Over the last 10 years I have overseen 4 different freelance computer game development projects, so-called Mods. I have done this from many different levels, including Project Lead, Lead Programmer, Development Lead and Artistic Lead. These projects are always plagued by the fact that people don’t have the ability to manage their time well, and leads to people burning out if they push themselves too hard, or disappearing if they prioritize other things over their Mod project. I took the road of pushing for organization and communication to help remove the need for needless micro management and it seems to have paid off. Two of the projects, Firearms: Source – a mod for Half-Life 2 which I am a Co-Programmer and Development Lead on, and Project: White – a mod for Unreal Tournament 3 which I was Project Lead for, were successfully able to release publicly.
Project: White released every month for 6 months without delay, usually we had the project ready for distribution a few days before the release was made. Firearms released on time and since release we have pushed ourselves to meet a number of minor goals for our five patches, all released in a timely fashion.
Mod development is difficult. Many people enter the realm expecting it to be a couple months worth of coding or creating 3D assets to be put into your portfolio and boom you can move on. The problem is that developing a game is a months, and often years, long venture that requires that a developer is able to stay on top of their game and manage their time wisely. I have done this more than once, but two of my Mod projects have successfully been released.