Posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
Modding is short for modifying and game modding is when you edit the visuals, sounds, mechanics or content of a game. For example re-coding a game so that all the characters have giant heads or are immune to damage.
Here’s a straight-forward example, where a modder has changed the hugely popular RPG game Skyrim to have top-hatted, swearing crabs (warning rude language).
And here’s a really epic example, where one gamer has installed over 100 mods to his Skyrim game, creating breathtaking visuals.
Developers that allow modding to their games are very brave as the chances that modders include copyright breaking material (such as changing audio to Simpsons voices) and NSFW material (nudity) is very high, but despite this the benefits far outweigh the dangers.
Take Tribes Ascend as an example, it’s a FPS game that has completely closed the door on modding, even going as far as to send cease and desist letters to people who attempt even very slight modifications. From a business perspective this makes sense, if you have complete control of the game you in turn have complete control of any potential money making features. I understand this completely, for example why would gamers pay to buy new official weapons or maps when there’s already a plethora already created by modders?
The answer is depth and shelf-life, a game with unlimited mods means it can become incredibly deep, new storylines get added, graphics are improved upon and most importantly new game-types arise such as how DOTA (the multi-million user smash hit) appeared from the game Warcraft 3.
Also shelf-life is important, whenever a gamer feels they’ve mastered a game they move on quickly, so a game without frequent new content is going to lead to a bored user-base. The current short-attention-span youtube generation require a constant flood of new content or they move on, which is what is happening to Tribes Ascend players. The game is fantastic but without mod support and infrequent content patches the player level has decreased significantly though I should mention it’s now stabilized, but without mod support, a few new weapons and maps every 3 months isn’t going to allow for the population explosion that something like DOTA or Counter Strike (another mod creation) can bring.