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The word modification, has its origins in the latin word modificare, which means to control, to set the

bounds of something, or to moderate. Today, the slang term modding is more frequently used,
especially when it comes to the virtual world or anything technologically complex. Its synonymous to
words such as alter, rework, revamp, adapt and customize.
Modding something is the act of changing the function of any object, hardware or a computer program
to perform differently from the way it was delivered or envisioned by its designers.
Virtually any alteration to a product can be classified as modding, from fine tuning a cars engine or
bodywork, overclocking a computer to changing the buttons on your favorite shirt. Going even further
things such as piercings and tattoos can also be classified as body modifications, songs performed by
different artists and different interpretations of mythology and history are also forms of modifications.
However modifying something can have legal implications, many countries have laws in place which
limit or prohibit the modification of certain objects of programs either to ensure the protection of copy
rights or to discourage potentially harmful or unsafe alterations to delicate systems.
Most often however altering software is often encouraged by companies, a programs source code can
be provided along with the program itself as to encourage customization and tailoring of the software to
an individuals needs. Many programming jobs require the employee to work with the tools and source
code provided by the workplace.
Gaming consoles can be modified to allow the execution of illegal CD or DVD copies of games or simply
of games which were purchased in other regions as to those initially distributed by the producers, or
maybe simply just backup copies.
To enable this however, a console must undergo either a softmod or a hardmod, a software modification
or a hardware modification. Software modifications tend to be more popular since its usually cheaper
and more easy to perform, and there are less risks involved in doing so.
However modifying console games is very rare and discouraged, console games are regulated by the
producers, thus consoles are considered to be a closed platform, meaning that not everybody can
release content for it. This can actually be beneficial to consoles as their main function is gaming, and
thus they lack ways of protecting against malicious code that can be introduced by someone if content is
not moderated, but on the other hand this situation can also be exploited by greedy developers as the
diversity of additional content is small, they can release minuscule additions to games, such as map-
packs and reskins and charge big sums of money for content that could otherwise be obtained for free
as a mod on computers.
Though probably the most popular console modifications are related to aesthetics, such as changing the
shape or color of the case, adding in LED lights or a better cooling system.
When it comes to games on personal computers however, many developers support the practice of
modding and also profit from it indirectly.
The popular game Counter-Strike was originally a modification of Valves Half-Life, which helped its
sales dramatically, before being developed as a stand-alone game. Just as the game The Stanley Parable
was a modification of Half-Life 2, which later on became its own game, and many other such examples,
with probably the most famous one to date being the DotA (Defense of the Ancients) modification for
the game Warcraft III, which spawned its own genre of games called MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle
Arena), some games belonging in this category are League of Legends, Dota2, Dawngate, Heroes of
Newerth, etc.

Video game modding is a popular practice, since a game can have many modifications at one time, the
original word modification has been abbreviated to simply calling each individual modification a mod.
Each small mod can add a huge range of alterations to a game, some fix perceived deficiencies or bugs
within the game itself which might have been overlooked or sometimes ignored by the developers, they
allow the player to customize their experience of a game, or revitalize it, some mods intend to improve
the games looks by providing higher resolution textures or models and other times they can change the
gameplay mechanics by introducing a twist or a new element to the game adding in a new layer of
complexity or giving it a distinct flavor which the original product lacked.
However this practice is not always beneficial, as games can be altered by people with subpar skills
which might end up harming the experience rather than enriching it, and sometimes due to the
widespread availability of mods, people may occasionally refuse to play the original unmodified game
probably believing that without mods the game is unplayable or doesnt offer a worthwhile experience.
Which essentially undermines the efforts of the game creators which provided the very platform these
mods operate on.
With mods being so widespread, a few patterns on the types of mods that can be created can be
observed:
Overhaul, these types of mods replace a wide array of game-assets, they can aim for the artistic
aesthetics of a game replace textures and meshes, they can tweak the lights, shadows reflections and
other visual aspects of a game and even add in new sounds, music and even voiced dialogue, but often
go further by tweaking mechanics and gameplay aspects, adding in various new elements to the game
and not only enriching the overall experience, but revitalizing it as a whole.
Total Conversions are similar to overhauls with the exception that the general aim is to create an
entirely new game based on the foundations of the original, the changes are often very extensive and
core gameplay aspects can be altered, a total conversion can have be a different genre of game from the
original. Total Conversions usually only require the original games engine to run and often derive from
games whos engine became freeware or open source.

Add-on: An addon is usually small mods that add or modify only a small aspect of the game, they can be
things such as adding in a new item to the game such as a new weapon in a shooter , a new playable
map, expanding upon an existing character thus giving them depth, which may help the player become
more immersed or enjoy the game more. Addons dont have to change the original games content but
merely work with it in a new way.
An Expansion, is similar to an addon, although the scale is much bigger, expansions usually rely on
modding tools that are usually either provided by the games original developers or created by the
community to help with more easily modifying the game. As the addon, the expansion doesnt
necessarily have to change content within the original game, usually, an expansion can add many new
items to the game, a new landmass to explore or a bigger number of maps to play in, it can add new
characters, but doesnt modify gameplay or artistic aspects of the game.
Another type of mod is an unofficial pach which is usually an effort by the community to fix bugs that
were overlooked or not yet present in official patches and extend the games stability and functionality.
And while almost everybody can create a mod, those that manage to create truly spectacular additions
to a game, often gain popularity within the gaming world and have an easier time landing a good job in
the gaming industry.

Game developers in favor of modding usually release powerful editors and supporting tutorials in order
to help the community in developing high quality mods. An example of such a tool is The Elder Scrolls
Construction Set, this editor was shipped with the game Morrowind and is available for download for
the game Oblivion. This editor gives extensive control over content but is difficult to learn to utilize
properly. The mods created by this tool are usually saved as plug-in files, with a .esp extension and
occasionally as .esm for more complex master-files mods. These modifications are then loaded into
the game through the provided launcher or a third-party program and can thus be enjoyed by the
players. Fans exchange these mods freely online through various websites and, through them, they can
change anything about the game from creating new character abilities to adding huge mansions into the
side of a cliff overlooking a city of giant mushroom-towers or creating an entirely new plotline. The file
sizes of community made plug-ins can be as small as a few kilobytes if they just edit basic game settings,
or they could be a few gigabytes if they add a large amount of new content.

These larger files tend to provide a large amount of extra files such as meshes and textures, that can
occasionally lead to errors if not installed properly, however due to extensive support of the developers,
the process of installing mods is as easy as unpacking an archive into the right folder and in case
anything goes wrong the community is happy to provide help for those in need.

Due to the amount of support for modifications, these games enjoy a long shelf-life, and mods are still
being developed for them even decades after their release.
The Construction Set features 3 main sections, the object window, the cell viewer and the render
window.
The object window is a large list of every object within the game, lights, walls, NPCS, containers, plants,
etc.
Each of these is split into categories for ease of navigation, and each object is assigned an ID, different
statistics are present for each object such as the number of times it exists within the gameworld, if it has
any scripts attached to it, its in-game name, the meshes and sounds it uses and so on.
Placing any object in the world is as easy as dragging-and dropping said object onto the render-window,
however properly positioning it takes a bit of practice and getting used to. Other sections can also be
opened through use of the tabs at the top of the main window. These include the scripting window and
the dialogue window. The scripting language is robust and well documented, the few limitations that
exist are usually bypassed by external fan-made programs such as a script-extender which introduces a
variety of new possibilities to complement the already present system.
The render window shows by default the 3d world and everything in it, its used for navigation purposes,
placing objects, and also has the functionality of a terrain editor, and can display different animations
and useful statistical data that the user can toggle on or off depending on the situation.
And lastly the cell-viewer, presents a list of locations called cells within the game, and provides tools
for interacting with them, the user can set general weather conditions from here, give or modify names
of cells and define if a cell is in an exterior environment or an interior one.

With the growing popularity of The Elder Scrolls series, the latest addition to the franchise, Skyrim,
presents an even more powerful editor, The Creation Kit, and along with a huge dedicated community, a
vast number of weird, interesting, fun and bizarre mods have emerged in the past few years that offer
every one of its users the exact level of customization that they desire, and endless hours of
entertainment.