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So you want to make a mod adding races.... Where to start

 
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So you want to make a mod adding races.... Where to start - 7/25/2014 1:55:46 AM   
Haree78


Posts: 1254
Joined: 5/18/2010
Status: offline
Preface:
Before I start I need to say that me taking the time to write this post is not offering myself up to every question or mod tech problem you are getting in the future. Feel free to ask the question here, there are a lot of people on this forum that are likely to help you, just don't expect me to devote my free time to everyone who posts here.

So you want to create a mod, you have a ton of ideas in your head for races, new tech trees, components, you have saved a load of art work on your hard disk. You created your mod thread to drum up some interest and showed some pretty pictures. Then you went to start and somewhere between then and it being released it fell flat....what a waste

So where to begin.
1) I'm not going to say you have to read all of this: http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=3615682
It would help as a start sure, but you don't need to read it all. Look at the contents, do a quick browse of the different sections, see what CAN be done.
At the minimum download the modding guide and save it in your customization folder of Distant Worlds Universe because it's where you will be navigating to a lot anyway.
When you need to change anything, refer to it, the headers in the files are not complete, this guide will really be needed all the time as reference.
Put a shortcut to the customization folder on your desktop ;)

2) Start small. Simple advice right?
It's easy to get carried away, but DON'T DO IT.
You're going to add 12 races to the game? Add 1 now.
You want to add a race? Make your race file, your policy file, maybe you have a ship set, and some race graphics, put them where the guide tells you. Base any file off of a copy and paste of another. Making a new race? What race is it most like? Perhaps the Quameno? Copy and paste their race and policy files, perhaps even their dialogue files although I would leave that to last.
Now before you start fiddling go in to game see if it worked. Did it pick up your graphics? Is it picking up your policy file?
You got a crash? Work out what you forgot. Did you create the biases.txt file? Are all the column and rows the right number for the amount of races?
Once things look good start fiddling. Set up how you want the race to behave, maybe some ship designs (that are based on copy and paste of other races).

3) The order of how I added a new race. Hint: One race at a time!
Race File
Policy File
biases.txt update
Ship set - copy of another race
Race graphics - copy of another race
Troop images - copy of another race
------------Test
Ship set
Race graphics
Troop images
Design Templates
------------Test
Add any special components or tech
------------Test
Dialog
Galactopedia files

This is roughly how I added races in Extended, one at a time. I actually left the Dialog and Galactopedia after doing all the races I was adding at that point and then gave them character through dialog later. Their background and personality were in my head until that point.
Small steps between testing mean you will catch where you introduced an error. Add tons of stuff and then it crashes and you have a headache of removing until it is fixed to find it.

4) If you are adding multiple new techs to the game, you may want to leave that step until your races are ready for it, because changing the research.txt file is a massive undertaking you might not want to do twice. If you add one tech in and move everything down to handle it you may find you need to move everything down 1 again when you add another in later!

5) Once you have added your races and you are at a point you feel is ready to be played, perhaps it's only an interim release and you haven't added everything yet, play test.
Play on an irregular (star distribution) Galaxy to have the most balanced start for the various AIs. See how they are getting on at different tech levels (you can change in the in game editor, set their research levels).
Let your empire play on full auto with popups suppressed, see if something you changed screws the AI, or directly observe the balance.
One bad game or one great game for an empire doesn't mean the balance is off, Distant Worlds is a very random beast!
During development I play tested during a lot of different phases. I tweaked, and tweaked, and tweaked values for races until I felt they were about right.


I keep reiterating small steps. But that need not be a less enjoyable experience, throw your one race you added to the game out there to people. Let them have fun with it, see if you get any feedback. Not all feedback is worth acting on, don't change things because one guy told you something is stupid! But maybe you will have another look at it.
I would play test a little yourself before throwing it out there. Don't just create something, think it is ready then upload to the public. If you are new to modding Distant Worlds you may be way off in your values of what you have created, making something wildly too powerful or broken. People don't want to play test something that is likely unfun.


Things that can trip you up:
The biases.txt file, work out how to carefully edit it, keep it maintained. Make sure the correct number of columns and rows are there, blank spacing to line everything up is important to help this.
Don't use huge ship images, you will cause random mid game crashes, size your ships appropriate to the other ship sets in the game.
Make sure you are using the correct spelling of your races name in all the files.
Only add what files you need in your mod, you might get lazy and add tons of stuff because you might need it, only to find you need to update your mod every time a new game version comes out changing these files.
Check your ship designs work for the required ships in prewarp and at what point the various class ships are available.

< Message edited by Haree78 -- 7/25/2014 3:06:24 AM >


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Distant Worlds Extended
Battlestar Galactica Legends Mod
Post #: 1
RE: So you want to make a mod adding races.... Where to... - 7/25/2014 3:19:37 AM   
ehsumrell1


Posts: 2028
Joined: 8/17/2010
From: The Briar Patch Nebula
Status: online
quote:

ORIGINAL: Haree78

...Small steps between testing mean you will catch where you introduced an error. Add tons of stuff and then it crashes and you have a headache of removing until it is fixed to find it...



Amen Paul...I second that one! Nice post!

_____________________________

Shields are useless in "The Briar Patch"...

(in reply to Haree78)
Post #: 2
RE: So you want to make a mod adding races.... Where to... - 7/25/2014 2:21:01 PM   
tjhkkr


Posts: 1830
Joined: 6/3/2010
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: ehsumrell1
quote:

ORIGINAL: Haree78
...Small steps between testing mean you will catch where you introduced an error. Add tons of stuff and then it crashes and you have a headache of removing until it is fixed to find it...
Amen Paul...I second that one! Nice post!


Man, you are taking all the fun out of this... the crashes, the cursing, the pulling your hair out wondering which file you misplaced a comma, this wishing that Data had not stolen all your ale so you could enhance your debugging skills (okay: cursing skills)...
You do not know how to have fun.

Excellent post, Haree 78!


_____________________________

Remember that the evil which is now in the world will become yet more powerful, and that it is not evil which conquers evil, but only love -- Olga Romanov.

(in reply to ehsumrell1)
Post #: 3
RE: So you want to make a mod adding races.... Where to... - 7/25/2014 2:49:37 PM   
Efaferal

 

Posts: 41
Joined: 6/4/2014
Status: offline
Additional advice.

The race text file can be a bit of a dry read with all the index numbers, so I advise adding a comment line at each variable you manipulate or at least as section headings, in order to let yourself know what it does and why.

For instance:

'Victory Condition
'Condition 1 : Control Colony Type
Condition1Type;2

' 25 % of colony type
Condition1Value;25

' 25% of victory condition
Conditions1Proportion; 25

'Marshy Swamp
Condition1AdditionalData;2

The when you want to find something in the text the cntrl+f and search for the section header 'Victory Conditions'. This might seem like a lot of typing, but it can save you scads of time while debugging and balancing.

My second advice is use only small bonuses. Take a look at the science frogs and you can easily see that with their 90% research bonus ( race plus special government ) they are totally unfair for humans to play. Unless your aim is to make a totally unfair race which can be fun in the right scenario.

Please excuse if I got the variable mixed up (I am at work on break so no ref manual here ^^ )

(in reply to tjhkkr)
Post #: 4
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