You've got the idea, you've got the skill, your concept art won an art prize... Where to go from there?
Posted by jacksonj04 on Jul 22nd, 2007
[page=Introduction & First Principles]
I began writing this before the release of BattleField 2, so I apologise for UberCoolMod's similarity. UberCoolMod is not, as far as I know, a real mod and is used here soely as an example. If there is actually an UberCoolMod anywhere, please let me know. Thanks!
Imagine - Your latest mod idea, UberCoolMod for Half-Life², is your best yet. You've got your concept art drawn up, and already got the world's greatest modeler onto your team. Yet something is wrong, nobody is paying you any attention. This is probably because of one major problem with your premier news post - you can't write.
Being able to write coherently is quite probably the most essential part of getting your mod noticed. Most people would have given up at either the first "i" (Should be capitalised), the "u" (Please don't use txtesque) or "hlaflife2" (Names have capitals, you don't spell half like that and Half-Life has a hyphen in the middle). Those who dragged themselves through the butchery of the English language would be left wondering if punctuation had been abolished overnight without them noticing, and possibly what on earth a Transmission Electron Microscope was doing in command.
If UberCoolMod is going anywhere, it's going to have to make some changes.
In only a few more words, and an extra 43 seconds in typing (plus 2 minutes finding the code to get the ² character - it's alt+0178 by the way) the post has been transformed from an incomprehensible gabble into a sensible piece of English which gets the information across quickly, is readable, and most importantly makes you look like you know what you're doing.
Now then, the bullet points:
Continue young padawan, for the essential guide to your website.
[page=Your Website is your Friend]
Now that hopefully you have learnt to write, you can progress to your website. Contrary to popular belief, your website does not need to be a graphical masterpiece with background audio, fading screenshots, dynamic user profiles and everything else.
Here at modDB, we would much rather that your website was a simple page with your design document (more on that later), a team list and a contact link as opposed to the aforementioned masterpiece with no content. If you can make it look good and have content as well then by all means do so, but don't make looks your priority.
A recent phenomina is the obsession with forums acting as an entire website - this is a big no-no, do not do it. Ever. Forums are designed to act as a conversation area whereas websites provide information - even if all you have is a front page which reads news off the forums and has a few links to pages with team information, this will do. Forum-only sites will not be accepted on modDB, and are an instant turn off to those looking for actual information without dredging through pages of rubbish.
Assuming that you have managed to pull together your basic website, the final point to consider is web standards. This is more important than people make out, because if your website isn't compatible with someone's browser then they're not going to try working around it and you've just lost a potential player. Test your website, if possible, in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape, and Opera. If it doesn't work in any of them, fix it. The forums here are full of people who will give you a hand.
Once again, the key points to remember:
Got all that? Good, next up we're looking at the mystical design documents.
[page=Designing Design Documents]
For a mod to succeed, it must have a clear vision which is known to the entire team. For a mod's publicity to be boosted, at least some of this vision must be known to the public.
This vision, in its written form, is known as a design document (Sometimes known as a .plan file). If you've been around the mod ideas forum for any length of time you will have heard this phrase thrown around.
So, what is a design document? The name should be a big hint, it is a document which contains the design for the mod. Your average design document will contain (although not always in this order):
As with news posts, it is important to make your design document easy to read and to the point. The internal design document should be as detailed as the above suggestions, if you don't want to give the game away, then a public version only really needs to contain the points highlighted in bold.
Your design document is the single most important thing a mod will have. Even if the document changes as the mod progresses, old ideas are thrown out and new suggestions implemented; without a design document a mod does not have a clear target to aim at.
As always, here are your essential bullet points:
The final part of this tutorial will walk you through some of modDB's features for promoting your mod.
modDB, the site that you're browsing right now, is the biggest dedicated modding website in the world. With more than 650,000 individual (unique) visitors every month a single good news article can throw your mod into the spotlight.
Your mod's profile is the heart of its presence on modDB. Everything, be it news, help wanted, team lists, gallery, or even awards are all centred around this page. You are automatically given one when you
The most critical part of the mod profile is the 'About'. This is the description of your mod, and should be written in accordance with the First Principles of this tutorial. Using a bit of your design document is another good idea.
The news on modDB is the best way to be seen, but also a good way to get your mod marked as a failure. When writing any piece of news for the site, it is important to follow all the guidelines laid out in the Post News Page, as well as everything in the First Principles page of this tutorial. Failing to do this will result in your new post simply being deleted.
The other major point to consider is if your news post should be submitted to the front page or not. Only the best news articles each day make the front page, many others are left in the mods own profile. If you want to submit news to the front page, ask yourself "Is this news interesting to other people?". Whilst you may be enthralled by your new forum for chat about the exact implementation of radio chat in UberCoolMod, the rest of the world isn't. Media such as screenshots and videos - as well as release announcements - are the best way to get the news out onto the front page.
For a real-life example, see these news posts by hammy-bob. The first one is an early post, and an example of the writing which will not reach the front page. On the other hand, this post is to the point, has sufficient content to attract people, and was on the front page.
Amongst the many features offered to help you promote your mod, a popular, easy and effective tool is the Gallery. This is accessible through your mod's profile, and can be administered from your Control Panel. Images in the gallery are automatically included in various features around modDB; and can also be used in news posts you make.
Hovering over any image in any mod gallery will give a web address like Moddb.com - from this you can extract the image's ID number. In this case, the ID number is 965. A quick bit of DBcode - the modimg tag - and a thumbnail can instantly be included anywhere in modDB:
The team list, again accessable from the Control Panel, is a great way of showing who is associated with your mod and what they do. It also enables you to spread the load of administering your mod.
To add team members, simply get them to register on modDB and add them using the control panel. As usual, modDB deals with the rest.
Finally, the Help Wanted feature is a quick way of getting hold of a team member. Added using the omnipotent Control Panel, a Help Wanted request is displayed on the front page of modDB and also in the Help Wanted Catalogue. Combined with good material elsewhere (Remember the First Principles), mods can pick up help very quickly using this feature. Alternatively, mods with nothing going for them can have Help Wanted requests open for months.
Here is a handy list of all the bullet points that appeared through the tutorial, as well as all the useful links. Remember that the First Principles should apply to everything you do. If you follow the hints and guides in this tutorial you should be safe from the majority of common mistakes, and be able to make your mod's presence felt. Good luck with your mod, and most importantly have fun doing so!