Poll Question 151 – Would you prefer new content or more maps?

20th December 2009

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

I know a lot of players get bored with the standard assets of the games, but I am not one of them. As long as the modder knows how to use them wisely, them I am a happy headcrab.

Given the choice I much prefer a mod team spend the time on making more maps and therefore more gameplay for me. Of course, the usual It Depends rings loudly in the air, but these polls are just for a little fun and we must assume that the quality of the new content is the same as the new maps.

New content is nice but I honestly don’t notice too many textures and the new weapons rarely make enough difference to worry me.

All in all, more maps please to extend my gaming.

The Poll

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25 Comments

  1. Kasperg

    Let’s see. I’m interested in the experience, and it usually has to do with how well it has been crafted.
    I don’t think quantity equals quality (I think the best Ep2 mod out there is Eye of the Storm and it’s quite short so far) so more maps won’t mean the experience is better. Unless it’s very good quality, quantity can even become a bad thing.

    All things considered, I’d rather play for a shorter time in areas which offer new themes and things to look at than spend ages in maps that all look the same and make me feel I’ve been there before many, many times. So yeah, I’d prefer the single map taking place in a well designed shopping mall over the three maps of warehouse, army barracks and generic lab.

    1. I think EOTS is a fantastic mod. Did it contain new content? I have never suggested quantity equals quality, just remember we like different things. If a mod team spends time on creating new content I would prefer they spent it on making quality maps.

      Please don’t think I am “having a go” at TC2, because I know how you work, I am just expressing my preference.

      1. Kasperg

        Yes, EOTS included new content. I don’t know if it had new textures or models (I haven’t really worked with Ep2 in Hammer so I’m not familiar with the whole set of assets) but there was a lot of custom voice acting (the narrator, random people, a woman equivalent to Dr. Breen in that particular city) and things like the raft with the mounted gun in which a nice sequence took place.

        The thing is, without those elements I just mentioned EOTS would’ve been very average and uninteresting for me. Just a few pretty maps with normal HL2 gameplay.
        The custom content setup the story, the situation (it made it clear you were in another city) the objectives, and even a whole section of gameplay. So yes, I do think it added a lot.

        Speaking of TC2, custom content in models and textures (let’s not even count the voice acting) is absolutely essential because the themes (casino, ice rink, bank etc) require specific material and object sets to be recognizable.
        I’m going to be honest. A lot of the maps in the original HL2 had me wondering around areas which were… nothing I could relate to in real life. Extremely empty apartments (with layouts that did not correspond to what an apartment building should be), random and overly large “sewer areas” and a long etc. That’s my curse of being learning about real building-related things. For that same reason, the amount of “architectural veracity” I have to put in my maps is high and the custom content needed for it is higher 🙁

  2. This is a big ass “It depends” If developers include new content that actually adds gameplay value then I’d go for the new content, but only if they have decent maps to support it.

    As it is, it’s probably easier to expect good maps than good new content.

  3. I love new custom content, but it certainly needs to compliment the game play, not be added for distracting you from the mods shortcomings or as a substitute for the true “meat” of a map or mod, which is quality content.

    On the rare occasion that some great new content is used in some fantastic custom mapping, I’m a very happy camper and it’s highly likely I’ll play it again.

    The truth is that I really prefer good custom mapping more though. I’ll happily take my favorite old toys to a fresh environment for the exploration experience and to try out some new tactics any time.

  4. Anon_214681

    Content could be anything. A new weapon that made enemies explode in a shower of violent colors… that would be better than most maps… As you said, “It Depends” rings loud indeed. In fact, my ears hurt.
    If I like a mod. I like it as it is. If they release a new map, I will get it because I want the extra gameplay. You can do a lot with a even a tiny map in terms of gameplay, with new content, things don’t tend to change as much.

  5. Talon

    New content is always exciting, but the maps are ultimately the content that drive the game. If a modder is not including new content (of which new enemies and new graphics are always my favorite), the they need to try to create a new situation or new layout when they create their maps.

    Customers enjoy novelty, and if a modder creates something we’ve seen a million times before, the work will probably get lukewarm reception.

  6. Joe

    Maps are priority.
    Content it a bonus.
    You can do so much, create some interesting gameplay without introducing new content. When it comes to things you cant do in maps though, like new enemies. Would I rather have a new enemy or more maps? Like you said “it depends” rings loudly in the air. In fact. My ears hurt…

  7. Hardcore

    sometimes the new content is well done and awesome.. but I’ve seen mods with new weapons that are quite poor in quality and really sucks… so the new content gotta be well done and not some shitty crap :S

  8. Kyouryuu

    All things equal, I would say the number of maps outweighs custom content. There are very few SP mods where I was wowed by the inclusion of custom content. It tends to stand out like a sore thumb, whereas Valve’s Episodic assets blend perfectly into the existing world.

  9. CrowbarSka

    You can’t really have custom content without new maps. It’s possibly to maybe re-skin and re-code the Combine Soldiers or something, but they might not fit with the existing levels.

    I personally prefer to visit new environments and DO new things there. Any extra content is nice but for me its about the sight-seeing.

  10. Maps. Why? See Kyouryuu above.

  11. Gradius

    New content in the sense of something not done before, rather than just weapon reskins.

  12. Kasperg

    I do find Phillip’s opinion about preference for more maps to clash a bit with his like for short compact quality mods as opposed to very lengthy ones that last several hours. Has this changed?

    As I stated above, my reason for liking custom content over map quantity is tied to the fact that diferentiated environments and a certain novelty in both visual and narrative elements is what will motivate me to play maps of a game that I have been playing (and mapping for) for 5 years and one month.

    1. I do find Phillip’s opinion about preference for more maps to clash a bit with his like for short compact quality mods as opposed to very lengthy ones that last several hours. Has this changed?

      No, I still prefer shorter mods. If I had the choice I would rather have two short, but high quality mods, than one mod with high quality maps and new content.

      I understand your point of view but I think we play for different reasons and that difference is significant in this regard.

      1. Kasperg

        Yes, I remember your reasons for he “5 short mods vs 1 long mod” poll question (not wanting to stick with maps from the same level designers for too long). But isn’t that based on mistrust?
        There are games made by many different level designers that end up being repetitive (Star Trek Elite Force II for example)while single maps (like Powerstation 17) can offer several different types of settings, gameplay and rythm in a short amount of time.

        I’m not sure how HL2 was made, but I guess each chapter had a different main mapper in charge. How do you feel about that kind of approach? Is it what you would consider ideal? (a chapter with a defined theme which isn’t terribly long and which will be followed by something different in gameplay and visual style)

        1. Kyouryuu

          As I understand it, Valve doesn’t have producers or a typical production hierarchy that most studios have. What they do instead is a more organic “cabal” process where LDs are teamed up with programmers and artists and sit together in the same room to construct one segment of the game. Other cabals work on different components and each shares their progress and discoveries along the way. The ideas that one cabal finds successful naturally become the guidelines and rules for other cabals to integrate.

          1. Kasperg

            What I mean is that there’s an obvious difference of visual quality between some chapters and others. I’m not sure if the team got tired along the way, but the Highway 17 levels and most of the war-torn City 17 levels are much more inconsistent in detail than the early levels. Yet in between Nova Prospekt has some of the best lighting in the game.
            That’s what makes me think that each chapter had different people in charge whose standard of quality wasn’t the same.

            1. Kyouryuu

              I think Highway 17’s look probably has more to do with performance than anything else. The sight lines in City 17 are very controlled and the 3D skybox fills in a lot of background details. In Highway 17, most of that background is physically rendered in the level. If it wasn’t for the fog, you’d see for miles. That said, the few building interiors along the Highway are just as detailed as the tenements in City 17.

              That said, although I like the mood of isolation on the Highway, it’s easily the part of the game that has aged the worst.

  13. Bolx

    OK. I’m not a modder or mapper but I would like to see both! HL2 is now over 5yrs old and the original HL over 11yrs, both still have life in them yet, but to only stay within the old boundaries doesn’t make any sense. There were in the past games and total conversions that strayed from the HL canon such as the much maligned Gunman Chronicles, which had a lot of original content.

    I love the Half Life universe, it was the first PC game I felt immersed in when playing. Doom and Duke Nukem 3D for example, even when I first played them, still only felt like high quality arcade games.

    Again I’m not a modder or mapper but with the tools available that weren’t around 11yrs ago, original content is sadly lacking in new mods/maps. To stay with the old adage “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is almost an insult to the game we love and why we visit Planetphillip.com.

  14. Kasperg

    In a way, custom content drives the game forward. What if Valve had tried to make Ep1 and Ep2 exclusively out ot the HL2 textures, voice samples and models?
    They understand the need for change (while staying true to the rest and making the new content compatible with the existing set) and how to motivate players into playing something “new” which maybe isn’t that new.
    Once you’ve killed a headcrab, a zombie and a strider, you sort of know what’s going to happen the next time you meet one.
    Valve has the advantage of being able to create new enemies and methods of killing them (Magnussen device for example), while we can make variations on the same procedures, force the use of physics (R&D) or just present the same situations in different enviroments.

  15. Memobot

    The Source engine is a perfect example of how there are no limits. Sure, not all the tools you need might not be available, but you can always make them yourself.

  16. andyb

    I want more longer mods,but a change of scenery would be nice.I’d like to see an ep2 mod done in the mountains with snow falling etc,maybe an avalanche.I forget the hl/op4 mod that did this but I loved it.I think it would be beautiful in ep2.

  17. ANonEntity

    Been with HL/HL2 & Eps 4ever, but Farcry, Crysis / Warhead, and Farcry2 are the same concept, but each took a different path. The HL universe could take the same route too, with more animated environment, for e.g., vegitation in HL is inanimate(2D’ish)……lol!
    It’s a matter of introducing new input environments. Seems like the HL universe is stuck in the old HL gameplay. It dosen’t do justice to present day hardware configs…
    My hope is HL3 breaks the ice, if ever!

  18. Pingback: Episode #63 » Podcast17

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