If you’ve been around the Web, you’ve likely heard a thing or two about “modding.” Modding might be confusing because it’s actually used to refer to quite a number of different things. However, using modding as a term to describe these things isn’t inaccurate – it’s just a general term, and if you don’t understand the context, you might not know what they’re talking about. Let’s talk about what modding, the general term, means first.
What is modding?
Modding is the act of modifying hardware or software to either perform differently or do something differently than it was originally intended to do. Modding isn’t exclusive to tech. Cars, for instance, can be modded to perform differently, such as new paint jobs or engine tuning. In this article, though, we’ll be talking about modding as it relates to tech.
Hardware modding requires installing specialized hardware into a computer/console or simply making user-end modifications to something like a case.
In PC building, case mods are quite popular. A case mod can be as simple as a new paint job or as complex as turning an NES shell into an effective computer case.
This is probably the modding you hear about the most. Software modding deals with modifying software to do something differently without changing the hardware in question. Software modding is usually used in computer and gaming software, whether to make a different version of a program or to modify the code of a pre-existing game.
Software modding is controversial when it comes to talking about gaming consoles, though. In many cases, unlicensed code running a game console allows users to play illegal copies of video games in addition to their own backups and homebrew software. Modding can also be used to cheat in online games. For these reasons modding is kind of a dirty word in the world of console gaming.
Mods can also be standalone games in their own right. More on that in a minute.
Prominent mods in PC Gaming
Mods are a frequently-touted benefit of the PC platform, but many people may have difficulty understanding just what PC game modding means, especially if their view of modding is based on how it’s used in console circles, to cheat and circumvent copyright protection methods.
Half-Life’s engine, GoldSrc, actually originates from the Quake engine. GoldSrc is heavily modified, but its successor, Source, continues to power many of Valve’s biggest games.
Speaking of Valve’s biggest games, let’s talk about the current two most-played games on Steam: Dota 2 and CS:GO. Both of these titles are sequels to what originally started as mods for other games. Dota, or Defense of the Ancients, started out as a popular mod for Warcraft. The original Dota also influenced Dota 2’s rival, League of Legends, as well as the MOBA genre in general. Meanwhile, Counter-Strike was originally a community-made modification for Half-Life.
Dota and CS have since become Valve’s biggest properties. Team Fortress 2, their Free to Play shooter (and my personal sweetheart), was originally the Team Fortress mod for Quake and has its own huge modding community eight years after release, still supplying new cosmetics, weapons and more to the game.
Mods aren’t just used to create unique games on the PC platform, either. They’re also used by PC gamers to add new features to a game, to improve graphics (as seen above with GTA V) or even to fix broken console ports.
The prominence of modding in PC gaming is huge. Modding throughout all hardware and software circles continues all the time, a community of enthusiasts always working toward making the next big thing.