06 Jun, 2016

The Challenges of Toolmaking


Toolmakers are players who create their own gameplay tools. They use a variety of programming languages and host their tools in many different places, including Curse and GitHub. There are three main challenges for toolmakers:


  1. It’s expensive.
  2. It’s time-consuming.
  3. It’s difficult.


Toolmaking has high overhead costs. In order to create and host a tool, toolmakers must pay for database hosting, development environment software, distribution, and marketing. This can cost upwards of $200 a month out of pocket. There is also the hidden cost of acquiring the actual gameplay data from the games. All of this combined can be a drain on the toolmaker’s bank account, and even with the small revenue the toolmaker makes from monetizing his tools, it can be an expensive hobby.  As a result, most toolmakers rely on donations to fund their work, and when donations are low, they end up putting their work on pause for long periods of time–or forever.


The toolmaking process is also lengthy. Creating a brand new tool can take a week at minimum, and months at most. Tools also require hours of upkeep. Game developers make updates to their games regularly, and often these updates render a tool unusable. Toolmakers must therefore alter their tools to fit each game update.


Finally, creating tools requires a high level of expertise. With existing resources, really only a computer engineer has the skills and knowledge set to build a powerful tool. There is no universal template for building a tool, nor are there sufficient resources on how to best extract or format game data. A toolmaker must build everything from scratch, which is a complex and involved process.


Given these challenges, toolmaking has high barriers to entry, and the result is a lack of players willing or able to become toolmakers. The subsequent lack of necessary tools in turn stunts the gaming experience. As a solution, Red Queen hopes to provide the resources (including hosting, distribution, and marketing) to potential and current toolmakers in order to streamline the toolmaking process and enable more toolmakers to enhance the game.

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