jPsjaVWMYfIToday, 12th March, Monster Hunter: World is receiving another major title update adding new, free content and bringing the PC version further up to date with the consoles. To celebrate this and to shine the spotlight on one of the most vibrant modding communities on our site, we are talking to Stracker, the author of Stracker's Loader - an essential tool for Monster Hunter: World modding.
BigBizkit: Thanks for joining us today, Stracker!
Stracker: No worries! Thanks for having me.
Monster Hunter: World came out on PC in August 2018 and not only has it become Capcomís best selling game of all time, it is now one of the biggest games on our site in terms of mods and downloads. In your opinion, what is it about Monster Hunter: World that draws in players and modders alike?
I think the main draw for players is the gameplay and the world design, fighting the monsters is just very interesting and fun in general. The monsters themselves are just very well designed, both in the way they interact with the world and environment, and in the way you have to fight them. The weapons you fight them with are also all very fun in their own right, I have played and enjoyed playing with all 14 weapon types! I obviously still have my favourites in lance and swag axe though
I think that for a modding community to emerge, you need people playing, and you need them playing for a long time. The game pushes that through the variety of ways you can customize your character. Making different builds, making your character look good, both keep the game interesting and give you goals to work towards once you reach endgame. It's also worth noting the element of mastery: the game can get quite challenging and the satisfaction of getting better at handling monsters and your weapons is also an important factor in keeping us hooked.
You are the creator of Strackerís Loader - a tool that is required for nearly all Monster Hunter: World modding. Can you explain what it actually does and why you set out to create it in the first place?
This one is fairly technical: The game engine that MHW is based on manages its files through big archive 'chunk' files, but through what I imagine must have initially been a debugging/testing feature, it will also read files directly from the 'nativePC' folder first if they are present. This is really useful for modding as it allows us to skip having to rebuild a chunk file every time we want to mod something. In a gambit to combat online cheating, Capcom made an update to that functionality with the release of Iceborne which restricts what type of files are loaded from that folder, only allowing some purely visual modifications. The loader lifts that restriction, and allows the game to load any type of file from that folder again. It also does so seamlessly once installed: the game will be automatically modded when launched, without needing to launch another piece of software or through a different exe file.
The main reason I made this mod is convenience : While it would have been possible to make even non-visual mods through building those 'chunk' files, it would be pretty annoying for mod users and especially modders, requiring a lot more steps to install and/or test mods. I wanted to streamline the process for everyone, myself in particular, and it was an area of modding I was already familiar with from the Quest Loader, so I set out to make the loader.
The modding community for Monster Hunter: World is going strong and we have seen a vast variety of mods ranging from useful utilities such as HunterPie and SmartHunter, to quality of life mods, graphical improvements, as well as more humorous mods. On that note: what are some of your favourite MHW mods?
I am personally most fond of mods that integrate and mesh well with the existing game, and improve upon it in discreet ways. Quality of Life mods like Souvenir's Light Pillar or Extra NPCs in gathering hubs, or subtle visual changes like Blood efx are good examples. Beyond that I like mods which give me more Monster Hunter: new content, new quests. The Christmas Modpack for example was impressive on so many levels! Shoutout to transmog mods as well, without those I'd have a lot less variety in making a cool looking character!
With the release of the Iceborne DLC in January of this year, we have seen a massive surge of MHW players on Steam, as well as many new mods being uploaded. What did you think about all the new content provided by the DLC in particular and have you been using any new mods?
Iceborne has been phenomenal, content wise. Nearly all of the new monsters were just more of what I loved in the vanilla game, the new areas fit very well within the game, and I have enjoyed the weapon changes they made a lot. I had high expectations of the expansion, and they absolutely were matched. There hasn't been any major new mod I'm interested for Iceborne so far, but I have a few QoL tweaks installed, like the Guilding Lands Gathering Indicator, or my own loader plugins.
For the base game, Capcom had added various updates including an entire questline featuring Geralt from The Witcher 3. Iceborne has so far received and will be receiving a similar treatment in the future with many different free mini-DLCs being scheduled for every month until at least June. Today, 12th March, a major update is being released and PC players will get to fight Stygian Zinogre, explore the new Guilding Lands Tundra region, as well as play the Safi'jiiva siege only console players got to enjoy thus far. What are your thoughts on this new update and Capcomís update roadmap for the future?
Having impatiently bought the console version of Iceborne when it released, I have already played with the new monsters coming, and both are a treat to fight ! The tundra region completes the guiding lands nicely as well, with the near entire monster roster being huntable in there now. My only gripe would be that the new Safi'jiva weapons are a bit too powerful and kind of overcentralizing, but I'm sure the community will find a way around that one.
I'm not not sure what to expect of the stuff Capcom has in store next though, though I'm definitely curious to see what the 'fan-favorite' monster coming in April is, and to finally be on the same schedule as console releases!
How did you personally get into Monster Hunter: World and what motivated you to explore the modding side of it on top of that?
I came to Monster Hunter as a fan of the Dark Souls series, at a glance it looked like i'd be right at home with big monsters and technical, commitment-based gameplay. I tried a couple times to get into the series with previous entries, but couldn't get past the clunkiness of the old games. I was pretty intrigued to see how I would like the streamlined and modernised†Monster Hunter: World and it hooked me big time!
While I did very quickly install some QoL mods, I didn't actually start modding myself until pretty late into the game, during the wait for Iceborne. Reading a discussion about how Legiana and Rathian (and several others) actually had the same animating skeletons beneath, I wanted to see if I could make Rathian do a "Legiana flip". This led me into quite a rabbit hole in the game's modding research community, where I started helping with stuff I felt interested in, usually through analysis†of game files and/or code, and making tools to work with them.
Did you know? A Monster Hunter movie is being made that is due for release in September 2020!
t4_2iZz7e6MHow did you learn how to mod Monster Hunter: World and are there any other mod authors in the community that you found/find inspiring?
I initially leveraged my general programming and computer knowledge, as well as some research into some hacking techniques, to dig directly into the game's code and slowly map out notable sections of it. The fact that I arrived pretty late into the base game's scene meant there was already quite a lot of resources I could use as reference points, which made things quite a bit easier. I used this knowledge both to understand how the game reads some of the files and understand their format, as well as knowing where exactly to insert custom code so I can modify the game in a way I want.
Fandirus' custom monsters (especially the stories mod) are without a doubt the most impressive mods I know of, and what inspired me to make the first quest loader. I hope to see more mods like those in the future!
What other games do you like to play and do you have any hobbies outside of modding and gaming?
While I generally have a pretty broad taste in gaming, I do gravitate towards challenging Action-RPGs. I'm a huge fan of the Dark souls series, and regularly come back to Path of Exile, for example. Outside of gaming, it's hard to pinpoint anything in particular. I started doing some tabletop roleplaying recently, I like reading a bit of Fantasy/SF, and I do like to spend some time furthering my developer skills when I'm inspired in one way or another.
Is there anything else you would like to say to the community?
Ah man I never quite know how to answer that kind of question. Enjoy the game, enjoy the mods, and don't use cheat-y mods with randoms online, I guess!
A big thank you to Stracker for taking the time to talk to us! If there's an author or mod project you'd like to know more about, send your suggestions to BigBizkit or Pickysaurus.†