Hard!Ville AKA HardVille

for Half-Life 2: Episode Two

UPDATE: A late entry was received and has been included in a patch and an updated file. It will not be entered into the voting system.

This Ville contains 5 entries, each with varying degrees of design quality, visuals and polish.

The theme was designed to encourage difficult gameplay and challenging scenarios.

You decide if the entrants achieved this.

Basic Details
  • Title: Hard!Ville
  • Filename: hl2-ep2-sp-mc-hardville-v1.1.7z
  • Size : 76.20MB
  • Author: Sockman, November, Triiodine, Derek AKA 1upD, Mark AKA Strontvlieg, Urban_freedom
  • Date Released: 15 December 2016

Download Options

Download to your HDD [76.20MB]
You can still use it with Gauge once you have downloaded it.

PATCH: Download to your HDD [600KB]

Manual Installation Instructions

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

  • Copy the HardVille_RTSL folder into your …\Steam\SteamApps\Sourcemods\ folder.
  • Start or restart Steam
  • Hard!Ville: RTSL should now be listed in your “Library” tab.
Theme Details

Here is the Hard!Ville explanation video

I want modders to create a map that is hard to play. Either through carefully planned combat or because there is some difficult to pass obstacle.

I am not a fan of jumping sections, but as long as they are possible for most players and not just expert jumpers, then that’s fine.

Puzzles can be included if you want but the overall feeling should be one of hard.

Now, this is important, so pay attention. Simply throwing tens of Combine Soldiers or Hunters at players is not what you should be doing. That’s just stupid. The best and most rewarding sections of most mods are the ones players have to really work hard to pass.

Lastly, don’t think that this has to be a BOSS fight. There are plenty of other situations that can be hard too, although if you want to have a boss fight, that’s okay with me.

Entries

Listed as they are displayed in the mod itself:
City 7 by Sockman
Complex by November
Core Province by Triiodine
Heat Death by Derek AKA 1upD
Bothersome Flies by Mark AKA Strontvlieg
Fragout by Urban_freedom

Reviewing

If you decide to use the Per-Map Opinion Images, please either watch the video below or use the VilleReviewTemplate.txt file. Thank you.

Winners and Prize

Details of the winner and any prize will be available on the site soon. Vote below.

Vote

The vote closes 31st December 2016. PLEASE VOTE BASED ON THE THEME.

What are your top 3 maps from Hard!Ville based on the theme.

  • Bothersome Flies (27%, 18 Votes)
  • Heat Death (54%, 36 Votes)
  • Core province (52%, 35 Votes)
  • Complex (28%, 19 Votes)
  • City 7 (18%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 67

Loading ... Loading ...

Menu Music

Brane Scan by Kelly Bailey from Half-Life 2

Release Versions

0.9 – Developers’ and Patrons* beta version. No Hard!Ville Intro video. (* more details will be announced soon)
1.0 – First Release.
1.1 – This Version. New map, Fragout, included that was lost in submission. Included a background, chapter and Steam Gridview image. Updated the maplist.txt to include all maps. FYI, this file is used to map manually open the maps easier.

Credits

The RunThinkShootLive.Com introduction video was made by Jeff Muñoz (ThatoneJeff)” and he also significantly helped with logo design – thanks Jeff, you ROCK!
Rob Martens for converting the RTSL introduction video and my intro video into .bik format.

Custom Gridview Images

Six gridview icons are included in this file. To use the included grid view icon, select “Gridview” in Steam (top right corner).
Right click on “Hard!Ville: RTSL” and select “Set Custom Image”.
Then browse to the SourceMods folder and then to HardVille_RTSL/steam-gridview-icons folder and select the image. Then click “Set Image” and that’s it.
Of course, you can create your own custom image if you prefer.

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: planetphillip@gmail.com no later than the deadline.

Sponsor

This challenge was partly sponsored by Nodecraft – High Performance Game Servers.

Videos

Coming Soon.

Screenshots

Comin Soon.

Reader Recommendations
Avoid It!
Think Twice
Maybe
Play It Later
Play It Now!

10 recommendations, average score: 3.8 (out of 5), standard deviation: 0.76 (what's that?)
Total Downloads
  • 830
    Overall
  • 2
    Today
  • 26
    Last 7 days
  • 67
    Last 30 days
  • 830
    365 days
Meta Review Data
Statistics based on 11 comment(s) with meta review data.

Installed:
Using Gauge: 2 Users
Manually: 9 Users

Time Taken:
Average: 1 Hours, 47 Mins
Shortest: 0 Hours, 30 Mins by crowbar
Longest: 5 Hours by fdewit
Total Time Played: 19 Hours, 33 Mins
Jump to a review
Think TwicePlay It LaterPlay It Now!Play It LaterPlay It LaterMaybe?Play It LaterPlay It Now!Maybe?Play It Later

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59 Comments

  1. Think Twice

    Even though this is HARDville this is EASILY the worst Ville released so far on this website. To be fair though I haven’t played every single one that got released. Some maps were incredibly unpolished or unfinished. Two of the mappers didn’t understand what “challenge” means at all. The last two maps were alright, but not challenging at all. Overall very disappointing. I expected this ville to turn out like this, but not so extreme.

    Anyway, if you want to see how to properly do a challenging map, then play “Run Think Shoot” by Nicole Brauer. That map has an incredibly well designed combat section, which is very open and sandboxy too, so the player has a lot more freedom. Or play Miigga’s latest map “Dysnomitude”, which not only has some well designed and challenging combat sections, but also challenging puzzles. This ville wasn’t anything of that. It should be renamed to RandomMapsVille.

    City 7 by Sockman
    It is bad

    I hope this was done by a fairly new mapper, because it was very amateurish. First of all the map wasn’t hard at all. Some sections were incredibly easy. The only area where I died a few times was the final fight, and that is because if a Hunter hits your airboat once, you are dead. That is “Hard”, but not really fair, cause a tiny mistake gets punished by instant death immediatly. I should say though that I missed the energy charger at first, but that was definitly not my fault cause both chargers are placed in extremely awkward position.
    Anyway, what I simply did was stay at the starting area with the boat and just kill the Chopper, why bother with Hunters? The terrain was very annoying anyway, not designed for the airboat at all. A lot of places where you get stuck or fly, I couldn’t even pick up the crates properly most of the time.

    The level design was weird as hell and sometimes didn’t make any sense. Weird hunter placement at the start, and fighting 4 or 5 Hunters or so at the start with only a Shotgun and SMG was very dull.
    Anyway, if this was done by a new mapper, it’s not a bad first map, not at all, but my rating only considers the quality of the map, not in what circumstances it was created. I didn’t regret playing it, it wasn’t boring, mainly because it was so short. The biggest mistake of the map is that it doesn’t fullfill the theme at all. There are tons of maps in other Villes that were way more challenging, where being challenging wasn’t even required.

    Complex by November
    It is dire!

    WOW! What a disaster… This map started out strong. The first puzzle was well introduced and alright, although a very overused puzzle so it doesn’t really add anything to the experience. The second section with the zombie was alright, although once I realized I can just go out of that room it became incredibly easy. But then, WHAT THE FUCK was the author thinking? A sniper with 3 combine soliders and I have only enough pistol ammo to barely kill one of the soldiers? Okay. After that a room where I get surrounded by enemies immediately if I don’t kill them INSTANTLY, while I don’t have any ammo unless I charge right at the enemies and pick and their dropped weapons.

    And then it goes completely crazy. Room after room with millions combine soldiers while I have barely any equipment plus roller mines plus other bullshit. This map was honestly insulting. Does the author actually completed this map? Did you play it on hard? Because, you know, this is hardville, so I play on hard mode, but it feels like the author tested this on easy mode. Whatever the case, even if it was doable, it isn’t fun at all, there is no challenge, just extreme punishment for mistakes. Sorry, but I don’t like this map one bit. I actually activated buddha mode fairly quickly because I got so annoyed and then completed the map like that only to see how more ridiculous it will become.

    Core Province by Triiodine
    It is dire!

    Are you serious? Stopped playing this map immediately. I go back to heal me at the health charger, a random sniper spawns at a random spot of the map and just kills me… okay?
    The encounters are horribly designed. At the start a really long bridge with enemies who can barely hit you so you just snipe them with the 357. Then million manhacks while million combine respawn. I don’t know man, that sniper thing pissed me off so much I don’t want to play this map any further. It looks nice, but it uses developer textures for some reason which is weird.
    Again, another map which feels like the author only tested it on easy mode, where you can actually sustain all that random damage.

    Heat Death by Derek AKA 1upD
    It is okay

    This map has problems and I almost stopped playing it, but it won me over. The start is weird as hell, because you actually get freeze damage when you go outside, which wasn’t clear to me at all, not even when I actually took the damage. First because there is no freeze damage in the main game, you have to establish that very clearly. And second the outside area didn’t look cold at all. There was snow, but there is snow here in Germany too and I’m not freezing to death. smoke etc. would improve that feeling. Anyway, because that I also didn’t understand that I can go outside after getting energy for my suit.

    The first energy source thing was maybe supposed to be a tutorial for what it is, but it just confused me honestly because I didn’t realize what it did. Anyway, after that the level was too open and too empty. That made running around and exploring very annoying. Also you have to take some weird steps at the far corner of the map which isn’t good. I like how the map makes the energy source puzzles more and more challenging over time, although it doesn’t really do that, because solving the final 3 energy source puzzles wasn’t any different to the previous.
    It felt like I solved them by accident, I thought I have to pay attention to something, like keeping the things heated, but nah I just went straight for the container thingies and put the energy sources inside.

    The combat was awkward as hell. Why were there combine inside those buildings? Why did they blow up their own doors? Did the manhacks spawn infinitly? Because that is a huge NO GO. Overall the map was alright, it had a vision. It was too empty, some dull sections and awkward combat. The main problem is that it wasn’t challenging at all.

    Bothersome Flies by Mark AKA Strontvlieg
    It is okay

    This was the most polished map out of the five, although I had a lot of missing textures. The author clearly put effort into building the streets etc, but overall the map still looked very unfinished. The first encounter is a basic sniper encounter, nothing special. The second is a basic combine fight, nothing special. Then a standard guship battle, and then a gunship battle with combine, which was annoying at first until I realized I can just shoot the combine with the rocket launcher. The map is alright, but nothing special, and not challenging.

    1. Missing textures? Dammit … ! The strange thing is this visual error seems to occur randomly; some players encounter this problem while others don’t. For example; in the playthrough posted on Youtube by Bolloxed the textures appear normally. I wonder if this is something on my end while packing the whole thing with Pakrat.

      1. @Strontvlieg
        the missing textures didn’t really affect the experience in a bad way, so don’t worry. Btw I forgot to mention: I love how that gunship destroys that building at the start with that beam weapon like independence day.

    2. I’m sorry you had such a hard time with my map. When I was creating it I was attempting to make it challenging on all difficulties as I thought that making something difficult but doable on hard mode would make it too easy (for this specific ville) on lesser difficulties. This in turn did cause hard difficulty to give the player a very harsh time. When I play tested it on hard mode, I was able to complete it but only after dying a handful of times. I’ll try to do a better job with balancing between difficulties in future maps I make. Thanks for playing!

      1. It’s not 100% your fault. The difficulty levels in Half-Life 2 are balanced in a weird way.
        You take 100% damage from enemies on medium while you take 200% on hard, which is double the amount which is crazy. I’m not saying that you should take less damage from enemies, but medium should be 150% damage and easy 100%. Because of that, balancing for all difficulty levels can be very hard, and because of that I rebalanced the game completely for my own mod.

        Also you do less damage on hard which can mess up ammo balancing, but this is managable.

        Still, since this is Hardville, as I said, it should at least be balanced for hard mode in my opinion. I hope my review wasn’t discouraging or something like that, but when you get completely DESTROYED immediately, then its just unacceptable.

      2. Live and learn, but I think in hindsight, the rules probably should have specified a specific difficulty setting to aim for. It is incredibly hard to balance HL2 maps to not make Easy insultingly so while still keeping it challenging on Hard. Throw in the criteria that the level has to be harder than most, and you have a problem.

        1. I think the combat difficulty and difficulty of core map are two different things. I guess a lot of people aimed to make the combat the thing that made it hard. Personally if I was making a map intended to be hard, I would make the difficulty come out of puzzles and other game mechanics rather than the combat. I would balance the enemy’s as I would on any other map so its up to the user to select combat difficulty. Therefore even if the user played on easy, normal or hard, my work at making a challenging map retains its “challenge”.

          1. JamaicanDave

            I’d say combat is probably the simplest way to make a map harder for most mappers, particularly if time is limited. I don’t have much of a problem with this, after all combat is the core of a FPS and usually makes up the bulk of game play.

            Making combat harder but not unfair / frustrating is the difficulty. Chucking in loads of enemies is the most obvious route, but if that’s going to be done its important to make sure the player can’t get swarmed from all sides and overwhelmed. They need to have enough cover and space to restrict how many enemies can see or get to the player at anyone time. I tried this myself in Stalwart but don’t think I quite got it right. Still practice makes perfect right 🙂

            I guess the better way to make combat more challenging is through use of the setup and environment, rather than just sheer numbers. Done well this can be both challenging, fun and as you say fairly independent of difficulty setting. The downside is it requires a lot more imagination, planning and fine tuning by the mapper. And if it goes wrong the end result can be …. let’s say disappointing.

            1. My feelings on HL2/BM maps in general are different than what I wrote above as we were talking about making maps in the context of the challenge. Half Life 2 maps are generally not overly difficult for the most part but still require the player to think. The difficulty should be at the hands of the combat in “normal” maps. Everything else should allow the pace of the mod to be quick enough to keep the player wanting more.

              In this case your are correct Dave with saying the combat is the simplest way to make the maps harder. On the flip side, all maps shouldn’t rely 100% on combat to create the “challenge” element and should allow for the player to turn the difficulty down and it to become literally “easy”.

              1. JamaicanDave

                Ahh, sorry it took me a couple of read throughs but I see what your getting at (my brain isn’t what it once was). I’ll go back to my corner now 🙂

              2. One of the difficulties (hah) I had with this competition was trying to picture a section of HL2 or its Episodes that I felt was legitimately tough without being frustrating or obnoxious. I couldn’t think of any. I think a lot of people would probably cite the finale of Ep2, but I never enjoyed that part.

                1. I love that part 😛
                  The Nova Propsekt chapter in Half-Life 2 also had some hard sections. Especially the one where you have I think 3 turrets and have to wait for Alyx. Liked that section too.

    3. Thanks for the feedback on the map, and sorry you didn’t like it. Like you thought, it is my first attempt at a half-life map, and I agree with a lot of points you made. If I had more time I would have made the first hunter encounter make more sense, given the player the gravity gun and maybe some other weapons during the strider battle, and I would have definitely added more detail.
      But again, thanks for the feedback. I’ll probably make a submission for the next ville too, and I’ll try to take all this into consideration next time.

      1. better than most “first maps” I saw 🙂

  2. Unq

    The poll says vote for 3 but the radio buttons only allow 1 vote.

    1. I did vote for two actually. Could vote for three if I wanted to.

      1. Unq

        I’m not talking about voting multiple times. I’m talking about submitting one vote with multiple selections, which radio buttons do not allow.

        1. which is exactly what I did. I know radio buttons are not supposed to allow that, but I could do that.

  3. Phillip_at_work

    Sorry about that. I’ll fix it as soon as I get home in about 3 and a half hours.

  4. OJJ

    First map wasn’t too good, it feels like a first map and I doubt that the creator managed to even beat it legitimately himself, or at least not on anything other than easy.

    Second map was pretty slow but I enjoyed the fight on the mounted gun since it was fun to have the order the enemies spawned memorized so you could just gun them down as they appeared, maybe it should’ve been a little more choreographed so it was less trial and error. I did get annoyed by enemies that had dozed off in a corner waking up though, it felt cheap that i’d die because an enemy was hiding in a corner with a shotgun, even if that wasn’t the author’s intention.

    Third map had a very nice aesthetic but there wasn’t anything i’d say was hard about it, there was a sniper that spawned if you tried using a health charger which was a bit annoying and the combat encounters were more about hanging out at the entrance waiting for enemies to appear since actually entering the combat areas would be suicide with enemies at every angle.

    Fourth map was composed of very basic puzzles, I cheated one of them by throwing a TV at a receptacle (which counted as a pass) because I didn’t realize I had the Gravity Gun for this map to pick up the cubes. The last segment was impossible though, the infinitely spawning waves of enemies kept me holed up into the teleporter room with no way of pushing back since enemies spawned more rapidly than I could take them out. I did appreciate the little details like the whiteboards and the infamous ep3 corridor being featured though.

    Fifth map I found pretty easy sadly, I did it without dying and there wasn’t anything too taxing. I loved both of the gunship crashes though as they made a pretty big impact on the environment and caused quite a lot of destruction. Atleast the lack of difficulty meant there wasn’t much that i’d call cheap or frustrating though.

    Overall I wouldn’t say any of the maps lived up to the Ville’s name without being absolutely impossible or feeling cheap. Overall the lack of specific theme to this competition makes it feel like a bunch of regular single-release maps in the same mod. But we don’t really get many of them anymore either so I suppose it makes up for the drought in a way.

  5. how come my map did not make it in? I followed the instructions.

    1. I have not received an email from your address.

        1. I can’t find it, can you send it to me again please?

          1. Sending it now, I don’t have to be in the competition, just want the level in the pack, for feed back

  6. Play It Later

    Allright, lets review this mod. Personally, I can conclude that none of the entries were bad; I haven’t encountered any serious bugs, I never felt lost in a map, and I never felt the urge to pick up my keyboard and smash it through the monitor with all my might out of frustration … ! However, I also think none of the entries were stellar, my own entry included. Now, on to the reviews per map. As is my habit, I’m reviewing from best to ‘worst’, and I’m obviously not going to review my own entry (Bothersome Flies):

    Heat Death
    It is good

    This is a challenging map in which extreme cold appears to be one of the enemies. In this map, one needs to solve some basic puzzles while the elements to complete the puzzles offer protection against the freezing conditions outside. Ofcourse, there is also a bunch of Combine around who try to ruin your day. The gameplay is decent and the visuals are convincing enough. No memorable moments or environments but all in all a good entry.

    Core Province
    It is good

    This fabrication immediately impressed me with great visuals; Japanese-esque architecture with glowing lights all around you and a lot of detail. I gotta say the foliage and the clean dev textured buildings made a strange but yet nice combination. Combine opposition is fierce but they tend to attack in narrow corridors; once grenades are accessible you can take out whole groups of advancing Combine with a well-thrown grenade. That is fun but also partly takes the challenge out of defeating large numbers of Combine. In a nutshell; excellent visuals, but mostly shooting fish in a barrel.

    City 7
    It is okay

    A huge map with a mostly blocky environment and sometimes interesting gameplay. Speaking about gameplay, it starts quite boring but improves as the map progresses, especially when you get the airboat. Hunters are the most prominent enemy in City 7 but most of the times you have the ability to deal with them swiftly. I do have to say the gun on the airboat mostly pointed in all directions except to the direction I wanted. City 7 is big, blocky, unpolished but still offers some enjoyable gameplay.

    Complex
    It is okay

    In this entry you’ll encounter a variety of enemies in mostly rooms and corridors. I do have to object against Hunters in a narrow corridor; little room for movement and the gameplay isn’t exciting to put it mildy. On the bright side, the situation with the stationairy gun and a lot of Combine approaching was certainly a highlight. Complex has some flaws but still isn’t bad.

  7. So, after months and months of not posting, I’m back.

    Anyway, let’s start with:

    City 7
      1. God, not again. I wanted to delete this comment but even though I pressed delete, the comment doesn’t seem to be deleted.

  8. Play It Now!

    So, after months and months of not posting, I’m back.

    Let’s start with:

    City 7
    It is okay

    This is an alright map. The mapping is very simple and sometimes too blocky, but it’s good there’s some variation sometimes. The challenge factor relied more on numbers, which led to the map having way too many hunters. The last section with the Airboat was nice, but it’s something we’ve seen before. It’s a nice, but simple map.

    Complex
    It is good

    This entry is really enjoyable. The mapping was less square-y and much more varied. The combat also had variety, with hunters, Combine Elites and snipers. The challenge was actually more balanced then the last entry and it also requires you to think a bit more. Overall, this is a great entry and I’m sure many people will like it.

    Core Province
    It is good

    Definitely one of the prettiest maps of this comp and also the most stylish. The mapping is great and I love the architecture, even though the lighting was a bit too intense. The difficulty is again from the combat, but it wasn’t that hard. Great map and kudos to the maker for its style!

    Heat Death
    It is great!

    This was probably my favorite of the bunch, since its challenge depends on more than just enemies. The new heat system is really cool and it’s definitely more enjoyable than simply mowing down enemies imo. The mapping is great and I like all the nods to Half-Life’s story arc (and that HL1 reference 😉 ). I’ve had some problems trying to get one of the cubes up a ladder, but that’s the only problem I have with this map. Awesome map, and probably the winner for me.

    And last but not least…

    Bothersome Files
    It is okay

    Another OK map. This one was the shortest of them all, but still, it’s good nonetheless. There’s an RPG fight at the end which is nice, but again, nothing new. The difficulty depends – you guessed it – on combat. The mapping is good and I like how the small city is portrayed. Overall, nice map and a good ending to this Ville.

    I have to say, this Ville was great. The maps were really good, but I wish that their challenging factor came from something more than just huge amounts of enemies. Final verdict, this is a comp that you should definitely play!

  9. Oh man, sadly I didn’t really enjoy any of the maps. Some of them had their moments, but in general a lot of them didn’t feel very polished, and relied too much on the “throw tons of enemies at you at the same time” thing. It’s very hard to pick a favourite.

    I’m very new to the site so I’m not sure if I’ll do a proper review, I’m gonna need to practise that hehe. But I would definitely give the ville a “Maybe”.

  10. played the new map. Was alright. Short. Bad Lighting. No Challenge. I like how reduced it is, but that single idea didn’t carry it through even though it was very short. Also sometimes the combine didn’t come out of their spawn rooms so the map didn’t progress.

  11. Play It Later

    I have to agree that this is a somewhat disappointing Ville. IMHO it’s not as bad as the worst ones (like GravityGunVille or HalloweenVille), but it’s definitely below average. I played all maps from start to finish, on medium difficulty.

    City 17
    It is bad

    Fighting Hunters with a shotgun is just tedious, but not particularly challenging or entertaining. Visually this map is quite blocky and not too appealing. The last part is totally pointless. You’re given an airboat and have to go against Hunters and a chooper. You’re constantly under the chopper’s fire and it has A TON of health – it took me somewhere between 20 and 30 RPG rounds to take it down! I don’t know if the player is supposed to actually use the airboat’s cannon to bring the chopper down, but most players will be smart enough to just go back to the RPG crate and destroy the chopper this way – which is less tedious than the airboat cannon, but of course is very boring.

    Complex
    It is okay

    Complex is better. Still very average, but better. Combat is mostly solid and part of the challenge here is to identify situations, where it’s better to flee (from snipers or rollermines) and just run through, instead of trying to kill all enemies. It’s visually stronger and also longer than City 17, but all in all just an okay map.

    Core Province
    It is okay

    I very much liked the visuals of this map! I have to agree with Strontvlieg that the foliage and the clean dev textured buildings made a strange but yet nice combination. Also the warm colors created a very nice atmosphere. Unfortunately combat is average and not particularly challenging. Main reason for giving this map only an “It’s okay” instead of an “It’s good” is its length. The early end was really unexpected and quite disappointing.

    Heat Death
    It is good

    This was the most polished and also the overall best entry. Visuals and atmosphere are nice, combat is solid and it also has the longest playing time of all entries. Even though it wasn’t that hard to play, too, it at least introduced some new kind of challenge (coldness), which I felt was more in this Ville’s spirit than what was accomplished by the other entries.

    Bothersome Flies
    It is okay

    Quite short and completely average. You’ll fight a sniper, some soldiers and two gunships. I had some missing textures. That’s really all there is to say about this.

    Summary

    None of the maps was really THAT hard to play. Good thing is that none of the maps annoyed me, bad thing is that Phillip surely expected something different from this Ville’s theme and that it’s quite difficult to rate these maps based on the theme alone. Particularly disappointing was that with the exception of Heath Death all entries completely relied on combat, while any creative running, jumping or puzzle-solving was absent.

    Despite its overall weakness I gave this Ville a PIL: Play Heat Death, enjoy the visuals of Core Province, and just skip the rest.

    1. I assumed that people would naturally use the airboat, since it’s much faster, there’s already a part in hl2 that’s similar, and the ammo crate is annoying to get to. Try playing it again with the airboat and see if it’s any better for you. 🙂 This is my first Half-Life 2 map, so the feedback is nice. I definitely agree that the Hunter battle wasn’t very fun.

      1. I just returned to your map and played the end again, using the airboat. I was surprised how fast the chopper went down. Considering how many RPG rounds I needed during my first playthrough, it’s very surprising that the airboat’s cannon is packing such a punch in comparison. Despite some occasionally harsh words when maps are being reviewed, it’s great that you found time to enter this competition! I hope we will see more maps from you in the future 🙂

    2. actually killing the chopper with the airboat is much faster, because that is the intended way. That is how it is designed in the main game. You actually never fight a chopper with the RPG in any of the games.

      1. Never? Wow, that actually surprises me! Seems I had to shoot too many choppers in too many mods … 😉

        1. I think it was DoorVille which was infamous for having several Hunter-Chopper battles that each took 20-30 rockets to kill. As Crowbar said, you never fight the H-C in HL2 or any of the Episodes with the RPG. It’s always the Airboat gun or the bombs it drops, so it really isn’t balanced for RPGs out of the box.

          The one exception to this is in Lost Coast, where the H-C uses an obscure flag to basically act like a Combine Gunship with a H-C model. It goes down like a Gunship (and sounds like one too!).

  12. And I finally found out what caused the broken textures in Bothersome Flies (my map); I had two versions of the map, packed only one of them in Pakrat and subsequently submitted the ‘wrong’ map for this Ville. I say ‘wrong’ because its only a visual error and not affecting gameplay, but having giant pink cubes around the map is quite an eyesore. See if I can negotiate a fix 😉

  13. asterixer

    Loved Bothersome Flies with crashing the plane in a building…yeah!

    But hat the error too:

    http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=820290876

  14. Meanwhile I’ve played the additional map Fragout and …

    Fragout

    It is bad

    … actually felt a bit trolled by this: Enter room. Kill some soldiers using grenades. Leave room. Seriously? Yes, the time you’re given for mapping during such a competition is limited, but not THAT limited. The only reason for not giving this an “It’s dire” is that it’s technically not unplayable. Clearly the worst entry. And please let me add that City 17 received the same rating from me, but is much better!

    1. Just let me defend myself. yes my map is bad, yes it’s broken, but I joined late with only one full week to make something work, and with limited time, due to working full time. does play into how much I could actually work on the map. this is my very first submission to anything or releasing any kind of thing ever. with all those factors in play, I feel like I did an okay job, but not the best.

  15. Some feedback for the author or Heat Death.

    I managed to break this by getting to the end without the grav gun. You can imagine how frustrating that would be!

    After the first cold section I headed straight for the door I could see in the middle building. After dropping the energy cube and lighting the fire I started playing with a barrel, thinking I could put it on the fire so the cube wouldn’t explode. Somehow I managed to get a cube into the receptacle this way. I’m not sure, but I think a barrel got close when it fell and that was counted as a hit.

    Kudos for coming up with such a novel mechanic – I guess glitches are inevitable when you start using the engine in unconventional ways!

    1. I appreciate the feedback!

      At one point I had thoroughly tested those generators and made sure that nothing could ever break the map in the way you described – but after that I must have made some small change that broke it! I have a feeling that somehow there’s a filter with an invalid name so that the generators don’t actually filter which prop is put into them. I’m really disappointed and I wish I had had more people test my map when it was close to release.

      I’m sorry for the inconvenience. I hope you still enjoyed the map!

  16. Play It Later

    An interesting contest where 2 entries were much better than the rest. Core Province had a beautiful design and difficult combat (yes I played on Easy; don’t judge me!). Heat Death was very clever and original with some good humour regarding Ville names thrown in. It also had an actual ending which is what made it the best entry in my book.

    The other 3 entries were just ok. Combat was more polished but I didn’t find it that interesting. City 7 had some problems with map edges and I found it was more fun to ignore the chopper and just run over the Hunters with my airboat. Bothersome Files was missing textures and the story made no sense.

    I’m not sure the theme got the results that Phillip wanted, but I liked some of the creativity in the entries anyway.

  17. btw when you use the RTSL intro for mods, it is a bit irritating, because I think I’m past all the intros and finally in the menu, but nope, another Intro video.

  18. Ah, looks like this Ville gained a sixth (unofficial) entry:

    Fragout
    It is okay

    I wasn’t sure if I would give this a ‘Bad’ or ‘Okay’ rating. Ultimately decided for ‘Okay’ because I didn’t encountered any bugs and I kinda like throwing well-timed grenades towards Combine and send them flying. The area where the Combine soldiers are looks very reachable but trying to get there results in a quick death due to triggers. You’d better devide the area with chemical or radioactive substance or something to make it obvious you shouldn’t attempt to cross it. Also, extremely short and the enemies weren’t always eager to leave their spawning rooms.

    1. Strontvlieg, thanks for the feedback. I should have added more visual language to the death pit but ran out of time.

  19. Maybe?

    This HardVille was pretty horrible, most of the maps were unfinished, and horribly difficult…
    I know, it’s the theme, but just give you a crowbar grenads and pistol VS hunters… Really?
    For me one maps was finished, the other was just beta maps. (Simple brushes, pretty bad lightning, 3D skybox, really bad)

    So here is my review:

    City7
    It is bad

    First of all, the mapping is horrible… The map is difficult, but this is just you with
    SMG VS Hunters, and a Strider at the end… Ok he gives you a rocket launcher, but you must avoid the Stider and lots of Combier/Hunters.
    I didn’t have fun to play it…

    Complex
    It is okay

    A bit better, the mappins is terrible too, but there is an ‘upgrade’…
    The map is pretty difficult, give you weapon VS Combine…
    Maybe, if there would have been technical mechanic, this map would have been a good map…

    Core Province
    It is great!

    This was the best map(lost beautiful…) In reality, it’s just you VS Combine with weapon… It’s not difficult as hell, and it’s just “wave” of Combine.
    The only things that save this map was the mapping, good lightning, good details…

    Heat Death
    It is great!

    The mapping was good, but not the best. The things that I like in this map is the mechanic, get those power cube and add them to the generator.
    It’s not like the other were you fight lots of Combine. The difficulty is to protect the cube of damage, and hide from the snow.
    It’s why, I vote for this map!

    Bothersome Flies
    It is okay

    The mapping is bad, not like the first one… Same mechanic, beat Combine…
    Not a lot to say on this map…

    Fragout
    It is good

    The mapping was cool, not the most beautiful mapping, but a good one.(Can we say that?)
    The mechanic was cool, just throwind grenad on combine, that is difficult and original!
    Maybe too easy, with the first aid button…

    Conclusion

    This was not the best Ville, really prefer the other one! For most of the maps, the mapping was terrible( bad lightning, bad texturing, bad props placements…) The difficulty was kill wave of Combine with bad weapon… Only two maps have good mechanic…
    I look foward for the next Ville, I hope, it will be better! (like my English… Sorry…)

    1. There was a shotgun near the beginning, near the first combine, which would have probably made things a lot easier. Sorry about it being a bit hidden, I should have made it easier to spot.

      1. I think, I should have spent time on finding little secret like this one…
        But, in fact, it’s pretty cool you reply to user comments! 😀

  20. Play It Later

    I’m trying to get back into uploading Youtube videos on a semi-regular basis, and Hard!Ville was released at the perfect time! I’ll be publishing a video for each map over the next week or so, here’s the playlist for anyone interested: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoGPuWBXfT0f3z4wuMvmatR9MN_dhX8MF

    So as not to make the mappers wait on feedback, here’s how I’d break down each entry:

    City 7
    It is okay

    I got a big kick out of the second half of this one. The airboat gun isn’t something I’ve seen used in a lot of custom maps and just driving around the giant open spaces shooting the chopper was freeing.

    As far as the first half, yes it was rough, but I can have plenty of fun in blockout-style maps; the real issue here was the lack of ammo, at least in my case. Hard should be hard, certainly, but I ran out of SMG rounds when facing the first two Hunters. With less than twenty-five health to my name and only a crowbar to defend myself, the map would have been almost impossible for me to complete without cheating.

    Like I say in my video, however, please don’t let this discourage you! My first release suffered the same kind of thing. Players got demolished unless they happened across the one play style that let the map work as intended. To be perfectly frank I haven’t come very far from those issues.

    The nuggets of design seem to be here: highlighting important items with light, a bit of vertical travel with its associated strategic worries in the ruined building, scripting a nice little intro to get the Strider chase sequence going, and the tradeoff while fighting it of staying safe inside cover versus exposing yourself to danger but being rewarded with rockets. Stick with it!

    Complex
    It is okay

    This was incredibly hard, but I’m sorry to say not in the way I’d have liked. The premise of sectioning off the map into different themes (puzzle, sniper, combat, etc.) was sound, but the implementation could stand a few more passes.

    Architecturally speaking, I’d suggest something in the way of more vertical design, rooms over other rooms, something that gives people a reason to look up and down. Maybe a blinking light draws the eye to a malfunctioning power box and helps you solve a puzzle? That sort of thing.

    I must admit it was immensely satisfying to finally get through this one, I did get a strong sense of accomplishment. If you’re the type who enjoys this type of grind, or combat that’s more like puzzle solving (with limited health and ammo you end up with only a handful of solutions to each room), this might be worth your time.

    Core Province
    It is good

    The blooming gold of the lighting and coronas, combined with the white of the dev textures, makes for a striking impression. The standout visuals make this worth fighting through, but maybe try it on easy or normal; confines are too tight, and there are too many shotgunners, to make it as much fun on Hard as it could be.

    This was the first map in the pack that got me genuinely irritated, thanks to our red-goggled friends, but atmosphere goes a long way with me, and I still loved this map. God, buddha, notarget, use cheats if you need them but take the opportunity to absorb this entry.

    Heat Death
    It is good

    I cannot apologize enough to Derek for my video of his work. I got more genuinely upset than I’ve ever gotten at a map, at least on record; more evidence that substantial breaks between playing each entry are beneficial. I imagine the initial sting of aggravation in Core Province poisoned me for this map, and I didn’t have the emotional self control to get past it.

    This is, like the previous map, a place I just like to be. The snow, textures and soundscape all reeled me in, but the combat on Hard was absolutely overwhelming. My issue was the number of things to worry about: the cubes can’t be picked up by hand, they’re fragile, they light enemies on fire, they ignite barrels, they’re power sources, they’re heat sources, there’s a dozen buildings to search through and enemies are swarming from every direction. I admire each element in isolation, and if this were a mod that introduced one at a time over a few maps, I’d love it! All of them together broke me, though. I fought as hard as I could, and longer than I would if I wasn’t recording, but eventually couldn’t hack it and just cheated.

    Pull the level’s bounds in a bit, add another cube dispenser, get rid of some cabins, and drop the Combine count and I think the level could really turn into something wonderful! As it stands it’s a little too hard, but again, choose a lower difficulty and play it to appreciate the concept, because it “has legs”, as I believe industry hotshots say.

    Bothersome Flies
    It is okay

    A little less clutter, and some cover for the second gunship fight, would make this a lot more fun. Nothing major, just a few overhanging elements on rooftops, something to give me a better chance than just trying to use the buildings themselves. I like the environment, the building heights especially. City 17 was mostly multi-story apartment blocks, the outlands were small villages and isolated cabins, this is a nice change of pace. For a gunship fight, on the other hand, it’s both too cramped and too open: big sky above, making you a sitting duck if you don’t get to the edges and hug the buildings, but densely strewn with debris that means you’re somewhat less likely to make it to safety fast enough.

    Fragout
    It is okay

    I appreciated the break after playing a series of very stressful maps, but ultimately this wasn’t very hard. Interesting idea, a shooting gallery style environment with grenades as the only weapon, but a little simplistic to hold attention for very long. Maybe if there was more of a puzzle aspect to the map? Banking grenades off of surfaces, or arcing them through windows/vents to activate a switch, maybe land a grenade in a specific tight spot to blow up some kind of support to drop a piece of architecture down on the Combine. Something to flesh out the mechanics of the level, since as it is you’re just tossing grenades at each other.

    Summary

    In general, I can’t say this Ville was among my favorites. The two best maps, however, are worth downloading the mod for if you have a spare moment. The execution left plenty of room for improvement, but the ideas behind the sharp edges are absolutely worth taking a look at.

    Please, though, for the love of all that is holy play on Easy if you value your sanity. I brought a lot of my pain upon myself by playing on Hard, as opposed to my usual Normal, but I thought it would be in the spirit of the challenge.

  21. Paulos

    Enjoyed everyones attempt even lobbing grenades at the end. The most enjoyable gameplay was carrying heat cubes about and looking for locations while under attack. Well done everyone who entered as it extends the Half Life experience just a bit until that wonderful day arrives that we are all waiting for …

  22. Hec
    Play It Now!

    I have to confess I was reluctant to play this competition at first. I thought that when the maps are built just to be hard they’re annoying and not fun at all. But here I was wrong, in fact I had some very fun game time playing this entries. So I guess this is an OK PN.

    City 7
    It is bad

    I didn’t like this one. I never felt I was into a proper city itself, it felt more like an arena map and the difficult skill was unbalanced and not progressive at all, I guess you have to think “strategically” at first in order to beat the 2 hunters in the wrecked building but that part is almost impossible and very unfair to pass, I had to use the god cheat and it was the only entry where I had to cheat in order to finish. The best part was the helicopter fight in the air boat though.

    Complex
    It is great!

    I have always said I’m a combat player. So this entry was just great with my combat preferences, combat was challenging hard and fun, makes you think strategically most of the time and I just loved that realistic feeling in the whole map.

    Core Province
    It is great!

    This map was very beautiful, though for some reason at first, I thought the map would be filled of annoying hordes of manhacks, I was glad the map didn’t use them a lot. The whole feeling is just about having intense combat into an arena map style, but that’s it.

    Heat Death
    It is WOW!

    This was a very worthy winner. I couldn’t have the chance to vote but if I would I’d have voted for this one. The whole idea is great and very nicely integrated into the HL2 universe, by using that arctic base where Mossman was hunted by the CMB. The hard skill is progressive so it didn’t feel hard at the beginning but at the end is really hard, I tell you, I finish myself in health red numbers but the whole feeling of intense strategic combat made it very rewarding and satisfying at the end. Here I indeed had the strong sense of battling against some really hard CMB combat division, even in the HL2 game itself is quite dumb that the CMB doesn’t use many big numbers to protect their strategic interests here I felt the CMB really send a lot of their troops to stop me, that make combat very, very intense, challenging and fun. Also you have to battle against the weather and that makes it even more special its environmental-threat approach itself is a very smart touch.

    Bothersome Flies
    It is great!

    This was a great urban combat map. The combat was challenging and I liked that. The challenge in the map, retrieving the files, was kind of weak, but despite of that I liked the combat in the entry.

    Fragout
    It is okay

    A nice bonus entry center on grenade combat, which is not my cup of tea in HL2 combat but that’s OK.

    Conclusion

    A nice competition specially if you love challenging combat maps.

  23. Philip, can you delete the above review? I made the mistake of adding a per-map recommendation image at the top of the review and can’t delete it. I’m going to post the same review correctly below.

  24. Maybe?

    I spotted Hardville quite a while after its release; I couldn’t vote any longer. I immediately decided I ‘should’ review it instead.
    I was quite excited about the challenge and expected to be challenged in interesting, creative ways.

    My approach was simple: I started each map on “hard” and reduced the difficulty when it was clear I could not finish.
    Only “Fragout” was finished on “hard” but that should not be considered a compliment.

    City 7
    It is bad

    City 7 doesn’t stand out in its design nor its gameplay.
    The environment doesn’t contain anything noticeably creative; bland, forgettable buildings, and some areas that seemed broken because I had difficulty moving into or out of.
    The gameplay is not particularly engaging either. It is unbalanced in the sense that I had to turn down difficulty to ‘easy’ to actually survive the ‘hunter fight’ and continued on that setting to the finish. Generally I think there was too little cover; I ran around trying to avoid fire from enemies only surviving because I managed to hit them enough times. That is not challenging, that is pure luck.
    So city 7 wasn’t hard, as the challenge requested, it was frustrating, apparently by design.

    Complex
    It is okay

    I had fun playing this, and it certainly was hard. Unfortunately the ‘hardness’ was achieved by doing exactly one thing Philip named as being ‘wrong’: throwing enemies at you in numbers. I had to turn down the difficulty from ‘hard’, to make it to the end.
    The environment is decent and fitting your mission; nothing stands out, it’s sufficiently neat and works.

    I think this map has some clever use of confronting the player with enemies while denying him weapons that usually are available at that point. Zombines without any weapon and an electrified pool at your back force you to improvise. In some places I decided to rush past the enemies instead of eliminating them simply because I saw a way out.
    It took me some tries to get through the bigger fights; the fight in the two level area, with a dozen assorted combine (overwatch and elite) and two hunters stands out as being particularly frustrating, until I remembered to use the mounted gun.

    In the end the clever ideas only halfway balanced the use of ‘overwhelming force’; that’s why I picked ‘Okay’.

    Core Province
    It is okay

    Core Province sports some decent visuals – the ‘dev-textures’ are a little odd but combine well with the other elements – and challenged me to think about my approach several times. I sniped all guards in the first section instead of approaching them and having them open fire.
    I did turn the difficulty to ‘normal’ and I managed to survive a full playthrough then.

    After reading some other reviews however it sounds as if I broke the map somehow (e.g. no large numbers manhacks). From the second courtyard (with the grenade crate) I could practically walk through to the water filled courtyard, only taking out turrets on my way. Maybe this can be explained by the combine NPCs ‘evacuating’ the downward corridors towards the water filled area? Does that even make sense?

    I think this map is Okay, as it was hard for me at the start but after that was rather uneventful and easy.

    Heat Death
    It is good

    From the start I got the sense that something was different in this map. First of all, you immediately ‘feel the cold’ when you try to step outdoors and the heat cube mechanic is interesting as well; it wasn’t clear to me at first you are protected from the cold when carrying one, though I might have missed the instruction.
    From the moment you enter the teleport room it is clear you need to place the three cubes in the already introduced ‘switches’. It took me quite a while to find them, and I died many times; it got so frustrating I turned the difficulty to ‘normal’ just to keep the fun alive.

    This one was definitely hard, not just by throwing combine at you – you had enough ammunition and sufficient health if you did not linger in the cold without a cube too much. There was a clever puzzle, and I had to look for the cube-switch in the attic for quite a while after eliminating some combine.
    The final batch of combine didn’t really get to me until I was already in the teleporter, but made me lose quite some health anyway.

    All in all a good challenge without ‘overwhelming combine force’ or a ‘zombie invasion’.

    Bothersome Flies
    It is okay

    All in all a decent map that I could not finish on hard because of the gunships that reappear at the end after a cameo at the start.

    The path upto the PC is decently balanced and doable on “hard”; you are challenged but can survive by moving around enough and using the cover and weapons you have in an adequate way. One thing to note is the RPG ammo-crate in the area in view of the sniper; it is unnecessarily confusing and triggered me to try and open it while running the risk of getting killed. I admit it shows the right icon clearly; my expectations got the better of me I guess. After reaching the hand grenades it was disappointingly easy to kill the sniper without sustaining damage.
    After recovering the PC, you are faced with a gunship in an area without adequate cover, especially near the RPG ammunition crate. I tried to kill it several times, but because the stated objective was to return to your hideout I tried to find a way to get back without killing it. In the end I managed to run to the hideout and found the map did not end.
    Restarting just after recovering the PC I turned to difficulty to “easy” (in the end) to kill the gunship without sustaining too much damage; only then did a way back open. I killed the combine I knew were there with the magnum revolver before facing the second gunship with a full RPG. Now the map did end.
    I put my review at “Okay” because the map did not leave me to ‘solve’ the gunship problem by running for my life or in any other way but killing the gunship. This probably was intentional – instruction at the start does tell you to eliminate enemies on the way – but didn’t challenge me and felt like an artificial construct.

    Fragout
    It is dire!

    This map did not challenge me and isn’t hard; I easily survived by grabbing health periodically. It’s possible to break the gameplay by walking through a seemingly locked door that closes when you move into the main area from one end.

    This map could have been much better if:
    1) The enemy types would have been diversified e.g. hunters in the pit
    2) Extending 1) rooms could have been added increasing the complexity (e.g. number of levels) and variety of enemies

    The other way around, a much more interesting map would have used grenades for solving a complex puzzle, instead of blowing up enemies.

    Because of the breakability and the lack of interesting and challenging gameplay this map gets “dire”.

    Summary

    Hardville provided a general “Okay” set of maps. Maybe I am too harsh in judging them, but most maps showed little creativity in using the material to make interesting challenging gameplay without just choking the player with enemies. The only interesting map in the pack, “Heat Death”, added a gameplay mechanic that turned the environment into your main enemy.

    I was surprised that there was no puzzle based map in this ville. The Half life games allow ‘realistic’ physics based puzzles – a particular favorite of mine – and those can be made into very intricate “Goldberg devices”. There are loads of elements that can be turned into a puzzle that is both interesting and hard.

  25. Heat Death has great combat with a complex puzzle.

  26. Play It Later
    It is bad

    City 7
    This shown promise I thought, an amateur feel, but I liked it. However, once the Hunter part started I felt this was so badly done and a little OTT with its demands. I’d probably have knocked down the difficulty and tried again but I lost interest…

    It is okay

    Complex
    To me, this shown the most promise. I love how it began with the pool and electric then those bomber dudes (whose name I can never remember!) but soon after I felt it was so daft and far too hard and unbalanced. Perhaps it’s just my skills but there ya go. I wasn’t feeling too great about this ‘Ville’ at this point….

    It is great!

    Core Province
    I can see a lot of people hating this, either for the look or the mechanics of the Combine soldiers. It’s very linear and fake. I dunno, but I’d expect my encounter with them to be better. However, having said all that, I absolutely loved playing this map. I’d have loved the crossbow right at the start and lots more combine, in the distance, to pick off. But this map presented lots of gun fun and – I loved playing it so much so – I played it twice!!

    It is okay

    Heat Death
    This was a weird one with some good ideas. I didn’t realise, at first, that I had to go outside and run to the other buildings for some cool (if simple) puzzles. But why were the buildings so far away? I’d have liked lots more goodies to recharge you because the latter scenes are a little too confusing where to go next and panic sets in because you can see yourself slowly dying lol. Good, but laid out wrong and confusing. I dunno… could be good with an update or two!

    It is great!

    Bothersome Files
    You know, this had it’s major design flaws and thus felt rather silly in places but it was another map I really did enjoy. The second ship was a shock too. Simple, yet great fun here!

    It is great!

    Fragout
    So basic. So small. Incredibly daft just lobbing over the bombs and that health machine was a great idea. Not a map to be taken seriously at all – just good honest grenade fun!

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