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Speaking With the Devs Behind a 7-Year Game Mod Project 100

Gamasutra has an interview with members of Off Topic Productions, the team behind the recent completion of The Nameless Mod, a Deus Ex modification that was in development for seven years. They talk about how they stayed interested in such a lengthy, unpaid project, and also how their vision for the mod shifted over the years as a result of experience and feedback. "We estimate that we recreated everything we did during the first 2 or so years because we got better. The plot went through 4 revisions in the first year and was continually tweaked, expanded, and revised. Most of it also simply came about as we experimented with the game and the engine and grew familiar with what we could do — originally we were planning something even more open and free-form than we ended up with, but when we realized how fundamentally the game was built for a completely different type of structure, we reigned ourselves in and adjusted our design. ... Also, I don't know if you ever go back and read what you wrote 6-7 years ago, but in my experience that's a great way to embarrass yourself — I spent a lot of time rewriting old dialogue to be less embarrassing."
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Speaking With the Devs Behind a 7-Year Game Mod Project

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  • Re:Ditto (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @11:34PM (#27812113)

    Yes, but unless you're maintaining the code you really shouldn't be thinking about a current project that way. There are some projects where it's legitimate to still be coding on it after years, but if you have to rewrite the project from scratch more than once, you've botched something and really ought to sit down and plan it out.

    A project conceived and executed in that fashion is going to be a serious pain in the ass to maintain later on, assuming that it does get finished. And further assuming that anybody still cares about it at that point. There's something to be said for somewhat less than perfect featurewise but finished.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 03, 2009 @11:45PM (#27812169)

    Some people are purists. Some people are inexperienced. Some people just want it to be right down to the smallest detail so that when you look back your code is tight and fast and solid.

    Who knows what actually happened, but these people are in it for the art and I understand that. I applaud their intellectual honesty and coding integrity, and just plain old down home hacking through the unknown.

  • Re:Ditto (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted&slashdot,org> on Monday May 04, 2009 @12:25AM (#27812401)

    [B]ut if you have to rewrite the project from scratch more than once, you've botched something and really ought to sit down and plan it out.

    Not if it's by design. I found it to be the only way that makes sense, to work trough prototyping. Especially for games and other large projects. I define the things I want to clarify, and then build a throwaway-prototype to answer as many of them with as little work as possible. Then I repeat this process, until I am happy with it.
    Over a specific project size, top-down-modeling and bottom-up-coding alone do not do it anymore. And in creative processes it's sometimes even impossible.

  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Monday May 04, 2009 @03:04AM (#27813049) Journal

    If you create something and it isn't as good as you think you are capable of, you don't want to release it. Why would they release something they aren't happy with if they don't have a publisher ready to fire them all?

    Perhaps because nothing you create will ever be perfect and if you release early your work isn't wasted if you're hit by a bus? Not saying you should release garbage, but if you managed to make something knowing you could do better, sitting on it doesn't benefit anyone. In the years it takes you to make version 2, even if nothing bad happens to you, the platform may have died, the style of game may have gone out of vogue etc.

  • Re:Marathon Too (Score:4, Insightful)

    by adavies42 ( 746183 ) on Monday May 04, 2009 @09:24AM (#27814825)
    i never got into escape velocity [] et sec., but i'd be very surprised if its mod community wasn't still going strong. they used to make the marathon people look normal by comparison.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson