The Five Commandments

Rules modders need to live by: so they are written, so they are so!

In modding, creativity is king, so modders freely rip apart games to fix flaws and add new modes of play - or get crazy and unleash total conversions on the engines.

All in all, I like it this way. But some modders go too far and become artistes, putting on airs like they're creating masterworks solely for hardcore fans. The unspoken message is that the great unwashed can keep the hell out of the clubhouse. As a result, mods can seem scary to casual gamers and newbies. They check into the scene, then quickly check out with their heads spinning from missing setup instructions, inability to locate the mods they're looking for, or feeling stuck in a swamp of tweak mods that all seem to do the same thing. Bottom line: modding needs to be a whole lot friendlier. Here's how.

BRETT'S FIVE COMMANDMENTS OF MODDING



1. THOU SHALT BE USER-FRIENDLY
Always include an FAQ, a readme, or (better yet) a setup routine. Modders too often assume that anyone downloading their homebrewed goodies will know what to do once the zip is unpacked. It seems as though some modders don't want their creations soiled by anyone not I33t enough to know where the files are supposed to go. Share the wealth, people - let everyone know how to check out your handiwork.

2. THOU SHALT HAVE A WEBSITE
Line up an online host or set up your own website before modding a single pixel. Too many modders lack a web presence, which makes it hard to find their work. A lot of free sites hide mods in forums, forcing users to scroll through posts to find files, while big players like Fileplanet charge subscription fees.

3. THOU SHALT HAVE A CLUE ABOUT WHAT OTHER MODDERS ARE DOING
Tossing out the umpteenth version of a mod will likely be a waste of time.Before getting started, check to see if anybody has tackled your chosen topic and try something else if the saturation factor is above three. And remember, the world can only handle so many monster-leveling mods for Oblivion.

4. THOU SHALT NOT STEAL
Don't rip off other people's work. Period. Even if you want to borrow a texture, ask first. It's the right thing to do, and besides, the mod community is hardcore enough that thieves almost inevitably get found out and humiliated online. Acknowledging the modders who inspired you is also a great idea, as it helps build the mod community and gives end users background info that might encourage them to check out other mods.

5. THOU SHALT FINISH WHAT THOU STARTED, OR CANCEL IT
Do us all a favor and finish your work. Or let us know that school's started again or the old lady's cracking the whip or whatever and that the mod is kaput. Either's good.

I'm not trying to be preachy - I'm a crank, not a modder. You guys can tailor your creations to whatever audience you like. But spare a thought for the end user on occasion. That's the only way to multiply the members of the mod community, which is an important goal if you want to get your mods to the masses.

Jun 12, 2008

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