Modding Smash Games - Types of Changes

September 09, 2021

I’d like to republish an old post of mine from the Smash Bros. Legacy blog. It seems relevant again since modding new characters and stages into Melee is beginning to be considered as the new standard.

When it comes to modifying tournament legal stages in Project M builds, Legacy TE’s stance had never changed from its conception: characters and stages from 3.6 are the only acceptable versions of Project M content for tournament use. TE was made with this ethos in mind, and had never wavered, despite numerous attempts by the community to use unfinished leaked Project M content or community-modified deviations. Up until 2.5, TE continued to make sure the integrity of Project M 3.6’s content was intact.

So without further a do, here’s the bulk of the post I wrote a few years ago:

In some discussions on the Project M subreddit and other places, there has been some confusion over what types of changes you can make to the game, and what kinds of changes should be considered acceptable. To help clarify this issue, we’d like to supply a few key definitions that will help distinguish between the many different kinds of “modifications” one can possibly make to Project M:

  1. Aesthetic changes: visual or audio changes that don’t affect gameplay, but can sometimes adjust players’ perceptions and at worst be deceptive or distracting. This is a gray area, as some players use particular audio or visual cues when playing that can potentially be disrupted.
  2. Net-new inclusions: additions to the game that simply give more of the same in a careful way, as to never replace key tournament content or result in any kind of gameplay change. i.e. Kirby’s 9th and 10th costume options, alt stages
  3. Quality of Life feature additions: net-new additions to the game that enhance non-gameplay changing features. ie. working replays, edit controls from the CSS.
  4. Crash fixes: file edits that don’t necessarily change aesthetics, nor in-game behavior, but simply correct potential game crashes. Examples are memory leak fixes, or Kart ROB’s Clear Mode edit.
  5. Hardware-viability balance change: Changes to the game that only directly affect hardware-related aspects of the game to make the experience more consistent across every type of hardware i.e. UCF
  6. Gameplay-changing modifications: any edit that would result in gameplay changes, including but limited to: character moveset changes, some PSA adjustments, some animation tweaks, stage collision changes, blast zone changes, etc.

It’s our belief that of the 6 possible types of changes above, only definitions 1-5 are worth considering. Changes as defined by definition #6 are never permissible, and have no place in a PM 3.6 build.

Why, you might ask? What’s wrong with “balancing” a stage’s blast zone or “improving” a collision? Well the first question to ask is, who truly has the authority to make that call?

The Project M Development Team have been disbanded since December of 2015, so there is no true authority to be making these changes. In light of this reality, no matter how “good” the change might be, no gameplay-changing modifications should be made.

Let’s ignore that for a second, and assume a group comes together and assumes the role of “authority” of the game’s development and get away with it. Let’s also assume the group came to a consensus where all parties were satisfied over what changes to implement. A push improperly executed will leave the community split, frustrated, and confused. There’s a branding issue there, too. What “version” are each of these edited stages? They can’t be called 3.6 stages. They can’t be called 3.61 stages either. So there really is no good title for them. Good luck explaining this all to new players or less involved community members.

Not to mention this opens the floodgates to variety of other possible changes that can be argued to be made, including character balance changes, or additional characters on the roster.

This only scratches the surface of potentially problematic outcomes that could result from such a change.

The “gameplay update” debate has been a contentious topic since the PMDT disbanded in 2015. There’s been a desire to correct mistakes left in 3.6, and not for no reason: it’s not a perfect game. But what Smash game is perfect? Is disrupting a healthy meta 3 years in the making really worth a few little tweaks?

Since this is a longer post, we’ll give you a TL;DR summary:​

Legacy TE is committed to being faithful to Project M 3.6 as always. This means we will reject any non-3.6 variations of PM content and will not include them in any build. 

Obviously Melee differs from PM a number of ways, but when it comes to what changes through modding come into play to become the definitive version of the game, I think it’s worth giving this list a second glance.

Slippi kind of guarantees a limited list of changes you can make before you’d desync with another player. It’s flexible enough to allow changes type 1 (aesthetic) without permitting any other kind. With 20XX, we’ve had additional costumes and stages, but now with m-ex builds like Akaneia, we’re seeing net-new characters being added as well.

As far as Project M goes, Project+ ended up being the perfect solution to make a variety of community-driven changes to PM, that change all 6 different kinds of modification as written above, and don’t claim to be PM 3.7. And of course I’m thrilled Legacy TE is the base.

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