The Lost Art of Modding - Games Saved by Mods | Week 5

March 4, 2019
The Lost Art of Modding - Games Saved by Mods | Week 5

How could your favorite PC, console and mobile games news site not talk about mods? The lost art of modding is a weekly series on Gamebuz about the best mods for both older and more recent games. I hope that every week, you will be reminded of a great game that you’ll want to play again.

Inspired by Marija's article on games that never got a sequel I realized some games owe a lot to mods. These mods allowed games to be played on modern hardware, patched bugs after developers left or brought cut content into the game, and in doing so, saved them from failure or extended their life.

 

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

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Image source: Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines on GOG.com

We’ll start with the source of my inspiration for this week. During development there were a lot of problems, the budget was blown, it was made without a producer for almost a year, and the deadlines were coming up quickly. This left the game an unfinished mess on release.

The mod that saved it, VTMB Unofficial patch, was made by one man, a chemistry professor by the name of Werner Spahl. For the past 13 years, he has been working on making the game what it could have been.

Using concept art, strings of code hinting at content and leftover files, he started piecing together the game into what it was supposed to be. The community helped out, and even some of the developers contacted Spahl to help his efforts, they explained some of the remaining assets in the game files, what were they supposed to be used for and sent him music made for the game that was never used.

Today, most of the things missing have been added, everything was rebalanced, new levels, weapons, characters, quests and voice lines have been added. The most recent patch was on February 19th, 2019 and it makes Bloodlines a game worth playing even today.

 

Knights of the Old Republic II

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Image source: Steam Store

KOTOR 2 added a dark twist to Star Wars, every choice was in the gray zone, you never knew what to expect. Well, that’s what it was supposed to be.

In reality, it was an unfinished game, riddled with bugs and with so much content cut that it often felt empty. Entire worlds were missing and endings were cut short.

There are two mods that brought the game to its potential, TSLRP, and TSLRCM. Unfortunately, there was drama in the community, and that is the reason why there are two different mods, but that doesn’t take away from the effort that was made to complete an unfinished game with such a large following.

While digging through the game files, modders realized that the released game is very different from what it was supposed to be. The ending that’s remembered as weird and sluggish was supposed to have a completely different tone. Instead, you were meant to have a confrontation with your entire party, and there was a big scene with Atton Rand. Also, entire worlds were fragmented in the files and code, even an entire questline for HK-47, a charming assassin droid, was cut and then recreated by modders.

Neither of these mods is being updated today, but after so many years, with every last nook and cranny checked, these mods will bring you an experience that the developers wanted you to have.

 

Gothic 3

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Image source: Gothic 3 official Website

This game was released with enough bugs to make an entomologist excited. The developer and publisher had a dispute that ended with their separation. The final patch was 1.12 and it didn’t do much to fix the issues.

The publisher, Jowood released the source code to allow the most dedicated in the community to fix the game. After years of work, in 2012, the community released a 1.75 patch and the game was finally playable.

Besides the unofficial patch, a lot of quest and content packs were made to add to the gameplay.

Today, the English release is no longer being updated due to a lack of interest, but the German version is going strong and being regularly updated.

 

Honorable mentions

The mods for these games didn’t necessarily save them, but they added to the experience or revived them years later.

- Everything that Bethesda has ever released. No need to explain this one.

- ARMA II was never that popular, milsims usually have a following that consists of only the most hardcore gamers. DayZ brought a lot of players and attention to it.

- The first two Splinter Cells are unplayable on modern hardware and modders managed to fix that.

- The original Far Cry in its final patch had broken AI that tracked you through walls and mods were made to fix that.

- S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games are full of bugs and they have a tendency to crash randomly, that was fixed by, you guessed it, modders.

There are many more examples of games that were left broken or unfinished by developers and these are just some of the first that came to mind.