MODS: Have you heard of them?
by Dan - first posted November 12, 2010
I once used to play the nerd games. No really I did. Way back in before Steam hexed my tool bar, way back when gaming was still badass and free! I hate to sound all nostalgic but there was an era when gamers made their own communities and clans manned by cheesy poof eating pubescents and virgins. The avant-garde of these swarthy online citizens were those damn modders. They were the ones who had enough appreciation and skill to change aspects of the game they loved and made it better at least in their eyes.
To look at where the art form is heading one has only to look at the modification community to get a glimpse for what the true future of gaming is. What they envisioned in current games is a clear sign of consumer demand. That vision became the new unwritten status quo of gaming. The face of gaming is changed through their demands in the esthetics of the application, also by their pushes of the engine to the creative forefront. This in turn inspires totally new games. For example, the modifier looked at the two dimension RTS then turned them into the realm of space. Total Annihilation was a game released in the late nineties but it provided a creative outlet for programmers for years afterwards.
A mod was created that allowed for battles in a planar space environment as opposed to the usual constraints of sea and land. Yet it got the makers thinking. It was on everyone’s mind to turn 2D RTS to the final frontier. This pioneering idea to break into the final frontier which is the most sought after forefront of gaming. The result of this creative endeavor gave birth to the first real time strategy game that took place in true three dimensional space; Homeworld. Then of course those damn trekkies totally had to unload their bile onto the poor game by creating the acclaimed Sacrifice of Angels mod. Now you could replay your fanciful Dominion War scenarios without damaging your star trek models hanging from your ceiling to your hearts content. Speaking of Zero gravity environments…zero grav! It has become a staple in many shooters such as Unreal Tournament and Quake. Now that aspect is the center piece feature in a FPS called Lost Horizon that is again based in three dimensional space. Now you can be killed by flying space rock not just friendly fire.
Mods are often the only reason game still retain a devout community long after the makers of the software have long past died. Designs set when the game was in beta become realized years after the release. The creations take on unbelievable forms beyond the developer’s imagination. The redesigned game by such dedicated communities becomes another entity all on its own. The case in point is the Lord of the Rings: The Third Age modification for Total War. This is what a hypothetical LOTRs Strategy is meant to be. It took a massive scale battle simulation and added the skins of creatures from the fable. Now one could play with thousands of hobbit units on the field of battle with a realistically sized lord of darkness and all. Why other official LOTR games haven’t done this, I don’t know. It is what everything a Tolkenian game should be and it’s only the greatest mod for Medieval Total War II.
Mods give life to those yet to be envisioned add-ons such as new models and abilities to the gaming experience that one wave in your opponent’s fragged face. More so they can or can transform a modest piece of software into something unseen before and give it a cult following. Ultimately, the art of modding allows free developers give their free and honest input into a game, what and how some things should be and that’s make producers think “Heh…. good idea, we shoulda done that.”