Anbennar is a fantasy world of my own making, which was also made into reality as a fantasy total conversion mod for the strategy game Europa Universalis IV (EU4). It’s a D&D-esque fantasy at heart which makes it familiar and easily understandable which works well for new IP, but instead of being set in a medieval world its set in the same Renaissance-Early Modern time period of EU4: this means we’ll be exploring we’ll be exploring how ideas such as colonialism, the rise of the nation state and the advent gunpowder warfare impact a traditionally high fantasy world.
 
 
Anbennar was part of my honours project during my final year of university, in which I looked at:
  • Dissertation: Worldbuilding inside a Box: Europa Universalis IV as a Catalyst for Worldbuilding
  • Project: Creating a Europa Universalis 4 Total Conversion Mod, converting it from its real-world setting to my own fantasy world: Anbennar
For the lore of the Anbennar setting: see the the wikia
For an archive of official Dev Diaries during: dev diary
If you want to check out my dissertation, click here: dissertation
 
Since then Anbennar has become a very successful mod, and as of writing is the #1 total conversion mod in Steam Workshop with over 12,000 active subscribers and a total of 60,000 unique visitors, as well as being featured on official Europa Universalis channels!

 


 
So development-wise… what actually did I do?
In short, a hell of a lot.
However, here’s some of the design highlights!
If you have ~30 mins to spare and would like an in-depth look at everything, here’s my honours project portfolio which explains all the processes and thinking I had to go through to make this back in 2017-18
 
Level/World Design
This dealt with the creation of the world map itself, which like most strategy games serves as game’s playing field.
 
This included things such as:
  • -Research into earth sciences, such as biomes, wind cells, plate tectonics, etc to create a scientifically believable world
  • -Usage of fractal generators and manual drawing of said map  (from coastlines, mountains, rivers and entire biomes)
  • -Populating the world map with thousands of provinces and adding stats to those provinces, factoring in how environment, climate and development affects those stats (for example, a province near a river source may be wealthier, a province in an open plain may have grazing livestock as a trade good)
  • -Allocation of countries (essentially the game entities) on said map, merging both lore and design considerations

 

Systems Design
Using existing mechanics and their components to create new experiences. This pairs with the content design section below, as the events written from a content design perspective are one of the components within the greater system.
 
This included things such as:
  • -Creation of an adventurer system, which allowed a entirely new way to play EU4 never seen in the base game, where you can start as small adventuring company and use the existing colonization systems to effectively grow and build your country from scratch
  • -A magic system through the lens of a grand strategy game (think scrying rather than fireballs), allowing your ruler to not only cast magic spells according to D&D’s eight schools of magic – this stretched to magical projects, allowing you to achieve things such as lichdom
 
Content Design
This is a combination of both programming the content in addition to writing the descriptions and narrative for said content. This formed the bulk of the work needed for the mod, as different content is what makes Anbennar different from vanilla EU4.
 
This included things such as:
  • -Setup of a country as a game entity (e.g. determining things like its name, what government it has, what name lists it uses)
  • -Creation of special attributes/ideas for each country (for example, in vanilla EU4 Great Britain had an idea that gave them a boost in naval combat)
  • -Mission trees for a country (a quest tree that gives players some optional direction in an otherwise sandbox game – this is contextual per country as it relates to their history and future ambitions)
  • -Pop-up events (ranging from things like one-off historical events or systems-related ones such as a quest-tree to achieve lichdom as mentioned above)
  • -New internal factions (estates) for the countries to interact with, such as the Mages Estate representing the magical population in your country