If you could change your favorite game, would you? Let us take a look at how video game modding can create completely new games!
In Level Editor and Stage Editor, I explain how in-game editors can expand a game. A video game modification (short: mod) takes this a step further. Modifiying an existing game can take place in two ways. Either fans of the game start to meddle with the raw source code, or they use a modding toolkit, that can be installed along with the game. Such a toolkit can be considered a game editor and as with level and stage editors, easy usability is a key factor. However, if we want to mod a game, the more powerful the toolkit is, the better. Such a toolkit is often called a software development kit (SDK). Sometimes it is the same set of tools, which were used for the original game.
One of the most famous examples of successful modding is Counter-Strike. When Valve released the SDK for their world famous shooter Half-Life, Minh Le had already started development of the mod. He took the science-fiction-style fight against aliens and changed it into a team-duel between terrorists and counter-terrorist special forces. The original multiplayer mode of Half-Life merely included free-for-all and team-based deathmatch modes. Meanwhile, Counter-Strike became famous for its more tactical bomb defusal and hostage rescue modes. Eventually, people even started buying Half-Life just to play the Counter-Strike mod.
When Valve noticed the increasing interest in the mod, they supported Le in his development effort. Eventually they hired him as a developer and turned Counter-Strike into their intellectual property. The mod turned into a series of games with Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, Counter-Strike: Source, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Today, the games are a staple of professional esports with teams playing for thousands of U. S. dollars in international tournaments.
If you want to develop a game, polish your SDK. A good set of tools will always make your own work more pleasant. In addition, you may never know how a brilliant fan can remodel your game into the next bestseller. Such enthusiastic and devoted talents will gladly join your development team and have already proven their skills. If your game is great, other studios will try to copy your success sooner or later. But if you give your fans the right tools, video game modding will keep you ahead of the competition.
What are your favorite experiences with video game modding? Share them in the comments below! I look forward to reading them. In the mean time, I will keep tinkering.
(Photo by Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash)