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As a lot of people know, Bethesda just came out with their Creation Kit for developing mods to Skyrim.

I've been developing for a while, I have a couple of games released including one that's doing well in the App Store. My goal is to get a job at a studio like Bethesda, Bioware, or Valve. Right now my work shows I can do some of the harder parts of a game engine, but I have nothing directly in the RPG field which is where I want to be.

Would building a mod for Skyrim help my resume enough to justify the time it takes to do it, or would my time be better spent making another non-RPG game from scratch? This mod would be a full side game completely separate from the game's world. My usual thought of mods is they are for fun and don't really help the resume as much as more raw projects, but with how open the creation kit is, it seems you can really go a long way in development.

Before I get any duh or subject to opinion answers, this question is about my lack of knowledge on the perception of notable mods to games. My assumption is there is a general consensus to if mods can be impressive and help a resume which already has some (decent) content for the level of job it's after. Also, I have no intention of starting an RPG from scratch if anyone is crazy enough to offer that as a solution, this is for my resume only.

Lets assume the mod I would make would be impressive for a mod. If that was up for debate, the answer to this might come out a bit gray.

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Considering making a mod is how the creators of Counter Strike got hired, I'd say it can be useful. If you make a mod like CS, you might get hired by a studio like Valve. – George Duckett Feb 13 '12 at 15:12
Portal was originally a mod also – Noctrine Feb 13 '12 at 15:35
@Noctrine: If by "mod" you mean "total conversion" (why did people stop making that distinction?), then yes, Narbacular Drop was a "mod". – Nicol Bolas Feb 13 '12 at 16:25
@NicolBolas, not that it's terribly important, but narbacular drop wasn't developed with source engine. It was developed in Sketcher and when valve acquired the team, they rebuilt it in Source, not a Mod of halflife like counterstrike was though so you're right there – brandon Feb 13 '12 at 16:33
Drop was built with their own engine (I have the source, in fact) -- I went to school with the original team, and at the time modding wasn't permissible for class projects, which is what Narbacular Drop started out as. – Josh Petrie Feb 13 '12 at 16:38

5 Answers 5

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Bethesda specifically asks for experience with their development tools when applying to a position with them. So, if you want a job at Bethesda, successfully completing a mod project is a great step to take to put your foot in the door.

If you don't want to work for Bethesda, a successful mod project still goes a long way to help you. Just think of how popular Skyrim is, if your mod works out that's considerably more eyes on it than many games before it (especially with how Bethesda is promoting modding). If it's awesome, you'll get not only a lot of fans for your own personal work, but even possibly studios looking to bring you in. (To feed off your popularity or just for your talent)

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According to this interview , doing a mod for Skyrim will help if you want to be hired at Bethesda. For Valve or Bioware, I don't know, although it probably won't hurt.

Also, it depends on the kind of development you do. If you are a core engine programmer, I doubt a mod will show your abilities.

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If you can make a proper mod with a full fleshed out idea, it certainty would help. And, it shows some experience in the rpg genre. However, i would continue to work on your own games.

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If you can write game engines, Bethesda's modding kits should be cake. That's where I started learning to program and it ended up opening up a whole new way of thinking and world to me. I progressed into Unity, started learning C#, took up Visual Studio and did a bunch of standard object oriented programming, moved into C++ for a brief while, then back to C# and now I'm learning WPF...

Bethesda likes experience in their creation kit/GECK - it's extremely easy to use and script and pretty fun if you like these games - if you want to apply at Bethesda, I would definitely recommend modding - otherwise I'm not sure it would be particularly beneficial anywhere else though having it in your portfolio would help most with showing your view of story flow, level design, and content creativity more than helping bolstering your credit as a quality programmer and/or graphic designer.

Unfortunately, we live in a market that isn't very "quality writing and storytelling" driven otherwise New Vegas would be considered the Magnum Opus of games designed in Bethesda's engine, so I'm not sure most studios would be looking at that first and foremost. Skyrim had some moments I almost cringed from how bad the writing was... Some of it was ok..

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As a guy that's been modding many games for the past... 14-18 years, I'll just chip in.

  • only a FEW modders ever got paid for their work or somehow got money out of it. IceFrog may or may not be one of them, and I really doubt he got any money out of Valve for DotA2 (if I could actually remember my mail/password for ICQ, i would've asked him now.)

  • CounterStrike devs may have got paid, but I doubt that too. UT2k14 in UnrealEngine4 certainly do not get paid to make Epic a new game, they just get some developer help from time to time.

  • The man that made the skyrim expansion mod, Falskaar did not get hired, even though one of the reasons he did everything he featured in the mod was to get hired. Thats why he did the voiceacting.

  • A few more examples of people that contributed greatly but never got anything out of it: for Warcraft3:TFT Vexorian made a pretty hefty spell system used by all (not all, a big portion of them) maps that feature custom spells that don't behave like original ones. Actually i'll just stop here.

A big thing to note here is - "a mod is not protected and copyrighted intellectual property, and anyone is free to remake your mod with different people", which is why I doubt both the DotA author and CS authors got paid for their work.

One of the best ways to actually monetize on your modding work, is to hack the game at some point, and/or ask for donations to keep the servers running after the original multiplayer servers get shutdown.

Just writing this post overflooded me with alot of bad and some really bad memories :/

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