Tweezer's Half-Life Health Club
Tweezer's Half-Life Health Club™

Customizing Crosshairs

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This tutorial explains how to change your crosshairs or gunsights, and why it can make a big difference in your game.
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Other Resources
Sprview
You will need David Flor's sprview tool if you want to edit the original crosshairs. It converts the SPR file into a BMP file.

Sprwiz
If you want to edit crosshairs you will also need Michael "Spider" Morace's sprwiz tool to compile the BMP file into an SPR file.

Crosshair Central
Lots and lots of crosshairs, info and links. Located at Planet Half-Life.

The Bullseye: Your Crosshair Headquarters
Robert Christopher's site contains a wealth of info and many sets of crosshairs.

Sprite Tutorial
A fine piece of work by "Spider" that explains much about the graphic nature of sprites in general, and how they relate to crosshairs.
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Major K in the crossbow sightsWhat are "Crosshairs"?

The term crosshairs refers to the gunsight in the center of the screen.  Each weapon in Half-Life presents its own distinctive crosshairs. Some even have several different crosshairs. For example, the image to the left shows the "zoomed" crossbow crosshairs.

Why consider changing crosshairs? If you've ever used the telescopic sight on the .357 Magnum pistol, then you probably don't have to ask: the "zoomed" .357 crosshair is nothing more than a single dot in the center of the screen.

Examining Your Crosshairs

Crosshairs are kept in a sprite file called crosshairs.spr, but you won't find it in your Half-Life directory unless someone has already modified your crosshairs. That's because  the Half-Life distribution packages many of its components, including crosshairs.spr, into the Half-Life\valve\pak0.pak file. The Half-Life Model Viewer hlmv can be used to view and extract the contents of these PAK files.

To view the standard crosshairs just follow these steps. You don't need to do this if you just want to install new crosshairs that you've downloaded.

  1. Use Mete Ciragan's hlmv to extract crosshairs.spr from valve/pak0.pak. You'll find the crosshairs file in the sprites subdirectory of the PAK. Let's save it as Half-Life\valve\sprites\crosshairs-orig.spr. You may need to create the sprites directory.
  2. Use David Flor's sprview to open crosshairs-orig.spr and save it as crosshairs-orig.bmp. This is a form we can deal with more conveniently.
  3. Standard Crosshairs
  4. Now open crosshairs-orig.bmp with your favorite graphics editor, such as Jasc Paint Shop Pro. You should see the image at right. This single image contains the crosshairs for all weapons.

It can be confusing to determine which parts of the image are for which weapons. To clarify things, offers the chart below. This is a blowup of the standard crosshair image with labels to denote which locations in the sprite image correspond to which weapons. Redrawn from an illustration by Robert Christopher on the Bullseye web page.

Order of crosshairs in sprite file

The crosshairs labelled in green are the autoaim crosshairs. Autoaim is not commonly used in multiplayer games.

Modifying Crosshairs

To change the crosshairs, one simply edits the BMP bitmap image of the crosshairs, converts it back to an SPR sprite file, and saves it as Half-Life\valve\sprites\crosshairs.spr. Fortunately it is not necessary to modify the original crosshairs stored in the PAK file since files in the sprites directory override the contents of the PAK.

To edit the crosshairs follow these steps, which continue the steps shown in the previous section:

  1. Edit crosshairs-orig.bmp with your favorite graphics editor. Save the modified version as Half-Life\valve\sprites\crosshairs.spr
  2. Use Michael "Spider" Morace's sprwiz to compile the BMP file into an SPR file. Save it as valve/sprites/crosshairs.spr.

My own custom crosshairs are shown below. They are only slightly modified from the original. The changes provide greater visibility, especially for the .357 Magnum. 

The Big Tweeze's Crosshairs

To use my crosshairs, download the file crosshairs.spr and save it in the sprites directory:

Half-Life/valve/sprites/crosshairs.spr

There are many alternative crosshair sets available on the net. Check out Crosshair Central and Bullseye (see the Resources Section on this page). To use any of them, just save the file as crosshairs.spr in the sprites directory.

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Shortcut
To install new crosshairs from the net, download the file and save it as crosshairs.spr in the Half-Life\valve\sprites\ directory. That's it.

Click here to download The Big Tweeze's crosshairs.
TweezerTip™:
No Crosshairs
Sometimes it's useful to make the crosshairs disappear, for example, when taking screen shots. To turn off your crosshairs, use the

crosshairs 0

console command (type "~" (tilda) to bring down the console). Bring them back using

crosshairs 1
TweezerTip™:
Paint Shop Pro
Jasc Paint Shop Pro 7

Jasc Paint Shop Pro 7 is the latest version of this hugely popular image editing utility. This is what uses and recommends for creating personal logos and editing crosshairs.

For more information see .
TweezerTip™:
Where to Get Half-Life
Half-Life isn't free; you need to buy it. Internet play requires a CD Key number, which only comes with a Half-Life CD. You can't really share CD Keys because they are authenticated before you begin an internet game.


For "deathmatch" play you need either the Half-Life: Game of the Year Edition (now bundled with the Opposing Force expansion and sold as the Half-Life: Adrenaline Pack), or the new Half-Life Counter-Strike release (below).


If you are serious, you'll want both. You can save quite a bit of money by getting the complete set, newly bundled as the Half-Life Platinum Edition.


For more information see .
 
Updated Saturday April 30, 2005 10:43:08 PDT
Site email to theTweeze@chipchapin.com