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 Post subject: Single-player mods are just a myth...
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 10:50 pm 
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(inspired by Baffled's blog comment inspired by the Subsist Media Update thread on halflife2.net.)

Apart from the tongue-in-cheek comments in the halflife2.net thread, if there is any truth to the topic's title, why don't we see many single-player mods of good and average quality being released? The Source engine was out in 2004. Did we have to wait as long for the HL1 SP mods to appear? What kick-started the mod-making back in the days and what's the hold-up nowadays?

Note: fanboy, vapourware and media dump are not dirty words.


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 Post subject: Re: Single-player mods are just a myth...
PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 1:28 pm 
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locworks wrote:
(inspired by Baffled's blog comment inspired by the Subsist Media Update thread on halflife2.net.)

Apart from the tongue-in-cheek comments in the halflife2.net thread, if there is any truth to the topic's title, why don't we see many single-player mods of good and average quality being released? The Source engine was out in 2004. Did we have to wait as long for the HL1 SP mods to appear? What kick-started the mod-making back in the days and what's the hold-up nowadays?

Note: fanboy, vapourware and media dump are not dirty words.


I would venture that the "hold up" is related to the proliferation of multiplayer as a major component of most games as well as the increase in the number of homes with a broadband internet connection which would better facilitate online multiplayer gaming than the dial up internet connect the the majority of us had back in the days of Half-life 1 (and I still have). Modmakers seem to be focused on trying to make the next "Day of Defeat" or "Counterstrike" rather than the next great single-player mod.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 5:28 pm 
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Also, I get the impression (no practical experience mind you), that developing a good looking mod for Source takes a lot more time and effort than for HL1.
Or at least that's what #I always thought the reason was.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 7:08 am 
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So far, we have an easier access to multiplayer games on the players' side and the very strong desire to break through on the MP scene on the designers' side.

There is also the more difficult SDK to contend with. Wouldn't that affect the MP mods as well? Or is there something special about SP mods that require even more learning and work in order to pull off in comparison with MP mods?
I'm not suggesting MP mods require less talent, but do they require less efforts?

Also, and Adam is well placed to shed some light on this, is mod making generally more difficult for HL2 than for HL1?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 3:13 pm 
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locworks wrote:
There is also the more difficult SDK to contend with. Wouldn't that affect the MP mods as well? Or is there something special about SP mods that require even more learning and work in order to pull off in comparison with MP mods?

I'm not suggesting MP mods require less talent, but do they require less efforts?


I think that single player mods would require more effort to develop, not so much from a mapping aspect, but more attention to level design and gameplay because there are no other sentient players to interact with while playing to add to the experience. It all has to be thought of beforehand by the mod designer(s). Keep in mind that this is merely conjecture, seeing that I don't have any practical experience.


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 Post subject: Story!
PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 11:21 pm 
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Not just design and gameplay -- there also needs to be a story. I mean ... yes, Counter-Strike does have a "story" in each level, but on the whole, multiplayer FPS's consist of "shoot the other guy." Whereas I've tried my hand at a few single-player levels, one of which had no real story whatsoever, the other opened with the G-Man going "Wake up, Mr. Freeman ... have I got ... the job ... for ... you!" Both mods were mediocre, on the whole. So, if the levels are only "pretty good", you need to present the player with a pretty damn good explanation why he/she/it is here, and you should remind him/her/it of this often enough but in ways which keep it interesting.

Then there's how you implement the story. Voice acting? Ugh, now there's a toughie. Not many people, to my knowledge, have access to anywhere near halfway-decent microphones, and then you have to actually deliver the lines, and good luck with that if you've got a deep, masculine voice but you want a female character to open her mouth. Poke646 did rather well with text-only exposition; so does Minerva, really. Cutting-and-pasting individual words from the game's existing sound files and trying to use it for your own mods only works with the G-Man, whose speech already sounds stilted and unnatural; if you want any other characters from the original games to say anything, you'll have to reuse entire lines (or at least sentences) wholesale, with results that range between bland and goofy; certainly with a mix of unoriginal and merely uninteresting.

Minerva: Metastasis whetted my appetite for more single-player action, and yes, I found to my disappointment that there's very few with anywhere near as good level-design (there were a bunch whose developers had the idea that "make things difficult" meant "flood the area with tens of manhacks/headcrabs/enemies that make the game, in Easy Mode, equivalent in difficulty to Half-Life 2's Hard Mode, so that you will require extensive use of God Mode), precious little with anything remotely resembling an interesting story, and absolutely none with any characters as interesting as Minerva herself.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:06 am 
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I totally agree with phuzz and nesretep, although I do think that there is an added amount of time if not dificulty that goes into a singleplayer game. With multiplayer you must consider several things, game play, architecture, lighting, and a few other nuances. However, with singleplayer, you have to consider other things, and I will take a mapping oriented view here, npc placement, supply placement, timing and pacing, puzzles, effects, story, and, at a most basic desciption: moving things, which most multiplayer games can not handle (besides the occasional door).

Also, a typical level in multiplayer can be played for countless hours, years even, if it well designed. Each experience offering something new. A single player map of the same size will typical take mere minutes to an hour to blast through. Most sp maps are much larger, but when you ignore the obvious loops, puzzles, and cutbacks, the shortest path through takes only so long. In sort, a single player level has to be bigger, and more complex, than a multiplayer level for it to last any time at all.

Would you want to play a single player version of 2fort or dust if you simply had to get from one end to the other?

A big difference between source and goldsource is that there is so much more. There is the capacity for greater detail in architecture, models, tetures and their shaders, color correction and post processing effects, new environmental effects, skyboxes, and, if one chooses to implement it, the players ability to use physics to his advantage must be considered.

I would also argue that texture creation, modeling, and programming all take less time than level design, and it multiplayer games, level design takes less time than in single player games. Thus, it takes a lot less time to produce a multiplayer game than a single player one, so many teams choose to take this route. After all, in MP the players control the game much more than in SP.

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ave, Minerva, morituri te salutamus


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:03 pm 
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they are not a myth.

http://phillymod.type3studios.com

[/shameless plug]

There is more to consider. everyone here has already made great arguments, but i'll add that in the case of the mod linked to above, we've dealt with voice actors, created facial expressions for them, created custom models, created custom textures, and mapped. its a lot of work.

to top that, we seem to be one of the mods that no one joins for some reason. There are now three of us actually working on the mod, after almost 2 years of development. When we do finally release, our first installment (2 chapters) will be roughly the size of metastasis (about 5 or 6 maps) though actual playtime will probably be shorter, with more friendly npc scripting. (ala hl2).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 3:42 am 
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Many of these mod do infact exist, it's just many have not been seen. They hide amongst the shadows. Forgoten and broken, some maybe slavageable while others should be drowned. That is the way of these mods.


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 Post subject: Those SP Mods...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 12:35 pm 
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That is why it is important for those of us who enjoy SP mods to support those creating them however we can. I'm not skilled enough to help with development, but I can try to get the word out on SP mods that I think are (or will be) good but need some community support to really make an impact the way MINERVA has. Battle of Philadelphia (vecima's mod referred to above) is a prime example of a good looking mod that is in need of some community support and interested development help wouldn't hurt either. My momma always told me that many hands make light work.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 9:23 am 
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I've been lurking on here a while so I thought I'd jump in on this thread...

I think a big part of the problem with single-player gaming is that in many ways it's antithetical to what people use their PC's for these days. Most people use them for communication - the proliferation of awful social networking sites that Valve has recently bandwaggoned points clearly in this direction - and single player games don't encompass that aspect of play whereas multiplayer can often encourage normally shy people to interact by it's use of a shared experience.

The other reason that people don't play or make SP mods is that they are underappreciated: the only people who seem to be really interested in playing them are other people who have some understanding of the processes required in putting them together (this should be a cue for me to insert a shameless plug...).

And then of course there's the fame aspect: If you make the new Counter Strike (PROTIP: Never going to happen) then your mod becomes much more popular; with ever more modders and mappers trying to break into the gaming industry the larger audiences that a half decent MP attracts are all part of the appeal. How many times do you see the justification for making an MP mod being "too reach the widest possible audience"?

(Just once I'd like to see someone admit "because it's also a lot easier").

There are a lot of mods about - of the ones that actually get finished maybe 5% offer anything groundbreaking or particularly noteworthy and I think it's this quantity over quality aspect (as well as the field of broken dreams that is the "mod that looked good but died on it's arse after a year of screenshots" graveyard) that's gone a long way towards reducing the Single Player Mods popularity.

In some ways it's a bit of a Darwinian selection process - only the strong keep it together enough to complete their single player offerings and they tend to be the ones really worth a play.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 9:59 am 
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I'm glad I didn't bin this topic.

Feel free to plug your work. You may find here many kind souls who'd be happy to beta-test your mod or simply encourage you to carry on.

Considering the active posters and the lurkers on Adam's blog and on the fora, I'd venture that we've created a community who'd be as interactive as many multiplayer clans.

I'm hoping the Minerva's and Adam's success will spur many modders to try their hand at SP maps and adventures.

One of the reasons for the "field of broken dreams" is probably the lack of strong stories. The desire to do something cool and get rich and famous in the process won't see you through the long months of learning how to use Hammer. The desire to share a story will do, if that story is something you care about. It doesn't have to be "Gone with the Wind" or another Spartacus, but it has to be more than "you go from point A to point B and blow up everything you encounter just because it moves."

I'd also venture that a lot of people play SP mods. Ravenholm has nearly 30 000 downloads. That's a lot of players.


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 Post subject: Why I support SP Mods
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 1:07 pm 
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I prefer SP mods because they allow a degree of immersion (if done well) that you don't get playing most MP mods. In the few MP mods I have played, you are constantly reminded by some 10-12 yr old twit that what you are playing is just a video game. Also, with a SP game, someone like myself who can only play a bit at a time is OK. You just save and come back later. You can't exactly freeze a multiplayer game in its tracks and come back to it when you are ready.

I have been following MINERVA for a while now and have probably been spoiled by Adam as he has really raised the bar (no pun intended) on SP mod quality. I also follow the Battle of Philadelphia (shameless plug: http://phillymod.type3studios.com) mod, which has yet to have their first release, but looks like a winner from the media I have seen. Also you have the 500 pound gorilla that is Black Mesa. What an undertaking that project must be!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 7:23 pm 
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Yeah. I play video games for the story, with SP mods being no exception.

Although I suppose it might be interesting to try to arrange a multiplayer game with some sort of story, though I suppose the most efficient way to do that would be some sort of co-op game (which amounts to the same thing as single-player except with more people doing things at once) ...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 7:44 pm 
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Online Multiplayer was the death of the Storyline. Luckily though there are a few holdouts.


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