What's that? We're finally on the cusp of GTA V hitting the PC? I think we can all agree, it's about damn time. Aside from anything else, the fact that Rockstar has been apologising for the delays with big piles of in-game cash for the online mode means that we're only one last minute bug from it becoming Millionaire Simulator 2015.
It just wouldn't be the same, arriving in Los Santos for a whole new start as a low-life scumbag by first jacking a car to get around, and then promptly buying a solid gold palace just as a place to stash all of your guns.
What I'm really looking forward to though has nothing to do with the game, which I already played on PS3, but finally seeing that world in both all its glory and unlocked in the ways that can only happen on the PC.
GTA V's star isn't veteran criminal Michael, psychopath Trevor or plucky up-and-comer Franklin, but the city itself - a booming metropolis of life and energy and atmosphere-murdering cock jokes that we have to hope is going to be something of a modders' playground as well as the expected gangster's paradise.
There may not be any tools, but that's not stopped the community before. Vice City for instance was upgraded from an entirely single-player experience into a full multiplayer game, much as happened to Just Cause 2 over the last few years.
GTA 4 has seen new cars, new mechanics like robberies, the option to switch out downtrodden immigrant Niko for rather less downtrodden immigrant Superman, and of course, the iCEhancer series that managed to turn Liberty City into somewhere almost as realistic looking as Actual New York. We already know that it's going to look fantastic on a good system. In a year though, it should be unbelievable. I'm crossing my fingers anyway, with reason to be optimistic.
It's sad though that increasingly games are moving away from mod support, both in the name of selling DLC and cheats and such, and discomfort about the inevitable. There's an actual phrase used in development - time-to-cock - which is exactly what it sounds, how long before players will use tools at their disposal to create a penis. It doesn't matter what form. It could be items dropped into a pattern. It could be, well, these. (Disclaimer: it's vaguely NSFW!)
Mods and knockers
In the modding world, the equivalent is pretty much Time To Nude Patch; an absolute guarantee that if there's a lady in a game, she'll be out of uniform within about five picoseconds of its release. From Tomb Raider to World of Warcraft to Bioshock Infinite, it doesn't matter. Mod friendly games like Skyrim take it to a whole other level of course, with multiple body types to work on, additions with names like 'Jiggly Mod' and entire communities devoted to crazy sex mods. Google 'Lovers Lab", if you dare. Very NSFW!
Needless to say, and as expected as it is, this kind of thing tends to irritate developers more than you might think. Dead Or Alive 5, which finally landed on PC the other week, features official costumes that include Helena being barely wrapped in ribbons held on purely by the ESRB outfit, devil outfits, and the bikinis you'd expect for a series that had exactly no shame about doing an outright beach volleyball spin-off.
Creators Tecmo though have always tried to stamp down hard on modders going any further, going as far as to demand "PC users to play our game in good moral and manner. Otherwise, we won't be able to release a title for PC again." Of course, it can be argued that they only half-released one this time around, with DOA5: Last Round on PC missing stages, graphical effects, any multiplayer, and more. Certainly, their objections didn't stop the first 'sexy' mods appearing within a day.
Increasingly though, companies do have to be careful, both for what modders do - the difference between a modded game and an unmodded one not being particularly important if a story goes wild, as in a case where Skyrim's predecessor Oblivion was re-rated by the ESRB due to a fan-created topless mod - and what they find.
Quantic Dream's Beyond for instance uses actress Ellen Page as a model for the lead character, who at one point takes a shower. In-game, it's a head-and-shoulders shot. However, find debug mode and suddenly all is revealed, complete with potentially very awkward legal implications over image rights. It's not actually her scanned body of course, just face, but that hardly matters.
(This isn't the first time that shower scenes have had unintended results. Quantic's previous one, Heavy Rain, featured a glitch where female lead Madison Page could end up walking around like she was allergic to all fabric, while much earlier, a quick glimpse of femme fatale Mona Sax in Remedy's Max Payne 2 offered an easy short-cut for casual modders.)
The odds of similar patches hitting GTA is somewhere between 'guaranteed' and 'already done', and it wouldn't be a shock if Naked Los Santos is ready by the time most gamers have finished unlocking it on Steam.
Hopefully though we'll see some more imaginative stuff too, whether giving the world the same freedom and sense of fun as something like Saints Row, or creating whole new games in its sandbox. It's always seemed a shame that these amazing worlds primarily exist in service of a single, usually not that interesting story.
GTA Online builds on that in some fascinating ways, but sometimes you can't beat a single-player experience - one where the world remains yours, instead of being both shared with idiots (not everyone, but enough) and having to be locked down by the needs of online play.
Worst case scenario though, at least the basic game is going to look great. That is, of course, as long as it's actually released. There's still time for one more delay before Tuesday!
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