The mod community can make or break a game. Perhaps not at launch, when gamers are content with out of the box offerings, but if you want your game to have real longevity and a hallowed place on the hard drives of fans, working closely with modders is essential. With the latest expansion for Shogun 2 – The Fall of the Samurai – just around the corner, we had a chance to catch up with Creative Assembly’s Studio Community Manager, Craig Laycock, and to chat to him about the challenges of mod engagement.
“With Shogun 2 we really want to open it up a lot more to the modding community,” Craig told us. “We get so much great feedback from these guys, so we always like to make sure we support them.”
But it’s not always easy. As engines get more complex, they get harder to open up. “There’s a reason we’ve had some games that are less than ideal for modders,” he said. “It’s almost like leapfrogging, as we advance our engine, and then get confident enough to deliver tools that we know are going to work and not break anything.”
The proof, however, is in the aforementioned longevity. Total War classics like Rome and Medieval II are still being played today, thanks to the strength of mods that are still being tweaked and released to this day.
Some of the mods that are really popular even get folded into official releases. “Blood is now part of Rise of the Samurai from the get-go, and that’s something the community has really been wanting.” Blood mods are one of the first to get worked on for any Total War release, but when it was added to Shogun 2 in a recent patch, it almost backfired. “We kinda didn’t run that one through classification for the Australian market... but we got it there in the end!”