To Battle! Empire & Napoleon Made Moddable

By Alec Meer on July 1st, 2011 at 6:09 pm.

Now you can make those hats any colour you fancy

A source of what could gently be called discontent amongst the Total War community of late has been the lack of modding tools for the most recent games. Empire, Napoleon and Total War have all been bereft of official utilities to alter and add units, maps et al, which was partly a result of the relevant files being compressed and thus tricky to edit. At last, the Creative Assembly have found a way to open things up a little more – releasing the complete, original, unpacked raw database XML (data from tables) and XSD (table structure and field properties) files for both Empire and Napoleon.

Which is, essentially, what modders have been waiting long years for. No sign of Shogun yet, but hopefully it’s incoming. The Total War games have a long, proud history of both minor mods and total conversions, and seeing what the most recent versions can be turned to will be a whole lot of fun.

The full CA statement is here, and in theory the files you need are here, though the link appears to be dead at the time of writing. Hopefully that’ll be fixed soon.

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49 Comments »

  1. Out Reach says:

    Finally we can add the right number of buttons to Polish Hussars.

  2. Bhazor says:

    Well I guess thats the last of their DLC then. Look forward to seeing what the community can come up with from here.

  3. razgon says:

    Havent they moved on to Shogun 2 by now?

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      Man Raised by Puffins says:

      Steam stats sayeth that Empire is pretty much matching (and at this moment in time, exceeding) Shogun 2 for player count.

    • Archonsod says:

      The problem with Shogun 2 is they’ve stripped out most of the stuff which made it interesting. Nice interface, but when you start wanting to autoresolve everything after three hours playing it pretty much removes the point of a TW game.

  4. frenz0rz says:

    Too little too late, CA. Too little too late.

    • jalf says:

      Why, exactly?

      I mean, ok, “too late” is arguably true. I mean, it *is* late, and sure, if there was some deadline earlier, it is *too* late.

      But why exactly is it too little? Do you have a reason for saying this, or is it just the usual poisonous attitude of the TW so-called “fans” speaking? Is there something that absolutely must be supported, and which isn’t supported by this?

    • Heliocentric says:

      I disagree, while everyone was beta testing nap and empire for me, I get to buy it for a tupence and play with mods… Now which day will the 2 games be bundled together for £1 I wonder.

    • Grape says:

      …or is it just the usual poisonous attitude of the TW so-called “fans” speaking?

      Jalf, just shut the fuck up. Please.

    • Vinraith says:

      Too late remains to be seen, the mod community may have simply lost interest in these games by this point, or it may not have. Too little is demonstrably true, however. It’s still impossible to generate new maps, and as such the greater achievements of TW modding for past games still aren’t possible here.

    • jalf says:

      @Grape: I suppose that answers my question pretty well.
      You know, *some* people would have actually answered my question. *why* is it too little, and *why* is it too late.
      But then again, some people aren’t infected with what I can only assume is a special strain of brain damage caused by being too involved in certain parts of the TW community.
      I love the TW games, but for all the whining and bitching that comes with PC gaming, I don’t think I’ve ever seen another group of gamers come close to the level of bile and constant petulant anger and entitlement that flows endlessly from a certain part of the TW “fan” community.
      You know, the kind of people who will say, when they get what they want, that “it is too little too late”, and when asked why it is too little or too late, will say “shut the fuck up”.
      I don’t know if you’ve ever met anyone like that. Anyone come to mind?

      Edit:
      Oh hey, Vinraith gets it: “It’s still impossible to generate new maps”. Gosh, it was that simple. Amazing. Just a few words. That was all I asked. And he managed to answer it without using a single swearword. Isn’t it amazing the word-smithing skills some people possess?

    • DiamondDog says:

      Welcome to an adult conversation.

    • Vinraith says:

      @jalf

      Since we’re apparently understanding each other to some degree, allow me to suggest that the use of the word “entitlement” is never productive in these discussions, and is particularly inaccurate when discussing a game that was promised to be “the most moddable TW game ever” in pre-release coverage that is only seeing (hobbled) modding ability years after its release, and promised a “multiplayer campaign” that appeared only as a beta for a new (full price) game itself nearly a year after release.

      There are arguments where the e-word still has legitimate use (though I sincerely believe it needs its own version of Godwin’s Law considering how frequently it is misused) but any discussion involving Empire: TW very much isn’t one of them.

    • jalf says:

      I think there’s very little constructive about *anything* in my last post. Or in the one I responded to, for that matter.

      As for “entitlement”, I generally agree. I wasn’t really referring to the reception of Empire specifically though (and I wasn’t aware that it was promised to be “the most moddable ever”), and yes, the multiplayer campaign fiasco was just ridiculous.

      But for all the years I’ve followed the TW series and played the games (so far, the only one I’ve skipped is Napoleon), I really can’t think of another word to describe the *constant* refrain of “NOT GOOD ENOUGH, CA. YOU OWE US SOMETHING BETTER” that has accompanied every single TW game.

    • frenz0rz says:

      Crikey, what have I started here?! I should apologise – I came back from an afternoon at the pub and decided to post a rather bland and unhelpful comment without really thinking it through.

      What I suppose I meant to say was that the previous Total War games had inspired some really great mods. Europa Barbarorum and Stainless Steel both spring to mind as Total War mods I spent tens of hours enjoying. And yet, due to lack of mod support, Empire/Napoleon never really had anything on that sort of scale. Which is a shame, because I think it had more potential than any other Total War game to date.

    • Novotny says:

      I just wanted to mention the special olympics. Not sure if it will help.

    • Thants says:

      jalf: You don’t get to start off being insulting and combative and then be all “Why the hostility? I was just asking for information.”. Don’t be a dick to begin with and you’ll get a much higher class of responses.

      • bud990 says:

        Jalf wasn’t being a dick at all, he was simply telling it how it is, and a few “fans” didn’t like what they saw.

        His entire post was 100% truthful, i fail to see how anyone couldn’t see that.

  5. Duckee says:

    This does not sound like too much of change. I do not know much about modding, so I will ask the important question.

    Will this enable the modding community to create spectacular mods like The Third Age?

  6. Sceptrum says:

    As a former Europa Barbarorum member the statement from CA makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I sincerely hope the modding community can do something, but as frenz0rz says it might have come too late for some.

  7. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    Reading thread on Total War Centre about this made it seem like a lot of the data CA have released isn’t anything special and modders have work out a lot of it on their own. So I wouldn’t say it is quite the mana from heaven this news post suggests it is.

  8. Anders Wrist says:

    About bloody time CA. Too bad it has to be this late.

  9. BwenGun says:

    Hmm, the Totalwar Centre seems to have died, so does anyone who knows anything about Empire and Napoleon modding know whether this will allow modders to actually change the world and province maps?

    • lunarplasma says:

      No, it still doesn’t allow modders to modify existing maps, or create new ones. The official line is that map modding is just too complex and complicated to really properly explain and make modding tools for.

    • CraigTW says:

      Just thought I’d pop by to say hi, as I’m a big RPS fan :)

      *Arse-kissing complete*

      To answer the post above, this is true. We don’t have a campaign map tool, we just have a number of third party pieces of software (from Autodesk, Adobe and the like). Our pathfinding data is intertwined with our campaign map data, and that’s a real pain in the posterior for modders, as it turns out. Ho hum.

      Documenting how to understand the pathfinding data is really hard. We’ve looked into it and it’s just not doable at the moment.

    • C Ellis says:

      But for 9.99 they will suffer through the nightmare that is their coding to make you a brand new map with a tree and some stuff in it. For 3.99 more they will include the hill pack!

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      So you neglected to even make proper in-house tools? Wow. That certainly sounds like a mess.

    • Dukelukeem says:

      Huge respect for posting here Craig.
      I may not agree with much of the direction CA took on Empire and Napoleon but getting a real and informative answer from the community manager outside of the official forums is just mind-blowing. And delivering the modding tools is better late then never but a thousand times better shortly after release.
      These thing fill me with hope for the future.
      I had all but given up on CA.

  10. capt_dizzy says:

    I don’t have Napoleon, but as far as Empire goes, Darthmod is really the only significant mod released for the game and frankly that mod exists just to correct all the shit that CA never bothered to fix. Vanilla Empire is totally lacking in proper balance and the siege function is still totally broken. But Darthmod could only do so much because of CA’s draconian packing methods. All one could do was craft new units (though the Empire interface can’t really hold more than the vanilla amount of units) and modify what is essentially a giant stat file.

    I really hope this release will attract attention back to Empire as it is my favourite era yet least functional Total War release.

    • Archonsod says:

      True. But then the 18th century was entirely lacking in proper balance too. That’s half the fun :P

  11. Fumarole says:

    Today is A Good Day. In time someone will make a mod around the American Civil War and Good Times will be had.

    • Zenicetus says:

      The American Civil War seems like an obvious candidate, but I’m not sure the engine is a good match for it. The battlefields would have to be large enough to accommodate longer-ranged rifles and improved artillery. The AI would have to know how to engage at much longer range, instead of marching right up close to the enemy before firing. Maybe that’s moddable, I don’t know. The real question is whether any modders are still interested after all this time, especially the teams required to pull off major mods like Broken Crescent.

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      oneloafleft says:

      It already exists – look up the ‘Blue and the Gray’ mod for Empire when TW Center is back online.

    • Vinraith says:

      Without the ability to mod maps, I don’t see how that would work.

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      oneloafleft says:

      Blue and the Gray uses the slightly larger North American map from Empire’s Warpath Campaign. But yeah, it ain’t perfect.

  12. lunarplasma says:

    Apparently the word on the TWCenter forums is that a good chunk of the information contained in those files are things which the modders have already discovered by themselves, through painstaking trial and error.

    However, some of those fields have always been a mystery to them, and this information sheds some light on what they are supposed to do.

  13. evenflowjimbo says:

    It took forever, but better late than never. Heck, they’re still making mods for Medieval. I can’t wait for the first round of mods, or the ones that can improved upon this.

  14. Dreamhacker says:

    Besides the map modding parts, I thought what people wanted access to was animations and skeletons?

  15. dadioflex says:

    It’s a small step in the right direction but to be honest Empire burned me out on TW. I bought Napoleon, played four turns made a save and never went back. I will one day, un-modded even. Meanwhile I’m playing hour after hour of M2:TW – that’s just wrong. Shogun 2 I’ll get when it’s packed up with all the DLC for next to nothing.

    The vitriol about evil TW fans is a little bizarre. Why jump all over people who are jumping all over CA? You’re just being as big a prick as they are, while mistakenly white-knighting a bunch of developers who’ve done precious little to help the community that made their games popular. That garbled nonsense from the dev above goes some way to explaining why the AI in the game has always been crap, when they can’t even be bothered to develop a credible production environment, opting instead to use a bunch of cobbled-together third party tools.

    Being mod friendly really hurt Bethesda, didn’t it? Or Valve? Or iD?

    /rant.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      Here here.

      I mean if anyone in these comments had been actually abusive towards CA rather than raising questions and voicing reasonable criticisms of the timing and quality of the support for modders then defence of CA might’ve been at least partially valid. Instead it was just being argumentative for argument’s sake.

      Also your point about the Dev’s response is a good one but to add to it, isn’t it odd how while he was willing to mention how impossible it is to release mapping tools he couldn’t respond to any of the other questions or criticisms raised.

    • Dreamhacker says:

      Sadly, DLC is probably an easier way of making money than making a game moddable. The cases when mods have moved new copies of games (in non-trivial amounts) are few and far between.

    • Otha says:

      Sadly, DLC is probably an easier way of making money than making a game moddable. The cases when mods have moved new copies of games (in non-trivial amounts) are few and far between.

      And therein lies the problem. A mentality that puts quarterly unit sales ahead of customer loyalty and franchise longevity. Spectacular sales in the short run followed by a mass defection of your customer base reflects a commitment to losing, and losing hard. And to be fair, it’s not the CA devs’ fault, it’s the fault of the suits at SEGA.

    • Thants says:

      The new Fallout games manage to be very moddable and still sell DLC.

  16. qerome says:

    TW games have to be deeply flawed at release :) Otherwise the community would implode since there would be nothing to complain about…

  17. bud990 says:

    I’m really tired of all the god damn bitching on here about CA from the so-called “fans”, every single release they just spew an endless rhetoric of insults and it’s not just annoying, but also just god damn stupid. I remember when people bitched about Medieval 2 as well, and now people are saying “All’s I play is Medieval 2 anymore, blah blah blah, snob snob snob”, jesus christ you should listen to yourselves, you sound like a bunch of children. CA didn’t have to release any modding tools at all, you spoiled little brat-asses.

    In fact, Empire and Napoleon (i count them as one game, Napoleon is really just a stand-alone expansion) is one of my top favorite Total War games, right behind Rome.

    These modding tools are great, end of story. Also a future fuck you to anyone posting a negative response to me.