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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Highlights from CA modding summit

Miyako wearing chanchanko by Takashi(aes256) from flickr (CC-SA)

This is a very late post since the summit was three weeks ago, but better late than never.

I did some liveblogging during and immediately after the summit, if you want every detail, go to these three places:
Here I'll summarize the most important things. If you have any questions, ask away.

Modding Kit on Steam

There's now a bunch of modding tools released for Shogun 2 only, and available on Steam. Included is some way to build campaign maps, most of models, and some of minor formats etc.

There will also be Steam Workshop integration for easier distribution of mods.

It won't work on Empire or Napoleon, but it might be useful in reverse engineering them.

There now also official wiki. Only time will tell if it attracts much information about modding. The problem was too many wikis and fora, not too few of them. (relevant xkcd)

Still missing

There was nothing about any game before Empire, and very little about Empire/Napoleon.

Even for Shogun 2, a lot of formats are still missing.

There's no information about UI layout files (which we partially decoded), sources for .luac files (which we can partially decode), sound bank (again, partially decodable) etc.

One minor thing I asked for was .sav file format used by Rome and Medieval 2, but they don't have any documentation. I made some effort to decode it recently, but to be honest my hopes are not terribly high.

Another interesting thing CA guys said was that all damage calculations figures for all games community reverse engineered are wrong, and real calculations are far too complicated to release.

Rome 2

There was a short video of Rome 2 battle, short fragment of which later released to the public.

Judging from the video Rome 2 will have:
  • ridiculously huge battle maps
  • much more people per unit
  • surprisingly good unit pathfinding in complex streets, serious weakness of previous games
  • naval invasion as part of land battles, including sieges
  • much more interesting siege equipment on both sides, there's even some partial defensive palisade attackers can hide behind
  • full screen tactical map (bird eyes's view) - I'm surprised it took them so long, it was badly needed, especially in naval battles
Rome 2 will still be a 32-bit only game. They have 64-bit build, but don't plan releasing it. Feel free to spam them with requests of course. :-p

An interesting technical hint was that they're no longer using .lua for Rome 2, but who knows really.

There was also a mention of builtin console feature for debug build, I really wish they shipped with it enabled by some config flags, but my hopes aren't high.

Planned release date is a bit before Christmas 2013.

Blinkenlights at London Hackspace

I paid a visit to London Hackspace yesterday hoping to play with laser cutter and 3d printer. And of course due to my luck neither laser cutter nor any of 3d printers they had worked, so I decided to do something else and play with electronics.

That's not terribly complicated, but it's my first ever thing using 555 timer circuit.

Due to power cable shortage I had to use red cable for both Vcc and Gnd, I'm totally aware it goes against the most important thing in circuit design - color coding your cables.

Long time ago I made a somewhat serious attempt at building a computer, but it never got past ALU phase since just wiring all the damn things was taking forever.

Here are some photos:

I'm somewhat tempted to give it another go someday, especially if I can find either how to print PCB or find some other way to deal with wiring, since the wiring was the biggest problem as you can probably see on the photos - elegant schematics turned into Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Anyway, London Hackspace is open for visitors every Tuesday evening, so if you live in London or are just passing by it's a good idea to drop by and see what's there.

I haven't decided if I want to get seriously involved or not, but I plan to at least give it another go - maybe the next time laser cutter and 3d printer will be working, or I'll find someone knowledgeable about PCB etching (since they have etching station over there too).

Actually does anybody know if laser cutter can be used to make PCBs? It sounds like it should since it can make both traces (by cutting a bit into top copper layer) and holes (by cutting all the way through) and with careful positioning it might even be able to do the same to the bottom layer in matching way. It sounds a lot less messy to just cut it with lasers rather than mess with ton of chemicals, but maybe it doesn't really work as well I as hope.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Medieval 2 Total War Concentrated Vanilla 0.53

Filipe the Archer by Friday Felts from flickr (CC-NC-ND)

A new Concentrated Vanilla released. It's a fairly minor update:
  • Game's main menu now has yellow "Concentrated Vanilla" label added, so you won't have trouble figuring out if it installed correctly.
  • Rebel settlements start with slightly fewer units, since AI had too much trouble dealing with them. They still have a lot more troops than vanilla so they won't be too easy to take.
  • Some bugs with rebels having units without proper textures fixed.
  • New settlements of Sijilmasa and Belgrade made smaller since they were causing trouble to AI.
  • Artillery accuracy scaled down a bit from 2.5x to 2.25x vanilla values.
  • Upgrading units' armor and weapons now costs nothing extra, since you're already paying one turn's upkeep by having them sit idle in a settlement.
  • Mercenaries pools in Concentrated Vanilla are larger and replenish faster. This makes war feel different depending on location, but unfortunately it can easily lead to all factions relying heavily on mercenaries and reduced differences between factions. Therefore mercenary recruitment and upkeep costs increased by 25%. They're still very often a bargain.


One thing I've been pondering but haven't implemented is finding some use for peasants. Currently they see zero play since Militia units are far better and easier to recruit.

Would it make sense to make Peasants recruitable as mercenaries in large numbers in every region as a way to pad army size quickly?

Or maybe add a garrison script that automatically adds some Peasants to defend a settlement whenever it's sieged (for both AI and player, but not rebels)? This would be similar to what Matchlock-armed Citizens do in Empire.

I've heard that garrison scripts can result in excessive slowness (due to Number of Settlements x Number of Factions x Number of Settlement Levels x City/Castle triggers), but maybe it can be dealt with.

Both ways make historical sense, and would see Peasants see some action without reducing the need for any other unit type, or affecting game balance too much.

What do you think?

Source Code

The mod is released with source code, but no tutorial how to use it. Someday I plan to write a post how to make your own mod with tweaks to Vanilla or Concentrated Vanilla, but go on and play with it now. I'd love to hear from anybody who tried.

You'll just need some version of Ruby, text editor, and sources below.


Concentrated Vanilla 0.53 uses some files from the following minimods:
  • Sinuhet's Battle Mechanics
  • Lusted's Better BAI/CAI
  • Agart's Cities/Castles Strat


You can download mod here.

You can download sources here.

If you're interested in how this mod evolved, posts about previous versions (with links inside):