Since the Creative Assembly have given us a space to blog about the wider Total War fan community, I’d like to take the opportunity to introduce both a large chunk of the Total War fanbase, and also a great aspect of the Total War games which lots of gamers don’t even know exists, let alone exploit. I’m talking about modding; a great source for a challenge and fun in two respects: the modding and the mods.
More casual gamers amongst you who aren’t very active in the online Total War forums may be asking yourself what on earth I’m talking about. Well, here’s a handy definition:
Mod is short for Modification, and in general means a piece of hardware or software which has been modified by its users. In gaming terms, it means some fans have tinkered with the game to make it more to their liking by adding new items, characters or weapons, or even to make a completely new game using the original game engine (known as total conversions).
In Total War terms, you could think of a mod as a free, downloadable, unofficial expansion pack for the games.
Many game developers actively support modders in their work because mods extend the lifespan and popularity of a game, and mods often get coverage and are distributed by magazines. The ‘moddability’ of games varies, as does the amount of support developers give to their fans. Some aspects of a game are easily changed, such as unit stats in the Total War series, and some cannot be changed at all, such as the number of factions in Rome: Total War. Those aspects of a game which cannot be modified by fans are known as “hardcoded”. So far the Total War series has been very moddable in terms of what can be achieved.
As they say, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. To show you some of the incredible games created by modding Total War games, I’d like to tell you in more detail about what’s available.An important category of mods are those which stick to the same time period as the original game, but re-work the details. These often aim to make the game more historical, or attempt to improve the gameplay. Some examples of these are Europa Barbarorum and Rome Total Realism for Rome: Total War, both of which are available for download.
A bitterly contested Ptolemaioi vs Koinon Hellenon battle from Europa Barbarorum
Then there are those mods which change the historical setting completely. Top quality examples of these are Napoleonic Total War 2 for Rome, and NTW 1 and Hellenic Total War for the original Medieval: Total War.
A French 21-pounder battery fires into charging Russian cavalry at point blank range, whilst the Russian army, clouded in gun smoke, marches on in Napoleonic Total War 2
Other mods completely abandon reality and plunge into the realms of fantasy. Some of these are based on novels or films and some purely on the modder’s imagination. Two examples of these are Blue Lotus, a mod based on Far Eastern mythology, and The Lord of the Rings – Total War.
Chinese heavy cavalry charge into Demon ranks in Blue Lotus
Finally, there are those small mods which attempt to add an entirely new feature to the game, such as making the wonders of the world appear properly in battles, changing the number of turns in one year, or even my own creation: a play-by-email Multiplayer Campaign.
I hope I’ve been able to give you some idea of what mods can provide, and I haven’t even touched on the challenge and enjoyment provided by the modding itself, as well as the community of likeminded people that revolve around it. The mods I’ve mentioned are only a small fraction of what’s been done, so I’d urge you check out some of the modding fan forums, see what’s availiable, and who knows, maybe make your own dream mod?!
There are modding forums at each of the major fansites:
Dave AKA Myrddraal.org Modding Moderator
Many thanks for that Dave a great piece of work. Next week we continue the modding theme with a Blog from Lord Zimoa of Flanders from the Lordz Modding Collective. Remember this is your blog so if you want to write for it let me know!