When you hear the word “Custom Clients” or “Modded”, you may think about overwhelming amounts of new content, and a general buggy mess. Or you might look at it in a positive light and take the joy it brings into account. Generally, modded is referred to something that changes certain aspects of the game. It could be purely cosmetic, optimizations or even new content. No matter which stance you take on modifying games, there’s a few clear issues and benefits that can be addressed before having probably one of the most chaotic and enjoyable experiences the games you play can offer!
Before you even get started, it might be helpful to take a different look at the modded variant of a game than you would a vanilla game. There will be more variation in your experience of the game the more mods you use, and it might be an entirely different experience to vanilla. The thing about modded is that it’s unpredictable in a good way. Just remember to know your limit as although exciting to play through, returning to a multimoded playthrough with hundreds of large content mods may be very overwhelming. There’s many great modifications and clients out there, but there are just as many… unfavourable ones. It’s quite like choosing DLCs for games or installing beta builds.
Though many developers aren’t malicious, there are a few which do intend to wreak havoc on your computer (and maybe take a snip at your personal information). Make sure to check the credibility of the sources you get mods from whether it be for custom clients or simply cosmetic changes. There is as much of a reason to be afraid of these things happening as there is being struck by lightning. As long as you aren’t standing out there with a lightning rod connected to your computer and are protected, you probably won’t get struck by malware. The most likely kind of malware you’ll find in mods are trojan horses, which like their name suggest look like a safe piece of software. If a mod is all HJSON, JSON or even XML files (All used for data storage), you likely don’t need to worry about them being malicious. Mods like Exotic Mod for Mindustry as an example, are safe & sound.
When wondering what mods to install, or what to do upon loading up the game, you might be tempted to jump straight to YouTube. It will likely have a lot of community created content up there and ready to be accessed. Why not take it one step further? Lots of games have communities on sites like Reddit and Discord such as Factorio and RoR2. Large mods or ones with social developers will often have their own communities as well like Calamity for Terraria, Create for Minecraft or De_ Server for Mindustry. Joining a game’s community can be great not only to get out there and meet new people, but also to seek technical help with installing mods, and reporting bugs!
Once you’ve loaded up a save, jumped into a dungeon or freshly created a new world you may notice drastic differences… or none at all! If you’ve ever jumped into a game and gotten overwhelmed by new content, you might recognize that feeling. Try using mods which don’t heavily change up the amount of gameplay/content till you’ve gotten used to what vanilla has to offer. That way, you’ll be more well versed in how the game normally works for when you start playing with new content. Stick with mods for a bit to figure out the quality of their content, as many are the best when going through their intended experience (instead of chucking everything into sandbox and getting started there, like what I did when playing and modding Mindustry for the first time). Things like campaigns, challenge maps and other ways to experience the modded content as the dev intended will help ease you into the mod’s new content/mechanics.
At this point you may be wondering, “How technically skilled do I have to be to use mods?”, and well… it depends. Certain games have inbuilt/external mod loaders which make the process easy, but some games can only be modded through modifying the game itself. These are often called sourcemods, custom clients. If the game was made in a game engine such as Unity, Unreal, Godot, Game Maker Studio and so forth, mods might come as their own executable/application in the form of custom clients (Depending on your platform.) If you ever have problems installing clients, remember that communities are out there which could provide help for your troubles. You might even be able to contact the developer of the client you want to use. If you ever encounter a bug, this might also be an option, though more specific sites like Github allow you to submit issues to help the developers keep track of what they have left to fix.
If you ever get lost and are unable to progress, or find that installing random mods isn’t working out, try community created guides/videos, or see if the source of your mods has some sort of rating system. It usually helps to pick mods that the general community likes, though if you scroll further down on a list you can find some pretty well-hidden gems. Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit, but just keep in mind that the further down you go, the more mods start to transition from fun and helpful to boring and low quality. Keep in mind that rating systems can be flawed and give things a shot for a while before moving on. Don’t judge an electronic book by its cover!
There will often be a few main sources of mods. Sites like Github are especially popular due to being great for hosting programming repositories in general. You’ll often find modded clients and smaller modifications readily available there. There’s also platform-specific sources such as the Steam Workshop, or the Cursforge app by Overwolf.
Once you get into playing modded games, you might be satisfied with the existing modifications and clients out there, but there may also be a part of you which wants to create your own! Depending on how long the game has been moddable for, there’ll likely be guides on just that, though if a mod is installed in-game it’ll likely be easier than creating a custom client. Certain games don’t “sandbox” mods properly, meaning they have a lot of freedom with what they can do, but others only allow modding specific parts of the game at a time. It may sound complicated, but it’s quite worthwhile to get into! It not only gives you an excuse not to touch grass, but when getting involved with the community, you can meet lots of nice and helpful people.