What not to when starting off with modding

If you know me, you probably know I’m in a kinda bad status when it comes to my machine. Thus, modding is out of the question. Osu runs like a sloth on WINE and Minecraft makes me motion sick on my 4:3 monitor. I’ve already watched all the anime I’m following for this week and I can’t be bothered to go grind more in Pokemon Y. So I decided to take some time and make use of this blog for something other than to beg random people on the internet to throw money in my general direction, in the form of a hopefully helpful article. So here goes.

This article is meant for people who are aspiring to start off with modding. I mean total newbies, people who have most likely never touched code in their life and will have trouble remembering they need to add a semicolon to the end of every line in java. If you’ve been programming for a good amount of time most of what I will say here will seem very obvious and not very informative to you.

Don’t re-invent the wheel
You just watched a tutorial that teaches you how to make a tool set. You want to put your newly acquired knowledge to good use, so you head out to go code your mod that adds a new ore.

Now stop. Go to the forums’ modding section. Hit the button that shows the newest threads. Look around for 10 or 15 minutes and look at how many people made it before you in the last few days.

Do you really want to be that guy who just throws another forgettable and cookie cutter mod into the forums? Try doing something original. I understand that since you just started you don’t haveĀ  a good grasp of how things work. But if you managed to make the tool set then you know how recipes work right? What if that new ore allowed you to craft some items in new ways?

It’s easy to take a concept and modify a few things to make it stand out. Iterating on what has been done time and time again by many many individuals without adding anything new to the already rotten and falling apart table won’t make your end product any better.

Don’t make something you don’t want
Ok, you have an idea, even with your limited knowledge, you know you can pull it off, so you head out to your eclipse workspace, you crack your fists with your ideas on your head and start coding them into shape.

Now stop. Think about it, thoroughly. Imagine yourself playing it, would you enjoy it? Would it enhance your gameplay experience in any way, or would it just make it worse? This is why the “dirt to diamonds” and “super crazy overpowered tools that take more time than the calculation of the answer to life, the universe and everything to acquire” you sometimes see are frowned upon.

If you don’t find yourself enjoying what you envision as a final product, then stop immediately and go find another idea.

Don’t assemble a team
You have an awesome idea, you know it’s great, and you know you, and many other people will love it. However, it feels a bit out of your reach, it’s pretentious, it’s grandiose, it’s monolithic, it’s some other effective synonym of awesome, and as such, it’s complex. Your answer to that is to try to reach out to people who have been in the bee’s knees for longer than you. So you head off to the the forums and start asking renowned people, in hope of finding someone who knows what they’re doing better than you, in hope of getting them to help you with your self-entitled magnum opus.

Now stop. Think like this. You’re a very successful independent game developer who works as a “one man team”. You’re known everywhere because of the awesome titles you’ve released. As you’re going to the supermarket to do your groceries for the week, some guy approaches you and says the following: “Man, I know you, you’re awesome, hey here, listen to me for a sec. I got this super awesome idea for a game, huh, here let me show you.” – He grabs his iPad and starts showing you some drafts – “Looks cool right? Do you want to come work with me and help memake this game? Oh, but a thing, I never worked in the game industry ever, and I never touched code, so you probably will have to tutor me or do all the work for yourself.”

I’ll let that one sink in for a sec. Done? Good. That’s how you’d look if you had done so. Now, you can obviously argue that you’d be “leading” the project, taking it the right way. And sure, I guess you can say so, but what does a leader that has no clue what the people on their team are doing really do other than sit around and chew his bubblegum while playing cookie clicker “supervise”?

Don’t build up hype
You are halfway into a mod you are really enjoying developing alone. You’ve been at it for a few weeks now, and have acquired what you find as a myriad of useful knowledge. You think it’s looking really spiffy, and decide to hit the PR fellas and show off your mod to the public, so they get hyped up and excited about the awesomeness that’s going to be pouring from that .zip file soon.

Now stop. This one is somewhat tricky. Let’s look here. Green is hype. Blue is quality of the product. Orange is result:
Lots Great Fantastic
A Little Great Quick growth
None Great Slow Start, quick growth after some time
Lots Average Decent
A Little Average Good
None Average Decent
Lots Bad Karma Killer
A Little Bad Meh
None Bad Nobody will notice

Does all of this make sense to you? I hope so. If not, remember that game or movie you were super excited about and turned out to be a flop. Yeah, that. You’re just starting, the odds your first shot a released mod will be anything sublime are slim. Heck, I’m no exception of this. My first mod was terrible. Most peoples’ first mods are, you just got to go up from there. Also, please don’t try to prosecute me for that mod, it was over 2 years ago. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it!

Don’t use a mod creator program
You found a cool program in the forums that lets you create a mod without much effort. You launch it and get accustomed to the interface and functionality. So you take those ideas you’ve gathered and start throwing them in there. Hoping for something good to happen.

Now stop. Examine the program carefully and thoroughly. And realize the brick wall that will be ahead of you if you even as much as wish to develop your skills further than the horizon of the absolute basic. These programs are limited, and they offer no educational purpose whatsoever. You don’t learn anything with using them. You don’t build up skills that let you progress and make better things.

All you do is play within the boundaries of what the program allows you to do, and the day you have an idea that’s original in any sense, the program will look at you with a frown in it’s face and say “Ni”. Except you won’t need to bring it a shrubbery, you will have to get rid of that program and work by yourself. Does this make sense? I hope.

Conclusion
I hope this helps you not fall in the pitfalls a lot of new modders get trapped on. Like pretty much any advice you get from anyway, take it with as much salt as you find necessary. Everything is possible, it’s possible for you to take any of the things I mention here, do it and still be successful. It’s just very unlikely, and you’ll either need a great degree of skill or luck of the draw to do so.

Happy modding!