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Civ V modding. Worth starting?

Discussion in 'Civ5 - Creation & Customization' started by Keroro, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. Keroro

    Keroro Dororo: Ninja Frog

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    Long time Civfanatic. First time poster in Civ 5 forums. Howdy. :)

    So, I've picked up Civ V fairly recently, played a few games, and meddled a little in the XML. IMHO the games is just OK - I've enjoyed the play and I prefer the general feel of the game to Civ 4, but it all feels a little shallow - in other words, in need of some extensive mods. I've had a look through the Creation & Customisation threads and found some great stuff by Gedemon, Danrell, bernie14, killmeplease, Androrc the Orc (not an exhaustive list, I know) and others, but it seems that there's a pretty limited number of people working on Civ 5 mods at present. Comparing the latest file updates for Civ 4 and Civ 5 there's some good content in both, but it seems that if you want to make a mod then Civ 4 is really the place to do it. The active users (115 vs 60) bear that out.

    On Gods & Kings - I should make it clear that I don't have G&K yet. I've heard that the AI and diplomacy in G&K is not particularly improved from vanilla. I've also read with concern some pretty dire stuff about the expansion changing things so much that many mods don't work without substantial updating which makes me wonder whether I want to get involved at all.

    Add to all that the fact that Jon Schafer has left Firaxis. :think: Well, does this game realistically have a long-term future, or is it the Windows ME of Civ games?

    What do the people here think. Is Civ 4 still the one to commit to if you want to create a mod? Is G&K a massive step forward? Can Civ 5 improve with a killer second expansion? Will the modding community pick up speed if the source code is released? Has the Steam mod database stifled creativity? Am I just missing where the action is!?

    NB - If you want to rant or rave about Civ V, Firaxis or Steam then please do so in an appropriate thread, not this one. Calm, serious, debate only here please.

    Moderator Action: Moved to C&C.
     
  2. binhthuy71

    binhthuy71 Emperor

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    I'm a Civ player from Year Zero (1991) and I've just taken up modding Civ V. My XML-Fu is okay, but my Lua skills require more work so it will be a while before I put up a mod. OTOH, my computer graphics and 3D modelling skills (Blender) are pretty good so it isn't hopeless.

    I'm working on mods for CivV. While IV is more easily modded I think that V deserves some effort. Why? For one thing, the ground in IV has been pretty thoroughly plowed. There are man-years' worth of work in Civ IV mods and it shows. That's great, but it also means that it's going to take something very spectacular to even get noticed. I'm not above wanting someone, somewhere to try my mod even if only to tell me that it sucks. ;)

    Civ V has its share of shortcomings and modding is the best near-term way to address them. I doubt that they'll be a second expansion just as I doubt that the source will be released anytime soon. That said, there are still plenty of things that can be done and I'm all for trying to do them.
     
  3. Putmalk

    Putmalk Deity

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    You don't need to know LUA to mod Civ 5.

    No this game is doing fine - so much better than troll Shafer "left".

    Modding in the game is as alive as it's ever been - thanks to the Steam Workshop and the correction of several broken features that really suck.

    This wasn't even warranted because nobody was going to rant in it anyway. :confused:

    Don't even bother if you don't have Gods and Kings, though. Not many people want to go back to Vanilla because Gods and Kings is that much better.
     
  4. Androrc the Orc

    Androrc the Orc Emperor

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    Civ5's modding future and community expansion possibilities depend in large on one thing: the release of the DLL source code.
     
  5. Rob (R8XFT)

    Rob (R8XFT) Ancient Briton Super Moderator

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    Hey Keroro, glad you made it over here at last! We've conversed in a thread or two over in the Civ III C&C forum ;). The answer to your question is yes. I've found that the more I mod Civ V, the more I like it and I believe that Gods and Kings is well worth the purchase. It'll come as no surprise to you that the mod is called Anno Domini!
     
  6. Putmalk

    Putmalk Deity

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    How is that mod coming along anyway?
     
  7. Rob (R8XFT)

    Rob (R8XFT) Ancient Briton Super Moderator

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    Quite well thanks; check the website, which I've revamped for the new version. The wonders and buildings list need to be added to, there's more than that in there; same with the civilizations. The release date is September 3rd. Dandrells skins make a nice difference, now that I've worked out how to get them in-game.
     
  8. PawelS

    PawelS Ancient Druid

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    It's a matter of personal preference - there are people who think Civ4 is the best thing since sliced bread, and still want to mod it, but many people (me included) prefer Civ5 despite its shortcomings when it comes to modding (small number of available unit models, no DLL source, some things hardcoded in the GUI...)

    (Looking forward to the G&K version of Anno Domini :))
     
  9. Pazyryk

    Pazyryk Deity

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    The initial learning curve is pretty tough for Civ5. It's natural after Civ4 to just go in and start tweaking numbers in xml files, but then Civ5 modders start yelling at you that you have to use ModBuddy and do it right. It's an irritating initial hump to get over. Then the lack of dll is...well...a problem. A bigger problem for me is the small amount of unit art (for non-WWII stuff) and the (apparently still) limited ability to add improvement art.

    All that aside, I could not imagine in my worst nightmare going back to Civ4 Python coding. Not that Lua is better than Python. But the implementation is much better. In Civ4, it was impossible for your Python variable to hold a simple value from turn to turn. How the heck can you program anything interesting in any language without some kind of data storage? (There was an initial Civ5 problem holding values through game exit/reload, but that has been solved.) Access to the game databases (with real SQL control) and access to almost all UI make many things possible in Civ5 (without dll) that would be virtually impossible in Civ4 (well, technically possible with dll, but not practically as no modder is going to build a DB system from scratch).

    As far as tactical unit AI goes, I'd say that Civ4 = Civ5 = G&K. That is, they all suck. My guess is that Civ5 is more sophisticated but the deeper 1upt system makes the flaws more apparent than the SOD system. Diplomacy AI has gone in a more "popular" direction with G&K. Before, it was almost impossible to maintain peace without an army (which pissed off a lot of players to no end). But now you can. Which way is better is a matter of preference.

    As far as conversion to G&K, I think most modders did it in a matter of days or hours (faster once the necessary changes were identified here on the forums). There are a few cases of mods put out of commission long-term (due to a specific graphics event that many of us were using as a hook for some game functions).

    But overall, I'd say it is a fabulous game with great long-term modding potential.
     
  10. Lord Lord

    Lord Lord Chieftain

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    Personally I found the lack of support for multiplayer mods a disappointment. Most of my games I play with a friend or two over the net, and we would really like to tweak the game setup a bit to get started with a reasonable balanced game quicker. The latter is also not very well supported. Need to change several core lua scripts just to change basic map generator and victory settings. Also just loading a mod for minor tweaks is actually a bit of a hassle.
     
  11. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

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    The others have covered this pretty well, but I'd add one thing: Civ5 modding seems to be designed to work in layers. When you're comfortable with the level you're at, you move on to the next one; if you don't feel like you've got the programming experience to do the really advanced modding, you can just stop at an earlier level and still make an excellent mod.

    That is, first you do basic XML modding, changing values here and there, or maybe adding a new unit. You shuffle existing policies and such around, or change the costs of a few techs. This is fairly easy to learn, and is similar to Civ4; it shouldn't take you long to master this sort of thing, and you can make large mods using only this sort of modding if you want. After that, you might get into SQL to make more wide-reaching changes. You might alter unit graphics at the same time, or some other similar asset modification, but this isn't that much different than the simple XML modding.

    Then you start to learn basic Lua, by modifying an existing UI window to show some new element. You learn the ins and outs of the VFS system, and the compatibility issues with other mods. It becomes possible, at this point, to add entirely new windows controlling entirely new game mechanisms. As time goes on, you'll learn how the Event systems work, and start to add Lua hooks of your own, adding the truly new functionalities you'd been hoping for. Granted, we're still limited in what exactly we can do, especially after the patch 674 debacle, but you'll be amazed by how many things you can add with what we already have. If you've got a good programming background, you can extend this Lua work even further, using all of the mod components people have come up with to store data in more usable forms; you can make pretty much an entirely new game using these systems, if that's what you want.

    And finally, eventually, we'll be given the DLL, and those people with experience in object-oriented languages will figure out how to do the really important stuff, like create a combat Event that actually works. Once we get that, pretty much anything becomes possible. We haven't been given the DLL, and there's no ETA on it, but once it's here a lot of things will change.
     
  12. Keroro

    Keroro Dororo: Ninja Frog

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    Morning all. Thanks to everyone for the opinions and info - very illuminating. I hadn't realised that G&K was quite so well received but it sounds like I'll have to prioritise the purchase this weekend and test it out. I guess, as PawelS said, there is going to be an element of personal preference in any decision of how to spend your time, and as I tend to prefer the feel of Civ 5 over Civ 4 my choice becomes fairly obvious.

    Rob - how could I ever forget, given the amount of your leaderheads I shamelessly used in my own mod? Good to see you again, and thanks for the reply. I did have a look at Anno Domini but I think I'm missing one of the DLCs so couldn't play - I'll rectify that once the G&K edition is ready. The leaders in AD look splendid by the way, and I'm sure I recognise a couple of them. ;)

    Putmalk - Cheers for replying. I've had a couple of games with your Ancient World scenario as antiquity is where my own interests lie. It's an elegant mod. Good stuff.

    Glad to hear it. :) The thread was originally posted in the General Discussion Forum, where the rant thread is alive and well, just passing the 2000th post! In the C&C forum, as you say, the replies have been perfectly measured.

    I had noticed that there didn't seem to be a huge number of units available for Civ 5 - that was, honestly, something that worried me. Is it because the units are particularly hard to create, or has there been a limited demand for units so far?

    I never modded Civ 4 (playing FFH was all I needed ;)) so thankfully don't need to unlearn those habits, but that also means that I'm basically starting with no knowledge of XML. That's my first hump, though getting used to ModBuddy will no doubt be another one to deal with at some point - I find it a little daunting at the moment, but Kael's guide (though slightly outdated) helps noobs like myself get a hang of it.

    They do suck pretty hard. I've noted a lot of enemy units dancing in front of my cities which is really disappointing. The AI has enough units to take a city but they end up threatening nothing. I've heard that mods that allow 2upt or 5upt help the AI a little, and based on my first tests it does appear to make them a little more effective.

    Looking forward to Ea by the way Pazyryk - it really looks awesome.

    Lord Lord - I've seen reports of the multiplayer problems. I have to admit that I very rarely play online myself, but it's a real shame that a game like Civ V can be released with so little multiplayer support. A good multiplayer community can long extend the life of a game, I'm surprised that some companies don't take it more seriously from the start. You only have to look at Starcraft 1 to see the effect it can have. Fingers crossed that they sort this out at some point.

    Thanks for for this overview Spatzimaus. I'm at the start of the XML layer personally and I'm finding it pretty logical on the whole - and there is obviously a lot of potential just on that layer for creating some good mods. I've just worked on Civs and Minor Civs so far, will be trying to get a hang of some graphics changes this weekend. It's far better than trying to mod Civ 3 (but then Civ 3 was certainly a bit of a monstrosity when it came to modding).

    I know that DLL was released for Civ 4, but it never was for Civ 3. Are we certain that Firaxis have committed to releasing it? Could there be a danger that they decide the games a dead duck without Schafer and move onto Civ 6?
     
  13. Androrc the Orc

    Androrc the Orc Emperor

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    In the latest patch, they added the ability for mods to switch between DLLs. That indicates that in the next patch or so we will actually be given the source code to modify the DLL.
     
  14. Putmalk

    Putmalk Deity

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    No it doesn't, they're told us that the DLL was coming about 4 times and pretty much lied all four times, so why is this any different?
     
  15. Androrc the Orc

    Androrc the Orc Emperor

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    Because this time it isn't about words, it's about actions. They actually added that feature.
     
  16. Keroro

    Keroro Dororo: Ninja Frog

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    Cheers Andoroc.

    It's only an indication, but a pretty strong one. I'm content personally. I'd imagine that they wanted to stabilise the game (in terms of base features) before releasing the code - and that would be tricky before G&K.

    Now we play the waiting game.
     
  17. Putmalk

    Putmalk Deity

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    My skepticism is very much warranted, seeing as they came out and told us explicitly that they would do it and failed on every occasion. I gave up hope a long time ago that it would come out.
     
  18. Pazyryk

    Pazyryk Deity

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    Skepticism is warranted. I'd guess that it has been held up this whole time by some executive who has calculated (probably correctly) that modding has no impact on profit. The devs have less say in resource allocation than you might think. The idea that the devs are being intentionally dishonest seems unlikely.

    If I'm not mistaken the last "official" word was by 2KGreg in December. Said something like "There is something really big coming but I can't tell you now... And the Dll is coming too, but not for many months" (paraphrasing from memory). I'd be very surprised if they say anything more about this until/unless they really are < 1 week from releasing it. (But seeing actual evidence in the code, if that is what it is, is more than we have had for the last 2 years.)
     
  19. binhthuy71

    binhthuy71 Emperor

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the dll source written in some version of C? If so, changing it will be a non-trivial job. Getting it compiled so that it works properly can be challenging as well.
     
  20. PawelS

    PawelS Ancient Druid

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    It's C++, which is my favorite language, Lua with its amorphous variables and errors like "trying to perform an operation on a nil value" drives me crazy (not that Python with its "meaningful whitespace" was better). I can't wait for the release, so I can program in a normal language instead of such weird thing as Lua ;) Also it will allow us to see the real meaning of all those defines and database columns with ambiguous names by checking where they appear in the code.
     

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