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Intro to Game Modding - Lecture 5
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Intro to Game Modding - Lecture 5


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The big three Modding Tools

The big three Modding Tools

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  • When building a game from scratch, it’s easy to get stalled early in the process. It’s difficult for one person to have skills in each of the common disciplines; art, sound, programming, design, and testing. But modding is a different beast. Modifying an existing game gives you a solid base to begin your tasks. You can jump straight into the game-making process without having to spend hours upon hours developing new skills.The modding community has grown from a few ambitious developers, to legions of skilled craftsmen and women doing what they love; making games. Because of this many companies release their development tools along with their production titles. This puts the tools directly into the hands of the game enthusiasts, the very same players who might want to create their own version of the game. It’s a win-win situation. The player can fulfill their fantasy of working on their own game title, and the developer/publisher increases the games notoriety and the potential for creating a rich content-generating user pool.As of 2012/2013 there are three big players in the mod-tool development arena; Epic Games, Valve Software, and Crytek. Each company has turned their multi-million dollar franchise game into a thriving online community churning out innovative new content, and identifying hundreds of new potential employees. For this course we will be experimenting with the newest tool kit, the Creation Kit made available by the team at Bethesda Game Studio. The kit is used to create custom content for the creation of Skyrim mods and it’s a good bet that this tool will be used for future games as well.
  • Epic Games – Unreal EngineThe Unreal Engine 3, powers more than 200 titles, and with the release of Unreal Engine 4 we’re expected to see this growth continue. The Unreal Engine has been around in one form or another for nearly 15 years and with this longevity comes a wealth of documentation and a community that is both uniquely helpful and uniquely creative. Unreal boasts a wide selection of proven industry standard tools, but does have its drawbacks; you can’t access the Unreal Engine code at any level other than UnrealScript, which is enough to change gameplay mechanics but not really powerful enough to build completely new features or integrate external libraries (without a lot of extra work, at least). Nowadays, many modders are using Epic’s Unreal Development Kit (UDK), a more up-to-date development platform for the Unreal Engine that is free for noncommercial use and comes with indie licensing terms and multiplatform support. For designers or those who just want to mess around with levels and concepts though, working with Unreal Tournament 3 can be a good way to see the nuts and bolts of both the game and engine in action before moving over to the UDK.
  • Valve Software – Source EngineValve’s Source Engine is by far the most long running and popular choice with mod-makers. The engine has impressively powered 16 of Valve’s own projects since its 2004 introduction as the engine behind Half-Life 2. In order to make a mod with the Source Engine, you don’t need to own a specific game (unless you want to use specific content from a game)—it’s free to all Steam users.While the Source Engine’s large community and excellent documentation make it a great place to start, it can be notoriously awkward to work with thanks to its rather dated tool set and relatively weak asset pipeline. There are some fantastic modern works using Source, but the tools hinder more than they help. And since Source is feeling a little dated, we wouldn’t be surprised if Valve had a new version in the works.
  • CryTek – CryEngineCryTek’s CryEngine (used first in Far Cry) is newer than both Source and Unreal, and has a smaller community base, but its latest incarnation is every bit a competent rival. During Far Cry’s release days, CryEngine wasn’t a popular tool with mainstream modders because the tools weren’t well supported, but after Crysis was released, CryTek made sure to offer a solid set of tools. The Crysis mod community is similar to the Unreal Tournament 3 modding community insofar as most Crysis modders have started working with the CryEngine 3 SDK, which is offered with comparable terms to those of UDK (although notably lacking the UDK’s initial royalty-free $50,000 for commercial software). CryEngine 3 has superior landscaping tools and access to reasonably flexible C++ game code, but Unreal offers strong baked lighting and an excellent material editor. According to Crytek, over 500,000 people have downloaded the free SDK.
  • Transcript

    • 1. CISC 105: Intro to Game Modding Lecture 5: Tools of the Trade ©Charles Palmer – Fall 2013
    • 2. Unit: Tools
    • 3. UDK: Unreal Development Kit Unreal Engine 3 is integrated with numerous leading middleware technologies through Epic Games’ Integrated Partners Program. Continual optimizations are made to the Unreal Engine’s highly mature game development tool pipeline, massive world support and multi-processor performance. Unreal Engine 3’s advanced toolset is designed specifically to accelerate developers’ productivity for ultra-complex, next-generation content.
    • 4. Source Engine Source features fast, reliable and flexible technology to render computationally intensive game environments. The highest-performing shader-based rendering available to game developers helps you quickly produce even the most complex scenes quickly and efficiently. Source’s renderer utilizes advanced processor technologies such as multi-core and SIMD, as well as the latest GPU features via DirectX, to bring your vision to life in vibrant detail.
    • 5. CryEngine The CryENGINE® is a highly advanced development solution that surpasses all expectations for the creation of blockbuster games, movies, high-quality simulations and interactive applications.The third iteration of Crytek's proprietary CryENGINE® is the only all-in-one game development solution for the PC, Xbox 360™ and PlayStation®3 that is truly nextgen ready.
    • 6. Assignment • Creation Kit Tutorial o Layout Part 1 - o Episode 2:Basic Layout • As you watch the video amend your short cut document with any additions. Upload a screen shot of your completed level using the following naming convention – (first initial last name_course number_assignment number) example – DWilliams_CISC105_5.xls