An empire-building turn-based strategy game. The player starts building his empire at the Old Stone Age in 4000 BC, leading his tribe to explore the surroundings, found new cities, counter hostile barbarians, pillage or take over enemy's villages, and compete with other cultures.
In this new much delayed seventh dev diary we take on the 3 final frontiers of Civ2 editing and change the diplomacy screen background, spaceship construction sequence, and grand council video advisors with cool HoMM2 content for the Civilization 2 - Heroes of Might and Magic 2 Mod!
As a kid growing up in the 90s playing endless hours of Civ and HoMM Blake always wanted some sort of hybrid game that gave him the HoMM experience but in the Civ sandbox world. Games like Master of Magic and Age of Wonders 2 sort of granted that wish however Tom2050's amazing HoMM3 mod for Civ3 mod has REALLY fulfilled that dream of a sandbox HoMM game. Blake was so inspired by the awesomeness of it that he wanted to try and make a Heroes of Might & Magic 2 Civilization 2 Mod to compliment it. Soon after this Blake discovered a talented Civ2 modder on the other side of the world called Metropolis had already started a similar project and the two of them got to work on finishing their dream!
Well after so long since the last project update I guess it's time to finally post a new one!
I'm sorry it's taken so long for this guys, MetroPolis has retired from mod making (nope no fallout haha, we're still good mates and he's still eagerly following this project) which means the final finishing touches are up to me. However over 2020-2021 I decided to mostly step away from all my personal modding projects to work on a huge Civilization scifi/fantasy scenario search & rescue cataloging project which lead to an even bigger preservation project saving thousands of Civilization 2 scenarios/mods lost over the decades and uploading to CivFanatics, ModDB, & Archive org which took nearly 2 years to complete! With so many old Civ2 sites gone over the years things were in such a bad way I just had to do something about it all! Many awesome people came forward donating huge collections to help and hopefully now all this great work will never be lost again! But now that it's all finished up I can finally return to my own modding projects starting with some more work on this Civilization 2 - Heroes of Might & Magic 2 mod! :)
Delaying the project was not all bad though as it's lead to a number of advancements in my mod making skill set allowing me tackle the few remaining things Metropolis & I never changed 2 years ago. We've been bragging for a while now that our HoMM2 mod practically changes everything in Civilization 2 such as units, cities, terrain, buildings, wonders, events, backgrounds, GUI, throne room, diplomacy heralds, wonder movies, game intro/start/death sequences etc. However in truth 3 things remained untouched - the Diplomacy background, the Spaceship construction, and the High Counsel Video advisors!
So firstly regarding the Civilization 2 Diplomacy Screen appearance, back in 2019 I talked with MetroPolis about how I planned to make it look like the HoMM2 campaign selection screen with the stone wall and the picture frames. I then went to try and do it and realised pretty quickly that the bricks were too big plus there was both torch & window light bouncing off everything at different angles (see pic below), so trying to copy & paste the bricks into a bigger wall and resizing the picture frames seemed too difficult, resulting in me giving up and never doing it.
Then I last year I saw that Knighttime had made something very similar for his awesome Medieval Millennium ToT mod and it was literally what I wanted.. a cool stone brick wall with a nice wooden picture frame.
So I asked his permission to use it and credit him in our mod to which he said yes :) However a problem with using Knighttime's awesome medieval background is that I've destroyed the floor all our custom video herald monsters stand on. So I decided to take a peak in the the vanilla Civ2 throne room pv dll file to see if it had some nice floors and sure enough it did. So I recoloured one of them and stuck it in for the herald monsters to stand on and I think the end result looks pretty good. I also finally fixed the problem of modern day strength icons being displayed on the sides and have made them all ancient style now which suits better. Then finally Knighttime went above and beyond and offered to get his original source files and resize his wooden picture frame to fit our custom HoMM2 hero leaderhead's! So by actually doing work that contributed to this mod he's officially inserted himself into the HoMM2 mod team list haha. Here's the finished results which I'm really liking! :)
So with that one solved it leaves only 2 things that Metro and I haven't replaced or messed with in our HoMM2 mod, which is the Spaceship and High Counsel Video advisors which we originally deemed too hard to change.
For the Spaceship I decided to use the awesome 'breeding your own dragon' spaceship replacement from Matt Dempsey's excellent Game of Thrones mod and give it a HoMM2 background and stick him in our mod credits too so that will fix that problem. I've got some ideas for the spaceship launch and landing video replacements too which I'll leave to another day!
As for the High Council video advisors as far as I know no one has ever changed them before but I came up with an idea to replace them too knowing full well it would be a massive job! Metro & I only used a portion of the HoMM2 hero portraits for our Civ2 diplomacy leaders so there's plenty of spare ones and thankfully I've worked out how to make Civ2 indeo video codec movies without needing Metro to make them for me (as he did ALL the previous video work for our mod) using freely available video editors. As you can see below I was able to do a simple & crude but successful video advisor replacement test mounting a hero portrait over the top of the original video and because I'm still using the original video file underneath it will retain all the important audio timing cues hardcoded into the game.
So then it was time to replace them all! For starters I needed to select a 'motley crew' of suitable HoMM2 heroes to replace our existing advisors! Naturally I couldn't resist a big angry Orc dude for our grumpy military advisor, I found a nice nerdy library wizard kind of hero for our Science guy, I found a Barbarian hero with posh clothes and earrings to make a good rich Trade guy, naturally I couldn't resist using one of the dark cloaked female heroes for our Spy chick, and lastly the hardest of all was trying to replace the Elvis Entertainment guy so I went with a crazy deranged forest hero with leaves & sticks in his hair as I'm sure he's highly entertaining when he walks into town lol, and there's just nothing else in the HoMM2 hero lineup that even remotely fits Elvis sadly. I also did my best to make sure each had different backgrounds so the colour contrasts would make each hero stand out and look cool & unique! Have resized (no stretching) their original near square shaped portraits by cutting out some side stuff and extending the vertical stuff (eg drawing extra sky at top & a bit of extra clothing on bottom or in one case cleavage lol) as much as I could without it looking too bad. Extending each one even further to fill it's entire window would have been cool but beyond my limited pixel drawing abilities sadly lol.
For those who've never played HoMM2 I should point out that Heroes faces do NOT animate so it's going to be up to me to make it happen! However before I could even start on animating them I realised that a lot of their faces were not suitable for neutral closed mouth resting faces when they're not talking, as half these guys have open mouths, gritted teeth, and grumpy frowns heh. However at least some of these open mouths would save me work later when trying to make them talk. So here's my revised neutral closed mouth hero advisor lineup! I also fixed up some of my extensions a bit more too.
So then I had to make their mouths, chins/beards, eyes & eyebrows animate which was quite the challenge as I'd never done that before! I've got a bunch of Sierra point & click adventure games (eg King's Quest and Quest for Glory) that have animating portraits so I studied them and extracted their mouth & eye frames to learn some tricks.
My first animation test/proof of concept was the Trade guy as he originally already had a slightly open mouth and teeth that I felt would be the easiest starting point...
I think it worked out okay and isn't too bad work from someone who's literally never done this before lol! Creating an open mouth on a face that barely had one is bloody hard, so I wasn't looking forward to doing this 4 more times lol! I also had to make him look friendlier since you can see from his original portrait earlier that he's kinda angry looking with gritted teeth. Although I kept his frown for one frame as the Civ2 trade guy does make a lot of snarky comments so it fits heh. Basically the whole thing is just five frames - one with mouth half open, one with mouth fully open, one with a blink, another one mouth half open repeated, and one with an eye brow movement. Hopefully this plus the regular closed mouth 'resting face' 6th frame will be all I need for replacing the video segments.
Confident from my first success I then took on these 2 who were quite difficult as they both had tiny closed mouths meaning I had to open them from scratch myself! I relied heavily on my Sierra point & click examples for these ones! Took many passes and changes before I was happy enough with them! Science guy got a Spock like single eyebrow raise and at least with the girl I didn't have to worry about eyebrows at all! I have a beard these days and noticed that my moustache moves a bit as I talk, so I gave the guy a bit of that too.
So then came the last 2 who I knew would be quite the challenge too! It's hard to see at this small scale but if you use either browser zoom or download the image to look closer at our crazy forest entertainer you'll notice that most of the leaves and sticks animate since that cool purple menacing background makes it look like he's in a bit of a storm. As for our Orc I knew I shouldn't really make his helmet move so I needed to convey his (usually grumpy) emotions in a very limited space. Fortunately the original picture had an open mouth so I was able to make some more open and more closed variants. His bloodshot eyes already convey rage but with his eyebrows blocked by the helmet I knew I needed to do more to convey his emotion, so I did a slightly showing eyebrow frown and made his nostrils flair at the same moment which will hopefully go nicely when he screams "GIVE ME MORE SOLDIERS NOBLE LEADER SO THAT THEY MAY SHEATH THEIR SWORDS IN THE BEATING HEARTS OF OUR ENEMIES!!!" haha. :)
So with that all done next came the final messy and time consuming part of creating the finished product and mounting these animations over the top of all the advisors! Their files which are comprised of 3 big council videos and 3 anarchy videos makes over 20mins of stuff that I had to replace every second of with the neutral static faces or the animating faces each time I heard them speak lol! In the end it took me 2 weeks but I got it done and am pretty happy with the results. The only issue I encountered was that some of the original default advisor thumbails were actually taken from moments where they were talking which means some of my replacements have open mouths instead of closed resting faces, but oh well other then that it worked out perfectly! You can check out the results of all this work below in this video, enjoy! :)
If you like my work please feel free to check out my other mod projects such as my & Metropolis's Civ2 - Heroes of Might & Magic 2 scenario, my Civ2 - Red Alert 2 Siege of NYC scenario, my Civ2 - Command & Conquer scenario remaster, my Civ2 - Terminator Future War scenario remaster, my Civ2 - Civ1 Graphics mod demaster, my Civ2ToT - Master of Magic Jr scenario remaster, my Civ2 - Deadworld Reborn scenario remaster, my Civ2 - Starcraft scenario addon, my Civ2 - Better Terrain Graphics mod, my Civ2 - Playstation Graphics mod remaster, my Civ2 - ToT Graphics mod remaster, my Civ2 - Alpha Centauri scenario remaster, my Attila's Conquest - Play as Barbarians in every Civ game scenario series, my old Civ2 - Star Wars scenario, and my Civ1 - Soundtrack Overhaul mod. I'm also the creator of the popular GZDoom - Star Trek TNG Doom and GZDoom - Quest For Glory IV 3D Hexen mods.
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