Sophie Au

Software Developer, Web Designer, Tea Enthusiast

My One Project for 2016: A Launcher for my Brother’s Mod of Empire: Total War

17 December 2015

This post is the intro to my entry for the 2016 One Side Project Challenge.

The Backstory

You’d think that since my brother is a lawyer and I’m a computer science student he would be way cooler than me. Well, you’d be wrong. While I do consider myself a nerd, my brother is in a completely different league.

About 5 years ago he somehow got involved in the Empire: Total War modding scene. Since then he’s spent all his free time researching 18th century politics and warfare. Everything from who was part of the council of George III to the uniforms of some obscure Prussian army unit. It’s actually pretty awesome. He and his modding buddies somehow manage to find historically accurate info on anything from that era. But that’s not even the most impressive part. To add the military uniforms to the game, the modders need to draw them from scratch pixel by pixel.

There is only one problem: None of them know how to code. They're lawyers, teachers, engineers, ... And that’s where I come in:

Pretty much as soon as I started my CS degree, my brother asked me to write a launcher for his mod. It sounded like a fun little project and shouldn’t take too long. Or so I thought. What I didn’t expect was that I actually had to do some work, both for work and university. Also, my programming skills were definitely not as good as thought. Gotta love that Dunning-Kruger Effect. Now, a year after my brother first asked me to help him out, I’m finally committing to starting. Well, in March. There’s finals in January and I’m moving to Melbourne right after the exams.

The Requirements (As I Remember Them)

It’s actually a pretty small job, as far as I can tell. I’m supposed to write a GUI with three buttons:

  1. Move Files: to move the mod files into the Empire: Total War folder (it “installs” the mod)
  2. Remove Files: to move the mod files out of the Empire: Total War filder (it uninstalls the mod)
  3. Start Imperial Splendour: A link to the Empire: Total War launcher (to start the game)

My brother already designed the background image for the launcher. It’s been sitting in my gmail inbox since February.

The Plan

I don’t expect coding the launcher to be difficult. (But to be fair I said that a year ago...) The main challenge is to just sit down and start. For a year, I’ve successfully procrastinated on the project, but not this year. This year, we fight!*

This Sunday, my brother will come over to my place to discuss the launcher (and watch The Force Awakens). He should be able to give me the exact requirements and until March I will do research on how to best approach the program. Once I’ve settled in in Melbourne, I’ll start with the actual coding. For those interested, I already set up a public GitHub repo.

The tentative release date is the 15th of April.

* I really hope someone got my Lord of the Rings reference…