Want to make your own mod? These links will help get you started.

Illustration by Nana Rausch

Video game modifications, or mods, offer creative gamers a way to bring their own genius to preexisting video games. They can be used to create original characters or entirely new levels and scenarios, which can then be shared over the Internet with other gamers. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert computer programmer to create your own mod. A variety of programs and tutorials are available on the Internet to help you get started. Because of its popularity, most of the available tools apply specifically to the game Half-Life, created by Valve Software. In most cases, players must own the original game in order to use a mod.

-Rob Barnett


Half-Life’s Software Development Kit (SDK)
This software is a must-have for those interested in creating mods for the game Half-Life. The SDK contains the artificial intelligence and models for all of Half-Life’s original characters. Though it is possible to start from scratch, most hackers alter an existing character contained within the SDK.

MilkShape 3D Editing Software
This free software is used to edit the characters in the games Half-Life, Quake I, II, and III, and Unreal Tournament.

C++ Compiler
The SDK requires a C++ computer language compiler to convert your creation into a file that can be executed by the video game. Officially, the SDK supports Microsoft’s Visual C++, but there are alternatives.

Microsoft Visual C++

Borland C++ Builder

MinGW C++ Compiler (free)


Frequently Asked Questions about Mod Programming
This is a good place for beginners to get started creating mods. This FAQ covers all the basics.

Wavelength: A Half-Life Editing Resource
Wavelength has information on coding, creating models, and even embedding your own sounds within a mod. Not only does the site have a variety of helpful tutorials, it also includes a forum where mod makers can exchange ideas and tips.

Valve Editing Resource Center (ERC)
Formerly the Half-Life ERC, the Valve ERC has grown to encompass all of Valve’s products. The site contains user forums, tutorials, and lots of technical details for advanced mod creators.

Half-Life Almanac
This site is updated regularly, and it has a lot of information for those just getting started and more advanced mod makers as well. Aside from this site’s own tutorials and forums, it has many links to other Internet sites where more information is available.

Planet Half Life
Though its content has not been updated in a while, this site hosts a popular online community for mod makers. It has information on creating your own mod, plus it serves as a forum for sharing your work.