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Video games can be a great pastime, whether someone is playing on a console, a computer, or even on a mobile phone. Some of these platforms allow for customization based on the tastes of the individual player. These modifications - or mods - can provide many different avenues, allowing for customized user interfaces, help with quests, easier maps to read, and in some cases, content that is missing or cut from the game.
In this article, we'll look at the types of modifications that a player can have in this PC game mod madness.
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What Are Mods?
So what are mods? Modifications - or as gamers call them, mods - are simply changes to a game that can aid a player, either by helping with quest objectives, changing the user interface, or helping with that player's character or class. Mods can be created by the game developers or by fans of the game who want certain abilities or aspects that were not available in the original game release.
Mods by the game developer are known as patches. Patches are developed in order to address a flaw or a bug that happens in a game. For instance, in a quest, the end boss does not respawn for a group or the reward - aka loot - isn't dropped by the boss. These patches are usually announced when the player begins their game - if Internet based - or can be done by having the option to automatically install updates when they become available.
While game developers will come out with patches, it is the gaming community that are the major contributor to making mods. This is usually in response to a missing aspect that players think helps their game play; in other cases, it's in an event to fix a problem that the game developers have not yet addressed. For example, when the Sims 3 was released, players experienced issues dealing with the new Story Mode featured in the game.
Two different modifications were developed in order to get around this game hurdle, which was finally answered by the developer a few months later.
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Types of Mods
There are different types of mods, though it's usually the game that determines the types of mods that can be used. For action games, mods can include things that can help your playing class or race or that can help you with quests; simulation games might have mods that allow for different customization for certain objects or allow for objects to be included.
To help explain the types of mods that can be used, we'll look at three video games - The Sims, WoW, and KOTOR.
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Mods - The Sims
The Sims has always been a popular platform for players to express their creative talents when it comes to making the game as individualistic as possible. The original game, it's two sequels, and the add on packs have a huge listing of modifications that can be done including speeding up the amount of time for skills (like cooking, studying, reading, etc) to adding extra majors for the Sims 2 University expansion to adding in extra furniture.
The Sims as a whole is popular with a lot of gamers and as such, there are a lot of websites that offer free or paid mods that players can download and then upload into their game. The new game sequel is that of the Sims 3, which was released in June 2010, and includes a lot of the customization that many mods had brought in the original game and that of Sims 2. Mods can be found on several websites -
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World of Warcraft
Unless you have no access to any type of technology what so ever, you've probably heard of one of the fastest growing and most popular massive multiplayer online RPG games of all time called World of Warcraft.
For action and RPG games such as WoW, the types of mods available vary. There are mods for each class within the game, mods to help with quests, and mods that can customize the action buttons. The game interface itself is actually very basic, but can get beginners as far as the level cap; however, many players have found that having the modifications actually helps within their game play.
For instance, the mod Omen helps notify players who is generating the most aggro (threat) for the mobs that they are facing. This is important, especially in gorup situations when enemies decide to attack say the lowest leveled player. There is also Auctioneer, which is a great addon for those players who make their money in the environment's auction house.
Like the Sims, WoW has many websites in which you can search and download mods for the game -
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Knights of the Old Republic
With the upcoming release of LucasArts Star Wars: The Old Republic, a modification list would be nothing without mentioning the mods for the two games that started it - Knights of the Old Republic and it's sequel, The Sith Lords. Known as KOTOR to fans, the PC versions of both games have many types of modifications, though none as big as the mods for the Sith Lords.
The sequel to one of the most successful video games for BioWare, TSL was done by game developer Obsidian who had been under tight deadlines to finish and distribute the game by the holiday season. Because of the rush, a lot of the game content was unfortunately cut from the final production, which left many holes within the game's plot. Many players felt that the end result wasn't as good as the original, however a group of players known as the TSL Restoration Project, began to restore the cut content in order to make the completed game.
Sadly, the project seems to be at a stand still, however there are a few websites that have some of the cut content. One of the cut scenes was that of the HK droid factory, which is mentioned when the player speaks to the HK-47.
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Why Do Mods?
So now that you know a little about the kinds of games that could be modded, why do players mod their games? Why don't they just play the game as is? Using modifications isn't just about a difference in game play, it's more about giving the player more control over their characters and their game as a whole.
Sims players use their mods in order to bring a more realistic view to their games, either by adding in certain job careers or majors or by dropping in a celebrity to marry their custom made Sim. World of Warcraft players user their mods to help with quests, the auction house, and even their interface in order to play the game more efficiently, while KOTOR players can use mods to have the characters on certain planets or to restore cut content.
The use of mods can help a player achieve a better playing field when fighting off the computer or other players, but usually it's to give not only a better sense of control in the game, but to allow the player a greater feeling of being a part of the game.
Image content @ The Sims.com; Blizzard