Starbound

Buttering Up Calradia - Aragas

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In this feature, we're chatting with Aragas (aka Aragasas), one of our top Bannerlord mod authors. While you might not have heard of him, if you've played Mount & Blade II with mods there's a good chance you've used at least one of the mods he and the other members of the Bannerlord Unofficial Tools & Resources (BUTR) team have worked on.


Thank you for taking the time to talk with us Aragas. To start off, can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

I'm a Senior Software Developer from Russia, from a pretty normal family. Since this is a gaming related site, you might be interested in the fact that I’m one of the maintainers of Pokémon 3D, a fairly old game that recreated the 2nd gen Pokemon games in 3D!

I'm not new to modding, but I never stayed for too long with a single game. That changed when I started to work on Bannerlord! I fell in love with the game and the idea it represents, so now I spend a significant amount of my free time working on the game with our team - BUTR!




Can you tell us a bit about the Bannerlord Unofficial Tools & Resources (BUTR) team?

We're a small team dedicated to improving the game itself and the ecosystem around it.

I'm sure you’re curious why we chose BUTR as the name of our team. There's an old meme in the Warband community 'Butterlord' based on the Butter item the game has. We decided it would be funny to do a butter pun, so that's the origin of the acronym. After that we spent a day or two on creating the actual translation of the acronym, this was one of the biggest challenges our team ever faced.

The team created a lot of mods and tools that are intended to improve the modding experience. At the moment of the interview, we maintain and develop Harmony, UIExtenderEx, ButterLib and BUTRLoader.

Each member of our team has some great mods that are not directly part of BUTR:

Our team also created a project template for modders for an easy start with modding and created tools that ease compilation against any version of the game!

We haven't forgotten about NexusMods itself! We're working on improving the current Vortex integration with the game, but we don't have an ETA on when it will be done right now!


Your profile says you've also made mods for Factorio in the past. Which other games do you play or make mods for? 

My first modding experience started back in the good old days of Warcraft III. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was really fun to edit some units by making them bigger or marking them as hero units!

At some point, I tried to help with Rimworld. The original author of SeedsPlease, if I remember correctly, abandoned the mod and I tried to port it to a newer version of the game. I was still inexperienced back then and quickly decided against continuing the effort.

After that came Factorio. I always enjoyed playing modded sandbox games because they tend to expand some core game mechanics, and this wasn't an exception.

As you might know, the game is based on setting up pipelines that move items from one location to another. There is also crafting. For example, if you want to create a Brass alloy (a modded item), you need a Copper plate and a Zinc plate which you put into a Smelter. The game also provides metals as a liquid as an addition to items (plates). You can't combine liquid metals into liquid alloys and this was exactly what my mod did. A pretty small addition, but it drastically changed how you could create your base and how you could set up your pipelines!

Also, while I was developing the mod for Factorio I noticed that there was a lack of a development ecosystem around the game. I created a proof-of-concept modding IDE FactrIDE, which was intended to enhance the modding experience. For example, with one click it could archive the mod files, put it to the "mods" folder and run Factorio. It could handle things like creating an empty project with basic templates, manage dependencies and there was also an ambitious idea to create a UI constructor for the Prototype system that the game has used for declaring things like buildings and items so users wouldn't touch the Lua code directly. FactrIDE even had a video demonstration!

Unfortunately, the community was for some reason pretty sceptic and unfriendly at that point towards the idea, so I decided to not continue in that direction.

As for playing, well, I enjoy Paradox’s grand strategy games and Rimworld!


What is it about the Mount & Blade franchise that you feel makes it stand out from other games?

A lot of folks just play multiplayer, where they can roleplay by doing formations, recreating historic battles, or playing it as intended by slaying each other mercilessly. The competitive element of the game in my opinion is great!

I feel that the strongest part of the franchise is the singleplayer. The games combine really well both the action elements from the multiplayer and the strategy aspect from the grand strategy genre. You personally lead your conquest and you can participate in the battles that will decide your future and the future of your realm. I miss this feature from the grand strategy games and I’m glad that the M&B franchise covers this gap!



Are there any features you really hope to see in Banner before it leaves Early Access? 

I'm a big fan of Crusaders Kings II. Actually, one of our team members, zijistark, is lead of the Historical Immersion Project (HIP) - the greatest overhaul of the game in my opinion!

This leads us back to your question: the relation system of the game is a fairly basic one and it might stay this way when the game releases, as the devs mimic the core aspects of Warband. But what I would want is to see a character relation system similar to CKII with HIP. A complex opinion system where actions matter and would not be forgotten by characters for decades, where NPC's can backstab you because they didn't get a fief they wanted or be the most loyal vassals, always ready to help you. Any work to make the AI more dynamic in the sandbox, with actions hopefully motivated by understandable reasoning, is welcome work. Also, the opinion system should be bidirectional - what Lord Aldric thinks of you is not necessarily what you think of Lord Aldric.

A great warlord should not only be good with an axe, but have a sharp tongue and a keen mind!


Do you have any favourite mod or mod authors you'd like to give a shout out to?

First of all, a shout-out to all the mod developers using our tools and libraries! We appreciate all the feedback we get and we are always happy to include new features that are proposed to us! Just recently we created a new API for the UI manipulation library UIExtenderEx with the help of Arganancer!

I also want to explicitly mention several mods and their maintainers:
  • The author of Improved Garrisons - Sidiess. He’s managing a mod that changes core game mechanics without the usage of Harmony, which is one of the most difficult tasks a modder could wish for! 
  • The maintainer of Detailed Character Creation - Designer225. He’s maintaining one of the oldest and popular living open-source mods!

There are actually a lot of mods that still are being maintained since the beginning of the early access. I admire all their dedication with keeping their complex mods working after each game update!

Also, there are a lot of interesting framework mods like Custom Spawns API, ATC - Adonnay's Troop Changer that has the intention of unifying changes of the game.

Unfortunately, since the community is fragmented, I’m sure that I missed some other great mods and frameworks. I hope they will forgive me for not including them here!


What advice would you give to someone who wants to make their first Bannerlord mod? 

I would recommend mod authors to focus on creating content mods instead of creating gameplay changing mods.

Bannerlord is a true early access game. Almost every new game version will drastically alter the game's internal code, code upon which gameplay mods depend. Because of this, writing gameplay mods is a huge challenge, since each new game version will break the mod.

If modders are not comfortable tracking the code changes, getting into deep logic modding may not be the best idea!
The devs are helping us with introducing breaking changes into the Beta branch of the game first. Usually, it takes at least a week for the Beta branch to get into the current (Stable) branch, so we are able to always provide a working mod for the current version of the game. Unfortunately, some mod developers get tired of this and leave some great projects, as the maintenance is indeed hard!

I do want to point out that the issue will be gone either in the last stages of the early access or when the game will be released!


Is there anything else you'd like to share with the Nexus Mods community?

I would like to mention that we not only have official modding documentation for the game but an unofficial one too! While it’s true that it’s stale, it’s not dead and just needs a push with good articles! We would be really happy to include modders' experiences of working with the game!

We also hope that the game’s communities will unite at some point, as there are a lot of small communities based on big mods. Unfortunately, there isn’t much cooperation between them!

As a final note, I want to thank our Bannerlord community for being so understandable, helpful and positive! It is a pleasure to be a part of it!


A big thank you to Aragasas for taking the time to talk to us! If there's an author or mod project you'd like to know more about, send your suggestions to BigBizkit or Pickysaurus

11 comments

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  1. saundersmarshal
    saundersmarshal
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     I appreciate the effort you took to write it. Please make more posts like this I will continue to support you.
    moto x3m
  2. salonirani4u
    salonirani4u
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  3. LordColin
    LordColin
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    What Bannerlord lacks the most is quest content, animations and cut scenes. What can you do in this world besides the same repetitive stuff? Cutscenes and interactive objects in town and in the keep/lords hall would go along way for immersion.
    1. Ethreon
      Ethreon
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      No thanks, we need less cutscenes in our games. If you're so intent on watching a movie just find some historical dramas and give it a go.
    2. soluslupum
      soluslupum
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      I feel a focus on adding cutscenes would be detrimental, but for events that are say once in a characters lifetime "in theory" such as marriages, rising to rulership, mabye raising a companion to vassal status, ect. These events that could be fairly simple quick scenes could use the little added flair and impact treating them as the events they are that would go down in history as parts of the players legacy and rise. Nothing super lengthy just like warbands 30 sec marriage scenes, just their for the impact something important happened beyond a text box.
    3. jefesatan
      jefesatan
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      Like warband marriage scenes or the ones the Total War games used to have, that would be amazing!
  4. Jiros
    Jiros
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    I have to echo everyone in thanking Aragas and zijistark for their continued support of the modding community. Without their (very) patient help, I would never be able to sustain Bannerlord Tweaks or any other other mods I'm involved in.

  5. Operative85
    Operative85
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    HIP is indeed the greatest overhaul for CK2, also in my opinion! Kudos to the BUTR team!
  6. LukeDanger
    LukeDanger
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    The BUTR team well deserves the spotlight this gives them considering their framework enables so many mods that really help flesh out Bannerlord.
  7. robed12
    robed12
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    Thanks team BUTR.. really, Without their content, I probably wouldn't be playing bannerlord and would have just left it sitting on my steam library from the dissapointing release it had.
  8. kz14365
    kz14365
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    Really wanted to thank (BUTR) team for what they have done for the bannerlord modding community.
    As a bannerlord modder myself, I use Mod Configuration Menu, Butterlib and Extender for almost all of the mods I made.  It simplifies the task of making mod immensely for me and help with a lot of compatibility issues with different mods.

    I have spoken with Aragas and zijistark a number of times on the taleworlds modding discord.  They are great guys and super helpful, taking the time to answer any question I had, help me with my code and even discuss mod ideas with me.

    Keep up the great work guys.