I have been modding as a hobby for 36 years, I like my hobby and I have done it before companies accepted modding as okay, I did it after they accepted modding as okay and I did whilst being flamed for doing it by trolls and I continued to do it for TEG members privately after I stopped making mods for trolls.
Basically, I have always made mods and nothing and nobody has ever made me stop making mods.
Along the way my modding techniques have improved, taught me a lot about how humans and AIs think, how to defeat rushers using a scripted AI without cheating, lots of things. Most human elitist players get pretty upset at me for beating them using an AI that is a simple script, they always believe they can beat any AI so when mine kicks their ass, they assume it cheated when actually I dont believe in cheating AIs. I consider it a cop out on the part of the AI designer and have always fought against such bad practices.
I completely understand how humans and AIs have to learn by doing and how each bit of knowledge they gain connects to the others and makes them smarter and have used this in my older mods and even taught babies new tricks using the same system. It works and it has been tried and tested many times.
Which brings me to the point of this blog.
Each mod is a step towards a better mod and I have made lots and lots of mods over the years, probably close to a 100 public releases, and more private mods. Whilst modding Skyrim I made a number of advancements in my modding style that will hopefully all be brought to bear on new work for Fallout 4.
These improvements where as follows.
Random mission generation using story elements to make them feel less random and more unique.
Random loot generation created on a per faction basis, so each faction generated its own loot.
Progress towards higher ranks being made dynamically by having missions award the player points towards his next rank, so he can do the missions in any order he likes.
Optional Sub Objectives that allow the player to earn extra points towards a rank by achieving minor objectives on a mission. Minor objectives may not even be listed, common sense applies and the user has to think "should I leave the meat that attracted the rats behind or remove it to stop more coming back" in order to earn those extra points and earn ranks sooner rather than later.
Add to all those improvements, the depth that you get when you script the lore for a faction in to their HQ as I did for the Morag Tong in my Solsthiem mod and House Telvanni in my Dark Lore Grimoire mod and you have layer upon layer of improvements that when combined create something really special.
I also had several mods contribute to the Morthal story about the mad god in Skyrim. Each mod provided quests that added to the mystery but all worked as stand alone quests. So if you played the quests or not made no difference.
The Hound of the Morthavilles was the joke quest that started it, the Skyrim Fighters Guild supplied the more serious punch line. But many mods in between added depth to the story that made Morthal in skyrim, a place that already had ghosts and vampires, in to a center for occult activity.
Random quests, one off quests, all adding to the fan based lore that expanded on the official lore to create something that even made the random quests feel interesting and unique. Especially when the loot was randomly generated based on the faction that offered the mission and mission target was randomly generated based on a pre made list that was also unique to the faction offering the mission.
When you add a story based quest line that uses all those things, you end up with a master piece of quest design yet all of this is just a collection of very simple ideas that get complicated all on their own.
Having perks, stat boosts and other features issued as a reward for progress made or achievements whilst on a mission, such as a thief achievement might give a special thief perk, is simplicity in it self.
These are the things I mastered whilst modding Skyrim and that is my starting point for all Fallout 4 mods. The ideas alone dont make it all work, its how you make them and how you use them to create the big picture. There is no doubt that I did my best work over the past 18 months, now its time to continue that work.
Any planning I do will be towards combining all these things in to future mods and establishing a new standard for my basic mod designs based on those features. So all mods share these same basic features and in doing so, add back the missing RPG elements to Fallout 4.
So I'll be making what is basically an empy mod first to hold these features and pad it out with lore and characters, ranks and stories. The decision as to whether each faction should share similar features or be totally unique in all respects as was the case in my Skyrim mods is yet to be made.
But given unique = fun and interesting and standard = same old boring crap, its more likely to end up uniqueness being a key feature even if the engine i create to run all these is pretty standard stuff. Though it does produce a bit of disjointed feel across all mods, I think its worth it.
I started down this path with my Fighters Guild Contracts for Oblivion in 2008, which was a kind of early Radient AI system. I have since left the Radient AI in the shade and moved beyond it in several major ways. Mixing random quests, linear quests and dynamic quests seemlessly to make something that just makes faction building fun to make and play.
This is an exciting time, exactly what faction will be made first to combine all these things has not been decided but I will probably start out with a standard 10 quests for that faction before making more factions then return to the first to expand it further.
This leads to the rapid development of the entire game instead of just 1 faction.