Work-In-Progress Spotlights
September 14, 2008 by Scud

Age of Chivalry: Hegemony

A project by Kor and Andrew Dunn

For this week's Work in Spotlight I bring to you Age of Chivalry: Hegemony by Kor and Andrew Dunn. "But Age of Chivalry isn't a work in progress, it's already released!" I hear you cry. But like nearly all mods and fully-fledged games, the art of making a fun and well-rounded experience is ongoing with Age of Chivalry being no different. Despite Hegemony being released over six months ago, the motley modding crew still provide support and improvements for their masterpiece and that, my friends, is the meat of this week's preview - a sneak peak at the latest version of Age of Chivalry: Hegemony!

Now I won't get into great lengths at the unique features Hegemony currently offers and why it is an understanding piece of work, so this is why I dedicate this short sentence for all of you who have not tried it to go and download it now, yes now (available at all good Blacksmiths)! The latest update has many new features, most notably with designers in mind with new editors items like wheelbarrows, barrels, loot, wells and much more. Another new unit is the inclusive of the Carroccio Standard; a historical unit mimicking the banners used by many armies of the day with a lot of the Italian City States (like Milan) sporting them on wagons and taking them into battle to raise the morale of the city's soldiers. A few tweaks are to be expected, again in favour of designers are in mind like being able to place bamboo stumps in the editor - but Kor and Andrew are happy with the balance so there will not be many changes in that regard.

The most important part of update is a brand new scenario based on the Battle of Dinklar (1367). The battle was a cunning night attack by the army of the Bishop of Hildesheim (of around 600 men) against the allied force of Duke of Brunswick and the bishop of Halberstadt (of around 2,500 men). The allied army was crushed in reality, back can you change the course of history? You take control of the allied army, and though you have the advantage in numbers your troops are weak in comparison to your enemy. Not only that, most of your troops are still asleep, so don't expect to have the whole army at your command when you start, you will need to be patience and wait for the men to arrive at the battle! You must defend your camp at various chokepoints with there being three random points of attack, so no play-through will be exactly the same offering great replay value!

I managed to catch up with Kor and I asked him a few questions:

"What motivated you to make AoC, was it to fix Aok's historical inaccuracies or to improve gameplay with the historical content as a secondary bonus?

Kor: It was a combination of both - we initially wanted to improve gameplay by fixing historical inaccuracies, at first on a very limited scale. For example, one of the first changes we implemented was to give some of the countries in the game ranged spearmen, to better represent effective spear formations. It was only after changes on this scale that we decided to completely alter the countries involved in the game

The original AoC was a great effort - but what parts where you unhappy with that motivated you and Andrew to make Hegemony?

Kor: We felt that over half the game had no purpose in the original version; many of the original civilisations simply had no place in the new, Western European setting of the game, also because they operated on a different scale: we purposefully include duchies and even counties, while the original game had much greater nations, some of which were ahistorical for this time period (like the Spanish, the Huns and the Goths). So when picking the new civilisations we kept this in mind: we concentrated on more small states, some of which were virtually unknown to people (like Savoy, quite unjustifiably considering its influence long after the middle ages), and most of which we already knew a considerable deal about. Another important qualifier was that every country should have had contact with the majority of the other countries. We basically wanted to create a larger and even better representation of the political theatre of western and central Europe. I know a lot of people have countries they wanted in, like Poland, Venice, Castilia or Aragon. This is quite understandable and there are very good reasons for their inclusion, but we decided against these examples because they lacked the contact with the other countries that we considered an important criterium for addition, and their military, architecture and history was also less known to us, so we would havehad to do a lot more research - much of it impractical on account of English being a peripheral language for research on these subjects. Neither of us knew Spanish, Italian or Polish, whereas I could read all sources in French, English, Dutch and German without requiring any translations, which was a great help.

"How do you typically approach making a new unit, do you research the unit's background and then slave away at making the animations and new graphics?"

Kor: It really depends per unit. Usually when I get an idea I check to make sure there is a base unit I can use when I start modifying. For the overvaller this was the huskarl, for the mounted crossbowman this was the conquistador, etc. I check a few books to make sure I have a goodidea of what the unit looks like, and then I start working on creating the graphics. For units, this is often a problem, and so I usually have to compromise. For the mounted crossbowman, for example, I would have preferred for the unit to have a coloured surcoat in stead of a breastplate, because, while breastplates were used by crossbowmen, this was only really in the 15th century. But to add in the surcoat would have been too much work and turned out to be impractical. When it comes to buildings I also research architecture before I start working. I find this much more enjoyable and rewarding, as you can put a lot more detail into single-frame buildings than in multi-frame units.

"Would you agree that Aok is a more moddable game compared to other RTSs around there - or is it just years of collective experience within the modding community?"

Kor: Well, I don't think the game is particularly easy to modify. I am at times quite envious of games like AoE III, AoM, M2:TW etc where you can just change a skin and have a working unit already. But when I have finished one frame, there's at least 200 more to go... This can be quite discouraging. We owe a great deal of gratitude to the pioneers of modding software,MPS, DRS Build, genied, AGE, etc. Without these products Age of Chivalry would never have been created (and I'm sure other mods, too, would not have left the conceptual phase without them).

And now, some screenshots from the latest scenario, Battle of Dinklar (1367).