MAP EXPANSION MOD--New scenery features for Dawn of War DC and SS

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Published by dreadlord12 9 years ago , last updated 11 months ago


Dear community members and guests,

Hello, i'm Jaguar-Lord former manager of the 2nd community map project and i'd like to attract attention of the WHOLE mapping community on the following:

The lack of new scenery models comparatively to the number of race mod new units is somehow very frustrating to the mappers’ community. Since DoW Vanilla (Dawn of War) the scenery models number stay desperately low. The purpose of this post and thread is to initiate a discussion, that I hope won’t be fruitless, and initiate a project aimed at bringing new scenery features for the whole DoW community to use.

We have seen the appearance of Snow theme scenery and environment objects with the second DoW expansion pack (Winter Assault) and some Necron and a few Tau architectural features with Dark Crusade. SoulStorm, from the mapper point of view, was a very frustrating add-on to the variety of existing scenery models. This expansion added a lot of new scenery models, the Paradise sub folder added several tropical trees and vegetation models and the Imperial folder a truckload of fortification and Corrupted terrain models, BUT due to the lack of a SS compatible Mission Editor, mappers have to enter a new realm: The Modding kingdom.

For the day to day mapper setting up a mod to be able to create map is something not that evident and easy to do, plus the fact that importing SoulStorm content into Dark Crusade is bordering illegality (since you do not release a SS mod for DC you wouldn’t get the attention of GW-Relic lawyers…) and not that simple. Indeed making a mapping mod in Dark Crusade to be able to release a map for Soulstorm using SS content is out of reach of a vast majority of mappers. That’s why the number of custom maps for SS is relatively low compared to those created for DC.

Since I began working on the Darkness Within linear campaign for DC, my needs for new scenery content grew even stronger. I had to think hard about new way of combining several objects to mimic the lack of new ones and to bring to life environment ideas. You know how difficult it can be to design and make interiors map like a subterranean temple or an Inquisition fortress. I even decided to make a heavy use of cloned and retextured scenery models to add variety and achieve new ambiance and environment but soon realized that if I were to reuse theses object on different map project doing so would meant making a map mod because of the new .rgds. This was not a problem because Darkness Within was already a mod but when it comes to non-mod maps we are speaking different matters. Lots of players are very reluctant to install any mod in DoW because they believe it is more difficult than installing a new map, which is completely untrue off course! Dragging a folder into another….

In the past two years we have seen the rise of a few completed full race mods bringing new interest to the DoW community but even if new units and concept were added to the game the number of new environment stays roughly the same. It ends up with the same maps declined in different layout but lacking variety in design and content. Same old snowy tree, same old chaos rocks, same old ruined cathedral scenery……. Some completed mods added new scenery content; among them the Adeptus Sororitas mod wich bring environment to a higher level with the addition of animated skies and new fx attached to static mesh models (See the Warp Gate map).

The ManFromMars recently emitted an opinion pretty similar to mine and there are several other mappers and modders sharing the same point of view about the lack of scenery diversity for the mappers to play with and for maps in general. I was approached by Underscore a few days ago and we are currently discussing about a global community project: a “mapping addition mod†free for use for every mod team.

The idea is pretty vague for the moment but basically we are agreeing on a general concept: Add new content regrouped by themes or packages, i.e. a Snow and Ice theme, a Daemon World theme, a Jungle theme, a Volcanic theme, Weather Ambient Fx theme….and so on. Each theme will be made of several of the following features: new decals, new detail textures, new fX, new sound fX and new scenery models (it can be static mesh or animated ones or purely ambient fx models) I do hope that we would be able to push things so far as attaching sounds to the different objects but lets keep it simple for the moment.Package will also contain several cloned and retextured already existing models.

The second part of this is to find a way to increase the amount of dynamic content for the DoW-I set, we are talking about animated environment fx like weather effects ( ie : an lightning strike random hit anywhere on the map, that can deal damage to structures or units With proper sound fx attached and visual fx attached) and dynamic terrain/ground ( ie :animated lava rivers and flows, able to deal damage to any unit trying to cross it and to able movement along a pre-programmed/scripted path on the ground (Yes it can be done but unfortunately not usable in multiplayer mode for now)

Let’s take a look at another interesting example: destructible walls and fortification. The engine is such that objects are not solid, it means that if you want to make a wall section impassable you have to use the “impass map toolâ€, you can walk your unit through walls and fire on the enemy standing behind a wall. The actual method used to simulate cover by fortification is the “cover map tool†(negative, light and heavy cover modifiers applied to areas). Another big chunk of the project would be to make entire sets of destructible fortification.

What is needed for this task is: Add an impassable base to the object, hit points and armour to each object, a “object crumbling†animation (already existing) and a destroyed object model replacing the model once it is destroyed. This is not very difficult but quite time consuming. Off course to be able to attack and destroy these fortification means they are owned by n enemy player, this alone have several side effects (like the object being present on the minimap, but this can be modded too…) but the game play benefit is worth the hassle imo.

Underscore and myself have divergent ideas about the following: while i think that a standardized single mapping expansion mod enclosing all the packages will prevent duplication and scattering of the resources and allow mappers and modders to make custom maps outside of any specific mods; Underscore is prone to release each package or features as separated entities in which each mod teams would use content they find suited for their mod. We need to have the point of view of the end users to decide the final structure of the expansion set.

It is fairly obvious that such a project needs a complete modding team and reliable people.The project nature allows an open structure, it can be released as a base and expanded further as new models and new packages are added and transmitted by anyone from the community. The project will need a reliable online storage area/server and a crystal clear presentation for people to SEE what is the package content (ingame screenshots), thus website/webpage administration and maintenance will be crucial to it. The strength of such a structure is that anyone can contribute to it, join the team for a while, and create a few assets then leave to join another project or another team.

I also intend it to be done in an Open Source attitude. Every asset should be free to use at your own will, sharing and learning will benefit everyone. Dow II is coming and I believe that lots of us will take considerable time to try to mod it, and free time is not expendable in a 24h day. The consequence is that a lot of the modding community may shift from DoW-I to DoW-II asap. Before this happens I would like the DOW-I fans to get something worth playing with. I do hope that enough people will be interested enough into this to make it a reality and not only a rethoric brawl. There is work to be done.

Thank you for reading.


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