Fanciful Frock Flagged as Formalwear!
Unlike objects skins and meshes have no Expansion Pack requirements. They are all interchangable. The game figures out how a certain skin is to be used by the way the files are names. It should be noted that some of the wardrobe types are only available with certain expansion packs. "Hot Date Buyables" will actually work with Pre-HotDate games but as long as they are named as buyables the game will never even know to load them in.
By simply renaming the skin files you can use them in any way you wish. For example you have downloaded a formal gown that came with a mesh. In your opinion this dress would make a GREAT High Fashion outfit. Making it so is a simple matter of changing a few letters.
Let's have a look inside of that fictitious file you've downloaded. In the zip file you find:
The BMP is the texture (skin)
The SKN is the actual 3D model (mesh) and
The CMX is a little set of instructions the game uses.
Several textures (BMP) can exist and be used on a single mesh (thank goodness. Imagine how crowded your Skins directory would be otherwise lol). The game pairs these up by looking that the beginning of the file names for the texture (BMP) and the set of instructions (CMX):
Matches up. Only the BMP has the skin tone, the cmx doesn't (it is just a shape and can be any color). Everything after the underscore is the human way of identifying the thing (red dresss, blue dress, etc) and the game does not (as a general rule) pay any attention to it.
To change this great gown into High Fashion (cause great's just not good enough for us!) you'd:
Make a *copy* of the mesh files.
There may be some other formal texture wanting to use mesh F123FaFat and so you want to leave the original with the F for it to have access to.
Rename the BMP:
from f123fafatmed_redgreatgown.bmp to h123fafatmed_redgreatgown.bmp
Rename the CMX:
from f123fafat_greatgowns.cmx to h123fafat_greatgowns.cmx
Edit the CMX:
Open the cmx in a text editor (like Window's Notepad). It'll look like this:
// Character File. Copyright 1997, Maxis Inc.
On the fifth line you find the cmx is stating it's own file name (or was before you renamed it) without the extension. You want it to match it's current file name so that starting 'F' will have to be changed to an 'H' (I always match the upper/lowercasing used in the actual filename)
On the tenth line the SKN file that should be used is listed.
While you could *technically* leave it alone we are not gonna. The reason for this is if you leave it as a formal mesh and then decide to clean all of your formal meshes out later you may forget that this one is pulling double duty. If you removed the SKN and a cmx is still looking for it your game would crash. By being neat and changing the SKN file as well you can keep everything sorted out in the future a LOT easier. And easier is definitely our lifestyle of choice.
So go ahead and change that tenth line to xskin-h100faskn_original-PELVIS-BODY
Save (not save as).
Sometimes people find an extra file extension (in this case .txt) to the file (especially if they use Save As). We don't want .txt on there so if you find you have that then rename the file again and simply remove it so the file ends with .cmx like it started with.
Rename the SKN:
from xskin-f123fafat_gg-PELVIS-BODY to xskin-h123fafat_gg-PELVIS-BODY (just like it now reads on the 10th line inside of the CMX)
Edit the SKN:
Again using your text editor (Windows Notepad?) open your skn file. Don't panic! We are only interested in the first two lines. The rest is some strange mythical garble that it's best we avert our eyes from, or at least ignore completely.
The very first line is where the SKN file refers to it's own file name, again without an extension listed. As done in the cmx change xskin-f123fafat_gg-PELVIS-BODY to xskin-h123fafat_gg-PELVIS-BODY
Since this is a body mesh we can ignore the second line. Body and Head meshes don't need to use it. Other types of meshes (props like glasses, hats, wings, wears, ponytails (back when they used to come separately from the head) DO use it and it's a pretty important line for them but we wont muddle this post with their ifs, buts, and ands)
Save (again not Save As. Remove any .txt that happen to sneak on for the ride)
You are totally converted.
If you find other F123FaFat skins that you also want as High Fashion you will already have the mesh done up and only need to convert the BMP's file name like you did to this one in step one.