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An Open Window is an experimental MOD for Half-Life 2, Episode 2. In this project I will attempt to bring the concept of different realities to life in a realistic scenario. Instead of being another Shooter, AnOpWi centers around the role of the player and his/her experience, emotion and memories. By interacting with the world the player will define his own reality within the story. For this project I chose an open development cycle, which means I will update very frequently and share every step I take in the process of creating this game. Next to the regular media updates, I will also share my thoughts on the different areas of game design in the form of articles. In every article I will also ask for your opinion with the Question of the Day. This MOD also functions as a knowledge base for new and experienced designers.

Report article RSS Feed An Open Window: PLD +15

When you're making a MOD you can always count on some setbacks. While being ill is just a trivial thing, there are a few nasty issues which caused MODs to completely break down and never see the light of day. I'd like to present the Top 5 of Most Menacing Moments of Mod Making.

Posted by Hezus on Feb 14th, 2011

An Open Window: Project Launch Day +15

For today's update I wanted to show you more development progress, but unfortunately I came down with a bad case of the flu. Why this always happens on weekends when you've planned to do a lot of work, is still beyond me. However, it gave me inspiration for a new article.

When you're making a MOD you can always count on some setbacks. While being ill is just a trivial thing, there are a few nasty issues which caused MODs to completely break down and never see the light of day. I'd like to present the Top 5 of Most Menacing Moments of Mod Making.


Number 5

Engine & Tools

If Modding can turn Alyx into Lara Croft's sister (apparently having huge cleavage and make-up is essential for survival in a post apocalyptic world), then the possibilities must be endless, right? You would think so but as the name suggests, MODs can merely modify the game engine. In the end, it's the creator of the engine who decides what can be changed and what can't be. These hard-coded limits lead to problems in many MODs. Also, official updates to engines can break older MODs, which is still an issue today. The same problem arises with the tools you have to use to create content. Within minutes an update can make or break your MOD or your upgrade to Windows Vista/7 makes the tool utterly useless because it's not compatible. The only thing you can do is find a work-around or sit and wait until it's fixed.


Number 4

Motivation
This is going to be awesome! People are going to love this! You can still hear yourself saying those words a few weeks ago when you started your project. Now you sit there, around 1:00 AM, moving your cursor across the screen. After pressing F5 a few times you finally realise not everyone is as interested in your MODDB page as you are. While this sounds awfully emo, this is the reality for a lot of new Modders. Creating something from scratch is hard work and progress comes in small steps. And if you're not getting the comments you wished for, it's hard to keep that motivation up. MODs can only be created by people with determination and self-motivation. Work on something you like to create and do not bother too much with the expectations of others or aspirations to be the new Counter-Strike.



Number 3

Real Life

Just as you sit down to work some more on that little project of yours, your boss calls if you can come in for an unexpected extra shift tonight, your girlfriend texts you that we don't spend enough time together, you realise you have this very important test tomorrow, your mom comes in to ask you if you can take care of your baby nephew, the dog barfs on the carpet, a friend asks you to come to the pub tonight, an annoying salesman rings your doorbell, your internet connection suddenly disappears, you remember you had to pay the bills or you realise just need that free time to rest up from your full time job and social life. The older you get, the more likely these events become and the less time you have to dedicate to your hobby. And there is no cure.



Number 2

Coders

Coders are hard to find. Good coders are rare. A good, dedicated, motivated coder who also likes your MOD concept is like a winning lottery ticket. No wonder you see so many MODs with 2 unskinned weapon renders, 1 map screenshot and a "coder wanted" sign. Even MODs that were close to release came to a complete halt when their main coder lost interest or found a better job somewhere else. Face it, coders are the backbone of every project. The nicest model renderers and the most clever map designs will not work without the mechanics behind the curtain. This curtain is also the tragedy of the coder. Most people will never actually see or realise all the hard work he has put into the MOD. Hardly anyone will applaud a technical concept demo when it's not been polished by the other artists on the team. 



Number 1

No Obligations

You've worked hard on your MOD for months, years even. You've bumped into several engine limits and trouble with the supplied tools. The not-so-very-constructive criticism from the general public has tested your motivation time and time again. Real life is taking up more and more of your freedom and your only coder just left the team. Frustrated as you are, you check your MODDB page and someone just posted: "when will this finally be done.. it's taking forever." This where you snap, scream and curse and ask yourself why you are making this MOD, after all, you don't owe anyone anything. And you are completely right. No one is paying you for all this work and none of your team members are bound to you other than a common interest. If anyone decides to quit, disappear or just be lazy there is no way to demand anything from that person. It's the internet. All this free content is great, but in the end, this is why many MODs don't see the light of day.

Gladly, there are still many motivated and determined developers out there who will make sure, with the help of a patient and supportive community, that more MODs will be released in the future. Thanks for reading and it's back to the couch for me. But not before I've presented the Question of the Day. As always, comments can be posted below.

Question of the Day:
Which role would you like to be if you were on a MOD team? (mapper, modeller, coder, concept artist, manager, etc.)

Post comment Comments
DarkPivot
DarkPivot Feb 14 2011, 2:52pm says:

I understand all these moments. Mods can be really hard to finish. (I've never finished one completely). For the answer to the question: I'm always a mapper, but I'd really like to learn some modeling and coding.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Dr.Worm
Dr.Worm Feb 14 2011, 3:15pm replied:

I know me some coding but I'd love to learn to put my coding to game design coding x.x I know C# and Java so I should be able to pick up C++, but I've never been able to apply it to games or developing games I'd wish i could get a teacher for that D:

+2 votes     reply to comment
agent00kevin
agent00kevin Feb 14 2011, 4:17pm says:

Awesome list, especially #3. So true, yet still funny. Dear Lord (Jesus, Allah, Buddha, whoever you are) thats so true.

#5: Yes. Learning the limits and how to properly use the SDK killed my 1st mod, which was crap anyway. (learning curve)

#4: Yes again. cant say ive sat refreshing the page, but when I log on the next day after posting something I though was sure to invite new trackers and there are none, Im a little perturbed.

#3: I already hit on that one - no need to put the details out there.

#2: Thats one thing I've managed to avoid so far. I truly do need a coder to do exactly what I want, and thats why Im not doing exactly what I want. I am avoiding coding well so far yet still including features I wanted in, with some clever and creative Hammer tricks. That in itself has its limitations, but its working so far. Only problem is the entdata, I run it high on every map doing it this way. I figure eventually, after I have a LOT more done and polished, I may lure a coder in to help. If not, I'll dust off the C++ book and give myself headaches nightly until I either give up or learn to do what I want to do.

#1: Not so constructive criticizers just get ignored anymore. I know what they're up to, and Im not playing. If the poster gives his opinion and a way to improve in a halfway civil manner, Ill gladly take it to heart. I dont have a team either - I do it all myself, so the only person to blame for failure is myself.

If I could be any one thing; it would be a mapper. However, like I said - I have no team. I design, I map, I model, I make the textures. I just dont code, unless you count editing some of the simpler files and writing the VMTs from scratch.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Jike
Jike Feb 14 2011, 6:33pm says:

I know how to maop, I know how to model. Or to texture, or rig, or animate. I'd like to be able to code or choreograph, but in the end I just love being the modder! :)

Nice article, I have yet to bump into some of these "limits", but I know how they feel.... :/

+1 vote     reply to comment
JLea
JLea Feb 14 2011, 8:12pm says:

Good post, learning to code in C++ helped me immensely

+1 vote     reply to comment
gladers
gladers Feb 14 2011, 8:35pm says:

Backup (pref a version control)! Getting motivated to redo hundreds of hours of work lost in work that wasnt backed up can kill a mod off quickly.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Kamikazi[Uk]
Kamikazi[Uk] Feb 14 2011, 8:43pm says:

Good article, alot of those is what i always take into account when i start a new mod/game. People think it's easy making a mod or game but it's alot of work and you get alot of barriers but if you push through them it's very rewarding.

Gladers that is peoples stupid fault really. If you don't backup your work then you will never get anywere in life. People just use that excuse all the time when they dont want to work hard.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Tharapita
Tharapita Feb 15 2011, 12:26am says:

It's all pretty true, I approve of this post.

I can understand the motivation part for sure, all in all I just try to think that i'm making something I enjoy and I want others to see and it usually helps. Still there's always a time or two when it all seems futile. But that's when you have to keep going.

As for the question. I've mapped enthusiastically since the Q3 engine of Call of Duty 1 in 2003, then the Source from 2004 to now and the UDK from 2010 to now. I've also got some beginner 3D model/texture skills as well and naturally at least a basic to intermediate knowledge of the scripting behind each game/engine. I try to specialize in as much as I can to avoid having to rely too much on other team members in any project I undertake. Self-sufficiency is a good thing to have.

+1 vote     reply to comment
macacos2
macacos2 Feb 15 2011, 10:21am says:

The "real life" part is so emo.

+2 votes     reply to comment
~cHendler~
~cHendler~ Feb 15 2011, 10:44am says:

Realy truthful article. Thet's why I do not started to make "the mod of my dream"...

I'm an idealist and I like to do everything by myself...

+1 vote     reply to comment
xXMaNiAcXx
xXMaNiAcXx Feb 15 2011, 11:00am says:

MOD Team? Writer, Beta Tester or if I really knew how, a mapper.

For the article, I really liked the topics you've put in there, I'm willing to create a mod and I will sure listen to what you said.

+1 vote     reply to comment
VoEC
VoEC Feb 15 2011, 1:46pm says:

Great article. With some of these points I had some struggles myself while developing mods. And our dev-team sure had some problems with #2 and we almost had to cancel our game until we luckily found a awesome and dedicated coder with whom where working right now.
True list, these points can really be a neck breaker for any project.

Question of the Day:
I would like to be map artist and/or map designer.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mr.Walrus
Mr.Walrus Feb 16 2011, 7:32am says:

Completely true. The dedication required by the creator and the followers is very hard to find, and the motivation to continue even harder.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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Hezus
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