Poll Question 254 – A mod becomes truly great when…

16th December 2011

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

Stole this idea from ModDB (Thanks guys!). Of course, I adapted it slightly for you, but it’s the theme that’s the same.

There’s no doubt that defining a great mod is harder than just picking a few answers in my poll (BTW, you get to choose 3) and it can be hard to even recognize what it was exactly that made you think it was great in the first place. But that doesn’t mean we should think about it!

Personally, I am more interested in how something plays than it looks and new stuff is only good if it helps the gameplay. Same for doing something new.

However, when a mod makes you think about life, than that’s gotta be a great thing. Don’t you think?

The Poll


  1. Poison_Berrie

    It plays amazing seems to be the best answer.

    That said, I can’t help but feel that it’s a combination rather than just one aspect.
    A mod becomes great when it looks great and plays great. When it also does something new that’s makes it all the better.
    Still when it’s plays amazingly, while it looks good that’s when I consider it great.

    …And am I correct in that this poll might have been multiple choice…
    Drats, darts, double drats!

    1. And am I correct in that this poll might have been multiple choice…

      It does say 3 choices in the text.

  2. s.anchev

    Gameplay. It’s all about gameplay…

  3. Unq

    Yeah, I only voted “plays amazingly well.” All the other choices are completely optional. Everything else can contribute to the great feeling, however for me to see something as a truly great mod, it must be really fun to play.

  4. Gameplay for me is the by far most important aspect. Recently two things have brought this home to me, the first was the Half Quake event, despite original and (dare I say it) innovative content, it was a chore to play and in no way fun for me. Then along came “A walk in the Park”, not the best looking of mods, but the gameplay swayed it for me.

    At the end of the day a map/mod for HL1/HL2/EP1/EP2 can look amazing, but if the gameplay is rubbish then looks alone cannot redeem it.

  5. GoodGuyA

    I don’t expect life altering experiences in mods, just really good design. Just think Minerva, Mission Improbable. All the great mods have unique design decisions that make them fun to play. I know that some like the Stanley Parable don’t have much in the ways of gameplay, but that’s really the only exception I can think of.

  6. Aazell

    Interesting that everyone says gameplay yet I wonder how many people would give a mod a chance if it just used grey concrete textures thoughout with no detail. People need engaging environments in order to buy into great gameplay. I’ve learned you can’t have one without the other…

    1. Kyo

      Indeed, while you may have the most fantastic gameplay in the world, visuals will always be like the first paragraph of a novel – the thing that ropes everyone in and makes them want to learn more. If you can’t do that, then all the gameplay is wasted.

      In practice, I think it’s rare to have a great mod where the visuals were skimped on but the gameplay is fantastic. If a modder can do one, putting equal care into the other is not a huge stretch. Any good modder must realize that there is no “choice” between visuals and gameplay – the two must absolutely work together if the final product is to be any good. Visuals impact gameplay. If poor texturing fails to set the scene, bad lighting fails to light the way ahead, or chaotic brushwork gets in the way of player movement, all those things hurt gameplay.

    2. Nic

      I hadn’t considered that, and you’re obviously right about both having to complement each other. In situations where only one is present though, gameplay is always more important for me once I get to playing.

      ((well, graphics or sound have to be “present” in some way for gameplay to even be possible, but I’m sure you know what I mean))

      My favourite GGV map was Zero Point and — I always seem to use this next example — my favourite Portal 1/2 maps are often great puzzles wrapped in poorly constructed maps, whereas my least favourite often look great but then have terrible puzzles.

  7. Dias

    I went with “It plays amazingly well”, but my first thought was “I could mistake it for a commercially-made game.”

  8. Nic

    I voted for It plays amazingly well, It does something nobody has done before, and It makes me think about life.

    Gameplay is key in any game and, although it’s not essential, great games often do something new to enhance the experience (rather than for the sake of it). The greatest games also give cause to reflect on life, or even contain a positive life lesson — whether it’s consciously noticed or not.

    Of the remaining two options I’d choose beauty over having lots of new assets. I also like to think the length of a mod is irrelevant to me, just so long as the mod/map makes good use of it.

    Good job on the poll options, prioritising among them made the question much easier to answer and I don’t feel as though anything important was missed out.

  9. ikar

    when it is observed Ballance:
    ease – the complexity of the gameplay (for the novice and hardcore veteran)
    light – shadow (2/3 of the illuminated map with alternate 1/3 not illuminated – I hate maps: one million zombies in the square box in total darkness)
    Simplicity – the complexity of space (square box against excessively complicated spaces, where the loss of orientation in space)
    flavor is all with high-quality graphics and soundtracks

  10. Hec

    The “Amazingly well” op. looks kind of abstract to me, because some people could have a relative opinion I mean a subjective opinion about their playing experiences, so for me I stick to the “does something no one has ever done before”, and by that I mean: being clever, innovative and creative at the same time!!; three factors that only few modders can achieve, I think I pick up my best mods ever, thinking in the ORIGINALITY factor, that has made mods like Heart of Evil, The Gate and Strider Mountain, Minerva and many others, just unique and special, they offer something different than the “run of the mill”, even if there’s a little odd on them u are going to love them because their new stuff on it. Surelly this rule only apply if the new stuff is propper placed and works perfectly well, if not, new attempts of “originality” could end up in a big big mess.

    Oh by the way, “makes me thiink of life” is a pretty underestimated topic in HL mods, I mean maybe I loved City 7 Toronto conflict because of that!!, I mean forget fictional city 17!!!!, that mod brings the CMB hollocaust right at the doors of a submited slave TORONTO!!!, for god sake, I don’t know why modders are just so centered in fiction when they can do mods based on real citys of a subyugated world!!!, come on don’t give me “city# whatever”, put me fighting in Washington, Mumbay, Africa, NY, Mexico City!!!; please!!!!, maybe a realisticville competition would come in handy for that purpose, also I loved CCS Hardwire mod because the missions looks like realistic military missions against the CMB, I don’t know Hardwire has a pretty fine realistic element on all the missions that I love, makes me think of a life in a CMB controled world, and a human resistence based in a real world trying to fight for their freedom BACK!!!!!

  11. Sabre

    How it plays. What are the 2 of the best source mods people bring up alot? Metastasis and Precursor. These are little more than map packs with little in the way of new content. Coastline to atmosphere, Gmod, Obsidian Conflict and Sven co-op are a bit ropey in terms of graphics, but they play well. (I’m not a fan of Gmod myself) so that also rules out graphics.

  12. Aazell

    How it plays…

    Research and Development is the best mod ever made for HL2.

    The gameplay is original, cleverly done and tested to buggery.
    Additionally the game is then polished to within an inch of its life… but that is an added bonus, but it’s the game play that makes it special.

  13. When you see a bunch of PF’s. When the pie has some blue in it, you know it will most likley be a great mod.

    The one with the most blue however, Research and development, I disagree with. I’ll take Minerva, or Mission Imporobable over it any day. I get bored with puzzels.

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