Welcome one and all the to 11th annual Mod of the Year awards, celebrating all that is great about our beloved modding community, the developers, the...
Producer, Cinematographer, Level Designer, Edit, Writer, Modeller.
''How much did it cost to make Fallout: Project Brazil? I saw another mod that wants to do a kickstarter. I think they want to be you lol. Do you think they have a chance?''
It cost me about 1,400$ indirectly, if you ignore all the time we as a team spent on the project.
That's just for things like, going to LA to grab re-takes with an actor, buying new gear and software, PC parts, a new hard drive, hosting fees, and food & drinks for our sound studio. I paid that out of pocket from my measly day job as a vfx producer. Nobody got paid, and no one earned anything. When I asked if they'd like to, it was a resounding, ''We did it for the love, keep your money dude.''
I love you guys. I feel responsible to my community of moders to keep you safe. Paying for a mod breaks the rules. You can donate to a person or group as a gift, that's fine, but not make a financial contribution to a mod.
This mod the original poster was asking about... those guys don't have any experience in the GECK. They have beautiful art, a beautiful website, and a really good pitch. I mean, it's fantastic. I'm really proud of what they've done. They said they read our documents, so to me, that makes me feel like F: PB worked, it inspired someone else to do this. I want them to succeed. I do. But I know better, because I'm living it.
The hardest part about any indie game, huge mod, or volunteer basis project, is making sure that your team knows that all their hard work is worth it when you're just starting out in a grey blank abyss, with nothing to show as an alpha. I'm intimately familiar with that terror. It never goes away. You have some drawings, some write-ups, and hope. You can't motivate help with money, they don't want any even if you had it. So what do you do?
You do what you have to, as scary as it is: You learn to do as much of the hard work yourself as possible, set the foundation, and lead the way alone.
That means you get a copy of Blender, 3dsMax, Maya, XNormal, NDo, the GECK, Game Maker, Cryengine SDK, the UDK, the Creation Kit, the Source Engine, a manual on Python, C++, whatever. And you just, start. You don't even need a direction. Just sandbox, learn the ropes. Release tiny mods, like a helmet, or a new ship, an RPGMaker XP game, or just make NPCs use ammo. Something you can finish and feel proud of. Then dive into the big one.
If people choose to pitch in, they will do so knowing you'll always be there every step of the way, working just as hard as they do to make their efforts successful. You're not just an idea guy, you're a developer, and you're a team as long as you're all equal. Money will not help you. You think it will help, but money is just an excuse. What you really need is a goal, to just do it.
So to show you that you CAN do this for free if you do the work, here is my ''short'' list of my all-time heroes.
These are all Total or Near Total Conversions with a lore emphasis, and at or near professional quality. Some of these are my old sandboxes, so I know a lot of these developers personally. I'll try to keep it objective. To that end, We go first. :p
Notice the two 'prominent' examples of a TC. ;) We've got authority or some shit. F: PB of course, adds an all new campaign right along side New Vegas selected from the New Game menu, and then links back to New Vegas at the end of our story. The First Installment came out in May 2013, nailed 9th place on the mod DB mod of the year awards, and we've been able to talk to some cool developers since then. I'm still poor, working as a remote freelancer for vfx and videography, but the 2nd Installment is doing well and on its way. I also have a new game that I will announce when the 2nd Installment is launched someday.
A MASSIVE almost total conversion for Total Annihilation by The Registered One & Wotan, and TA:ESC team. It is one of the best RTS games of all time, and this mod makes it so that almost two decades later, it's still one of the most fun games, just, ever. You just have to play it to understand. It's addictive to this day. You can't improve upon it's formula. It'd be like adding to chess. It is as close to TA:2 we'll really ever get to me, as the new Planetary Annihilation and Supreme Commander just doesn't feel even remotely like TA. The Community developed Spring Engine, is also very cool.
A significant overhaul for Homeworld 2 that adds very deep management to the game's core mechanics. It is one of the best mods for an RTS, and makes for an amazing experience. The sights, the sounds, the tension: it's basically the perfect Epic Space Fight mod. It's as good as homeworld 3 as we'll get until Homeworld: Shipbreakers or the new Enemy Starfighter comes out, which you should all check out too.
I played BSG: Fleet Commander when it came out, and it was awesome. It is still awesome many versions later. Jumping the Galactica into a fleet of cylon base stars is really, really fun. There isn't much in the way of new voice acting, but hat there is fits. It's very immersive.
Battlezone II was not very well known, but it managed to blend genres extremely successfully in a way that just... wow. RTS + FPS + Tank Combat. Its mod community was off the charts, too. Battlezone II: Forgotten Enemies is the first mod I went crazy for, bug tested, and made maps for, that told me it was possible to do what you dream of, and that I could do this too. It's a feature length campaign, all new races with new units, buildings, and it runs flawless. All new voice acting, and lore friendly. It is essentially BZ3. Bionite: Origins is a game in development, launching a kickstarter in the near future, and is a successor to BZ2.
It is getting hard to find, so I backed up all these files on my storage hard drive at my home office, and a mirror is at BZScrap.
Yet another legend of the modding sphere, Minerva went up like a rocket. It's one of the best mods out there; beautiful, surreal, smart. Its team leader, Adam Foster, went on to make another title for profit and work at Valve.
The big mod that really shot the flare for all others to compare to. Black Mesa was really a port of the original Half Life 1 for the Source Engine, but it also added all new models, assets, voice talent, and effects. It then went commercial. You can buy it on Steam.
Neotokyo is absolutely fucking crazy. It is clearly very good. Great art, great execution. It's very hard to understand what it is at a glace, but it's original, it's smart, and it's very pretty. You can buy into their new game on Steam. As a first person shooter, it is very fun, and there are lots of professional teams that use NeoTokyo to point at as a landmark in the cyberpunk style of games. And that is a very hard genre to live up to.
Starting out as Beyond the Red Line, they got kicked in the guts by community betrayals and mismanagement, then split into two factions. Faction two, the Diaspora team, made it. It's for the freeware Freespace 2 Engine, all new shaders and effects, models, textures, voice acting, and a campaign, plus multiplayer. Many onboard went to work for Battlestar Galactica Online.
Another Freespace 2 Campaign that will just ruin any plans you had this week. Brilliant TC, and a spearhead for later mods like it, like Diaspora. I don't know where they all went, but they are amazing folk. Check out the Hard Light and Game Warden forums for a good time. [EDIT: According to a follower on facebook, they are still at work on their final installment. True champions!]
MechWarrior: Living Legends is a total conversion modification for Crysis Wars. Adds an all new online experience (breaking my rules a little bit,) models, textures, maps, voice acting -- just a mind blowing amount of work in that community, and top professional quality. Those maps tho, daymn. ;) Some went to work on Mechwarrior Online, and not to mention an Online Novel series.
Alex Velicky is an awesome guy. He put his money on the line, his life, his career, his education, all of it, and dove in balls first to make mods and get a job. You can argue that that's crazy, but he did it, and it worked. Falskaar is going to be one of those legends of game development, because he straight up got a job at Bungie on Destiny not two months later. I can't imagine working in a studio at his age; even at my age and experience it's like every day is a prize fight. You've gotta be pretty damn cool to be not even 20 and holding your own with industry guys. DEIMOS for Fallout: New Vegas is really cool also. AlChectBreach's playthrough will make you cry.
Wyrmstooth won number 10 on the 2013 Mod of the Year Award, right behind Fallout Project Brazil. While not technically a TC, it's close enough to an expansion pack to grant it. Arguably, they earned our spot, because they were totally finished, and just look at how amazing it is! It's yet another full campaign for Skyrim, fully voiced,and fully scripted with lots of unique assets and whole new world space to explore. It went under the radar, though, and it's a shame, because holy shit they're cool. I hope they manage to land jobs. If not, when I announce my new IPin the future, I want to hire these guys.
Nehrim is, obviously, on this list, because SureAI are just absolute legends. It's another full campaign mod, originally in German, but now in English. Full of great voice talent and assets. Their new Mod, Enderal - The Shards of Order, is also looking to be just as good as this one, probably several orders of magnitude better. Cube: Experiential for Fallout 3 was pretty badass too.
Beyond Boulder Dome was pretty good. Robert and Kaz both helped out on Fallout: Project Brazil, and were just really great people to work with. You can see their website here for Robert: Beyondmodding.blogspot.co.uk and for Kaz (who also drew all the art for our intro animation with me <3 ) here: Kazfoxsen.pixpasites.com
Edit: I forgot Alton and EMH! These guys were a huge encouragement to us in the early days of F: PB. Can't believe I almost forgot them. They added an all new world-space around their home town, new story, voice acting, and quests. I hadn't checked in on them in over a year, and it turns out their new project, Ethas: Embrace of Destiny is on the shelf, but it was still very cool.
Everybody remembers DayZ. It kinda breaks the 'free' rule I have going, but it was in its inception a mod by Rocket developed for free out of pocket. Then it took off. I bought it for 30$ in alpha, played it, and holy shit is that fun! A little wonky, but it's ridiculous how the emergent gameplay just shaped the way I see games now. It has some flaws. I hate online games, and all its issues to me stem from being an MMO. But it is still a unique experience. A few million dollars later, by the way.
It's rare that you find a mod that has a real pro-grade luster to it. A sheen of clear experience and understanding. Misery is a mod for STALKER that is in a class of its own. Of all of these mods, the end product was the most solid and on par with AAA professionals, putting a lot of them to shame. They just finished a Kickstarter at 150% for their new game, The Seed.
Third age is really well made. They still deserve a spot for all they've done for their community. It is true to the lore, really makes good use of he base engine, and has become yet another beacon of what a mod can do.
I'm not a Dootyboi, but I love Star Wars. I like KotOR more, but I can get into this. Galactic Warfare makes Call of Duty 4 the Empire Era Star Wars universe. Great Multiplayer. No single player campaign. *marks off points* But they have done incredible work outside their group, and the 501st loves them, hosting LAN parties at every convention I've been to so far with this mod on the list.
X3: Reunion was a pain in the dick of a game, and mods saved it, turning it into a very fun experience. Specifically, X-Tended saved it. X3: Terran Conflict made it better all around but didn't fix any real core problems, and then the moders came back and saved it AGAIN. The new ships, new missions, new plugins - all of that really made this a champion of everyone who bought that game. The MARS plugin and many other modders in this community also deserve a shout out. X:Rebirth, on the other hand, was a heartbreak in a DVD box.
Ultima V: Lazarus is yet another TC like F: PB or Nehrim that just blows off socks, and it did it way back in the day. This time, for Ultima on the Dungeon Siege 3D RPG engine. RPG players rejoice. This one took 6 Years to complete. I know that feeling.
You need to be kindof old school to remember this. The Aliens TC for Doom was the first TC, Ever. Like, before mods were a thing people talked about, and before anyone decided to adapt an engine to build a game inside of a game, alone. And it was good. So good that it went on to inspire others and now remains a legend. I put this on my highschool computer system, and it went viral. It's still on their server system for all of Amphi school district to this day. They can't get it out. :p Kids keep putting it back, along with the first AVP.
Yet another one of the first TCs of all time, and another hero. I can't tell you where the creators went, but it has been cited as their inspiration for many others.
Honorable mention, because I love Oni, and I love Anniversary Edition. :p Not a TC, but a really serious fan undertaking that adds a ton of content to this old and often under appreciated game. It adds lots of new skins, updates old ones, new maps, new modes, new weapons... if we could make a TC story mod, I'd so dive in, but the tools Bungie used don't exist any more.
So there you go. A huge list of mods that did the impossible, made it happen, and for free. No kickstarter, no paypal, nothing. Not even money from mum and dad. Many made it to the Industry level, or just plain made a fun game, with free tools and gumption.
In the end, it doesn't matter how you get there, just make great things. Spend $300 Million making your game with an army of 3,000 people, or spend $3,000 to host a server by yourself from a garage. Spend nothing and make a mod. It doesn't matter if you get the industry job or not, just make what you love. If you reach a dream in an industry job, you'll still be dreaming about making the titles you love. So who cares if you're pro or not, just make what you love.
But don't do it because you want something else, do it because you care. If you care, you'll make a good game, and you'll get where you need to go. And people will join you.
You can't be an idea guy and ask for money, with no technical experience, who can't deliver at least half of the work on your own. You can be a 3D artist and make all the levels before asking a programmer for help. You can be a programmer and write all the code and later ask for art help from modellers and texture guys. But you can't draw a few characters, no matter how good the drawing is, or write a story and say, ''Give me money, I'll figure it out as I go. Other people do that work, not me.''
Don't be that guy. That guy grows up to be a Hollywood Producer. That's my boss, in the armchair down the hall. DO THE WORK. It'll be worth it. It will make you a better human being.
I'll leave you with this video with Obsidian Entertainment's Chris Avellone. Start at 7:45. He goes down the list of what he's looking for if they're hiring. If you fit that definition, I will fight you for that job. XD
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