Modding. It’s the centre of many a PC gamer’s universe and arguably the reason for the continual success of Bethesda’s RPGs and Bohemia’s ArmA series. It’s the origin for games like DayZ and Red Orchestra, and it’s the reason I still play games that are over ten years old.
In many ways, I feel sorry for console owners. On the one hand, they can be relatively certain that when they plug a game in, it’s going to work. Nowadays they do have to put up with at least as many day one patches and mandatory updates as their PC brethren, but for PC owners whether a game will work or not is often in the hands of the compatible driver software gods. But console gamers don’t get mods, and in missing out on mods they miss out on some of the most extraordinary experiences in gaming.
For example, at the moment, I’m currently replaying Fallout: New Vegas. My main character travels around the wasteland in Doctor Who’s Tardis and carries the noisy cricket laser that Will Smith used in Men In Black. For a console gamer, this statement seems like complete nonsense, but a PC gamer will generally nod his head or respond with “I see. My Skyrim crabs all have top hats and monocles and my dragons all look like Thomas the Tank Engine.”
I’ve written previously about how great mods are, but I don’t think I’ve really ever got across just how ridiculous they can be. I guess what I’m saying is, go and buy a PC.
Anyway, for the past month I’ve been dabbling with the GECK, Fallout: New Vegas’ construction kit that allows you to take apart and reassemble Bethesda’s RPG into whatever you see fit. On the whole, what I’ve generally succeeded in doing is breaking it, but I’m slowly learning as I go, thanks in part to help from more experienced modders.
Seeing under the bonnet of a AAA RPG makes me acutely aware of what an achievement actually releasing a game actually is, but it also does something different. From this angle, you see the cogs at work but you also see the dust. You see where the bits of scenery don’t exactly match up, where navigation meshes aren’t correctly aligned and where objects and NPCs were unceremoniously dumped, half finished from the final project.
In short, through examining the game you see the people behind it. Games aren’t just products churned out by uncaring publishers – they have real people behind them, something that I think we’re all sometimes guilty of forgetting.
I think what I’m saying here is, go on, open the GECK and poke Fallout with a stick. You never know what might fall out.