Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Dragon Age Modding Scene

Coming from NWN2 modding, I was curious to see how the distribution of user made content would be handled for Dragon Age. In response to a question on the issue previous, I'd like to raise a few points on Dragon Age's modding community in terms of its visibility to players.

The first issue is BioWare's social site versus Dragon Age Nexus. As of the time of writing, Alley of Murders has approximately 5100 downloads on Dragon Age Nexus, and the project has around 4400 views on the BioWare social site. That to me is fairly hard evidence that a serious rework of the social site is necessary. To have more downloads on one site than views on another indicates a distinct preference for one site over the other. The number of categories (and their ambiguous naming) and the inability to filter out incomplete projects from released projects are significant problems with the social site at present. These have been brought to BioWare's attention, and they have declared their intent to fix it. However, it is my opinion that unless something is done quickly, they are in serious danger of losing the custom content battle with Dragon Age Nexus.

As for the reception to Alley of Murders, players have generally been positive, and I've found most feedback to be quite useful or constructive. Of course, there are a few exceptions to this, but that's to be expected within any modding community. I feel I've received far fewer complaints than I did in NWN2 and a lot more praise, but that could be attributed to a number of factors: improvement in my own skills, smaller scope of module, adding to existing content and style rather than pushing a different gaming experience, and fewer modules means that people are very happy to have additional content.

The sheer number of "mods" that add a new character/store/hairstyle/body model as opposed to additional quest add-ins is staggering, and it seems extremely difficult for quest modules to get a great deal of notice at the current point in time. Comparing votes and popularity on the relative sites has such mods far outranking the quest mods currently available, but I do not know whether this is a result of the tastes of Dragon Age gamers or simply a reflection of the fact that there are only a couple of quest add-ins available.

One thing that has remained consisted from my other modding efforts in the past is the difficulty in getting mods recognised and publicising their existence. Neither the social site nor Dragon Age nexus have a good means to compare similar types of modules aside from a basic '1 point if you like it' system. While a 1-10 ranking system is typically flawed because a multitude of mods end with ridiculously high rankings, it is better than a 1-up system. Of course, both system rely on players coming back and providing a score/point and a comment, which is not a guarantee either. Many players simply don't bother to score or comment on a mod, and that's entirely their perogative. However, I would strongly urge players to comment (and score, if possible) on mods they download and play/use. Speaking as a modder, I want to know if players have enjoyed my module and what they would like to see improved for future work. Within reason, of course, as modders don't have the resources of a professional game company. But please, if you want modders to keep making mods, let us know that you're playing them!

It's early days in Dragon Age modding, so it will be interesting to see what happens to assist builders and players alike. But at the current stage, the primary difficulty seems to be the PR required to get your module noticed and downloaded.


  1. Interesting. I'm glad to hear you feel you are getting good feedback (if insufficient, as always!) from the DA players.

    I was afraid the download to feedback ratio would be much lower. At 1.5% on DA Nexus (no way to evaluate the same on the Social Site...), it is somewhat lower than the 2-2.5% average on the NWVault for "good" mods, but it's still not terrible.

    I have to say at this stage that BW's commitment to file distribution via the SS is very disapointing. I'm thinking they will/should leave that part to DANexus. It's getting very late in the game for a reversal and I'm not sure their heart/resources are focused on that.

    If I can sugggest a part 2... How about the DA modding community itself? The support and camaraderie : how does it compare to NWN2?

  2. Interesting, I think the problem lies in, old school PC RPG gamers, like us, know about the lexus from day 1.... with the bioware social site, you have a large console base without the ability to get the content but meerely see what they are missing while sitting at work.

    I think that is the distinction... While I agree, searching for mods sorry "projects" can use the organization of the nexus, I disagree it is simply a result of layout... you are dealing with a different user base on the social site.

    Seasoned guys like us that have been enjoying your mods for years know where to go.