Poll Question 118 – Would you like to see more squad based SP Mods?

5th April 2009

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

Regular readers will know that I dislike playing with squads. Mainly becasue they are more trouble than they are worth! Squad Romeo did a good job but I don’t remember any others. I am surprised that the community hasn’t made more maps with squads.

It’s important to build levels and stories around squads, rather than just making a large area nd populating it with lots of enemies, then adding a squad. Perhaps that’s the reason, they may take a lot more work to get right.

More importantly, if you had a choice would you choose the squad or go solo?

The Poll


  1. Kasperg

    I personally don’t like the definition of “squad gameplay” as it is. In the course of a battle in a city where there has been an uprising, it’s natural that the player would sometimes have to fight alongside other allies. As a player, I’d rather be told what to do (even if I end up taking my own decisions) than having to be in control of a squad. Artificial intelligence in games like HL2 isn’t advanced enough for player allies to live their own lives without heavy scripting. The rebels in HL2 used to block doorways very often, and that was something I didn’t like.
    But if done right, being part of a squad that has a life of its own (including custom voices, names and even personalities) can be a great experience for players that transmits the scope of the situation more accurately. For example, one of the player allies dying as cannon fodder is usually an unimportant event that the player can ignore and other player allies will do as well. If the squad actually reacts to those deaths, takes cover, works as a team to achieve a goal and makes the player be part of that team, then you’ve got an extra dimension to what you’re playing.
    A really good game or mod has to work on a lot of different scales for me. It’s the variation between small creepy areas, large outdoor battles, moments of solitude, meaningful conversations with other characters etc what makes this interactive fiction that we call videogames be immersive and surpass even books and films as an entertainment option.

  2. Bobz

    Useful to send ahead as cannon fodder and to find out where the enemies are.
    Other than that, they get in the way. Besides. lets be frank, pretty they aint (neither am I but you can’t see me!).

  3. Kyouryuu

    I’m personally indifferent to squads. Certainly in Half-Life 2, they tend to get in the way within the narrow confines of the tenements. Left 4 Dead is built on a better scale and I think the collision on the characters is a lot more forgiving.

    But that said, I don’t mind squads if I’m not expected to lead them. The Citizen is a good example of a mod where the squad is essentially leading the player from one key location to the next. If the squad has its own goals, especially those that keep them one step ahead of where the player is, the amount of wonky “get in your way” moments is dramatically reduced, while the notion of working as cog in the larger resistance machine is preserved.

  4. I voted No.

    I don’t want more squad featured mods. I want good ones, otherwise I don’t want any. Really frustrating to have a NPC blocking your path or disturb you. It breaks everything.

    Solo or Squad, I would go solo. Definitely.

  5. Polo

    Lone Wolf cuts it for me.
    I don’t mind some interaction with squads, for orders/directions etc.
    This obviously includes requests by them to destroy/de-activate and so forth.
    They just get in the way and cramp my style.

  6. Joure

    Hmm, I didn’t mind the squads that much in hl2, but valve did set them up to be canon fodder, and they never got me to care for them. Probably has to do with the fact they all looked somuch alike with their rebel outfits. The stuff they said also never got me personally attached to them. I prefer solo most of the time, or having one or two npc’s like alyx, helping you out and interact with their suroundings. I’m currently exploring that aspect with my own project. I believe an npc, eventhough having the msalles of roles, should be treated as if they have something to say, a background they carry with them. Alyx does that imo and so does barney to an extend. Heck kleiner and eli gave me the feeling they actually had lives. the citizens did it a lil bit, it wasn’t until ep2 I felt the rebels had some significance but in terms of gameplay, they are still interchangable. The only time I cared for my team mates was when I played SW republic commando, or something like that I forgot the name. Was the only time I felt my team mates mattered and it actually worked without them I couldnt win, but they did need my help aswell. I actually really like that game, and I think it still serves as a good refference for how it could be done. The rebels in hl2 were just too generic imo.

  7. No thanks. I don’t need them and I don’t want them around too, they are being harmful than being helpful, to me at least.

  8. SPY-maps

    i HATE (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) team based maps, I want to play alone!!! (otherwise I would choose for the mp gaming option,)
    and I am glad to see that most people think the same, although I am still amazed that 40+% loves to play spgames like that!
    i am very worried about that there are more and more sp-games that do give you a team around you, in some games they can be killed (what I always do emidiatly if possible), and otherwise I leave them behind, (like in Rainbow6 etc). in some games they do walk with you, what can’t be stopped, but, they keep back untill you call them. still, there are more and more games were they walk with you, and when your not quick enough they kill all enemies, what leaves you as player with nothing else as running after them, counting the bodies, without having any action at all.
    I HATE THAT !!!!!
    i have read in other polls and thread on the internet that most people don’t like this, but it seems some game makers still don’t get this, or they don’t want to hear it because they like to play sp games that way then selves.
    from me as a mapper you will never see a team based mappack/mod. I try to give the player a team only for a very short while in one of the maps, sometimes, just to please those players that do like it. but only for a short while, because;….
    I HATE TEAM NPC’s !!!
    can’t make this clear enough !!
    gues you understand what I am saying,lol.


  9. Kasperg

    I understand what Leon is saying, but the “one-man-army” style of game in which the player seems to be able to take on all the enemy forces and emmerge victorious looks like it belongs to the past, to those low-budget action films from the 80s. Even if the player accomplishes some goals without another NPC doing it for him, it’s important for the gameplay situations to reflect the story. Gordon Freeman for example wasn’t the only one fighting the Combine in the HL2 era. It has to be reflected somehow if any map or mod wants to at least be considered part of the same universe. Allies fighting in the background, in places where the player can’t reach them, is a good option for that.

  10. If the squads worked better, they’d be worth it; but, usually, they just get in the way, and don’t do what you tell them to do.

    Personally, I don’t like killing them, it just rubs me the wrong way. I’ll usually tell them to stay back and let me go in, but even that doesn’t work well.

    There have been a couple of mods where the NPC squads actually did fairly well, and helped cover me to the point where we all could knock out the enemy.

    I didn’t vote, tho, mainly because it’s not a truly cut-and-dried situation. If the squad AI works like it should, they can be helpful; otherwise, they suck (like in their implementation in HL2).

  11. Mel

    If I only had one choice it would be solo, but saying that, I don’t dislike squad based games which make a welcome change to the gameplay. I always considered Opposing Force to be the best squeal to any game I’ve played, but then I have not played much outside the HL world.

    There are faults with HL squad based mods which have been commented on above and this is an area that both Valve and mappers alike need to work on. The is no real reason to set squad based activity within confined and tight surrounds, and I am sure with more thought and planning most of the annoying situations need not occur.
    However, I do understand that to many players no amount of improvement in squad design and behavior will change their views of this format, which is a shame as this narrows choice leading to missing out some good gameplay.

  12. SolidFake

    For me, Singleplayer means Single player, no to squads.
    It’s okay for some scenes, e.g. when you need to storm an enemy base or defend an own one, but I hate it when those guys are following you through a whole level

  13. I voted yes. Sometimes you need ammo or a medic during a firefight. They do distract and sometimes help out when fighting the combine. Even though they do get in the way.

  14. It’d be great to see it done well, but really I think at most you can only really have 2 other AI players before the scripting to keep out of each other’s way just becomes too complicated to work right.

    I think the real problem is that you’re put in the position of “leader” but you aren’t given any way to honestly LEAD. A real boon would be if you could pick up items and “give” them to the rebels by using the reload button while holding the item. This would allow you actually organize your team, and make your allies less disposable and therefor allow you to think of them as something other than pampers (used to catch shit and then tossed)

  15. It seems like everything went team, the squad thing doesn’t really make any difference to me, I would just like to see MORE SP games and mods PERIOD

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