Seems like all next gen shooters basically neglected, or made it a big hassle to drop new player models into the game without having to edit text files write shaders hack the FE or some other malarkey. Any reason why pipelines and workflows seem to be getting worse for the mod community when it comes to getting a new model in game? I just checked out the side bar of polycount.com and there is nothing there but quake3 and ut2k4 models so I would imagine some people feel the same. Or am I completely wrong and making custom models has just died down?
A conspiracy theory could be that networks like Valve's Steam could eventually turn plugin players into a revenue stream. By starving the gaming community of user mods it wont seem so wrong when they start charging for such content.
NOT ME BECAUSE I AM A HOBBYIST AND MY MODELS ARE FOR GAMES \o/
1. Demise of the unified gaming community. Once upon a time everybody played the same game. Think about it. Quake (in my mind) started the custom skin hobby. During clan play, folks wanted to play with clan skins that were custom to them. Quake 2 gave us the custom player model. I don't think that there has been a game since that has offered the flexibility of character modeling and animating. It was the first renaissance of PPM modding. And for a while, everyone played Quake 2. Q2 had a cool feature that would allow players to transfer models (and game levels) during the load phase of the game. Models and skins were shared freely. With the rise of Half Life (and its popular MP mods) and the UNREAL series, gamers began to diversify into camps and the focus on making cool game skins and models and seeing them in game began to diminish because not everyone was playing the same game.
2. Game Hackers and Cheat Blocking. Quake 3 was almost designed with character modding in mind, but increased hacking of the game brought about increased security measures. No more sharing game content. Pure Servers became a way of life. It wasn't fun to "wear" a unique skin or model because no one else could see it (Visor everywhere you looked). If no one was wearing skins, fewer folks would make them.
3. Increasing pipeline complexity. The bar one needs to jump to make game content keeps going up. Along with that, the complexity, cost, and number the tools kept going up. Making a set of red/blue skins for existing Q3A models for use in multiplayer games was more difficult than the same process for Q2. But with Q3TA, we made it so complex that I ended up writing a small manual to walk fan developers through the process. To my knowledge, only the team of the Brothers Grimm and Dark Horizon accomplished the task ... and I was working with them along the way getting code changed and writing the manual to accommodate them.
3. Orders of Magnitude Complexity. If making shader scripted skins for Q3A and UT was complex, the pipeline to make Doom 3 skins and models was something else entirely. Fewer casual hobbyists had the skill, the time, and number of software tools needed to model, hi-rez normal model, skin, rig, and animate their own models. Some companies were all about helping modders. Others put up road blocks and discouraged employees from helping the fans. And I also understand that the MP game wasn't fun, so their was little call to make new content for a game no one played.
4. The call of "The Show." Anyone good enough to make attractive game character models and skins at even the Q3A or UT level and figure out how to get them in game was probably good enough to work professionally in the game industry. Just look at how many PC forum members are pros who started out as fans. Many (but not all) that leave for the big show no longer have time or inclination to make game content for fun.
5. Massive Mods vs. Individuality. Counterstrike and BattleField 1942 (and similar games). These were massive mods and often supported by large scale content replacement ... but they have little use for PPMs.
6. Framerate is God. Why make cool looking model content when all the pro wannabees do is crank down game graphic quality to blurry, murky shit, and use whichever forced model gives them the best visibility of their opponents?
7. Beware of the IP Police. Increasingly, the owners of Intellectual Property are enforcing their ownership rights ... even down to the creation of user made game content. Commercial hosts like FilePlanet become wary of hosting content identifiably based on someone else's trademarks and copyrights. This has a chilling effect on fans who can't wait to make yet another Dragonball Z character or game mod (and affects a lot of other fans who want to interpret their favorite movie, comic, and game characters in the FPS arena).
Finally ... and ultimately ...
8. MMORPGS, eater of souls. The time that many gamers used to invest in FPS clans has been supplanted by MMORPG clans and guilds. Guild or clan identity is created within the game, using its tools. There is no need for and no process for creating unique PPMs to use in City of Heroes, EverQuest, or WOW. So no one is making content because they're all leveling up, or fighting PvP, or going on quests to get cool stuff.
Now on to the next discussion why there arn't many custom made maps made & played like it was in the 'old days'
Also with college students doing meth to get ahead academically it isn't too hard to imagine their "better grades thru meth" plan spilling over into thier gaming time. There are people I have seen at LANs that are running way too fast and they have the classic signs of meth abuse. At least when a meth addict plays an MMO the worst they can do is be an asshat that gets ignored.
Cheats also lead to the sweet spot of a game release. Right after a game releases is the most likely time to play it as intended, with little fear of cheats. You know after a week or two it will change and the cheats will be out. Everyone that doesn't cheat, looks to a different game or a new patch to get away from the cheats. This also keeps people moving from game to game and makes it hard to build a community. Unless your community is outside of the games you pretty much don't have one.
Given the short lives games have in the spot light, and the LONG dev time it takes to figure out, make and release good custom content, it's over before it started.
I can't imagine a worse undermining of the basic intent of game play. Well, maybe the delusion that meth could help your grades could be worse. Nothing like a little hyperactivity and hallucination to undermine your academic talents.
Im not sure how difficult it is to make a PPM for Quake 4 but it just seems it would be fitting for this to be THE GAME for a comeback of PPMs. Considering it is the continuation of THE GAME that inspired the creation of this site. (Q2=Q2PMP / Q4=Polycount?)
C'mon, someone must know some CODERS.
I want to see a MOD that supports PPMs and even a movement of sorts.
If or hopefully, WHEN. Someone makes a Q4 mod similar to Lithium why not get them to add more player model functionality to it in exchange for art assetts for their mod perhaps.
whatever happened to ... NPherno.
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I believe he's in Iraq.
Sometimes it's best for the community to create it's own tools (BF42, FarCry, Q3) since the developers are too busy dealing with management.
...why you're so stoked on text files I was just using that as an example of uneeded overhead in a pipe.
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Aside from Unreal tech, every major engine I have worked with (besides the one I have at work) has a horible pipeline. there should be a 'test my shit in engine' button. easpecially when you have a huge amount of cash like valve and id.
PaK: I'm not using a major package but isn't it pretty much "save to MD5, type reloadModels or testModel" in Doom 3?
I think we'll see a revival of PPMs, even if it's a fraction of what it used to be, with the coming of the new Unreal Tournament. Making models for UT2003 was easy as long as you used canned animation and didn't take all that long to learn the process either compared to quake3 for example.
Last but not least working custom player models shouldn't be underestimated either. Game developers like seeing good game models, but they love game models that actually work in a game. Especially with the widespread use of the Unreal Engine, it's great to have something like that in your portfolio.
Judging by the quick skim read I gave it, animations are not restricted by any default player skeleton, and entirely new characters with their own animation sets can be added fairly easily. Go read!