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The Mod Summit

by Maarten Goldstein, Feb 25, 2006 4:48am PST
Related Topics – Games: PC, Unreal Engine 3

1UP has a Mod Summit article, reprinting a recent Computer Gaming World feature. Various developers are asked about companies supporting the mod scene, while former mod-team project leads who are now working on retail games are asked about that transition. The last page of the article features interviews with current mod makers, asking them about the ability to take risks, developer support, things developers can do better, and handling feedback.

CGW: Given the exponential complexity of perpetually "next-gen" games with enormously complex 3D environments and increasingly sophisticated A.I. reactions, are you making mod toolkits more or less easy to pick up? JM: We've put a lot of time and effort into making tools for Unreal Engine 3 that are easier to use and more productive than past generations'. We needed to do this in order to offset the added complexity of next-generation game development. As a small development team, we have to constantly push the quality and productivity envelope to remain competitive with much larger shops. This creates a windfall for our games' modmakers because they can benefit from our investment in this area and also be more productive than people making mods for games that don't use our technology.




Comments

6 Threads | 10 Comments
  • Creating mods for current games is quite a task many gamers-go-modders underestimate.

    Many aim for something that incorporates attributes like "ultimate", "never seen bevore" or "best ever". Yet most don't even deliver a testbuild and if they do it's often nothing more than a few boxy maps with some custom textures of questionable quality.

    When Doom3 came out or even worse, the alpha got distributed, I experienced something that could be described best as mod announcement hysteria. Some people announced new mods weekly, re-announced their mods with more engine switches than Duke Nukem 4 Ever and delivered nothnig (as opposed to DNF which still has that promising 2001 promo vid - sorry to George for comparing mods with professional development, it's just a point to illustrate it better).

    I admit my mod-perspective comes solely from the Doom3/Quake4 technology background, so sorry if some point don't match with other engines which, as usual, are defended to death by their individual followers.

    From my perspective D3/Q4 mod development suffers from the following points:

    - too many people think a mod starts with an announcement of three lines of story (which often are so generic that you could make a unified mod out of 90% of them), a crappy website, no presentations of concept art / other media and recruitment requirements which appear to be copied out of industry job ads for senior designer positions.

    - modders not even able to make a single map yet announcing a TC

    - modders being overprotective of their work even if they can skim through all of id's / ravens stock maps for learning purposes.

    - modders too lazy to investigate the aforementioned stock maps and unwilling to learn the skills needed

    - modders underestimating the incredible amount of work needed to get even a new texture set done, let alone new models and animations - why do they often blame the tools for being too complex while they try to achieve complex results

    - too much time spent seeking attention and hopping all over message boards with automated replies on virtually any feature (or lack thereof) discussed: "Our mod will have it".

    - lack of leadership and defined design path

    - feature creep or better - absent feature list

    I wish people would acknowledge that they're overwhelmed with the tasks and build bigger teams to work on a mod. Sometimes it makes me wonder what's more important: The mod or the brand recognition an individual seeks.

    Current technologies are fun to work with, offer so much artistical freedom and allow creative minds to achieve great results, but they also require much more preplanning, project lead and skill.

    My 2 cents.




  • Also mods don't have to keep up with the look for big buget games, most people who play mods and download mods are more interested in gameplay.

    Hopefully this trend will lead mods to focus more on unique great gameplay, graphics are really not important. Besides often a unique interesting art style is more powerful than the best graphics or highest polycounts. Take WoW versus EQ2 as some what of an example.

    Even still, with lower poly models, less normals, inexpensive animations a mod can use many cool graphical powers of newer engines in cheap easy ways to make lower buget art look great. Look at how geometry wars takes old school vector graphics to the extreme with new effects.