Back in action!

Sun 07 October 2012 in Mixed. Tags: 3D-GET, Jedi Academy: Renaissance. By mrwonko.

Recently my life took a turn for the better. How so? I'm not just playing and surfing anymore, I'm doing something useful: Modding.

That's right: Ever since 7dfps I've hardly done anything useful in my spare time. Well, playing some of the games on my backlog is not exactly a waste, not of money anyway, but there's better things I could do. First and foremost modding and programming.

I currently have two big programming projects: One in Delphi for uni, which includes a written documentation, and my Jedi Academy recode, including the preliminary 7dpfs project and other related work. I can't do the former because I can't find my Delphi installer so I'll have to get a new one at uni once it starts again next week and can't do anything until then, and the latter is a lot of work. Not that that should discourage me, but I think my time is better spent on something closer to completion.

Like Spirits of the Sith. Started in 2003 as a Jedi Knight 2 singleplayer mod by some of the best mappers the German mod community had to offer it soon switched over to Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, which - as far as modding goes - is clearly superior to JK2. In 2007 I was asked to join the team and help them finish it - most visual work on the levels was done and it was "just" a matter of doing some scripting and tying it all together.

Except it's never that simple. As so often, the last 20% take up 80% of the time. Or something roughly like that, I suppose. I really have no idea how much time was previously spent on the maps, but either way there was still a lot left to do. And somehow it never got done. I did some work on some of the maps, but by and large little progress was made. Maybe the mod was already more or less dying and I was supposed to remedy that. Well, I didn't.

About a year ago or so the remaining team members - all 3 or so of us - decided that yes, we did in fact still want to finish it. That's easy to say, of course: "Sure, I'd hate to just throw it all away." But you still need to actually work on it. We started organizing it better, creating a wiki, a new forum and the previously linked page for it.

Eventually I got around to actually playing all the maps from start to finish, which I don't think I had done previously, and added notes on their status to the wiki. I have pretty high standards nowadays - I don't want to release something bad - and the maps did not quite live up to that. Visually they're fine, mostly, but some are confusing and there's no real story linking it all together. Well, there was a story on paper, but it wasn't properly told by the maps and partially didn't even fit them.

So a couple of weeks ago I finally sat down and revisited the story, making it fit the maps better. And a couple of days ago I finally started actually working on the maps again. Guess what? It feels good. Getting a little work done (almost) every day gets me closer to completion bit by bit. It will still take quite a while, but I'm positive we'll get there. It's just a matter of actually doing the damn work, and it's strange I wasn't doing it, seeing as I like it.

And how is that good for my life? Well, I need experience if I am to ever get a job at Valve or in the games industry in general, and having a a finished mod to show is great. Admittedly a mod that's pretty much just more content with no new gameplay is pretty much the worst kind, but it's still an accomplishment. A big one, even. So here's hoping we'll finish it. Maybe by April 2013 when it'll turn 10?


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