Dagarath’s Game Page: Mods – Good, Bad, or Indifferent?

Dagarath’s Game Page: Mods – Good, Bad, or Indifferent?


Mods –  Good, Bad, or Indifferent?

Recently had a discussion with someone (who i’ll leave nameless) who brought up some interesting ideas. We were discussing Mods, you know – those third party changes to the base Quake2 game dll code. Common Mods include Lithium II, Serverconfig Mod, Capture the Flag, Rocket Arena 2, JailBreak, Superheroes II, Powerball, Loki’s Minions CTF, Vanilla CTF, and many others. As most of you know, ShreveNet runs two Quake II servers, one running Lithium II and the other Rocket Arena II. Previously, ShreveNet had Capture the Flag as the second server. So let’s talk about the different game play modes.

Straight Deathmatch: (referred to as DM)
This is the default out of the box game play. Players run around the level (you do run don’t you?) collecting weapons, armor, health, etc. All weapons are available – blaster, shotgun, super shotgun, machinegun, chaingun, grenade launcher, rocket launcher, hyperblaster, railgun, BFG10k. Quad damage powerup and Protection powerup.

Deathmatch Mods:
Lithium and Serverconfig mod. Straight deathmatch has some limitations, especially for running full time servers. These mods fill in these deficencies. Map rotations. DM is limited to the map rotation specified in the map files. Each map has a pointer to the next map in rotation. Base1 points to Base2 to Base3…etc. So maps are played in order, and no other maps can be included. The Deathmatch levels q2dm1 – q2dm8 cycle themselves. So, to have a server that uses both the regular quake2 levels and the q2dm levels in the point release you have to have a mod. These mods also provide a Message of the Day, this is a message that is displayed to players on first connect. Now, these mods also address some gameplay additions. Lithium adds a tractor beam style grappling hook, and 5 powerup runes to the game. Serverconfig mod only provides the ability to modify weapon properties. These mods also provide behind the scenes features such as frag logging for stats, VWEP support. The other major feature is customization. With Lithium the server admin can configure the weapon speeds, damage, ban certain weapons, etc. But, at heart these are the same game as regular DM, players still run around collecting items and fragging each other.

Capture the Flag:
Teamplay mod. This adds some common features like powerup runes and a grapple, but the main difference is the teamplay concept. The goal is no longer to frag as many opponents as possible. The goal is to break into the enemy teams’ base grab their flag and make it back to your base with their flag, while at the same time making sure they didn’t get your flag. You can’t damage teammates health, but you can damage their armor. So, this mod introduces some strategy to the game. A good team needs defense for the home base and a strong offense to break thru the enemy defense and make it back alive. There are other variations of this Teamplay concept, two teams fight for an objective in order to score. Killing the opponent is a secondary goal. (LMCTF, Vanilla CTF, Jailbreak, Powerball, etc)

Rocket Arena:
This mod places players on even ground. Players start with all weapons (as configured by the server admin) and armor. There are no powerups, no health, or anything else to pick up in the levels. You can’t blame getting fragged on the other guy having a better weapon, or camping by the BFG. It’s just straight head to head action. Play can be 1 on 1 or teams as each arena settings dictate. (players can vote on changes to each arena as needed) A number of observation modes are available for those players waiting to fight. There are some other similar mods that facilitate head to head matches.

With all these Modifications available the question becomes “What is Quake2?” Purists would say that Straight Deathmatch is the REAL Quake2.  While others would say that Quake2 is defined by it’s variations, Id Software made the game to be extremely customizable, and Straight DM is just one vision of the game. The longevity of Quake2 as a dominant multiplayer game is going to be it’s variations. It was also stated that Straight DM is what tournaments are played on, and that’s what people should play. Well, the PGL’s quake 1 tournaments weren’t played on straight DM. It was a mod that had chase mode, a timer, etc. There may not have been any changes to the gameplay , but it was still a mod. And players should be able to adapt to the game.

I have different opinions about tournaments as well. I play quake2 because it’s fun, not to prepare for some tournament. I’m not trying to make money from quake and I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much if I was. Tournaments should state their goals. Is a tournament designed to favor the best Head to Head player? Then Rocket Arena should be the game played. Is the goal to find the best DM player? Then straight DM should be played (or something close to it). But, regardless of the goal. Tournaments should be played on NEW MAPS that NO ONE playing in the tournament has EVER SEEN. Playing on standard maps does not truly test all the DM skills. It lacks EXPLORATION, LEARNING the map, and establishing strategy on the fly. These are skills that most players lack as we all end up playing the same maps over and over and over.
(that’s a personal rant)

So, what does all this mean? If you are a tournament player should you only play straight DM? Should we all play only one mod? I personnally like the variety of playing different styles of the game. And I don’t think it degrades my game. In fact, I know that playing Rocket Arena has strengthened my Head to Head skills. I’m sure that all players can adjust to the differences between mods. I’m not just developing Quake2 skills, the same skills carry over to other games. I feel that flexibilty is important. So why limit yourself to just one Mod? Get Gamespy out and find a new variant to play, in the end I think you’ll be a better player.


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