For all the German speakers out there, I was recently interviewed over at eGames which is a german game magazine about my thoughts on modding. Since I figure most of your German speaking skills are as bad as mine, here is the interview in English:
How would you define moddb?
Mod DB is first and foremost a site for independent game developers who want to have a shot at modifying their favourite games. For many Mod DB is a starting point where you can join a mod team and begin creating games. What begins as an enjoyable hobby can even become a full-time job if you apply yourself and show you have the skill to match it with the best. Mod DB is secondly a site for gamers who want to “play something different”. Thanks to our active community we have the latest news and downloads from all the hottest mods for all the biggest games (and small ones). So if you have finished your game but are not yet prepared to leave it to collect dust, searching for mods is a great way to extend its life and play something totally different but still with the same feel and fun-factor.
What can you say about quantity and quality of mods in the last time? Do they increase or decrease?
Modding has being growing in popularity for a long time now, as more and more mainstream gamers discover just how polished some of these indie creations are. Furthermore, more and more game developers are trying to make their titles “mod friendly” which has resulted in a much higher number of mods being built. The downside to this however, is that so many mods are started but not finished simply because the founders did not realize just how difficult mod-making can be and just how much time is required to get something done. So quantity is definitely up. As for quality, well that is a hard one to answer because there have always been quality mods. These days you really get a big mix of full blown, absolutely brilliant total conversions which look and play better than the original game, plus many hacky smaller “quick” mods (which can actually be great fun if they have the right idea). The difference these days is that games are so much more complicated. Take Quake for example, you see to make a mod for it you need a handful of textures, no models (only skins) and blam you are done. New games like Battlefield 2 require hundreds of models, realistic surroundings, extremely complicated AI and yet despite these challenges the mods being made are still fantastic so I guess you could say the quality has increased.
What do you think is the relevance of mods for gamers?
Modding is great for gamers, because it allows them to keep on playing their favourites. For example if you thought the single-player experience was over to quick or ended abruptly, you can pretty much guarantee that someone else agreed and has made their own version in the form of a mod. Sick of the weapons? No problem someone will have made weapon packs and total conversions which will keep you occupied for a while. Most of my favourite games are mods, I think that right there shows just how important mods are for gamers.
What do you think is the relevance of mods for gaming companies?
These days making a game isn’t easy. There is tons of competition and it is a complicated process which requires a big dedicated team, meaning some serious money is required to get stuff done. Because of this the industry has gone soft and isn’t prepared to take risks in the form of creative game ideas because if they flop the company will be out of business. Modders don’t suffer this limitations, they are doing it because they love it which means they can be creative, quirky and take risks. Many of the hottest new game ideas were actually devised by the modders, they are the people essentially creating the next generation of games for us to play. They inject life and excitement into an industry that is sadly dominated by sequels and movie adaptations. Plus a good mod will get more people playing the game which for them means more sales so for the game companies it is a win-win situation.
In which direction do you think will mods develop? Do you have a kind of a vision?
The mod-space has been moving in many directions lately. Some of the biggest changes we are currently seeing and will continue to see is the rise in digital distribution used to deliver new game updates / concepts (i.e. mods) to the players transparently. Want a war mod? No problem, click a button and the application will do all the work for you. Another big change has come in the form of mod teams realizing that if they can make a mod they can make a game. Hence more and more mod teams are switching to open source engines and creating their own fully fledged titles for you to play. Plus many companies are actually buying their ideas, work and employing the entire team so they can keep doing what they do, but this time with a publisher backing their creation. The biggest change however is cross-platform support and mods on consoles. The consoles are still largely locked down and closed, however Epic have announced that UT2007 mods will work on both the PS3 and the PC editions of the game. This is a great development and if these platforms start to open up more, we could see a massive shift in the popularity of modding as it is exposed to many mainstream gamers who (unlike PC users) don’t really know what is available to play beyond what they can buy in the stores. The next version of Mod DB (coming out Nov 2007) will be exploring these ideas, so let’s hope this vision plays out and long live modding!