This is namely for FPS mods. There are plenty of people working on RTS and RPG mods of all sorts, but I don't follow those genres too closely.
Where to start? I've noticed a change in the mod scene since I first started following it years ago. Some changes are inevitable, I suppose. You always want to top what other people have created before you, so every new engine and game that gets released we see modders trying to top the "last engine generation" of mods. And now gamers really expect it. This will be a bit of a rant with random thoughts thrown around as they pop into my head. Ready?
For you HL2 modders. A fine engine to be sure. You've got some nice tools, can have physics objects laying about, and that water sure is pretty. Just...come up with a better name you unoriginal pricks. Stop putting "Source" into the name of your mod. It's a HL2 mod, so of course it uses the Source engine. You don't have to remind us. Even worse is if you have made a mod before, and now you're porting it to HL2 with the name "Old Mod: Source." Look at Alien Swarm: Infested or Frontline Force: Classic for updates that don't have Source in the name. Don't follow Valves example.
Release Early, Release Often
Everyone loves a total conversion. It's like getting a whole new game for free! Mod teams hold on to and work on their mod for months and years before they release anything to the public.
This needs to change.
Stop holding on to your mod for so long. Get it out there, get it played by people, get feedback that you can use to improve the game. People see a cool mod and start to follow it. After a year of development they can lose interest. If you let them play even your half finished version they will help you improve your game and stick around to see updates. Look at Plan of Attack, for HL2. Yes it's early and not as polished as it could be, but it's out there. People are playing it and enjoying themselves, the developers now know of things to change or improve on. I believe the mod will do well because of this.
On the same note, props to Epic making that a requirement for the Make Something Unreal contest. If you entered, you had to have a public release of the mod. Every deadline entry date everyone would have a large selection of mods and maps to play.
I'm excited for some remakes. Frontline Force, Zombie Panic, and who can turn down Fortress and CrateDM? However, I'm more excited for the original mods I've seen. Project Hull Breech, Valandil, Dystopia, and The Hidden. One of the best mods I've played in recent years is AirBuccaneers. Pirates in hot air balloons shooting cannons at each other? Its awesome. Remakes are just dandy, but creating something new is much more rewarding. Oh, and if you are making "Yet Another Realism Mod" and can describe it as "Counter Strike meets...." stop right there.
The other side to this section deals with using other peoples intellectual property (IP). There are plenty of mods that do this. Remake GoldenEye or Perfect Dark, Duke 3D on a new engine, the Aliens movies, or whatever else you can think of. Be sure to email the people that own the IP before you even think about starting production. You will save yourself a lot of time and heartache. Many, many mods have been shut down after quite a lot of work has gone into them. Don't be one of them, get permission before you start like Troopers: Dawn of Destiny did.
Please? For me? I'll download a mod thats 300MB full release. Then after a while the new release comes out and its 350MB with no patch, full install only. This pisses me off to no end. The majority of space in a mod is art, right? Models, textures, sounds...did this all get updates or something? I know us modem humpers are getting more and more rare, but we're still around. Even if its only a 50MB savings, thats a good several hours saved of download time.
Ah, now I feel good after getting that all out.