Iron Man Mark XVII Heartbreaker, Back to the Future, Gentlemen of the Row, Project Reality, REDkit, Misery 2.0, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, Black Mesa, Call of Duty: Galactic Warfare... those are all modifications. They're extensions of the tools or games that they were originally built upon. Some of what I named above have become their own games, while others have simply built up a nice audience and brought in new gamers to older games.

Modding is a community driven affair that has been hit hard lately by a lot of bigger publishers and one of the developers on the original DayZ mod has made it known that mods are essential for the growth of gaming and they certainly aren't dead, no matter how hard publishers try to kill the modding scene.

Ausgamers managed to nab an interview with DayZ production assistant Matthew Lightfoot, who stated that...
"We’re still coming to terms with some of things," ... "People are still streaming DayZ, and getting thousands of followers every night, and this is on a buggy mod for a three year old game -- we just didn’t think it was going to happen."

It really was a surprise success and would not have been possible without modding tool support in the Arma engine. I'm pretty sure Bohemia's president is smiling a big fat smile right now thinking about how much money they're rolling in for keeping the game and engine mod-friendly. The possibilities are just about nigh endless.

Lightfoot goes on to talk about the flipside of the margin, the fire under the pot that tries to evaporate the stew of the modding community, saying..
“The exec producer on Battlefield: Bad Company said something along the lines of “modding is dead”; well we certainly buried it alive didn’t we,"... "I loved ArmA because of the customisability: you could download a mod and get a new aircraft -- there was so many mods for it, and that’s what kept me playing. I’ve sunk thousands of hours into ArmA before DayZ even came about, and it expanded the lifecycle of the game indefinitely.

"So I certainly don’t think modding is dead. When you look at Half-Life and Black Mesa on the Source Engine, these things are huge games. So I don’t think it’s likely to die in the foreseeable future."

EA and Activision have been working in overtime to lockdown and close-up file access to their games, using the latest in encoding and compression technology to prevent people from ripping assets from games or repacking assets to mod their games. It's unbelievably silly to think people would go to such lengths to prevent the community growth of their title, but those are how the dice fall, folks.

Regarding that interview about Bad Company, Ausgamers provides a link to that quote that refers to Gameplanet, where DICE producer Patrick Bach stated that...
“It’s sad to say," ... "We’ve seen some cool mods but since games are getting more complicated to build, it’s also getting more complicated to mod them, so it’s a declining trend as we see it. Sad but true."

I don't know about Bach, but I find modding games these days way easier than back in the day when you needed boot disks and external memory management tools just to free up enough expanded memory to mod a darn game. Anyone else remember that frightening process of having to z-node maps for older titles and hoping you had enough free memory available that it wouldn't crash in the process and completely ruin all your saved work? Yeah, sorry Bach, I can't agree about it being more complicated despite the technology being more advanced.

We have tools these days that allow us to build maps from within the actual engine software, something that used to require a handful of different programs back in the day, because you had one for the geometry, one for the textures, one for compiling the map and another to actually view-test the map. Things didn't get easy until about Worldcraft 2.0.

Nevertheless,, DICE has been throwing around the “complicated” bit rather frequently as an excuse not to open up Battlefield games to modding anymore; citing that the engineering difficulty would be beyond the scope of most modders and it may not be worth it. I say, screw the status quo of what's “difficult” or not. Some of the modders out there could be the future designers of the next big franchise... I say let 'em have a crack at the assets and see what they come up with. DLC agendas be damned!

DICE's other excuse was that mods might cause hacks, but if Just Cause 2's multiplayer is anything to go by, it did just the opposite: it created a new scope for how we could possibly see what a multiplayer infrastructure could look like for Just Cause 3, something that wasn't necessarily on the table until the modders made the multiplayer beta for a game that didn't even support multiplayer in the first place.

Anyway, the world of gaming is better off with DayZ and we have Bohemia to thank first and foremost for that. While the public alpha for DayZ Standalone is still sketchy, at least it's on the way and we have a dozen or so other post-apocalyptic games trying to tie in the emergent survival aspects with other concepts such as Minecraft or Simcity with games like State of Decay and 7 Days to Die, titles that managed to receive a big boost thanks to the Arma II mod.

More than anything – just like the indie devs – modding is looking to continue to shape the future of innovation for video games, something that's nearly the opposite of just about every other big-budget AAA title out there... with the exception of Volition Software and Saints Row. Good on them for that.
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