New World Interactive director Jeremy Blum questions viability of total game conversions
There is a serious decline in the number of people making mods for games, says Insurgency developer Jeremy Blum.
There have been a number of successful game modifications such as DayZ and Natural Selection that have won plaudits and even gone on to become standalone games in recent years.
But speaking to Develop, New World Interactive game director Blum, who has previously worked on titles such as Red Orchestra, said that although game modding had been a very important movement between the year 2000 and 2010 for aspiring developers, it has experienced a sharp decline during the last few years.
Blum said this could be down to the lack of development tools shipped with many games, and the complexity and time it takes to mod current triple-A games and engines, especially when creating a total conversion modification.
He explained that while a few years ago creating mods could anywhere from one-to-two years, it could now take upwards of six years to complete.
“I think that back in the day it was a very important movement. There’s this era between 2000 and 2010, I think it might be over now, where mods were just very big things,” he said.
“I think that now they’re kind of on the decline, and this could partially be due to the fact that a lot of game developers aren’t really selling tools with their games. I’m not really sure what exactly is the cause of this, but I’ve noticed a serious decline in modding lately. So I’m not really sure if it’s something that is extremely viable anymore. But I do know that it was when I was doing it, and hopefully there will continue to be good mods out there.
“I know that a lot of people right now are working on modding our game. Not full total conversion style, but people in our community that are very interested in creating custom maps and maybe server mods and stuff like that. I think that that is going to be the more common thing that we’re going to see, people making these smaller mods of games.
“The total conversion mod is very hard to do now because it just requires so much time and energy to get going, and these things take years now. Back ten years ago they took a year, or two years, it didn’t take the three to six years I’d say it takes now. People have such higher expectations.”
Blum was keen to point out however that developing game mods was still a worthwhile route for aspiring developers to take, and could act as a springboard for getting a career in the industry.
“It’s essentially a project instead of a qualification,” he said.
“There’s a big different in my opinion between being a part of a successful project versus getting an education in something. I will say there’s a reason why Valve hired a bunch of their mod people from Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat because those people are extremely well qualified. If you make a total conversion modification, that’s pretty much the same as making a game.”
You can read the full interview with Jeremy Blum, who discusses mods, publishers, creating an indie FPS and Steam Early Access, here.