Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why mod?

I was recently asked the following question: "What is that makes you want to do modding?" Surprisingly, this isn't an easy question to answer, as there are many reasons to do so.  In today's slightly narcissistic post, I'd like to discuss some of the things that keep me coming back to my game-related projects.

I've always the artistic process of creation in many forms. Be it writing, drawing, digital art or music, the desire to create something new and interesting was always a great appeal to me.  The process of game creation allows many of those aspects to be combined into an interactive format for players.

While this is arguably a subset of my first point, it's a major factor behind my interest in RPGs. The attraction of an intricate tale and interesting characters is a very powerful drawcard for me, so the narrative strength of an RPG is a natural choice. It's like creating a choose-your-own adventure novel as well as a game. 

A Love of Gaming
I have had a passion for games ever since I was a child, playing games many people wouldn't recognise (has anyone ever heard of Repton or Citadel?) and have embraced the massive improvements in technology that has allowed for increasingly amazing games.

This might seem like an odd reason, but I take a great deal of joy in creating something that I feel is well-crafted. There is a reason I'll spend hours putting the finishing touches on a level, proofreading and editing dialogue, playtesting, and all the other little touches to make it "just right". 

Delivering to Gamers
There's something special about making a gamer happy and hearing how much they enjoyed playing something you've made. The enjoyment of creation and subsequently seeing your efforts played by people is a great reward.

The Industry
Lastly, I love working on creating games, and I'd love to be able to get paid to do it. I treat my modding work as somewhat of an on-going resume towards this goal, in the hope that it will demonstrate my skills and dedication to a prospective employer.

So, there are some of the key reasons that keep me coming back to create levels, adventures and gaming experiences for players. I imagine some of my reasons would be common, but I'd be interested to know the driving force behind others who create games. But for me, the above are why I keep trying to improve my work and look for ways to perfect scenes like the work in progress below...

 A small rural village


  1. I need a creative outlet. So point one. Since I'm being let go at the end of this week, I suppose the last point would be nice too.

  2. Why mod?

    - Accelerated development. By modding rather than starting from scratch you can go straight to creating gameplay, saving enormous amounts of time. As a lone modder or short team, this lets you ship more and more often, the trade-offs are easily worth it. I might have my gripes about the Dragon Age game system (potions, mages aargh), but if I was implementing my own I'd still be at it and it would probably be worse in some special snowflake way.

    - Built-in audience. While I think only a small fraction of Dragon Age players are playing campaign mods, a small fraction of millions still works out to a big audience. This is really helpful from a learning curve P.o.V as well as attracting players - the pacing of Fragments relies on players already knowing DA:O. Classic Week relies on them being good at it :)

    - Lone creator. The same factors that make it possible to ship rapidly in modding make it possible to do by yourself. While I think teams are the best way to create content, a lot of my time is taken up by fixed commitments to other team environments - work and WoW. Solo modding lets me work a somewhat random schedule around them and still ship things from time to time!

    Why make games?

    - The most interesting problems. I work in software development, but I'm not enough of an engineer to love it for its own sake. It's only rarely that I get that exquisite flow/problem-solving-high doing what I'm paid for. If I spend a day implementing a boss fight or figuring out how party scripting works, I'm in that state the whole time. I'm orders of magnitude more productive working on a module than my job because I can sustain that level of engagement. Gameplay creation is a fascinating problem-space, whether it's video games, tabletop, LARP or whatever.

    Otherwise I feel the same drives as you to varying extents, especially doing it for a living one day (must ship more, make portfolio >.>). I struggle with the writing drive though, as while I can do it (Classic Week's writing seems to go over well) and can enjoy it, it requires a significant gear-shift from scripting/encounter design. I'd probably do better with it if I organised my workflow to separate them, but doing them together seems like it helps to emulate the Bioware gameplay/story synergy.

  3. "Lastly, I love working on creating games, and I'd love to be able to get paid to do it. I treat my modding work as somewhat of an on-going resume towards this goal, in the hope that it will demonstrate my skills and dedication to a prospective employer."
    You seem to have a fairly extensive portfolio already. I'm guessing you have been looking for a game industry-related job all this time? If not, you should.