Shay here, a long time FTL enthusiast and recently interested in the modding scene specifically.
I am an indie developer working on my own indie game (Fort Triumph) and my dayjob is in Overwolf which is a platform for PC game overlays and apps.
I realized I know very little about modding - what it takes to create a mod, how the creation process looks like, what factors help or hurt the effort of creating a mod, what it would take to make modding easier or more fun for modders, etc.
At this point not sure it will have a practical outcome, but who knows
If you are a modder and you're willing to chat about it and share your experience with me, I'd be very thankful <3
Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
, a PM here or on Skype (Shoomanjin),
Hi. I'm going to post my reply in public even though you asked for a PM, because I see no reason to hide my response, and there's always a chance some other gamedev will find it useful too.
One of the biggest single contributors to moddability would be the game being open source, although most commercial games are not, so that's admittedly quite a big request.
The other big thing is, it should be data driven - as in, as much as feasible of the game's data (often things like character/unit/item stats/behaviour, worlds, campaigns, etc) should come from data files, rather than being hard coded.
Preferrably the data/code that comes with the game should be as human readable and/or well documented as possible, to make it easier for the first modders to figure out what the hell is going on. A big hurdle for a modding community to get a foothold in a game is being able to understand how to mod it.
Especially if the game is commercial or uses a commercial engine, modders will also need some way to redistribute their mods without redistributing the entirety of the game's files. Usually this means they'll need at least either a patcher of some description (which typically has to be made by people from the modding community), or it'll have to otherwise be very easy for end-users to install (and uninstall) the mods, for example simply dragging a zip file or folder into a specific folder on their machine, if the game supports this. Because if installation is difficult, then as a modder, getting other (non-technical) players to install your mods can be really difficult, and it's demotivating if no one plays them.
However to be realistic, the vast majority of indie titles are massive failures and as such the community will never grow large enough for anyone to even bother trying to mod it. So if you don't yet have an audience, don't waste too much effort to make your game moddable (although designing it to be data driven from the start can help later on).
The process of actually creating a mod itself depends hugely on the game in question and the tools that other modders (or even the devs) have made available. Usually it requires at least:
- an idea for what you want to make
- familiarity with a lot about the game's mechanics and technical quirks (you don't necessarily need to be good at the game)
- scouring through the game's data files (or source code) to find the thing you're trying to change and examples of how things similar to what you want to do are achieved either in the vanilla game or in other mods
- writing code of some description that is to somehow replace the vanilla code
- making any new assets you might need
- testing, so you know your changes took place as expected
- packaging up the mod somehow so you can send it to others
Although fancy modding tools might make all of these unnecessary for simple mods.
That's all I can think of for now.