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Just Baby Steps: The Start of a Mod Project

The success of any game project lies in its beginning. That's the time when developers get together to determine the story line, the character development, mapping and job roles.

For the summer semester, UAT students banded together to create a game mod from the Age of Mythology. They are Mark Hartlieb, Project Lead/Lead Designer; Cory Jacobs, Level Designer, and Fred Bartle, Programmer. Raymond Todd Blackwood is the teacher/producer for the project. The goal: finish the mod by the end of summer. Here's where they are now:

The first decision was what game to base the mod on. The players chose the Age of Mythology, created by Microsoft. Players in AofM act as empire-makers in multiple ancient great civilizations. They succeed by gathering resources, raising massive armies, waging war against enemies, establishing profitable trade routes, building new settlements, enhancing production or military might with improvements, exploring new frontiers, and advancing through four distinct ages.

"I love everything about ancient mythology. Being able to create our own mythological adventure using the level editor and elements of the original game is a great combo," said Mark Hartlieb.

With the level editor software, the game group can alter the Age of Mythology. "The level editor allows an individual to take every single aspect of the original game and change it around to whatever they want like: creating their own maps for single/multi player battles, establishing scenarios with your own thought-up ideas and objectives, assigning different types of AI for the computer, and it even allows you create your own in-game cinematic giving you complete control for making your gameplay vision come through."

The group plans to create a game that sends the player through three campaigns that total eight missions. They are creating 13 new personalities, each with their own voices and designs.

As the producer (and faculty guiding the group), Raymond Todd Blackwood created a storyline, which centers around the Greek character of Jeremiah, who flees the city after the King's Guard imprisoned and murdered his wife for refusing to pay the percentage the Guild demanded. Jeremiah, who is a farmer and tradesman, must make his way through bandits, pirates and greedy merchants to find his fortune.

"The story is excellent. The more I read it, the greater my vision is to turn it into solid gameplay," Mark said.