For those of you that followed the Demigod development journals in the past, you are aware that we’ve likely received all of the major patch updates we’ll get in Demigod. The last post in the development journals related to patches indicated that we’ll receive a “series of free updates” from GPG (GPG is Gas Powered Games – they are the developer of Demigod. Stardock is the publisher of the game and doesn’t handle coding/patching changes outside of hosting/staging the patched versions via impulse). As of today, we haven’t received any of those free updates, which we can actually view as good news – as it means we can potentially still get fixes and changes implemented into the game.
To that end, I have a plan (which I’ll cover in a little bit).
We still have several talented modders in the community that are even today coming up with ways to make Demigod an even better game. Take the AI, for instance. The standard AI in Demigod has always been somewhat lackluster and certainly in need of improvement. The generic AI would not use logical builds or make item selections based on how an experienced person would. Thanks to the modders and feedback from the community, if you install the Enhanced AI mod, you will find that the AI chooses intelligent builds, intelligent items, purchases the most useful citadel upgrades at the right time, prioritizes flags that should be controlled, etc.
Now, if we take a look at the bug fixing side of things, the community modders have coded a mod called uberfix. This mod corrects exploits that shouldn’t exist in the game, fixes bugs, makes it so Occulus’s abilities work as described, etc. We all want the game to work the way it should and this mod gets it there and is continually being improved upon as additional bugs are discovered.
Onto the UI (user interface – eg the stuff you see on the screen that tells you how much health you have, etc) side of things: the modders again have provided some significant enhancements that really add to the overall Demigod experience. There are mods that indicate how many summoned minions you have, mods that simply make it so instead of just seeing a green/blue bar for health/mana you see the text value of your health/mana on top of that, mods that add an overlayed window showing your teams health and mana, and last, but not least, mods that allow you to see what items your teammates have simply by mousing over them. On 1/22/2011, I created a combined UI mod that you can simply download, install, and enable in game and it will give you all of the benefits I describe above: http://forums.demigodthegame.com/404410
What's the problem with things as they are today?
OK – so we have quite a few great mods that really improve the Demigod experience. So what’s the problem – eg why would we want any of these changes patched into Demigod itself? Well, the easiest example is that (using uberfix and the enhanced AI mod as examples) you can’t play games with anyone else UNLESS they have these mods installed. As our community is small, this means that anytime you choose to enable these mods in multiplayer, you are excluding folks from your game that do not have the required mods installed. This generally results in players NOT using mods like uberfix and Enhanced AI as it is much easier to get a game going without them. So, we can solve most of Demigod’s shortcomings ourselves, but we can only play with folks from the community if they have installed the mods themselves (and I’d wager about 70% of the existing community do not have the mods installed).
We have a few directions we could try to move in.
- We can see if Stardock would be willing to add a group of mods directly to their demigod distributable (I DO NOT know if this is something they can do as a publisher or not). This way, EVERYONE would have the core mods and the host could simply enable and disable the mods as desired. The downside with this approach is that I can guarantee that Stardock would not be releasing a new demigod package every time a new update was created for a mod (which puts us right back into the same boat we are in now). But on the plus side, it would still be a substantial improvement and would enable every demigod player to join every game and get the benefit of the mods without having to directly install them.
- Another option would be to integrate several of the coding changes found in the mods directly into demigod (eg update the dgdata.zip). This way, no mods need to be loaded as they would be a core part of Demigod and we’d just get an updated release. More on how to pull this off in a bit.
- And the final option, would be to do a little of both. We’d integrate the fixes found in several of the mods directly into demigod AND have a few additional mods that would be loaded info the modding folder in Demigod so that players could use them as desired.
So, how can we pull any of this off?
Here’s what I’m thinking – documentation. A lot of it. Sounds fun, I know. Let’s suppose that the community puts our heads together and comes up with an archive of information we can submit to Stardock and have them forward over to the folks at GPG. The overall premise is that the easier we can make the changes for them, the more likely we’ll actually see them implemented. It’s one thing to tell GPG we have a problem with Occulus – please fix it. It’s another thing entirely to provide the exact code required to implement the fix and perhaps even document exactly what the problem was in code.
What I imagine would be several things. The original lua for each file that is being updated. The updated lua for each file that is being updated (including everything that was in the original lua along with the coding fixes). An updated lua file that includes ONLY the fix. An explanation of what is wrong and the solution. Validation that testing was performed on the change. A finalized compiled dgdata.zip for use in the next release of Demigod including all of the coding changes.
All of that said, even if we compiled all of this, there is no guarantee we could get anything implemented. I’m guessing Stardock would have some control over adding some mods directly to the package in impulse, but don’t know if they’d need a buy in from GPG to do something like that. And I don’t really know how much assistance we’d get from GPG to make any of this happen. But, we can always give it go.