Poll Question 136 – Do you think the R & D mod will spawn more puzzles mods?

15th August 2009

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

There’s little doubt that Research & Development is one of the greatest mod ever made for any game. It’s beautiful, thought provoking and fun to play.

In fact I think it’s so good I started to wonder whether it would spawn “clone” mods. WIll other mod authors start to create similar mods? Maybe, but more importantly I hope it makes authors realize that puzzles can be so much more interesting.

So, do you think it will spawn more puzzles mods?

The Poll


  1. Brian

    I sure hope it does. Is it just me or did that final cutscene (which was very good!) get anybody else thinking of and hoping for a sequel?

  2. Morto

    I hope it does mix with some new ideas will make much better mods.

  3. Kasperg

    I think it won’t.
    Unless I’m clearly in the minority of mappers, I find making up a puzzle and having it make sense in the context of the mod, the map and the precise location within the map is extremely difficult.
    I’m not saying that puzzles are THAT hard to come up with, but I’m inclined to think they are easier to pull off in a “Mistake of Pythagoras” type of setting without less real world rules and common sense to worry about.
    The deviation of R&D “reasonable puzzle within a setting” to “unresonable setting to serve a puzzle” is what made me stop playing and I’m not when I’ll continue.

  4. Cirdain

    Perfection can’t be improved upon.

    1. I didn’t ask can other mods improve or better the original, just whether other modders will try and make more puzzle mods.

  5. Voted maybe, but it might turn out to be probably.
    Kasperg has pointed out a mappers/modders point of view.
    From a game players point of view:
    I find hard to imagine that any “puzzlecentric” mod will be anything like as good and will disappoint.
    The author of R & D has demonstrated superior and superlative talents of imagination and lateral thinking.
    Without meaning to cause others offense, the time and dedication that must have gone into this mod is not just exemplarary and without equal past, present & future – but I hope I’m wrong about that.

  6. Sirrocco

    I think that a good game is one that has a little of everything rolled into the mix.
    If you want to attract a varied audience then you need not just puzzles but some action and exploring sections as well. While it took a little time to get into the swing of R&D, when I did, I thoroughly enjoyed it. it made me laugh, it made me wonder how the author got the elements to work like they did, it made me think and it left me wanting more. Any game that does all these things will always be a hit when combined with superior setting out of the arenas and beautiful graphics.
    I find it hard to believe the time frame was adequate unless the author spent 24/7 on making it. I feel he must have developed his skills a long way before beginning construction.
    R&D can only give other mappers inspiration to hone their own skills.

  7. Beans

    i think it made devs realize puzzle mods can be way fun but also it is so good that it can intimidate people into being scared of trying and getting compared to it.

  8. MikeS

    Like the commenter above, I suspect most mappers will not want to be compared to R&D and as such, steer clear of puzzle-centric games. And to be honest, if they lack the skill and imagination to pull it off, I’d rather they did.

  9. Berrie

    I said yes, in that I hope this brings modders to at least try and get some more creative puzzles into a mod.

  10. Bluncheonmeat

    R&D probably will spawn some puzzle mods. It probably will cause existing mod teams to step up their game. It certainly made me think more creatively in the map I’m working on.

  11. Kyouryuu

    I suspect if anything comes out of it, we’ll see more really esoteric, poorly-implemented puzzles in mods. Mostly because many modders don’t understand how to make a quality puzzle.

    Crafting puzzles that make logical and plausible sense is challenging. A side effect of the way HL tells its story is that the puzzle needs to be able to explain itself without outside intervention. In a lot of games, when you present the player with a puzzle, there’s often a series of hints or perhaps an adviser NPC to help you along if you get stuck. Or maybe the key parts of the puzzle glow. Since HL’s world is largely devoid of these “gamey” conventions, it can be difficult to communicate what you expect of the player. Make your puzzle too esoteric, and you’ll end up with a lot of annoyed players. It can be risky.

    You have to take into account who your audience is. I agree with Kasperg in the sense that if you know you’re going into a “puzzle mod,” you expect to have stop-and-go brainteasing sequences. On the other hand, an action gamer is more likely to expect lots of run-and-gun with a few really basic puzzles – often of the Tomb Raider or Zelda variety. It’s very difficult to have a game that largely accommodates both, which is the success of Portal and R&D.

    Games like Gears of War and Mirror’s Edge to some extent compensate for the lack of explicit puzzles by making navigation an inherit puzzle. You can’t just run into a gunfight in Gears and expect to live – you have to analyze the cover in front of you and figure out how you’re going to get from point A to point B with minimal exposure.

    The key point here, more than explicit puzzles, is to invoke player creativity in what they do – whether that’s the basic act of navigation or something more. You want to engage that part of their brain that experiments with different possible solutions and feasts upon reward when the intended outcome is reached.

    To that end, I would say that any mod that doesn’t use the Gravity Gun is missing out on a thousand opportunities. You don’t even have to use it for puzzles, per se. By giving the player a manipulating hand in the world, they are free to discover interesting solutions for themselves – even in combat scenarios.

  12. Joe

    I say maybe because of the technical ability required to make good puzzles, along with people’s stubborn reluctance to think outside the box.

    The puzzles in R&D required custom models and a healthy imagination with Hammer’s abilities. Episode 2 barely dipped Valve’s toes into the puzzle waters of “build-this-object-and-make-it-fuction” puzzles with its “insert-gear-pull-crank” puzzle, which R&D joked around with before rolling up its sleeves and getting serious with its own frequently presented building puzzles, ranging from the generator crank handle to the custom vehicle.

    People might start out to make some cool puzzles, borrowing from R&D’s catalogue of excellent ideas, but decide it is too complex to bother with.

    I think the key to seeing more puzzles is seeing more tutorials. When the puzzles can be picked apart in Hammer and laid out for the average fellow, then we will begin to see some more puzzles.

    However, to more directly answer your question, I think we might see a barely-notice-able increase in the number of poorly made puzzles in mods. You be the judge, Phillip. You see them all.

    Frankly, I would like to see a puzzle that relied on body counts. Or dragging dead bodies onto a scale – 500 kilograms of dead guys will unlock the door!!

  13. Chris Fox

    I certainly hope that more puzzle mods emerge – because I like them. R&D certainly gave me a lot to think about and I hope I’m able to implement better puzzles myself in future mods.

    It is pretty hard work though. Getting it all right. And looking reasonably believable. Even when you’re familiar with the engine. There’s a lot that can go wrong with your plans.

  14. Hypnotek

    Honestly after playing all the way through research and development, I really do hope that we see more and more amazing puzzle games like this in the future, minus the whole evicerator not exiting glitch of course.

  15. I said maybe just because I think alot of the mod makers only think of zombies and combine.While thats nice they dont have the thought process to put in a pauzzle that works with the environment you are in.It’s not an easy task.
    I love puzzles and wish there were more but maybe in the future….

  16. Wesp5

    While I agree with most of you that more puzzles in normal mods would be great, like Kasperg I think R&D just overdid the whole thing by concentrating too much on the puzzles and thus missing to create the believable world that the HL2 setting is famous for. I don’t think I need more mods like that.

    BTW Phillip, is your name really Phillip Marlowe or is that a reference to the novels of Raymond Chandler?

    1. My real name is Phillip Marlowe.

  17. GeorgeC

    Maybe, I still havent played the mod: because my HL2 isnt working on my crapy sisters computer and blah blah basicly I have to wait for the summer holdiays to end so I go back to my computer then download the mod and HOPEFULLY there will be more puzzle mods.. with new puzzles.

  18. electro

    I think there’s a problem. R&D will certainly encourage a lot of developers to produce puzzle like mods, but define “puzzle” gameplay. I think the term is just over-used to an extent, where any more or less new gameplay mech is stamped as puzzle gameplay…

    therefore maybe

    1. Kasperg

      I think the difference between puzzles and other gameplay mechanics is that puzzle are usually contained in an area where all the data and items needed to solve it (as well as hints) can be found. That means that you could have dozens of puzzle and have them not be related at all.
      New gameplay mechanics are organized in a sequence of learning, perfectioning and complicating what would otherwise be a puzzle situation, along larger expanses of space and time inside the mod. For example, the energy ball puzzles in HL2:Ep1 required you to adjust your new skills to increasingly difficult situations (such as not having a clear shot of the destination for the energy orbs).
      The good thing about the second one that puts it above the puzzles for me is that it can justify its existence in the game world better, and for that same reason it can be incorporated several times without feeling as forced as some puzzles.
      I know puzzles are fun, but they lose credibility sometimes if the area they are in looks designed for no other thing than the puzzle itself.
      Remember that room in HL2 with the bricks and the board you had to put them on to change its balance? It might have seemed believable, but looking back at it, the coincidence of items and the size of the area looks forced to me. It takes a ton of work, but several solutions to the same puzzles would make them more appealing.

  19. I think it will inspire a few mods, but not any of good quality that will be released any time soon.

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