‘Fallout 3’ Mod Pack to Let Gamers Redecorate the Post-Apocalypse

Bethesda Softworks announced Tuesday that it will software tools to allow gamers and developers to tinker with the publisher’s recent PC and console release, “Fallout 3.”

Dubbed the “Garden of Eden Creation Kit,” or G.E.C.K., the editor will enable gamers to create mods, or personal modifications of the PC version of the game.

Bethesda will make the editor available as a free download in December. Games for Windows users will be able to create and add their own content to the game. In January, the game developer will release the first official downloadable additional content, “Operation: Anchorage” for Microsoft Xbox 360 and Games for Windows players. More downloadable content will follow in February and March.

“Creating game mods is something which has gone out of fashion, so it’s great to see Bethesda supporting it with this announcement. The most interesting thing in this announcement is that the downloadable content will also be available for Xbox 360. Making this kind of content available on a console is unusual — I can only think of one other instance of that really happening, which was ‘Unreal Tournament 3’ on [PlayStation 3],” Mark DeLoura, a video game expert, told TechNewsWorld.

Modding the Wastelands

“Fallout 3” takes place in and around Washington, D.C., hundreds of years after a devastating nuclear war. With the G.E.C.K release, gamers can create a wide array of characters, limited only by their imaginations, to explore a vast and dangerous wasteland. The editor will offer the “Fallout 3” community tools to enable players to expand the game however they wish. They can create, modify and edit data for use in the game, designing new landscapes, towns and locations as well as writing dialog and creating new characters, weapons, creatures and anything else they can dream up.

The downloadable content, available in three packs, will add new quests and items to “Fallout 3” for the PC and Xbox 360, but not the version created for Sony’s PlayStation 3. “Operation Anchorage” will feature a military simulation as well as an epic battle to liberate Anchorage, Alaska, from Communist occupiers.

In February, “The Pitt,” will enable gamers to travel to an industrial town located on the remains of what was once Pittsburgh, Penn. “Broken Steel,” coming in March, will provide gamers with the opportunity to join a guild of heavily armed protectors known as “The Brotherhood of Steel” and take on the remaining evil Enclave forces in order to retake the Capital Wasteland, continuing game play beyond the original “Fallout 3’s” main quest.

“Since online gaming is still looking promising, more and more gamers will demand downloadable content. Part of the online gaming experience is to create a personal and unique identity, so I think gamers will really appreciate the ability to customize content to their own liking,” Stephanie Ethier, an analyst at InStat, told TechNewsWorld.

PCs Have It Going On

Releasing modding software for a game is not new, but it has fallen somewhat out of favor recently.

“I love this kind of thing. Shipping game mod tools is something that has been done for quite a long time, but recently it hasn’t been as popular as it used to be. One of the most famous game mods is ‘Counter-Strike,’ which was made with the original ‘Half-Life’ game engine. For a few years, making a game mod was the way for hobbyists/students to show off their abilities and try to break into the game industry. These days, it is casual games, iPhone games, things of that sort,” DeLoura pointed out.

Bethesda’s decision to release the title’s editor reaffirms why gaming on a PC can offer a richer experience than on a console.

“It’s really, really, cool,” Michael Gartenberg, vice president mobile strategy at Jupitermedia/Mobiledevicestoday.com, told TechNewsWorld. “Once again it drives the notion of why the PC is such a powerful platform in terms of development. Even with the rise of consoles and mobile platforms and everything else … consumers still flock to the PC for their gaming. It’s because they can do cool stuff like this.”

While Sony’s recently released “Little Big Planet” and upcoming title “Home” will allow gamers to customize games, that sort of functionality must be included from the start of the game’s development.

“On the console you get ease of use, the plug-and-play notion where you don’t have to download patches and updates and can look at it on a high-definition TV. The PC experience is a little different. It comes with a high degree of flexibility, evidenced by this type of modding,” Gartenberg noted.

“We’re not talking about the same degree of customization and interaction. [With the ‘Fallout 3’ editor], I can almost build my own game if I want. They are giving me the keys to the kingdom, and I can go out and build my own experience,” Gartenberg explained.

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