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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Speaking of Battlefield

During the recent release of a certain FPS game, I remembered that 4 years ago when I was still in high school I whipped together a map using the BF2 Editor.  It certainly wasn't the best toolset around, but it was a very fun multiplayer game that did a lot of things right.  The intensity of certain maps, from Karkand to Wake Island, was very difficult to match.  Since there is some disappointment over the lack of mod tools given with BF3, it's worth remembering that the previous game sported some very, very good modifications.

In their defense, there are legitimate security concerns that will need to be addressed.  In addition, based on what I've read about the Frostbite Engine (ppt), it is very heavily threaded and uses no scripting language of any kind.  I don't doubt that modding such an environment will be more difficult, but given the raw persistence and skill we've seen from modders in the past, are threads and intrinsics really just too hard to justify a lack of tools?

Before I spiral into a totally incoherent rant let me just present this old project of mine.  I was 16/17 at the time and tried to make a genuinely balanced map with no aerial vehicles of any kind.  Before I entered college (for a Game Design and Development Degree) my programming knowledge was rather minimal and almost entirely self taught.  Now I'm a much better programmer, a much better designer, and occasionally making my own tools from the ground up for my own projects.  I think I could handle it.  But the broader point is, even if I couldn't, it still wouldn't be a waste to release the tools.  Circa ye olden days of 2007, where I had none of these honed skills, and I was still able to produce stuff like this:

This map had virtually no significance to the modding community but studios sometimes forget that it doesn't have to.  At the time, projects like this were for me.  Becoming a professional game developer is a long journey that involves failing a number of times before you get something right, let alone make something significant that other people will care about.  Nonetheless, this journey is very important for the industry.  It's a process the guys at DICE understand all too well.  So if you remember what it was like trying to break into the games industry, you'll know how critical the modding community is to aspiring developers.  It probably wasn't too long ago that you had a portfolio site like this one too.

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