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I tried to look up total conversion and other mods as examples (Counter-Strike, Defense of the Ancients, Gunman Chronicles, Dear Esther, Natural Selection) but it is a bit difficult to find out if they (and other total conversion mods) required a little or a lot of programming.

I ask this out of pure curiosity, as I have heard some people claim you can make a total conversion with absolutely no programming skills. However, this is not easy to research as google does not bring up articles mentioning how total conversion mods do/don't require programming skills.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Whether or not total conversion mods require scripting depends on the tools used to do the conversion and this differs from project to project. I'm afraid your question can't be given a single general answer, so it's not exactly fit for this website. \$\endgroup\$
    – user15805
    Aug 8, 2014 at 7:59

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A "total conversion" mod usually means that you are not just going to replace assets, but that you are going to change game mechanics and actor behaviors. This usually requires programming skills. What kind of skills depends on the engine.

Some engines have amazingly powerful map editors which can really do a lot (Defense of the Ancients was originally a Warcraft III custom map), but when a tool gets that powerful, using it to its full extend practically becomes programming.

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