Phil Spencer announced at Microsoft’s //Build/ 2016 conference earlier today that its Universal Windows Platform will support mods and overlays. Few details were provided at the time, but Spencer later elaborated on how both will work as part of a media Q&A. Basically, overlays—for example FRAPS—are a fairly uncomplicated implementation, only requiring the creator to port their software from a Win32 program to a Universal Windows Application.
Mods, on the other hand, will be more complicated. Spencer referenced Steam Workshop as the model for how it’ll work, which appears to suggest only developer-sanctioned mods will function in the environment. Asked whether users can mod software that doesn’t come with developer-created tools, Spencer did not rule it out entirely, but his answer also didn’t offer any confirmation.
“The mods where we’ll probably have some discussion, is… if I go in and change the executable in a way—if I actually go in and reorder the code or inject code paths the developer didn’t originally intend, [then] the problem is, I don’t know if that modification is to fix a broken game, or to add some kind of phishing tool to the game so that now it’s capturing my passwords as I’m typing them into Chrome.
“I don’t know as the developer, or more importantly as the consumer, which of those it is,” he continued. “So I would always try to find an endorsed path by the game creator to say, ‘here’s how we want people injecting code and modifications into the game’ and us supporting that, which we will go do. This idea that things can kind of run amok on the machine, and put, I’m going to say, malicious code—not saying mods are malicious, but it’s hard to differentiate.”
This basically means that, while developer-sanctioned mods (such as those allowed for Bethesda’s ESO and Fallout games via Steam Workshop) will be fine, the environment won’t support modding to the extent that Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines has seen. Which to many in the modding community, will be a limitation too far.
Story by Shaun Prescott and Wes Fenlon.