A Modded Game Will Live Forever
Modifying video games began as soon as players were able to view a game’s contents on their PC’s. Modifications could include a simple texture change in a game like Quake or Counter-Strike. Eventually, we saw total and complete overhauls in games like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3. Many of the older PC games didn’t support modification, however, and players had to take it upon themselves to figure out how to change key elements of the game. One of the many edges a PC gamer has over any console gamer is the ability to modify their game.
The video game Half Life 2 had a decent mod community. A mod author named Garry Newman went in and completely overhauled the game’s already spectacular engine, which included physics-based gameplay. The creator went so deep into modifying the source engine that he eventually released the mod as a standalone game, with Valve’s complete support. Now Garry’s Mod is compatible with several source engine games and it can be used to pose and play with ragdoll models from other various games.
More recently, the modification of games has become more transparent and much easier. Game developers like Bethesda provide the tools to really let the mod authors loose on the game. The concept of “Custom Content” has been approached in a few console games, allowing the player to create something entirely their own, something no one else could replicate. Video games like Little Big Planet and Mod Nation: Racers allow for an absurd amount of customization in level design and character creation. Though these video games have freedom of creation, the fact is the console gaming market just doesn’t have enough freedom.
So, what constitutes as a game mod? Well, it could mean a simple texture change; maybe you want to walk around Liberty City with pink loafers, something the original game did not provide. How about a new place to live? Oblivion and Skyrim have numerous house mods listed, which can be as simple as a tree house or as complex as a plane in a different dimension. Maybe you want to be more immersed in your game. Maybe you want a hunger system in Fallout 3, and you’d also like to get tired when you haven’t slept. That last description goes beyond a typical mod and into what is known as an “overhaul”. An overhaul can be a simple change of an already implemented system or a complete elaboration of something not yet included in the game.
There is a Skyrim mod known as Hunterborn which completely changes the way a player hunts and loots various animals. Previously, if a player killed an Elk or a Deer, he or she would open their inventory and possibly find one venison and other related items. With this mod, you do not simply harvest an animal. You must first clean it, which will automatically take one hour of game time. After cleaning the animal, you will have several new options, including butchering, harvesting ingredients, and skinning. Not only will you receive about 6-8 venison per butchering – you will also receive the specific venison, which would be appropriately titled “Venison (Elk)”. The title isn’t the only difference; the stats related to the meat are also changed, and the possibilities are extended when this venison is cooked into a variety of different meals.
A mod can completely change the way a game is played, and authors are often creating these add-ons completely free of charge. So, after loading up a few mods, you not only have to worry about saving the world, but now you have to worry about surviving the day and getting enough food. Will you find a place to sleep when you are exhausted? Will you freeze to death in the frigid tundra of Skyrim? Suddenly, the game is fantastically more complex. The best part of all is that these additions are completely optional and decided upon by the player.
Haven’t you ever been playing a game and wondered, “Well, if this game had a fishing mechanic, I’d enjoy it so much more.” or “This game is too simple, and it’s too easy to make money. I want a challenge!” Perhaps immersion isn’t what you are looking for. Perhaps you just want a break from the usual; something new and exciting to stand out from the expected and tired gameplay of a given game.
Grand Theft Auto 4 was not made with modification in mind, but players found a way to get into the game and change what they wanted. The quality of a video game mod has a lot to do with the ease and accessibility of the modification. The Elder Scrolls and Fallout include creation kits inside the standard PC packaged game, so the mods easily blend in. It’s really amazing how far some people are willing to go to harness the power of creation in their favorite game.
The point I’m trying to make here is that once you get your console game, the studio’s final product is all you can hope to experience (besides the possibility of DLC and add-on content). Once the developers are done supporting the game, they move on. With the possibility of video game mods, a game can more than double its playing time. A modded game can change its dynamic and core elements, and can be transformed into whatever the player desires. Video game mods will always be there to expand your gameplay and add a little bit of fun to an otherwise bland game. While, eventually, mod authors will stop and move on, the potential legacy they leave behind can leave players busy for years.
I’d like to take a moment to thank the hundreds of mod authors out there working hard and pleasing their communities. Most of these mod authors will take a lot of criticism from their peers, despite not being compensated in any way. I like that most video game mods are free, but I really appreciate the option to donate to the creator if I choose to. So, if you try out a mod and you don’t like it or find glitches, please don’t bash the author.
Hunterborn Skyrim Mod: http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/33201
Skyrim Nexus (Mod Community): http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/
Fallout 3 Nexus: http://fallout3.nexusmods.com/
GTA IV Iron Man Mod: http://www.gta4-mods.com/player/iron-man-iv-f20834
Garry’s Mod on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/4000/
Macho Dragons Skyrim Mod: http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/5518