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Mathew Steel

An Hour of Digging Through SH2 Files & Folders

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Before I start, I'd like to point out that many of what I am about to list are likely to have been discovered before. I am simply posting my own discoveries, in hope that perhaps not all of you have seen them! I should note, this is all discovered by using Stronghold 2 - v1.4.1 (The most recent patch).



The "readme" file:

The first easy-to-find file I found, was the "readme" file located in the default SH2 directory (C:\Program Files (x86)\Firefly Studios\Stronghold 2). The file contains information on the background of the game's campaign, along with a "Before you start" section, where you are told about updating your drivers to the most recent. This is all fairly simplistic stuff so far. It's apparent this file has been updated with each version of the game, as the next part lists the changes and additions to the game in each individual patch, from v1.2, all the way to v1.4.1.?


The next part of this "readme" file contains very useful information on all of the graphical settings in-game. A lot are fairly simple, but to those who may not have a clue what "Early culling" or "Anisotropic Filtering" is, it could prove quite useful when deciding on that even middle-ground between performance and eye-candy. It's convenient that I found this file so soon, as it made me realise my mistake in my yesterday's post about Anti-Aliasing (Which I'll refer to as "AA" for the sake of convenience). I knew beforehand what AA was, however, what I saw yesterday, in what I believed was a result of poor AA, was incorrect. It was in-fact completely down to the "Bloom" effect.?


"Bloom" - An effect that causes very bright objects to glow. Turn off bloom to increase performance.


Looking back now, it does make me feel a bit dense for not realising my error sooner. It is in the name after all. Regardless, bloom seems to be poorly implemented in SH2, as objects do not only glow with this technique enabled, but they blind. Stone especially, becomes painful to stare at for a long period of time.


Moving on, the file even has an FAQ section. This amused me, as I've never come across a game "readme" file that contains tips on how to play the game, certainly not ones with links to tutorials and guides. For example, this -?www.stronghold-knights.com (Then click on walkthroughs)




i18n\en.xml file:

This part was where I made my first real discoveries. This file contains many of the text dialogue used in the voice acting in-game. It contains all the typical sentences, such as "Another estate is mine" and "Idiots! Fall back!" This section even contains the subtitles for the tutorial. One thing I did notice, were a number of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. I've not noticed them in-game, but they must surely be there. I must add, changing the subtitles will not change the speech.?


Also in this file are all of the AI's names. Amusingly, you can change these names to your liking. It won't have any real effect, however, it's quite funny seeing all the villagers in your estate share the name of "Dwayne Pipe".?


The most interesting find in this file, was that the .xml shares many elements to previous games. "A message from..." messages, make many references to characters from Stronghold, for example, in line 16075 (If you edit the file using Notepad++), you will see "A message from the Snake", and in line 16087, "the Wolf". It actually includes every character from the game. As well as this, there seems to be subtitles for dialogue related to trading. "Send me these goods" is noted, like we see in the Crusader games.?


When it comes to setting your username in-game, there are a number of specific names that have been assigned a .wav file to them, allowing Sir William to pronounce the name correctly in the main menu. If your username does not fit one of these listed, it will use the default welcome message. These names include "Lord", "Sir", and "Lady" as their titles, along with a fair amount of names, such as "Hades", "Tom", "Wibble", and "Fantasia". Again, editing these names will simply cause Sir William to pronounce the wrong name. If one were to edit "Tom" to "Christopher", when setting one's username to "Lord Christopher", the message would play as "Lord Tom" (Assuming Christopher is not an already created name in the .xml file). This same concept is applied to many other languages to, there are German titles and names in this same file.




Animation List:

This part is a simple .txt file containing all the different animations in-game. This was fairly basic stuff, although, I did come across some things I've not encountered before. For example, the "Run Unfit" animation, as well as different walk animations, like - "Walk Injured" and "Walk Depressed". If any of you have seen these animations in-game, I'd be interested to see them myself. Otherwise, I can only assume these are ideas that never made it into the full game.





In the directory -?C:\Program Files (x86)\Firefly Studios\Stronghold 2\meshes\units\animals - there are a few skins available for things I don't believe exist in-game. These include "Wild boars" and "Donkeys". Of course, I may be having a blank mind, yet I do not recall seeing any of these once. Again, I can only assume this is down to ideas that were originally meant to be added, but were cut out upon release.


There also seems to be another example of unfinished ideas in -?C:\Program Files (x86)\Firefly Studios\Stronghold 2\meshes\units\animations - where there is a folder for "Child" as well as "Teenager". Originally, I believed "Teenager" to be a place name for peasants that weren't in occupation, yet, upon inspecting the folder further, I noticed a "ride_oxen" animation, again, one I have not seen before. Saying this, there are a few examples I can think of where AI do seem younger. For example, the millers, and the workers in the kitchens. There are references to these specific occupations in the folder, which lead me to that conclusion.





Perhaps my favourite find was the FX folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Firefly Studios\Stronghold 2\fx). Here, there is a plethora of sound effect files, saved as .wav files. It's strange to hear arrows piercing metal without any visual aid. It's also very impressive to see that there are over 15 different sound effects for the arrows as they fly off the bow.


As is typically well-known, it is possible to edit most of the visuals in the game. This includes buildings, crests, and textures, all from the SH2 directory.




The FPS Issue:

Now, this section is not related to the directory, however, I did want to explain it. First of all, I haven't a clue as to why the game works in this way, and after searching the Internet, and doing my own investigating, I have not come up with a fix.


Stronghold 2's FPS limit is based off your set game speed. If the game speed is set to 10, you will not get more than 10 FPS. If it is set to 30, then 30 FPS. 60, then 60FPS, and so on. Map editor seems to be capped at 40FPS no matter what your settings. It is out of the question if this is down to my system specs, and after a little research, I'm not the only one who has noticed this weird trend.?


Of course, the best solution is to set the game speed to whatever you wish to cap your FPS to. I personally have always played at a very high game-speed, but I can imagine for those of you who enjoy the default 35 speed, it must be frustrating. I have however noticed, that this limit is not present in Stronghold 2 Multiplayer.


Edited by Mathew Steel

"Gofyn wyf am galon hapus, calon onest, calon l?n."

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For the game text, you mentioned about text from The Snake .etc. I've also found unused audio for them, Firefly appears to have axed them right at the last moment. If you're editing a Lord though, you can use some of these to give things a fresh taste. I've also noticed numerous spelling mistakes in those files, for example during the Apple Blight event in a custom map it says "stuck" instead of "struck".


What more have you found regarding the animation lists? I'm not quite sure I fully understand what you're referring to there.


You mentioned teenagers and children, the children are around with the mothers in Hovels, while the miller boys are the teenagers, if I remember correctly.


Interesting conclusions!


The fields have eyes, and the woods have ears.

⁠— Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale

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I'm glad you did! I thought I saw some audio files too, but when I went back to check, I had forgotten where they were.


The animation list -?C:\Program Files (x86)\Firefly Studios\Stronghold 2\AnimList.txt - seems to contain a list of all the animations the NPCs have. For example, coughing, eating, playing. The majority there seem to be commonly seen animations. However, there are references to different movement animations that I have not noticed in-game, such as "Run Unfit" and "Walk Injured".?


As for the teenagers, I believe you are correct. Originally, I had no idea what they meant, but after starting the game up and looking a while longer, I did notice that the miller boys appear much older than the children seen skipping around the entertainment buildings and hovels.

"Gofyn wyf am galon hapus, calon onest, calon l?n."

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