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To allow user mods? - 1/3/2008 6:20:44 PM   
orwell

 

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Is there a way to balance between leaving options for developers to create 'expansion packs' whether it's a actual addon or a new game with the same engine, while also allowing user mods, without having to compromise functionality, in the form of, for example; creating a feature in the game that's only unlocked with a expansion pack, or intentionally not adding it until later. By permitting only surface modelling such as appearance? In theory I'd like to leave the entire game open to modification so that you can create entirely new scenario's to your taste, but for the developers, any scenario you come up with is either not going to have a large enough demographic, or else already be done by the community.

One interesting suggestion I've heard was to allow mods by 3rd parties, and split the profits of selling such an add-on, but this feels to me like you've disconnected a part of the community that forms around a game.
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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/3/2008 6:25:59 PM   
Terminus


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What?

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/3/2008 7:18:15 PM   
wworld7


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Terminus

What?


Don't tell me you are stumped? Go ahead have another beer.

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/3/2008 8:39:06 PM   
Terminus


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I couldn't understand the post... The words were English, but after that...

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/3/2008 8:39:35 PM   
Hertston


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Of course there's a way to balance it.. several in fact.  It's just whether developers decide to do so, which will depend on what they will think will make the most profit both in terms of maximising sales revenue and minimising development costs.  Sometimes it just isn't possible with the engine being used. IMHO the dilemma is a false one anyway; name one game where interest in an 'official' add on or sequel was compromised because of quality modding of the first release?  The two go together... mods preserve the interest in a game long enough for people to buy expansion packs.



 

 

< Message edited by Hertston -- 1/3/2008 8:40:38 PM >

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/3/2008 10:23:01 PM   
wworld7


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quote:

ORIGINAL: orwell

Is there a way to balance between leaving options for developers to create 'expansion packs' whether it's a actual addon or a new game with the same engine, while also allowing user mods, without having to compromise functionality, in the form of, for example; creating a feature in the game that's only unlocked with a expansion pack, or intentionally not adding it until later. By permitting only surface modelling such as appearance? In theory I'd like to leave the entire game open to modification so that you can create entirely new scenario's to your taste, but for the developers, any scenario you come up with is either not going to have a large enough demographic, or else already be done by the community.

One interesting suggestion I've heard was to allow mods by 3rd parties, and split the profits of selling such an add-on, but this feels to me like you've disconnected a part of the community that forms around a game.


I think I understand what you desire but correct me if I am wrong.

You want each game to be an "open" developement kit.

Nice concept, but I don't see how a company could justify the cost to do so.

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/3/2008 10:31:47 PM   
freeboy

 

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There always will be these debates.. sometimes game companies can do both.. one company was abble to do user scenarios.. these imo where much better than those released and do add ons .. lets see ssg had Bin.. the free origonal.. Accross the dneper.. add for that? korson pocket.. all on the same basic engine tweeking it here and there and having a robust community..
Not sure how things are with Battlefront.. the game not the company but it does allow , like the decisive battles series to have usere made scenarios.
Total war as well is an example on the positive side...
I will not tell u of the companies that pissed in my beer by not having backward compatibility

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/3/2008 10:41:31 PM   
ravinhood


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I personally don't see it as something "necessary" if they want to do it extra that's fine by me. I'd personally rather see the resources go into something else: Either creating a chitload more scenarios like HPS Gettsyburg Campaign or as always improving the AI. I don't see that many people buying games for the creation ability of making mods or scenarios for them. I'm pretty sure their sales from this part of the game are minimal at best. On the other hand user made mods and scenarios could keep a large portion of gamers from BUYING developer mods and scenarios...take Oblivions new system of buyme mods for like $2.99...I'll never buy any of that crap or the expansions to Oblivion because of all the User made stuff. So, sometimes it can be BAD for sales moreso than good to add too much to the game. I pretty much say make a game, not an editors toy.

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/4/2008 1:28:40 AM   
orwell

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: flipperwasirish

I think I understand what you desire but correct me if I am wrong.

You want each game to be an "open" developement kit.

Nice concept, but I don't see how a company could justify the cost to do so.


I'm not saying make the game an open development kit, but how open can you make modding before you shoot yourself in the foot with trying to milk the cash cow that is an existing engine within the context of a (strategy) game.

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/4/2008 3:27:07 AM   
wworld7


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quote:

ORIGINAL: orwell


quote:

ORIGINAL: flipperwasirish

I think I understand what you desire but correct me if I am wrong.

You want each game to be an "open" developement kit.

Nice concept, but I don't see how a company could justify the cost to do so.


I'm not saying make the game an open development kit, but how open can you make modding before you shoot yourself in the foot with trying to milk the cash cow that is an existing engine within the context of a (strategy) game.



That is a good question.

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/4/2008 3:36:14 AM   
Sarge


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Terminus are you leading/Manager of the WITP AE project ?


quote:


WitP-AE Naval Team Lead and Deputy Project Manager



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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/4/2008 3:45:01 AM   
KG Erwin


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A great player-mod was designed by SPWaW enthusiasts. It was indirectly assisted by a game designer, BUT, it was done WITHOUT direct access to the game code by the modders.

In this case, it worked out well, as Matrix has no plans to further develop the SPWaW engine.

Most of the better games can now be modded/customized, but don't expect the games to be open-sourced. That would be an obviously bad business model. One doesn't need to have had Business 101 to understand that simple fact.


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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/5/2008 12:12:14 AM   
Procrustes

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: orwell


quote:

ORIGINAL: flipperwasirish

I think I understand what you desire but correct me if I am wrong.

You want each game to be an "open" developement kit.

Nice concept, but I don't see how a company could justify the cost to do so.


I'm not saying make the game an open development kit, but how open can you make modding before you shoot yourself in the foot with trying to milk the cash cow that is an existing engine within the context of a (strategy) game.



I thought that's what you were getting at. Are you familiar with the Total War games (Rome Total War, Medieval Total War, Shogun Total War)? I always thought they did a really good job of opening the games up for mods, and they also developed expansion packs that have sold well. (Though the new expansion for M2TW is generating a little heat because of the copy protection system it uses.) They've kept quite the loyal following over the years - I think the ability to tweak/mod the games are a large reason they've done so.

Best,

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/5/2008 1:55:03 PM   
Widell


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quote:

ORIGINAL: KG Erwin
Most of the better games can now be modded/customized, but don't expect the games to be open-sourced. That would be an obviously bad business model.


Second that! Specially when it comes to niche products like most of the games here where there is a very knowledgeable and active user community willing to spend time and effort to mod. I think each game designer needs to make an early decision (provided it's a clean sheet design of course) regarding what should be proprietary and what should be open. If done in a smart way, the focus of the designer can, after the initial release, be shifted to improving the proprietary part of the code - often referred to as "the engine" - while the user community can improve by modding and creating new scenarios etc. The "everything proprietary" model probably works if you are in the WOW or PSP world with huge volumes = only a small % of the customer base needs to be prepared to pay for something in order to get a reasonable pay back (or image boost). This model becomes obsolete in the business environment we are talking about here.

The opposite is shown by the "moddability" of many of the games provided by Matrix and others: Advanced Tactics, GalCiv2, HOI/Paradox, TOAW, WitP, ACW, FOF etc etc, which are all extensively possible to modify by the users. Many changes get included in the stock games as releases progress. Of course the degree to which things can be modified and the solutions of how to actually do it are all very different, and it's a good bet that all of us have very different opinions of what is good and what is bad in terms of level and usability, but from a more philosophical perspective, the trend is obvious with a clear separation between the volume players and the niche players.

That conclude Business 101 on this subject. Any questions?

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/6/2008 6:30:19 AM   
ravinhood


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My only gripe is not enough developers open up the AI to be tweaked or even made better by the community. I give Kudos to devs like Slitherine and those that made the Kohan series for allowing this. I have been able to make what some called "monster" AI's because I was able to play with the scripting of the AI code. This is a BIG FEATURE EVERY GAME EVER MADE should have I think. Stop locking up the AI to what YOU think is best and let US play around with it and show you what is best. ;)

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/6/2008 8:59:11 AM   
orwell

 

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Widell: You mention leaving content development past the initial release to the community as much as the developers, but what about, and I wish I knew where this thread was, when you have a 'light tank' that functions like a superheavy tank, or vice versa with the most powerful tank unit acting as a light unit. No basic order. Do you impose that, or assume the community will just mod along the lines you have provided. Perhaps making 'classes' so that a light tank wil function within these parameters, however this still seems like a blow to the modding community. It's not a problem for a narrowly focused game, but when you play something that takes place over hundreds of years which may in fact cover the evolution and disuse of entire classes of troops, what then.



quote:

ORIGINAL: ravinhood

My only gripe is not enough developers open up the AI to be tweaked or even made better by the community. I give Kudos to devs like Slitherine and those that made the Kohan series for allowing this. I have been able to make what some called "monster" AI's because I was able to play with the scripting of the AI code. This is a BIG FEATURE EVERY GAME EVER MADE should have I think. Stop locking up the AI to what YOU think is best and let US play around with it and show you what is best. ;)


Have you played Hearts of Iron from Paradox interactive? What do you think of being able to mod the AI files for each nation there? Or are you referring to indeed the very core AI that governs how it decides anything at all? Leaving the programming of... not sure what'd you describe it as, surface? AI modding, modding how each personality will react seems fine, however opening up the core just seems like you've laid open your proprietary ideas to anyone who cares to look.


I appreciate everyone's helpful input.

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/6/2008 12:35:38 PM   
Widell


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quote:

ORIGINAL: orwell
Widell: You mention leaving content development past the initial release to the community as much as the developers, but what about, and I wish I knew where this thread was, when you have a 'light tank' that functions like a superheavy tank, or vice versa with the most powerful tank unit acting as a light unit. No basic order. Do you impose that, or assume the community will just mod along the lines you have provided. Perhaps making 'classes' so that a light tank wil function within these parameters, however this still seems like a blow to the modding community. It's not a problem for a narrowly focused game, but when you play something that takes place over hundreds of years which may in fact cover the evolution and disuse of entire classes of troops, what then.


I think this is one of these grey areas. I mean, of course the initial release needs to have a well defined content for it in order to sell and build a community. My personal preference, and again this obviously differ between developers, is to have as much as possible open for modding. That being said, I would have the equipment database 100% open, much like how TOAW, AT and HOI works today. Additionally I prefer, and this is most likely in the proprietary area for most commercial developers, that the AI, combat resolution and supply parameters are moddable while the algorithms, calculations and resolution part is most likely proprietary as otherwise there is nothing left to sell.

Now, given I'm not a developer, and the little code crunching I do is Open Source, I am more than likely on the far end of the range as compared to many developers that actually must make some money out of their work, while guys like me do it because we think it's fun.

Not sure this answers your question, but to summarize: Any game needs to be released with solid content, open or not. The further development of scenarios, equipment = Modding in general should be possible for the community to perform including tweaking core parameter like AI behaviour etc while the algorithms and functionality of the game should be left to programmers working on a schedule to release upgraded versions of "the engine" which stay proprietary.



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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/6/2008 9:53:27 PM   
Widell


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As food for thoughts, here's a thread from the World in Flames forum. WiF seems to be taking a more restrictive path as to what can easily be modded, but the game seems to be flexible in terms of rules and options. Different approach just to balance the example of more moddable games mentioned previously.

http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1667419

< Message edited by Widell -- 1/6/2008 9:56:44 PM >


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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/8/2008 5:32:08 AM   
Deride


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I think the real challenge is that having a game that is moddable means that the game has to be written with that in mind. That's not a hard thing to do, but it does raise the cost of development. For a first title game, you are asking potentially a lot. If a game is successful, this might be a nice thing to do as part of an expansion or sequel.

As for making the AI moddable, I also agree that this is a good goal. Of course, that often means that the AI needs to be scriptable or the heuristics need to be data driven. That may be much harder to achieve, especially given some speed and pre-calculation optimizations you might want to do. I think getting the AI right is hard enough without having to add in that much more complexity. But it is certainly something that would be great to see more and more of.

Deride

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/9/2008 10:26:54 PM   
Widell


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deride
I think the real challenge is that having a game that is moddable means that the game has to be written with that in mind. That's not a hard thing to do, but it does raise the cost of development.


I don't completely agree. I mean, of course the game has to written with the intention of being moddable. Few games became moddable by chance. I also don't see how it will make development more expensive? Most of the games discussed here have some kind of database. To make that database possible to edit for the users can hardly increase development costs?

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deride
For a first title game, you are asking potentially a lot. If a game is successful, this might be a nice thing to do as part of an expansion or sequel.


I'd go as far as to say that if the game is not moddable at first release, it's not a big likelihood of it ever being very moddable. Specially in the case of the low volume niche games we are talking about here.

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/9/2008 10:53:55 PM   
orwell

 

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I can see where you'd build development costs in making an FPS, or a newer RPG like Oblivion, recording voices, getting all that graphics, but when your on your own making something like a 2d wargame, I'm not seeing where these real costs come in except maybe in books. Opportunity costs, sure, but not, today I spent thousands on... something, or other.

Luckily all my questions are for designing a concept, not putting it into action, so it doesn't cost me anything except reading material I'd have bought anyway and internet access.

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RE: To allow user mods? - 1/10/2008 4:00:17 AM   
Veldor


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deride

I think the real challenge is that having a game that is moddable means that the game has to be written with that in mind. That's not a hard thing to do, but it does raise the cost of development. For a first title game, you are asking potentially a lot. If a game is successful, this might be a nice thing to do as part of an expansion or sequel.

100% agreed it has to be written with that in mind. But making a game very data driven I'd see as a plus to a devs own ability to tweak and debug a game. Not to mention making for a better "engine" to evolve into an addon or followup game. If a dev leverages newer tools and technologies (Say .NET Windows Forms with auto Data-Binding to SQL Server Compact or Express) the editor virtually writes itself. That could actually decrease development time vs. traditional models but this assumes a developers skills are up to date and ignores inefficiencies due to learning curves (ie. is it really a loss of productivity if it takes more time to use newer languages/methods/etc vs using only what you know that is outdated or obsolete?).

I've made a very successful career out of being the one who always pays the price to learn the latest and greatest methods and techs. I've found those benefits more than pay off. Look at how few wargame devs even seem to leverage .NET at all much less something like I mentioned above. If more wargame devs could obsess over technical bits to even half the level they do the historical ones we'd likely see a lot more ground-breaking work in the genre...

quote:

As for making the AI moddable, I also agree that this is a good goal. Of course, that often means that the AI needs to be scriptable or the heuristics need to be data driven. That may be much harder to achieve, especially given some speed and pre-calculation optimizations you might want to do. I think getting the AI right is hard enough without having to add in that much more complexity. But it is certainly something that would be great to see more and more of.

My best argument against the above statement would be that I think at least even a partially editable A.I. might go a long way to alleviating the gripes of those who later complain about it. "Hey if you don't think the AI is good enough go ahead and edit it yourself to make it better!!!"..."Oh its taking you quite some time to get it just right? Welcome to the club!"



< Message edited by Veldor -- 1/10/2008 4:01:26 AM >

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