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Patching Code

Introduction

When modding games, you will often need to make modifications to the original code. Thankfully, this is fairly easy thanks to MonoMod and Harmony. These allow us to things such as:

  • Replace and modify original methods
  • Run our code before and/or after the original methods

MonoMod and Harmony are incredibly powerful tools, and with them we can do nearly anything we want. They differ in the ways they are used, and it really just comes up to preference which one you should use.

However, keep in mind that you aren't restricted to using only one of these tools, as the version of Harmony we are using is HarmonyX, which is Harmony built on top of MonoMod so there will not be any conflicts.

NOTE

In this and the following articles, we use "patching" and "hooking" to refer to the act of running our code before and after the original method, or directly modifying the original method.

MonoMod

INFO

The version of MonoMod we use with BepInEx is considered legacy, which is important to know when looking up MonoMod Documentation.

MonoMod is arguably easier to use than Harmony in most cases thanks to its MMHOOK assemblies generated by MonoMod.RuntimeDetour.HookGen.

If you've ever wondered what HookGenPatcher is, it generates these files from its target assemblies using MonoMod's HookGen API. For example, Assembly-CSharp.dll is the assembly that contains most of the game's code, and HookGen generates a file from it called MMHOOK_Assembly-CSharp.dll, which provides us an easy way to Hook any non-generic method as if it were an event.

To use these events, we can for example do the following:

cs
// Subscribe to event, applying our patch
On.GameNetcodeStuff.PlayerControllerB.Update += MyPatch;

INFO

PlayerControllerB is the class/script that controls all player characters in Lethal Company. It is defined under the GameNetcodeStuff namespace.
Update is a method which executes on every frame, which PlayerControllerB implements. This is a method provided by the MonoBehaviour class in Unity.

TIP

All MMHOOK Hooks are under the On and IL namespaces.
The On namespace contains normal Hooks which allow running our code before and after the original method, while the IL namespace contains ILHooks which allow us to modify the original methods on the IL (or CIL) level, which is what C# compiles to.

This will add our method MyPatch as an event handler for the MMHOOK's Update event of PlayerControllerB, which runs when the original Update method of PlayerControllerB runs.

If we want to undo our patch, we can simply do this:

cs
// Unsubscribe from event, undoing the patch
On.GameNetcodeStuff.PlayerControllerB.Update -= MyPatch;

Do note however that hooking and unhooking isn't cheap performance wise, and therefore it isn't a great idea to e.g. unhook your patch method inside the patch method, as the game will have to wait for unhooking to finish.

In such a case, you could unhook on a thread other than the game's main thread, or avoid unhooking altogether by having a boolean to determine whether or not your custom logic should run.

IMPORTANT

To make use of MMHOOK assemblies, you will need to reference them in your project. This can be simply done by e.g. adding the following to your csproj file:

xml
<ItemGroup>
    <Reference Include="MMHOOK_Assembly-CSharp"><HintPath>./my/path/to/MMHOOK_Assembly-CSharp.dll</HintPath></Reference>
</ItemGroup>

You can find the MMHOOK files from the .../BepInEx/plugins/MMHOOK/ directory if you have HookGenPatcher installed.

Basics of Using Events in C#

In case events in C# are new to you, we'll go through the basics of how to work with them.
To subscribe to an event, we use the addition assignment operator (+=).
To unsubscribe from an event, we use the subtraction assignment operator (-=).

Our event handler goes to the right side of the operator, and is a method that takes in the arguments given by the event we are subscribing to. In our earlier example, we subscribed MyPatch to the On.GameNetcodeStuff.PlayerControllerB.Update event. This event passes the original method On.GameNetcodeStuff.PlayerControllerB.orig_Update orig and an instance of the object GameNetcodeStuff.PlayerControllerB self as arguments.

Thankfully, we can let our IDE generate the method for us (from e.g. quick fix -> Generate Method 'MyPatch' in Visual Studio Code) so we don't need to define it ourselves. This will generate the the following method:

cs
private static void MyPatch(On.GameNetcodeStuff.PlayerControllerB.orig_Update orig, GameNetcodeStuff.PlayerControllerB self)
{
    throw new NotImplementedException();
}

However, currently this will just throw an exception and the original method will not run. Let's fix that:

cs
private static void MyPatch(On.GameNetcodeStuff.PlayerControllerB.orig_Update orig, GameNetcodeStuff.PlayerControllerB self)
{
    throw new NotImplementedException(); 
    orig(self); 
}

What we just did is call the original method orig with the arguments it takes, which is just self. If it had more arguments, we would also pass them in the orig call, e.g. orig(self, arg2, arg3);. The reason why self is an argument is because the method we are patching is not static meaning it has an instance, which is what self is.

With self, we can access and manipulate the variables of the GameObject, which in this case would be an instance of PlayerControllerB. Now we have gone through the basics, and we will move on to examples.

Example Patch With MonoMod

One of the easiest patches you can do is an infinite sprint patch by setting sprint meter to full every frame. Here we have hooked PlayerControllerB's Update method which runs every frame. In the Hook, we run the original method, and then set sprintMeter to 1. In this case it doesn't really matter if our code runs before or after the original method, because this is such a simple patch.

cs
// Somewhere in our code we subscribe to the event once:
On.GameNetcodeStuff.PlayerControllerB.Update += PlayerControllerB_Update;
// ...
private static void PlayerControllerB_Update(On.GameNetcodeStuff.PlayerControllerB.orig_Update orig, GameNetcodeStuff.PlayerControllerB self)
{
    // Code here runs before the original method
    orig(self); // Call the original method with its arguments
    // Code here runs after the original method

    // Set the sprintMeter variable of this instance of PlayerControllerB to 1
    self.sprintMeter = 1; 
}

TIP

See Patching Code With MonoMod — Examples for more examples and information about MonoMod usage, and see our unofficial MonoMod Documentation for more in-depth details on how things work!

Harmony

NOTICE

Unlike with MonoMod, we don't have dedicated pages for Harmony on this wiki.
If you wish to contribute to this wiki, see Contributing Articles.

With Harmony, you need to follow certain rules to write your patches. You must specify the arguments you need in your patch methods, and they must be named correctly for them to be recognized as the correct ones. For example, the argument for the instance of an object must be named __instance.

For more information about Harmony, see the Harmony or HarmonyX documentation.

Example Patch With Harmony

We will now do the same patch for infinite sprint as we did with MonoMod:

cs
using HarmonyLib;
// Somewhere in our code we call e.g. Harmony.CreateAndPatchAll:
Harmony.CreateAndPatchAll(typeof(MyPatches));
// ...
class MyPatches
{
    // We use Attributes to tell Harmony which class' method we are targeting
    [HarmonyPatch(typeof(PlayerControllerB), nameof(PlayerControllerB.Update))]
    // We also specify that our patch method will run after the original method
    [HarmonyPostfix]
    private static void PlayerControllerB_Update(PlayerControllerB __instance)
    {
        // Set the sprintMeter variable of this instance of PlayerControllerB to 1
        __instance.sprintMeter = 1;
    }
}

Conclusion

We have now briefly gone through using MonoMod and Harmony for Patching code. Let's now quickly go through the reasons why one might prefer either tool:

Why MonoMod

  • MonoMod.RuntimeDetour.HookGen's MMHOOK assemblies make patching easy:
    • Applying patches is clean and explicit (e.g. On.Namespace.Type.Method += MyPatch;)
    • We can simply autocomplete our patch method's definition
  • A single patch method can contain code that runs before and after the original method
  • MonoMod patching works with predictable rules, meanwhile Harmony has its own specific rules you have to follow (e.g. special argument names)
  • We have dedicated pages for MonoMod on this wiki

Why Harmony

  • You can register all your patches in a single line
  • Makes using the same patch method for multiple methods slightly easier
    • This is due to how you can specify the arguments you want; you don't need to include every argument in the definition of a patch like with MonoMod's Hooks
      • With MonoMod, you would need to make an ILHook for this

It is entirely up to you which one you should use. But remember: you aren't restricted to using only one of them; you can use whichever works the best in whatever situation.