Grand Theft Auto IV and Episodes from Liberty City Modding Guide
Table of Contents
- Liberty City Wizard
- Modding in 4 Steps
- A Selection of Mods
- Multiplayer Modding
I. Liberty City Wizard
Grand Theft Auto IV is arguably one of the most imaginative games ever made. One of the highlights of its PC version is the ability to mod, which opens before us unlimited possibilities of altering the in-game world. After reading this guide, you will be a wizard in Liberty City. Want to learn how to do magic? Let me take you on the journey...
II. Modding in 4 Steps
We start with a clean installation of the original retail game. You don't have to reinstall your game to modify it but we have to assume that all the game files were left intact. During the installation process you are forced to install Rockstar Social Club and Games For Windows LIVE. Both of these applications are obligatory for joining multiplayer but may be disabled using XLiveLess. Remember that it is forbidden to join multiplayer with modified files and most ASI mods don't support on-line use, so you will have to restore all the original files to be able to play with your friends. After completing installation you're prompted to activate the game on-line. It's a necessary inconvenience and has to be done.
There are 3 distinct modding scenarios we have to consider now. You either have GTA IV with TLAD and/or TBoGT downloaded from LIVE as DLCs, or two game folders - one for GTA IV and the second for EFLC. You always copy your mods to the game's main folder. If you have the DLCs, GTA IV is still the base (the DLC specific files are hidden in the LIVE directory). The main problem here is that you need to make sure your mods are compatible with the game you want to play. If an .ASI mod is designed to run only with TBoGT, it will not run with the original game. GTA IV, TLAD and TBoGT are in effect 3 separate games. It's also quite difficult to move some of the assets from one game to another. The cars introduced in the DLCs are easily moved to vanilla, but making weapons work properly is very difficult even for an experienced modder. Apart from the DLC hassle, both GTA IV and EFLC are modded in exactly the same way, so everything you learned so far still applies here.
1) Official GTA IV Patch 8 and EFLC Patch 3 (link)
The game should preferably be updated to the latest version. Every patch includes all previous fixes so there is no need to install any other updates. The patch will be applied automatically by LIVE after signing-in or you can do it yourself by downloading the installer from the official site (good for making backups and quick re-installations). This is a very important step since the retail version has a number of modding restrictions. You're no longer required to make automatic backups of the game files and therefore there is no need for a separate program that would do that (in the past it was done by the Magic Patcher). In addition, there's also no need to use Aru's modified "filelist.pak" file. However, I strongly recommend you backup every file you modify for two reasons. Firstly, your game is likely to crash time and again if you mod it heavily (an issue we have to struggle with on a daily basis). Secondly, you may simply be unhappy with the changes you made. This will be particularly important in case of file editing.
Due to the fact there are significant differences between the fully patched GTA IV and its unpatched version, some people prefer not to apply the latest patch. Bear in mind that Patches 4-7 all had EFLC compatibility in mind, so the best choice is to stick to Patch 3 (game version 126.96.36.199) in case you don't like the changes introduced by the newer updates. However, this only applies to users who bought the EFLC DVD and don't care about multiplayer. If you downloaded TLAD and TBoGT from LIVE, you won't be able to access them after disabling the service, which is a necessary step to prevent it from patching the game automatically.
2) ASI Loader
- XLiveLess (xlive.dll) by Listener (link)
- YAASIL (dsound.dll) by HazardX (link)
- ASI Loader (dsound.dll) by Alexander Blade (link)
There are 3 ASI Loaders you can use and each of them is a single .dll file which loads .asi files when the game starts. All the ASI Loaders have different advantages and their own unique drawbacks, so I would recommend you use each one according to the need of the moment. Of course you cannot use all of them at once so you'll have to exchange the .dll files manually. You simply put one .dll file into the game's main directory, which is "C:\Program Files\Rockstar Games\Grand Theft Auto IV" or "C:\Program Files\Rockstar Games\Episodes from Liberty City" by default. The main difference between the ASI Loaders is that XLiveLess (xlive.dll) disables Games For Windows LIVE and Rockstar Social Club, whereas YAASIL (dsound.dll) and Alexander Blade's ASI Loader (also dsound.dll) do not. Disabling LIVE is sometimes very convenient and should also make your game load and run a little faster since no unnecessary programs run in the background. It's worth mentioning that there were many reports of Alexander Blade's ASI Loader malfunctioning on Windows Vista and since YAASIL is generally more reliable, please be cautious when using the former.
3) ScriptHook.dll by Aru (link)
ScriptHook.dll by Aru is required to run most mods. In order to deal with the fact that every new patch requires all the mods to be updated, Aru prepared a dynamic link library (.dll file) that serves as a link between the mod files and the game's .exe file. When the next patch is released, you will only have to download an updated ScriptHook.dll from Aru's official thread to run all the mods. In the past each mod had to be updated separately with new memory addresses after a patch release. ScriptHook.dll is included in some mod releases (e.g.: Simple Trainer by sjaak327), so it's not always necessary to download it separately. The .dll must be put into the game's main directory along with all other files.
4) Choosing a Mod
The last thing you need to do is to choose the right mod for yourself. It's very important to choose wisely since poorly designed mods may cause your game to be unstable and crash frequently. Remember to always check out README files, which should be included with every mod. Furthermore, you may want to remember that some mods may not work together, so always be ready to exchange them manually. Depending on the type of mod, you will have to put its files in a specific directory. In case of .asi files it's always the main directory. However, mods based on editing original game files may have varying locations. As an example, one of the most famous mods available for the game, "Simple Trainer for GTA IV" by sjaak327, consists of two files (Trainer.asi and Trainer.ini). Both of these files must be put into the game's main directory. The latter file can be edited using NotePad in order to customise its functions. After placing your mod in the right directory you're ready to launch the game and enjoy new possibilities. The next section of this guide is designed to help you choose the right mod. It's a selection of most famous mods with my personal favourites among them. I'm sure there will be something new for everybody to try.
III. A Selection of Mods
1) Simple Trainer by sjaak327 (link)
I encourage you to take a look at arguably the best mod ever created for this game. Sjaak327's Simple Trainer is actually a very advanced piece of software. It features almost every function you can think of and makes you a true wizard in Liberty City. It allows you to fly, spawn cars and custom objects, change player skin, synchronise in-game time with your system clock, freeze weather and time, turn on God Mode, teleport (including teleport to waypoint), turn gravity off, spawn custom bodyguards, drivers and attackers, set pedestrians on fire, blow up cars, sit on benches, talk, force Independence FM in every car and much more. It also includes teleport locations to Pigeons, Stunt Jumps, Random Characters and Liberty City Landmarks (a sightseeing tour with 100 locations). In addition, it features a Mission Help Menu which basically completes missions for you.
The official download includes 2 versions of Aru's Scripthook (one for the latest patch and one for the old GTA IV patches I discussed above) and 3 pairs of core files (.asi and .ini) for use with any of the 3 games. If you have the DLCs, you put all of the files in your GTA IV directory. If you have EFLC, you put the corresponding files in your EFLC directory. When in doubt, always check the README.
2) Snow Mod by jumbo0 (link)
This mod covers Liberty City in snow and looks absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, its size is over 4 GB, which causes major hosting problems. Remember you have to backup the whole GTA IV game folder to be able to revert the changes.
3) File Editing
- SparkIV by Aru (link)
- OpenIV by OpenIV Team (link)
Editing game files allows you to change almost any aspect of Liberty City. Depending on what files you want to edit, you either have to open them with one of the programs listed above (e.g.: exchanging textures and extracting audio from the game) or simply use NotePad (e.g.: handling.dat and weaponsinfo.xml). Remember to backup your files or you may end up reinstalling the game. If you use NotePad to open carcols.dat and then locate "police" and "police 2" (types of police cars), you can change the values to "113,74,113, 74,113,113," so that some police cars in the game will appear blue. If you use SparkIV to open "pc/data/maps/interiors/generic/public_2.img" and then locate "plyrflr_frames.wdr," you will be able to replace pictures from Playboy X's Apartment with any other of your choice. If you decide to add or replace cars, check out this thread. I also encourage you to take a look at my Rocket UZI mod.
IV. Multiplayer Modding
In compliance with the official policy, this guide only discusses single player modding. However, you have to be aware that sooner or later you will meet modders on-line. Some of them may engage in disruptive behaviour ranging from using God Mode in ranked matches or blocking race tracks with ramps to crushing servers by spawning tug boats. There's a difference between modding the game to do something not originally intended by the developer of the game within its imaginary setting and with its imaginary characters and cheating real people sitting in front of their computers when playing a ranked deathmatch by pretending not to have an unfair advantage over them. I advise only using mods when playing single player or against the game's environment. Please do not use mods in ranked player-to-player combat, because you destroy the very reason for playing. It is supposed to be a tournament of skill, not a modding contest. I also recommend that you use mods wisely and do everything you can to complete the single player story without them. You might ruin the whole experience for yourself otherwise. If some parts of the game are too hard or too boring for you, try using the "in-game cheats" available on your mobile phone. It is also very hard to become an expert on the game when using mods excessively, because using them efficiently requires quite a bit of practice and nothing can substitute lack of skill.