Author Topic: Why are so many mods existing IP's?  (Read 12508 times)

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aphexjh

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Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« on: October 24, 2014, 01:05:03 PM »
I was just wondering why mods are usually made for existing properties.  For instance, Hexen: EOC, Arx: End of the Sun, Dark Mod, Shamblers Castle, Bladeghost's recent incredible works and others I can't think of, all are based on already established IP's and universes. Why is this?

There are exceptions, some of BloodRayne's mods come to mind.  Obviously Quadrilateral Cowboy and Phaeton, are other notable exceptions, but maybe I should be making a distinction between full games and total conversions at this point.

Is there something about the various usage licenses of doom 3 that makes people uncertain about putting there own ideas out there? Are authors afraid they won't be able to protect their IP?

I have been thinking about games like Team Fortress, Portal, Stanley Parable, etc. that started out as mods and then became (successful) full games. And the workshop system on steam, that allows artists and designers make their hobbies into jobs.  I would like to see the mods in the Id tech community, go from mod to full game, and I am just wondering if there is something in the way of that, other than the work of rewriting scripts etc.

One possibility I can think of is that some of you may work in the game industry, or be under a non-compete contract, which would explain why you don't want to violate that and openly develop a project, just to have it contested.

Another reason might be that people can get others to help them if they have a common interest, like a great old game they want to see revived, to get behind. But having been reading your posts for a long time, it seems obvious that many of you are capable of creating a smaller game experience on your own, which makes it even more of a shame that if you want to take your project to steam for publishing, you would be violating copyright in doing so.

Anyway, please share your thoughts and happy modding.



« Last Edit: October 24, 2014, 04:18:54 PM by aphexjh »

The Happy Friar

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Re: Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2014, 02:51:02 PM »
Established IP's bring more players in.  You can make a class based team game, or you can make a TF clone.  One will get you more players, one won't. 

Established IP's already have 1/2 the job of making a mod done: the design of the assets.  Want an Aliens mod?  Just look at the movies, books, images, etc. and based your assets on those.  Want a mod where you find hordes of monsters?  Design the monsters, then start where the people making the Aliens mod started and be behind.

Established IP's can be a lot of fun.  Watching the movie Aliens and liking it would (most likely) make you want to simulate the situation in the movie with your buddies (Aliens Doom did this best imho).  You can't get that with a brand new IP, unless you do all sorts of media which costs more time.

You can already be a fan of an established IP and want to make a fan project.  The Aliens and Predator universe has lots of fan stories & art, mods would be the next step.  Still an IP owned by someone other then you though, so if the owner doesn't want you stepping on their toes you should say "ok".

Originals are very fun though.  Steel Storm: BR & it's DLC are awesome.  I tell anyone who likes top down shooters to get it.  I also recommend Flotilla by Blendo Games and, if you want a good short story, Thirty Flights of Loving.  That's why I'm excited about more stuff by those creators, the current stuff is fun.   

motorsep

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Re: Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2014, 04:01:39 PM »
Established IP's already have 1/2 the job of making a mod done: the design of the assets.  Want an Aliens mod?  Just look at the movies, books, images, etc. and based your assets on those.  Want a mod where you find hordes of monsters?  Design the monsters, then start where the people making the Aliens mod started and be behind.

Agree. Coming up with original design that makes at least some sense is not easy.

Originals are very fun though.  Steel Storm: BR & it's DLC are awesome.  I tell anyone who likes top down shooters to get it.  I also recommend Flotilla by Blendo Games and, if you want a good short story, Thirty Flights of Loving.  That's why I'm excited about more stuff by those creators, the current stuff is fun.

Thank THF :) One day I would like to make Steel Storm 1.5 (better version of SS:BR) using our new engine :D

motorsep

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Re: Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2014, 04:03:11 PM »
... and Steel Storm 2, are other notable exceptions ....

Thanks man. Although it's Phaeton. Steel Storm 2 was a working title ;)

oneofthe8devilz

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Re: Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2014, 04:59:41 AM »
Just like you once said yourself, it is exponentially more comfortable to be "standing on the shoulders of giants" compared to "be the giant yourself".

Of course I think it is safe to say, that it is the dream of every indie/hobby developer to completely build a project from scratch, but once you get down to how the sausage is being made, you quickly realize, that there is a reason why games like Doom3 took 4-5 years to develop.

Now when we take a look at the credits list of Doom3, I count roughly a number of at least a 100 names. Now not everyone on that list was working on the game over the entire dev period so let's take that list-count and divide it by 3.

That way we get to a number of roughly 30 guys. 30 guys working on Doom3 for roughly 4 years. Simple math tells you that the work of over 120 man-years has been invested into Doom3.

So let's pretend for a second I would be as skilled as all the guys at id software (which certainly no single individual can be) and wanted to develop something like MCS completely by myself from scratch. So it would take a single superiorly talented person roughly 120 years just to develop Doom3.

On top of that, the work that went into MCS by the community would needed to be added, which are also several years of work and research.

So IMO it becomes obvious really quick, why modders tend to stick to modding rather than going fully commercial/independent.

It simply is a question of what is technically and economically feasible.

« Last Edit: October 25, 2014, 05:16:51 AM by oneofthe8devilz »
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motorsep

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Re: Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2014, 11:00:46 AM »
The thing is you don't have to go for Doom 3 complexity/quantity on art level. If it's an action/adventure (3-rd/1-st person) game, the code is there for the most part. Just figure out interesting gameplay and make simpler art in lesser quantity and it won't take 10+ years to make. And regardless, usually 3D (even 2D) games made by small teams. It's a collective effort.

aphexjh

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Re: Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2014, 02:08:36 PM »
Motorstep has a point here, smaller teams make most games. Devilz, its true that we have the advantage of a lot of pre-made assets and stuff, when we are using doom 3 as a base, but everything is there for us to make our own, and if you continue to use those assets, that will keep you in mod-land, but for someone like Bladeghost, he buys and makes a lot of his assets, so if they weren't based on alien or preditor, he could likely sell those games for money.

My main point is that, many of the designers here, can make a simpler game, that they could potentially sell for a few <currency> and likely sustain themselves partially on that income. So I know that I am not a genius for thinking of that, I imagine other people have thought of this.  My question more broadly is what is standing between people taking their projects to market right now?  Things don't need to be 180 hours of gameplay.  I'll pay a smaller amount for Stanely Parable, and I don't know if you ever played that game or not, but there isn't a lot going on, someone like bkt could definitely pull that off, and very likely zombie could as well.  More to the point, that is what i want to see.  I want to see these guys make these small gameplay experiences, and I want to pay for them.

So motorstep, you will probably know this, what do people need to do to legally distribute their own game based on the gpl BFG or whichever?  They need a compiled engine to use, and they need their assets.  What about libraries, I know a lot of these engines require external libraries to compile, do these dependencies pose a potential problem to developers who want to sell their games?

motorsep

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Re: Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2014, 02:58:30 PM »
So motorstep, you will probably know this, what do people need to do to legally distribute their own game based on the gpl BFG or whichever?  They need a compiled engine to use, and they need their assets.  What about libraries, I know a lot of these engines require external libraries to compile, do these dependencies pose a potential problem to developers who want to sell their games?

You'd need someone to distribute your game on Steam, as they are getting away with Greenlight (unless they'll make it free-for-all deal). You'd need to be clever about PR and marketing. Nowadays it's not really about making a game, it's about overall product-service and marketing. Market is quite saturated.

From the technical standpoint you need nothing but GPL engine, solid design and a small team (programmer and artist at least). We don't use any external libs on Windows. Just whatever comes with the system, like DX and XAudio. On Linux it's OpenAL / SDL2. That's all. RBDoom 3 BFG uses FFmpeg, and that might be an issue.

BielBdeLuna

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Re: Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2014, 07:56:01 PM »
according to wikipedia FFMPEG is LGPL if You don't include support for AAC audio in it's internal libraries, if you do it you're in LGPL territory, therefore you’re free to go. and I bet that if you don't include any Bink videos you're even freer (but I don't know the specifics in-between Bink, FFMPEG, and LGPL)

so technically you’re at least GPL all the way.

the level of complexity of the assets depends on the project, a fantasy or sci-fi project will require a level of design that a current-world project won't.

a single individual will have more work than a community sharing efforts.

maybe the worst case scenario is remaking the scripting and the defs (doors, triggers, lights...) that should be there if you don't want to redistribute idSoftware asserts, but that kind of work should be easier to be accomplished by a community than by a single individual.

motorsep

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Re: Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2014, 08:49:58 PM »
according to wikipedia FFMPEG is LGPL if You don't include support for AAC audio in it's internal libraries, if you do it you're in LGPL territory, therefore you’re free to go. and I bet that if you don't include any Bink videos you're even freer (but I don't know the specifics in-between Bink, FFMPEG, and LGPL)

You can't use Bink without licensing it (at least to encode videos). Using libav (part of the FFmpeg I recall) to encode/decode mp4 videos is illegal without obtaining license for h.264 codec. So while FFmpeg itself is LGPL, it all depends what format you are going to use. Since most of the cinematics nowadays done in-engine (as no one wants to see prerendered cinematics in quality less that what Blizzard offers), and Doom 3 is well suited for it, I don't see a need to risk it. That's why we went back to RoQ. Made it high res, and can use it in a few places, like logo and some tiny videos that can be really simple.

a single individual will have more work than a community sharing efforts.

If aphexjh is talking about commercial game dev, community shouldn't really be involved as far as supplying assets and making core design decisions. Legal liability and copyright mess. Better reserve community for modding your game :)

BloodRayne

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Re: Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2014, 04:10:12 AM »
I was just wondering why mods are usually made for existing properties.  For instance, Hexen: EOC, Arx: End of the Sun, Dark Mod, Shamblers Castle, Bladeghost's recent incredible works and others I can't think of, all are based on already established IP's and universes. Why is this?

There are exceptions, some of BloodRayne's mods come to mind.  Obviously Quadrilateral Cowboy and Phaeton, are other notable exceptions, but maybe I should be making a distinction between full games and total conversions at this point.

Is there something about the various usage licenses of doom 3 that makes people uncertain about putting there own ideas out there? Are authors afraid they won't be able to protect their IP?

I have been thinking about games like Team Fortress, Portal, Stanley Parable, etc. that started out as mods and then became (successful) full games. And the workshop system on steam, that allows artists and designers make their hobbies into jobs.  I would like to see the mods in the Id tech community, go from mod to full game, and I am just wondering if there is something in the way of that, other than the work of rewriting scripts etc.

One possibility I can think of is that some of you may work in the game industry, or be under a non-compete contract, which would explain why you don't want to violate that and openly develop a project, just to have it contested.

Another reason might be that people can get others to help them if they have a common interest, like a great old game they want to see revived, to get behind. But having been reading your posts for a long time, it seems obvious that many of you are capable of creating a smaller game experience on your own, which makes it even more of a shame that if you want to take your project to steam for publishing, you would be violating copyright in doing so.

Anyway, please share your thoughts and happy modding.

It's funny you took Hexen and my mods as an example, considering I started the Hexen:Edge of Chaos total conversion back then. :)

So in answer for that particular TC, it was very simple. I had wanted a new Hexen game for a long time and it wasn't coming any time soon. I was in contact at the time with Raven software and a lawyer from ID and several other people connected to the franchise. The basic issue is this: Everyone that was involved back then with Hexen/Heretic adores the franchise. And they all want a new game, but the pressure is so high on it that no one ever came up with a format that they felt would work for all those involved. It was very much loved, but also very controversial (much like Quake was at the time).

I wasn't planning on a Hexen TC at all, I had only made the wraithverge as a proof of concept. Screenshots of that little mod ended up on Brian Raffel's monitor, he forwarded those to his staff and my mailbox exploded with emails from Raven explaining how they loved the mod and were hoping to see more. So in the case of Hexen, the Total Conversion was actually planned and started because of positive feedback from the original creators.





But in hindsight I am far, far, far more proud of Grimm as it is completely my own from beginning to end. Everything from the monsters to the world to the story is my own 'IP' so to say and I can't describe how good that feels, for that alone I consider Grimm a huge success.

The thing is that Hexen had a big audience, but it's an existing audience. In the end I wasn't entirely sure people were liking it for nostalgic reasons or for it's quality. I wasn't even sure if we'd have an audience with this mod if it hadn't had the name Hexen.

Grimm showed me that you can get a 'big' audience based solely on the merits of the game and not it's name and that feels plain good.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2014, 04:19:07 AM by BloodRayne »

nbohr1more

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Re: Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2014, 12:42:50 PM »
I think it comes down to the ability to draw in developers to a common cause.

With an existing IP, you don't need to convince other developers that your dream idea is one that they
should help come to fruition. The IP already indicates the intended end result and sets up the creative
goal-posts and boundaries. For "The Dark Mod" you know it's going to be set in an alternate historical
era, that the main game-play focus will be stealth, and that the characters of the world will act in ways
considered to be orthodox to the Thief game series. With all that narrowly defined, there is far less room
for the developers to argue about. Nobody joining the project will suddenly go "this isn't working, let's
add Laser guns to the player arsenal and have the AI antagonists drive tanks around the city." Which
is what often happens with brand new IP's. All the contributors feel they have a stake and as time goes
on, developers will start to demand their personal vision of the end-result changes the scope of the project
or it's very nature. Even with these strictures in-place, The Dark Mod team have had many disagreements
and have even lost developers or content contributors over differences about the nature of what TDM
is and "should be".

That said, I have seen quite a few original IP ideas from the Doom 3 community. They simply don't get the press
coverage that "existing IP" mods do.

Examples:

http://www.moddb.com/mods/pathways-redux

http://www.moddb.com/mods/ruiner

http://www.moddb.com/mods/daze

Also, if you count Doom 3 as the "existing IP" that more or less answers your question. By definition, most
"mods" are just a slightly altered version of the game they came from. I think you could agree that stuff
like "Phobos", or "Doom 3: Evolution" is more akin to original work than some group aping an existing IP, no?
Even these types of mods, which should be a natural extension of the demographic for Doom 3, get poor
coverage.

I guess that comes down to the fact that Doom 3 vanilla was not widely admired by the FPS community.
It had more of a niche appeal that crossed over into survival horror fans. The Doom 3 modding community has
spent a great deal of effort trying to "fix" Doom 3 itself. Some of the fixes, were targeted at the perceived shortcomings
of the visuals compared to light-mapped titles (hence the explosion of shader mods shortly after release), some
were game-play tweaks, and ultimately the most well received mods were like "Classic Doom 3" or "in Hell" where the map
layout and game-style was more about being a balls-to-the-walls FPS blaster rather than the (somewhat) nuanced survival
horror ways of Doom 3.

A final take is that modders looking at Doom 3's asset base often overlooked the organic "Hell" assets and focused on
the sci-fi assets that make up the majority of the game. With that perspective, much of what could've been done with
the game was waylay-ed in favor of seeing the platform as only being a good fit for claustrophobic "Aliens" style mods which
would be hard to distinguish from minor Doom 3 tweak mods. The modding community mostly wrote-off Doom 3 save
a dedicated elite coding crew who knew that it had far more potential than it was given credit for. These folks posted
all sorts of ingenuity at Doom3world but almost none of it was adopted by actual mod-game designers.

motorsep

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Re: Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2014, 01:00:03 PM »
Doom 3 sold  3.5 million copies by 2007 (per Wikipedia). And I bet sold more by today, through Amazon and Steam. So if that number means Doom 3 wasn't admired by FPS community, I don't what it means to be admired o.O

There are many factors why Doom 3 modding didn't take of as Quake / Quake 2, but it's all irrelevant to the topic :)

The fact is it's easier to build hype using existing IP (especially a cult one, well known), it's infinitely easier to build something using existing content and existing framework. Whether it's easier to get people involved into existing IP mod or brand new game is questionable, especially nowadays, and especially using an obscure technology.

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Re: Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2014, 08:53:42 AM »
I was just wondering why mods are usually made for existing properties.  For instance, Hexen: EOC, Arx: End of the Sun, Dark Mod, Shamblers Castle, Bladeghost's recent incredible works and others I can't think of, all are based on already established IP's and universes. Why is this?

...snip


Hi aphexjh & all

With regard to Arx End Of Sun:

The idea for the game / mod / total conversion came about before ever using IDTech4. So rather than having already produced any kind of mod for the engine and trying to come up with a popular idea for a future mod - this mod came about because I loved Arkane Studios "Arx Fatalis" (http://www.arkane-studios.com/uk/arx.php) so much I specifically wanted more content based on the magical world of the original game.

Being a programmer who always wanted to make a real 3d game and having made some maps for Half Life and Quake 3 that were no way near good enough to release. I thought how hard is this going to be? - so we asked permission from Arkane who gave the go ahead with strict conditions not to sell it and off we went...

If only I knew then what I know now...

The established IP that the mod is based on never seemed to attract much attention on Doom3world in its time. We have gained a few followers on ModDB and I suspect it has only been noticed on this new fine forum due to the early stages of the forum and relativly few posters. I would imagine a dungeon crawling RPG is not really a typical interest of first person shooter gamer in general.

Thats the kind of background on the IP basis. Hope it kind of answered the question.

Cheers

motorsep

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Re: Why are so many mods existing IP's?
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2014, 10:20:12 AM »
The established IP that the mod is based on never seemed to attract much attention on Doom3world in its time. We have gained a few followers on ModDB and I suspect it has only been noticed on this new fine forum due to the early stages of the forum and relativly few posters. I would imagine a dungeon crawling RPG is not really a typical interest of first person shooter gamer in general.

You should promote your game on the following forums:

http://forum.rpg.net/
http://www.rpgwatch.com/
http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/index.php
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php

The second and the third link is where we got more interest for Tomes of Mephistopheles when it was in works.