As Voted For By Some Guys: Top 100 Mods Of The Year

By Alec Meer on December 13th, 2013 at 5:00 pm.

It’s harsh but fair to say that our coverage of the mod scene is not presently at its most abundant. This is because of our recent enrolment in The International Church of Code Purity. The thought of all those innocent, virgin games being corrupted into something Other by the greasy, hungry hands of third parties makes us sick to our very souls. Down with this sort of thing.

If you remain a heathen and have not joined The International Church of Code Purity, your pagan mind might enjoy browsing ModDB’s player-voted round-up of the top 100 mods of the year. Don’t ever darken our pristine doorstep again, mind.

The list is populated by a great many old favourites – in fact, the most recent games in there are Skyrim, Mass Effect 3 and Crusader Kings II. Nothing from 2013 has birthed a mod popular enough for this list. Is this simply a matter of games and their scenes needing to reach a certain maturity before the really good stuff emerges, or is that so many of the bigger games being cross-pollinated with their console versions is leaving traditional modding doors locked shut?

It’s lovely to see the likes of Freelancer, Thief, Deus Ex, Doom, Homeworld II and STALKER still proving popular with the mod scene, though. In that perfect impossible world where I have time, there’s so damn much still to explore for games I have loved well.

In a week’s time, the list will be whittled down to a top 10, and later still an overall winner. Last year it was Black Mesa; deserved in its way, but it’d be lovely to see something original take the trophy this time around.

If you’re wondering why I’ve used a screenshot from the 2009 mod of the year awards, it’s because our move to a new server last night has left us temporarily unable to add new images to the site. We are all extremely pleased by this situation, and it is not annoying in the slightest.

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48 Comments »

  1. misterT0AST says:

    “Who will join Black Mesa last years winner”
    Jesus why does the apostrophe even exist anymore. I swear NOBODY even TRIES to get it right. Especially when they’re actually paid for what they write. Nobody CARES about it. Why does it even exist anymore?
    Look at me! I’m pointing out something nobody cares about! And yet it’s RIGHT THERE, taunting me with its nonsensical existence! A thing that should be A and is B, so simple and yet so impossible to get right.

    On another account, I’ve never successfully found a mod that was both still available for download AND worth downloading on MODDB. To me that site is a bit too clunky to browse. It might be a coincidence though.

    • Arona Daal says:

      “worth downloading” is quite subjective, Taste and so on.
      I found a few enjoyable Mods.

      About the “clunky” Bit:
      You could try Desura,which installs a lot of mods automatically.
      For example the Circle of Nine Mod for Temple of Elemental Evil.

    • darkChozo says:

      That page is pretty poorly designed in general. The text seems like it should be on a teaser page for the announcement, not the announcement page itself. And there’s a giant timer that’s completely unexplained and seems like it should be related to the text, when it’s apparently not (from the article, I surmise it’s for when the top 10 are announced).

      • Rizlar says:

        About that… where can you actually see the top 100? Seems like it loads for a split second then gets covered by a list of games that support modding. Blarg.

        edit: oh right, you click on the game so it shows you the mods while randomly scrolling the page around and you can only see one section at a time. Fair enough.

    • RanDomino says:

      We all know that feel.
      Also, I second MODDB being an incredibly frustrating site. It’s supposed to be a place to find mods, but they make it so hard to figure out what you actually need to get them to work. Is it for the base game or the expansion? Do I need a base download and a patch or is it all in one? Is the mod finished, or even in a playable state at all? Is it being actively worked on? I’d say there’s only one way to find out, but sometimes downloading a mod and spending an hour trying to get it to work doesn’t give you an answer anyway. It would really help if they would get away from this circa-2004 blog style.

    • oyog says:

      I can’t even express how amusing it is that you didn’t use a comma after “Jesus”.

  2. galaxion says:

    Sponsored by Origin?!

    • lautalocos says:

      so im not insane? good, or maybe not. i even clicked the link, thinking that it must be some other kind of origin. i was very surprised by the results.

    • Arona Daal says:

      Yeah,Ea seems to have improved their PR Department.
      Btw: Is Battlefield 3 still so hard to mod ?

      • Redsnake77 says:

        More likely the guy who signed it off didn’t actually know what it was.

    • RedViv says:

      Maybe they will FINALLY put up Battle for Middle-Earth SOMEWHERE. ANYWHERE.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        That game is dead and buried, never to be mentioned again by EA. They shut down the servers in 2010 because of “dropping player numbers” so you are forced to use third party solutions. They’ll use the “lack of interest” in the online MP 6 years after release to never re-release the game.
        Perhaps they’ll relaunch the assets as a f2p MOBA though…

    • The Random One says:

      EA sponsoring MOTY is like McDonald’s sponsoring the Olympics. This is not an analogy.

  3. Henke says:

    Voted for The Dark Mod, since it’s the only one I’ve played (and also great). I have a sneaking suspicion however, that a certain Arma 2 mod will walk away with the price this year.

  4. Rao Dao Zao says:

    Despite cajoling all my friends to vote, my mod didn’t get into the top 100. I don’t have enough friends. :(

    • Arona Daal says:

      Well, a short Gameplay Video with an Explanation whats so good about it,would go a long Way.
      With Bazillions of Games and Mods on the Net you should make it easy to raise Interest.
      A few Screenshots of Badly Textured Robots,and some Scifi Story, is not exactly catching Attention.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      From what I can tell you tend to need a few hundred watchers at the very least, though that depends on which ratio actually votes. We have around 1500 watchers, but we got in the past few years with less than 1000. I’d estimate 10-20% of our watchers actually vote, so you’d need, say, 100 votes at least to get in (assuming we didn’t get in last place but more middle-of-the-pack ish).

      If you can get a core audience that’ll vote in a greater proportion then a small but dedicated following can work. Best of luck!

      • Rao Dao Zao says:

        With something like 90,000 nomination votes spread over 20,000 mods… Well, I think it’d take more than a couple hundred to get into the top rankings!

        I hope they release the actual stats for each mod at some point.

        • FriendlyFire says:

          The numbers are extremely misleading. Most mods have <10 watchers and get zero votes. Out of the entire total I'd expect less than a thousand mods are actually relevant to anything.

  5. DrManhatten says:

    Hmm why is there nothing about GOGs Winter sale here on RPS? Or is RPS completely STEAM biased?

  6. sventoby says:

    Best mods I’ve played (that didn’t turn into retail games):
    Third Age for M2TW
    Kung Fu for Max Payne
    Prophecy of Pendor for M&B Warband
    Star Wars for M&B1
    Fall From Heaven 2 for Civ4
    also anything that made STALKER playable

    • Arona Daal says:

      Blitzkrieg Mod for Company of Heroes (extended Tech,more Units,more Realism)
      Complex Mod for Homeworld 2 (*EXTENDED* Tech,*MORE* Units,new Game Mechanics)
      Hinkels Skirmish Mod for MOW:AS (New Maps,a new Skirmish Mode,Lots of new Units)
      I also heard good Things about the GSM Mod for MoW:AS

  7. Loyal_Viggo says:

    When things like ‘Project Nevada’ for Fallout NV are not even on the list, you know it’s not exactly representative of the full range of superb mods out there.

    How do there even get nominated? Are the mods only those on MODDB?

    From those that were there, The Third Age and Call of Warhammer got my vote.

    • darkChozo says:

      This is a list of mods either released or still in progress in 2013. Project Nevada’s last update was in Feb, 2012.

      • Loyal_Viggo says:

        Well Call of Warhammer has been out for 3+ years, for example, so I’d wager that the time since release or last update is not a factor, but thanks.

        @ FriendlyFire – ok thanks, if it’s just MODDB, limited to active users voting and open to people without accounts promoting obscure mods whilst neglecting others that would explain things.

        • darkChozo says:

          Hmm, you’re right, sorry about that. Guess it’s just a matter of what the community is motivated to vote for.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      It’s based on votes from the ModDB community, so the mod must A) be on ModDB and B) still have a relatively active community there so that people actually vote for it.

      It’s not really supposed to be representative of ALL the mods, just the ones on ModDB, and it IS largely a popularity contest. Also some really weird stuff like allowing anyone to vote even if you don’t have an account, which opens up the whole thing to vote flooding from bots.

      Largely, mods take part in it because getting into the top 10 (and top 100 to a lesser extent) gives some good visibility.

  8. Kubrick Stare Nun says:

    Too bad life isn’t mod friendly, there are some rebalancings to make and NPCs that I just need to delete.

    • quietone says:

      I downloaded the “Adulthood” mod many years ago. Turns out it cranked up the difficulty, completely changed the game from an action-adventure and turned into a survival-horror theme; loot was drasticallly reduced and most physical skills nerfed.

      Worst of all, graphics still suck.

      I am thinking about getting this new mod called “Old Age” but then there’s the memory leaks…among other leaks…

      • Lanfranc says:

        There’s an unsupported mod series called “Drugs”, but unfortunately they make your system crash pretty badly.

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        Yeah, this First Life game is about as boring as Second Life, but at least we can escape it for a little while by coming here to RPS and comment on stuff.

  9. Geebs says:

    OK, so it’s old, but I have just recently tried the Morrowind Graphical Overhaul 3.0 and it is absolutely astounding. I feel horribly embarrassed for whinging about how Morrowind mods usually run like shit due to too much pixel-massaging; this one looks great and retains the original feel of the game perfectly. Although you shouldn’t reinstall it if you’re recovering from a critical Morrowind addiction. I for one am totally off the wagon again :-(

  10. SuicideKing says:

    My pick:

    FreeSpace 2 Open, and the many campaign mods made for it.

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  12. Bart Stewart says:

    Haven’t had a chance to check the list yet, but here’s hoping the Falskaar mod for Skyrim made the cut.

    It was a little sparse, but was otherwise rather nicely done (including some quite decent lore-friendly voice acting). And the best part might be that its creator, Alexander Velicky, landed himself a job with Bungie, presumably on the strength of his work on the Falskaar mod.

    One of the genuinely positive stories of 2013.

  13. ZzzZombi says:

    I just read the description of the Mass Effect 3 mod. I haven’t played it yet. I was trying to avoid spoilers but there it goes. Sigh.

    • Quiffle says:

      I too only wait to play games until I’m thoroughly outraged by an errant spoiler.

      • jamesgecko says:

        Really? You basically have to play the games in sequence if you care about the story, and ME1 and 2 can take a long time to complete. It took me almost a year to play through the trilogy.

        • dethtoll says:

          Month and a half, though I was also dealing with a friend’s catastrophic (and thoroughly self-absorbed if I’m being honest) meltdown at the time.

    • jamesgecko says:

      The good thing about ME3 ending spoilers is that they have almost nothing to do with the rest of the game. Seriously. I logged 45 hours on ME3, and 15 minutes on the (extremely disappointing, but almost entirely irrelevant) ending, and all the meaty story you actually care about is happens before then.

      My head-cannon ending for the trilogy is a fan-made mashup blending the ME3 ending cinematics with the soundtrack from the final battle in the anime Gurren Lagann. (A YouTube video entitled “Mass Effect 3: SECRET TRUE ENDING! FIGHT THE POWER!” Spoilers, obviously.)

  14. Darth Gangrel says:

    Mods are great (for increasing my backlog) and there are so many games that have become fun to play again after installing them. It’s crazy how old some games are that are still being worked on. I don’t often visit moddb, I mostly go the official forum/website that each mod has. Usually, there’s one hub for many different mods for a certain game, so that you don’t need to go to dozens of different websites.