Poll Question 310 – How important is how long a release took to make?

8th April 2015

This morning, I posted a request on TWHL.info (the best GoldSource mapping community around) asking for people to let me know which maps and mods I should add to the site (expect the next few months to be GoldSource-rich with new content!)

Somebody suggested a map of theirs only to find out I had already added it. The reviews were not glowing but he accepted it with humility. Here is what he said “Unfortunately it was a rushed map( done in about a week), and most of the members there don’t know that so they judge accordingly. I don’t feel bad about that,such good criticism helps you discover your weaknesses.”

The fact it was made in such a short space of time, shouldn’t have anything to do with a review, but the reality is that it probably does. At least in my opinion.

When something is fantastic, it doesn’t seem to matter. If the author of Transmissions: Element 120 had said it took him 2 months or 5 years, still doesn’t change the fact it’s freaking awesome. If we had learnt it was made in 2 months, we would no doubt be more surprised but our feelings for the mod wouldn’t really change.

However, if we look at a mediocre map I believe it does make a difference. If somebody makes something playable and fun in a really short time then I feel that much better than somebody who makes a mediocre map over a much longer time. Speed mapping is not really a thing but being able to create something good quickly is a particular skill.

It would be impossible for me to do, but I would love to be able to publish the exact number of hours a map or mod took to make. I feel that would help some of the smaller maps get a fairer review.

Do you agree?

If you learnt that a map you thought was not very good was made in a fraction of the time you had expected, would that change your review or recommendation?

Your chance to vote


  1. Doesn’t matter, like, at all.

  2. JG

    I said “a little.” I think it affects the extremes. I could argue it makes great maps even greater, if you learn they were actually done in a very short time. I would also argue that it makes mediocre maps even more mediocre if you found they spent years working on it and only started testing in the last couple weeks (a certain puzzle mod with a robot springs to mind).

    Speed mapping is not really a thing

    Tell that to the people who entered your 3×10 day comps! 😀

  3. I wouldn’t say that how long a map took to map is the most important criteria, but it’s ludicrous to think it doesn’t influence the opinion of a map, especially considering how much it affects our opinions of games as whole.

    Five Nights at Freddy’s 2. “How could he possibly make a good sequel in only three months?” Duke Nukem Forever. “Fourteen years and THIS is the result?” Yearly franchises. Development hell. Any argument defending “Valve time” as necessary to produce a quality product.

    I’m not saying that “more time = better product,” but as a general rule we expect developers to not waste their time and have something to show for it. There’s an understanding that AAA productions’ manpower can compensate for time. That one-person indies operate under the burden of having to do everything themselves. We expect a lot after long development times. We’re annoyed when bad games take forever. We’re pleasantly surprised by good content made in short order.

    We aren’t furious that 10-day mapping challenges aren’t full-length and professional quality because it’s obvious that regardless of talent and number of people, you can only produce so much so fast. Short competitions are what they are because of the time constraint. Good entries are all the more impressive for it, and bad entries all the more forgiven.

    Pretty much the only reason it doesn’t consciously affect our opinion of most maps is when:
    (a) we don’t know how long it took to make, or
    (b) we don’t have an understanding of how much work is involved

    Otherwise, development time isn’t remarked on when it falls within our nebulously-conceived notion of how long it “should” take to create something.

    1. JG

      We expect a lot after long development times.

      I don’t know if I necessarily see a correlation between time and expectation. There has to be an element of the developer promising the moon in there.

      Like, consider how much time passes between Zelda iterations. Whether it’s 2 years or 5, your expectations for what a new Zelda should be are roughly the same. On the other hand, if Nintendo hyped it up like the second-coming, with teasers, trailers, ARGs and all that nonsense, then the stakes get raised.

      Of course, Nintendo, being a very conservative company, doesn’t do that. They prefer to let their gameplay do the talking and their presentations are understated and low-key.

      However, the broader triple-A industry has a really bad habit of constantly raising the stakes. That’s how the marketers work, exploiting social media to generate tremendous buzz for what’s ultimately a menial, disappointing product.

      1. I agree that over-hyping greatly influences expectations, usually detrimentally. I greatly disagree about time not influencing expectations.

        Since Wind Waker, Nintendo has released a 3D home-console Zelda game (i.e., not an old-school 2D or DS game) every 4-5 years for the past 13 years, a trend that would continue with the next game coming out next year.

        (I’m hesitant to count the three-year development of Wind Waker and the two-year development of Majora’s Mask, as the then-recent introduction of 3D makes things less consistent. The huge gap prior to Ocarina was obviously due to the development of the new technology, and the quick turn-around for Majora’s Mask was unusual in how it reused technology to expedite the greatly constrained development. Wind Waker was similarly constrained and, arguably, incomplete, having several dungeons cut in order to make the deadline.)

        The consistency since 2002, though, influences expectations. By now, we’d expect the quality to be as roughly consistent as the releases dates. Were Nintendo to immediately follow the release of the next Zelda title by announcing a new game due out the following year, I’m not sure what the response would be. Either confusion as to how they could create a high-enough-quality game that quickly, or questions as to how much of a reduced scope to expect, I’d imagine.

  4. You can draw a parallel here with sample-based music, where the putting-together of the song is itself a separate and distinctive type of performance art. For a popular example, see Pogo, who remixes movies, TV shows, and his life travel experiences into electronic music. It’s rewarding to be able to listen to his remix of your favorite movie and hear what he’s sampled and how it’s been meshed together.

    However, I always hold apart my listening experience and my appreciation of the creative process. On the first listen, I appreciate the artistry behind it, but if it’s a bad song, it’s a bad song, and I never listen to it again.

    I answered, “Not at all.” If a map was built by writing a script that provided random keyboard and mouse input to Hammer, or was built entirely out of static Gnome Chomsky props (there’s your next Ville competition – you can have that one for free), then that’s novel and interesting, but if the map sucks, it doesn’t change the fact that it sucks. Ditto with time spent.

  5. Zekiran

    I definitely find that the length of time someone’s worked on a map will color my opinion or judgement of the work. There’s kind of a happy medium somewhere in there, where a modder is good enough that they can in fact crank out something amazing in just a short time, while a less experienced one might take twice as long to make something half as good. I look at the speed of some of the mapping contests and just can’t even believe how good some of the work is.

    But the flip side of that is expectation builds with the length of time a map takes to make. As someone pointed out above, “fourteen years for DNF”?! Yeah – that’s it in a nutshell. While it’s clearly not the same thing when it’s one or maybe two people working on a mod here, if I see that ‘two years in the making’ … it better be about to blow my mind. (and sadly in that case too, the example given I was *not* impressed with based on that, but that’s more likely my own inability to utilize that specific ‘tool’ where everyone else apparently had no issue at all.)

    I like to go back and play these old, old mods, sometimes not knowing they came out not only 8-10 years ago but took ‘a couple months’ or whatever to build. Traveling through individual modders map collections should be like watching a skill list grow. Shorter creation times shouldn’t bother some modders, while other less experienced ones might use it to sharpen specific skills to do a month-long or 10-day challenge.

    But they definitely will have my critique knowing how long it took them to do it, in mind. That’s how I roll 😉

  6. I have to admit I am shocked at how many people have said “Not at all”.

    1. I think it depends. If it’s a good map, people won’t really care how long it took, but if the map isn’t that great, then people will say the author should have taken longer.

    2. At first thought I agreed with you Phillip,, but then I realised its probably more important for a first time mapper to just finish the map and release it, regardless of time constraints.( or the publics expectations)

      1. I’m not suggesting that mappers should rush, but imagine two maps are released at the same time. Both are as good or as bad as each other. One took a day to make and the other a month. Wouldn’t feel that the one that took a day to make is somehow “better” than the one that took a month?

        1. JG

          I don’t think it necessarily makes the one-day map “better” if they are otherwise completely the same. I can’t see myself going “This would have gotten a PIN, but when I heard the author build it in a day, I instantly elevated this to a PF.”

          I’m more willing to overlook shortcomings if the deadline is short, with the caveat that it depends on why it was. If it’s a short deadline because of a competition, that’s one thing. If it was some weird self-imposed deadline, then all bets are off.

          1. I don’t think it necessarily makes the one-day map “better” if they are otherwise completely the same. I can’t see myself going “This would have gotten a PIN, but when I heard the author build it in a day, I instantly elevated this to a PF.”

            I’m not even remotely suggesting that.

  7. Hm.
    I’m actually a little torn by this question.

    I think I do tend to weight my reviews based on what sort of content it is, and that does take into account limited development times.
    That being said, though, there are a lot of rough edges that I don’t think hold up to scrutiny when the only excuse is a short development timeframe.
    My best released map, by a LONG way (dm_altdel) only had a development time of around four intense days, then a further two days of tweaks after a playtest – though I already had a layout planned out.

    I didn’t feel I needed to sacrifice a whole lot due to the time constraints and as such, can we really allow it to be a factor when judging others’ creations?

    That being said, though, since the content on RTSL is exclusively single player, I feel like I should just weigh out of this conversation since there’s a certain single player project I’ve been working on for quite some time.

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