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Game Modifications
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Topic Subject: Modding History Timeline for programmers & modders
posted 12-17-15 02:23 AM EDT (US)   
The general rumor and perception of ROL is that the game is too difficult or not moddable at all, but this is not true.
While the game was released unfinished, modding is still possible.
You can download the 3 mods by Motter to see examples of what kind of modding has been done without full mod tools and support thus far.

This thread will explain the most up to date attempts on modding the game and the problems, failures, success and potential there is with the game.
Background info and links to programs and files used is provided.
Any interested programmers and modders can post their questions, feedback and examples here to help us further our effort for better modding for this game.

Modding History Timeline

- 2006 Big Huge Games releases Rise of Legends
The game was unfinished, as Motter has described here there is lots of unfinished code in the game
Also the Kahan civilization was partially included in the scenario editor but not in the campaign or skirmish modes.
There were concepts for more civs such as the Skald and possibly more content for an expansion

- 2006+ Greypawn (BHG worker) mentioned here that the following would be made available in the game for modding:
- a greater modding capability than Rise of Nations
- customize and add new content
- tools to add custom models
- Rise of Legends is much more heavily mod-friendly
- We intend to support modding and custom scenario creation
- The map editor is robust and feature-rich
- We'll be releasing tools and resources for use in modding and custom map creation

None of this was ever added to the game, either as part of patches, individual downloads, or part of a future expansion, but may be added to a future Steam release or by individual programmer work.

- 2010-2013 Motter released his 3 mods here: Expansion, Skirmish Heroes and New Nations, showcasing his hardworking skills and the possibilities of the game

- 2014 Alincarpetman compiled all the current mod tools and info into a download here

- 2015 Luigi made a script for Quick BMS, an extractor program, and the BIG files were finally extracted
- Quick BMS was able to finally unlock the BIG files and many xml and image files are viewable and editable
- However there are some surprises such as some XML files extracted as BXML files, but these may turn out to be ok (see Post #2 in this thread below, the update on Quick BMS)
- Quick BMS is a script based files extractor and reimporter compatible with the BMS language (aka MexScript)
- QuickBMS supports tons of games and file formats, archives, encryptions, compressions, obfuscations and other algorithms
- However we still need to do some testing to see if the files are usable with the game, so more testing is needed or we may need a new utility written

- 2016 Ryder created ROL BIG Archiver, which answers the prayers of ROL fans worldwide as the BIG files are now extractable for editing, modding, importing and exporting back into the game.
- You can download the program here, post below and in the Modifications forum with any questions, tests and projects.
- Fans of ROL can now mod the game using the info and tools above.
- Fans of Rise of Nations and both games can now make a Rise of Nations 2 Total Conversion mod for ROL using the ROL BIG Archiver, 3DSMax and other programs.
- Please spread the news wherever you can and post in the HG ROL forums with any questions and projects.

- Future - While AOE2, AOM amd RON got EE releases on Steam, there hasn't been any official confirmation if ROL will be on Steam.
Also, there are various issues with the Steam EEs so whether ROL will get an EE or not, we would still like to proceed with modding the original game as some players also prefer the originals over the Steam versions

Current Status

It will help if players and modders can donate to Ryder and find more programmers and modders willing to create scripts and/or addons for programs such as Blender so 3D modeling for ROL can be done by more people using this program
We need programmers knowledgeable in C++ for RTS games, experience with games and series such as Age of Empires, Age of Mythology, Rise of Nations, Empire Earth, Starcraft, Warcraft, Dawn of War, Lord of the Rings Battle For Middle Earth 2, Star Wars Empire At War, Command and Conquer, Total Annihilation Kingdoms, Populous 3, Paraworld, etc may help

Attention to any programmers willing to help out:
- We can pay you to take a look and try to fix the problems we have, this may involve writing new utilities
- Included with the game will be a dvdr or link to current mod data and tools
- Proper credit and links will be given to you everywhere and there may be a possibility for more work on this game and others if there is success

List of files and programs used so far

- Rise of Legends game with full patches
- ROL info encyclopedia - quick index for game info
- Modpack.exe - located in the game directory
- All Modding, Scenario, Map and Script Editing Guides & Tools Pack - contains Modpack.exe, ROL BIG Archiver, Quick BMS and more
- ROL BIG Archiver - import/edit/export BIG files
- Quick BMS with ROL script here and discussion thread here - BIG file extractor program
- Notepad++ - view and edit files
- Hex Workshop - view and edit files
- B1 Archiver - zip program
- Karen's Directory Printer - print file & folder directories as lists
- 3dsmax (free for students here), Gmax - graphics modding programs, untested at the moment
- Adobe Photoshop, Gimp - graphics modding programs, Gimp was successfully tested with extracted TGA image files

The Good News

- We have a working patched dvd version of the game available to buy on Amazon, Ebay, etc
- We have a BIG file import/export program ROL BIG Archiver
- Motter's 3 mods here as examples of large scale modding
- We have identified some things that need to be worked on here
- We are willing to pay some programmers to take a look and work on possible solutions
- The game has many unique features that other rts games do not, such as extensive interface customization and a robust scenario editor

The Modding Possibilities

- More modding within the ROL world of Aio
- More scenario creation options
- More possible options listed here
- More modding within:
the European steampunk setting
Arabian Nights desert setting
Mesoamerican jungle setting
Asiatic snowy steppe setting
- Mods set in:
a specific time period: past, present, future, fiction
genre: historical, fantasy, scifi, etc
with certain technology:
- gunpowder/cannons/bombs
- mana/magic/elemental
- lasers/energy/alien space weapons
- spirit/aurora/nature
- Rise of Nations 2 and Total Conversion mods
- Multi genre mods:
RTS campaigns
RTS skirmish
scripted multiplayer scenarios, etc
- Pop culture - stories, characters, settings from existing movies, books, comics, anime, etc
- Your own imagination, stories and skills


- If we can more scripts and addons to correctly extract and use the needed files, we will be able to mod the game closer to its full potential
- Players of other games such as Rise of Nations, Age of Mythology, Total Annihilation Kingdoms, etc may become interested and will be able to create even bigger and more creative mods as well as mods that they may not be able to create in any other rts game (we will need a list of unique mod features that ROL has versus other games)
- Future multiplayer testing and support for skirmish and online MP mods

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 03-26-2022 @ 08:18 PM).]

posted 12-17-15 08:52 PM EDT (US)     1 / 10  
Update on BXML files and Quick BMS:
bxml are probably the binary xml, a way to make their parsing faster
for the game because there is no need to parse a textual file.
This is a method that is used sometimes in games but may exist
various binary xml formats and not just an unique one.
Unfortunately I can't help about this topic.

Regarding the way to force the game to read your modified files, if the
game doesn't work with the non-archived files (the extracted ones, by
removing the original archive or using possible options of the game)
then you need to recreate the archives (you need to write a tool if
doesn't exist yet) or you can try the reimport feature of quickbms.
The reimport feature is just a very simple and basic way to reinject
the modified file back in the space occupied by the original one in the
archive so your new file must have a size minor/equal than the original

More information are available in section 3 of quickbms.txt, usually
this method works with many games and allowed to modify and
translate them in absence of other solutions.
If you are lucky and there are no checksums fields then you can use
this method, I have already checked the script and it's compatible.
- So the BXML may be a valid file
- Ryder's page has a BXML converter for another game so again maybe we have valid files
- The extracted files need to be tested if they work back inside the game as originals and modded versions
- If they don't work both ways, then Quick BMS can be used as a reimporter, but any modded files will have to be a similar size to the original and recompressed back into the same BIG file they originated from
- If that doesn't work either then we may need a new utility

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 12-18-2015 @ 09:03 PM).]

posted 12-17-15 11:32 PM EDT (US)     2 / 10  
Original BHG game programmers contact info updated here
posted 12-18-15 08:25 PM EDT (US)     3 / 10  
Motter has tested the Quick BMS-extracted files:
I tried deleting the .big files and putting all the .xmls into the data folder, I modded unitgraphics.xml, and it did not work. I looked at the mod_data.big and it only references the .xmls that modpack.exe extracts when you run it ie: unitrules.xml, buildingrules.xml, techrules.xml etc. Show him the mod_data.big file, that is likely what would need to be modded or referenced, he would likely know more than me but I'm pretty sure he could just mod that file to instruct the game to look at the rest of the xmls.

Also, it seems they forgot to have that file look at the "scripts" folder, modpack.exe extracts the scripts but the game still defaults to the scripts.big file and any changes a modder makes will be ignored, which is why that file must be deleted for my mods. That's about all I know on my end, if he ends up playing the game I'm sure he would be an enormous help.
- It seems that putting the modded files back into the game by themselves did not change anything
- The next test will be reimporting the newly modded files back into a BIG file and put back into the game, but I'm unsure how that is supposed to work once the BIG is archived and back inside the game, because it seems that the modded files would be inaccessible because they are archived BIG files right? So that wouldn't make sense...
- In summary, mod_data.big and Modpack.exe have some problems and need to be modded so all the files needed for modding are correctly referenced; and the script.big file is incorrectly defaulted, thus the other scripts files needed for modding are ignored
- If that doesn't work, we'll need to mod something else or make a new utility

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 12-19-2015 @ 01:25 AM).]

posted 12-19-15 04:52 AM EDT (US)     4 / 10  
Latest reply on the final test for Quick BMS:
I guess that the only answer can come from the reimporting test with
It takes just few minutes:
- extract the files
- locate one file like an image or text that you can easily see at the
beginning of the game
- modify it by keeping its size the same or smaller the original one
- delete ALL the other files you extracted (makes everything easier)
- use reimport.bat and follow the SAME EXACT steps you did for
extraction (same script, input file and output folder)
- run the game

If you see the edited text/image then it works
Anyone up for it? I'm busy working on a files type list for modding at the moment.

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 12-19-2015 @ 07:08 AM).]

posted 12-28-15 10:57 PM EDT (US)     5 / 10  
We have found a programmer and a new ROL BIG extractor program has been made - more details will be posted here soon...
posted 01-26-16 00:59 AM EDT (US)     6 / 10  
I am sorry if this is a pointless post but I figured I would ask anyways. I loved playing Rise of Nations back on CD-ROM and have the new steam version as well but I never actually got to play Rise of Legends and I saw a post in the Rise of Nations steam forum about this website and this post in particular. I saw that for people that are interested in modding and programming they could get a copy of Legends but I sadly do not know how to program or to mod games, the most I have done is make maps in the map maker on age of empires 2. I have never played Legends or even seen it played other than gameplay videos on the internet. I was wondering if the copy of legends only applies to modders/programmers and if so I understand, but I just wanted to ask to see as I have bee wanting to play the game forever but never actually got a copy. Thanks for your time in reading this and sorry again if this is something I shouldn't ask. And I really hope the modding goes well!
posted 01-26-16 11:11 PM EDT (US)     7 / 10  
If you are interested in the game I'd send you a free legal copy. Just great to see people still interested in it. Let me know.
posted 01-27-16 02:52 AM EDT (US)     8 / 10  
germany28364 - Well I have a limited number of copies so for now it only applies to modders and programmers, maybe later on if there are any left I can send them out to interested players.

However the game can be easily found online and for cheap, $10 - 20 American dollars.
Your username says Germany - I'm just guessing but if you prefer the German version of the game you can find it on,, and probably more Germany-only auction and video game store sites.

If not, the Usa DVD version is also available on Amazon, Ebay, etc.

If you do buy this game online for the first time, we recommend the DVD version because it includes all the patches.
The 4xCD version doesn't have the patches on the disc and while the patches are available for download, it can be difficult to update the game properly for some players.

If you have any other questions ask

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 01-27-2016 @ 02:53 AM).]

posted 05-29-16 02:24 AM EDT (US)     9 / 10  
2016 Ryder created ROL BIG Archiver, which answers the prayers of ROL fans worldwide as the BIG files are now extractable for editing, modding, importing and exporting back into the game.

- You can download the program here, post below and in the Modifications forum with any questions, tests and projects.
- Fans of ROL can now mod the game using the info and tools above.
- Fans of Rise of Nations and both games can now make a "Rise of Nations 2 Total Conversion" mod for ROL using the ROL BIG Archiver, 3DSMax and other programs.
- We are giving away copies of ROL to any serious modders and programmers who are interested, please see this thread here for the details
- Please spread the news wherever you can and post in the HG ROL forums with any questions and projects.

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 05-29-2016 @ 03:42 AM).]

posted 05-29-16 07:33 PM EDT (US)     10 / 10  
Here are some images of what we found in the BIG files:

Various unused units, buildings, etc:

The Kahan nation:

The Kahan nation:

The Kahan nation:

Aio world map v2 low res unlabelled

Aio world map v1 hi res unfinished
[PNG, (3.15 MB)]
Rise of Legends Heaven » Forums » Game Modifications » Modding History Timeline for programmers & modders
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