The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has proven to have one of the strongest modding communities around since the release of tools designed specifically for the creation of new content for the RPG on Steam. This weekend at QuakeCon 2012, Bethesda hosted a panel dedicated specifically to the art of modding Skyrim and other titles like Valve’s popular Portal, Team Fortress, and Left 4 Dead franchises.
Chet Faliszek, Joel Burgess, Matt Scott and Nick Breckon sat down to cover all facets of modding. Covering numerous topics in their discussion, one thing was explicitly clear in their talk, and that’s that modding is here to stay, and should only get bigger in the future.
“There are actually a good number of things in the game which are sort of incomplete ideas that we didn’t have the ability to start on that might be tucked away in a corner here or there, that we kind of hoped modders would take and flesh out. Like the Dragon Priest mask thing, the area that you first find that thing in Skyrim. I always intended to make that a player house, and I just didn’t have time to do it. That was one of the first workshop mods that I saw go up, and that’s really gratifying to us,” explained Joel Burgess of Bethesda.
Apparently though, Mod tools are here to stay for companies like Bethesda and Valve for a number of reasons. Panelists agree that mod tools stimulate the communties for their games, uniting gamers and developers. Thinking about modders when developing their games also allows Bethesda, Valve, or any other developer the ability to add additional content into their games after the fact. In an era of downloadable content and expansions, being mod-friendly doesn’t just open games up for community made content, but keeps options open for developers when its time to think about new content.
“The gaming community has gone past this niche little group of guys,” said Chet Faliszek of Valve Software. “The community that plays games now is so big, so diverse, and so skilled and creative that it’d be silly not to have them be able to feed back into the system.”
Mods for games like Skyrim also help make the games a better experience in the long run, and can possibly impact the development of future titles for the developers. Joel Burgess explains how community created content can actually change the course of game development. “There are a number of little design debates that happen constantly throughout the process of development. We have to make a decision, one way or the other. One of the beautiful things about mods as a developer, is that you get to see someone who disagrees with that decision and went the other way. You get to see how that played out in reality. Sometimes it has influenced games.”
While modding games has been around as long as there have been games, the accessibility to these mods is something that has exploded in recent years. Giving would-be developers the professional tools to create quality content for games does a number of things. For player benefit there is no shortage of new content and personalized experiences to be had. For developers, this community driven feedback gives them a sense of what players want, what is popular within their games, and what they should be looking at when adding on to their games with expansionary content.