Poll Question 242 – Why do you play HL games and mods?

23rd September 2011

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

Emanuel recently wrote one of his editorials called Grand Manager 2 where he whines like a little girl about some silly little headache. I managed to read past all the complaining and finally get to his point, which to be honest it’s been said before, but what he slipped in earlier sparked my interest.

Due to this minor headache (which he blew all out of proportion – but let’s face it, that’s typical of Emanuel!) he felt he couldn’t watch a movie, read a book or study his elementary heat transfer sums, so he decides to replay HL2: Ep1.

Reading and watching are incredible passive activities, yet he choose something more active that he felt would relax him. On the surface it’s a strange choice, but when you look and think deeper it’s quite interesting.

Of course, the key is that he is “replaying” the game. Repetition, even slightly active, can definitely be relaxing but I still find it a little strange.

It got me asking “Why do I play games and mods?” and relaxation certainly wasn’t one of the answers I had. It was more about exploring places and environments that I will never get to see, getting excited by the story and battles, having the challenge of beating the game and mods. In fact, all the things I thought of were active, involved things.

For me, relaxing is about turning my mind and body off. Sure physical activity can be relaxing, but that’s often because you take your mind off your everyday problems and focus on you physical exertions.

There’s not doubt so games can be relaxing, Tetris, is one that springs to mind, but only if it is repetitive and that why the replay point is so key.

That said, I don’t think I would ever describe my game playing hobby as relaxing.

What about you?

The Poll


  1. Hec

    Well because I love it!!, that and because mods for HL2 are like a really powerful drug, I mean i’m an addict and I want to play it all!!, lotough when there’re no relevant mod releases I tend to pass them away, I mean now I have like 3 or more maps in the awating list to be played, but i’m in no rush for play them because i’m busy prepparing for an important test this weekend so I had to read more than play, but sometimes i’m tired about studing and modding action clear my mind, but it becomes an addiction, also sometimes i’m tired of the same old mod stuff, specially with average-loosy maps and I jump to CS Source, is multiplayer and sometimes I hate some maps there, but is also addictive, last time I played CS for arround 3hrs and I didn’t even noticed untill it was like 5.50 am!!!! and I say oh god I preffer single player mods or maps than got in CS like a dam zombie!!

  2. Herr_Alien

    To get experiences that otherwise would be impossible to get, and to learn how to create such experiences.
    For example, I recently learned that while an inventory system is almost mandatory in RPGs, it doesn’t have to be graphical/drag-and-drop: example number one is Fallout 3. I didn’t do a google search, but I bet nobody mentioned, never mind complain about, the text interface of their inventory system.

    1. Bradley

      Well, I personally found the menu annoying to scroll through, and it caused me to spend half the game in the pip-boy which bugged me 😛

  3. Frohman11

    I play them to learn how I could use the many items in Half Life for my own maps.
    Some times I just look at a citadel in the middle of the ocean.
    Then I develop the idea of having it in a wasteland with a monorail leading to it.
    Then I came across giant wind turbines and viola , a new enviroment is born.

    I also play them to see how other people are going with the many items of Half Life
    The mod that took the golden medal was Research and Development.
    Nor only is it hard to develop puzzles for a game thats not Portal
    But its even harder to make them for a game that was only designed to be “run and shoot”
    I have seen that some designers have taken the style of the mod and used it in GravityGunVille.
    Cant wait to play their entries.

    And also repetition is not a bad thing. I played Portal 2 already 10 times.
    I allways done it to see the enviroment , to play the story once more and look at things I might have missed.

    Like this : In the chamber where the door malfunctions I found out , that if you go on the light bridge you can portal over the test chamber , leading to a never befor YouTubed area that ratman made.

  4. Derbler

    The primary reason for me is for fun, not for challenge. If a mod is just fun, I don’t mind not being challenged at all.

  5. Valger

    I like the Universe of HL at all. 🙂

  6. Tops

    Because the gameplay of Half Life 2 never gets old.

    There is NO game that even compares close to Half Life 2’s excellent EVERYTHING. I hate replaying games but HL2..I replayed it around 15 times. The core just never gets even slightly boring or old.

  7. Kyo

    I think a game can be relaxing if you are familiar with it, and familiarity demands a certain amount of repetition and memory. I’ve played through Mega Man X so many times that I could do it with my eyes closed. I know where all the items are, where all the enemies are, and how not to get dead. So, when playing it again, it’s relaxing because I’m just going through all the motions.

    The same is generally true of Half-Life 2, but I wouldn’t apply it to mods. I might be relaxed with the game’s mechanics, but new experiences will always be more mentally engaging than familiar ones.

  8. QuantumDylan

    I love seeing all the different stories that people can come up with when they’re given the freedom to create entire worlds to their liking! Plus, its refreshing when you find a real gem, and especially when they take the time to make a decent story.

  9. Twitwi

    Sometimes I can’t afford anything, and I enjoy seeing what people create.

  10. For me, I have to agree with Derbler it’s all about the fun aspect. I’ve played HL since the Demo ” Uplink” was released to the public in early 1998 (all (if I remember correctly) 48mb of it on a cover CD (when they were still a novelty for those who had CD drives)).

    Before HL came on the scene I had played Doom (of course), Blake Stone, Wolfenstein, Quake1 Etc, and none prepared me for HL. HL is the game that really started the Mod revolution, OK I know Doom had a sort of SDK but until Jdoom (and others like it) came along you couldn’t jump!

    There have been many FPS’s published since the original HL, but even the latest releases are more eye-candy than playable game, two examples are the latest Duke Nukem and Hard Reset. I’ve played the Demo’s for both and I sure as hell won’t be handing over cash for the full versions of either! But when HL3 is due I will have it pre-ordered (the on disk version) and playing on the day of release. The reason is simple, the HL series has always delivered on two aspects, gameplay and FUN.

    As for mods, there seems to be more for the HL1/HL2/EP1/EP2 series than any other FPS game, while there have been some truly awful mods (cough, cough “Rogat”) there have been some that are damn near professional.

    Fun does it for me every time and the HL series and mods are my choice of FPS gaming.

    As for relaxing, I have a life away from my computer, games for me are simply an enjoyable way of passing some time.

  11. GoodGuyA

    Well, I play Half-Life because it’s the greatest game series ever created. Mods build off the philosophies that were put into the Half-Life games with amazing mechanics, and the ones that take advantage of those mechanics in new and exciting ways are the best of them. I play the mods and games for a great and exciting time with a formula which has kept relevant for so long.

  12. Mega Sean 45

    I used to play the HL games lots of times! I less then three the gameplay and story! Later on, I wanted to see some other games to see what their like. I’m a game whore lol! Grand Theft Auto is mah favorite game and I play that alot. I’ve been doing lots of Gears of War lately because Gears of War 3 is not far from coming out. I’m also doing some Call of Duty to let me be more excited about Modern Warfare 3! Anyone else waiting for the new Gears of War or Call of Duty?

  13. 2muchvideogames

    Playing HL is like playing a mountainpile of brand new games. There are just so many mods with so much variety that it could prolly qualify as one of the largest single player game ever in existence. The 400-some mods for HL1 here is prolly only about half of all the mods in existence, and there’s just no finishing Half Life!

    1. Hec

      there’s just no finishing Half Life!

      Yep I agree that’s absolutely true!!, thanks to god theres just no end for HL modding universe!

  14. I started playing HL because I found a demo of Opposing Force and got hooked. After playing HL and OF enough times, I discovered playing custom mods and maps. I love seeing the creative things that people come up with for mods, like zombies on a roller disco floor (I forget which mod that was). The best part is that while you are completely surprised when playing a mod for the first time, you still know the basic mechanics of the controls and you aren’t fumbling around trying to learn a whole bunch of new things. When you play a great mod and have hours of entertainment for free, like Research and Development, it is a helluva bargain.

  15. Duke

    It’s fun, a good romp,passes an otherwise boring wet afternoon and I understand it. I know which controls on my keyboard are where (interestingly, set years ago by Duke Nukem 3d and now my default settings for ANY game) and for the most part it was good value for money and runs well on my PC. (unlike Dead Island, which is like wading through treacle)

  16. Aazell

    For me, HL2 and HL are the only two games that have ever made me really feel part of an adventure. Made me feel as if I were in a movie and that I was the hero.
    The immersion they were able to create is what makes these games so special. No other game has achieved this.

    I jumped off that dam. I took down that helicopter. Survived that assault.

    And I did it all with a bloody great smile on my face…

    That is what I try to recreate with my mapping…

  17. I play the mods because HL2 was brilliant, and I want that feeling to be replicated with mods.

  18. Major Banter

    I suppose building mods, which is what I do, is hugely stressful.

    I find it incredibly relaxing.

    Maybe I’m just weird like that, but it’s the creative outpouring. When it comes to gaming, and escapism, I think it’s similar. You’re venting rather than trying to relax. It’s “active” in the way that you’re disposing of stress rather than dissipating it.

  19. Soylent Bacon

    I replay games and mods to relax, because of the repetition you mentioned. It just works for me. To be fair though, I wouldn’t choose video games as a method to relax while I have a headache.

    However, I wouldn’t say relaxation has much to do with my motivation to play a game or mod for the first time. It’s more about just experiencing something new. It’s nice to not know where an enemy will come from, or what a character will say, or how to solve a puzzle right away. With a new game/mod, surprises are still to be had. It’s not necessarily for the challenge, because I want to absorb the experience while I make steady progress, but with a good enough game/mod, excitement definitely comes into play.

  20. Yev

    Don’t like shooters. I play Portal/Portal 2 & mods. 🙂

  21. Lex

    My primary reason, why I play games, is to get an experience. The same reason you go to the cinema to watch a movie on it’s premiere night. Not to relax, but to get the best possible experience the movie has to offer. I guess you can say I am searching for the perfect gaming experience. Mods have a lot to offer on that front too, so why not those too. Just because they aren’t developed by large companies, doesn’t mean they don’t have the same potential to become a great game.

    On a side note, it happens that I play to relax as well. Team Fortress 2 is far from the perfect gaming experience, but it’s fun like hell!

    1. Del

      Some people do drugs and drink to unwind, I do Half Life. Hah…

      Half Life is my drug of choice and I found it to be a gateway drug to other drugs. Such as Opposing Force, Half Life 2, HL2:Ep1, HL2:Ep2, and so on.

      Seriously tho, I have been addicted to Half Life single player mods since the game was released back in 1998. The same goes for HL2 single player mods.

      I play at least 2 SP mods a week to this very day, and if I can’t find anything new, I replay a mod.

      I used to do alot of MP gaming with TFC also. However I find I prefer single player mods when I want to get away. I love that feeling of isolation you get in Black Mesa and when on Xen. You really feel alone. I do most of my thinking while gaming.

  22. Hami242

    Why? Play it now and you will know 😉 Half Life 4 ever, Mr. Freeman….

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