No Longer Famished: Banished Getting Mod Support

I plan to mod in dragons

Banished is, to hear Alec tell it, a desperate, painful, vexing experience, but in a (mostly) good way. Eventually, though, even survival against the brutal elements, creeping disease, and human nature gets boring. That’s why we invented videogames, doncha know. Fittingly, then, developer Shining Rock is currently hard at work on an infrastructure that will allow Banished players to create even more videogames from the one they already put out. They call it “mod support,” presumably named for British mod culture in the early ’60s. Details below.

The developer outlined mod plans for its mad (and sometimes maddening) world in a blog post. In short, the city management/utter devastation sim wasn’t originally coded with modding specifically in mind, but it’s proven pretty easy to convert.

There’s a single tool that compiles all resources into the binary format that Banished uses. There’s a version of the game that has extra debugging features in it, and it can compile resources as the game loads, and additionally it detects resources file changes at runtime, so textures, models, and other resources can be reloaded without shutting down the game (most of the time). The tool also can pack all the resources into a single package for easy distribution.

That sounds good so far.

The big remaining problems, then, are clerical things like the ability to run multiple mods at once and save games detecting changes made by mods. Steam Workshop support will also likely be part of the package, so that’s good news.

Now the only question I have is whether I’ll be able to mod out my own crippling depression when everything inevitably falls to frozen dust in my fingers. I’m guessing probably not.

No release date yet, but it sounds like progress has been good so far. So soon, probably.

28 Comments

  1. Universal Quitter says:

    To be completely blunt, I thought Alec’s review was bullshit.

    Maybe I was just reading what I wanted to read, but I felt like he was more judging the game by his expectations, than the finished game itself.

    And I normally like Alec’s stuff. *shrug*

    • Oooch says:

      Yeah I really enjoyed Bani*all villagers starve to death before I figure out one guy has decided to horde all the food in his house*

      • Xocrates says:

        Honestly, a very large problem with Banished is how obfuscated a lot of stuff is, meaning that a lot of the game is trial and error until you figure out the”optimum” path.

        So you end up with a game that’s fairly difficult to learn, but becomes essentially a solved problem once you do.

        • TechnicalBen says:

          Survived (some died of natural causes) on like my second play. I think the first only failed because I took a while to figure out how to build actual things. :P

          It’s a rather simple game. Which is relaxing and geek friendly to me, but I’ll admit rather short lived.

    • attica says:

      I actually agree with U.Quitter, I usually enjoy Alex’s reviews but this one seemed overly critical on what he expects from this sort of weird-untouched hybrid genre rather than the game itself. The game for the RTS-city-builder-survival is brilliant.

    • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

      IIRC it was a period of several consecutive reviews, all of which I personally (uncharacteristically) totally disagreed with. Alec’s Banished was one, but I also remember John’s South Park review, which I thought totally glossed over the best game of the year so far in my book, and John’s Thief review, which was actually one of the more positive ones anywhere on the net (FWIW, it’s in my personal top ten worst non-broken games I’ve ever played). Reviews are of course subjective, but I don’t remember ever disagreeing so profoundly with any of the WITs before, apart from the now-infamous Quinns FNV review of course. Naturally games writers are entitled to convey the emotive nature of their experience, but I think what surprised me personally was how trained critics didn’t even mention the stuff that I found great or bad about these titles, even in a dismissive or trivialising capacity. I mean, you’re never gonna notice or wish to speak about everything, but even basic stuff like “what’s the agent simulation like in a city builder?” or “how does the diminishment of player interactivity impact a Thief game?”

      I know I’m basically ciriticising the Guardian for not being Radio 4 here, but most game’s reviews on other sites are shill drivel which I feel compelled to avoid, so I end up asking RPS chalk to be more like cheese just because chalk is still more like cheese than, say, manure! (OXM, IGN, et al)

    • Vinraith says:

      Alec’s review made me feel incredibly smart, being as my first city absolutely flourished after a few hours. I’m glad the game is getting modding, though, because after one has built a flourishing city there’s not a lot to do. I’ve put about 20 hours into one game, building a sizable and successful town, but any future gameplay would just be multiplying the number of everything in town and that doesn’t sound especially interesting. It’s a neat little survival city builder, but I’m hopeful for a sequel or expansion to add some much needed variety.

  2. Armante says:

    Alec dropped the ball in that review, as all the comments will bear out. Too bad RPS never revisits old reviews.
    Banished is a great little game. Tough, as it ought to be, considering what you’re trying to do in the game.

    And just to clarify, “developer Shining Rock” is all of one person. So the part about ‘They call it mod support’ is also off.

  3. Rizlar says:

    This could be amazing – the core of Banished is a great small village/town/city simulation. The idea of people modding in radically different terrain types and new buildings suitable for a large city makes me excited.

    But who knows what modders will actually end up producing. Steampunk Banished, anyone? On the Moon?

    • HighlordKiwi says:

      “Steampunk Banished, anyone?”
      Yes please!

      This sounds great, Banished was good for a while but once I’d got the hang of it petered out (which seems like a lot of people’s experiences). Some good mods could be just what’s needed to spice things up again.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      Please don’t just be combat mods
      Please don’t just be combat mods

      • Armante says:

        ^ This

        I’d imagine you get to tinker with values, redesign buildings and/or create new ones. Combat would seem to require a whole new system to be added.

        It’s also something I have absolutely no interest in for Banished

    • Tom De Roeck says:

      Moon Banished is a thing that needs to happen.

  4. frightlever says:

    That “crippling depression” line is probably inappropriate. I’ll leave it at that.

  5. SomeDuder says:

    I love Banished – designing a little medieval village is great! And I feel it’s perfectly balanced – I very much doubt people had an easy time of it, back when dragons still lived etc.

    I would have liked some sort of progression system (Research/unlocks/buying “technology”), but then again, the resources can manage to produce limit your access to buildings, and it might be a few in-game years before you can build that chapel (keeps citizens happy) or town hall (census/immigration).

    I wonder if modding this into the game would be possible, instead of just the usual models/texture packs… All in all, it’s a pretty damn complete game.

    • AngelTear says:

      I would very much like a progression system of sorts, or anything to make it fresher. I enjoyed Banished, but I got burnt out on it really quickly because, as with Planetside 2, it feels really pointless really fast: once you understand the basic mechanics and expand appropriately slow, there’s really nothing else to it. Like, ok, I’ve set up my village, it’s running well, 500 people, I’ve got great reserves and enough renewable resources (food, firewood, alcohol etc) to trade for non-renewable resources (iron, coal, stone) to keep me going indefinitely, unless I go crazy and build 200 houses right now, or something stupid like that, the only way things could go wrong is a major natural disaster, and even then I’d probably recover in time, so… what am I playing for? To me the game felt like it was “over” about 10 hours into it.

      Then again, I rarely like sandboxes, I should keep that in mind more often.

      • Bob_Bobson says:

        May I recommend achievement hunting? I find that this is exactly the sort of situation that they are good for, providing goals to an otherwise sandbox experience for when the basic challenge of survival doesn’t quite fulfil. I don’t know if you have the Steam version or not, but the only difference is official validation of your achievements. Even without software tracking you can still sit down with the game and decide to see if you can “Grow and harvest 8 different plants and 8 different orchard tree types in a single year”, “Reach 300 citizens without building a trading post” or whatever looks like it would be difficult and interesting challenge. Or of course invent your own achievements.

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          Very much this. After my second settlement’s food reserves got up to something like 40,000, I decided I’d got the hang of it – so now I’m nursing a settlement of vegans with an irrational fear of flammable buildings: no hunting, no fishing, no livestock, and only stone houses right from the start.

  6. mononoaware says:

    Really glad this is getting mod support. Can’t wait to see what people come up with. Such a shame the review was off. Personally never had any frustration with banished. We’ll balanced and easy once you have the hang after a couple of games.

  7. CKScientist says:

    This game was fun, but the dev seems really slow. It’s taken him ages to get patches out.

    • Daemoneyes says:

      Patching things so that your patch does not break 10 other things takes time.
      Also i rather have 1 guy that actually slowly patches his game than EA which delivers garbage, tells you garbage and does fix nothing. (same goes for Bethesda, ESO is broken beyond repair and they dont even acknowledge it, 3 weeks of single digit fps in pvp and not even a word about refund of game time..)

      • CKScientist says:

        It’s not a choice between Shining Rock and EA. There are lots of other indie devs who work faster.

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          I’m sure he’ll refund your subscription fees

          • CKScientist says:

            Why are you implying that I want a refund? You seem to be trying to stereotype me as an overly entitled consumer on the basis of my mild criticism of the developer. This seems unreasonable.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            Fair enough. The snark was uncalled for. Apologies.

  8. RedViv says:

    Skaven reskin, here we come!

  9. poetfoxpaul says:

    FYI for anyone interested in Banished who also happens to play Dwarf Fortress: you will be severely disappointed in the games simplicity. And very possibly frustrated by a few broken mechanics. Or dulled by the lack of character.

    A very shallow experience overall – you build one city and you have built them all.

    I wish I had listened to Alec and not bought it, but I suppose we all have regrets.

  10. ironfist95 says:

    my dad has played a total of 262 hours on banished and i would like to say something. he has the max for every thing his food will go down faster than a bullet but then shot straight back up, he once relied on boats but he has bought every thing in the world so he only get 5 or so items at a time from a boat, the whole mp is filled and he has every achievement in the game. i want him to stop. he takes up my computer time. i am selfish.