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GODZ Inception

Name: Vajuras


Site: http://www.planetunreal.com/godz

Position: Creator, Lead Coder, Web Designer, Animator

Well, I guess I'll post my thoughts on how GODZ was started in the hopes it will help someone looking for ideas on how to start a team, recruit key talent, and implement their ideas.

GODZ was basically conceived by two guys, James 'Disector' Morris and myself, vajuras, sometime around Spring 2001. We had knew each other because of our work on FEBA, a partial conversion for UT.

Our desire was to create a total conversion for Unreal Tournament that would feature new fighters, enviroments, etc. At thetime, Disector could skin, create music, and map. I pretty much possessed the other talents he didn't have: coding, modeling, and animating. The first thing I did was develop the initial concept. I wanted it to be very short and simple (like the game title). So I came up with simple concept of a universal wide tournament that features supernatural beings. At the time, I was burned out on modeling/animating weapons so we decided GODZ wouldn't use any weapons and it would feature 3rd person.

After a few weeks we organized a simple little site and got together a set of models. This was the key to our strategy- we would first develop some early prototypes and start showing them around to people. We wanted experienced artists/mappers working on the mod, so we figured it would help to have some nice stuff to show around. Back then, we wasn't sure if we could attract any mappers to the mod so we kept things simple- the mod would focus on 1-on-1 matches. This way, the maps could be small.

Our first recruit was a mapper that had worked with us previously on the FEBA team, Adam Stiles. Adam quickly put together a nice map and from there we started hand picking the mappers we wanted to join. I only invited mappers that had previously released content to the mapping review sites and their work fit into our theme some what (the maps were fantasy/sci-fi).

I could tell we had a good concept because the majority of the folks we invited joined immediately. If they couldn't join, they replied saying that they thought the idea was good. Now, I am not bragging but I think that is very important- basing a mod on a solid concept. A concept that can be explained in just a few lines.

After a few months we launched the site on PU. The initial design wasn't all that great but it was a start. However, the mod didn't seem to grasp people like we thought it would. Our web site hits wasn't quite what I expected. Doing the public relations stuff to pimp your mod can sometimes be the hardest part. Especially if your mod doesn't 'fit' into a particular genre. The best way I could think of to describe GODZ was to just compare it to DBZ. As expected, this aroused a lot of attention in the mod. Then I redid the site design to appeal to DBZ fans and we released a 'preview' movie.

Our hits started going up quite a bit then. It wasn't a volume of traffic as huge as tactical ops but still it helped us feel like there was some folks out there that was interested in the mod. I think that is one place where I went wrong- expecting a huge volume of traffic. When a team directly bases their product on the Matrix or Dragonball - you inherit their fan base. However, if you create something brand new, you don't always have the base created for you. So it took some advertising and a lot of pimping to get folks out there to recognize what the mod was.

Another struggle we had was that I wanted to get some C++ coding experience. So I created a native dll that would play mp3/ogg music. The downside was that the dll would not work on linux/mac users. I naviely thought perhaps those other systems were just a small part of the unreal community. Boy was I wrong!

Our first release was carefully coordinated with gamespy so that we could get the best pimpage possible. The first version was d/l over 10,000 or so just from fileplanet within the first day. Not bad for a Windows only mod. Unfortunately, mac/linux users were left out. And boy- did they make their discouragement felt.

After a few days the first mod review was published. The first release had gotten like a 6.0 or something. Now, we were wasn't happy with the score but that was not the problem. The reviewer only played 1 level out of the 16 that was included and just reviewed the mod based on that. We could tell because the only picture he posted was the worst level we included (plus he made 2-3 incorrect statements). One of our mappers basically made a crappy level but we included it anyway because that was our policy- to include everyone's work. Of course now I know much better :)

In any case, we contacted the site and they updated their score to 8.0. Then modsquad reviewed the mod and gave us a 9.6 or something high like that. Kewl.

After that our forums started really jumping with activity and our servers pretty much stayed busy during peak hours. Inspite of all that, I pretty much have always kept a modest view about the mod. It suprises me when I meet people that play our mod, etc. Since the release we have been invited to a lot of nice events such as the Westwood College (met Infiltration, UnF, and some other teams there) and the Epic mod event. Every time I'm like - "How did they find out about GODZ???"

Since that time we've lost a lot of good talent and others have joined. We once thought we would only get 1 mapper and maybe only release with 3-4 maps. The first release contained over 11 maps and the team grew so big we started turning away a lot of talent.

Anyway, this is how our mod started. It's been a fun ride ever since.

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