Chumley – Warlock 2 – Renaissance Mod
Have you ever played a game and felt like the developers just didn’t go far enough? Sure you have! Warlock 2 was one such title. At release, it felt like little more than an update to the original title. Despite the added content that soon followed, it still felt incomplete. Something was off. This is where modders can and do come in to flesh out the game in one way or another – just like the modder and Mod featured in this week’s write-up.
Question: Can you tell us about yourself and your background?
Answer: My name is Brian Brolin (Chumley on Steam). I’ve been a web designer and graphic artist for the past 15 years, but I’ve dabbled in game development since the early 90’s.
As a teen and early 20-something, I’d create board game prototypes and playtest them with my friends. One game in particular, Attrition, was so popular that my friends would often request to play it outside of my playtesting sessions.
As I got older and more into computer gaming, I spent several hours modding the games I enjoyed most. In fact, I’ve been contributing to the PC gaming community in some form or another for nearly two decades. Many World of Warcraft players know me as Breanni, the creator of the popular WoW fansite, WarcraftPets.com.
My recent creation – Renaissance Mod for Warlock II – has been one of my most fulfilling projects to date.
Questions: What was your role in creating the mod?
Answer: I’m the sole author of the mod. However, I did get some excellent help from Steam user Shidan as I was learning the ropes of Warlock II modding.
I also owe a debt of gratitude to Steam user Reat lvl99 White Mage. It was his Warlock 2 Overhaul mod that inspired me to begin creating new content for Warlock. I even recreated a few elements from his mod within Renaissance as a nod to his work.
Questions: Why did you choose to mod this particular game?
Answer: Warlock II was the near-perfect marriage of the turn-based military strategy I loved in Civilization with the fantasy elements of games like Age of Wonders and Heroes of Might & Magic. I say “near-perfect” because the more I played, the more I discovered some rather serious gameplay issues.
It wasn’t fair – here was this super-fun game that suffered from a number of distracting flaws. Every time I played, I saw the potential for this game to be one of the best in the genre. It would just take some polishing by careful hands to get it there.
Questions: How does your mod improve on the base game?
Answer: A better question is what doesn’t it improve.
Renaissance Mod adds:
- New race: Sylvan Order
- New race: Infernals
- 30+ new Great Mage starter perks
- 50+ new units
- 40+ new buildings
- 16 new spells
- 13 new Great Mages
- 13 new crafting elements
- 11 new lords
- 10 new artifacts
- 40+ new unit abilities
- 70+ new unit perks
- Significant AI improvements
- Several game fixes, including no-auto built farms, fixed upgrade costs, Tal Kalessil buffs, and Helia immunity
- All-new artwork for new units, perks, mages, buildings, abilities and artifacts
Of everything on that list, the one thing I’m most proud of is improving the AI. Those extensive AI changes took a lot of work to fine-tune, especially considering the limitations of the Warlock II editor.
Warlock II was always criticized by players as a game that was too easy to beat – even on ‘impossible’ – once you knew how to play. The AI simply couldn’t keep up. It would stagnate mid-game and you’d eventually trample it with little effort. Where’s the fun in that?
I’m very pleased with how the AI functions now. I used to stop playing a good 50-75 turns before I’d actually win a game because I knew I’d already won. That’s no longer the case. Now it’s a challenge right up until the end – and that makes the game so much more enjoyable.
Questions: Where do you feel you could have done more?
Answer: There’s not much more I could’ve done with the existing modding tools. I do plan to add a third new race (a playable Dremer faction) in patch 5.0. Beyond that, I’m not sure. I’m always open to player suggestions.
Questions: How did the community receive your mod?
Answer: So far, so good. Nearly all of the feedback I’ve received has been favorable. According to my Steam management tools, nearly 100% of the reviews as of this interview have been positive. The only major criticism is that my mod requires most of the DLC, which can get expensive. But much of the new content provided by Renaissance wouldn’t be possible without that DLC. So I urge people to think of it as spending their money to unlock Renaissance, which most players would agree is well worth the price of the DLC.
Questions: Did your mod achieve the goals you set out to achieve?
Answer: Initially, I only wanted to make some small corrections and improvements to further my own enjoyment of the game. That’s how Renaissance started. But as I continued to improve Warlock II for myself, I realized that this was something I ought to share with every fan of the game. And so this simple mod for my own use became something so much more.
Once I decided to make it public, I chose to use Renaissance as a platform to fix Warlock II’s biggest problems. A secondary goal was adding new content – new factions, units, lords, spells and mages – to greatly extend the life of the game.
I think I’ve achieved my goals overall. I set out to make a good game into a great game and breathe new life into it. As one player put it, my additions “…feel like they’re perfectly native to the game.” That was my intent. If you can’t tell what I added versus what’s in the core game, I’ve done my job.
Questions: Is there some other modding project you hope to take on some day?
Answer: I’ve dabbled in modding for a number of years, but I don’t have my sights set on anything specific for the future. I suspect that when a new moddable game comes along that I fall in love with – one that I know can be improved – I’ll put my modding cap back on.
Questions: How is development for the Renaissance mod coming along now?
Answer: I’m currently doing the final playtesting for patch 5.0 — “Rise of the Dremers.” This is the last major content patch for Renaissance Mod. The “new” race will have many new units, buildings, great mages and their starting perks as well as a new lord. But I will not stop there because I’ll implement some additional game fixes and improvements too. I expect it to go live by the end of March 2016 on Steam.
Questions: The Dremers, you say? Isn’t that a nasty big bad from Warlock 1 that got relegated to a small realm in Warlock 2? How come?
Answer: For the same reason. Only now they’re expanding well beyond that small realm and into all of Ardania. And they’re getting smarter, too. [Editor’s Note: Insert ominous music here]
Questions: Will they invade like before? Are they the other big bad now or just another playable faction?
Answer: They won’t invade quite like they did in Warlock 1, but the AI does a good job with them as a playable faction – so I feel they’ll definitely keep even the best Warlock 2 players on their toes.
Unlike other races, the Dremers are able to get some powerful units fairly early on. For them, the limiting factor isn’t their strength, it’s their production. This poses a real challenge for human players, as you’ll have to expand quickly to secure key resources. You’ll most definitely need a good deal of every resource to fuel their nefarious war machine.
The new Dremers faction is very strong with highly durable units. Their growth contaminates the land, which helps their cause and hurts non-Dremer factions. As they don’t build towers, they use shadow slaves to supplement production and city defense. They also don’t have deities to worship but can still field one temple unit called the Dremargor Spawn. But rest assured, the Dremers are not all powerful – they have poor resource production and their armies are expensive to hire and maintain.
I’d like to thank Brian for participating in this Q&A. I have played the Renaissance mod, and I can report first hand that it is fantastic. We also have some Youtube videos from Dallin that you can check out here in case you weren’t convinced already. If you have any questions about this write up, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below. Thank you for stopping by and let’s do this again next week.