Yesterday I wrote about six things I wanted to see in mods in 2010, today I write about 6 more.
Some of the things I wrote about yesterday could be quite hard to implement properly, but that’s the point. If the things were too easy then we would probably have already seen them.
What I really want to see is something that is challenging for the modder and something that is new and exciting for the player.
There must be hundreds of possible ideas and these are just a few of mine.
Let me clarify this idea; it’s not a stealth mod where you sneak around avoiding enemies, quite the opposite in fact. It’s a mod where careful use of the surroundings will allow you to reach your objective without directly shooting an enemy. Now, this clearly won’t be easy, but these types of challenges are what makes the better mappers, sit up and try harder.
Here are some examples. You are in a tunnel and hear some fast zombies approaching. A quick look around and you notice that a certain section of the roof and its support beams look weak, perhaps a few shots there might cause a collapse? BANG! BANG! Lucky for you it did. Two shots and 5 fast zombies neutralized.
Within a city level you see Metrocops running through some upstairs rooms towards a raised street crossing. If you could just fire at the barrels below the supports to destroy those supports and make the crossing impossible that would save you a lot of trouble. Of course, you might encounter those Metrocops later on but that’s a chance you will have to take.
Sure, my examples seem a little forced but with some planning and clever level design I have no doubt the community can do it.
In fact, Kyouryuu mentioned a perfect example yesterday, in Part 1.
One other aspect of this idea is to use enemies against each other. Leading zombies into the path of barnacles is so funny and the same when you see Antlions fighting Combine soldiers, surely this could be used more.
I want modders to love and embrace the very detailed ideas behind the Half-Life universe. You only need to browse around the Combine Overwiki for a while to see so many potential ideas for mods, or at least elements of mods. Back in May 2009 for poll question 122 I asked Do you need to understand the HL universe to make great mods?. 65% said yes, and I completely agree.
Building a mod with no regard for the story or background in HL is fine, but some of us want details, not just gameplay and action.
I don’t have some long rant prepared about this, but modders, please, please, please do some research.
I quite like those levels that show you an area with a few resources and make it clear that an attack is imminent and it’s your ability to survive and progress is decided by how you place those resources. Half-Life 2: Episode Two had a similar level, with the Vortigaunts in the tunnels, and the interaction between a couple of rebels was a nice touch.
I’d like a whole mod based around this with 5 different levels, each set in a different theme. Each level would offer varying combinations of weapons, resources and enemies.
You could select each theme via the main chapter menus and play them in any order. If the levels also included statistics about how long it took, how many shoots were fired etc, you could then have a table of best times and percentages etc.
Whilst not really story driven, I would want each situation to be as realistic as possible.
Stacking crates can be a little boring but some people (William from Podcast17 really enjoy that aspect of gaming) and it would certainly add plenty of replay value to each chapter.
Nearly all mappers get over ambitious (is this an example?). Now that’s ultimately a good thing, because if we are never ambitious we get stale, but too often it backfires and leaves players with nothing really much to play. I would like to see less mods next year but higher quality ones, mods that have been tested to the extreme, mods that have really been polished, mods that have had stuff TAKEN OUT of them. Mods that last for about 40 minutes, but really give me great gameplay.
We often compare films to games and modders can learn a lot from production ideas from short film makers. I have a group of friends who started off by making very short films (1 or 2 minutes) and have slowly moved up to 5 minutes and now have 10 people in the team and have done very well in competitions. They started very conservatively and grew slowly.
Mod makers think they can sit in their bedroom and make a whole game. We need to educate these modders, we need them to be realistic. Sure, if they stick with it, they eventually learn but we only need to look at ModDB to see hundreds of mods, that will never be finished for hundreds of reasons.
Perhaps we need a licence board that hands out mod licences for mods that have shown proper planning etc. Ok, that’s a little extreme, but the idea is that perhaps making mods is too easy, and that ease makes the final product of many mods poor.
This is turning into a badly structured rant, so I’ll stop now, but the point is: Less mods and the ones that do get released should be shorter and more polished. Thank you.
Most players loved Research and Development and if you didn’t that’s fine because not everybody loves puzzles.
Those puzzles were really good because they combined realism with clever design.
What I would like to see in 2010 is one absolutely huge puzzle. Something that requires multiple sections to be put into place, but not just in that regard but also in size. Something like the bridge in EP1, which I thought was pretty cool.
In fact the whole mod would be based around this idea, not just have it as part of it. To be honest I have no idea what kind of puzzle, but something to take your breath away. Something related to physics, of course, and maybe using a container ship in a port and water and electricity etc etc.
I’d still like to see plenty of shooting in this mod, I don’t just want a puzzle, I want the puzzle to be the theme, if that makes sense.
Okay, so here we are, the last of my twelve. I’ve mentioned this idea before but that won’t stop me from mentioning it again: I want to play as Father Grigori! I am not a big fan of the shotgun, or zombies, so he would have to be taken out of Ravenholm at some point, but the idea appeals to me because we could learn more about him trough interaction with his congregation (voice acting).
Perhaps we could create a twin, that could be voice acted. That would allow the modders more scope to include custom scripts etc. Imagine a co-op style situation where you play as his brother and together you have to find your way somewhere.
In fact, on a general note, I’d like to see Alyx in more mods too. Ideally, as a playable character but if not, then as a sidekick would be fun.
So, there they are, all twelve of my “wants” for 2010. I am sure you will disagree with some, love others and not care about a few. That’s cool, will all have different opinions.
Now it is your turn to tell me what you want to see in mods next year.
20th December 2009
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