Poll Question 181 – Should mod makers be expected to support and update their mods over a number of years and engines updates?

16th July 2010

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

You probably are aware that a recent engine update by Valve caused a lot of mods to stop working. At the time of writing and to my knowledge Valve had neither acknowledged the issue nor apologized. Fine, that’s how they treat the people who put bread on their table, that’s their choice. I don’t like it but there’s nothing I can do about it.

However, the community, lead by gorpie, a PP and Steam Forum regular, have worked very hard to find fixes, patches, solutions and hacks to get the mods working again.

Now, Steam is a pretty cool thing but I really don’t understand why I, as a user, can’t have more control over what updates are installed. Can you imagine if Microsoft forced EVERY windows user to upgrade when Microsoft wanted them to? Sure, Windows has more dependencies on outside software than Steam but if all my mods stop working and that’s the only reason I use Steam then that’s not really helping me as a customer.

Some mod makers have tried to get their mods working and others, for various reasons, haven’t. The link above organizes the current situation very well and most mods can be played, but do the mod makers have a moral responsibility to support their mods, at least for a limited time? If not, then what happens if a mod is released one day and Valve updates the engine the next and the mod stops working? Sure, we would expect the mod to be fixed, but what if it was a month or a year? How long should a mod be supported?

Of course, it’s very different for multiplayer mods compared to single player mods, but PlanetPhillip.Com only covers SP, so consider that the focus of the question. However, feel free to comment on the difference between the support of both.

The Poll


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35 Comments

  1. Aaron

    I’d say they should fix their mods. Personally, I’d consider it a real waste of time if my mods broke and I didn’t fix them. Although, I suppose some may be easier to fix that others – some may have a lot of custom code, for example, that is extremely out of date.

  2. I would like it if they did fix ’em but I don’t think, MP mods aside, any mod author is obliged support for years and years to come. Still the the ones that do so will be ever more adored and receive more players for their previous and future mods.

  3. Talon

    I would love it if the mod creators did whatever it took to keep their mods working with STEAM updates. Some players, myself included, archive the mods to play later, and it infuriates me that I may not be able to play some of the HL2-based mods. Regular Half Life won’t be a problem because I still have the original standalone game, and I can always install it independent of Steam to play HL mods.

  4. stibe

    i wonder why so many voted for option c, tbh I enjoyed a few of all the new hl mods released after 2000

  5. Kasperg

    If you want your maps and mods to be played for a prolongued period of time, then yes it would be wise to keep an eye on the mod to see it never stops working properly.

    In terms of obligation, I’d say there’s none. Just the fact of releasing a custom map is already a free bonus for owners of the game.
    Depending on the quality standard you’re aiming for, the map will or will not be updated (for crucial bug fixes), revised (improved upon the original) or expanded (have some sort of sequel).

    Some mods don’t even release newer versions even when game-breaking issues are found! It makes common sense to fix things (no-one likes all that work be wasted) but it’s also hard for some people to find the motivation to dedicate more and more time to the same mod once it’s been released and there’s a strong urge to move on to something new.

    In terms of time, I really don’t know what to think. When The Citizen stopped working (it works now!) a couple of months ago, we tried to fix it with the knowledge we had but it wasn’t enough. At that time, I inevitably thought: We released this in November 2007. Anyone who was really interested in playing it will have done so already.

    It only took a day or two to prove us wrong!

  6. No, Mod makers should not be ‘Expected’ to fix their mods after release because of circumstances beyond their control.
    Players have no right to expect a mod in the first place, just be grateful for when we get them free of charge.

    If Valve breaks a mod and the maker fixes it, we should be even more grateful.
    This is a decision for the Author(s) only and should be without any expectation by players.

    In addition:
    I extend my gratitude to gorpie and all the heros of the community who have worked very hard indeed to solve the issues for an incredible amount of mods and have made them available for us to use.

  7. Mod author’s shouldn’t have any more expectations on them to keep their mods “up to date” than valve does. Valve obviously didn’t keep the mods working, why should the mod authors be expected to?

    I’m among the group of people who hasn’t bothered with the excessive patches or fixes to get mods working. Right now I have a ton of actual purchased games that I can start playing through, and I don’t feel like going to the effort of fixing each individual mod only to have Valve possibly correct things back so the mods work again and have the mods need to be UNfixed to get working properly.

    Perhaps if valve hasn’t modified anything after I’m done playing my purchased games, I’ll go back and look up all the fixes for mods, or at the very least for the ones I enjoyed the most.

    1. LOTS of mods need no fixes or tweaking to run. (However, some of the excellent ones do.)

      I’m also going to retest many of them again so I can find the minimum amount of tweaking needed in order to get them to run. When I first started testing, I just made all the changes and saw if it ran (through a map load and an NPC-script).

  8. Bramblepath

    I think it’s important to maintain a mod in order to keep it up to date and perhaps add more features. However, in terms of compatibility and patches, I think that should really be on Valve’s side of things.

  9. The Pengu

    They should certainly fix problems. No modder wants to spend years patching something. Even if they continue modding they are going to want to start something else. Sure a few months of support. Ironing out the bugs that escaped beta testing. If it takes longer than that for the kinks to get ironed, then they shouldn’t have released when they did.
    With big companies it’s different. Every game has bugs, but with companies people are behind computers getting paid to fix the problems. When you buy a game it comes with a degree of guarantee. The people who made it will support the game. You expect your game to run straight out the box. If it doesn’t you expect them to fix it or you demand your money back. With mods people work on it for free. Any problems occur then they should fix them. Still, they can’t be expected to hang around forever.

  10. Zekiran

    I think that only SOME mod makers would even be capable of updating and keeping their mods fresh.

    There are the generic “I made a mod” folks, who are probably not going to make a mod again. They won’t update, I wouldn’t ask them to. They’ve got other things going.

    There are less generic, “I work in the industry and I love the Source engine so I’m going to keep making mods” guys – Lord and Leon and such. I don’t think they SHOULD have to update anything, their mods speak for themselves, and with the little tweaks necessary to run their mods if they’re “broken” by an official engine update, I’ll settle for the tweaks. They don’t need to go back and revisit major works that people have played for years, however I’d say it would be nice for any of them to include help in the form of the readme file or something, to indicate what to do to play them. I certainly would pity any mod maker that had a large body of work, or a very complicated mod, that needed “fixing” more than a little tweak or properties line addition.

    Mods are not paid for, they aren’t something that anyone ‘should expect” to be updated at the whim of the people playing them. Only the makers should decide whether they’re going to revisit them. They are done out of a labor of love. But generally, once a mod is made – there it is. It’s like, you can’t rearrange your baby’s genes once it’s been delivered, right? But you can put glasses or contacts on, get breast implants or a spray on tan.

  11. Shadowmancer471

    Should a mod maker be forced to fix a game they gave you for *FREE*?
    I now have the image in my head of making a mod, then about 8 years later, some guys come to my house, kick the door in, brandish plasma batons at my face and order me to fix my mod.
    All mods are free, and no-one should be forced to fix their own thing that they made without ever demanding any form of input, such as payment.

    Otherwise, what do you think mod makers would do in the future? Make more mods for you to play?

    I think not.

  12. Muzzow

    I voted “Maybe, depends”. The best example for a “mod” being always up to date, upgraded, partly re-coded and tweaked to go with every Steam or Source update is Garrys mod. Sadly, most of Garrys updates causes the mod to crash, to run unstable, stop working at all or the mod is suddenly severely bugged. Once, every time the player wanted to save/autosave Gmod crashed to the desktop without any error messages – until the bug was fixed, two weeks later. Or the ragdolls dropped through the map and disappeared after loading – but only group 2 of the refugees was affected. (However, when the affected ragdoll was additionally spawned as an NPC, too, the character was still there after loading. Duh. This bug was present for almost a year but it is fixed now.) And most recently, the screen when starting Gmod went black (without a crash) but without being able to see what you’re doing you can’t play. This is fixed again, too. Those are just some examples/annoyances and I’m starting to sweat every time either Gmod, Source or Steam is updated. This mod isn’t free, so maybe Garry is forced to update regularly. I just wish that he wouldn’t. Because it causes more trouble I can count meanwhile.
    If “free” mods should be updated in general, too? This really depends on the mod makers and if they want to go through all this trouble and the immense work to keep their creation up to date. Just because fixing bugs/errors caused through updates can result in other bugs/errors that could be even worse… Maybe they should keep their updates as an optional, additional download instead of uploading a full sized, tweaked/fixed version A or B of their mod.

  13. john

    it would be nice, but getting together the group after so many years or being unable to contact team members would make it hard.
    in a ideal world heck yea!!!
    in reality hope for the best and thanks to the pp guy who is trying to make them play.

  14. No, they shouldn’t be expected to, but it would be great if theyd do so!

  15. I voted “Maybe, depends”.

    I don’t really think it should be a requirement, or anything. (I think modders should fix major bugs found soon after release, but hopefully it was adequately beta-tested so there should be very few major bugs, if any.)

    If they continue to mod, and are making sequels to a mod (like Eye of the Storm is the sequel to Ravenholm), it might be nice, but should still not be required. (If I just played EotS, and really liked it, I would probably like to play Ravenholm so I can get the full story. On the other hand, mods are free and the modders don’t get paid, so what right do I have to demand that they spend more of their free time patching something they’d already finished. The Citizen falls into this category, so I’m really glad it works now!)

    I think for mods that are still being developed, like Joutomaa, EotS, Mission Improbable, they should fix major bugs that are found in earlier chapters, unless they decide to abandon the mod. (Note that I haven’t found any major bugs in any of them [except for post-update missing models/textures in EotS and Joutomaa]. I also sure hope none of those three are abandoned!)

    That said, I think after this experience, anybody who makes a mod should build on the SDK base.

  16. rumrunner

    Modders should not have to fix their mods after a steam update.They contribute a lot to the games steam sells.I think about all the enjoyment I’ve had by playing all the mods from the half-life series and there seems to be no thanks from the makers of the original games.I have not updated steam for about a year (slow connection impossible)so I will have to wait and see if the new mods(if any) will play.
    Can’t Steam figure out that the Mods a part of the selling feature of their games.

  17. MikeS

    I voted C – I don’t believe modders have any obligation. It’s not like they’re being paid. Likewise with Valve. I believe they’re being generous by making the HL series modddable. It would be shooting themselves in the foot though if they decided they couldn’t update their gaming platform because it might interfere with some mods. When you consider how much Valve have given us for free…

  18. Rikersbeard

    I voted “No” to the survey.
    I do very much appreciate the effort modders put into projects that I can download and enjoy free of charge, but I do think it is a bit much to expect them to upgrade every time a new version of “Windows” or “Steam” comes out.
    And when I buy a new PC or graphics card, should I expect the to provide me with patches?
    For those that put in that extra effort and support, I say “bravo!”
    And for those who do not. I say ” bravo!” for making a mod available in the first place.

  19. Barnz

    The same thing happened to the original Half-Life when they changed some elements in their physics code. It caused many Half-Life addons to not work properly, including the game itself: countless brush-based entity errors, path-finding errors, and so on [*]. You could always go back to previous version to play the old mods, but you can’t do that on Steam.

    [*] These bugs still exists on Steam based Half-Life titles, but there is worse.

    Standalone Blue Shift is using a different variation of the GoldSource Engine. Steam version, on the other hand, was ported to current GoldSource Engine by Valve, which makes the entire thing work like a shit. There is further errors caused by the modern processors. It’s not likely that anyone at Valve will fix them.

    tl;dr: Valve will never fix the errors, live with it.

  20. It’s up to the modder himself what he wants to do with his own mod.

    In other words: no, it shouldn’t be expecter of a modder to support his mod

    1. Yes, but if nobody can play you mod, what’s the point?

      1. Joure

        There could be a number of reasons imo. many have been discussed above. I would try to support my mod for as long as I can, but also for as long as I want.

        If after the initial release a number of bugs where found that even may break the gameplay then I’d fix it. If steam updates and renders my mod unplayable I’d also try and fix it. But I am not the coder of my mod, and let’s say three years from now where the team may not even be together how could I update it.

        I’m sure most modders would still be in touch, but sometimes it just happens that either the group has disbanded or simply, modders moved on.

        The reasons behind peoples intentions to create mods are varied. For me it’s a personal learning experience. But since I have spend around three years now, I wouldn’t want my mod to become unplayable and not try to fix it.

        On the other hand I could understand that a modder or group of devs have moved on and just may not have the free time to look into it.

        A developer has the right to not fix it as much as he has to do fix it, it’s his/their choice and the people that play a mod has to respect that.

  21. Once a mod is released in it’s final form, the responsibility of the mod author should end. If your a current and on-going member of the mod community (Half life or other) then you can download and have the opportunity to play all mods as they are released. If an engine update happens and the author chooses to update his/her mod, we should give thanks and not complain if it doesn’t happen.

    Actually, as a community, expecting a author to update mods thru the years and engine updates will probably have the reverse effect. Modders will be more likely to update their mods if the community is not expecting them to. Especially since all these mods are gifts to us. I think that falls in the area of human nature.

    Many thanks to “gorpie and crew” for all their work on the mods so I can play some of the mods I never got to play.

  22. WeAreNotAlone

    Should the mod creator be expected to update their mod, due to VALVE “updating” the engine?

    NO.

    VALVE should:

    A: Provide documentation detailing the changes, Info on how the new engine functions. Info on how to make old mods run on the new engine.

    B: Provide a Roll-back, or compatibility mode so old mods can be played. I find it incredulous that there is no way for me to uninstall a “update”.

    C:Provide a un-install update feature

    7-2010 I accidentally went on line, STEAM /Half-Life2, etc updated.. and now things are broken.

    While I understand “why” for multiplayer them wanting everyone to be running at the same software revision, it is ridiculous that I can’t after a “update”, if the update is problematic to roll-back to a previously working state.

    To VALVE marketing dept/upper management.

    As someone who has paid good money for your product(s) over the years (Since Valve’s day one) I am very angry that a good percentage of my mods are now broke. (Broke due to the 5-2010 Mac enabled 2009 source engine update from what I’ve read.)

    Why should VALVE fix what they screwed up?

    Simple..

    1: VALVE has profited from mods.
    2: Mods are what keeps people interested in your product between episode releases.

    Q: How many years has it been between Half-Life 2, Ep 1 and Ep2… and EP3 which has still not been released?

    .

  23. WeAreNotAlone

    Just to clarify:

    It should be VALVE’s responsibility to:

    A: Help the modding community “fix” things that a software update has broken.

    B: Provide the end user with the capability to REVERT back to a previously working state.

    After all who better than to provide info on the new engine than the guys it is coming from?

    They “VALVE” surely know what areas are going to cause problems… they must as they seem to be able to “fix” their releases, to update them as needed to make them work with the “new” 5-2010 Macintosh (MAC) enabled 2009 source engine branch. “Update”.

    .

  24. Oopla

    I voted no. I love mods, but I am not going to whine about what I get for free.

    One thing did occur to me in the course of reading this thread about Valve’s position in this. Valve specifically advertised the mods in HL2, listing them as one of the greatest successes with HL1 and about how they provide enduring replay value for the game, and they provide income for valve as some of the mods get picked up commercially. They advertise some mods like Riot Act, Minerva, Rock 24 on steam itself directly.

    How that relates:

    Recently a PS3 update broke support for additional operating systems. The reason is because someone figured out a way to use an alternate operating system to run pirate games. The alt OS, primarily Linux, had plenty of legit uses. Hackers at DefCon used a super computing cluster to prove that the old wifi encryption WPA was no longer secure and demonstrate the need to move to WPA2. The US Air Force had purchesed 40+ (if memory serves) PS3s for a data processing cluster super computer. If they update their machines they lose tens of thousands of dollars of valuable hardware. It is hard to argue that the only people that his hurts are the evil pirates in their basements.

    This relates because a California man is suing Sony, arguing that under the consumer protection laws, since the machine no longer does what it was advertised to (run another OS) it falls under the catagory of defective product. Being that Sony made the product defective, he is trying to get Sony to restore the feature, plus statutory damages, of course.

    I will be the first to admit that this is a far stretch, but I do hope that the mere possibility of this would spur Valve into action. The negative publicity and the resulting forum for Valve haters to get publicity would be worse, IMHO than any actual damage from the suit itself.

    Couldn’t a work around be accomplished by just adding in the old build of HL2+episodes, renaming the new games internally so that the mods seek out the correct files for them to run, but the new games just have their own to rely on. Keep the old build a static, legacy build to play the mods on. I know that it has got to be more involved than that, but it certainly should be feasible.

    -Big tangent here.

    This is a question to all the modders out there. Is it possible to work on other people’s finished mods? Like get into them and muck around to try to fix compatibility? Are the mods compiled, in effect, so this wouldn’t be possible without Binary or Hex editing? I just don’t know on the subject.

    I was wondering if it would be possible for other people to fix the mods? I know there would be copyright and creator control issues with this, but I am just curious.

    -Another tangent, somewhat related to the last

    Are there any open source mods, that encourage mixing and redistribution, like under a Creative Commons, or LGPL like method?

    -Another thought

    I assume that Valve has some DRM provisions to only allow one instance of steam on an operating system at once.

    As a work around, couldn’t you just make a second windows installation on a separate hard drive/partition install the a physical copy (Say, the orange box) and set it to never update as a Mod platform. I would also say virtualization, but I have read/heard that 3D takes a HUGE hit with it.

  25. Kyouryuu

    Depends on a number of factors, I think predominantly the popularity of the release. If people are still playing it regularly, it should be updated.

    The whole engine update thing is kind of unprecedented. I’ve never heard of a scenario where a developer upgraded the engine beneath a six-year-old game. Perhaps as a result, the roll-out should have gone much smoother than it has. I still chalk most of the frustration up to Valve failing to say anything about what’s happening. Any time the tools break, they go into “radio silence” mode. Who’s to say if an SDK update will come next week or next year?

    1. Oopla

      It would just be nice if they would be open enough to say something as simple as “Please bear with us and we appreciate any feed back you give to make this situation better.”

      I think that the whole Radio Silence works against most companies, as it basically concedes the dialogue to everyone else, including your detractors.

      1. Kyouryuu

        That’s right. I wouldn’t expect firm dates from Valve, but a basic acknowledgement of “We’re looking into it” would go a long way. The thing is, when you don’t say anything, you leave the fans to devise their own, often bizarre, solutions to the problem. These can come back to bite them later on, but this is what happens when the developer says nothing.

  26. ikar

    Maybe, Depends

    i agree with WeAreNotAlone and Oopla

    they don’t should, but if Authors provide support for mods its great

    maybe using donation for update mods?

    what we real need — this option from Valve: “get and mount old gcf (for using with old mods only)”

    Offtopic:
    some mods dirty they have many unwanted files and folders – like thums.db, desktop.ini, cource code for dll, saves, screenshots and so
    please, dear modders remove this sh*** – it’s don’t give possibilities for fix mod for other modders (like sourcecode in GPL software) but create DL size bigger (in some mods 20-30%) if you want get source for future support mod – place source to different archive
    installers – please, stop exercizing with creating installers – some modd have installer bugs – install to wrong place without user interaction 🙁 other .exe – can be infected with viruses..
    use 7z with Ultimate compression and remove readonly attributes for folders – its problem for newbies – they can’t savegame or screenshot

  27. MastG

    It depends on how committed the creator is. If they want to keep it running well and more appealing, then they should keep updating and upgrading. If they don’t want to do anything with it anymore, then they don’t have to.

  28. enablerbr

    i voted for no they shouldn’t. yes it would be nice if some of the mods kept upto date with SDK changes. yet teams do tend to move onto other projects when finsihed. if the coder of a mod goes. how would the rest of the team make the changes needed.

    now if it was a commerical game. I would expect for that game to be patched for at least year or 2.

  29. SPY

    i’m glad that most people say No to this, and I agree.
    for me personally it would be impossible to do so anyway because I have released dozens of sp-mods over the last 10 years so it would be insane to keep them all up to date. the more so because the older mods aren’t played anyway anymore, so why do the effort .

    so, it’;s no when you ask me.

  30. It would be nice, by no means are they obligated? But patches and fixes are GREATLY APPRECIATED!

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