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Making Quality Mods

created 05/13/04

by Waveslave

Making Quality Mods

Making Quality Mods: A Guide

After seeing the AoMH Modding Download Section flood with mods recently, some good, some regular, some bad, I decided to help modders who want to submit work. Basically, there are about 7 elements every successful mod should have, which are:


New Unit Textures, Icons, Stats, Anim, History, Sounds, and Extras.
The Elements


New Unit Textures: First of all, almost every mod now made for AoM comes as new unit, standard. It's unheard of these days that a mod replaces the unit instead of creates a whole new one. If you do not know how to create new units, my guide here will help you. Also, the textures. Called the hardest part in modding, textures may either ruin or help your mod project. All it takes is some practice, actually a lot of practice, and the quality of your textures will improve. Look at me, every mod I do is twice as good as the last, only because I improve with practice. If you need help on texturing, this guide will prove useful. Look at it like art, and you'll do fine. If you need extra practice, enroll in the NMA for texturing practice.

Texturing Notes:

Always resize your textures to either 128X256, or 256X512 pixels for maximum details.

For faces based on someone, cloning, or copy and pasting an image onto the texture is a great way to enhance your mod. If you can find a good enough picture, you could even clone parts for the body!

Try to avoid the cartoonish look, unless you are aiming for it. This includes flat looking textures, with three or four main block colors. To avoid this, use Paint Shop Pro (or anything else similar) to shade, burn, dodge, lighten and darken the picture, and add depth to the image. Unfortunately, this is hard to do with MS Paint users.


Icons: Making icons is quite easy, and adds quite a bit to a mod. Simply make a texture, either 64X64 or 32X32, with a picture or painting of your mod. Next, open up the proto(x), and, assuming you've already added in your new unit text, change the Portrait Icon line, for example the Arcus would have <portraiticon>archer x arcus icons 64</portraiticon> before. Change it to <portraiticon>(NAME OF YOUR ICON TEXTURE)</portraiticon>. Repeat for 32 if you want.

Stats: To personalize your mod, or to make it more like how you want, edit the stats of your new unit's text in the proto(x).xml. You could do this with the ModifyProtounit trigger, but it would only be temporarily. Lines that would need changing if you want would be <maxvelocity>3.7500</maxvelocity>, how fast your unit runs, <los>22.0000</los>, your unit's sight range, <initialhitpoints>60.0000</initialhitpoints> <maxhitpoints>60.0000</maxhitpoints>, your unit's starting and maximum health, <param name="MaximumRange" value1="20"></param>, if your unit has a ranged attack, and <param name="Damage" type="(Pierce, Hack etc)" value1="6"></param>, for attack damage. Of course there are more lines that can be modified, but those are just the main ones.

Anim: If you are making a new unit, you will already have an anim file, already replacetextured. But more options with anim are available, such as changing or adding weapons, adding or changing anims, or adding sfx. To find out more on the subject of Animation, try reading this guide.

History: To make a more detailed, professional mod, a unit history would increase the quality. This is extremely easy to do, and the only skill involved is writing, unless you copy the paragraph from someplace else. Basically, all you have to do is write a text document paragraph about your unit, name the file the exact name that you put down in the proto(x), and place it in AoM/History/Units(AOM) or AoM/History2/Units(AOM: TT). So, check it in-game by clicking info about your unit, and read the short paragraph at the bottom of the pop-up. Here is an example, from my Gandalf the White mod:

Armed with Glamdring and a powerful Istari staff, Gandalf the White used his strength as well as wits to help Middle Earth overcome the darkness of Sauron. Before, he was Gandalf the Grey, a mighty wizard known as the Grey Pilgrim, before falling to the Balrog at the Bridge of Khaza-dum, inside Moria. He was rescued by Glorfindel, then sent back to Earth as Gandalf the White, as what Saruman should have been, and used his powers and mind to thwart the evils of Mordor.

Sounds: Sounds are often a very difficult part of modding, and can be hard if you make a few mistakes. Make sure the final product is always in XML form. First, when making a new unit, you probably already have a (NEWUNITNAME)_Snds.xml. So, after picking .wav files for your sounds, replace the text in your (NEWUNITNAME)_Snds.xml to match your sound files. Also, add sound sets to either Soundsets.xml(AOM) or Soundsets_xpack.xml(AOM: TT) that look like:

</soundset>
<soundset maxnum="2" name="GandalfDeath" volume="1.0000">
<sound filename="GandalfDeath.wav" volume="1.0000"></sound>
</soundset>

Extra: As in extra, I mean new models, making it available in-game through the techtree, or just something creative. Be original, be experimental, be groundbreaking, just make something new and fresh, and it is no doubt all the downloaders will love it. It is your mod, so make it how you want.

The Final Product


Wrapping it All Up: After you are all done, place everything carefully into a ZIP file. Be careful you put all the right files in, and not miss any, because the results can be drastic. Here is an example readme of mine from Gandalf, feel free to use it in your mod, just change the various parts.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Waveslave610~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Email: Rickywam@aol.com
AIM: xwaveslave610x
AIM: rickywam
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~What is This~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Talk about the character of your mod here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Proto Installation~~~~~~~~~~~~~
**Important! If you have AoM: The Titans, you have to use Protox.xml. If you have AoM, use Proto.xml!**

1. Run "Gandalf the White Setup Program".

2. Open up your proto.xml/protox.xml. If you don't have one, then you have to...

_____1. Open up AoMED (Available at AoMFiles or AoMH)
_____2. Click "Set Input Data File"
_____3. Find data.bar(AoM) or data2.bar(Titans) at Age of Mythology/Data
_____4. Click "Read Data File"
_____5. A green, matrix-y window will open. Let it write the files.
_____6. Re-open AoMED. Click "Direct File Conversion".
_____7. Find the folder where the files were extracted, which is AoM/Data if you didn't specify a different folder. Click
_____ either Proto.xmb(AoM) or Protox.xmb(Titans).
_____8. Click Ok. Now Proto.xml(AoM) or Protox.xml(Titans) will now be at AoM/Data if that was your specified folder.

3. Now that you have Proto/Protox, open it up with a typing program, preferrably Notepad.
4. Go to the very bottom of Proto.xml/Protox.xml, and make a space between </action> and </unit>, like -

</action>

</unit>
</proto>

5. Copy and Paste Gandalf Proto into the new space. Make sure it ends up like-
<param name="Persistent"></param>
</action>
</unit>
</proto> ...and---

</unit>
<unit id="" name="Gandalf the White">
<dbid>X</dbid>


6. Also make sure that the unit id is one more higher than the unit's before. For Example, if -
</unit>
<unit id="800" name="Bella">
<dbid>X</dbid>
Than make Gandalf-
</unit>
<unit id="801" name="Gandalf the White">
<dbid>X</dbid>

7. Save the Proto.xml/protox.xml and, using AoMED, convert it to proto.xmb or protox.xmb and place it in the AoM/Data folder.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Other Installations~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1. IF YOU HAVE ALREADY UPDATED SOUNDSET.XML/SOUNDSET XPACK.XML, BACK UP THE FILE TO ANOTHER FOLDER, THEN WRITE THE OLD DATA INTO
THE NEWLY INSTALLED SOUNDSET.XML/SOUNDSET XPACK.XML.

2. Place Gandalf the White Icon 64.DTT in the AoM/Icons Folder.

3. Place Gandalf the White_snds.xmb into AoM/Sound folder. It will already be there from the auto-installer, but put
this updated version in. Now, you have to run the set-up BEFORE putting the Gandalf the White_snds.xmb into AoM/Sound
because- The set-up automatically installs the OLD version of the snds file, so AFTER AUTO-INSTALLING, PLACE GANDALF THE
WHITE_SNDS.XMB INTO AOM/SOUND.
4. Place Gandalf the White_snds.xml, Soundset.xml, and Soundset xpack.xml into AoM/Sound.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Credits~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Just give thanks to people
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Miscellaneous~~~~~~~~~~~~
Anything that doesn't belong anywhere else
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Enjoy!


Advertise: If you want your mod to be well anticipated by the time it comes out, the only way to do this is to advertise. Post a thread showcase for your mod, showing it off and answering questions and criticisms. Put some text and maybe a link in your sig. Mention it a few times. After a while, people will start to get anxious.

Writing the Mod Description: When it comes to submitting time, take time to fully describe your mod. Don't be afraid to tell about every small detail, and exaggerate a bit. Make them want to download your mod. Also, punctuation/spelling is essential. Someone who sees

Introducing, Gandalf the White!
Features:
A picture-perfect texture, matching Gandalf's exact likeliness! etc...

or...

Yo whats up I decided to make a mod on gandaf the white, an i spent a long time on it, so please please downlaod!!!!!1111

Obvious

Relax and Watch: When it is over, it's time to just sit back and watch the downloads fly by, if it is successful. Always respond to criticism and reviews with politeness and optimism, and never argue with a commenter, unless he/she is out of line, when it's time you to email a mod.
Also, when reviewing mods over at the Download Section, think of the 7 Elements of Modding, and partly base your review on how many did the mod cover, and the quality of each Element.