Fall of Nations: Dev Blog #00

Now that nearly 100 people have subscribed to Fall of Nations, it seems like I should go into more detail about what exactly I want to accomplish with it. I’m also starting to run into the character limit of a Workshop mod’s description – and even if I wasn’t it’s still becoming pretty unwieldy.

Let’s start with the broadest strokes and work our way down from there.

What is Fall of Nations, and what’s it for?

It’s what I’m calling a “tech demo mod”. Its primary purpose is to show off some things that modders can do with Rise of Nations mods that I think are being underutilised – or in some cases not utilised at all. The current plan is for it to be a full-game-conversion mod that focuses on a custom CtW campaign.

As a secondary purpose, I hope the final product will actually be fun and/or interesting to play through, but because that’s not its primary purpose, I fully expect that there will be stuff included which doesn’t make the mod any more fun to play through or use. I’ll try to avoid random features that make the mod straight up unfun to play, but expect superfluous extras that are just there to show off what’s possible to do.

As another side effect, I get to learn a whole bunch about how Rise of Nations is coded / structured by making it, which means I can release other mods that build off of the work I’ve done for FoN. For example, Misc Fixes (which includes over 30 hours of work) probably wouldn’t exist without FoN, and Extra Menu Backgrounds certainly wouldn’t. I can also produce some documentation for RoN modding based on what I discover, which should make it easier for less experienced modders to get to work.1

What does “full-game-conversion mod” mean here?

Some people seem to have misunderstood why I used this language, so I want to clear this up so nobody gets disappointed by the end product.

This mod is not trying to replace RoN.

The term “Full-game-conversion mod” is used because if you have FoN installed, you will not be able to play RoN as you know it. When finished, the menu will literally not have buttons for you to access the normal CtW campaigns, skirmish games, multiplayer games, the original tutorial, the original skill tests, and maybe even the scenario editor. I might still have game save/load functionality but if you try to load a save from a normal RoN game it might just crash your game – I don’t know yet.

That’s why the icon I’ve used alongside that term is a nuke explosion: FoN almost entirely removes your ability to play RoN.

What this doesn’t mean is that your RoN install would be forever ruined by installing FoN. Removing the mod as per whatever instructions are provided for your version of the mod will restore RoN back to its usual self, with no weird side effects or anything (unless noted otherwise). On that note I think I might have to start including a copy of some instructions in a txt file with the mod, as the Workshop page sometimes gets updated in fairly rapid succession and I don’t want someone to no longer have the right instructions for their install.

So what exactly is included in the mod?

To go very PR-answer on you, that’s a great question.

I don’t have the full answer since the scope change as I either explore ideas and discover they’re not workable, or stumble onto new ones that I want to add (e.g. the custom launcher graphics). Here’s the list of what I want to include as of publishing this article, but it’s subject to change. To also answer the second question of “how much of the mod is complete?“, I’ve made this a fancy table with some extra info.

This table will be updated as mod progress is made. Last update: 28th September 2020.

FeatureEstimated % of total work timeImplemented?
Custom mod thumbnail1%Mostly, yes
Modded game logo (including normal maps etc)2%Mostly, yes
Custom launcher graphics1%Yes
Modded menu background animations2%Yes, but may be tweaked in future
Modded menu music*0.5%Yes, but more music to be added in future
Modded menu text0.1%Mostly, yes
Modded menu graphics3%No, but some exploratory work done
Lightly modded menu structure1.5%Mostly, yes
Modded in-game music2.5%No, but significant work done
Lightly modded UI audio2.5%Partially
Custom CtW campaign**10%No, but significant exploratory work done
Lightly modded units / buildings / etc for the campaign21% (including below)No, but meaningful exploratory work done
Functioning barbed wire and/or mines3%No, but have functional code implementation for both
New feature: conditional overheal (increase unit beyond max HP in specific circumstance)1.5%No, but have functional code implementation
Additional / custom VO for campaign10%No, but some exploratory work done
Access and play audio files not included with mod (without user action)***1%No, but have functional code implementation
Heavy custom scripting for campaign and scenarios58%No, but some exploratory work done
Modded credits1%Partially
Interoperable with specific other mods1.9%N/A (has not yet become relevant)
Total / approx implemented:More than 100%7%

* This is, surprisingly, not natively supported via the integrated modding system, which is why it’s considered a separate feature
** Albeit a somewhat brief one, given this is just a proof of concept / tech demo
^ (increase unit beyond max HP in specific circumstance)
*** This is just a tech feature which I think could be useful for some mods to use

Hang on that’s more than  100%

It is, but it’s hard to do proportions for the items that are less than 3% if I don’t do it this way. It’s much easier to compare the relative scale of 1.5% and 60% than 1.3% and 52%, even though both are actually proportionate.

You can also pretend that it alludes to the sheer amount of work the mod requires if you’d like to do so.

Is the estimated completion number for a 100% total, or the non-100% total?

Whichever one makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. (real answer: that figure is so approximate that it doesn’t really matter which system it’s referring to until I’m nearly done)

Why are you doing this?

I do wonder that myself sometimes.

Can I help?

For this project I want to do basically all the work myself, mostly so that I can learn it myself. If (and these are enormous ifs) I get really good feedback on the final release and also find more time to work on something virtually-unpaid for a thousand hours, I might later make  FoN into a series of campaigns and would be open to receive help on those future releases.

In the meantime, the thing that would most help the mod is to provide testing and feedback on features (particularly those highlighted).

If this sounds cool and you’d like to increase my effective rate of pay from cents per hour worked to not, consider becoming a patron, pretending I drink coffee, or other financial means.

Mods that likely wouldn’t exist without the work I’ve done on FoN

(this helps demonstrate how intertwined work on FoN and work other mods is)

 


 

  1. The best documentation is probably the mod itself though, since you can figure out how things work just based on what changes in the files vs what you see in-game.

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