The Critischism was a saga which consisted of smaller dramas spread across many mod comment sections on ModDB. It has caused a major, long-standing divide in the community. The topic of contention was criticism.
One group of users argued that bad modders should only be praised so that they continue modding and improving on their own. The other camp was people who were in favor of criticism, arguing that it will help modders improve and that showering them in praise would cause them to rest on their laurels.
While the Critischism was happening along many fronts, a few mods were particularly important for the whole thing.
In 2019, a pretty big drama went down around the Horror Rebuild (a.k.a. Horror Rebuilded, as it was titled at first) mod.
Horror Rebuild was a mod aiming to revamp the base campaign of Amnesia, however basically every single edit done to it was in poor taste and actively made the game worse.
it’s a complete musics and monster sounds remaking
– ErenKruger’s description of the mod
The mod is also managed like crap. Potential players are greeted with a huge wall of text and around two dozen download files. There is no “default” download. Most of them are incomplete and won’t run on their own. The player is expected to pick a “base” version and then piece together several downloads and patches to make the mod work. This is not disclaimed anywhere.
Some of the masterful changes that this mod introduces to the game are:
- Swap music in some levels with music stolen from other mods and games, most of which doesn’t fit the tone of the original soundtrack
- Randomly pitch the remaining songs up and down
- Change a bunch of sounds to mostly unfitting ones
- Increase the volume of all three of the above to deafening levels
- Add new monsters without context
- Add so many monster encounters that they become annoying rather than scary
- Alter the game balance, making it frustrating and unfair (also note that the mod has an even harder variant)
- Add new notes written in poor English
- Add random new levels, including “dream sequeynces”, some of which are among the worst pieces of crap to have ever been put on ModDB
- Add several shitty jumpscares
- Breaking the game and needing a full reinstall to fix it
Needless to say, the above changes completely obliterated all scariness that the base game had, earning the mod the nickname “Horror Refuck”. To cite one of the best reviews:
The scariest part? Realizing you downloaded this crap.
Frankly, your mod doesn’t deserve to have the Amnesia name tied to it.
As if the mod itself wasn’t already a mess, it also turned out that ErenKruger based it on someone else’s mod to not have to learn how the configuration actually works:
Search the folder named time_distortion(the reason of why it use the same name of the other mod is because they are the same full conversion base) and open it
While there was no major comment wars between other users, some drama did appear, with ErenKruger being salty about bad reviews and engaging in some hot comment-deleting action.
He also made sure to annoy the crap out of everyone with this mod by constantly bumping it to the top of the mod list, to the point that several people mentioned it in their reviews.
Lost Family, Krole’s (a.k.a. Secretial) first non-negligible1 mod was published in 2019 to unfavorable reviews after getting notoriety by changing release dates several times and re-publishing the mod once or twice when Krole discovered game-breaking bugs in the release. The mod had half-assed level art, annoying gameplay and technical issues, but Krole advertised it as a much better product in the mod description. He also begged everyone to review it, which ironically led to him being offended by people’s opinions.
The comment section spanned a whopping 15 pages filled with minor criticism, Krole having several back-and-forths with Shyrtexx and Krole being generally whiny. While there was no massive drama related to reviews, Krole was visibly passive-aggressive about them, making this mod contribute to the early days of the Critischism.
Krole would soon publish a much improved “Remastered” version of the mod, which wasn’t free of controversy either, especially with him bumping the mod to the top of the mod list quite often and keeping it in people’s minds.
The Critischism saga culminated with the “Hunting Grounds: Aftergame” drama in 2020, where major hostilities were exchanged.
HGA is the ground zero of the Critischism and spanned several (definitely more than 3) pages of comments under the mod, as well as several reviews. It was basically the most severe drama that the community saw in the ModDB era.
Unfortunately most of the evidence about this drama is unavailable now, so it is hard to document this drama properly. However, the initial events can still be reconstructed:
- Timan writes an unfavorable review of the mod
- A day after Timan’s review gets posted, some absolute asswipe creates an alt account called Executionist with the sole purpose of writing a wall-of-text review countering Timan’s review in massively retarded ways, such as calling major complaints “nit picks” and entirely missing the point of the criticism because of poor english. In fact the review doesn’t even pretend to be one, as it does not contain any original remarks about the mod, instead containing only counters to Timan’s review and directly citing it. Obviously, the review also goes out of its way to sing praise to the mod and came with a 10/10 rating.
- The same asswipe writes another wall of text in the comments, again complaining about Timan’s review at massive lengths and praising the mod.
- Darkfire blames the creators in the following exchange:
- While Executionist’s identity was never discovered, it is worth noting that after 3 years, there was basically zero new activity on the account. After posting the HGA review and comments, the account only posted a single new review and then in March 2020 a comment, and hasn’t been online since. What’s also interesting is that the only friend added by Executionist is TheBackPackPlayer94.
- Anyway, CustomStoryGatherers proceeds to also start arguing with Timan’s criticism.
- A massive fight about the validity and need for criticism breaks out between CustomStoryGatherers, Darkfire, Asashio, HappyMatt, Shyrtexx, someone posting under a Guest account, Shelldown (one of the most toxic assholes on the website), HumiliatoR, Executionist, Secretial, TheBackPackPlayer94, SwankestCZ and probably others
- In the meantime, CustomStoryGatherers and Swankest post overly positive reviews to inflate the score. Some others, like Shyrtexx, also review the mod with lower ratings to prove their points.
- Towards the end of the HGA drama, HappyMatt has famously thrown a fit about it and quit modding.
- TheBackPackPlayer94 and Teezah (the other creator of the mod) have refused to address any of the issues which were discussed in reviews and comments.
|HGA was a yet another mod to be spammed to the top of the list (noticing a pattern here…). Also note TheSuckFuckSneeder94 being very humble about his painfully mediocre mod and contradicting himself about spamming|
As to the quality of the mod itself, the possibly most objective review comes from KiraImmortal, an individual who has been around the community for a very long time but always steered clear of drama, who gave it a 6/10 and critised several elements, such as the mod having inflated playtime, annoying gameplay and a boring story. Similar comments and reviews were also made by other users unrelated to the drama.
The fallout from this drama was seen for a good year afterwards: various forms of saltiness spilled onto other mods and even ModDB’s main page for Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
As a result of the drama, several trolling operations have surfaced after HGA:
- Darkfire and Timan co-creating several mods under their separate alts
- Shyrtexx and Krusti creating a few of their own, mainly the Escape Mansin series. It was a thing before HGA, but got several entries afterwards
- Several other troll mods, presumably created by solo actors.
While the troll mods of the past were mostly a meme-ridden mess with many jumpscares and dumb crap made mostly for the amusement of YouTubers and players, this new wave of troll mods was a much more clandestine form of trolling.
These mods were mostly dedicated to ridiculing various modder practices and baiting moddbtard responses. They would usually disguised themselves as legitimate mods and often turn ModDB page presentation into parts of their mockery (sometimes going as far as writing development articles).
The saltiness resulting from the HGA drama as well from the audacity of making non-serious mods has led to banning of several of the above users.
The Tale of Two Alts goes further into the details of some of these events.
|Swankest being full of shit as always and giving very sound advice|
|A great summary of the official party line peddled by this very website|
An example of a small Critischism skirmish (under this mod):
Non-negligible mod i.e. it was longer than 2 minutes (“Secret Passage”) and had an attempt at a story (unlike “Mysterious Manor”). ↩