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Is game modding dying?

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  • Is game modding dying?

    It seems that not many are modding games anymore. Looking at the state of the industry you can see the signs. Fewer companies release tools for their engines for modders, some don't even include level editors or even dedicated servers anymore.

    Now I don't think the kids today are any stupider than previous generations, I have talked to some of them and I know there are some bright kids out there. Alot of them are dummies, but that's true of any generation. It just seems they lack imagination these days, the curiosity to take a game and modify it, and to try things for themselves. Coupled with the fact that companies are screwing them over with bland clones of last years bland clones and no modding tools, I think that we are entering into a dark ages for game modding. Quake began a golden age of modding, but it is like Rome burning, I think we were lucky to have lived through that time.

    What do you think, is modding dying/dead, or will it go on?

  • #2
    I agree that we are being fed clones a lot, but I'm not sure I agree with you on the modding. I can see fewer games as you mention releasing their tools, but if anything, it's the game companies trying to exercise control over their intellectual property and not the modding community. I don't know. Let's hope not!!


    • #3
      Modding is a LOT more complex with modern tech.

      Consoles dominate the industry and console games are more difficult to mod.

      That's a large part of it.
      IT LIVES!


      • #4
        I think they're called DLC these days.. And you have to pay for it?


        • #5
          ^ why I think modding is dying. They want you to pay to have a extended experience. id and Epic are 2 of the few that let modding still kick around


          • #6
            There are a couple of things causing this.
            The most glaring on is complexity, especially in art and animation.

            Making game assets these days requires huge effort and skill.
            The day of butterfaced mods is over, players expect AAA quality assets.
            Mod teams simply cannot compete with companies that have veterans slaving away at lush game artwork full time,
            and that's not counting in all the stuff that gets outsourced.

            I do miss the old days, when a player model used to be one or 2 thousand triangles with just a diffuse map. That's as simple as it gets.
            Nowadays, you need albedo, specular, specular exponent, normals, heightmaps, tons of shaders, complex bone structures, facial animation, etc etc

            Not only does that raise the amount of work, it also raises the entry bar for artists significantly.
            The obvious way to overcome this is to use a non photorealistic style.
            However, doing a succesful NPR style isn't a easy as it looks, and you need a lead artist with a really solid vision and coordination to do so.
            Another way is to make the graphics really crude and retro, minecraft bieng the prime example of this.

            Then there are various subsystems, LOD, physics, culling, advanced collision models, netcode needs to be optimized for the game, etc...

            True, the tools are better, but it's still vastly more complex.

            Another major contributor to the lack of mods are the commercial grade game engines that indie devs can grab of the net. Usually fairly cross platform, great visuals and audio. Physics built right in. Tons and tons of documentation and tutorials. It makes sense to use these, mods always leech of the playerbase of the original game. This only works well in very popular games.

            Half Life 2 did pretty well. UT2004 had some of the best total conversions ever, but as the game became less popular, it took down all the mods with it.

            And finally, most companies focus more and more on console development. As a result the PC version get locked down, because they're easier to maintain that way. It's a shame.

            Luckily there are still PC centric developers such as Valve or Dice. I don't think modding will die out, as long as those are around.


            • #7
              I think it depends on where you look. Titles like BattleField Bad Company, or Gears of War weren't really ever made with customization in mind and the teams were looking to present a very specific setting/plot/arena and leave it at that. On the other hand, titles like Little Big Planet, MineCraft, Spore, and HL2 to a degree were built with the hopes of the audience going nuts and making completely new things.

              I don't think that modding is going to die out, but I think it's going to become something developers will base their product around entirely, or flat-out stonewall. Good news is that moddable games will have much more intuitive tools and wider support, bad news is that everything else will be under lock and key.


              • #8
                Yes,and there aren't swarms of people wishing to create "polished like a pro" content for free.

                Kudos to the entire QuakeOne.Com release teams !!!!! If it wasn't for people providing free time to work on all the goodies we take for advantage, we'd be in GLPro3.50 Dullsville.
                Want to get into playing Quake again? Click here for the Multiplayer-Startup kit! laissez bon temps rouler!


                • #9
                  Spiney and oOpPeE have hit it right. The complexity today has made it very intimidating and not worthwhile for many. That's why we have sites like this and for the original Unreal game where modders are still making older games look more modern within certain limitations.


                  • #10
                    I think that, however, with the ability to create more complex engines there's also the ability to create more robust tools. Take for example the tech vids id showed of rage back in 05-07 where the terrain could be modified on the fly almost like a Photoshop file. They even discussed how new hirees were lauding its intuitive nature.

                    I think a good could still create a A-list game with all the bells and whistles and also have a great system under the hood that players could work with. Take for example heuristic and dynamically generated assets. Map editors could become very free-flowing and shader/particle editors could become much less painful with some extra work.

                    but then, who wants to cast pearls before swine?


                    • #11
                      one problem is that you need a team to do a pro quality mod, but the people don't get paid, so it's difficult to enforce a cohesive art style or vision.

                      With paychecks, there comes a discipline that non-pros cannot match.

                      That said, you can still make for example maps for games like ETQW, Crysis, and so on without needing to do any new artwork, modeling and animation.

                      You can also make static meshes (buildings etc) without needing a lot of skill.

                      You can make new guns, but this already requires serious skill.

                      You can also write gamecode etc. if your game has an SDK. That has actually changed the least - a programming language is still a programming language.

                      The problem areas are artwork, audio and voice acting, and character modeling and animation since all of this requires either real talent, expensive hard-and software, or both. Plus discipline.

                      As an example, Remake Quake has lots of mappers, several coders, but no dedicated modelers and animators (only Madfox comes close), no dedicated voice actors, and no real graphical artist (as in, someone who can really draw).

                      Modern games often use both weird and expensive third-party software to create things like the HUD (eg. Scaleform) and the audio (eg. FMOD Designer). You might be *required* to use 3DS Max to create models, and that's really expensive. No Blender for you. To create eg. pro-looking terrain, you might need sculpting software and programs that simulate erosion etc. You'll also need access to a sample library (and a license for use in games) for the game audio, and those are hugely expensive. Freesound just can't compete. Soundsnap is good, but costs money. For voice acting, you'll need recording gear and the knowledge required to use it, unless you pay someone for that. Let's not start about ingame videos and choreography. What Mindcrime did with movies for Nehahra was a real exception.

                      The last games that IMO users can mod with good success are idtech4 games (hence why there are some high profile mods for Doom 3, like the Hexen/Thief ones) and the older Cryengine games (the latter already have steep requirements if you want to make a total conversion).

                      Actually, what I meant with the paycheck thing is this: Imagine trying to build the Great Pyramid with volunteers. It would fail utterly. Slavery is more effective.
                      Last edited by golden_boy; 07-17-2011, 12:49 PM.
                      Scout's Journey
                      Rune of Earth Magic


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Efess View Post
                        I think they're called DLC these days.. And you have to pay for it?
                        I don't think this is a good explanation for the lack of modding these days. Fallout 3 and NV have had a lot of DLC, and people can still freely mod and the DLCs still sell well. Hell, there are people that have added DLC content to their mods! Even back during the modding heydays of the Quake games, HL1 and Unreal (Tournament) 1, expansion packs (basically the direct predecessor to DLC) and mods managed to exist in harmony.

                        I think the complexity of the tools, the increasing use of third-party programs and how much of a pain it is getting them out in the first place are the actual reasons why modding tools are dying out. It is simply not worth doing things like trying to clean up dev tools enough and trying to arrange an agreement with the third party programs just so someone can make an insta-gib mod and a few shitty third party maps (and a nude skin if there's a female character in your game). Frankly, even if the tools do come out for a modern, they're so complex its much easier to make anything bigger than a small gameplay mod on something like Quake 1 or Unreal Tournament 1 than it would be to make one for something like Crysis 1.