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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dev Diary: More Modding

The thing about this latest round of Unreal modding is that the foundation of it all is going really, really fast. Because it's all based on something i've done or abandoned, it's a lot like putting a jigsaw back together. Last night, for instance, I took my old Riftwar code and stripped it of all the campaign and player class code and dumped it into vanilla Unreal domination. There was a lot of little sections to rework or tweak - but in a couple of hours it was pretty much playable.

It's an odd goal - to do less instead of more. To resist the urge to add in some kind of configurable inventory or adding a bunch of new keybinds. I was reading the old ModSquad review of Freehold UT and realized that kind of stuff actually made that game good - that it was the ability to quickly jump though menus to buy health, or better yet keybind a whole package of goods, combined with a multifunctional constant powerup that made the game really what it was.

So much has changed since then though. That was back when mods were still, well, mods. Total conversions still weren't entirely the order of the day - although that was changing rapidly. Still the number one comment I got on the mod was why I was still using original UT models. Later, I'd get that same critique from Epic about reuising Unreal maps.

Although to a certain extent the map thing is a valid point - maps are very specific to the gameplay they're designed. You don't play CTF on a DM map for a good reason - the layout, flow, powerup setup ... everything ... is different. Still, the core of the Riftwar gameplay was still domination - as I just proved last night.

Still, I've put requests out for mappers for at least a couple of game modes. One is pure vehicular deathmatch - something which is actually oddly missing or at least rare from the FPS world I think. It has an old mod buddy of mine excited and so he'll probably contribute some code for it - which is great. However I can hear the crickets in the mod community which is post Make Something Unreal. There are times I hate to be right.

The only time I could interest a decent mapper into helping me was when everyone was trying to build the next great total conversion. This is what Valve and Counter-Strike has done. This is, of course, despite the fact that early betas of CS sucked ... especially some of the maps. A point which I'm sure will be lost on most people when I release with maps of equal quality.

Anyway, I hope to have more of an idea of what a preview of this might look like in the next few weeks. Right now there are about seven gametypes up for consideration with some potentially getting cut and maybe some added. I would actually predict more like five or six will make the cut. I've got a concept doc I'm using for notetaking that at some point I may clean up for public consumption.

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