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My First Experience Modding Video Games

While I have always been a gamer, what attracted me to PC gaming was the ability to modify the games you played.

My first experience modding video games were with TES III Morrowind, and though my time was limited, I knew I had discovered something great. The ability to add, subtract or change content completely altered my perspective on how to play games.

I explored the various mods by starting small, adding texture packs or UI improvements to make the visuals superb. Aesthetics only held my attention for a short while as I began to search the web for additional content to the actual game itself.

But, tragedy struck and due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to continue my adventure.

Fast forward several years. I was in college with my rig, much better internet, and the hottest TES game on the market, Skyrim.  I ended up playing the vanilla version for several years before I again dove into modding. When I finally had the time to pursue modding in earnest it was 2014 and the modding community had changed drastically. Compared to when I initially attempted it, modding was much easier, cleaner, and organized.

I was so blown away by the variety that I went excite-crazy installing mod after mod after mod. My lack of knowledge and over-eagerness to play was a fatal mistake as I quickly ran into problems. My client would crash, I would experience horrible FPS drops that could last for minutes and usually lead to a client crash. Every boot up was a new game because of corrupt save files and, unknown to me at the time, multiple mods were conflicting with each other causing an untold amount of issues. Eventually, my frustration turned into determination, and I spent the entirety of winter break studying modding and how to do it correctly.

After weeks of reading and hours of testing, I declared myself ready.

I booted up Mod Organizer and began to implement all that I had learned. The actual process of preparing the game for play took over an hour. With multiple checks, practice runs, and ensuring the files were stable, I booted up for the first time and began a completely new game from the original. Skyrim looked amazing. The visuals were enhanced, the atmosphere was what you would expect in a frigid northern wasteland or dark, frozen forest. Combat was also upgraded, and not just stats but AI as well. Rather than charge blindly or engage in a half-measured attempt to take cover, enemies would utilize their environment to gain the upper hand. My favorite mod, however, was Hunterborn. An immersion mod that specifically set out to make exploring the wintery world real. A real pet peeve I had with vanilla Skyrim was the ability to jump into a large body of water and not suffer any penalty. Hunterborn would give you hypothermia, loss of dexterity even partial blindness.

It was perfect.

I played for several hours, drunk on my triumph. My first experience with modding was wonderful, enriching a great opportunity to learn more about the games I love. It gave me a better appreciation of what game developers do, and to not take the vanilla game so lightly. Sure they can be messy at times, but what makes a game great isn’t how smooth it is. It’s the enjoyment it delivers.

Collin Dowdy
Written by
Monday, 06 June 2016 00:00
Published in Editorial

Collin is just another college grad who realized how much real life gets in the way of video games. So in a valiant effort to avoid real life, Collin is taking a step beyond just watching and playing video games and is now writing about what he plays. He enjoys RPGs, strategy/grand strategy, platformers and story/puzzle games. Outside of video games, Collin goes to work and plays on his 3DS or world builds. He's always watching Twitch. It's a wonderful life.

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