with so many people interested in modding BZ2 and more turning up every month ( or so it seems) a thread like this is long overdue I think.
The reason for posting this on the Fleshstorm forums is so that I can keep it locked and stickied, this way I can control the content and stop it from getting confusing and messy, I'll start another thread so peeps can add feedback/suggestions/submissions .
the main purpose of this thread is to provide newbie and intermediate modders with a quick reference for all the major aspects of BZ2 modding and also to provide an insight into the process of making a mod and the kind of work that's involved, this thread will contain links to external tutorials where suitable and I also plan to include some mini tutorials within the thread itself.
ok ......... so down to business, if you aren't really that serious or if you are easily put off you can stop reading here .
Part I :
The Unglamorous Reality of Modding.
Fact #1 : only about 10% of all mods ever reach completion .
Fact #2 : although it can be fun it's mainly bloody hard work and lots of it .
Fact #3 : Until you have something to show to the public, you're on your own.
although many many mods have been started for BZ2 over the years very few of them have ever been completed, most fall by the wayside for a variety of reasons - sometimes the creators get bored or realise how much work is involved and give up, sometimes real life gets in the way, either way the attrition rate is enormous . It takes a lot of work and dedication and even more importantly time to create a finished mod, quite often it's the modders own ambitions that get the better of them, typically someone comes along and decides they are going to make the next FE but FE took 3 years or so to complete and had a team of 30 or more people working on it. You have to be realistic with your plans, some of the most successful BZ2 mods have been reletively simple affairs or will have started out as such and then grown over time, several multiplayer mods are good examples of this such as ZST which mainly comprised of balance fixes and maps and ended up being one of the most popular BZ2 mods ever, another good example is the awesome G66 which started life as a set of custom AIP's and gradually grew from there, a more recent example of a mod that started life as something quite simple and has gradually grown is steeveeo's recycler variant (SRV) . Recycler variants are a good way to start modding because you can slowly add more stuff as you learn new tricks, if you are more artistically inclined then making maps packs is a good place to start ( that's how I started out), or you could use the DLL scriptor to make some custom missions using the stock assets.
If you are intent on making a mod on the scale of FE then be prepared to do the majority of the work yourself and also be prepared to teach yourself the skills you'll need - it's not impossible but few succeed, prehaps a better way to work on a mod of that kind of scale is to learn some skills and try to join an existing team .
If you are dead set on producing your own mod and you do have some of the skills neccessary then it is possible to attract other people to help if you can demonstrate that you really do have what it takes, for instance if you can produce some kind of working demo it's usually enough to make people sit up and notice.
If you are completely new to all this ther first thing you'll need to do is learn some skills, don't try and learn everything all at once though as you'll be overwhelmed completely and utterly and you may never recover
. It's best to take things one step at a time there are lots of things you can try, the following is a list of some of the most important :
The Various Aspects of Mod Making
AIP scripting : AIP's are artificial intelligence plan files, they basically tell the AI what to do and what to build throughout the course of the game and can be used for Instant Action, MPI or in conjunction with your own custom DLL file.
DLL scripting : all BZ2 missions and multiplayer modes are controlled by a DLL file, you can make your own DLL's using BSer's DLL scriptor ( for singleplayer missions ) or if you know Python you can use Overminds scriptor which will convert a python script into a BZ2 DLL file ( for either singleplayer or multiplayer use ), alternatively if you know C++ you can do pretty much anything, the source code for various BZ2 DLL's is avalable from several BZ2 sites ( I'll post links later) .
Map Making : you can use BZ2's integrated map editor to make just about anything you can dream up, tutorials available here : http://zeroangel.overminddl1.com/features/lizard/index.php
you can also use the Winter utility or Overmind's updated version to do lots of other cool stuff such as import custom heightmaps made in other apps, etc.
ODF editing : One of the simplest ways off modding BZ2 is by editing ODF files, these are simple text files that are used to describe all the objects and effects found within BZ2, they can be used for making custom weapons or for adding custom units and props to the game , they can be used for tweaking the behaviour, handling and weapons loadouts of units, they are powerful,versatile and can be edited in notepad ( or the text editor of your choice).
Shell modding : It's possible to edit the gameshell in order to give BZ2 a whole new look, you can edit the menu screens, arrange buttons, use custom images, you can also create custom editor expansions or change the ingame HUD, most of this can be done by editing various text files .
Texture editing : it's possible to create custom unit skins or custom terrain textures for use in your maps or textures for use with particle effects or anything else you can dream up, you'll need a 2D image editing program such as Photoshop for this, or the Gimp if you want something free or Windows Paint if you're a masochist.
3D modelling : You can create your own custom units or props for use in your maps, you'll need a 3d modelling program for this - 3D Studios MAX is recommended as there is already an exporter available for most versions, although there are many ways of getting models into BZ2 this is probably the easiest at present .
Later on I'll elaborate further on the above subjects but right now I'm going to bed.