One of the upshots of the mod that grew taller than its parent, DayZ, is the bloody great floodlight it’s shone on the blinking, bewildered but nonetheless brilliant world of PC modding in all its forms. It’s a side effect Bohemia Interactive king Marek Spanel is acutely aware of.
“I think the attention it brings is important not just for Arma 2 modding, but for all modding. It has been so big that it has pointed to modding generally and said ‘modding, that is a thing’.”
“I am not entirely sure, but I don’t think there has been a really big mod for a few years,” Spanel told Rock, Paper, Shotgun. “Even Red Orchestra… was that really considered a mod by the wider community? Or was it something made in the Unreal Engine that ended up being a commercial title? Modding is really strong, and it’s where great things can happen on the PC.
“We have focused consistently on modding, and some of the attention on it has come out of nowhere. Modding is not easy, and there is a lot of work behind it. And it requires the game to support it, and for there to be multiplayer, and we put a lot of work into that. Day Z is a fine example of showing that all that effort was worth it. And there are a number of truly great mods in Arma, which will hopefully now get more attention.”
Spanel notes that modding is something that can only happen on our fairest of formats: “Other formats, iPhone or consoles, they are locked down by third-party owners. The value in the PC is that it is really open, and this can happen here. It has its dark side with hacking and cheating, but there is so much possibility for creativity here.
“It demonstrates that the PC is about creating things – other gaming platforms are solely about consuming, and that’s an important distinction to make. More than half the people working for our company started out as modders. When someone asks me ‘how do I get into game development’ I say ‘do some modding’. And if you look at Rocket’s story with Day Z, you can see that the career progression can be very fast.”