Some mod guidelines
on 04-04-2006 11:19 AM
I was approached to help with a mod - I did decline, these days my life is too precious to spend my free time making game art. However, the request was well written, and rather than a simple refusal, I explained my reasons for not joining and gave what I considered to be some useful advice.
Since I thought it was useful, I thought it might be worth sharing, and perhaps expanded on. It could make a good sticky for the requests forum.
I also have to be careful with *any* mods - technically ANY artwork that I create, even outside work does belong to the company. Website and photography etc. is fine, but any game work can be considered to be in competition.
I am sure many game artist have the same contractual obligations.
I've worked on mods in the past, I've been in the industry for several years. I've worked on the best and worst selling/rated games, and have an idea why projects succeed and fail. Please forgive if at any point I sound critical, you will understand that I don't know you or any members of your team, or any working practices. Much of this may be obvious to you, but there would be less abandoned mods if more of these were adhered to.
Have you got a concept? A general 2 paragraph concise description
Have you got a design? A design is NOT a story. A design document is fluid, but must be comprehensive. Document EVERYTHING - models, textures, naming conventions, control systems, gameplay elements, stats, progression. You have to describe everything so that no-one can misunderstand.
Have you got a timetable? You must have specific dates for completion of assets and milestones
Does each member of the team know their job roles? Do they know exaclty what is expected of them, and what quality level of work they are expected to deliver? Do they know what everyone else role is?
Is there a project manager? In the old days people thought the project managers were the dreamers who could not contribute. This is not the case, and a good project manager will work as hard as asset creators to ensure that every team member has everything they need. They will make sure all assets are delivered on time.
You must release little and often. Waiting months for a stable release is pointless. You don't need all the animations, all the characters, all the levels. If you are modding an existing game, get something working, get people playing and testing. Then add more content and gameplay, and repeat.