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part of the ucc make columns series...

So You Wanna Mod?

Last week we tackled some questions one could ask to see if they wanted to be a coder. Now we move a bit more specific - why would one want to mod?

Modding has been a growing trend in gaming for some time. Some trace it back to DOOM, with it's origins founded in user-generated maps and then moving to such modifications as Alien DOOM. For me, it's earlier – going back to such early 8-bit programs as Adventure Construction Set.

ACS was a FORTH program by Stuart Smith, published by Electronic Arts. While it had some games to it, it's real goal was to let you create your own games in different settings. The end results were usually small RPG like quests not too unlike the early Ultima games.

It took much longer to learn how to use the system than it did to learn how to play your typical day. Constructing the games was a time consuming task, requiring the design, placement and configuration of multiple tiles. There wasn't much in the way of community and chances were the only person who see the results were yourself.

Modern day modifications are kinda like the old construction sets. It gives people a quick route into developing their own games. Modders can build off of pre-established engines, designs, models, maps, etc. The tools are far more sophisticated these days, and so are the games being built. You don't have to be a coder to modify things, mapping, skinning, modelling, even sound design are ways that one can manipulate games.

The internet now provides a variety of avenues for online communities, a huge opportunity for sharing materials and creations with other people. Custom DOOM maps were a rage of FTP servers when level editors became available. New episodes for the game were being produced by players.

The question I think modders should ask themselves before joining a team, forming a project, or loading up UnrealEd to make a custom weapon is based on the theory that none of that has happened. What if you had no internet, the games would be simple icon-based adventures that would take you hours to create but probably around thirty minutes to actually play. What if the chances were that the only person to see it is yourself?

Would you still make it?

If you say yes, then chances are you aren't interested in modding for fame or fortune, to look cool amongst your friends or to pick up girls (if that last one is the reason why you want to mod just stop reading now – please ). Chances are that creating the game, or helping create a game, is as fun if not more fun than playing it.

Stepping into a project, whether it's creating a new weapon or a full total conversion like Counter-Strike, is a huge time responsibility. If spending the time on the project isn't at least as much enjoyment as playing a game you are more than likely to never finish the project.

Why does one want to mod? Because it's fun of course.

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please reserve edits to minor changes and comments – RegularX


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