Mod it until it dies

“Mod it until it dies” has always been one of the unofficial taglines for the Elder Scrolls series, particularly Skyrim. Bethesda games in general have a lot of freedom not in the actual games themselves, but with what you can do with the games. From the look of your character, to badass armors to menus to entire gameplay overhauls, the Bethesda game modding community almost has a mod for everything. So when Valve and Bethesda tried to make money off community modders, under the pretense that modders could also make money, we kicked up a huge fuss.

Bethesda games aren’t the only games with modding communities though. Minecraft, being made in Java, has a mod for nearly everything as well. Garry’s Mod is one giant mod with a million other mods made inside it, with more mods inside of those still, thanks to the likes of Advanced Duplicator and Wiremod.

There’s also smaller, less expected communities. You wouldn’t think there was a modding scene for League of Legends, for example, but there’s a small community making custom skins, chromas and entire map retextures, turning Summoners Rift into a snowy blizzard or a beach paradise. On top of that, there is a ton of modding done outside the game, in the form of websites, stat checkers and replay creators.

Then there’s things like the Saints Row series. There aren’t really any modding tools for a series that started off as a GTA clone and evolved into its own thing, but that didn’t stop the community from coming together to make the series better, to the point where Saints Row 2 is ONLY playable on PC if you install the Gentlemen of the Row community megamod. In fact, some Saints Row modders now actually work for Volition.

Most of the time though, the changes you see are cosmetic. While Fallout: New Vegas and Skyrim may be paradises for modders, that let you change anything and everything with enough experience and knowledge, many games only allow cosmetic changes, such as the swapping of models, editing the user interface or recolouring textures. Left 4 Dead 2 is like that, but even then, there are still mods that improve gameplay using textures alone, by making them clearer or more immersive. At least with Left 4 Dead though, community content can keep the game alive by adding new maps to play. It’s much harder for games like Payday 2, which is very hard to modify and fights against developers who constantly add more to the game. Still, that hasn’t stopped them, there are plenty of good mods for Payday 2.

Even Team Fortress 2 gets in on all this. Although most model, texture and sound changes can only be seen by you, the community has been churning out and improving maps and game modes for years. There’s tons of custom content, from variations of gamemodes like Arena Respawn and Versus Saxton Hale, to teaching tools like jump maps, to complete insanity in the form of deathrun, kart racing, zombie fortress and the many crazy servers out there pretending to be achievement maps. The hat workshop looks incredibly pale in comparison with all the playable community content out there.

With so much content being made and entertaining the community, you can see why companies would want to take advantage of modding. But it’s a minefield of legal nonsense, and any scenario where the modders get stiffed or where companies make too much money will cause uproar. It is very easy to mess up here. Perhaps the best scenario is the current one, which allows modders to accept donations from happy users. Sadly, many modders will never see any money, but they don’t mind, they’re just happy that they can improve their favourite games in their own, unique way.

Enough of my thoughts. What do you think of modded games? What are your favorite mods? Let us know.

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