The Art of Modding

We all know the great general and incredibly talented military strategist Sun Tzu and his influential work, the famous Art of War.

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Not many people know, he’s also the author of much less famous and at the time of roughly 500BC greatly misunderstood work, “The Art of Modding”.

Here are the quotes from the said book:

“The greatest obstacle of modding is the lack of clones.”

If you know coding and you know modelling, you are free to create anything you desire.
If you do not know coding but do know modelling, you can create ships and maps.
If you do know coding but do not know modelling, you can create gameplay mods.
If you do not know coding nor modelling, you can only hope to find people who will listen to you as you tell them what to do.

If you won’t texture your own models, no one will ever do it for you.

― Sun Tzu, The Art of Modding

What are your favorite quotes? Feel free to post below!


Best Modding advice you can get.

When in doubt, spam forums.


Don’t get too carried away, the feature creep wil drain you.

Don’t make your very first project a total conversion with 50+ ships.

If you plan a mod with 20 or more ships in it, first know how to make just one ship.

Know this: The ship isn’t nearly finished when you have but a gray model. You really have nothing yet. The ship is finished when you have all the textures including specular, normal map and team colors, badges, thruster shaders, engine glows, navlight, reapair and capture points, dockpaths, families, anti-ship values, attack scripts, formation, weapons… and the ship icon.

What good is a gallery of 50 gray ships.


And then you might need to do that to 10 ships, or 30 or 40. Patience is a virtue apparently…

A ship is 50% Textures 20% Model and 30% Scripting?

My own similar thoughts: Never assume you will gather a team. Be prepared to do every part of your mod yourself, even if that means doing it poorly or slowly. Progress is the best way to attract help.

Yeah, don’t follow my example! :smiley:


50 ships ? Say that to @EvilleJedi ! I still remember the beginning of the starwars mod. He’s crazy I tell you, crazy ! ^^


Best advice is to focus on the process, learn to do every step and each task. You may not need to do it all yourself eventually, but being able to step in and finish something regardless of outside help will make progress.

I also used to moderate modding boards. If your only post was "I have this great idea! … " BANNED


Tutorials are the lifeblood of the modding community.

If you know how to do something, share that knowledge and others will benefit and push the boundaries further.


Always ask for permission to use someone else’s work.


This, *infinity

“It’ll be released when it’s done.”

  • John Carmack, VALVe, Blizzard and countless others.

“Not to make something sell, something very popular, but to love something, and make something that we creators can love. It’s the very core feeling we should have in making games.”

  • Shigeru Miyamoto.

Never stop. Everything you do as a beginner will look awful. Don’t stop there. Learn. Learn by following the example. By copying style. You’ll find your way and your style eventually. Just don’t stop.


“Teamwork is a bunch of people helping me.”


Short story writers don’t make space ships. Every ship is a novel.


Be as respectful to your players as you want them to be towards you. The one who heeds this counsel will have good bug reports, great publicity and good opportunities for partnerships with skilled people. The one who only shows uppity arrogance leads to ruin. So said Sun Tzu (but not Le Sun Tsu).

Being open with what you do and what you intend to do have, from my (admittedly short) experience, been doing wonders for modding. Involving the players in the development by being explicitely open about bug reports, explaining why this or that is not a bug but indeed a feature (and explaining the ideas/concepts behind it) make for happy players who will work with you to get the mod to be even better. Plus, it makes the “it will be out when it will be done, not before” much easier to understand.


Two more wisdoms:

" Much inspiration can be gained while sitting on the toiled. "

And the simplest one yet:

" Be faster. "


Wise words, even wiser if the typo was intended.

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