Thursday, January 27, 2011

Updates and Sikh Mod

Hi guys, yes, I could have blogged more but didn't feel motivated enough. I have been working on several paintings, both historical and fantastical one. (I actually started many more pieces but some were lost due hard drive failure. I have been much more careful about backing up my work since then.) I also started laying out some ideas for future games I might do. One of my dreams is to create some video games of my own, with characters that are designed by me, with Sikh characters, and so I regularly remember that dream and design characters and gameplay around it.

As I was in the process of doing this, I felt very motivated to work on a mod that I have been involved in. I started this back in 2009 when I felt like I had nothing to do. I always feel like that for some reason, even though I have a lot on my plate... it's full! When I first announced it, I made a new friend in the process and he got me started. I did not know squat about programming so I left that job to him. I would take care of the art, while he (enjoys math) would take care of the programming. He was actually thinking of a similar mod, and so was very quick to join me. With Sarbloh Warriors down, I saw this filling its spot.

We planned to mod the Sikh Empire for Age of Empires 3. Age of Empires is a real time strategy game where you choose one of many civilizations and take on the other civilizations in battle. The Age of Empires series is one of my favs and so this was very exciting.
Its second expansion has India already but a modern India. It has one Sikh unit to begin with, Chakram, a hoop thrower. That's right its main attack, it's only attack is to throw a Chakar (and to hit someone with it if they come close). Ridiculous, I thought to my self. The game was awesome, and Chakram was even cooler but it did not feel right when I played it. Udasi, a sub-civilization can train Chakram, a Nihang... a Nihang who does not use swords... you get the point...

So this winter, feeling very motivated, I got back to that mod, got back to playing Chakram, got back to altering the game files so that I could train more than 23 Chakrams! This winter, I took a deep breath and thought "This is it! If I can't give this guy swords..." I never finished the sentence, I don't think negative. "I can give this guy swords!" I thought positive and it paid off, Nihang was born. Though, this was just a Chakram with a sword. I later went back and 'modded' meaning modified the textures to make them look different.

This was a new step for me and I realized how easy programming this game was. Well, this was not REAL programming. This was modifying existing code (computer language that is translated into the game), well-written, easy to understand code.
So the next week, I was found living on my computer, except for maybe sleeping and bathroom breaks. I really got into it! I managed to create several units (the playable soldiers of a civilization) before that friend and I got back and shared code. (I still have to work with what he has already done, which was most units of the Sikh Empire). As an immediate reaction to his input, I started creating Maratha, Mughal and Afghan units. All of a sudden a rush in my energy levels and motivation made me very confident. I decided we will split the Indian civilization into Afghans, Marathas, Mughals and Sikhs. More units, more playing styles and more research that needs to be done... It is only now that I realize how big of a task it is to create even one civilization let alone four! However difficult it might be, my plan is to finish at least two. I am hoping we get a few other like-minded people to help us. If this ever gets finished it will be the coolest mod ever! Right now I am back at university and getting back to studying science but hopefully I will come back to the mod this summer.

Here's a screenshot of the mod, of Sikhs and Mughals in action. Click on it to see the full image. (We can only modify existing units, so I cannot make the different turbans more accurate than this)