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How To: Extract a Game Resource (using NWN Explorer Reborn)
By: The Amethyst Dragon

This tutorial will show you how to use the essential utility called NWN Explorer Reborn to extract almost any resource from the game for custom content manipulation or just for reference use.

NWN Explorer Reborn is a newer version of Torlack's NWN Explorer, updated by Acaos to work with game version 1.69 (the final version) and to fix other issues with the software. The lastest version (1.6.3) can be downloaded here.


Quick Jump:
Start NWN Explorer Reborn
Where Content Resides
Exploring Deeper
Find a Model and Export It
Browse and Export Hak Content
Search for a File
Hint: The Highest Quality Textures

Start NWN Explorer Reborn

When you first start up the program, it will load up a list of the different NWN game resources found on your computer. These will appear as a tree menu in the left pane that you can explore. Various files of almost every type can be found here, organized by their source, such as the base NWN game, Shadows of Undrentide (SoU), Hordes of the Underdark (HotU), or the final 1.69 patch.
NWN Explorer Reborn Screenshot

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Where Content Resides

The left pane menu is the primary part of this program. By clicking each plus or minus sign in it, you can explore and drill down to find different game content. In the example below, you can see multiple groups of data held in "bif" files. The first are all of the base game's 2da (2 dimensional array) files, which hold data for things like spells, feats, creature appearances, etc. Following those are files for various map tilesets, then game conversation files, and onward down the list.
NWN Explorer Reborn Screenshot

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Exploring Deeper

As you continue down the list, you get deeper into the sources of content. Here we've gotten down to the first section of in-game models. NWN model files end in the .mdl suffix.
NWN Explorer Reborn Screenshot

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Find a Model and Export It

Digging into the list of models, we come across the one for the troll. Clicking on the file name renders the model in the right hand pane of the program. In here, you can zoom in or out and rotate the model to see the entire thing using the control buttons or the buttons/wheel on your mouse.
NWN Explorer Reborn Screenshot

If you click on the "ASCII Model" tab under the previewing pane, you will see the ASCII text version of the model. This is actually data that the game engine compiles and uses to render the model in-game.

See that line that says "bitmap c_troll"? That's the texture file that is used for this creature's skin. That file get's used in another tutorial for re-skinning a creature.
NWN Explorer Reborn Screenshot

To extract this model from the game resources to a place you can manipulate it, right-click on the text pane and select "Export Text".
NWN Explorer Reborn Screenshot

A save window will open up. Pick your destination for the model file, then remove the ".txt" from the end of the model name before finishing the save. You now have a version of the model that can be modified with a text editor or a 3D modelling program such as gmax.
NWN Explorer Reborn Screenshot

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Browse and Export Hak Content

You can also explore the content of any hak files you have saved in your NWN/hak folder. This can be handy if you want to see how a particular piece of custom content works, or if you want to get one or more files out to merge into your own custom hak later.

Content of haks is automatically sorted by the type of files inside, such as model files, game data (that's those 2da files), images of various sorts, etc. In this image, we're exploring a hak called "ad_merchantsigns", and are looking at texture files included in the hak.
DDS compression is a specialized format used by Neverwinter Nights. This is not a standard .dds format. Most of the higher resolution images/textures come in .dds format. Others come in .tga format, which many image editing programs can use. In order to edit a texture, you might as well just go ahead and directly export a desired texture as a .tga right from NWN Explorer Reborn. Just right-click on the image file name, and select "Export TGA."

You can also directly export the .dds file. Just right-click and select the "Export" option.
NWN Explorer Reborn Screenshot

You can export pretty much any type of file, even 2da files. Just right-click and select the "Export" option.
NWN Explorer Reborn Screenshot

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Search for a File

If you know the name of a file you want to locate, this program allows you to do a quick search. Simply press Ctrl+S, and a small search box appears in the lower left corner (see the blue arrow in this image?). Type in the name (or partial name) of the file you want, then hit Enter. The program will search downward through the file lists, from where you are in it currently, until it either finds the first matching file or comes up with nothing. Your cursor should change to the "busy" state during the search.
NWN Explorer Reborn Screenshot

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Hint: The Highest Quality Textures

If you are looking for the highest quality images for manipulation or model work, you'll want to look through the content in the "Texture Packs" section. For the original content (from the base game and BioWare expansions), it contains the higher resolution, larger versions of textures for creature and tileset models. Images in the "a" packs are usually larger that the versions of the same images in the "b" or "c" packs.
NWN Explorer Reborn Screenshot

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