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Some of the more advanced features of AKAIO require a degree of technical knowledge to take advantage of them. This article aims to explain in simple terms how to get the most out of AKAIO with a minimum of tech experience.


Tools

Listed here are all of the tools mentioned for use within this article.

Acekard Skin Editor

Acekard Skin Editor is the official skinning application developed by the Acekard team. (Link Broken)

Dan Taylor's AK Edit

Dan Taylor's AK Edit is a skin editor designed specifically for the Acekard 2 and Acekard RPG, with support for AKAIO. It will automatically save images to the correct specification, and will even detect incorrectly formatted images upon loading a new skin.

GIMP

GIMP is an open-source image editor available for most major OSes, including Windows, Mac OS X and Unix/Linux. It is often compared to Adobe's Photoshop image editor, however GIMP is freely available for download. It can save images in a wide variety of formats, but importantly in this case, it is able to generate the specific type of bitmap used by AKAIO.

Skinning

A Full guide (with pictures) can be found @ http://gbatemp.net/index.php?act=ST&f=172&t=206342

Firstly: You'll need one of the skin editors from the Acekard website (shown in 'tools' above)

Secondly: You'll need a graphic package with functions like 'Crop'/'Clone'/'Resize' so that you can resize any new graphics that you've chosen. 'GIMP' is a highly recommend software and it's FREE


Tutorial

  • Depending on whether you're using Acekard official firmware or AKAIO unofficial firmware, copy any of the folders inside the /__aio/ui/ or/_ak2/ui folder onto your PC Desktop (See: Image 1)
  • Rename the folder on your desktop - this will be your 'working' folder & will prevent any accidental over-writing (See: Image 2)
Image 1
Image 2
  • Open the 'working' folder & click on one of the graphics you wish to change

You may see in the status bar at the bottom the size of the graphic (See: Image 3). If not Right-click on the graphic, select 'Properties' > 'Summary' tab - Make a note of the 'Width' and 'Height' as you'll need this when you create your new graphic (See: Image 4)

Image 3
Image 4
  • Obtain a graphic you like to use in your skin from Google images (or wherever) & load that into your art package. Alternatively - you could try & make your own
  • Using the tools in your art package (Crop/Resize/Clone etc) alter your 'new' graphic so that it's the same size as the graphic you are going to replace
  • Now save your new graphic into your 'working' folder using the EXACT SAME NAME and File type as the one you you're replacing - over-writing the existing graphic
  • Repeat this for all the graphics you want to change


Now start up the program you downloaded from the Acekard website (In this example we're using 'AK Edit' for this)

AK Edit Main Screen
  • When AK Edit has started - click on the [Open] icon (1) & browse/select your 'working' folder - then click [OK]
   If you get an error message - click [YES] to fix. 
   This is because the graphics program you used has not 
   saved it in the correct (16-bit) format
   
    NB: Sometimes when answering [Yes] to this can cause your graphics
   to appear 'grainy'. It is better to answer [No] if you are 100% all
   your graphics have been  saved as 16-bit
  • Once the graphics have been loaded, use the tabs along the top (2) & alter Positions/Change text colours etc until you're happy with it
  • Click on the 'Save' icon (3) to save any & all modifications


  • Now copy your 'working' folder BACK onto your MicroSD card (rename it if you like), place back into your Acekard/DS & try it out using [Start] > [System Properties]


A couple of things to note:

  • When selecting your new skin you may find the name been truncated - so instead of seeing 'Blue XMB Skin' you may just see 'BLUEXM~1'
  • You may find that some text may not appear exactly where you wanted it when it's used on the DS - this is a problem with AK Edit 'preview', so you'll need to do a little fine tuning within AK Edit to get it in place


Some Useful (!) Tips:

  • When making 'Split-Screen' background:

There may be a time you'd like to create a larger background (one that covers both screens) - here's a tip

  • In your art package, make the overall wallpaper a size of 256 wide by 476 height - & NOT 256 x 384, as you would expect (use 'rescale'/'crop' functions should do the trick)
  • Using your art package selection tool - copy the area starting at x=0, y=0 down to x=256, y=192 (it may be shown in your art package status bar) & paste/save this as 'upper_screen.bmp'
  • Copy the area starting from x=0,y=284 down to x=256,y=476 - Once again paste/save this but save it as 'lower_screen.bmp'

The reason for this is if you do the 'split-in'half' method - your screen background will look very 'odd' on the DS because of the space made by the hinge


  • If you want an Animated screenshot of your skin to show off your skills
In AK Edit:-
  • Click on the small 'Camera' icon in 'AK Edit' toolbar
  • In the next window click on the '[ ] All' box down the bottom & also make sure the '[ ] Animate' is ticked
  • Click on [OK] and a set of graphics will be created in a folder called 'screenshots' stored in your 'working' folder
  • You can then upload the 'preview.gif' file to Flickr (or whatever online photo storage site you have) to be used in forums


Creating Custom Icons

External icons are supported in AKAIO. They must be in BMP format at 32x32x15bpp. Naming conventions are described below. Mr.VatoLoco has compiled icons for the use with the AKAIO, you can find his post here

AKAIO has a custom icon system whereby specially formatted bitmaps (*.bmp) can be placed on your microSD and used as a replacement for the usual icons, both those built into Nintendo DS games and those used by AKAIO itself, for example the generic "Game Boy Advance" icon which is displayed for all *.gba files. However, due to the limitations on the DS hardware, the most common formats of *.bmp file (e.g. the types generated by MS Paint) are not able to be used for this purpose, and they must instead be saved with some required specifications. There are several methods of generating this type of bitmap, detailed below.


Per Extension Icons

Icons named with the extension of the file you wish to associate them with can be placed in the __aio/icons directory for global usage, or your skin's /icons directory for usage with just that skin (__aio/ui/Adv.Evo/icons). For example, to use a custom icon for all files with a "TXT" extension, your icon will be named "TXT.BMP."


Per File Icons

Specific icons can be assigned to specific files in AKAIO. Make a standard 32x32x15bpp BMP icon for the file and name it the exact name of the file, but with a .BMP extension. For example, for the file "Bob's homebrew Game.nds", you would use a BMP properly formatted BMP file named "Bob's homebrew Game.BMP."

Make sure to place these icons in the same directory as the file you are assigning them to.


Using Gimp

The image resolution required for custom icons is 32*32 pixels. If you already have a 32*32 image that you've made previously or downloaded from the Internet, all you need to do is save it in the correct format by opening it in GIMP, clicking the "File" dropdown at the top of the image window and then clicking "Save As...". See below for the specifics on how to save your icons.

If you're creating a new image, then the "Create a New Image" window will allow you to select the correct resolution of your icon. Simply enter "32" into both the "Height" and "Width" boxes on that screen, and hit "OK" to begin working on your custom icon.

If you're editing an image which is currently larger than 32*32, it is possible to change the in-progress image's attributes by clicking the "Image" dropdown and moving down to "Canvas Size". In the "Canvas Size" window, you may enter your width and height, similarly to the way this is done when creating a new image. Note that you may need to click on the chain icon next to these boxes; the chain represents a forced aspect ratio: editing one digit will automatically edit the other in order to make the image stay the same shape when it resizes (i.e. a "landscape" image would remain "landscape", just resized to your chosen dimensions). This is usually great, but not at all helpful when you need to make perfect square images, so unless your source image is already a perfect square, the chain should be unlinked. Be aware, however, that changing the canvas size will not resize the image; it it's not the same thing as scaling the image, which isn't covered here.

Once you're ready to save your image, hit "File", "Save As..." and type your filename into the box. You can either choose your file format by expanding the section at the bottom of the window, or simply by typing it into the filename field (e.g. akaiotest.bmp would save the file as a bmp). Now a "Save as BMP" window should appear, with a collapsed "Advanced Options" section. Expand it and select the "X1 R5 G5 B5" option under the "16 bits" header. Hit "Save" and your custom icon is done.

If you want to use this icon for a specific file (e.g. because you don't like the built-in icon or because you want to give icons to GBA games, etc.), rename the *.bmp to exactly match the file name of the target, minus the extension (so a custom icon for ClIRC.nds would be named ClIRC.bmp). Place your *.bmp in the same folder as the corresponding file, and when you next boot AKAIO, it should appear in place of the default icon. If you want to use this icon for a specific file format (e.g. as an icon for text files), place them in the folder /__aio/icons/ with the file format of your choice for a name (e.g. *.txt files, the bitmap should be named txt.bmp).



Icon Packs


Adding your own custom cheats

You can use the R4CEE to add your own custom cheats, these can also be action replay codes. You will first need to download and install R4CEE from Yasu's site.



Creating Custom GBA frames

As of AKAIO 1.5, you can use your own custom frames to replace the border when playing a GBA rom on the DS. These must be in BMP format at 256x192x15bpp. Place the BMP named with the internal game ID of the GBA ROM in the __aio/frames directory. The internal game ID can be found using the "internal" view of AKAIO.

With the exception of the image's size, the process of creating custom GBA frames is much the same as that for creating custom icons. Your custom image should be 256*192, which is the exact size of a Nintendo DS screen. The middle 240*160 pixels of the image will be covered by your GBA game, which leaves you with 16 pixels each on the left and right (for a total of 32) and 8 pixels each on the top and bottom (for a total of 16). The middle portion of the image will not be displayed at any point, and can be left blank. Due to the similarities between saving bitmaps for GBA frames and for icons, it is sufficient to say that the same methods of saving them are appropriate.

External Links