39-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [Texplorer V1.3]

[optional] Some notes about this – when editing and uploading your own mods, Diff files need to be in DX 1 format when you’re saving as a .dds. ¬†Norm files must be in V8U8 and Spec must be in DX5. ¬†Also, the spec map is different for each armor/clothing – the easiest to replace is Shepard’s black dress (the one we’re doing in this tutorial). ¬†Most other armor/clothing will give you a weird orange glow to your textures that you must correct for in your file. ¬†Another armor that is easy to replace is the Defender Armor (FDBa texture).

11. ¬†Ok, so you’ve replaced the diff, norm, and spec files. ¬†Go to File > Save Changes. ¬†You should get a little notification when it is finished.

2013-10-20 11_22_05-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [Texplorer V1.3]12. ¬†Close out the window and you’ll be back at the main screen. ¬†This step may or may not be necessary – I usually do it if I’ve replaced the mesh, but not if I’ve only replaced textures. ¬†But yeah, maybe do it just in case :) ¬†Go to Tools > TOCBinUpdater.

2013-10-20 11_22_14-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider

13.  You should see a screen like the one below.  Go to File > CheckPCConsoleToc.bin.

2013-10-20 11_22_24-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [TOC.bin Updater]

14. ¬†The PCConsoleTOC.bin file is in your Mass Effect 3 folder > BIOgame folder. ¬†Select it – the program will check if there are any changes automatically. ¬†If you get a popup that says there were changes found, click “yes” to update. ¬†If it doesn’t find any changes, just exit the program. ¬†You’re done!

2013-10-20 11_22_39-Open

Ok, so those are all the steps you need to install most of my mods.  Now, when you go into the game, you should see the new outfit replacing the old one!

Disclaimer: I am by no means a modder. ¬†This is my very amateur modding tutorial for people who want to do some basic (but awesome) modding of the game. ¬†If you want to ask some experts questions or find some truly amazing mods, try these wonderful “real” modders:

Otte’s workshop



Was that helpful?  Have any questions?  Let me know in comments!


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