Game Modding: Lessons for Prospective Devs
Game modding can teach us a lot of things: It makes us creative, it empowers our gaming experience, and it allows us to learn how a certain game works and help provide quality feedback to the game’s developers, among all the other things that we can get from it.
However, one might ask this question: What does modding teach a budding game developer? Does it allow him or her to have the skills needed to thrive in the gaming industry?
To answer this question, we have to first see what game development and design cover in the first place. Game development isn’t just about coding or graphics or sound design; it also involves testing, quality control, and marketing, among others. You can also add conceptualization, art design, and mechanics interaction to this list; yes, the skill sets and solutions demanded from game developers a e rather huge.
On top of it all, there is a “grindy” and “gritty” aspect to game development and design that needs to be considered, especially in this era where gamers expect their games to have as few bugs as humanly possible. The main parts of this reality usually result in patching the same game throughout its lifetime to give “quality of life” improvements and bug fixes.
Also, game developers spend a lot of time ensuring that their code is usable and that the game does not contain glitches that can destroy the players’ experience of the said game. We already mentioned that users expect a certain level of quality because we do have a lot of time to play video games, especially during the global pandemic. Thus, it is just reasonable for us to expect that games released by gaming companies should be polished as much as humanly possible.
Game modding teaches you how to set a goal for yourself, choose a specialization, sharpen your skills, and receive and act on the feedback that you receive; all of these skills are important for game development. After all, if you have timely and relevant feedback regarding your work, you can improve faster and get your skills up to the levels required for or target specialization.
In order to get the hang of it, a prospective game developer should choose one or two things in the course of his or her game modding journey. One can pick from level design, coding, production, painting, and soundscaping, among many other possible fields out there: All of them are viable fields to pursue in a gamer’s modding journey.
Of course, you can’t be a game developer without playing the games themselves. After all, how would you identify the features that you need to change if you don’t know the game itself? Besides, you should also have the needed software for your chosen track; after all, there are many ways to approach a game when it comes to modding. As long as the engine and the files allow for it, then you are all good to go!
You can always take comfort in the fact that regardless of the title(s) that you focus on, you will be able to find and join a community that suits your preferences and temperaments. After all, you would also want to see how other modders (and the game developers themselves) approach a certain aspect of a game and the type of solutions they provide to the challenges and twists that they face.
Usually, the skills and programs that modders use are typically defined by their specialty interest – which, again, does come in handy on the way towards becoming a full-fledged game designer. For instance, if you want to code a game, you might want to learn a language used to power it up, such as C# and C++, as well as a couple of other languages out there that are typically utilized in games. For art, the gold standards in the gaming industry are Adobe Photoshop for 2D art and 3D Studio Max for 3D art; of course, you can also go into Pixelmator, GIMP, and other programs depending on your needs. Going into level design, modders use a 2D or 3D level editor that the software developer usually supplies – you might want to gain proficiency in these programs if you want to see how games work from the inside.
In general, game modding enhances your overall creativity, flexibility and resourcefulness, as well as increases your mental endurance and grit – yes, you will need a lot of it when it’s crunch time at your friendly neighborhood gaming company. Furthermore, you also get to increase the level of your coding and development skills through endless practice and feedback cycles. Through modding, you can see how games get a lease of life by expanding their content, storyline, and mechanics way beyond what was originally intended by the developers themselves. Finally, being in the community itself enables you to interact with other people, make the necessary connections, learn from others, initiate collaborations that make you go beyond your comfort zone, and hone your craft all at the same time. Trust me when I say that it is not easy to find a more supportive community elsewhere – we do all know how caustic the gaming community looks like nowadays.
Game development and design these days require a lot of familiarity with its different aspects. Modding your favorite games provides one of the best ways to do it, as it allows you not only to exercise your creativity and flexibility but it also allows you to learn the core competencies needed for your chosen field as well as the required interpersonal skills that you need to thrive in such an environment.
Besides, if you are looking for people who succeeded in the gaming industry through modding, you don’t have to look far: Many of the world’s most prominent game developers started their illustrious trades by modding games.
For a budding game developer, modding is a great way to learn indeed!