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Sunday, December 30, 2007

More On Modding (Aside From UT3 PS3)

I've had an idea for a gametype mod for a little while, but was going to wait on UT3 before deciding on cracking it out. It's not a complicated design and shouldn't require any new maps or weapons or anything. It's basically just an streamlined version of the scoring system I used for my first mod, Bounty War.

But with the PS3 aspect of UT3 being such a snafu and the honestly just not running all that well on my PC in first place (based on the demo) - I wondered if I should worry about coding it for UT3 at all. So then I asked - if one was going to make a basic gametype mod today ... where would one do it?

It seems the answer is nearly nowhere. In fact, mods themselves are nearly a vanished species it seems. Now, I know GameSpy stats aren't exactly gospel ... but they're about the best you can get for looking across all the online games. For one thing, there seems to really be no active UT2004 mods ... a sad reflection on Epic's Make Something Unreal contest. Course, there are about as many people playing Team Fortress Classic as there are UT2k4's Onslaught mode ... which makes me wonder if there's still enough of an online populace for 2k4 to support even testing a multiplayer mod of any variety.

Half-Life 2 has a larger base, but of course now we're getting to the original sport where the concept that mods were best done as total conversions took root. Although even those are somewhat absent these days. Zombie Master looks pretty insteresting, but even it is cresting at just a few hundred people online.

So interestingly while the two companies which pushed the hardest to get viable total conversions up and running, Valve and Epic, they have very little to show for it at the moment. More interesting is that the company that maintained a strict hands off policy with mods - id - still has the last bastion of small, gameplay orientated mods. Quake 3 Arena currently has a couple thousand people playing gametype mods, strewn out between three or four of them - including old standbys like Excessive and Orange Smoothie. There was a version of Excessive for UT2k4, btw, and a fine one at that ... but like many other partial conversion mods - it got lost in the frenzy that was MSUC.

Course, I've never had more than twenty people playing any mod of mine at any given time and I think the mean average was usually more like five. It might just be best to go back to UT2k4 and pick up where I left off. It's not like I'd be any worse off than I was begging people to play Riftwar or trying to get beta testers for Freehold NG.


jvm said...

Does it require a lot of work to make your idea work on something simple, like Quake? I ask because I think it would be easier in many ways to make a "TC" of an older game that is actually just a click-to-start repackaged Free (in the sense of GNU) game.

For example, OpenArena seems to have a pretty robust no-strings-attached Quake 3 Arena reimplementation, from engine up through graphics and bots. We were playing it for about a month during the Fall and thought it was awesome. Still Q3A, but robust. We were on different platforms too...GNU/Linux and MacOS X (PPC and Intel) and Windows.

So a mod of an existing game like that that really looks like a click-and-run executable that people are used to buying/downloading would be a neat trick, I think.

Just an idea.

jvm said...

Posting a second comment so that updates get mailed to me. Sorry.

Josh said...

No, not really, it's pretty much game agnostic (as are a lot of the things I'm poking around with FPS wise these day) - I was considering something along those lines and I think it might be the kind of framework more mods need these days. I downloaded the Source SDK and started very casually poking around the code, but right now I think I'd be leaning to just going back to either UT2004 (which I can code these kinds of mods rather easily) or look harder at the Quake engine.

The fact that id has released as much as they can of their older tech into the wild is a technical gift to the world that far too many people overlook. I've long thought that a company like Epic could do well for the world if they did a similar thing with the UE 1 and 2 builds.

jvm said...

I don't know if it's UE1 (I don't know the numbering), but the original Unreal source was believed lost. That's the answer directly from Epic. I asked a couple of times and was told this ... I think by Cliff and possibly Sweeney. (I used to live just down the road from them and was friends with a couple of programmers there. We played a lot of console games and tested GNU/Linux versions of the games...)

Josh said...

The numbering can be scurrious because of all the branches and the OO design in the first place ... but, um ... lost?? Wow.

I wonder if how much of that would entail the original UT code, which was a pretty drastic rewrite of the original engine (IIRC). Very odd.

I would think pretty soon, though, the UE2 version would be of little worth to licensees.