Do mods count as legitimate, standalone games?
Yes, they do.
5.7% (7)
5.7% (7)
No, they do not.
15.6% (19)
15.6% (19)
Some do, some don't.
74.6% (91)
74.6% (91)
I dunno. I just wanna be a spoiler.
4.1% (5)
4.1% (5)
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Poll: Is a mod a legitimate, standalone game?

So, I was playing an FPS on my PC recently. The game in question was not very unique; it basically felt like a Half Life 2 mod. A decent Half Life 2 mod, but a mod nonetheless. That got me thinking about the nature of our beloved mods and their relation to the games they are based on; mainly, should a mod count as a legitimate, standalone product, separate from the game that it mods? Or should it count simply as a sort of expansion pack, an addition to a pre-existing experience? Maybe perhaps it is not so black and white; some mods should count as legitimate games, while other should count more as expansion packs.

What are your thoughts on mods and their status either as standalone products or additions to pre-existing experiences? Also, keep in mind I am talking about more "meatier" mods; stuff like The Stanley Parable, Natural Selection, Cry of Fear, or Counter Strike, not stuff like nude mods or interface fixes. :P

Not by definition, but it can be if it's developed enough
Just look at DayZ.

I think if the mod sufficiently differentiates itself from the source material, it can be considered as a standalone game. Otherwise, technically speaking you could say that Batman: Arkham Asylum is just an Unreal Tournament 3 mod.

I think if a mod is little more than just more levels built in a different way a la most of the Crysis mods, then it's just say, a level pack. But, for example, the Crysis mod that was designed to be a story-driven "horror" thing, built completely using the CryEngine and requiring Crysis to be installed but completely changing around the core mechanics (excluding being in a first-person perspective), that's something worthy of being called its own thing.

shrekfan246:
I think if the mod sufficiently differentiates itself from the source material, it can be considered as a standalone game. Otherwise, technically speaking you could say that Batman: Arkham Asylum is just an Unreal Tournament 3 mod.

What do you mean by "differentiates itself from the source material"? Do you mean using new textures and models for the game? Or do you mean something that tries to be it's own thing and tell it's own story, like Cry of Fear, or The Stanley Parable, even if it reuses stuff from the game?

BreakfastMan:

shrekfan246:
I think if the mod sufficiently differentiates itself from the source material, it can be considered as a standalone game. Otherwise, technically speaking you could say that Batman: Arkham Asylum is just an Unreal Tournament 3 mod.

What do you mean by "differentiates itself from the source material"? Do you mean using new textures and models for the game? Or do you mean something that tries to be it's own thing and tell it's own story, like Cry of Fear, or The Stanley Parable, even if it reuses stuff from the game?

Well, that's what the second paragraph was for. :P

Sure, they can reuse things, but if it just looks like they've restructured already-existing levels, then that's not really different enough in my eyes.

Captcha: "partial derivative". How relevant.

A mod can be a legitimate, stand-alone game. That's how Team Fortress (Quake) and Counter-Strike (Half-Life) started. A nude-patch, for example, isn't a new game because it just takes an existing game and modifies it.
The kind of mods you are talking about used to be called Total Conversions. It seems that people don't use that term anymore. They count as mods by the modders and players alike.

Yeah, total conversions haven't been a bigr thing in a long time, but there is the odd one (DayZ) that comes out every now and then. Hell, Super Mario World probably has more total conversions than any other game out there.

Takes me back to the Unreal/UT modding days.

It really depends on how much it alters the original gameplay. If it completely rewrites how the game is enjoyed then probably sure.

I would consider the Firestorm over Kronus mods to almost be a standalone game considering how much it changes the gameplay. As others have said, it should do a considerable amount of things differently.

Unless its possible to install and run the 'mod' without the original game, no. I don't care if it comes with an installer that installs itself and the original game, so long as the original game is there its only an add on to said game.

Some mods have the content of new games, and greatly change pretty much every aspect of the original game. Such 'total conversion' mods are still just that - mods. They play like a standalone, but they are still only an add on to the original game.

So literally, no, they are not standalones. Spiritually they may be, but they are not pretty much by definition.

Depends. Mods like Grey, Dear Esther and DayZ for example certainly deserve standalone status.

Joccaren:
Unless its possible to install and run the 'mod' without the original game, no. I don't care if it comes with an installer that installs itself and the original game, so long as the original game is there its only an add on to said game.

Some mods have the content of new games, and greatly change pretty much every aspect of the original game. Such 'total conversion' mods are still just that - mods. They play like a standalone, but they are still only an add on to the original game.

So literally, no, they are not standalones. Spiritually they may be, but they are not pretty much by definition.

I think you are getting too caught up in the technical details of the language I used; I don't mean mods being literally standalone, not requiring the game be installed. I am talking about mods being considered separate games in their own right, regardless of whether or not they share assets, code, or an engine with another. I mean, should The Stanley Parable be considered it's own game and it's own experience, or should it only be considered as an optional part of the Half Life 2 experience, like Episode 1 and 2?

BreakfastMan:
I think you are getting too caught up in the technical details of the language I used; I don't mean mods being literally standalone, not requiring the game be installed. I am talking about mods being considered separate games in their own right, regardless of whether or not they share assets, code, or an engine with another. I mean, should The Stanley Parable be considered it's own game and it's own experience, or should it only be considered as an optional part of the Half Life 2 experience, like Episode 1 and 2?

See my last sentence and second paragraph. At no point can a mod be literally considered a stand alone game, but it can deliver an almost stand alone experience [The only thing missing being that you have to install the game and choose to run the mod rather than the actual game], and spiritually be a very different game to the original, though for this pretty much all aspects of the game must be changed - mechanics, maps, story, balance and preferably models, textures and sounds, as well as the actual properties of objects within the game.

one of the first total conversions i ever played was the aliens one for DOOM. worthy enough of being its own game, but in the end its still a mod.

BreakfastMan:
So, I was playing an FPS on my PC recently. The game in question was not very unique; it basically felt like a Half Life 2 mod.

Was it Sin Episodes by any chance? Just out of curiosity.

OT: Mods (total conversions, more specifically) can in my opinion be stand-alone experiences. Technically speaking they aren't stand-alone games, since they're mods. Semantics, however, make for terrible discussions, so I guess I'll just say it's up to the player to decide how to view mods.

Mod is kind of a broad term for what it encompasses.
From small mods like a different weapon skin/model to full blown total conversions like counter strike. TC mods can often be considered a new game based on how big it is, like the ones you mentioned they have in themselves have become pretty much standalone gaming experiences but they are still tied back to the game it was built off of such as Dayz.

I think at its core, that which defines a mod is the necessity to have to have the original game installed in order to play the mod, it only becomes its own game once it has a standalone client.

BreakfastMan:

shrekfan246:
I think if the mod sufficiently differentiates itself from the source material, it can be considered as a standalone game. Otherwise, technically speaking you could say that Batman: Arkham Asylum is just an Unreal Tournament 3 mod.

What do you mean by "differentiates itself from the source material"? Do you mean using new textures and models for the game? Or do you mean something that tries to be it's own thing and tell it's own story, like Cry of Fear, or The Stanley Parable, even if it reuses stuff from the game?

Like DoTA. It uses only stuff found in the game (Warcraft III) but has managed to become it's own independent phenomenon. Something as small as a custom map (albeit heavily modified) has spawned an entire game genre.

Well no it's not standalone if it needs a specific game.

But that is simply a matter of packaging and licensing, so there can actually be a full on games in there well worth the money.

not usually. i've only started hearing about these stand alone mods recently. typically a mod is a modification for a game. it's not usually something that can work without said game. how can a mod even be considered stand alone i'm not clear. if it isn't attached to a game, then isn't it an indie game? o.O if it's an indie game that just uses resources from a licensed game, then isn't that just blatant copyright infringement? o.O is that something we should be celebrating?

total conversion mods are still dependent on their source game. they are not stand alone.

Mods that end up just using the engine and the base coding (like the player movement and such) can be viewed as standalone games. Cry of Fear barely uses the original materials.

It depends on whether you need to own one game in order to play the "mod or not-a-mod" in question. The original Team Fortress, Counter-Strike, and Day-Z are all mods, because you had to own Quake, Half-Life, or ArmA before you could play the mod. The standalone versions, not mods. (Although Counter-Strike is an interesting example because it originally was a free mod, but Valve being who they are (awesome yet opportunistic) decided to start selling it separately, at which point it stopped being a mod, but for a time the mod and the standalone product coexisted. It was weird.)

There is no context under which I would consider Arkham Asylum a UT3 mod, just because it is built with the Unreal Engine. So are dozens of other games, the engine is licensed by other developers as a starting point for their game, but Epic also makes some of their own games with it. TF2 is not a Half-Life 2 mod, nor is Left4Dead, nor Portal. They are separate games made with the same engine technologies. So no, it's not about the amount of new content or totally new gameplay.

Even a Total Conversion mod (as most of the examples above did), which replaces every model, texture, sounds effect, and so on, to a point where it is effectively a whole new game, is still technically a mod, as long as it requires you to have a copy of another product in order for it to work. If it is a wildly successful mod that develops a standalone version to follow it, then congratulations to that team, but the original incarnation of their game was still made by directing someone else's game to load and run their modified files instead of those for the base game, as it was originally sold.

Depends.

I'm pretty sure that technically, in order to be properly "standalone" a mod has to be able to run independently of the game it was a mod of.

For example, Killing Floor is a standalone mod because you can download and play it without ever having to install Unreal Tournament 2004 (the game it was based off), while Gunreal and Chaos Unreal aren't because they need UT2004's data/files to be there to work.

It really comes down to how extensive the mod is. After all, a lot of games share the same engine, and given enough changes, a mod is essentially a different game that uses the same engine as the original game. You mention Cry of Fear in your post, and I think that's about as different from Half-Life as you can get.

At their best moments, mods are a way for creative people to create innovate experiences without needing the budget or staff of a real game studio. It's a shortcut, but that's fine. Shortcuts are good sometimes.

Some do. Some are, in fact.

Killing Floor, Counter Strike, Team Fortress, DOTA, Dear Esther, and DayZ come to mind as mods that are now games. I'm sure there's plenty more I can't think of right now.

Well if it needs another game to run it then no, it's still just a mod. If it can run on it's own, regardless of how it started, it isn't a mod anymore, it's a game. So no I don't think a mod can be a standalone game because it stops being a mod when it stands alone.

Total Conversion? Yes?
/thread

Edit: Exceptions exist.

Does it require the original game to run? Then it's not a standalone game. If it can run by itself it's a standalone game.

Sometimes, yeah, they do feel like they're their own game. Other times it feels like nothing more than a tired image of what someone thought the original game should be. Then again, sometimes a different interpretation of a game can be quite enjoyable depending on how it's done.

So, yeah, it's a situational thing.

Some are legitimate stand alone games and others just bring extra things too the original game experience, I think the line is drawn when the mod takes place in a different setting than the original game, such as the X-tended mod for X3:Terran Conflict (what I call legit standalone game), which introduced an entire new universe, as opposed to the X-tended mod for X3: Reunion (not what I call a legit standalone game) which just added a few more sectors, missions and ships etc. to the existing universe. Mods as legit standalone games aren't limited to changing the setting of the original game though, I would also include DayZ as a legit standalone game as it changes the entire playstyle from the original game, from realistic war game too a post apocalyptic survival game.

yeah. if the story is completely different the maps are different the enemies are different. most mods arent. however some are.

If it's a total overhaul mod, then yes, I consider them standalone games. Examples such as Dune or Nehrim for Oblivion, or the (I believe not yet released) X3: Star Wars TC I call standalone games which use the same engine and likely many of the same assets.

The most famous total conversions of course are now world famous...Team Fortress, Counter Strike and more recently Defence of the Ancients (DotA).

Lectori Salutem:

BreakfastMan:
So, I was playing an FPS on my PC recently. The game in question was not very unique; it basically felt like a Half Life 2 mod.

Was it Sin Episodes by any chance? Just out of curiosity.

Yeah, it was. Saw the game on sale, decided to take a chance for a couple bucks. The game feels nearly exactly the same as Half Life 2, down to the art design itself. Yeah, there are differences, like big ol' bouncy titties everywhere and the strangely oldschool UI, but it really didn't feel all that different from your common HL2 mod. :P

 

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