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    PQ | Features | Mailbag | July 7, 2000
   

PQ Mailbag

Pre-Holiday Mailbag

Yes, that's right, starting today, I'm on holiday; I'm gone to Vancouver for a week, so please don't send lots of stuff to my e-mail address, spyke@planetquake.com. I would really hate to have lots of mail waiting for me when I get home. The last time I went away, I had over 300 messages waiting for me. So please be really nice. Hellchick will be handling the Mailbag next week. Be nice to her. Or I'll tire-iron the lot of ya.

One Man Gang

This week, Doom Trooper submitted an interesting editorial; "Party of One, Your Mod is Ready" takes a look at the challenges faced when one person decides to make a mod by themselves. A very interesting concept, and one that I've pondered, it's definitely more than 2 handfuls. While only a minute amount of feedback was recieved on this one, it's some very interesting mail. Check it!

From: witchdr.freeserve.co.uk
Subject: RE: Doom Trooper's Article

I would dispute some of the claims.

As a one man mod-maker and creator of GF2:Ascension hosted here on Planetquake I would like to say that my coding experience in the realms of modding (using the game Kingpin) very much started as a I wonder what happens if I change this 10 to a 20 and it started from there. Certainly I'm no Gooseman when it comes to mod-making (yet!) but it's a learning curve. If people who have no coding experience want to make a mod I would encourage them to mess around with the code, certainly you may miss Quake 3 for your uber-mod but you will be to catch the next generation game.

WDA

From: [QBS] Quadrant
Subject: onmanmod

hi mate,

i just thought i would mention that you might take a look at my mod as it is a oneman mod ive done all the work my self ive only had friends play testing and the odd graphic thats it if you would like to mention it its QuadKill hosted at http://www.planetquake.com/quadkill

From: Aubrey 'PainBerry' Hesselgren
Subject: Going it Alone

Dear Friendly Spyke,

I'd have to agree with Doom Trooper a lot on his well written and intensely stimulating and satisfying article.

It's true that all we've been fed before in this "how to make a mod" style article is "no team, no mod". That really shouldn't hold you back, though. Some of the best mods I've played have been dragged along on the back of very very few contributers. Kick, Lithium, Dirty and Devastation are good examples where lack of man power has been overcome by strong fundamental game design, excellent unsullied gameplay and good implementation. Infact the only mod I still play that required quite a few contributors is Slide for quake 1.

Smaller mods also boast a shallow learning curve which means just about anyone can jump in and not get owned upon by someone who has been playing the mod for 1 hour more than others.

Sometimes a LACK of outside "help" is far more preferable than people clambering the moral ground with cries of "We're a team. Everyone has a say. Our opinions don't suck, they COUNT" then adding the Auto aiming, 1 shot kill, rapid fire, wall penetrating sniper rifle (uhhgg). It ain't all bad. But you'd be surprised how many people expect you to put in an unbalancing feature because it seems superficially cool.

It is possible that your pure ideal for the mod you're making is a more achievable target, and a more beautiful design than what too-many-cooks can broil together. Just as you'll inevitably force some kind of quality control on skins, models and maps, you should ALSO force the same stringant rules on the single most over-looked, and single most important aspect of the mod: Game Design and Implementation. Letting Joe llama's ideas affect these will lead to large learning curves and unbalanced gameplay in your mod. When that happens, not even good modelling and maps can save you (unless you count one very popular Half-Life mod I don't like to mention. Left my Falme Proof suit at home :). Sometimes stubbourness and arrogance is the answer (if, and only if you know what you're doing).

I know exactly the situation that Doom Trooper has and is going through having done one Semi-TC (Matrix Quake) with far from huge amounts of help from others (although thanks to those mappers and coders who DID contribute). I've also produced a pretty fun if short lived mod in the form of Leper Quake 2. Its "custom" maps came from authors who had no original intention of using them for the mod - that's the beauty of a simple DM mod - map compatability. You don't have to let the fact that you don't have modellers and mappers under your command. Borrow. Ask first. If the answer's "no", STEAL!

There's no way one can totally do without any help in any shape or form. Doom Trooper has very obviously borrowed Q-Devels tutorials for some feature of his mod, at least to give him some sort of referance (as have we all). The Big Furry is hosting him as well. All this counts as help towards a finalised, well pimped mod.

But as far as having no static team is concerned, it can do wonders for the control you have over YOUR mod. Some natural talent for game design and experiance in coding helps though... of course, if you have both of those, you've probably got a team already :).

Aubrey 'PainBerry' Hesselgren

Spyke: Now that PainBerry's done his master's thesis, I guess I can comment. :) I'm not a mod maker, although I'm sure that if I had some extra time, I could be. I've had a few ideas for mods, ones that I could realistically do by myself. While I'm not a master artist, modeller or animator, I could learn; my coding skill is pretty much at the level where I can comfortably work within the Q3A source, and I can always get pointers from elsewhere. The one problem holding me back is that it's a lot of work for one person to take on, and it's also a lot of work to get a good team together. The reason I say good team is that, if you don't have friends who are into what you're doing, it's a pain in the ass. You'll be able to find people who want to join a team, but don't have the skills, or are lazy and don't want to do anything. So if you're doing it all by yourself, you've got a lot of responsibility, but it's all on you. To all the one-man mod makers out there, hats off!

Lee'Mon: Doom Trooper's absolutely right... it's entirely possible to do simple modding on your own, and even relatively complicated mod work over a long-term period. Such solo ventures shouldn't be quashed; in fact, it's the best way to learn preliminary mod design and code structure. Plus, there's no one else to promise content that falls through.

As I've said before, a successful mod comes down to the intangibles. All the extra eye and ear candy in the world is nothing compared to a solid, fun mod idea. The next great mod can come from a one-person show as easily as a full pro-am team. So, it all comes down that one great intangible: as long as you're having fun, have at it!

On Page 2: Leftover Gibs Galore


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