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How Not to Start a Mod

by eihrul on 10/06/2007 17:12, 51 messages, last message: 07/25/2008 18:13, 27545 views, last view: 12/12/2019 09:44

Okay, since this is coming up a lot lately, here is how to fail spectacularly with any particular mod'ing idea:

1) propose starry-eyed idea
2) ask for significant help to start the project

3) always fail

The reality is of any volunteer project is: if the people you want to help are significantly more skilled than you, or just significantly skilled, they will be more likely to work on their own projects than bother at all helping you.

Why is this? IDEAS ARE CHEAP. EVERYONE HAS COOL IDEAS. But very few people have the skill to follow through with them. When they do, they're usually not very altruistic about using them for the good of someone else.

Leadership skills matter not for starting something. People won't take marching orders from someone they perceive as less skilled. Leadership only matters in the end game, when you have a lot of stuff to manage.

So what does this mean for someone wishing to start a mod or just volunteer project in general (one might say any non-commercial project, particularly open source ones)? It means: YOU MUST BE WILLING TO DO THE MAJORITY OF THE WORK BY YOURSELF.

And when the critical mass of your project makes coming across it by accident via word-of-mouth unavoidable, then you'll start to get... a few, but very limited number of somewhat skilled people proposing to help. Very rarely, you might even get one or two skilled people.

So the breakdown (keeping in mind most statistics are made up on the spot):

Of your users, a very small amount will express interest in helping.
Of those, a smaller amount will actually TRY to help you.
Of those, a much smaller amount will be CAPABLE of doing what they're trying.
Of those, a much smaller amount will be capable of doing what they're trying to do WELL.

Scale all these on something of a low exponential curve. The bigger and more prestigious your project is the more the ratios will grow.

Long story short: unless it is the Linux kernel, any given volunteer project will pretty much only be successful if it's the work of but one, or at most a handful of people.

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#32: Re: ..

by eihrul on 10/13/2007 19:46, refers to #25

That is exactly the mindset I was pointing out will lead to failure. If you expect to start a volunteer project by managing people, it WILL fail. The only way that will work is if the people are physically accountable to you, usually because of a paycheck.

In fact, I'm getting to the point where I believe, fundamentally, almost EVERY volunteer project will fail. If success happens, it will be very rare, and it will never take the form you had envisioned for it (cf: Sauerbraten).

I'll go run off and be depressed about that now...

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#33: Re: ..

by Drakas on 10/13/2007 20:25, refers to #27

What you described comes from management that includes finances...

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#34: ..

by Julius on 10/13/2007 20:40

Naaa... there are plenty of successful volunteer projects out there. Sure lot of them also fail and often it is because of a goal that is set too high...
But the problem is that especially volunteer GAME projects tend to fail 99% of the time because games are usually very big projects, but also because 98% of the game projects are started by people on their late teens/early twenties (or even worse early teen :p ) who simply do not have the patience nor the dedication to work on a project at least 2 or 3 years!
(that coming from someone who is 25 :p)

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#35: Re: ..

by eihrul on 10/13/2007 20:56, refers to #34

You are measuring success of other projects from the point of view of an external observer. I don't believe that's an accurate way to go about it.

I think success should be judged by how well it achieved the vision that was intended for the project. And on that standard, I think most volunteer projects fail, regardless of type.

And also, if it's the work of 1 person, it's not what I mean by "volunteer" project, I mean a project where many people are involved who are doing it on their own whims.

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#36: Re: ..

by blikje bier on 10/13/2007 23:12, refers to #33

And why would it not include some finances? Its not a dirty word, not even in voluntary projects and such.

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#37: Re: ..

by shadow,516 on 10/13/2007 23:59, refers to #36

then YOU have to be willing to foot the bill... all of it. Don't rely on other people, especially for monetary donations!

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#38: Re: ..

by SheeEttin on 10/14/2007 00:28, refers to #37

...unless you have cash in hand.

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#39: Help here please!

by Q009 on 10/26/2007 20:02


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#40: Re: Help here please!

by Aardappel_ on 10/27/2007 02:21, refers to #39

this guy proves my point I made in my post that our wiki article (and this thread) are useless, i.e. they will not be read, or as the case may be, understood, by the people who need to read it most.

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#41: re..

by phoenixsux on 11/07/2007 09:57

That's what i'm doing - all the work myself.
Making textures (windows paint, crappy tool, iknow), shadering them (i just wish i knew how to avoid the bubble effect with parralax), making models (3ds format and the q2 moddeler), modding the source code... (i'm actually a VB6 guy but it's never too late to learn C)

so far i have ladders (MAT_LADDER), team assigned spawn points (using var1 assigned to attr2 = if team=1 or "good" then it spawns them at playerstart yaw , 1 if team = 2 or "bad" it spawns them at playerstart yaw , 2 if team is other it spanws on random spawn point), variable round time for servers (command line switch -kNN where NN = mins.), MAT_GOALGOOD & MAT_GOALBAD for objective based maps (good guy team, badguy team objective points), croucing, walking, running, drowning (player1->wair for air in lungs while under water), falling damage (

if(player1->timeinair => 440) {
blah blah blah trigger leg crunch noise , selfdamage player1->timeinair / varable ect....

saving the fog distance into the map file (padded into the header)
specific weapons per spawnpoint (eg - team good spawn #1 spawns with gatlin gun and tnt but no riffel)

so much work left to do.... so so much... but i enjoy it. and when i'm done it will be all mine.


don't bother sending me any e-mails or messages, i have limited internet time these days.

-Waxy the Chicken

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#42: Re: re..

by shadow,516 on 11/07/2007 16:44, refers to #41

:cringe: you're using... paint to make textures? :cry:

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#43: Re: re..

by MovingTarget on 11/07/2007 16:47, refers to #41

must... block... out... all mention of paint...

At least try GIMP (I use PS, of course...)

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#44: Re: re..

by Drakas__ on 11/07/2007 17:14, refers to #42


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#45: ..

by Acord on 11/08/2007 00:53

Gimp. Gimpshop... I don't know if they ever made that thing stable.

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#46: Re: ..

by SanHolo on 11/08/2007 01:35, refers to #45

I use the GIMP exclusively for semi-professional webdesign. No problem.
I wouldn't use it for print media (lack of CMYK), but for everything else it's wonderful.

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#47: Re: ..

by tentus_ on 11/08/2007 01:52, refers to #46

The fun thing about being in professional web design is that there are a LOT of small business owners in the 'States that are perfectly willing to provide you with a legal copy of Photoshop. And I don't mean they're willing to provide themselves with Photoshop- a lot will buy it specifically for you, even once explained how that's different.

My first webdesign employer bought me the next-to-most-recent copy of Photoshop, only after I convinced him not to buy me the most recent version. A lot of these guys are really generous to their employees, and follow the principles of equivalent exchange nicely (I scratch your back by providing quality software, you scratch mine with a quality product.)

All that said, I too use GIMP regularly, seeing as my roommates do not have Photoshop, nor does my Ubuntu machine. It's good stuff, and I cannot recommend it over buying (or pirating) Photoshop enough.

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#48: Re: ..

by SheeEttin on 11/08/2007 02:46, refers to #47

Because as we all know, piracy is baaad.


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#49: Re: ..

by MovingTarget on 11/08/2007 03:15, refers to #48

Hmmm, now that I think of it, I was wondering why my copy of Photoshop has this weird pirate flag on it...


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#50: Well...

by Slythfox on 11/08/2007 18:36

You are right, this is extremely unfortunate, and I wish it weren't true. In my oppinion, for a project to be truly successful, there needs to be a team of developers who share the same ideas, or are able to expand upon them, and give up ideas that don't work. Flexibility is important.

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#51: ..

by {Qs}Homicidal on 07/25/2008 18:13


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