Friday, 1 September 2017

Develop 2017!

This past month Rich and I attended Develop conference, which is one of the UK’s largest game developer conferences. I’d attended Develop once before about 5 years ago when I was a student, in fact I remember bumping into Rich there and having a catch up! The conference is a magical blend of socialising, knowledge sharing and unofficial indie dev football matches.

The Talk

I was lucky enough to give a talk called “Making a hacking game hackable: An approach to modding in Unity”. My talk was aimed not at modders, but at other developers who might be interested in making their Unity games moddable.

Here’s some of the things I talked about:

What is modding?

For some the idea can sounds a little scary. But the truth is a lot of devs will in some part be familiar with the process of making their game data driven. Essentially modding is the process of making your game incredibly data driven, as well as creating the tools that the public can use to create that data.

It also includes hooking into a distribution platform, for a large number of developers this will be a system such as Steam Workshop.

Why make your game moddable?

Making your game moddable can increase community engagement hugely, as well as the lifetime of your game. If you look at examples such as Skyrim and Minecraft, these games wwere release 5+ years ago and yet are still heavily played today.

I believe this is in no small part to the amazing modding community surrounding those two games.

If you’re a dev considering if you should make your game moddable, a couple of suggestions are: plan modding from the start and use the tools you’ll give to modders for building the rest of the game.

Deep dive

Some of the lower level information about how we’re approaching modding in Unity included:

  • Technical information about how LevelKit works under the hood, using Unity editor scripts and the asset bundle system

  • Information about how we’re using the MoonSharp library to allow mission scripting via Lua

  • Some awesome C# features that allow you to easily create documentation for your community

Live Demo

Lastly, I finished off the talk with a live demo of LevelKit, showing off some of the features like the ability to use Unity’s native animation system and the networked communication between LevelKit and the game. The demo consisted of me making a little cactus on a table dance when a player pressed a button. While not particularly in tone with the game, I think it’s nice to show how flexible the tools are, and how quickly a mod can be mocked up in Off Grid.

I got some great feedback about the talk and I’ll certainly be applying to present more talks in the future!


I also bumped into Keir Miron from the Darkest Dungeon team and we managed to record a podcast whilst crouched in a corner of the conference. Here’s a link if you’d like to listen

Overall I had a fantastic time and I’d highly recommend any game developers attend if they can.

Until next time!


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