Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 5:30 am
Chris wrote:xander wrote:It probably did not take that whole time to produce -- a level like Demo2 could easily be made by an experienced modder in a day, though we must also assume that some extra time was needed to add the code required for the rocket.
And with that comment, Chris falls over and dies.
No, it took three months of solid work to complete.
If there is a modder out there who can produce Demo2 in a day, we would like to hire them immediately and pay them a handsome salary.
Oh! Oh! Pick me! Pick me!
In all seriousness, when I said that the level could be made in a day, I was not refering to any of the preparatory aspects (e.g. deciding what the general shape of the level is going to be, deciding what the objectives should be, deciding how the story will flow, &c.), or any of the polishing aspects (e.g. stress testing the level, cleaning up scripts, &c.). With all of the various modding aspects involved, I think that an experienced modder could put together a level like Demo2 in a week or two.
Here is what my own process would be:
- write the story -- this could take me anywhere from five minutes to a month and would be a basic outline of what should happen in the level (i.e. what are the objectives, what kind of units should be available, what reason does the player have to acheive the objectives, what reason is given for access/denial to certain tech, &c.) -- most of the levels in Insurrection took about 2-3 hours for this step; while I think a level like Demo2 would probably take me the better part of a day, as it is a very complicated little level.
- sketch the map -- again, anywhere from five minutes to a month; most of the levels in Insurrection went pretty quickly, say 30 minutes to an hour each; this sketch also includes ideas about where to place buildings (both functional and decorative), and units; Demo2 would probably be about the same.
- create the landscape -- I like to use the grid guide, so I would probably spend two or three hours on that; it can probably be done faster with random landscapes, but I could never get quite the right "feel" with those
- place buildings -- this generally takes me about half an hour, assuming that I already know what the level is going to look like; a couple of levels took more time (e.g. Sanctuary, with its large circles of trees, fences, stone heads, &c. -- took for ever, and was only possible with the aid of trigonometry
- place units -- this generally went very quickly in Insurrection, if only because my level sketches generally gave me a good idea of what was going to work, and what wasn't; call it another hour, just to be conservative
- setting up objectives -- five minutes
- creating scripts -- each script takes about 10 minutes, once I know what I want it to do; most levels that I have created contain 5-10 scripts (including objectives), so 1-2 hours to complete the scripting; in this time is also included additions to game.txt
- writing strings_default.txt -- give that 2-3 hours, plenty of time to proofread, &c.
- create new textures -- an hour to get the basic color scheme down, plus another hour to get it right; Recruitment took me two days to get to my liking (it is based on the redwood forests of California), and I am still not entirely satisfied with Station (based on the very bright, washed out colors of the Great Basin, where I live); I really like the reds in Repository, however
- lighting and tweaking -- I might spend several hours tweaking the look and feel of the level; changing light levels and colors (though I used basic white lights all throughout Insurrection, though some brighter than others), changing building orientations, adjusting unit counts, &c.
- creation of new shapes -- this takes me a while, as I don't have a 3D modeller, and have no idea how to use one; I have created a few new shapes, most of which only trickfred has seen, which will all be included in Paperwinia, whenever I get around to finishing it -- these take me a long ass time, but I assume that some with better modelling experience could do it faster.
- sound -- I don't really have to tools to edit .ogg, so don't know how long this would take; I think I could get new sounds created and put together in a day, but that depends on how many sounds are being added, and how complicated they are
TESTING & TWEAKING -- in my eperience, this is what takes the most time. And even then, I never really caught everything. I still catch bugs in Insurrection every now and then. At any rate, playing through the level a couple of times gives me a feel for how the level will play, how it looks, and helps me to stomp any major bugs. If there is only one level, like Demo2, that is about it, because I don't have to worry about interactions between levels (like the horrible kludge that is the transition from the first version of Backdoor (with completed objectives) to the second version of Backdoor (with new objectives)) or the "save point" system that allows Discovery and Recruitment to interact a bit.
At any rate, that is peek into my own modding process. I hope that offers some logic to the comment that I made above. Again, I think that one can throw together a level in a very short amount of time. It is the polish that takes so much time -- someone once said that the last 5% of a project takes 95% of the time, which can't be far off
EDIT: Also, Chris, shouldn't you be coding Defcon? Stop reading the forums!