So my dissertation’s main argument is that gamers become good gamers as they learn how to assemble in-game and out-of-game resources (both human and nonhuman) into their network of play so they can do what they need to do to succeed in the game and draw deeper meanings from their gaming. I thought I’d write about an example.
This week I reinstalled Fallout New Vegas since I heard Dead Money, the first official expansion (aka downloadable content (DLC)) is out for the PC version. While I was installing the main game, I quickly did hopped over to the Fallout New Vegas Nexus to see which player-made mods, tweaks, and extensions I should install for this new playthrough. It’s now been a week, and I’ve spent perhaps a dozen hours delving into the mod space, reading about different extra companions, quests, and locations I could try. I’ve been viewing screenshots of mods that change the lighting, atmosphere, textures, and models used to make the game more realistic, more cinematic, more saturated, more detailed, etc. I learned about some common tools people use to create and install mods (FOMM, FNVEdit, NVSE, NCCS), and I’ve discovered several community efforts that combine the best mods into sets of mods to install. Below is a screenshot of Fallout Mod Manager that shows the current mods I have installed:
Notable highlights are Fellout, Dynavision, Electro-City, Nevada Skies, and FNV Enhanced Shaders (adding some nice richer environmental and atmospheric effects), Camera Control (automatically switching between first-person and third-person depending on if a weapon is drawn or holstered), DarNifiedUINV (resizing all UI elements), and a bunch of new quests.
None of this could happen, of course, without people sharing their findings about how to create mods, how to tweak the game and push the envelope of what it can do, explaining why certain things worked and others didn’t. None of this could happen with Bethesda (and Obsidian) creating a game that allows third-party mods, releasing some tools with Oblivion and Fallout 3, the games that came before New Vegas that use the same game engine (Embryo).
There’s also a sizable wiki devoted to Fallout New Vegas where I can read about console codes, get hints on specific quests, learn different strategies to take with different NPCs, etc. There’s the standard gamefaqs.com guides on quest walkthrus and character creation guides. And there’s websites devoted to teaching others how play the in-game card game Caravan.