• Modding Legends: Interview with Dresden

    "... I have to say I would be nowhere without the help of tons of modders. I learned to mod mainly by studying the work of others and reading tutorials on TWC created by other modders. I then went on to have success with larger projects mainly because of the amazing people I have worked with throughout the past 2 years. Any of the larger, popular mods I release are backed by many other modders who put in countless hours to create and perfect the mods. I try to always remind people of that anytime they talk about one of the larger projects being "my mod." They most definitely are not my mod, they are the result of many hands and minds."

    Interview with Dresden
    Who is your favorite general or leader?
    Oddly enough, this answer doesn't necessarily come from my favorite time period. But, I have always appreciated and taken an interest in the Confederate general Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. Perhaps it is because I come from the southern United States, but the U.S. Civil War has been a topic of interest ever since I was young. My interest in military history began when I started historical miniature gaming as a kid. The more I studied his tactics and maneuvers, the more I appreciated his spark of genius. Another similar answer would probably be Rommel, even though World War 2 isn't an area I have concentrated on often.

    What is your favorite historical time period?
    I have always loved the ancient classical era of Rome. The level of sophistication reached by very different cultures has always fascinated me. My interest in that time period is what made Rome 2 such an exciting game to work on improving. I am also a big fan of the late medieval and early Renaissance. The interplay between religion, progress and politics makes that time period a very interesting one. Perhaps there will be a Medieval III one day to enjoy and to mod.

    What is your favorite movie of all time? (yes, you can have more than one)
    This question is almost impossible for me to answer because I am a bit of a film buff. I love many genres. If I had to narrow it down, I would have to say Alien and Aliens due to science fiction having a special place in my heart. For the inner child that just can't help himself, I would have to say Star Wars.

    What is the back story for your name Dresden?
    While most people think that either I am German or that I got the name from the Dresden Chronicles novels, I actually originally started using it because of my love of Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse Five. The novel, among other things, centers around the firebombing of Dresden in World War 2. I would use the name Dresden in various RPGs when I was younger and the name ended up sticking.

    How long have you been involved in modding?
    I used to mod older games to a very small extent for personal use. But, I didn't really get into larger, public modding until Rome 2 was released. As most Total War fans know, the release of the game was a large disappointment to many of us. It was a very buggy and incomplete game when it first came out. However, the game still had promise and potential. As most players agree, the current version is much better but it took a year of fixes to get there. So, at release, I started investigating what modders were working on in order to get that promise to its full potential. As I began making personal mods, I studied the work and tutorials of others to teach myself the basics of modding.

    Awesome level of details and variety, these guys are badasses !
    Of the many mods you have been involved with which one is your favorite?
    I have to say Divide et Impera mainly because the project has a large scope and is a collaborative effort of many wonderful modders. Countless hours have been spent to get the mod to where it is today and it is one of the more successful and popular overhaul mods for Rome 2. On a personal level, I am also proud of mods like Constantine: Rise of Christianity because we had a much smaller team for that project. We were able to create a completely new scenario for the game at a time when no one else was doing anything like that for Rome 2.

    What modding projects are you currently involved with outside your own?
    I am not sure how to answer this question because I tend to consider myself part of any project I work on. However, I can say I am mostly active in larger mod projects that have a team of people from all over the world. My smaller projects that I work on alone are usually one-off mods that I simply keep updated for new patches. In terms of the larger projects, I am mainly active in Fall of the Eagles for Attila and Divide et Impera for Rome 2. For FotE, I help put together the mod and keep the administrative parts working. The mod itself and the wonderful units and texture work is largely the result of Ahiga's amazing talents (and our other great unit modders). Ahiga worked with me on Constantine also and produces some amazing and historically accurate texture overhauls. I am also very active as the team lead for Divide et Impera, it is a constant work that we are always looking to improve upon.

    Which Total War game is your all time favorite? Do you prefer Rome II or Attila?
    My all time favorite is probably Rome 1 when using the Europa Barbarorum mod. If we limit it to vanilla experiences, I would probably say either Medieval 2 or Rome 2 (in its current form). I actually prefer Rome 2 to Attila because I like the timeframe and varied factions more in Rome 2. However, I do acknowledge that Attila has more interesting campaign mechanics and possibilities for modders in terms of the toolkit.

    When I started playing Rome II for me it felt very stripped down from previous titles, and the first Dresden mod I got was Traits, Talents, and Toadies followed by the Season Effects. Next the food thing drove me crazy so I got AI: Food Fix. Along with other mods, suddenly Rome II wasnít so dull anymore. Also, I was completely surprised in a great way when Constantine: Rise of Christianity was released. I was blown away by the challenge I faced as Constantine. The battles were much more difficult, and to win I felt like I had to use all that was in me aside from getting in there with my own gladius. The first question from this I must ask is before making the overhaul mods such as Constantine, did you feel that Rome II was too stripped down out the gate? Secondly, for Constantine did you want the player to feel like they had to fight for their life to win?
    I sort of answered this above, but yes I definitely felt that Rome 2's release was premature to say the least. I think the game could have used another year of development time, as evidenced by the Emperor Edition and the vast improvements over the 17 or so patches during its first years. I had been looking forward to Rome 2 since I had even heard a whisper of it. After having played some of the amazing Rome 1 mods my expectations were probably too high. Nevertheless, the release itself was simply underwhelming. It is one of the main reasons I started modding.

    In terms of Constantine's difficulty, that was something we had to work on and get right. I always have had the same goals when it comes to almost all of my mods, from Divide et Impera and Constantine to some of my smaller "hardcore" mods. The goal has always been to increase difficulty and complexity for the player in terms of the campaign elements. That does not necessarily mean simply throwing more armies at the player. Rather, I like to try to find ways to make systems and campaign depth that force the player to make decisions and have to consider more than just point and click. An example of this can be seen in Divide et Impera in many aspects, especially Litharion's wonderful Supply System he created for 1.1. For Constantine, we had the added hurdle of having the player start out as a larger Empire. Total war games tend to become easier as the player grows into a larger faction. So, maintaining a level of difficulty was an important goal for that mod.

    Now switching gears to Attila, Fall of the Eagles is brilliant and fresh air for the Grand Campaign. The depth of immersion and attention to detail is fantastic. What was your main goal to achieve with Fall of the Eagles for the gamer?
    Our main goal is to overhaul all the faction rosters and units to be in line with historical sources and to have battles be at a more realistic pace. We felt that Attila actually got a lot of the campaign elements right when compared to Rome 2's release. However, the battles were something that we felt could really be improved upon. The team from Constantine came over to work on Fall of the Eagles and we had a lot of assets from our previous work to use. As I mentioned above, Ahiga is an amazing historian and textural modder. A lot of what makes FotE a great mod is due to his tireless efforts. We wanted to create FotE as mainly a battle/unit mod that could be used as a basis for other campaign mods.

    Who's the King of Hill? What a slaughter up there!
    What is your favorite part(s) of Fall of the Eagles?
    Well, the units, obviously! Seriously, though, Ahiga and our unit modders like Avetis, CJiaba, Maximus and Hadrien_Ier have put in so much time and effort to craft some wonderful textures and models. The attention to detail on the units is almost at a disturbing level when you see the back end of how much effort goes into these things.

    I must say that I love the unit variety for Fall of the Eagles and the actual Latin names for Roman units because Iím a History geek, so thank you! What resources did you base your unit overahauls on because they are simply amazing?
    This question would definitely be better suited for Ahiga, as he is our historian and lead unit creator. I am just an amateur history buff at best, but I also appreciate the historical use of names and units in FotE and DeI. Since Ahiga is actually formally trained in that area, he has access to many sources and does research in regards to both unit names and equipment. The level of research that he goes into is impressive and leads to the detailed units in the mod.

    What is your opinion with the DLC Age of Charlemagne? Are there any mods you are working on that you might be able to mention for Age of Charlegmagne?
    I really appreciate the direction CA took with the Charlemagne DLC. I think its a great step in the right direction for the franchise and has a lot of interesting mechanics that will hopefully signal a push toward more complex campaign creation. In terms of mods, we plan on adding customized units to Fall of the Eagles soon for that DLC so that they are historically correct. Right now in FotE, we still use our basic units from the earlier time periods. Since I am so busy with two major mod projects in Rome 2 and Attila, among many smaller mods I also work on, I don't have any current plans to create something new for this DLC. I wish I had more time to mod because I see some great promise with Attila's tools in terms of creating very interesting and different campaign scenarios for many different time periods. However, other modders are doing some interesting work in that arena also with various medieval or other themed mods.

    From a non-modders perspective, what if anything would like see made available to modders for Rome II and Attila?
    Well, there are two things I would love to see but I know will not happen. First, it would be great if Rome 2 received some of the tools Attila has, such as battle map creation and campaign map tweaking. Second, the eventual holy grail of being able to fundamentally alter the campaign map would be wonderful. However, I know the reasons behind these things not being made available and understand they probably won't happen.
    In terms of things that are probably on the horizon, I am hoping for more support and exposure for modders in general. CA does a good job of supporting modding, but there are many ideas out there on how to better facilitate communication and access between modders, developers and players. Right now, we are limited to either third party websites or the Steam workshop for the most part. While TWC is an amazing community that provides some great support for us, its still a separate community. The positive thing about having that third party forum is that we have a platform for our community that isn't tied to the company itself. But, many players don't visit the site. On the reverse side we have the Steam workshop, where a huge number of players visit. But, it is completely unwieldy to manage large mod projects on that platform. The ability to upload and the limitations on communication make the workshop a frustrating thing for modders. So, perhaps in the future there will be a way to take the positive aspects from both while improving upon the negatives.

    Where does Dresden modding march next?
    Luckily I have the support of some great modding teams so I am not marching alone. But, the main plan is to continue working on Divide et Impera for Rome 2 as my focus. It is a very important project to me and the other modders working on it. I will also continue to help Ahiga and the other Fall of the Eagles modders as best I can, despite unit modding not being my area of expertise.

    Ouch, this must hurt!
    Do you think CA has chosen wisely to wander into the fantasy land with Warhammer?
    I realize this is a controversial subject and I acknowledge both sides of the argument have valid points. As a fan of Warhammer and Total War, I am excited to see what comes about through the marriage of these two intellectual properties. I am hopeful that CA has taken what they have learned from Rome 2's rocky release and Attila's improvements in order to best represent the new Warhammer game. My main concerns come from the fact that they are very limited by Games Workshop's fairly draconian policies. For example, I doubt there will be any modding support whatsoever for Warhammer. That is an unfortunate result of taking on an intellectual property like that.

    Do you have any shouts out for those that helped with any of your mods or mods you have worked or working on?
    While I already listed quite a few people in some of the answers above, I have to say I would be nowhere without the help of tons of modders. I learned to mod mainly by studying the work of others and reading tutorials on TWC created by other modders. I then went on to have success with larger projects mainly because of the amazing people I have worked with throughout the past 2 years. Any of the larger, popular mods I release are backed by many other modders who put in countless hours to create and perfect the mods. I try to always remind people of that anytime they talk about one of the larger projects being "my mod." They most definitely are not my mod, they are the result of many hands and minds. Off the top of my head I would have to thank: 'Gunny, .Mitch, Ahiga, Selea, Meneros, Litharion, KAM 2150, Ritter_Floh, Don_Diego, Augustusng, FlashHeart, Ivan_Moscovich, Magnar, Xil0, Hellbent, and many others who helped along the way. If I kept listing it would probably be another paragraph.

    Dresden, thank you from all of us at the Eagle Standard for your willingness to be interviewed and for sharing your story, ideas and positions in such a candid way. Ad Maiora!

    Written By:♔Old Dragoon♔
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. Lifthrasir's Avatar
      Lifthrasir -
      I definitively enjoy all these great articles about modders. They're always very informative (at least for myself ). I've seen some of Dresden's work while listing the Rome II mods/submods for the 2014 Modding Awards and that's quite impressive for the least.
      Well done Old Dragoon and Flinn
    1. Flinn's Avatar
      Flinn -
      As I said many times, the modding community is central to TWC and we are always happy whenever we can give visibility to one of the great modders we have here; my only regret is that we cannot interview all those that we would, for a mere matter of opportunities. If anyone is interested to apply for a position as interviewer, just PM me
    1. Heinz Guderian's Avatar
      Heinz Guderian -
      when he released the "all diplomatic options for all factions" mod right after the release of Rome 2, i knew this guy was special. Great write up Old Dragoon and Flinn.
    1. Ivan_Moscavich's Avatar
      Ivan_Moscavich -
      I have to say, it has been a continuing pleasure to work with Dresden and the DeI team, here's to continuing to perfect this awesome mod and to a great team lead!
    1. Swiss Halberdier's Avatar
      Swiss Halberdier -
      A nice interview to read. Congratulations to Dresden for all his overall modding work for the community!
    1. hayakana's Avatar
      hayakana -
      Thanks for your greeting. i have see your profile blog, i very like with your page. but i need much more about your article smile
      because your article is so so nice.