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Community modding/mapping and applying for positions

Posted: 01 May 2013, 22:21
by MadMax1998
Alright everyone, here are some answers to two of the top questions getting asked by community members:

"Can we mod the game? Can we map for the game?"
And: "Can I become a team member / developer?"

Before we opened the forum to the public, we only used it for development discussion (in the subforum hidden to non team members) where we established a few gudelines for developers. Obviously fans who are not developers (just players) want to make maps and other stuff for the game (when it's playable), so I'm putting together a few guidelines for that too. I'm starting off with these and this thread may grow once the game's development gets further along.

#1 State of the game - can it be modded / mapped for at this stage?

Short answer: NO. The core of the game (mostly technology-related) is not finished, thus the game is only playable in a form that we would not hand out to anyone except team members, not even beta testers (and those would be the first to start mapping/modding, I believe). The game will eventually reach a state where we will have testing phases and select people will be able to play and map for it, but not yet.

#2 What tools do we need for mapping?

The same tools we use to make the game: UDK and its editor to create BSP (which forms the basis for a map) and, if you want to make meshes for your maps, a 3D creation package such as Blender, Maya or 3DS MAX, plus a few converters. So yes, you can create levels for the game without spending money on software (using Blender for meshing and the free UDK tools for mapping), but you will a) need a computer capable of handling the tools and b) quite a bit of patience, persistence and knowledge to make a good map.

#3 Is mapping easy or difficult?

If you know how maps are made for modern games, you will know the answer to this - while it depends on your scope of detail, in general it's a much more involved process compared to the mapping we did in the 90s on engines such as id-tech 2 (Quake) and of course the original Descent. In Descent you used a form of cubic subtractive BSP to make maps, and they were pretty much error-free. In Unreal it starts with BSP, but creating clean and efficient BSP is very important to begin with and not as easy as it sounds. Then, to make a map look state-of-the-art, you won't get around many more things such as meshing, decorating with meshes, lighting, using particle effects, scripting with Kismet etc.
Yes, you can make a map purely from BSP and texture it, put some lights in and leave it at that. Just don't expect it to look any different from Descent 1.

#4 Can I become a team member as a level designer?

Continuing from my above explanation, if you want to map for the game as a developer, you will really need to know your stuff with UDK. Even if you just want to make BSP layouts (which is perfectly reasonable) you should have the knowledge and skill to make clean and fast BSP that is scaled correctly and can easily be worked with when someone else takes it over for meshing. If you want to decorate your own map with meshes or even create those meshes yourself, keep in mind this is a time-consuming process that not every old-school mapper can get to grips with. I'm speaking from experience here; I love mapping in the old style but have a lot of problems differentiating between what BSP is used for these days and where to stop and start modeling meshes (which I find tedious).
We will only accept applications from level designers who have experience with modern mapping, not necessarily in Unreal although that is preferred. If you just want to get your head around modern mapping with UDK, you should stick with it and learn the craft before applying. Applications with no reference work (i.e. levels you built in a modern engine) will be turned down.

#5 What else can we mod?

Since the game is currently an unlicensed non-commercial project, the source code will be partially open to people interested in programming, and you will probably be able to mod the game with add-ons using UnrealScript. Then of course you can also use the pretty powerful Kismet scripting system to make additions in your maps. You could also use Scaleform to change the menu system and interface. It will also be pretty simple to swap models or add additional ships, for example - some of these things will probably be supported in a limited fashion by the team because we will use workflows that make it easy for us to put such content into the game in the first place. It is also my goal to keep documenting important parts of development (like the 6DOF scripting doc) so everyone can benefit and in turn make good mods and maps.

#6 What about multiplayer mapping?

With community members being so interested in making their own maps and engaging in the game beyond playing, I'm seriously considering an option that would make the multiplayer component of the game more open than the single-player game. This would entail an easy system to allow hobbyist mappers to make and add maps to a repository that every player could access, effectively letting the community generate most of the multiplayer content themselves. This would be in line with what Descent was: a collection of user-made levels that were distributed through official channels (such as Interplay's website and Levels of the World) and played a lot more than the handful of official MP maps. It would also give us developers more time to focus on the single-player campaign while the game could exist in the public as a growing multiplayer 6DOF shooter which gets its fresh content from users and not just the developers.
We will have to see whether this is possible, from a technical and legal standpoint.

- Max

Re: Community modding/mapping and applying for positions

Posted: 02 May 2013, 01:38
I say Yay! you got my vote!

All of your ideas sound like they would benefit all involved, but if we could get #6 to work the way you say - it would definitely be a an attention grabbing feature to all interested in creating content for the game! :D

Re: Community modding/mapping and applying for positions

Posted: 02 May 2013, 01:52
by Vertigo Fox
#6: Awesome! I really hope that will work out!

Re: Community modding/mapping and applying for positions

Posted: 07 May 2013, 01:52
Vertigo Fox wrote:#6: Awesome! I really hope that will work out!
And if all goes well, we'll have another smash Descent hit on our hands! :D
Happy 'B' Day there Fox! :)
So, you gonna grow a few more whiskers now! Aye?
Hope you had a good one!

Re: Community modding/mapping and applying for positions

Posted: 11 Jun 2013, 21:09
I'd like to publish the OP here on DA! With a few edits if necessary, so the community at large will basically know what to expect when the game is released.

And possibly generate a bit more interest in that area.

Yes, No - Maybe :?:

Re: Community modding/mapping and applying for positions

Posted: 12 Jun 2013, 11:17
by MadMax1998
Yes of course, go ahead, this is for the public after all.

Re: Community modding/mapping and applying for positions

Posted: 12 Jun 2013, 17:30
MadMax1998 wrote:Yes of course, go ahead, this is for the public after all.
Cool! Guess I forgot which announcements I was in when I posted that! :|

Re: Community modding/mapping and applying for positions

Posted: 15 Jun 2013, 04:50
And this is the result, as seen from Dropbox - not sure why the html at the bottom of the page is there when you click on it from within Dropbox, but you get the gist of it: ... apping.htm
Same location as above: ... e_Resource

Deviant Art's Page:

And of course, let me know if you have any trouble viewing it, as the link I made should show it full screen, and in the same format as Deviant Art's web frame - but without the frame.
~ Okay I got rid of the garbage scripts in the footer.

Re: Community modding/mapping and applying for positions

Posted: 21 Jun 2013, 03:33
Hopefully this will generate a response from some of the DA artist's that haven't seen us yet! :D ... -379480127

Re: Community modding/mapping and applying for positions

Posted: 30 Jun 2013, 22:25
We seem to be getting a slow increase in page views on DA recently, I'm hoping it's due to the previously mentioned post about Illustrator's and Concept artist's.


Yep! We're starting to get MVP attention! Yay! :D