1. Mel

    Never thought about making a choice between the two, but if I had too it would be a gamer’s review, how can mappers review their own mods?

    In the main I find mappers reviews too critical digging too deep into areas that don’t concern me. Technical faults are either obvious to me or not discernable enough to affect my playing experience, if the latter then I don’t need in-depth commentary telling me that the choice of lighting was inadequate when I had no such problems with the mod.

    Some of the recent mappers reviews of Leon’s pre-release of Strider Mountain is a point in question, here some of the mapper reviews went overboard and at time I though some were being critical of Leon and all his work, which to me was unjust.

    Mapper’s reviews should be a very important contribution to the general mix of reviews, first serving a very important feed back to the author by commenting on aspects that maybe of benefit to the authors without much significance to the player, secondary they can help to enlighten and higher the players expectation by pointing out aspects that players like me have not thought about, some of Chris Fox’s reviews are very good from this point of view, but then this author is very aware of the gamers input and feedback.

    The real answer to this question is that a healthy mix of both gamers and mappers review is the best combination, and that in recent times is what we have experienced here on PP, however if the question requires a definitive answer then for me a good review posted by a player will always tell if the game was a joy to play or not.

    1. Who said anything about amppers reviewing their own creations?

      I agree that a healthy mix of reviews is required but this is asking about readers” personal preferences.

      The reason I like mappers reviews is becasue I am a player already and will have already played what is being reviewed. Reading the mapper I get a compeltely different view, one that I can’t consider (becasue I can’t map). I suppose what I am saying is that a player’s review has to be really good because I already see wthings from that general point of view

  2. Sortie

    When I review mods and maps, I simply post my thoughts on them. I’ll tell what I was thinking when I played the mod and tell about my own personal playing experience. If I mention that some wall has a bad texture, it’s because it meant something to me when I played the mod and meant enough to be mentioned in a review. But I’ll also mention if I had fun or if I was constantly annoyed by bad design decisions.

    Mapper’s reviews are important because they are experts in creating mods themselves and are great resources for the mapper in question to improve his own personal works. But what’s more important is the target auidence of the mod/map. The kind of people that the mod/map was designed for is most important, because well, the mod/map is made for those people.

    Sadly a huge knowledge in terms of mapping can make mods less enjoyable and it’s a pity, which is why mapper’s reviews generally are more negative. But if the mod isn’t bad, they can forget about the mapping and try to just enjoy the experience. On the other hand, if a map/mod is praised by mappers that usually means it’s really good.

    1. I understand what you are saying. I’ve said this beofre but once you learn to map you lose one particualr viewpoint that you never get back. I don’t believe any mapper who says that they view things the same as when they were a player. It happens in all sorts of endeavours, especially the creative ones.

      For the larger mods I think I am going to try and structure my reviews into different aspects of the mod (gameplay, fun, design, story telling etc). I was always against this but I don’t think I am good enough as a reviewer to do it in other ways.

      1. Sortie

        Oh, I love in-depth reviews. Structure’s usually a good way to do that properly. And yeah, Mapping has a long list of side effects, I see completely differently on games, even the real world now, after 7-8 years of mapping.

  3. I want to hear from mappers while my mod is still in development and I want to hear from players when it’s released. That’s how it works for me. That was short.

    1. Sortie

      Actually, it’s best to listen to everyone, not only mappers, when your mod is in development. In the end both groups are going to judge your mod, so listen to the kind of people who will play in mod while it’s in development. But that’s off topic.

      1. I don’t quite agree with you there. I really don’t want to show anything to my target group before it’s complete. Because, in developement stage, especially in early developement stages games usually look so bad that even if your final product becomes perfect you lose some audience. This is important because players want to play a good game, if you spoil the game before it is complete all magic goes away. After game is complete you can’t play it in full enjoyment, but mappers, on the other hand, are already know what stages your game going through, and for them there is no magic, there are lights, textures, brushes, props, particles, ai, etc…

        Still, taking some limited “player” reviews can be helpful, but this should be only limited. Because until a game is complete it is not complete, it is not a game.

        Demos? That’s a different story. Demos are both for player and mappers.

        Sorry if sounds off topic, but looks important.

        1. Sortie

          Oh, I meant limited showcase like Betatesting, of course. Going way too public in these stages is just stupid, in my opinion, seems that most mods on ModDB disagrees with that… Otherwise I agree with your comment.

  4. Mel

    No one said anything about mappers reviewing their own creations; it was by way of raising another question, “what do mappers prefer to read regarding reviews of their work”. Regarding the statement “preferring mappers reviews due to getting a completely different view”, whilst no doubt this statement is true, I often get a completely different view from my own when reading other gamers views of the same mod, not least Phillips reviews which often differ from my own. I guess the view point is always going to be different from the mapper, but only being a player I prefer to know if a game is an enjoyable play through as opposed to what is or not its technical merit

  5. Gypsy Jim

    One (of the many) thing(s) that puts this site head & shoulders above some of it’s contemporaries is the mix of both mappers & players” reviews. I might not understand some of the more subtle nuances that a mapper might write about, and may, as Mel said, not even have noticed them while playing, but their perspective does bring an extra depth of understanding to some of the efforts that go into putting a map or mod together, which I for one really do appreciate.

    But I do want to hear what other players have to say, really very much in fact.I am perfectly capable of making my own mind up about a map/mod, but if 9/10 players say “Avoid it” then it would really have to be a very long mapping drought before I would go ahead and play something.

    PS I for one miss the “latest comments” section on the front page, and even though I was hardly a regular contributor, the forum too……The latest comments frequently brought to light old maps & mods that I’d missed the first time around, which then made me go and look at them…..Sorry to be off topic!

  6. Kasperg

    I prefer reviews made by mappers. Not only because the technical aspects affect my enjoyment, the believability of the virtual world I’ll play in, but because they are usually far more objective.
    Since I don’t have the exact same taste in gameplay or themes as any player out there, reviews of the “Personal favourite!” type are usually worthless to me. Someone might love antlions when I don’t, some might think hordes of Combine equal quality combat when I don’t, some might think gunships are the best boss battle possible etc.
    When a mapper speaks of how well a theme has been pullled off, how interesting layouts are or what the pace and buildup of the mod is like, that’s a much more useful set of info to me.
    Regarding my own work, I think both player and mapper reviews are useful for a particular aspect. Together they give me a rather complete view of what seemed to work and what didn’t, which I can use (at my discretion of course) in the future.

    As for reviews influencing my view of a mod, it doesn’t happen. All the “Play it Now”s in the world won’t convince me to download something which I can tell right away from the screenshots I won’t enjoy. If I like the screenshots, then I’ve probably already decided if I’m going to play it before scrolling down to see what people think.

  7. Mel

    Without in any way meaning to disagree with Kasperg or turn this debate into mappers vs. players issue only, I must say I think gamers also have the ability to recognize a well pulled-off theme, or interesting layout plus identify that a mod has progress well with build up and duration. I don’t think such insight is limited to mappers reviews along, such aspects I have include many a time in my reviews. I think it’s more a case of the author taking more notice of such coverage when it comes from a fellow mapper as opposed to a player. That said I do recognize that there are some aspects that only other mappers can pick-up on, just don’t think the example given above are relative to mappers comments only, it all comes down to who you read and don’t read.

    1. Kasperg

      Since not every mapper who comments or reviews a map has an indentifiable name, how do you know if what you’re reading was written by a mapper or just a player who is into the technical aspects? Are you able to always tell them apart?
      I’m aware that a lot of non-mappers can tell a lot about maps and how well they have been built, but I don’t think that’s the issue. A lot of mappers, judging by the vast majority of released maps over the years don’t seem to be able or care about pulling off a theme properly. Just getting something released for the fun of it.
      Like you say, and like I said in an earlier poll question discussion, people who care a lot about quality and people who just want the gameplay to be there exist in both mapper and only player groups. Both are able to come up with good or useless reviews depending on their map quality/actual enjoyment ratio.

  8. Kyouryuu

    To me, the most meaningful review comes from someone who has a healthy background of gaming experiences to pull from – whether that’s a player or a developer, it doesn’t really matter. I think if you limit yourself to either just playing mods or merely playing the Half-Life series, you’re missing a lot of other quality entertainment out there. As a result, I don’t think your opinion is as informed or rounded as it should be.

    It’s kind of like the otaku who thinks that any stupid anime that comes out of Japan is the greatest thing ever, but who never saw the great movie classics. I take that kind of opinion with a massive grain of salt.

  9. Mel

    Well I only comment on HL games and they are the only games I now play after many years in the wilderness playing every thing else.

  10. demoneyeoffire

    I’d prefer just to read phillip’s reviews, why should I waste time on any review

    1. Why thank you, but I have no doubt that many other reviews are more interesting and insightful than mine. Mine just happen to be the first.

  11. Jasper

    There is nothing left to say! I agree with all the comments because they are right – except demoneyeoffire as I too sometimes do not agree with PP. I do point out and support absolutely Mel’s point about SM. Constructive criticism, I’m sure, is appreciated by mappers but the was a lot of yaboo nitpicking.
    I always read the reviews of mappers and gamers. I cannot remember who now but I paraphrase a comment made recently – An author will read anothers authors work in a more critical way than a non-author (with apologies to the commentator who probably put it better).

    1. Kyouryuu

      I disagree with a lot of the glowing reviews of Strider Mountain, but you don’t see me chastising others for having that view.

      1. Kyouryuu

        Sorry, didn’t mean to go off on ya like that.

  12. SolidFake

    Players, as more players than mappers will play your map and because players do have a more objective view than mappers

  13. As a mapper, I prefer to hear what players have to say (at least about my own maps anyway). It is definitely useful to hear constructive criticism and the advice that goes with it from fellow mappers, but at the end of the day it’s an entertainment industry and you need to be able to please everyone. It’s far more beneficial to hear from inexperienced players as they tend be less forgiving. e.g. they don’t think “this section didn’t work but it’s a difficult technique to use in Hammer so I’ll forgive it” they just think “this section didn’t work!”.

  14. reaper47

    I’m a mapper myself, and I read pretty much every review I can get my hands on, out of curiosity and my eagerness to learn from my (and other’s 😀 ) mistakes.

    What I realized, over the years is that there are hardly any “worthless” reviews. With the possible exception of a 1-line “this map sucks!” comment, nearly everything is valuable.

    I often get more out of a short player comment (“the lights are too dark”, “I got lost”, “this is too big”,…) than out of a thorough review which might point out details no player will ever notice. Then again, it’s exclusively mapper’s reviews that give you behind-the-scenes tips needed to figure out the finer details that mostly stay subconscious to players (but are nevertheless important for the experience).

    Needless to say, mappers are clearly the minority. I know a few maps that are hailed within the mapping community and largely ignored by players. I enjoy the fact that these maps exist and the lesson for the creators is invaluable. Maps aren’t consumed passively. They live and breathe with the mechanical act of players playing them. If the player gets lost nothing happens, all the work becomes worthless. That’s why a short “I got lost” comment often has priority for me, over a 8-paragraph in-depth review. Although, of course, the latter is more interesting to read…

  15. Kasperg

    “…but at the end of the day it’s an entertainment industry and you need to be able to please everyone”

    I have to wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. Even though I use the same tools Valve does, in no way am I a part of the industry in a commercial sense, and as such the need to sell a product does not exist. I couldn’t care less if 200 people love my maps to death and 20000 despise them. I’m making them for myself and those 200 people who happen to share my tastes in gameplay and architecture. I would never dedicate the insane amount of time mapping requires to please other people above myself for free. That is ridiculous in my opinion!
    I also don’t think players are less forgiving. In this site you can find many examples of maps that have overall been enjoyed by the public (with positive reviews) but which wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in any mapping contest. A player doesn’t have to always know that this or that can in fact be done much better, while most mappers have encountered similar design situations in the past and know how to deal with them.

    And please people, stop talking as if mappers weren’t players and only robots who comment on misaligned textures or wrong proportions! I try to always give an insight on both my area of expertise (architecture, design, themes) and my experience while actually playing (to a lesser extent). I put the weight of the first of those because my analysis of a map will always be a much more objective statement than the feel or enjoyment I got from it, which is always contaminated by my personal likes/dislikes or my expectations of the map/mod in question which don’t always go hand in hand with the author’s intentions.

    1. Yeah I probably generalised a bit in my post. It’s clearly a different situation to professionals developing games for sales, but it does vary from person to person and not everyone maps for the same reason. I am only stating my view.

      I create maps because I enjoy it, but the final result is something I give to other people to enjoy. The more they enjoy it, the more pleasure I get. Therefore I value all constructive criticism, but I focus more on what I consider to be a “normal” or “average” player, and that is someone who probably doesn’t have a great understanding of how games are made. Someone for whom the illusions I create are not seen through immediately because of their prior knowledge.

  16. firba1

    Honestly, I think a mapper’s review might be interesting to me, but it might not say much about how fun the map is. That’s why I chose players.

  17. Mel

    I find Kasperg logic very difficult to understand, if you are only mapping for yourself and don’t care less about most peoples opinions, why then release your work to the general public, by that I mean the HL community, seems to me to be true to your word you should only be releasing to a selected few plus entering mapping contests.

    Whilst it may be ridiculous to you to dedicate insane amount of time mapping to please other people, thank god not all mappers share your views otherwise we would have very little to play, none of which would be designed for players.

    At one point you ask to be treated as a player but no way do you come across as a player, nor if I may say a typical mapper. In no way is this being critical of your mapping skills, but to be honest if you did not care about how your work is received in general, then I doubt that you would here mixing it with the likes of me, goes without saying that we are pleased you are here.

  18. Kasperg

    I didn’t mean to say that exactly. I release my work to the general public because the fact that other people (who as I said share my gameplay and/or design tastes) can enjoy what I do is an added bonus. The process of mapping, even if I didn’t release anything (such as what happened in my first three years of mapping) is already something which I enjoy without the need of recognizition, fame, glory etc. I used to enter mapping contests a few years ago, but lost the interest in single maps and started liking big SP projects (thanks to being able to work with someone else, in this case Chris Fox).
    I’m not exactly sure how many mappers are making stuff they don’t really like so PP, you, me etc. can play them. Unless you’ve actually read a statement from the authors in question, my preconception is that every mapper (not working in the industry) does so out of self enjoyment first, and for recognition as a bonus. Besides some non-playable showcase maps and example maps, mappers dedicate all their work to players, inside of which there are also mappers. It is a group within a group, not something separate.

    There’s also no way for me to know how my work is perceived in general, because out of 12000 downloads of The Citizen in Moddb, only 165 people have rated it and an even smaller number have left a comment. I do care how it is perceived in an objective way, but I couldn’t care less if people subjectively didn’t like our choice of locations for the mod etc. To put it another way, I wouldn’t make a World War II-based mod even if it was the most popular theme for modding and the most likely to guarantee my “success” or “public approval”. It’s just not the way I should be motivated to conduct my pass-time activities.

  19. Sortie

    As much as I’d hate to admit it, somewhere along the road I began mapping just to boost my ego. I love when people tell me my work is awesome. I also love mapping, which is why I map, but the feedback is the reason I work seriously. But discussion is sort of off-topic (while interesting though, a poll question about why we mod would be interesting).

    I didn’t vote because I don’t really know what to vote. I somehow agree with all three options, perhaps the last one mostly though, I don’t know. I like Mappers” reviews because they often mention things I haven’t thought about, I like Players” reviews because they talk about the overall experience (but also the very few things they talk about, are the things that were most important to them!). But I also like both, which also is a poll question; I just wouldn’t know what I prefer!

  20. reaper47

    I know some people hate comparing games to movies. But if you did, I would say that if the designer is the director, the player would be the lead actor. Lead actor and audience at the same time. That’s the wonderful paradox of computer games. A map that isn’t played is like the famous tree that falls in a forest without anyone hearing it– thus making no sound. That’s why I think catering to the player, at least on the level of giving him a fair chance of winning and making it clear where to go, is always important. That’s why I accept Valve’s excessive use of playtesting as a positive form of gamedesign, and not selling out to the mainstream.

    I deeply enjoy seeing others play my maps, seeing all the spaces become “alive” with human players. No NPC can replace that. It’s the best thing about being a mapper. And it’s probably the reason why so many mappers (me included :/ ) are addicted to multiplayer maps.

  21. I voted on reading players reviews.

    I think the player has a more valuable opinion. He has the right focus and he is the actual target. He reviews on his experience playing the game.

    I feel that mappers look at the product in a different way. Not at the actual experience, but too much at what is going on underneath. How it’s paced, the visuals, how and when things are triggered. How many bugs can I find and how many times can I break the game?

    So the difference to me is huge. I feel the player plays the game, while the mapper breaks it down.

  22. Kasperg

    I’m not sure who invented the real definition of what “fun” is. I think everyone has their own, and when a mapper breaks down a map, mentions how something distracted him and made the “feeling of being there” dissapear, it is ultimately related to the fun factor and the actual experience.
    When someone mentions skyscrapers not fitting in a mountain theme, I don’t regard it as nitpicking, but an actual showstopper which can almost break a theme completely.
    We are all different. For some people the amount of blood or how much ragdolls move when dead will determine how much fun they have. Or how many enemies you face at once, or how many explosions take place, how much rewarding puzzles are there etc. I don’t know why other aspects such as how detailed the virtual world or how much thought has been put into it have to be left out of the fun and experience.
    I insist that it is not a player/mapper issue. You’ll find both mappers and regular players obssesed with visuals, and both mappers and players who couldn’t care less (as well as intermediate cases, of course).

  23. Mel

    I must admit the more I read the posts to this very good thread the more I am understand about the mechanics of the game and my interaction with them. WizardExt makes a few interesting points, however what really got me thinking was Kasperg’s comment ” mention how something distracted him and made the “feeling of being there” disappear”. I recognize that feeling of being there, it comes when a game has one completely immersed, and like a good book you cant and don’t want to put it down. When this occurs you are not just playing the game but living it, so captivated by the whole experience you are drawn deeper and deeper into it’s unreality and fantasy which just for a time is your world. God am I going mad?
    it’s this feeling that on looking back sets aside the best from the rest and if you reach the state of total immersion surly the mod and it’s author have reached their ultimate goal.

  24. Hoyy

    Despite reviews, IMHO I barely read ’em at all, thanks to my ignorance. BUT, that said, before downloading a mod what I trully do is to see the review images (PLAY IT NOW, PLAY IT LATER …) of 2~3 reviewers (players at most) and download it if “judged” good. So, it works more when players appoint flaws due to the bounding with the game the player has.

  25. Players. Any time you have “mappers” giving a review, it tends to run on “merit” – “yes, it was an excellent map for being a first attempt” or “the attention to graphical detail and lighting was superb” etc

    As a player, I don’t give a crap about that. I want to know whether it’s fun to PLAY.

  26. There should be both. Some of the mods I have checked out the maker claimed were “killer” turned out to be Dumber than a bag of crowbars.. SO both sides should be heard from.

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