Age Of Chivalry

By John Walker on June 11th, 2008 at 4:42 pm.

The beach. I wish I had been at the beach today.

Age Of Chivalry is an intriguing total conversion mod for Half-Life 2. Intriguing not just because of its radically different setting than the host-source, but for the multiple-stage, multiple-objective scenarios. It was a mod I’d been keeping a loose eye on last year, which makes me feel very stupid for not having noticed it came out in January. Sigh. However, v1.1 came out in the last couple of weeks, and there’s a brand new trailer out today. Topical! Comments and trailer below.

Hitting people with swords. Hitting with people with swords is what I should have done today.

Team Chivalry call it “Story Driven Multiplayer”. Each game is a series of stages, the story playing out differently depending upon the successes or failures of players. Set in a fantasy medieval world, and focused on melee combat, the ambitions are impressive. There’s sieges, town raids, and impressive field battles. To make this work without vast numbers of players, death comes easy, and respawns are instant.

Each of the six stages has multiple objectives, which are dramatically in your face. Playing as the Mason order, fighting back the Agatha knights, defending your castle walls feels a much more realistic experience when you can see the giant siege equipment being constructed as the enemy progresses, eventually forming a tower than provides a way into your battlements. Or perhaps as a knight you’re preventing the progresses of the Mason’s cart full of poison, which they’re shoving ever closer to your water supply.

Firing arrows. Firing arrows is what I should have been doing today.

There’s three classes, Archer, Footman and Knight, each with a selection of weapons, a mixture of ranged and melee, with obvious leanings for the relevant class. Wielding a mighty sword makes for an oddly slow combat, in such a frantic game, but one that delivers with remarkable satisfaction as you see the opponent player’s head cleft from their neck.

The downside? Well, the story thing doesn’t really work. If you stopped to call up the story information as you progress, you’re going to be standing still in battle. In reality it’s much more of a series of objectives in a row. But that seemed inevitable – there’s no neat way to force a narrative on a multiplayer, and the game is fun enough without needing to worry about all that. It’s also a bit glitchy, with many doorways awkward to get through, which is obviously frustrating in the heat of the battle.

Defending a gate. That's what I should have been doing today.

It can be downloaded from here, and will automatically install itself into your Steam mod folder. You will need Half-Life 2 installed for it to work. And it is, of course, completely free.

How I spent today.

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22 Comments »

  1. Flint says:

    Seemed great till I hit the multiplayer bit.

    I’m quite amazed how there seems to be no total conversion single player mods for Half-Life 2.

  2. Nick says:

    It’s quite fun, I still prefer Fistful of Frags though.

  3. Stuk says:

    The link to download is broken. It should point to here: http://www.age-of-chivalry.com/downloads.php

  4. Crispy says:

    Intriguing not just because of its radically different setting than the host-source, but for the multiple-stage, multiple-objective scenarios.

    Pirates, Knights and Vikings II has a very similar medieval setting and Dystopia has multiple-stage, multiple-objective scenarios. Both are also mods for the Source engine. So is Chiv intriguing because it combines what both mods have? Or have you just overlooked the other two, John?

  5. Theory says:

    I’ve tried AOC several times, and in each I see the warfare between theme and design intensify.

    In the most recent build you move ludicrously slowly even as the lighter foot-soldier class. Probably a fair representation of what moving in armour and with a sword is, but boring.

    Then there are shields, which lower themselves a moment after being raised, resulting in this yo-yoing up and down as you try to defend yourself. Of course, it’s a solution to players running around with their shields up all the time — but it sucks. There may well not be a decent solution to the problem that doesn’t involve input devices twenty times more sophisticated than anything available today.

    Which raises the question: perhaps balanced medieval combat just can’t be done yet? Dark Messiah’s swordplay was a lot of fun, but only because it was heavily loaded in the player’s favour. You could spend time experimenting, having wordless conversations with NPCs who went out of their way to keep things manageable for you. But once you got into multiplayer the system was simplified and adjusted so much to allow for several humans to fairly play against each other over the internet that it became worthless.

    The Wiimote beckons needless to say, but that’s stuck in a closed system on the Wii and only very rarely plugged into a PC.

    This turned out longer than I expected.

  6. John Walker says:

    “But for THE multiple-stage, multiple-objective scenarios.” Their scenarios are very interesting.

  7. Crispy says:

    What I’m trying to say is not that Chiv isn’t intriguing, but that both other mods are intriguing because they share similar features and shouldn’t be overlooked. I think I misinterpreted your opening line as your argument for why Chiv was intriguing where other mods aren’t.

    It’s worth mentioning PVKII and Dys in any case.

  8. Heliocentricity says:

    Blah… The lightest class still wears a bucket of armour? Nonsense, when in all of history has that ever been the case? A light trooper is absent for the benefit of net code and melee, maybe the problem i the melee itself there’s a reason guns are so popular in on-line games, its not just “because guns are cool” but because the network can more easily manage the position of a gun and its firing than a sword and its physically sense, no-one has really mastered close combat in on-line games, as much as i love bf2′s knife or the like the game with CQC as an emphasis would be awful, no?

    One place CQC shines is asymmetrical combat (see natural selection) when one group seeks to avoid that up close combat there are a whole range of tactics that accompany ambushing and rushing people.

    I play a few fairly open mods of games, Project Reality for bf2 for one, it doesn’t have multi staged objectives. But you can form your own, on an insurgency map the British team are trying to take out a set of insurgent weapon caches, they don’t know where they are, so you can either go looking for them, or get intelligence points by checking the bodies of the fallen enemies and by arresting civilians.

    The intelligence only gets you approximate positioning, all the while any forward bases you’ve constructed will be under attack by insurgents, and harassed by unarmed civilians (who cant be shot but can kill you by pelting you with stones).

    Your helicopter pilot will be ferry and evacuating squads, getting winged by RPG fire lose rotor control and manage a landing while spinning out (black hawk down style). The pilot and any survivors of the crash then quickly scarper to find some kind of barricaded position and wait for the heavy support to arrive to escort them to safety.

    I’m such a fucking fanboy for this mod its untrue.

  9. Riotpoll says:

    I tried it when it was first released, was fun but somewhat glitchy, although this may have been due to there being no decent servers then.

  10. Chris R says:

    Oooooo… my friends and I are currently enjoying the Synergy mod of HL2, wherein we are attempting to beat all of HL2 with naught but our crowbars and fists (except for the bits where we need to use weapons against the gunships, etc)… mighty fun!

    Once we’re done with that this AoC looks like the next logical step. Thanks for the heads up. It looks like lots of fun to me, but then again, I enjoy playing on TF2 servers where only melee weapons are enabled…. I will bonesaw you!!!

    *Edit*
    I just noticed the picture captions, hilarious! I should be at home playing TF2 mods… that’s what I should have been doing today.

  11. Lord_Mordja says:

    It’s a fun mod once you get used to it. Comparing it to PVKII is ridiculous though; they’re both completely different in gameplay and ascetics. Oh and Theory, the latest build allows you to hold shields up; just hold down the middle mouse button (default) and your block will hold as long as you have stamina.

  12. Phil White says:

    Do people not feel handicapped/lonely by the lack of universal voice-chat on PCs nowadays?

    I could be (probably am) miles wrong, but it seems like a wilderness compared to modern console communities. (The sort of place you’d find Mr Walker on assignment, perhaps.)

    Although I’d love to get into PC gaming online again, I think it’s a little backwards of late; even next to PSN.

  13. Don Hodgson says:

    Age of Chivalry is a source engine mod, so it has built-in voicechat like TF2.

  14. RichPowers says:

    @Phil

    Universal voice chat would be annoying. All of my Source games have voice chat turned off, especially Counter-Strike, which attracts more idiots per public server than any other game. If my friends and I are playing together, we’ll set up a private Vent server instead.

  15. Riotpoll says:

    @Phil White; until in-game voice-chat is as good as Ventrilo there’s no point using it, the terribleness of the source voice chat makes my ears twinge! [EDIT]-Also, just saw what RichPowers said, and have to agree with him.

  16. Mark says:

    So, are single-player Source mods (other than MINERVA) just not made? I was hopeful when I read about objectives and story, but then it turned out to still be multiplayer anyway.

  17. Flint says:

    Seems to be so. There’s a few but the quality isn’t too great. I quite enjoyed Mistake of Pythagoras and its occasionally wacky level design, but then I got hopelessly stuck with no idea what to do.

  18. Crispy says:

    If you want single-player maps and TC mods for the Source engine, head to Planet Phillip.

    He’s basically got every single-player project ever released for Source. The latest one is an Episode 1 Total Conversion mod in the style of the Cthulhu mythos. Sadly a lot of these mods are buggy on first release and don’t get the attention they deserve when efforts are made to improve them for re-releases. PlanetPhillip is currently beginning a Beta Tester project that will provide testers to (HL2) single-player mods so they can get their first releases as bug-free as possible. If you’d like to help out with the HL2 SP mod scene but don’t have any technical modding skills, drop your details into the Beta Tester list.

    Depending on their length, SP TCs are much bigger projects than MP TCs. That’s why you don’t tend to see a lot of them. MINERVA is the polar opposite of a Total Conversion (Foster calls it an “anti-modification”) as it uses about 95% existing assets, and even then to get that level of quality it took the author and his testers just over 2 years for just 4 levels.

  19. nogitsune says:

    I played the mod quite a lot before, and quit. I don’t know if Source just doesn’t do hand to hand combat, but it just doesn’t feel right. You’re not fighting with swords, you’re running around in a ridiculously frantic pace and hitting the fire button over and over hoping for a hit.

    I would have liked to see more ways to attack and defend with the swords and shields; some room for variation so that you actually get to outsmart your opponent in a bout of actual fencing rather than just click the LMB faster and having a lower ping.

    I don’t know if it can be done completely well with just a keyboard and a mouse, but there are games that have come a lot further, and with a bit of innovation, you can get even more.

  20. TychoCelchuuu says:

    There are basically a million single player mods but this is a story about AoC so I’ll talk about AoC. I’ve been playing it since the first release on and off and I really enjoy the newest version. I rebound the mouse wheel stuff to the other 2 buttons on my mouse and the combat feels much nicer, and there’s really nothing that can beat hurling a spear into someone’s face or tipping a pot of boiling pitch onto the enemy team. And the lone friendly knight who volunteered to hold them up under the pot. Noble.

  21. Powerhaus says:

    Been playing this about a week, it’s quite a bit of fun. Although the art and levels are well done, the actual combat still needs a considerable amount of polish, and it can be difficult to connect your inputs to the results youre achieving on the field.

  22. nogitsune says:

    The game is largely plagued by the same thing that plagues a lot of other online multiplayer games; “Fragheads”. You know, the people who care more about their killcount than the objectives and their team. It’s a sad universal fact that these guys seem to outnumber those of us who actually want to play as a team.

    The fact that the mod, like most other games of the kind, doesn’t discourage (and sometimes encourages) this sort of thing doesn’t really help. But then, I guess they don’t want to alienate the majority of the online gamers as the “fragheads” seem to be. Understandable, I guess.

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