Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold

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Art In Pinkerton

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AI-Upscale texture mod for Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold. It must be used with BStone source port. All sprites, walls, floors and ceilings are done. Original images were LESS THAN 64x64, now all are up near 1024x1024. The game still retains the comic book-like look to it. Easy to install and enable in the settings.

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AIP Mod - Blake Stone Edition

Created by Art In Pinkerton (aka Pinkertonius, aka Martin)

  • Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold (Shareware, GOG,Steam)
  • BSTONE – Unofficial Source port
  • AIP Mod - Blake Stone Edition (duh)

From my YouTube Channel, Martin Saves the Universe


Blake Stone is a comic-booky (that’s a real word, I swear) FPS released in 1993 as shareware (free first episode, mail order remainders). It was DOS (no Windows, so the dark ages basically) only. The game itself is like a mid-step between Wolfenstein 3D (the OG 2.5D) and Doom. Since it came out around the same time as the vastly superior Doom, it was greatly overshadowed and eventually, mostly forgotten. (Blake sad).

A programmer named Bibendovsky created an unofficial source port that runs the game in Windows and, among other things, supports using custom texture for the game (not all hero’s wear capes but some programmers do!). So, I created an much higher resolution texture pack to replace the very low-resolution artwork. Well, it involved a little bit of problem solving too but I won’t bother you with that. Just kidding, I will but I’ll put it down in the “No one will likely ever read this” section. 
1.      Install Blake Stones: Aliens of Gold
-  Unless you prefer theater of the mind, then skip all steps and dream away
2.      Install Blstone into the same directory
-   Honestly you just need the 1 executable file called BStone.exe
-   If you install it in the RE4 directory, takes your meds and repeat #2

3.      Install AIPMod – Blake Stone edition by unzipping file and placing the files and folder in the base game directory.
4.      Run BStone
5.      Select AG
6.      Go to Game Options > Video > Texturing and set External Texture to on
7.      Enjoy! (I hope, I mean I can’t make you but IT IS step 7, so who are we to argue)
Right now, it’s as complete as it can be without the programmer expanding the external textures mode to include animations and the
HUD. However, there may be a version 2.0 after I release the second game set. I know Photoshop well, so I’ll likely touch up some textures so they upscale
better (I’m looking at you slender-man researchers and blob-y candybars).

WHAT (the extended cut)
Blake Stone was released in 1993 as shareware by Apogee. Unfortunately, Doom showed up at the same time, punched it in the face, stole its lunch money and sent it to directly to obscurity. I had heard of it, but in for the most part, it’s not been on my radar most those 30 years. Then I stumbled on the source port
mentioned above and was intrigued. After some investigation (i.e. 2 mins of googling) and saw a forum post where a modder mentioned that they convinced the programmer to add support for externally loaded textures (overwriting the in-game ones).


Honestly, it was just by chance that I stumbled across it but I love little challenges like this and rolled with it. It only took me a couple days but most of that was experimenting to find the right combination of ESRGAN models to keep everything from looking like it was dumped in blender (Blake Stone smoothies....gross).  I have tons of little projects like this that are finished or half-finished and I figured it was about darn time that I started sharing (sounds like time for a Care Bear Stare).
This is the tricky (and long winded) part. I had several hurdles to overcome.
-         How do I extract the artwork
-         What format does it need to be in?
-         How large can I make it?
-         What ESRGAN models to use.

I practiced more Google-fu but could not find any website that had the textures already extracted. Then I looked for programs that could do it for me (I ain't trying to decode those least not for this game). Fortunately, since the game was built on a modified Wolfenstein 3D engine, there were several tools that seemed promising. The first, WDC, proved to be not adequate for my needs. It didn’t fully export the art and messed the palette up on some. Then I stumbled on a forum post suggesting someone use Slade (I can't read that without hearing Robin say it with his trademark tone), another Wolf3d map maker, for Blake Stone. After installing it, I found it perfect for what I needed. I exported all the artwork in just a few minutes. Since I didn’t need to import the artwork, it did exactly what I wanted. 

Now, when I was still experimenting with individual textures in game to see how they work, I found two problems. (happens every annoying). 

The art didn’t load initially
After reviewing the documentation, I realized the files needed to have an exact naming structure. I had over 800 files that needed to be renamed. Fortunately, the format was basically SPRITE or WALL and underscore and five to seven 0’s and an index number. The files were ALMOST there. Rather than do them one by one, I downloaded the Bulk File Renamer from Microsoft Store (yes, I feel dirty). It was pretty simple to align the naming right. Once renamed. I saved all the original textures with the correct name. However, when I loaded the first test image….

The art was stretched horizontally
At first the instructions for BStone were a little confusing. It involved editing it at one resolution then importing at another. I experimented with several different textures and realized finally that the image I extracted from the original files was okay BUT the “canvas” for each had to be perfectly square and almost none (but the walls) were. This fix was uglier. I opened the test image in Photoshop, changed the canvas size (not the image size) to 64x64, with maintain aspect ratio disabled and saved it. It worked. So I just needed to, again, tweak 800+ textures this way.

Fortunately, I realized a shortcut after doing just a few. I have a macro keyboard (NERD!!!!) so I recorded the steps in photoshop to expand the canvas and save/close the file as a macro key. All I had to do was open every file and run the macro on each one. Still a lot of work right? Not really. I was opening hundreds at a time in Photoshop (just drag and drop a huge group into photoshop and they all open individually). I started with the last one, pressing the macro key about once a second. Since the macro closed the file after adjustment, it automatically switched to next one. After manually pressings 50 times ( I have no idea really how many times, but 50 sounded impressive enough), I realized to change my macro to "repeat if you keep the button pressed". After that, I used my
trusty Xbox controller to hold the button down and I enjoyed a Coke (product placement here). The longest stage involved testing a crap ton of combinations for ESRGAN to find the version that didn’t wreck the artwork and preserved some detail. This took a lot of experimentation find one that didn’t wreck the
faces (well mostly).

WARNING SUPER NERD INFO INCOMING. I used CUPSCALE which is an upscaling front end for ESRGAN that can install most the requirements automatically. I ended up using a sequence of 4 different trained models: 4xArcherpolation (reduced to 50% size after upscale), 1xDeband and 1x Deblur, then 4xFSManga twice (1st reduced to 50% size after upscale, 2nd normal). Most original textures were smaller than 64x64 pixels (yes, pixels!) and I ended upscaling the original
artwork by 16 times to around 1024x1024. I told you this was some nerdy stuff. 

Eventually, I might make a video showing how my process worked if anyone is interested.

Lastly, all I needed to do was put them in the AOG folder I created (per the BStone instructions) and plop that bad boy in the game main directory. 

BOOM. That's it. 

AHEM!....If only the Catacombs 3D source port support external textures too (HINT HINT)

AHEM 2: AHEM IN SPACE....Also, if anyone know of other source ports that support external textures...let me know (I just might be inclined)

Bibendovsky  -  creator of BStone (if you want to do Catacombs 3D, I wouldn't stop you ;)
LoneWolf (Hoover1979) - the guy who convinced Bibendovsky to add support for external textures
The creator of SLADE - uh...for creating SLADE
Xinntao - For ESRGAN (that business is like voodoo magic)
NMKD - creator of CUPSCALE, a front end for ESRGAN that makes it SOOO much easier to use
ArtInPinkerton - that dude, man he seems like a fun guy. Shame no one watches his video...sob sob