Thanks to Antoni Jover “Josef Bugman”, for the exclusive interview on his Age of Kings Middle Earth Mod. To check out the amazing screen shots from his game go Here.
Q: What was your inspiration to create a Middle Earth mod within Age of Kings?
A: I suppose the main factor was the news I received about the LOTR film. First I couldn’t believe my eyes, but soon I felt the necessity to make something with all that cool pics and stuff ( specially the TheOneRing.net pics of Edoras Set, to tell you the truth )….so here came the inspiration. Another decisive thing was the fact that I was making another mod based in a Tolkien-like universe, so the jump was smaller. And the last thing was the acquisition of a good 3D program….I think that’s all 🙂
Q: What tools have you used to build the Mod, and what will we need to purchase or download before we can play it?
A: To create the mod I’m mainly using 3D Studio MAX 3, a very powerful 3D tool that allows me to create the 95% of all the buildings you can see. Related to units, I’m going to use both 3D MAX, Paint Shop Pro 7 and last, but not least, MS Paint ( incredibly simple but useful tool ). To use this mod, you obviously need the game “Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings” and its expansion “The Conquerors”, from Microsoft. Moreover you need to download a small free program, called ModPack Studio 2 Lite ( also known as MPS 2 ) that allows your system to install and uninstall automatically the mod just by double-clicking in it ( you can achieve it here: http://aok.heavengames.com/blacksmith/php/getfile.php3?type=Utilities&id=147 )
Q: How many scenarios will be altered to fit within Middle Earth. What details or story line accompany these scenarios?
A: We’re thinking of a release 8-10 scenario FOTR Campaign, that will include the travel from Hobbiton to Rivendell ( included Bree, maybe the Old Forest and Barrow-Downs, although I’m not sure it Tom Bombadil will appear; the Weathertop and the crossing of Bruinen River ). Once in Rivendell, that will probably have indoor scenes, a new feature in AOK mod-campaign scenarios, the Fellowship will travel across Moria ( probably with a stressing countdown chased by evil orcs ), through the magic realm of Lothlorien ( trees will be really large! ) and finally across the Anduin to Parth Galen. I can’t reveal much details of scenarios because they’re still not done..we only have some concept ideas. However we’ll try to make the scenarios as interesting as possible without losing Tolkien storyline…that’s more or less what Peter Jackson is trying to do with his amazing film!
Q: Will the scenarios be playable online, or offline only?
A: The scenarios are only thought to be played offline, mainly because all the people would need to have the mod installed to play online…moreover triggers won’t work properly in a multiplayer game.
If people wanted, perhaps we could try to make a multiplayer version of the Campaign ( but that’s rather unlikely )
Q: Have you any plans to expand the Mod if the first release is successful?
A: According to people’s demands, I think I’ll be forced to release just a “Fellowship of the Ring MOD” as soon as I can. So the rest of the mod will accompany the other 2 campaigns ( The Two Towers and The Return of the King ). I would like to release the 3 Mod-campaign packs independently from the success of the first release ( remember that I’m a crazy LOTR fan )
Q: Using the tools available, how accurate are you able to build Middle Earth scenarios within Age of Kings?
A: Well…if I had enough pics and maps, I would like to recreate almost exactly all the scenarios that people will be able to see in the film. As you have seen, the buildings are as similar as possible to the film reconstructions and Tolkien descriptions and characters will have the real actors and actresses icons. However it’s obvious that AOK engine limits some features ( for example, the game has 5 sets of civs that share the same architecture, what forces me to make strange combinations to achieve as many civs as LOTR has ) …so before people start criticizing me, they’ll have to check the AOK engine to notice how limited I am. Anyway AOK Scenario Editor Triggers allow expert designers to do amazing actions and tricks…so expect anything!!
Q: Will you work alone in this huge project or will you have help?
A: Although the final team is still not created, I wouldn’t like to forget about all the people that will help me ( not so much ). I’ll be helped by 4 Scenario Designers and 2 or 3 temporal 3D Building and Unit creators, so I’ll try to include their names as soon as possible. Anyway I still need some 3D designers to convert original AOK Units to LOTR ones, so if you are reading this and you think you’d be able to do this job, please contact me!