Week 1 (11-3 to 11-9):
Week 1 will be devoted to learning more through the tutorials and learning how to navigate the toolset since the learning curve for the toolset for a beginner seems pretty steep. I am going to try to start with a small modding project to see how much I can do in a small amount of time and then try to see what kind of project is doable for the next three weeks by comparing with notes on forums. My main goal is to create a quest, so I need to piece together what is required in terms of the toolset to make a quest: characters, scripting, music, object-behavior(?), and environment(s).
Week 2 (11-10 to 11-16):
With a better idea of what I can initially do, Week 2 will start off with planning what my mod will look like by designing it on paper through small descriptions of what I want to do. If I find that my mod really does end up being a quest, I want to plan out the general quest, a character list, and the overarching story of what the quest is and why the player is undertaking this particular quest and whether or not it fits in with the official gameplay experience. As I make the mod, I will start seeing how the mod can work within Possible Worlds Theory as player creation being an extension of official gameplay, especially with such a strong collaborative community that modders have created as they share their mods and how they create those mods. The mods themselves become part of a player’s gameplay experience, changing certain moments in-game that give them a different perspective of the events they are working through, such as a romance option, a character skin (the physical look of a character), or a scene extension that is not official in Dragon Age Origins software.
Week 3 (11-17 to 11-23):
Week 3 will probably be the time period where I start rethinking how I approach my mod and the scope of the project as I adjust to match my (lack of) skillset. Hopefully, I will be making significant progress in shaping my mod towards a viable project, rather than a shamble of modding attempts in one environment. This week will be about learning how to integrate my creation into the official software and make it accessible to others. This may require diffing further into forums and tutorials, and scouring through YouTube for more user-friendly tutorials/demonstrations. There may be hair-pulling and rocking in a dark corner with my dogs looking on in concern. This too shall pass. Maybe.
Week 4 (11-24 to 11-30):
Week 4 should be the culmination of all of my attempts, with a cohesive body of work in terms of a mod. I should be working on finalizing a functioning mod and figuring out how to distribute/give access to my peers and professor. This will, hopefully, be the time when I look towards more difficult tutorials at how to extend the quest outwards for a longer project (such as a series of quests with an overarching narrative) and creating new characters who are fully voiced once the semester is over.
- PC copy of Dragon Age Origins
- Dragon Age Origins Toolset
- Computer – my laptop
- Paper and pencil/pen/colored pencils to map out what the mod should look like and what it will, ideally, do.
- Narratology theory books – most likely Possible Worlds Theory with my main book being Heterocosmica by Lubomir Dolezel.
I already own a copy of Dragon Age Origins for the PC (I bought it through Amazon as a digital download), and the Dragon Age Origins toolset is available as a free download from the official Bioware Social Network site. Because Bioware is the one who distributes the toolset, I am not too sure if there are copyright issues, especially as the mods work within the software of the game. The only issue I may come across would be if I integrated someone else’s mod into my larger mod, but that is not my plan since I want to see what I can do with my own skills.
My project is really two-fold in terms of what I need to do: 1) learn the software to be able to make a functional mod and 2) think through the kind of narrative theory I would like to work on in practical application when creating a mod. I have been looking at tutorials made by other modders and theory application is absent from their work as they are trying to fill in gaps they found in the game and extra applications/looks they think would enhance their gameplay and the gameplay of others (such as outfits, weapons, and avatar skins to be more inclusive).
What I will need to do before truly diving into the project is to settle on a narrative theory that intrigues me enough to see how it would operate in a gamespace, most especially in a user-modified gamespace, and I seem to be leaning towards using Lubomir Dolezel’s Possible Worlds Theory in his book Heterocosmica. Since my major goal is to make a playable quest for my peers, I may head in the direction of possible worlds theory as a way to see users’ creations as extensions of the actual game. Players are creating possible worlds based on their experiences within the game, creating other experiences that the game developers may not have had time for or something they may not have imagined themselves.
My concerns for this project are centered around the learning curve with the toolset and learning how to make the components of a mod about a quest work together. The toolset looks deceptively simple in terms of the categories it presents to users, but it is harder to figure out what everything does and means because the system has been so simplified. The tutorials I have been crawling through are going to be my best bet for gaining the help I need and overcoming the problems that I have been facing/will be facing with the toolset.
Such Music to Inspire Our Plans