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Editing PC Video Game Files for Cheats - the Basics

The basics of editing game files to enable or alter cheat codes in video games.

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I get this type of email all of the time. People want to know why they can't edit, or more specifically, cannot save the changes in a file. It's such a simple process, but if you don't know it, I'm here to tell you.

Why Edit a File Anyhow?

On many of the PC Cheats pages you'll see instructions indicating that a game file must be edited to enable cheats, in some cases the cheat codes are actually input into the file. Developers create what are known as debug codes, so they can test the game under various circumstances, other simply create a special cheat code that must be enabled within the configuration file.

No matter what the case is, editing a game file can be risky business if you're not too sure you are doing it right, so it is highly recommended that you create a backup of the file. If you screw it up, just replace it. (I do it all the time)

How do I edit a file?

The easiest way to edit a game file is with a simple text editor, such as Windows Notepad or Wordpad — but you can use any text editor.

One thing to note is that I am not talking about editing a hex file, which would require a hex editor. Such edits would be considered a modification to the game's code, and therefor is a bit more complicated than editing a line or two in a configuration file. For the most part, you'll never need to edit a hex file, so i won't get into that aspect of it.

Problem! My file won't save!

If you have read the instructions on the cheat page, and made your modifications, but are unable to save the file with the changes then the file in question is more than likely write-protected. Write protection is a setting that Windows uses to protect certain files from being edited or altered. You'll see this allot with system files and folders.

Allowing the file to be edited is simple :

  • Select the file with your mouse and right-click it.
  • Select properties and left-click it. (a properties box will appear)
  • Click the 'General' tab and inspect the Attributes listed at the bottom and make sure the 'Read-only' checkbox is unchecked.
  • Click OK to close the properties box.
  • Now edit and save the file.

Note: You may need to be logged into your computer with Administrator permissions to make these changes. Chances are, if it is your computer, you are already logged in as an Administrator.

That's It!

I did say it was the basics, so I'll have a follow up article detailing more in depth aspects of file-editing for video game cheats in the near future.

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