Lee'Mon and Spyke exchange a few well-placed rounds on
the subject of mods.
Welcome to the "The Gauntlet"! They say that there are two
sides to every argument, and the debates within the Quake
community are no exception. That's why we created "The
Our top two PlanetQuake staff writers, Spyke and Lee'Mon,
often find themselves on opposite sides of an argument. We
could have them each post their own editorial, but PQ readers
have let us know what they really want: bloody combat!
So, we squared the two off in a custom arena, and let them
use whatever facts, opinions, arguments, and insults necessary
to make their point. Then we let you, the readers, decide
the outcome! So watch and read as these two enter the battle
royal, and vote on which side you agree with!
This week's episode: Lee'Mon, back from his HPB vacation,
continues work on Blast Arena, the port of his Quake 2 mod.
Spyke, having returned from his own hiatus, continues to scour
the net for an inventive Q3A mod that's NOT a port. Which
will make the best Quake III Arena mods: Ports of classic
mods, or all-original creations? Spyke argues that originality
is the only way to go, while Lee'Mon hides behind the comfort
of mod porting.
Lee'Mon: Well, it's good to be back at the Gauntlet,
and with an opponent that's not threatening to replace my
Q3A folder with pr0n. I won't mention who won the zero-ping
rematch after our HPB
vs LPB fiasco. However, I'm letting Spyke pick his favorite
side of this week's Gauntlet. Whether I'm doing so out of
respect or pity is up to you.
Spyke: R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Lee'Mon must bow down to me...
Let's get this going, port boy. Time is money! Old mods are
Lee'Mon: I've got two words for that: Team Fortress.
But I digress. Before you force me to throw out my notes and
resort to name-calling, at least let me use my opening speech.
I really could have taken either side of this issue. After
my Quake 2 mod, Blast Chamber,
my team prepared for something totally new: a new, original
TC, that would turn Q3A into a tournament fighter. But something
happened along the way. We established a small fan base with
Blast Chamber, one that clamored for a Quake 3 version. So,
to appease the masses, we expanded our ranks, heaped some
responsibilities on my Number One (as Picard would put it),
and began to work on Blast Arena, in
addition to our first project.
Now, the whole tournament fighting thing is a pretty far-out
idea, and we got some great response, but we've gotten just
as much feedback from Blast Chamber, which is just a real
simple Quake 2 mod that happened to be fun. Quake 3 is finally
the Quake engine that lets you visually do almost anything
you want, and the masses are clamoring for mod makers to port
their favorite mods to take advantage of that spoogerific
graphical gameplay goodness.
Now that I've finished turning this into PlanetP1mpMyself,
I'm sure my counterpart has some witty retorts to make...
Spyke: Watch out, here come the witty retorts a-plenty.
I, however, could not have taken either side of this issue.
In my view, ingenuity breeds innovation. Thus, ports of old
mods are something that people who couldn't come up with a
decent idea of their own do to advance an old, tired game
that they just happen to care for. They're annoying, and rehash
the same old gameplay over and over.
The Ford Model T was a good car for its time. People liked
it. But did Ford just keep making small little variations
to the same car year after year? Hell no. If any industry
did that, they'd be laughed out of business. But not in the
gaming community. I swear, it's like people fear change in
this community sometimes. Every time a new FPS game is announced,
I hear how someone, somewhere is porting either Team Fortress
or CTF to it.
Lee'Mon: Ingenuity breeds innovation? Practice makes
perfect. If no one ported Team Fortress to another engine,
then we'd all be unable to play it without keeping Quake 1
on our drives. On top of that, we'd have to deal with the
prolific hacked client cheaters out there, that have destroyed
what little original TF community remains.
Face it, ports are immensely popular. Weapons Factory, undoubtably
the best TF port for Q2 and perhaps the best upcoming port
for Q3, is still in the top
10 Quake 2 mods. Team Fortress Classic is the #2
Half-Life mod, more popular than even deathmatch. A certain
Fortress port (who's moniker I won't mention for the sake
of Spyke's sanity) became the #1
user-created mod for Q3A a mere twelve hours after its
release. The commercial Team Fortress 2 is one of the most
highly anticipated games of 2000. People with different favorite
FPS games like many the same mods, and would love to see the
best features of their game combined with the best features
of their favorite mod. It's a win-win situation.
Spyke: I wrote an essay recently for my English class
discussing how the majority of people essentially make the
decisions. This is exactly the case when it comes to FPS modifications.
Good mods get made. I must state, even though I hate the fact
that these mods are being ported, they're good mods. But the
problem is essentially addiction. I know all about addiction
to games. I played Quake 2 for, like, 4 hours a day when I
got it. I would rush home from school just to play. That's
what's happened to these people. They've become addicted to
these mods, and while they're good mods, they're not that
good. People's view of these mods become skewed, and they
start believing that, Team Fortress, for example, is the best
thing since texture mapping. Thus, they want to port the mod
to every FPS they see. We are dealing with an addiction here,
folks, and it ain't pretty.
Lee'Mon: Ouch. After listening to dozens of crazed
Generations fans clamor on for nigh on a year, that argument
truly hits home. Thankfully, it's a moot argument. So, let's
ignore Quake-mod addicts and focus on the matter at hand.
First off, what my counterpart considers to be the most annoying
ports are usually a general concept, that just happened to
take the name of its most famous mod. In the FPS world, class-based
teamplay mods are called Team Fortress mods, just like tissues
are called Kleenex and gelatin is called Jello. Now, just
because there's a variety of modifyable FPS games doesn't
mean most FPS fans play several of them. In fact, most play
one or two. They like certain things about that game, but
they'd also like to be able to apply some new features, like
teamplay with classes. Thus, they want a TF port, much like
you'd want some form of gelatin if Jello was unavailable in
Spyke: The point I'm going to try to make here is
that if you really want Jello, you'll make the effort to go
out and get Jello. If people want Team Fortress so bad, because
it's so great, then people will play the original version
of it. A lot of mods are becoming bad examples I guess, as
they're all becoming commercial or have become commercial.
I think what's happening is that people are trying to reinvent
the wheel. They like Team Fortress and CTF, but think they
could do better, and for a different game. Reinventing the
wheel is simply stupid. You cannot get anywhere by redoing
what other people have already done.
Let's say you're trying to get a job developing games. Developers
will sit up and take notice if you've done something innovative,
that really stands out from the generic mods that are out
there. If you show them that you've done a simple variation
on a tired concept like CTF or Team Fortress, they won't really
care; they've seen it all before.
Lee'Mon: Well, ignoring those mods that are just capitalizing
on another mod's success, most actual ports are either redone
by the same team, or completed by another team with the originator's
support. In this way, they're essentially sequels. Granted,
many sequels never attain the success of the original, but
plenty are respectable in their own right. "The Godfather
Part II" didn't suck. "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" didn't
suck. Some ports add new features to the concept; however,
they don't even have to. Unlike movie sequels, ports are typically
aimed at a new audience, one that plays the new engine enough
to play mods on it. Thus, ports expand on the fan base of
the mod and make it even more popular.
Now, I've spent more than enough time defending my stance;
it's time a few mudballs got slung your way. What about original
mods? Mind you, there's a marked difference between "original"
and "innovative." For every Aqualung
or Fists Of Fury out there, there's at
least a dozen original mods that just plain sucked. The biggest
problem with original mods is that you don't know what you're
getting. How does the average mod player (read: not as pathetically
informed as you and I are) not waste their time?
Spyke: You're right in saying that many original mods fail.
But that's one of the facts of life. If you take risks, you
will, more often than not, fail; the good mods will speak
for themselves, stand up. As I believe I've said before, innovation
does not go unnoticed. There are some original mods out there
that didn't hit it really big that I still hold dear to my
heart because they were new and special. Catch The Chicken
for example; it didn't make a big splash, it doesn't have
a huge following many months after its release, but still
it must be recognized for its innovation.
Most of my problem with ported mods doesn't really lie in
the fact that they're not innovative, however; my problem
lies in the hype. I haven't played it as of this writing,
admittedly, but I'm pretty sick of hearing about how Q3Fortress
is the greatest thing since the pixel. People are spooging
over it to me daily. I'm feeling pressure from at least four
different people to play it, to be assimilated into those
that believe the hype. And I won't.
However, I guess I have a problem by association. I have
nothing against Q3Fortress; I haven't even played it. In many
cases, I have nothing game-wise against ported mods. It's
Lee'Mon: Ah, but hype plagues ALL the best mods, original
and unoriginal. I've heard enough about Counter-Strike
to make my ears bleed. The HL mod is fine, but if you don't
like realism mods, it's not your bag. Also, the balance got
changed in the early versions, which upset quite a few of
the original followers, but brought in new players (some of
whom immediately left, like me, because of said issues.) And
I'm sorry, but no mod, particularly one that specialized,
deserves 2/3 of ALL Half-Life servers.
My point is not necessarily that CS sucks; it's that hype
plagues all mods. However, same as original mods, the ports
that get hyped are the ones people are most looking forward
to. Q3F is popular because it's damn close to the original
TF, but with Q3A's graphics and net play. WFA does change
things from TF, but because the original WF did the same and
garnered great applause for improving the model.
Which brings me to my next analogy. I got to sit down and
check out an early version of Weapons
Factory Arena. In addition to all the classic gameplay,
the WFA team is adding some new features, like the Assassin's
ability to cloak. Their reasoning is simple. WFA is much like
a sequel to WF. (Yes, movie sequels typically suck, but since
movies aren't games, that part of the analogy doesn't necessarily
apply.) It gives them a chance to do everything right that
was right before, add some great new features the new engine
allows that benefits gameplay (try a cloaking effect for the
Q1 engine sometime), and help out their fanbase that is torn
between the new Quake engine and their favorite mod for the
old Quake engine.
Face it: There are certain gameplay concepts that have worked
exceptionally well as mods, and mod teams do well to help
their fans by providing their favorite mod for their favorite
engine. It's not addiction, and it's not hype. It's the same
dedication, commitment to the fans, and desire to have fun
that allows mods to get done in the first place.
Spyke: True. I suppose any mod that can single-handedly
convince people to buy the game, or play it more often, is
a blessing. This is also a definite personal thing. Many people
may have had a bad experience with a certain mod earlier on
in life. But enough of me trying to be funny.
If a ported mod hits it big (a la Q3Fortress), it's somewhat
expected; previous versions of Team Fortress did extremely
well. It's definitely satisfying for the Q3F team; there's
no doubt about that at all. But I guess what I'm trying to
get at is that if a team has an original idea, and it gets
off the ground, and hits it big, then I would be inclined
to give them more respect, more "props", as it were. They
may not have catered to the community as much as ported mods
have, trying to get weapon balance and physics right for everyone.
They took the risks, and used their own ideas.
Lee'Mon: Without a doubt, I agree with you there.
And I'd also like to take a moment to lash out against "unofficial"
ports, specifically the ones that don't have the originator's
blessing, or even attempt to compete with the original team's
porting efforts. I've heard there are a few coders attempting
to port QPong to Q3A, despite the fact that RxN
is considering their own port. Worse yet, these buffons are
threatening RxN: either let me on your team, or I release
my project to compete with your own, and release it first.
I have an order of one Boot To The Head for anyone that tries
to get into a team that backhandedly.
I'm not saying I want to see a million TF ports; hell, I
consider two to be competition enough. (I know there's others,
such as Team Assault, but I'll stick with the one that's out
and the one I'm eventually waiting for.) Too much competition,
and teams start cutting corners, things get sloppy, and mods
get released in an early alpha state just to keep the hype
flowing. That's not good for anyone concerned.
All I'm saying is that when it comes down to consuming your
precious gametime, what are you gonna choose? A port of a
mod you enjoyed once before from a team your respect, or a
completely new mod from a new group, that attempts something
you've never seen and don't know if you like?
Spyke: Well, seeing as I don't regularily play mods
(I'm a DM kinda guy), that's a good question. It just comes
down to what intrigues me. If I see something that looks cool,
I download it. Fortunately, I'm on the kind of connection
where I can download something fairly quick, and connect reasonably
to most servers running the mod. But that's me.
I do see where popularity comes into it for users with less
bandwidth; they know that while a popular mod may be large
in size, there will most likely be local servers for it, meaning
a less laggy connection for them. Thus they're willing to
go along with what's popular.
But what I'm arguing about isn't choice. It's integrity.
It's knowing that you've done something with your own ideas
and being proud of it. It's like writing a hit song, or covering
someone else's hit song. Which would you rather do?
Lee'Mon: I don't know, but my favorite artists are
Weird Al and Puff Daddy...
Spyke: Well if that's so, then you've got a lot
more of a problem on your hands than simply liking ported
Lee'Mon: Don't make me pull out my Q3F Engineer's
Wrench and get industrial on your ass...
Spyke is kept awake by nightmares of Team Fortress being ported
Lee'Mon has declared that he will not rest until Capture
The Flag is ported to Tetris.
What's Your Opinion?