Hello friends. It’s been awhile since writing a legit article around here. I want to do more, but both lack of motivation and topics makes it difficult. I think this may change from now on, because we are starting a new article series, called Mod Features!
Mod Features will be exactly what it sounds like: an article dedicated to showing off a mod, what it features, small interviews with the creators, etc.
The first mod to get this special treatment is the Epic Challenge Mod III. Now, apparently this mod has been in development for a few years, with a couple previous versions made. If you were like me and had no idea this mod project even existed until recently, you should definitely check it out.
A little about the mod
Epic Challenge Mod III is a single player mod, complete with it’s own story, maps, enemies, and quirky thematic choices that make you feel like you’re in a Star Wars-themed Nintendo game. The amount of content in this mod is vastly great, arguably more than even the base Jedi Academy single player story. This mod took the creator, RJA, almost 2 years, which definitely shows in the amount of stuff there is in this thing. You will find yourself fighting to survive enemies that are in your way of an objective, or you may just need to find a way to reach a certain area of the map in a certain way. Much of this mod will involve using your brain and survival skills to reach the end.
The story features a villain named Darth Lawn, which has created this “Zone of Trouble” to which you play as Kyle and a couple new characters, with help from Luke, to defeat him. Each area you reach contains various challenges ranging from a great number of NPCs, or a few tough NPCs, or certain climbing and jumping obstacles, and much more. Many areas are complex to where you need to get one area unlocked or retrieve something, and make the trek back to where you started to find a new unlocked door or pathway. The effort put into creating all that is admirable. You don’t see that in many JKA mods like this.
One of the first things you’ll notice is the charming French accent. RJA voiced most of the characters in the mod. As an English-speaker, hearing Kyle and Luke with a French accent speaking English was very amusing, especially since it was the same person with a different inflection. The
Overall, the mod can be very difficult, especially for new players. Saving often is my best advice. I think my biggest challenge was getting used to the single player movement, after playing multiplayer for so long. The movement is very different in each. So climbing up a bunch of platforms to reach the top of a mountain was a great challenge for me, whereas it would have been cake if it was multiplayer. The NPCs can be difficult as well. Sometimes you have to favor sneaking around huge hordes of them instead of attempting to fight them all at once.
A short interview
I took a bit of time asking the creator of Epic Challenge Mod III, RJA, a few questions about his mod, to get some more info about his process, inspiration, and more.
So what gave you the idea to make a mod like this? Was there anything outside of Jedi Academy that inspired your work?
I would say the real goal is to propose challenges to everyone, but I'm with those who think that every creator has a personnal purpose. Mine was an obsession to revisit the games I played in my childhood, especially early childhood. It was some kind of porting impressions, sensations in my favourite game (which is Jedi Academy).
So what inspired me where these games. This mod is the third one I made for SP. Like the others, some parts of are based from a game I used to played in the early last decade. If ECMI was inspired by Croc: Legend Of The Gobbos and ECMII: Rayman 2: The Great Escape, this one took a lot from Tonic Trouble, an underrated UbiSoft game made the year before Rayman 2 (it was supposed to test 3d Games rayman-lookalike before releasing the true Rayman 2). Tonic Trouble gave me the taste of absurdity, psychedelism.
The form of the mod came in a simple way. I always knew It would be my thing to make HUGE MODS (like 35-55 maps), with a lot of ennemies, places, challenges and the best of all... secrets. This one has a lot of secrets. And my passion about secrets came from these platform games I used to play.
How long did it take to complete Epic Challenge Mod III? How does that compare to the previous versions of the mod?
Asgarath83 edited the code, and a lot of skins and some textures came from others modders. Being said, I made all the mod alone, including Mapping, Music (and not just editing them, I actually made two of them, as a musician), npcs, some gfx, voiceovers (helped by girlfriend and bestfriend), scripting, videos editing, texturing and skinning.
So ECMIII took me officially one year and a half but If I count early developement (started during the finishing of ECMII), it took me almost two years.What took the most time was the Zone Of Trouble area (zone with portals), because South Plain is a central map, and I made every versions of this map and needed to compile a lot of them again and again (and this particular map was the one who takes the most time to compile...). I also needed to make every versions of the 7 levels you visit from South Plain (The Cave, Vinegar Sith HQ, North Plain, The Canyon, Glacier Cocktail, The Pyramid, The Factory), taking account of the progression of the mod, and updating Kyle capacities. End of the mod was the fastest thing to do. I took me 1 week to make the last 12 maps I think.
Comparing to previous mods, because they are totally different mods with different goals and maps, it took me one more year. ECMI and II were basically "killing and finding secrets" challenges, but in ECMIII there is a little story progression, different scripts, videos and voiceovers, so the mod is a lot more complex (including new capacities, like the transforming-platforms).
Did the mod turn out exactly like you had initially planned it to be, or did it end up being much different?
Firstly, the mod was written to revisit a lot more places from ECMI from a new point of view. It would have started in the Sand Island from ECMI (third island), have the same main villain and would have ended in this villain castle, again.
But during the developpement this idea started to bore me so I only kept the Castle Ending, because Castle in ECMIII is very different from the first one (and I prefer it a lot like this).
Funny thing to notice, the mod would have been a lot shorter... Kyle was supposed to quit the Zone Of Trouble to Lawn's Land for 3 maps and enter the Castle. He was supposed to be helped by Lana and an old jedi (I used jeditrainer skin firstly) with a white lightsaber...
But a this time, when I ended the Zone Of Trouble area, I got this special nostalgia about Toy Story 2 PC Game, when you was supposed to travel through all the city to find Woody who has been captured.
I took this idea, and created Duncan (the character with the white lightsaber) and decided to make 15 maps about Duncan finding a way to the castle because Kyle has been captured. But after the first one, it appears to me that 15 maps would be boring, so I just made 6 maps and decided to make the ending not only playing Kyle but also Duncan (again) and Lana (for 3 maps).
And the idea of the final map being the one you see in first when you launch the mod (the one with the cinematic) came at the very end, before making the last map.
Are you satisfied with the end result? What would you do to improve it?
I'm quite satisfied with the mod, because people seem to be satisfied about it. I would probably have fixed some boring bugs which would have took me hours and hours to fix (bugs in the South Plain), and I would have taken more time to do the videos and the voiceovers. And also textures. It's really not tiling in a lot of places. My girlfriend who study 3D told me it is learner's error. Such a shame, because little bugs can sometimes embarrass you more than huge plot holes.
Are there any projects you will be working on now that this mod is finished?
Yes. I'm actually working on Epic Challenge Mod IV: Temple Of Time. The mod will be Star Wars related and will be far more realistic in some aspects. We will play a bunch of characters (including Kyle) and see different eras of SW. After ECMIV I will do a last Epic Challenge Mod, the fifth one, which will be a lot more personal. Maybe I will one day do a Hogwarts Map, when I get the mapping skill.
One last question. Who would win in a fight, Kyle Katarn or BB-8?
Kyle Katarn, without a doubt.
Alright, thanks for answering my questions! Looking forward to future projects!
This is less of a review article and more of a feature, however, I do recommend playing this mod. It’s a lot of fun if you like to be challenged. There’s a lot of content to go through, a variety of enemies, challenges, and maps.
Thanks to RJA for taking the time to answer some questions, and good luck on future projects! You can check out one of the teasers that RJA made below, as well as the file page where you can download the mod.
If you'd like your mod to be in an article like this in the future, please PM me or another staff member, and we can work with you on that.
[button=https://jkhub.org/files/file/3240-epic-challenge-mod-iii-zone-of-trouble/]Download Epic Challenge Mod III[/button]