Jump to content
The website was recently updated, and consequently some things are broken. We will be fixing minor theme bugs in the background over the course of the next few days.

Revival of JKA's modding community


Recommended Posts

Ok, the topic is perhaps a bit pretentious but it got your attention :P

 

I know the game is 13 years old now, and the size of all the communities have been reducing for a number of years now. I remember a few years back when I could jump on a server at any time and there was guaranteed to be 10 or more players. Those were the days! Thinking hypothetically (just imagining what could happen), what do you guys think would be needed for a revival of the modding community?

 

I think you would first need to establish a player base. Players are the beating heart of a community and without them nobody would be there to make any mods. So I'll throw another question out here: what would it take to revive the game itself and bring players back?

Link to post

OpenJK, rend2 (if possible :P), some Hub servers (in order to concentrate the player base and invite the new players to the server/s where they can actually understand JKA as a game). Then some other game tweaks, UI replacement, maybe even HD textures or total model/texture overhaul - there are lots of things that could be changed / improved.

I really wish that JKA will get a second breath. With the help of modders and new + returning players.

Link to post

People keep coming back to the active clan communities, i've seen it happen dozens of times just in the past couple of years. A lot of people have to quit playing because their social life or family takes control, or any personal issues.. something which can't be avoided. Some months are better than others as wellbecause of people being on school holidays etc, it fluctuates a lot.. but it's not by any means how good it was 4+ years ago, and I doubt we'll ever see that kind of activity again across the board.

 

Modding-wise I think it's getting more popular again lately, mostly thanks to the ability for people to now be able to frankenstein without needing to fully use a modelling program, something that everyone has been wanting to do for custom skins FOR YEARS! xD

I'd love to see your Modview finished though, I spend half of my "modding" time making promotion images, posters etc and having a better program to use it with (mostly things like transparency to fully work as intended in the model viewer, and viewing shaders) would encourage people to broaden their "modding" a lot more I think.. especially when they can see shaders etc outside of the game and for it to be straight-forward (I know about EffectsED or however it's called, but I took one glance and closed it again). I remember in the beginning when I would take screenshots from in-game and meticulously cutting around the player model xD

Or if we encouraged people more to use the programs so anyone can perhaps, I know there's tutorials but people are lazy. I think modding is getting more activity lately though for sure.

 

I'd love for JKHub to have a section under names for members to have their clan displayed in colours, or their  clan logo or something, and for people to all contribute together and for it to really feel like a close hub/community rather than the same people posting all the time :P and the same people stalking the topics xD

Link to post

How to revive JKA's modding community? I propose this:

  • Have players (you got that right :D)
  • Have those players discover you can mod the game
  • Have great, easy to learn modding tools and tutorials to enable those players to make mods themselves
And how do we achieve that? Like so:
  • No idea, you think of something.
  • An integrated mod manager, akin to the Nexus Mod Manager, would help; as would Steam Workshop integration, but I don't think that's possible due to the GPL.
  • Our existing tools aren't horrible (or are they?), but...
    • An editor specifically made for JKA could be way cooler than the Radiant. I've been thinking about creating one for quite some time, I have a couple of ideas for improvements... And I'm not just talking about displaying misc_model_static and visaulizing target2/opentarget/... connections.
    • We have plenty of useful modelling tools, but the process of getting a model into JKA is way too complex. My Blender exporter has many shortcomings, and only some can be solved while keeping it a Blender exporter - ideally there should be a separate tool that can import common model formats (FBX et al), load a GLA skeleton and let you do the skinning and dismemberment preparations; it would know about the required hierarchy, names, have native support for tags (nigh impossible in Blender), shader preview, anim-event preview etc. Again, this is something I've been thinking about creating for a while, given infinite time I'd definitely work on this.
    • Just about any file you need to manually edit/create could be made more user-friendly using guided forms - files like .arena, .npc, .sab etc. In a monolithic suite, these could also be linked where appropriate - for example have an "add new NPC" button when placing an npc_spawner in your map, which by the way should have a dropdown/autocompletion for npc names.
    • Well, forms are probably not appropriate for .shader files - those also need a realtime preview, and thorough explanation as well as templates.
    • Packaging the final mod could also be automated. Why should I have to manually find all the files that go in the pk3? Oops, I forgot the texture from Jedi Home! (Which is also why assets from other mods should only be loaded on demand, and/or explicitly marked as such.)
    In short, I believe I may be proposing UnrealEd for Jedi Academy. With lots of integrated help and builtin publishing to mod repos. Ah, there's another idea - don't have a single mod database, but allow for multiple ones, akin to packet managers, so there's no single point of failure.
In short: build a whole lot of tools and infrastructure to allow just about anyone to create mods, and make sure everybody who boots up Jedi Academy knows about it.

 

especially when they can see shaders etc outside of the game and for it to be straight-forward (I know about EffectsED or however it's called, but I took one glance and closed it again).

Point in case.

 

--edit--

 

The compiler could also be improved, starting with more useful errors.

Link to post

How to make a much more approachable/moddable JKA:

 

1. Fix the goddamn shader parser. For real though. This thing has caused nothing but problems. I'm not talking about OpenJK specifically, but it's a severe pain in the ass how shaders are currently loaded and handled.

2. Fix the OpenJK bug with loading DLLs from homepath, still a major problem ~2 years later

3. Replace the old MFC tools with newer ones that use Qt or something else. Xyc's ModView comes to mind

4. Remove hardcodes:

  • Reborn AI is hardcoded based on rank
  • Lots of hardcoded references to NPC names
  • Objectives are totally hardcoded and new ones can't be created.

5. A mod manager like NMM and an API to tie the community to the mods better. JKH API is still something I can see being useful.

6. Finish rend2 (I would be more inclined to mod if this was finished + ported to SP)

 

I think part of the problem also is that there's this assumption that people ought to know what they're doing. There's not a simple, straightforward guide to getting started in the game. The tutorial section of this site is kinda messy imo.

mrwonko, therfiles and Exmirai like this
Link to post

One more thing - there's no rush. We may only get one shot at this, if we don't do it right, people might quickly lose interest. I think it's better to do it properly than do it soon. A huge relaunch, if you will.

 

So before we go ahead and start writing new tools, I want them to be thoroughly planned out. I'm thinking waterfall - we have a fixed game we're targeting, so we don't need to be very agile, we want something cohesive. So first lay down the precise requirements (i.e. a big wish list of cool features), then design the interface & features in detail, and only then start working on it. If it were for me we'd be busy planning until Qt 5.7 is out (currently aiming for April 28th, Beta in March, Alpha in February), which will introduce thorough C++11 support. If we're done planning before then, we can start with implementing the packet manager infrastructure, whose backend probably won't use Qt, and continue improving OpenJK.

 

6. Finish rend2 (I would be more inclined to mod if this was finished + ported to SP)

The whole SP/MP dichotomy is so annoying... I feel like an effort should be made to merge as much of the code base as possible while keeping compatibility. It's probably a lot of work and quite error-prone, but I think it would be worth it, if it's possible. (I'm not familiar enough with the differences to really tell, but I feel like it should be to some degree.)

 

But I think this might be going off-topic, unless we're talking about making modding the engine code more attractive.

eezstreet likes this
Link to post

This game is 12 years old and I doubt that a lot can be done. Even the release of JKA on steam didn't really help the existing communities.

Quake had a revival with Quake Live (which is basically a free Quake 3) and something like that is like the only thing that I could imagine bringing life back into this community. But a "Jedi Knight Live" (or something like that) is obviously not in our hands.

 

Hugo talked about creating an instructional website for new players. I think that could be a good start.

JKHub needs to be more noob-friendly. I suggest a tab right next to "Services" that is called "How to start" or "Beginners Guide".

That guide will tell you which updates you need, where you can install mods, where you can find gameplay and modding tutorials, common terms in the Jedi Academy community (laming, kata, btfl, gbtfl) and so on. The wiki and the tutorial sections need to be fixed and polished. There are wiki pages that are basically tutorials, which is confusing.

Contacting steam (or whoevers in charge) to have a permanent link to JKHub somewhere on the JKA steam page could help too.

Getting the whole JKA community to join JKHub - not just the modding community - and doing more events or competitions would help a lot (I feel like an idiot saying this over and over again).

 

Edit: And JKHub needs to make more clear what this page is actually about. When you visit this page for the first time there is no way to figure out that this is a Jedi Knight community. Needs something like "The Jedi Knight community" or so right under the logo.

eezstreet and Xycaleth like this
Link to post

OpenJK + Rend2 for SP! I'm sure there are many who would like to make SP mods...

 

updates of GtkRadaint for JKEnhanced. Make JKEnhanced... the best base for any modder to start from.

 

* Make it much easier to add custom animations for main player.

* Make it much easier to add new/custom NPCs

* Better/updated tutorials to achieve the above.

 

The 3dsMax pipeline (Max5 - Max2016) can easily make new models/animations now and export to dotXSI 3.0... and Carcass can compile them now (we just need the UV seam mesh splitting fixed-- although this can be worked around by re-exporting GLM from 3dsMax using @@Scooper's exporter. The GLA that Carcass makes is good). We also have noesis to go from FBX to Ghoul2. In 3dsMax, Animators can use CS Biped, CAT, or the custom bones FK/IK rig I'm working on...

 

@@DT85 made a Maya rig. But not many Maya users. @@mrwonko - why can't Blender handle bolts & tags???

 

I think having a new ModView that supports all shaders, sounds, animevents, EFX, etc. would really jumpstart modding-- having to load models or assets in-game just to preview them is a real pain in the arse!

 

A new EFX editor and new Shader editor would also help!

eezstreet likes this
Link to post

@@mrwonko - why can't Blender handle bolts & tags???

The natural representation would be an Empty Object, which just has a location and a rotation, and that's how it's done in the MD3 exporter. But those can't be weighed to the skeleton, and that's why we have the workaround of using a triangle. (Which is also why how they are saved in the GLM, so it's somewhat obvious.)
Link to post

There's some interesting points here :)

 

I'll throw out a few more questions. Why would finishing OpenJK mean there are more modders? It doesn't really benefit the modders in any way as far as I can see.

 

Rend2, I can see could potentially bring some more modders but at the heart of all of this is the lack of players. A lot of us here will make things for the sake of making things, but I do think the majority of modders out there would want to at least see that players are getting some fun out of their mod. And for that the community needs more players. I feel like it would take more than just a new renderer to do this. It would need new gameplay, new art. Essentially a new game. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've not seen any mod come to light and stay active in the past few years outside of a niche corner of the community, so it doesn't seem like we would be capable of pulling off a full revamp of the game.

afi likes this
Link to post

Ep7 MP mod? Use that cool menu (skyline I think), add in vehicular warfare mode where you vs people in fully operational vehicles. We as modders need to come together in agreement on what to do. The more modders, the faster this will go.

 

I say steer clear of Anything SP as MP has the replay ability.

Jeff and Stoiss like this
Link to post

Remove hardcodes:

  • Reborn AI is hardcoded based on rank
  • Lots of hardcoded references to NPC names
  • Objectives are totally hardcoded and new ones can't be created.

 

 

Yeah we should really take out a lot of the unnecessary hardcodes. They are just a pain in the butt. External files are so much cleaner anyway. All NPC behavior and weapon/item stats should at least be completely externalized as far as possible in my opinion, because they're already partially externalized (in Single player anyway we have the weapons.dat, items.dat, and so on). Why are objectives hardcoded exactly? I never got that. Aren't there cvars that you can make point to whatever strings you want? Or do they not work?

 

 

I'll throw out a few more questions. Why would finishing OpenJK mean there are more modders? It doesn't really benefit the modders in any way as far as I can see.

 

Well, first off, it makes the game run smoother and better. It makes external (non hard-coded cvars) save between sessions instead of being forgotten too which seems to have been a base JA bug, making some of my mods actually require OpenJK to work. Also, we have the opportunity to remove a lot of unnecessary hard-codes from a base source code the entire community can use :)

Link to post

I feel like it would take more than just a new renderer to do this. It would need new gameplay, new art. Essentially a new game. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've not seen any mod come to light and stay active in the past few years outside of a niche corner of the community, so it doesn't seem like we would be capable of pulling off a full revamp of the game.

I think it would be possible if everyone who has anything to do with modding would contribute. I think the first version of OpenArena was released one day after the release of the Quake 3 sourcecode. So why shouldn't we (as a community) be able to pull of something like that? In the end the whole game would benefit way more from one huge project than what people would usually work on (15 new maps and 248 new reskins).

Link to post

I greatly disagree I know a lot of people including myself that find SP more replayable, by just simply caring about MP you won't revive anything, SP deserves love as well.

I concur... @@Xycaleth -- your questions seem biased towards the MP community (I.e. get more MP players) But I for one could give a rat's arse about MP gameplay (unless there is a co-op mission with SP style objectives, or a JKG-style mode). I much more prefer SP gameplay.

 

Why openJK? Because it should provide a clean, bug-free base for SP modders to start from. Is it not a pre-requisite enabler for rend2?

Link to post

The problem is twofold: Make the game attractive again and let people know about it. So one part is doing a huge relaunch, the other part is making the news with it.

 

I've already mentioned that a relaunch should include better tools and a mod manager. To be interesting to players it should also contain some great, big mods. A new singleplayer campaign*, Jedi Knight Galaxies, what have you.

 

Making joining into mod game modes a smoother experience would help, too. Display information on the mod being played in the server browser, along with an option to download it, or allow the user to filter by mods they have or serverside mods.

 

* I used to be (and technically still am) part of a mod team that used to work on one... Development slowly ceased when it was ca. 80% done, but I'd still love to finish it some day. Maybe I will. I probably should.

 

--edit--

As for MP vs SP: People stick around longer for MP, but more people care for SP, in my experience.

Asgarath83 likes this
Link to post

* I used to be (and technically still am) part of a mod team that used to work on one... Development slowly ceased when it was ca. 80% done, but I'd still love to finish it some day. Maybe I will. I probably should.

Some sort of...SP mod? :ph34r:

Link to post

That's what I said. Spirits of the Sith, made by 3D-GET, mostly before I joined them in 2007 or so.

 

Yea that's what I had in mind. I remember SotS being "almost finished" in 2006. Arth tried to get some people from the JKB modteam to work on SotS but it didn't really work out for him.

Link to post

Xycaleth already knows my thoughts on this. I assume the timing of this post has a lot to do with our talks.

 

But for everyone else, this is what I have suggested - in order of priority.

 

1. New map editor. No point trying to remake radiant though (let's face it q3 bsp is old and too limited), much better off to take a modern map format from another open source project like ogre or something, use their editor and tools. Saves work long term, and gives us the ability to have large open world maps like modern engines.

 

23812-1-1383764916.jpg

The ability to have worlds like this in Q3 engine is by far the best thing that can be done to bring in community and new modders. The possibilities are endless.

 

2. New model format. See above. Same story - use tools maintained by another project.

 

3. Add things like foliage and grass to rend2. These would probably come as part of (1.) anyway though - or an addition later to that code.

 

4. (The final part) Add renderer shiny. This is where rend2 has been heading, but is much less important then getting 1 + 2 done, as good modern tools bring in the community and the community will add shiny.

 

The man might act a little crazy, but he is right.

This is Star Wars. We have a huge community that makes games like Skyrim pale in comparison. We just need the tools to get the community active again. Easy to use, modern, tools. Modern map/model formats.

Link to post

Pardon my cynicism, but that sounds like even more work than a simple mod project, which history has shown takes miracles to finish and release.

Nobody said it would be easy (hence my suggestion of using another project's format(s) and tools). Just necessary if we want a real long-term community.

 

Give people the right tools and you will see projects like this.

 

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...