User Extensibility—The Magical Patch - Game Developing

Another patching mechanism that we make use of at Taldren is to externalize as much of the game data as possible to facilitate user extensibility. Your fans will be able to generate far more ideas than you will be able to handle. It would be far better if you simply allow them to make their own changes to the game. I find it useful to think of it as their game. For example, in the SFC series all of the ship data has always been easily modifiable in the format of a simple spreadsheet readable by Excel.

There are many subtle benefits to user extensibility; one is that it gives your game legs without your continued effort. Half-Life and, by heritage, Quake are probably the most user-extended games in the history of games. Clearly an activity (providing for user extensibility in their games) that the highly successful Valve and id Software perform is an activity that any company should emulate. Too many companies think user extensibility robs sales from their own future sales. I am not going to proselytize further on this issue; for those of you who resist user extensibility, good, stay that way more for Taldren!


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