The PC is my favorite gaming platform for many reasons. With a good enough PC, you can make the games look much better than their Console counterparts. Most notably that I’ve noticed is the Batman: Arkham series with it’s Physx effects. Second reason is most games have some kind of backwards compatibility, whether officially supported by the developer or games fixed up to work on newer systems through mods, sometimes even making them look better like Dark Places for the original Quake. That leads me to the third reason I prefer gaming on a PC. The Mods.
My earliest memories of playing with mods was way back when Quake II was my favorite game almost 2 decades ago. ID was always good on having mod support for their games. I remember having cartman and beavis & butthead model’s with custom sounds. I once found a mod that replaced the weapons in the game and playing Quake with Doom weapons for a long period at one point. It was also nice finding some new maps to play on, and even some custom game modes not originally in the game, like CTF.
Moving on from Quake to the unreal series, Epic really started to support their modding community starting with their Unreal Tournament series. The tools to create levels and mods came with each installment in the Unreal Series. This led to many great mods to be made, which some of the best would be later added to the game of the year editions. After the release of UT 2003, work began on the Community Bonus Packs by the folks at BeyondUnreal.com, bringing some of the best talent in the community together in a nice little bundle. Every time I install one of the UT games, it’s like a ritual for me to install those community packs before i even start the game up. Later once UT2004 released, Epic began the Make Something Unreal Contest, getting mod-developers together to make some of the best content so they can win the grand prize, $50,000 and an Unreal Engine 3 Licence for the Winner.
One company that heavily embraced the modding community is Valve, the makers of the Half-Life series. They eventually embraced some notable mods such as Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat, and Team Fortress Classic, hiring the mod-developers and buying the rights, making them official mods available through the Initial release of Steam, originally a way to streamline updating Valve’s games and mods. After the release of the first Source engine game, Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat got their own Source versions, while Team Fortress got a full sequel that was added to The Orange Box along with the current Half-Life 2 Trilogy. Some other mod developers such as the creator of the sandbox, Garry’s Mod, and the Stealthy Murder Multiplayer game, The Ship would eventually get ‘Full Game’ releases on Valve’s new platform. After discovering Narbacular Drop, Valve hired the developers who would go to create the third piece to The Orange Box, Portal. Steam also picked up the team that created the very popular Warcraft 3 mod, Defense of the Ancients, Dota for short. They worked with them to release a standalone free-to-play version on Steam which has become ever so popular since it started out in beta over a year ago.
Team Fortress 2 eventually improved on their equipment system, adding a multitude of hats that players could collect and trade/buy. Eventually, they added the ability to upload your own creations to the game for others to be able to collect as well, leading to the creation of Steam’s Workshop. It was a place people could upload custom equipment and would be buyable like the rest of the item’s if it was popular enough to be added. After being perfected, Valve opened it up so any developer can add workshop as a central place to upload and download mods for their games, starting with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, adding a special mod of their own to the game, Portal 2’s Space Core.
Not only is Valve supportive of Mod Developers, but have also given a great platform for Indie Developers to put their content on. Steam lowered the requirement for putting a game on steam, creating their Greenlight program back in July 2012 to let the steam community choose what indie games to allow onto Steam by giving something enough votes. A notable one I’ve seen is a mod that is a remake of the original Half-Life in the Source engine called Black Mesa. They already are green lit and have already released a non official steam mod on their website that includes everything up until the very last chapter. The official green lit steam mod will be released when the final chapter is finished and from what I can tell from my previous play through of the first few levels, it’s a wonderful remake of the old classic. The mod will be released only requiring you to need only a game with Source SDK base 2007.
Another notable Greenlit game is the recently released, Stanley Parable. This started as a very interesting mod for the source engine. You play as Stanley, following a story that is told through you by a very good narrator, or you can completely defy the narrator, changing the story completely. This is a game, to grasp what the game really is and means, to be played for yourself and somewhat requires multiple playthroughs, trying different things each time. It’s a very nice example of the untapped potential games as a medium has barely been unable to reach thus far. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a pc to try it out weather it’s the old 2011 mod, or the recent full release on steam(which includes a nice little demo if you want to try it.)
Do you have any mods that you recommend? Have you enjoyed seeing how far some of these mods go? Has your mind been blown by playing through The Stanley Parable? Let us know in the comments below.