This post is in response to a question posed by Phillip of the wonderful PlanetPhillip.com.
The question posed was, why do mappers and modders post alpha versions of their work online?
I totally understand his point. Posting mapping work too early can have seriously detrimental effects on your final release.
1: there's no surprises for players when your map is finally released.
2: any great ideas you have will be undermined by the fact that it looks crap in alpha phase
3: it gives the opportunity for someone else to take youre idea, make it better and release it before you.
So given the clearly detrimental effects of releasing alpha versions it begs the question why would we mappers screw ourselves over in this way?
Well ya see its all about the ego...
Mapping is time consuming, its not necessarily hard, it just takes a while to make things look great. The functional side of mapping, getting the gameplay right for example actually takes little time to create in the editor. As I've said earlier in this blog, I can put together a working dev map to test an idea in less than 10 minutes.
So, I've come up with a great idea and got it working in a basic dev map but I can't share it with anyone!
I want someone else to play it and tell me I'm brilliant. I want a pat on the head and a cookie for coming up with such a brilliant game device....
It's addictive when you get good feedback.
In order to share my fantastic ideas with the community, I would have to spend a month or more building a good looking level around my core gameplay idea.
But I want my pat on the head NOWWW!
It's the detailing that kills you as a mapper.
The community want Valve quality maps. Unfortunately, many of us mappers have partners, jobs, pets, family and other obligations which can limit the time we have to spend on our maps.
As a result the community often receive unfinished maps, maps that play well but look crap or vice versa.
I understand the frustration of reviewers like Phillip because I share it too...
All that potential, all those great ideas spread across 1000 unfinished maps. If you could just bring them all together...
...more on this idea soon...
As Brian has helpfully pointed out, I failed to mention that testing of your ideas is important as a mapper, even at the early stage.
The answer to this problem is, of course, to find a few close online friends who are happy to playtest for you and provide honest, detailed feedback.