With the release of Elemental came the files and tools many of us modders needed to get to work in earnest on all the ambitious projects we have in store for Elemental. Interest has been growing in the Dragonlance project and I came to the realization that even though I've spoke about our plans at some length, up till now that's really all it's been, plans. All that has changed in the last few weeks thanks to the help of some very dedicated individuals here on our forums and I think it's time I introduced the team to the forums and gave people an idea of what's been going on and what kinds of time-frames we're realistically looking at, plus waiting on conversion tools from Stardock. First, a little background on my history as a Dragonlance fan and the reasons behind the making of this Mod.
Dragonlance has been my favorite fantasy novel series since I was 13 or 14 years old. I never read LotR growing up, but I did read the core books in the Dragonlance Universe. Dragonlance is what nurtured my love of fantasy literature and without these books and pen & paper D&D my youth would have been much different. The Dragonlance community as a whole encompasses millions of people around the world and in many countries. Over the last 25 years the books have been printed in many languages including German, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, and many more. There were attempts back in the day to make good Dragonlance games, but honestly, the technology was never there to do the world justice. Unless you wanted to play a pen & paper D&D module, there were no other "Good" options to dive into the world of Dragonlance as a game player. Now with the advent of Elemental and it's wonderful engine and editors, we hope to change all that and make a game that is truly worthy of the deep story and massive conflict that encompasses the "War of the Lance". I dare say if this is done right, once the Dragonlance Fan community finds out about it's existence, a lot of people would purchase Elemental just to be able to play in the world they grew up reading as a kid, just as many people buy LotR games today for exactly that same reason.
There were many aspects of making the Mod where I honestly had no clue how I was going to accomplish the goals I had set for myself. I tried to get some people I knew had knowledge here on the forums to help me, but not a lot of people have the time or desire to commit to a long term project like this, and I don't blame them. An undertaking of this magnitude shouldn't be taken lightly. It's a lot of hard work especially when it's a "learn as you go" process. Luckily, some of my fellow forum brethren stepped up to the challenge and volunteered their help in this grand project. Without further pomp and circumstance, it's my pleasure and honor to introduce you to the Dragonlance Mod Team Members.
Me, Raven X: Lead Content Designer, Skinner, Map Maker, and Minor XML writer.
Dhuran: Lead Programmer in Python and XML.
James009 (formerly known as Folcik): XML Scripter and Skill Designer
Admiral100: Lead Modeler, Minor Animator
Civfreak: Lead Animator, Modeler, and Model Unwrapper.
Without the help of the four people I mention above this project would not be possible and still be able to meet the grand vision I have in my mind of how the game should be. Many of them have posted work here in the Modding section. Admiral and Civfreak have been Hard At Work on models and animations. You can see some of their work here in this thread: Model Request List for 3D Artists . James009 has been a big contributer to the mod community since he burst on the scene a few weeks ago and has done many great mods recently such as his Abilities, Traits, and History's Modification and A "Community of Heroes" Modpack- SUBMIT ONE TODAY! Mods. Dhuran stepped out of the shadows and PM'd me here on the forums offering his help, which I gladly accepted as a Python scripter was something we needed desperately.
All of these guys here deserve a big hand and a lot of credit for what they're doing for the Elemental Mod Community. These guys make it possible for the grand dream that is an Epic Dragonlance Video Game to happen in all the Glory and Magnificence the storyline and world deserve. Without their help I would be limited to my knowledge alone and what I could do with the engine through XML and custom artwork alone as I don't know the first thing about making custom models, animations, Python, or even advanced XML techniques. In the end these guys here deserve just as much credit as I do for bringing this project together, because without them it would only be a shadow of what it "could" be.
The Dragonlance Mod, entitled "Dragonlance: The War of the Lance" is a LONG TERM project. We do have an internal schedule but it is very long and drawn out and can change based on variables such as real life work and family responsibilities and on my health which is ever changing and going down hill. Our number one goals right now are to learn how to use the modding tools available to us and to create content while we wait on Stardock to expose the Python API's to XML and to get us the converters and plugins we need to be able to import our custom models and animations into the game.
For practice we've all been making mods and learning what we can do and what we can't do with our current tools and limits. I've been practicing my skinning which you've all seen with my Undead and Quendar skins and Dhuran and I are working on "Undead Rising version 2.0" which will incorporate new "Necromancy Techs and Spells" into the game. See below:
New Techs actually showing up in game thanks to a Breakthrough by Dhuran.
Undead Rising 2.0 will have an entire Undead Faction complete with Skeletal Warriors, Zombies, and Vampires, and possibly if time permits Ghosts, Wraiths, and Ghouls (though those last few may have to wait for v3.).
I am also in the process of re-skinning All the Fallen Races to be more "realistic" looking and will put them all together in a massive Skin Pack as well as release them separately while we await the resources needed from Stardock. The schedule for the Dragonlance Mod is as follows currently:
1. Finalize Game Mechanic Concepts. Planning out what we want, what we Know we can change, and what we're not sure of what can change. Write out what parts of the story specifically will be covered in the mod and what lines of dialog we'll need to add and make it possible for the player to choose their own replies or to change the story through their actions. This needs to be planned on paper before the code can be written.
2. Create Custom Content including: Tiles, Buildings, Notable Locations from Dragonlance, characters, skins, custom backgrounds and associated artwork, Maps both for the over world and (hopefully) the interiors of some buildings. This step, even if I could put in 8 hours a day 5 days a week, will take at least 90 days (3 months). There's honestly too much content that needs to be created and added still to effectively list it all here.
3. Wait on Stardock's "60 Day Art Package for Modders" and also wait on Stardock for necessary Converters and Plugins to get Custom Models and Animations into the game. The Mod won't release until we have the ability to add in the Awesome Custom Models and Animations that the team is hard at work on right now to bring the races of the Dragonlance world to life in Elemental.
4. Putting the Mechanics in place through Python changing what we need to change to get the Desired Mechanics we want in the game.
5. Once Mechanics are in place all the custom content can be added and the map pieced together. Custom Races, Models and Animations, Skills and Abilities, Tech changes, and Quests will be put in place. Then the Mechanics will be tested and the pacing of the game decided upon. After that comes play testing, bug hunting, and general QA passes made to ensure everything plays out according to the inspiration and vision within my head.
Realistically we're looking at release in about 6 months, give or take 1 or 2 months in either direction depending on how long Stardock makes us wait on the converters we need. If Stardock gives these to us sooner rather than later then production can ramp up and the time to release shortened. If they take 6 months to give us the tools then during the wait content will be made so when we have the tools things can be assembled and testing can begin. Stardock's schedule heavily effects our schedule and there isn't much we can do about it other than to bug the hell out of them for the remaining tools we need. If you're getting tired of waiting on the mod, feel free to annoy and yell at them until they give us what we need.
For a final note, just to show you how Amazingly Dedicated the Dragonlance Team is, not one of the other team members has actually read the Dragonlance books. I'm the only one who has. This shows you that my fellow team members are doing this simply for the Love Of The Game and the Love for What They Do. THAT is commitment!!! I am forever indebted to my brothers for making this project a reality because without them it just wouldn't be possible.
That's about it for now. There will be further Dragonlance Mod discussions going on here in the Elemental Mod Section of the forums and monthly status reports given to let the fans know how production is coming and what kinds of time-frames we'll be looking at as things progress. Keep your eyes to the sky Dragonlance Fans....soon the Dragon Armies of Krynn will be raining down destruction!!! Coming to a computer near you!!!
~ Raven X...aka Raven Xavier