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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 109)
Scrumpie34 - - 2 comments

is the mod dead?

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NumenoreanTalion - - 1,331 comments

This mod looks promising, hoping to see a release :]

EDIT: Btw may I make a suggestion? Looks like you really touched up some mechanics in this mod, blood, run-walk and other things you did looks quite good. Can you also improve combat to be more like Total-War style? Like you know in total war all units acts smoothly; attacking, blocking, dodging and all. Can you do something like this?

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Halbarad1996 Creator
Halbarad1996 - - 513 comments

Well, my friend, I actually wanted to improve combat system too. And its looked promising, I successfully added, for example, critical hits. One unit hits another, and with some chance that hit could be shocking for the receiver, who in this situation lose ability to attack or move and gain more damage for the time of shocking animation.
That would be very useful to differentiate between kinds of troops. For example, you could make heavy troops almost immune to regular hits, but sensitive to critical hits. And also make so that chance of making critical hit would be higher for units with hammers, great swords etc.
This is just one example, many interesting variations could be made on that basis. I think, you get the idea.

The great part is BFME engine allows to do such things. There is only one problem, the mod is dead :D

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NumenoreanTalion - - 1,331 comments

Why? This mod looking cool and as I see at TLHOtTA you are very talented on spotting these kind critical parts. Just what I want on rotwk and bfme 2, climb-able walls, some total war like combat... and shaders which I have no idea about how did you succeded to add :D

Please don't live that mod which has so much potential :[

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Halbarad1996 Creator
Halbarad1996 - - 513 comments

There's too much work. Such changes requires a lot of developing and testing. Creating graphics on that level (outdated for 2021, but even so) also takes plenty of effort. I don't have enough time to work on it.

I live in Russia and I've some work to do for coming years to get out from here and move to a better place, so unfortunately my BFME experience is in the past :P

Nonetheless, thanks for response, man ;] It's always great when someone recognizes your efforts.

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NumenoreanTalion - - 1,331 comments

Well this is the truth sadly, year is 2021 and BFME slowly really getting outdated, and yea I understood you want to be in better place.

I wish you luck in future my friend. Thanks for all the efforts you did for TLHOTTA and AoW :] .

EDIT: Can you share your knowledge about how did you discovered those shaders of BFME at PM or something? I would like to know how did you find it... and how to code. :D

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juanignacio - - 53 comments

Is there an upcoming release date?
Awesome work!

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robeni2050 - - 157 comments

where the mod??

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