Monday, July 02, 2007


I’m not sure if I should be impressed by what users can do to games or appalled by it. Well, OK, mostly I’m impressed but just a tiny bit worried that game developers will take this as a license to not craft their games carefully.

Let me speak to specifics. A while back I mentioned a review of the game UFO:ET. I ended up with a 7.2 score for the game out of 10. This is a respectable score indicating a well built game with some noticeable flaws but nothing that ruins the experience.

After finishing the review I started looking around for any patches or mods that could improve my experience. I was very pleasantly surprised to find one called “BMAN UFO mod” that actually combines several other user created modifications along with Bmans own mods into one large mod pack.

The game experience with these mod packs is much better than just the straight release was. There are multiple key improvements but my favorites were the inclusion of keyboard shortcuts for common tactical activities like standing up or kneeling down, the ability to reserve time for a snap or burst shot, the inclusion of line of sight (LOS) indicators, and the ability to hire and fire squaddies.

In addition to these there are many, many more enhancements and bug fixes. All of the enhancements are controllable using a new menu system that was also modded right into the game.

It was interesting to note that when the first official game patch was released many of these fixes and improvements were also included – requiring BMan to change his mod pack to remove many of the, now redundant, fixes and enhancements.

I like that games can be changed to suit the user. My enjoyment of UFO:ET is much greater now that it was in its initial release because of the work of these modders. I’ve very much enjoyed the user created content for Neverwinter Nights and other games.

The only qualm I have is a worry that game developers (or rather their overlords) may push to release an incomplete, buggy, or poorly executed game secure in the knowledge that if the license or game play gains enough interest that the user community will modify it to work correctly. That certainly couldn’t happen with most games but things that fit into rabid niche markets (like this X:COM clone or what about the upcoming Fallout 3) will rely on users to fix the problems that shouldn’t belong to them.

1 comment:

The Rampant Coyote said...

This isn't entirely a new deal. After Quake I was released, the joke went around about how id Software let their fans finish their games for them.

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