Community Spotlight: Ryika, the Unstoppable Modder

If the name “Ryika” is familiar, it’s probably because you’ve downloaded several of his great Civ V and Beyond Earth mods. It might be because we’ve featured several of his mods in the Mod of the Week posts right here on Civilization.com. Maybe you’ve chatted with him on the Civfanatics forums. He’s a die-hard Civ fan and if you didn’t already know his name, you will now!

We had a chance to talk to Ryika about his history as a Civ fan, making some of the best mods out there, and what mods he’s ready to make when Rising Tide launches this Fall.

Can you tell us about yourself?

I'm Ryika, 27 Years old, from North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. I enjoy creative work: modding, drawing, gaming, and some creative writing here and there. My first contact with the Civilization Series was Civ 2. A friend of mine picked it up and we played a few matches together. At that time, I was a console gamer and had never seen a game on the scale of Civilization before. It hooked me right away. I still remember how I actually had to travel between cities to get my own copy of the game. It was a big adventure, but the hundreds of hours I then spent playing the game certainly made that a worthwhile effort. I skipped Civ 3, because at that time I was all about action games for some reason. But Civ 4 brought me back, and since then, I've always played Civ rather regularly.

What was the first Civ mod you ever made? Can you describe it?

I didn't really get into modding until after the release of Civ 5:Brave New World. The first mod I created for it was one that added a Wonder production bonus for Germany - simply because I loved spamming Wonders and I wanted to play as Germany. I didn't know how to change ingame texts back then, and it took a while until I got it to work properly; in the end the mechanics worked, and I was quite happy that modding allowed me to change the game to exactly what I wanted it to be. I never released or polished the mod, but I started looking into modding more seriously after that, and I think it was probably about 2-3 months later that I released my first "real" project—a little mod that allowed players to create an additional trade route for each Caravansary they had built.

How many mods have you made at this point?

I've probably released a total of around 35 mods now. Some are for Civ 5, but most of them for Beyond Earth. Not all are available anymore as some became redundant due to patches. I've started working on probably about 200 mods though, and I'm rather moody when it comes to that. One day I think I'm working on the greatest piece of art ever created, and the next day I decide that the project isn't really getting anywhere and that I instead want to work on something completely different. My collection of mods actually reflects that there are mods that do all kinds of stuff, like a Wonder overhaul, changes to game mechanics, or just those silly graphical mods that replace trade units with aliens.

How long does it take you to make one of your mods?

That largely varies depending on the size of the project. I think I've easily spent 150 hours or so on my biggest project, the "Awesome Gameplay Overhaul," which is still somewhat of a mess and needs lots and lots of changes. Then there are mods that make tiny changes and don't take more than a few minutes. I think most of the mods I actually released took me around 10-20 hours each.

How have other Civ fans reacted to your mods?

The reactions to my mods are usually very positive; the community in general seems to be very appreciative of content creators and they leave a lot of encouraging comments, ideas for changes or improvements, and "Thank you!"-posts. My better known mods have around 10-15,000 subscribers on Steam.

What mod gave you the most difficulty when making it?

The most difficult mod to make was probably my "Aggressive Wildlife" mod, simply because it was the first time that I actually had to use Lua, which was—at least for someone who never had contact to any "real" programming before"—a lot harder to understand than anything before. So getting the basics right took me quite a while and quite a lot of external reading.

If you had no limitations, what is the mod you really want to make?

I'd turn Civ 5 into a huge empire-simulation, where each game would take MONTHS to complete and where each day you'd want to rush home from work (or school, or whatever!) just to be able to continue the big, epic story a few minutes earlier. I don't know about all the details I'd put in, but it would of course be an AMAZING experience, and after a player completed a whole match, they would lean back, close their eyes and reflect on everything that had happened, knowing that they had learned more about the world, humanity, and their place in society.

When you’re downloading mods, what do you look for?

I usually don't look for specific mods but instead browse the workshop and subscribe to anything that seems like it would be a cool thing to try. It's always interesting how combining a set of mods created by different authors and for different purposes can change a game completely and create a set of rules that really forces the player to step out of his comfort zone. For Civ 5, in particular, there are a TON of mods on the workshop that make some tiny little changes that then interact with other tiny little changes to create a whole new experience.

What are your favorite mods by other fans?

Oh, I just LOVE JFD’s custom Civilizations for Civilization 5. Whenever that guy’s name shows up in the credits of a Civ mod, one can be sure that there's an interesting and unique experience waiting ahead. He just has the talent and the knowledge to give every one of the Civilizations he's working on some unique mechanics that make them play a bit differently from any other Civs. And he's working with some great artists that make the artwork look like it could be part of the original game.

For Beyond Earth, I think lilgamefreeks Social Engineering mod (a very in-depth Virtue overhaul) and Nutzzz Alien Strains mod (introduces additional alien types with unique traits) are two of the very well done mods that I enjoy playing with the most.

Do you have any ideas for Rising Tide mods?

Oh, absolutely. "That's cool - but how could I use it differently?" is usually one of the first thoughts that comes to my mind whenever new stuff for Rising Tide is revealed. Water Gameplay, the new Artifact System, and the new Diplomacy system all have so many anchor points to inject changes and interesting ideas. My personal favorite is the Hydracoral though. When I first saw it in the preview, it was sitting there and minding its own business just to be shot at by the player my immediate thought was: "No... that's not fair." I don't know the exact details yet... but it will get tools to take revenge.

Any final advice for someone who wants to get into modding?

There are some great guides available on the internet, and there are some really nice and helpful modding communities as well. I personally gathered most of my early knowledge on Civfanatics.com - and they're also the ones who helped me whenever I was stuck and couldn't find a solution myself, so that's certainly a good point to start at. Some things may seem somewhat overwhelming at first, but creating some small mods is really easy after gathering some basic knowledge, and the process of creating mods, gathering more knowledge, and solving problems to create even bigger and better mods is a really creative and fun one.