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Halo Wars: 1st Mod

Dozens of Spartans + Scarab as starting unit = destruction

#1 User is offline   kornman00 

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 09:28 AM

Today, I present to you the first ever Halo Wars mod. After some years of on-and-off reverse engineering, I've finally built up a solid understanding of the Phoenix engine (which powers Halo Wars), along with a suite of tools to mod it.

For testing, I just wanted to do something simple: make the Scarab my starting unit (as a human leader), then increase the population maxes for regular units and Spartans (as they're two different unit pools). I applied the changes needed and on the first try everything worked. See the results for yourself:





The Arbiter never stood a chance.

More pictures can be found here. The game took place on a 1v1 map known as Blood Gulch. I thought Blood Gulch would be the best place to begin a new era, seeing as how it was also the birth place of Halo FPS modding. Plus it has a bunch of reactors/supply towers waiting to be garrisoned.

Now, I'm not here to boast this new ability and not share it with others. The goal is to start providing users (who already have the necessary hardware) with tools to mod Halo Wars as well by the end of August.

Just to get this out of the way: no, you won't be able to take the mods on XBL and cheat, and this will only be for the original game (you take your Title Updates and shove 'em).

This long journey has been fueled by how little attention the game actually gets (vs what is really deserves) and MS' destruction of yet another great game studio (Ensemble Studios). As some of you may recall, MS at one point was going to stop hosting Halo Wars stats all together. Thankfully, fans shook their tree long enough to get them to think straight (for once). Sadly, that was the only tree on the island so we won't be getting anything else Halo Wars related out of them for any foreseeable future.

I can only see the ship that is the Halo game franchise sinking further due to corporate bullshit, so as always, I will continue my efforts in seeing that the games are truly in the hands of the fans, not suits and ties.

See you planetside.


Update: New video for your viewing pleasure


This post has been edited by kornman00: 30 July 2011 - 07:04 AM
Reason for edit: new video!


#2 User is offline   INSANEdrive 

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 05:03 PM

Congratulations kornman00. Just be careful of your last line.
If Halo is a sandbox game, than this is most certently a sandbox mod. (Vis a VI - What would happen if...?)

Oh...where are my manors, Good-day people who are here because of H.B.O!
This. Is called a .... Mod. :P

That said, Kornman, what kind of mods can currently be done with said modding tools? (Also I would love to see a video).
Again, Congratulations.

#3 User is offline   kornman00 

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 06:01 PM

I'd love to see them prove me wrong. However, they've already screwed two studios and their game releases. Possibly a third studio, ask again after HA10 comes out (Saber Interactive)

The tools I've developed thus far are very bare-bones. A non-programmer wouldn't get much use out of them which why I'm not releasing them just yet. However, a good chunk of the game is XML driven (most of the that XML is stored in a optimized binary format). A lot of the "game" is defined via trigger scripts made in XML as well. For example, you know the carpet bomb ability? That's done thru a trigger script, it's not internally programmed into the engine. The tactics which the Hunters (or any other AI) use? Trigger scripts. Scenarios? Trigger scripts.

Figuring out textures will be a little while. Models, a little longer. Animations...I don't see happening this year. Haven't looked too deep into the way the world geometry is stored, so I can't give my thoughts on that yet.

#4 User is offline   MasterChafe 

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 02:43 PM

This would make me return to modding.
Good work kornman

#5 User is offline   Hr3shy 

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 10:42 PM

very intrestig work Korn. cant wait to see what comes of this!

#6 User is offline   kornman00 

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Posted 30 July 2011 - 07:04 AM

First post has been updated with a new video demoing some more mods. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Banana pie, straight in the eye.

#7 User is offline   gruntlord6 

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 04:18 AM

A Spartan in a Scarab? You MONSTER :P

#8 User is offline   Halodu2de 

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 01:45 AM

Very nice, just wondering will any of your work be open source? I would like to look into more things that can be done as well if you want any help.

#9 User is offline   DoorM4n 

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 02:08 AM

Holy shizz, how did I not see this! Congratulations kornman! I can't believe you were able to do this! :o

#10 User is offline   kornman00 

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 02:51 AM

The only HW related stuff that will be open source is already in the OpenSauce code repo. The code for the processing of ERA (extracting and building) files won't be open source, as it is part of a closed-source framework.

#11 User is offline   Halodu2de 

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 04:30 PM

View Postkornman00, on 18 August 2011 - 02:51 AM, said:

The only HW related stuff that will be open source is already in the OpenSauce code repo. The code for the processing of ERA (extracting and building) files won't be open source, as it is part of a closed-source framework.


Alright thanks

#12 User is offline   LlamaJuice 

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 05:28 PM

From your work with the Halo Wars engine did you see many references to Age of Empires in there? I'm curious about if it's just an evolved AoE engine or something fresh.

If it's derived from AoE it makes me wonder about some possible modding abilities.

#13 User is offline   kornman00 

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 06:50 PM

Halo Wars was built from the ground up. The only parts of the engine that I can recall being based on AoE is some AI-related code and maybe the particle engine. Everything else is new. Even their binary XML stuff is different.

But like say, the engine is very data-driven. Most of the game is defined thru xml files. You won't need fancy editors or reverse engineering to mod the game (since I process the binary xml into text xml behind the scenes when expanding an archive). Art assets (bitmaps, models, etc) are another story of course.

#14 User is offline   DavidiZMental 

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 03:29 PM

Never in my life have I ever wanted a Jtag as much as I do right now. Very impressive work my friend.

#15 User is offline   LlamaJuice 

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 04:50 AM

Interesting, I asked because I some stuff in AOEO that made me think of Halo Wars, and that engine was based off of AOE3. It was probably for prototyping or something.

This post has been edited by LlamaJuice: 25 August 2011 - 02:31 AM


#16 User is offline   JohnDong 

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  Posted 19 November 2011 - 02:31 AM

Amazing work on the first halo wars mods ever seen :)

#17 User is offline   JoshTheLlama 

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 06:36 PM

I hate to bring up an old topic, but I was wondering if this project is still in development (or has it died)?

After digging around, I found out that the tool was posted here. Hopefully that will help anyone else who landed here from a Google search.

This post has been edited by JoshTheLlama: 21 December 2011 - 06:48 PM


#18 User is offline   kornman00 

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 07:18 PM

That's the current version of the modding tools. There hasn't been a need to do an update as there haven't been any breaking bugs. More features could have been a possibility, but with a limited amount of comm chatter about modding Halo Wars, I don't put it high on my TODO list.

#19 User is offline   Xorphz 

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 01:49 AM

View Postkornman00, on 21 December 2011 - 07:18 PM, said:

That's the current version of the modding tools. There hasn't been a need to do an update as there haven't been any breaking bugs. More features could have been a possibility, but with a limited amount of comm chatter about modding Halo Wars, I don't put it high on my TODO list.


Greetings Kornman, I'm very impressed with your work, I don't need to tell you how phenomenal it is. However, there are some things I would like to ask, if that is alright.

Firstly, would it be possible to edit the supply/income input from your supplies pads by speeding up the gathering process?
Similarly, is it possible to decrease training time (or speed up training time), for units?

Also, would it be possible to reverse edit the modifications and resign them for retail console use?

Thanks again for your contribution, and if you think that there's no comm chatter for modding Halo Wars you're dead wrong, I know I've been on the prowl for this stuff for years, in fact, it's the reason I made an account here on HaloMods.

#20 User is offline   kornman00 

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 02:39 AM

Both of your edit questions can easily be done by editing the XML files that the game uses

Not sure what you mean by reverse edit. The keys for signing retail executables are protected by MS, and the game itself uses a signature of the file data much like the Xbox360 Halo games, and that key is also held by MS. So modding is restricted to 360s which can run unsigned code.

You may have been on the prowl for this for years, but that doesn't mean there's an active demand for HW modding, which is why I don't actively pursue new tools for release. Yes, it doesn't help that modding the 360 is far from what average joes can do, but this isn't something I can solve.

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