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?


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  4. Jade - March 2, 2011 3:08 pm

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  5. 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.

  6. 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).

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

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

    valve needs to put open source for portal!

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

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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. 😀

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.


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