3×24 Mapping Competition Series Announcement

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

I am very pleased to announce the next mapping competition series.

As I am sure you have guessed it’s called the 3×24.

This is just the series announcement. A proper site and full details, hopefully including the intro video, will be available in the New Year.

Basic Details

A mapping competition series of 3 events, each lasting 24 days – that’s 4 complete weekends.

Each competition will have a detailed theme and have the possibility of each entrant continuing on from their previous entry or just submitting a stand alone entry.

There will be an 8 week’s break between each competition. The exact dates and times are below:
Competition 1: 11:00pm GMT Fri 11th January – 11:00pm GMT Sunday 3rd February
Competition 2: 11:00pm GMT Fri 5th April – 11:00pm GMT Sunday 28th April
Competition 3: 11:00pm GMT Fri 28th June – 11:00pm GMT Sunday 21st July

If a mapper enters all 3 competitions then they will have the opportunity to polish all three entries and release as an updated mod.

The objective is to provide mappers with a global framework for a proper mod, with a beginning, a middle and an end.

Once the second competition has been announced, mappers will be allowed to make small modifications to the end of their last entry, but nothing too significant. Larger changes will be allowed if they enter all 3 competitions.

As with the 6×10 Series, I won’t be announcing the themes until the start day of each competition so mappers won’t be able to continue working on their maps.

To ensure that entrants don’t simple continue working on their mod, there will be some thematic elements that will provide additional design decisions. Hopefully this will make it difficult for them to simply create something and then try to “fit” it to the announced theme.

I will also require entrants to include (NOT make) at least 2 new models per entry. I will encourage them to PakRat them, just in case others try to use a different model for the same item (the barrel, for example) causing me issues with creating a mod. The use of freely available textures is also encouraged.

Both of the above points are to ensure each entry can have its own atmosphere and design, but still have the overall feel of being in the Half-Life universe.

General rules will apply to all competitions for example a maximum of 2 maps per entry, and also competition specific rules.

There will be a small prize for each competition and and overall prize for mappers who enter all three competitions.

That prize will be awarded after a period of “polish”. I will then be judging the final, finish mod not the 3 individual entries. Significant changes will NOT be allowed at this stage.

I hope to make this prize by far the biggest, making it worthwhile for mappers to seriously consider entering all three comps.

So, for now, just ponder and wait for the first competition’s proper announcement.


  1. 24 days is better than 10 :)
    So when we see the second theme, we will think of a way to connect the second map to the first? So we can end the first map, for example, the player falls down a pit and the screen goes black?

    Will the themes be similar to the ones we have seen? Or will it be more specific, less specific?

    1. So when we see the second theme, we will think of a way to connect the second map to the first? So we can end the first map, for example, the player falls down a pit and the screen goes black?

      I can’t be specific but I have covered exactly how mappers will finish and start each map.

      Will the themes be similar to the ones we have seen? Or will it be more specific, less specific?

      No, the themes won’t be similar to the others. No, I can’t be more or less specific. Sorry.

  2. WizardExt

    Interesting competition, it seems well thought out. I like how the final result generates a full singleplayer mod. If some mappers only compete in 1 of the 3 competitions, should they treat their entries as maps? I see a huge difference between entering 1 or 3 times when it comes to building a start-mid-end to the map/mod.

    I don’t understand the 2-new-models and pakrat thing. Will you provide the models and how can there be a conflict?

    The length of each competition is better than the recent 10 day competition, which for me was too stressful. Nice to add a break between the competitions.

    A great way to kick of a promising Half-Life 2 singleplayer year! :)

    1. If some mappers only compete in 1 of the 3 competitions, should they treat their entries as maps?

      Yes, they can treat them as maps. But that’s the same as people who enter all three.

      I don’t understand the 2-new-models and pakrat thing. Will you provide the models and how can there be a conflict?

      I included the 2 models because I wanted each mapper to try and add something new without having to actually create something. The conflict thing could be my misunderstanding modding. I didn’t want people to have replacement models for the same item and it to cause issues with other maps released at the same time.

    2. JG

      I like the details of this contest, but I also wonder about the 2 models requirement. It seems like an odd prerequisite, given the lack of explanation over how they are expected to be used and judged. At face value, it feels like the intent is to encourage an entrant to make custom models that extend the Half-Life universe and feel, but the “barrel” example leaves me wondering how such a model accomplishes that.

      1. I don’t expect or want people to make models. The idea behind the requirement is to get new elements into the maps and give the players something new. Even new barrels can change the feel.

        1. JG

          Maybe barrels are a bad example, but I think it is worth explaining how these additions would be judged. Is it a matter of creating/using models that have a great impact on gameplay (“I just Gravity Gun-ed a beehive at that guy!”), or is it more about giving the player something different to look at (“Oh, I’ve never seen that fuse box before.”)? Should a contest model ideally do both? :)

      2. The lack of explanation regarding the use and judging is much clearer than it seems. If, and after all the discussion I will rethink their inclusion, they were used then that’s all the use and judging required. What I wanted to do was push mappers to learn new skills but not actually “judge” them on them.

        I honestly thought that it would be a simple case of finding a model and importing the files into hammer. The same as a new texture.

        There are so many good models out there that it seemed a good idea to let players have a change from the “sameiness” of the standard ones.

        As mentioned elsewhere, the inclusion of this idea was not about MAKING models, just using them.

  3. Very interesting. I won’t be able to enter the first one because of January exams, but if I am not too busy, I will definitely try my hardest to enter the other two. I have yet to submit anything into any of your competitions and have a lot of unfinished maps on my old hard-drive but this time I really want to submit something..

    I will attempt to enter the first one but will work after my exams finish (21st) but I doubt i’ll make anything substantial.


    1. Great, I hope you find time.

  4. Cfilth

    It’s not very clear so i’m going to ask, does it HAVE to be a source engine game? No other games allowed? Suppose a unreal mod or doom 3 mod, wouldnt be accepted in the competition?

    1. Yes, as with all my competitions (except one) the maps must run under Episode Two, but that will all be covered in the proper post/site in a week or so.

      1. Ohhh what a pity. That was my question as well.

        I guess for me this competition became uninteresting now :(
        What a shame we are not allowed to map for GoldSRC.

  5. This is great news. I didn’t enter any of the 6×10 competitions, even tho I started working on some of them, because I’m a very slow worker, so being that this is more than double the time I expect to be able to finish all three.

    As with everyone I’m intrigued about the models requirement. I expect for most people that don’t do this more professionaly, or don’t intend to, will have a very hard time figuring out how to import their models into source and will have to resort to getting them online which might not suit what they want to do and is still a time consuming project if you need to learn how. I’ve spent about 5 hours trying to import a simple poker chip into L4D2 and I barely understand anything. (The lack of guides and tutorials online doesn’t help either).

    I would find it better if they were not required but rather encouraged, simply because this is for the source engine. If it were for say UDK, then I’d be fine with it because it’s much simpler to do.

    I love that each entry is supposed to connect to each other which is what I suggested in the 6×10 recap post.(not saying that you took my idea but if it influenced you that’s awesome :D). I just hope that we can choose how the story progresses somehow and make the finale of the third entry our own and not be restricted to certain rules.

    1. I will rethink the “required” aspect and perhaps change it to “encouraged”.

      I had the idea whilst doing the podcast when one of the guest mentioned that he thought the comps were going to be connected, but your comment also added to the feeling that it could be fun to do.

      All three parts will have thematicrestrictions otherwise there is nothing to stop people making it out of competition time. Yes, you will be able to have significant control over the final story outcome.

  6. I’m looking forward to starting.

    The model requirement isn’t a big deal, just port a couple of things over from another source game.

  7. Sounds interesting, I might see if I can free up time for one or two entries.

    However I feel the model thing is a little perplexing in what it’ll achieve
    I know one or two possible developers may be deterred from having to mess around with out-of-hammer areas (e.g. Model importing, BSP embedding, VTF/VMT creation).
    Im not saying it’s difficult, it isn’t, but I know that if I were two years less experienced with Source, I would be put off.
    Not wishing to invoke bad blood, but VoiceVille relied on a similar out-of-the-basics workflow requirement, and I feel that may have put a lot of people off

    Secondly, I’m not sure if making people add 2 custom models will really do…anything. Adding in a barrel which is a different shape or colour won’t create anything new in a map.

    I think coming up with a universal yet engaging theme is what’s important in generating new content.

    Regardless, I look forward to the chosen themes, and if I can come up with something worthwhile, I shall endeavour to at least try and work on something new

    1. If they are willing to work out how to import models (before the start date) then they are probably motivated enough to make and submit a decent map.

      I don’t mean to sound harsh..

    2. I had two objectives when including the models requirement.

      1. To encourage mappers to learn new skills. This is one of the underlying objectives of the competitions. To create a situation where instead of saying they will eventually learn “X” they have a clear motivation for doing so.

      2. Because I feel that little changes to the feel of the maps can make a huge difference overall. Once mapper start to use new content they can really make their maps stand out. Yes, two models is not much, but I said a minimum of two models and they could use more.

      Alas, you are right about VoiceVille but I still contend is was a great idea.

  8. MisterAddy

    Thanks for organising another mapping competition! The idea of coming up with a complete mod at the end does sound really cool. I have had my own Source mod in the works for a little while now but I keep having to put it on hold due to school work.

    I really hope to take part, although I will have to start the first one late due to my exams. I don’t really like the idea of adding custom models, could you possibly substitute it for custom textures or sounds, because they are simpler and quicker to make and import, but they could have big effect on the mod.

    1. Glad to hear you might enter. Yes, I will also encourage other types of new content and may drop the models requirement.

  9. Mr.Walrus

    I’m a fan of the more generous timespan, and I love how all three competitions can link together into a sole mod. It’s certainly going to be fun and interesting competition, I hope I’ll be able to participate!

    Though like most of the others who have commented here, I’m a bit confused by the two-model requirement. They might not be hard to import, but I don’t really see their point. If a map needs models outside of default HL2, I’m all for the creator being allowed to bring them in, but if not, why require it?

    Anyway, either way the models issue goes, I’m just happy to see that the competitions are going on, and based on such a good concept too! Sort of a “tutorial” to transition mappers to modders, an excellent idea. Definitely looking forward to this.

    1. I put the “requirement” in to force people to learn new skills but the current response makes it clear that it could easily become a negative aspect of the competition and I don’t want that.

  10. Mr. Walrus

    Quick question: do our entries necessarily have to take place in the standard HL2 universe? Seeing as its slightly more mod-like, could we bring the player to some sort of “Mistake of Pythagoras”-style alternative twist on HL2, or an entirely new setting beyond HL2?

    1. No, they don’t have to but I think it would be quite difficult to great something within the themes I have planned.

  11. If people just knew how easy it is to make Source models using Blender 3D, there would be alot of interesting maps. But the think is, people THINK its too complicated and would rather not get involved. I recently took steps and decided I wanted to make a model. Compiling the model and getting it to work in source is really easy, but learning the program is kinda difficult. The best change I think is to change the appearance of the Wooden Crate. Its in so many maps it would be a nice change for the eye.

    Sorry about the rant, what I say is, I CAN make models, but its really hard to think of what models you could do.

    1. I didn’t find it so easy to import the model onto source. Making the model ye, its not so hard if you know the 3D modeling program, but learning how to import it onto source, even with the help of official documentation creates a lot of confusion.

      If the model requiriment does go into effect it would be nice if someone from the community could make a quick guide/tutorial on importing the model in a way that makes it look less complicated.

      1. Ade

        That’s exactly what I was thinking, this cries out for a custom model importing tutorial. It’s a lil push for mappers to learn new things and like others said, to take their work further into a mod.

        GL all!

  12. This is probably not the best place to ask this but since some of you seem to have no problems with importing models into source I’d like to ask it anyway.

    I’ve spent pretty much the whole day trying to learn how to properly make and use a custom model and I feel I’m really close and that every problem comes down to one small oversight.

    I’ve created the model in blender and have been able to export it into smd and then compile it in mdl and it shows up in-game and in model viewer without problems except for the texture.

    I’ve tried various different changes to the qc, vmt, vtf and even started from scratch (deleted everything and created an interally new model) two times and haven’t been able to change a thing.

    Right now this is how my qc file looks like:

    $modelname “mymodels\roadbarrier.mdl”
    $cdmaterials “models\mymodels”
    $scale “10”
    $body mybody “roadbarrier.smd”
    $surfaceprop concrete
    $sequence idle “roadbarrier.smd”
    $collisionmodel “roadbarrier.smd” { $concave }

    And my vmt:

    $baseTexture “models\mymodels\roadbarrier_diffuse”
    $model “1”

    I’m assuming the problem is in one of them because the model works perfectly fine in-game (even tho the scaling is kinda off).

    “roadbarrier_diffuse” is a vtf under game_dir\materials\models\mymodels that has the same name as the TGA file I used in blender and the folder “mymodels” is under game_dir\models and game_dir\materials\models respectively.

    The game is question is ep2, obviously.

    If both of those files don’t seem to have a problem are there any common mistakes I could perhaps try to fix ?

    Thanks in advace.

    1. JG

      This isn’t my area of experience, but it might help to explain what exactly is wrong with the texture. Is it showing up as the pink checkerboard, or is there more to it than that? :)

      1. It’s not loading up the texture yes, so it’s showing up as a pink checkerboard.

        1. If the .vtf of the texture(s) are in the right path (sometihng like materials/models or models/materials) and the corresponding .vmt file tells the path of those .vtf’s then it should work… many problems are caused by the .vmt not refering to the right .vtf in the right place.

          There is one .vmt for every .vtf and it is the information about that .vtf.

          I recommend you also use normal and occlusion maps (just like textures but have their own .vmt properties to say they are normal/bump or occlusion).

          1. Thanks for the response.
            On the first and second models I did normal and spec textures for it but after that I just couldn’t be bothered and just wanted to get the model working.

            I’ll check to see if the paths I gave are correct. Also when I export the model to smd, does it matter if I applied a texture to it in the actual 3D modelling tool or would it be fine just UV-unwrapping ?

          2. It’s fixed. Thanks for the help mate.

            Apparently the files were in the correct place it’s just that the mdl was trying to look for a different texture name.

            I downloaded a program called MDL Texture Information and it showed that the MDL was trying to use a vmf by the name of “material” which was the name of the model’s material in blender. (I left the material in blender default). I thought that the MDL would look for a vmf by the same name has itself instead of carrying over the material from blender.

            Anyway for anyone that might still be getting troubles importing their model or just doesn’t want to go throught the hasle of learning it I’ll write a simple guide to it once the official post for the contest goes up and share with people then so that hopefully we can get more entries in.

  13. JG

    Also, given that each contest is a little more than 3 weeks long, what was the rationale behind the 8 weeks between contests? Half a year to reach the end of a contest makes me wonder if interest can really be sustained for that long.

    1. That’s a fair point and I don’t have an issue shortening the time. The thinking behind it was thatfor 3 weekends and the weeks in between, I wanted to give people enough time to catch up on things they might have neglected. With the 6×10, it was 1/3 comp and 2/3s rest. I tried to keep the ratio similar. I promise to look again at the break time.

      1. MisterAddy

        I think the timings are about right – I think there’s only so much mapping people can stand in a short space of time!

  14. Well, you do make a fair point Philip. This does give a big motivation to learn and go more in-depth into model creation and enviroment art in general. I had tried to learn it before but not nearly to extent that I am now. Right now I take back what I said and would actually like there to be the requirement but I imagine others won’t have the same opinion, perhaps because they might see this as just a hobby and not something they might want to pursue.

  15. UtharQ

    Hey Phillip I want to know one thing. In this competition can I use models from sites like this one: http://thefree3dmodels.com/ ?

    1. Yes, as long as you can get them to work!

  16. I was really unsure if I was going to enter this competition because my recent lack of inspiration. Then I played the mod “Depot” and that got me really inspired. I have dozens of Ideas now and hopefully I will be able to use them depending on the themes.

    I’m really exited now :)

  17. ikar

    If you have a problem with the ideas, I have a couple of :)

    @Tobeas: where can I get the book: “How to use Blender for Source Moddings for Dummyes” by Tobeas 86 ? :)

    @Phillip: – great contest! PP – still is Cake!

    @all: how I envy you – I have an idea, but the maximum that I can write a scenario and make a models in 3D max :(
    (btw this idea intersects with depot – it’s inspired by http://www.planetphillip.com/posts/maunsell-sea-forts-real-theme/ and will look ~like depot environment, but concentrated on puzzles with making|repairing bridges with hoisting cranes(derricks), car jumping and force fields swithcing, plus some battles with zombies in caves and ant lions in the shallows (shelf) )

  18. TheDeadCamper

    Man… I really want to participate again, but this one in particular has come at an inconvenient time (though… the same can be said for the last few times for me).

    I’ll see what I can do, but I’ll be lucky if I can even get my PC back in time from the movers. :(

    Still want to try regardless!

  19. The_Blazer

    I’d like to enter, but do Propper models count? In case you don’t know, Propper is a tool which allows you to create an object in Hammer, like you would create a map, and then convert it to a model, so that it can be used with “prop” entities (used to place models in a map).

    If propper models do count, then the model problem will be sorted for me (and probably other mappers).

    Propper info: https://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Propper

    1. I wrote a simple guide on how to import custom models to source, but I have no idea where I should post it. If anyone knows a good place please go ahead.

    2. Don’t worry, I have decided to remove the model requirement – too many people had concerns and I don’t want to negatively affect the number of entries even though I am trying to encourage learning new skills.

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