In my last post I wrote about the modding possibilities for Wizards’ Duel, but I also mentioned that I am trying to make a game, not a game engine. If you are serious about finishing your game the consensus is that you should use one of the modern game engines like Unity 3D or The Unreal Engine, which are affordable (even free under certain conditions) and offer everything you need for your game design needs.
Usually this means that they include also several tools to enable game designer and artists to interact with the game even if they are not programmers. This is really important when there is a medium or big team of people with a strong separation of competence, and is also a big plus from the modding standpoint. Even if you create your own game engine it is usually a good idea to develop specific tools for your non-technical colleagues so that they can do their things without having a programmer at their sides to implement even the littlest change.
For WD things are different. I am the only programmer and this means that I actually have no real advantage in developing custom tools for the game. I can write and read an XML file just using a text editor (I swear!), I don’t need a visual editor to place scripts and triggers because the game speaks the language that I created and, since the game is 2D, I can manage small adjustments of the art assets by myself without having to bother Daniele every time.
Creating a tool for every one of this activities will take a lot of time that I believe can be better spent in writing the actual game. This however limits a bit the modding possibilities. For example you need at least a base knowledge of XML to be able to edit the game files and certain specific operations, like creating the rules for creating the visual representation of a randomized ASCII map, can be pretty hard to do.
To strike balance between the two I resolved to write detailed documentation of every data files and keep it updated whenever I make some changes or implement new features. Right now I have a document that I called “Modding Manual” to help not only other people, but also myself, to make modding if not intuitive at least simple enough that even a non technical person will be able to edit them and experiment with the game. You will be able to read it as soon as I will set up a repository for the first tech demo… we are almost there!
Thanks for reading.