How the modding community got the Saints Row SDK

2 Posted by - July 5, 2013 - Engagement Activities, News, User-Generated Content

As if a game with sex aids as melee weapons could get any crazier.

After years of using community-made tools, the Saints Row: The Third modding community is about to get a real, publisher-sanctioned SDK, documentation, and developer support courtesy of  Jeff Thompson, studio director of programming at Saints Row creator Volition.

This came about when star modder Mike “IdolNinja” Watson approached Volition staff during an L.A. demo of upcoming sequel Saints Row IV. “I took the opportunity to lay out a modding proposal to the Volition guys,” says Watson. They were open to his fairly modest request for a technical contact to field questions, and Watson drew up a more official document to submit to the senior Volition staff.

Thompson responded with something even grander: The full SDK for Saints Row III. That info gives modders the options, as Watson put it, “to create and offer new clothing, new vehicles, new guns, new NPCs, new missions, and even new world geometry which will greatly extend the life of the series.”

None of this would’ve happened a year ago. Then-Volition owner THQ routinely declined to support any kind of game mods or the modding community.

THQ filed for bankruptcy in December, and its assets sold at auction roughly a month later. Koch Media picked up Volition for $22 million and handed it off to its games label, Deep Silver. Both have a reputation for enjoying much closer ties to gamers.

And indeed, Volition has already put one of their own on the case. “MikeW” — likely Volition senior programmer Mike Wilson — has been actively involved on the Saints Row mod forum since mid-June.

“Volition and Deep Silver are serious about supporting modding in the future,” he wrote in an introductory post. “As a result, developers like myself have finally been allowed to start talking about the engine and helping with the modding effort.”

MikeW has fielded dozens of queries already. And more support is on the way. Thompson has promised to dig out the files to release an SDK for Saints Row II as well, and called the entire enterprise a “test run” for Saints Row IV.