Welcome to the long awaited Part 2 of Halo vs Call of Duty Modding blog posts (You're welcome Snipe). In this part we will be covering the differences in the tools between.
We will start with talking about Halo modding tools...
In Halo, we have a had a wide variety of programs and utilities to use to assist in modify blam engine files. I will only be covering 3rd gen modding tools (Xbox 360 Halo). Halo 3 had a very simple to use map cache file editor named Johnson. Johnson was originally written by Prey and several other people such as Xenon.7 (Detox) and Anthony for use of modifying meta and locale content. Johnson had very innovate sort features that allowed the sorting of tags without necessarily having to sort by class. This helps with trying to find exactly what we want and by eliminating all the shit tags that didn't matter. Halo tools also were the origination of memory poking for the Xbox 360. This made possible the immediate of a map in "real-time" rather than having to save and reload a map onto a storage device. The first major editor to support this was Alteration. This program was written mostly by Detox. Alteration was adapted promptly for Halo: Reach and was named Ascension. Ascension however, might have been a loss in features however because of the loss of tabs. However, not having DotNetBar was a major improvement for Ascension. Someone else came along and added features to Ascension and this was Deadcanadian. He added a new poking page for advanced poking between many games as well as xex pokes including gravity modding.
In the area of user content files, there was originally some real scrutiny when it came to Halo save games. It became really gay when people started to sell the resigning salt for Halo save games at a relatively high price. People even used this stupid salt to their advantage and created paid save editors that people have spent thousands on. However, a small group of people (myself included) in mid June of 2011 released a Halo: Reach save editor named Liberty. Liberty was a save editor that has several features that the other editors do not have or these features work a lot better in Liberty. Liberty was also one of the few Open-Source tools in the modding scene (more on this later in the blog post).
Time for some Call of Duty...
Call of Duty has a rather questionable background starting with the save game and profile modding through use of DVAR's in Call of Duty 4 and World at War. There was the ever so popular CoD Tool which allowed for almost nothing innovative except for running around like a banshee in zombies and could walking through walls in campaign. CoD Tool was later removed from the internet by Activision for messing up the game too much. Enough about savegames though. Let's talk about FastFile modding.
FastFile tools such as FFManager are geared toward editng DVAR's and adding script to automatically rank people and cheat the game with Aimbots and other stupid stuff. The developer of the tool probably never intended for the tool to be used this way so we aren't going to make fun of him. FFManager in itself is a decent utility and gets the job done. However, the overall purpose as seen by the majority of the scene is a way to cheat. 97% of mods made using a utility are some sort of "ModMenu" which is a user friendly way of mass distribution of cheats. The cheats were so plentiful in Modern Warfare it prompted Microsoft to introduce a system challenge and change the entire Xbox LIVE signon process.
What Both Scenes truly lack...
Open-Source is the true key to innovation in a modding community. It allows for people to learn about a game's engine and not have to rely on others down the road. It allows for the "torch" to be passed off to another individual or group when another retires from their work. The torch in both scenes has not been passed on to another so we basically have to start over as a scene. If people gained access to said knowledge back in the beginning, I'm sure tag injection for Halo would be possible by now. Open-Source is something I hope to see more of in the future because people in scene seem to think it is some sort of curse to have an open program. It is most certainly not however. My team that developed Liberty which was a huge success likes Open-Source and plan on having Assembly and Apollo be open source upon the release.
Both scenes have some real issues when it comes to programs and utilities. I hope that this changes in the future for all of our sake.