Developer of Darkness: Source, a free, fast-paced, asymmetric Source SDK 2013 Multiplayer mod.


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Developing and maintaining a mod all alone is hard. Over the last year I've spend most of my spare time developing a Source Engine mod called Darkness: Source. When I started out, I knew nothing about modding, nothing about C++, and very little about Blender, so I developed the game with a very limited set of expectations:

  • Learn C++
  • Learn enough about the Source Engine to make a simple mod
  • Learn how to make animated player models and entities
  • Use as many of the built-in assets as possible to minimize the amount of content that I would have to generate myself
  • Keep the same as simple as possible in order to meet a realistic deadline
  • Release the mod, attract more developers/content artists/players

What did I learn over the last year?

  • C++ is difficult to understand and even more difficult to master. Right now, I think it's not worth the extra time to master.
  • The Source Engine is huge, it's very hard to understand how its features work since a lot of the engine is not open source. Despite the large community of modders, many important features are not well documented on the developer wiki. In addition, the Source Engine is a little long in the tooth--Source 2 will be out soon enough, and as a result, Source mods will receive even less attention.
  • Modelling and animation is better done by an artist/expert :) Much of my development time was allocated and expended on understanding how to make animated player models for the game.
  • Source Engine's built-in assets are even better than expected: With the 2013 SDK, players don't even need to own a Source Engine game to play the mods. At the same time, if you use the built-in assets, your mod will look an awful lot like Half-Life.
  • Planning for a simple, limited release worked well in that, I met my deadline. However, it also made the released product look much less professional, perhaps to the detriment of the mod, since it will be hard to attract players/contributors as a result.
  • It's hard to build a community when you know nothing about marketing...

In retrospect, learning about game development has been a great experience. My mod's not very successful, but I haven't given up on it yet. With any luck, in another year it will look much better than it does now.

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