Epistle3Ville

for Half-Life 2: Episode Two

Epistle3Ville is the third 50-hour mapping challenge.

It contains 10 official entries and one bonus map.

The focus of this theme was to create a map inspired in some way by Marc Laidlaw’s Epistle 3 blog post as well as any Ep3 details.

Basic Details
  • Title: Epistle3Ville
  • Filename: hl2-ep2-sp-50hmc-c3-epistle3ville-v1.7z
  • Size : 57MB
  • Author: PortalStorm4000, Sockman, Kyle Blackmon AKA Bryzgonaut, Event Horizon AKA Matt71490, Tim Age AKA HashtagMC, HighFire, Newgoods!, David Zetterdahl AKA LordDz, Ethosaur, 1upD, Jpzarde
  • Date Released: 16 September 2017

Download Options

Download to your HDD 57MB]
You can still use it with Gauge once you have downloaded it.

Manual Installation Instructions

If you require more help, please visit the Technical Help page.

  • Copy the hl2-ep2-sp-50hmc-epistle3ville folder into your …\Steam\SteamApps\Sourcemods\ folder.
  • Start or restart Steam
  • RTSL.50HMC.C3.Epistle3Ville should now be listed in your “Library” tab.
50-Hour Mapping Challenges

As the name suggests, the 50-hour maping challenge last 50 hours.
In general, the themes are very open in order to allow modders the chance to experiment with ideas.
Most maps are quite short.
Do not expect normal gameplay styles.

Often, mappers get too ambitious and never release the map they started working on.
With the 50-Hour deadline, I hoped that mappers would simply select a simple idea and build it.

Theme Details

For this 50-hour challenge, we would like you to create a map that has been inspired by Marc Laidlaw’s recent Epistle 3 blog post, subsequent fan art based on that piece of writing or any other Episode 3 or Half-Life 3 fan art or concept art. If you use any art as direct inspiration, please link to it in your entry’s readme.txt file.

You only have 50 hours, so what we’re looking for is JUST A TINY SLICE of what you think Episode 3 could have included. Maybe there’s a setpiece that you’d love to see in-game, or a specific combat situation you imagined while reading Epistle 3. Did you see some fan art and say “wouldn’t it be cool if…”? This is your chance!

The main point is that what you make must be inspired by the Ep3/HL3 theme AND be recognisable as such. You can’t just say something inspired you but it’s not obvious how it connects to Episode 3.

GOOD LUCK!

Entries

Listed as they are displayed in the mod itself:

Data Hunters by PortalStorm4000
Auroa by Sockman
Icebound Bastion by Kyle Blackmon AKA Bryzgonaut
Hyperborea by Event Horizon AKA Matt71490
Double Agent by Tim Age AKA HashtagMC
Research Station by HighFire
My Brother, Beli Vance by Newgoods!
DZ Ten Years by David Zetterdahl AKA LordDz
Trek to Borealis by Ethosaur
Shift by 1upD
BONUS: Outpost Zebra by Jpzarde

The order of the maps was generated via random.org

Reviewing

If you decide to use the Per-Map Opinion Images, please either watch the video below or use the SPECIFICALLY created Epistle3Ville-Review-Template.txt file. Thank you.

Winners

Dolmo, Niker and I are pleased to announce that Ethosaur won the Epistle3Ville 50-Hour Experimental Mapping Challenge with his excellent entry: Trek to Borealis.
Congratulations to him and the rest of the entries.
He wins $33.33, donated by Bolloxed, and a random Steam game, donated by anonymous RTSL users.

Judges

DolmoTheDouglas, Niker and Phillip are the judges for this challenge.

RTSL Community Voting

Which are your top 3 maps from Epistle3Ville?

View Results

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Release Versions

0.9 – Developers’ Version. First versions of maps. Internal Alpha version
1.0 – THIS RELEASE: First public release.

Specific Map Notes:

Data Hunters: I was inspired by the hunter scene where hunters attack Doctor Mossman on the screen in Half Life 2: Episode 1/2. Manhacks are in the level due to the fact that I would believe that the Combine would attempt everything, even if too small to do much damage, after the destruction of the citadel. Special thanks to those who made the content pack, the judges, and all who will play my map. Enjoy!

Aurora: This was originally named Hyperborea. Inspiration from leaked borealis concept art (http://half-life.wikia.com/wiki/File:Borealis_Advisors.jpg) and from the Missing Information mod (http://www.moddb.com/mods/missing-information/images/the-borealis2)

Trek to Borealis: Credit to Lemurr for helping with the particle effect and to That ship must never be used by AlyxSP. Thanks and I hope you all enjoy this map.

Credits

The RunThinkShootLive.Com introduction video was made by Jeff Muñoz (ThatoneJeff)” and he also significantly helped with logo design – thanks Jeff, you ROCK!

Custom Gridview Images

One gridview image is included in this release.

General Mapping Challenge Rules

Maximum two maps per mapper per competition.
The map must be original and not have been released publicly before.
The map must run in system with only Ep2 installed
By entering the competition you grant PlanetPhillip.Com & RunThinkShootLive.Com the right to release the map as part of the Ville Mod.
Maps must not appear before the release and for one month after the release of the mod.
No assets from retail games other than HL2, HL2: Ep1 or HL2: Ep2 are allowed.
Other assets are allowed with written permission from their original authors, which MUST be included in the entry.
Phillip’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into about it.
The map MUST have a proper name.
The map MUST have a proper filename: MapName_ABC.bsp (ABC is replaced with the code for the mapping challenge)
All entries must be sent to: [email protected] no later than the deadline.

Sponsor

This challenge was not sponsored. If you are an individual or company and interested in sponsoring a challenge, please contact Phillip ([email protected]) to discuss the options.

Background Maps

The external map was supplied by WALLe_PL and visually updated by Niker.
The internal map was supplied by PortalStorm4000.

Thanks go to all 3 for taking the time to make the mod look and feel better.

Videos

Coming Soon.

Screenshots

WARNING: The screenshots contain spoilers.
All screnshots are 1600×900

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Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Reader Recommendations
Avoid It!
Think Twice
Maybe
Play It Later
Play It Now!

11 recommendations, average score: 4.27 (out of 5), standard deviation: 0.38 (what's that?)
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Meta Review Data
Statistics based on 14 comment(s) with meta review data.

Installed:
Using Gauge: 0 Users
Manually: 13 Users

Time Taken:
Average: 1 Hours, 7 Mins
Shortest: 0 Hours, 30 Mins by HashtagMC
Longest: 1 Hours, 30 Mins by
Total Time Played: 15 Hours, 31 Mins
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38 Comments

  1. The level design is poor and not interesting to play, I inspected something better.
    The best map is the one with the main screen we can see here and it’s not so good so imagine the rest.

    1. I think you misunderstand the purpose of 50 hour competitions. The goal isn’t to produce polished, ready-for-release maps, the purpose is to experiment with new gameplay ideas under the pressure of a short time. The “Trek to Borealis” map was really exceptionally good given the limit of 50 hours.

  2. Play It Later
    Data Hunters by PortalStorm4000
    It is okay

    Loved the start which I thought was superbly done without feeling fake or with any overkill. The drop through was nice and then leads to a trio of one-on-one Hunter battles which I enjoyed even though I normally hate something like that. A nice -if very short- map.

    Aurora by Sockman
    It is great!

    Loved the attention to detail with the falling rocks and the Elite Soldiers trying to get across the bridge before meeting their doom!! I know this is a short 50 hour ville but I really wanted this to continue. Lol So good!!

    Icebound Bastion by Kyle Blackmon AKA Bryzgonaut
    It is good

    Obviously unfinished and I loved every second of it. Needs lots more to it, the walks are way to stretched out without having enough action to keep you interested along the way. It would have been nice to pick off those distant soldiers with a crossbow too. I hope the dev continues for this project, it’s going to be awesome I’m sure!

    Hyperborea by Event Horizon AKA Matt71490
    It is great!

    Overly dark imho but damn good fun. So much gun love to be had here. However, I’d have personally preferred a change to just shotgun and grenades for this particular map. Enjoyed this one!!

    Double Agent by Tim Age AKA HashtagMC
    It is okay

    Pretty good idea and pretty quirky too with it’s mechanics and strange battles. However, it is enjoyable and I found the idea of the auto-generating health box to be a nice idea. Okay, it’s a little rough but I must admit to enjoying this – Oh and that initial battle screen was pure chaos!!

    Research Station by HighFire
    It is okay

    Crawling through these areas seemed to not help as the bad guys knew I was there, but at least I tried 😉 It’s nice but not big enough, I wanted more of this!

    My Brother, Beli Vance by Newgoods!
    It is bad

    Ummm okaaaaaaaaay.

    DZ Ten Years by David Zetterdahl AKA LordDz
    It is WOW!

    WOW!!!! So unlike anything I was expecting to play. Brilliant!!

    Trek to Borealis by Ethosaur
    It is great!

    Another map of pure joy for me!! Loved the atmosphere but my old Mac did suffer a drop in frame rate for it. Great fun from start to finish, but perhaps not enough action in between. That super-ship didn’t wanna die!! 😀

    Shift by 1upD
    It is good

    This is spooky in a different sorta way! And I never expected the headcrabs to pop up! I do hope this is a WIP as I’d love to see what more can be done!

    BONUS: Outpost Zebra by Jpzarde
    It is WOW!

    Ignoring the lame Hunter section, this is a brilliant map. A little clunky at times in design but really interesting and with some great ideas. I simply loved this.

    Summary

    Overall, this is a pretty darn nice Ville and I can only imagine what might be achieved without the time limit. For purpose of completion I mean because there are some incredible ideas here that need taking further. I should check out the blog now because I enjoyed this Ville!!

    This might be just for Phillip? Not sure. But, yet again, the download archive was identified as corrupt for me regarding the “sound” folder. It unpacks the rest of the archive fine but most files inside ‘sound’ were of zero bytes. I had to ask a good friend with a PC to unpack and send me the sound folder zipped… All good then. (I’ve tried a few archive apps on my computer, all same result) 🙁 Hope this info helps.

  3. Play It Later
    Data Hunters by PortalStorm4000
    It is okay

    This map was rather short, but featured some nice combat. I personally hate hunters, but in terms of map design, it sure is some cool action. Despite my deeply rooted fear & hate of hunters (I actually have nightmares about them), I managed to defeat them. The battle was challenging, but never too hard.
    However, I felt that this was pretty much a generic HL2 map, as it lacked any real reference to ep3 or epistle 3. Alyx or Mossman weren’t present, and the Borealis or the arctic were neither seen nor mentioned.

    Aurora by Sockman
    It is great!

    This entry looks pretty neat. It sure gives off a convincing arctic vibe. The battles aren’t really challenging but for the lack of an AR2 through most of the map.
    The Borealis is some neat brushwork, and the outro (not giving away what it is) is pretty neat. This actually felt like it was reducing parts of epistle 3 to their very essence – Borealis, arctic and some more.
    One little issue: I managed to bypass most of the combat in the map by simply sprinting past it, taking cover and shooting just long enough to regenerate energy.

    Icebound Bastion by Kyle Blackmon AKA Bryzgonaut
    It is okay

    This map was, albeit cool-looking, lacking clear level design and objectives. I ran around the entire map, killing any enemies I found, without ever realising what I was to do. Ultimately, I quit because I had no idea where to go and nothing happened. Given some tweaks to the design and of course the visual polish that is impossible to do in 50 hours (impossible for most people, anyways), this could actually be a fun map to play.

    This too lacked reference to epistle 3 in my opinion, as there was no sign of (for example) the Combine fortifications mentioned in the story. Still some fun to play. I encourage the author to keep working on this, I’d love to see a release version of this!

    Hyperborea by Event Horizon AKA Matt71490
    It is bad

    This is another average-HL2 map. It features Combine and zombies (how would zombies get to the arctic?), but aside from Mossman and Alyx standing around doing nothing, it doesn’t make any sense from an ep3-point of view. It’s a simple “go there and press that button” map.

    Double Agent by Tim Age AKA HashtagMC

    No recommendation image because this is my own map. I don’t feel like I could rate this fairly and neutrally. I had some fun playing my own map (no duh), but I wish I could have added more puzzles. Due to the limited time, I had to make up for the lack of challenges with too many enemies, which felt somewhat out of place to me. I think the map is pretty okay given the 50 hours, and I hope I met the epistle 3 theme.

    Research Station by HighFire
    It is okay

    The map was looking pretty neat. I had fun battling the Combine. However, it didn’t really feel arctic and was really, really short. The Alyx NPC at the end felt more like an excuse to be able to say it was about ep3.

    My Brother, Beli Vance by Newgoods!
    It is dire!

    In fan fiction, there is the word “crackfic”, which describes a story that doesn’t claim to be serious and is just funny and stupid.
    This map is the crackfic equivalent of maps. A duration of 10 seconds, consisting only of watching a vort blow the dead Eli Vance into bits, just for him to respawn. Add in some stupid laughter and you have wasted half a minute of your lifetime. Congratulations.

    DZ Ten Years by David Zetterdahl AKA LordDz
    It is WOW!

    This map is the first Personal Favourite, and it really is WOW. The whole map had a very psychedelic vibe to it, not in a “I’m on drugs” way, but in a “Gordon is losing his mind” way. I immediately thought of someone going through PTSD here and guessed that perhaps Gordon was struggling with all the people dying in his name and was slowly going insane. I almost expected the end to either be Gordon waking up in a hospital bed, or Gordon waking up realising he’d killed civilians instead of Combine during the map. The sheer amount of possible outcomes my mind supplied during playing this made the map border on horror without ever scaring me, but exploring the damage all the killing could have done to Gordon.

    The actual outro felt like a bitter remark towards Valve 😀

    Trek to Borealis by Ethosaur
    It is WOW!

    No matter the winner of this contest, I’d really love to know whether this map was truly created in 5o hours. It doesn’t change the fact that I absolutely love it (and I don’t want to accuse anyone of cheating), but I can’t help but wonder whether Ethosaur didn’t start working on this when epistle 3 was published and was lucky Phillip chose this theme. If this was indeed created in 50 hours, I apologise and bow my head to an incredibly fast mapper.

    So, about the actual map – what the headcrab! The visuals are, I guess, the wet dream of anyone hoping to play Episode 3. This is what episode 3 would have looked like if it would have happened in time after ep2. The map looks just awesome and gives off a true Half-Life² feel in terms of fights, layout and puzzles. I felt like I was playing Episode 3 all the way through the map.

    The contest theme was met perfectly, turning Laidlaw’s vision of ep3 into a beautiful map. I died halfway through the boss fight and had to replay it. Also, the map is lit very good – despite the overall fog/dawn theme, it was never dark enough to force me to use the flashlight. Props to the author for this masterpiece.

    Shift by 1upD
    It is great!

    This map was very cool. The whole “randomly teleporting around” thing was built in a cool way, making it obvious that the ship was switching between dimensions and places. There was also a neat reference to Half-Life 1. Overall, a cool map fulfilling the contest theme 100%.

    BONUS: Outpost Zebra by Jpzarde
    It is good

    This was a very “blocky” map with about zero connection to ep3. It featured some very cool combat however. In terms of map and combat design, it’s actually really good, never making the combat too hard but still challenging. I understand the author didn’t have time to polish the visuals, but I didn’t really care about them anyway, as I think they’re not the main priority of a 50 hour contest. I’d love to see this re-released once it’s been completed (aka visually polished).

    I really liked playing through this. The competition was fun to participate in and to play. However, I am disappointed that so many people didn’t get what I feel was the theme of the contest.

    There’s a reason this is called “Epistle3Ville” rather than “Episode3Ville”. While it might not seem a big deal, it is to me. Many of these maps would have had the potential to be cool maps as part of their authors’ idea of Episode 3, but most of them don’t connect to Epistle 3 – in other words, they might be their creators’ idea of what ep3 could have been, but they have nothing to do with Laidlaw’s idea what ep3 could have been.

    Laidlaw’s story is just another idea of HL3, but the theme was to build something out of epistle 3, and it’s sad to see that so many folks didn’t do that.

    1. Trek to Borealis was made from scratch. The only part I cant take credit for (which should be obvious) was the hallway from the ending of ep2 used in the start. I had a few tricks to speed up the process of mapping too, and have had a lot of practice when using displacements.

      Sadly this meant I had to sacrifice a lot of other things to get some gameplay and visuals (That meant no player clips or bugtesting) So the map is incredible easy to break.

      The rest was just staying up very late, working fast and a lot of caffeinated drinks/good music.

      1. Wow, that’s awesome! I figure someone working with Half-Life² and having made some maps before would also get stuff done faster than someone who’s less experienced (aka me).

        Btw, there’s a bad displacement where you can see through the map. It’s when you exit the cave and keep to the right, hole in the floor.

        1. Yeah I am aware, sadly I didn’t notice until moments after sending the map. And after that I was just so tired I went to bed, didn’t feel like sending a fixed version.

    2. Bryzgonaut

      Icebound Bastion was mine. Gameplay definitely suffered from running out of time. You were supposed to climb to the bridge of the ship and find a teleporter core, but unfortunately I didn’t get time to include the dialogue that actually told you that.

      I do plan on continuing it.

      1. That’s cool! Are you gonna post a release here when you finish it?

  4. I ran through the entries rather quickly, so I should play through this ville again before I try to write a full review. Since this Ville has such an interesting theme, I did want to share some comments I had.

    One thing I was really interested in before the Ville came out was seeing how well the entries fit together as a complete story. To my surprise, most of the entries transition very nicely and there is very little overlap.

    Here’s my ordering. Perhaps mild spoilers?

    My Brother, Beli Vance (Non-canon)
    DZ Ten Years (Dream Sequence)

    Outpost Zebra
    Data Hunters
    Research Station
    Trek to the Borealis
    Double Agent
    Aurora
    Shift
    Hyperborea
    Icebound Bastion (Unfinished)

    The transitions that made the most sense were from Research Station to Trek to the Borealis because they used the same environment from Episode 2 and Double Agent to Aurora because Double Agent ended with them finding the Borealis suspended in a chasm and Aurora begins the same way.

    There’s some wiggle room. For example, Data Hunters could go before or after Research Station. Hyperborea could go before or after Shift. Icebound Bastion begins with a helicopter, so it seems like it takes place in a timeline where the helicopter was used to get to the Borealis.

    I was kind of surprised to find that none of the entries for Epistle3Ville tried to make an ending to the story! Seems like we might have to wait a bit longer to feel any sense of closure… It’s not surprising though. It would be difficult to make a compelling ending sequence for the game in 50 hours, so most entrants focused on specific set pieces from the middle of the game.

    I think it would be fascinating to try to make a ‘remix’ of this ville that incorporates all of the entries but modifies them to transition seamlessly from one to the next, and gives them all a consistent style. I’m not sure how interested other mappers would be in such an idea. It appears I was the only entrant to include a VMF file.

    I’m excited to see what other thoughts people have about this ville. I think it was a great experimental challenge.

    1. This remix-thing is a cool idea! Sign me up if it ever becomes a thing 🙂

      I didn’t post the VMFs because I was pretty sure nobody would get anything from that, since it’s a pretty simple map. I can post them or give them to Phillip, though, if anybody’s interested. I thought the only map logic interesting enough might be the respawning item crate.

  5. Really enjoyed DZ Ten Years and Trek to Borealis, massive props to the creators of those two maps.

    Also, My Brother, Beli Vance was pretty funny. Glad you guys included it.

  6. I didn’t play all the maps thoroughly so I won’t give a full review, but I did want to stop by to say that Trek to Borealis was a fantastic piece of work given the time limit. Really great job Ethosaur! Also I felt the entry Shift with its teleportation mechanic gave a nice glimpse into what the Borealis set-piece could have been like.

  7. Play It Later

    Well, this was certainly fun to play. This pack contains some very good maps:

    Data Hunters by PortalStorm4000
    It is good

    Not bad. You’re fighting some Combine Soldiers and Hunters in enclosed spaces. It seemed the Hunters appeared out of thin air? Nevertheless, there were multiple ways to deal with them and that’s a plus … !

    Aurora by Sockman
    It is good

    Yet again not a bad map. Visuals and gameplay were OK and I was quite surprised to actually see some sort of Dyson Sphere in the mod … !

    Icebound Bastion by Kyle Blackmon AKA Bryzgonaut
    It is okay

    I don’t mind the dev textures but the map was a bit too large. I walked around without any direction while dispatching enemies here and there. But eventually, I completed the map.

    Hyperborea by Event Horizon AKA Matt71490
    It is okay

    Alyx and Judith are waiting for you while you go ahead and turn on power. You’ll encounter a bunch of Zombies, Combine Soldiers and turrets. Map didn’t make sense in some ways but I had some fun playing it anyway.

    Double Agent by Tim Age AKA HashtagMC
    It is good

    Judith is behind bars and its up to you and Alyx to free her. You’ll encounter a rather large amount of Combine Soldiers, although it doesn’t get too overwhelming. Final scene was quite nice.

    Research Station by HighFire
    It is good

    A short map in mostly a polar station with a number of enemies that can be engaged in multiple ways. Short, simple and fun.

    My Brother, Beli Vance by Newgoods!
    It is bad

    That was very cromulent … ! Had a bit of a laugh, but no gameplay so that’s kinda bad.

    DZ Ten Years by David Zetterdahl AKA LordDz
    It is great!

    This reminded me a bit of Manor of PTSD, so initially I thought Ethosaur made this. Anyway, this was a quite intense and even a bit emotional map with the inclusion of a rarely seen enemy: the Stalker! Quite big too for a 50-hour Challenge. DZ Ten Years takes the second place for me personally in this Ville.

    Trek to Borealis by Ethosaur
    It is WOW!

    I thought this was the best map so far in the 50-hour Challenge format. The visuals were simply brilliant with the freezing cold that I could almost feel and the spectacular Combine architecture in the vicinity. Initially I thought I had to take on the chopper with an RPG and groaned, but the fight turned out very dynamic to my delight … ! In the world of 50-hour Villes, this is the king!

    Shift by 1upD
    It is good

    I like how the ship got transported to different dimensions. And yes, even Xen! The author succesfully managed to cram a broad variety of environments in this map in a short time.

    BONUS: Outpost Zebra by Jpzarde
    It is good

    Kinda blocky but quite some gameplay considering the short timeframe. Once again the enemies could be dealth with in various ways and as I said before, I consider that a significant plus.

  8. Personal Favourite

    Im gonna go ahead and give the whole mapping challenge a review. This was by far my favorite challenge to date, although some of the maps had some hiccups i got a little taste at what Half Life 2 Episode 3 could have been like. My favorite map out of the challenge was Trek to Borealis. Overall this was very fun to play!

    On a side note does anyone know of any dev teams that are working on a fan made version of Episode 3?

  9. This is the weakest Ville in the 3 during this time of the year. Some of the maps, in my opinion, came out kinda dull. Unlike its predecessors, Minimalism and CromulentVille, the creativity was restricted by 50-hours-long time to make and Epistle 3 being the topic. I think it needs more than that amount of time to make something new and creative from it. I think Epistle 3 is better off being a topic for The Hammer Cup challenge.

    Data Hunters by PortalStorm4000
    It is good

    It’s kinda weird to drop you off into combat immediately, but it was fun. The fight with the Hunters was OK, but I think there’s little too much supply there. Not sure what part of Epistle 3 is this though. Having music is also a plus for me.

    Aurora by Sockman
    It is okay

    Quite an OK map, I really like the part that the Elites fell off the bridge. Also, what’s the planet at the end right there?

    Icebound Bastion by Kyle Blackmon AKA Bryzgonaut
    It is okay

    I know that the dev ran out of time so he put dev textures everywhere…..but I find the white dev texture kinda annoying. Because the skybox is also white too, it’s hard to see if I’ve fall off the ship or not. Also, I got lost and confused so I noclipped all over the place, but managed to complete the map.

    Hyperborea by Event Horizon AKA Matt71490
    It is okay

    Nothing stands out in this one, just start the generator and go back to Alyx and Mossman. It’s fun in gameplay but the interior is quite boring to look at.

    Double Agent by Tim Age AKA HashtagMC
    It is good

    At the beginning of the map, the defence part was easy. The Soldiers just charged towards your machine gun and get mowed down. It was fun, kinda. The energy ball puzzle should have a tube to direct the energy ball, because when I opened the socket for the first time, the ball killed me instantly when I was looking inside the socket. Also, no checkpoints.

    Research Station by HighFire
    It is okay

    Just go into a building, kill Combine Soldiers, get out. That’s that. All in 1 minute.

    My Brother, Beli Vance by Newgoods!
    It is dire!

    What the **** is THIS?

    DZ Ten Years by David Zetterdahl AKA LordDz
    It is great!

    This map really stood out in terms of story. As you can hear voices of the other characters about Gordon slowly descending to his doom along with static was great. However, it seems that the enemies have much less health for Normal, because I pretty much one shot every Policemen with batons. The area was SO RED that I sometime can barely see. Also, the multiple Stalkers was kinda unfair because their lasers chew through your body like nothing. Despite the errors, this map pretty much sums up my feeling about Episode 3 not being released. Gordon, you will be missed…

    Trek to Borealis by Ethosaur
    It is WOW!

    For a map in 50 Hours challenge, this is very impressive. It was so cool to start me off where Mossman left off in her message. Bonus point for continuity. The snow and wind effects are so beautiful! The combat was balanced. But there was a forcefield that neither you nor the Combine can shoot through it. However, the fight with the helicopter and the ending was a nice follow up!
    Despite some “cracks” that allow you to see outside of the map clearly, this is the prettiest looking map in the pack!

    Shift by 1upD
    It is good

    It was short, however the portal/time warp thing was a nice concept. The islands in Xen(?) was hard to jump on though.

    BONUS: Outpost Zebra by Jpzarde
    It is good

    The map was OK, the combat was decent. It was OK overall, but the maps are too blocky but hey, 50 hours is not enough for that much stuff.

    Summary

    This Ville was dull, like I said before. But there’s still some good maps in there. I vote for Trek to Borealis, DZ Ten Years and Shift (for its creativity).

  10. Um….where is my review? I posted it here hours ago

    1. Visible now. Please consider using the review template next time, if you didn’t this time.

      1. Strange, I could’ve sworn I used it. But thanks anyway, Philips!

        1. You might have, sometimes the HTML gets stripped.

  11. Play It Later

    Well, what can I say is that is as amazing to see these maps done in such a short time, as disappointing because I wanted to see so much more, for some of them…

    Overall, I consider that a good set of “first draft” ideas for the future Episode 3 mod to be. This was done in 50 hours, imagine what could be done in 50 days… 50 weeks (1 year)…

    Data Hunters by PortalStorm4000
    It is bad

    A map in cold weather with some soldiers and Hunters. Nothing to see here.

    Aurora by Sockman
    It is okay

    This one is cool because it’s Borealis even if it’s a rough design, but the end save its all with our first “mod” glimpse of the Dyson Sphere as prophetized by Laidlaw.

    Icebound Bastion by Kyle Blackmon AKA Bryzgonaut
    It is bad

    Again, nothing to see here because the map isn’t done (50 hours is so short), another Borealis map. Map is huge, I think it’ll be a cool map on the Borealis if the author has more time to work on it.

    Hyperborea by Event Horizon AKA Matt71490
    It is okay

    This one put you with the Judith and Alyx duo, but you just have to fight some Combine and Zombie stuff to turn up some stuff.

    Double Agent by Tim Age AKA HashtagMC
    It is good

    This one is another Judith/Alyx stuff where you’ve to save Alyx, great fights against Combine… The ending is somewhat cool with the Borealis appearance.

    Research Station by HighFire
    It is okay

    Some fights against some Combine to go back to Alyx.

    My Brother, Beli Vance by Newgoods!

    “joke” map, can’t be really reviewed.

    DZ Ten Years by David Zetterdahl AKA LordDz
    It is good

    The cry of anger of a desperate HL fan who put the final nail in the coffin of Ep3.

    Trek to Borealis by Ethosaur
    It is WOW!

    Impressive for this one to be done in 50 hours, this is a full blown Arctic map nearly “pro” quality which could have fit well in an official Ep3 meme. The weather and the climatic conditions are well made, some cool fights, a boss battle with a Chopper, and a good climax with the Borealis crashing through the Combine base.

    Shift by 1upD
    It is good

    This one is done well because of the “Xen” rendition in Source, this could have fit with the Borealis parts where it teleports through time and space.

    BONUS: Outpost Zebra by Jpzarde
    It is good

    Some fights in winter but this one has the lesser Ep3 feeling of them all.

  12. Wesp5

    Again I have the feeling that 50 hour challenges are a waste of talent and time, because most maps end up unfinished or unoptimized or broken or worse. This might be fun with some of the earlier themes, but with epistle 3 this was certainly a bad decision! Unless Phillip just wanted to get a quick look at people who could handle the EP3 theme ;), like Ethosaur whose map stood out of the rest quite easily with the impressive installation in the background. Now some of you should get together and actually create HL2:EP3 :)!

  13. Some maps were short or unfinished feeling. Though that does come with a 50 hour competition. Almost every map had a good understanding of the theme and presented it accordingly. Overall fun.

    1. I have removed the recommendation image for this review as it is too short to have one.

  14. Play It Later

    Some of the reviews may contain spoilers for their respective map, so if you want to play through this mod with a fresh set of eyes, do so first then read this later!

    I like the ville series, and I don’t believe that any of these entries are truly bad. I enjoyed playing through each of them, and they each have their own successes and weaknesses, mine included. (I made the bonus entry for this challenge.) With that being said, time to get to each of the maps.

    Data Hunters by PortalStorm4000

    It is good

    This entry is pretty short, but the ordering of sections, the pacing of each section and the polish of the level over-all is quite good. Each little bit has its own special quality and attention to detail, I think it’s obvious that the author put a lot of care into each room and nook. The stand-out for me was the hunter battle at the end, it caught me by surprise during my first play through- having entered the dark area expecting another flashlight exploration section and instead getting a bunch of hunters to fight. I liked that element of surprise, which made me react- but not overreact. Each arena was built well, and I only wish that the level were longer. Considering the 50 hr time limit however, this level is very well done and I like it.

    Aurora by Sockman

    It is good

    The environment of this level was pretty nice and kept the level interesting. Some instances that come to mind are the rocks falling down the cliff face, the combine bridge which falls apart and the gunship that tries to stop you during the climax of the level. Speaking of the climax, seeing what may have been the combine’s home base of operations was also a nice touch, that whole sequence was well put together. The game play inside of the ship was pretty good, but the start of the level on the cliff side is just a straight jog into a flat wall. (Perhaps not literally, but the general direction of that section is nonetheless straight.) Getting onto the ship could’ve also been more polished, maybe a box or a mound of snow may have helped instead of simply cutting a chunk out of the ship’s railing. I considered giving this map an okay rating, but instead I am giving it a good rating because this map manages to be functional and interesting within a 50 hr time limit.

    Icebound Bastion by Kyle Blackmon AKA Bryzgonaut

    It is okay

    I really liked the idea that this map was going for. Not only do you get a very nice looking structurally detailed Borealis, (which I say is impressive considering the 50 hr time limit,) but also a man (or combine) made installation and a huge mound of ice broken apart by the ship’s haul. I liked the way this map looked despite only having dev-textures applied to it, however that does not neglect that fact that the map only has dev-textures applied to it. The game play and combat is in its roots; I feel there aren’t enough health and armor pickups and that the elites have too much of a range advantage over you. Giving the player the magnum or crossbow can easily negate that problem. The ship is big, this fact lends to its overall impressiveness, but without clear direction it also detracts a bit from the game play. I was able to find the ultimate objective in the end, but on my first play through I strayed off of the ship and was not able to get back on after having gotten stuck under the ship’s hull. I think if this map were to receive the polish that it needs, it could be a great / wow map, but in its current state it only gets an okay rating.

    Hyperborea by Event Horizon AKA Matt71490

    It is okay

    It’s not really possible for me to say that this map is bad or that it even borders on it somehow, but at the same time it lacks having it’s own unique characteristic that most of the other maps in this ville do. The map is missing depth; the rooms are boxy. They could benefit greatly if there were more railings, catwalks or vent-ducts for example. I think the map is also missing info_nodes, which is a shame because now the enemies are no longer a match for the infinite grenade box that you find in the generator room halfway through the level. The lights are okay but could use a little bit of variance in brightness, contrasting between hard and soft lighting. I think this could be a good level if the rooms had more structural detail and more purposeful entity placement. The level doesn’t necessarily have to be longer than it is just as long as all of the elements get the polish they deserve.

    Double Agent by Tim Age AKA HashtagMC

    It is good

    I like the elements that were chosen in this level and the order in which they were presented in. Defending Alyx while she hacks a terminal, unlocking Mossman’s cell via an energy ball puzzle and eventually finding the Borealis were all interesting parts of the level which I enjoyed playing through. Structurally the level is really good, but the finesse could use some work. Mainly I feel that each of the combine squads that attack you are too big, and that fact becomes problematic since almost all of them are equipped with AR2s. That shouldn’t be a problem if the player is equipped with a mounted turret gun, but since you’re cramped into a tiny space there is no room to dodge the oncoming flurry of pulse bullets. The care packages don’t help much since the instantaneous +20 health per box is quickly cut down after getting shot straight afterwards. This issue persists in the next room, but isn’t as bad since you can sprint around an open space in order to take less damage. (Some cover would be useful for players who don’t know this.) I also find it a bit unrealistic that the combine would rush you in such a big clump like the way they do, one well timed grenade could be the end for all of them. On my first play through during the hacking bit I noticed that the entire combine squad that attacks you must die in order for you to proceed, this can be a problem once one of them decides not to to enter the doorway in order to allow you to shoot at them, which is exactly what ended up happening to me. Despite all of these shortcomings, I’m rating the map as good because for the most part the entity logic works as intended, which ends up lending to a level which flows naturally and is structurally interesting. (All within a 50 hr time limit.)

    Research Station by HighFire

    It is okay

    This map is a simple romp through a combine occupied research station similar to the one seen at the end of HL2:EP2. This map is very basic, (at least in my eyes,) so I’m not certain how to properly review this one. If the objective was to simply make a map with the theme of Epistle 3, mission accomplished. Otherwise, I believe the author can make it better by including different types of enemies, different types of interactive elements and more variance in level geometry. At the end of the day, the map is not broken and works just fine, and that is good.

    My Brother, Beli Vance by Newgoods!

    It is WOW!

    This is a genius level, it solves everything. Of course- why did no one think of this earlier? The vortigaunts can bring people back from the verge of death, they did so with Alyx Vance. So why wouldn’t they do so with Eli Vance? Apart from the story aspect of this level, it also perfectly showcases the source engine’s advanced rag doll physics technology. I guess it also does something with scripted sequences, I dunno. The point is the fact that a ten year long problem has been solved in a mere 30 seconds with this level, and I commend the author for their valiant effort to fix this wrong-doing in the short span of 50 hours. Well played, sir.

    DZ Ten Years by David Zetterdahl AKA LordDz

    It is WOW!

    I’m giving this map the highest score I can because I personally loved this level. When it comes down to what makes a level important, this one pretty much has everything it needs- essentials and all. (Geometry, textures, art, etc. So I won’t really bring that up.) What I think matters is the idea behind it and the way it is executed. This map is freaky, and I LOVE it. The tone is perfectly conveyed through its music, the voices heard by the player and the manner in which the enemies are presented. Speaking of enemies, the inclusion of the stalker enemy was an incredibly clever move on behalf of the author. I believe the way they accomplished it was by attaching a target entity to the player and making the stalkers hate that entity, shooting the player with their laser beam in the process. You can duck to easily avoid the laser since the stalkers can’t aim downwards, but I believe this actually lends to the depth of game play- since being forced to duck can complicate evasion for the player once other enemies (such as the combine) begin to approach them. Some of the different interactions on this map such as the starting health charger and the corpse filled cages really make this map stand out from the rest in this ville. The author obviously has a lot of experience with hammer, and does not stray away from finding ways to make standard half life 2 game play a lot more diverse and fun. Well done!

    Trek to Borealis by Ethosaur

    It is great!

    I believe the general consensus around this map is that it is the best out of all of the ones submitted in this ville, and in a way I’d have to agree. In terms of the theme that was given to us, this map is 99% half life 2: episode 3, probably the closest we’ll over get to what could have been the official release. (Aside from Alyx somehow not freezing to death in her standard outfit in the middle of the arctic, hehe.) The author makes a good effort to make sure Alyx behaves the way she usually does in the vanilla half life games, which adds to that overall episode 3 feeling. From a game play standpoint, using the gravity gun to throw heavy metal beams at the combine was pretty awesome. The way in which the borealis is presented to the player is probably the best out of all of the maps in this ville. I’ve not seen many instances of the bugs in this map, but those bugs don’t detract from the feeling that this map could’ve been one of valve’s very own maps, or at least one of their maps in development. The only criticism I have is towards the chopper battle at the end, but that could just be me- for the most part it works just fine. What makes this map special is the fact that the author did their very best to capture the half life experience in episode 3 form, and I think for the most part the author managed to accomplish that objective. Great job!

    Shift by 1upD

    It is good

    I like how this map explores the dimensional shifts described in epistle 3, for the most part all of the other maps have pretty much left that concept untouched. I beleive this map succeeds at illustrating what the dimensional shifts could have been from a game-play point of view. Not only that, but the map offers a window into the unexplored parts of the half life universe. I might be mistaken, but I do believe the first section of the map actually takes place during the seven hour war. You don’t necessarily get to see the war itself, but that section in particular establishes the feeling of it which you can see if you look closely enough, and that is something I thoroughly appreciated. I also liked the jump to xen, despite there being a lack of low gravity and an oddly egg-shaped floating rock. I think the map may be missing polish in a few places, but I still quite like the map because of it’s willingness to try out a new concept.

    BONUS: Outpost Zebra by Jpzarde
    This is my map. If I were to review it myself, I have a feeling it’d be a little biased of me. Instead I’ll simply point out some things that are missing from the map / is wrong with the map:

    -Blocky / no displacements.
    -There are info_nodes, but no specific cover points or standoffs for NPCs
    -You can get stuck between some of the shipping containers
    -No 3D skybox
    -No cubemaps
    -Some sections are skip-able via prop-stacking
    -Generic prop-choices
    -Soundscape is generic
    -Little variance in lighting. (You either get hard white, or soft white- and some lights don’t even have proper/consistent brightness
    -Not much entity logic
    -Basic texturing
    -Lack of geometry detail

    This was my first map, so I did not think about these things before hand. I’ll be certain to catch these things when I make my next one, however. If you’d like to, let me know what you think.

    Regardless of whether or not the maps in this ville were ‘good or bad,’ I still quite enjoyed playing each of the maps across the board. I even got to submit my late map as a bonus entry to this ville, props to PP for letting me do that. Thanks to each of the authors for submitting their creations, and thank you for playing this mod and reading this review!

  15. Play It Now!

    These reviews contain spoilers and more meant as feedback for mappers. While most maps are in “okay” range of gameplay polish, I still suggest to download it now – there is a few interesting concepts worth seeing by yourself and, as always, plenty to learn from.

    Data Hunters
    It is okay

    Short map with 2 small arena-like encounters.

    It is possible to avoid combat in first arena entirely just by jumping into the hole that leads to next arena – wooden planks barely can block your progression. I also had feeling that this arena could use more space for player to move.

    Using Hunters as turrets is interesting choice. But it does not work without other enemies that will force you to move and step onto hunters’ projectiles – you just sitting down there behind pipes & crates and snipe them.

    Aurora
    It is okay

    Linear ship assault.

    Not much fun in clearing room after room from combines which barely move – they don’t even have cover, nor the player does most of the time. There was also not quite enough space in corridors for combine turrets to fall onto – they usually would lean against walls and keep shooting. With that limited grenade supply, I’m not surprised that these rebels didn’t make it 😀

    Icebound Bastion
    It is bad

    A bit nonlinear ship assault.

    More than half of the enemies can be easly avoided if you get lucky and pick right direction. Another problem is that most of enemies armed with shotguns and have extreme long sightlines, which coupled with missing pathing for them means that they dont move and dont shoot at you.

    The game ending room looks even less important than rest of the ship’s rooms together, and I was one step away from not wandering into computer panel and thus traverse this huge vessel until hl3 release.

    It would be much better and fun if you could spawn player outside of the ship and make him figuring out how to get onboard while dealing with patroling combines. The ship itself however would use linear progression, but still utilizing all of the layout you’ve created.

    Hyperborea
    It is okay

    Enable the power and get back alive.

    It was too dark in generator room – I missed box with grenades. Arena with combines and zombies could be better if player had one way drop down into it or something like that – otherwise you can stand in that doorway for ages and snipe everyone.

    Double Agent
    It is okay

    Rescuing Dr. Mossman by killing legions of combines and shooting balls into holes (͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    Combine shootout in the beginning was quite silly – could use a lot more space and cover for combines to move in, they dont even have a chance to enter the room on any difficulty.

    Arena near the end may be quite difficult due to nonexistent cover – not that combines have much, but there is too many of them, plus hight advantage. I would also not allow player to progress to ball puzzle until he finishes the arena.

    Research Station
    It is okay

    Linear corridor shootout with cheeky shotgunners.
    Could use a little bit more props to utilize gravity gun, or maybe one more grenade.

    My Brother, Beli Vance

    No review or recommendation image can describe this piece. The principles of level design and environmental storytelling used here have yet to be named by human science.

    DZ Ten Years
    It is okay

    Trippy arena with hordes of stalkers.

    Interesting idea ruined by hordes of hitscan enemies, nonexistent cover and bad lighting. Something less brutal and more abstract (to reinforce the intro) would be much better, imho.

    Trek to Borealis
    It is great!

    Stealth infiltration into Combine installation gone wrong. For Combines, ofcourse.

    While visuals were stuning given time limit, I felt like fighting Combine troops was not challenging enough – most of the time they were runing from one narrow passage and were easy to kill.
    Duel with helicopter was nice tho. Would really love to see this map finished.

    Shift
    It is good

    Running in and out of time.

    The main challenge here was jumping from one sloppy displacement surface to another – easy to stuck and fall. Teleporting back up sometimes gave me delayed fall damage.
    Combat suffers same problems as above and map is really short, but the idea is so nice that it is worth checking out nonetheless.

    BONUS: Outpost Zebra
    It is good

    The combat was quite nice, apart from final Hunters encounter. Hunters in tight rooms = no good.

  16. Play It Later
    Data Hunter by PortalStorm4000
    It is bad

    The map has a very confunsing and out of place start, the fights were boring and opposed no threat at all, the fight with the three hunters as simple and easy, the level design has little details and the map was way to short for my liking.

    Aurora by Sockman
    It is okay

    When the map loaded i was quite impressed by the mountains around me and the abyss below, but after i turned to my left i got disappointend, the comine building was to big and i felt like i was in one of those Rat Counter Strike maps, the enemy placement was ok and the ship was kinda nice from the inside, the snow was a little annoying and the ending was confusing.

    Icebound Bastion by Kyle Blackmon AKA Bryzgonaut
    It is bad

    The map is away to big in size and empty and the enemy placement looks so random and out of place, the map never tells you what you have to do and the ship is so empty with boring architecture, but the ship was nicely modeled from the outside.

    Hyperborea by Event Horizon AKA Matt71490
    It is bad

    What can i say? More square rooms with some random props and enemies, this time zombies to, short and forgettable.

    Double Agent by Tim Age AKA HashtagMC
    It is okay

    The beginning would fit more in a defendville, the little puzzle was nice, plain and simple, the constant enemy spawn was annoying, but the ending was interesting, seeing the Borealis trapped between the ice was cool.

    Research Station by HighFire
    It is okay

    The map has a good first sight with the blasted entrance, and for once the level design and enemy placement made sense to me, if the wasn’t so short and the ending so vague i would give a good rating.

    My Brother, Beli Vance by Newgoods!
    It is good

    It’s a joke map, and a funny one, the way Eli just falls into a vent in the floor and comes from another one in the ceilling made me laugh, and the sitcom celebration was nice.

    DZ Ten Years by David Zetterdahl AKA LordDz
    It is great!

    Wow, this one was great! the beginning was interesting and made me want to play, the backstory was nice, Gordon’s PTSD attacks followed by blood thirsty anger were a nice addition, the ending was unusual and good, overall, a great map.

    Trek to Borealis by Ethosaur
    It is WOW!

    Incredible! The level design was amazing with nice effects and building and prop placement being great and in place, enemies didn’t spawned in a place at the beginning at the map and stayed there, no, they came in squads and it worked beautifully, the ending was surprising and well done, with the borealis coming out of a portal storm to destroy a bridge, the only downside i can get for this map is the boss fight, in my opnion it dragged out for longer than it should.

    Shift by 1upD
    It is good

    The map was nice, the xen comeback was cool, but overall, it’s way too short.

    BONUS: Outpost Zebra by Jpzarde
    It is good

    The map was nice with some good fights and good level design, if it wasn’t for the snow making you slide, it would’ve been better

    Conclusion

    I expected nothing since this ville was announced and i a few entries exceeded my expectations, most of the entries here are bad, and the ones that are good are way to short, download it, install it, play it when you have nothing better to do or you have some spare time.

  17. Maybe?

    I wasn’t the biggest fan of this theme. I’ll explain that more in the conclusion.

    DISCLAIMER: I have a tendency to sound very critical during reviews, so if I act a bit harsh, please don’t take it personally.

    Data Hunters
    It is bad

    I’m dubbing the protagonist of this map: Gigabyte Defense man
    Okay everyone, new rule: The player has to have at least 15 seconds of breathing time before they go into combat. In this, the first thing that happens is you’re thrown in a weird arena. Instantly. The fight starts the moment you walk forward. Boom.

    Then you go down a hole, and you’re thrown into an even more awkward arena with 3 hunters. Then the map ends. That’s everything. It’s probably set in the borealis, but it doesn’t thematically make any sense.

    The only two saving graces that this map has is one: It had a good autosave point, and two: I like fighting hunters.

    Aurora
    It is okay

    I’m dubbing the protagonist of this map: George Doorman
    I feel bad for this map, as it’s pretty clear that it fell victim to the 50 hour time limit. I do like that they thought to shroud the map in fog in order to hide its lack of detail, that’s clever enough. But unfortunately, every encounter in this map is boring as all hell. Walk in a room. Enemies shoot at you. Repeat. No interesting cover or movement. Nothin. The most interesting combat encounter is a by-the-numbers throw-grenade-at-sentry bit.

    As for how the map works thematically, I thought it was alright. For a 50hr competition, it looks good enough, and it does convey the feeling of being on a ship pretty well. The canyon that it’s in looks pretty good, too.

    Also, let’s talk about the ending real quick. SPOILAH ALERT: They tried to do the ending bit that was brought up in Marc Laidlaw’s Epistle3 post. I don’t think this was a good idea, because you could spend 3 weeks on that scene alone, and you’d still just barely be able to get it to reasonable standards.

    Icebound Bastion
    It is okay

    I’m dubbing the protagonist of this map: Jack Frosty
    Damn… I have such mixed emotions on this one. It does a lot of things poorly, but it does one thing that I REALLY like…

    Okay, so dev textures. It’s a 50 hour map. The way I see it, for a theme like this, either have a really good-looking map with little gameplay, or a very gameplay-focused map with minimal detail, don’t try and be a jack of all trades. This map definitely leans more towards the latter. However, it has some very clear gameplay problems. One: I don’t think there are any nodes in this map. The enemies usually just stand in one place. Two: Enemy placement is a bitch. Three: room layouts are boring.

    But I did say this map does something I love, and that’s nonlinearity! You’re free to explore the entirety of The Borealis at your own pace! I freaking ADORE nonlinear level design, (so I guess it’s a bit weird that I’m in an HL2 mapping community) so whenever I see a map try and pull it off, it gets instant bonus points from me. However, it doesn’t really make good use of its nonlinearity… which is a shame. (*What a shame*) So it gets a grand total of 2.37 bonus points.

    Hyperborea
    It is okay

    I’m dubbing the protagonist of this map: Dan Smith
    This map was… competent. Wasn’t really anything special, not really anything to despise. Just like buck-fifty TV dinners. You go into a room, fight some zombies. The arena is okay, but this map has a case of “lame-use-of-zombie-itis” where it just places them as typical enemies, HL1 style. For the rest of the map, it’s some pretty chock-standard combine shooting. This map really isn’t anything special, just kinda… boring. Next.

    Double Agent
    It is bad

    I’m dubbing the protagonist of this map: Godmode Shootman
    This was a really awkward map to play. The opening gameplay bit was just terrible. You have to defend Alyx as she hacks a terminal, and you’re given a gun nest to do so. But there’s so many combine running at you, that the only way to effectively hold them back is to M1 like a pyro that just learned what TF2 was 20 minutes ago. But you CAN’T do that, because you’ll get shot too much and die! I just turned on godmode for this segment, because it was ridiculous. Then you have to do a brief little door-opening puzzle, which is easy enough, then you rescue mossman, kill some more combine, and the map ends!

    Also, this was made by the same guy as “Thanks, buddy!” from the last competition, right? Well he’s making a name for himself as the guy that does good endings, because at the very end of the map here, you get a really damn good looking borealis reveal. Way to end on a high note.

    Research station
    It is dire!

    I’m dubbing the protagonist of this map: Gordon Speedrunningman
    Okay, I know it was a 50 hour competition, but come on. This map is literally just 2 small rooms and a short hallway. If you play it properly, you can get through it in about 80 seconds. In fact, I ran a little test: It’s possible to complete this map in 10 seconds. TEN SECONDS. And it’s not even a good combat encounter. I guess the fact that it’s based off of that one scene in the G-Man conversation during Episode 2 is pretty cool, but if that’s the only thing that I’m expected to like about this map, then it’s not worth my time.

    My Brother, Beli Vance
    It is great!

    I’m dubbing the protagonist of this map: Fordon Greeman
    “What, make a SERIOUS map? Nah, this map’s gonna be a joke map whether you like it or not!”
    Anyway, so, as of the time of writing this, this is easily my favorite map in the pack so far. It’s literally a 15 second joke, but it’s freaking hilarious, and I won’t spoil it. Just play… or watch… this map. (I was tempted to give it a “It’s Wow” rating, but it didn’t really earn that.)

    DZ Ten Years
    It is WOW!

    I’m dubbing the protagonist of this map: Huge Guts
    So rather than trying to replicate something that could be in Episode 3, this tries to sort of be a screwed up metaphor for the state of Episode 3. And it was a lot of fun, too! Bits of this map reminded me of running around with a Berserker pack in Doom. And the parallels to HL3 and/or Episode 3 are very well done. I applaud you, sir. It’s a damn good map, nothing more to say.

    Trek to Borealis
    It is great!

    I’m dubbing the protagonist of this map: Jack Frostier
    Well, this didn’t have the best gameplay for an HL2 map, but god damn, did it have some atmosphere! The developer decided it would be a good idea to prioritize the overall feel of the environment, rather than the individual detail, and I think the map was substantially better for it. It does a good job of feeling like a cold, desolate environment inhabited by the combine. Let’s leave it at that.

    Gameplay, as I said, isn’t anything spectacular. Combine run at you through a doorway. Helicopter fight at the end, woopdeedoo. I understand that the gameplay took a backseat for the environmental design given the time constraints and all that, but I feel the helicopter really should’ve had less health. The fight just dragged on and on after a while.

    Shift
    It is good

    I’m dubbing the protagonist of this map: Warpy the Warp McWarp Warpington the Warpiest

    Pretty standard gunfighting, environments shifting back and forth as you go through portals is pretty cool, nothing to special beyond that.

    Wow, I really don’t have much to say on this one. Next.

    Outpost Zebra
    It is okay

    I’m dubbing the protagonist of this map: Gordon Stripeman
    This is a pretty standard Half-Life romp. The combat encounters are all actually pretty good, with the final face-off against the two hunters actually being pretty fun. It also makes good use of explosives. However, the thing that kills this map is that there’s just nothing special about it. Detailing is super basic, absolutely no branching paths or anything along those lines, and minimal player choice. It’s just kinda forgettable. For what it is, though, it’s okay.

    In conclusion

    I think this really gets at the heart as to what these 50-hour competitions are about. They’re about finding ways to be innovative within their time constraints, and find ways to make quality without polish… right? Well, that comes into some pretty direct conflicts when talking about making a map based off of Episode 3.

    You see, you get brilliant 50-hour maps when someone comes up with something original to make in spite of their time limit. Usually, they’ll be something that is… in a weird way… distinctly not Half-Life. But how can you make something that’s meant to feel original when the theme is literally based off of the hypothetical sequel to the Half-Life games? You’ll notice that the maps I tend to praise the most are ones that tried to get the elements of Episode 3 and the fundamentals of the 50-hour contest to overlap. The one that managed to get closest to the Episode 3 vibe was Trek to Borealis, and that was focused more on the Episode 3 atmosphere than anything gameplay related. The other 3 that I like took certain vague elements from Episode 3, and tried to fit them into the 50-hour goal…

    But here’s the problem: They’re all breaking the theme! The theme is to give a tiny slice of what Episode 3 could’ve held, and the 3 of the 4 maps that I actually enjoyed didn’t even accomplish that! So I’m sorry, Philip. But I really don’t think that making this a 50-hour competition was a good idea. I wanted to really see how mappers could’ve envisioned episode 3, but this damn time constraint just kinda kept that from happening.

    Oh, well. Everyone made a valiant effort, and I’m excited to see the next contest.

    1. “the guy who does good endings”, huh? Well, thank you!

      The combat sucks, I’ll openly admit that. I have about zero experience in making HL2 maps, so I probably would have needed a playtester and a week’s worth of time to get the combat right, making it not too hard or too easy. I probably should have added more cover & space for both the attacking soldiers and the player to move away from the hide-and-keep-shooting approach.

      So yeah, it’s pretty much spray & pray. If you had to switch on godmode, I assume you either played on hard difficulty and/or missed the fact that there was an item crate dispenser behind you that dropped health vials in 8-16 second intervals.

    2. Whenever you give a map review, please keep giving each map its own unique protagonist names, I died when I looked up ‘Huge Guts’ for the first time. (And totally agree with the protagonist of that map being named that.)

      I also giggled after having read ‘Gordon Stripeman,’ and on that note I agree with the review you gave of my map. The next map I make will be much more interesting in terms of look and feel.

  18. I also rated it “Play It Later”. I thought the Bonus Map was the best, by far. I didn’t have enough words to qualify for the images.

  19. Phillip says Play It!

    I, like many, wasn’t convinced this was the right theme, but the timing was just too perfect to miss and I’m not always the best judge of a theme’s potential (nobody is, by the way!).

    As we have come to expect, the experimental challenges contain a wide range of quality. This one was more based on a standard HL setting and in many ways was less creative than the two previous challenges.
    I struggled with my overall recommendation but there are some fun and interesting maps, so I finally decided on PLAY IT!

    Below are my thoughts for each map.

    Data Hunters by PortalStorm4000
    It is bad

    Eseentially this is two rooms joined in a strange way. The first is not very challenging and the second doesn’t exploit the Hunters very well. I didn’t enjoy this much at all. The only part that was good was the gradual lighting of the second room.

    Aurora by Sockman
    It is good

    Selecting the inisde of the Borealis is a bold choice. The problem as far as I see it is that it’s really hard to make a level that atually look and feels like you are in a ship and I am afraid I don’t think Sockman convinced me. The directional placement of the guards in the first two rooms was strange – they were facing the wall and the overall feeling of being in flat-walled rooms left me disappointed. All in all, I felt that getting to the ship could have been pulled off much better and been the actual objective of the map. Oh, and I only saw the Elite soldiers fall from the bridge on the second playthrough and where the heck did they come from?

    Icebound Bastion by Kyle Blackmon AKA Bryzgonaut
    It is good

    Well, this has HUGE potential. There’s little doubt that once this is textured and detailed, i.e. more rooms etc, this could be a fantastic level. As it stands, and I’m not too worried about the dev textures, it’s just a little too light on gameplay and objectives. I truly hope the auhtor has been working on this since release.

    Hyperborea by Event Horizon AKA Matt71490
    It is okay

    Seeing Judith at the beginning had me hoping for a cutscene but alas no. This is just some dark or colourful rooms that make no sense. Enemies appear in previously cleared rooms and very little requires toughtful tactics. Overall, I didn’t enjoy this at all.

    Double Agent by Tim Age AKA HashtagMC
    It is okay

    The placement and location of the defend situation seemed really forced, the kind of thing you expect to see in video games. The gameplay was all crammed into a couple of chock points and offered the player no tactical options. It’s just a cannon fodder coming at you. The mechanism for getting Judith’s door powered is also too artificial. The end however, was really nice and I would have preferred to play a level which starts with Judith’s door opening and the player having to protect her, with Alyx’s help and take her along some corridors to the final scene.

    Research Station by HighFire
    It is okay

    Not exactly a big research station but let’s forget that. The actual level was fairly nicely built but wasn’t much fun to play. I thought there might be some fun to be had with the benches allowing the player to jump and shoot but overall, a simple but really well lit room didn’t offer the player any choices. Overall, if this were part of something bigger I wouldn’t feel so bad but as a stand alone map it is not very exciting.

    My Brother, Beli Vance by Newgoods!
    It is bad

    First time I played this I stared at the screen for a few moments are it faded to black and said What The Headcrab! was that. I had to replay it in case I missed soemthing, but nope. It’s not Dire but there could have been a bit more to it. If this were a stand alone map I would defnitiely say Avoid it.

    DZ Ten Years by David Zetterdahl AKA LordDz
    It is great!

    Took me a while to realise the “Red Mist” was a gameplay feature but once I did, I really enjoy it. The whole area was built around the idea of limiting the player’s movement but allowing the Stalkers to attack you. I also liked the subtle detail of the cases stacked up on the tables, giving me a feeling of dark undertones. The lift timer was just about right as was the amount of health and ammo.

    I know I enjoyed this as the first thing I wanted to do was replay it. I would like to see the “Red Mist” idea made into a mod but with variations. All in all, a great entry, which I thoroughy enjoyed.

    Trek to Borealis by Ethosaur
    It is great!

    I debated whether I should give this a “It’s Great” or “It’s WOW”. Visually, it’s amazing and I love the snow blowing off the edges of the cliffs and the ending is such a tease but the gameplay left me flat. I encountered a game breaking bug at the beginning but this is an experimental challenge, so it’s hard to be too critical. I, like others, am very impressed it was created in 50 hours and I also admit to having my doubts but I have to and will trust the entrants.

    All in all, a fantastic entry and I hope the author finds time to continue it at some point.

    Shift by 1upD
    It is good

    Really nice idea here but underused. I suppsoe that within 50 hours it’s hard to create a long playtime map but this has so many possibilities.

    BONUS: Outpost Zebra by Jpzarde
    It is okay

    It’s hard not to notice the very blocky feel of the map and whilst it may have contained more gameplay than official entries, it didn’t really excite me. I quick like te idea of havijng to jump between the towers but you were punished with death if you fell in the water, which I felt was too harsh. Yes, it’s ice cold water but letting the player jump out would have been fairer.

    The combine soldier battles were more fun than the Hunters but overall I suppose I had some fun.

    Summary

    As I have already said, as with other Experimental challenges, this one contained a wide range of styles and entry quality. You only need to see some of the reviews to see that some players hated a particular map and others loved it. Are we judging the gameplay possibilities or are we judging the map as it is, not what it could be. I have judged them on what they are. But it’s clear that with these entries the chance to try new ideas should be rewarded.

    All in all, I didn’t have as much fun with this mod as I had with the two previous ones.

    1. How is the red mist in DZ Ten Years a gameplay feature? What does it do?

      1. It makes everything one shot, one kill. Or at least that’s what I think it does.

  20. Dolmo, Niker and I are pleased to announce that Ethosaur won the Epistle3Ville 50-Hour Experimental Mapping Challenge with his excellent entry: Trek to Borealis.
    Congratulations to him and the rest of the entries.
    He wins $33.33, donated by Bolloxed, and a random Steam game, donated by anonymous RTSL users.

    1. congratz! Deserved victory!

    2. Very deserving of victory. Played it four times now and although the chopper has become a touch irritating the rest, the sound, visuals and atmosphere are pure gold.

  21. Play It Now!

    A good set of varying quality and length maps on the theme of Laidlow’s ep3 development art work release. A somewhat sad theme perfectly illustrated in ‘DZ Ten Years’, rather graphically!

    Data Hunters.
    It is okay

    Nicely textured two-room Combine and Hunter fight. The transition via the floor hole was a surprise first time; too busy looking up to stare at my feet! Hunter fight was short and sweet but nearly fatal when I forgot the third from up behind me! A four-minute blast of fun but it lacked the ‘episode three’ feel. Nice but so short! [4 mins]

    Aurora.
    It is good

    An icy ledge, driving snow and the howl of the artic wind as walkways vanished into an icy haze had me right in that EP3 world from the start! Combat was light but the path to the Borealis had a nice surprise, nice for me ha, ha! Found a big red button and pushed it… Oh dear! This one was right on brief and quiet enjoyable. [5 mins]

    Icebound Bastion.
    It is bad

    A big dev-textured Borealis was rather an empty ship with surprisingly little combat. Rather a jogging mission but the ammo was sparse so it was okay to have little combat. A strangely forgettable nine minutes where an hour later as I write this the ending eludes me! I did like the Russian bird though… [Mil Mi – 8].

    Hyperborea.
    It is okay

    Working for Alyx again, well someone has to turn the power on. A room of zombies leads to a door of some trouble leading onto more! Just another day in the HL office…
    Lights on, more trouble and you go to tell Alyx and it’s fade to black. For an eight-minute vignette its not too bad. It is nicely lit but it has no HL3 vibe to it and you might ask why Alyx didn’t notice those Combine!

    Double Agent.
    It is good

    Protecting Alyx from a two-angled ferocious Combine assault with a mounted gun was hard work first time around. I improved on my second run. The Combine seemed to pour out from those dark passages as I expended a lot of ammo covering Alyx, again! The little bonus puzzle was amusingly simple… to get wrong! J
    Mossman freed, we stumble out and the Borealis is spectacularly exposed before us as trouble looms! You feel like this is a start of something more. Good six-minute map.

    Research Station.
    It is bad

    Starting outside in the snow, you enter the tiny barracks locker room and engage a few angry guards and walk outside again as Alyx shares your obvious confusion! Two-minutes is too short and why is a locker room out here on its own? Poor excuse for a research station posing as a locker room benches included! A tiny slice of HL3 action, but there was snow.

    My Brother, Beli Vance.
    It is okay

    The title is longer than this vignette! But an Eli death recon joke that makes one titter is worth something. The joyous shouts were funny too. A strange start to a fantasy called Half Life 2: Episode 3 but so on trend…

    DZ Ten Years.
    It is WOW!

    This map reeks of quality! It was a total disaster on my first play, but a wonderful combat experience on my second. The crashed helicopter and the fire along with Alyk’s pleading gave this a real eerie start. “Don’t leave me!” Wow I got chills!
    With just the crowbar, a most nostalgic beginning, I fought my way to a pistol and down to an mg and then the stalkers appeared along with a lot of ammo and health? A bad sign! I discovered Stalkers fly with grenades it was very funny watching them as I crouched behind a rail cart!
    Ha, ha the lift was full of Combine!
    A really good eight-minute combat map down among the dead in those creepy cages with the added menace of those laser-firing creeps to keep you on your toes. It made me wonder what those Stalkers did down there and those luggage cases, brrrrr!
    The end was rather saddening as you learn Gordon failed as Episode Three died. Talk about hammering it home!
    On a lighter note I played Half Life 2: Episode 3 and loved it; see it’s listed in my Steam library, really it is…

    Trek To Borealis.
    It is WOW!

    A true winning map, and it was!
    This was as close to perfection as you could get and felt incredibly professional for a short ten-minute map. A short trek through a snowy tunnel as Gordon’s boots crunched so realistically through my speakers and then that howling artic wind blowing snow from above made this seem epic. But as that Artic Combine base came into view I realised it was! Laidlaw’s vision of ep3, realised for me to play.
    Great use of bridges and walkways made this small map seem bigger than it was and soon ten minutes had passed as that pesky helicopter crashed to Earth, opening the bridge barrier as the way forward was cleared.
    The first time you see the Borealis was breathtaking, such a huge icon appearing with its horn ringing in my ears as it teleports across the chasm and lands right in front. Oh if only this was the beginning and not the ending… Oh the possibilities!
    Could we kindly ask Ethosaur to add another nine hours? J
    Perfect map…

    Shift.
    It is good

    A four-minute map that packed in some action and surprise using those green portals from the original Half Life! After a brief exchange of ballistic data I went outside, via a nicely torch-cut door and ramp and saw the trapped Borealis from a bridge. Very rewarding sight with the towering ice either side. Even better the ship was still in the Zen space, caught between dimensions as I hopped ‘Zen style’ back to the ship again via another portal and then a bright door out! Short but rather endearing and reeking of nostalgia.

    BONUS Map- Outpost Zebra.
    It is good

    Snow but no submarine! Some cold outdoors combat with the Combine and a couple of three-legged beasties to deal with before ascending to slippery jumps where the water below is cold and not very friendly! It ends with a door and fades to black after an interesting thirteen minutes, much longer than I thought for a short map! Nice combat, not very Laidlaw but there was snow!

    Another ‘ville with varying degrees of interest, combat and Laidlow-ness with the stand out being Trek to Borealis by Ethosaur. The sound of the snow and the sight of the Combine base appearing from the icy haze was magic. Only topped by the amazing arrival of the Borealis in all her mystery! If that was the start can you imagine…

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