Guidelines and Advice on How to Create a Mod

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Guidelines and Advice on How to Create a Mod

Post  Benny26 on Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:17 pm

*Original post by Don Vecta


With SORmaker now many people can give it a go in trying to build the beat 'em up of their dreams. SOR maker, while doesn't cover all the features displayed on v5, still has tons of tools and properties to build a fun, exciting and challenging mod. It's all about the creativity of the author.

However, sometimes we don't know what could be the do's and don'ts while building our stages, our settings, enemy placement, difficulty, etc. And after all, we try to please an audience and have our mod played over and over again (I don't think anyone wants to build something from himself and release it public, yes?).

These guidelines are coming from a very personal point of view. People can have different opinions and takes and whatever it might be written here can be discarded if that's not what you guys think. I'm not a professional modder, neither a top player but I've been playing beat 'em ups for more than 25 years so probly my experience could help out a bit to have an idea of what's going on. As I said, I don't intend this to be a universal guide but I try to point out the things I've seen that other people love or hate from a mod and gather their opinions and thoughts. We are community, feel free to contribute with your inputs too.

I'll try not to put specific examples to avoid hurting feelings since this is mostly in a general context. I'm not going to give jabs to anyone or annoy anybody, this is solely with the purpose to contribute and help to create better and better mods, nothing else.

Said that, let's begin, shall we?


Before start modding.

- Get a theme for your mod. You can just make a mod with any lovely stage and fill them with random enemies if you must, but the audience would feel more appealed if the mod had a specific theme. You can make it comedic, or noir, or sci-fi or b-action film or exploitation, etc. and according to your theme, build your stages and place ur enemies accordingly.

- Think in a storyline. By setting a theme then you can try to create a script of events that build up interest to the game. You don't need to be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to bring a cool detective story or Wes Craven to bring a horror story, in fact, in beat 'em ups, stories tend to be quite cheese due of their homage of 80's b-action films so no worries, you can bring a deep story or something simple. Stories are just to give flavor to the game and it will bring tons of replay value.

- Choose your materials wisely! Okay, gathering materials like stage background from other games it's a common thing between modders, you also can build your own sprites on your own as well. But there's something important: if someone else ripped or built a stage and you want to use elements from it in your mod ASK PERMISSION FIRST! This is very important if you don't want to have problems with the rest of the community and get branded as a plagiarist or a jerk. You might no get sued but bet your ass you're gonna be ostracized, outcasted and rejected by the community and nobody would like to play your mods.

- Choose your music according to your theme. You know the soul of a beat 'em up (especially Streets of Rage) lies in its music. The music should fit in the theme you choose and give the mood you want to add on it. A detective or noir story would fit with jazz or blues based music (either pure style or more modern styles with jazz elements) or a Sci-fi theme with electro, noise or EBM.
In a personal opinion I recommend the use of INSTRUMENTAL TRACKS since music with lyrics tend to distract and alter the effect desired in a stage, while an instrumental track would give a more neutral and background element without taking away the mood. Definitely tracks with lyrics are tacky and a no go and most people don't find it comfortable to listen during a game, but if you really want it's up to you.

Okay, let's continue.

So yeah, you have your sprites ready, photoshop (or whatever image editor you use) on hand, fpg on hand and SORmaker on. You have the concept ready and it's time to give it shape to the mod.

- Enemy placement. This is the key part of making a fun mod or a crappy mod. Enemy placement it's the main core in how to develop your game and make it fun and challenging. In a standard beat 'em up game, the first stages are usually simple (but still attractive enough to catch the attention of the player) and the mooks there are the easiest type, then as the stages advance, gradually it's added more challenging mooks and sub-bosses, etc.

In practical issues, SORmaker fortunately has a wide array of easy mooks to fill your first stages, here are some tier list that you could use as reference to place your enemies from easier to harder and which bosses can be used as mooks and which mooks can be used as bosses:

Tier 1: Galsias (3 versions), Donnies (2 versions), Signals (3 versions), Goldie, Vice, Soozies (2 versions), Storms (2 versions), Galvice, Cody.
Tier 2: Haku-oh's, Hakuyos, Noras, Electras (2 versions), Jacks (jugglers), Beano, Slash, SOR2 Big-Ben, P-1, Trucker (pipe or barehanded version), Tiger, Hitmen (3 versions).
Tier 3: SOR3 Big-Ben, Ninjos, Muay Thais, troll ninjas (2 versions), Trucker (with beer).
Sub-bosses: Ash, Vehelits, Victy & Danch, Rocket.
Bosses: Antonio, Barbon, Mona & Lisa, Souther, SOR2 Jet, Yamato, Abadede, Zamza, Bongo, Bear, Yasha & Onihime, Neo-X, Robo-X, SOR3 Jet, Particle, Rudra, Shiva (2 versions), Mr. X.
Special: Seekers.

Pretty much the lay out for a stage one should be tier 1 mooks with low energy bars, with 3 or 4 stops during the scene (depending of the length of it, of course), with 4 enemies at the same time max and at least the first two stops with only two waves with only tier 1 mooks. Then later in the 3rd stop you could put an easy tier 2 enemy to come in a wave, still low to mid energy bar but only one or two. By the end of the stage you could place 2 tier-1 mooks with mid lifebar and a tier-2 mook with a full bar as your sub-boss of the scene.
It's not recommended to put Tier-3 mooks in the first scenes unless u wanna manage him as a sub-boss, and if you REALLY wanna do it, try to put him alone and with a mid to full lifebar (no lives)... or why not? you could put a group of Tier-3 mooks as your stage 1 Bosses, maybe a group of Ninjas or I dunno, the idea is to keep the balance of the game.

With this logic it is easy to build challenge in the course of the game, try to use as reference other established beat 'em ups like the OG SOR's, Final Fight, Cadillacs & Dinosaus, Punisher, etc.


- Stay in theme with your enemies & stages. Yeah, after you selected a theme or a story and therefore the style of your stages, also place your enemies with the theme of your stage. It's kinda odd that you'd find a martial artist like a Hakuyo in a Bar or a party-girl like Soozie in a Samurai temple. SORmaker has a huge array of enemies with different styles that could fit in so many themes.
Remember also that you have name editor and palette editor and a certain name, color or image will change the appearance of your characters.
Also, if you have a storyline that request certain type of enemy to show up in an odd situation, go ahead and try it (in example, in your script the boss is sending assassins to kill the protagonist and he happens to pass-by... let's say a convenience store then it's okay to place 3 troll ninjas with a very dark palette to resemble like shadows).

- Health items, point items, extra polices and extra lives placement. Okay, this is important, after you got a wave of enemies in a stop, you gotta put a health item after you cleared that. That's rule of the thumb. It's not fun whooping the ass of tons of mooks coming in 5 waves and then after you get the GO! GO! GO! There's nothing else after that but MORE enemies! Balance your number of enemies (and their difficulty) with the type of health item you could grant. If it was a stop with 3 waves of tier 1 mooks then a coke, a chewing gum or an orange would suffice. If it was a stop with 3 waves of tier-2 mooks then go for an apple or even a hamburger. If you fought a sub-boss or a bunch of tier 3 goons then a chicken or beef will do.

Also remember that you can make some mooks to drop food after you beat them, mind you the food dropped it's random so odds are that u get a simple chewing gum or the best to get a burger. Sometimes u can make the hardest mook of a wave to drop a food item so you can keep up with the next round.

As for point items those are more for fun or to accumulate extra life. Some valuable items like the gold bars or the extra lives can be hidden behind some layers which can give this extra trick feeling.

Also, if there's a certain difficult and long stage coming, you could place mid way an extra police to give some help (of course, this makes no sense if you do it in a stage with the police calls restricted since the hero characters can't call the police).

- Play with your environment. SORmaker has tons of extras and events that can your stage look richer and interesting. From the simple appearance elements such a littered cans on the floor, flying birds, garbage flying, fog, rain, thunders, etc. to features that can affect the gameplay like slippery floor, endless drum cans dropping, explosions, fire on the floor, etc.

Recreate your stage according to your scripted story and the situation, also remember that placing items like health items, point items and containers can also decor your stage (in example, make a hobo party placing a flame event, surrounded by breakable boxes where Slums and Signals would be sitting on, some Soozies and Galvices jamming with the music, place Cokes and Cocktails drinks (consumable items) around them, a Boombox point item, some Bottle weapon items around and some littered cans around them with the Extra feature and there you go! You can go and crash the party literally!)

Here's the example how it would look like:

...and here crashing the party (and paying for it), lol, happy happy joy joy.... *trollface*

(Sorry, took one of the stages from the Rage in Time mod as an example only, I won't plan to use it like this).
You guys feel free also to contribute with tips, I'll post some more.

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Graphically speaking . . .

Post  xRainmakerRSx on Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:00 pm

my contribution I would like to talk to everyone who wants to create a mod in sormaker is simple:

- Understand the visual harmony in the streets of rage games!

- Graphically speaking, you need to build stages and palettes that do not make the mod disfigured or that the characters are floating on a background of another dimension or some kind of special effect improper that has nothing to do with the game.
- But how? in my opinion the answer is very simple, understand the context of streets of rage and time it was created.

* To build scenes: if you restrict the material used and extract it only games of the 90s, you know, 2D graphics, sega mega drive, maybe snes, arcade layers can also work well. But if you use very old games from older platforms or consoles 3D graphis, in my opinion you are running a big risk of disfiguring your mod and run the right style of play!

* To create palettes: what you need to understand here is that all the characters follow a basic logic of colors, the darker the color the outermost layer, its outline and the innermost layer will be lighter (lighter color of the skin usually ) what you need to do is follow the order of colors, the darker to the lighter color and then the character will not be disfigured or have a saturated appearance! Some characters will unfortunately own a color part of your outfit and your skin at the same time. In this case you should understand that the edition will be limited, otherwise your character will have a saturated appearance!

example one:


example two:


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Re: Guidelines and Advice on How to Create a Mod

Post  Don Vecta on Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:31 pm

For the build scene tip, I have to say something.

After I saw what can be done with pre-rendered 3D graphics and a VERY creative way to use palettes in a project called Phenom by TheNomad, I have to say that it does work in the mod. When it's released you'll agree with me.

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Re: Guidelines and Advice on How to Create a Mod

Post  xRainmakerRSx on Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:53 pm

I'm getting really open to new ideas because this is who you are talking about, but so far I have seen many strange attempts to create mods that result in distorted versions of sor and without any harmony with the game...I think there may be new and good ideas, but not starting from radical changes in the design of the chars and the scenes ...

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Re: Guidelines and Advice on How to Create a Mod

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