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Thread: Making Money off of CS:S Customization

  1. #1
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    Default Making Money off of CS:S Customization

    Okay so in the last two months I've made $265 off of CS:S stuff. I'm going to tell you guys how to get your foot in the door to do the same. If you've got a 9-to-5 job and are salaried, you may find this to require more time than it's worth. But for those of you who are in high school or university (like me) and only have a part-time job or maybe you want to make a bit of money with the skills you've learned, this is the thread for you.

    First you need to know what you're capable of. What are your skills? Do you have skills enough to make something that someone else would buy? Chances are you probably do. There is a big market for stuff but not very many people are actually selling. This is a situation where demand is bigger than supply. Aside from myself the only other modeler who I know to be doing requests for money is S-Low over in Germany. Increasing your skills (reading mapping tutorials, learning photoshop techniques, figuring out how to write sourcemod or ES scripts...) should be something you are constantly working on. If you're making maps because you like to play on them, you want to make them awesome right? Well, if you can make a map that you think is awesome, then chances are someone else will think it is awesome.

    Secondly, publicize yourself. You do this differently for everything. I will give a break-down:

    • Mapping:
      The easiest way to get people to know your name when it comes to maps is to straight-up put your name on the map itself. Everyone knows who ATIX is right? Well that's because he named his map zm_atix_helicopter -- the filename is the place you want your name. zm_natalyas_ship for example has gotten me a lot of publicity. Putting your name on the map is good, but it only works if your maps are popular or played a lot. For best results make more than one map and release them across as many websites as possible. Eventually one will be popular and your name will get out there. If you don't name the map after yourself, put banners with your name inside the map so the players know who made it. It's also good to put www.n00bunlimited.net on the banner because people might come here.

    • Modeling:
      For modeling, filename is also the best way. For example, all of my models
      (except the ones I sell) are released as models/natalya/whatever or models/player/natalya/whatever. You want to release public models as much as possible. I wouldn't have any customers if I hadn't released a bunch of skins on FPSBanana and S-Low's websites. People go there looking for stuff they want for their server. If they can't find it then they are out of luck, but if they see your skins they might come directly to you asking for something. I got a couple of my customers that way. Making public stuff (props, player models, etc) is a great way to get recognition. It can also be very easy. For example I did the Umbrella Player Models that we use on Zombie Mod. I released those in packs on FPSB and those got thousands of downloads, so that means my name got looked at that many thousand times.

    • Scripting:
      Filename doesn't work too well here. The best way to enter this market is to find out who needs help and offer to write the script for them. For event scripts join their forum and take a look in the help section. Same goes for sourcemod, though it's harder to learn. I sold a script to some guy for his Rally Race server just because I kept posting in the Rally Race thread until he just asked me how could it be done and I was like "I'll do it for you, talk to me in Steam," and bam the next day I had $15 and he had a script for his server.


    Knowing your skills and getting your name out there are only part of the battle. Now you have to find a market to sell to, and to some extent guess what they are selling. The best way is to go with what is popular. Right now Jail Break seems to be a huge success and that's where I've made 90% of my money. What is there demand for?

    - Prisoner and Guard Skins with clan-names on the back
    - Jail Break maps (I can hook someone up with a guy who will pay for one if you ask me)
    - Gun Game Maps

    Look at what's popular -- that's where you will find people who want something that they can't make for themselves. That's where you come in.


    Once you land a customer you need to figure out what exactly they want. You want the deal to end up where everyone is happy. If they're dissatisfied they won't come back for more in the future. Be realistic about your capabilities and make sure their expectations aren't too high. You also need to price fairly -- both to yourself and to them. My most recent deal I could have probably got more money but I priced myself too low. If you work 5 hours on a project and make only $30 then you just worked for $6.00/hr. That's below minimum wage. Strike a deal that won't destroy their wallet but will compensate you fairly. You want it to be a win-win situation.

    I personally try to charge around $10/hr. But deals aren't made by hourly rates -- they're made in terms of the final product. This means you need to guess how long it will take to make what they want before they pay you. I come up with my numbers for modeling for example by charging a base price of $5 per skin. It will take me at least 20 minutes to setup the .qc file and then put the model into a .zip folder with the file structure and a download list plus uploading it to my website, and at least 10 minutes to get started on what they want. That means the $5 is spoken for before I can even get anywhere on a skin, unless maybe it's a skin pack I'm working on and all of the models share a base model and texture. With that in mind unless you're doing assembly-line style work, you want at least that much per model. Don't under-price yourself, especially as the job becomes more complex. If they just want a re-texture, you know it might not take very long so you can price low, but if they want custom modeling it's going to take longer.

    For mapping the situation is a bit different. You really want to figure out how big the map is going to be before you even start it. Maps are going to be more expensive than skin packs because of the time involved in them. If you get that they don't want anything fancy, don't charge too much, but if they want something complex with detail on the order of zm_lv426 then you need to be up front about how long it will take you and demand a high price. If I had made that map for a customer I would have asked $500. Who the fuck would pay $500 for that map? Probably no one. But at least that gets you out of doing too much work for too long for hardly any pay. You need to drive a bargain but you need to be fairly compensated for your work.


    Okay so you've got a customer, you've got a deal on pricing, now it's time for payment. The deal isn't done until you've been payed and they get their product. If you don't have a PayPal account, get one right now. PayPal is pretty much the only way to go for stuff like this. Money you make on PayPal can be sent to your bank account, so money online is as good as money IRL. You can ask for payment up front, but that's hard to do if you're new in the field and they don't know you very well. The best situation is to agree upon a price, then complete part (NOT ALL!!) of the work, take screenshots, and show it to them. If they like what they see, tell them they need to pay you before you finish the job. I've been screwed before where I did the work then never got paid. I of course never gave them the models, but I still ended up doing work that I never got compensated for. It's a complete waste of time so don't let that happen to you. Older customers are better to deal with coming from this perspective. They're usually more business savvy and know that they must pay for the work they receive.

    Once you get the money, finish the project as soon as possible. But don't rush through it!! If you do a crap job they will be pissed at you and ruin your reputation. Take the time you need to take, but get it done. If you're short on time let them know that before you take the assignment, so that they understand that they won't get what they want over night. (Unless of course it's a small over night job lol.) If you are having trouble getting it all done at least show them screen shots every now and then of the progress you've been making. As long as they know that you're making progress it will be good.


    In the end when you send them the final result, it's almost but not quite over. You need to make sure that all of their stuff works. Maybe you made a little mistake on something or they are having trouble getting something setup. The deal isn't done until their stuff (map, skins, scripts...) is up and working and they are satisfied. A satisfied customer could be your future business so be good to them if they are good to you.


    That's about it for this guide. I'll just finish this off with some places to look for jobs:

    FPSBANANA > The FPS Customization Community -- Post public skins and maps on here to get your name out. Look in Requests for jobs.

    S-LoW.info -- Same as above. Post your public skins, then look for requests in the Requests section.

    http://forums.alliedmods.net -- Reply to people's posts in the scripting forum and on plugin threads where the plugin creator seems to have abandoned it. That's how I got a job for a guy's Rally Race server.

    Facepunch -- The Mapping and Modeling forums both have request subforums. Look in there. Someone might be willing to pay. This may mean you have to become familiar with Garry's Mod stuff.

    www.zombiemod.com -- You might find people who want Zombie skins or ZM//ZE maps on this website.
    Last edited by Natalya; 06-04-2010 at 02:09 PM.
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    Nat, if you could make a guide or teach me how to decompile and port models it would be helpful :3

    Also how to just re-skin decompiled models (Adding request logos etc. to requests

    Because my mapping skills are way too shitty for doing this.

    I can't even get studio compiler to work properly.

    And don't even ask me to script...

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    Charge him nat ahhahaha jk

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    YOU WILL NEED.
    MDLdecompiler
    Download MDLdecompiler Here
    Get the MDLdecompiler, not studiocompiler.

    GCFscape
    Next, you will need a skin. You can get default CSS skins in your GCF files, you will need GCFscape.Here

    VTF edittting
    You will also need a program to edit VTFs VTFEDIT or paintdotnet+vtf plugin works.
    [vtfedit]Here
    [Paint.net]Here
    [PDN's VTF editplugin Here

    I use paintdotnet for all my skinning, PDN supports VTF and all sorts of cool types of compressions and formats of VTF.

    A compiler
    [YOU MUST HAVE THE SDK INSTALLED. Its free, its in the tools section of your steam client]
    I use the SDK compiler for my models, its a batch file.
    Code:
    "Z:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\Valve\sourcesdk\bin\ep1\bin\studiomdl.exe" D:\SDKR\akvalier*/css_models\mdldecompiler
    pause
    I suggest you create a folder in your STEAMapps/yourname folder.
    Entitle it SDKR, and have two folder inside of it, Named Decompile and Recompile.
    [code] hierchy Steam/steamapps/yourname/ SDKR (two folders in here, decompile and recompile[code]
    Create a batch file, (open notepad, save a txt document as a .bat)
    Place this .bat in your decompile directory.
    The Code
    IF you are using C as your main, all you will have to do is add your accountname.
    Code:
    "C:\Program  Files\Steam\SteamApps\yourname\sourcesdk\bin\ep1\bin\studiomdl.exe" C:\Program  Files\Steam\SteamApps\yourname\SDKR\decompile
    pause
    The works.
    Using GCFscape (its siple, open it, navigate to the GCF with your mdls in it.. Counterstrikesource GCF for css; Teamfortress GCF fort teamfortess, etc
    Or you can download a model from whereever.
    Open MDLdecompiler.
    * select the folder decompile (steamapps/yourname/SDKR/decompile) as the output directory.
    Paste the path to the models .MDL in the top line, and click extract/decompile

    Navigate to the decompile directory.
    Open the QC with notepad, OR notepadd++ or context. I use context, as its a programmers notepad.
    Edit the model name
    Code:
    $modelname "player/khaotik/boomgaming/cvipgi/ct_gign.mdl"
    To your own skin path
    *NOTE. Anything not in players/models will show up as errors unless the paths are added to the whitelist if server is running pure 1 or 2*
    Edit tis line to show the path to your materials
    Code:
    $cdmaterials "models\player/khaotik/boomgaming/cvipgi\"
    *NOTE. cdmaterials denotes the materials directory, and cdmodelsname denotes the models folder.

    *Note2*You will have to place the VTF and VTM's in the models materials folder, stdlmdl doesnt create these.
    If you are working in SDKR/decompile, once you have the paths corrected,
    add this set of lines right above the "collision joints*
    Code:
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_Pelvis"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_L_Thigh"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_L_Foot"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_L_Calf"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_R_Thigh"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_R_Foot"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_R_Calf"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_L_Toe0"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_R_Toe0"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_Spine"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_Spine2"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_Spine3"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_Spine4"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_Neck1"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_Head1"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_L_Clavicle"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_L_UpperArm"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_L_Hand"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_L_Forearm"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_R_Clavicle"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_R_UpperArm"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_R_Hand"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.Bip01_R_Forearm"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.weapon_bone"
    $bonemerge "ValveBiped.weapon_bone_Clip"
    Save
    select your bat file and let it run.
    To edit the materials.
    First open the VTM, and correct the paths to the materials.
    Next open the VTF's in paint,net or VTFedit and modify them to your liking.
    Save.

    Your asking, what about recompile?
    The folder recompile is for all of your tools.
    \Anyway, if you followedeverything correctly, you can now open your model in HLMV.

    *I give nat permission to edit this post to fix any errors i might have left.*







    Quote Originally Posted by DoT View Post
    Nat, if you could make a guide or teach me how to decompile and port models it would be helpful :3

    Also how to just re-skin decompiled models (Adding request logos etc. to requests

    Because my mapping skills are way too shitty for doing this.

    I can't even get studio compiler to work properly.

    And don't even ask me to script...
    [CENTER][FONT=Fixedsys][CENTER][SIZE=4][COLOR=Red][FONT=System][B]I reject your reality and substitute with my own.[/B][/FONT]
    [/COLOR][/SIZE][/CENTER]
    [/FONT]
    [IMG]http://i47.tinypic.com/2i71q2x.jpg[/IMG]
    [/CENTER]

  5. #5
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    DoT look here to get Studio Compiler working. Khaotik is right that the main thing you need is MDL Decompiler, but it's built into Studio Compiler and you may need its other features at some point. That tutorial is pretty good and has screenshots of the errors you may come across to make it really easy.

    If you need me to help u with other stuff let me know but someone here has to become as pro as me at everything at some point and you're the best candidate we have. The only problem with me is that there's only one of me with enough work for ten of me. D: I'm not saying you gotta take over all my crap but it'd rock if I had someone who could help me on developing the RP server. It needs everything I talked about in the first post (props, player models, mapping, scripting...) so yea. But the point is you can make money from learning this stuff too so everyone wins.

    Decompiling a player model then re-texturing and recompiling is really easy. Once you get Studio Compiler up, decompile a model to some folder on your comp. Then copy it's textures over there too. If you're just doing a texture edit then it's really really easy. Just open the texture you want edited in Photoshop with the .VTF plugin, then make your changes, and save it. Then in the mdldecompiler.qc you get all you need to do is change the path of the model and the textures to be in a new folder (any folder, just not original one) then recompile it. You can rename the .mdl in the .qc file but unless u edit the model in Milkshape the texture's filename will have to be exactly the same, even though you put it in a new folder. Load it up in HLMV and see what you got. If you have errors along the way I can walk you through them, but once you get one done you will be amazed at how easy it was in the end and will be able to do so much stuff with just that little bit of knowledge. Setting up Studio Compiler is a must. I know it doesn't load, but if it can be made to load (and I can help u with that) then you're ready for everything else.
    Last edited by Natalya; 06-05-2010 at 02:16 PM.
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