modding Halo 2 considered harmful?

by Stephen Cawood

my latest book, Halo 2 Hacks, hit the shelves recently. in this book, Halo 2 players can learn all about gameplay tricks, Halo 2 Easter eggs, glitches, and more. but what's caught the attention of some is a commonly misunderstood aspect of gaming: modding.

modding is the act of altering a game so it behaves differently from the way its developers intended. it can be as simple as altering the sprites in an Atari 2600 game or it can be as complicated as creating a whole new level for Halo 2.

with the help of game makers such as id Software and Valve, mods have been created for numerous PC games. for example, Counterstrike began its life as a mod of Half-Life. Half-Life is an easy game to mod because all of the modding tools you need are provided for you. some games, such as Halo 2, don't make it as easy. a big part of this is the fact that Halo 2 runs on the Xbox. for a variety of reasons, Microsoft does not condone modifications to the console or the games that run on it. however, their primary reason for this stance is that mod chips have been used for game piracy.

unfortunately, altering the Xbox to enable mods was used to open the door to a huge problem: online cheating. I share the animosity people feel toward cheaters on Xbox Live. just like every other Halo 2 fan, I was annoyed when my online rank was wiped out by people who cheated with standby, spoofing, and mods.

however, modding is not the same as cheating. many folks from the modding community contributed to this book and the modding community certainly does not support cheaters. for example, anyone who posts a question about cheating to is instantly banned.

in addition to misunderstandings about the difference between a modder and a cheater, some of the negative comments about Halo 2 Hacks stem from confusion regarding the title of the book. o'reilly is aware that the term hacking has a bad reputation. the press use it to refer to someone who breaks into systems or wreaks havoc with computers as their weapon. among people who write code, the term "hack" refers to a "quick-and-dirty" solution to a problem, or a clever way to get something done. the term "hacker" is taken as a compliment, referring to someone as being creative, having the technical chops to get things done. the Hacks series is an attempt to reclaim the word, document the good ways people are hacking, and pass the hacker ethic of creative participation on to the uninitiated.

look inside Halo 2 Hacks, and you'll see plenty of cool things you can do with Halo 2 that don't involve mods: Easter eggs, vehicle stunts, glitches and much more. we also spent a lot of the book discussing the impressive user-created maps such as Zentation and All H#ll Breaks Loose. these maps can only be experienced with a modded Xbox. what you won't find are ways to cheat on Xbox Live!

the long and positive history of modding is based on the fact that many game developers openly support the practice of developing creative adaptations of their games. while Bungie may not publicly support Halo mods, they did support mods for their Marathon games. the reason for this is that many people understand that modding is a creative outlet for hardcore fans and future game developers.


2006-08-12 18:19:17
edited comment:

"I hate those ---- modders. In halo 2 i cant enjoy fighting anymore cause i keep on getting that --- stand-by mod, i went from level 22 down to 18. that gets me -----. i would be at level 30something, now i rarely play halo 2, the closest thing to my favorite game halo is call of duty 2(xbox 360). "

this comment demonstrates the general lack of understanding that exists about modding. the standby cheat has absolutely nothing to do with modding.

Xone God
2006-08-13 02:32:00
I too hate cheaters, but Modding is awesome... Even us hardcore Halo2 Fans reach a point when we become "bored" with something; Modding adds something new to the old thus keeping it interesting.

The reason that bungie No longer supports modding is the fact that Micro$oft bought them out, for ##,###,###,### Dollars. Since Micro$oft is all corporate and no play, bungie had to forcefully employ the new standards set by their new owner. Now, since they can not make their own rules, just call the shots from time to time, alot of the things that where great have come time past.

Bungie changed soo much that one of the original Maker/Owner of it has left and said "I am rich, I dont like M$, I will start another company." This individuals pride rested very deep inside bungie, but he departed because of all the Square changes...

Xone God

2006-08-28 11:57:27
i love mods
2006-09-04 12:57:48
i need to learn all about modding.for the stuff to my box to what kinda stuff u need.pleaze i waunt to get new maps ad stuff.

pleaze and khank you anthony

2006-09-04 14:08:54
anthony, the easiest way to mod a system is to buy a premodded system (, but if you want to save money, you can try and add the modchip yourself. just remember that you have to be careful doing this - you could ruin your xbox.

for more information about modding an xbox, you could refer to The Black Art of Xbox Mods (

for more information about maps, you can refer to the O'Reilly book, Halo 2 Hacks (

there are also plenty of web sites out there to help you. is awesome.

2006-09-04 14:11:09
re: anon's comment "The reason that bungie No longer supports modding is the fact that Micro$oft bought them out."

the Halo2Vista version will support modding. it seems that MS is warming up to the modding community.

2006-09-04 18:27:46
moding is probably the best thing ever invented. now i understand why some people would not like it, with those people out ther who use it to screw out other people and all, but i am glad moding has been excepted by most of the public.

can someone post a website with a good ADI program.

2006-09-09 20:43:32
i really wanted to mod because how cool it was my friends mod and they have a great if i manage to get mods then it will either mess up my xbox or people wont want to be my friend anymore?

response: people won't like you if you use modding to cheat, but that's not what real modding is about.

2006-09-09 20:49:08
some people say modz are good others say there bad but i think that mods are awsome.but everything has its bad things it might screw up the xbox or even not let you play on xbox live.I would like to get modz but it might mess up my computer or xbox.

>'.'> <('.')> -_-*

response: if you make a mistake installing a mod chip, then yes, it can mess up your xbox. you cannot connect to xbox live with an active mod chip so you either need to get a chip that can be turned off, or use a different xbox for mods.

2006-09-09 20:54:28
i think mods suck yea you get lots of things like everytime you press the A button you super jump or you can run very fast or even get this rapid fire for the sniper but one of my best friends got modz and he tottaly made fun of im not his friend because i dont play with cheaters.

p.s at first i wanted mods but after reading this i dont want them.i dont want my new name to be a "hacker" or "cheater"

response: luke, you obviously didn't read the post very carefully. the point of the post is that modding is not the same as cheating. there is nothing in this post that suggests that anyone should use modding to cheat. the real modders don't use their skills to cheat, they use them to create interesting maps that they share with the community.

n man
2006-09-12 20:50:22
i would really like to get into modin but i dont know how if you can show me that would be great.pleaaasssssse.0:- )
twinky da kid
2006-09-12 20:51:32
i would really like to get into modin but i dont know how if you can show me that would be great.pleaaasssssse.0:- )
2006-09-17 13:33:17
im thikning about moding on halo 2 just for fun and to play with my freinds and it would be tight to be a level 50 in everything but its so hard to do it know days how could i prevent myself from being caught

response: you have completely missed the point of the post. modding is not for cheaters. no self-respecting modder is going to help you cheat. if you try to cheat with mods, you will be caught and you will be banned.

xbox live has measures in place to ensure that modding can only be used the way that it should be used - amongst friends who all agree to play on modded machines.

2006-09-17 21:07:56
i want to modd but wat do i need to modd i also want to buy a premooded xbox 360 but there not out yet but if any of u know how to help me please do

2006-10-07 10:00:36
I love to mod if u want me to mod u up send me a message
2006-10-10 13:35:16
Modding is exactly the same as cheating. I do not understand how you can come to the conclusion that it is not. Anyone who wants to mod their box has many options to alter the effects of halo 2 to make whomever they are playing almost impossible for them to win, which one with common sense could see that is CHEATING. Anything one does that is against the rules to make them better than others just to get a higher rank is not only immature but must not have much going on in their life. The little kids that are lazy, just buy the box's already modded or they buy the chips and try it themselves. All you people out their who know nothing about code or "hacking" have no idea what your talking about. Another point I disagree with this guy who wrote this article is that bungie has done nothing to stop modders because it happens almost every day when a good player legitly gets past rank 30. If your going to write an article atleast get the facts straight. If you dissagree with my opinion please feel free to write me at Furthermore, for those who do know code and know how to write your own programs, you know as I do that if you suceed then it is so easy to alter halo 2 to whatever your creative mind can think of. To conclude my opinion of cheaters, this one is for the ones who know nothing about code. You should not take credit for downloading programs and using them to alter your x box. If you want credit then you should create your own.

response: clearly you missed the point of the article. if someone is cheating then it doesn't matter how they are doing it - they are a cheater. there are plenty of people out there who mod for their own enjoyment and never run their mods on xbox live. either they use splitscreen or LAN where everyone understands that mods are being used. that's not cheating.

the strange part of your comment is "those who do know code and know how to write your own programs ... it is so easy to alter halo 2 to whatever your creative mind can think of." what you are describing is modding and you seem to be saying that it can be a positive and creative enterprise - now that was the point of the article.

2006-10-10 20:44:26
Bungie has not kept up with the programs made for modding nor have they "prevented" people from loading modded maps. I do not underestimate the knowledge you have of gamming and or creating programs. But come on man. No where did I say that modding is positive. I said that if you know well enough to create your own programs to mod, then yes,(agreeing with you) you can be as creative as your mind can imagine. But saying creative does not mean positive. 9/11 was creative but sure as hell not positive. However when you say mod, people who buy chips for their xbox and sign on live and play ranked or unranked games against people they do not know, then they are cheaters but also modders. I would also like to clarify that it is not creative taking someones published program and using it to your advantage to make maps and take the credit. Most of the people who mod and alter the maps are just doing research and getting the programs. When you say real modders, Im not really sure what you mean because if someone is a "real modder" then doesnt that just make them a novice programmer that is expanding on an idea? And if people are "real programmers" shouldnt they be able to make their own material from scratch? My point is not to argue with a well educated man like yourself, I just think that modding on xbl has ruined such a good game like halo 2 for the ones who exceed past level 35 by only using what God gave us and what Microsoft has created for us. Thanks for your time.

response: thanks for your comments. I agree that we don't need to argue. we both hate cheaters so let's leave it at that.

according to

"Are you really banning people, and is it working?

Yes we are and it seems to be working well. Folks are standbying, which is annoying, but it's already a lot better. Modders still pop up from time to time, but they're banned very quickly."

the more the banhammer message gets out, the better. let's not encourage anyone to try cheating with mods. it just makes the legit modders look back.

I'm not sure why you're upset about people using modding apps. after all, microsoft provided the Halo Editing Kit (HEK) for modding HaloCE - and hopefully Halo2CE in the near future. don't you think that the people who use modding apps to customize maps are akin to people who use photoshop to create cool images?

2006-10-10 20:54:37
me again. what is the best way to purchase your book. I would also like to learn about .Net servers, have any suggestions? Also if you still play h2 my gammer tag is: keebs so nasty. thanks again for ur time.

response: if it's not in your local book store, try getting it from o'reilly or an online retailer like amazon, chapters or abe books.

check for .net server resources, it's crazy how much stuff is out there. also, you can try to get the latest teched DVD (what's the new name for teched again? I don't recall).

2006-10-12 16:58:10
Cheat mods are still cool when no ranks are lowered or anything
2006-10-12 16:59:48
2006-10-17 22:38:21
What do i need to mod on halo 2?

response: go to you'll find answers there

2006-10-26 23:34:51
omg modding is fun but there is not point in being here so i post and be done OK W/E
2006-11-04 17:22:35
i was also thinking about buying a premodded xbox 360 but how in the world do i know that the premodded systems really work im probably gonna buy one but im really tring to buy it just to mod on Halo 2
2006-11-06 10:48:17

2006-11-20 08:46:45
im so bad at the game omg

2006-11-20 08:47:14
im BAD!!!!!!!!!!!
2006-11-26 08:49:37
errrr modding is still possible on xbox live, i got modded just the other day on terminal, heres the game link---

Every time me and my team respawned we had a BR with 1 shot in and started at the top of the map and died instantly.

response: yes, sadly... people are still cheating.

2006-11-29 20:53:12
Hello, i love Halo 2, but i want to know how i can purchase amod chip, just so i can experiment with something new u know.

do i have to order it online, or do i go somewhere, please resond, and p.s

where can i get a copy of your book, and how much lol, plz plz plz respond OK?

Response: this isn't hard info. to find. just search for "premodded xbox." if you can't get the book from your local book store or o'reilly, then try an online retailer like Abe Books or Amazon.

2006-12-08 13:57:32
Can you use modding software with a mac?
Swing Batter
2006-12-08 21:01:31
I get what you are saying and your article is about modding off-line. But when you can mod off-line then it will be abused (heavily) on-line and that is why you are getting the responses that you are. I have gotten so sick of cheaters on-line that I just cancelled all four of my (paid for) xbox live accounts and my friends are doing the same. You need to re-educate yourself about cheating on xbox live. It is not being stopped. Microsoft stopped banning xbox consoles because the xbox consoles were getting banned and then the cheaters were turning around and selling them on Ebay to people who had no way of knowing that the consoles were banned. Thus giving Microsoft a bad name, soooooo.... Microsoft stopped banning consoles because it was hurting their reputation. Now all that happens is your account gets suspended (for first offence) and then if you get caught again (and I say "if" because cheater have gotten smater at spreading out their kills and and their deaths so it is harder to tell that they are cheating unless you are playing against them) then you get that account booted. But for another $50 you have a new account and away you go, no harm done....

Also just go on-line and you can buy mod chips that you can turn on after you sign into xbl so that the new Bios won't be changed until you are already signed in. I could go on about mod chips that are solder free and have lights to let you know you have it installed correctly, then there are soft-mods and other ways that people are using to get around Microsofts small attempt to stop people from cheating and modding. Also, I have to disagree with you on the fact that modding is creative. Not when it is someone else idea and all you are doing is using their ideas and creating a new map. If you want to be creative, create your own game!

Modding is fine if you don't ruin other peoples gaming and you stay off-line. Most and I mean most modders are cheaters. Why you ask, well it is because they don't just create a map, they change the game into their favor. I've seen it to many times, the modders can't help it.

RESPONSE: Thanks for the feedback. I will disagree with you on some points, but I admit that I didn't know about blocked consoles being sold on eBAy, that's news to me and obviously bad news for the buyer.

I was being obstinate about modders being blocked for a few reasons: at the time I wrote the article it was true, it still is happening to some extent and I also had no desire to encourage anyone to try cheating online. But obviously that won't work now that a few people have posted comments to the effect that it is still happening.

But based on what I've learned, I'll admit that the overall picture has changed since I wrote the article. The issue of cheating online obviously hasn't been resolved. But, if I'm willing to listen, then you should as well. Modding is a creative activity. Have you tried any of the modded maps?

In response to your comment about modders using other people's games, consider the case of a TC or Counterstrike - which began its life as a Half-Life mod. There are plenty of modders out there that don't cheat online, but it's hard for people to appreciate this fact if the only interaction that they have with modders is cheating.

So few people actually work on commercial game engines that I find it unresonable to argue that only these people are creative. Take the example of animators at Bungie. They don't work on the engine, but they are creative.

2006-12-13 10:12:55
ok, i have an xbox with a normal wirred controler, a copy of the original mech assalt game, a playback kit that plays dvds on my xbox, but the thing is, i dont have anything i can use to connect my xbox to my computer. If i where to buy an already modded xbox would it work on its own or do i still need conection to the internet even if i do buy a pre modded xbox from ( is it posible to get someone over to my house and do thise for me? and also i dont have any friends that have a modded xbox ether

response: if you were to buy a premodded xbox, you would have everything that you need (although, you would need a copy of Halo 2 to mod Halo 2 :). when you get the modded xbox, it may not come with any instructions, but you can find those online. the instructions will tell you how to load a BIOS on the xbox. do not try and buy an xbox with games preloaded - that's illegal.

you connect to your xbox by putting it on the same network as the PC you want to use for modding - or, I suppose you could connect them with a cable, but I didn't bother with that. once the xbox and the PC are on the same network (and you have the proper BIOS loaded on the xbox), you'll be able to FTP (with any FTP app) to and from the xbox. this process is described in Halo 2 Hacks.

if you decide to get a modded xbox, don't connect to xbox live with that box. your account and xbox will get banned.

2006-12-13 10:15:08
oh and my email is so please email back, i need help!!!
2006-12-18 02:22:37
yo i need a premodded xbox for modding halo 2 £££ i luv how they jump every were and tha IT IS WICKED
2006-12-18 16:09:29
Hey, ---- you all. If any of you've ever taken the time to know a modder, you'd know that half of them out there are just lookin for a way to spice up the game. If they massacred you, its probably because you saw them and immediately said something along the lines of "YOU &%^$#*$ CHEATER!!" So yeah, if you had any modder friends, youd know that we modders are only looking to make the game better
2006-12-30 09:21:41
What is your Gamertag? I am very interested in the stuf in your book!

2006-12-30 15:14:57
2006-12-31 13:35:22
I agree with some points that some mods are really stupid and unfair like everthing shoots tanks shells but some mods do increase the fun of games like making new weapons or teles or new maps interaly
2007-01-13 08:09:13
Modding can be used just for fun it is the people that use it on matchmakking that wreck it for al off us there for it is not the mods that are bad it is the people that use them
blah blah
2007-01-17 15:21:13
is it realy ilegal to mod halo 2 because i saw a moding software made by Bungie

response - modding Halo on the PC is supported. modding on the Xbox is fine unless you go on XBL.

lxl terror lxl
2007-01-19 18:46:41
can u mod me up my gamertag is lxl Tyrant lxl send me a friend request if u can i'm lvl 34 legit right now

response - either you're trolling, or you haven't read the article.

2007-01-22 19:11:14
dude if you cant get past level 22 then you suck, with ot without mods...i got to a legit 34 and i know a kid in my school whos a legit 39
2007-01-23 21:38:34
how to do a super jump
who am i ???
2007-01-28 07:44:09
i dnt mind modding, its jus the fact tht if my xbox is chipped n my comp updates will i b caught?? its v much the same as if u hav a craxked version of a company piece of software... its just cheaters a h8 cos cheating isnt fun... its quick and lazy
2007-02-04 11:11:45
personaly i dont like mods for cheating but i am a advid halo 2 modder for xbox

on xbc i actually use a speed hack mod only when i think someone is cheating as a way to find them so that i can keep a clean server casue i find it annoying when people cheat in halo then every one starts leaving.. people have actually come to enjoy comeing to my server cause i only use mods in this type of way and i usaully have atleast 8 people in the room at once who have played with me before

xbc server tag used " xereses thats what i host on my xbc tag is mavrick777777

2007-02-04 20:35:34
if anyone can help me how to mod add me


2007-02-09 08:16:34
I enjoy playing Halo, and Halo 2. Since Halo has been released for the PC, people have been using mods to make the game "better". This isn't all bad in the PC version, because there is no ranking and people aren't as easily known as on the Xbox version. I even enjoy mods sometimes. Google my name (Rippon). Anyway, mods on Xbox or 360 usually are just cheats to get higher ranked in the game, which I can easily see is why Micro$oft made a rule where modding in any way is forbidden, because most if not all mods would be totally corrupted and for self benefit.
2007-02-10 13:20:22
i seen a video and some of the players had grunts the mighty ARBITER and the STUPID tarteris,hunters ,drons,flood!,the orical,that thing on sacered icon with the 2 shealds and rocet luncher,and a sentanel,haritic elite and grunt,and that brid thing of gravmind and delta halo2!!!!!!,i want the cheat for it.
the masked poop
2007-02-21 14:15:01
moding isnt always bad i wolud love to mod but i cant, anyway press crouch to combat stanby and there are thousands of people who are 30 somthins legit so dont say you cant freakin do it. modding is freakin awseome in custom games with the right mods. i dont get why every knoks the modders. i have modded cpu games for better game play but never to cheat.modding isnt bad its just not excepted!
Goat modz
2007-02-27 11:09:16
modding on xbl is fun and as long i have breath in this goat body then there is no help for you
2007-03-02 10:01:46
I was thinking about buying a pre-modded hard drive for my 360 that me and my friends could pay. the site i am on says i must send in my hard drive and 145 bucks useing pay-pal and they will mod it. should i trust them?