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Total War dev explains mod tools delay

Offers users complete XML, XSD files.

Total War: Shogun 2 won't be getting mod tools anytime soon, developer Creative Assembly has announced, though it's not for want of trying.

In a post on the game's forums, community manager Craig Laycock explained that the increasing complexity of the series has made it very difficult for the studio to offer users functional editing tools.

"Back then, the game engine was a hell of a lot simpler than it is now," he said, referring to 2004's Rome: Total War. "There was a fraction of the database table files we use today, and these were basic, easily-editable text files.

"Compared to today’s binary files, which we’ve had to implement to fight naturally expanding load-times, they were a doddle to mod.

"Likewise, today’s campaign map is vastly more complex and data-dense than Rome’s, which was basically a simple TGA file that could be edited in photoshop. Today’s maps demand way more complexity in order to allow for better path-finding and AI."

He went on to explain that the studio had tried its best to come up with a system that would work with Shogun 2, but so far without success.

"We have tools that work with our internal data processes, but wouldn’t work at all as mod tools. It would take a huge amount of development resources to combine them into something approaching usable.

"Many of our tools are just designed to work with our raw data formats and process them into something used by the game, not to take a processed item and view or edit it.

"Nor do we have tools to do most of the things you really want – such as model importing – as we have no need of them; we have the raw models, and can always export them and reprocess them.

"Creating a set of tools specifically for modding is never going to be the quick or simple procedure many of you would hope for,” he continued, “and between making games, creating new content and supporting each release with balances and fixes, our production schedules are fierce."

As way of a compromise, the studio has decided to make the complete raw database XML and XSD files for both Empire: Total War and Napoleon: Total War available for download via the game's website.

"Please understand that we’re not trying to constrain modding in any way," he continued, "we simply haven’t been able to support it as well as we really wanted to, and the increasingly complex Warscape engine is by nature much harder to mod.

"Also, this isn’t a conspiracy to make you buy DLC over creating your own content… if that were true, there never would have been the possibility of making unit-packs for Empire and Napoleon.

"The fact remains that modders have made many such excellent units, and enriched the game for thousands of Total War players. We still want to help though, and we think the best way to do this is to give you the raw database XML and XSD files."

Laycock added Creative Assembly was working on a more satisfactory solution for modders, though wouldn't put a date on when the community might learn more.

"We’re going to stop promising specifics that we’re unable to deliver, as we all know how well that’s worked out in the past."

Total War: Shogun 2 launched on PC earlier this year, pillaging a handsome 9/10 from Eurogamer's Tim Stone.