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Yesterday, while cleaning up my media center, I found my copy of Ratchet & Clank: Into The Nexus, which I bought sometime before Christmas last year. I had been pretty excited about this game pre-release, what with it being the first "traditional", albeit shorter than usual,...

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PC's Trump Card
Posted on Monday, August 19 2013 @ 08:46:08 Eastern

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I am a PC gamer and I'm here to tell you why.

There are reasons why some gamers choose PC over consoles, reasons like graphical superiority and better choice of controls and even a larger library of games, especially free games. (And certainly not talking about piracee here! No, really.) But there is something consoles sorely lack, something that is butter to PC's bread: mods!

My first contact with mods came when I was wee little lad, playing this awesome game called Unreal Tournament. The first thing I did was adding Bender from Futurama into the roster of warriors! It was immensely fun experience. I could now with little effort spice up a game that was beginning to grow stale on me. Then I played Counter-Strike and I discovered that with mods you could change a boring pistol into something more... flashy! Golden Desert Eagles, shotguns, AK-47s...

But it wasn't until Half-Life 2 rolled unto me that I could see the true potential of mods. Half-Life 2 is solely responsible for most of the biggest mods around. So is Unreal Tournament 3. It took couple of years for people to learn to mod Half-Life 2's Source engine and since then a lot of ambitious projects were started.

You see, modding actually divides into categories. The smallest thing you can call a mod is a simple change in some text file that changes some game variables, from something like the amount of health your character has to visual settings that are not available in-game. For example in the first Gothic game, the biggest source of lag was fog so turning it off gave your game quite a bit of oomph. The next thing is changing something's model or installing higher-resolution textures. But if you add something INTO the game instead of a simple change, then you have an modification that is categorized as add-on. Like the new characters for Unreal Tournament.


Most of the Skyrim mods (or rather, most of all mods) are either these simple modifications to game files or the add-ons. Changing a dragon to My Little Pony is a comparably easy task. Adding the MLP dragon separately from normal dragons, however, is a much bigger hurdle for the modder. That's when the MLP dragon becomes an add-on.

The next step is user-created maps and stories, involving quests and stuff. This step may or may not involve items and characters specifically created for the story. This can be generalized into User Created Content, created with tools provided by the developers of the game. Developers providing the tools for user-created content used to be common but lately there have been scarce few games that come with the necessary tools. Some games that have supported UCC in the past have even dropped mod support in sequels. Max Payne 3 and Dragon Age 2, for example. Luckily, sometimes it's modders who create the necessary tools for modding, so all is not lost yet. But honestly, I blame it on the rise of DLC.

All right, now that we have gotten past the light stuff, we'll now be taking LARGE STEPS! Partial Conversion is a mod that changes the fundamentals of the game it's meant to modifiy. It's a mod that drastically alters the gameplay and this is where things get fun! For example, adding multiplayer to a game where none existed in the first place, like GTA: San Andreas (fully working) or Skyrim (partially working). Further examples include new game modes, like for Half-Life 2 a "Rebels vs. Combine" multiplayer mode where a team of rebel players fight against a single Combine player who commands the NPC Combine soldiers from a RTS isometric view, or the famous DayZ mod for ArmA II and III that you quite likely know about.

The final, the biggest, the most important mod category, however, is Total Conversion. This is where things get giddy. To give you an idea what a Total Conversion is, I'll drop a few names: Team Fortress, Counter-Strike, and DotA. These games are big names today but know, mortal, that these are the results of not some big game company, but rather a bunch of friends (or even complete strangers) who got together to create a brand new, different game out of an existing game... in their basement. And sometimes a mod grows into a fully fledged indie game. But usually Total Conversion takes a game and gives it a complete overhaul, starting with visuals and ending with gameplay. This is where mods get very colorful, very colorful indeed. From fangames as tribute to their favorite franchises, to completely original projects. If you have the necessary games, then your 1 or 2 games is suddenly a 100 games!

So, if you are a PC gamer and find the game drough of summer causing you to thirst for games, you've got no excuse: Go grab some mods! The fruits are ripe and ready for plucking! And there's something for everyone out there!

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan
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