Through the recent Q&A session during the Overwatch Anniversary event in New York, game director Jeff Kaplan shared his team’s philosophy on adding mod and map creation tools. “We love [the concept of mod tools for players] as well, and something that I try really hard to communicate to the playerbase,” he said. “They think we have a philosophical opposition to people modding our game which, I mean, couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
In fact, many other Blizzard games such as Warcraft 3, World of Warcraft, and Starcraft 2 have all used mods, if not an official mod and map creation tool provided by the developers themselves. Sometimes, the greatest mods have taken off into completely new games, like DOTA and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
“I always try to remind people like ‘Do you know that DOTA, League of Legends, and DOTA2 would not exist if it weren’t for our openness through people modding our stuff,” Kaplan continued. “Also, the WoW user interface was like a whole crazy community that made tons of brilliant stuff. We’re totally open to it, but because of that new engine, the amount of time for us to get all of our systems online, and the infrastructure, set up so that somebody could create something, modify it, have their own branch, check it in, test it… We’re just pretty far from that.”
Official mod or map creation tools may come to Overwatch, though the game director believes that addition is years down the line. So far we’ve already received a smaller-scale “mod tool” through the Custom Game Browser, which was carefully designed to be easy-to-use. However, what Kaplan described sounds more like Blizzard’s previous mod tools like Warcraft 3’s Map Editor or Starcraft 2’s Galaxy Editor which were not user-friendly at all. But with some difficulty, the fully fleshed-out mod tools provided in those games allowed players to create some of the most notable mods ever.
This is going to make some players upset if I say this, but I’m more of a believer of “Give them real hardcore tools, which means that the vast majority of us will have no ability to make anything.”, but I’d rather have guys who really understand what they’re doing make something high quality, than all of us make a bunch of shit.
Either we’re all making a bunch of crap or we’re all making the same thing over and over again.
With the Overwatch team onboard with the idea of player-created mods and potentially releasing an official mod tool, Kaplan wants any creation to be high level and creative.
I think if we were to release our tools, it would be much more towards a professional to semi-professional to up and coming modder, mapmaking, coder type of fanbase rather than like “here’s this dumbed down system to where anybody can make anything.” But again, we’re years from that.
Regardless of your experience, the game’s potential mod and map creation tools are something to look forward to in the coming years. For something more recent, Overwatch’s Anniversary event begins on May 23 and you can check out full previews of some of the new skins, voicelines, and emotes releasing for the event.