Post news RSS Nightmare, A postmortem.

A postmortem for the mod Nightmare, which I hope will be an interesting read for anyone who does decide to read it, and some information that may be valuable to anyone new to the modding scene, and overall just a final wrap-up to the mod.

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I suppose I should say this mod had some of the most original ideas I had ever heard, the ambition behind it was also very large, but this was also one of its biggest downfalls.

Before I start, I want to say that this experience was by no means a failure, it was more of a learning experience for us but alas it never got anything near to what I wanted to do.

I am going to come out and say this is dead but we did a lot for the time we had.

I am writing this short postmortem in the hopes that anyone who reads this may benifit from our mistakes, particularly my mistake.

This mod died due to the fact that we neglected the skill factor. Im sure most of you will scoff and say "Bah! everyone knows that!" but the fact is, most modders starting out just dont know at all the skill level required to let a mod live.
Although I would love to stand up and say if it wasnt for this mod I wouldn't be where I am, infact right now I've learnt most of every game development skill necessary (all but PR), I am now a game programmer and plan to move that into a professional career in one way or another.

The main reason I neglected my skill factor was due to my ambition and my rock solid determination, though in the end it was mostly due to the fact I had no previous experience and had not read up on half of the content already given (I will post links for anyone seeking this knowledge below).
This coupled with my ideas, when I started the mod out I had thought "Im going to make a mod!" - this went as far as concepts and a couple of short levels. soon enough I saw the need for a team and a bigger array of ideas - this is when I met James (BlackMantis), he had worked on a couple of mods before and shared my passion for games and the idea of bringing Cthulhu (the giant sea creature god) to life.

MISTAKE #1:
Read up on modding and its many areas and make sure to read postmortems, it will help you to learn from others mistakes - it saves you having to make them yourself.
And the best mod leaders are either mature enough or have dealt previously with mods before (whatever position that may have been). Doing this will ensure the rest of the team has enough motivation to go on, and the peircing gaze and sharp teeth of your fans around every corner dont rip the rest of the team away from their work.

Soon after, very amped for the mod. I bought a domain and wrote a simple website for it, and created forums and used the ftp etc, while this was all exciting again... No work went onto it and no one used the forums. We mostly used MSN to communicate, send models etc, this was more efficient and allowed us to answer questions faster.

MISTAKE #2:
Dont buy a domain. If you are going to get a site, do it close to release. Otherwise moddb hosts perfectly for the time being.
Also make sure if you are the leader of the team, discuss with the other members which would be the best means of keeping in contact. I find Skype is the best now because I can talk while I do other things, you may prefer IRC, forums, and IM client etc but make sure before you fork out cash for anything you know that this is the best choice for the team, after all it is for the team.

While the idea of taking the concepts and putting them into a playable game was an amazing thought that kept me going, it was also very ambitious and that with my experience was not a good move at the time, if you read the document you may find out why, some of our ideas consisted of a 4km map with cthulhu rising out of the water and a helicopter coming to pick you up, while this could be done on a smaller scale, it wouldnt have been possible with the skill level at the time.
I realised this roadblock and to compensate I started to recruit more members of different skills, particularly that of modellers and storyline technicians. We came up with some amazing ideas and put together a technical document (part of it below), this would have been very handy, had we actually used half of it and worked on it a little more.

MISTAKE #3:
If you are new to the modding, DONT start a team for a mod, you as leader will most likely not be knowledgable enough or have the dedication to span a mod out tirelessly for a few years, Know what you are stepping into before you just leap into it and take everyones time up with learning the tricks while facading the development.

MISTAKE #4:
Make a technical document by all means, but it is always a lower priority to the game itself.
Also note that PR/Lead should be an active role(s) if possible, this keeps the structure of the team together and allows organisation to play a better part in the mod, leading to faster progression in your mod.

I decided after a month or two of trying to learnt different aspects of modding and trying to find a competant enough programmer to fill what I thought was the correct level of knowledge for a programmer, to learn coding myself, which in the end lead to the ultimate demise of my team. Already people had lost interest and I found myself wasting away the days correcting linker errors and trying to understand pointers and arrays etc.

MISTAKE #5:
Dont assume that programmers have to have 2 years of C++ coding experience, or that they need to know half of the universe to work on your mod, anyone with that level of skill would most definately not be interested in joining a mod with anyone new, I dont mean to come across as harsh but its the solid facts.

after many months of doing little on the mod we decided that it wasnt worth the masquerade anymore and dropped it, however seeing this today I decided to put a final close to it.

so as obvious to many this may seem, thus was the fate of nightmare, my own excitement of the idea of making a mod rather than actually doing it, was the fatality of the team and the mod itself.
I hope that the tips I leave will help anyone new to modding learn from my mistakes I made earlier and maybe I can provide you with the knowledge I learnt along this path.

Tips:
- If you are completely new to modding but you want to give it a shot, try mapping - its the combination between implimenting the design, modelling, programming and general storyline all into one and it can be a lot of fun, this will help you understand the basics in every area.

- For any new developers, you would benifit from reading THIS and THIS.

- If you are thinking about writing an entire new engine from scratch with a huge team of amazing awesomezorz programmers, think again - firstly writing an engine takes years not weeks and its more work than most programmers have time, letalone for unemployed mod developers.
( Scientificninja.com )

- Find an area that suits you in the game development scene, whether that be programming, modelling, level design, PR, QA (testing, and yes this really is a helpful place to be), musician or sound engineer, all of the above roles are sects of their own, and the more you practice in your field the better you become, and with skill comes jobs.

- If you dont know of any position you want to be in, or if you simply have no previous experience, why not try becoming a tester for an existing mod? testers are valuable members because the team members don't have enough time to run around playing the game all day and finding bugs, chances are they are sitting down trying to fix them. Becoming a tester also allows you to talk to the team themselves and learn about how modding works and allows you to meet new people and expand your network of developers. I have known a few people who have done this and are now some of the most skilled game developers I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

- Dont ass around and start a mod if you dont think you know what your doing. You waste your time and everyone elses, try creating one on your own or participating in the community and learn little aspects until you feel you are ready to give it a go, and then still it is probably best to join a team that has already started development to learn from them and help them along the way.

- Wisdom tip no#328, there is always someone better than you, and they were also once new to the scene but they learnt. so if you meet anyone experienced, be respectful and you may learn something (im not talking about old people here, Im talking about wise modders)

- Wisdom tip no#344, The internet is amazingly huge, and there is a hell of a lot of content out there so when it comes to finding a solution to a problem your best friend is and will be as you progress on, google.com - even though this sounds simple, its a lot faster than begging someone else to do it for you and you end up learning more.

- If you decide you want to attend a game school please read this article, it will help you understand a little more about pros and cons of game development in relation to education.
( Scientificninja.com )

lastly I will post some of the more viewable designs so they don't go to waste.

(sorry for mediafire links, as soon as I renew portfolio I will upload there)

Im not sure whether this helps anyone or not, I just decided I had to end my mod with a more meaningful post than DEAD, and I hope anyone who read this found it worth the time.
Thanks to all the people who helped me out over the period and it was an awesome ride, hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Cheers,
Josh "FeRReT" van den Heever

Comments
staffcarguy
staffcarguy

i just came acrost this mod a few minutes ago, sorry to hear everything fell apart but I'm glad you shared your lessons with everyone on this so nobody makes the same mistakes as you guys did.

even though i just found it thank you for putting your time and effort in trying to bring the hl2 community another fun mod I'm very sorry that it fell apart on you.

better luck next time =]

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1337FeRReT Author
1337FeRReT

Thanks for taking the time to read through it. I appreciate the responce to it aswell, Nightmare had big plans but in the end just didnt have the power to keep it up, though I am working on more successful mods and games that will hopefully add more content and fun to the community. =P

Cheers

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