November 10, 2010

Are Custom Maps and Modding A Dying Art?


What do Mod­ern War­fare 2, Black Ops, Medal of Hon­or, Gears of War 1 and 2, and Bad Com­pa­ny 2 all have in com­mon besides the fact that they were some of the biggest releas­es to come out in the last 5 years?  None of them sup­port or even pro­vide tools for cus­tom con­tent?  It appears that the world of mod­ding has met it’s match with the new pay DLC/micro trans­ac­tion pric­ing mod­el that major com­pa­nies such as Activi­sion and EA are push­ing.  It makes sense for these providers to block cus­tom con­tent so they can lim­it users to their cus­tom con­tent.
This real­ly is sad in the sense that some of the most pop­u­lar mul­ti­play­er games out there today were based off of mod­ded and cus­tom con­tent.  Some prime exam­ples of this are Counter-Strike, Team Fortress Clas­sic and Day of Defeat.  All of these games spawned off of a user cre­at­ed mod.  The mod­ders cre­at­ed the game play, sounds, maps and over­all con­tent of their mods.  These mods took off at such an alarm­ing rate that Valve took notice of them and pur­chased them from their devel­op­ers. 
Not all devel­op­ers block cus­tom con­tent, in fact some encour­age it.  The ever pop­u­lar Valve soft­ware pro­vides the SDK pack­ages to cre­ate cus­tom con­tent.  They also pro­vide a map edi­tior to cre­ate cus­tom maps.  Valve is quite unique from a great num­ber of oth­er com­pa­nies out there today in the fact that they don’t push pay DLC in fact they tend to shy away from it.  They also have an entire sec­tion of their web­site ded­i­cat­ed to mod­ding and to help peo­ple who are inter­est­ed in it to do so.  The cre­ators of X3, Egosoft,  are anoth­er prime exam­ple of a com­pa­ny that encour­ages it’s users to cre­ate cus­tom con­tent.  Egosoft built in a script edi­tor with­in the game that allows you to mod­i­fy almost every aspect of the game and even add in new con­tent.
With the rise of con­soles over the last 5 years the over­all mod­ding com­mu­ni­ty has defi­ant­ly died down.  With the slow­er release of PC titles and even few­er that allow for mod­ding in the first place it’s def­i­nite­ly put a ham­per on the com­mu­ni­ty.  Con­soles for the most part do not allow any cus­tom con­tent.  There is one title how­ev­er that does try to let users make their own con­tent and that game is Halo.  Halo, to my knowl­edge, is the only con­sole game that real­ly makes an attempt at let­ting users cre­ate cus­tom maps and game play types.   Halo’s forge does a fair­ly good job of let­ting the play­er cre­ate a cus­tom map based on a pre­set num­ber of items he/she can deploy in the world.  Halo also pro­vides you with the tools you need to cre­ate cus­tom game play types as well to go along with your cus­tom map.
While not all cus­tom con­tent is good and in fact some of it is just plain ter­ri­ble I think it is a real tragedy that devel­op­ers as a whole are shov­ing it off in some dark cor­ner so they can bol­ster their prof­its with mul­ti­ple DLC con­tent packs.  Cus­tom maps can be a lot of fun to play and in some cas­es they are far more fun then the stan­dard con­tent that comes with the main game.  Mod­ding also helps increase the life­time of any par­tic­u­lar game.  Peo­ple are still play­ing games like Half Life, Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II and Deus Ex many years after their release because of the sub­stan­tial amount of user cre­at­ed con­tent there is. 
So what do you guys think?  Do you think the mod­ding com­mu­ni­ty is real­ly all that impor­tant?  Is it ben­e­fi­cial to com­pa­nies to allow users to cre­ate and pub­lish their own con­tent or does it hurt their bot­tom line?  Does cus­tom con­tent take away or add to the game?  Which is bet­ter?  DLC or user cre­at­ed con­tent?  What does the TGB com­mu­ni­ty think?

19 comments

  1. T8 - November 10, 2010 10:28 pm

    Well dude, i cant speak for every­one here, but the coun­ter­strike com­mu­ni­ty has been thriv­ing for near­ly 10 years and there are very few maps that are around from the begin­ning. Leagues and com­pe­ti­tions are mak­ing new maps to even­ly dis­trib­ute the game. There is noth­ing like a com­mu­ni­ty ded­i­cat­ed to fix­ing its own game. Every game should have a mod­ded map side.

    Reply
  2. nicknames - November 11, 2010 1:07 am

    They are all xbox titles trans­fered to make mon­ey from com­put­er buy­ers… I have not bought one of those mon­ey grasp­ing games myself, I’m not sure about you.

    Reply
  3. Philit - November 11, 2010 6:31 am

    I myself am to lazy to cre­ate any­thing nice but I have very much enjoyed old games because of oth­er peo­ple’s toil. It seems like games are get­ting short­er because of pay DLC.

    Reply
  4. zero_19 - November 11, 2010 8:13 am

    I think mod­ding is what keeps games alive and keeps a com­pa­ny in the minds of the play­ers. With out that sure I could pay for your DLC, but I already bought the game, and I’m old enough to remem­ber the good old days where the com­mu­ni­ty kept the game alive after release with new con­tent.

    Reply
  5. Bartholomew P. Skibbenheims III - November 11, 2010 10:27 am

    Yeah I boy­cott CODMW2 because of that non­sense. I have been play­ing shoot­ers online since Duke3D on the TEN net­work and often times had more fun play­ing Mods rather than the orig­i­nal games. I agree it’s also the rea­son many games like Quake and CS have last­ed so long. I will con­tin­ue to boy­cott games that have a big mul­ti­play­er appeal like the CoD series as long as they dont allow ded­i­cat­ed servers, play­er made mods, or play­er made maps.

    Reply
  6. T8 - November 11, 2010 10:42 am

    The point i think that every­one is try­ing to get at is :
    Gam­ing evolves and the game needs to evolve with it.
    Gamers today bring an ele­ment of cre­ativ­i­ty to the scene and should not be pun­ished or held back from show­ing what they bring to the table.

    Reply
  7. thsoundman - November 11, 2010 3:07 pm

    I’m going to play dev­ils advo­cate here and say a few things pos­i­tive. DLC is nice for those who DON’T under­stand how to use cus­tom con­tent or how to install it and for the xbox that makes sense. I think the major­i­ty of casu­al gamers don’t know or car to know how to use it. Sec­ond­ly there are some pos­i­tive things to be said for COD it does pro­vide a dif­fer­ent type of game­play that can be fun from time to time. It’s not all around bad I just tend not to play it except every­once in awhile.
    Hav­ing said all that I think devel­op­ers should­n’t dis­cour­age peo­ple from cre­at­ing their own con­tent and in addi­tion to that I think they should also put out their own pay DLC to com­ple­ment what the pack­age. I have no prob­lem pay­ing for addi­tion­al “off­i­cal” con­tent so long as it’s fair­ly priced. Where i have a major dis­agree­ment is the total con­trol that the empire of EA and Activi­sion is exact­ing on their games. They need to loosen the reigns… there like a bad girl­friend who has a major squeeze on ur balls. 😀

    Reply
  8. T8 - November 11, 2010 3:13 pm

    I already paid for the “offi­cial” con­tent, any­thing they release after that should be made to cater to those who still sup­port their prod­uct, not try to drain a few extra dol­lars for some­thing like a map. if it was anoth­er cam­paign it would be dif­fer­ent, but its a mul­ti­play­er map.

    Reply
  9. ScrotusKilmystr - November 11, 2010 3:42 pm

    I think mod­ding should have a pres­ence in gam­ing just for the sim­ple fact that it will force the devel­op­ers to com­pete with user mod­ded con­tent and “up their game” to dis­trib­ute GOOD “off­i­cal” con­tent It does seem that games with locked out engines seem to have less imag­i­na­tive DLC while most of the open engine games seem to have pret­ty good con­tent I think due to the fact that any­one can show them up with home brewed con­tent
    Also it’s sim­ple :
    halflife = coun­ter­strike = almost every shoo­er on the mar­ket! if it was­nt for that 1st game mod then no one would be mak­ing games right now!

    Reply
  10. thsoundman - November 11, 2010 3:42 pm

    I can under­stand charg­ing for say a 20pack of BRAND new maps. Maps do take time to cre­ate and engi­neer to be bal­anced for game­play. A good CS map can lit­ter­ly take months to make. They just hap­pen to realease them for free. In all hon­esty there has­n’t been a new CS map in a long time. Per­haps there was some from the Source beta?

    Reply
  11. rmp00n - November 11, 2010 9:08 pm

    Sucks that the bat­tle­field series went away from mod­der. BF1942 may have had more than Valve’s games did, and they were great!
    I doubt Valve will give up on the mod­ders. Or at least I hope.

    Reply
  12. T8 - November 11, 2010 10:01 pm

    valve wont, they know that their whole fol­low­ing is based off the abil­i­ty to change the game.

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  13. ScrotusKilmystr - November 12, 2010 3:06 pm

    valve needs to put open source for por­tal!

    Reply
  14. malferz - November 13, 2010 10:25 pm

    No mod­ding ruins a huge appeal of videogames to me and has been the main rea­son I have avoid­ed buy­ing games new late­ly.

    Reply
  15. ScrotusKilmystr - November 14, 2010 2:38 pm

    there is a dif­fer­ance between mod­ding a game and hack­ing it.…
    if you hack the game to make it work to your advan­tage then I think thats bull­crap!!!! BUT it you mod a game through open­source options and cre­ate a new map and/or game type thats great! that gives every­one more play-abil­i­ty and dif­fer­ent ways to play a title!

    Reply
  16. CharcoalCoyote - November 14, 2010 3:10 pm

    I was a bit late on the tra­di­tion, and I’m still fair­ly new around most of the clas­sics. How­ev­er, Halo: Cus­tom Edi­tion was what bridged the gap between my younger days of play­ing Nin­ten­do and where I am now. The series as a whole has since lost its appeal, due to the switch to con­sole, which made it hard­er to mod­i­fy. The Forge mode is a nice addi­tion, and brings a lot of the cus­tomiz­able spir­it back to Halo, but it still can’t match what PC mod­ding can do.

    Reply
  17. T8 - November 14, 2010 10:48 pm

    you will nev­er get me to go back to a con­sole. Halo was fun for a while, but games on con­soles are made to cater to the mass­es of mediocre gamers ( no offence to any con­sole gamers, its just an opin­ion).

    Reply
  18. PimpmasterF - November 15, 2010 1:28 am

    hon­est­ly i havnt played any­thing with cus­tom con­tent for a long time, CS:source was the last one and the be hon­est I was­nt impressed with the cus­tom con­tent I saw. How­ev­er I think it should be nur­tured more, some of it can be super awsome and gamers who pay good mon­ey for games should have the option to create/play cus­tom con­tent.

    Reply
  19. Jade - March 2, 2011 3:08 pm

    GoW and GoW2 both came with the Unre­al Edi­tor 3?

    Reply

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