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TUG is a multiplayer open-world sandbox-RPG using new technology and social sciences to directly involve players in the game’s design.
7,231 backers pledged $293,184 to help bring this project to life.

Modular Asset Design

Posted by Nerd Kingdom (Creator)

In many games, when crafting an item, it plays out something like this: you get a specific list of materials, collect (or buy) said materials, drag them from your inventory to some kind of crafting interface, click a button, and BOOM you have the exact item you set out to craft... no room for variation, experimentation, or creativity. With TUG, we’ve decided to go with a more modular approach. What that means is that each weapon and tool will be made up of multiple components which can be created separately and then mixed and matched by the player. A modular crafting system like this allows players a greater variety of weapon and ability combinations, while at the same time reducing key areas of work for the development team.

Let's say we have an axe weapon that improves from tier 1, to tier 2, to tier 3. That's three handles, three heads, and three forms of binding to secure them all together. In a traditional form of asset creation, the artist would complete a full version of the axe (blade, handle, and any extra components) for every single variation. This would result in 27 different axe models, all of which would need to be unwrapped, textured, and saved out as their own files. Although possible, this is inefficient and too time consuming when there are hundreds of assets that need to be created.

So how do we work around this? By creating our assets in a way that allows you, the player, to pick which component to build, by tier, and to craft that item as you see fit - interchangeable parts, if you will.  Now, the 3 handles, 3 heads, and 3 forms of binding can be individually constructed and mixed and matched without having to generate 27 unique art assets, but rather just 9 of them.  This dramatically reduces the stress on our development side.  Moreover, when enchantments come into the picture later on down the line, this will add yet another dimension of "mixing and matching" to extend the possibilities even further.  Suppose you can now enchant the axe by infusing with one of two types of magic, then we've effectively extended the feasible combinations of the axe construction to 3x3x3x2=54 possible outcomes.  As content is added in an interchangeable fashion, we extend the possibilities of "craftable" objects in an exponential fashion.  Did you run out of steel bars before you could finish crafting your steel sword? If you chop down a nearby tree and gather some chopped wood to make a stick, you can still craft a wooden handle and complete the sword to defend yourself. It also has the potential to make trade all the more interesting. Have an abundance of leather straps, but no steel? Perhaps your neighbor does. Have too much wood, but not enough bronze? I think I saw someone smelting that not long ago...

Some crafting components contain special properties beyond durability or damage, and so mixing and matching different tier components can actually give you an advantage that you would have skipped over if you created a solid steel sword. Experimentation with different crafting components can lead to surprising results, and may help your Seed grow in unexpected ways. Of course, not every component can be crafted with every other component. A drum head will not attach to an axe handle, nor will the head of a hammer attach to the wood of a spear. Practicality does come into play as we develop and test crafting recipes.

As previously mentioned, this method allows us to be more efficient internally; it allows for a smaller number of overall assets to turn into an enormous variation of tools and weapons. And with each new addition of items or materials into the world, it means that there come hundreds, if not thousands, of variations of weapons and tools to use, each with their own stats, power, and impact on how you play or explore. Although it does take more preparation and planning on the developer side, once this modular system is in place, it allows players a much greater level of customization.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Brian Stottlemyre on

      Otherwise i like what is stated, ill probably make a thread on the forums with my ideas, i dont want to right a novel here lol.

    2. Missing avatar

      Brian Stottlemyre on

      "nor will the head of a hammer attach to the wood of a spear. Practicality does come into play as we develop and test crafting recipes."
      Im with Matt on this one. Im hoping this will still be able to be done, but obviously balance in such a way that since a hammer head on the end of a poleshaft would be much heavier the weapon would be harder to swing as it would have to carry the momentum, and thus alot slower to swing, yet still have the range of that pole, and impact of that hammer, the downside being the swinging time. Options are key.

    3. Matthew Neagley on

      "nor will the head of a hammer attach to the wood of a spear" So I guess no Lucern hammers or Bec De Corbins then? Rest assured if a weapon has been made, it has at one point been attached to the end of a long stick.

    4. Nerd Kingdom Creator on

      @Chaonic, there will be all kinds of under the hood stats and rules for you guys to test and challenge ;). You certainly are thinking in the correct direction!


    5. Devon Mullane on

      Chaonic brings up a superb point. Many hammers wear out the haft long before the head, perhaps material wouldn't just relate to a total, but the material in each piece versus composition.

      Sounds cool to me. They've done this in a few games, Legends of Athereus is trying a similar approach. I'm happy to see it placed here.

    6. Chaonic on

      If durability will ever be added. I'm not sure, if I was that happy, when I'm a nomad, who never really settles down anywhere and has not much iron or other trade-goods....
      Sorry for double post ;)

    7. Chaonic on

      I hope, if a tool or weapon is near to break, parts of it will be replacable to repair it again!!! =)
      This would make the whole tool less of a waste =)

    8. Missing avatar

      Flammablezeus on

      The more I hear, the more I want this game. Glad to see you're looking at making armour modular as well. I've often been disappointed in crafting systems usually only allowing pre-conceived recipes instead of allowing the player to experiment more.

    9. Missing avatar

      kevin lee don on

      this game keeps getting better and better I cant waiting to play and here's my random idea I came up with for the day. You should put in falling stars and other types of rocks with different shapes and sizes falling from space. If some one were to fined one they can mine it with a pickaxe and use the mineral to build special golems, tools, weapons and armor from it. Depending on the amount you can mine from the mysterious rocks and carry in your inventory. also if the tools and armor were enchanted they would double the effects because of the special properties in side the ore ,but it would cost twice the a mount of energy it would for a regular item.

    10. Missing avatar

      John Holcombe on

      I had been thinking about a modular type system for crafting gear for a while. This makes me even more excited about this game! I hope to see a similar approach to armor as well! This would be big step forward in customization.

    11. Aneka K. Bean on

      I like the idea of flexibility like this. I think most players will tend to find a combination they really like and stick to that without too much deviation, but the choice is important!

      I hope maybe color customizing will be an option?

    12. Dirty Rabbit on

      Great idea. This game is shaping up into something really special.

    13. Rik Spruitenburg on

      Well, it sounds to me more like a spear handle and a hammer would make a hammer with a long handle. Maybe useful for hammering at a distance?

    14. Charli Dean on

      It would have to be a larger hammer head. Perhaps a maul or mace head on a spear could make a war hammer.

    15. Fearlessjay on

      Why can't the head of a hammer attach to the end of a spear, should make a large war hammer..

    16. Glitch2210 on

      i love the modular idea and hope that there is some flexibility between different weapons so that i can say attach a axehead to a spear pole and make a halberd or short sword blade to make a Yari. i would hate to feel pined into one kind of weapon tree.

    17. Missing avatar

      Tyler Funk on

      Wow, this'll really strengthen a lot of the random loot elements in the game!

    18. Nerd Kingdom Creator on

      @Lars, yea that is the goal. This takes more planning up front, especially with 1 to 1 scale times to inventory, but the system allows for so much more natural variation for the players, and so much less in man hours to create a lot of content.

    19. Nick on

      I agree with @Lars. I hope this modularity is extended beyond just tools.

    20. Lars on

      Cool, hope to see soemthing similar with clothes/armor!