Player-created mods are perhaps the greatest expression of love for a game. Pouring hundreds of hours and dollars into a game shows dedication, but the people that use their free time to create even more content for the wider community are truly devoted.

Modders often step in to support a game after a dev team inevitably leaves it, and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is no different. At a time when a number Marvel fans are losing enthusiasm over Capcom’s most recent entry in the series, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, the mod “Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3: EX Edition” offers an alternative: a highly-requested update for a beloved game that could seemingly never exist. Its creator, Everett McLeod, is a Marvel vs. Capcom modder who's trying to revive the game despite waning interest, decreased professional competition, and potential litigation.

One Man’s Love
Marvel EX is far from McLeod’s first mod. From a young age, his father introduced him to computers, and it developed into a hobby as he grew older.

“My dad was a big computer guy and he taught me how to build rigs and got me started into knowing my way around computers,” says McLeod.

He applied this knack to video games, and was creating mods to better game communities even before Marvel EX. McLeod’s favorite shooter, Day of Defeat, is a first-person shooter set in World War II. Competitively, there were only a handful maps that were utilized, so in 2009 McLeod set out to create new levels for the community. While he faced difficulty introducing player-created maps into such a niche community, this philanthropy would foreshadow his efforts with Marvel EX.

Oddly enough, his professional life has little to do with computers. During the day, McLeod drives a van as a full-time lock smith.

“There's a lot of problem-solving you have to do on the fly which I think helps [with creating mods],” he said. 

Every day, McLeod comes home from his day job thrilled to work on his mod. He’s not receiving any kind of funding or compensation. He’s dedicating his time solely for his love of Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

“It’s one of my favorite games I’ve ever played, and mostly that just comes down to the fact that there’s so much team synergy and all these unique things,” he said. “You can spend hundreds of hours offline just discovering things.”

It was because of this love that McLeod set out to create Marvel EX. In the fighting game community, interest in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was waning, and McLeod decided he wanted to create a mod to bring it back.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s depth was something McLeod wanted to expand on. Marvel EX would add new assists and moves, while also making balance adjustments to a game that has remained the same since late 2011. Competitively, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 viewers have seen the same exploitive tactics and characters win tournament after tournament. To fix this, a primary goal of McLeod’s project was to buff the weaker, lower-tiered characters and assists while leaving the dominant ones untouched.

A combo exhibition showcasing characters' potential in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 EX

To get the balance right, McLeod relied on community feedback. The solidarity of the Marvel community was a chief inspiration for creating Marvel EX, and is another reason for his love of Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

“Unlike a lot of other games I’ve played, Marvel was the one game community where I actually had a local scene, like I could go to someone’s house and start playing,” say McLeod. “A lot of the first-person shooters were on PC and you’re communicating with people halfway across the world. So I started playing with people (locally), and you make friends, and I think honestly meeting someone in real life and playing with them and just having a good time was one of the best things I had done, because it was no longer a faceless experience for me.”

Marvel EX’s design is also being guided by some of Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s greatest minds, including top tournament player Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez, who shared his vision of a new iteration of Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Ramirez is one of only seven people to win Marvel vs. Capcom 3 at The Evolution Championship Series (Evo), the world’s biggest fighting game tournament. He also regularly finishes in the Top 8 of major tournaments, and is a well-respected voice in the fighting game community.

“I honestly can’t believe that I talked to F-Champ and I asked, ‘Hey are you interested in this mod?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, I’m totally down, I’m in,’” says McLeod. “That was one of the best moments of my life because a Top 3 world player who won Evo was willing to work with me on something.”

With the community’s support, McLeod set out to cultivate interest in a fan mod of Marvel vs. Capcom 3. From the outset, he understood competing with Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite was going to be a longshot, and that Marvel EX would only be an underground mod that would never see mainline tournament play. While McLeod initially only had access to color swaps, he’s broken through the game’s code and has a great amount of freedom with Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s character data. Although McLeod is hard at work crafting a new experience to rejuvenate interest in the game, history says his efforts could be for nothing.

Up Next: learn more about the risks of unofficial patch mods.