238: The Game You've Always Wanted

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The Game You've Always Wanted

Whether they're new textures, objects, maps or complete game overhauls, most mods take a fair amount of time and effort to produce, and their creators are rarely paid. So why mod in the first place? Els Bellens asks that question of a number of notable modders and shares their responses.

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I actually played through The Lost Spires for Oblivion.

Its a damn fine mod.

Um, a game like Starwars Battlefront but in the warhammer 40k universe instead... with 100 plus players a side... and maybe a pony (since I'm wishing for the impossable)

I'm sorry I'm not normally this immature but I couldn't read the article... I was too busy laughing at those twilight manboobs... wow... just wow... -_-

S_K:
I'm sorry I'm not normally this immature but I couldn't read the article... I was too busy laughing at those twilight manboobs... wow... just wow... -_-

Exactly what I was gonna say... the pic turned me off the article couldn't read it.

S_K:
I'm sorry I'm not normally this immature but I couldn't read the article... I was too busy laughing at those twilight manboobs... wow... just wow... -_-

lol, i couldn't read it either... but i did have a good laugh :P

Great read. It really helps me get some motivation to do some actual work :)

P.S: The endnote was absolutely brilliant!

Was Sparkles and Co. really necessary? I can't read the damned article with those abominations on screen.

Lost spires? never heard of it before, will check it out. OOO mod was the one i was using for oblivion.

yeah those pixel people are scary ,even bathtub girl is freaky , yes modding a game looks like fun but what do you need to start modding games , other than a pc and free time ? this would be an interesting hobby to have , i use to build models to full detail just because it could be done

The joy of creating something would be enough for me, if I were patient enough to learn world editors. As it stands now, I have access to a variety of editors but not a lick of patience to learn how to use them... Props to modders everywhere.

S_K:
I'm sorry I'm not normally this immature but I couldn't read the article... I was too busy laughing at those twilight manboobs... wow... just wow... -_-

I read most of it, but that picture was causing so much distraction I gave up.

I really wanted to pay attention as I read it, but all I could think of was playing as a vampire in a Twilight game and rip Edward to shreds and toss him on a fire ... Still, great article ^^

Its true, civ 4 bts had the best mods I've ever seen.

The best example I can think if is Oblivion lost for STALKER, that mod turned the game into what the developers wanted in the first place, a fair bit of it was simply reactivated code. Call of Pripyat boasts that it has new mutants, but they have been there the entire time. But still, I cant play that game without that mod, it jsut creates a living breathing world you can lose yourself in for hours, no idea how many playthoughs I have done, but I see somthing new everytime.

Props to you Kanyhalos!

I'm a mapper on a mod and this article is soo true especialy with one like ours eternal silence there is no game commercial game that does the concept in a way that isnt crap the concept being an FPS and flight sim combo

I know one guy I don;t think actually made any mods but got a lot of praise for pick 100 of them that worked together to bring new live & plastic surgery into an old game: Octopus Overlord. I've got more mods on Morrowind than I ever did on The Sims.
Y
ou put half nakked men from Twilight on an article entitled "The Game You Always Wanted" on a site like this, & you start reading expecting the whole article to be satyrical.

Back when I was still emplyed for a company that was still not digging it's own grave, I used to offer to pay modders to make stuff, but I always suffered from being too late. I was always playing old games where the modding community had long moved on.

But yeah, modders deserve praise & respect. Some of them do so much, it's like giving you a free expansion packs. & in others, it's just the littles changes & additions that add flair to a game you're playing for the umpteenth time.

Really guys really? I just resized my browser and hid them out of the frame...
Good article but being a console tard I never got into modded content. I play warhammer for my hobby.

S_K:
SNIP

Belladonnah:
SNIP

addeB:
SNIP

SachielOne:
SNIP

Teh Blasta:
SNIP

Really? I created the artwork and I think you guys are being kinda pathetic. Man up already... yesh.

I mod partly for compliments, but I also receive quite a few hate messages, because some of my mods are quite drastic. The social aspect is important, but it's usually my ideas first. This isn't always a bad thing, I once had a guy ask me to make Halo Fallout 3.

I simply mod because I like creating stuff, modding is just an evolution of my creative desires, which first started as an obsession with Lego. Gaming is pretty much Burger King for me, I have to have it my way, and mods allow me to do that.

Really? I created the artwork and I think you guys are being kinda pathetic. Man up already... yesh.

While they may be exaggerating a bit, I found the glistening, bulging guy a little distracting. Don't get me wrong, it's a good model, it just dips a little into the uncanny valley.

ckeymel:

S_K:
SNIP

Belladonnah:
SNIP

addeB:
SNIP

SachielOne:
SNIP

Teh Blasta:
SNIP

Really? I created the artwork and I think you guys are being kinda pathetic. Man up already... yesh.

what? *we* don't like that artwork, and comment that it detracts from our enjoyment of the article.
at least, i'm pretty sure everyone whom you snipped 1 or 2 line replies from can agree with that.
no offence.

MR T3D:
what? *we* don't like that artwork, and comment that it detracts from our enjoyment of the article.
at least, i'm pretty sure everyone whom you snipped 1 or 2 line replies from can agree with that.
no offence.

Apologies, my response was a little harsh, but I don't think it's fair to dismiss the article simply there are some man-bits present. It's ... disappointing to see. I was hoping for a reaction more like around the office here - "Haha! That's crazy!" Not "OMG man bewbs! *head explosion*"

I never said the artwork was bad just the subject matter xP. Sorry it's just twilight's crimes to both cinema and making glorified fan-fictions profitable have made it have a "lol wut" effect on me now

*gets jumped by every twilight fan on the site*

S_K:
I never said the artwork was bad just the subject matter xP. Sorry it's just twilight's crimes to both cinema and making glorified fan-fictions profitable have made it have a "lol wut" effect on me now

*gets jumped by every twilight fan on the site*

I am not commenting on this thread because I feel like you guys are saying the artwork is bad :) I totally understand that its the subject matter of it and I am just concerned that people are letting a good article go by just because I misjudged the reactions the artwork would receive.

ckeymel:

S_K:
SNIP

Belladonnah:
SNIP

addeB:
SNIP

SachielOne:
SNIP

Teh Blasta:
SNIP

Really? I created the artwork and I think you guys are being kinda pathetic. Man up already... yesh.

It's not that it's not good. It just stole my eyes xD

EDIT:

ckeymel:

I am not commenting on this thread because I feel like you guys are saying the artwork is bad :) I totally understand that its the subject matter of it and I am just concerned that people are letting a good article go by just because I misjudged the reactions the artwork would receive.

ooh, didn't see that post.

An FirstPerson/Thirperson game that is OpenWorld, Dynamic, not a GTAlike, but that covers several planets/ locations per planet, where you can customize your character, your vehicle onland and on space(choosing from several),
where you may choose or not different types of missions/errands, do whatever you like, making your own personal story,
with several ways of getting to your goal, not only by blasting everyone, but by convincing, stealthily passing by etc.
so it must have RPG elements for that to possibly happen, according to your liking, it must have Factions (more than 3 please)
where you can build or destroy a faction, become the leader by different ways etc...
where you can build your own guns/armor/whatever
with multiplayer up to 16, 32, or 64.
and online/offline CO-OP
that's all for now.

I'm not particularly blessed when it comes to modding. The closest I get is the odd sprite here and there. Oh and I used to mess around with some textures in Empire Earth (which in all fairness, was as simple as spriting in MS Paint) and implementing them in the in-game Scenario Editor, which was for a personal campaign I never uploaded because it sucked and no-one was playing Empire Earth by 2008.

All and all, I applaud modders for adding a personal spin on a sometimes corporate feeling game (*cough*TheSims2*cough*) or at least trying to. It definitely upped the feel of some games for me too! Great article.

I love Stargate, and always wanted a kick ass Stargate space battle game. I later found out that there where loads of Stargate Mods for Star Trek: Bridge Commander. I bought the game off a friend, and never looked back. Now I can live out my fantasy of kicking the Borg's ass with the Asgard enhanced Odyssey. Assimilate THIS!

The shiny!!!!!the SHINY!!!!!!!....men should not shine.......under ANY CIRCUMSTANCE!!!!!!!!!!!

I didn't take time to read it because I thought it was going to be an article about someone making a twilight mod, and who the hell would want to play that shit. Of course I can't understand why anyone would want to read the books or watch the movies either, and I run into at least one of those morons everyday. HOWEVER, if someone with common sense is out there and you make a twilight mod based on how things should really happen in the book. That is to say the gay vampire and the retarded werewolf eat that ugly whore, and the rest of the game is killing people because thats what they're supposed to do then let me know so I can play it. That would be great!

I am an avid user of mods. I really did want to get into creating mods, however by the time I realised how easy it was to mod my favourite game (Oblivion) I had already finished it and moved on to new games.

While adding mods into your game can grant it a new lease of life, I find that creating mods often requires you to know the game well - usually well enough that playing it would almost be like watching someone read a choose your own adventure book - and to spend more time constructing to playing.

So basically I'm still a gamer more than a developer. Although TES:V still has the potential to get me into modding. If I start early, maybe I could have a decent mod just before TES: VI comes out.

ckeymel:

S_K:
I

I am not commenting on this thread because I feel like you guys are saying the artwork is bad :) I totally understand that its the subject matter of it and I am just concerned that people are letting a good article go by just because I misjudged the reactions the artwork would receive.

well as we know the subject matter is... painful

sorry for this big post going to past article for does turn away by the artwork even do the matter is bad it is still nicely done *shivers*..can not unsee

Whether they're new textures, objects, maps or complete overhauls, most mods take a fair amount of time and effort to create - time and effort that could otherwise be spent actually playing the game. The vast majority of modders do not get paid, so they're clearly not in it for the money. That begs the question: Why mod? What possesses someone to learn the ins and outs of a 3D program, master Photoshop or learn the basics of programming just to make content for their favorite game?
image

It's easy for me to say why I started modding. Most of my creations were partly out of boredom and partly to add something to the game that I felt was missing. Mods allow you to change a game to your own tastes, like redecorating an apartment. In my case, this involved adding a lot more Elven architecture to The Sims 2 than EA or Maxis had ever envisioned.

Considering the amount of unofficial patches, re-textures and armor additions out there, it should come as no surprise that a lot of people start modding for the same reasons I did. "What got me involved was when I downloaded the mod to play, and my first reaction was 'blargh,'" says Daniel Jones, one of the people who worked on Light of the Warp, an overhaul of the real-time strategy game Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. "There was a lot of stuff broken in the early versions," he explains. "So I went and fixed it for my own game, and decided I might as well fix the mod itself and help out."

Jones' response highlights a common trait among modders: We're a selfish bunch. Most of us make custom content first and foremost for ourselves; whether or not we make it available to others is mostly due to whether we're part of a greater modding community. "It wasn't so much appreciation as gloating rights," says Jones of his decision to share his work. "I was a teenager. I had friends I played Dawn of War with over the net, so this was a coup."

Appreciation from others is nothing to scoff at. One of my main drives has always been the positive feedback I receive. Uploading good mods gets you compliments - a lot of them. And even though they may be copy-pasted into every other download thread by their respective users, they still do great things for the ego. For an activity that can be pretty solitary, the motivation behind a lot of modding is social.

It certainly is for Stefano Caldarone, one of the better known modders for The Sims 2. He worked on some of the earliest modding tools, including the CEP, a package of programs that made it easier for others to create content for the game. Caldarone says he was more or less drafted into the modding scene: "Frankly, I didn't want to get involved, but one of my colleagues somehow convinced me into helping out, thinking that I was much more skilled that I actually was. Since I didn't want to make him think poorly of me, I worked hard to understand what he explained me."
Even though Caldarone has never felt particularly inspired to create, he still maintains a presence in the Sims 2 modding community. "There were many more people to impress," he explains, laughing. "All the people that praised me for my creations ... I really appreciated their enthusiasm, and felt the need to go on satisfying them. You can have your 15 minutes of fame, and it's thrilling! If you are lucky and skilled, maybe it's more than 15 minutes ... but it's fatiguing, too."
image

Once you get really into it, modding can be almost as bad as a World of Warcraft addiction. Before you know it, you're getting up at four in the morning to push pixels around until the curve of a 3D object is just right. "I spent a lot of time modding - too much, probably," says Caldarone. "Back in the days we were working on CEP, I stayed online for a big part of the night because of the time zones. The people I was working with lived in New York and California; I'm in Europe. On average, when I was a full-time modder, I probably spent more than eight to nine hours a day on my PC, sometimes more when I didn't have to work. There were days that I left my PC only for eating and sleeping."

Those long hours suggest modding isn't all about bragging rights. It requires some kind of technical skill, and learning that skill is half the work. For many, modding is a stepping stone, a way to acquire new proficiencies and see results fairly fast. "When I initially started, I wanted to learn to program in a fun way. So I started tinkering," says Derek Paxton. That tinkering eventually led to Fall From Heaven, a mod that took the turn-based strategy game Civilization 4 - a vast and engrossing experience in itself - and turned it into something ... well, bigger. It created a deep fantasy world, complete with factions, races, history, religions and magic. "Fall from Heaven is based on the D&D campaigns I ran for about 17 years," says Paxton, "so I already had a unique and elaborate mythology and world to draw from. It isn't an attempt to recreate that world, though. I drew from it for things that would make an interesting Civ 4 mod and dropped or changed things that didn't work." What Paxton ended up with was a living, breathing world that he thought up himself. It took him three years to create that world, but what he got was well worth it: "I get to play the game I always wanted."
Of course, there are always people who are singular in both goals and means. "The reasons for making it were: 'I want to be a game developer, so I'd better start developing something now, or I shouldn't call myself a developer,'" says Leo Gura. He's the main creator of The Lost Spires, an expansive and hugely popular mod for Oblivion that adds extra quests, maps and 3D models. To make it, Gura took a unique approach: Where most modders play with pixels and code as a hobby, Gura actually modded like it was his job. "I started in December 2007 and worked on it from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday until its release in August 2008," he says. His goals weren't the usual ones, either. "I wanted to be a game designer since I was a kid," Gura says. "I convinced my folks that I could complete this grand project and use it as a portfolio piece to break into the industry. So I had about six to12 months to get things in order." It worked - he was hired by Irrational Games (then 2K Boston) shortly after the mod's release.

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Gura is, however, an exception. The vast majority of modders make their creations after a day at work or in class. We're hobbyists, and I don't mean that in a bad way. Modding is the modern equivalent of knitting your own sweater, painting, writing or building your own car. One of the main reasons for doing it is the very act of creating itself. "You do it, above all, to make something new - to create something, say you created it and have others enjoy it," says Jeroen Dessaux, a member of the four-man team that made the Hoodoo map for Team Fortress 2. Valve, being one of the more community-friendly developers out there, discovered the map and made it part of the official game.

Tim Johnson, who did most of the mapping on Hoodoo, tells a similar story. "I've always been into creating," he says. "I can't remember how old I was when my dad bought me a copy of Blitz Basic, a programming language aimed at making games. Together we went through one of the example games, Blitzanoid, a humble take on Arkanoid. After a few weeks we had a pretty neat game with all sorts of power-ups, glass bricks, metals bricks and even a little laser attachment on the bat." The practice got him hooked, and he's been working on maps in different games ever since.

The actual joy of creating shines through in all of the modders I talked to. It's a wonderful feeling to make something, to find out all the cool stuff you could do, to show it to friends and say, "See that? I made that."

So why do we create? It's simple: We do it for its own sake.

That, and the compliments, of course.

Els Bellens is a lover of all things chocolate and all games that are even slightly silly. By day, she works for several Belgian IT magazines; by night she's one of the few living people that understand the interface for Blender 3D.

By one of the more loose definitions of the word, I am a Modder. Why did I bother? Because I saw something I didn't like that I wanted changed (the bullshit "start with the soulcube but nothing else changes" gimmick that Doom 3's Nightmare difficulty brings), and I realized that I could change it. I released the Mod because I figured there might be other people who wanted to play the game the same way I did- a much more difficult experience where the monsters were tougher and stronger, shot placement mattered and the weapons responded in ways that made more sense. I actually got fan mail (just one, but hey, that counts!), some of my tweaks have been included in other Doom 3 Mods, and there's even a series of YouTube videos where a guy plays through on Nightmare difficulty (which, seriously, I doubt I could do; it's hella hard).

I don't begin to imagine myself on the level of people like Neil Manke (hey, how about that Source-engine They Hunger sequel already?), but I like to think that just by editing a bunch of .ini files, maybe- just maybe- I improved the game for some people out there.

...by night she's one of the few living people that understand the interface for Blender 3D.

This marks you as a Goddess in my eyes. Seriously, that program gives me headaches sometimes.

Why mod? Why not? If you love a game and have some creativity, it's a fun way to spend your time, with the added kick that you get to see others playing your creation. I did levels and monsters (sprites were mostly edits of existing ones - I'm not a great pixel artist) and whatnot for Doom. My real talent was creating new monsters with DeHackEd (my suicide bomber mod got a depressing boost in hits right after 9/11). So much so that my two main roles in several Doom source mod projects were "Beta tester" and "Guy who makes the monster behavior codepointers do horrible things that Carmack and Romero never intended them to do".

Let me tell you, it's all worth it for that e-mail you get where someone you've never met describes playing your mod and how some part of it absolutely amazed/surprised/freaked him out. Doesn't have to be anything flashy, either. What got me that e-mail? Toadstools. Nothing big, typical objects, the only difference being that an invisible spawner quietly slinked about the area and "grew" more and more of them. Slowly, so you didn't notice unless you stood there and watched closely. But if you passed through an area repeatedly, there was always more of them. Deliberately destroy every last one of them? There'll still be a few next time around. Creeped the guy so much that he said he actually took to skirting AROUND the toadstool patches. This was from a seasoned Doom vet with hundreds of thousands of kills under his belt in everything from Doom 2 and Heretic to the major megawads and TCs (sorry, 'mods') like Eternal and STRAIN. Cyberdemons, Maulotaurs, Arch-Viles and Demon Lords all fell before him. And it was my toadstools that he gave a wide berth.

It's been years, and I still remember that e-mail.

so i order to become a developer and get well known, i have to actually twaddle around and learn that bloody blitz basic instead of going straight to c++!?!? (bangs head on desk) well at least i have until the end of my junior year to bet this stuff done.... time to start learning to mod. maybe i can do something for s4 league or kingdom hearts....give mickey a ak47 and make organization 13 look like cia members and make roxas a rogue agent....i gotta start writing this stuff down.

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