DevEd Beginner's Guide

This article was submitted by LordDragatus.

Introduction

If you are reading this you likely already know what DevEd is and what it is used for. But just in case you don't: DevEd is a tool that makes it possible to customise Age of Wonders. Although is not almighty (you can neither create new abilities or spells nor change combat stats of existing spells and abilities, you can't change upkeep or make units cost more than 255 gold, you can't change the upgrade cost of cities ...) it does allow you to do quite a few things, among others:

  • you can create new units as well as edit existing ones
  • you can combine existing .ILB (Image Library) files into new unit sprites (also called gfx)
  • you can change the list of units a race can build and it's name
  • you can assign more than one hero to a race
  • you can change the cost, research, level and sphere of spells
  • you can edit existing structures and add new ones
  • you can make surface terrain available underground and vice versa
  • you can edit campaign scenarios

This is primarily a beginner's guide and deals with the basics of using DevEd (with other words: the stuff I know). It is meant to help people acquire the basic skills required to use DevEd and does not deal with things like creation of new tactical maps and the rumoured ability to create mountains that flyers can't pass and stuff like that. I also suggest that you use it together with DevEd. What I want to say is that you should run DevEd and try out the things you read about. Some things may seem confusing if you just read about them, but if you have DevEd running at the same time you should (hopefully) be able to understand everything.

Getting Started

By now you probably downloaded DevEd, read the "readme" file and installed the thing. Now you're all excited and can't wait to get started. Well, there are a few things you should consider doing before you start the actual work. One of them is making back up copies of all the files from the "Release" folder in your AoW directory (if you followed Nojd's installation instructions you probably already did this). These files contain such information as which units a race can build and which abilities heroes can get by gaining levels; they represent the rule set. Once you backed them up you can copy them once again to a new folder. Naming it is up to you, but in this guide I will refer to it as your working folder.

Now it's time to enable DevEd and run the editor. Select "Developer" and then "Open Mapset". The editor will first look in the custom scenarios folder, but you need to open the release.hss file in the Release folder. It's practical to create a shortcut to the Release folder (Age of Wonders/Release) and put it in the custom scenarios folder (Age of Wonders/Scenario/Custom). When you open release.hss the working area appears on the right side of the screen. That is where the moding work is done.

Save any changes you make by selecting "File" and then "Save as". Move to your working folder and save as release.hss. Next time load the release.hss from you working folder rather than from the Release folder in you AoW directory.

Always keep every mod/rule set in it's own folder. The .hss file you save only contains a small part of a rule set. Abilities, spells, units, unit gfx (sprites) and some other things as well are saved in their own files every time you save a mapset. So even if you use a different name when you save it, the new mapset overwrites the old one. Another thing worth noting is: save your work often. DevEd can crash without any obvious reason, most often when you cut/copy and paste (in such a case you get to see the infamous "Oh dear, it's the end …" message). You probably don't want to lose a few hours of work, do you?

Units

When you open a mapset select "Settings" from the tabs on the right and then click the "Units" tab that appears. You should now be able to see many squares with index numbers in the upper left corner. Some of them are filled with a unit gfx and represent the existing units.

The index numbers in the upper right corner of the squares are very important because the game uses them to identify the units. The game doesn't know that the Humans can produce Human Archers and Human Swordsmen at level one. It knows they produce the units with the index numbers 0 and 3 (which just so happen to be the Archer and Swordsman). If you move units around you may get some weird results or even make your rule set incompatible with the TS136 rules (Triumph Studios 1.36; this are the official rules you are using if you don't have any mods and have the last patch installed). In such a case you won't be able to use it with any existing scenarios, making it pretty much useless. In short: do not move units around unless you know exactly what effect this will have.

You can edit units by double-clicking on them. To create new ones double-click an empty square. In both cases a window with several tabs appears. Here is a description of each tab:

  • general: here you can choose the race of the unit, it's name, alignment, size, blood type, unit type, gender, cost and transport capacity. I don't know what size is good for, it doesn't seem to affect anything. Unit types are humanoid, creature and machine. This (together with gender) defines if a unit can be affected by abilities like seduce (only affects male non-undead humanoids) or possess (does not affect machines). It also suspect that machines can't be stunned, but I'm not 100% sure. The maximum level of a unit is 40. The level affects the amount of experience the unit needs to achieve silver and gold medal status. For a silver medal it needs 2x it's level of experience (a lvl 1 unit needs 2, a lvl 4 unit needs 8, etc.), and for a gold it need 6x it's level. In addition cities normally can't produce units with a level above 4. The maximum cost of a unit you can set with DevEd is only 255 gold. To change the transport capacity of units who already have transport you will have to also change the transport abilities in the list of abilities.
  • statistics: here you can set the statistics ("stats") and abilities of a unit. Attack, defence, damage and resistance can range from 1 to 10, while hits and movement can range from 1 to 50. At "rank abilities" you set the abilities a unit will have when it's newly produced or reaches a medal rank. Click edit to change the abilities of the selected rank (switch between ranks by clicking the appropriate tab). A new window pops up. On the left there is a list of abilities the unit already has. To remove an ability select it and click on "delete". On the right there is a list of available abilities. To add an ability select it and click "add". Note that some abilities (charge, parry, magic strike and other melee abilities) require strike. If you want to give them to a unit at a higher experience level you will have to select the strike once again, even if the unit already has strike from a lower experience level. A note on the Possess ability. When a possessed unit dies it turns into the unit with the index number 152 (in TS136 this is the Incarnate) no matter what unit possessed it in the first place (think twice before giving it to a hero). Another thing you may want to know is the difference between Possess and Possessed. The "ed" is not just eye candy, it drastically affects the units combat strategy. If a unit has Possess it will use it on any unit. If a unit has Possessed it won't possess units of a lower level. The Incarnate will possess an archer, but a possessed Troll knows it's worth more than any archer and will clobber the sucker instead of possessing him.
  • gfx: here you select how your unit will look like. Simply select a gfx from the list.
  • description: here you can write the description of the unit.

Unit GFX

Now you know how to make new units, but it's kind of boring if they look like the old ones. Luckily DevEd can be used to make new gfx. Select the "Units GFX" tab (found under Settings in the working area). Again you will see lots of squares with little index numbers, which have a similar role than unit index numbers. Again, don't move them unless you know what effect that will have. To edit a gfx double click it, to create a new one double click an empty space. A new window appears.

In the top left corner is the Generate button. It is used to generate new gfx. Click it, select a .ILB file from the list and as long as you select a regular unit .ILB clicking generate should do the trick. If the unit is a winged flyer replace the 9 in the "Standstill" field with 1-8. The numbers refer to the columns in a unit .ILB file. Don't worry if you don't understand what I'm talking about, it is enough to remember that in most cases 1-8 represents movement, 9 represents a unit that is not moving in any way, 10-11 is attack and 12 is a unit that got hit. In the top right corner you get to enter the name of the gfx. This name is placed on the gfx list from the unit creation/editing window. Then there are three tabs, the first one (Frames) being the one that you will spend most time working with.

On it's left is a list of the unit's positions. To select one simply click it. See that icon that looks like an opened windows folder? It's used to add new layers to a position. Layers are pictures/animations that the gfx is made off. You can delete them by clicking on the icon that looks like a closed windows folder. On the right you can enter the index number of a layer. The layer with the highest index is displayed on top, the one with the lowest is displayed underneath all others. When you add a new layer you have to select an image library, animation settings, and the index numbers for the frame table. All this options are located on the right side of the window.

Image library let's you open a .ILB file and displays the "pictures" it consists off in the area above the centre of the window (the one with the little index numbers). You may not see any pictures, but that is because they often have high index numbers, while other index numbers are left empty. A typical example are unit .ILB files. The index of the first picture is 101. Other can be found around 200, 300, 400, 500, 600. A useful .ILB is USHADOW.ILB, especially pictures 100, 101, 102 and 103.

Animation settings let's you choose a mode and speed. Mode defines the way the pictures are displayed:

  • none: displays a single picture, used to display units that are standing still and any glows or similar things.
  • frame table: displays a looping animation made of the pictures with the index numbers you enter in the space provided bellow.
  • up: displays all pictures in the .ILB from first to last
  • up & down: displays all pictures in the .ILB from first to last and after that from last to first. Then it starts all over again.
  • random: displays random pictures from the .ILB.
  • rnd frame table: randomly displays the pictures with the index numbers you enter in the space provided bellow. Speed let's you set the speed of the animation.

Under the Animation Settings the Frame table is located. Here you enter the index numbers of the pictures you want to be displayed. Further bellow is a button that let's you choose the background colour of the centre area where the layers are displayed and finally (lower centre of window) there is Move Speed which affects the speed with which the unit moves in the game.

You can move the layer around with the mouse. Click the picture/animation in the centre area and drag it around by holding the left mouse button.

You may be interested in the fact that you can use building, spell and almost any (if not all) .ILB files to create unit gfx. In order to be able to use them simply copy them to the Units subfolder of the Images folder in your AoW directory (AoW/Images/Units) or any of it's subfolders.

The second tab is Face and is used to set a unit's portrait. Select a .ILB from the list and enter the appropriate index.

The third tab is SFX. There are five buttons:

  • standstill: the sounds the unit makes while standing still, usually left empty
  • move: the sound the unit makes when it moves
  • hit: the sound the unit makes when it gets hurt
  • melee: the sound the unit makes when it tries to hurt other units with a melee attack
  • die: the sound the unit makes when it dies (last words & stuff like that)

Whichever you click, the same window will pop up. It is divided in three sections: sfx ID's, SFX sequence and sfx files. Every sequence has an ID and you need to click on the Add button of the ID's section to add a new sequence. To add new sounds to a sequence select one from the list on the right and click the Add button at the bottom of the sfx sequence section.

I have to admit that I don't know exactly how the sfx system works. This is because I mainly modify existing gfx and don't have to worry about the sfx. The good news is that no matter what you do to the frames, the sfx stay intact. This means you can copy the gfx of a unit that makes similar sounds and then edit the frames and face.

Races

To modify races select the Races tab from the Settings tab in the working area. What appears is a more or less familiar interface. Double-click a race to modify it and a window with four tabs will appear.

The first tab is General. Here you enter all the forms of a races name, it's alignment and an .ILB file that determines how the race's banners, cities and similar things will look. I suspect it also defines the races colour.

The second tab, Units, is where you select which units a race will be able to build in it's cities. To add a unit select it from the Unit floater and click on "Add". To delete a unit select it and click "Delete". Don't select more than 12 units. That is the number of units for which the game was designed for. If you select more, you will only be able to produce the first 12 (by level).

The third tab is City. Here you select which level 1 units will perform the basic tasks. I believe it is mainly supposed to help the AI, though it is worth remembering that the special unit will be the only level one unit that has to be installed.

The last tab, Description is empty. Here you can write a description of the race, but as far as I know this description is not visible anywhere in the game, so you don't need to bother.

Hero Resources

Now you know how to make new units, how about making a few additional heroes or editing the old ones? Yes, that's right, there can be more than one kind of hero per race. In TS136 there are two: heroes and leaders (or to be more exact there is 1 kind of heroes and 1 kind of leaders). In the rest of this guide I will refer to different kinds of heroes as "hero classes".

Any new hero classes you make naturally don't affect existing scenarios, you will need to either make new ones or edit the system hero library (for information how to do that see the section about the GENERAL tab). In AoWEd the new heroes can be accessed by selecting the race of your custom hero (if for example you make a hero class called Elf Ranger, the name Elf Ranger will appear on the list of races). If you play the campaign and decide to use a custom leader and change his race he will become the class of leader for that race with the highest index number.

The Hero Resources tab should look quite familiar by now. Double click a hero class to edit it or double click an empty space to create a new one. A new window with three tabs appears.

General:
Here you name the hero class and select it' race, alignment and type. Each class should have a different name. The name you enter is the name that will appear in the scenario editor Alignment affect's his relations towards other units, but is most important for non-race units such as most creatures. His relations towards units of other races are mainly determined by his race. If you make a Dark Elven hero with a Good alignment he will be happy in the company of other Dark Elves even though they are evil, but he will hate being stacked together with an Incarnate. There are three hero types: heroes, hero leaders and leaders. Leaders didn't make into the final version of the game, so you will want to set the type to either "Hero" or "Hero Leader". Heroes are heroes and Hero Leaders are leaders. There is also a little checkbox that allows you to set a hero class to "designer only". If you check it the hero class will not be available in AoWed, but you can use them if you make a scenario or create a hero library with DevEd.

Statistics:
This is where you get to set the stats of a hero class. It works the same way as with units, the only differences are that you only get to select initial abilities and that hit points range from 1 to 30. You can set them to more than 30, but in the game they will be reduced to 30. In the upper section of the window (above the tabs) you can see how many skill points the stats and abilities of your hero are worth. This let's you roughly compare the power of different classes.

gfx:
The last tab let's you select a gfx for your hero class and it's default portrait.

Faces

Under Settings/Faces you can set the portraits a mapmaker will be able to choose for his custom heroes and leaders. To add portrait double click an empty space. To edit a portrait double-click it. A window with two tabs appears. The first one works like the Face tab from the unit gfx creation window. Simply select a .ILB from the list and enter the appropriate index. There is also a checkbox that allows you to set a portrait to "designer only", but in most cases you will want to leave it as is. An exception are portraits that already are set to "designer only". Uncheck them in order to be able to use them in the editor and the game. The second tab is empty and entirely useless.

Item GFX

This tab is similar to the Faces tab and the window that appears when you double-click is almost identical. The only difference is that you have to also select for what type of item it will be available. I haven't tried it out myself, but I think I read somewhere that this doesn't change anything. Don't worry, there's lot's of other fun things to do. Modifying abilities for example.

Abilities

On the left of the Abilities tab (settings/Abilities) is a complete list of all abilities. On the right you get to edit the highlighted ability. You can't change the Ability Info, but you can edit the Ability Description by clicking on "Edit" and entering some text. Bellow are the Ability SFX button that works just like unit sfx (see the UNIT GFX section of this guide above) and the Ability GFX that is also very similar to the unit gfx.

The most interesting parts (in my opinion) are Selection and Skill points. Selection let's you select where the ability will be available. Simply mark the checkbox to make it available. These are:

  • Unit: if checked you will be able to give this ability to units when you add/edit them with DevEd
  • Head item: in AoWEd you will be able to make head items that grant this ability
  • Torso item: in AoWEd you will be able to make torso items that grant this ability
  • Attack item: in AoWEd you will be able to make attack items that grant this ability
  • Defence item: in AoWEd you will be able to make defence items that grant this ability
  • Ring item: in AoWEd you will be able to make ring items that grant this ability
  • Use item: in AoWEd you will be able to make use items that grant this ability
  • Customize leader: when you play the game and choose to customise your leader you the ability is one of the choices
  • Hero upgrade: heroes can get this ability when they advance levels
  • Editor: in AoW you will be able to give the ability to custom heroes

Skill points section is pesky, because they can be outside your screen. It is visible if you use 1024x768 screen resolution and small fonts. Other than that there is not much to tell, simply enter the desired cost.

Spells

The Spells tab resembles the Abilities tab. On the left is a list of all spells and on the right you get to modify them.

You can change the Spell description by clicking on Edit. Settings is where you set to witch sphere the spell belongs (Sphere), it's level (Sphere level), how much mana it will cost you to cast it (Mana), it's research cost (Research points) and how much mana it's upkeep will cost (Upkeep). Spell SFX and Spell GFX work just like Ability SFX and Ability GFX (see above).

Again you won't be able to see the entire tab unless you use a high screen resolution (something like 1280x1024 will work), but don't worry if your screen can't display it, you can't change anything of the hidden stuff anyway.

General

This tab (Settings/General) enables to modify some animations, some text, hero libraries and item libraries. I don't recommend messing with Animations, but in case you want to the window looks and works just like Ability GFX. Text includes AoW help, campaign intro text and the diplomatic messages AI players will send. Item and hero libraries work just like in AoWed. However there is one important difference. With DevEd you can edit any hero or item library, but libraries that have been edited with DevEd can't be edited using AoWed.

Hidden Resources

Do not delete or edit anything from this tab (except things you added yourself). In the best case you will not be able to place roads, in the worst you may ruin the entire rule set.

This tab contains things that would belong more in "Mastering DevEd" than in "DevEd Beginners Guide" so at this point I'm not going to discuss it (with other words: I don't know much about it). When you feel comfortable with the rest of DevEd feel free to explore and perhaps experiment (but make sure you have back up copies of all the important files and don't expect me to take any kind of responsibility if anything goes wrong).

That are all the tabs available under Settings. However there are two more major tabs besides Settings in the working area: Tiles and Combat Tiles. This guide does not deal with Combat tiles. The Tiles tab is divided into Surface and Underground and both are further divided into Places, Objects, Hexagons, Developer and various terrain type tabs.

Places

This tab is where the various places that can be placed on the map like cities, nodes and the shipyard are located. Double-click one of them to edit it or double-click an empty space to add anew one. The easiest way to add a structure is to copy and edit an existing one. Whatever you do, a new window that allows you to either edit existing structures will appear.

The first and sometimes only tab is "Settings". Here you can enter the name of the structure, select it's type (mine, power node …), set it's resource ID (used to identify the structure; never change the ID's of existing structures and always give new structures new ID's), select the Terrain Type and choose a fitting Overlay Terrain Type as well as check the "Complex" checkbox, select a preview frame and finally choose a CombatTerrain Tag (selects a combat map for the place). For places it is usually best to set Terrain Type to used and Overlay Terrain Type to transparent and to check the "Complex" checkbox. This makes the "Complex" tab appear.

The "Complex" tab is the second tab. Here is where you design how the place will look. It is somewhat similar to unit gfx. On the left is a list of index numbers, every number representing a terrain type. If there is a "u" next to the index number that means that the index is used, which means that there is a layer there. The terrain types indicated by the index numbers are following (quoted from a post by ChowGuy):

0 = Water [Light]
1 = Grassland
2 = Desert
3 = Snow
4 = Steppe
5 = Wasteland
6 = Ice [Light]
7 = Earth
8 = Rock
9 = Lava
10 = Water [Dark]
11 = Reserved
12 = Dirt
13 = ice [Dark]
14 = coast - do not use
15 = border - do not use

20 = razing [animation]
21 = razed [smoking]
22 = razed [most]
23 = razed [snow]
24 = razed [dirt]
25 = rebuild [most]
26 = rebuild [snow]
27 = rebuild [dirt]


Indices 20 to 27 are programmatically used as required, with 22 and 25 used for any terrain except snow or dirt. Note that index 0 is defined as Surface water, not "Invisible" as noted elsewhere. This is notable in for example Warlock's tile set in which a cave entrance can be placed on water. Normally of course the editor will not allow to place any object with transparent hexes on a surface for which there is no defined sprite, but this rule can sometimes be violated by changing the underlying terrain after an object is placed, if it is currently one of the programmed "special" sprites (ie, "razed"). This trick has been used in some maps to create "invisible" structures.

30 = border transition
31 = border filler
32 = border image
33 = border transition - cave exit
34 = border filler - cave exit
35 = border image - cave exit


Indices 31 to 35 are used for the terrain information floater that appears in the game window when you click on object. Of these, 33 is the tallest only one normally seen. Unfortunately, the same range is also used for the exit [lower] graphics of caves, taken as the basic terrain index plus 30. Since the developers did not intend caves to extend into anything but Earth (37) Rock(38) or Dirt (42) there would not normally be any overlap, however with terrain inversion indices 30 to 35 can be generated and the game will attempt to do so.

31,32 and 34,35 are used to extend the background only if the floater window exceeds the height of this graphic and are in all cases I have seen simply solid colour blocks. These apparently can replaced by standard size sprites without causing game failure if a modpack maker wished to do so, however 32 and 35 cannot. Since the latter two correspond to desert and wasteland, descending into these terrain cannot be supported.

Just above the list of index numbers are two familiar buttons: add layer (the left one) and remove layer (the right one). To add a layer simply select the appropriate index number and click the "add layer" button. A new layer appears on top of any existing ones. By default new layers use a .ILB called "Own", but it will do you no good because it's empty. To change that select a .ILB from the drop down menu. When you have selected a fitting .ILB you can change the layer index by clicking the up & down arrows of the Layer section of the window (you can also enter a number and hit the enter key on your keyboard). Just like with unit gfx the layer with the highest index is on top. "Animation settings" is another thing that works just like with units. Select the appropriate mode and speed and fill the "Frame Table" field with the fitting numbers (all this was described in the section of this guide that deals with Unit GFX). You can also change the background colour of the preview/display are in the centre of the window by clicking the "Background Color" button in the lower right of the window.

The "SFX" tab is where you select which sound is played when a unit moves on the place.

The "Description" tab is where you can write a description of the place.

The "Raze Defenders" tab allows you to select possible stack of units that will appear if the place is razed. The units in a horizontal line represent a stack.

The "Production" tab is typical for builder's guilds and shipyards. It is where you select which units players will be able to produce. It also appears if you edit or create any non-generic power node, but it has no effect.

The "Defenders" tab is typical for exploration sites such as Ziggurats or Monster Lairs. It is where you set possible stacks of defenders.

Hexagons

This is where the basic terrain hexagons are. It's best not to change anything here because it would most probably make your rule set incompatible with TS136. I also can't think of anything you'd want to add.

Objects

This is where things like holy woods or fires are located. You can copy the content of the Hexagons tab and paste it here. This way you can make underground terrain available on surface and the other way around.

Developer

There's not much here, just a few Elven Court ruins and a Tutorial Message Event. This tab seems to be similar to Object (it contains things that don't fit into any other category). It seems the difference is that this are things devs initially wanted to keep to themselves.

Grass/Steppe/Desert/Snow/Wasteland/Dirt

The various terrain tabs are more or less identical. They contain things like mountains or trees. You can copy them and then double-click to edit if you wish. The things to play with are Terrain Type and Overlay Terrain Type (on the right side of the window that appears). I don't know what exactly each terrain type does, but you can look at the types of existing things to see what best fits your needs.

This more or less covers the basics of DevEd. You should now be able to make your own rule set with new units, new heroes, new places to recruit the new units and so on. However, before you start making your own modpack I suggest you read the last few sections of this guide.

Modmaking Tips

One thing you should always consider is compatibility. If your rule set is not fully compatible (if for example a single unit has been deleted without providing a replacement) you will not be able to use your mod with any existing maps and I don't think you want that. Another thing worth considering is unit similarity. If you replaced the Human Swordsman with a Silver Dragon it would greatly affect the balance of existing maps. When you edit units, try not to change them to much. Make new units instead and use them to replace the old ones in the production lists. I also recomend you don't change alignment more than half a step (turning evil units into pure evil is fine, but changing evil units into pure good ones is bad).

So much for compatibility. Another thing you should do is ask yourself: "What is my mod going to do?". People have found various answers. Warlock weakened heroes and improved units (but there's more to his rules than just that), LordofMaps decided he would make many new units (there are more than 300 in his last mod), Foodstamp sort of remade Age of Wonders (stats and abilities of every unit have been altered quite a lot) and I made a mod that uses counter units (as much as I would love to I won't bother you with details right now). If you are making a private rule set for your own use with just a few minor tweaks it doesn't matter that much what you do as long as you like it yourself. If however you make a major modpack and submit it to AoW Heaven for download here are a few things that might be worth considering:

  • modify existing units. If you just add new units nobody will notice any changes unless you make new scenarios as well. If there are no changes there is no reason to download it.
  • make all abilities available in the editor. Everyone likes it if they can make any kind of hero or item they want.
  • you can make a "theme-mod" after a fantasy novel. I don't doubt that many people would download a Middle Earth Modpack.
  • be creative. This is easier said that done, but if your mod does something good no other mod has done it may make it popular.
  • this is not directly related with other tips, but I suggest you read this thread

In case you have any questions you can post them in this thread (which is the origin of this article).
Last but not least: whatever you do, have fun making your own rule set.
Dragatus

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