• The Great War Weekend Part 2 - Interview with Mitch (Originally published October 20th, 2014)

    The Great War Part 2 - Interview with Mitch

    The Red Dragon awoke to find a huge White Dragon wrapped around the village that he cared for.
    He could tell that his people were ill from the cold.
    The Red Dragon felt a chill of sorrow in the icy air.
    The Land was bare, nothing was able to grow; not even the pesky dandelions.
    The people were starving.
    They longed for the Red Dragon to free them from the icy misery, so that their life and land could return to the sunny and warm climate that it was once before.
    Or so the legend goes.

    Much like the Red Dragon of Wales, .Mitch helped vitalize the modding scene of TW3 Era Total War games. I recently had the pleasure to ask him some questions about modding Total War. .Mitch has also become an influential member of the modding community, especially due to his work involving The Great War mod for Napoleon: Total War. His status even earned him a spot at both of the Modding Summits hosted by The Creative Assembly.

    --- Modding Total War questions ---

    ANZAC Troops in The Great War mod

    What made you become interested in modding Total War games?

    I first found out what modding was when I was playing NTW and wanted to remove the elite unit cap, I was searching for a cheat code for the game or something to that effect knowing nothing of mods at the time and Google lead me here to TWC. I learned how to use the basic modding tools provided by the community and completed my first ever personal mod to do what I set out to do. Shortly after I made my first post on TWC, releasing this very simple mod.

    Little did I know that 3 years down the line I'd have made hundreds of new friends, be at the head of the #1 ranked mod in the world at its time of release and even have been invited twice all expenses paid to the HQ of the company that makes the game. As the saying goes, from humble beginnings come great things.

    What has been your biggest triumph in modding the Total War Games?

    As I just touched on, when we released The Great War mod version 5.0 we were ranked number 1 in the world at moddb.com, we were getting about 300% more views than the mod ranked second at that time, almost 50,000 a day.

    It was a surreal moment, our mod at that time before release was ranked about 150th and our team had hoped amongst ourselves that if we got maybe top 50 at release we would be over the moon. I'm sure you can imagine our reactions when we hit #1 and stayed there for a month or so.

    What has been your biggest challenge?

    Honestly it's been motivation, computers have been a big part of my life for a long time, be it at university or in a job, and then gaming being my major hobby on top of that. The truth is that modding can be quite tedious and often times very hard, finding the motivation to come home from fixing computer problems all day to fixing more computer problems with modding.. well it's hard going.

    I know it's a cliché but it really is down to the fans of the mods who keep supporting you that motivates you to keep going.

    What is your favorite part about modding Total War?

    I love that my real world friends don't know I mod, one of my friends once asked me if I'd seen the World War 1 mod for NTW.. haha he still has no idea I'm part of it.
    I love the warm fuzzy feeling inside that you get when you've done something awesome, when I look back when I'm older I can say "You know what, that time spent modding, staring at numbers on a screen wasn't time wasted!", how many people can say they were number one in the world for a time?

    I love that I've made many new friends from modding, I've turned modders into friends and even turned a few friends into modders too haha.

    Ultimately though I love the whole community side of it, and it'll be the same for most modders I suspect, interacting with the people who play things you make is both crazy and awesome. Knowing that their are people in the world who you make genuinely excited for updates, content and release dates, etc, etc... its freaking awesome. I both loathe and love it when people ask me for release dates, strange.

    --- Questions about The Great War mod ---

    Russian and German Cavalry Clash in The Great War Mod

    With your mod team for The Great War mod, what was the biggest hurdle the team had to overcome?

    Anyone who's followed the mod over the years knows our greatest hurdle was always getting models into the game, when we finally got a model importer we turned from what was basically a stat change mod into a fully fledged conversion mod. Once we got that hurdle out of the way it was full steam ahead.

    On a similar token, what is the easiest hurdle in modding together?

    Well I said earlier that one of the biggest problems I've had is motivation, having a team of hard working guys alongside you really does motivate you to keep going. You don't want to let down the guys who are also putting in many hours of solid work, even just for them you want to finish your stuff and get your jobs done. Honestly without my team nagging me to finish my work when I've been lazy, and oh God am I lazy , I'd never have gotten anything done lol.

    Do you have any funny moments that you have shared as a mod team?

    Too many to mention.. far too many. We're all close knit friends who've been together for going on 4 years now, some genius a few years back thought it would be a great idea to give us a forum and for some reason give me all the power... haha... Well lets just say there's not a team member who hasn't been banned from our developer forum for disagreeing with my opinion at some point, those are probably the events that would stick out in any of the teams heads if you asked them this question. Really all that needs to be said is that at the end of the day a Modders Union was set up to stop tyrannical team leaders stepping on the little guys.. no really.. it happened.

    This spawned some unique easter eggs in TGW, notably the unseen bottom of our German K1 tank texture has written "Mitch is a tyrant! HELP!!!" by our texture artist Aanker, still unnoticed to this day I think. Also Josst who created the custom Generals and custom traits put all of the main TGW dev team in as a chance to spawn as Generals. Mine is a Danish fellow who if spawns, spawns with the traits "Soaked in Gin" and "a Petty Tyrant"... funny guys, huh.

    So yes believe it or not we're all good friends and we did manage to release a successful mod.. some how.

    What is the most rewarding aspect to modding together as a team?

    I guess the friendships gained between the team and the memories not just I, but we all share from our long road. We all know the massive struggles we've had, the huge arguments, the intense periods of work and ultimately the insane success. I'd rather share that with a group of friends than alone. I've not met them in real life, which sucks, I'd like to one day, but I still consider them as good friends as anyone I would in the real world.

    Do you have any future goals for The Great War mod that you would be willing to share?

    Tough question, we're on hiatus at the moment. We've really achieved everything major we think we can achieve. The night, that is the limits of modding Total War, are dark and full of terrors. Again it's about motivation, will we again manage to pull some together and keep going to try and do something new? I don't know.

    That said if you'd have asked me 3 years ago if we'd have tanks in NTW I'd have laughed at you.. so maybe in 3 years we'll have done something amazing again and we can do a new interview.

    --- Modding in general ---

    A British QF 4.5-Inch Howitzer from The Great War mod

    What would you tell someone who is trying to get into making a mod for Rome II (or Total War games in general), either large or small?

    Another cliché, but just don't give up and be patient, look at any of the big famous successful mods, they all have one thing in common, they took a long time to get where they are. If you want to start a big mod be prepared to get in it for the long haul.

    If you want to start a small mod then my biggest bit of advice is to be original!!! Nobody wants to see 500 unit packs of the same type. Try and do something nobody has done yet, push boundaries and that's where you'll find popularity.

    In terms of modding, what are you hoping for the most in the coming months from The Creative Assembly?

    I don't want to be the guy who's like "I WANT ALL THE TOOLS!" but I'd like to see the official tools come out of Beta and with that bring perhaps TED the battle map editor and maybe even the campaign map editor. I feel Rome 2 has waaay more potential in the modding scene for the usage of official tools than Shogun 2, hopefully we can really see some amazing mods if we get these tools. If we do and nobody uses them again though, I don't blame CA if they just start giving up; tough sentiment I know.

    Having attended the Modding Summits, do you think that they are beneficial to the community? Should they be held more often?

    People saw the first summit as a great success, after all the official modding tools were released during it and so the two events will always be intertwined in peoples minds. Some people see the second one as less successful than the first and that's because there was no major headline this time, we already had tools released much earlier. That alone is a good step forward, and yet people aren't seeing it because we seemingly came away with 'nothing'. Very much not true.

    I guess people want instant results and ironically I really do feel the second summit was more beneficial than the first. It'll be hard for those not there to fully understand that the relationship, for lack of a better word, is now developing a lot.

    The first summit was enveloped by the fact we now had tools, there really wasn't much else to talk about, we had our wildest expectations as soon as we walked in the door.
    The second summit has now shown that CA are ready to start listening a lot more in terms of what we want and how we'd like things to progress, yes obviously we want "all the tools" but that's not realistic, they're a company with limited time, deadlines and all those wonderful real world things people seemingly forget. If they're gonna undertake the large project for something like usable campaign tools then they will, or they won't, it's out of our hands, they know we'd like them because why wouldn't we, but it'll either be workable or not for them. Understandable.

    They were very realistic about what they can provide and we were realistic about what we wanted after the summit. We worked together to put together a list in order of importance the things we think the community most needed/wanted, at the time there was big uproar about no sound modding, so we prioritized music tools on our list given to them.

    Over the following weeks the CA lawyers worked with the Audiokinetic lawyers getting the legal side of things hashed out, the dev guys put together documentation and got the tools ready, and what's more we even worked with the communi-team to create the first music mod with Rome 1's music (currently the second most popular mod on Steam). Not a bad outcome so far.