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Author Topic: What do you think is the best approach to build a MOD?  (Read 16391 times)

DavoX

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What do you think is the best approach to build a MOD?
« on: January 04, 2008, 11:16:40 AM »

That's right... post your thoughts about mod making here, please don't start with stupid shit like "it's worthless to start a mod because it will always die LOLOLLOLO ROFLMAO".

Me:

I think that a mod should be done on 3 phases:
1) Brainstorming, get everyone together and disscuss as many ideas as possible.
2) Design document: Make a "guide-book" for everyone to follow it's instructions, it could contain concept art, map designs, concept for characters, their profiles, which weapons should there be and how they could look like, etc. So everyone doesn't feel like "OMG SO MUCH PRESSURE I DUNNO WHAT TO DO, WHAT IF SOMEONE IS ALREADY DOING THE SAME THING".
3) Implementation: Bring whatever is in the Design Document to reality, be it by mapping; modelling; drawing; writting; coding, etc.

Of course, good team communication, not only on forums since that just leaves you hanging for an answer (forums should be used for questions that don't need an immediate answer) but also on Irc for example, everyone could gather there and talk.

What are your suggestions for a good MOD making and team working?
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Geoffrey

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Re: What do you think is the best approach to build a MOD?
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2008, 03:01:28 PM »
1) don't make a design document
2) don't make concept art
3) don't make a 'progress meter'

In short, don't force yourself to work on a 'project'

F3d failed because of these things. Zombie Crisis (army of death, dukevr) succeeded, because I didn't do any of these things. The most important thing in my opinion is getting an idea, and getting it out of your head the proper way. You simply can't make everything you want, and you shouldn't force yourself to do this.

Sure I'd like to make a mod with custom 3d monsters and 3d weapons and all of that, but I don't know how to animate in 3dmax. Now, if I ever make a mod with animated 3d objects then I wouldn't have learned this by working on the mod; I would've learned it sometime sooner while I was working on a school assignment or something. In my experience it never pays off to try to do new things with a mod that you're not really sure about. I don't mean you should never try anything new, I just mean that if you know shit about photoshop then you shouldn't plan to use home-made textures and menu images you plan to draw. And in my case, if you know shit about coding then you shouldn't base your entire mod on cool con effects. F3d was all visual, my part in zombie crisis is all visual, dukevr was mostly visual and centered around a basic idea. The only one that stands out is army of death, but my brother helped me with that. Otherwise it would never have gotten released.

I think this goes for alot of people, just look at what kind of projects everybody's working on. DT > con mod. James > con mod + atmospheric mapping. Mikko (if he's working on something) > episode of maps with some code work by DT or James. These are the things that get released. Giant mods like Survival or Borg Nukem are the things that get delayed and delayed, and finally feel more like a giant cbp with one central theme than 'one project'.

The only thing breaking this 'rule' is ssttc, which was both big and awesome. Hats off to those guys :)
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DaVince

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Re: What do you think is the best approach to build a MOD?
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2008, 06:19:00 PM »
1) don't make a design document
A design document can help you plan everything out: what will you have, what won't you have, what's the story like, what are all the extras and ideas for a mod? It's useful to make such a document as you have almost everything planned out and scoped in advance making it easier to just work on it. Note that I'm not mentioning any dates - just most of the design and plans for your mod.
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James

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Re: What do you think is the best approach to build a MOD?
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2008, 06:36:28 PM »
Survival has one and it hasn't helped at all - if anything it's hindering development since games change significantly during development. I think the best approach to building a mod is to not approach it like you're at a job, and just take it for what it is - a hobby in your free time. There will be unpatient people who whine but that's just part of the negative side of modding. They put an emotional 'investment' in your mod, which is good if it pays off but if it doesn't then they can be the most vindictive people you'll face.
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Sang

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Re: What do you think is the best approach to build a MOD?
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2008, 06:53:26 PM »
My opinion = Geoffrey's opinion
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DaVince

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Re: What do you think is the best approach to build a MOD?
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2008, 08:16:35 PM »
Survival has one and it hasn't helped at all - if anything it's hindering development since games change significantly during development. I think the best approach to building a mod is to not approach it like you're at a job, and just take it for what it is - a hobby in your free time. There will be unpatient people who whine but that's just part of the negative side of modding. They put an emotional 'investment' in your mod, which is good if it pays off but if it doesn't then they can be the most vindictive people you'll face.
Okay, but I suffer the opposite - at some point I'm just out of ideas (and sometimes ways to improve stuff), and though map designing does change quite a lot more a design doc works out better for me.
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DavoX

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Re: What do you think is the best approach to build a MOD?
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2008, 10:45:19 PM »
Ok, it's no problem that people don't like the Design Document, but doesn't that mean that things are unorganized? like "hey I don't want a document because I want to do whatever I want whenever I want" Which means a project doesn't have an specific goal...

I found myself working way faster when I had a source of reference rather than just "improvising", because if you're a mapper, most of the time you'll be wandering around the map trying to get an idea and finally you'll give up.

All in all, I think that if people are organized and commit to make a mod they would follow a Design Document as a guide. I think that not doing so would mean that I'm making my own story, my own map, my own con effects,etc that wouldn't have anything to do with the actual mod.
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Trooper Dan

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Re: What do you think is the best approach to build a MOD?
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2008, 12:35:02 AM »
I was in the middle of writing a long post and then the power went out, due to a storm, and I lost it.

Anyway:

Unless you have a ton of experience doing this sort of thing, trying to make a proper design document ahead of time is folly.  Your assumptions will be flawed, and the specifications based on those assumptions will be useless, and so on.

Start with a few ideas that inspire you.  If it's a mod that just adds stuff to an existing game (like Duke Plus) you can dive in right away and start trying to implement your ideas.  There's not much need for planning in that case, since the game already exists and you're just adding bells and whistles to it.  The worst that can happen is that some feature will have to be scrapped or redone.

If you're trying to make a substantially new game, then you need at least a vague image of what you would like the finished product to be like.  Then, make a realistic assessment of your resources.  Your resources include how much time you have to work on it, your abilities, the materials you have or that can be acquired, and the likely contributions of other people.  With your resources in mind, adjust your image of the finished product to something that can be completed within at most two years (I think it's pretty dumb if your initial plan for a mod has it taking more than two years, since most projects end up going longer than planned).  At this point, it might be a good idea to write some stuff down so you don't forget your brainstorms.  But don't glorify it by calling it a "design document" and think you have to stick with these early ideas, as that will only hamper you later.

Make sure that your project plays to your strengths.  If it calls for you to do a lot of things that you aren't good at, and/or don't like doing, then you will fail.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 12:38:21 AM by DeeperThought »
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MSandt

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Re: What do you think is the best approach to build a MOD?
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2008, 02:15:30 AM »
2) don't make concept art

Yeah, idiots spending all their time making fancy concept art are just wasting everyone's time. Never got the point. Oh well, maybe it's a way of compensating for lack of any real work.
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Trooper Dan

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Re: What do you think is the best approach to build a MOD?
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2008, 04:15:13 AM »
2) don't make concept art

Yeah, idiots spending all their time making fancy concept art are just wasting everyone's time. Never got the point. Oh well, maybe it's a way of compensating for lack of any real work.

A sketch can give a definite form to something before making a model of it, which is useful for some people.  Check out the eyeball-camera sketch to in-game model that Kaiser did recently (posted in the Imperium trailer thread), for example.  A sketch gives quick feedback about how something will look without a big time investment.  In a collaborateive project, it can be shown around to get approval before the detailed version is made.

What IS stupid is when someone who doesn't know what they're doing spends time making concept art.  For example, if I were to make concept art for a TC and then tell a modeller to follow my design.  The person with the talent should be the one doing both the sketch (if they want to) and the final product, not trying to follow the direction of a wannabe artist.  Generally speaking, if you suck at making the detailed version, you're going to suck at making a design as well.
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kenia

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Re: What do you think is the best approach to build a MOD?
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2008, 06:20:33 AM »
Quote
Start with a few ideas that inspire you.  If it's a mod that just adds stuff to an existing game (like Duke Plus) you can dive in right away and start trying to implement your ideas.

yeh, that was the way I was making dukearmy, just build on top of my old version. I already had maps, low res textures etc and just improved existing things. Then later on I added more and more things until I felt it was "ready". I never set myself any timelimit, well after a while I knew how much time it would take to finish the things I wanted to implement.

But most of the ideas came during editing and not during a brainstorm and I never wrote any design document.

Like mentioned above: If you dont want to do something really really BIG in a short time, you dont need a team. And projects that are based on a too big idea are in danger to fail. Catch an little idea, if its your hobby to make mods and you have free time just start editing.

Thats my opinion about Duke TCs, at bigger games where you need to know a programming language, deeper knowlegde of texturing (bumpmapping?) lightning effects etc etc you maybe need a proper design before starting. You maybe have to check what its possible, what would take most of the time and be sure that your design is realistic.
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DaVince

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Re: What do you think is the best approach to build a MOD?
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2008, 06:22:26 AM »
This topic inspired me to make a new map. I used a very small design doc though (THE GENERAL IDEA AND BASIC STUFF THAT'S IN THE MAP), I think that'll work out a lot better for me. I guess it kinda depends on the person, but of course such a document shouldn't become TOO detailed, maps change after all.
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Geoffrey

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Re: What do you think is the best approach to build a MOD?
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2008, 03:33:31 PM »
A sketch can give a definite form to something before making a model of it, which is useful for some people.  Check out the eyeball-camera sketch to in-game model that Kaiser did recently (posted in the Imperium trailer thread), for example.  A sketch gives quick feedback about how something will look without a big time investment.  In a collaborateive project, it can be shown around to get approval before the detailed version is made.

Absolutely, I guess I was a little to vague on that point. I have made sketches for models I've made for survival in mspaint, to get a good idea of what the thing will look like and such. It's really handy to have that on your screen while you're modelling. And for some f3d enemies I've made drawings too (see attached image). But they are all simple pencil/mspaint sketches, there really is no point in making it look really good with PhotoshopCS3/Painter if you're working with people/an engine that can't realise it. In short I'd say don't make concept art (just because the word's more commonly used for over the top CG stuff), but feel free to make sketches if you think you need them.

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