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The creator of one of the most popular recent PC gaming mods is defending modding from the claim that it is in decline.
Dean “Rocket” Hall, who created the DayZ zombie-survival mod for Bohemia’s military shooter Arma 2, posted a blog today titled “Modding is not in decline — it’s changing (like it always has).” The post is in response to a story from website Develop Online that suggests fewer people are making “total conversion” modifications to existing titles.
Total conversions are a type of mod that takes a game, like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and changes it into something else entirely, like a Star Wars shooter. Hall argues that total conversions are not the only the type of mod.
“[Develop Online’s article] seems to assume that all mods are total conversions, or that the ultimate mod is a total conversion,” wrote Hall. “If we take DayZ, for example, it’s not a total conversion of the ArmA2 game but more of a ‘derailing.’ And in fact, the mods of the mod, such as DayZ Zero and many others, are arguably more popular today than the base mod.”
Hall points to titles like the popular space-flight simulation Kerbal Space Program that has a health community building add-on modules for it.
“[Kerbal Space Program is] gloriously easy to mod, as it doesn’t have a vast swathe of complex shaders, textures, and complex asset requirements,” wrote Hall. “Not surprisingly, it has a shit-ton of mods.”
The DayZ creator also listed Sins of a Solar empire, Company of Heroes, Prison Architect, and Minecraft as other examples of games that welcome modders and get plenty of support.
“Take a look at steam workshop for the great bounty of mods available for any game that supports it,” he wrote.
But it is true that many triple-A games have far less support from modders, but Hall says that’s not the fault of the community.
“As less [triple-A] games support modding, there are less total conversions of triple-A games,” he wrote. “The creative people [that are] tinkering have moved to areas that support the tinkering.”
Battlefield developers DICE, for example, supported modding in its earlier games and teams like Project Reality are still working to release mods for games like Battlefield 2. Since then, DICE cut off support for mods in its more recent titles. Unsurprisingly, the community moved elsewhere.
Hall also notes that as more people get access to the tools to make their own games, they’re going to go that route if they can’t mod their favorite games.
“Unity makes it easier than ever before to make a game,” wrote Hall. “It’s easier than ever to get out there and make something. When AAA games stop providing the tools, but other games/options are available, what were modders going to do?”
The DayZ developer, who is currently working on DayZ Standalone at Bohemia, finished by saying that professional developers “need to get over themselves.”
“I’m smart enough to know there are far smarter people than me out there,” he wrote. “Maybe they lack the connections or they are too busy curing cancer in their day job to get into games — but at night they mod my game, at night they do better than I do, and the next day they inspire me to make my game better.
“If modding is ‘dead’ then it’s seen more life in death than it did before anyway, you just have to know where to look.”