End-of-the-year lists are great for shining a bright light on stuff we've missed and stuff we might want to see again. After starting with a number somewhere north of 10,000, ModDB's Mod of the Year award is down to its Top 100, a list of upcoming and released mods compiled after more than a week of player feedback.
"Khaleesi"... "Car-leesy"... "Kaleeeessi". Oh, sorry. You've just caught me practising my Jorah Mormont impression. I want to get it perfected before next week, when Crusader Kings 2's brilliant Game of Thrones mod will launch its Essos update. That's because the arrival of the Eastern continent will also mean the introduction of its most famous inhabitant: Dany Stormborn and her three dragons.
Ah, Autumn. It’s a time for brisk walks through the woods with crunchy, colorful leaves underfoot. A time for taking deep lungfuls of crisp, fresh air. A time for stuffing diet sausages into your mouth while firing panicky rounds from an inaccurate pistol as irradiated dogs leap and snarl from the thick undergrowth. A time for the Autumn Aurora 2 mod, for STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl.
Skyrim is a beautifully vast and sweeping game. Also vast: the possibility of its modding potential. The nomadic fans of Morrowind are crossing those rolling plains of creation, as part of their quest to settle within the safety and shelter of this newer game's engine. Their journey started just over a year ago, and now - while still far from the home stretch - they've made great progress. They've even released a trailer showing just how far they've come.
Arma has always been quite moddable. Every piece of Bohemia Interactive’s military sim has been renovated or replaced hundreds of times over by the game’s prolific community--its missions, islands, audio, weapons, and vehicles. Today Bohemia makes a major effort to support that culture of community content creation as it begins a more than year-long competition called “Make Arma Not War.”
Turn on the TV or radio, talk to a relative or co-worker, or listen to a random conversation in a restaurant or bar, and you’ll quickly realize one thing: everyone knows how to run the country better than the person currently running it. And, if cousin Zeke or Carl the bartender can run the country, running the country must be too darn easy, right? Here's how to make it a bit tougher.
The Arma series has long been known for its often stunningly realistic visuals. But alongside all that eye candy, modders have been consistently working to sharpen Arma's soundscape as well. A new, in-progress sound mod for Arma 3—the Advanced Combat Sound Environment—continues this work and looks to achieve a dramatic level of audio immersion for the military simulation.
There are 10,000 mods eligible to be nominated for ModDB's 2013 Mod of the Year award, and eight and half days in which to nominate. Which means, if you want to feel really confident in your selection, you'll need to play 50 mods per hour from now until the end of voting. As those diligent heroes embark on their impossible task, the rest of us can settle for hastily picking our vaguely remembered favourites, all while chuckling at the discovery of who's sponsoring this year's competition.
It's so simple when you think about it. How do you make Just Cause 2 more chaotic and hilarious? You increase its number of players from one to multiple thousands. Only, it turns out that creating something chaotic, hilarious and stable is a lot more complicated. That's why the mod Just Cause 2: Multiplayer has, until now, been restricted to occasional test weekends, giving fans just a brief window to shoot, grapple or drive their way to mega-carnage. That's about to change, first with a week-long final beta, before - soon after - an official release.
Starcraft fans have it easy. Four official games or expansions, all of which were great. Command & Conquer's supporters may have access to more games, but that hasn't always been a good thing. Between free-to-play cancellations, web browser abominations, and even some lacklustre sequels, the series isn't what it used to be. Arguably C&C's first major misstep was over a decade ago, when Westwood wondered what would happen if they made a first-person spin-off. The answer was "it would make a bad game", and that game was called Renegade.
But where Westwood failed, modders want to triumph. Formerly an Unreal Tournament 3 mod project, Renegade X is a first and third-person standalone shooter that takes the C&C concept in what, from the release date announcement trailer, looks to be an exciting direction.
If you filled a sock with Dungeons & Dragons dice and knocked Sid Meier unconscious with it, what do you think he'd dream of? Possibly something like Faerun, a mod that brings Forgotten Realms to life inside Civilization V: Gods & Kings. Lead civilizations of elves, dwarves, and orcs, recruit druids and wizards, battle dragons and ogres, and learn powerful spells. (Also, please don't knock Sid Meier unconscious with a sock full of dice. Or with anything else.)
There's a ton of civilizations to choose from in the Faerun mod, all straight out of the Forgotten Realms universe. Play as Cormyr, Land of the Purple Dragon, led by Princess Alusair Nacacia Obarskyr. Or choose the dwarf Bruenor Battlehammer of Mithral Hall. Sarevok Anchev of Baldur's Gate fame? Hells yeah. And about two dozen more, representing most of the major nations you've encountered in Forgotten Realms D&D or video games.
You kids these days, everything with you has gotta be fast. Your internet connections, your high-speed trains... even your zombies. In MY day we had dial-up, and regular-speed trains, and SLOW zombies. And we LIKED it. You should be an old coot like me, and add slow zombies to State of Decay (along with other changes) using the George Romero Mod.
There are a number of things the George Romero Mod does, or can do, for State of Decay, and you have the option of choosing exactly which changes you'd like to make and ignoring those you're not interested in. First and foremost, you can use it to adjust the speed of the zombies. In the game, the default zombie speed is somewhere between the slow zombies of the original Dawn of the Dead (1978) and the Usain Bolt zombies featured in the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004). The mod slows them down a bit, so they’re more of the shambling, lumbering, more-staggering-than-sprinting variety, in keeping with the tradition of Romero's original vision of animated corpses.
If you feel like being Batman these days, there's no shortage of options. There's a new Batman game. There are several old Batman games. You could buy a heavily discounted Batman Halloween costume, put it on, and start punching crooks. Or, you can do what I did this week: install a Batmobile mod for GTA IV, and bring a little Gotham to Liberty City.
While zombies, vampires, and werewolves have had a pop-culture resurgence in the last decade, children of the 1980’s are wondering: “Won't ninja ever make a comeback? If not, that's totally bogus.” See, in the 80’s, ninja were everywhere, in everything, all the time. Clearly, that needs to happen again, and you can help, by playing as a ninja (or six other new classes) in the Far East Pack for Torchlight 2.
A while back, the murder mystery known as Deadly Premonition made its way over the Steam Greenlight hurdle, shedding its console-exclusivity for the nice little home on the personal computer. Whether from lack of resources or an effort to make Deadly Premonition's mystery even more obfuscated, the game's resolution has unfortunately been locked to 720p. Thankfully, the modder who created the practically-required DSfix for Dark Souls (and goes by Durante) has made a mod to break Deadly Premoniton's resolution lock.
Isn't starting a new character in an RPG the best? Sure, it's great being a high-level badass with an arsenal of weapons and spells and enough loot to choke a dragon. But there's something about starting over from scratch, when every rusty dagger is a priceless treasure and every minor monster is a genuine threat. Let's all start a new character in Skyrim, and let's all use the Skyrim Unbound mod. It makes starting over an adventure in itself.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent developer Frictional Games recently revealed that The Fullbright Company’s indie title, Gone Home, first saw life through the Amnesia engine. And if you're interested in the prototype, you can try it right now.
Pinch out the flame of a candle to plunge a room into darkness. Pluck a key from the belt of a patrolling guard without him noticing. Thump someone with a blackjack, hoist their body over your shoulder, and lug it out of sight. Pick locks, open chests, and stuff your pants full of loot. It’s the new and improved first-person stealth-em-up The Dark Mod, now a free standalone game with a wealth of missions.
The Dark Mod was originally a total conversion mod for Doom 3, made to recreate the the Thief series precisely, down to infiltration, sneaking, looting, escaping. While we’re waiting for the release of Thief 4 (and perhaps worrying that the series may have strayed from the path a bit too far), there’s the new version of The Dark Mod to tide us over. What’s changed? Most notably, the assets from Doom III have now been entirely replaced with custom content, so there’s no longer a requirement to own anything besides TDM to play TDM. And TDM is free.
Take Left 4 Dead, add four more co-op partners, and make it so that one bite brings down a player. That's the gist of No More Room in Hell. The brutally challenging Half-Life 2 mod that won our 2012 Mod of the Year award has grown into a standalone game, and now it has a final Steam release date.
Which do you prefer: first-person games or third-person games? Don't answer, because it doesn't matter, because mods. The First Person View mod for Saints Row 4 takes your eyes (which have been hovering in the middle distance behind you) and crams them back into your presidential skull where they belong. Of course, this causes your head to completely vanish. It's weird. I'll explain below.