- This article is about modifying game files. For the garages that modify vehicles in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, see Mod Garages.
A modification is an alteration to a game. Grand Theft Auto modifications are created by fans after the game's release, and are not authorized or endorsed by Rockstar Games. Modifications can be obtained from many Grand Theft Auto websites and fansites.
Almost all modifications are entirely free, and may be downloaded and used by anybody. However, there are restrictions on editing and distributing the modification, so always ask permission from the author.
Modifications are mainly only used on PC versions of Grand Theft Auto games. There are methods of modifying console versions, but these are complex and usually break the license agreement of the game and the game console.
Different Types of Modifications
Modifications in special websites usually are distributed on several categories, depend on aspect of game they changes:
Maps - Modifications of this type add buildings, islands, towns and other objects to an existent landscape of the GTA game. They consist of the added model description with corresponding textures and collision data. Examples are Pleasure Island mod for GTA Vice City and WTC Modification for GTA San Andreas.
Missions - Modifications of this type alter or replace the mission script (main.scm in all of the GTA III Era games) of GTA game. These could alter details of missions or even add entirely new missions. The mission script file is responsible for what-happens-when, so modifying it can achieve almost any effect.
Patches (Fixes) - Modifications of this type do not change anything appreciable but only correct errors present in the original GTA game, like DFT30 missing rear wheel in GTA San Andreas and wrong placed Cuban Outfit in GTA Vice City. Some of modifications attempt to restore hidden features in game: Ghost Town in GTA III, scenes for adults in GTA San Andreas.
Player - Modifications of this type change protagonist model in game, add or replace available clothing items, sometimes also offer new animation or voice data for the player. Creation of modifications of the given type began after release of the GTA III, the first GTA game contained appreciable protagonist model. Pedestrians modifications also often appoint to the given category.
Vehicles - Modifications of this type add a new cars, boats, planes & helicopters to a GTA game, or change existent vehicles colors and handling, sometimes even replace certain cars with new hi-poly modeled and textured version of them. This is a most popular kind of modifications (as also the lungs for realization), often united in large thematic packages.
Weapons - modifications of this type alter weapons models and data, like accuracy or rate of fire, and sound of shooting. They also usually provided as thematic packages.
Some modifications encompass many of these features at once - these are known as Total Conversions (TCs). TCs generally change everything in that GTA game, including the map, vehicles, pedestrians, players and missions. A few TC mods been made, and there have been many more planned that have never reached a release. Most of TCs made for the GTA San Andreas, that is explainable by the time of occurrence of ready tools for development in all aspects and growth of a community. Examples are notorious Grand Theft Auto: Great Britain, Grand Theft Auto: Criminal Russia and GTASA: Liberty City, all are still in development for the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Gameplay - Sometimes known as script mods, these mods change the way players play the game. These mod usually have their own custom script but don't interfere with the main.scm script file. Script mods are also sometimes known as "for fun" mods because they are often used to spawn so-called "myths" in certain places, giving players special weapons, the ability to control the weather, etc. Script mods usually start the player off with maxed-out muscle, a wad of cash, all cities/bridges unlocked and sometimes with an entire arsenal of weapons to use. Sometimes these mods are just simple, such as modifying the game's clock to last up to 24 hours.
Physics - Another popular mod is fixing the physics. Originally, the physics engine was unrealistic. However, because of CLEO mods, some gamers have been able to change the physics engine by importing the RAGE engine into GTA: San Andreas/Vice City. A popular mod is the "GTA San Andreas Rag-doll" mod. In Grand Theft Auto III this is much harder to do since limbs come off in the PC version.
Cosmetics - Another popular modification is simply cosmetic use. For example, there are mods that replace fictional brands into real ones (Example: Burger Shot now Burger King) or replaces cars with their real-life counterparts. Sometimes, these even replace district names to match their real ones. An example is the GTA San Andreas real mod.
Some third-party programs wrongly count as modifications. The basic criterion for modification is changing the original game 'content' files, and these programs actually do not touch that files.
Trainers - Trainers are programs that run alongside the game and manipulate the game's data stored in memory. These programs can change many different things, ranging from the player's health, armor, weapons, skill and even location; to being able to spawn vehicles, modify the current vehicle (e.g. color, damage etc) and edit vehicles stored in garages; to modifying the time, game speed and weather.
Multiplayer - As all PC versions of the GTA III Era games lacks multiplayer capabilities, gamer community start creation of unofficial multiplayer clients & servers. These programs allow to play online with other players on public servers, or offer 'head-to-head' competitions between directly connected players. Types of gameplay provided may differ between different realizations, but usually are versions of FPS-like deathmatch/CTF or rally/street races. Examples are Multi Theft Auto, Vice City Multiplayer and San Andreas Multiplayer.
Enhancers - are additional programs/libraries which remove or increase certain GTA game engine limits and restrictions, like maximum draw distance and number of objects in scene. Display of these restrictions are well known drops of road texture, delays of LOD textures on buildings when moving fast and traffic unification with current protagonist car driven. Some of enhancers also apply modern shader post-processing effects to game graphics. Noted enhancers are SA Limit Adjuster and ENBSeries tweakers.
Some things, like car colors and handling, weapons characteristics, ped relations, can be changed easily because all the data necessary stored in plain-text files, with basic guidelines for their usage from game developers in file headers. However, creating more advanced modifications (such as entire buildings or cars) are trickier, and usually requires some advance experience in creating models for games. Google SketchUp is a good program for creating building models. 3ds Max, Lightwave and Zmodeller are also used. Textures are less complex, but still tricky. Textures must be the same size as its original, because bigger ones may cause the game to lag depending on FPS, as those are much more HD. Also, some textures may contain an alpha texture.
The mission modifications are even harder to produce. First, mission script for a game must be presented in compiled form, which require use of special compiler/decompiler tools for any changes. Second, script language is not officially documented, and worse, each script editor has their own interpretation of it. Finally, many script features depend on hardcoded functions in the game executable, which can lead to unexpected troubles with different usage approaches, game region versions, official patches and even depends on end-user hardware. These results with mission modifications are usually simple gameplay missions. The most often used mission script editor is Mission Builder by Barton Waterduck and its derivative, Sanny Builder. Recently, however, a tool called Design Your Own Mission, or DYOM, specifically for San Andreas, makes making missions less complex, but these are usually simple.
For Total Conversions, there are even more specific tools needed, like ped & traffic paths editor, GXT (texts) editor, interface (menu) editor and so on. It is strongly advised that you do not attempt to do more than you are capable of. Do not expect to be able to recreate your favorite car in a few hours, many modifications take months.
Vice City Mod Manager
Vice City Mod Manager or VCMM, is a tool for modifying objects in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. VCMM uses its own file format VCM, and mods can be downloaded in this format from many different websites.
San Andreas Mod Manager
There is another mod manager for GTA: San Andreas. It does the same thing as the Vice City Mod Manager.
Vehicles, player and weapons modifications are usually constructed on replacement of already present game objects, because there are limits to number of objects of such kind in game engine, often already filled up by developers, and addition of the new model will require a lot of 'precision' editing in many game files. Therefore, a new car, weapon or clothes will replace the existing one and all installation is reduced to work with IMG archives and little editing of one or two game files in text editor. Always do backup of files touched before any changes occurs.
Installation of larger modifications, such as maps, depends on a method chosen by the developer of mod. Some mods are made as file replacements, mod comes in form of archive which you must unpack to original game`s directory. This simplified installation cost large files to download. Other mods come with special installers (mod installers), which automates work with IMG archives and text-files editing. Both methods usually uncompatible with other mods present, so you must install them over special fresh installation of the original game.
Some gamers consider modifications to spoil the integrity and theme of the game - for example, they don't think a 2005 Lamborghini belongs in a fictitious 1990s world, although you can make your own decisions on these matters.
Most modifications do not alter the status of your game. However, if you install a modification that edits or replaces the mission script file, you will have to begin a new game (except in rare cases), or use a provided savegame created for that specific modification. The game will crash immediately if tried to load an old savegame file.
Modifications that were badly coded (mainly missions) or contain many hi-quality textures and models may results with game performance degradation, jerky framerate and various graphical glitches, especially on old hardware.
Modding on GTA IV
As with the previous GTA games, modding continues to be prominent on Grand Theft Auto IV.
While most players mod the PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV, many players also mod the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of GTA IV. One of the most predominantly used mods on the console versions of GTA IV will give the player the ability to shoot rockets out of guns other than rocket launchers. Many modders will also use a "speedup" mod that allows them to drive vehicles at incredibly fast speeds, sometimes fast enough to make the vehicle start flying. Modders also spawn cars that are not available in multiplayer with an array of unofficial paintjobs. Modders will also spawn story mode characters as bodyguards. Many people feel angry and annoyed to see a modder in a Free Mode game, usually because they are killing the other players with their modified weapons. Often times a modder will be kicked out of the game or trash-talked to. Despite modding being relatively annoying to some, others find modding fun and use it as a way to obtain various abilities or vehicles for their own personal enjoyment or for the players in the current multiplayer game.
You modify your game at your own risk. There is no guarantee that all modifications you download will work, or whether the instructions will be complete. You should make yourself familiar with simple well-known modifications (such as cars) before attempting to install larger and more complex models.
Always read the instructions thoroughly, and always backup files before you edit
- GTA III
- GTA San Andreas
San Andreas Hot Coffee Mod.
San Andreas lengendary BigFoot Mod.
A Tatra 603 mod, replacing the Glendale.
Niko Bellic player model and A Series of Unfortunate Events character peds.
- GTA IV
- GTAGarage.com - Large database and warehouse for modifications since GTA III.
- GTA-Downloads.com - Another warehouse, keeps also modifications for older GTA games.
- GTA-Worldmods - German warehouse with many car modifications.
- GTAForums.com - Mod Showroom, to find newest mods and news about existent.
- GTAModding - Wiki with information for mod developers.
- Steve`s GTA page - Many tools for modding and links to other developers of tools.
- GTAInside - Large database since GTA III
- GTAGaming - Predominatly for general information about GTA. A page exists for downloading mods though.
- GTA Police Mods - Large warehouse for emergency vehicles for GTA San Andreas and GTA IV.