I am a Battlefield 2 Modder specializing in HUDs, Sounds, Textures, and Tweaking. I prefer to work on Sounds the most, but love modding in general. I can either edit existing game sounds to improve the quality, but I have also been working to create new sounds from complete scratch. If you ever need help with BF2 modding message me via XFire, and I will try and help you out to the best of my knowledge.
Lately I've been considering starting up modding again, but I really do not have the time anymore. Still today I went through a lot of my old files and found everything I backed up. (I backed up EVERYTHING) Still it's fantastic looking through all these bizarre files I kept for pretty much no reason at all.
For those of you who know about me and Uber's modding. We started out doing server mods (mainly a guy who went by Gasoline, and then Uber) Still I knew a little about python programming and I hoped I could help out (wound up I blatantly didn't know much past the syntax for the code). Anyways, we built these server mods for a BF2 mod called Sandbox Mod which allowed you to build whatever you wanted in BF2 through a client interface. Uber and I started to have fun with some commands that modified object templates (basically what defined the stats of guns and vehicles) and would make little server based changes while having fun on Gas' server (DeathByBinary) We made snipers shoot missiles and made boats go faster than they should ever go in BF2 (the water physics would cause it to go flying into the air way too often) That lead to us finding out that if had the ability to modify client templates we could go so much further. The first thing created was a flying Abrams tank, which we also found we could make it appear on fire. This became our strive to mod and quickly became RoflBox mod (We used Sandbox's concept but basically created the most absurd features)
Results of RoflBox
Even though RBX is one of the most pointless and silly modifications I know. some of the things we created in it and proved possible far exceeded what several people assumed possible, or barely felt a need to try. That is what made me love the mod. coding a working submarine (although yes it was sketchy) was one of the first feats. Now that I look back at some of the last major features I realize Uber definitely outdid himself Letting players not only create but animate and give life to creations on a much larger scale than Sandbox could have hoped. I honestly feel if the Sandbox community hadn't treated us like crap (yes we were crazy but what we accomplished was brilliant) then the combined forces could have made what sandbox truly wanted to accomplish, which was full power to the players. We got permission to use their code even though Uber redid most of it in the end to be more efficient, but they still shunned us. Anyways, found a video where I made a guard shack where you walk up in and hit a button and a metal plate folds back to allow you to shoot at enemy forces. Then Uber creating races with little ATVs by setting waypoints for the vehicles to automatically drive to.
With all the discoveries we made we then felt we needed to make something actually serious and something that people could play either competitively or cooperatively. And that at first lead to Ninja Mod. Which was basically the idea of pushing towards a Feudal Japan setting and making everything melee, bow and arrow, or shurikens. Which was pretty fun, but we both didn't know how to model.
Modding in General
Uber excelled at 3d modelling within a month despite what he might say, and while his stuff was mediocre it still beat the majority of work in your typical mod at the time. Within a 2nd month of learning I was blown away by what he could do. Meanwhile my modelling attempts kept being put back by the fact that I criticize my work too much. I grew irritated and gave up. (Wouldn't be the first or last) To be honest a lot of my role up this point has never felt very useful other than being a spokes person, or giving ideas. I understand a lot of the process to doing everything in a mod, but each time I tried to make my own thing I would get annoyed at myself with it. I will say though working the role of "Ideasman" has suited me. I love to problem solve, and when something breaks, I find myself good at asking myself the right questions to find a work around. Besides working with the community always had it's ups and downs and I loved seeing all the people who actually enjoyed what we were doing. I remember playing Point of Existence one day and someone suddenly saying in chat "HEY! your the CrazyIvan that helped develop RBX!" which brought me a lot of pride.
Things in reality couldn't have been more stressful during all the time that I did modding for BF2 particularly RBX. In 2007 I started College but had no idea what major I wanted to do, and on top of that I worked at the Equipment Manager for the football team (Which I loved doing but the hours and roommate at the time just about drove me insane). I got to the point where I was sleeping more than I was awake by the end of the semester and that was when I decided I had to quit Football and school. I moved back with my parents and about at the same time me and Uber began on the idea of Operation Dead Dawn. I could never explain modding to my parents because I couldn't explain what I was learning from it.
Operation Dead Dawn
OPDD has always been an ambitious project and to be honest we should have brought in more people from the start. Ironically, Uber was just getting over his "rotten flesh phobia", so we decided to make a zombie mod. Our first release of OPDD was flawed but it had some pretty interesting takes on zombie modding, including a life system for zombies. shooting them took away a life while them killing a human added I think 2 lives. They re-spawned where they last died, which made things impossibly crazy. Still a British Video Game magazine loved the idea and posted a small article about us right next to an article about Killing Floor's rapid steam release success. Hilariously we had already removed that feature that we were noted for by the time the magazine came out, but it was still satisfying, and gave me an idea of what people found interesting. Which was the more complex systems but also kept us close to the zombie stereotypes. I still have this amazing vision on the completion of OPDD. Writing up the story puts me on full circle of learning a little of everything in game creation. While I may not be the most proficient at any one thing. I find that I love doing them all.
What Modding means to me
While that article helped show my family that what I was doing was being noticed by people that could actually lead to me having a future. It still only gave me knowledge, and enjoyment. Still the modding really has taught me a lot. Things like working with people who can barely speak English, and teaching myself to be patient with them and help answer their questions. I learned a lot about potential copyright issues from Trahn Lee (leader of EoD mod), and still want to give him thanks for his help. I learned about nearly all of the creative process to a small extent even if I consider myself uncreative. I learned about limitations both on engine and on the people working with me. I could go on listing things all night, but really modding hasn't meant that I hate the original game and would prefer to see it differently. It's more like I want to keep playing the game in my own way after enjoying it already for years. Like Legos you can follow the instructions and make something cool or you can take those same blocks and build and find something more to build with them. Which is what makes Legos so dang addicting. How can you get bored with something that is completely full of limitless possibilities? The only stopping point comes the question of "What do I want to do next?"
I want to thank everyone who has supported me and Uber's work over the years. It has meant a lot.
The Crazy Ivan
(I'm sure this is full of typos and grammatical errors as I didn't even read through it after typing it. That is rare and I apologize for any confusions due to this.)
Alright now, I'm at my computer and can type faster and more cohesively so hopefully this should be a bit more interesting. I'm also typing this at 5:30am on no sleep so I'm actually more in my mindset on which I think in terms where at least I understand. Lets get to it!
Have a plan.
When beginning development on a game or even a mod you really should have a plan or at the very least a goal or set of guidelines on what your end result will be. I'm starting to see a lot of teams have a vague idea of what they want to do and it can lead to several different things that could stop and fizzle out production. I'll go ahead and list off some quick examples that come to mind;
Actually in a sense not having a plan is like advertising that no one wants to lead or coordinate things. So you either have a power struggle among the developers or things just don't hold together. Nobody wants to work on something that they cannot actually see day by day improvements on.
The Artist Tend to Run the Show
I have to admit I kind of hate this fact/advice. It was given to me by a friend who goes by Vapes. Still it is very true. Programmers can do all sorts of things but unless they can produce some sort of artistic value the work isn't seen. Most people who program do so because they like the meticulous perfectionist ways that a programmer really needs to be when writing code. Creating art with that mindset is a very difficult challenge, but it is still something I want to learn to do. It's a lot easier to have an artist or a creative director direct the programmers to match the art. Still being me I love it when a game is complex, and while the art really can have an affect on how much I like the game I still like to have a system that seems intuitive and clever. However, the overall consensus in gaming kind of shows otherwise. I'm not saying games are becoming counter intuitive, but they are becoming simpler and easier to play. Part of this has to do with the expansion of the market (iPhone, Droid, Wii, etc...) which means more people are getting into video games that prefer a simple game. Angry Birds is a fairly good example. I'm not saying the physics are bad, they certainly are fantastic, but the game isn't a new concept, it's been around in the form of flash games on websites for years. Still the art for Angry Birds is so well done. The animations are fantastic and it's all an extremely clever artistic way on going about such an addictive game. It really seems run by the artists, all the levels are just begging to be toppled. I guess it comes down to consumer choice, and I think consumer tend to go for the more visually pleasing / polished game because it seems like it would be the more enjoyable.
Just Because You Have a Good Artist Doesn't Mean You Don't Need a Good Programmer.
That's one heck of a long title, but it's true as I've mentioned before you need a game team of like minded individuals. This seems to be pretty obvious to me but it still happens a bit too often. Visual appeal draws people in, but if a game has poor code and tons of bizarre game breaking bugs. It's just not going to be played much. It's hard to enjoy a game that locks up on you all the time or just doesn't work as intended. You don't buy really expensive lawnmowers to drive yourself to work. As cool as that could potentially be, after the first few trips your ears will be ringing, you'll probably have some traffic tickets, and unless you plan ahead you'll probably be late to work. That probably wasn't the best analogy but it was the first thing that came to mind. Moving on!
What Makes a Good Game?
The overall definition of a good game is a complete matter of opinion so I guess the real question is "How can I be sure people will like my game?" My favorite general rule of thumb for this is "Do you the developer love playing the game you made?" This has actually gotten a lot more popular, I know Valve kind of has that mindset in their game creation process, still some of my favorite games have come from developers who created a game they wanted to play. Battlefield 1942 in short was thought up when developers began playing their own game Codename Eagle during breaks in a competitive fashion. They decided they wanted larger scale air battles, and that grew into the concept of BF1942 a game that for its time was thought to fail due to this concept that hadn't been introduced to the market yet. When you have something come along that is that different it makes it hard to judge if people will actually buy it, and that leads to my next point.
Sometimes luck can actually be the deciding factor if a game is considered good or not. There is a lot of games that come out and don't get noticed for a long time and don't make it big, while others get picked up and become the greatest game of the decade. I'm not saying games that come to be considered the best are not, but they could have been just as easily skipped over. Half Life for example is a bizarre and downright gritty game, yet a fantastic game. Still there is still that possibility that it could have failed. It isn't all luck though Half Life came out at a time when action shooters were wanted. Still, arguably it could have been passed up for some other game. Simply because of the consumer's overall choice. Still There are games out there that I enjoy every second of that really didn't become as ground breaking as Half Life. The Thief series ironically redefined most stealth games but a lot of people don't even know about it. I probably wouldn't know anything about it if my sister hadn't of gotten Thief 3 (Still love that game even though it's also one of the hardest games for me to play). Then more recently the game Psychonauts has come to light which was a PS2 game. While the stylistic art is extremely strange and overall the game seems like it would be childish. It is actually amazingly fun and yet challenging. I felt like half the game was one game and the other was the sequel. The first half your struggling to learn and build up your powers while building up the plot. While the second half is one continued crazy story where you have to teach yourself to use all your abilities you learned at the beginning to get past ridiculous challenges and level designs. Plus the play time is double of your average game so it really feels as if it could have been 2 games. Still it's a game that was hugely overlooked, and honestly is making them more money now than the initial sales despite being only $10 now. The developer is now being funded by the community to make a sequel, which is amazing for a game that helped run its published into debt at the time of it release.
Now for a break.
Well I have much to do and the sun is beginning to rise. Feel free to post comments if you have your own personal opinions or feelings towards any of the topics I've covered. I don't know how many parts I'll be posting this in probably a total of 4 or 5, but I think about this stuff a lot and sometimes I just feel the need to get it out there. I like to hear conflicting opinions so I can second guess myself and hopefully work towards a better understanding for everyone.
`The Crazy Ivan
I have never written a blog before so this first one may seem disorganized. Still I wanted to post my thoughts somewhere and I like to read and criticize my own line of thinking when I reread them later.
If everyone isn't on the same page, forget it.
I love the idea of creating games, if not more than I love playing them. I like the idea of limitless possibilities and finding obscure ways to make the most absurd thing possible. While I have my own game ideas and concepts I feel everyone involved in the project needs to have the same strive toward the end project or else the game will feel lacking. I sometimes feel like this can be why game sequels can be less fun than the originals. So while I have some great ideas I feel like I need to bend them to what the community wants. Otherwise I need to have like minded individuals to work with, which is where I have been lucky so far.
One thing that I enjoy no matter what project I'm working on is problem solving. Why did that object just fling through the air? What triggered it at that moment to decide to do this? How can I fix it? Asking the right questions can make all the difference. Sometimes you need to decide if it is truly something that needs fixing though. Does this problem actually affect the ability to continue playing the game, or does it create an imbalance? Sometimes fixing a small bug may not be worth the time or in fixing it it could create larger problems.
Problem Solving! Fixing Bugs
Then there is the problem solving behind fixing a bug or problem. Sometimes it could be a limitation of the engine, so you have to come up with a workaround solution to the problem. Open GL for instance can only have 8 light sources at any given time. A common workaround would be to paint shadows onto the object itself or generating a shadow map. My personal favorite was RBXs hover car. Battlefield 2s physics where not up to the task of using flight (jet engines) to cause the car to hover so I tried to make it levitate using a constant stream of explosives all launching from the bottom of the car. This actually worked but it was too hard for the player to control the cars movements and anything near the hover car would be flung to the side from the explosion forces (which was fun). So I came up with an alternative while experimenting with moving visual objects of the vehicle but keeping the wheel collision in a different location. So the car still has wheels with soft suspension but they are not visually there. BF2 luckily enough uses the collision mesh to collide with terrain but uses the visual model to collide with other objects. This allows them to cut back on collision poly as much as possible while ramping up the visual poly. It allowed me to male the car seemingly float over other objects and have the wheel collisions pass right through. I noticed later though that when you bump up poly count on all in game objects they tend to repel more violently when they collide even if the collision mesh is reduced. Oddly enough that would mean data regarding the objects collision is still being transmitted from the clients bundled mesh.
A Pause For Now
I'll leave my post there for now, my phone is running out of battery and I am sure you noticed my typos due to me typing on my cellphone XD. I hope to keep adding to this in the future as well as correct mistakes and try and make my points more clear.