Elemental: Modding

By on February 20, 2010 2:25:12 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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We get a lot of questions on how moddable Elemental is.  The best way I can answer that is to tell you what our objectives are.

Elemental is a game built on our new Kumquat engine.  Our previous games were developed using an engine we referred to as Pear.

Because it’s our engine, we are free to distribute it in whatever way we want.  Experienced modders can hopefully chime in the comments area to explain to others the importance (in terms of modding) that we own the whole engine and thus are under no constraints.

So let’s walk through some frequently asked questions:

Q: What kinds of mods would you expect modders to be able to make with Elemental (Kumquat)?

A: I would expect someone to be able to create pretty much any type of game with it. More specifically (more realistically) I would imagine there being mods that let people make total conversions to games of the same genre (i.e. A space strategy game, a Civilization type game, a Master of Orion type game). 

Q: What kinds of mods do YOU, Brad Wardell, plan to make?

A: I want to make a Temple of Apshai type mod.

Q: What are the tools we would need to know to mod?

A: We have chosen Python as our scripting language.  Post release we plan to keep full time developers to be dedicated to exporting more and more APIs from Kumquat to expose them to Python. 

In terms of UI, we use DesktopX.  All the .dxpacks in Elemental (and Galactic Civilizations) are made using DesktopX.  It’s a free download. DesktopX version 4 is in development presently. You can find the .dxpacks in the screens directory.

In terms of graphics, we use .PNG files for static images (the game literally reads in .PNG files from the gfx directory).

In terms of models and animation, we use Intel’s Havok. We also have a tool we’ll be releasing that makes Havok files work with Elemental.  These are all free. What you make your models and other 3D assets in is up to you. We use Maya and 3D Studio (depending on artist preference).

To organize all these pieces together, we use XML which tells the game what .dxpack to use or what .PNG file to use or what Havok files to use.  We do not hard code any paths into the engine so you could put them wherever you want.

Q: When should we start modding?

A: That would be Beta 5 which is scheduled for this Summer.  It will be during that time that we start to release our own example mods.

Q: What are some example mods you would make?

A: We would try to cover the full range with our samples.  Here are some specifics of what we plan to provide during Beta 5 and after release.

1. Adding your own maps to Elemental to share via the metaverse (ImpulseReactor’s virtual shared drive system)

2. Adding your own items, spells, technologies, buildings, city improvements and share via the Metaverse.

3. Adding your own races (our example will probably be elves or dwarves or something based on player feedback).

4. Creating your own 3D assets and putting them into Elemental.

5. Using your copy of Elemental to make a totally new TBS game (GalCiv like or MOO like or Civilization like or HOMM like or MOM like or whatever).

6. Using your copy of Elemental to make a totally new type of game TBS (my sample, which will be public domain when released, is the aforementioned Temple of Apshai).

7. Using your copy of Elemental to make an action or RTS game.

Obviously, how much is done here depends on how successful Elemental is commercially so these aren’t promises as much as what we are planning to do.  We used Pear from 1997 through 2007.  Kumquat will be with us probably for the next decade at least.

Relevant Screenshots:

image
DesktopX is our tool of choice for creating screens. Powerful, easy to use (once you get used to it) and battle tested. You can even export your creation as gadgets.

image
Elemental will include the Kumquat Tile editor for letting people create their own 3D scenes using 3D assets made by others. For modders, it means that the “pipeline” organization is provided by the tools. You don’t have to coordinate lots of different people to get a mod done, you can each contribute to a pipeline and use as you wish.

 

image 
Modders can create their own 3D models in whatever program they want and then export it to Havok’s format.

image
Artists use either Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator to create as many assets as possible in vector format. This way, as hardware improves, we can update our games years later with free new, better graphics. This was most obviously seen in GalCiv II: Twilight of the Arnor. It’s a technique we highly recommend.

 

Hope this helps.  We’ll be talking a lot more about modding this Summer.

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February 20, 2010 2:49:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What about AI modding? Possible? Impossible? Can change C++ code? Can change only Python code? Only XML settings?

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February 20, 2010 3:19:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Man, I really wish I knew how to mess with Python.  I am absolutely clueless with that.  My skills are limited to the relative recent endeavor in Blender.

 

Frogboy, heh... TRS-80's... man the good ole days.  My dad got one for us kids back in the late 70's early 80's.  Did yours have a tape recorder for a disc drive?  Also, I can't remember if we had Temple of Aphshai, but I do remember the great text based adventures.  Typing "E" "W" "S" "N" through a dungeon and fighting monsters.  Seems like I had more fun then than many of the graphically spectacular games we have now.  But that may be fond rememberances run amock with old age.  I suppose I tend to forget the frustrations of getting lost all the time or the inability of doing simple tasks because of the limitations of text-based adventuring. If you make a mod out of Temple... I will certainly play it. 

 

Cheers.

 

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February 20, 2010 3:28:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Ellestar,
What about AI modding? Possible? Impossible? Can change C++ code? Can change only Python code? Only XML settings?

Sorry, if it's redundant, but I have the same questions. Hopefully we will be able to change the full AI logic.

And I would have to add two additional questions :

1 - Will it be possible to have different computer sides be controlled by different AIs? (Like in GalCiv2)

2 - Will we be able to mod how AI are cheating (or given handicaps at higher difficulty levels)? It could be interesting for single player games to have AIs which (for examples) are able to see inside your towns, are able to change their researched techs according to their need or get progressively stronger as the game goes. In short, ways of making them more challenging without simply giving them bigger and stronger armies.

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February 20, 2010 3:37:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hmmm! This is fascenating stuff! Looks like everything I need is in...... once Metroid: Empires is up and running for GC2 I might decide to make up a little something called Aether Wars also in the Metroid universe (those of you who care about the series will probably be able to guess as to the mod's setting)...... Elemental seems the perfect place to do that!

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February 20, 2010 3:54:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What about AI modding? Possible? Impossible? Can change C++ code? Can change only Python code? Only XML settings?

Python.

I'm a beginning at Python myself but I have to say, it's pretty wonderful. It's simple yet elegant. It's what BASIC should have been back in the day.

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February 20, 2010 3:55:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sorry, if it's redundant, but I have the same questions. Hopefully we will be able to change the full AI logic.

That goes without saying. You can't make different types of games if you can't redo the AI.

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February 20, 2010 4:04:07 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Sounds good, but I have a few questions as well (sorry if these are implied in the OP, but you seem to be implying a lot so I want to make sure).

1. Can we interconnect two different maps, or have one map have teleport points? For example, if I wanted a map to have several dungeons that the player has to fight through, can we have units be transported to the dungeon map?

2. How much scripting control do we have to create new game events? If I wanted to create a ruins structure for example where the player has to solve a puzzle (like a riddle or maybe even a game like bejeweled) to get a reward, could I do that?

Quoting Scoutdog,
Hmmm! This is fascenating stuff! Looks like everything I need is in...... once Metroid: Empires is up and running for GC2 I might decide to make up a little something called Aether Wars also in the Metroid universe (those of you who care about the series will probably be able to guess as to the mod's setting)...... Elemental seems the perfect place to do that!

Why limit it to Aether? Call if Phazon Wars or something so you can include the entire Prime Series, or even better come up with a more general name so you can include things from all the games! If I can't destroy a battalion of Chozo Warriors with a Beserker Lord, I'm going to be dissapointed.

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February 20, 2010 4:10:24 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Maybe Python will be the next language I learn...

Are there any limitations that you planned ahead of time that you can't/wont support?

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February 20, 2010 4:30:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Why limit it to Aether?
Because that's the only place the Luminoth lived. The mod will (hopefully) reenact their war with the Ing.

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February 20, 2010 4:34:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

In terms of UI, we use DesktopX. All the .dxpacks in Elemental (and Galactic Civilizations) are made using DesktopX. It’s a free download.

Free download but which version for modding? Surely the DesktopX page has different price tags for the different versions.

Q: When should we start modding?
A: That would be Beta 5 which is scheduled for this Summer. It will be during that time that we start to release our own example mods.

That's a loooong time to be able to start touching the innards of the game.

5. Using your copy of Elemental to make a totally new TBS game (GalCiv like or MOO like or Civilization like or HOMM like or MOM like or whatever).

You are begging me to send you certain HTML I redacted some time ago. Oh yeah.

Any hope of tutorials based on Elemental about Learning AI programming for dummies? Something similar?

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February 20, 2010 5:41:51 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I wonder if we can export models made in Spore into Elemental. I know people are able to export them into Maya. There are some really kickass creatures made with Spore).

http://oceanquigley.blogspot.com/2009/07/how-to-export-spore-creatures-to-maya.html

Even if you know how to model, the vast, never-ending library of creatures, vehicles and buildings in the Sporepedia, will give modders a deep pool of models to draw from. You can of course improve on the models, as the above link shows.

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February 20, 2010 5:45:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

How thorough of a map editor will be included? I am curious as I wonder if a mod could be created that would enable someone to print out cloth type maps for use outside of the game, say for D&D. Already the included cloth map feature would be pretty neat for RPG settings, if it could be harnessed properly.

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February 20, 2010 6:39:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The creature creator of Spore can give birth to some big abominations but also to very nice creatures (loved my Ratkins a lot). As long as we don't get Elemental pRon...

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February 20, 2010 6:49:39 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Rule 34 of the Internet.  If it exists, there is porn of it.  Once it's possible to mod Elemental, I have a feeling it will be a very short while before half-naked night elves show up.  Or half-naked anything else that's female for that matter.

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February 20, 2010 6:56:05 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Awesome

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February 20, 2010 7:23:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Can't wait to start modding!

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February 20, 2010 7:27:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Whaddaya mean, half?!

In any case, I rather like the modding system for the game, and wonder about the origin of Wintersong's latest avatar.

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February 20, 2010 7:40:25 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Looks like its from ME2 and his/her Shepard is equipped with the targeting visor that grants additional headshot damage.

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February 20, 2010 7:50:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Scoutdog,
Whaddaya mean, half?!

In any case, I rather like the modding system for the game, and wonder about the origin of Wintersong's latest avatar.

 

Thats a screen shot of her pilot from the sweet brand new game, Elite.

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February 20, 2010 9:56:33 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting SpardaSon21,
Rule 34 of the Internet.  If it exists, there is porn of it.  Once it's possible to mod Elemental, I have a feeling it will be a very short while before half-naked night elves show up.  Or half-naked anything else that's female for that matter.

 

I still don't see whats wrong with that....

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February 20, 2010 9:57:46 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting SpardaSon21,
Looks like its from ME2 and his/her Shepard is equipped with the targeting visor that grants additional headshot damage.

It looks more like a crappy fallout3 mod from the low quality graphics lol

(Its clearly not in case you didn't get it. None of the fallout 3 faces look anything like that from the side - unless its one I havn't tried....)

 

 

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February 20, 2010 10:35:49 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting Aractain,

I still don't see whats wrong with that....

Nothing really, I would just prefer half-naked sexy human barbarian women to half-naked night elves.

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February 20, 2010 10:37:45 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting SpardaSon21,

Quoting Aractain, reply 20
I still don't see whats wrong with that....
Nothing really, I would just prefer half-naked sexy human barbarian women to half-naked night elves.

Diablo III

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February 21, 2010 3:54:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

would it be possible to mod something like Myrror from the good old mom in the game?

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February 21, 2010 11:19:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Modders can create their own 3D models in whatever program they want and then export it to Havok’s format.

This is extremely good news!

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