I'm way cooler than n0e (who isn't though?)
27th May 2004
After disappearing for a while and doing some work on the mod, and game development scenes as a hobby on the side, Ive gained a helluva lot of knowledge, and Id like to share it with you. One section of this guide is also something I read in a magazine I get, so I included it here. :D
This will be a large, multi post guide to keeping and getting a mod team together, making the mod, useful recourses, and general tips.
I Hope this will be of use to some people, so here is the first part below.
PART ONE: 10 Things you should never do when designed a mod. Please dont remake another game. (Or as it seems with shooters, not another Team Fortress Clone..) For the love of all things, please, please, please do not recreate someone else's game! If you have nothing new to bring to the table except your desire to make a mod, go and join someone else's creative team. Imitation is a form of flattery, but it's rarely very exciting. The French call it homage - but their word for fish is supposedly similar to poison, so beware!
Never start without a design document. Mods are amateur by definition because you can't sell them without permission, but that doesn't mean you have to make the biggest amateur mistake there is. A design document is not a web page with a one-paragraph description of your feature list that is a list of games that your game won't be like. Plot the roadmap of your game plan and get it all down on paper.
Don't Get Foxed. The next stupid thing you can do is make your mod using someone else's intellectual property. When that someone is Fox Studios, who has considerably more lawyers than you, you'd better learn how to plea insanity or bankruptcy, lest someone makes a game about you being a human pinata! Actually, that could be kinda fun - we've heard of "going postal", now let's "get foxed!" Storm into Fox Studios' legal department and start quoting from their back catalogue, and watch the lawyers going into epileptic seizures as they get too excited over liigation opportunities.
Think Big! But plan small. There is nothing wrong with planning to conquer the world, but Rome wasn't built in a day either. Far too many mods have collapsed under the weight of their own expectations. Carpe Diem!
Never design a mod that punishes people for not playing the way you want them to play. This is a common amateur mistake, whereby a disgruntled mod guy decides to create a mod that restricts a style of play he personally despises. He gets to punish all those who play the game incorrectly - but he's missing the point of such games... that designing games is like making tampon commercials: how do you stop 50% of your audience from switching to something better before 30 seconds is over.
Never start with a webpage advertising every position. Nothing makes people close browsers faster than checking out a mod that is one guy with a web page. "I have this cool idea for a mod, all I need is five programmers, four animators, six level designers, a project manager, etc". Ideas are dirt-cheap in our world - implementation into a marketable product is the real trick. Make sure you hit the appropriate forums and get the ball rolling with like-minded people before going public.
Never assume you are going to make money. Chances are you won't. Ever. If by some quirk of fate you do manage to score a publishing deal, let me be first to say "congratulations!" Heck, buy me a drink with your new found wealth, and I will praise your miraculous achievement here in this very thread with all the humility I can offer.
Never flame h4ck0r5 who crash your game. The guys are actually testing your mod, and making it better! It's called free quality insurance, and although it's a pain to see all your hard work splutter and choke back into windows, it's a necessary evil. On top of the bugs your team will be trying to fix, don't add the disgruntled jerk who at least had the courtesy to download your mod, if not the gratitude to appreciate your efforts, who then spends considerable amounts of his time crashing your servers because you called him names on your public forum. No one wins this fight.
Never listen to John Romero. Believe the game you want to create is going to bring joy to people who play it - it's a noble profession, entertaining your fellow humans, so work on something that you care deeply about, and your work will shine because of it. You are not just a modder, you are an amateur game developer. The commercial games industry will continue to look toward middleware solutions with incremental release content delivery... which oddly enough, is a decent description of how mods are distributed, though without financial remuneration.
So there you have it - 10 simple pitfalls to avoid whilst modding. Ill add the next part, building a team, within the next few days.