August 2015 General Chat

Firstly, Woo Hoo! Summer is here and I am on holiday for a month. It’s greta knowing you don’t have to get up early if you don’t want to, although I was upo at 6:30am this morning to go cycling.

Secondly, sorry about not creating a July General chat post. It was all connected with my health issue, which I will update everyone on in the Sorry for the lack of updates post a bit later today. In short, I am more or less able to use the PC for most things, although I doubt I could actually play a game, mod or map for more than about 20 minutes still.

Lastly, I’ll begin to update the site over the coming days and might even have a little surprise project to post soon.

So, what’s on your mind?

Oh, I’m gonna post more images of my Nook screensaver this week. I now have about 5 Half-Life themed images.

Please do not post comments about amps or mods listed on the site – they MUST be posted on the relevant page, or else they might be deleted.

This Month’s Sci-Fi Movie

In June 2014, I started to use a poster from a classic Sci-Fi move as the background for the post image.

This month it is from The Atomic Monster (19419). Mad scientist turns a man into an electrically-controlled monster to do his bidding.
It’s got a 6.3 rating on IMDB, which is better than some modern movies.

Help me create more and better content - please support me on Patreon

Help me create more and better content - please support me on Patreon


  1. Zekiran

    Well I certainly hope that your recovery / treatment / relaxing goes okay! šŸ˜€

    For me, I’ve gotten some birthday money and put in a new hard drive and small fan in my computer, and thankfully it seems to have helped the noise a lot (you could hear my computer through the whole house, it was *really* loud) but now I have to move my Steam games *again*… That’s such a darn pain.

    Does anyone know how to get it to recognize that I want to MOVE the game, rather than uninstall / delete local content, and then reinstall which loses my info? It won’t recognize the games I did move to my 3rd, external, drive, and won’t let me point the settings at an existing drive (it says ‘this folder must be empty’). I used to use SteamMover, but that hasn’t been updated in a very long time, and I thought that this problem was fixed by Steam’s allowing you to choose destination folders, but I can’t seem to find any way to actually MOVE games, rather than the above delete/reinstall in their new location.

    1. Unq

      For what it’s worth, I found SteamMover to be the best way to move games to my SSD. Yes, Steam can now install in other directories but same as you, I didn’t want to delete, redownload, then reinstall all the mods etc. SteamMover works great, and it’s not permanent – you can move games back and forth when you like.

      1. That sounds like a great utility. I’ll search and maybe add it to the Links page.

        1. Zekiran

          Cool, I guess I’ll go back to it, though I had this problem originally because when my one hard drive died, it had the games I’d moved TO it on it. So all the Steam Mover links were broken. I’m not sure whether that’ll help in this situation.

  2. So, Windows 10. Thoughts? Concerns?

    I’m pretty mixed on it. I feel that for any step forward, there was also a step back. So, unless you really hated the 8.1 Start menu, I don’t see any real advantages here.

    Happy to say, I haven’t run into issues with Hammer, Faceposer or Half-LIfe itself. I do get occasional bouts of terrible framerate in a game session, which could just as easily be Nvidia’s typically unstable drivers as much as it’s Windows 10.

    1. Zekiran

      Oh goodness none for me thanks. Between the forced-install-location if you preordered, to outright spying on keystrokes and all communication… pfffnope.

      It’s an improvement as I’ve heard over 8, but more than likely that’s just for the folks on desktops like myself. 8 apparently works fine for tablet use or phones, they can have 8 on those all they want. But from what I’ve seen and heard, the UI is only an improvement over 8 marginally, and *not* any sort of improvement over 7’s.

      I’m happy with 7 and will keep it as long as it works.

      1. Iā€™m happy with 7 and will keep it as long as it works.

        I hear ya sister.

        (Is it okay to call you sister?)

        1. Zekiran

          It is absolutely okay šŸ™‚ *still reading for updates on your health šŸ˜‰ *

    2. I have to admit, after doing a clean install (which I didn’t plan on), pretty much all the random, weird little quirks have gone away. Everything is back up to speed. There’s definitely something imperfect about the upgrade process itself.

      Of course, it’s worth noting that you currently need to do the upgrade through Windows Update to qualify for the free upgrade. That’s the only way to link your key to it. You can’t do a clean install from the get-go. After you’ve upgraded once, then you can. Burning the disk was relatively painless and installation was the same as its been since Vista. Except, given that Windows 10 is new, you don’t have to wait for 3-4 hours of patches to download and install. As long as you did the Update upgrade in the past, it will automatically activate the license. šŸ™‚

      1. Zekiran

        Until you switch out a stick of ram or upgrade your rig… which I’ve been told completely invalidates the install and you have to buy the license full. I’m not positive that will continue to be the case, but that’s what I’ve heard about. I mean, I can understand it happening to want to *revalidate* but… not *buy*.

        1. Well, I had to swap internal DVD drives and it didn’t matter. For this machine, it doesn’t matter either way because upgrades are impractical for it.

          Every iteration of Windows brings out the doomsday cult yammering about these sorts of things, but in practice, it never really happens unless you swap out your motherboard. The mobo is traditionally what Microsoft considers to be “the computer.” But you can replace it with the same mobo (or same OEM mobo) as I’ve done in the past without problems.

    3. I’m planning to “upgrade” on my little netbook later this month, but I suspect it will be too resource hungry for it.

      1. 8.1 and 10 are actually more efficient than 7. They load much faster, take up less space, and can make do on much weaker hardware. But, on the other hand, upgrading an older device will be problematic due to the way the upgrade system works, which requires a lot of HDD space to hold the new OS (before install) and backup the previous one (after install).

        To explain, your existing Windows license doesn’t link to Windows 10 unless you successfully upgrade through Windows Update first. You can’t do a clean install from the get-go, which is daft.

        I don’t intend to install 10 on my cloud-oriented laptop or tablet for just that reason. You’d basically have the entire unit’s HDD wrapped up in Windows, with all your stuff on an SD card or something. Also, if something went wrong, it’s not trivial to restore the OS from scratch on such devices.

        1. So, I have updated my netbook and it seems quite smooth. Currently the WI-FI doesn’t work and it can’t find my webcam.

          One thing I am a little worried about is the fact that it doesn’t seem to “remember” I want all my media files to be played in VLC. Each restart and it has forgotten.

          It’s certainly no faster than Windows 7 I had on there but durring the Summer I only use it to play media files on anyway, so I’m not too worried.

  3. I am trying to find a ‘forums’ section here, where people can start threads, etc.

    Having played Half Life mods for years, I’m so grateful to Philip for MapTap, and also for running the Ville challenges. So many mods were broken in the past, I gave up trying to play them. It still happens but at least the Ville collections work. They are also generally playable in one session, so the variety is really good.

    I must say the game play I enjoy most is where the map feels like a real place and involves mission assignments, construction type puzzles and problem solving, etc. I really get sick of gloomy vents and dark corridors with zombies, and just fighting combine, etc. Interaction with voice acted characters is a big plus of course.

    So, I would enjoy having a discussion about some of the things that interest me as a gamer. Is there a forum section here?

    I was surprised at how few people donated. This is a fantastic resource. Is it only a small community?

    1. There is a new post for each month where users can talk about anything they want.

      I’m glad you like MapTap, it can be really useful. I agree with you about the type of gameplay.

      I’m preetty happy with 19+ donators. I would image most visitors are still studenst with tight funds. I suppose what really matters is reaching the targte, which we did, so that’s great.

      1. Thanks for the reply, Phillip.

        Half Life has always been the standard of gaming for me. I always loved science fiction growing up, mainly for the escapist and imaginative elements. Marathon was great for its time, and had that sense of wonder and mystery. Left4Dead brought in the social element and Fallout 3 the exploration of a vast world space and a sustained sense of purpose. Vegas was too fragmented to keep my interest. Portal, of course, was brilliant.

        They’re pretty much the only games that have really impressed me over 20 years of gaming.

        Having all these themed mods coming thick and fast is fantastic.

        I think focused discussions about what kind of game play people enjoy may help modders here design their games so they’re more satisfying to play. I’ve already given my preferences.

        1. As someone who likes New Vegas way more than Fallout 3, I’m surprised that you found it more fragmented, considering that the actual path to Vegas is somewhat linear. Most players are going to head to Primm, Nipton, Novac, then onto Freeside and New Vegas. There are dozens of side quests on the way there, but the path is pretty straightforward.

          The game is designed in such a way that if you did those side quests, by the time you get to New Vegas and get wrapped up in the pivotal choice of who you’ll ultimately side with, you’d have learned quite a bit about each faction by that point. And some narrative elements that felt disjointed – maybe that’s the fragmentation you speak of – will suddenly made sense.

  4. Is there a dedicated Ville page, listing all the challenges? I’ve been downloading and playing old maps, and sometimes I’d like to see if they are explained or so I can get help when I’m stuck. I just played one with a highly reflective, shiny black room with a big round table in the middle – nothing else.

    OK – I used the tags to find ‘Mapping Challenges’ – groovy.

    1. Yes, the TAG page is a good place to look. But if you wanted an easy to view list, visit the HL2: Episode Two Archive (via the PLAY menu) and then search for “Ville” in the name column and that will display all the Mapping Challenges.

      The best and really only palce to ask for issues with each mod is on its relevant post.

      1. Thanks, Philip. I’ve bookmarked the mapping Challenges page, so it’s all good. There are some great little maps in these challenges. It’s nice to know my misgivings and frustrations are common to other players as well. šŸ˜€

        If I see another ‘green/blue/red keycard needed’, I’ll throw something at the computer, though. I spent about 30 minutes searching on one map – ‘undercover’, and gave up eventually.

        OK – I found it. Not hard, I guess, but so random.

        1. What do you mean by “random”?

          Also, I would recommend trying the other view just once as you might find it more flexible.

          1. By random, I mean there’s no point to the key, or ultimately where it gets placed. I like a map to feel like there’s a back story and purpose. Things are hidden for a reason. One discovery enables the next, etc. A certain weapon needs to be located, that sort of thing. I like it when you need a number of parts to complete the whole. It’s nice to see something change over time, as you build it or destroy it, as the case may be.

        2. Yes, if there’s one way to make me instantly hate a map, it’s using keys and locked doors right from the start. That was okay way back in Doom, but that was 20 years ago. An author should be able to think of something more clever by now. If they can’t, they may not have what it takes to be a good designer.

          1. I don’t see anything wrong with the key card system. If it’s designed well then it doesn’t really matter how in the fiction the door comes to be unlocked. It’s an easy system to set up that people can easily understand because it’s been around so long. The only trouble really comes when these systems get too intricate and complex or if the mapper hides the keys too well.
            Complex471 used them but the problem was with the map layout, composition, visuals, balance, scripting and communication rather than any of the mechanics used.

  5. So, I just finished reading a short story by Geore R. R. Martin. If you don’t know, he is writing the Game of Thrones books.

    It wasn’t bad, but as you probably gussed all the main charaacters died.

    When I first started watching the TV adaptation of Game of Thrones,, I thought it was cool that you couldn’t assume that the main characters always survived. Now I don’t make any emotional attachments to ANY character just in case they get killed next episode.

    There’s probably a whole underground gambling scene on who, if any!, will survive the books.

  6. Zekiran

    Hey, I know this is faintly disturbing given the nature of the incident and its very recent occurrence, but remember when you used to run ‘inspired by’ themes? If we ever get back to that, I want to suggest the recent chemical explosions in China. These photos and article show an amazing location – the sheer size of the explosions (I’m sure you’ve seen videos by now) and the scope of the devastation, plus the *way it looks* after that sizable explosion? The folks in this city will be digging out from this disaster for a long while, and I hope that no more lives are lost. But this sure does evoke a post-apocalyptic feel to me.

    1. Yes, that is pretty amazing and sad. Would be really nice (is that the right word here) to see a before image. Was there a building there? As horrible as it sounds, it inspires me to run a DisasterVille mapping challenge. To see what people come up with for a before and after siutation (I wouldn’t expect them to create the actual incident).

      With regard to the people it must have been horrifying being with a few kilometres. I hope the authorities look after them properly.

      1. Thisguy

        It would have to be a long competition as it’d have to be 2 maps… probably.

      2. Zekiran

        Yeah, I don’t know whether there are any Google overheads of that area to look for, perhaps the company has a website? To get some idea of the layout or how many buildings, what kind of industrial structures there might have been, etc.

        It’s a huge tragedy, I was left absolutely stunned by those photos.

    2. I think showing the before-and-after really makes a big difference. When you focus too much on the after, it’s easy to lose sight of what once was. Fallout 4, for example, is going to start in a typical suburb prior to the bombs falling. Because you’ll get to explore their atomic age universe at its peak, you’ll probably have a greater appreciation for the aftermath. Same with how BioShock Infinite’s DLC revisited the art deco metropolis Rapture before the fall.

      Or even our own Half-Life before and after the Resonance Cascade. Until then, it was just another day at Black Mesa, and I think it was very important to show that. If you started the game after the Resonance Cascade already happened, how would it feel different? You probably wouldn’t have as strong a connection with the world because you’d be too busy trying to survive it.

  7. Working my way through the Challenges – good fun.

    An idea that came to me – one of the things I have found frustrating in Half Life is controlling the car, because it’s over-responsive to steering, leading to constant crashes (maybe it’s just my bad driving).

    So, I thought – what about a car (or boat?) based challenge? It could be a race against time, it may involve tricky manoeuvres, etc, etc.

    Perhaps this has already been done, or it wouldn’t be popular, but I might enjoy driving on a road built for speed, that doesn’t have constant obstacles, and having to stop for gates, etc.

    1. So, I thought ā€“ what about a car (or boat?) based challenge? It could be a race against time, it may involve tricky manoeuvres, etc, etc.

      The problem modders tell me is that with vehicle maps, they spend a lot of time making areas that players just rush through. In general modders don’t seem to want to make those kind of maps. It’s one of those cases where what players want is not what mappers want to make.

    2. The problem with all HL2 vehicles is that you’re driving them like you’re turning the steering wheel all the way to the left or all the way to the right whenever you turn. That’s just how WASD works. Imagine driving a car like that. It would be very cumbersome.

      But yeah, vehicle levels require you to build a ton of space to support the vehicle, which ends up flying by very quickly. It’s not an efficient use of space, so very few mods do it. Because whether it’s a canal for the Airboat or an industrial interior, it requires the same amount of detail work either way. So you might as well maximize the use of the space rather than just have the player zip through it and never come back.

    3. I recall a mod for Unreal that included a long hallway chase sequence on hovercars. You couldn’t steer ’em but you had to do some fancy shooting and jumping and keep shooting the upcoming door controls to keep opening the closed doors in your path. It was brief but memorable. The hallways were sparse even by old Unreal standards.

      In a mod vehicle sequence would a great deal of detail really be necessary? I mean, the idea wouldn’t be to stop and admire the scenery. All that would really be required is a few details to convey that yes, indeed, you’re moving, and some landmarks to help you progress. The key, I think would be to choose a setting that wouldn’t have much detail anyway, like a beach or a desert road.

      I think I saw a vehicle mod for Half-Life on MODDB awhile back. I know that’s vague but maybe you could find your vehicle fix in that?

  8. Yes, Skeezix. A lonely road doesn’t need much scenery. The point would be speed and fun.

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