In response to “Mapping Perfection” from the Escapist Forums: I first started getting my hands dirty with modding with Starcraft. The map maker for SC was so incredibly flexible and simple. It got to the point that some user-created maps didn’t even feel like Starcraft anymore. Any SC veteran can identify with me, when I say that when the Dragonball Z map was created, it was hands-down better than any licensed DBZ game on the market at the time. I don’t know when tower defense games got started, but when they came to Starcraft, they were better than any tower defense games before or since in my opinion. I guess my point is Starcraft was an excellent starting point for me, or indeed for many modders looking to make their own content.
Flash forward to The Elder Scrolls Oblivion game (I haven’t played Morrowind yet, sorry), and then to Fallout 3. I remember the vanilla Oblivion game to be filled with quest-breaking bugs. There were user-created patches for the bugs and glitches coming out way before Bethesda got around to making official patches, and I daresay that the user-made fixes were better, and more thorough than the official fixes. Its the same with Fallout 3. I, myself have only made some minor texture mods to both of those games, partly because I don’t have as much time as I used to, but the potential is still there. This is why I still enjoy Bethesda products even though they often release hellof buggy games, because they give the community a real chance to shine.
I was a little surprised that when the author said ‘accessibility’ it meant exposure rather than playability.
I don’t have a PC and confining my gaming to consoles helps me actually get work done, so I haven’t played much in the way of mods, except for LPB. And the thing about Little Big Planet is that so many levels I’ve played haven’t been tested very well to ensure that the player can just get through the level.
Maybe this isn’t an issue with PC mods? It would seem to me that the really successful modders made a level (or a shift) that was fun. Tested and tweaked so players have a good time, and doesn’t just look cool.
I mean, sure; all those user created levels on LBP function but that doesn’t mean they’re playable. The good levels aren’t necessarily familiar, they’re the ones that are fun to play. The familiar ones-Bioshock, Resident Evil, Sonic themed ones look pretty but don’t automatically add to your gaming experience. They work on a nostalgia front and once you remove that the substance frequently is thin, or frustrating because the level wasn’t designed for fun, just to look cool.
Interesting article though.
In response to “The Game You’ve Always Wanted” from the Escapist Forums: Why mod? Why not? If you love a game and have some creativity, it’s a fun way to spend your time, with the added kick that you get to see others playing your creation. I did levels and monsters (sprites were mostly edits of existing ones – I’m not a great pixel artist) and whatnot for Doom. My real talent was creating new monsters with DeHackEd (my suicide bomber mod got a depressing boost in hits right after 9/11). So much so that my two main roles in several Doom source mod projects were “Beta tester” and “Guy who makes the monster behavior codepointers do horrible things that Carmack and Romero never intended them to do”.
Let me tell you, it’s all worth it for that e-mail you get where someone you’ve never met describes playing your mod and how some part of it absolutely amazed/surprised/freaked him out. Doesn’t have to be anything flashy, either. What got me that e-mail? Toadstools. Nothing big, typical objects, the only difference being that an invisible spawner quietly slinked about the area and “grew” more and more of them. Slowly, so you didn’t notice unless you stood there and watched closely. But if you passed through an area repeatedly, there was always more of them. Deliberately destroy every last one of them? There’ll still be a few next time around. Creeped the guy so much that he said he actually took to skirting AROUND the toadstool patches. This was from a seasoned Doom vet with hundreds of thousands of kills under his belt in everything from Doom 2 and Heretic to the major megawads and TCs (sorry, ‘mods’) like Eternal and STRAIN. Cyberdemons, Maulotaurs, Arch-Viles and Demon Lords all fell before him. And it was my toadstools that he gave a wide berth.
It’s been years, and I still remember that e-mail.
In response to “Max-Level Crafters” from the Escapist Forums: I love making video game craft projects! This past Christmas I made my co-workers NES controller ornaments that were true to scale. Was a pain, but super fun. I’ve also made myself moogle and mithra ears for costumes, random geeky jewelry (hey, what else am I going to do with a mobo from a dead pc?) and I couldn’t even tell you what else offhand, heh.
Go make something, it’s fun!
In response to “Stripping Down the Nude Mod” from the Escapist Forums: Nice article, bringing up something that is in the back of all true gamers minds – somewhere in the corner, tucked away discreetly, sometimes in plain sight.
Near the end was an interesting quest – “The stripper becomes the stripped and the viewer becomes the voyeur.” Instead of being erotic or titillating to the player, eventually the avatar you play as simply becomes that – a model of nakedness, a nuisance, something that was interesting for a few minutes but soon lacks its appeal. You find yourself wanting to go back to your avatar (lets say Lara Croft, for example) dressing back up in, at least, a bikini – for reality’s sake at least.
…Not that raiding tombs in a string bikini is realistic in the least, but neither is climbing down a hole with your breasts flopping around.
I had never known that piece of information about Oblivion. Its the same as GTA: San Andreas, and that eponymous Hot Coffee mod. Something that is hidden, and inaccessible without in-depth knowledge of game coding (i don’t know the exact terminology), causing grief to the gaming community or the developers themselves. Its the same as Hillary Clinton walking into any random American house and charging the owner for illegal possession a gun, even though he’d bought it and locked it within a gun cabinet, hid the gun cabinet in a closet out of reach from small children and had it locked with a four-digit combination. Even though the owner of the firearm has done everything possible to keep it out of his child’s hands, it cant stop someone from finding out and alerting the authorities – and then its up to the authorities to act accordingly.
If people think nudity in games are a problem, then they should think about nudity in movies, nudity in trashy romance novels (which is worse, in most cases), nudity in TV, even nudity in real life…
…I’d bet Hillary (or whoever has got the ‘games are bad’ hard-on these days) would jump all over a censor patch for real life. ‘Blurred! Feel better in the school shower, nudist colony or awkward towel/doorknob incident in your packed house with Blurred!’
Oh man, The Sims. I remember back in the day when I was 11 or 12 and I used to play the shit out of that game. Even at that age, I wondered what the point of showing the characters fooling around in the bed or in the hot tub was if they were unwilling to go that extra mile. I mean, it’s one thing to try and keep a somewhat kid-friendly rating, but if you’re putting sexual content like that in there to begin with, it just seems kind of silly to try and pretend to be a saint about it and, at least in The Sims, it just comes across as goofy and awkward.
Then again, I’m vehemently anti-censorship. It strikes me as just…hypocritical to write a nude scene or profanity into a story, then, in hindsight, add in a few bleeps and blurs on the off-chance that a child could be watching. Anyone young enough not to understand what is going on behind the mosaic isn’t the target audience and shouldn’t have been watching to begin with. Okay, yeah, I agree that it’s not okay for an 8 year-old to be commenting to his teacher about how the women in the commercial for Spring Break Boobie Bonanza must be cold since they never wear shirts, but where the hell were his overly concerned parents when he was watching Comedy Central at 4 AM in the first place?
As for ogling player avatars and such, I can see how some people would find it weird if they thought of the character as an extension of themselves, but not everyone sees it that way. If I’m given the choice of playing a male or female character in a game, I tend to go with female. I get asked whether I’m gay or wish I’d been born a girl all the time, but I’m not and I don’t. Part of the reason I go with girls is because the ladies are typically faster in fighting games and sometimes the reason is simply because the option was presented to me. However, when it comes to MMOs or other games where I’m likely to be staring at the same character for 100+ hours, the reason is simply because I’d rather spend that time looking at a girl than a guy.
Incidentally, the first time I ever saw pornography, it was because I mistyped the URL for a website dedicated to (non-nude) custom skins for The Sims.