INS Legacy

Words of Wisdom

Posted in essentials by Argyll on November 11, 2008

“Fundamentally, I think the people who play MODs are an efficient group for measuring quality. It is impossible, or unlikely at best, for a MOD team to fail based on exposure alone. While distribution for MODs is still something that could be improved upon, word of mouth within the community is still a very powerful method for getting people to play a given game.

I think the real mistakes are happening on the individual MOD teams themselves. They are becoming far too hesitant and conservative in their approach to how they design, develop, and release their games. If you go back and look at the first versions of Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, or Day of Defeat, you’ll see rough games that focus around a single game play idea. The first version of Team Fortress for Quake only had 5 classes, and wasn’t even a Team game. In the first version of Counter-Strike, it was virtually impossible to tell the CTs and the Ts apart. The goal of all MOD teams should be to go out and learn from the community as to whether or not your game idea is a good one or not, and plan on releasing as often as possible. Right now it appears that too many MOD teams believe they have to build the next huge hit with their first release, which is a plan that is pretty likely to fail.

The thing that the successful MODs all had in common was that they all had a single idea that they were going to use to drive their game design forward, and it was a good one. No amount of execution, art quality, PR, fancy websites, or time is going to overcome a bad idea for a game. Second, and just as important, they shipped as fast as they could and then continued to ship and ship and ship. Successful MODs measure their success after each release and use what they learned to form the ideas for the next one. If an idea fails, they remove it from the next version, if an idea succeeds, they continue to iterate around that specific element.

Sometimes it feels like the MOD community is becoming more and more like the “professional” game community, where products are being approached as something that should take a long time, ship once, and then everyone moves on to the next big project. MOD teams that are approaching building games from this perspective are throwing all of the advantages they have out the window, and are just competing with every other game developer in the world.

The one MOD that seems to have taken a more iterative approach has been Garry’s MOD, who I think has shipped close to 9 versions of his MOD in less than a year. Garry’s MOD proves not only that people will find out about a MOD no matter how unusual a product it is, but also that the quality of a MOD can become extremely high as a result of frequent releases. ”

— Erik Johnson, Project Manager, Valve Software, 2005



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