Poll Question 115 – Would you continue a bad, long mod in the hope that it improves?

15th March 2009

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

This goes back to Poll Question 111, where I asked about one long or 5 short mods. With 5 short mods, if you don’t like what you are playing, you can stop and you don’t have to worry too much about missing some great levels. With a long mod if you don’t like what you are playing you have to consider whether the mod gets better.

Personally if a book, a movie, TV Show, game or mod, isn’t good at the beginning I rarely continue. I hate the idea of waiting for it to improve. My time is precious and I don’t like the idea of wasting it. What about you?

The Poll


  1. Yes, usually. I generally give mods a chance as quality can be less consistent than in a commercial release.

  2. AI

    I have to say yes, I like to give ’em a fair shot, good or bad, long or short!! If someone has at least tried to make a map/mod, they deserve a try! I have lots of time!! 😉

  3. While I’d love to say yes, I wouldn’t. The start of Coastline to Atmosphere, for instance, in my opinion, is really bad. The mapping sucks and the gameplay is too hard, in my opinion. While people told me it got much better in the later levels, I just didn’t bother with it. I never got longer than the first few maps, not because I was bored, but because it was too bad.

    There is nothing wrong with doing it. If a level is too hard to complete, you are not required to look up walkthroughs, cheats and other stuff, to complete it. Although you should really consider contacting the mod maker and tell him why you disliked it, what could be improved, and give any tips if you know some.

    Modders should sit down at some point and try look at their works and ask themselves, “Does this suck? What can I possibly do to improve it? When they’ve done all that, they should release their works to playtesting and hear what other people think. Remember, they are the ones who will play your mod in the last end. If the start of a mod is bad, it is very likely the end is too. Always make a good first impression with a mod.

    Hopefully, with the right amount of playtesting, the bad factor can be avoided entirely. The shame is, many modders don’t even bother with the playtesting. Some even believe playtesting is only something that should be done a few weeks before the release. I can’t stress it enough time, playtest your works early in development.

    So if the mod is bad, I will play it until I’m absolutely sure it’s not getting better, how long that takes. If I hate the mod, I will not come back to it. Therefore I voted the second option “Depends on whether I know the mapper/team”, because it really does. If I’m a playtester, I will play it to the end, but if I’m a player, I will only play until I’m bored.

    (If somebody made a long bad mod, they should have focused their work on making a short quality mod instead. Long is rarely good, but if the modders can do it, they should feel free to make a long mod.)

  4. Kasperg

    There are a lot of factors to take into consideration. If I download a long mod, it’s usually because I’ve seen something in the screenshots or trailers that has caught my attention and makes me want to start that journey. It’s up to the level designer to make me keep playing until I reach those “highlights”. If those great areas are surrounded by dull filler levels (a lot of them since you’re speaking about a long mod) then it’s possible I might quit before reaching those places or just manually loading the good maps from the console. I’ve done some NOCLIP runs in more than one mod in the past, and I don’t regret it. What lured me about them was the visuals and I got to seem them without going through the mediocre gameplay and unimportant levels.

    The way a mod has been made also influences how the whole thing plays out. If I’m playing something episodic like Minerva:Metastatis was, I can count on every map receiving the same treatment and the author being motivated the same in all of them, as oppossed to some mods in which you start to feel the author just wanted to get it over with (my own Idol Hunt for HL1, for example). The mods that follow the latter dev process I just mentioned usually show their best level of craftsmanship detail in the first maps. If it begins to drop, you’ll rarely see it get better at the very end, although there could be exceptions if the maps weren’t made in their playing order. But the usual thing is for mappers to begin at the beginning and finish at the end.
    You’d also have to know if the mod was made by different people (a Re-issues kind of thing) to know how much different quality might be from one part of the mod to another.

    Finally, I’d like to mention the process we followed for The Citizen Part 2. Each level has a three part configuration which involves
    1) an architectural setting (or a few, depending on the level) that is easy to recognize and remember.
    2) a gameplay idea (meaning the map will be mostly stealth like, have a big battle, be an exploration map etc.)
    3) a story element (some event or events that are relevant to the big picture and move the story forward, justifying that map’s place in the overall list).
    Arranging the mod like that ensures that none of the maps are really filler. We are always joining together areas that we initially wanted to make instead of connecting just a few areas we though about with senseless hallways and overly generic mapping. The result we are looking for is an engaging story with varied gameplay and scenery.

  5. I voted yes.
    I remember the Ravenholm mod a few years ago, that mod was boring in the beginning, not a lot of action and many people got lost in the dark forest , but once that part was done the mod got a lot better with new gameplay futures and a lot of good action, it finally turned out to be one of the best mod’s I’ve ever played.
    But a mod does need to have something that makes me want to play further , If it’s still boring after hours of playing, I will delete it from my harddrive.

  6. Mel

    The big problem with this question is the use of the word BAD and what people perceive has being bad. Already we have a post that suggests C to A is a bad mod, now C of A maybe many things to many players but a bad mod it is not, with the majority of players ranking it high on their list, I have played through this mod 3 or 4 times enjoying the experience more with each play, yes it’s hard but not impossible being a balanced challenge thoughout.

    Normally a bad mod to me is not necessary one that I did not want to complete but more one that I could not complete, irrespective of what I may feel about the standard of the mod I always attempt to complete. I find it hard to comprehend someone either calling a long mod such as C of A bad or saying you did not like it when their have only played a few levels, under such circumstances how anyone can give a balanced appraisal is beyond me.

    Bad mods to me are in the main mods I found impossible to complete weather due to technical reasons that don’t allow the player beyond a point in the map, continuing crashes resulting in booting my machine, chunks missing from files, and mods set at a ridiculously hard factor. Apart from these there are types of mod that I dislike; these would be Arena type, Puzzle based and what I would call Singular gameplay. There was I time I would start playing such mods only to give them up with utter boredom, now I know better and read the reviews first such that I just don’t bother to download them.

    I have now played over 500 HL 1 & 2 mods/mappacts and I would say that for every mod I did not complete, there must have been dozens that improved much with depth and longevity and were well worth persevering with.

  7. your evil twin

    I voted “depends”.

    I remember when Combine Destiny came out, I was really looking forward to it, the concept sounded awesome. But I was disapointed. the levels were like an unimpressive mod for Half-Life 1 – lots of grey corridors and brown corridors – full of zombies and antlions. How is this being a Combine soldier?! I should be crushing the rebels alongside fellow Combine soldiers, not shooting endless headcrabs, zombies and antlions in corridors! What was really disheartening was that I knew the mod was HUGE. After about three hours I gave up.

    Then I became a reviewer for Planet Half-Life. I noticed that nearly all of Planet Half-Life’s reviews of singleplayer mods were positive (nobody bothered to download and play the mods that looked like they’d be bad). I decided well, I know an unimpressive mod, and deided to review Combine Destiny… but it would be unfair to review it based solely on the beginning of the mod, so I resumed playing it.

    I was pleasntly surprised in the middle, it became more interesting, and there was even a bit outside in a town. I thought I had finally gotten to the good bit of the mod! And then it went back underground again, and it was more of the same boring stuff from the start of the mod.

    Seriously, there’s no point doing a mod containing 30 maps and the size of Opposing Force if 3/4 of those maps are just going to be corridors full of crates, barrels and zombies. The mod had its really good moments, but they were spoilt by the fact there was too much uninteresting stuff. I was brutally harsh in my Planet Half-Life review, because by the time I got to the end of the mod I hated it, I was glad it was over. If the mod had been shorter, I’d simply have been unimpressed, rather than full of hatred, and given it a slightly higher score.

  8. The big problem with this question is the use of the word BAD and what people perceive has being bad.

    I don’t see any problem. Bad is simply what YOU decide it to be. Bad for me, maybe be good for you. Since there is no universal way of judging,each person makes their own choice.

  9. Kasperg

    I don’t see any problem. Bad is simply what YOU decide it to be. Bad for me, maybe be good for you. Since there is no universal way of judging,each person makes their own choice.

    For things like enjoyment and fun factor, this is true. Since when you rate a map you’re not asked to give a priority to any particular aspect, one can very easily overlook flaws and praise something for the actual enjoyment gotten out of it. That doesn’t make the problems go away though. I like and enjoy films like Hot Shots 2 which I genuinely consider to be bad movies. There’s a difference between the objective and subjective.

    But if you’re talking about possible bugs and aesthetic mistakes (not just bad looking, but wrong from a logical point of view, such as crates that don’t fit through the doors to the rooms they’re contained in and a long etc.), there a lot of ways to universally judge and compare. I don’t buy into that “Anyone can have a correct opinion and they are all compatible.”

  10. Mel

    I still think the use of the word bad in the question is far too subjective to give an answer, you could have asked; would you continue a long mod even though you were not enjoying it.

  11. I voted yes. I have no problem with the word “bad” in the description, because it actually fits my answer. Sometimes I will play/read/watch something absolutely terrible, for a form of enjoyment, or just for kvetching rights.

    Best example of this I can give is the movie “The Spirit.” I am a fan of the comics, and love their place in literary history. I went in skeptical, and was borderline horrified, as Frank Miller’s writing seemed to be schizophrenically alternating between that of an immature thirteen year old and an immature five year old. Watching Samual L Jackson degenerate into a MADtv level parody of himself went from “So-bad-its-good” to “So-bad-its-bad”

    Seems like a waste of 2 hours on christmas day, right? Nope, having seen the whole movie gave me the rights to rail against it with full athourity. Other people at work had either not gone, or walked out, so being the only one to have seen the thing gave me full rights to launch into tirades about it, railing against he movie, calling for the MPAA to be collectively knee-capped for allowing it to reach any theater, calling for the deaths of certain people associated with the project. I got my two hours of enjoyment back with interest from getting to talk about the movie.

    The same thing can be said about bad mods. I may not finish it because I hope it gets better, I may continue it because its “So-bad-its-good” or I wish to complain with authority.

  12. Mel

    Sorry haven’t a clue what you are talking about oopla, but that’s me being old.

  13. If it’s bad, it’s bad! Bad means you don’t like it, it means it is not good, poo in short. Why everyone is voting “yes”? I have no idea. If a mod is bad, I don’t like that mod. I don’t think “Well, maybe it can get better”, I think “That’s poo.”, and I don’t play it. It’s that easy. You don’t need to be a philosopher to understand this.

    On the other hand, if I have downloaded a map, it most likely means, I attracted by something (most likely a screenshot, least likely its story). So probably that means I’ll like it. But that doesn’t change the fact that if it’s poo I won’t play it. If it’s bad at the start, it is a long shot to hope to get better in later parts.

    To tell the truth, having fun with a mod from start to end, that’s never happened (for a HL2 mod) for me. But I’m a optimistic person, I never quit hoping.

  14. Mel, I guess I could sum it up by asking if you have ever seen Plan 9 From Outer Space. The movie is inheriently a bad movie, but in some ways it tries to mean well, so you really can’t resent the movie, and find some enjoyment out of the fact that it is THE bad movie.

    My favorite parts are where it cuts back and forth between Bela Lugosi and Ed Wood’s wife’s hair dresser who is trying to hide the fact that he looks absolutely nothing like Lugosi by holding his cape infront of his face, almost like a cowboy bandanna. Ed Wood is trying to balance the pressure of having Lugosi die in the middle of production, without being able to hire a real replacement, so it doesn’t come off as a smack to the face of the audience, but rather as something cosmically funny.

    That is the best way I can describe “So-bad-its-good”. Absolutely terrible, but not entirely pretentious, and in some way, redeeming.

  15. Mel

    I thought it maybe interesting to see what gamers considered as bad mods; here are a few HL2 mods I consider bad for various reasons.

    City Rebellion: Warehouse
    Combine Onslaught
    Scary Map
    under siege
    Mistake of Pythagoras
    Snow Mission
    “The Lost Chapters”
    alter research komplex
    Halloween HL2: Pumpkin
    All your Base are Belong to us.
    Domino Effect
    School Adventures
    Other World
    Techdemo 2
    Brick Work
    The Extreme Fight

    1. Mel, I think it’s irrelevant what others think are “bad” mods (And this isn’t really the place to do that) but it is what YOU think that counts. Also the mods you list are mostly very short and this poll is about long mods.

  16. Mel

    Yes, I did wonder about posting the list here, feel free to delete it Phillip, I may start a thread on the forum.

    I just think that most bad mods are also short mods with the above list drawn from what I consider bad without any reference to their size. I just rank mods on their enjoyment factor and dont record how long they are.

  17. “Good, bad… I’m the guy with the gun.”

    In a lot of mods, at some point you think to yourself “Is this really worth my time? Am I having fun? Do I care what happens next?” This poll is about what you do when you hit that moment of doubt. For me, sadly, the answer is “Who cares, Must finish!”

    Sometimes this pays off, as with Mistake of Pythagoras. Other times it just really ruins my day, as with The Great Forever Tomorrow.

    You might love TGFT and hate MoP, but the question is the same… do you slug it out to the bitter end?

  18. Mel

    Interesting that you mention a couple of mods I could not slug it out to the end, after the first level TGFT was a big turn-off and MoP is one of the few long mods a gave up.

  19. With MoP I got stuck trying to find the gravity gun. After coming back fresh a few months later, I found it, continued on, and was rewarded with an excellent, innovative mod!

    With TGFT, The opening map was so interesting, that I thought I’d find another good map eventually. I was mistaken. Very mistaken.

  20. galocza

    NO, im very impatient these days. I rarely give a second chance if I dont like something at the first glance.
    i know its not fair, even stupid.

  21. Jigron

    Yes, I would play the mod all the way through just to see the outcome and yes to play the gorey gameplay and boring gameplay.

  22. Kyouryuu

    oopla had said: “Seems like a waste of 2 hours on christmas day, right? Nope, having seen the whole movie gave me the rights to rail against it with full athourity.”

    I think that’s the only reason I would bother to complete a bad mod. Some reviewers are into pointing fingers and making accusations. “Did you finish it?” “Did you play that one part?” “Didn’t you see the cool ending?” If I can say yes, yes, and yes and still come back with “It was still terrible,” I know I can justify my own opinion… even if others vehemently disagree.

  23. Talon

    I try to always play a mod all the way through. Even if I don’t like it, I’ll play it through because I don’t like to give up on things. If absolutely necessary, I will use cheats, but I generally only do this if there is an extremely frustrating jumping puzzle or the combat situation is seemingly impossible to survive (after many attempts to get through these things without cheating).

    Of course, one benefit of playing a mod all the way through is that the modder/mapper might have gotten better at their craft. Therefore, some of the later levels may present significant improvements.

  24. Editor321

    Unless I know the mod team or the people that made it, rarely will a junk modification keep my interest long enough to finish, even that is not set in stone.

    There are so many mods out there, why not go enjoy them?

  25. I voted “yes”, tho it should be a “yes, but it depends…” choice, because the maker/team to me is irrelevant.

    Case in point: Cyberscape. I just started it last week or so, and it’s very interesting, except for some of the issues it has. I’m stuck at the “dig” level, and can’t get out, and I can’t figure out what I did wrong or how to fix it. This is a good example of a mod that I could call “good” except for that–and I’m willing to finish it if I can figure out how to get past it. Will it still be a “good” mod when I’m done?? No telling, and I’m not willing to give up just yet–but it’s close at the moment.

    “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is the key here.

    1. I added the “depends” choice because if I were playing a mod from an author I liked then I might continue but if it was a from a modder I had never heard of I would probably stop.

      I know this is semantics but you say “I’m willing to finish it if I can figure out how to get past it”. Shouldn’t that be unable? I am talking about mods that you consider bad, not mods where you get stuck. Although I could argue that if you get stuck in a mod, it’s bad design and therefore bad

      You are right about the “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and it’s the same with all adjectives like good, bad etc. It’s your viewpoint that counts, not mine. It’#s hard to write that into the question though.

  26. Nah, I meant what I said. If I can NEVER figure out how to get past a section, then I can’t finish it, and I get frustrated and WON’t try unless I get a hint or cheat, which sometimes doesn’t work–the opening sequence of Combine Combat is a good example: the ride in the body bag(?) actually got sidetracked to a section where it wasn’t supposed to go, mainly because I was looking around so much I think I got it to get slightly sideways off the track, and then stuck. A restart/let it run thru the sequence without touching the trackball/keyboard fixed it, but had I not figured that out, I would’ve gotten mad and given up. Much like CyberScape, where without your hint I wouldn’t’ve been able to finish it.

    And now to try your hint… 😉

  27. Strider Mountain has is pretty much the only mod I kicked to the curb without bothering to beat it. I was actually making pretty steady progress but then I just got sick of it. I told myself that since so many people had been praising it, I should at least try to beat it before getting rid of it, and I managed to churn through another chapter and just said “screw it. I’m not having fun. There’s no reason for me to play crap I don’t like”
    I wasn’t having fun, and it was like everything I enjoyed about the entire Half Life series had been carefully and specifically carved away and replaced with crap I hate.

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