Grand Theft Auto’s history with modding: part 2 the 3D universe

The 3D universe of Grand Theft Auto includes GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas. These three games were the start of the modding craze that took over GTA. Users found it easy to mod these games as their source code was easy to manipulate using simple software at the time. Modders were able to bring in new vehicles, weapons, and textures to improve the overall game. This lengthened the longevity of the games while creating a community that continues to thrive to this day.


The first 3D game in the franchise, GTA 3 was the start of the modding craze when it released on PC in May of 2002. Initially, the mods for this game were fairly simple; improved textures, spawn in any vehicles and basic quality of life adjustments. It wasn’t until Vice City and San Andreas that mods started to become “absurd” and “over the top”. However, nowadays you can find any mod for GTA 3 and even make the textures and environment 4K.

Liberty City Nights: A NFS Underground-y GTA 3 Mod | Rock Paper ...
This mod turns GTA 3 into Need For Speed Underground

GTA Vice City

This was technically the start of it all. Vice City was mods included zombies, new vehicle assets, map alterations, and even a parkour mechanic mod. One of the most popular mods for Vice City is the Raccoon City mod that turns the entire map into the Raccoon City incident. It features zombies everywhere, buildings on fire, emergency fences everywhere, and even a reskin for the army. This mod acts as a free DLC with the amount of content it provides.

GTA Vice City - Raccoon City Stories [ Zombie Mod ] - YouTube
The Raccoon City mod for Vice City

During this time, the technology for modding was evolving. New programs were being developed to make it easier to modify games. SketchUp, 3ds Max and Zmodeler were among the few. Since every modder was using these tools, resources were shared using various internet forums. This created a standard among the modding community and ultimately made it easier for users to create mods. Not only that, sharing assets and solving problems sparked the creation of the modding community today.

GTA San Andreas

Arguably one of the biggest modding communities on the internet, GTA San Andreas acts as the white whale in the franchise. Users have been relentlessly creating mods for this game since it was released on PC. To this day, GTA San Andreas mod videos on youtube still manage to garner millions of views even though its a 16-year-old game.
Modders have turned San Andreas into a video game playground. Any mod you can think of is in this game. Survival, zombies, current year cars, graphics, new map add-ons, new missions, character skins, and yes even the parkour mod returns. The mods are so excessive that you can play as Arthur Morgan, the protagonist of Red Dead Redemption 2. Moreover, every year ENB mods are being created for the game that makes it look hyper-realistic. It even looks better than current-gen games. Modders even went as far as to make a mod that brings in multiplayer to the game, a feature that was first brought in with GTA 4.

GTA San Andreas Arthur Morgan from Red Dead Redemption 2 Mod ...
Arthur Morgan in all his glory

Although, the number of mods created for San Andreas comes to some controversy. Players of San Andreas probably know what I’m talking about, the hot coffee mod. The hot coffee controversy emerged when data miners found an unused mechanic in the game file that was meant to be used during dates. Essentially, the mechanic let your character get intimate with your date. Modders took the unused code and created a mod out of it called “Hot Coffee”. This sparked outrage and was picked up by news stations and governments. Parents and government officials were calling for the game to be recalled and given an “Adult” rating. The reason for this wasn’t the development of the mod, but the code already being in the game. This ordeal was dealt with and an update came out that removed the unused script from the game to retain the “Mature” rating.

GTA SA - Hot Coffee - Franklin - YouTube
The Hot Coffee mod room, featuring a modded skin of Franklin from GTA 5

The 3D universe of GTA games is beloved by fans on the franchise and modders alike. Vice City and San Andreas now act like a “games as a service” title, except you don’t pay anything. The reason I say this is because mods for these games are continuously being developed meaning there is theoretically an infinite amount of content. However, games as a service implies that you’re spending money, but mods are free so this is different. There isn’t a word for a game likes this yet, but I would also add Bethesda titles to this category as well.

I hope everyone is enjoying this series so far. Feel free to comment on any of the information given. If any of it is wrong, feel free to let me know and I will correct it.
Next week we will be jumping into the HD universe and talking about Grand Theft Auto 4.

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