The Top 5 Most Moddable Games

Written by Brett Thomas

June 12, 2007 | 04:34

Tags: #doom #elder-scrolls #expansion #half-life #max-payne #modification #morrowind #neverwinter-nights #quake

Companies: #mod

3: Quake

By id Software
Released: 1996
Engine: Quake

No list of the most moddable games would be complete without one of the big daddies - id software's Quake.

"But why," I hear you ask. "Quake 2 and 3 and 4 are all great games!" Well, even if we assume that to be true, nothing holds a candle to what was made for the original. Quake is actually the first ever true 3D game engine, and its single-player campaign of Strogg, nailguns and funky architecture are etched in the mind of many a gamer.

As is typical with FPS games at the time, it didn't take long before a map maker was released onto the scene, and all alien broke loose (Hell breaking loose had already been covered in Doom). The editor was complex, a little esotaric...and perfect for designing the best frag-fests you could muster against your mates. Now, where did I hide that super nailgun?

The Top 5 Most Moddable Games Quake and Morrowind The Top 5 Most Moddable Games Quake and Morrowind
Quake modding started with some homebrew maps...

With map-making in full swing, it was hard to visit a website and not find someone's favourite Quake maps, making multiplayer even more popular than it was with Doom 2. But let's be honest - just going around and shooting stuff up is fun, but it gets kind of old after a while. You need goals - dreams and ideals that the murderous adolescent in all of us can truly sink his teeth into. You need...

The Top 5 Most Moddable Games Quake and Morrowind The Top 5 Most Moddable Games Quake and Morrowind
Team Fortress - the original is still the best.

Team Fortress dropped on the scene in 1996 as one of the most popular multiplayer add-ons ever. Released as freeware, it took the world of Quake players by storm with its blend of classes, teamwork and live ammunition. Along with Team Fortress, Quake spawned another few "firsts" that we see in popular gaming today, including Capture the Flag and Rocket Arena.

Release of the source code under the GPL in 1998 has only helped maintain the popularity of the game, which is still widely played. But if you still need another reason why Quake belongs here, you need only look at what used its engine. We'd tell you, but that would be spoiling the number one most moddable game of all time...and we wouldn't want that, would we?

2: Morrowind

By Bethesda Softworks
Released: 2002
Engine: NDL 3d

You don't have to read very far back on this site to find that I'm an Elder Scrolls fan. Granted, that doesn't necessarily mean that an ES game belongs on everybody's list...but when that list is about communities making a game last for years and years, it's hard not to include one.

In particular, it's about impossible not to include Morrowind, Bethesda's third piece in the series. If you're not familiar with the concepts of Morrowind (or any other Elder Scrolls game), allow me to enlighten you. You're dropped in a world - now thrive. That's it. Pretty cool, huh?

Well, of course there's more to it than that - Morrowind is what many consider to be the pinnacle of "your own little world," filled with plots, sub-plots, sub-plots of the sub-plots, and a few million random things to go do that are just plain cool. The game is massive and thanks to the add-on content, it gets bigger every day.

Ah, yes, about that add-on content getting bigger. Yes, along with two successful expansions (Tribunal and Bloodmoon), the game has the most burgeoning mod scene of pretty much any game known. Characters, plots, buildings...hell, entire towns have been created. And as long as the developers were careful, you can have a whole host of them running in your game at once.

The Top 5 Most Moddable Games Quake and Morrowind The Top 5 Most Moddable Games Quake and Morrowind
Morrowind i one of the most heavily modded PC games ever.

Gigabytes upon gigabytes of free modifications to Bethesda's masterpiece float out in the net. Be a captain of a ship, or a pirate, or fly...or craft a suit of armor just the way you want it. Once you've done that, you can build a story arc worthy of hiding your intricately designed prize.

The modding in Morrowind, much like the modding of Neverwinter Nights, owes its success to the game's toolset. Bethesda released TECS (The Elder Scrolls Construction Set) as a freebie, included in the retail box. Though it's far from the easiest thing in the world to use, Bethesda documented it well and offered tutorials online to help kick off the modding community.

The Top 5 Most Moddable Games Quake and Morrowind The Top 5 Most Moddable Games Quake and Morrowind
TECS can change pretty much everything in the world of Morrowind.

TECS wasn't just a toy to be played with - it is the exact program that Bethesda used to make the entirety of Morrowind outside of its basic engine. Because of that, it is possible to alter, expand, improve or break pretty much any and everything in the game with a well (or poorly) designed mod. Of course, that comes with its own downsides, too - "dirty" mods that corrupt areas unrelated to them are pretty common (though usually well notated on download sites), so some care is required.

Of course, don't let that stop you - outside of the over 100 hours of gameplay you can easily get from just the official products, the modifications can offer a nearly limitless replayability. Played through using traditional classes? Download a new one. Want a new race? Make one! Tired of the same old plot? Download a new twist that completely rewrites the course of the game. After all, it's your world.
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