Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
When people hear the words “game design,” often they think of the design and development of full, standalone games. They think of programming and testing software, and, to some extent, creating the lore and concept art of the digital worlds they attempt to breathe life into. However, independent modders aren’t a group we associate with the term “game design” but their contributions to the industry are just as important–if not more so–than the creators of full games. It’s because of modders that we see improvements to games that the original developers are too busy (or uninterested) to make themselves.
“Cozur” is one such modder and the creator of the hit Mount & Blade: Warband mod A Clash of Kings , a total conversion that turns Calradia into the world of Game of Thrones. A 23-year-old Danish university student studying History with a side of Religious Studies, Cozur dabbled with a few minor tweaks in Medieval II: Total War before taking on a large project like ACOK mostly by himself. “I pretty much started out as a complete novice when it came to modding,” he admits. “I played a lot of mods since my teen years though, so I had a pretty good idea of what pitfalls to avoid.”
“What prompted me to create A Clash of Kings was a plethora of things. I played Mount & Blade: Warband and found it [to be] an excellent game, and wanted to get into the huge modding community that the game sustains. So I looked around for a proper setting and because Game of Thrones had just premiered and I had read the books a couple years earlier, I thought that a game set in that world might draw some attention.”
“I had also just stopped playing World of Warcraft on a serious level and wanted to do something with my time, but without anyone requiring me to be at my PC at a certain point of the day. So I figured modding Warband would be a good way to relax.” When he’s not modding, he also spends time working at a local supermarket to pay the bills as well as playing Crusader Kings II on occasion. “I might pick up Rome II , but majoring in History causes me to cringe when playing most historical games.”
When asked about what went into the creation of ACOK , Cozur explains that he used the Open Source Project module as a base, including hundreds of various OSP items and scripts made by other people. “Caractacus has made about half of the scenes, and Bilwit is the creator of all the show armors included in [version] 1.0. But there’s no [development] ‘team.’ I’m the only one with the access to the module source files.”
Despite his majority contribution to the project, Cozur is still humble: “It sounds like I made this all by myself, and while it’s true that ACOK is my creation, it wouldn’t be possible without the hundreds of people who have made various OSP packs and answered my questions on how to do various scripts. And credit should go to Bilwit as well–there’s been a large surge of interest [in the mod] ever since I started posting pictures of his items.”
As someone who hasn’t created a mod himself and has been blown away by the amount of detail put into ACOK , I had asked him if it was hard to make a mod for Warband . “It’s not really difficult to create, but there’s a lot of trial and error. If you define ‘difficult’ as time consuming, then yes, but it’s not rocket science.”
“I didn’t really know what to expect of the mod when it was first released. I imagine a lot of the popularity the mod enjoys is due to the lack of proper A Song of Ice and Fire games and mods. So I’ve given the masses what they want [and] it’s pretty awesome seeing how many people have downloaded the mod. It’s certainly boosted my ego to even greater heights.”
The final question for Cozur was if he had any advice for anyone who wanted to start modding and he was enthusiastic to share his wisdom. “First of all, know your limits. If you don’t know how to do models, codes, textures, then stop your project. Learn the basics of those things and then start your mod again. No one is going to make all of that stuff for you and giving yourself the title “Developer/Researcher” is f**king bulls**t. No one is going to make your mod for you.”
“Second, don’t start off your project by making a big announcement. When I started work on ACOK , there were already three mods set in the same universe ‘in development.’ I didn’t post anything about my project until I had a working beta. The day I made a post about it, I also had a download link for people…and I think people like that. So don’t say anything until you have a lot of stuff to show off.”
“Third, don’t overreach. I already mentioned that, but I cannot stress it enough. Want to make a cool mod? Then don’t chose a medieval feudal simulator to make your great WWII mod. Don’t plan elaborate quests, features, and hundreds of new items for your first release. Pretty much all I did was make a new map, pop in new banners, and make the different factions for my first release. Then you can start building on it, while people can play the version you got working and enjoy that.”
“Fourth, don’t make wild, outrageous claims about how much better your mod is than everyone else’s and how great you are. It antagonizes people, especially those looking around for a project to join. You can totally call yourself great, but only after you’ve gotten, say, fifty thousand downloads.”
“And last, don’t expect a project like ACOK to be done in a week’s time. Unless you’re willing to spend thousands of hours on it, you won’t make it. I’d say I spent about twenty hours a week working on this. That’s a lot when you have a job, studies, and friends.” And he wasn’t kidding. ACOK has been in the works for the past year and hasn’t even gotten to version 1.0 yet (though that should be released in the next month or two).
So, to sum up, if you’re interested in modding, you need perseverance, patience, humility, and gumption to get the job done and deliver a great product. It’s people like Cozur who reinvigorate games that’d otherwise become stale after a couple dozen hours of game time and modding is also a great stepping stone to greater prospects in within the gaming industry. When asked if he’d ever want to be a full game designer, Cozur mentioned he had other plans for his future.
“I’m definitely not going to design my own game. That’s not my goal and I wouldn’t even know where to start. I’m currently applying for various museum jobs and that’s going to be my future. I’ll totally keep doing updates to ACOK though and I’ll make ACOK II once Bannerlord is released.”
You can check out A Clash of Kings on ModDB and try it out for yourself.