A modder’s paradise: the joy of breaking a game for even more enjoyment

Sometimes modifying a game can become a dream come true, and sometimes it can be a total nightmare. So why spend so much time doing it in the first place? Let’s explore the joys of breaking something to make it even better.

When I first joined the Game informer team, I immediately launched my vertical Mod Corner because it’s something I’ve been very passionate about over the years. While I’ve made a few modifications here and there in the past, I’m mostly someone who enjoys using the amazing creations that come out of this particular community. For those unfamiliar, the modding community is huge and filled with passionate fans who love to play with the inner workings of some of our favorite games. From total re-enactments to little comic jokes, the mod microcosm is a world unto itself, and it’s a world that has offered me another layer of comfort and happiness within the gaming realm that I appreciate more than I can convey.

I get a common question regarding my column: “Why tweak, why not just enjoy the game?” It is not about not enjoying. Not always. Sometimes of course there are mods that are meant to correct sloppy design aspects, most commonly seen in the Skyrim and Dragon Age modding communities, but that’s just one niche of a much larger network. Sometimes, it is the ultimate tribute to a beloved adventure. A good analogy I can think of is this: As a child, did you ever take your favorite toy apart to see its inner workings? To understand it better? Do you enjoy previously unknown aspects of said toy? Is the same! To love a game is to understand it and resonate with it. Mods take that love and exploration even further, playing with the virtual world itself and adding a part of you to the mix.

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As you’ve probably guessed from looking at all the Mass Effect pieces I write, I have no problem replaying an adventure if it’s the right one for me. That said, the ability to tweak creates an opportunity to make a replay session feel fresh and brand new. This can be seen with the full conversion mods that are currently in the works, such as Skywind. It can also be seen with already available options that add much-needed comedy to Wasteland from the Fallout series. Modding is not about avoiding the creative vision of studios; it’s about appreciating, understanding, and ultimately contributing to that vision.

Sure, there are times when I’ve overdid myself a bit in the past with certain mods, like applying over a hundred mods to a new Morrowind game. And sometimes that makes me lose all my progress and makes me want to throw the keyboard across the room, but there is an element of exploration that makes the well far exceed the bad. There are even times when searching for the perfect combination of mods offers almost the same thrill of going through a rabbit hole learning something new. It is exciting, it is unknown and you never know where you are going to land. That joy that comes from discovering something new and something worth delving into is the same feeling I get when all those little mod pieces fit together to make the perfect image. Sometimes it’s a pain in the butt, but most of the time, the payoff is worth it.

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One of my favorite mods that I choose is the simple retexture mods that alter the appearance of my character. Whether that means new hairstyles for my Commander Shepard or creating a whole new persona like in games like Cyberpunk 2077, making small changes like that helps the immersion factor. Now I can suddenly create a character that looks exactly like me. Or I can create one that looks like any like me to promote fantasy. That’s the beauty of modding – the choice is yours! This is taking the power of games and adapting it to the whims of the player. It’s about rebuilding, not destruction. It’s about giving birth to new experiences or providing a reason to relive previous trips. He is the hero you want to be; is creating the joke when you want to laugh. It’s about dedication and admiration around the art of game design. It’s so much more than those NSFW mods out there. Numerous awesome mod makers do this job for free due to their love of gaming. And that’s why I do Mod Corner. It’s a tribute to those who do so much to make games even better, and it’s a way of sharing some of the mods that have enriched my own gaming experiences with our wonderful community.

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