Among the listed changes in the weekend's Steam PC patch
for Call of Duty: Black Ops was the following quiet gem:
- Added support for mods in preparation for the upcoming tools release.
Along with the (restricted but delivered) dedicated server support, mod support was another feature planned by Treyarch prior to the game's very successful launch last November, but 6 months on, has still yet to materialise.
Here's the relevant developer quote from last August
We plan to open the game up for modding sometime post-launch. We do not know yet to what extent you will be able to mod the game. There are some purely technical issues related to engine and internal tool enhancements that do not easily fit the modtools paradigm. We have looked at it close enough to see that it is non-trivial and we will have to pick it up again post-launch. Right now we are completely focused on finishing the game.
While it's obviously nice to see this still happening at all, one can't help but wonder the reasons why it's only now -- when the attention of Call of Duty fans has been diverted to the next game in the series -- that it's coming to fruition. Letting users create their own maps and game mode modifications does have the potential to undermine DLC sales, yet that didn't prevent Valve from opening up Portal 2 within weeks of launch. The PC versions of two high profile titles from Bethesda: RAGE and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim also both promise to be wide open to modding when they launch later this year.
A big stumbling block for modding with Black Ops -- that has yet to be acknowledged by the developers -- is that the dedicated servers are only operated by a single private company, so even if the tools do give the mod community enough access to create some cool new game modes or custom maps, they can't run their own servers for people to actually play those on anyway. So is it even worth it?
What does everyone else think? Or are we all too busy playing the console versions to care about PC modding these days anyway?