Total War Blog

Archive for the ‘Modding’

Modding Medieval II

Epistolary Richard, the Modding rep from the Org, has been at the Brisbane studio getting some hands on time with the code. And this is what he has to say:

Hi all,

As many of you know I’ve had the delightful opportunity to spend a full week with the Medieval 2 Total War Developers in their office in Brisbane. The primary purpose has been to discuss what the modding community has achieved, what it’s looking to do with Medieval 2 and explore ideas as to how CA might support this effort.

In addition, I’ve also had the chance to poke around at the game itself and quiz some of the developers directly with both the community’s questions I’d previously collated and quite a few of my own.

Now, with a couple of days under my belt – and with the weekend coming up where the studio will be sadly closed (I will have my nose pressed up against the window until Monday) I’m happy to be able to pass back some of my initial findings.

AI
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From Legionary to Musketeer

I’m Lord Zimoa of Flanders from the Lordz Modding Collective. In this community blog we will be talking about what it takes to make a total conversion mod for the Total War games, specificly the Napoleonic TW 2 mod (NTW2).

The Napoleonic TW mods are developed by a group of people under the name “The Lordz”. Most Lordz were Napoleonic warfare fans before they joined the team, and those who weren’t soon turn into fans of this extremely exciting – but often underestimated – period of history. The team has a long history of modding the TW series. It started with small tests in ShogunTW, eventually moving to MedievalTW which led to our first mod: Napoleonic TW.

Being hobbyists who work for free, most mod teams face activity problems at some point, which in the worst case leads to the disbanding of the team and the giving up of the mod project. Even an old and proven team such as the Lordz did not escape these problems. After the release of RomeTW we started research on a possible Napoleonic mod for this new game. But lack of interest and doubts that the RTW engine was just not suited for Napoleonic warfare resulted in almost no progress for over a year. It seemed unlikely NTW2 would ever be finished. But around the beginning of 2006 the Lordz reinforced the team with a lot of new talent, most of whom were already involved in several other RTW modding projects. The development returned to full speed and we finally managed to release the first version of NTW2 in September 2006.

NTW2 can be defined as a “total conversion”, meaning it replaces almost every part of the game, ranging from user interface graphics and 3D models to music and sound effects. When you take a look at the screenshots of the mod it will be hard to recognize anything from the original RTW game. We had the luck of attracting a lot of highly talented people capable of producing everything that was needed for what is basically a completely new game.


The first step a modder must go through when starting a mod is research: you have to figure out what can be changed and how. When you do a mod that is focused on a completely new theme you’ll definitely have to spend a lot of time on this, and there is always the chance that the game’s engine is just not capable of bringing your ideas to reality. Luckily RTW proved to be highly moddable, although it didn’t go without a large portion of blood, sweat and tears. Thanks to the vast and well organized modding community of the TW series a lot of research was actually done by people who are not even involved in the creation of our mod.

The tools that are required to create new content (such as 3D models and animations) are developed by community members, without whom NTW2 would never have been possible. Sadly, these unofficial tools had some flaws which restricted our options. For example we could not change a lot of soldier animations without causing serious problems in their ability to move fluently on the battlefield. Having to remove pieces of work – that took hours to create – because of a flaw in a modding tool can be very frustrating.

A few examples of some of the more complex achievements in the NTW2 mod – it may not sound difficult to a casual person but it took us a long time to complete these features:

  • Creating units armed with muskets, including smoke effect and musket reload & firing animations.
  • Garrisonable buildings: units can enter certain large buildings, and shoot at the enemy from inside
  • Cannonballs: realistic solid cannonballs that bounce over the ground and cut through ranks of infantry
  • AI scripts: scripted historical battles help the AI fight in a Napoleonic style


The first version of NTW2 is out and updates are following at a rapid pace. The mod has been quite successful and multiplayer games are being played every day. However with MTW2 at the horizon we will most likely stop the development on the mod after a couple of months as interest in the old RomeTW and it’s mods will soon start to diminish. However this will not be the end of the Lordz and their Napoleonic themed games. We will be looking into new ways to satisfy our creative minds as we look into several new options, the MTW2 engine only being one of them. Our dream is to one day develop our own full game without the restrictions that modding has, and the current team has proved it has the talent and devotion to do so.

Lord Zimoa

Well many thanks to Lord Zimoa. Remember any one who wants to contribute to this blog should Email me.The Shogun

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The Mods and the Modding


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:

Community links


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!

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The Retrofit Mod

Hello there, and welcome to the first in a series of blogs that will be about some of the big mods out there for the Total War series. This blog is about the Retrofit Mod.

Less than 2 days after Kingdoms was released, this rather interesting mod made by Unspoken Knight appeared. The Retrofit Mod retrofits many Medieval II: Kingdoms features into Medieval II: Total War. This enables you to play the Grand Campaign using the Kingdoms .exe and get Kingdoms features such as boiling oil and controllable reinforcements.

You can download the Retrofit Mod from here:
http://www.twcenter.net/forums/downloads.php?do=file&id=1581
 

The mod requires Kingdoms to be installed to work, and the feature list for the mod is:

– Hotseat Campaigns.
– Control AI Reinforcements.
– Boiling Oil.
– 4 Additional custom battle maps (Backwoods, Borderlands, Forts, Trenches).
– Unit rebalancing.
– AI Unit Recruitment tweaks.
– Campaign AI Tweaks.
– Miscellaneous bug fixes and improvements.
– Installer: The mod is packaged with an easy-to-use installer for computers with a valid installation of M2TW: Kingdoms.

The mod has one of the best installers I’ve personally seen for a mod and so is very easy to install. It also has a variety of ways it can be run:

– Start menu shortcut
– Quicklaunch icon
– Desktop icon
– M2TW game launcher (English)
– Batch file located in: [M2TW Path]\mods\retrofit\medieval2_retrofit.bat

Because the mod installs to its own folder it also will not affect your game installation at all.

The rapid release of this mod just goes to show the talent there is in the Total War modding community.

In this blog I’m also going to elaborate on two features seen in Kingdoms, as I’ve seen a few forum threads about them.

First up is the Controllable Reinforcements feature. Many people seem to be unaware that you can not only set the stance for reinforcing armies, but you can also order them where to go. You can do this by simply having the reinforcing army selected by clicking on the card for it, and then right click anywhere on the battle map and they will head there. This combined with the different stances allows you a lot of control over your reinforcements.

Next is boiling oil. Some people are unsure how you activate it. All you need to do is have a unit on a wall section next to the gate on a settlement with stone walls or higher, or if you’re playing the Britannia campaign the permanent stone forts as well. This will then show a little flag above the middle of the gate to represent the fact that boiling oil is active on that gate. And any enemies who attack the game might end up feeling a bit warm.

That’s all for this entry, there’ll be more mod blogs coming up shortly so stay tuned! If you know of a mod you’d like to see previewed drop an email to me at jack@creative-assembly.co.uk

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