Adding Mods Without Fuss
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Gmod aims to get your mods working with a minimum of fiddling and fuss
The joys of being a PC gamer! Thanks to the modability of our platform, only we can patch the ugly out of a game, utilize tools to help us keep track of WoW’s economy, and randomly slap Iron Man into GTA4, no questions asked. That’s pretty badass. We understand that some folks, though, don’t always have the time to unzip things, crawl through directories hidden all over their PCs, do forum research, and tussle with conflicting mods. Cue Gmod. This mod-management tool’s aim is to greatly ease the mod-enabling process, expediting.
Crafted by Olympus Games, Gmod is a tool that wants to help you get your mods working “faster, safer, and easier than before!”
For the past few months, they’ve been running a closed beta that supports the likes of Skyrim, Torchlight, and Fallout: New Vegas. Now they’re hoping to be able to support more games, including World of Warcraft, Half-Life 1 and 2, Minecraft, and even—amazingly—the Thief series.
“We’ve been pounding the code for more than two years constructing a system that will support all mod types for all games,” they say, “and we’re almost complete!” The Gmod client will allow automatic syncing, one-click enabling and disabling of mods, easy ways to find and share mods, and the ability to use mods from any source. This provides benefits over the Steam Workshop, which is limited only to games available on Steam.
Gmod is drumming up support right now, with a Kickstarter campaign that’s seeking $75,000 to fund the thing. One can access the beta client for $5, or pony up $15 for that plus a year-long subscription. A small price to pay, surely, to facilitate the appearance of certain Marvel superheroes in our gritty, serious fantasy RPGs.
REDkit closed beta screens show modders’ gorgeous Witcher 2 forests
Earlier this week, CD Projekt RED posted a gallery of closed beta creations built with its REDkit mod tools. Oh, the places we’ll go! Experienced modders accepted into the beta program have already used The Witcher 2 tinkering suite to sculpt cliffs, lakes, and rivers lavished with robust forests.
I’m ready to lace up my hiking boots, and according to the official REDkit page, the tools should be out of closed beta soon. Until then, fill your eyes with more green screens here.
Tripwire on making games moddable: “It’s a lot of work. But I think that it’s worth it.”
Tripwire Interactive is one of the handful of studios that have made the jump from modest modding origins to professional, full-time, make-your-mom-proud game development. Until last year, the studio operated out of the bottom floor of a Georgia church. And through releasing Red Orchestra 2 and the 1.7-million-selling Killing Floor (originally a mod), Tripwire has encouraged and regularly rewarded modders and map-makers.
As Red Orchestra 2 was being developed, Tripwire committed to creating an SDK during development, allowing modders to get cracking before the game’s release. With modding support for modern games less ubiquitous than we’d like it to be, I asked Tripwire President John Gibson how hard it was for Tripwire to build mod support while they were developing the game itself.
“It was a honestly a massive effort. At some point and times we had our entire engineering team, our entire code team, working on just supporting the SDK while we were still developing [Red Orchestra 2]. There would be like a month where we’d be like, ‘Okay, this month we have to catch the SDK up so that the guys in Rising Storm can keep working.’ It was a lot of work. But I think that it’s worth it. One of the big strengths of the PC as a platform is moddability,” says Gibson.
In addition to Rising Storm. Gibson mentions that more Red Orchestra 2 mods are in development: In Country: Vietnam, WWI mod Grabenkrieg, and vehicle add-ons. “As a developer it’s so fun to me to be able to experience that content. Because when you’re developing something, you see it … and you play it a thousand times before it’s finished. But when mod content comes out, I get to experience it just like a fan, and it’s very exciting.”
Gibson also offers a polite critique to DICE about Battlefield 3′s lack of moddability. “They’ve openly come out and said ‘We won’t give out mod tools because we don’t think that modders are smart enough or good enough–I can’t remember the exact quote–to use our tools. And I think that that’s just a shame because one of the things particularly in the early days that made Battlefield such a success was Desert Combat. I’ve heard from mostly reliable sources that 50 percent of the people that were buying Battlefield 1942 were buying it to play Desert Combat. And not giving out mod tools has limited Battlefield 3 to any of that kind of innovation,” says Gibson. “It’s a real shame because, you know, there might be some really cool shooter that would come out of that, or a really cool mod. And the fans are losing out because of that.”
Tripwire’s currently having a ludicrous sale on Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45, Red Orchestra 2, and Killing Floor through the Humble Weekly Sale, which runs through this weekend.
World of Tanks gets a My Little Pony mod, as reality descends into farce
I was surprised enough to see a World of Tanks advert on primetime UK telly, but thanks to this latest WoT development my face is now perma-frozen in shock, like those poor unfortunate souls out of Ring.PCGamesN bring news that someone has made a My Little Pony mod for World of Tanks. Well, actually it’s a number of existing mods bundled together into a whopping 5-6gb collection that adds pony skins and decals, among other things. Full, terrifying details here.
Together, the mods form a complete overhaul of the game, replacing standard voices with shrill pony ones, and stuffing rainbows into every available crevice. It’s almost cute, and kind of funny, until you remember about bronies and you never, ever stop screaming. There’s an exhaustive forum post courtesy of creator RelicShadow, which details the included mods, and will guide you through the installation process, if you fancy ponying up. The mod itself can be begotten here.
DICE retreat from BF3′s war on colours by adding ‘disable colour grading’ option
Colour-tweaking mods have become fairly popular over the last few years, as visual filters degrade what could be beautiful environments for the sake of authenticity or style. In a game like Fallout, rectifying the game’s very green visuals is as simple as installing the Fellout mod; try that in Battlefield 3 and you risk having your account banned, over fears that it gives an unfair advantage. Well, DICE have finally seen sense, revealing that the game’s next update will add “a console command for disabling the color grading entirely in the game”, meaning that such mods should now be unnecessary.
As discovered by PCGamesN on the MordorHQ forums, EA Dice staffer Mikael Kalms said that “there will be a console command for disabling the color grading entirely in the game included with the next PC game client update. We believe that turning it off gives no major competitive advantage/disadvantage.”
However, he did go on to reveal that the “IRNV scope and a few others which turn the image into greyscale or greenscale don’t work properly without color grading and will look real ugly,” and also that “there will be no in-game UI for turning it on/off”, so you will have to rely on console commands to achieve the desired effect. Still, you can now pretty up your game without risking a ban, so it’s a minor victory for common sense. You can see pics of what BF3 looks like without colour grading here (achieved via this mod), which is where we grabbed the image for this post.
Update (Oct 23, 2012) – DICE has decided not to implement the feature
DICE has retreated from its retreat, and will not be adding in a “disable colour grading” option. Mikael Kalms posted an update in the forums which reads:
After discussing this further with my colleagues, we have decided to not implement this feature. This is the studio’s take on this matter, and I support this decision:
“As a studio, it is extremely important for us at DICE to have a unique identity in our games, not only from a gameplay perspective, but visually as well. While we appreciate that some players might want a slightly different look to the game, we are proud of the visual identity of Battlefield 3 and do not wish to change it.”
I apologize for getting anybody’s hopes up, and if you have any further questions on this subject, I will refer back to the above statement.
The Pretty Scary Update - everything we know so far.
Alongside the usual technical tweaks and bug fixes, Minecraft 1.4 is set to introduce some clever and curious new features, many of which you can see for yourself if you fancy downloading the latest developer snapshot. Be aware that, of course, this is a work in progress and not representative of everything 1.4 will offer, but here's some of what we can expect.
Much less fiddling around with mods
One of the biggest changes to the game is taking place behind the scenes, with the creation of a new modding API for servers which will finally allow server-side mods to be pushed out to players. In plainer language, that means no more messing around with mods before connecting to someone else’s game, their server will shuttle over all that you need. For many Minecrafters this will be a welcome release from tinkering inside the guts of their game.
Bigger, scarier, nastier mobs
Freed from all that fiddling with add-ons, players will be able to focus their attention on a burgeoning monster problem. There's the powerful Wither boss to contend with, with its three heads, the sword-wielding Wither skeleton and the recently announced witch.
There’s also the possibility for zombies and skeletons to use or even spawn with equipment, so don’t be surprised if you spot the occasional monster waving a shovel or even sporting a few pieces of armour. Will this make them tougher and more dangerous? You bet, particularly if that equipment is enchanted, which there's a small chance it could be. At the moment, it looks like they won't always drop what they're carrying, much as skeletons don't drop bows.
Zombies now baldly attack villagers and, after a bit of clawing and nibbling, will convert them into big-nosed zombie villagers. There’s a 50% chance of this happening on Normal difficulty, a 100% chance on Hard and, yep, that even includes baby villagers, meaning zombie babies will now be scuttling around, likely causing gamers to cry “Awww!” or “Urrgh!” according to taste. Zombified (is that even a word?) villagers can be rescued from this terrible fate, but it’s expensive as you’ll need to use both a splash Potion of Weakness and a Golden Apple.
DLC vs mods: what can Dawnguard offer that mods can't?
Skyrim’s first official piece of DLC, Dawnguard, is out today on Xbox but we'll have to wait until July 26th to play it. But whatever Bethesda do officially, they face stiff competition; from their own players. The Steam Workshop currently hosts nearly 2000 mods.
With all that, what exactly can Dawnguard offer that we can’t already get from the banquet of free morsels that have been laid on in front of us, to pick and choose between?
The most immediate answer that might spring into mind is that of voice acting, or, more generally, production values. One man teams, or even the more ambitious mod projects that have multiple members, can’t even hope to match the might of a professional development studio. They can’t playtest in the same way, they can’t iterate and iterate until it’s all perfect. They can’t squash the bugs...err... They have day jobs, and can’t devote eight hours a day to making the content and tweaking the systems.
Normally, I’d agree with you, but I’d like to draw your attention back up to that figure I pointed out in the first paragraph. Of those 2000, the vast majority of those will be terrible. But even if only ten percent are ace, then you've got 200 mods to pick from.
The problem Bethesda faces are twofold. On the one hand they can’t do anything as cynical or lazy as Horse Armour again. Not only would they be derided for it, but it would be utterly pointless. The modders would replace it with something just as good in less than twenty four hours. In the case of horse armour, they already have.
Speaking to PCGamesN, Tripwire Vice President Alan Wilson said the exclusion of modding tools from accessible genres — most notably shooters — is a choice they “really can’t wrap our heads around.”
“Why would you stop people from modding your game?” he asked. “Why would you prevent people from being creative with your material? Just look what [DayZ has] done for everyone concerned, for example. Arma 2 has been on the top-ten sales charts on Steam for about the last four months solid because of what one of their employees did for fun in his spare time.”
Originally a team of spirited modders, Tripwire elevated to a full-fledged development studio after Red Orchestra took the grand prize in Epic’s first Make Something Unreal contest. The standalone followup, Red Orchestra 2, gets its first expansion later this year.
“Frankly, we can see zero downsides to allowing people tools and letting them mod a game,” Wilson added. “I never understand why companies effectively block people from doing that stuff.”
Meanwhile, DICE recently reiterated that the closed environment it has established in Battlefield 3 should remain that way, warning players not to use a mod which affects the game’s color saturation.
DICE threatens permanent bans for users of color-editing Battlefield 3 mod
Tinkering Battlefield 3 soldiers released a mod today allowing tweaks to the displayed color levels, with the most dramatic result involving the suffusion of the pervasive blue-tinged gradient into supposedly more natural colors. The sample photo album and comparison video definitely show a stark difference between stock and modified visuals, but when asked for his input on the mod, Battlefield 3 gameplay designer Gustav Halling said it was “too colorful” and warned of possible permanent bans for users.
“[It's] too colorful,” Halling tweeted. “Also, I wouldn’t use those hacks if you don’t want a permanent ban on your account. FYI warning.”
A few posters on a reddit thread discussing the mod claim they’ve already met bans for using the program. Although the notion of DICE hefting its ban-hammer over Battlefield 3 becoming too colorful seems absurd on the surface, the company is clearly adamant about protecting the competitive standards set in the unmodified game, where filters and gradients could potentially figure into each map’s overall balance.
Try out the mod if you want with the link below at your own risk of being perm banned.
The ARMA community has rallied together and set up a site in support of the two Bohemia Interactive employees who were arrested last week after allegedly recording footage of military bases in Lemnos. The website, www.helpivanmartin.org houses a petition and an updated news feed relating to the case.
“Facing up to 20 years in prison for taking pictures of an island,” the website reads, “just like countless other tourists before them, the Czech developers are being charged with espionage. Only because they happen to work on a computer game, a game that portrays Greece as a battlefield for a fictional futuristic conflict between the USA and Iran in the year 2035.
“Ivan and Martin are no spies, but passionate community members, dedicated to the game and its experience for the player. Many of us have witnessed Ivan talking in interviews passionately about the progress of ARMA3 and all the new features, also developed by Martin.
“It’s time to show our support, not only as a community, but as players and concerned citizens, for two developers, who now face a lifetime in prison for an unfortunate misunderstanding.”
Meanwhile, Bohemia Interactive themselves have strongly rejected the accusations of espionage which have been levelled against the pair by the Greek authorities.
It’s not the first time that civilians have been detained on charges of espionage in Greece for taking photographs – in 2001 12 British plane spotters were held on spying charges. But they didn’t have the wrath of the internet at their disposal – perhaps the ARMA community, and gamerdom at large, will prove vociferous enough to give the Greek authorities pause.
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