Mod Mods

Apolyton’s PolyCast has started an excellent new Podcast dedicated to Civilization modding called ModCast. Episode 11, in particular, is worth listening to as it details the development history of the excellent and ambitious Fall from Heaven mod, easily the most popular Civ4 mod yet. Project leader Derek “Kael” Paxton details how the mod evolved (and continues to evolves), and I was especially interested to hear how they rewrote the entire code base from scratch for the second expansion, Beyond the Sword, in order to remove all hard-coding (which means direct references to specific units or buildings or spells within the code) from the mod. By taking this step – which is an extremely unusual one for an “amateur” team – they enabled other modders to use Fall from Heaven as a base to build upon for their own mods. This change actually mirrors the development practices within the “professional” Civ4 team – we viewed the product not as a single game but as a generic turn-based strategy engine.

The impact of this change should not be understated – Fall from Heaven is now a platform in its own right, which should give it legs for years and years to come. Accordingly, CivFanatics has given FfH “mod mods” their own sub-forum for modders to share their work. One interesting mod mod, Dungeon Adventure (shots below), turns FfH into a Rougelike! Watching this sub-community grow over time will be interesting…

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