Guide for Conan Exiles – CE Modding 101[C]: Creating A Combat Mod
Welcome to my guide on creating a combat mod!
As you may have guessed, I will be detailing the basics on how to create a combat-related mod for Conan Exiles. I am a*suming as little experience with Conan Exiles modding on your part as possible for this guide to be useful for those of all proficiency levels.
Before we begin, I need to preface the guide by mentioning this: despite the inclusion of phrases such as "you should, you will, you must" or "do this, do that", this guide has NOT been made with the intention of dictating to you what to do. I a*sume to some extent that my knowledge is flawed and my techniques not optimal. As well, I do not claim to be an expert in this particular field. I am only telling you how I go about performing these tasks, with the expectation that you may glean enough insight to be successful in your endeavors.
In addition, updates made by Funcom may make the following information obsolete and incorrect. I began writing this guide in July of 2020, and since then (as I’m writing this in mid- February 2021) there have been multiple structural changes to the combat system which have required me to reformat my mods. I will update this guide as I am able.
In an effort to keep this as brief as I can, let’s begin.
Obtaining (and Installing) the DevKit
To create mods for Conan Exiles, you will have to pick up the Conan Exiles DevKit from the Epic Games Store.
To find it, search for ‘Conan Exiles’ on the store page. Navigate down on Conan Exiles’ page to find the DevKit, available for free.
While provided at no charge, there is still a cost to the DevKit: a whopping 192 230 gigabyte size. Good luck.
If you can afford the space and are interested in that program sitting on your hard drive for an indeterminate amount of time, go ahead and download.
After 3 months and the loss of any desire to make a mod, it should be ready.
Before you start up the DevKit, know that there are two ways to fire it up. First is the normal method of launching the DevKit via the Epic Games Launcher. It’s pretty self-explanatory. The second method is to launch the DevKit via a .bat file located in the contents of the DevKit installation.
To find this file, navigate to C:\Program Files\Epic Games\ConanExilesDevKit (the path may be slightly different for you). The file we are looking for is RunDevKit.bat. You can start up the DevKit by double-clicking this file.
There are a couple reasons why you might want to launch the DevKit this way:
1. Launching the DevKit via Epic Games Launcher will require you to update the DevKit if necessary, which has the potential to mess with mods you are working on. You can avoid having to update with the bat method. (A 10 gig update when you want to work on a mod is a bit of a buzzkill.)
2. You don’t like Epic Games and do not want to have their application open on your computer more than absolutely necessary.
3. You have a distrust of [RED CHINA].
Choose which method you prefer and fire up the DevKit.
The process of loading the application can take a while, depending on the speed of the drive it is installed on. If it’s on an SSD, it should be a minute or two. If not, turn on a movie because it will take a while.
Once the DevKit is fully loaded, you will be greeted with the screen above.
Imposing, isn’t it.
You’ll need to learn your way around the DevKit, so I recommend thinking of some facet of the game and trying to find it in the Content Browser (on the top bar). Do this a couple times to build a mental map of the Browser.
However, do not start any work yet. You are currently loaded into a test mod and will most likely want to create a new mod with a new name.
To do so, navigate to the arrow to the right of ‘Conan Exiles Dev Kit’ (at the top of the window) and select ‘Create a New Mod’.
Type a memorable and unique name for the mod. It is possible to change the name later, but it is rather technical and can break your mod if done incorrectly, so be sure to give it a name you won’t regret.
Confirm the name and the DevKit will be loaded up again (a recurring theme).
After the DevKit loads up again, use the Content Browser to navigate to the folder of your mod. This can be found in the ‘Mod’ folder (who could’ve guessed).
It is generally advised to avoid directly editing base game a*sets as doing so can create compatibility conflicts with other mods as well as open up the possibility for a DevKit update to undo your changes.
The first step towards avoiding direct edits is to create a ModController to allow for the merging of data tables. Don’t know what I’m talking about? That’s okay, you’ll know soon enough.
To create a ModController, right-click in the folder to open up a menu to choose a*sets to create. Select ‘Blueprint Cla*s’ from the list of options and then find the modcontroller option by typing ‘modcontroller’ into the search bar in the pop-up window.
Give the ModController a unique name, generally including a prefix to avoid potential conflicts. We’ll come back to the ModController later in the guide. Be sure to right-click on the ModController and navigate the drop-down menu to ‘Save’.
Working With Data Tables (ItemTable)
The most interesting aspects of Conan Exiles’ combat system are handled by data tables.
ItemTable contains data related to individual weapons, such as:
* Base damage (can be differentiated between light and heavy attacks)
* Encumbrance weight
IMPORTANT: As an anti-theft measure, DLC items are not available to edit through conventional means in the DevKit.
DT_ComboRules, however, is our main focus. Within lies the structure of the combo-based combat system, involving animations, damage and stamina multipliers, status effects, and other a*sorted values. Because these combos are designated to specific weapon cla*ses (such as one-handed sword, daggers, or two handed axe), all weapons of that cla*s, including ones introduced via mods and DLCs, will be affected.
For the purposes of instruction, however, I will show you how to work with both of these tables.
We’ll work with ItemTable to start.
IMPORTANT: To avoid unnecessary compatibility issues, I strongly recommend making a custom variant of the ItemTable that can be merged later on.
To do so, right-click in the mod folder while in the Content Browser to create a new a*set, much like how we made the ModController. Navigate to Miscellaneous, then Data Table.
Clicking on Data Table will provide you with a long list of potential table structures. Choosing the correct type is crucial for making the tables compatible. The structure we are looking for is ‘Item Table Row’.
Remember to apply a unique prefix to the name of the table you created.
You’ll find, upon opening your new data table, that it is empty. You’ll likely want to fill it with whatever weapons, armor, or other items you would like to add/edit. For an example, I shall edit the Two-Handed Iron Sword.
To do so, I will minimize our item table window and go back to the content browser. Navigate to the ‘Content’ folder (the left-most one in the chain) and type ‘itemtable’ into the search bar. It will likely lag for you while searching for results, so don’t be worried when that happens. Double-click on ItemTable to open it.
Now that we are in the main table, we must find the item we are looking for. Since I am searching for the sword, I will type ‘two-handed’ into the search bar, as that will be specific enough to limit the results into an amount that I can reasonably search through. After scrolling down slightly, I have found the item.
Now, I will right-click on the row and choose ‘Copy Rows’. You can left-click and use Shift + the downward directional arrow to select multiple rows at a time.
Go back to our new table and right-click to paste the selected rows into the table. We have successfully copied over the data and are free to make changes.
There will be a lot of values to potentially change here, but I’d recommend making the minimal amount of changes necessary to accomplish your goal so the risk of bugs and other issues stays low. I will change the base damage for both light and heavy attacks to 69 damage and its encumbrance weight to 0.1.
I would recommend not changing the ID of the item unless you intend on creating another version of it.
Once you are done with your changes, save the file by navigating to ‘File’ in the top left and hitting ‘Save’.
Working With Data Tables (DT_ComboRules)
As mentioned in the previous section, DT_Combo Rules will be the main focus in making changes to combat.
In the mod’s folder, create a new data table by right-clicking and selecting create a new a*set, then navigate to Miscellaneous and Data Table after that.
The framework for this table is less obvious than for ItemTable. Select ‘STR Combo Step’ from the list of choices. As always, give the table a unique name and save.
(NOTE: When working with attacks, I generally like to make an additional data table to act as my ‘workbench’. This helps keep the main modded table clear of unintended changes made over the course of tinkering with the attacks.)
As was the case with the item table, you will likely want to copy over the existing combo data from the game’s table, DT_ComboRules, to your new table. You can find DT_ComboRules by navigating to Content/Systems/Combat/ComboSystem. As most weapons have multiple attacks, you’ll want to copy over the data by holding Shift and using the directional keys to select multiple entries. Right-click and choose Copy. Return to your new table and Paste the entries into it.
As you can see, each attack has a large amount of information that can be edited, such as the animation, damage and stamina multipliers, status effect applications, and knockback degrees. In addition, note the ‘Combo Step Next’ setting, as it is now used to determine how a character progresses through the combo tree.
For this guide, I will be replacing the animations for two-handed swords with those of the Katana. For more information on the process of working with animations, check the Animation sections of this guide.
I have returned from roughly an hour into the future. After I have adjusted the animation copies to my liking, it is time to add the animations into the combo table. To do so, simply navigate to the ‘Combo Montage’ setting, click on the existing option, and search for your desired animation. If you chose to give them unique names, then they should be pretty easy to find. If not, check the file paths for the options to make sure it’s the correct montage.
After doing so for all the light, heavy, and offhand attacks, I have accomplished my goal. However, be aware that when you change attack animations, you will likely want to go over settings such as damage multipliers, stamina cost multipliers, and status effects to ensure the combos are not overpowered or imbalanced. This can take a bit of time and several iterations of testing, but it’s worth it if you plan of having your mod available for use by the public.
In addition, if you have been working in a ‘workbench’ table like I suggested, make sure to copy and paste your finished rows to the main modded table.
For now, though, we move on to merging our main data tables with DT_ComboRules and ItemTable via the ModController we made at the start of the guide.
Working With Animations (Animations and Montages) Pt. I
As you might imagine, attack animations are integral to the combat system.
The animations we are concerned with are animation segments (usually designated with an A_ prefix) and animation montages (usually designated with an AM_ prefix). Animation montages are comprised of one or more animation segments, and include within themselves notifies for features such as collision detection windows, attack speeds, weapon trails, HyperArmor coverage, and sound effects.
Weapon animations for humans can be found in Content/Characters/Humans/Animations/Combat, subdivided further into folders for each weapon cla*s. There are some animations compatible with the human skeleton in the Content/Characters/NPC folder (such as for Tyros) as well.
IMPORTANT: I highly recommend making copies of the animation montages and their constituent animation segments in your mod’s folder and editing those. This avoids complications with future DevKit updates undoing your work, as well as greater compatibility with other mods.
There are two ways that I am familiar with for copying animations to your mod folder. First, you can use the Source Panel (found by clicking the icon under the green ‘Add New’ button in the Content Browser and the left-pointing arrow) to allow you to drag-and-drop the a*sets into your mod folder (DO NOT ‘MOVE’, ONLY ‘COPY’). You can use Shift and the directional keys to select more than one animation at a time. To find which animation segments go to which montage, you’ll have to open the specific montage and look there.
The second method involves copying over the files to your mod’s folder via the file browser on your computer. You can find the location of the files by going to:
(Your Drive)\Epic Games\ConanExilesDevKit\Games\ConanSandbox\Content
and navigating through the folders from there. I would recommend only doing this when the DevKit is not loaded in. Be extra careful not to move a*sets from the DevKit’s folders. Just copy them over into your mod folder (preferably into an Animation folder for orderliness). For me, my mod folder would be:
Be sure to save the animations in your mod folder once you have finished the copying process. Afterwards, feel free to rename the animations / montages to something more memorable. This will help with a*signing them to attacks in the combo table later on, but it is not required.
—CONTINUED IN PART II—
Working With Animations (Animations and Montages) Pt. II
Now that we’ve acquired the animations and placed copies of them in our mod’s folder, we can begin working with them.
Most work with animations will be done via the animation montages (with the blue line underneath them) as they contain the majority of the adjustable features. For this guide, I will open up the light_c0 attack montage.
IMPORTANT: When working with animations, the character mesh that is used can vary. In some instances, it’s Conan. In others, it’s Tyros. However, in most cases it is a nak*d bald lady. Exercise some common sense when opening and working with these animations so the wrong people don’t see and you don’t have to explain yourself.
Above is a picture of what you’ll see when opening an animation montage (minus the censoring). At center-screen, you’ll see several horizontal green bars. These are the animation segments that comprise this montage. By clicking on one, you’ll see settings pop up on the right side of the screen. Here you can change the animation in that slot, how far into the animation to start and how far in to stop, and what it’s playback speed is (usually 1.0x).
If you have also copied over the animation segments that go along with each montage, I would recommend replacing the existing references with your copies. To do so, click on the Animation Reference, which will bring up a list of replacements. If you haven’t changed the name, it should be the exact same, but with a different file path, making it pretty easy to find. Swap them out for all animation segments, both for 3rd person (usually top row) and 1st person (usually bottom row). This helps to avoid a potential T-posing issue when using animations not intended for a specific weapon cla*s.
I would recommend not adjusting the playback speeds here unless you intend to shorten that segment specifically. Doing so can mess with the placement of notifies further down and completely screw up the attack.
To speed up or slow down the entirety of the animation montage (without risk of screwing with the notifies), refer to the ‘Rate Scale’ setting at the top left of the screen. I would generally advise not messing with any other setting on the left side unless you know what you’re doing.
Sections (located below the animation map) are often not of much use to us, so there’s no real point to mess with them unless you’re making structural changes to the montage itself.
Below this, however, is the Notify section. This controls most of the features we would be interested in when making adjustments to the attack animations. Each notify also has an array of settings a*sociated with it, however only a few will be important to us. This animation does not include every possible notify reference, but I will list out some of the more important ones and what functions they perform:
* Combo / Queue Windows: these notify windows are used to recognize when a key stroke is permitted to prepare the next attack in a combo. Combo windows are used to progress to the next attack in the chain while Queue windows are used to cycle back to the opening attack.
* CancelAttack / CancelDodge / CancelMove Windows: this notify is used for delineating when the attack is allowed to end, whether by progressing to another attack (CancelAttack), by pressing the dodge key (CancelDodge), or with movement key inputs (CancelMove). These notifies are very important for creating a refined, smooth attack. Note the interplay between CancelAttack and the Combo / Queue windows.
* CollisonNotifyState: this is used to determine when your weapon is permitted to damage an enemy. Multiple of these notifies means multiple chances to deal damage to an enemy with the same attack. This notify only works with regards to the player character. See SweepAttack for NPC hit detection.
* SweepAttack: this is used to determine when an NPC’s weapon is permitted to damage an enemy. Note that it is a single point as opposed to a window. However, these notifies have collision boxes a*sociated with them standard, as opposed to CollisionNotifyState, which defaults to using the weapon mesh. Multiple notifies mean multiple opportunity for an NPC to hit an enemy.
* HyperArmorWindow: this notify is used to designate when the animation is protected from outside interruption (getting hit by an attack, for example). Most attacks have HyperArmor coverage, usually situated around the ‘execution’ phase of the attack. It’s important to keep the amount of coverage balanced as to not make the attack too under- or overpowered.
* WeaponTrailNotifyState: this notify is used for determining the type of weapon trail a*sociated with the attack, in addition to when it is active. There are several permutations of this notify corresponding to different types of effects (bleeds, sunders, block bypa*sing, etcetera). This is best used when a*signed with an appropriate status effect in the combo table.
TIP: to swap between these easily, right-click on the notify and select ‘Replace With Notify State’ and then choose from the selection, generally located near the bottom. Remember to look through the settings at the right side of the screen to make sure the weapon socket and trails used are appropriate.
* CapsuleSlideWindow: this notify window is used when an attack moves the character’s position to any significant degree. This prevents the character from pa*sing into the meshes of other things, such as NPCs or the terrain.
* SFX: these notifies, usually noted by their purple appearance, play arrays of sound effects at specific points during the animation. In addition, there are also notifies with a yellow appearance that govern sound effects such as footsteps or character noises.
You may want to experiment with different settings while you’re here, just be cautious and remember to use the ‘Undo’ function if accidentally delete / change something you can’t fix. For now, I will be returning back to our modded combo table to add our animations to the attacks.
IMPORTANT: DO NOT SAVE ANY CHANGES MADE TO THE SKELETON.
We have now reached the point where we will merge our data tables and turn our project into a functioning mod.
Load up the ModController (it tends to take a while the first time in a session). From the window where it first puts you (usually the Viewport), use the tabs at the top of the windows to navigate to ‘Mod Data Table Operations’. From here we will be able to merge the tables.
The amount of functions we are able to perform in this tab are limited, but enough to accomplish what we are looking to do. Right-click anywhere in the window to bring up a list of options. We will be given four options, three of which directly pertain to adjusting data tables; we have the commands ‘Merge Data Tables’, ‘Clear Data Table’, and ‘Remove Data Table Rows’. We will not generally be using the ‘Clear’ function.
Select the ‘Merge’ function, which should create a block with some input lines. The ‘Target’ option isn’t useful for what we’re doing, but for the ‘Merge Into’ option, select the game’s table (in our case either Itemtable or DT_ComboRules). For the ‘To Be Added’ option, select the modded table that corresponds to that table’s structure. If you want to merge another table, simply create another Merge block and repeat the process.
If you would like to remove rows from a specific table, select the ‘Remove’ function. For the ‘Remove’ function to work, you will need to connect an array with the IDs you want to remove listed inside. To do so, either select ‘Make Array’ or drag a line from the Row ID icon, which will automatically create an array.
You will now have to connect these blocks to the starting block for the modcontroller to know what to do. Simply drag a line from the icon of the starting block to the ‘Merge’ block, and then from that block to the next, if there are any more.
Congratulations, the data tables should now merge when the mod is loaded into the game. For now, we will go on to the process of ‘cooking’ the mod and testing it in-game.
Now that our ModController is correctly configured to merge the data tables, we have only one last task to perform to get the mod in operating condition.
We will have to ‘cook’ the mod, which essentially bundles all the loose files into a compressed and encrypted .pak file. To do so, click the wand and plug icon which says ‘Conan Exiles DevKit’ at the top of the main window. This will open up the Mod Info window, which can be used to a*sign a name, organize the version number, add a description, select a picture, and ultimately upload the mod to the Steam Workshop.
Once you have a*signed the mod a name, version number, and given it a description, select the ‘Build Mod’ option. This will start the ‘cooking’ process. This process can take several minutes, so keep that in mind. You can select the ‘Compress Pak’ option if you want, but it seems to compress the size anyway.
Once the cooking process is complete, a small window will pop up saying one of several things; the process was successful, it was successful with warnings, or it was unsuccessful because of an error. In most cases there shouldn’t be any issues, but if there are, make sure to look through the Output Log to see specifically what the problem. In addition, check the Basic Troubleshooting Addendum for some help.
Once the mod is successfully built, there are a couple ways to get it from the DevKit to your game. I generally use the now-accessible ‘Built Mod Folder’ to find the location of the .pak file, copy it, and navigate to my Conan Exiles mod folder. The pathway to the folder is:
From there, you can go in-game (Singleplayer) and enable the mod, or enable it via modlist.txt (also in that folder).
The second method is to upload the mod to the Steam Workshop and subscribe to it there. If you are doing so, I recommend keeping the mod set to ‘Hidden’ until you are ready to share it with other people. It somewhat annoying wading through a sea of "TESTING DO NOT USE PLEEZ!!!" mods in the Workshop. Don’t contribute to it.
If you have a relatively powerful computer, you could leave the DevKit running while starting up Conan Exiles (I usually do that and nothing bad has happened… yet). If not, close out of the DevKit and get in-game. Either way, once you’re in-game and the mod is enabled, it’s time to test if everything works as intended.
And it works! Mostly. I have an issue with the Heavy attack animation (which is known for being annoying to work with) not progressing to the execution phase, but that’s an issue to solve for another time.
If it works for you, congratulations! If not, you can always go back to the DevKit and iron out the issues.
Conclusion and Additional Resources
Well there you have it! Hopefully this guide has been helpful to you, at least to some degree.
Have a good one!
* https://conanexiles.gamepedia.com/Category:Modding – this collection of modding guides on the wiki can help with modding endeavors outside the scope of this guide.
* https://discord.gg/66jB9dN – this is the Conan Exiles Modding Discord server. There are a large amount of modders who participate in helping each other out with modding projects. I do not frequent it very often, but you may be able to find a*sistance with whatever you’re looking for there. Remember to follow the rules.
Addendum: Basic Troubleshooting
In this addendum, I will be covering a couple ways to fix issues that have arisen in your mod project.
Before I begin, I want to make this very clear: this is the full extent of troubleshooting help you will get from me here. I will not be responding to every person’s issue. The Conan Exiles Modding Discord (linked in the Conclusion and Additional Resources section) is more able and likely to help you.
I accidentally edited and saved a base game a*set. How do I undo this?
When you edit a base game a*set in the DevKit, it doesn’t actually overwrite the file itself. Instead, it makes a copy in your mod’s Content folder. To solve the issue, the file simply needs to be deleted. To find it, navigate to:
This can also be quickly accessed from the DevKit by selecting the ‘Active Folder’ option in the Mod Info window.
There will always be at least two folders (Collections and Developers) in the Content folder. If you edited an a*set, it will show up in a third folder. You can delete the entire chain of folders from the Content folder to solve the issue.
When I cook the mod, it says there are warnings.
In my experience, this is often caused when the DevKit can’t find certain files in your mod’s folder (likely because you deleted them). There is often a trace left of this file still in the folder that needs to be removed. Navigate to:
and search the folders for any tiny file remnants. I recommend sorting by size to easily identify them (they are usually 1-2 KB in size). Make sure to not accidentally delete any small data tables or the modcontroller.
When I cook the mod, it says there are errors.
In my experience, errors are generally caused when a particularly important base game a*set is edited, causing the links it has to other a*sets to break. This can be solved the same way as the first issue above.
I would like to change the name of my mod’s folder.
That is a somewhat technical process, I would recommend looking at the specific guide to do that located here:
Be sure to make a backup of your mod projects in the event that you break your mod.
One of Funcom’s game updates has broken my mod.
This is likely due to changes Funcom has made with the structure of certain data tables (such as DT_ComboRules). The only way to address those is to find out what the changes are and to make appropriate changes so that your mod is compatible with the new structure.
When I give a weapon different attack animations, the weapon is sideways / upside-down.
This has to do with the way weapon sockets are handled by the game. The sockets are integrated into the skeleton and thus very annoying to work with. It’s theoretically possible to move the sockets via keyframes, but that is a more advanced technique. You’re better off looking for a different animation at that point.
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