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This article is about modifying game files. For the garages that modify vehicles in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online, see Mod Garages.

Modifications, more commonly known as simply mods, are alterations made to games in the Grand Theft Auto series, typically made by fans. Modifications to the game are not officially endorsed by Rockstar Games, although there are exceptions for their use made in later games.

Modifications are commonly found on Grand Theft Auto mod sites, and are often showcased across YouTube.

Almost all modifications are free to download, although some independent sites may require registration before access to download links is given.

Modifying GTA is usually done on the PC versions of the games, as it is easier to access files and avoid any potential legal issues on Rockstar's behalf. Despite this, many people still modify the console versions of games, especially later games, which is not authorized by Rockstar and can lead to bans.

Different Types of Modifications

There are many different types of modifications made to GTA games, from something as small as a piece of code, to an entire map.

Maps - Modifications of this type often change the game world as players see it - many famous map modifications have been made, particularly for GTA San Andreas and GTA IV. Some modifications allow players to reach the maps of other GTA titles, such as the famous Vice City map modification in GTA V. Despite modifications on GTA V PC being authorized by Rockstar, importing other game maps (such as the now-canceled Liberty City in GTA V modification) is generally not covered in the PC Single-Player Mods Policy.

Missions - Modifications of this type alter or replace the mission script (main.scm in all of the 3D Universe games) of a 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 - Modifications of this type do not change anything appreciable but only correct errors present in the original GTA game, like the DFT-30 missing its rear wheel in GTA San Andreas and the wrong placed Cuban Outfit in GTA Vice City. Some of modifications attempt to restore hidden features in-game, such as the Ghost Town in GTA III, scenes for adults in GTA San Andreas and North Yankton in GTA V.

Player - Player modifications often change the way the main protagonist appears in-game, but can also change the way they behave, such as running speeds, reaction times to certain occurances, and even animations. These modifications began to appear after the release of GTA III, where basic changes to the textures of the player were made available on mod websites.

Vehicles - Vehicle modifications are, as suggested, modifications to vehicles. This may include making changes to vehicle handling, vehicle textures, or importing entirely new vehicle models, from fan creations of early-title vehicles, such as the well-known "Cheetah Classic" (before its re-release in GTA Online.), to real-life vehicles, usually created from models in other games.

With the enhanced version of GTA V featuring working gauges, dashboards and the First-Person View, these sort of modifications have become more and more advanced over time.

GTA IV Wooden bat mod

Restoring the Wooden Bat (alternative version of the Baseball Bat) found in early screenshots of GTA IV.

Weapons - Modifications of this type alter weapon models and data, such as accuracy, rate of fire, or the weapon sounds. They are usually provided as thematic packages.

Gameplay - Sometimes known as script mods, these mods change the way players play the game. These mods 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 give players special abilities, such as 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. These modifications are often included as part of Trainers in later games.

Graphics - Graphical modifications change the way the game's lightbox, shaders and timecycle behave. This can often result in overall better graphics. Some also involve revamping textures, especially road textures, and the overall quality.

Text - This kind of modification involves altering the text files (american.gxt), changing the in-game texts like instructions, item names, game menu, or even translating the game into other languages.

Non-Modifications

Some third-party programs wrongly count as modifications. The basic criterion for a modification is changing the original game 'content' files, and these programs do not touch those 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.

In the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V, Trainers such as the Native Trainer can be used to access locked or hidden vehicles and weapons, allowing players who don't own a copy of the PS3 or XBox 360 versions of the game to access the Railgun or Duke O'Death, for example. Trainers can also be used to give the player access to Grand Theft Auto Online-only vehicles such as the Hydra. Due to more and more new vehicles being Online-exclusive, Trainers for GTA V have become increasingly popular.

Enhancers - These 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 textures, delays of LOD textures on buildings when moving fast and traffic unification with current protagonist car driven. Some of these enhancers also apply modern shader post-processing effects to a game's graphics.

Creating Modifications

Some things, like car colors and handling, weapons characteristics, and pedestrian relations, can be changed easily because all of the necessary data is stored in plain-text files, with basic guidelines for their usage from the game's 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. Texture creation is also not so simple; textures must match with specific game engine limitations and should be organized by special order into TXD files.

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.

Installing Modifications

Mod In Progress

A modification under construction in ZModeller2. Prior to the release of GTA V, this was the most common program used by modders to create custom vehicles, and was replaced by ZModeller3 in 2015.

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 clothing 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 the mod. Some mods are made as file replacements. Mods come in form of archives which you must unpack to original game`s directory. This simplified installation causes large files to download. Other mods come with special installers (mod installers), which automates work with IMG archives and text-files editing. Both methods are usually incompatible with other mods present, so you must install them over special fresh installation of the original game.

Considerations

Some gamers consider modifications to spoil the integrity and theme of the game - for example, they don't think a 2005 Lamborghini or a 2010s McLaren 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 you've tried to load an old savegame file.

Some modifications (particularly Vehicle and Scenery modifications) make story missions harder to complete, or even impossible to complete. It is advised to either obtain a complete savegame or uninstall the offending mods if you intend to progress the game's story.

GTA SA - First Person Modification CJ Glitch

An example of a modification causing glitches in the game. Seen here is the First Person View mod for GTA San Andreas. When this mod's First Person view is activated, CJ's face becomes glitched whenever the player views themselves in a mirror.

Modifications that were badly coded (mainly missions) or contain many hi-quality textures and models may result in game performance degradation, jerky framerate and various graphical glitches, especially on old hardware.

In the case of mobile version ports, not all mods are compatible. Some mods can be too large for even the best smartphones to handle, causing game performance degradation or even frequent crashes.

In April 2015, shortly after modifications were being produced for the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V, it was discovered that several modification scripts contained a Malware keylogger, which was implemented by the mod's creator to steal personal information. This included bank details and PayPal logins. Although the offending creator was caught and punished, and the offending code and mods removed ('cleaned' versions would later appear, lacking the malware code) this pushed the risks of installing script mods to the limelight - Such scripts may easily contain malware or programs designed to alter or steal data.

Modding on Console

As with the previous GTA games, modding continues to be prevalent in Grand Theft Auto IV.

While modding on the PC is more popular, many players also mod the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of GTA IV, mostly in multiplayer, even though these mods are usually not as similar as the ones on the PC version.

The most predominantly used mods on the console versions of GTA IV usually give the player some abilities, such as:                      

  • The ability to shoot rockets out of guns other than rocket launchers.
  • Super speed.
  • Better handling such as drift mods, even though it is not as smooth as it is without it.
  • Spawning and editing of cars sometimes not found in Multiplayer. such as changing the color to any color available for any car, Editing of body kits and other variable pieces.
  • The ability to add light props to the inside of any car in order to look like neon lights under the car but or mostly just light poles such as on helipads.
  • Picking up and throwing of self or other players.
  • Igniting self or other players.
  • Instant killing of self or others.
  • Replace model of some vehicles. For example: replacing helicopter model with airplane model to change its appearance without using other mods as these do not work on console.
  • Teleporting of self or other players. 
  • Infinite ammo, and god mode, although they still may die if they are travelling outside of the map boundaries.
  • The ability to spawn in props from the game files such as qubiz blocks or skateboard ramps sometimes making entire tracks out of them or spawning in pre set tracks, or sometimes pure explosions or fire.
  • Instant auto aim with almost 100% accuracy in everything including helicopters.

Modifications on GTA Online

OnlineModders-GTAO-CargoPlane

A modder has spawned in a chrome Cargo Plane with a Mod menu - In the background, a Space Docker is also visible.

Much like above in GTA IV multiplayer, mods for GTA Online are becoming very common, especially on the PC and last-gen versions. 'Modders' or 'Hackers', as they are known by the community, are very well-known for their tendency to either be harmless, beneficial or harmful towards other players. Modders use a script for the game called a 'Mod menu', which is similar to a trainer (See Non-Modifications). Using this Mod menu, the modder can do many things. These include:

  • Customize their character to look like Pedestrians, characters from GTA V or even the Impotent Rage cosplayer and the game's many animals
  • Detonate every player's vehicle within a set radius or across the whole server
  • Spawn large amounts of Money bags - This practice is known as 'Money Dropping'
  • Spawn or drive rare and unobtainable vehicles such as the Cargo Plane and the Space Docker
  • Spawn and attach objects to players or themselves
  • Tune and mod other player's vehicles at will
  • Make themselves or other players invulnerable
  • Enter player's apartments at will (usually followed up with money dropping)

As Rockstar constantly fights to keep the game fair, modders are often banned for their antics or blocked temporarily from accessing GTA Online. However, it's a constant fight between the game's updates breaking the modders' Mod menus and new versions of these tools being released for the Modders to use.

OpenIV

OpenIV is an application which allows accessing and modifying game files in Grand Theft Auto IV, Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, Grand Theft Auto V and Max Payne 3. The program is able to read, write and open RAGE package files (.rpf) and gives the user a great amount of control over the many files and models used by the specific game to be modified. Starting from GTA V, it is possible to copy rpf files into a 'Mods' folder so that the modified content doesn't directly overwrite the original copies, allowing the user to easily switch between the original files and the modded copies.

Rockstar Games endorsed the software [citation/verification needed]; when OpenIV was released, a large portion of the GTA modding community used to it to their benefits, as it was an easy-to-install, easy-to-use software.

In June 2017, after 10 years of its existence, Take Two Interactive, Rockstar Game's legal organisation and parent company contacted the OpenIV team, sending them a cease and desist letter, ordering the software was disabled. OpenIV contacted Take Two, asking what the issue was, only to receive an email back, stating the software allows players to modify GTA Online and consequently ruin the GTA Online experience. OpenIV wasn't inclined to take the company to court, after claiming it would not solve the issue. Several hours later, an update was issued to all copies of the application, ordering the user to "Uninstall" the software either immediately or "later", essentially aimed to stop modding on both single and multiplayer platforms.

Soon, GTA V's rating on Steam dropped from 'Overwhelmingly Positive' to 'Overwhelmingly Negative', as the community engaged in review bombing of the game's store page to express their disapproval of Take Two's decision. Many YouTube videos were posted, both by prominent figures in the GTA V video community and from modders in the community such as SkylineGTRFreak and DoctorGTA.

Shortly after the cease and desist, a petition was opened on Change.org entitled Save OpenIV. The petition quickly reached 75,000 votes within several days. Rockstar later issued a statement in response, stating they would hold a discussion with the OpenIV team. Although the discussion remains confidential, OpenIV soon received an update after 10 hours of the discussion being held, removing the "Uninstall" message and indicating that Take Two had reversed their decision.

Disclaimer

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.

Should you access GTA Online with modifications enabled, your Social Club account will be automatically suspended.

Always read the instructions thoroughly, and always backup files before you edit

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