Poll Question 209 – What area of modding has improved the most since the release of Half-Life 1?

28th January 2011

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

I admit that this is a pretty tough question to choices one area from but I am unable to allow a few chooses.

When I first thought of this question I had been thinking of mod music for a particular idea I am working on and it made me realize that some mod music is absolutely fantastic.

So good in fact, that music will be my choice for this poll.

That said, all areas have improved and I suppose only the really technical readers would be able to have more than a simple overview of each of those improvements.

Even though choosing one area is hard, I hope that the discussion will prove more interesting than the actual vote result.

Please getting commenting!

The Poll


  1. Level design.

    All others except texturing and modelling were always easy to improve. Technology didn’t really limit what you can do with music, team management, or coding. Level design on the other hand was really open to new technologies. And as technology improved and computers got stronger people needed more detail, more content, more reality. That wasn’t easy to deliver.

    After Half Life 2 released it became more obvious. People sucked at level design. Look at the maps released at the time. Almost all of them look disastrous. People needed time to adjust themselves to this new technologies. Now they are better. They release good looking levels.

    So, I think it’s level design.

  2. bobdog

    Coding / scripting. There’s stuff authors have done with the Source engine I didn’t think or know was possible, moreso than we saw in HL1. And they keep pushing the engine’s envelopes on what they come up with.

    Modelling would be a close second because we’re working with a more advanced engine. And maybe Sound (especially voicework) as third, because the faces are more lifelike.

    I don’t necessarily think level design should be top, because even within the parameters of the HL1 engine, there were some pretty intricate and unique levels created, some that rival the best of HL2 modding.

  3. Frohman Zelinsky

    I seriously think its level design , the storys and models are a common change , but the biggest one was the mappers side cause the engines are better , me and my fellow mappers are better skilled and we have strong PCs (some of us)

    Also when are you gonna publish the Writer Competition winners ?

  4. Bramblepath

    The obvious changes that have been made have of course been in models and environments.

    However, I chose story-telling, because I think that it incorporates many elements of a game’s design. Level design has remained much the same since Half-Life, with the only real changes being in level of detail and the type of environments that are creatable.

    Story-telling has improved massively. I feel that HL2 had a more developed story than the prequel, as it was able to utilise more elements of gameplay and design to make the story more convincing and realistic.

  5. GoodGuyA

    Level Design Really, has not changed much at all. Any time I play a mod I know I’m playing a mod merely by how it is set up. Of course there are some that can break this field but most mods have a very awkward focus in terms of level design.

    Texturing Yeah, graphics have gotten better, but in terms of texturing and its implementation it’s gone nowhere.

    Coding I voted for this because now you can turn games into completely new genres if the coding is right. Before, it was rather limited.

    Sound I’m surprised no one’s really tried hard to get grade-A quality voice acting in their mods. It’s usually just people nearby or some of the most amateurish people imaginable. Or worse… Portal: Prelude -shiver-

    Music People are now composing fully orchestral compositions for MODS. It’s gone a very long way, just not to the extent of coding I feel.

    Models Goes back to textures. It’s gotten better in the games to be modded, but not implemented.

    Story Telling Only a select few mods go above the standard fare, and those usually focus too much on exposition to build a really good flow in story.

    Team Management The internet’s stronger, thus this is, but it’s not excellent. Comes down to just having a work ethic.

    Marketing “Hey guys! You’re on this mod website, so check out my mod!” That’s basically how it’s always been.

  6. Well, level design covers everything mapping and most of the voting options.
    The Valve updates (Grrrrr) improved lots of stuff including graphics etc.
    In particular, NPC AI. More aggression and better, smoother movement (and the Combine Soldiers seem grenade obsessed now, the bleepards 😀 ).
    Mappers need to get the nodes right of course. When they do, the improvement to gameplay and, especially, combat makes maps and mods a treat to play.

    Offshore reminds me that many very good mods are made by one person, Sirocco with Pyramid for example.
    I don’t think Team Management is in this equation. Neither is Marketing. To me, these are topics of a very different nature.

    A story of some sort is nice but not vital at all. The same for voice overs.
    The problem with a story is that many do not read it in the course of the mod even though there is one to see.

  7. Hec

    Hi, ok, I think story telling has been allways evolving, because since HL1 we have thousands of storys to tell into and out the HL universe itself, actually is pretty amazing how the story telling network, is keep on growing with more and some better amazing mods, regardding to the level design I consider this has become more sophisticated, but also this could be due to the graphic source engine and als I could say the creative factor has also been pressent in this 12 years of constanting evolution in the modding world…

    So I hope soon a mod related to the 7 hr is completed to prove that the story telling is actually going by the right path!

  8. I find it hard to remember the early Half Life mods I played, but I recall that level design was always rather simple. It was all about the gunplay.
    I missed the better ones while I awaited the arrival of my new PC and Half Life 2 made its appearance! Such memories; ” Steam” installation on ” dial-up” while the note forbidding use hang on the telephone!
    Early mods then tended to be mostly HL2 maps with story and soundtracks beginning to flourish amid the action. Then I discovered “Minerva Metastasis”, where its incredibly detailed and massive level design blew me away. As did the Combine!
    Overall everything in the newer mods seems to be at such a high standard its surprising that people can find the time to build such complicated level designs. Adding original soundtracks and voice talent with all the complexities of the, increasingly advanced effects it’s no wonder a team effort is needed. The recent “VALVE” update is another big improvement, even though it was greeted somewhat harshly.
    Although I have yet to play a mod that rivals the original Half Life for scope they’re getting closer by the mod, or rather one in particular!

  9. For myself, it’s impossible to ignore some of the truly outstanding innovative coding techniques that are being showcased in several projects that are really pushing Source for all it can give. One prime example is what Dan and team mates of ” thechineseroom ” are doing with the ” Dear Esther ” remake ! Not to snub a good number of well deserving other worthy mentions by any means.

    Who would have thought that the statement, ” Wow, this is Source ? “, in the modding scene would become so… shall we say, passe ?

  10. Flynn

    I think Half-Life 1 forced people to be more innovative and because of that, caused some more interesting maps to be made. Half-Life 1 graphics still had loads of potential waiting to be exploited, they had Spirit of Half-Life which alowed objects to be grouped together and move together, among various other very good features. There were many amazing Half-Life 1 maps which rival a lot of Half-Life 2 maps. Half-Life 2 designers have it easy in comparison, I also prefer the more chunky graphics of Half-Life 1 as well.

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