Disclaimer: I'm okay with making this a community wiki, as I see a lot of benefit in having a place to ask this question and get good answers from people who have experience.

I would like to mod a 2D game. Having never modded a 2D game before (unless you count Starcraft custom maps back in 199x), I am looking for a game/system that has:

  • A good community: this means I can ask questions if I get stuck and expect a (decent) answer in roughly a day.
  • Solid tools: I would ideally prefer clicking and creating content over diving into optimized C++ to make changes. The better the tools, the faster you move.
  • Scripting language: Ideally, access to some scripting language above and beyond the main tools is an ideal middle-ground between high-level puritan tools (SC level editor) and low-level coding.
  • Free: I'm looking for something I can try out free, or very cheap.

It also goes without mention that I want something current; I'm sure I can mod Super Mario Brothers, Link to the Past, etc. (SNES-era games) but that's pretty worthless to me.

And please don't say "Starcraft (1)" :)

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ ...Starcraft II \$\endgroup\$ Oct 23, 2011 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ What Old McD said. Also there's Warcraft III. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tor Valamo
    Oct 23, 2011 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I thought SC2 and WC3 are 3D games. My question specifically states 2D games. \$\endgroup\$
    – ashes999
    Oct 23, 2011 at 20:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why would you need to mod a 2D game? I don't think any 2D game needs an engine so complex that you can't hack it up yourself in an afternoon... \$\endgroup\$
    – Tor Valamo
    Oct 23, 2011 at 22:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TorValamo because of "order of magnitude"; 3d games are 10-100x more work than 2d (eg. 3d models + bones + animation vs. sprite animation). Plus, to experience modding on a (time) budget.. \$\endgroup\$
    – ashes999
    Oct 23, 2011 at 23:19

2 Answers 2


The Battle for Wesnoth.

  • Open source under GPL
  • Scripting language which allows you to customize large aspects of the game
  • Built-in map editor
  • Dedicated server for hosting user created content
  • Active community with people glad to help out
  • No obscure file formats
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 looks interesting, albeit there doesn't seem to be much about released mods, and the documentation is filled with "(outdated)" \$\endgroup\$
    – ashes999
    Oct 23, 2011 at 20:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ashes999 Most of the information on mods can be found on the forums. I made a few scenarios and didn't run into trouble with outdated stuff - if it works it works. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pubby
    Oct 24, 2011 at 0:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ okay cool. You got my upvote for sure :) \$\endgroup\$
    – ashes999
    Oct 24, 2011 at 1:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is actually a lot of cenarios to it. Battle for wesnoth rocks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hugo Rocha
    Jun 16, 2014 at 12:58

Civilization 3 isn't free, but you can get it very cheap (Complete edition is under $5 online) and it still has a smallish but very active modding community, especially at CivFanatics. In fact we're right now celebrating the 10th anniversary of the game's release with various modding awards.

It's a 2D game with a very solid editor and lots of community made-tools for modding. No programming is required, but we're always digging into the file formats looking for ways to cheat the system and occasionally go off on a crusade to develop our own Civ clone. So there is coding to be done if you're interested. In general making a mod involves plugging information into the editor, some basic text configuration, and dropping files into place, plus whatever graphics creation you're interested in.

Best of all, we're a tight-knit and welcoming community with some of the most helpful and enthusiastic people you could ask for. There are hundreds of full mods, scenarios, graphics packs, and more covering everything from obscure historical settings to sci-fi to steampunk, and always something new. This is probably starting to come off like a commercial, but we always welcome newcomers. Just pop in and say WildWeazel sent you. :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, I will do that (if I decide to pursue Civilization 3) :) \$\endgroup\$
    – ashes999
    Oct 24, 2011 at 13:09

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