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Football Manager 2009 Skinning Guide Part One: The Basics


This is a simple guide to help people start skinning with Football Manager 2009.


Before you start you will need a few things:

- A Copy of FM2009 with the latest patch installed, as the latest patch may have updated/changed some of the files you may need.

- The Resource Archiver Tool, that was installed with the game.

- A Text Editor – Notepad is fine, however I’d recommend a program like Notepad++ or a web editor such as Kompozer – these have colour-coded code and line numbers that make it easier to edit the larger xml files.

- Graphics Software – whilst Photoshop is popular it is expensive, free alternatives if you don’t already have a graphics program, are Paint.net (upgraded version of MSPaint), or The GIMP (open source alternative to Photoshop, but not all that user friendly), among others – if you do need to use Photoshop you can download a 30 day trial from adobe’s site. Basically the program needs to be able to handle transparent png files.First you need to extract the fmf archives. This is done by using the Resource Tool that was installed with FM09 and this will be located in:

\Football Manager 2009\tools\resource archiver

If you have not used the archive tool before I recommend reading the user guide that was installed with it and is located in the above folder.

So extract each of the fmf files from the below locations, into an easy to find folder that is not within the install or User Data folder for FM09:

\Football Manager 2009\data
\Football Manager 2009\data\updates\update-***\data

Where *** is the patch number, so far we are on 930, I also recommend when extracting the patch files to overwrite the original unpatched files, as they are more up-to-date and saves you using old files that may have errors in them.

So now that you have extracted all the fmf files we can start making your first skin.

If you look inside the folder that you have extracted the fmf files to, you should see a skins folder.

Open this and there will be several sub-folders, these are the default FM09 skins that come with the game.

Now what we are going to do to set up your first skin is copy the fm2009 folder and the config.xml file from the skins folder to the skins folder in your User Data folder which is by default:

\Documents\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2009\skins

(If you don’t have a skins folder just create a new folder and call it skins).

Now the first bit of skinning we are going to do is to rename the fm2009 skin – you can pick your skin name now or just use a placeholder, for this example I will call the skin Test.

So first you rename the fm2009 folder test – avoiding spaces, caps and any fancy formatting.
Now open the folder called test and you will notice three folders (graphics, panels and settings) and an xml file called fm2009.xml.
Now rename the fm2009.xml to test.xml – the name of this xml file needs to match exactly the folder name.
Next open the test.xml file in your chosen xml editor.
Now what we are interested in is this code:

<!-- skin details -->
<string id="name" value="FM 2009[COMMENT: skin for FM 2008]"/> <!-- The name of the skin -->
<string id="author" value="Sports Interactive"/> <!-- The author name -->
<string id="description" value="Default Skin"/> <!-- Short description -->
<string id="version" value="1.0"/> <!-- The version number -->

<flags id="parent" value="fm2009-widgets"/>

Now the <!-- --> tags denote comments, anything within these tags are not read by the game and act as hints/comments for you. (the text will appear green in Notepad++)

Now the first line tells the game what to call your skin in game, so change "FM 2009[COMMENT: skin for FM 2008]"  to "Test Skin"

The next line is where you put your name/nickname, then you can put in a short description of your skin, so for this skin put This is a Test Skin. Then the final option is a version number, when you release a finished skin it is generally good to start at version 1.0, then go up as you revise, but this isn’t important.

Now the last line is new for FM09:

<flags id="parent" value="fm2009-widgets"/>

What this does is it tells the game where to look next if it cannot find the file it wants in the folders for this skin – so if you have a look in the panels folder for the test skin you’ll notice it’s empty, so the game will then look in the fm2009-widgets folder for the files it needs.

If you go back to the skins folder that you extracted, and go into the fm2009-widgets folder, you’ll notice there’s no panels folder in there if you open the fm2009-widgets.xml file, you’ll notice its parent skin is fm2008 so next the game will look for the files in the folders for the fm2008 skin, it will then look in the fm2008-widgets folder and if it still cannot find what it’s looking for it will then look in your User Data folder and then look in the fmf files in the data folder.

What this means is if you are not going to edit a file you do not need to include it with your skin, and if you put a file in your User Data folder and the game won’t read it, it means the game is reading the file from one of the skins folders.

Now if you want your skin to look like the FM2008 skin, rather than the FM2009 skin you can change that last line to:

<flags id="parent" value="fm2008"/>

So the game will now never look in the fm2009 or fm2009-widgets folders for any files to do with this skin.

When you save the file you have basically created your first skin.

Now to get the skin into the game, load the game and go to the Preferences -> Display & Sound Menu, untick 'Use Skin Cache' and tick 'Always Reload Skin on Confirm' then click confirm, after the current skin has reloaded, go back into the Preferences -> Display & Sound Menu and you should be able to select the Test Skin in the drop down menu.

And there you go you have just made your first FM09 skin.

Now to edit the appearance of your skin you need to copy the files you want to edit from their location in the extracted folders to the same folder for your skin.

So for example if you wanted to change the coding for the foot of your skin, you’d copy the footer.xml file you extracted from the fmf files from *** \skins\fm2008\panels to (where *** the folder you extracted the files to at the beginning):

\Documents\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2009\skins\test\panels

To edit the graphic for the footer you’d copy the graphics from:

***\skins\fm2008-widgets\graphics\interface\footer

To:

\Documents\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2009\skins\test\graphics\interface\footer

(Creating the extra folders if need be).

Yes locating the files to edit can be a bit of a challenge with FM09, but they will all be located somewhere with the files that you extracted at the start.