Poll Question 194 – Do you think mods target certain players?

16th October 2010

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

On episode 104 of Podcast 17 (which was our 2 year episode birthday!), Dave, the executive Editor of ModDB said something about mods not targeting players in the same way retail games do. I immediately made a note in my diary because it is an interesting comment.

Some products and services are designed from the ground up to appeal to a very specific consumer. The design team might not even start with a product but a series of questions. “What would this type of person want from the situation?” Perhaps they even take their own personal experiences to help shape the service or product.

We only need to look at the latest websites to see this thinking in action. A person builds a website in anwser to a question. “How can I keep in touch with my friends?” (Facebook), “How can I keep track of all the mods I like?” (ModDB). I’m sure you get the idea. Of course the answer could be the same for many questions; How can I help mods get publicity?” (ModDB)

So, do you think it works the same for mods?

In a way I do. People build mods based on what they enjoy. That’s one of the benefits of mods, that we can play something that is not perhaps commercially viable. But building something you like is not exactly the same as building it for a particular market or group of players.

I wonder how many modders look at the idea and ask who it will appeal to. What type of player will play this. And then use that answer to further explore the mod idea.

In fact, that leads onto how do we define players within the mod market? I’ll leave that for you to comment on.

The Poll


  1. Rog

    Speaking for myself, 4thWall is currently being developed both in answer to a specific question (I’ll let you guess Phillip) and to a specific market.

    Myself and my friends wanted to play more coop stealth shooters, but we’d pretty much gone through all of the material in any game that would come even close to matching that description. At first we considered just making maps for some of those, but all of them turned out to be pretty awkward for content creation. Ubisoft in particular just doesn’t seem to support their games much once they’re out the door.

    Right now especially, it’s hard for commercially produced shooters to get specific about what they’re creating, because the cinematic drama of Modern Warfare 2 is looming over their heads. Shareholders tend to look at what’s big and expect to see more of that. The publisher / developer relationship is more publisher dictated than ever before, with so many studios now “in-house”.

    So yeah, I think modders see gaps of what they like and try to fill those niches.

    I think it’s exciting. You’re more likely to see innovation right now from modders and independent developers than most of the industry. There are a few notable exceptions of course on both ends of the scale.

  2. Majority of the mods are created according to developer’s tastes. They think “well, if there was something like that it’d be very cool” then start doing it. Mostly that’s the reason of unfinished mods. They don’t really care about who likes what they’re doing, they just do what they like. Then they see the difficulty and they give up. If you ask me, that’s the way it should be too.

    After realizing how difficult to create a game and tasting the community attention and all the good feedback for their media, mod developers can become addicted to that feeling. Mostly they do. If they have the quality, they continue to develop better things and after a certain point they become pro developers. Thinking what’d others want, how a part of the game can be better so that players won’t stuck or miss the point etc. A developer starts thinking what others want at this stage. Is this good or bad I don’t know.

    1. Hec

      Majority of the mods are created according to developer’s tastes. They think “well, if there was something like that it’d be very cool” then start doing it.

      Absolutley agree, I think there are few mods that think in the player as a costumer, I think is the creativity of the modder which makes reall great things and we as players just get stuned by that. on the other hand that’s the main problem cause there may be terrible mods that sometimes came for stuborn modders, anyway I think is unlikley that some modder just say: “well community, tell me what I might do, and i’ll please you in, lets say 4 months”!. For example i’ve been “praying to the lord” that some moder do some work about the 7hr war, and there are a few works on that line (http://www.moddb.com/mods/half-life-seven-hour-war), so that makes me think that if I had the skill to do mods, I most probably work on that kind of mod because that’s what I like, and i’ll probably do mods centered on the tematics and story line into the hl universe, but as I am not a modder im just a gamer avid of new and cool mods that hope over pass my expectations, and if I see a mod that suits to me well then I play it with no doubts.

      1. Hec

        Here’s just another mod that I found ond mod db about the 7hr war, hope those guys who are making those mods just doesn’t quit!: http://www.moddb.com/mods/seven/images/apartment#imagebox

  3. No, to start with, because they will be mapping for what they enjoy. Perhaps for the next mod or two as well.

    Then, yes. I think what civanT says is quite right,.
    Having achieved a level of expertise, they will want to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.

    Mappers will always include a large amount of their personal preference. For example, a mapper who loves tactical combat will start to introduce “Run & Gun’, some puzzles.
    A small arena mapper will start to introduce more areas and more game play.
    An example of this is Dooleus who started with small walled arenas and then released “Antlion Survival” which had a complex of areas.

    Define players? Easy riders, achievers, tactical players, Run & gun ners, puzzlers. Doubtless other types as well. Then take any from any or all, mix thoroughly, and you end up with a plethora of definitions.

    1. Easy riders, achievers, tactical players, Run & gun ners, puzzlers.

      I see those as more HOW they player, rather than define WHO they are. Perhaps there’s no difference.

      1. Deep Thought (Douglas Adams has a lot to account for!).
        How you do things is a result of a mixture of learning, environment and genetics.
        As you gain experience, how you do things can and do change.
        How you do things defines who you are, in the eyes of others, at a particular time of your life.
        A definition of me aged 20 is completely different to a current definition because I now do things differently and indeed, different things. Thus, I am now not what I was
        I don’t think you can define someone without knowing how they do things.

        1. I see what you are saying but obviously there’s a difference between a retired male and a teenage girl. I don’t need to know how they play because the information I have is enough to know that they probably want different things.

  4. I think that if you do build a mod around something you enjoy, you are gearing toward a specific player base. I guess you could call it the “people like me” audience.

    Even out side of that, some mods have pretty specific ideas that I think only appeal to certain players. There’s the Alternative or Art mods like Dear Esther and Radiator. Then there’s more mainstream mods with fairly specific ideas a and themes, like Outbreak: Condemned (Resident Evil fans), Iron Horizons (Steam Punk enthusiasts), Debauchery (slightly more realistic take on the turn of the century), and Jurassic Life (Jurassic Park fans/Anyone who likes dinosaurs).

  5. GoodGuyA

    Intentionally? No. Do they end up doing so? Yes. Modders hope that their mods appeal to everyone who likes the engine and the interesting things that can be done with it. They target Half-Life and Portal players in general, trying to get them to broaden their pallet on what can be done. Sometimes though they end up alienating groups from one another.

  6. SteveUK

    Games (and even mods) HAVE to be targeted to a specific demographic. You end up pleasing no one if you are trying to please everyone.

    1. What about if you just try to please yourself?

      1. Rog

        If you ask me, the best games were made by developers who were just trying to please themselves. Usually with a singular vision from the game designer.

        There’s a tangible feedback they get during development that loops back into design, especially in iterative design (Valve & Blizzard being notable practitioners), but that’s arguably the ultimate in self-pleasing design.

        Game by committee, game to market, these IMHO usually end up soulless. They can be very successful (*cough* Farmville *cough*), but it’s rare they would fit my definition of a great game. It’s just the old adage about trying to please all of the people all of the time.

        Or to use another adage that’s usually applied to authors: “write what you know” could be reused as “make what you know” or even “make what you want”.

  7. Kasperg

    Mods might target certain players, but this is done unconciously 90% of the time.
    When you are level designing, you will usually work with concepts. Whether it’s a gameplay concept, a story concept or a visual concept, everything is geared towards some specific goal. Obviously, the result will sit better with some players than others, but this is a consequence of the results, not what dictates it.
    However, if you are talking about episodic mods or mods with sequels, there’s a great chance that they try to replicate what the user base said worked last time, and avoid the least liked elements. In this scenario, you could say the mod is aimed at certain players, no doubt.
    The design questions would still be contained inside a game world reference > “What would happen here given the theme of this mod so far?” instead of skipping to the user related question that Phillip mentions > “What would this type of person want from the situation?”

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