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McMillan’s Codex #55 by C.T. McMillan

Modded

As a console gamer, sometimes I envy PC abilities. Computer gamers can change out graphics cards for upgrades, use mouse and keyboard, and have easier access to online features.  And there are mods.

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Mods are additions or alterations to videogames.  This can include texture/model/audio swaps, cheats for gameplay, or a completely different game built from the ground up.  Mods can even improve games, like the PC releases of Dark Souls.  The possibilities are endless , and the fact modding is impossible on consoles is depressing.

Bethesda fully embraces the creativity of the mod community.  The company encouraged mods to their games by releasing Creation Kits for their Fallout and Elder Scrolls games.  As a result, new weapons, armor, characters, and gameplay elements have been created by fans and are available open-source online.  There is a mod to display the full dialog options for Fallout 4, another that changes the dragons in Skyrim into The Macho Man Randy Savage, and a mod that creates a whole other scenario in New Vegas.

With Fallout 4 and the upcoming re-master of Skyrim, Bethesda wanted to bring mods to consoles.  Using their free online service, you can download mods directly to the game.  While there is a limit to how much memory you can use, this is one step closer to having full mod support.  However, when the June launch date came and went, only the Xbox-One was given mod support, and PS4 owners like myself were left out.  For months I wondered what happened before word came down from Bethesda earlier in the month:

After months of discussion with Sony, we regret to say that while we have long been ready to offer mod support on PlayStation 4, Sony has informed us they will not approve user mods the way they should work: where users can do anything they want for either Fallout 4 or Skyrim Special Edition.

Like you, we are disappointed by Sony’s decision given the considerable time and effort we have put into this project, and the amount of time our fans have     waited for mod support to arrive. We consider this an important initiative and we hope to find other ways user mods can be available for our  PlayStation audience. However, until Sony will allow us to offer proper mod   support for PS4, that content for Fallout 4 and Skyrim on PlayStation 4 will not be available.

We will provide an update if and when this situation changes.

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I am frustrated, but not surprised.  I expect nothing less from the company that lost custody of Spider-Man, allowed the creation of Pixels, and thought remaking Ghostbusters was a good idea.  For a long time I thought Sony’s gaming department was better than the company as a whole.  The way they handled their systems, the games, and their developers in the past was the pinnacle of management.  After this story, however, I worry what may come in the future.  The real question is why would Sony deny mods?  Why would they stifle creativity when their competition seems to be getting along just fine?

One likely answer is in-game achievements.  Mods are essentially cheat codes where you can do whatever you want, including avoiding the element of challenge.  From what I gather, Sony takes achievements very seriously, and they want to make sure player get them honestly.  Why any human being would care about rewards in a game baffles me.  If they were monetary incentives, then I would understand.

Another answer is the risk of performance issues.  I found out that Sony wanted all of the mods tested on PS4 before they were made available.  Bethesda just wanted to put them out regardless of impact because they know their fans are creative people.  I totally understand because mods tend to affect performance and Sony would like their console to function at peak efficiency.  Bethesda is also notorious for letting bugs and glitches ship with their games.  You could argue that Sony is just looking out for themselves, but Bethesda also knows their fans are talented enough to fix their games, and share those fixes with the rest of the community.

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To be honest, I do not know the real reason, nor does anyone else.  But what I do know is that as a player, having creative control over my games is a great opportunity.  If I remain confined to a closed system, I have no choice by to break free.  Bethesda is the best user-friendly developer that understands their fans.  Perhaps the time has come that I learn how to build a proper computer and abandon consoles.

_______

CT McMillan 1

C.T. McMillan (Episode 169) is a film critic and devout gamer.  He has a Bachelors for Creative Writing in Entertainment from Full Sail University.

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