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Topic Subject: A Semi-Restoration of Kahan
posted 05-09-20 06:28 PM EDT (US)   
Hi all, first of all I wanted to say it's amazing this site is still up as 13 years, I remember visiting it as a teen when Rise of Legends first came out. Around a year ago, I dug out my old copy of RoL and started seeing how moddable it was, and after far too many hours, working of the precedent set by motter and alincarpetman, I believe I have made a few breakthroughs. First of all, let's start with Kahan, the cut Steppe-themed nomads with cities on the backs of monsters. Through a lot of datamining and some inutuition based on a faction in another RTS I helped with, which bore many similarities to what little we know about the planned mechanics for Kahan (Mobile structures, with territory created by totemlike structures), I think I have managed to reconstruct their roster to a degree.

Kahan was the fourth faction planned for Rise of Legends, intended to occupy the large Steppe area north of the Alin Desert and Coatl jungles, which can be seen on the campaign map but is never visited. promotional material, including the map of Aio, shows that this area is called the Beastlands. The unique gimmick of Kahan was supposed to be mobile cities on the backs of giant animals, with a strong Asian steppe nomad aesthetic. From other elements in the files and concept art, they also were planned to have a strong spiritual theme as opposed to the magical Alin, technological Vinci, and magitek Coatl. They possessed a number of "undead" or spirit units, with Cairns and standing stones, and Yontash, in the retail game, retains abilities associated with stealing souls and the Void. Additionally, an unused unit flag for "undead" units exists in the files.
Kahan seems to have been cut quite early, with many of its assets still using Rise of Nations sprites, or still using Vinci assets. No structure for their mobile city concept exists, and all their surviving structures are static. However, some traces for the mobile building gimmick remain, such as border totems that would generate territory, and mobile resource dropoffs for miners, called Nomad Wagons.

Units

Miner - Nomad, worked in conjunction with Nomad Wagon. These guys are restorable.

-Nomad Wagon - Seemingly a mobile drop point, as opposed to a static mine, working in conjunction with Nomads. Could be upgraded to fire arrows at enemies, like the Dutch Merchant wagons in Rise of Nations Thrones and Patriots. Like other Kahan assets, seems to have been cut early on, as it uses RoN merchant wagon assets.

-Barbarian - Recycled into the neutral unit. Had an ability called Sweeping Charge.

-Berserker - Recycled into the neutral unit.

-Ogre - Actually more of a cyclops, was going to have a mix of weapons, including clubs, swords, and axes. Trained at the Ogre Fort, which was recycled into the neutral building, the Cave. Fully restorable, including animations, but weapons are not recoverable. Not known if these guys were a multi soldier or single soldier unit.

-Stone Ogre - Ranged ogre variant which threw rocks. Covered in handprint bodypaint, and has a large wooden sling full of rocks on its back, as well as a shovel. Trained at the Ogre Fort, which was recycled into the neutral building, the Cave. Model and animations are restorable by deleting all bxml files and reconstructing their material, skeleton, and unit graphics entries. I just managed to restore them today, so they need further tests to see if animations actually work ect.

-Ettin - Two headed variant of Ogre. Going by the missing projectile called Ettin Arrow, it was likely armed with a crossbow. Trained at the Ogre Fort, which was recycled into the neutral building, the Cave. Not known if these guys were a multi soldier or single soldier unit.

-Cave Bat - Recycled into the neutral unit, Cave Drake.

-Shaman - Almost nothing survives.

-Huntmaster - Presumably ranged unit, uses the Ancient Age archer sprite from Rise of Nation. Nothing else survives.

- Mammoth Chariot - Exactly as it says on the tin, a chariot pulled by a woolly mammoth. Not recoverable.

-Kragar Beast - seemingly a siege unit with a boulder firing catapult mounted on its back. Only some concept art and its projectile survive. Not recoverable.

-Banshee - Undead unit, with a unique sprite of a corpse-like woman with flowing red hair. May have had Mesmerize and or Slow as abilities. No other trace survives.

-Will o Wisp - Undead unit, with a unique sprite of a blue orb with a skeletal jaw inside. May have had Mesmerize and or Slow as abilities. No other trace survives.

-Spectral Hunter - Almost nothing survives.

-Ghost Scout - Almost nothing survives.

Buildings

-War Camp - Interesting mix of a barracks and fort, with patrolling Nomads on the battlements, which indicates it also had a defensive role. Fully restorable.

-Cairn - Stone Cairn with a creepy unnatural glow, likely used to train undead units. Fully restorable.

-Camp - Yurtlike building with a unique corral with two low poly animated dogs outside. Fully restorable.

-Ogre Fort - Recycled into the neutral Cave building.

-Border Totem - A woolly mammoth skill mounted on a post. Due to working on an RTS mod with a faction that coincidentally has an almost identical intended function, I am fairly sure these would place territory on the map, where Kahan could build its static structures and deploy its mobile ones. Restorable, but model and textures are corrupted.

-Spirit Totem - Larger totem shaped like an arrangement of screaming skulls, going by its sprite. Not restorable.

Heroes

-Yontash - Yontash was originally intended to be a Kahan hero, eventually recycled into the Coatl campaign. Remnants of this can be seen in the campaign, as he still uses Barbarian and Berserker units, and has magical or spiritual abilities with little in common with the Coatl. Additionally, the totems and flags used in early Coatl campaign maps are in fact Kahan Steppe assets. Yontash had two abilities that did not make it into his final incarnation, Feast of Souls, and Void.

-Belg, the Ogre King - pretty self explanatory. Big Ogre King dude, has three abilities, Stun, Stone Wall, and Ogre Rage. He is linked to a unit or hero called Gurr, who might have been a unique mini hero that served as his bodyguard, armed with an axe. Alternatively, Gurr might be an early name for Belg. Restorable.

-Kaihgra, the Snow Witch - Beyond Yontash, Kaihgra was evidently going to be an elemental being similar to the Alin Genies, and a fairly prominent being in RoL overall. The multiplayer map, Kagra's lungs, likely references it. Some concept art of Kaihgra exists in the RoL art dump, and its abilities helpfully have descriptions. Kaihgra seems to have been a shapeshifting snow entity. Its abilities were all snow based, including Arctic Wind, which shared units in its radius, Illusion, which created duplicates of friendly units in the radius (similar to the RoN general ability), and three that have no descriptions, Blizzard, Ice Wurm, and Freeze.
Ice Wurm was seemingly a snow dragon form of Kaihgra. Neither form of Kaihgra is restorable.

A few other Kahan traces exist, including small Yurts, which are restorable, as well as the cut variant of neutral village, which was going to be used on Steppe Maps and strongly resembles the concept art of a Kahan city. These settlements are restorable with some file trickery. A number of Kahan themed assets for that terrain type can still be seen in scenario editor, such as the totems or fetishes used on some Coutl maps, as well as standing stones and a massive stone bridge that might be associated with the Ogres.
The Steppe Map terrain was strongly associated with Kahan as their "home" terrain, eventually be recycled for Vinci maps. Additionally, the Arctic maps and their unique eastern style ruins may have been associated with Kahan, given the ice and undead-themed units and Ogres. A cut map, known as Ogre Ruins, has a surviving image, showing an arctic landscape with a strange hollowed out crag structure in the center.
Interestingly, I found an archived post here on Heavengames (http://rol.heavengames.com/cgi-bin/forums/display.cgi?action=ct&f=8,278,,10) from shortly after the release of RoL, that was quite similar of what I found through file editing. It was dismissed as a fanon faction in the thread, but I am inclined to think it may have been a dev from BHG dumping some info on the down-low. While much of the info appears erroneous, the overall depiction of the faction does seem pretty close.

[This message has been edited by darkinterloper (edited 05-09-2020 @ 06:37 PM).]

Replies:
posted 05-10-20 10:26 PM EDT (US)     1 / 5  
Hey Dark Interloper, I'd like to read about all the breakthroughs!

What is the faction in another RTS you helped with?

Here is more reading about the Kahan:
Aio original concept map
Kahan magic
(Re)Inventing the Skald
Kahan concept art
Skald concept art
Rise of Legends 2 Plot/Storyline Making by razer666L @ Space Battles
A new unique faction by Taufiq Khan @ Heavengames
ILord and Taufiq Khan's ideas for an expansion @ Heavengames

After reading your post it looks like the Kahan was even more of a strange mix of beasts and monsters, nomadic Asiatic people, undead spirits and Arctic/snow/ice people.
If you look through the concept art of the Kahan and Skald it appears there is some similarity between the two nations:

- "Kahan was supposed to be mobile cities on the backs of giant animals" - see the Skald beast unit here, looks very similar to the Kahan concept
- "Kaihgra, the Snow Witch - Ice Wurm was seemingly a snow dragon form of Kaihgra" - see this Skald unit here, looks like a flying worm dragon
- Skald crusader knight - some "regular" Aionians similar to Vinci soliders
- Skald building - similar to Kahan spirit stones which apparently are "powered" by undead/spirits
- Read about auroras in human mythology - some of the Arctic humans believed the auroras were the spirits of humans, so in the ROL world of Aio maybe the undead spirits/aurora are similar concepts used differently by the Kahan and Skald, in the same way magic is used differently by the Alin with three forms of magic: fire, sand and glass. What the Vinci call technology is magic for the Alin, magitek for Cuotl, spirit for Kahan and aurora for Skald.
- The unused spells Feast of Souls and Void for Yontash paint a bigger picture of Kahan magic. Those cylindrical skulls on the side of his beast mount appear to hold the spirits/energy of his enemies and may be used as magical power.

I did find out from an ex-BHG dev that the ROL expansion was going to feature ice, water and snow so at least the Kahan nation would have been finished, or maybe the Kahan and Skald would be "merged", in the way that there are many Vinci different nations, Alin tribes, Cuotl nations, etc.

Maybe the Kahan nation would include the subnations:

- Kahan - Asiatic steppe nomads of barbarians, beserkers, beserker riders, shamans - located in the South
- Kragar - beasts, ogres, cyclops, ettin - located in the Central Beastlands
- Name? - undead, spirits, banshees, will-o-wisps, spectrals, ghosts - located somewhere, or "anywhere"...
- Skald - Scandinavian/Finnish/Arctic/snow/ice people including knights, witches, beasts - located in the Northernmost reaches with auroras "powering" their subnation
- There could even be a few more Kahan and Skald subnations with various characteristics...

The gray stone Asiatic ruins on some snow maps could be an older Kahan civilization, the same way the gray stone ruins of the Vinci, beige stone ruins of the Alin and brown stone ruins of the Cuotl are their older civs.
It's just my speculation, but there appears to be an interesting overlap between the Kahan and Skald. They were separate nations to start but have many similarities when examined closely.
If an ROL expansion is ever made it would be nice to see both nations, either separate or merged together with various subnations.

So it seems it may be possible to partially restore the Kahan as a playable nation, though not perfectly, but there is still something to work with.
If anyone in the future attempts to re-create the Kahan I suggest annotating the data like this:

Unit/Hero/Building/etc name
- XML/code available Y/N? (Yes/No? or special notes, example: "partial code available but unusable")
- 3D model available Y/N?
- Animations available Y/N?
- Graphic skins available Y/N?
- Sounds available Y/N?
- Voiceover available Y/N?
- Spells, techs, attributes available Y/N?
- Estimated percent complete/restorable (example: 75%)
- Additional notes

I recall there are some Kahan sounds but I don't remember voices besides a few Yontash clips, so the sound may be skipped or re-created from scratch.

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 05-10-2020 @ 10:50 PM).]

posted 05-11-20 02:52 AM EDT (US)     2 / 5  
In a short answer, the ones that have any chance of being restored are:

-Nomad

-Ogre

-Stone Ogre

-War Camp

-Encampment

-Belg

The Barbarians, Berserker, Berserker Rider, Cave Drake, and Yontash, as well as the Ogre Fort (Cave) could be easily converted back to Kahan units. Enough remains of Yontash's original powers they could likely also be restored or recreated.

Note: The Neutral structures, Camp and Shaman Stones, were additionally Kahan structures as well, I overlooked them in my list. It seems the most completed Kahan assets were recycled for neutral units and structures. Additionally, the Crypt of Knowledge was also originally a Kahan structure, which partially explains the soul stealing line.

As for the Skald, there is absolutely no trace of them in the game, which indicates to me that they either never got past the concept art stage, or were planned for dlc or an expansion.

Regarding the Kahan spirit magic, there is very brief mention of the Coatl being able to steal souls, and Crypt of Knowledge in Teomqui, Shok's capital, was originally a Kahan building. Given that every civilization seem to have a connection to the crashed Coatl spaceship (the Great Inventor likely getting his knowledge from Coatl sources, Alin glass magic being corrupted by a Coatl reactor, ect), I have a theory the Kahan spirit magic and Skald aurora magic would have likely had been either creating or corrupting by Coatl influence.

[This message has been edited by darkinterloper (edited 05-11-2020 @ 03:03 AM).]

posted 05-11-20 09:06 PM EDT (US)     3 / 5  
Interesting info about the Crypt of Knowledge...

Yeah maybe the Kahan were going to be in the original game, but since the Cuotl campaign is not as detailed as Vinci and Alin it seems the devs ran out of time and/or money and patched up the Cuotl nation and campaign with some completed Kahan content.
Maybe the expansion would then focus solely on the Skald and the ice, water and snow theme.

That seems the most likely answer from an economical perspective, but from a storyline perspective you could interpret Yontash as another Aionian on a journey similar to Giacomo - they both journey through Aio and end up in the Cuotl jungle, meet and ally against Czin.

Interesting theory about the Cuotl influence on the Kahan and Skald...
It would be fun to see more players write up their theories, fan fiction and create scenarios exploring multiple storylines/theories on the ROL story.
I was hoping the ROL User Patch, if ever completed, would open up those possibilities for us to create new things.

What other breakthroughs have you made?
posted 05-17-20 00:35 AM EDT (US)     4 / 5  
To answer your question about the faction in another mod, it was for a Zelda RTS called "Hyrule Conquest," in which one of the factions, basically orcs, possess a system without a central city or town center building, instead building tribal totems to lay an area of territory, and having all their buildings able to be transported via carts driven by giant pigs. The idea of mobile civilizations is directly inspired by what we knew of Kahan and a few other examples in RTS games. Another faction is planned to have their buildings on top of gigantic shelled sea monsters.

Back on topic, the primary breakthrough I have been trying to enact is "defeating" the BIGS system, and more importantly, the presence of bxml files. My early attempts at heavy modding seems to support the idea that the BIGS and .bxml will overwrite any real attempts at xml editing or adding new visual assets like textures or models. After repeated attempts to find something that could unpack or edit the .bxml files, I decided to take a more brute force route- remove them.

From my understanding of the .bxml system, they are identical copies of the .xml files, but apparently encoded in binary, which allows the game to load data faster. These files, unfortunately, cannot even be edited through hex editors, meaning so long as they exist, they threaten to overwrite any meaningful edits. Through sheer trial and error, I managed to unpack and place almost every file held in BIGS into the actual game files, while removing .bxml files entirely. Amazingly, this seems to have worked, I am still very tentative the result, but the game loads and is able to play with no real change to load times and stability on my system. So far I have managed to remove every BIG except for
fxobjects.big
game_constants.big
game_eye_candy_dish.big
gametextablemgr.big
nonloc_strings.big
soundinfo.big
strings.big
ui_render_manager.big
Combining this by moving Rise of Legends out of C, in my case into documents, seems to allow more radical changes to stick, such as restoring the file paths of Kahan Ogres in unit_graphics and so on.
The first thing I did was fix the darn bugged villages to match their correct biome. XD
posted 05-19-20 11:45 PM EDT (US)     5 / 5  
Hyrule Conquest for 0 AD looks great! The Goron and Kokiri are my favorites

For the Zelda universe I'm most familiar with Link's Awakening, Oracle of Seasons & Ages - all 3 were complex games.
It's good to see the new LA remaster, I liked the various 3D maps people made over the years.

With Hyrule Conquest will it may be possible to remake some of the console game adventures in RPG-style scenarios?
I wish ROL was more moddable, it had a lot of potential with unique concepts and features.
It seems Starcraft 2 and 0 AD are probably the "most moddable" RTS games.

I was also disappointed to find another problem with the BIGS - the BXML.
I never tested any XML modding but it looks like my initial guess was correct - that modding would be limited or "cancelled" by the BXML.
However if modding is possible without the BXML as you have tentatively tested, then that is good news.

A former BHG programmer had answered some of my questions but we lost contact.
Ryder, who created the BIG Archiver, said another program would be needed to be made for the BXML.
I don't have extra money to pay for more special programming that should have been done by Microsoft/BHG so you can contact Ryder, or we would have to set up a crowd fund if people are interested.

The BIG Archiver needs some updates. I had to manually extract each BIG and create a mirror game directory. It's too time consuming and needs to be automated by the program.
So we would need ROL BIG Archiver to be modified to: 1) extract all BIGS into the original game directory into the correct filepaths and 2) to remove BXML files or make the files modifiable.
What do you think? Should BIG Archiver be upgraded or can we do this another way?

I have a list of "problem files" as well and will go find them...
Thank you for your notes, it's good to read some progress after many years of nothing

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 05-19-2020 @ 11:46 PM).]

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