How Can You Start Modding Games?

Sep 29, 2016 | 1 Votes by jose 10 rate Your vote
Game mods are all the rage these days, with some mods being almost as popular (or even more so) as the game they are modding. All of these may perk one's interest in game modding, but how can you start? WWGDB - How Can You Start Modding Games?

Game mods have been around since the time of Castle Smurfenstein and a number of them have evolved into popular official games themselves. For those who would like to get into the field of making computer games, one always has the option to make it from scratch by learning about computer graphics, animation, audio development and game programming, but an alternative way exist that would shorten the lengthy process involved. This is the development of game mods or the process of using a parent game to create an advanced or extended version of the game or end up creating a new one.

Most modern video games we have today are based on what is known as a Game Engine. This is actually a program or a set of codes grouped together to perform specific computer function like displaying the graphics, controlling the audio and animation, controlling the AI, managing the user interface and so on and so forth. Some game engines make use of separate graphic engines that control the graphics card or circuits of the machine they operate on, whether a computer or console. Some game engines have the graphic functions already imbedded in them.

When modding started to appear during the early days of computer game development, some game publishers and developers took it upon themselves to provide certain apps or tools that a would-be developer could use in order to make use of the game engine that was driving their published game. If one wants to get into modding, one has to decide first what kind of game one wants to create or design. Is it an FPS game, an RTS. or an RPG game? Chances are there are games of these genres that are released with the necessary development tools to create an extension or totally a new modification of the game.

Mr and Mrs Pyro from a modded Team Fortress 2


Examples of this would be classic and popular games like Unreal Tournament which uses Epic’s Unreal Engine. DOTA 2 which uses Valve’s Source 2 game engine. Half Life 2, Counter Strike GO and Team Fortress 2 that use the Source game engine. All of these games have the necessary apps needed to make a game mod of your own. All you have to do is study and understand the internal workings of the game at the systems level or how the folders and files inside the game’s folder relate to one another.

Game modding is not an easy thing to do as it is the next step to full blown game development but based on personal experience, if you are decided and will persevere, you will be able to complete your own game mod.

Almost all popular games that can be modded have gaming and support communities. These communities are composed of players, fans, developers and modders. By joining these groups, you can get information and learn things as most of the time, members are friendly and helpful. This is where you can also find out about the modding limitations of your target game like copyright and technical issues.

One important point to remember is that you really have to be technically inclined if you want to get into making, designing and modding computer games. There are NO shortcuts. You have to learn what you need to learn and then apply it to your modding project. Things like graphic formats, 3D graphic apps and tools like Blender or 3D Studio Max are necessary if you will work with 3D as well as general graphics apps like PhotoShop or GIMP. Many modders are used to working on their own though eventually you will have to collaborate with others. Nevertheless, a working knowledge of other game development tools is needed to be able to grasp the full picture.

From graphics, you also have to know about audio tools like voice and sound recording applications, multimedia and animations such as video editing and animation apps. You don’t have to be a master of these but a working knowledge is definitely necessary. A knowledge of how to program ( in any language) is also needed. Whether you will need to write scripts or code or not, you have to know how programming works so you can at least understand how the game engine makes use of the data contained within the various folders of the game.

A modded Paladin Danse in Fallout 4


Finally, you will need to collect a set of tools or apps needed to make your mod. Getting a Steam account and downloading Team Fortress 2 (if you like FPS) or DOTA 2 (If you’re into RTS) and downloading the development tools like the Source Engine game editor, the texture apps, 3D model compilers among others is a good way to start. These games and their tools are free and have their own Steam Workshop communities where you can get tons of information like tutorials and updates. Again, the things that where mentioned above which you have to learn will be needed to make sense of all the information. Data is a plenty but can you understand them? Often, you will find that you will have to use Google, Yahoo and other search engines to do tons and tons of research and study them at the same time.

Perseverance is a must and if you really want it, it can be done. Other popular modable games include Skyrim (If you like MMORPG) which has its Nexus Modding Community and websites. Grand Theft Auto, one of the most modded games on the internet today has tons of info, tutorials and the necessary apps on its community websites and even NBA Live for sports fans has its own modding communities.

There are these games which are called sandbox or open world games. Some of them are MODS (like Garry’s Mod) and some are not. However, these are world building games. Some of them can teach you the principles of game design but when you create a game world within these games you are still playing the game (unless you modify the look, feel and behavior of the game itself). When you change a game like turning Half-Life into Cry of Fear, or Counter Strike into Zombie Mod, that’s when you’re modding the game.

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