Dev Diary

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monnikje

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Hello everyone!

In this topic I want to share with you my experiences as a developer of the Floris Mod Pack. I know that I'm not the most active person on the forum, so with this I want to show you that I'm still alive and kicking, and what I'm working on at the moment. I won't post on a regular basis, just once in a while.

Without any further ado, let me tell you what I've been working on the past time.



After the release of 2.4, I didn't immediately start working on the next version. Instead, I participated in an AAR contest on the Paradox forums. For the game Hearts of Iron 3 I made an AAR about the Governator travelling back in time to help Hitler send paratroopers to Paris to fight Belgian terminators in order to free Iceland from the evil Danes. Not only had I to learn the game (in which I suck, by the way), but also write ten chapters. I managed to do that in time, and now the judges of the contest are taking their time to come to a good result. Hopefully I won't do too bad :mrgreen:. Since I finished the part for the contest I put all my spare time in the development of version 2.5.

The upcoming version will be quite different from the previous ones. First of all we're not going to maintain the savegame compatibility, as was decided in a poll. In previous versions we couldn't rearrange things neatly: the code became a cluttered mess due to that. This is one thing we're fixing right now. It's important to do, since this not only makes coding easier, but will also fix some bugs and opens up new possibilities previously not possible.

Another thing we're about to do different, is the different packs we'll be releasing. Until now there were two packs: the Floris Basic mod pack, which is basically just a bunch of extra items and improved graphics, and the Floris Expanded mod pack, which is the real deal with everything. For version 2.5 we're going to release three packs: the two I made before, plus a new pack with all the code but without any fancy graphical features. Both this pack and the Basic pack can be combined to one 'Expanded Lite'. Hopefully, with this setup, more people will be able to enjoy the mod. Let's call this third pack for now the Code pack, until I - or someone else - comes up with a better name.

Now, what have I done the past two weeks? I first started with rearranging the troops. All Swadian troops are now together, All Rhodoks, all... you get the idea. Until version 2.4 they were spread out over the file, which was pretty difficult to edit as anyone who made their own troop tree can tell. This wasn't that much work. But also all those troops had wrong id's. This is not per se the same as the name of the troop: an id is an internal name the source uses to identify that certain troop. It has nothing to do with the name displayed in the game. Some troops had pretty strange id's compared to their names, making it pretty hard to see in the code what soldier we're actually talking about. For example, the 'Swadian Skirmisher' had the troop id 'swadian_5b2'. To make things easier, I renamed all these id's to reflect their names. So this 'swadian_5b2' became a 'swadian_skirmisher'. That should make things a lot clearer for everyone diving in the Floris source. Unfortunately I thus had to rename all the id's used in other parts of the source to reference. I had to go through thousands of references to check them and rename where necessary. That took quite some time as you can imagine.

This rearranging of troops has immediately opened up some nice features. I finally added the custom troops! I know quite a lot of you wanted them in, but unfortunately adding them would break savegame compatibility. Since that's no issue anymore, I added them. I designed a new troop tree for them, but I still need to go over that a few more times before I'm fully satisfied. Another thing I added, are the Troop Heroes. Troops of tier 6 - that have no possibility to upgrade to tier 7 - will now have a chance to become a companion, with a maximum of 4 of such companions. Another reason to go for these troops in the tree. This code still needs to be checked for bugs etc, but at least I'm now able to implement this.

Another thing I did was adding different town walkers, village walkers and spy walkers for each faction, giving local villages and such more coloure locale. There were already different ones for the Khergit and Sarranid, but the other four all had the same kind of villagers, with the same equipment and the same faces. That will be different now. I still need to tweak them (giving them items, stats etc), but at least they are now present in the code.

While I did this, I also added 5 new companions. Quite a while ago I had made a poll to see how many new companions people would like to have. The result was split between just a few, and really a lot. Since really a lot is going to take quite a lot of work, I went with just a few. There is more to do than just adding zillions of new companions :mrgreen:. Anyway, I didn't just add them: I incorporated them. Remember the Companions Circle, which points out which companions (dis)likes which? I basically redrawn it, incorporating all new companions, including Floris. The old companions now acknowledge the new ones. I still need to rewrite some of their lines to match the new relations tho. Even more, I still need to write all the lines of the new companions... But at least their code is done.

During my work on the troop tree and such, I also played a little Warband. To be exact, I continued my game for the Me, Floris AAR. But six months have passed, and I still haven't got enough material to write a new chapter. So I'll need to continue to play a little more, since I intend to make chapter 51!

I also tried to do some mipmap fading: this would give a really great graphical effect without any extra load on the cpu. Unfortunately, I haven't found a way to do this in the Gimp. The tutorial shows how it easily can be done in photoshop, but unfortunately I don't have that program. I tried to find a tutorial, add-on or anything to show me how it's done in the Gimp, but I haven't found it. So for now I'm leaving it. Too bad.

Right now I'm working on the items. I already put them in the right order (which took me a few days to do... 2000+ items are a lot), but now I'm doing something even better: I'm checking each item and see if I want to keep them in the pack. In previous versions I couldn't remove items due to savegame compatibility, so there are still some ugly or useless items that need to be removed. While I go through them, I'm making sure that each faction has a completely different style, even more than they currently have. So women of different factions should have different dresses, farmers should wear something different, soldiers should fight with other weapons, and so on. I already had done this to a certain extend, but right now I'm checking it all and doing it better.

While I do that, I immediately sort out items for two different packs: it's my goal to have around 600 items in the code pack, and around 1800 in the expanded and basic packs. These 600 are as much as there are items in native, but mind you: they won't necessarily have to be native items.

I started sorting the books. That wasn't much work: with two I changed the mesh (I had to change the texture of one of these two for this), but for the rest it wasn't that much work. I also enabled another screen at the 'View items', displaying all food and books and such goods. It won't show the details for now. Maybe I'll figure that out one day, but for now it has no priority. Here, let me show you an overview of all books:



This reminds me that I should check some textures on overly darkness. I'll do that later.

Quite a lot of people have asked me about a dress I once made for Arwa the Pearled One. But that one was made in gimp, a photo editor. I now made a more revealing dress for her in-game, as can be seen over here:



I'm not yet sure if I should let her keep these big boobies, or that I should reduce them a little bit. I'll keep playing with them until I'm satisfied :mrgreen:.

And not only I worked on Arwa's dress after the books: I'm now sorting out all dresses so that each faction will have 2 commoner dresses, and 5 royal dresses. If there aren't that many present in native, I'll create them. There will be mainly colour variations, since I'm not that good in creating 3d-objects. But that can give a lot of fun too! Here, let me show you a newly coloured khergit dress for our noble ladies:



This is what I'm doing right now. I still need to do the dresses for the other factions. once that's done, I'll move on with the next objects, probably the horses. I estimate to work for at least another two weeks full time on the items. but, knowing how I always make too optimistic estimates, this will probably be more like three or four weeks work...

I would like to thank you for reading this long text, and hope to tell you more on the development of 2.5 next time!
 

monnikje

Master Knight
WB
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I'm back for another dev diary. The past week I've been a little ill, so I didn't do much during that time. But last weekend I worked hard, as I did yesterday. Even tough I finished the dresses, I didn't do much more on the items. As some might have already noticed in this topic, I decided to do some work on face textures. I searched the forum and the Repository for mods having new face textures, and found quite a few:

Face Improvement Project v1.0: Awesome mod which I added. There were two low-resolution textures I replaced.
Female face model and textures replacer v1.30: Unfortunately the faces can't be combined with the rest (I tried). I did add the jewellery tough, which is displayed at female faces instead of the 'beard' option. Unfortunately I didn't discover yet how I could rename that button for females.
More textures for Broken_one's female faces v1.2: More faces for the previous Female face pack. I couldn't use them either.
Brytenwalda 1.3 - Alternative Women Faces: Beside the fact that this is a facepack for Brytenwalda and their painted faces don't suit the setting of this mod, they are like the previous two, so I couldn't add them without getting deformed faces ingame.
Face and UI textures v1.2: Awesome faces. Unfortunately there are just the younger faces, not the old ones: I need both to add them to the mod. I used two faces from this pack to replace the low-resolution textures from the above mod. And there was one face with both a younger and older version in this mod: I added it.
Face Textures v1.0: These are reworked native faces. I replaced the native ones by these.
Thel's Face Pack v3.0: I'm sorry, but I don't like these. A personal taste I guess. So I didn't use them.

Instead of the 8 different native male faces, there are now 23 to mold your character. The female faces are lacking, so I really hope the Face Improvement Project releases a female set soon.

Once the male textures were in place, I had to sort through all faces to correct their skins. The merchants, nobles, soldiers and all other males: I had to check them, and adjust where necessary. Since there are enough faces, I decided to use certain faces for certain factions. For some it was obvious - like the asian and arabic faces - and for some not. I did this only for the male faces. Let me show you some new faces:





Something less interesting for you as a player, but more for me as a modder, is that I renamed some internal facetexture names in the troops file to make things easier.

While I worked on this, Caba`drin released a wonderful patch containing several bugfixes for the current version, upgrading the Floris Expanded Mod Pack to version 2.41. If you haven't seen it yet, you should check it out.

Now it's back to the items. A long road still lies ahead of me.
 

monnikje

Master Knight
WB
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I told you this would be an irregular diary... Anyway, after two and a half week I finally decided to bring you a new update on the progress of working on 2.5. What has happened in this time?

Let me first point out to you that taragoth has been commissioned by us to do some art work. He's creating some very nice screens for the mod pack, giving it an even more unique touch. Just look at the picture he made here:



I'm very excited about this, especially since I saw some more work he made. But you can also see something else in this picture, something Duh and Caba`Drin have been working on: sea travel. In version 2.4 we already had implemented sea trade, but hadn't enabled travelling over the seas for the player. That's going to change now. We had already implemented scenes and other stuff, but it still had to be tested further. We're still having some troubles with the crew (those lazy sailors don't want to leave their grog and keep staying in the taverns), but the ships are ready to be bought, sent to ports, be fought over at seas and to be (dis)embarked upon. Now we're going to let those big ships loose on you, so that you can finally sail away. And while you dream about the wild and fast ocean, you might want to have a look at the Sea Trade Balance Test. Trading over the sea influences the overall global economics, and should thus be balanced out. But we need your help with that. So if you want to help us improve things and balance the economics even better, just have a look at that topic.

Another exciting thing that has happened in the time since the last dev diary, is the release of With Fire and Sword. I haven't played it yet - like I have the time for it - but still I'm pretty excited about it. That game has some really nice buildings and such. Just have a look at this, isn't it just awesome?



I'm drooling all over the place when looking at these buildings... They are just so awesome, that I'd like to implement them in the mod. I needed to rebuild the towns anyway, so why not with some really awesome buildings in them? But this takes time, so I'm not guaranteeing that they are in 2.5. Maybe, maybe not... We'll see.

I had already hinted on some places that I was working on a new feature for the mod. After 2.5 weeks it's still not fully done, but I can at least show you a screenshot that shows what this new feature is:



Yes, it's true: if I get this feature fully working, you'll be able to choose from different troop trees when you start a new game. That means no separate download for a native troop tree experience, or something like that. For now I'm working on three different trees: the native one, the current one (that I called 'expanded' even before Ikaguia started to work on his tree) and something new that's between those two, which I call 'reworked'. I've been working with Shapic on this reworked trees.

Why didn't I include popular trees like FLTT by pada or the reworked troop tree by Knight0815? Well, for the simple reason that they have different visions on troop trees than I have. When I would include them now, I would have to make decisions that pada and Knight0815 might not agree with. No, let's not go through that again. Let me first finally finish reordering those items, then let pada and Knight0815 and others design their trees to fit in the new system, and then I might implement them (if they want it to be implemented).

While I worked on this new feature, I didn't work on the items. So I still need a few weeks to finish that... And there are quite some other things to do. So 2.5 will still take a while to finish, but at least you now know that once it comes out, it's going to be just awesome :smile:.
 

monnikje

Master Knight
WB
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The past week I unfortunately hadn't had much time to do work much on the mod. I had to go to work, visit my girlfriend, go to a medieval fair, celebrate multiple birthday parties and gamed a little more for my Floris AAR (I'm still not at a point that I can write another chapter...). I did fiddle around a little bit with the horses, but still I had a lot less time available than I had wanted (I couldn't even answer all pms, sorry about that!). Since I didn't do that much, I can't show you any fancy screenshots today. To fill the gap I'll just tell you some things that might be interesting.

The use of Warband and With Fire and Sword assets.
When you look at both Warband and With Fire and Sword, you could get the idea to use some assets from one of these games in a mod to enhance the other. For example, you could see some nice cathedral in WFaS and get the idea that it would greatly enhance Praven. Or you could try to implement some features from Warband into WFaS. I know that some of you might get that idea, since I had it too, as you could have guessed form my previous post. For quite a while now I've been bugging all the devs in order to find out if I'm allowed to do so. In short, the answer is no.

To understand this answer, you'd have to know that Warband and With Fire and Sword are produced by two different companies: the first by TaleWorlds, the second by SiCh. Despite the similar 'Mount & Blade' prefix, there's no trademark relation whatsoever. This means that for all purposes, you should treat them as two completely separate games: not games from the same series or brand. The transfer of content from WFAS to Warband will break the software agreement you have aggreed when installing WFAS. Vice versa will break the agreement with Warband. This means that you are legally not allowed to just transfer anything from one game to the other. The reason behind this is that no one can guarantee that the mod users have a legit copy of both Warband and WFAS. Therefore copying content from one of those games and distributing it as a mod is copyright infringement.

Even tough you can't just do it, you could try to ask the devs for the use of certain assets. I did it, but unfortunately the devs don't want it. Understandable, since if they make an exception for me, why wouldn't they make it for you? Or him? Or anyone else? And if they allow the use of one part of the game (be it a model, texture or part of the code), why not the other parts?

What kind of consequences does this 'no' have?
- Some minimods for Warband might work without any problems in WFaS. But any larger mod that uses native assets might not run on the other game without implementing them into the mod. This is not allowed, so unless you create your own replacements, you can't make your Warband mod compatible for WFaS, and vice versa.
- Features that are present in Warband but are absent in WFaS can't just be brought over, unless you write your own code. So no female faces or tournaments unless you write them yourself in the game. Mind you, all the tournament equipment from Warband is present in WFaS - altough not used as such - and doesn't have to be copied from Warband.
- Assets you might like from WFaS (like nice cathedrals, dresses, map icons, code improvements, bug fixes etc) may not be used in Warband mods.

I hope you understand that the Floris Mod Pack won't become WFaS compatible, and that nice assets like I showed in my previous post won't be used. It's a pity tough, since I still think that it contains some wonderfull stuff.
 

monnikje

Master Knight
WB
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Lately the question arose when version 2.5 would be finished, and what's still left to be done. These aren't new questions: with every version so far people asked when the next one would come out, and what the new features would be. In a way it's very flattering to know that people highly anticipate the next release (no pressure!). But while we work as hard as we can, we can't do magic: it's all done in our spare free time. To give you an idea of the scope of the project and the time it takes, I want to give you a brief tour through the history of the mod pack. Then you might see why some versions were done pretty quick, while others take a few months.

It all started with my AAR: Me, Floris. Originally I started it on the Paradox forum, where AARs are a regular occasion, but someone asked me to bring it over to the TaleWorlds forum, where it became an instant hit. In this After Action Report, I showed screenshots of my own game. Once I had brought it over to the TaleWorlds forum, I started to look around, and thus noticed all kinds of mods available. It were the early days of Warband, so not that many had been made or brought over from the original M&B yet. I downloaded a few, read the readme's and followed the instructions. I had no clue what I was doing, but hey, it worked! I tried a few simple mods, where the readme's basically said 'copy these files into that directory, and add these lines to the module.ini'. Surprisingly combining a few mods also worked. I made some screenshots of my successes, and showed them in my AAR. Slowly the amount of mods increased, and people saw the results without being able to test it themselves.

One day someone asked me to turn my little mod experiment into a full-blown mod, available for everyone. At that moment I had quite a few mods working together, but it was all still very bugged. I didn't mind it, but if I would make it available to others, it'd better be working well. So I had some doubts. Would I take the time to get rid of the bugs, or would I just go on playing and writing? In the end I decided to make it available. I asked permission to all the creators of the mods I used (which I got), spend two days to get rid of the bugs and uploaded it all. This was the Floris Mod Pack version 1.0, available on 20 September 2010. Can you imagine now that I had doubts starting this mod?

The mod pack only had 15 mods back then, and it was still made like my earlier attempts: just a bunch of mods thrown together after reading all the readme's. I didn't have the source code because I had no clue on how to edit with the module system. The first version was simple and small. But immediately after the release I started working on version 2.0. There were some things that needed to be improved, and there were some really nice mods that I wanted to add. Also I did see the value of having the source code been made in the module system, so I needed to learn how to work with it. What did I add to the mod pack to go to version 2.0?
- 30 new mods (I thus tripled the amount of mods in the pack!)
- 4 new scripts (I needed to learn the module system for that)
- I updated the mods to the latest versions (a practice I kept on doing)
- I added quite a few items and adjusted their stats. Most of the added mods didn't offer python lines for their items to add to the module system: I needed to manually write really a lot of lines of code to get all these new items working.
- I added the current troop tree: it took quite some time to design it.
- Of course I did some bugfixes.

Adding 30 mods to the pack sounds like a lot of work, but that wasn't the main culprit: making everything work in the module system, while learning how to work with it at the same time, that was what took up most of my time. There were two months between the release of 1.0 and 2.0, and during that time I  worked - on average - 10 hours a day on the mod pack. That's around 600 hours of work to go from version 1.0 to 2.0! If it had been a paid job I probably would have worked 40 hours a week on it, and it would have been finished in 4 months. But now I did it in half that time.

When I released 2.0, it was still very bugged. Logical, when you think about it: I just started to learn how to handle the module system from scratch. Luckily Duh and Caba`Drin joined the team, and together we made every two weeks a new version. 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 were thus created pretty fast after each other. It was necessary to get it out pretty soon to fix all the mistakes I had made. Along the way we incorporated even more mods. But finally, with 2.3, we had a version that worked as intended.

During the earlier versions, people also asked me when the next one would be out. During those times I actually gave a date, which I never made. Every version for which I had given a release date was delayed. No big problem, you would say, but actually it was: the moment the release went past the deadline I had given, it began to stress me out. That's why I decided that I won't give any release dates anymore. If I would give a date and won't make it, I would get mad at myself for not making it, and we can't have that. The next version will come out when it's ready.

Between the release of 2.3 and 2.4 were again two months. This time I didn't work as hard as during those earlier versions: I needed a break. After that I worked in a more 'normal' tempo on the project. A few hours a day on average. Real life was catching up (money needs to be earned, social interactions need to take place, stuff like that). Luckily we were now working with more people then during the previous 2-month period: with 2.4 22 new scripts were added. This of course created quite some new bugs, for which Caba`Drin released a bugfix patch.

Till 2.41a the mod pack had been savegame compatible, even from native (altough with a small adjusted textfile). You could play your game all the way from native through all the old versions to 2.41a. I did that with my own savegame for my AAR. Unfortunately some bugs form earlier versions kept on existing in the savegame, but hey, you could continue your ancient game! But while keeping it savegame compatible is noble, fixing some bugs becomes almost impossible. That's why we finally decided to let this compatibility go. Version 2.5 won't be savegame compatible, thus allowing us to fix quite some issues that otherwise can't be fixed. For example, the items: in order to keep it savegame compatible, I had to add items at the bottom of the item list. This turned that list into one giant mess (as any modder that made a submod can tell). Also, in order to keep it savegame compatible, the amount of items couldn't be lowered: only increased. So the amount grew, while keeping quite some ugly or buggy items. Especially in 2.4 we noticed that we hit the maximum amount of feasible items in the game. This stabs performance in the back. So for 2.5, I rearrange all items logically, and lower the amount by deleting the ugly / buggy ones. But not just that: where necessary I create new textures, or fetch other items to replace the ugly ones, so that a good amount will be available, while not hindring performance.

I'm too sloppy to keep a list with new features we're working on up-to-date, but for this one time I promised somewhere to post the current status. Here is a short list with all the main points I'm working on (just me, not Duh and Caba`Drin: they work on other stuff):

- Sort all troops, rebalance them and give them items according to the new list. in progress
- Create 5 new companions and write their dialogues. in progress
- Add new face textures. in progress
- Sort, check and reduce all items. in progress
- Use the castle siege fix. done
- Check the sounds again. not yet started
- Normalise the music and add some new songs. in progress
- Add the bugfixes from 2.41 to 2.5. done

Of course, this is very general. Personally I keep a much more detailed list. Some items on that list may be 5 minutes work, while others will take a week to finish. For example, Sort all troops in the troops file was done in an afternoon, while Add multiple troop trees still isn't finished after working for two or three weeks on it.
Troops
- Sort all troops in the troops file. done
- Give all troops recognisable id's. done
- Add some extra unused troops for each faction that can be used by modders. done
- Create different village / town / spy walkers for each faction. done
- Add custom troops and give them a troop tree. done
- Add troop heroes. done
- Enable the town crooks and check their faces (no purpose for them yet). in progress
- Add multiple troop trees. in progress
- Give the troops, companions, lords, ladies etc. items according to the new item list. in progress
- Rebalance troop stats. not yet started
- Add stats to the custom troops. not yet started
Companions
- Add 5 new companions. done
- Incorporate the new companions into the relation circle. done
- Design faces for the new companions. in progress
- Write dialogues for the new companions. not yet started
- Adjust the dialogues of the old companions to integrate the new ones. not yet started
Faces
- Add new male face textures. done
- Adjust the male face codes to use the new male face textures. done
- Adjust the faces of the starting quest merchants. done
- Create 4 African face codes. done
- Add new female face textures. not yet started
- Adjust the female face codes to use the new female face textures. not yet started
Items
- Sort all items in the items file. done
- Check the trade items textures for too much darkness. done
- Create a new fancy dress for Arwa (And Isolla). done
- Check all books and adjust / remove where necessary. done
- Check all dresses and adjust / remove where necessary. done
- Check all horses and adjust / remove where necessary. in progress
- Adjust the skin texture for the dresses of Arwa and Isolla. in progress
- Check all axes and adjust / remove where necessary. not yet started
- Check all blunt weapons and adjust / remove where necessary. not yet started
- Check all lances and adjust / remove where necessary. not yet started
- Check all polearms and adjust / remove where necessary. not yet started
- Check all swords and adjust / remove where necessary. not yet started
- Check all ranged weapons and adjust / remove where necessary. not yet started
- Check all armors and adjust / remove where necessary. not yet started
- Check Narf's Rus Armour Pack v1.2 by Narf. not yet started
- Check Crusader Mail Armour Pack v1.2 by Marcel. not yet started
- Check OSP Indo-Persian Armor II v1.0 by drakharios. not yet started
- Check all boots and adjust / remove where necessary. not yet started
- Check all gloves and adjust / remove where necessary. not yet started
- Check all headgear and adjust / remove where necessary. not yet started
- Check WEe's Helmets v1.0 by mr.master. not yet started
- Check all shields and adjust / remove where necessary. not yet started
- Check Various Roundshields v1.0 by BrustwarzenLenny. not yet started
Scenes
- Use the castle siege fix. done
Sounds
- Delete the extra lines and recheck the sounds. not yet started
Music
- Normalise the music. in progress
- Add Warband Live Music v1.0 by Chur. I've got permission! in progress
Bugfixes
- Add all bugfixes from 2.41 to 2.5. done
As you can see, there are a lot of things on my personal list. Nowadays I'm not working 10 hours a day on the mod, something that also isn't going to happen in the near future. Because all things on the list need to be done before 2.5 comes out, it's taking quite a while. And I rather do it well than hastily.

With this dev diary I hope that the following has become clear:
- What are we working on? (well, at least what am I working on)
- Why is it taking so long? (it's a lot of work)
- When will the next version be out? (I'm not telling ya, na na nana na)

Thank you for reading this wall of text, and see you next time!
 

monnikje

Master Knight
WB
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It's been quite a while since I last posted a dev diary, and I'm sorry to have kept you in the dark for so long. Altough you could have heard flashes of progress here and there. During the past few months we all worked really hard, which is finally coming to fruition. We managed to merge some of the source code we worked separately on, and it works. How amazing is that? When you work on a certain part for a long time, it's easy to loose sight of the rest. Upon seeing all the different features coming together, I could jump of joy. Soon we will start the beta testing, as you can see over here.

The past two weeks I've been on a holiday. Yes, even me sometimes needs a little break form everything. Well, not the mod, obviously, since I still continued working on it with pen and paper: while enjoying the sun (and rain), I wrote all the dialogues for five brand new companions that you can hire in 2.5. And not just that... I also wrote five brand new chapters for Me, Floris. Finally, I can hear you think. But I still needed to edit some pictures to accompany those chapters. Since my return last Saturday I did so for one of the five chapters, which you can read over here. Rest assured that more has been written, and will soon follow :smile:.

I said that I've written the dialogues for five brand new companions. Let me introduce them to you:
Nadia, a paranoid Sarranid woman who has ran away from her home village, where the village elder had become pretty mad.
Odval, a Khergit woman who ran away from a victorious archery tournament after being accused of cheating.
Sajjad, a fanatic Sarranid religious warrior, who once was a desert bandit until he saw the error in his way.
Ghazwan, a Sarranid street merchant with a noble background who'd like to get back to his roots.
Edwyn, a Swadian miller whose family has been brutally murdered by knights, whom he hates ever since.
Of course you'll have to meet them in person to really get to know them and their stories, but this will give you a short impression. A fun fact: there are no Native companions with a Sarranid background, hence that I introduce three of them. But these five new companions aren't just 'added' to the Native ones: they are incorporated. This means that I had to rewrite some of the old Native dialogue lines to match the new relations. And of course had to redraw this Native relation scheme. Here it is:



The past few months I've been working hard on the items. I still need to sort out the shields and weapons, but all armors, boots, helmets, gauntlets and horses are done. What is taking me so long? One of the main problems is that there are enough items of a certain style (mainly Swadian), and almost none of another (for example, Vaegir). I sort the items, see if they are not too ugly and in some cases add some new ones myself. When there are not a lot of items available in a certain style, you can imagine that it will take some time to get the ones I want. Butt the results are very satisfying. Take for example the armor I created for our own Floris:



It's really fancy to see him wearing his own cloths: this makes him even more special than he was.

There are lots of other features working like a charm, for example the new Seafaring System or the reworked forced recruiting, but it's getting a tad late over here, so I'll write more next time. We're all very excited about 2.5, especially now that we're almost starting with betatesting it.
 

Windyplains

Grandmaster Knight
WB
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As I am sure folks eagerly await the release of 2.5, I wanted to share a bit more information on upcoming features as well as introduce myself.  It isn't a surprise that 2.5 has become a bit more of a time investment than originally anticipated and to help out with that the Floris group has expanded the team.  The Floris mod has been a favorite of mine for some time now so you can imagine when I was invited to join the development team it was an easy choice.  While I join the team late in their development of 2.5 there are some features I get to bring with me and I'd like to share a bit about them here.

Enhanced Tournament Features!
There have been numerous requests in the suggestion thread for improving the game's tournament system and a recent project of mine addresses many of them.  I had a few goals in mind when I created the Tournament Play Enhancements kit and those were:

Improving Challenge While Reducing Frustration
The native system tends to be overly difficult at the beginning of the game and become too easy by the late game.  Part of the problem here is that your opponents never change in power level while you do.  To address this I have aimed at creating generic tournament opponents that scale with you in level so that a more even challenge is maintained. 

Some folks may still wish more or less of a challenge so I have also introduced a difficulty slider setting allowing you to set; the number of teams, how many are on each team and how your AI opponents will respond within a match.  Using these two features in combination you should find a more even challenge throughout the levels, yet still have one you can tailor to your own playing preferences.

If you have ever had the pleasure of being knocked out by a trio ganging up on you while your other teammates dog pile a single enemy then you will understand where this next change comes from.  Tournament rounds no longer end simply because you have fallen.  Now your teammates have a chance to carry on the fight until only one team remains.

Allow More Personal Play Style Choices
The native tournament system chooses your play style and for some that is okay, but many would prefer to use the weapons they've trained in.  Enemies are typically equally skilled in each type of weapon, yet players and companions do not share this advantage.  To improve on this you'll now have the option to choose the types of equipment you bring into a tournament match.  You'll be able to choose three options among choices of weapon types, being mounted, or improved equipment prior to entering each match.  Keep in mind that your enemies will make these same selections ensuring that they always carry a melee weapon, often backed up with a ranged one and are smart enough to swap dynamically between them.

Additionally you will be able to select these same options for all of your companions so never again will your bow trained Deshavi have to make do with a throwing spear unless you wish it.  Or you can choose to prevent a companion from ever joining into tournament events for those quartermaster types that are not built for combat.

Greater Rewards and Recognition
I often felt the outcome of winning a tournament lacked any real purpose beyond building cash which leads to my next set of changes:
  • Renown Scaling - Now you gain greater renown for a tournament win based upon your current renown and experience.  That unknown upstart should draw the attention of a crowd more than a regular champion.  Yet a returning champion will become a crowd favorite leading to a greater improvement in relation (with the town) on each successive win.
  • Attention of the Nobility - Defeating everyone in a tournament, including many of the nobles, should impact how they view you.  Nobles who view you as a friend will be heartened by your victory improving in relation while those who view you as a rival will be even more embittered by it.  These changes in relation are weighed by the personality of the noble, their current relation with you and how your gender fits into the circumstances.  An ambitious woman may look upon a male champion with admiration, yet view a female champion as only competition.
  • Greater Reward for Risk - As the difficulty slider, that was mentioned above, is increased so is the reward for winning the tournament in the form of denars and experience.  This reward is separate from any denars earned through betting.
  • Automatic Betting - For convenience you can now set a persistent bet that remains in effect throughout the tournament.  This can still be adjusted each round if desired, but it is not required.  If you do not have enough money to cover the bet it will not be placed.

Tournaments Done The Way You Prefer
One of the philosophies of the Floris team remains true in this feature change and that is the ability to choose which features you want and which you do not.  Just some of the options you have available that aren't already described above include:
  • Disabling the entire Tournament Play Enhancement kit.  This will cause the game to revert to native style play.
  • Disabling the renown scaling features.
  • Choosing your preferred team color.

Summary
Hopefully this shows a little more of what is to come and there are still features we haven't discussed, but we have to leave something for later, right?  This feature in particular has a lot of additions in the works and I will be asking the community for their help in fleshing some of those ideas out so I hope that you will join and voice your opinion in those threads.  If you'd like to share your thoughts on this feature please voice them in the associated Dev Diary Feedback thread.
 

monnikje

Master Knight
WB
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It took me half a year, but finally I'm done with the items. Yes, there are still some small things left to do, like correcting stats and adding some specular maps, but that's just a minor inconvenience. Let me tell you about the giant workload that has been done:

In FEMP 2.41a there were almost 2200 items in use, including the 600 native items. This proved to be a little too much, so my main goal was to reduce the total amount and thus improve the speed of the mod. In order to reduce the amount, I had to look at each of them, and decide if they would stay or go. But while I were at it, I decided change a few more things.

One of the major changes is something you won't notice during the game, but which other modders will absolutely see: I reordered all items, and given them new id's. All shields are next to each other, all horses, etc. This gave us the chance to fix several bugs and gives us the option to create new features that require a range of items. The downside of this restructuring is that the mod isn't savegame compatible anymore, but a poll done half a year ago showed us that this wouldn't be any problem.

Up till the current version, 2.41a, I had items spread over factions. Each faction has their own, unique items. Or that was the thought behind it. In reality some items were used by several factions. Also there was an imbalance: there was - for example - an abundance of Swadian helmets in all kinds of colours, while there were almost no unique Khergit ones. This needed to change. So while I were at it, I decided to assign a certain number of items of each kind to each faction. If a faction had too many - like the Swadians - I had to choose which ones I had to keep, and which ones should go. If on the other hand a faction lacked certain items, or had too many of a too low quality, I searched till I found more or replacing items in other mods, and asked permission to use them. But sometimes even that wasn't enough, so I had to create new textures or even new meshes myself. I'm not the best texturer or 3d-artist in the world, so if I find something better, I'll replace it. That's something I can now easily do by the way I structured the items.

Another change is in my view on the items. In the older versions I had added a lot of items: many of them without much regard for quality. This had to change. Quantity gives variety, but is that what we want if it's not improving the overall game? This was my chance to finally delete lots of crappy items that I couldn't delete previously, because that would break savegame compatibility. Looking back I can only say I'm really glad that we decided to break with that. The result is so much better now.

Another thing looming over the items was the upcoming Gameplay release. This third version will feature as few items as possible, to speed things up for the gamer with the low-end computer. My goal here was to have a basic set of items - approximately as much as in native - that still displays the variation I tried to bring to each faction. This set of items, which I called the 'Minimal' items, is the very basis of the Mod pack. For the FEMP I used this set along with some extra items, which I call the 'Extended' items. Since I made a clear distinction in the naming of all texture and brf files, it will be very easy to separate them, which in turn will make it very easy for me to create the different versions. This Minimal set will have 765 items. I know, this is quite a few more than in native, but this will feature unique items for each faction. When we add the Extended items, we'll get a total of 1755 items for FEMP. So I managed to reduce the total amount of items with over 400, while improving the quality. That's a good deal in my eyes!

But enough words. Let me show you some pictures of me wearing equipment from each faction:
Let's start with some Swadian equipment. Pretty standard Medieval English style.


Then look at the Vaegir. They have definitely a Russian knack.


The Khergit now truly have a Mongol style.


Of course, the Nord don't ride horses. But as a player you can do anything, including equipping the finest of the Nord and riding towards their doom.


The Rhodoks retain their Italian style. Maybe some items are from not exactly the right period, but hopefully you'll forgive me that little thing.


And at last, the Sarranids.


Ok, these may not be the best screenshots ever, but I hope you forgive me when you see the next few.

I previously showed you that the Floris companion has some new equipment. I added some more, and now Floris is really a unique companion. Here are some pictures of him:



Yes, this last picture is from a sea battle!

The past week I wanted to do something completely different, so I decided to dive into the wonderfull world of scening. I always wanted to create the Muiderslot, a Dutch castle that has been build by Floris' grandson, so I just did. Here are some pictures of the original:

And here's what I made of it:


Even tough it still needs some proper testing, I think it worked out pretty well. This scene will be in the mod, and I already created a new map icon for it.

At the moment I'm redoing the opening scenes, the ones where you end up when starting a new game. I'm using the Polished buildings to enhance these scenes. Here's a picture of the Swadian opening scene with polished buildings:

The things I personally still need to do before we can release 2.5:
- Search for a useable mod that adds / changes the female faces and that I haven't looked at yet.
- Redo all female faces like I did with the male ones.
- Give items to all troops from the Reworked and the Expanded trees.
- Go through all scenes and correct any trees that are wrong because of the polished trees.
It doesn't look so much anymore. That gives a good feeling. Altough the scening might still take some time, for there are a lot of scenes...


Feedback
If you want to say something about this or any previous, or following, dev diary, you can leave a comment over here.
 

Windyplains

Grandmaster Knight
WB
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Things are going well in our beta tests and with our release coming up I wanted to share a little more of what is coming with the new version.  Today I'll address a few new presentation changes coming with 2.5.  One of our own and one taken from the OSP community by Lav.

Windyplains said:
Cuthof said:
A place you can go to get an overview of what each lord in your empire has of fiefs, like the screen you get presented with when you take over a castle/town.
This is an annoyance of mine as well.  Fixing this will be added to my list.  Not for 2.5 though.
Estates of the Realm
This was suggested a little while back and while I didn't want to commit to it being made available in 2.5 because I had ideas for something a bit larger in scope, I decided to go with a simpler approach.  So I created this to address the specific request.  Now you'll be able to access a presentation under "View Lord Holdings" that lists every lord within a faction, what fiefs they hold (sorted into columns by type), what their relation with you is, who their friends and enemies are.  Most of this information is readily available in the game already via the game notes with the exception of the allies/enemies.  The intent is to review this presentation before awarding a fief and you'll have an idea of who is guaranteed to be happy this person received it or is guaranteed to be unhappy about it.  There is always room for randomness though so this is not a perfect representation.

This is the default appearance.  It may look like it is hard to read some of the text due to the background map, but in game the list is scrollable and simpler to read.
For folks who don't care for the background map you can click a checkbox at the bottom that will remove it.

Companion Overseer by Lav
Lav said:
Companions Overseer is a full-blown companions management interface, enabling the player to oversee his companions stats, control their equipment and otherwise do various perverted things (well, truth be said, that last part is not implemented fully yet, sorry ).

Player can open any character window from the presentation, either with the "Character Screen" button or by Alt-clicking on the character/troop name. He can also fully control the equipment of his companions, auto-equip them from his inventory, and more. Player can also give books to his companions - this is currently only useful for reference books since the mod does not implement any "companions reading books" functionality. However any other mod that has this functionality (and actually stores books in companion's inventory instead of using slots) should immediately benefit from this.

Presentation can be used as a complete replacement to standard Warband "Inventory", "Equip Other" and "Loot" screens, integrating all that functionality (and more) into a unified interface which keeps true to "Warbandish" way of operating the inventory and equipment, while providing the player with many additional functions and tricks.
Screen 1 & 2 function similar to the companion overview screen, but cover more information.  You can also view information about lords or standard troops.  This can be done by using the checkbox options in the bottom left of the screen where you can see I'm only showing companions.  You can also access the character screen of a troop by simply clicking on them.
Screen 3 functions as an inventory and auto-equip window.  Here you can review what characters are wearing, assign them something different and discard loot from your inventory if you wish.

Report Menu Changes
Additionally to alleviate the over-packed report menu we've done some rearranging to group various reports by "theme".  This go along the following design (at this time).  Eventually we'd like to create a presentation that encompasses all of these reports into a singular interface, but that will be a large project for a future version.
  • View Personal Reports
    • View Character Report - Standard native report.
    • View Courtship Relations - Jrider's improved courtship presentation.
    • View Weekly Budget - Standard native report.
    • View Financial Report - The old bank report now switched over to support Duh's moneylending feature.
  • View Party Reports
    • View Force Size Report - Standard native report.
    • View Force Morale Report - Standard native report.
    • View Companions Overview - Jedediah Q's OSP presentation.
    • View Character and Companions Report - Jrider's OSP presentation
    • View Companion Mission Report - Standard native report.
  • View Kingdom Reports
    • View Sovereign Relations - Jrider's OSP presentation
    • Review Lord Holdings - The "Estates of the Realm" report described above.
    • View Known Lords by Relation - Jrider's OSP presentation
  • Reference Material
    • View Upgrade Trees - Custom Commander's presentation adapted for Floris.
    • View All Items - Custom Commander's presentation.

Summary
Hopefully this adds a few more things people will look forward too in the next version and shows that suggestions do sometimes find their way onto our work lists.  Sometimes ideas folks have might be a much larger project than they suspect or the team doesn't feel it fits with our vision of the Floris Mod, but we do try to cover suggestions where we can.  So keep them coming!  If you'd like to add any feedback about what is written in this diary please refer to this feedback thread.
 

monnikje

Master Knight
WB
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Hello everyone, time for another small dev diary.

Due to some unexpected real life events, I was unable to properly work on the mod nor reply properly my pm's last month. Of course the rest of the team worked hard and did a wonderfull job in the meantime, but the things I was working on took a little longer complete. The past two weeks I worked hard to catch up again, and I reaped the fruits of that: I did more than I had expected to do. That's always a good thing :grin:.

Let me first tell you about one minor bug. Remember those nasty little yellow flowers? The only flowers that can stop a charging knight? Flowers that did more damage to armies than the enemy? Flowers that snatched bodies and took over Calradia (well... maybe I'm exaggerating, but still they were nasty buggers)? I finally fixed that. Also I made quite a lot of specular and normal maps. Overly bright armors should belong to the past, and else I can now very easily fix it.

Scene Fixing
Last time I showed you how I created a new scene, a castle and a village in one. This time I corrected a lot of scenes. When I added Polished Landscapes a few versions back, there was a nasty side-effect: trees were blocking streets, obscuring views and sometimes snowy trees popped up in non-snowy environments. So I went into every town, castle and village scene and corrected these trees. Here are some examples to illustrate what I've done:

Before:
After:


Snowy trees have been replaced by other trees.

Another example.
Before:
After:


You can see that I moved the trees that blocked the road.

And a third example:
Before:
After:


No more trees sticking out of the houses.

As you can see in the examples, I didn't improve the scenes with polished buildings, and neither made new cool scenes. All I did was correcting all the little mistakes, and I can tell you, that was quite some work, with 110 villages, 48 castles and 22 towns to go through. Ow, and one funny last before picture (I didn't make an after picture):


Floating skulls! Argh, get them off, get them off!

Troops
The past week I've been working on giving the troops from both the Reworked and the Expanded trees their items. This means that finally they are taking shape, and finally I can ride in the game and truly test the other trees. I made a small change in the rhodok tree while I were at it. At the moment of writing I still need to assign the weapons to most the troops, and check their stats, but that should all be done by the end of the week.

Here's an image of the Swadian Expanded troop tree. They now have all their itemsweapons, armors, shields etc.  The upgrade costs might change when I go through their stats, so this is only temporarily:


Click the image for a larger view.

And here are some screenshots of the Swadians in action:




On an unrelated note... Don't you hate it too when you enter a battlefield on the end of a cliff, or worse: halfway down the cliff? I know I do. So we had the idea of creating a dozen or so good scenes for all the situations where you might battle, and let Warband cycle through these scenes to give you a little bit of random feeling. This is still just an idea, and definitely won't be included in 2.5, and may take maybe till 2.7 or so before we could implement it (we'll have to do a lot of scenebuilding for that!), but I still toss it out in the open for you to ponder it too, and shout remarks like 'omg how dare you touch the randomness of scenes! That's the single reason I bought Warband!'.

Beta
We expect to finish our major projects by the end of this month. But even tough we do our best to make everything as good as possible, it's still prone to unexpected bugs. We've had the past three months a dozen of wonderfull beta testers who helped us a lot with squashing those nasty little buggers, but we decided to scale things up a little more. So by the end of this month (or the first week of December, if we run into unexpected problems) we want to have an open beta.

An open beta means that we will upload the Expanded version of 2.5 to one or two upload sites and make it available for you all. I'm not going to upload it to all the mirrors, for that takes a lot of time (see below). Also we're only uploading the Expanded version for this beta, for that contains everything and the other versions derive from this one. This means that you'll be able to play with 2.5 a few weeks prior to our full release. That sounds cool, doesn't it? And the only thing we ask in return, is that you report any bugs you find, so that we can have them fixed by the time of our major release.

During this open beta period, I intend to do a few things (besides bugfixing):
- Write all the forum posts I intend to post upon release.
- Notify all the people from whom we used resources for the pack about the release.
- Prepare a large update (I guess that will be a rewrite) of the FAQ and maybe other topics.
- Write installation guides, work on manuals etc.
- Make preparations for 2.6.
- And finally upload all versions to multiple mirrors (I estimate that it will take me something like 36 hours of uploading time, hence that I won't do this for the open beta).
These are all side-things that won't affect the mod, but are important too: the flow of information. I think this is perfect to work on during the open beta period.

Feedback
If you want to say something about this or any previous, or following, dev diary, you can leave a comment over here.
 

Windyplains

Grandmaster Knight
WB
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With our open beta release right around the corner I wanted to slip in another diary describing some features that will become immediately apparent as you start your game.  The last two diaries have focused on visual changes and this one will share a little of that aspect, but it is primarily aimed at convenience.

Condensed Character Creation Design
For some time now we’ve used the character creation presentation by Dunde borrowed from the Custom Commander mod and initially I just wanted to improve its look a little, but this ended up in being a complete rewrite for our purposes.  My initial thoughts were reducing the number of screens you needed to move through in order to create a new character.  This is something that gets more tiresome from a development and testing aspect than a gaming one, but I felt it needed to be done regardless.  Additionally I wanted to add some new features to it and make it unique to Floris.  So let’s talk about some of these changes.

Attribute, Proficiency & Skill Advantages Revealed
What will stand out immediately is an area that now displays what your starting attributes, weapon proficiencies, denars and skill bonuses will be based on the options you’ve chosen.  It has always been annoyance of mine that a player could not see this information during creation of their character.  While there are charts out there with that information, I intended to rebalance many of the native options as well as add entirely new ones so having a way to see it upfront hopefully reduces any confusion that may cause.

New Background Options & Rebalancing
Several new background options were added for each category with many of them credited to Diplomacy 4.1’s addition.  We added a little on to that ourselves, but many of these new options required balancing to bring them in line with their native counterparts.  While this was being done many native background options were adjusted to even them out which means some of your favorite combinations of the past may no longer exist the way you knew them, but I guarantee you’ll find new ones just as useful.  The goal wasn’t to weaken popular combinations such as the default male, son of an impoverished noble, early life page, later life squire with a mind on personal revenge.  Instead my aim was to make other combinations just as viable such as decent starting archer combinations, a true starting merchant or a noble built less around being a warrior and more towards an aristocrat.  Beyond just the numbers you’ll even find that several backgrounds have special bonuses for selecting them or grouping together certain combinations, but I’ll leave you to discover these for yourself.

Menu Options Included
These options are included here as opposed to the Mod Options panel in game because they alter the design of your game in some way that is usually a one time choice.
  • Troop Tree Selection (menu) – This is new to compliment Monnikje’s multiple troop tree system that is a major part of the 2.5 release.  You will have a default setting of the Expanded Tree (Floris 2.4’s current tree), but may also select Native or Reworked trees as well.
  • Gather Companions (checkbox) – This is the same option available in 2.4 that allowed all of the companions to be gathered in the tavern nearest to your entry to the game.
  • Fog of War (checkbox) – This is new to compliment Duh’s Fog of War feature.  This option can still be changed in the main options panel during the game, but if you want it enabled you’re likely to want it on at the start of the game.
  • Starting Region (menu) – This menu has several changes around it.  First, it was added to remove the “Join caravan to the city of X” menu to once again reduce the number of screens at game start.  Second, there are now small proficiency bonuses based on what region you hail from so it needed to be included at this part of character design.  And last, this changes how your character looks, but I’ll talk about that further down.

New Look at Game Entry
Not only has the opening scenes of the game been changed due to Monnikje’s efforts, on his suggestion, we have also designed character creation to equip your character based on your starting region.  For those that may wonder how this was done here and not in the tournament enhancements, I can only say they’re entirely different levels of complexity and rework.  This could be the groundwork for how I may implement that back for tournaments in a later version.  Additionally you’ll notice that your starting equipment is entirely based upon your background choices, which they were in native to an extent, but a bit more so now.  So don’t be surprised if you begin play with a weapon that you’re not used to seeing.

A Few Thoughts on Open Beta Testing
We are still intending to release an open beta version of Floris 2.5 expanded at month’s end and with that right around the corner I wanted to remind people what this means.  So here are a few things I’d like folks to keep in mind:
  • Bugs – You’re going to have them.  While we have spent a few months bug testing the game there is always going to be something we didn’t catch and a few of the features being added were very late additions so they could use the extra testing.  Thus if you encounter one take it with a grain of salt and let us know so that we can fix it prior to a standard release of 2.5.  The alternative would have been a much longer testing period and I don’t think anyone wanted that.
  • Refinements – Don’t like how something is implemented?  This is a good time to voice your thoughts on minor changes (major ones won’t happen) to improve game play.  Keep in mind it is just as useful to hear what people like as well as they dislike otherwise the vocal minority may end up getting their way.
  • Save Game Compatibility – Since this is an open beta there is going to be continuing updates to the game prior to a full release being ready, but in most cases this will likely be a new set of text files instead of an entirely new download.  It is likely we won’t even break your save games, but we aren’t going to commit to that.  If something in Floris is broken and fixing it means breaking your save, then your save is going to be broken.

Summary
In closing, version 2.5 continues a shift from being mostly compiled work, which will still be used, to a greater amount of work unique to Floris.  I hope everyone enjoys the new version as much as we have had developing it.  I believe I can speak for the team in thanking everyone for their insights in the various feedback threads as well as to our closed beta testing group that put up with numerous updates to the game, some frustrating bugs and still helped us figure out what needed to be fixed to get things to this stage.  If you’d like to add further input on this topic please do so in this feedback thread.
 

Duh

Duke
M&BWB
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We have finally reached the end of our long journey to Floris version 2.5.

We would hereby like to thank all contributors, all testers, all players and fans for their continous support and love for the mod. Without the help and encouragement, which you have given us, we would not have been able to create this mod in such quality and to such an extent. We hope that all of you and many others will get enjoyment out of this combined effort to make a great game even better.

Announcement
While the release of version 2.5 is not the end of the Floris Mod, it is a turning point. From here on out we will break with our old ways. The very first and most apparent change (you probably already spotted the sticky) is that we will drastically increase the size of the team to be able to better support and develop the mod. As we have worked in a small group for a very long time now, we are excited to see what ideas, features and abilities will be added to the development and we are looking forward to working with a new set of people. Along these lines of change, we have also decided to shift our focus from preserving the majority of the native game (which was very much work) more towards the creation of new features. This does not mean that we will leave Calradia or that we are planning to drop the native spirit completely, but it does mean that we will sacrifice some things in the favor of creating new content. This is one of the reasons why we wanted version 2.5 to be as bug- and crashfree as possible, so that anybody who disagrees with our new take on development, does have the option to play a very well polished version of the mod, which greatly adds to the native game while almost completely keeping its feel.

To give you a better idea of what we have in mind/what kind of changes to expect, take a look at the following example . We will change the worldmap in one of our future versions. This is required to give the seafaring system a purpose and it also offers us the possibility to create some truly unique content in the areas outside of the mainland of Calradia. The goal is to largely maintain the current terrain, but add several sets of islands to the seamap and increase the accessible part of the sea. We will not create a magic system or add guns into the game, because we simply dont think that it fits the theme of the mod.

Feedback
If you want to say something about this or any previous, or following, dev diary, you can leave a comment over here.


Now go and play Floris 2.5 :wink:
 

monnikje

Master Knight
WB
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I know it's been a while since I last wrote a dev diary. But have no fear, for a new one is here! After the release of version 2.5 and the patch for the Gameplay version, the majority of the team had to take some time off and focus on real life for a while. We still managed to do a few things, but the pace was considerably slower than usual, which is the main reason why we have not released another patch to address the left over issues yet. We are now back in business with even more hands than before.

New devs

You might have seen our Recruitment Topic: we're actually looking for new people to reinforce the team, and help us improve the mod even further. If you haven't seen the topic yet, and are interested to work on Floris, you might want to head out and have a look over there. Three people went before you, and I'm proud to present you our new team members:

wingcutangel (graphics department)
Vendigr (scener)
Renegade122 (scener)

For the past year I've been saying that 'soon' I'll start working on improving or replacing existing (buggy or bad) scenes, but so far I haven't been able to find the time. Now that Vendigr and Renegade122 have joined the team, we can finally get some scenes done. We're busy setting up a scene tracker to keep track of all the bugs and improvements. And even tough I've done quite some texture fiddling and some model-editing the past year, I'm still a beginner. Wingcutangel brings a lot of experience to the team, and already we benefitted from his skills.

Floris normalmaps minimod

Today I posted his Floris 2.5 Normalmaps Minimod. Wingcutangel has reworked all normalmaps in the mod by removing the alpha channel from all 'blue' normal maps, and thus reducing their size by over 200 MB.

We hope that this will reduce lag and would appreciate it very much if you would leave a comment in the minimod topic sharing your experience with the new normalmaps.

Translations

We know that some people would like to see this mod in their own language, but we don't have time to translate it all. Luckily there are some people who do take the time to bring the mod to a new audience:

Polish translation
On mountblade.info the Polish community has followed Floris for quite a few versions now, and provided translations. A whole team has recently translated 2.5 to Polish. I'd like to thank adamk23, ałtsajder, jaromirjagr i przyjaciele, Johny8888 and RairakkuRey for their effort! You can head over to the Polish topic on Mountblade.info to download the translation, or download it directly from FileServe or Mediafire.

French translation
I'd like to thank snouz for making a French translation a little over a month ago. So if you speak French, you should head out to this topic and have a look at Floris in your language!

Development

The general development for 2.6 has advanced as well. We managed to implement Brytenwaldas Seabattle system (the actual battles on water) and Caba'drin has reviewed and reworked quite a bit of their code in an attempt to further polish it. Windyplains is well on his way to finish a first implementation of his trade rival system, a related dynamic questpack and a couple of other quests for which I'm writing some nice, new dialogs to keep things interesting. The mod PBOD, which is included in the Floris Mod Pack and developed by Caba'drin, has also received some major updates. I could describe them, but it's far more impressive to watch them yourself: Watch on Youtube

Aside from these specific news, we squashed some bugs and balanced trade a bit in favor for the player (to counter the 1.143 changes).

Nexus

As some of you might have noticed, the MBRepository has moved over to a brand new Nexus page. We have already claimed our files and used the new features to upload a couple of screenshots and our promo video. We hope that you will check it out and leave a comment for Nexus users, who don't know our mod pack yet. You can also endorse or vote for us and while it (endorsing) requires you to have a Nexus download of Floris, it is sufficient to start a download and abort it or download any of the files we have uploaded (a hotfix f.e.). We would also like to ask you to check out the OSP kits we are using in our pack and leave a comment or an endorsement on their nexus site, if you enjoy them. Have a look at the Floris Nexus Page!

Feedback

If you want to say something about this or any previous, or following, dev diary, you can leave a comment over here.
 

monnikje

Master Knight
WB
Best answers
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Heya everyone,

after a long period of quietness, we felt the need to get back in touch with you, answer some questions, address some issues and clarify the general state of affairs. First and foremost - the recent patch, which was long overdue, and an explanation for why it took us so long.

Link to the topic with the patch

Monnikje
As you might have noticed, I've been very inactive the past few months. I haven't strolled around, haven't replied to many pm's: I was absent. And I'm sorry for that. But I can assure you: it was with a very good reason.

When I started this mod a little over two years ago, I worked more than full-time on it. The first version was just a dozen mods mashed together, which I built in a few days (altough I had experimented with modding in the previous months), but for version 2.0 I worked for two months 7 days a week, almost 12 hours a day. Then Duh and Caba`Drin joined me, and later Windyplains, and I got help from a lot of others too. We all worked very hard on getting where we are now. But as you might guess: it took a lot of my time. That's not a bad thing, for I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot from it. Unfortunately I have the habit of forgetting the rest of the world once I focus on one thing. Like my study. Let me tell you something about that.

I started studying astrophysics at the University of Amsterdam back in 2000. Some courses were easy to do, some (especially the die-hard mathematics ones) were very hard. In the end it took me seven years to finish my three-year bachelor. During this time I also picked up writing, participated in contests and even getting some stories published. After I finally got my bachelor I didn't want to do my master in astrophysics: I wanted to do something completely different. So I switched to the master 'Redacteur/Editor', which is a special master to become an editor in the Dutch publishing industry. Because of my writing I was able to make this switch: to go from one of the exact sciences to a more language based study is a big step after all. But I managed, and finished all courses within a year, after which I did an internship at one of the largest fantasy and science fiction publishers of the Netherlands. After that all I had too do was finishing my thesis. And that's where I got off track again. I couldn't get myself to work on the thesis, so a year passed in which I gamed a lot, wrote stories, won a trip to the Paradox Interactive Convention in Stockholm where I met lots of guys, including Armagan himself, got introduced to Warband, started an AAR, experimented with modding and finally started one very big mod myself (this one!). But then I really got hooked, and spend another two years working on the Floris Mod Pack. I have absolutely no regrets, but all this time my thesis was hanging like a sword of Damocles above my head.

Last summer that sword came crashing down. I had to choose: abandon my study, or really work on it. As you can imagine, I choose the latter. And I got hooked. I make long days again, but I really enjoy working on it now, so that's not bad :smile:. Now my focus is on the thesis, and as you can imagine... I forget the rest of the world. Unfortunately this time that includes you guys. Since the beginning of September I barely visited this forum, haven't replied to pm's and have definitely not worked on the mod. Most people might be able to divide their time between the two, to work part of the day on the mod and another part on the thesis, but unfortunately I can't. When I go for something, I fully go for it.

Some have already asked me what my thesis is about, so let me explain it here for you all. It's about popular scientific books about astronomy and astrophysics that were published in Dutch in the Netherlands between 1801 and 2000. These are books explaining for example what a star is, how many planets our solar system has or what the Milky Way is for normal people who know nothing about this subject (or only a little bit). Books you would pick up when you just want to know what is up there while knowing nothing about the subject. So not the die-hard scientific ones. I first looked at how you can explain difficult subjects for a broad public, then I catalogued all these kind of books for the nineteenth and twentieth century and the next step will be to look at different books form different times and see how the subject was explained to the public over time. As you can see, I've combined both my studies astrophysics and editor into one subject for my thesis, and absolutely love it. As a matter of fact, I wrote an article about some history of astrophysics that has been published in an online magazine this week. It's in Dutch, but if you can read that, you might have a look over here.

This explains my absence. I'm sorry that I have abandoned you a little bit, but now you know it's for a good reason. And what about the rest of the team? They also had to focus more of their time on real life. Ranging from college to work to family. But everyone is doing well.

The project
Naturally the question arises what this means for the Floris mod pack. The majority of the team would enjoy creating one more version for you. The largest motivator is that we already poured quite a bit of work into said version and a large portion of the new features are finalized, the largest problem is that we still have to fuse, test and fix things into a polished state, but lack the time to do so at the moment. The next longer period of free time we ll have is going to be sometime early next year (Feb/March). Before that time, we will be absent again, but it is likely that once we reach that date, there will be another large push for the project.

After that push Floris will be in a finished state for us. We have added many interesting things, we have made and fixed many mistakes, we learned a lot and we had much fun, yet eventually things become less attractive, one needs a change of pace and we feel that that point has been reached. Don't fall into despair though (:razz:) - Floris is entirely open source and once we move forward, we wouldn't mind, if somebody else were to continue working on or with the pack (some already do - see Cozurs Mod here). And besides that, the Workshop will still continue as an independant project. Additionally the team may come back together and kick off a new project, when Mount and Blade 2 comes out. No promises though. Since we're not that actively working at the moment, we'll also take down the recruitment sticky and we would like to apologize to those that did not receive a reply to their application - we should have found the time for at least that much.

Wiki

While the rest of the team was occupied by other obligations, imemine did a great job on the Floris Wiki. Have you recently taken a look at it? Not only can you find information about the different features of the mod pack, you can now also see all the items and their stats. The Wiki is a rich source of information that gives explanations for all aspects of the mod. So if you are wondering what a certain feature does, what item is better, which companion to choose, you should head over there, especially now that it contains almost all necessary information.

The trip
On a completely different note: last summer Duh and Nordous (from Nordous Sceners Guild) visited me! It was really a great week. Nordous travelled with his wife and two friends through Europe, and stayed a few days in Amsterdam.  Duh stayed at the same time at my place. Not only did I show them around the city, we also visited Muiderslot castle (you know, which is present in the Floris Mod Pack as Tevarin castle). Here are some impressions:
The photo's are made by Nordous.



This is Tevarin Castle... erm... I mean, the Muiderslot!



Here we see the front left tower while standing under an archway.



And here we see that same tower from the inside of the castle.



This is the left wall as seen from the inside.



And when we look up, we see the inner castle.



The gang is standing in front of the gate. Nordous is making the picture, so we won't see him. But the big guy with the blue shirt is Duh, and the small guy in the middle, the one wearing the one and only Floris t-shirt, is me. Wait, what... a Floris t-shirt?



Yes, a Floris t-shirt. I got it this summer for my birthday.


Enjoying the night life in Amsterdam, can you spot Nordous?
It is really nice to finally see someone you've worked for almost two years with, and spoken almost daily to. I showed Duh around in Amsterdam in the only way you really should see the city: by bike. Canals, leaning houses, the whole deal. And of course there was time for gaming! We even did some modding while we were at it.

We are aware that overall these are bittersweet news, but we hope that the good parts triumph over the bad ones. In that spirit we wish you a merry christmas and a happy new year.

PS: If you want to respond to this dev diary, you can do so over here.
 
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