Friday, December 24

A Patchwork Quilt

Patches have solved many a problem in the world of computers, providing a means of updating content, fixing bugs and making old games interesting again.

I’ve never been into the techy side of computers, only the pretty side. So in the mid 90’s when I received the DOS commands to modify and unlock the Australian version of Duke Nukem 3D, I was excited, anxious and scared that I was going to ruin my game and Dad’s computer forever due to a mistake in the code.

After enjoying Duke in all its unedited glory, I took interest in a CD of patches I bought with a PC magazine (these are the things we used prior to the Internet and all it’s free goodness). This opened up a world of game options for me and my friends.

One of the most memorable mods/patches was for Doom II, turning it into Simpson’s Doom. The game changed everyone into Simpson’s characters, with the space marine being portrayed by Homer.

As you shot your way through level after level, waves of characters such as Moe, Krusty and Barney would be taken out, each time crying out a renowned catch phrase. When Homer took damage, the expression on his face would change, as per the expressions of the original space marine.

Doom was modified by hundreds of people, with versions including Star Wars, Aliens and James Bond’s Goldeneye. This design aspect was included based on the number of players developing custom levels for previous first person shooters such as Wolfenstein 3D.

Today, most patches are just version updates or bug fixes, such as the recent Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit PC patch that solves the Quad Core CPU crash dilemma and weather effects. There are a multitude of games with version patches that are easily downloaded.

As a patch is essentially new programming information, one could suggest DLC from Xbox Live or PSN is the console’s way of providing patches and keeping up with the PC to ensure new games stay fresh.

Downloadable maps and weapons for Gears of War, Call of Duty or Halo 3 have added a new dimension to the multiplayer aspect of each game, while the Red Dead Redemption (RDR) patch helps prevent cheating and create a more civilised Free Roam experience.

I’ve never played RDR or used the patch, but as usual, its arrival has produced what seems like a fairly mixed reception. Some people love it while others feel it does little for the gaming experience.

What are your favourite patches, mods or DLC? Outside of provided tools such as Forge in Halo 3, have you ever taken the leap and created your own in game content?

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