How Mods Work in Eco: Building a Platform

July 14, 2015
With Eco we want to create a world that is extremely dynamic: with players created laws, government, economy, and a changing ecosystem. We want to take it a step further and make the game itself malleable, so we’re focusing on a modding system early in development.

TorchUnity
We’ve solved a few problems with modding that I think will make this one of the most powerful platforms for modding of any game out there:

The server will sync all the mods with the clients.  This allows players to simply connect to a server and get all the code, models, and animations they need to run whatever mods the server is running.

Our system is built to handle multiple mods running simultaneously. Typically mods are a mess to sync, they collide with one another and cause problems.  We’ve put a lot of work into a system which avoids common mod conflict pitfalls.

Modding is done in Unity, an existing and well-documented development platform.  Modders don’t need to learn some new esoteric system, our client is created in Unity and our mods are created there too.

All mods will work on mobile. It’s rare to see a game where modding works on mobile, due to technical limitations of those platforms. We’ve circumvented this by integrating Python scripting into Unity, giving modders full capabilities on every platform.

water_biome

“We want to make Eco the foundation platform for a new type of game.

With these features we want to make Eco the foundation platform for a new type of game: games that feature detailed simulations that run continuously, persistent worlds full of players that can change not only the physical landscape but the social and biological landscape, defining how new kinds of ecosystems and economies and governments function.  We plan to develop this game openly with the community, and can’t wait to see what people come up with.

Check out this video from our mod system engineer Nicholas Fuller demonstrating the technical steps to get a torch mod into the game:

The Eco Team is a collection of introverted and sometimes genius programmers/designers based in Seattle and Australia. We all grew up and thrive in the video game culture, so of course making them is our dream job. We look forward to continuing to put out quality games for the community of players.

20 thoughts

  • Reply
    Georg

    I already bought the game – and it’s really fun. What i can’t find is an step-to-step instruction to get Unity running with the EcoModKit.
    Or in other words – i can’t find the EcoModKit. I searched many times… Help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance and keep up the good work! 🙂

  • Reply
    Jake

    Hi, you mentioned that “All mods will work on mobile.” Does that mean that eventually there will be a mobile version of the game, or does it mean something else entirely? I’m pretty much a newb at game design or anything cs related, so please have patience with me if it’s an obvious answer lol.

    Thanks!

    • Reply
      Will

      Hey Jake,

      I don’t think a mobile version is still in the works. Thank you!

  • Reply
    beau101023

    Will there be any sort of hooks for planet generation? If so, I will be making a kerbal space program-esque mod as soon as possible, interplanetary economies and tech have always fascinated me, and how they trade and interact over such vast distances.

    • Reply
      John K. Post author

      Definitely. Would love to see that mod. Join in the Dev Tier if you can, would be happy to support.

  • Reply
    Andre Torres

    John K.

    Regarding the translation, I’m trying to crowdfund a campaign to buy one of the three remaining ‘classroom’ tiers to research Eco with my students here in Brazil.

    One of the returns I intend to do is precisely to translate Eco to Brazilian Portuguese.

    If you can release the script, I could start it right now.

    BR.

  • Reply
    Stjepan Golemac

    It would be awesome if one could create a virtual currency. Not linked to in-game items and materials directly.
    Let’s say a group of players agree that their little community will use energy as a currency. At first they could crudely calculate how much energy one needs to chop down a tree, or how much energy is needed to produce one clay brick.
    As their government progresses they can create laws that state: “One clay brick created with manual labour uses 1kW of energy”. Later, when the possibility of batteries emerges players can store their currency home or in a “credit union” (that can maybe invest in particular projects).

    • Reply
      Andre Torres

      I like and dislike the idea of a currency.

      By liking it – we could use the concept of Decentralized Autonomous Organization and create a cryptocurrency based on Ethereum or Counterparty.

      By disliking it – I believe that we could prove that a world of abundance instead of scarcity is possible, and we do not need money for that. However, the DAO idea is still appliable.

  • Reply
    MND!SND

    What version of Unity does the client/mods run on? And also will players be able to mod things such as weather patterns , construction of biomes; and will there be support for different shaders and possibly even textures?

  • Reply
    Brian R.

    Since this is being developed in unity… is there any chance this will be ported over to the Xbox One and PS4?

  • Reply
    Michael K

    I’m wondering how far can the mods go? I see mods for the physical space of the world, but can there also be mods for other systems like lets say replicating a real world currency to in game (not buy fake money with real money of course) or creating a government that the initial options don’t have?

    Basically, what’s the flexibility of what can be modded?

    • Reply
      John K. Post author

      Yes! Mods will cover and all aspects. We’ll be working with the community to make sure theres full support for everything.

  • Reply
    Hispaniafer

    It sound thats is going to be a great game,
    I like that the mods sistem server work

  • Reply
    Hispaniafer

    The game is going to be in spanish?? Or only in inglish???

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