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Why Bethesda Softworks should employ "Modders"

Modders have become an integral part of the Bethesda community, so why isn't the company snatching up the best-of-the-best to work for them?

Every few years Bethesda Softworks pops out a new action-packed massively open-world RPG. Typically these are new installments in the Fallout and The Elder Scrolls game series, the most recent of which is Fallout 4. Unfortunately, the size and scope of these games means that the developer simply can't polish them to perfection. That's where modding comes in. 

What is a mod?

A mod (or modification) is a file or assortment of files that will change certain aspects of one's game. There are all kinds of mods ranging from pure ridiculousness like turning all deathclaws into Thomas the Tank Engine and firing exploding babies out of the Fat Man launcher to logical, "immersive" mods that simply make the game more realistic. 

Thomas the Tank Engine Fallout 4 Mods

Currently mods are only available on PC, but it has been announced that modding will become possible on console in the near future

That's all well and good, but let's cut to the chase. 

Why should Bethesda Softworks employ modders?

Realism

Bethesda spends so much time fleshing out quests, general game functions, character and weapon models, crafting abilities, perk trees, enemies, and more that they can't focus on one of the major things people want: a truly realistic looking game. 

Among other things, modders focus on realism a lot. There are tons of texture mods to make the ground and walls look nearly tactile, character appearance mods to make players and NPCs have diversified bodies, and clothing mods that present the game with a larger wardrobe. There is even a mod out there that introduces seasons into the game

It's uncanny, the abilities some modders have. They are abilities that the development team at Bethesda needs. While the actual developers are working on hardcore aspects of the game and its future DLC releases, a modding team could be working on image resolution updates, new clothing releases, all sorts of things. It would be extremely refreshing to have a consistently updated game with thousands of extra options to enjoy in a much more realistic world. 

Of course, the wackier mods could still be available, but the main Bethesda modding team would be strictly working on "immersive" mods.

Support

Another bonus to having a legitimate modding team would be the extra coverage on the game, and the amount of players that would buy the game for the mods.

I currently play on console, so I could be mistaken, but I'm usually pretty picky about which programs and files go onto my computer. Random, potentially "creepy" files from the Fallout Nexus might scare me away from downloading mods. However, if Bethesda threw their support behind it, I would be much more likely to try them.

Mods on Console

Finally, it is unclear how well the transition from PC-only mods to console mods will go. A pioneering class of Bethesda-employed modders could lead the way into the next modding generation, with the behind-the-scenes know how of an actual developer.

There's no telling what could go wrong with console mods. System commands are probably different between PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. It can't be as simple as converting a file to work on all of them... can it? There aren't even console commands to pull up in a console version of Fallout 4, making the activation of mods a problem in and of itself. 

The Difference between Developer and Modder.

Currently the difference between these two things is quite clear, and could be the reason Bethesda doesn't employ modders. A developer works at a company like Bethesda, whereas a modder works from home to tweak an already existing game. It does make sense to keep a line drawn between the two, but for the good of the players, the line could be blurred a little.

Even if we cut proper employment out of the equation and instead offer modders an "editing forum" where they can dump their mods for Bethesda to go through and certify -- granting the designer a small royalty on each download -- it would be to everyone's benefit.

Whatever the case, someone in this industry needs to give credit where credit is due. The modders of the Bethesda community deserve a massive round of applause for striving to create a more polished Fallout 4.

Published Jan. 31st 2016
  • Jay Ricciardi
    Contributor
    I'd take a guess and say that a good number of game developers started out as modders. Making a successful mod is like resume gold for breaking into game development - it demonstrates creativity, expertise, a completed project, and an ability to work within a AAA game system. It almost sounds like a requirement for an entry-level dev job.
  • BlackTideTV
    Columnist
    It could make the perfect breaking ground into earning a seat on the Bethesda Dev Team. Say there was a "modding team" there, it would essentially be the entry-level dev job, with the best-of-the-best moving up. It would push the modders to strive to create the best content they could.

    The results: happy Bethesda, happy modders, happy players. Everyone would win.
  • Dustin Frisch
    Correspondent
    Modders should truly become employees, or at least freelance workers for them. I do agree with this!
  • BlackTideTV
    Columnist
    Freelancing is an interesting idea, but if this was the case, mods would become premium content. Players would need to pay cash for them, which no one would be happy with.

    If they were legitimately employed however, their pay would come directly out of Bethesda profits, meaning mods would remain free.

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