Updated: Aug 10
Welcome back everyone. In the last article we looked at AA game studios, who arguably occupy the sweet spot between innovation and quality. In this mini-series we will celebrate the other heros of gaming - modders!
Gaming is a fantastic activity, most of the time. Unfortunately there are occasions where a player may feel that their enjoyment has been tarnished by bugs and errors, or by gameplay mechanics that they would like to see added, removed or altered.
As such, at some point in every gamer's life, they will have thought of the following:
1: “This game could be great, but it is so broken it is unplayable.”
Erm…that’s gotta hurt.
2: “This classic game still plays like a dream, but its dated graphics are a nightmare.”
Spot the difference?
3: “This game is good, but if someone added *INSERT IDEA* it would be great!"
“With a modder's yell, I want Moar Moar Moar”*
4: “What this game really needs is some fire breathing cats.”
And this is why some are not 'cat people.'
There is a solution to all of these quandaries and more. And that solution is MODS!
So, what are mods you may ask, and who are the modding community?
A mod, short for 'modification' is a non-commercial (i.e. free) alteration of a game, created by a third party. This usually involves an amateur game developer, or team of amateur developers, altering a professionally made commercial game. The mods for Skyrim and GTA 5 shown in the videos above are examples of these.
A Mod for all Occasions
Mods come in a whole range of sizes. Some are minor alterations to a single file, aimed at slightly tweaking a minor feature. One example would be lowering an enemy's Health Points, so that it takes less hits to kill. This might be done if the modder feels that the enemy takes too many hits to finish off, or in other words, that the enemy is a 'bullet sponge.'
Other mods are far larger in scope, and may alter many aspects of a game. The MISERY mod for Stalker: Call of Pripyat is a good example of this. A mod that alters this much of a game may be referred to as a 'full concept modification." MISERY is also an example of an 'enhanced difficulty mod' and an 'enhanced realism mod.'
Other mods head in the other direction entirely, and are created for comic effect. The pyromaniac kitty above being one example.
Some highly ambitious mods aim to recreate old classic games in newer game engines, building them up from scratch. Black Mesa, seen in the earlier video, is a good example of this. The modding team, 'Crowbar Collective', re-created 1998's seminal Half-Life in 2009's Source engine - the engine used to make Half Life 2.
So successful was this mod that Valve - the company that owns the 'Intellectual Property', or 'IP' for Half-Life - gave Crowbar Collective permission to release it as a full commercial product on Steam. This allowed Crowbar Collective to enhance the game still further.
Black Mesa - commercial release - PC
The best just got better.
Some mods go a step further, creating entirely new games using a commercial game's engine. Garry's Mod, Counter Strike and The Stanley Parable are amongst the best examples of this. The three listed above were so successful that they have gone on to become commercial releases.
The Stanley Parable PC
A narrator's work is never done...
That's it for this article. Over the coming weeks we will take a deeper look at mods, modding and the modding community. We will see why mods are so awesome, and why some AAA developers really should be taking notes…
in the next episode where we will celebrate Unofficial Patches for broken games. See you all there.
What are your thoughts on modding? Which mods have you particularly enjoyed? Have you tried your hand at modding yourself? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.
Iain is a 40+ author and gamer from England, who started his gaming journey on the Atari 2600 36 years ago. His specialities include obscure cult classics, retro games, mods and fan remakes. He hates all sports games and is allergic to on-line multi-player. Since he is British, his body is about 60% tea. He can be reached via Twitter at https://twitter.com/IainBaker17, and contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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