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Thread: Endless Space and Modding

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    Endless Space and Modding

    Hi all,

    I have read many questions about modding in Endless Space, so I wanted to update you on the subject. This is rather technical, but I know some of you are

    Modding has been a consideration ever since the project was just a few lines of text in a design document. We understand how important it is for our community.

    Obviously, a 4X Game offers many modding options, and we have built our game content as some kind of "default "mode. Modding could happen on different parts of the game: galaxy generation, game simulation, economic simulation rules, AI behavior, or even images and 3D models.

    Right now, here is where we stand:
    • Our galaxy generator is an external library, written in C# code. You feed it with an xml definition file (the generation options parameters), the selected settings (which galaxy, how many stars etc), and it produces a big xml file describing the galaxy. This xml file is then used by the game engine to create the universe. Galaxy shapes can also be edited simply to produce new shapes. It is our intent to give you the galaxy generation code so that you can change it as you wish, simply rebuild the library and share it with others.
    • The game simulation, which runs many variables to describe a galactic empire in all its aspects, it defined and computed by xml files containing our "Descriptor" system. A descriptor system is a data and computation declaration, which can be used for a vast number of purposes : define data (how much food my building produces), filtering (to build this, I need that), and of course operations (additive, multiplicative, etc). Some games allow you to edit content in the form of data parameters, others allow you to rewrite the code entirely. Both approaches have advantages and drawbacks (such as performance and stability), but we think we have met both ends with our descriptor system, which a way to create computational data. Most of the rules for computing the economic simulation is therefors defined in a data file, not hard coded. Of course, we can open more API into the code to expand the possibilities of what descriptors can do (although it is already going to be huge with our initial quantity of faction traits), and we can even consider opening the code in the future.
    • Modifying this data is one step, but you will want to create new elements. This is possible with this system, which should allow to create elements such as new system improvements, ship modules, heroes, resources, and many more. The only caveat concerns the link to graphical data, as described below.
    • AI can also be a huge aspect of modding. Right now, we are finishing implementing the last high level code for the AI. The architecture seems to be satisfying, but we have exposed tons of parameters to finely tune the AI during the upcoming months (and we will need your help). I believe these parameters could also be exposed to mod the AI behavior.
    • Adding new graphical / sound assets is more complex (although not impossible). We are discussing with Unity people (the technology we are using) what is the best way to incorporate new content that is not in the original project. Right now, Unity builds everything in a large asset bundle, so we must find the best way to add/take into account new files or bundles. More info on that soon.

    Regarding the form that this modding could take, we still are in the progress of defining how it will be delivered and selected by the user. Some games offer a "one mod at a time" selection policy, some others allow you activate more than one at the same time. For the sake of stability and clarity, we will opt for the "one mod at a time" policy, and let the community merge popular mods in one bundle.

    Thanks for your time!
    Mathieu GIRARD
    CEO
    AMPLITUDE Studios

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    I'm not a modder myself but it's great that you're adding the possibility to mod the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by AmpliMath View Post
    The architecture seems to be satisfying, but we have exposed tons of parameters to finely tune the AI during the upcoming months (and we will need your help).
    Is this a hint to a beta coming soon

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    there is a beta comming
    I am a ninja yes i am!!

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    can't wait for it!

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    Sounds great !

    Quote Originally Posted by AmpliMath View Post
    • Adding new graphical / sound assets is more complex (although not impossible). We are discussing with Unity people (the technology we are using) what is the best way to incorporate new content that is not in the original project. Right now, Unity builds everything in a large asset bundle, so we must find the best way to add/take into account new files or bundles. More info on that soon.
    I was actually wondering today how you would overcome the difficulty to add these type of assets with the Engine. Good to know you are speaking directly with Unity guys for that!

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmpliMath View Post
    • Our galaxy generator is an external library, written in C# code. You feed it with an xml definition file (the generation options parameters), the selected settings (which galaxy, how many stars etc), and it produces a big xml file describing the galaxy. This xml file is then used by the game engine to create the universe. Galaxy shapes can also be edited simply to produce new shapes. It is our intent to give you the galaxy generation code so that you can change it as you wish, simply rebuild the library and share it with others.
    I'm a c# noob, I can create some rather simple programs (like simple boardgames without AI). Will it be sufficient for changing the galaxy generation code ?

    The game simulation, which runs many variables to describe a galactic empire in all its aspects, it defined and computed by xml files containing our "Descriptor" system. A descriptor system is a data and computation declaration, which can be used for a vast number of purposes : define data (how much food my building produces), filtering (to build this, I need that), and of course operations (additive, multiplicative, etc). Some games allow you to edit content in the form of data parameters, others allow you to rewrite the code entirely. Both approaches have advantages and drawbacks (such as performance and stability), but we think we have met both ends with our descriptor system, which a way to create computational data. Most of the rules for computing the economic simulation is therefors defined in a data file, not hard coded. Of course, we can open more API into the code to expand the possibilities of what descriptors can do (although it is already going to be huge with our initial quantity of faction traits), and we can even consider opening the code in the future.
    Will it be possible to change some gameplay rules ? Like a faction that don't get Dust from planets but from their ships and combat ? (Think of it like nomadic tribes) And techs would unlock new economic abilities for the ships (or economic modules).

    AI can also be a huge aspect of modding. Right now, we are finishing implementing the last high level code for the AI. The architecture seems to be satisfying, but we have exposed tons of parameters to finely tune the AI during the upcoming months (and we will need your help). I believe these parameters could also be exposed to mod the AI behavior.
    Will it be xml-driven ? Will it be possible to create "mind" for AI, like an AI that value attack, another one that is more sneaky, another one that is peacefull and never ever forget what you've done to them (holy paladins way !), etc.
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    I just wanted to say thanks to you guys for being upfront and honest from the get go on the capabilities for the game to be modded, plus it's limitations; I wished this was more common really. I have some experience with Unity(indy version only) and know that the Asset Bundles can be a pain, dynamic assets are not easily managed by Unity; but having direct support from the the team behind the engine, should solve that problem soon enough. Back to topic I kind of hate that some games need to be modded from the start to be fun(Armada 2526 comes to mind) and although in ES case I don't really see the need to have such a robust system, it's more than nice to know that is there. On a side note, I have a feeling the pre-orders are coming soon enough since the page already has the "button" to preorder(directs to Steam), it can be viewed using Google translate or simply from the page's code. I know it's wishful thinking, but it would be awesome to have it by next week; I have the whole week off at work and I could devote a lot of time to invest in the game
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    Fantastic, Looking forward to giving it a go.
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    This is truly fantastic indeed, this is a major bonus for the game. I'm certain that a really nice community will grow around Endless Space thanks to these modding possibilities.
    Keep up the good work guys, we so eager to give you some money in exchange for the beta, so please hurry up

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    Good one Mr. CEO !
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    Quote Originally Posted by VieuxChat View Post
    Will it be possible to change some gameplay rules ? Like a faction that don't get Dust from planets but from their ships and combat ? (Think of it like nomadic tribes) And techs would unlock new economic abilities for the ships (or economic modules).
    Definitely, it will be xml based. for your specific example, I am not sure it will possible, but definitely worth a try. For example the cravers gather science from destroying their enemies..a behavior that I guess you could alter to make it do something else.


    Will it be xml-driven ? Will it be possible to create "mind" for AI, like an AI that value attack, another one that is more sneaky, another one that is peacefull and never ever forget what you've done to them (holy paladins way !), etc.
    It is already the case. you can affect their war strategies, their way to handle the economy, how they interact with the others...

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    Quote Originally Posted by VieuxChat View Post
    I'm a c# noob, I can create some rather simple programs (like simple boardgames without AI). Will it be sufficient for changing the galaxy generation code ?
    The code itself is simple C#, which uses only basic functions and containers. But the architecture can become hairy if you add many constraints of course.
    Mathieu GIRARD
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    Perhaps we should post this topic on some of the other 4x space forums to attract the modding community for input? I'm thinking SOSE, SotSE type modders who already well advanced with their ideas.

    Or have you already approached them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmpliMath View Post
    The code itself is simple C#, which uses only basic functions and containers. But the architecture can become hairy if you add many constraints of course.
    So it's just plain simple procedural programmation ? I can handle that, it's when events are to be taken into account that I start getting in trouble (I can use the automatic ones created with the buttons, etc. in Visual c#, but creating some is still out of my reach).
    Anyway thanks for the news. If cravers can get some tech through destroying enemies, I think I will be able to get some dust from it instead of tech. Then I just have to restrict access to buldings and create some modules for ships that gives Dust (maybe it's not possible ?)
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    Quote Originally Posted by maceman View Post
    Perhaps we should post this topic on some of the other 4x space forums to attract the modding community for input? I'm thinking SOSE, SotSE type modders who already well advanced with their ideas.

    Or have you already approached them?
    Sure if you know any modders that would be interested, they are most welcome, and I am sure the game can only benefit from their early presence.
    As you can see from Math post, we take modding very seriously.

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