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David Johnston


How to topple Counter-Strike

Everyone who wants to make a mod wants it to be a popular as Counter-Strike. They want the fame, the fortune, the fans, and/or the flames. That's why searching on Google for "hl mod" gives 5 million results, and 95% of the mods listed are touting themselves as "better than Counter-Strike."

Below I reveal the secret "10-step process" that these CS beaters use.

1. Think of a cool name

The most important step of all. You need a really cool name for your mod. Preferably, this name will either (a) make no sense at all, or (b) instantly describe what the mod is all about. Since we haven't decided what the mod is all about, it has to be (a). Using the words 'urban', 'strike', 'super', 'fire' or 'attack' (or any combination of those) is essential. Use of the letter 'X' and hyphens may also be appropriate. Alternatively, look on a chemistry website for a cool-sounding compound and use that.

2. Make a website

No mod is complete without a website. Typically this will consist of an overdone title image at the top (with a gun somewhere in the picture), a list of links like "News, Media, Team, Files, Screenshots, Downloads, Videos, Forums, FAQ." Note that only the "news" page works, and the remaining links are there simply to fill up space.

3. Hire as many people as you can as fast as you can

Without people to make a mod, you'll never have a mod! Go onto as many level design, game programming and game fansites as you can, head for their forums and post things like this:

Join my mod
I'm making a mod and I need:
4 programmers, 5 mappers, 6 modellers, 2 animators, 2 sound makers

The mod is a secret but I can promise it'll be more popular than cs!!!!!!!111/1/1!!!

And await responses like this:

hi i've just learned how to make a map can i join your mod!!!!!!!!!

Once you've got 5 lua programmers, 10 'i-made-my-house' mappers, 1 'maya?' modeller/animator, and a guy who's got a pirated copy of Cool Edit, you're all set.

4. Tell them what to do

Tell the programmers to code some new weapons with some cool special effects and fancy graphics. Tell the modeller to make weapon models, player models, item models, textures, HUD art, website art, and a customised avatar for you. Tell the mappers to make some maps (that's all you need to tell them), and tell the sound maker to find some cool music ('Tool', 'KoRn' or a FruityLoops demo track are all ideal.) On the back of a napkin, draw your own concept drawings of big, muscle-bound soldiers and put these in the 'screenshots' area of your website.

5. Work out what you need

This is quite easy. You need at least 20 weapons, 20 maps, 20 player models, 20 sounds, 20 game modes and 20 'fans' registered on your forum.

6. Post news

Don't ever forget your website! It is the hub of all information about your mod. It's where everyone will download it from. It's where your fans mingle. It's where you put your multiple Google Adsense banner ads.

Every few days, badger your mod slaves to send you a cool screenshot of what they're doing. A rendered model of a gun or an obscure pickup will work. Dress the screenshot up with the mod name and invent a logo. Overbrighten it. Say that everyone is hard at work and you're still looking for people to hire.

7. Work out what your mod is all about

Now is the time to spend 5 minutes thinking about how your mod will play. It's definitely got to be team-based, and consist of teams going around in packs using SAS-like maneouvres to out-think and out-gun the enemy team, just like in the movies. It needs lots of weapons (several of which are functionally identical) that make cool 'zap' sounds and look completely impractical. Make sure the gamepla- oh there's something on the telly.

Under no circumstances give the rest of the team any of the above information. Simply tell them it's a secret, it's going to be "better and bigger than Counter-Strike" and that they should be spending less time at school and more time working on your mod.

8. Hire new team members

For some reason the old ones don't appear on MSN anymore and are ignoring your e-mails. They were crap anyway and made everything wrong - it was nothing like what you expected. Get some fresh talent in.

9. Make your mod.

No explanation necessary, this bit is really easy peasy indeed.

10. Release your mod

This step is irrelevant.


  1. LOL! Great entry, man! :) Made me laugh. I'm going to submit it to shoutwire.com, so hopefully you'll get more positive traffic coming your way :)
  2. I can't help but think you meant that... but then your uber skills would be made redundant ;) I agree with all those steps, perhaps another person should be hired to spread the word of the mod by visiting all those CSS servers and spamming with 'CSS SUXXORS TEH BIG 1 GO ON www.blahblahblah .com !' -It gives the admins a purpose on the server.
  3. I see this all the time on loads of forums, funny how they only ever make one or two posts then vanish from existence. Kudos to the teams who manage to pull stuff out of that and actually make good stuff, but I totally agree; there are too many wanna-be-five-minute-projects that last just as long as the 12 year olds attention span.
  4. Aww, I was hoping for some SERIOUS tips. I see it all the time. Modders asking for help but they don't have more than a sentence to say about the game itself. Maybe I just like reading about game design, but I can't get excited about a mod unless I see that the makers have done some real thought about making a unique game.
  5. Haha, every team leader's darkest secrets just got exposed.
  6. lol, nice. Now I can finally begin work on my remake of Chex-Blaster in the Source engine!
  7. lol, nice. Now I can finally begin work on my remake of Chex-Blaster in the Source engine!
  8. You forgot to answer all questions regarding the release date with "When it's done!" followed by a ":)" so people can't get angry at you.
  9. lol. "No set date yet, but it's really coming along!:D :D :D"
  10. Hey, don't knock it until you've tried it. http://www.urbanterror.net/ has been saying "when it's done" for the last two years and the fans are still happy waiting for our next release :-P
  11. Also, plug your mod in the most blatant and unneccessary fashion like the person above me
  12. Hehe. Nice one :) I can apply this to several mods.
  13. Made me smile. :) Sadly enough, the guys that know better usually take on much more demanding projects, often failing too, just a few years later and a bunch of experience richer... Motivation and dedication are intangible things indeed...
  14. I think the article's mainly about the current trend of trying to "complete" mods before even releasing a first beta. We all know how Counter-Strike started. Somehow it's gotten unpopular to use default content for early betas. All models/textures/sounds have to be custom. I guess a few mods started doing it that way and now every mod feels like it has to do it, too. Because of the "competition".
  15. That makes sence. Early versions should be about the gameplay. Let people make suggestions or complaints, and see how it works. It doesn't need to look amazing.
  16. Mods could definitely learn a lot from the 'release easly, release often' paradigm... it works for software, it worked for CS, it worked for DoD. Some mods only get a new release when there are considerable changes from the previous version. That's bad - it means everyone has to adjust, and features and bugs start bouncing all over the place because of all the changes. Gradual, frequent change suits mod development much better.
  17. There are so few huge mods because no one will ever realize that philosophy, its much easier to spend a ton of time making some hollow art assets and having a "BE PATIENT" attitude towards releases than it is to ever actually make a game.
  18. I've coded for mods using both systems, I think they both have advantages: you get feedback and build up a community using RERO, but you get a close feeling among the team/testers and more control over the 1.0 release of the mod when you do internal betas. I don't think one system always works better: talent, determination and luck seem to play a bigger role. Thanks for the blog, a good read as usual.
  19. My mod was going absolutely BRILLIANTLY, except the lead mapper had a hard disk crash (again), our forums got hacked (again) and thus we had to cancel everything. http://www.hylobatidae.org/minerva/sellout/sellout-3.html ... I'm still convinced most modders would rather play at games developers than actually develop games - the cargo-cult approach outlined in the Great Johnsto's article above seems all-too-prevalent... :-)
  20. Modders should use betas as a playtest resource. I don't think it's about fulfilling all player's wishes. Of course all players want the radar and the AK7 but it's the modder's job to ignore things that don't fit into the concept and try to find the real problem which is often hidden (and not as obvious as "the Sniper Rifle is too powerful!111"). If you see players, lots of players, play a mod you have a picture of the gameplay mechanics and dynamics you can never get with a handful of internal testers. This is just one of the negative side of lots of different releases. People complain about superficial things but sometimes that's not what the modder should change for the next release. I've seen a couple of changes to Mods over the years that seemed to be just desperate attempts to hush some whiny players and didn't add much positive to gameplay.
  21. Hehe... reminds me a little of my actions to reanimate COLDICE. Sadly i got all the old stuff(Sounds,gfx,Code) from the original Team and the second team in which i already worked for, but no comments at all :( I guess everyone knows what im talking about when i mention COLDICE right?!
  22. I'm loving it. :) This, gentlemen, is typically how a mod is created on facepunchstudios forums.
  23. dont forget to add zombies