Yes, we are still alive! I must begin this entry with an apology to those of you who have been eagerly awaiting news of V2.0. As usual, I have been neglecting the dev diary and other such promotional material in favor of working on the mod itself. If you’re wondering what happened to the Cardolan preview, fear not. The data, scripts, etc. for the sub-faction have been completed. What remains to be done is the final 3D work on the roster. Unfortunately, things continue to pop up left and right which demand my attention. And so, the Cardolan preview will have to wait, but this dev diary can wait no longer.
So, what have we done this summer?
Orcs of Gundabad
The Gundabad faction, which was built from the ground up on top of DAC 2.2, is diverging significantly from DAC’s interpretation. We have borrowed units from Third Age: Reforged as well as the Alternative Patch mod for TATW so that the roster more closely resembles that shown in the Hobbit movies. The “snow orc” theme from DAC has been almost completely scrapped.
Gundabad Guard (BG) - unit courtesy of Reforged, officers from Alternative Patch
The Orcs of Gundabad in Heirs of Elendil are a high-tier heavy faction with no in-house trash units. Like the Edain faction (and hopefully more factions in the future) they do not use the Barracks Event system to unlock units at an arbitrary turn number. Instead, they unlock buildings and units by winning battles. They accumulate battle points faster when fighting the dwarves and cannot accumulate points for winning battles at better than 2:1 odds (i.e. no points for killing single-unit-stacks). This system will slowly unlock higher tier units, but until that happens, Gundabad will rely on conquered regions to supply fodder for their armies. The Goblin Hordes and the Remnants of Angmar are always good for this purpose and many of their units can be subjugated and trained by Gundabad.
Headhunters - unit courtesy of Alternative Patch, mounts from Reforged
Gundabad’s roster is focused on heavy infantry and large units. Their Defilers and Azog’s Vanguard are slightly better than their uruk-hai counterparts in Isengard. Gundabad can train every species of troll on the map (AOR restricted) and they boast the best warg unit in the game, the Headhunters. The Gundabad army relies on shock tactics but the longer the battle wears on, the harder it will be to win. Their units have high charge modifiers but suffer from sub-par stamina. And their army is conspicuously lacking in ranged units meaning that they will suffer in prolonged skirmishes.
current Gundabad roster, does not include all subjugation units
TLDR: new Gundabad faction, heavy on shock units but not great in prolonged battles or ranged skirmishes, unlocks buildings and units by winning battles
Custom Selection Audio
More than 25 characters from over a dozen factions have been given custom audio when selected on the strategy map. This may seem like a minor quality of life change (especially since these characters will still have their default faction responses when tasked to do anything else), but it truly brings the characters to life in a way that you have to experience to believe. Many of the audio files have been pulled directly from the professional ADR (automated dialogue replacement) audio from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies. Only high-quality clips from the likes of Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee, Bernard Hill, and others have been used. Special thanks is owed to Edu Cherrypatty (a.k.a. Venlesh) for these files. Other audio files are taken from Battle for Middle Earth, The Lord of the Rings: Conquest, Age of Mythology, and Age of Empires III.
Characters who currently have custom selection audio: Arwen, Eowyn, Galadriel, Tauriel, Aerenia, Saleme, Boromir, Faramir, Elrond, Gandalf, Gandalf the White, Strider/Aragorn, Elessar, Legolas, Theoden, Halbarad, Glorfindel, Haldir, Saruman, Lurtz, Dain, Gloin, Gimli, Mouth of Sauron, Sauron, Nazgul (all)
I don't remember how I stumbled across the TWC thread about custom selection audio but I would like to thank the original pioneers Inarus, Aikanár, and especially Withwnar.
TLDR: many special characters now have unique strategy map selection voices
New Strat Models
Almost every faction has had some modification to their strategy map models. Most of the factions in DAC do not have unique leader or heir models (in fact, none of the heirs have unique models). This is because most factions' leaders and heirs already have custom models. However, standard leader/heir models proved to be quite easy so it has been done in HE for nearly every faction. Now you won’t have to suffer the boredom of generic strat models if your custom leader or heir dies. The trigger system for bestowing custom leader/heir strat models has been simplified and improved.
Some factions such as Rhun and Lindon have received completely new strat models which have been converted from their battle units’ battle models. Lindon’s models no longer resemble Imladris units that Lindon can’t train.
Only a handful of strat models remain to be done: Eowyn, Tauriel, Arwen, and Galadriel.
TLDR: most factions have distinct leader/heir/general strat models, many others have been remade
As most of you should be aware, the V2.0 campaign is in hotseat mode by default, a fact which is only betrayed by a handful of cues in-game. The original intention of this move was to allow the player to switch control from the Edain faction to the Arnor faction. But somewhere along the way, we decided that we may as well make the campaign hotseat compatible more generally such that multiple factions can be human controlled.
faction selection menu, notice hotseat options in lower right, maps to be updated before release
This proved easier said than done. We have now combed through the entire campaign_script to eliminate any obvious logical errors associated with multiple player factions. Some scripts are disabled when there are multiple human players. The “land discovered” events will only play when there is one human faction. Likewise, the optional settings will only be offered if there is one human player.
Some bugs persist. Most hotseat campaigns simply throw away any scripts that cause problems. However, since our campaign is intended to be played in single player and multiplayer, we have no choice to address the logical errors more directly. There are two major bugs remaining with multiple human factions which we hope to have tracked down and eliminated soon.
TLDR: the campaign is almost fully hotseat compatible and will hopefully be 100% there without sacrificing any scripts for V2.0
In HE V1, Aragorn is given the opportunity to propose to either Arwen or Eowyn. This gimmicky easter-egg script unexpectedly proved to be quite popular (even engendering a harem sub-sub-mod which allowed the player to marry both women). When we implemented the hotseat control swap for the Arnor faction, all hopes for the marriage script were dashed. Long did we search the pages of Total War Center seeking solutions and long were we frustrated. The problem of forcing a marriage has never been satisfactorily solved especially for an emergent faction where the marriage must originate the family tree itself… until now.
Once again, Heirs of Elendil pushes the envelope of the M2 engine. Before Arnor is united, Strider (a.k.a. Thorongil a.k.a. Aragorn a.k.a. Elessar) has the option to marry one of several eligible bachelorettes. For example, Strider may choose to confess his love to Arwen Undomiel. Then, when Arnor is united, Lord Elrond will spawn as a ‘wedding guest’ at Annuminas. This ‘foreign leader’ will originate the Arnor faction, i.e. bring the faction into existence as its first leader. He will spawn with an Arwen Undomiel princess who can then be married to any Arnorian general, although Elessar is recommended :D The man she marries will then become the first faction leader of Arnor after the ‘wedding guest’ disappears.
TLDR: the family tree for Arnor works and custom marriages work!
Gandalf the Grey Pilgrim
I’m not a big fan of scripts which involve something happening on a fixed turn number. The original Gandalf script was a classic example of such a script. So I’ve rewritten it completely.
Gandalf the Grey was known to frequently visit a number of peoples in Middle-earth, notably the Edain of Eriador, the Kingdom of Rohan, the Kingdom of Gondor, and the dwarves of Khazad-dum. In the new script, rather than spawning for one of these factions at turn X, he spawns semi-randomly for one of the factions every few turns and remains with that faction for 4-6 turn stints. If the faction is doing well, he will spawn as a high-skill diplomat with large LOS. If the faction has only a few regions left, he will spawn as a general with a few units in tow and will stay for a bit longer. Once his stay is over, he will leave and go to another faction.
Gandalf the Grey as a diplomat
Unfortunately, because all generals of a faction must use the same animations, Gandalf will not spawn as a general for Khazad-dum. When Arnor is united, Gandalf the White spawns as a full-time general for Arnor. Gandalf will spawn for both human and AI factions. He will only spawn for factions which are not at war with any of the other three.
Rohur has been doing a lot of good work for DAC V4’s traits & ancillaries. A lot of these have been ported into HE with new text descriptions. One that I particularly liked was Theoden’s “deception of Grima” trait which locks him in Edoras until some turn number. I’ve taken that idea and integrated it with the new Gandalf script so that Gandalf is only freed when Gandalf arrives or after a certain randomized turn number. If Isengard is player controlled, they can inflict the deception on Theoden by sending Grima to the King’s Land region for 2 turns.
Did I mention I learned how to make cinematics? The freeing of Theoden and the marriage of Aragorn Elessar now have cinematic cut scenes.
TLDR: Theoden starts unable to move out of Edoras, he must be freed by Gandalf or after some turn number
The Nazgul script in DAC is one of the longest and most convoluted scripts. Unfortunately, this is because the script does not make use of modern techniques which weren’t known when the script was originally written. Basically, the script doesn’t actually respawn the Nazgul generals but instead spawns new ones that look identical. This can happen about 50 times for Mordor and about 30 times for Isengard (iirc).
By rewriting the script so that it actually respawns the Nazgul instead of spawning duplicates, we’ve managed to reduce the script from dozens of monitors and over 13,000 lines to 3 monitors and under 1,000 lines. Our turn times have also dropped to under 35 seconds which is pretty good considering HE has nearly twice as many scripts as DAC.
Additionally, the Nazgul no longer start on the map for Mordor which will prevent the player from cheesing with a doom stack on turn 1. The Nazgul will spawn at later turns or as soon as Sauron acquires the One Ring. The Mordor faction has a new heir and has had two starting provinces shaved off so that the player will have something to work on before going straight for Gondor.
TLDR: Nazgul script was rewritten and is much faster now, Mordor’s Nazgul generals don’t start on the map
Most of the rebels in northern Eriador have been converted from men to orcs so that the Dunedain Rangers don’t have to feel so guilty about slaughtering them. The regions have been remapped quite a bit including lots of behind the scenes work (hidden resources, etc.). Here is the current map of Eriador after the turn 2 auto expansion.
current strat map, northern Middle-earth, player is Rhun
El Monstero’s Sound Overhaul has been fully ported into Heirs of Elendil. I have to say, I am super impressed with the overall quality. I usually don’t listen to the in-game music while playing M2, but that has definitely changed with the new additions. The mod now has over 3.3 GB of audio (compared with 2 GB in DAC).
In addition to the Return of the Witch King script, Angmar has received two more scripts. As Angmar grows in power, the length of the winter season increases. When Angmar controls over 30 regions, there is a 50% chance that some years will not see summer at all. Roads, farms, and other buildings have had their effectiveness reduced during the winter season. Additionally, both Angmar and Gundabad generals receive bonus traits during the winter season.
The Witch-king script has been modified to include the Barrow Wight unit. Instead of training barrow wights in random regions around the map, the Witch-king’s army will gain a unit of wights after battle victories.
DAC V3, V4, V5…. Compatibility
At this point, all of the unit stats and assets that need to be ported from DAC V3 have been ported to HE. All of the traits & ancillaries that piqued our interest have been ported. The only major area that remains to be ported over for V3 compatibility is Arkay’s numerous fixes for custom battle maps.
At this time, we do intend for HE V2.0 to be compatible with DAC V3. However, many of the changes from DAC V3 will not be present in Heirs of Elendil. These include but are not limited to:
- New menu UI – The UI will likely remain relatively unchanged from HE 1.3 with the exception that the main campaign menu is now set up for hotseat.
- New faction icons – The original shield icons will almost certainly remain for V2.0. If we change them, we may look at using Reforged’s icons.
- Angmar changes – None of the HE devs liked the changes made to Angmar in DAC V3. We feel that converting Angmar to the Northmen culture is not the right direction for the faction. We are also unwilling to throw away the Witch-realm units, so Angmar will remain largely unchanged aside from the scripts mentioned above.
- Gundabad – As mentioned, we have built Gundabad off of DAC 2.2. The faction bears little resemblance to its counterpart in DAC other than its strat map color and leader/heir portraits (although these may soon change as well). Additionally, the little region north of Gundabad will not be added nor will be implementing the unusual climatological effects resulting in "snow spikes" around Carn-dum or Gundabad.
- New Sauron BG – We will be keeping the original OP/OG Sauron in triplicate.
- Trolls – We will not be rolling the number of troll units back to 3. We currently have 6 vacant unit slots for which there is no pressing need.
- Legion names & region names – DAC implemented legion names for seemingly half the units in the game. An unfortunate side effect of this is that some region names had to be changed to be more generic. So now there are regions simply called “Arthedain” or “Cardolan”. For HE, we have added legion names only for a few dwarven units. This way, the gimmick feels special for those units and we haven’t had to sacrifice any region names.
- Loading screens – HE has its own loading screens that will not be changed much. We currently have 194 compared with DAC’s 244. That deficit probably won’t change unless we happen upon some high-quality screens in the near future. The end user can also dump in more screens quite easily.
- Imladris-Lindon – The merger of these two factions is not going to happen in HE. In actual fact, this would simply constitute cutting one of these factions (Imladris) and doing nothing with the spare faction slot. We have a spare slot in HE anyway (Ents) and no plans for it. There is still a lot that we want to do with both of these factions that would not be possible if they’re merged and their units thrown away.
- RK script – This is probably the most obvious item on the list. HE has its own RK script which is significantly different from DAC’s planned script. We will not be bringing batch files and external launchers to HE.
Many people have asked if we will continue to make HE compatible with future versions of DAC. I can say with confidence that I myself will not be continuing to provide compatibility support after DAC V3. The plan is for Heirs of Elendil to eventually be finished. DAC, as far as I can tell, has no such plan. The mod will presumably continue to be patched and polished until its developers lose interest. I do not intend to support HE until that speculative future time although it is conceivable that other modders might take over the HE project and provide that support after I’m gone.
I’ll wrap this up with the information you came here for. The major items still to be done for HE V2.0:
- Strider Script – My motivation to complete this script has proven quite elusive.
- Cardolan Roster – We are still looking for a definitive aesthetic for the Cardolan units.
- KD Script – Bug fixes for the human script, randomized-delay arrival for the AI script. This script will hopefully include a modification of the Balrog feature.
- Dwarven Rings Script – The basis of this script is already present in HE V1. The new script will by highly symmetrical for all three dwarf factions and their elf neighbors.
- Female strat models – This is the major 3D project that remains to be done.
I would caution you from attempting to estimate time to completion from this list. The list seems concise as presented but tends to balloons as soon as work resumes. Unfortunately, we still cannot give an estimate for when the mod will be finished or how close we are to being done.
As always, we are looking for qualified modders to help us bring this epic project to its conclusion. Please contact me if you are interested in helping with the project as a developer or tester. Feel free to discuss or debate this article on the Heirs of Elendil Discord server: Discord.gg