New Customs

Forget dumping all that legendary gear into a trunk or bundling it in a display case... Oblivion mods mean you can have them ALL out on display and flaunt your wealth

Although most of my gaming has taken place on either the Amiga or PC, I’ve never actually ventured into the murky forest of modding games or even customisation in any way.  It wasn’t a conscious decision, it was merely how it played out over time and so I’ve never enjoyed Fallout 3 with pornographic propaganda posters or Left 4 Dead with Teletubbies.  In fact, the closest I have ever come to in-game customisation was one particular evening when Pete and myself downloaded a custom track for Command And Conquer Generals and spent several hours at war with each other within a sprawling metropolis rather than a dusty plain.  I have to admit, it was perhaps the best head to head we’d ever played.

The PC is clearly the best way to achieve game customisation, due to the fact that it’s non proprietary and doesn’t restrict access in any way, as opposed to the console which is, I suppose, a sealed unit when it comes to tinkering internally.  One game, however, sparked my interest in terms of customisation and, in turn, prolonged longevity… Trials HD on the XBox 360.

I’ve discussed this game before as it was the one which first peered into my competitive nature, albeit stemming from nothing more than my desire to have my good friend Victor spout profanities in his home as his completion times were left in the dust.  It was, I must admit, Victor’s comments on that same Trials HD blog which prompted me to internalise a little and consider why, after all this time, I was still playing a game that most people had moved on from months ago.  The answer wasn’t hard to find, in fact it was probably presented before the question had even finished being asked – customisation.

Admittedly, I don’t happen to know that much about which games have customisation available on the XBox 360 but I think it’s a safe assumption that there will be very few.  By “customisation” I don’t mean that you can change the appearance of a character or select which clothes they will be sporting on a particular day, neither do I mean that you can change weapons around or select a particular vantage point during gameplay… I mean creating something which, until it formed within your mind, had not previously existed.

Initially I played around with Trials HD custom level editor purely out of interest as I wasn’t sure exactly how manageable a track editor could possibly be on a console as it relies on a controller for movement which, to be fair, doesn’t quite have the same range of flexibility as a mouse.  It did take some getting used to at first but, after a while, the muscle memory set in and all of the selections and rotations became second nature.

The Trials HD track editor is surprisingly intuitive and comprehensive, considering it's available on a console

My first track was very simple, it was created simply to let me find my way around the menus and get an idea of how certain objects interacted with others and what impact they would have on the complexity of the track.  The resulting track was certainly interesting, because it was mine and nobody else had played it, but it wasn’t worthy of publication and so I started thinking about other concepts and set to work on my first proper custom track.

Looking back at it now, my first “real” track “Fumblerunner” seems pretty simple on the face of it and yet it is actually a reasonably difficult track to complete in under the 35 seconds with no faults for the Platinum Medal.  The next track, “How Do You Do It?” had three specific ways to reach the finish line… high ground, ground level or, if you had a keen enough eye to notice the actual drop at the start, the sub level which is essentially a straight underground tunnel leading you directly to the finish line with no obstacles.  Inspired by watching tracks created by KatamariUK, I decided to embark upon a track which would be more than a straightforward track and would utilise the physics engine in a much more creative way.  The first of my creative tracks was “Fruity Loops”, featuring a moving rollercoaster in the background, a ferris wheel that the rider has to drop in to, ceiling mounted reversed loop, trap doors in walls, pendulous platforms, self-building loops and half pipes as well as a spiral loop.  It may not be as difficult as my other tracks, but it’s much more inventive.

For me though, it has always been the same.  Whenever I’ve played Sims 2 it’s been more about the construction aspect than the management side.  I couldn’t really get excited about progressing my Sim through any particular career or guide them towards any specific aspirations, mainly because I don’t want to spend hours in front of a PC watching someone elses life flash before my eyes whilst my own does the same.  The construction aspect, however, has always excited me… how far can the in-game tools be taken, how much is too much, and so any time spent playing Sims games has been in construction mode.

All those hours of building up the perfect base... wasted!

Even head to head Command And Conquer campaigns with Pete follow the same protocol.. the agreement is that we’ll spend as much time as we feel is necessary to build up our bases to the point where we’re really happy with them and have taken them as far as we can in a particular direction whether it’s with an aerial army or simply infantry.  At the point where we are both satisfied, we’ll discuss going to war… and the hours that we spent building our perfect armies come to a close in what tends to be a 10-15 minute all-out attack until one army has been defeated.  The war is always fun, and can sometimes see one or both of us changing tactics to survive… but the fun, for me, is in the building… the customisation.

I never once considered using a lightsabre in the Capital Wastelands but, now that I see how effective it can be, I want!

She's not only cute, she's the best dressed woman in a post apocalyptic world where hubcaps and tyres are the fashion of the day!

Now that I have my new gaming PC up and running, I will be doing something that I’ve never done before… modding the games that I love.  I’ll be able to have all my legendary Oblivion armour on display in Rosethorn Hall, each one being worn by a mannequin made available through modding.  I’ll also be able to play custom levels and enjoy whole new factions within Oblivion and Fallout 3 as well as wave around a whole new set of fanmade weaponry.  Imagine tearing towards a Deathclaw with your lightsabre buzzing away when all around you are making do with a poxy plasma rifle, or running through the forests of Cyrodiil sporting a rather fetching embroidered cloak that would make Altair look like he’s wearing sack cloth… mods make all this possible, and more.

Bring it on.

Last five articles by Mark R



  1. Ben says:

    Welcome to the mod side, we have cookies!

  2. Lorna says:

    I am also spending increasing amounts of time in the Sims builder and only recently have touched upon the world of modding for that same game. I feel like I have arived rather late to the party and have a lot of catching up to do.

    In terms of the X60, I think that considering Trials cost 1200 MSP, that anything to extend its longevity is a great thing.

  3. HypeHottlop says:

    True words, some authentic words man. You made my day!

  4. Richie blucey says:

    When I was a PC gamer I used to love all the mod stuff that was available. Red Alert 2 and Unreal Tournament had tons of amazing mods.

    I also remember stripping out the music to FIFA 2001 and replacing it with good tunes instead.

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