Talk:Successful Mod Team Tips

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[]LiXiS: I think that this is all very nice, and usefull information but without giving the reader a firm understanding of the structure a team and the roles that are played ina team then this information may not be fully understood.

Mainstream teamworking theories such as the Belbin Theory should be mentioned and explained. []


This is a rough draft of what I hope can be a good set of pointers and tips about what makes a good mod team. Tell your stories both good and bad! --Holtt

  • Thanks Tim - I'll add my comments from projects i have been involved in. --Amckern 03:49, 29 Dec 2005 (PST)
Robin Walker's presentation contains tips for teams.
  • Small as possible
    • Focus on production
    • Avoid management
    • Don't hire anyone until you're about to fail
  • Scope design by resources
    • Don't grow the team to fit the design
I myself still believe in one person mod(from Garry's Mod to latest Mistake Of Pythagoras)...careful design can make it possible and it can still deliver a new experience.--n-neko 05:45, 29 Dec 2005 (PST)



I think people need to realise that they are making a mod. People don't get paid, they do it out of fun. A lot of the modern HL2 mods seem to be started out with the intent of being the next CS. I think this thinking is doomed. You should do it because you love doing it not because there's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A lot of people disagree with me here but I also kind of think that artwork and maps should usually take a back seat until you've actually got something hard out. I don't really agree with huge teams. You only really need a programmer and a fluffer to get started. Always bear in mind that it's just a mod. --Garry Newman 07:31, 29 Dec 2005 (PST)

I'm pretty much going to echo Garry. People need to work on mods - there's too much focus on model renders and epic "media releases." Few actually heed Valve's advice and move towards rapid prototyping and strong gameplay ideas. Instead, they decide to remake their favorite game (Halo, Resident Evil) into their own version, which seems really foolish to me. Modding is about strength of ideas and gameplay, not the number of weapons, not an absurd number of maps!
I was part of an HL1 modification called Nightwatch. We were, arguably, some of the most talented members of the community. And yet, we still failed to release. I'm not pointing any fingers, because I don't think it's really anyone's fault. But nonetheless, "restructuring" after "restructuring" forced us to remake older, perfectly good content. The missile silo levels were deemed "too futuristic" and remade, even though we didn't have the time. There were too many warehouse levels (there were), so we shifted them around and changed them, even though we didn't have the time. The story was reorganized ENTIRELY, making some levels obsolete - even though we didn't have the time. With the release of HL2, another restructuring took place, and the HL1 content was dropped. More people left, including me (I was basically dead weight though, I felt guilty). I'm not sure what the team is currently doing now, and while I really wish them luck, it still looks like they're stuck.
So: 3-4 years of work; ~20 (fantastic) maps, 1000+ textures (or some other giant number), 4-5 NPC models, quite a few weapons, lots of music and sounds... Gone. What's the lesson? I'm not too sure myself. But I think it's something along the lines of: Make a mod, not a game, not a media release. Make a mod. "Ambition" can wait, if you really want to call it that.
If something's not working or taking too long, scale it back, cut the feature out. Don't rationalize it by "staying loyal to your fans" or "wanting to release a quality experience." If you don't release something, you won't have fans nor an experience. Nightwatch is still a bitter regret for me - we should have released something, just something, to justify all those long hours working on it... But we didn't. Wow, now I'm not even sure what I'm talking about anymore. I'm losing focus. I'll just stop here. --Campaignjunkie (talk) 11:59, 29 Dec 2005 (PST)

Erik's ModHQ interview

Key points from an interview of Erik Johnson (One of the two developers of the original Team Fortress and Team Fortress Classic and now a Valve employee) about they way he sees mods today:

  • They are becoming far too hesitant and conservative in their approach to how they design, develop, and release their games
  • 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.
  • Sometimes it feels like the MOD community is becoming more and more like the "professional" game community
  • 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
  • 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.

--RP 14:08, 29 Dec 2005 (PST)

I'm not a kiss and tell man ;) ^Ben 08:57, 29 Dec 2005 (PST)
I think the best prototyping environment for a small design team is Garry's Mod. You can test gameplay ideas(weapons, game rules, etc) quickly. Playtesting keeps motivation and focus of the team. --n-neko 19:14, 29 Dec 2005 (PST)

Robin's hlcoders post

Robin Walker just posted this great piece on the hlcoders list.

In the past we've written some guidelines on general mod making (on the wiki at http://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Making_a_MOD ), and we're planning to expand it soon with more of a focus on mod design & team building (right now it spends most of its time on the shipping process). One of the points that we'll be covering is this: Scope your mod design by the resources you have. Avoid designing something that'll require 10 people unless you already have 10 people. There will be plenty of time to expand your design after you've shipped a couple of versions, and by then you'll find it much easier to attract talent, because there's no better advertisement for your mod than the mod itself.

A second point we'll touch on: Think carefully about what you're going to use to compete with other mods & products. Design is always the cheapest way to compete, and the most powerful at the same time. Quality is harder, because your competitors have often had years to polish their game. Quantity is extremely hard to compete with, especially vs commercial products who may have an army of production people. Look at your resources, and try to figure out which resource you can successfully compete with. If you have a lot of programmers or level designers, but no artists, then design something that doesn't need lots of art, or re-uses much of the HL2 art. If you have a lot of artists, and only 1 programmer, design something that competes with art & not code.

We see many mod makers who design something that would take a large team a year to produce, and then start looking for a team. In many cases, they're planning on competing purely with Quantity, and perhaps Quality at the same time to make their life extra hard. Work the other way around. Figure out what you can make without going out and getting anyone. Make sure you're competing on Design. You can compete on other things too, but you're crazy not to compete with Design as well, given how cheap it is to do, and how important it is (See "Why should someone play my MOD?" in the above article). Release a couple of versions, and you'll find more talent & resources available to you. Grow your design with those resources in each subsequent version.

There are many successful examples of this out there: CS with 2 people, TF with 3, Garry with 1. Look back at the first versions of all of these mods: They all competed using only the resources they had available to them at the time. They all grew in scope in later versions. It took many (20-40) versions before they were what they are today. Garry's mod is probably the definitive example of competing with the resources he had (Code & Design) and iteratively improving the mod every version (I think he's shipped over 20 versions in the year it's been out?).

Comment to Niche Mods

I think if they really love to do it, and they could create fun experiences, there is nothing wrong with it itself. But the problem is using copyrighted/trademarked materials...

Without doubt having ripped models from other games(or from leaked beta) and/or their screenshots is a big trouble maker. Don't say "I have the game so it's OK" or "the download link says you must have the game to download, so it's OK" - they are not valid excuses(they don't have permissions, and violate EULA afterall)... These infringements can lead to suit for liability for IP damages.

Even though you don't have directly ripped models, as long as it's based on other copyrighted/trademarked materials, shutdown risk would be always there. This is not a fight you can win.

Speaking of anime, Japanese companies didn't know about mods, so most have been overlooked. But the situation is changing. Some people started examing possibility of mods, but the next thing they encounter would be infringing material(rip-off/convert/copy/clone). It will become a touchy problem. Please don't underestimate the risk. --n-neko 22:55, 29 Dec 2005 (PST)

I speak of experience when I wrote that, niche mods die easy. My whole team left, including me, to work on something more original. I saw many similar mods to my own(the PD one I talked about) that died a very similar death. Then the ones that didnt get off the ground. They aren't forbidden just aren't the right way to start a major project. You should be able to learn alot while you start it though, my experience taught me alot about public relations and coding, as well as otehr things like the models and sounds.--Draco 23:24, 29 Dec 2005 (PST)
I've always seen fanmods as a huge waste of time. I mean you're putting all this effort in and at the end of the day you can't do anything with it. Plus you're always going to be restricted to what you can do because the hardcore fans won't let you sway from the known facts of that world. All you need to do is change a few tiny things (like not calling it ALIEN VS PREDATOR) and you've got your own IP! --Garry 05:28, 30 Dec 2005 (PST)

Have the mod leaders speak...

I think it would make an interesting addition to this article to have mod leaders speak and talk about what made their mods sucsessful. For example, Garry could talk about what he feels were most important in making his mod the number one source mod to date. I think this could make a fairly interesting addition to the page.

It'd be interesting to hear from other mod leaders (though who judges 'success'?) - I'd certainly be happy to put forward some ideas as to what makes the hidden successful and how the team came together and is now organised. Ging 20:34, 19 Jul 2006 (PDT)

TeamTip(TM) div test

War Stories
Before the Day of Defeat mod “went official” with Valve, the team of 8 people involved worked exclusively with instant messaging and IRC for communications. In fact the team developed like this for over a year before finally meeting face to face. --Holtt
Here's a quick and dirty style I put together for the DOD team tips in the article. I don't think they stand out enough from the body of the text. The colours are from the DOD forums. What does everyone think? --TomEdwards 03:04, 24 Mar 2006 (PST)
Looks nice, but maybe looks a solid border around the image nicer. If possible... --Jurgen Knops 03:12, 24 Mar 2006 (PST)
I don't seem able to do that. It would have to be done by Valve up in the stylesheet. --TomEdwards 03:33, 24 Mar 2006 (PST)
Tips from other mod teams would have their own colour scheme, just if anyone was wondering. :-) --TomEdwards 04:35, 24 Mar 2006 (PST)
I went and implemented the divs. I had to shorten a couple of the quotes on the page so they were a decent length...hope you guys don't mind! --TomEdwards 04:43, 26 Mar 2006 (PST)