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It's about fifty days have passed since "Ashes of War" was announced. Development had not been stopped for any of all these days. It was not a typical development of mod, as you could think. I haven't created a lot of new models or textures, because my first task was to find a way to significantly improve BFME graphics. Aaand I've found it!

What am I talking about? I am talking about a couple of great thing, which have been discovered by me in the depths of BFME2. These things are deep color correction through lookup tables and... specular maps for units!

Working with color

As you know, our old lady BFME2 can't boast of wide support of posteffects. But it natively supports one important overlay-effect: color correction, which can be applied to each map separately, through lookup table instrument. What does this mean for us? Yes! Every map now can get unique shading colors, and it's really great.

There is no need in SweetFX or any similar stuff, which causes a lot of problem and which have a lot of disadvantages and limitations. For example, SweetFX affects on the whole frame of game, including interface and even main menu. It can apply only one effect for whole game (without any presets for each map), and finally it's just unstable and a lot of people have problem with running SweetFX on their computers.

Native color correction of BFME2 is deprived of these deficiencies. You can choose any colors for each map, regulate opacity of overlay and, of course, this overlay will affect only the 3d-space (battle field). Also, as you understand, this method doesn't cause any compatibility problems.

Well, there is time to look on something great: video, where you can see four different locations from the standard BFME2 with improved color correction:

Each of these maps get their own shades and features, and below you can read about it in detail (it's better to look both the video and screenshots, because some described elements are better seen on the video, others - on screenshots).

Fords of Isen

As you can remember, the most popular map for 1vs1 online matches from the default BFME2 was not unique. By colors it had standard BFME set: green grass with yellow dirt. Nothing special compared to a lot of other BFME2 maps.

I decided to make Fords as rainy map with overcast sky. Respectively, the map now has more cold colors and muted sunlight and faded inexpressive shadows.


In Dwimordene, in Lórien
Seldom have walked the feet of Men,
Few mortal eyes have seen the light
That lies there ever, long and bright.

In accordance with this passage from Gandalf's Song, I wanted to make Lorien a fairytale place, glorified in legends. The abode of the immortal elves now has dominant gold shades, contrasting to saturated and deep shadows. Also pay attention to leaves falling (it's better to look on it in the video), another well-fitting element of the reworked map.


Ithilien became a night map. As you know, this territory is located on the frontier of men's Gondor and Sauron's Mordor. So, I decided to emphasize this feature. Ithilien now has purple and dark green colors with orange-red shades. I think, these palette is great for this map.

Mount Doom

I think, there is no need to represent this land, which played the role of grandiose forge for Dark Lord. Of course, Mount Doom has bright red colors contrasting to grayish black. Don't forget to pay attention to falling ash ;]

Specular map

It's not a secret, that developers of BFME series brought some great stuff as shader model 2.0 to BFME2, which means a much graphic improving compared to BFME1. What did it give to us? Support of new shaders, improved lighting and some great texturing techniques. The developers used normal maps for creating pseudo-relief for buildings and some terrains, but specular maps were not used by them at all. But there is active functional for applying specular in standard BFME Mod SDK! I found it almost by accident, and it was a good luck.

Why am I so happy? Look on s—Āreenshots below (and above too) and you understand me :]

Models with normal map on the left, models with specular map on the right

Yeah, specular map allows to show reflectivity of different materials. So, thereby I got more opportunities to emphasize visual image of every unit.

For example, armored gondorians now have great reflection on their armor, so we clearly see that these units have metal as the main material:

Another good example of applying specular map is fellbeast, air-horse for nazguls, you can see some reflection on the model. And it also makes sense, because fellbeast's skin is slippery and it should have reflection:

Also, applying specular map improves lightings. On the screenshot you can see great shading from the trees on the shining armor of gondorians:

Condition textures

Ashes of War takes idea of condition textures from The Last Hope of the Third Age. If you've played in TLHotTA, you can remember, that damaged units have blood on their textures; fired units gain burnt texture, and on snow maps your army has snowed textures.

These textures is simple enough thing, but they also are very important to create a good impression playing the mod.

Well, this is the end of the article about Ashes of War graphic-part . Hope you liked it. Wait for updates and subscribe to our mod page on ModDB.

Comments  (0 - 10 of 92)

does the development of this mod is still in progress or halt? btw, nice works

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Halbarad1996 Creator

Of course it's in progress ;] I'm just busy with other things lately.

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hello man, it's me your big fan.
i tested your tlhota mod last version, as you are working at this project now, i thought some suggestions would be help.
first of all, i must say that 15 minute defeat is no problem any more..
my congrats to you.
mod has amazing graphic, and units are so many too, but i noticed some missings in your mod.
i love strategy games very much and played every game that my pc could open.
because i easily understod your wish to became bfme real time strategic battle, and novations as artilery system is best work ever, but if you are trying implement it in your new project, not forget that it was age of magic and witchcraft.
You can not ignore this if you are making mod for lotr series. heroes must be as strong as deserved and then we are speaking about withch king, he was witch. socerer and we cannot change this if we want play bfme. you must give magic more posibilities.
i think magic and strategy can work together. and if not, you need add assasination system, warrior combos and archer skills.
Don't do similar mistakes in new project please. As your fan, i was obligated to argument my possition an your last project gave me this arguments.
You can be best if will see what people wants. and people wants mix of magic and strategy. we want stronger walls, artilery and magic too.
I know, it is hard work, but, if you are doing something, do your best.

1)don't do many units, make small and give more abilities.
2)give mod best wall and defence system it is best that you can
3)make heroes more stronger, if dont want magic, make assasin warrior and archer skills
4)would be better if mod had trap system
5)Change the originall skill trees to strategic ones, for example summon stronghold or barricades.. arrow walley, some traps or ext..
6)give warriors ability to climp on walls, slash, sniper, barbed arrows and other.
7)make stealth battle posibility, to hide army for example use fog..
it will be hard for make, but, if you will do this, your mod will be best.
good wishes and best hopes to you.
your big fan Ainc Ual Goun

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Halbarad1996 Creator

Okay, man. Thanks for your review.

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i hope it was really helpfull, :D
don't worry, be happy anyway, do as you want ;)

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Hey! Halbarad1996
Nice new avatar!
Good luck with your mod!

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The most people of this site is adulatory. This is shame.
Good luck with your good works Halbarad.

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Halbarad1996 Creator

Thx :]

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thltota is yours too? I lost somewhere

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Halbarad1996 Creator

It's mine.

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oh, sorry then, i was so angry than read this comment what not realised that both mod was yours and thought he trier to claim that he is better than you.
I apologise for this mistake. thlthota is very good idea, but, it still needs big work.
as i mentioned artilerry system is really best, but try develop heroes little more please..
I don't love be rude, but then see how someone good only at critics, became very angry.
i know saruman is really experienced modder too, but, everyone must respect others.
i wanted support to you and sorry if couldnot it well.
My suggestion for your mod is be brave do more creative things. it is amazing.
i wish you everything best.
If i only knew that this mod was yours too, i would never said anything. Sorry, it is my bad langruage skills i read thet thlhota was sarumans mod and he claimed he is better. Even he knew he is better, claiming that is not clear thing and unrespectable to others.
You must know, i and my brother grew up with bfme mods. I love every modder and their mods, including yours, i have played it many times and my brother loves it very much, and hate things like conflinct each other or dont share works and experience.
i left verry little time here, but i am waiting to your mod with pleasure and noone alowed to spoil my hope and your mod
Good luck

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Halbarad1996 Creator

Yeah, man, thanks for you comment)

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