What happens when modders can’t surpass what’s found in the vanilla game?

Bit of a flashback to six months ago on Reddit, but it brings up a larger point of discussion that I’d like the readers of PRC.net to voice their opinions on. PC gamers have the luxury of being able to download third party modifications for whatever game they please, and when it comes to driving games, mods usually extend the lifespan of a game by several years by adding a whole new roster of cars and tracks for people to mess around with Unfortunately, for every good mod, there are several bad mods, and longtime rFactor players know this all too well – some of the vehicles and locations available for the landmark ISI racing sim are horrible conversions who’ve aged worse than the stereotypical High School slut at your ten year reunion.

About six months ago, TeamOm3ga put out a mod for NASCAR Racing 2003 Season based around the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. As we’ve described in the past, most mods for NR2003 do not change how the cars handle, and are simply aesthetic changes to pre-existing sets of physics found within the game.  It is therefore integral for all visual aspects of the mod to be absolutely perfect because this is literally the only purpose of any mod for the classic oval racing sim.

On the left is Jeff Burton’s #99 Roush Racing Ford Taurus from the summer of 2000, in the middle is the default NR2003 car model with Jeff Burton’s 2000 Exide livery on the body of a 2003 Ford Taurus, and on the right is the brand new Cup2000 model, intended to be a much more precise car model than the default game has to offer, designed specifically to adhere to 2000 Winston Cup rules and regulations.

i49frLIAs one user in the Reddit thread graciously analyzed for us:

  • The front shape of the car on Original Cup is much closer than the Cup2000 car. That’s one point to Original Cup.
  • As we can see on the real car, the blue and pink lines on the front do not blend into each other, handing another point to Original Cup.
  • The headlights on all default Cup2000 templates are absolutely horrendous except for the Pontiac. The Ford is arguably joint-worst with the Dodge. Another point to Original Cup.
  • The sponsor arrangements on the hood of Burton’s car is much closer on Original Cup than Cup2000. Look at the Exide and SKF logos for example. Yet another point for Original Cup.
  • The front fender on the Original Cup car resembles the real car much better than what Cup2000 has done. The Clevite logo is absent on the Cup2000 car. One more point for Original Cup.
  • Same case with the side contingencies, they must have been based on this photo as they’re all on the correct spot. Cup2000 hasn’t done this.
  • The roof contingencies on the cars results in another clear win for Original Cup. The Coca Cola logo is present on this model while it’s absent and replaced with a Ford logo on Cup2000.
  • However, the #99 on the Original Cup car has way too thick an outline, and in a rare case the Cup2000 car has replicated the number much better. However as can be seen the number is still too large.
  • Both artists seem to have taken creative liberty with the quarter panel contingencies though, as neither of them resemble the photo. Half a point to each mod.
  • The roof line on the real car and Original Cup is curved. The roof line on the Cup2000 car is angled. Another point to Original Cup.
  • The shape of the back is a major disappointment too. To accentuate this, I have copy pasted the rear ends of both cars onto the rear end of the real car just to show how much closer the Original Cup 2000 mod is to Om3ga’s Cup2000:


  • By the rear quarter panel though, the Cup2000 is almost 100% accurate to the real car and the Original Cup car has slipped. Look at the placements of the Exide and rear bumper logos. For those the Cup2000 mod can have two points. The rear spoiler is also more accurate in terms of shape and texture. One more point for the new mod.

Final Points:
Original Cup – 9.5
Cup2000 – 4.5

In conclusion, the new Cup2000 mod is actually half as good as the plain old Papyrus-made Cup. The time could have been better spent elsewhere, particularly on a 1995 mod which I have advocated for in the past.

After a detailed analysis by someone who isn’t me, modders who developed an entirely scratch-built visual modification were out-done by content already in the game. So is it wrong to criticize this? Why spend time developing entirely new 3D models when they are of an inferior quality to vanilla content already found within the game, created twelve years ago?

And another argument I see all the time, including in our own comments section, apparently if you aren’t part of a mod team and haven’t made a mod on your own, you aren’t allowed to criticize other people’s work:


Am I missing something? Am I just a total asshole who hates everything to feel good about himself? Are we just supposed to accept sub-par mods because someone worked really hard on it and you might hurt their feelings? Or is this a logical fallacy? Look man, I ain’t a chef by trade, but I know when I’ve eaten a shitty undercooked pizza. And I don’t need to be the head of a mod team to line up three shots of the same car and see that one of them is way off. But if this sort of criticism isn’t allowed, prepare your collective anii for GT3 cars with 8-speed transmissions and front wheel drive F1 cars since if you haven’t made anything, keep your armchair mod making comments to yourself!

6 thoughts on “What happens when modders can’t surpass what’s found in the vanilla game?

  1. Another Chris says:

    You wanted opinions voiced, and here’s mine. I agree, if your going to put-in time, make it actually worth-while, we don’t need more shit-skins, we need more refined track-mesh and higher-quality models all across the board. Cars/Tracks/Objects/whatever, think that PURE Miata Mod that got released for AC, we need more shit like that.

    Quality > Quanity, as the saying goes.


  2. Anonymous says:

    I can totally sympathize with having a hard time finding usable references for a particular skin (esp. of an older car – when I google that one, 9/10 are of scale models, not photos of the original), but yeah… that front end’s pretty bad in ways that go beyond the specific livery. And the roof’s visibly different from any photo I can see which is puzzling.

    That said there are only so many people who can build game-quality models (well, it’s easier for a 12 year old game, assuming the tools are any good), probably even fewer people who can manage game-quality physics, and the rest of the modders are just doing their best.


  3. Me says:

    yes u are an asshole – that why people come here


  4. Jericohol says:

    Fun fact: this mod is pretty much unusable online due to incorrect collision detection on the rear end. At least 3 crashes were caused in a race I had at Daytona because someone tried to fall into line only to “hook” the person 2 feet ahead of him.


  5. e123 says:

    I’ll be honest. I think all cosmetic mods are fairly unnecessary. I really do not see the point in skins or a new model when it’s not actually changing the driving experience in a critical way.

    I can understand why people make this stuff (yeah it can be fun to create and use), but these creators need not take their work so seriously when faced with honest opinions.

    Just my take on it. I usually don’t consider using content like this.

    All of this ‘let’s’ see you make content!’ behavior… Seriously, at absolute worst you have to create what is essentially a UV map. Most of you are working from .psd templates. Stop acting like you’re a bunch of geniuses. There’s a big difference between the capability of creating content and the desire to create the content that YOU specifically want.

    You want a bunch of nascar skins? Great, go make them. I won’t be using them and don’t be surprised if people start questioning why you would import a clearly inferior model.


  6. Jorge says:

    It’s a delicate matter. Specially if the mods are free. Most modders are actually trying hard, but they still may lack skills. Criticizing constructively isn’t a sin, but bashing it is. I was a modder myself, did a couple of cars for a very well known and cherished rFactor mod back in 2008. I was learning Max by then. It would suck if someone came along shitting on my virtual cars. But I wouldn’t mind a friendly constructive critic about something wrong in the models, which happened quite a lot inside the team until we got the final version of the cars.

    Harshly criticizing something you got for free is just lame. You don’t have to be grateful for a free plate of shit, just let it slide by if it’s not your thing. Harsh opinions about a payware mod, it’s a different thing. It’s a service and you expect some professionalism about it. Extrapolating a bit, you do get a lot of hot shit plates on the FSX community. Payware stuff bloated beyond believe in pixels, vertexes and textures, slowing the game to a crawl without a real reason to spend 60 bucks on it. Funny thing tho, the sim community eat those plates and thank the developers even if it was a hot shit plate. It’s a crazy world there… but I digress too much now.

    I know it’s hard to believe, but modders do have feelings. It’s not a sissy thing. They donate a significant part of their free time for the community asking nothing in return. A friendly critic about something wrong is just all they ask if their work do not appeal everyone.



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