Update 3/22/2021 7:38 AM: In an email from TaleWorlds' PR Manager Antonio Santo, we learned that the team has heard about the letter and posted a response to it on Reddit. Following the letter's publishing, the folks at TaleWorlds held a meeting to discuss the fans' concerns and decided to set aside time this week to work on possible solutions and ways to support modders. They'll also be reaching out to gather more modding feedback and suggestions. In their email to us, Antonio added:
I cannot answer all your questions; as Callum said, addressing all these issues will take some time, but we're having internal discussions to decide the best way to approach it. I can say that it is a matter of importance for us -- we really appreciate what the modding community is doing and has done in the past for the Mount & Blade franchise, and we look forward to continuing this cooperation.
The original article follows below.
Although medieval simulator Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord has some impressive mods available, there has been a notable absence of total conversion mods. In a recently-released open letter to developer TaleWorlds Entertainment, a subset of the total conversion modding community criticize how TaleWorlds has been handling their game's mod support.
The letter, written collectively by the teams of a dozen total conversion mods, says that one of the main reasons most mods have been smaller-scale mods instead of total-conversion mods (such as Warband's 'Prophesy of Pendor' or the Game of Thrones-themed 'A World of Ice and Fire') is because of artificial roadblocks in the game's code. One major example they list is the rampant and arbitrary use of the "internal" keyword, which makes it harder for modders to modify or extend many of the game's systems. The writers also say that many of the modding tools modders would need should have been apparent from the most popular mods, like custom campaign maps, playable non-human races, and the ability to rig agents to custom skeletons.
Given the requests from the modding community, the letter states, each update for Bannerlord that comes and goes without acknowledging or adding these features in favor of base game features "feels like a slap in the face." With the game out in Early Access for nearly a year and had about 30 branches of it released, the writers feel that the people at TaleWorlds who decide what features are prioritized are "very out of touch with the needs of the community." The writers finish off by mentioning that they've seen "the dynamic between profit/deadline obsessed executives, and the engineers pouring their hearts into the game," with a quick jab at CD Projekt Red when mentioning how even the "most loved developers" can be affected by that dynamic.
What do Bannerlord modders want?
The letter isn't meant to be an exhaustive list of issues, but here are some of the major requests from the writers of this letter:
- Provide better documentation for modders.
- Think about their code from the perspective of modders.
- Remove the "internal" keyword from the code (within reason.)
- Improve the communication and collaboration between TaleWorlds and the community.
What mod teams wrote this letter?
The letter's authors consist of people from a dozen mods, some of which are very popular despite not being released. These mods are:
Kingdoms of Arda, a Middle-Earth themed mod and one of the most popular mods for Bannerlord on Mod DB, despite not being released.
The Old World, a Warhammer total conversion mod set around the time Karl Franz ascended to the throne of the Empire.
Trial of the Seven Kingdoms, a Game of Thrones mod set after Robert's Rebellion, with the creators' own twist.
Touhou Gensokyo Warfare, which allows players to travel across Gensokyo and fight alongside their favorite Touhou Project characters (and even marry them!)
Sword & Musket, a total conversion mod set during the French Revolution, Revolutionary Wars, and Napoleonic Wars.
Shokuhō, which changes the game's setting to Feudal Japan.
The Long Night, a Game of Thrones conversion mod that focuses on the fantasy side of R.R. Martin's world. Also another popular mod.
La Commune de Paris, which brings players to the French Civil War of 1871 between the Paris Commune and the French Republic.
In the Name of Jerusalem II, another very popular (despite being unreleased) Mod DB mod focused around the Third and Fourth Crusades.
Medieval Third Crusade, an immersive mod set during the Third Crusade.