Dicey: Unofficial Battlefield 3 Custom Server/Mod Tool

By Adam Smith on April 25th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

Battlefield 3 is finally getting a proper PC version, with custom server rules, a spectator mode and lots of other features unlocked or revealed for the first time. The Venice Unleashed project is an excavation of the shooter’s code and is the work of NoFaTe, who previously performed similar work on Bad Company 2. Beta signups are open now, as testing takes place, and NoFaTe reckons this could give the game a bright future: “Using our powerful Extension System, which exposes lots of engine/game functions and abilities, you can now create your own unique mods and gamemodes, without the need of performing complicated and game-breaking file modifications.”

In ye olden times, when a game lived in a box, on a disc, and nobody knew what you were doing with it once you’d paid your money and taken it home, tinkering and tweaking wouldn’t attract anyone’s attention. Times have changed though and if you do have a copy of Battlefield 3, it may feel like EA still have one hand on it, or have installed CCTV cameras in your face so they can see what you see whenever you open Origin. The very sight of a customised server might cause the nano-bomb that you inhaled the moment you first installed the game to detonate, leaving you slumped in front of the computer with smoke curling from your nostrils and a substance resembling sausage chutney swilling around inside your skull.

I wouldn’t know if it’s possible to circumvent such a messy end because I’ve never played Battlefield 3 and have therefore never felt the need to seek out the kind of modifications that allow legitimately paid for versions of the game to run independently of Origin.

Will this be enough to bring you back to the game, or did you never stop battling the fields?

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54 Comments »

  1. phenom_x8 says:

    From the bottom of our heart, we always knew that this kind of thing would to come to PC no matter what they’ve said.

    • Misnomer says:

      Yes, we always knew this sort of thing would come because… well pirates. They are inevitable.

      Don’t kid yourself, that is what these mod tools really accomplish. The ability to play pirated copies on multiplayer servers, albeit servers detached from the main system and probably unranked and such. A group created similar things for Modern Warfare 2 and it basically just turned into a hackers paradise.

      Mod tools don’t build communities in multiplayer games anymore, at best they leech off of existing communities (with rare exceptions like Day Z).

      Crysis came out with mod tools and the best mods in that game still struggle to get any players.

      Or look at all the mods that failed to fix RO2 with all of its problems. Those mod tools have been there for a long time now and none have fixed the game to make people come back.

      Even if an amazing BF3 mod came out, simply its detachment from the ranking/unlock/Battlelog system and likely shaming into a hard to find filter in the browser would make it incredibly hard to populate.

      So… this is about the pirates. The hostility toward modding lockdown in the opening post should really mention that these modders are focused on the online multiplayer, not singleplayer. Never in the “good old days” of gaming did you completely avoid anyone knowing what you were doing with your game if you took it online, if you direct lanned maybe…but if your server was listed your server had to phone home.

      Any other modification of “your” files and then going online is what we call a cheat or hack.

      Righteous indignation is misplaced here.

      • The_Hunter says:

        The only misplaced righteous indignation on this page is your post. Since day one the PC BF3 player base has been lied to about modding, with EA stating “it’s just too complex” for users.

        I haven’t touched the game in months due to being fed up with it’s design decisions, banning of “color filter” modders and the invasiveness of origin.

        Thanks to modding, if I can play this $60 game that I purchased without origin and with new custom maps or a 6 man squad…then I would be a very happy, legitimate user.

        • Misnomer says:

          This isn’t “modding” of the sort EA was talking about when they talked about tools. This is code tweaking. There are no map tools here. No one is going to be importing new assets.

          The color filter tweak was the same sort of code used for hacks/cheats. I am happy people can’t play with it enabled in online multiplayer. You may disagree with the art direction, but it doesn’t make it any more fair for you to decide all enemy soldiers should be wearing pink helmets while you appear camouflaged on their computer.

          • Shooop says:

            Any sort of changes to the game that isn’t cheating is considered “modding”. EA didn’t allow ANY changes to be made to the game so what they had in mind was no modding period.

            And where the color tweak came from is irrelevant unless that is what it’s being used for. Human beings have made useful things out of dangerous ones for centuries. Unless you have some definitive proof everyone who wanted to remove the color filter wanted the skin modification you have no point.

          • Misnomer says:

            http://www.bfeditor.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=15732

            Go read about the injector he is talking about. This is the one that was banned. I was nice by only talking about the idea of pink hats, the injector actually let you change weapon damages. But, even if it only remove the sun glare as originally advertised…that would give players a pretty severe advantage from altering their client files.

            This was clearly a cheat/hack.

          • Lev Astov says:

            Stop acting like an EA mole. All I want is to play BF3 with my friends on a local server with our own tweaks and fixes like we used to with BF2. Is that so much to ask?

            It’s also clear that they don’t intend this to be a piracy method, according to this quote from the linked NoFaTe blog: “Note for you cheap kiddies: This isn’t going to be a way to play for free. A fully updated and licensed copy of the game is required.”

            Sure, that may be circumvented eventually, but again, that doesn’t concern me. I just demand to play the game I paid for on my terms.

          • Shooop says:

            I went over that first bit already. An actual color filter tweak without gameplay changes can be gotten even: http://bf3.realmware.co.uk/colour-tweaker/faq

            See? We can take things and change them. Someone just had to come up with the idea and someone else take it and run with it. EA has been adamant though in preventing any kind of change no matter how popular or benign it may be.

            But then you go off the deep end.

            It’s an unfair advantage to turn off sun glare? Now you’re really grasping at straws. Turning off something that inhibits your ability to see which was put there only because the developers wanted to show off they can play with amateur lighting effects an unfair advantage? It’s a glitch/stupid design that shouldn’t even be there and in need of correcting.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            “It’s an unfair advantage to turn off sun glare?

            Seriously, Shooop? Of course it’s a fucking unfair advantage to turn off sun glare for yourself when everyone else on the battlefield has to deal with it. Have you seen the sun glare effect in the game?

            It’s irrelevant that sun glare is a developer-added ego stroker. It’s there, and if there were a tool that allowed sun glare to be removed, it would give an obvious advantage to those that used it.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            yeah the sun is awesome! I often plan my approach up a hill so the sun will be at my back, blinding adversaries and giving me a clear view.

        • phenom_x8 says:

          And its a tenner now on origin :
          http://store.origin.com/store/ea/en_US/DisplayProductDetailsPage/productID.225064100

          I think its worth it, especially if this mod are flourish.

      • Arithon says:

        Piracy? That’s your take? Really?

        Currently EA could pull the plug on all BF3 servers tomorrow and leave every player with nothing. Secondly EA and DICE lied, extensively and on many occasions about game development and features. This server emulator puts right some of those things, including the ability to run our own servers on our own hardware without the costs attached to “approved” server rental.

        Since this emulator doesn’t circumvent the DRM and you still need a bought copy of BF3 and Origin, BattleLog etc. to run it, this is, and never was about enabling piracy.

        Mods are the only reason the BF franchise exists at all, and since DICE’s acquisition by EA, the quick-buck has taken precedence over common sense, quality and customer service. So any independence and distance from EA is a good thing. Mod and LAN support are at the core of the BattleField franchise and DICE have replaced that with DLC and FaceBook.
        I’d say this is about players taking back control of the game.

        • Misnomer says:

          Entitlement mentality gamers can’t be phrased better than this.

          You can’t take back the franchise. It was never yours. DICE owns it and EA owns DICE. You don’t get an ownership stake in an IP just because you play a game.

          Why don’t you go try to replicate BF for yourself and build in mod support your fans will want. Best of luck doing better than Frontlines Fuel of War did.

          But there really is no arguing with people who think that turning off the sun glare in a game isn’t a cheat simply because they think DICE screwed up in the design of the game. If I think they botched the fire rate of a gun in the game I can’t just “mod it” and play on a ranked server without it being a cheat. With real mod tools and not hacks I could run a mod that changes these things, but probably no one would play it and it wouldn’t show up in the same server browser…so that is very different.

          The vast majority of people who have ever played a BF game never played mods. More people bought DLC than downloaded mods. While that doesn’t play into your modding gospel very well, the fundamental reality is that if the “fans” owned the game as your guys phrase it…the game would be 24/7 Karkand infantry only or 24/7 Metro Conquest 1000 ticket.

          So let’s leave the ownership with DICE. You may disagree with their decisions and you should feel free to voice those, but PC players don’t own the series and certainly the loud ones on the forums don’t dictate what is or is not allowed in the game.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Whatever, man.
            If gamers can modify the code then the game is whatever they want it to be.
            It’s not about entitlement, it’s about ability.
            If the community can make BF3 work on stand alone servers that is a step towards it living for a while, well after EA pull the plug.
            Fuck who owns it, once the software is cracked that doesn’t matter.

          • P.Funk says:

            You’re an idiot. You have no clue.

            They want to eliminate private servers because it gives life to the game. Mods give life to the game. They extend the play period. They allow full communities to grow outside of approved and monetized domains that EA can profit from. They want to put out a new one every year. BF2 still has people playing it. You kill the private legit server culture you encourage more console like behavior from a PC consumer, which is to buy the new one the day it comes out.

            Dedicated server code is the most essential thing to shooter culture on PC. Personalized tweaks are inherent to this. Without the ability to freely mod the game you kill a huge part of what has existed in gaming since day 1 of online play.

            Its an obviously cynical scheme to limit the control the consumer has over his product and to encourage faster buying of the new iteration. If they mod the game to free it up so they can play it as they see fit, after having paid, how is that “entitled”?

            What if these so called “entitled” gamers feel lied to because they didn’t follow through on what they said their product would be, and then those “entitled” gamers could unlock those undelivered features for themselves without damaging EA’s or DICE’s earnings? You object? Because you love to hump intellectual property rights?

            Get real buddy. You’re such a stooge. You’re so lame. I can’t believe people think like you. You remind me of my grandfather, who mouths off horrid things about unions and their greedy workers, until my mom reminds him that he used to be a shop steward on the waterfront… then he shuts up and remembers he’s just being a cranky old man and hating on people for no bloody reason.

      • PopeRatzo says:

        but if your server was listed your server had to phone home

        No. StarCraft, one of the most successful and long-lived games ever, did not require your server to “phone home” to be listed.

        Nor did it have any DRM of any kind.

        Please don’t try to tell us, “It’s always been this way” or “It needs to be this way” because neither is true.

      • Premium User Badge

        Siresly says:

        This is about faffing about on private servers with legit copies. Which hams no one, yet still perturbs Misnomer for some reason. Hm.

        Belittling the work modders like this guy are doing, attempting to make people question the goals of the modding community, pushing the narrative that mods are pointless and lead to piracy, trying to make EA’s “no tools for you” statement seem sensible, users are entitled. Hm.

        http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/search.php?searchid=1221557
        Hm.

        • Misnomer says:

          I actually mentioned that their servers would be separate in my opening post: “Don’t kid yourself, that is what these mod tools really accomplish. The ability to play pirated copies on multiplayer servers, albeit servers detached from the main system and probably unranked and such. A group created similar things for Modern Warfare 2 and it basically just turned into a hackers paradise.”

          Everything I read says it will enable piracy even if that wasn’t the intent. They seem to recommend you don’t use cracks, but you use a login run through their servers and not EA’s and their servers seek to mimic the EA backend servers. Alec also seemed to post an Origin workaround.

          While plenty of people with legit copies might enjoy tooling around on a tweaked server with zero anti-cheat support (PB is turned off)…. It certainly seems to enable pirates to do so as well. Whether or not that was their intent, it appears to me based on my limited knowledge that these guys made a piracy tool.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Well hell… more players are good. I don’t care if their pirates… how’s their aim?

      • MrLebanon says:

        you clearly are not playing the same RO2 that me and many others are enjoying lol

  2. BobbyDylan says:

    THis will bring me back. I stoped playing BF3 months ago.

  3. pakoito says:

    Too complex for my brain. Can’t…handle…it….HEADXPLOSION

  4. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    I’m kind of surprised that the community still bothers with BF3. I had assumed it just wasn’t worth it, but NoFaTe has proven me wrong. I hope EA doesn’t get all legal about this or something…
    Excited to see the possibilities, now. Just having stand alone servers will be awesome.

  5. Parge says:

    Best game I’ve ever played probably (either this or T.A), and though the above doesn’t excite me too much, I know a proper spectator mode will be a great addition.

    Huzzah.

  6. Jabberslops says:

    Too bad BF3 is plagued by even worse netcode problems than Bad company 2. Where as in BC2, if you shot at someone with a gun, you would usually hit them if you have decent aim. In BF3 you can have the best aim in the world and still not hit an enemy standing in front of you. For that split second where you have the drop on them, they taunt you with their lifeless goggled eyes; no purpose, no intent, just a robotic stare. Then you find yourself on the ground with your life hanging by a thread as friendly medics walk all over your body failing to revive you, because you just happen to be stuck partially inside of a rock. Suicide is your only solace.

    I finally had enough and uninstalled BF3 after it was pretty damn clear that DICE would not be bothering to fix any of the problems and fuckery with the game that it has had since launch and then even more introduced with the first expansion/patch Back to Karkand.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Yeah that happened to me twice or so. In hundreds of hours.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Yeah, I get about 3-4 Bad luck deaths a game. Some of which are from doing nothing more than jumping over a wall, or dustbin.

    • Gwyddelig says:

      BFBC2 had all this too. They hid it a bit better though. Do you remember mutual deaths? I do. They were hugely annoying. They were a total netcode sticky plaster.

      The bad luck deaths remain ridiculously annoying when they occur but they’re infrequent enough that I don’t want to drop the game because of them.

      For the record I’ve enjoyed both games thoroughly and with only one small break, have played BF3 since launch.

      • Jabberslops says:

        Oh of course Bad Company 2 has horrible netcode and still some annoying problems. The difference though is that the development team that made BC2 are not the same that made BF3. The BC2 developers actually worked to improve or fix the game until EA pulled the life support of patches.

        So far the developers working on BF3 have only added more content and maybe did some minor bug fixing, but nothing major that is tied to the netcode or the game engine. Things like hit detection and registration. Suicide by vaulting, by falling on a narrow object, by running into a toe to waist height object and by other wonky terrain objects. Suicide by grenades you throw that bounce off of people, glass, invisible walls that are part of a door or rails or other things that have an opening and suicide by bouncing back in the same exact path you just threw because it touched something that is affected by the physics in the game. The list of problems I’ve encountered with probably 60-70% of every game I played is quite extensive; Most of them being the netcode getting in the way. One of the worst problems that is not even the games fault are the people playing on your local servers with 150-300 ping, all because the developers or EA or who ever, don’t want to allow auto kicking of high ping players. The problem has only gotten worse with the expansions. I found far fewer high ping players on vanilla servers than those with one or more expansions in rotation.

        Bad Company 2 still has problems, but I would argue it is really a better game overall than BF3 and can see BF4 having the same problems.

        I suppose i should at least say something about the article. I’m not sure it’s even worse risking your “Origin” account to play with mods or on servers with mods. I can see EA coming down hard on players because they see it as a threat to their business. Taking any power away from EA makes EA act like a child the same as any Person or other Company/ Corporation.

        • The_Hunter says:

          Completely agree. BC2 still feels more solid than BF3.

        • Gwyddelig says:

          I don’t mean to hate on BFBC2 (one of my favourite’s; even now) but I cannot agree that it is better than BF3. Many of the mechanics were truly frustrating and playing it now, it feels like I’m moving through molasses in comparison to BF3.

          Remember revives in BFBC2 for example? Their implementation was horrible and I rage quit on more than one occasion because some asshat of a teamate decided to use me to farm revives.

          Also, allowances (to a point) must be made for the fact that BF3 is far, far more complex than BFBC2 in terms of weapons, vehicles, scope, interaction with the game world and etc.

          If I was to point to one thing though that bugs me about BF3, it would be the fact that it can’t quite shake the feeling that it’s just and extended beta for BF4.

    • Shooop says:

      No, it was a huge problem in BC2 as well.

      There were many, many times I’d shoot and hit enemies but they wouldn’t take any damage. Their model would respond with a flinch animation, I’d see a crosshairs hit marker, but they would not take damage.

      I’ve been playing on Nexus’ BC2 servers for about 3 weeks and this problem has completely vanished. It’s not the netcode, it’s EA forcing everyone to use cheap, unqualified servers to run the games on so they can collect a profit from the rentals.

  7. Gwyddelig says:

    Spectator mode alone will make this very attractive to server admins, if nobody else. Frankly, it’s absence from the vanilla game is totally baffling.

    • phelix says:

      And on a side note, machinima makers are going to love it to death.

  8. Discopanda says:

    I loved Battlefield 2. I didn’t love Battlefield 3. It makes me sad :(

  9. phelix says:

    But… but… the tools are too complex for the community!

    • Misnomer says:

      They may still be. These tools may not likely to be similar to the BF3 dev tools which we know are hosted on a cluster. Nothing says that these tools will let you even make a map (like traditional mod tools).

      Their site says “Unleashed Features

      “Witness the return of Spectator Mode, a functional Commo Rose and many more previously hidden, half-implemented or disabled game features. We’re also discovering and unleashing new features along the way, so stay tuned!”

      Sounds like they have hacked servers that will allow them to alter existing code in the game and still run it. Not exactly complex game development tools there, just altering existing code. I don’t think anyone ever doubted the community could tweak existing code.

      • Onemoar says:

        I love this guy blames Piracy for everything and sees Piracy every-ware
        news flash for you bud: this is the internet your copyrights and laws mean jack-shit here
        Ohai their NoFate say question:
        how long would it take you to write a check to disallow cracked.exe’s ?
        assuming you haven’t already done it

      • CGDN says:

        Oh, i’m sure.

        Hows about i hand you a decompiler and you modify bytecode? I’m sure if it’s so easy, you’ll have me something amazing in minutes.

  10. Shooop says:

    This is the same group who also fixed Bad Company 2! I knew they were working on BF3, but had no idea they’d made this much progress.

    I really hope this making news here doesn’t mean EA will hear about it. They really hate the idea of someone offering superior content in their games for free.

  11. Haxavier says:

    Mods are great and all, but I just want them to add team or squad VOIP back into the game. BF3 needed VOIP so badly, gawd.

    • Gwyddelig says:

      In an ideal world this would be so but in our imperfect reality, things aren’t so clear-cut. In all the games I’ve played with integrated VOIP, only the barest handful actually use it. Once you remove from that number those whose only wish is to pipe Rick Astley or white noise down the tubes for everyone else’s delectation then you’re left with a pretty poor level of take up. A great pity but not DICE’s fault.

      They’ve done the maths and decided that despite declared preferences, revealed preferences would mark VOIP out as important only to a small number of players and not worth the blood and treasure required – especially when there is a proliferation of third-party solutions.

      • Nethlem says:

        VOIP gets used if the game is complex enough due to teamwork requirements or if VOIP is very easy to use.
        Just take a look at most Source games, lots of VOIP usage all over the place. And it doesn’t matter if it’s just people playing music over voice, some people enjoy the music or mindless batter and take that over having no VOIP option at all.

        And they didn’t do any math at all with BF3, they simply had been lazy. That’s why the PC VOIP ended up so horrible as it is. They didn’t bother to build proper VOIP into the engine because on the console versions the online services would serve that part (PSN/XBL). Instead they left it out completely and gave PC Gamers an half arssed broken system that’s functional broken.

        It’s just one of those many facts that show how little EA/DICE actually cared about the PC audience with BF3. If the PC audience would have a special place with them, we would have in-engine VOIP and proper commanding/teamworking tools for 64 player games. But they decided to phone it in, thus most rounds on 64 Player servers end up as an uncoordinated spam-fest.

      • Gwyddelig says:

        Even with the source games (and I’d agree that the implementation here is top-notch), it’s rare enough. One in five servers someone will be talking I reckon. And even at that, it’s only 2-3 of those present.

        There was squad VOIP in BFBC2. I think I used it once. We have our own vent server and a Mumble server

  12. slpk says:

    For all the problems EA/Origin has, I can’t blame them on how they handle the Battlefield franchise. I paid for the Premium package and I feel like that was one of the best gaming purchases I made.
    Every update was awesome and I didn’t stop playing or enjoying the game since I began.

    Still, I won’t blindly but into BF4.

  13. Dowr says:

    NoFaTe reckons this could give the game a bright future

    Until everyone jumps shift to BF4 because PC gaming ain’t what it used to be…

  14. SuicideKing says:

    Don’t have a server in my country, lowest ping i’ve ever got outside it is around 178, mostly get 250+ pings, hardly play.

    Single player just to troll the game.

    Did you know you can exit the tank in thunder run by pressing E? Or that, in Operation Guillotine, people die automatically and get cloned? Etc.

  15. PopeRatzo says:

    How are we supposed to pronounce “NoFaTe”?

  16. coldvvvave says:

    When in 2014 full SDK is released and community fails to deliver anything noteworthy, people will still badmouth DICE for not wanting to blow away couple of lousy millions USD for “l33t corr gaimerz” to play around with their code. And they will moan that SDK is bad, otherwise we’d be swimming in great maps by 2015.

    • P.Funk says:

      Thats a whole lot of hyperbole. Exactly how many millions of dollars do mod tools cost to develop? I mean… more than the voice acting surely, more than the cost of packaging.

      Next you’ll tell me that they didn’t release dedicated servers because everyone knows that the community would blame DICE for all the hackers on poorly admin’d servers. XD

  17. Aardvark_Man says:

    It sounds good, but I doubt it will make me install the 20 gb of patches I’m sure to have waiting for me.