With Bethesda's latest game - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - still garnering a lot of buzz and racking up "Game of the Year" nominations less than a month after release, one might expect the video game developer to happily rest on its laurels for a moment. Luckily for the modding community, Bethesda is instead releasing its brand new Creation Engine for free to have the public do with as they wish. While it's not uncommon for a video game developer to give out its development tools, it is a little less common for those tools to be packed with a platform for distributing, rating, and even installing mods with a smartphone.
Fan-made mods - where one or more people alter the code or features of a video game to either enhance the existing game or build a new one entirely - have typically been a boon for the video game industry. They extend the shelf life of a title and occasionally spawn their own successful franchises, such as Counterstrike or DOTA. Unfortunately, the methods for obtaining these mods aren't always simple. Right now, the main way to find video game mods is through various file hosting sites, where installation can sometimes require some more advanced knowledge of computer systems. Bethesda is looking to streamline the whole process with the integration of Steam Workshop in their Creation Kit.
Bundled with the Creation Kit, modders will find not only the development tools used to create one of the biggest video game releases of the year, but also a platform to distribute any potential projects in the Steam Workshop. The Workshop was created by another developer, Valve, to provide a forum for fan-created items in its own game, Team Fortress 2. Skyrim will mark both the second game with mods available through the Workshop and the first game there that wasn't developed by Valve. Acting as almost a marketplace for fan-created mods, the Workshop will allow users to upload their work, rate others, and flag the ones they want to download. They'll even be able to do all this through a smartphone. Any mods that they flag will be automatically downloaded and installed the next time they start the game. Of course, if a person wants to upload their creation to the usual file hosting sites, they're certainly able to do that as well.
Bethesda plans to release the Creation Kit for free on the PC along with updates for Skyrim itself in January.