Hello all! It's with great pleasure I announce the release of a Bionicle Heroes mod I've been working on for some time - the first mod on ModDB for Bionicle Heroes! Introducing - Bionicle Heroes: Myths of Voya Nui! https://www.moddb.com/mods/bionicle-heroes-myths-of-voya-nui
This mod and a lot of the work within it would not have been possible without help from a few people - Sl0th and Iridium77 from one of my mod teams, Raising the Bar: Redux, who helped me work out the sound and texture formats and how to mod them respectively. Additionally, Hexadecimal Mantis over at Biomedia Project created several scripts that made previewing changes and extracting game content much easier. Finally, maver1k_xvii gave me one of his experimental scripts that, whilst not being used in the development of MOVN, allows me to look through older content in the game, and may lead to some interesting model ports in the future.
Now then - on with describing the changes coming to you in MOVN!
Part of what I considered a problem in Bionicle Heroes was how the Toa felt tremendously unbalanced - in the majority of encounters, Kongu's fast movement speed and high time-to-kill made him feel like the only obvious choice at Level 1, 2, and 3. Nuparu Level 3 is also very powerful, but carries the penalty of having a mortar attack, which balances him out a bit. My objective with the gameplay regarding the Toa is to pull most of them up to Kongu's level. Given Bionicle Heroes is very much a casual game, I wanted all Toa to be equally fun to play, rather than nerfing Kongu and Nuparu (which would have the side effect of making the game quite a bit harder). A number of changes went into making this happen, across all three levels of Toa, with most Toa at Level 1 and 2 getting extensive changes. Level 3 is the most well-rounded, though some Toa still received buffs and changes here.
-Made all Toa have the same movement speeds and slightly improved turn rates to make all Heroes equally fun to control, as well as an increased FOV. The excruciatingly slow movement of Hewkii and Matoro made them quite frustrating to play, and Hahli, already the least powerful and useful Toa, did not benefit from a movement penalty. As a result, all Heroes now move at Kongu's speed, and all Heroes (including Kongu) turn a little faster to make static elevator sections a little better. The improved FOV helps the Heroes have less tunnel vision and allows you to take in more of Bionicle Heroes' reasonably nice environments. Hewkii, with this change, doesn't really require further buffs - which is why you'll see I made no changes to him. Kongu, of course, was already top-dog in most situations.
Level 1 Toa
-Raised Jaller's Level 1 firing rate and slightly decreased his damage - his result is a higher and more satisfying time to kill. Jaller is the rapid-fire Hero, and having a weapon that blitzes through enemies is both more fun and interesting than his previous incarnation. The slight damage nerf, however, doesn't make him overpowered at Level 1.
-Raised Hahli's Level 1 effective range and her damage. Hahli is by far the least useful and weakest Toa in vanilla Bionicle Heroes. She still does not have as high a time to kill as Jaller or Kongu, but her increased range means she is more viable at mid-range and the damage improvement means she can more comfortably deal with clusters of weak enemies. Using her no longer feels like a downgrade compared to other Toa.
-Raised Matoro's Level 1 damage very slightly so he can one-shot weak Bohrok and most Visorak. Stronger Bohrok varieties will still require two shots. This was due to his role as a sniper feeling less powerful when his attack couldn't one-shot basic enemies from the hip.
-Slightly raised Nuparu's Level 1 range and damage. Nuparu sees a significant power spike at level 3 but his level 1 and level 2 weapons are very underwhelming, so this aims to make the mortar just a bit more reliable.
Level 2 Toa
-Raised Jaller's Level 2 firing speed and damage - his DPS at Level 2 was previously very ineffective, but a small increase of both raises them to more satisfying levels. In some ways his Level 2 attack felt like a downgrade compared to Level 1. This ensures a better progression between upgrade tiers.
-Raised Hahli's Level 2 range and damage - for the same reasons as raising the level 1 stats. Hahli is one of the only Toa to receive major buffs across all three upgrade tiers, given her previously ineffective status.
-Slightly raised Nuparu's Level 2 range and damage - same reasons as raising Level 1 stats. This change ensures that the massive power spike at Level 3 Nuparu feels a little more balanced with previous levels.
Level 3 Toa
-About doubled Jaller's Level 3 firing speed but decreased his damage a few points - the result is still a higher TTK more in keeping with his rapid-fire attack. Jaller's Level 3 attack didn't feel like an evolution on the design of the character as a rapid-fire close-ranged blitzer. These changes keep this motif whilst also making it the most dangerous incarnation of Jaller.
-Increased Hahli's Level 3 beam damage and slightly increased effective range - for the same reasons as raising Level 1 and 2 stats. With this change, with clusters of very weak enemies, Hahli becomes very effective at quickly chaining her attacks between them. Her increased effective range also makes her more useful during boss battles.
The main problem I felt was present with the Piraka characters was they often weren't true evolutions of their Toa counterparts' attacks, combined with the fact that most of them, with the exception of Hakann and Vezon, had similar attacks. Hakann didn't feel fit for purpose or in keeping with his character, whilst Vezon felt underpowered considering for many players, playing as him may well be their third playthrough of all game levels for 100% completion. My changes aim to make each Piraka feel more like an evolution of their Toa, with the design philosophy being each Piraka should be better than their respective Level 3 Toa in most situations. The exception to this philosophy is Vezon - who, again, as the final unlockable character and most likely the one players use the most on a 100% playthrough, is intended to be better than any other character in almost all situations.
-Made all Piraka have the same movement speeds, FOV, and turn rates as the Toa. I wanted to make sure the Piraka were on an equal footing with the Toa in these respects to keep them from sinking below some of the newly-buffed Toa.
-Thok: instead of just a generic beam weapon, Thok now fires out two very strong ice projectiles every 1.2 seconds. These projectiles travel very quickly and also have high range, making him as effective as Matoro at mid-to-long range, though for long-to-very long range sniping Matoro is still king. Thok feels like more of an evolution on Matoro, covering one of his weaknesses whilst not outshining Matoro in long-range engagements.
-Hakann: Hakann's attack speed was upped, damage reduced, and some small amount of spread added to his projectiles. To make him stand out further from Jaller, his attacks also have a small AOE damage radius and a small amount of AOE damage, making him better at handling groups of enemies than Jaller and overall more powerful at short range whilst not having Jaller's mid-range capability.
-Vezok: Vezok's beam attack received a damage buff and a slight range increase to push it to being a bit more powerful than level 3 Hahli, but otherwise his attack seemed very fitting for him, and received the least tweaks.
-Zaktan: Zaktan's rapid-fire projectile attack has been replaced with a shotgun attack with a tight spread, firing four projectiles at once roughly three times a second. His original homing effect remains but the range of the projectiles is significantly reduced, making him a strong close-range competitor to Kongu, but level 3 kongu has slightly more effectiveness at longer ranges. Zaktan's VFX has also been changed so his projectiles are green and the hit VFX is green, too, to better represent his elemental colours.
-Reidak: Reidak's sonic beam attack has been replaced for a modified version of the Piraka fragmentation Zamor - now firing at a rate of just over one a second with a reasonable blast radius, Reidak is not the "nuke the screen" option Nuparu is, but he is able to wreak havoc with smaller groups of enemies due to the volume of AOE explosions he can put out, trading reliability for sheer volume
-Avak: Avak's rapid fire bullet has been replaced with a slow firing barrage of three explosive bullets which do high single-target damage and have a small amount of AOE, styled after the third level Hewkii attack in Bionicle Heroes DS
-Vezon: Vezon has been massively suped-up so he feels properly like an end-game unlock character, whereas before he often fell short of level 3 Toa heroes. He shoots a barrage of four projectiles at a time five times a second with a small AOE, though the damage of each projectile has been reduced and there is a bit of spread. Nevertheless he is now chaos incarnate in most encounters, and ensures the third and final playthrough of Bionicle Heroes for 100% completion is both an exciting romp and a breeze.
There are a number of small inconsistencies and mild issues with Bionicle Heroes I sought to rectify. Unfortunately, due to the lack of true modding tools for the game, actual level geometry and bugs with progression are nearly impossible to tweak at this time. I still feel the overall vision of the mod is achieved through the changes above alone, but there remains room for a more comprehensive overhaul should the necessary tools and breakthroughs in modding knowledge be made.
-Made first level start you with only Jaller to reflect the game's canon. This does not affect progression and helps make a new game playthrough more tonally consistent.
-Made hero mode in the bonus levels basically unobtainable - it seemed to go against the spirit of these levels as tough challenge levels when usually a third of the way in you'd get invincibility for the rest of it. As a result, Bonus Levels are tougher but feel better fitting in the game's sandbox.
-Added Hahli to the starting roster in Thok's boss level, as she's otherwise unobtainable in this level. Going without one of the six core Toa for a whole level arbitrarily felt like a slap in the face for Hahli. Thok's boss level is all-round very unrefined and probably the worst out of all of the Piraka boss levels - I wish I'd been able to do more with his actual level as the other Piraka have vast, interesting arenas where their boss level takes place. Thok feels hard-done by in comparison.
-Fixed bug where Thok's ground pound attack and ranged attack were swapped, meaning his ranged attack action would instead trigger the ground pound and vice versa, reducing his effectiveness in his boss fight. He now correctly fires his projectiles at the player and ground-pounds when nearby. This goes some way to making his boss fight a bit more satisfying.
Thanks to Iridium77, the workflow for injecting custom textures into Bionicle Heroes was worked out. Whilst it requires manual hex-editing, the results in-game are hard to argue with. I had a few inconsistencies I wanted to work out, and hopefully these changes will make the game a little more visually satisfying for long-time Bionicle fans.
-Made Vahki textures more accurate to their set counterparts - the main edit being the headpiece. In the vanilla game they were all grey - their colours are now correct to the sets.
-Made Nidhiki's head texture more accurate to his canon depiction - grey head, green back headpiece. All associated unlock images and splash screens have also been updated
-Made all Piraka weapon worldmodels (so the weapon models they hold when not used by the player) more consistent with the player viewmodels, but due to them having a totally different model in all cases with different UVs, this is only an approximate consistency
Whilst I felt the Toa weapons were reasonably good looking, I felt the Piraka weapons needed more work to look closer to their set counterparts. I did, however, also want to preserve the art style of Heroes, with the alternating elemental colouring on the player weapons.
-All Piraka weapons have received texture improvements. Added gold accents to Reidak's player weapon to make it more visually consistent with the set version, but retained elemental colouring for visual consistency with other weapon models in the game. Avak received more dark silver accents to the player weapon and a changed contrast/saturation. Zaktan's weapon had gold accents added and changed a few of the elementally coloured areas to have a better spread of colours between silver, gold, and green. Finally, Thok's weapon got more blue accents to to make a few areas more tonally consistent.
A few miscellaneous changes were made visually throughout the game. These are mostly flavourful additions I did for my own interest, though I feel they add to the experience of the mod.
-Modified unlock images to be more accurate - the Avohkii uses the cut GUI texture found in the game files (wonder what it's doing there?), and the Vahki use modified images to reflect the changes to their model textures
-Restored original status screen from the Bionicle Heroes demo with some additional detail, though colours were inverted since the original was dark coloured and the status screen text is black
-Modified main menu screen to use a unique logo for the mod!
Little crusty but the version in the files is quite a bit lower resolution unfortunately
Bionicle Heroes: Myths of Voya Nui is currently complete, and is playable now, over at ModDB: https://www.moddb.com/mods/bionicle-heroes-myths-of-voya-nui More videos will be appearing on my YouTube account like the ones above showing the new gameplay in action with annotations to say what has been changed. It's been a fun time, and I'm thrilled to be finally able to release a mod for Bionicle Heroes after reading about so many modding attempts over the years.
If you want to know how I did much of the above, check out the following wiki, where modding Bionicle Heroes is actively being documented! I encourage you to give it a go - with the tutorials I've placed onto the wiki, more aesthetic mods like music changes and more are very possible! https://bionicle-heroes-datamining.fandom.com/wiki/Bionicle_Heroes_-_Datamining_Wiki
Your myth will begin soon, Toa Heroes! Stay tuned!