If you’re a PC gamer, chances are you play at least two or three games which either can be modded, are or themselves mods of other games. However, you might not even realise it.
Here are three of the best and most influential mods. Mods which have affected the games industry and genuinely changed the state of gaming.
Counter-Strike is a multiplayer first-person shooter with an emphasis on team combat and competitive play.
Counter-Strike was arguably the pre-eminent shooter of the 2000’s, with Counter-Strike version 1.6 becoming a standard for competition even after the release of the follow up, Counter-Strike: Source.
Counter-Strike was originally a mod of Half-Life 1, designed by Minh “Gooseman” Le and Jess “Cliffe” Cliffe. The mod went through multiple betas before eventual release in 1999, before later being re-released for retail, and then again as a download.
By the fourth beta, Valve, makers of Half-Life began assisting in the development of Counter-Strike. Following its release as a mod, Valve bought the rights to the game and continued to develop the title further.
Counter-Strike contained gameplay elements which we now take for granted in the genre, for example, being able to carry only one main weapon and one sidearm. As opposed to shooters of the 1990’s where protagonists routinely carried at least four or five assault rifles, and several thousand rounds of ammunition.
One of the real downsides to Counter-Strike, which anyone who’s played it will tell you, is the cheating and hackers, which were so prevalent.
Ranging from aimbots and wallhacks, which auto-aim the player’s weapons, and make walls see-through, to speedhacks and anti-flash, which increase the movement speed of the player, and remove the effects of flash-bang grenades.
The competitive and eSports aspects are only one side of Counter-Strike’s coin, following its release as a stand-alone game, Counter-Strike was itself modded. With players making their own maps and game modes, notably the Gun Game mod, where players must progress through the weapons one by one, requiring a number of kills to progress to each new weapon.
Over the last 13 years, Counter-Strike has received major updates, most notably Counter-Strike: Source with the release of the Source engine, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive being released in 2004 and 2012 respectively.
Defense of the Ancients (DotA)
However you look at it, Defense of the Ancients is one of the most significant games of the last 10 years. It has literally created an entire genre of games, known as MOBA games, multiplayer online battle arenas. These include one of the world’s biggest eSports, at least by viewership, League of Legends.
DotA began life as a mod of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos using the StarCraft map ‘Aeon of Strife’. DotA was developed by mapmaker ‘Eul’, although it has been updated and changed many times by a variety of different modders.
Defense of the Ancients, and MOBA games in general, pitch two teams of players against each other, each player controlling a powerful hero character with varying abilities and strengths which level up and unlock new abilities as you play.
Players must work as a team to control ‘lanes’ on the map, killing enemy minions (weak AI controlled units) and assaulting enemy towers to work towards the enemy base, while preventing the enemy team from destroying their own towers.
Players gather gold by killing minions and generate it over time as well, and spend gold to buy items to increase their character’s stats.
Defense of the Ancients became a popular eSport in Asia, although its popularity in Europe has waned in the last few years in favour of other MOBA games, notably Riot’s League of Legends.
A follow up was released in 2009 by Valve, after hiring IceFrog, a modder who contributed to the maintenance of the original DotA. Valve’s sequel, rather originally called DotA 2, is a standalone sequel released in 2010.
Both Blizzard, who own the Warcraft franchise from which DotA was modded, and Riot Games, who made League of Legends opposed Valve’s franchising DotA. Although this was conceded in May 2012.
Blizzard are developing their own competitor to DotA 2, Blizzard Allstars which appears to be a MOBA game, where the heroes are taken from Blizzard franchises, WarCraft and StarCraft.
This was undoubtedly the most exciting thing to happen to first-person shooters in 2012. DayZ was designed as a mod for military sim Arma 2’s expansion, Operation Arrowhead.
DayZ is a multiplayer open world survival horror game designed by Dean Hall following his attendance of survival training during a five year career in the New Zealand Army.
DayZ puts the player on a zombie infested island with limited supplies. The player must scavenge and search for supplies like food and water in order to stay alive. As well as basic needs, players must also search for medicine and ammunition, which is in scarce supply.
DayZ goes down the route of extreme realism with a variety of features which make its world even more dangerous. Keeping warm is very important for player’s survival, forcing the player to focus on their human needs rather than try and ‘game’ the system.
As well as having to avoid or kill zombies, players must deal with other players, with players competing for scarce resources, but survival being easiest in groups.
The modding community is, in my opinion, one of the best parts of PC games. Literally thousands of people creating new content for the games they love, and releasing it for free.
In the case of DotA, a group of modders created an entire genre of games, and many of them have since been hired by development studios looking to create MOBA games of their own.
Mods have been responsible for some of the best content we’ve seen on PC games. I’ve spent more time playing Elder Scrolls games completely differently because of the mods I use than I have playing them as they were intended.