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Last month, we did our second analysis post regarding a set of four polls asked during September. We’re continuing this tradition with another article this month analysing the community opinion during October!


Week 1: What do you prefer - a fresh game, or a great mod for an old one?




Analysis

There's a pretty significant difference in the voting schema here, which combined with the differences seen in previous polls, builds a pretty solid picture of the demographics of both sites. Older games are generally more moddable, in part due to different attitudes regarding game modifications in previous decades but also because community tools and projects that make a game moddable have more time to flourish and grow. Thus, ModDB is generally a host for the mods of classic games. However, in this scenario, indie developers again appear to be more about staying on the cutting-edge of the industry. We've discussed before how where modders would bring out their creativity through modifications, indie developers take it a step further in building their own games from scratch. Thus, the latter group stands to benefit more from observing their peers and the commercial goal of most indie games means being aware of the newest trends is important for long-term success. Generally without money and with little to no stakes involved, modders instead look to gems of the past to keep them entertained and see what they can change for themselves.

Week 2: What do you like most about indie games/high-concept mods? In regards to option 4, we mean how indie games are generally more affordable than the latest AAA release, and how mods are (naturally) generally free.





Analysis

On this front we don't see anywhere near as stark a difference as in the prior poll. Mods and indie games both are generally on the cutting-edge of gaming content creation. Whilst some elements in mods may be unchangeable from the base game and certain trends may be necessary for commercial success for indies, researching the innovations possible within these respective limitations (or being willing to go all-out in breaking those limitations) is something these two communities are uniquely talented at. Mods bring new concepts to games and new ways to experience a classic title all the time, and indies push ahead in popularising some trends before they even hit the AAA scene. Retro shooters as a whole now being a major genre, for example, can largely be attributed to the work of mod developers keeping these older games relevant and indie developers taking the lessons of the past and modernising them for the current day.

Week 3: What do you think is most important for a successful game/mod page?




Analysis

There's a little more difference here regarding the selections - generally, as we've seen in prior polls, mod developers don't have as much time to work on their projects as indie developers. As a result, the time between substantial releases of a mod project can be much greater, and incremental demo versions aren't commonly pursued for mod projects. In this situation, whilst regular releases can still be a big factor in determining success, mod pages often have to resort to other means of engagement to keep their audience involved in the space between releases. Indie developers, having more time to work on their game and being more used to a demo release format, can make regular releases for their fans to try out incrementally, and so it may seem more viable to simply make a demo release every two weeks than make an update article every week or so. Both place a reasonable amount of stock in PR and social engagement, but indie developers, who naturally are not only looking for exposure but also seeking commercial dividends, would consider social outreach more vital in the long-run.

Week 4: What would you like to see from the DBolical YouTube? If you have another idea not listed, comment down below!




Analysis

For this question, I wanted to engage the community on the YouTube specifically. Its revival has been a slow but relative success thus far, with engagement at a good point and uploads at a decent regularity. The countdowns were the obvious jumping-off point and trailers, too, were an easy way to add more content to the page. However, in the past, the editorial team also ran playthroughs and interviews, which are more high-effort, lower-reward content. Before engaging with this I wanted to build the baseline, which I now think is there, and it's not surprising both communities would like to hear more from their peers (or potentially be asked to talk about their work!) Interviews in the past didn't garner huge engagement but did get active discussion from those who did. Ultimately, I have wanted to pursue a long-term solution that allowed for interviews without taking too much time away from other content, and seeing the community wants this type of content, I will continue to explore those plans for the future.

Conclusion

Another month means another set of actively engaged polls, and useful thoughts on what their entail! Before we wrap up, we are now gearing up to Mod of the Year and Indie of the Year, and this being my first time running this event, I'm taking special effort to make it an awesome one with videos on the YouTube in particular. However, to give me the time needed to make this happen, we will be pausing the polls and lists until after the awards, likely starting up again in 2022. We appreciate everyone who has taken part so far and keep an eye out for when they return!

Follow the ModDB and IndieDB Twitters to take part in future polls!


If you have any suggestions for future polls, or thoughts on the analysis here, feel free to leave them in the comments down below!

Last month, we did our first analysis post regarding a set of four polls asked during August. We’re continuing this tradition with another article this month analysing the community opinion during September!


Week 1: What do you like most about IndieDB/ModDB?




Analysis

So, first of all, whilst we’ve got the same winning answer in both polls, it’s the percentage by which it won that is interesting to analyse here. Both communities enjoy the creativity around them, which is great - creative environments breed passion and good content, so this is the answer I really wanted to see and that’s good. Modders seem to be most happy with the creativity abound in their peers, and that makes a lot of sense - modding is hard work, done in a hobbyist capacity and usually without any kind of monetary compensation or support. Passion really is the only way to see major mod projects through. However, that doesn’t mean indie developers have it easy, and we see the spread of answers here reflecting their different priorities. Ultimately, indie developers are generally shooting towards a commercial release, and so promotional efforts are going to be vastly more important for them. Mod developers will often have promotional work done for them by the communities around the game being modded, but indie developers don’t have that luxury when building a new IP from the ground-up. It makes sense, given the additional factors indie developers need to consider, that wider site benefits - important industry news, the site’s prestige, and promotional opportunities - are appreciated more by this side of the community.

Week 2: Do you finish the newest games in your library before playing another?





Analysis

This was a slightly less formal question but it still helps both mod developers and indie developers understand the importance of sticking to a good initial release. Whilst mod developers seem to be slightly more patient and resilient with games (perhaps owing to the older and jankier games that tend to also carry more comprehensive modding support and communities), both groups don’t have infinite patience with clunky games. Execution is important, and making a good first impression will be the difference between a player following through with your game and moving on to greener pastures. A few extra weeks of QA testing - even if it’s just some friends helping to isolate a few simple but very necessary changes - can make all the difference. Of course, sandbox games - that have no predefined ending and so simply need to sustain players for long periods of time - have a whole different set of priorities. Deciding between breadth and depth for this audience is important, and finding that middle ground is just as important as making a good first impression.

Week 3: What would you like to see more of from DBolical’s staff?




Analysis

This was an opportunity for me to sound out how users are feeling about the sites and the staff activity after a few months in the role and my efforts so far to get activity on the up. I might well write up a poll next month prompting people to deliver feedback on the workflow so far, but it appears, as ever, promotion is the issue at the front of people’s minds. Working hard on a release only for it to barely make ripples can be demoralising, and good promotional efforts by the sites are intended to help prevent that kind of thing from happening. We try to prioritise new mods/indies for headlines, and the recent editorials for ModDB have been a great opportunity to dig up a number of mods from around the community. We will continue to double-up on promotion, with videos, trailer submissions, socials, and editorials all providing opportunities for developers, and we’re still sounding out how we can get the editorial front on IndieDB to approach matching that of ModDB. In the meantime, it appears both groups would also appreciate additional site features, and rest assured, I’ve been keeping track of what people would like to see and exploring the possibility of getting these implemented. Auto article authorisation was a big step in the right direction, but we’re always open to feedback about how to serve the community going forwards.

Week 4: How many hours a day do you develop game/mod projects?




Analysis

This was a relatively clear-cut answer, but every deviation tells us a lot. Mod developers - who naturally aren’t paid or at least don’t expect financial compensation at the end of the process - are often not working on their projects full-time. They may have jobs that they fit mod work around. Surprisingly, it appears the majority of indie developers are in the same boat, though we do see a reasonably higher proportion of indie devs are full-time on their projects. The important thing to note, for both other creators and users of the sites, is that creating content at either a modding or indie level is often a thankless and difficult task until eventual completion. Large projects with big ambitions can take a long time to wrap-up, and meanwhile, the level of polish possible from a team working part-time may not be able to meet the sometimes unreasonable expectations of today’s gaming audience. Always be open to the truth - that developing a gameplay experience is a labour of love, and the individuals working on this content will thrive if given the support and patience of a passionate community. They say when you do what you love you won’t work a day in your life - but I love mod development, and I have certainly worked some days!

Conclusion

Once again we had a good set of responses this month. The questions were generally a little more casual, but variety in the poll subject matter is what’ll make them valuable data in the long term, and we’re still exploring the breadth of topics we can poll on. We may get more casual sometimes - asking about favourite game franchises, that sort of thing - and get more formal other times - asking about site feedback, development habits, and so on.

Follow the ModDB and IndieDB Twitters to take part in future polls!


If you have any suggestions for future polls, or thoughts on the analysis here, feel free to leave them in the comments down below!

Recently, the editor/community manager for DBolical, Kralich/David, was featured in Season 3 of VideoGameTourism’s Modderview interview series. Read on to see the other interviews from the season as well as learn how you can take part!

The Word of Mod

Whilst interviews with game developers in advance of major releases aren’t uncommon, it’s significantly rarer to see community creators given the platform to discuss their own methods, workflow, and attitudes to development. Modders are some of the most adventurous and creative people out there, thanks to the lack of constraint on their imagination and the passion needed to see a mod project through to completion. Thanks to Stefan Köhler, more than a few modders have received a chance at the spotlight.

Stefan is a guest author for Video Game Tourism and previously also wrote for WASD magazine. Though the publication is German, it also runs occasional English articles (and it’s worth noting Google Translate does a decent job at translating all the articles anyway in-browser). He began Modderview with the simple goal of getting a glimpse at what goes into mod development, and the motto, “Don’t like the question? MOD IT!” is all about allowing interviewees to have a permanent effect on the next round of interview questions. With the final interview with myself, Season 3 of his Modderview series is concluded, and we’re going to briefly touch on all three interviews.

Episode 1: Josh Romito - GTA V: Redux

Josh Romito’s GTA V: Redux gives an already beautiful game a great graphical uplift, with new weather mechanics, textures, and more. His interview can be read here and below:

Episode 2: Eyaura - G-String

Starting out as a total conversion mod project, Eyaura’s dark cyberpunk story filled with body horror and unpleasant sexual undertones graduated into a standalone game on Steam. Her interview can be read here and below:

Episode 3: Kralich/David - Raising the Bar: Redux

Raising the Bar: Redux is a Half-Life 2 alternate story mod set in the cut content storyline of the game. The interview can be read here and below:

(I added additional details during transcription too, though the other two interviews don't feature transcriptions:)

  1. What gave you the most frustration during modding? I like to learn new skills and in modding that has meant learning new games and ways to mod them. Sometimes the communities around smaller games aren't as inviting and I've had to power through a lot of elitism in my career. (Would like to add that I've also had the pleasure of working in friendly communities of helpful people)

  2. Do you know any mods that are better than the game they alter? I think Unification is a brilliant mod for Dawn of War, and I also love Dark Interval for Half-Life 2. I also appreciate patches for games like Skyrim or New Vegas to make them more playable!

  3. Do you prefer modding alone or as part of a team? I definitely prefer teamwork. Leading teams is a real joy and I love meeting new people. On more personal passion projects though I tend to keep things smaller and more controlled.

  4. Is there any mod you are looking forward to? I'm really looking forward to both Skyblivion and Skywind. I also can't wait for the next release of Black Mesa: Blue Shift.

  5. What was the most difficult part of developing your most recent project? A few years ago we suffered a malicious leak trying to kill my main project, Raising the Bar: Redux, whilst it was in its infancy. I'd never considered people could be so petty before then. It was a wakeup call to much better vet new members of the team. (Would like to add, some of my closest friends are people I met on this team. Teamwork is worth it even for times like this when one person tries to ruin it for everyone else)

Get Involved!

Stefan is always looking for suggestions for talented modders to take part. If you’re an experienced mod developer or know someone who is, check out his ModDB profile, drop him a PM, or comment down below on this post (as he’ll be checking the comments here too!)

Special thanks to Stefan for the opportunity to be a part of Modderview! Don’t forget to check out Video Game Tourism’s other Modderviews of the past to see more glimpses into the modding community and what it brings to the table.

In August, we started a new tradition of weekly Twitter polls asking you about mods, gaming, and the sites. This month, we’re kicking off our monthly analysis articles on the results of those polls. Read below for insight into the communities of both sites and our take on the results for both ModDB and IndieDB!


Week 1: What kind of user are you?




Analysis

This question starts things off very interestingly - from the results, we can see the demographic on IndieDB is weighted much more heavily towards developers, whilst ModDB’s features more players and users of mods than the makers of them. This result is interesting, though not surprising - ModDB generally sees use as a hosting platform for playable content, whereas IndieDB’s main appeal to indie developers is as a development blog, with the bulk of released indie games making their way onto Steam, itch.io, or other similar platforms. There are a number of indies however that ship alpha demos on IndieDB, even if they later delete these demos and ship full releases elsewhere. For content creators on both sites, the takeaway is this: On ModDB, you’re marketing your work to players, whilst on IndieDB, you’re marketing your work to other developers. That might mean mod authors need to stay away from technical descriptions that will go over the head of their audience, whilst indie developers could get stuck in with the details, assuming their viewers are as technically minded as them.

Week 2: How important do you think official mod support is for games?




Analysis

Both polls - thankfully - indicate the users of the sites place a lot of value on user generated content. It is interesting to note, however, the significant divide between the 1st and 2nd place results in both polls. Overwhelmingly, indie developers consider mod support a secondary concern to making the game itself; mod developers, however, are more inclined to believe mod support is a crucial attraction in a game. Whilst supporting UGC is a difficult task for smaller indie developers, the takeaway from this poll is to always be open to the idea of mod support. Community contributions can play a significant role in the long-term success of your game, and help generate hype in the short term. You can only make so much content for a great game yourself; so why not open things up and let your community create great content, too? A significant audience of talented mod creators exists that is ready for you to tap into.

Week 3: What is your favourite type of mod?




Analysis

This is the most divisive of the polls after the demographic options. Mod developers - and players - appear to enjoy pouring their time into large-scale, ambitious modding projects. They aim to push the boundaries of what’s possible with the base game, as well as delve deep into fresh new experiences. Meanwhile, indie developers and the audiences of indie games appear to prefer the base game with added bells and whistles over a totally new experience. As a modder, I tend to use very moddable games like Half-Life 2 as a basis for my own ideas as I’m not experienced enough in modern engines to create a totally original indie game. Creating total conversions for games I’m familiar with is more achievable on a hobbyist basis, and it might be for this reason that mod developers prefer total conversions, as they are effectively using the game as an “engine” at that stage for their own ideas. Indie developers working full-time, in that situation, might instead make the game from scratch. The takeaway? Be open to making smaller, “definitive edition” projects too.

Week 4: Why do you make mods/indie games?




Analysis

This result is pretty uncontroversial across both sites, with the majority of the user base looking to bring their creative ideas to life. All things considered, more votes for the “create a portfolio” option were expected on the ModDB side of the poll, as the modding community has traditionally been a jumping-off point for many hobbyists to break into the industry and go professional. Many game companies - CDPR as recently as last week, for example - hire from pools of talented modders on the regular. Nevertheless, learning and creating content out of passion is likely to lead to great portfolio results anyway, and that passion will certainly come in handy in the course of a 9-5 job. Whilst the poll results are mildly surprising, they’re exactly what we like to see from the community - passion!


Conclusion

We believe there’s a lot of interesting takeaways here not only for the users of the sites, but also for us, the site staff. As long as we can keep proposing useful poll ideas we will continue them, and also will continue these analysis articles as a way to round-up our thoughts.

Follow the ModDB and IndieDB Twitters to take part in future polls!


If you have any suggestions for future polls, or thoughts on the analysis here, feel free to leave them in the comments down below!


We’ve got exciting news for mod developers and indie game makers alike - as of today you can submit your mod or game trailer to us to go on the ModDB YouTube! We feel this would be an awesome way to give promising mods and games a little boost, and we’d love to support the work of other developers with the channel.

How to submit

It’s very simple to submit a video - just email david@dbolical.com with your trailer! We’ll be picking ones that show off a lot of interesting concepts, so make sure to get it looking great! We may also reach out to certain indie and mod developers to cross-post onto the channel, so if you’re a watcher and not a developer, stay tuned for great new mods and indie games on show!

Exceptions


Please note that whilst we will be happy to show trailers for games/mods aimed at a more mature audience - violent or scary, for example - we won’t be airing trailers for games with sexually explicit, racially charged, or otherwise unsuitable content. If in doubt, check the ModDB terms of use. Also, your game/mod must be hosted on ModDB or IndieDB - we won’t be doing outside promotion. It’s easy to make a page on either platform - you can reach out to me via the email above or on the website if you need help setting up a profile.

Closing


We’re looking forward to seeing all the awesome trailers you guys submit! Don’t forget to check out the other videos on our channel for quality mod countdowns if you’re looking to spice up your mod catalogue. See you soon!