March 2016 General Chat

Hi March, How’s it going?

I’ve been really busy which is energizing but also tiring.

What about you, have you been busy?

Hoping to get some original content out this month, buy we’ll see.

Anyway, as usual, chat about anything you want, just please avoid chatting about maps and mods listed on the site.

This Month’s Sci-Fi Movie

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

This month it is from The Astro-Zombies. The Plan – to build a super human; How? – by murdering innocent convenient victims and using various bits of them; The Result – Creatures on the rampage.

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

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


  1. Started playing warframe today, really fun game but I’ve noticed a issue.
    Levels are split up into rooms, which are filled with items and NPCs, but I have been seeing repeating rooms and environments a fair bit in my first few hours.
    The game is still fun, but this is throwing me off.

    1. OJJ

      I played Warframe about a year ago, the levels are made of rooms which are pieced together using a random number generator, meaning you can’t play the same level twice. I don’t know if they’ve changed that since I last played.

      1. Whoops, clocked in 11 hours of warframe in two days, where did that time go?
        But I’ve got a map to do!

  2. 2muchvideogames

    I heard that game is a massive grind (but its f2p so thats expected)

    1. Warframe? Yeah it’s definitely a massive grind. I spent over 2 hours last night doing the same 5 minute mission over and over again because the game gave me a credit booster and I kept having to build new things (that cost credits) to progress.

      It’s definitely fun though. The combat and movement system are enjoyable and most of the warframes are varied and interesting.

  3. because some people mentioned it in the “The Closure” comments, I checked out “Underhell” and WOW, what a mod! Now so far that’s a mod I would gladly pay 10€ for (If it keeps up at that quality).

    Also, do some of you know Devil Daggers, a new FPS. I just got a new highscore of 300 seconds, which makes me the 150th rank on the whole planet and I’m so happy about that I have to tell everyone 😀

    1. I’ve tried to play Underhell several times but can’t seem to understand what everyone raves about.
      The mapping is terrible, the voice acting is poor and it continually cuts to camera shots taking control away from the player…

      …not sure what I’m missing…

      1. the mapping is solid imo. Visually its not as good looking as Half-Life 2, but the quality is still consistent at least and gets across the atmossphere. The cutscenes weren’t a problem for me, because they are really short and don’t happen too often. The voice acting is good enough IMO.
        The beginning was a bit slow and some areas are unoptimized as hell and I got crazy frame drops and a crash, but other than that I really love the combat. I love how you have 4 weapon slots and can carry one of each weapon type.
        It’s not groundbreaking, but for a mod it’s really cool and different. Also the soundtrack is really nice.

      2. OJJ

        Can I ask how far you got?
        The first parts of Chapter 1 are a little frustrating the first time round because I could not for the life of me figure out what to do and the zombies kept swarming me but i’m glad I stuck with it because it has some really good moments like dat ending sequence or the stealth areas and on a repeated playthrough the parts I hate became parts I loved because now I knew where to go and I like to try different routes, shortcuts and tactics every repeat playthrough.
        But even then the mod throws some curve balls at you like a random encounter or randomized spawn so you can’t just memorize from heart how to get through it.
        Cutscenes I don’t mind either because it’s very story heavy and most of them can be skipped with the enter button (even ones where the player is in control) which is kinda a feature I wish HL2 had.

        1. Pretty sure i never even got out of the prison… boring!!!!

  4. The fact that it is already March terrifies me. It was Christmas like… three days ago…

    My baby girl’s first birthday is on the 31st which is insane! Also, an internal deadline is looming! Eek!

    I think I’m going to have to lay off the playthroughs for a while and knuckle down with Hammer.

  5. Currently working with a map and I need some help.

    I’ve gotten most right with just trial and error and hell of a lot of reading on the valve dev wiki, but I can’t for the life of me find out how to aggro spawned NPC’s, or preferably spawn NPC’s aggroed.

    How do I make an enemy NPC aware of the player on spawn, such that it immediately enters combat and engages the player, running a distance if neccessary? I’ve messed around with ai entities and such, but it’s not helping, the NPC’s are calm until they see the player. I need them to attack as soon as they spawn, to create a gauntlet effect.

    Thanks in advance

    1. I tend to use aiscripted_schedule (yes, I put the underscore in the right place) you can set it to follow ‘path_corner’ entities I have also used ai_relationship in the past as there is a tick box that lets the subject know where the target is. I think npc_enemyfinder also works if you put it in the same squad but I have had some trouble with it when I used it and I can’t remember precisely what the problem was. You can also have entities to follow a path on spawn with ‘Target Path Corner’ in the class info tab of the npc’s properties menu.

      1. The only spawns so far make use of aiscripted_schedule, and they work alright, but the NPC’s walk to their destination.

        How do I make them run? If they run I might be able to just use aiscripted_schedule.

        I’ll take a look at ai_relationship as well.

        Thanks a lot for the help!

        1. In the class info tab there is a ‘Schedule to Run’ field by default this is Walk to Goal Entity but there are other options:

          Walk to Goal Entity
          Run to Goal Entity
          Set enemy to Goal Entity
          Walk Goal Path
          Run Goal Path
          Set enemy to Goal Entity AND Run to Goal Entity

          I haven’t used the ‘enemy options but the others I have used.

          1. Thanks man, that helps me as well. Appreciate the aid.

    2. I use assaults. With assaults the NPCs will definitly run. If you have combine soldiers you just need an assault_rallypoint which is the startpoint of the assault and then one or more assault_assaultpoints. The rallypoint must be linked to the first assaultpoint, and that has to be linked to the next assaultpoint and so on.
      Then, when you spawn the NPC, give him the “Assault” Input with the name of the rallypoint as the parameter.

      For other NPCs you will need ai_goal_assault.

      1. Cheers mate, I’ll read a bit on assaults. They seem like what I need for my map.

      2. Yes, assaults are the way to go.

        The easiest way to understand the difference between assaults and aiscripted_schedule is that both tell the AI to move to a position, but an assault puts it in “the back of their head,” so to speak. They can still make tactical decisions, whereas a schedule deprives them of that.

  6. Zekiran

    I’m happy to note that today’s Steam update un-broke Popcap games like Peggle Extreme and Plants Versus Zombies. Now I don’t have to play PVZ in 800×600 mode, and I can actually play Peggle Extreme again (it wouldn’t even LOAD). Only took em like… two full months of complaints to fix that…


  7. Despite my onboard stuff, i’m surprised that i can still play S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl with the OWR weapon model replacements and the PRZ texture pack.
    Yeah, it runs on Static Lightning with literally every bar turned to the left, but i’m really surprised on how well this runs.

    I’ve also been recording videos for my Remods, figured that images aren’t probably going to be enough to convince some people.
    Mostly videos on weapon replacements though, some custom models take place in maps too hard for my recording software to record in an FPS that doesn’t suck.

    Another also is me retraining myself in Half-Life map making, disabilities have rendered me to using GoldSource.

    Good day overall.

  8. I’ve started and scrapped two of my Liberationville map ideas so far, working on my third which is probably going to be the best I can come up for the moment. It’ll the first map I’ve released to the public (and one of the first I’ve finished) so I’m nervous but excited.

    Also started playing Sin Gold, an old game but I’m having a blast.

  9. I’ve started mapping for HL2 again… not sure why.. I think it may be a reaction to Critical Jim or perhaps to all the drama around Prospekt or The Closure…

    I already have two nice areas dev mapped… will be dredging out and dusting off some old puzzles i’ve had in the spank bank for ages…

    I’m having a ball i have to admit. HL2 mapping is so much fun when you’re in the zone.

  10. Oh and I started a mapping group years ago on Steam. If you want to join please send me an invite.

    If you don’t create maps, please don’t join the group.


  11. If anyone is not entering the contest and fancy playing map a bit early, need playtesters to help me wrap up the final few days.
    Give me a message here if it takes your fancy

    1. Sounds interesting, I’ll shoot you an email! Well I’ll try anyway, just gotta remember my password.

      EDIT: Found my password, I’m typing up the email now!

    2. Every time I prepare to send out a copy for testing, I find something I want to patch, that testing copy will be out soon, I hope to god xD

      1. That’s fine! Just make sure to complete it soon, or the testing copy might just end up being the final release. No pressure 🙂

    3. I’ll send you an e-mail too, good luck.

  12. I just watched Phillip’s playthrough of Transmission Element 120.

    Damn that mod is so freaking good, probably my favorite of all time if we don’t count Black Mesa.

    I think I will replay it!

    1. I’ve got to replay Transmission Element again as well. It’s such an absolutely superb mod.

  13. Just heard they are finally filming The Dark Tower,, I can remember waiting at the bookshop for the final book of the series to be released. I might get the series in my kindle and reread it before going to see the movie.

  14. Does anyone know of a good tutorial to building in music to your mod the right way? i.e. instead of using Ambient Generic?

    1. Do you not just put an exclamation mark in front of the file name in the ambient generic properties menu?

    2. If you need the sound to be recognized as music so it gets affected by the sound options, precede the path with a “#”. (Example: music/song01 becomes #music/song01)

      1. I knew I should have checked one of my old maps before posting. Now I just look silly 😛

      2. damn that is so easy!

        Thanks peeps!

    3. It’s an ambient_generic regardless.

      Ideally, you want to make a soundscript entry for your music. Search the VDC for information on this. You basically want to make a new soundscript file and follow the “music” .txt files in /scripts that Valve made to create a new entry. And add your new file to the manifest. Music added in this fashion will restore from a saved game correctly, right where it left off.

      Appending # and ! to the front of the name like Crowbar suggested should do more-or-less the same thing. This is how Black Mesa handles it.

      Obviously, having the raw mp3 in the ambient_generic without any of this leads to restore issues. It will play, but it’s not technically correct.

  15. OJJ

    Are there any good decoration/architecture tutorials out there for Source?
    Whenever I look at a de-compiled valve map the brushwork always looks messy and simple but ends up looking really good in comparison to my brushwork even if they used a more basic technique of making the building.

  16. Time to send out testing versions of my map

    1. OJJ

      Got my feedback written down, just waiting for my video to upload so I can send it to you in the email

    2. OJJ

      Alright, sent the email, a very fun map as it is right now.

  17. OJJ

    BTW Phillip, what timezone are your dates in? It says it’s 8pm on the site but 6pm on my PC, I live in the UK so it’s a little weird it’s not the UK timezone as you’re british yourself.

    1. doesnt he live in romania or so which is GMT+2

      1. OJJ

        Really? I didn’t know that.

        1. Zekiran

          I’m pretty sure Phillip lives and works in the UK and Spain on occasion. PHILLIIIIIIP we need to know. 😉

    2. I live in Spain, which is GMT +1

      1. Zekiran

        The Internet needs its own time zone, so that whenever anyone is planning anything for an online event you can just ASK IT, what time is that, and it’ll tell you in hours-to-event.

        All these things still happen while I’m (hopefully) deeply asleep. :/

        1. I thought that’s why we had Valve time?

  18. Zekiran

    In other gaming news, Just Cause 1 and 2 are on deep dish sale on Steam so my housemate got me those. 🙂

    Holy crud JC2 is fun. Its not as pretty as 3, and doesn’t have specific control options I’d like (keep that darn on-screen map *static*!!) but it’s still mighty good. Blow stuff up, drive around in the pretty pretty landscape, keep track of headshots… (I am very good at headshots!)

    All in all, highly recommend at least 2 and 3 for sure. Haven’t bothered with 1 since I haven’t looked at what it plays like or whether it’s on par with the sequels.

    1. yeah I love Just Cause!! But the first JC isnt that good

      1. Zekiran

        I have to say that after watching my housemate playing 3, JC2 while lots of fun, was clearly improved upon for 3 in all the ways that I’d ever want it to be. 3 seems to have: proper waypoints, mission list items that you can actually see and discover properly without having to wonder what that last % item you’re trying to clear is, easily toggled zip line connections… Does it have a normal PC game save feature or is it all checkpoint based too? Welp, doesn’t much matter I have 2 and am enjoying it still. 🙂

    2. I got Just Cause 2 for PS3 on a triple pack with Tomb Raider and Sleeping Dogs last December and I gotta say, I don’t think it’s for me. I get why people love it, I loved it too for a few hours, then I got bored by the repetitive nature of the game. Blowing stuff up is only fun for a little while.

      Sleeping Dogs, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. Tomb Raider I haven’t even touched yet, I’m saving it up for later.

  19. Well, my hard drive got struck after a power outage caused by a blown less-than-a-dollar light and now is pretty much toast.

    I can’t get past the bloody “Disk Read Error” messages.

    I would have to restart and pull/plug/toy with my HDD to get my OS boot disk to read it (despite my HDD still being detected constantly in BIOS).

    Trying to repair my OS through CHKDSK Recovery Console takes a million years (not supposed to take that long, my HDD is only, like 500 GBs with atleast +20 being free) with constant possibility that the HDD can’t be read through it and would need to restart and do the pull/plug/toy thing again.

    I figured that single power surge probably got into more than just my hard drive, possibly even my motherboard and its contents.

    Welp, guess that’s the end of my mods/remods for now.


    My HDD just decided to simply “kthxbai” along with the rest of my shitty piece of “XP-4:3-2GB RAM-onboard graphics” rug of a PC.

    I am now demoted from having a decent computer a few months ago, to a crap computer a few weeks ago, and now to no computer.

    I hate my life.

    1. Zekiran

      Oh dear, that sucks 🙁 Do you know anyone with a beater rig that you might hook it up via a usb/sata (or if it’s a straight up usb) connector to see if the HD still works? Most blown-fuse issues tend to fry the mobo outright, and also the power supply which is something a lot of people miss. Mine got the mobo, supply, and my graphics card, so I know the feels (that was literally 12 hours before Portal 2 dropped live. … 12. Hours.) but I saved my hd by seeking out the right connectors and looking into getting the data removed. It took a lot of work, unfortunately. If you try that route make sure that the drive itself is PROPERLY GROUNDED when you plug it all in… Otherwise … frying a 2nd computer is no fun. (and yes, we managed THAT too, thankfully my friend’s laptop was literally on its last legs too.)

      1. Managed to hook the hard drive to my dad’s and tried recovering.
        Only got some data back, rest was straight out.

        1. Don’t throw it away until you’ve tried it on what I think people used to call a “mule”, though mine is a “Sharkoon Quickport Combo” which can read SATAs & IDEs. Try it with more than one recovery program too, there are so many it’s hard to know where to start, but I like the latest Recuva among others. I seem to have amassed a few old hard drives along the way and am recovering them one a a time before wiping and binning them….. The Sharkoon thing wasn’t very expensive, I think I got it from Amazon.

  20. Just a reminder that From Earth gets a public beta release this week.

  21. Hey, guys! Been a bit absent from these parts due to being quite busy these days. Got a new job, it’s quite daunting but it’s for a fantastic local company and I’m quite thrilled to be working there. My contract is basically a trial period of 6 months, so I gotta prove I deserve my spot. Wish me luck!

    In more HL community-related news, I’ve also been working a bit in the little spare time I’ve had. The (fairly sparse) forums of my site Metrocop got a brand new layout and I’m slowly but surely working on the return of a certain mustachioed adventurer that perhaps some of you are familiar with… uh, no, it’s not Mario. Another guy.

    1. Howdy Mythos. Good luck with your new challenge.

  22. Finally sent out my contest entry, I can relax!

  23. Here is a news about Half-Life and Portal movie in J.J. Abrams Interview.
    He is mysterious as usual.

  24. I have a problem with Gauge. When I try to browse through it, it just stays in about:blank the whole time, no matter what I do. Any suggestions?

    I’m on Windows 8.1 btw.

  25. I just want to throw this out here: I hope there will be Villes for Black Mesa after The Hammer Cup. Not only would this be a big fresh change for everyone, it would also really help the mappers I think. I’m sick of the Half-Life 2 textures. Black Mesa has much better graphics, more weapons, more enemies and so on.

    But also it would help the Black Mesa community. It is a young community, there aren’t many singleplayer maps on the Black Mesa workshop. If Phillip posted Black Mesa Villes on the Workshop he would get probably like a 100x more downloads. Link this website in the description, and maybe some people will stay here.

    The developers of Black Mesa would probably also give you some shoutouts. It’s a win-win situation for everyone, win-win-win (mappers, players, developers). To be honest if I was in charge I would completely transition to Black Mesa. I’m sure the Black Mesa mapping tools are also more powerful and more stable (are they?), the Black Mesa engine is definitly more powerful. And I don’t think it will be hard to transition for HL2 mappers, and Black Mesa is really cheap if you don’t have it, it’s a great game anyway, on steam sales you can get it for 10€ probably.

    The most I’m sick of the Half-Life 2 FOOTSTEP SOUNDS!! 😀

    1. Would be worth waiting until BM leaves early access, While I have the game, I know a lot of people here who are holding off until a full release arrives.

      1. come on it can be considered a full game more or less. Only thing missing is Xen, which could be considered as a Add-on or DLC. The game runs stable and is polished (except multiplayer maybe)

        And I mean, if someone doesn’t have Black Mesa, who cares? I’m not saying that every Ville after THC should be Black Mesa, but at least some, look how many people participate and then decide what to do in the future.

        And the more we support the game, the quicker they can finish it 😉 😉 😉

        1. I suspect those people have no intention of buying Black Mesa anyway. It’s sort of ironic how Xen went from being this almost universally reviled segment to “OMG not gonna buy the game without it!” It will come in due time, but I could honestly care less about when it does because the appeal of having a big new single player Source game – with Steam Workshop no less – overrides that.

          But as to everything else, it’s the same Hammer that we all use. They made some improvements to vbsp and vrad to fix the cubemap issue and improve bounce lighting effects. There aren’t too many Black Mesa-specific entities to be aware of, other than the obvious change of NPCs. If you can map for HL2, you can map for this.

          The most challenging thing about Black Mesa, quite frankly, is figuring out where everything is. After 10+ years of development, the naming of objects and materials isn’t consistent at all. Fortunately, they have their uncompiled maps available to look at, but even then, it’s a bit difficult to get used to their texture schemes since they usually aren’t visually compatible with one another. Since Black Mesa is all about one location, set in a desert, it’s hard for me to remember what individual locations looked like. I can’t visually recall specific spaces like I can do in HL2 or its Episodes. It’s just a sprawling mass of level.

          That and, quite frankly, its core gameplay needs work.

          1. so uhm … are you for or against it? 🙂

            1. If the maps will work also for non-steam BM then it’s cool.

              1. Zekiran

                ^^ this for me too. I couldn’t get the other ones to run in non-paid version, so I’m not at all interested in seeing people dedicate all that much effort to something that isn’t going to work for me. Obviously without a complete Black Mesa mod (it’s not actually complete, and it hasn’t been actually complete in the nearly-2 years since they released it as paid – they really do need to finish what they actually started, instead of this crap feature creep they seem to be so fond of) the entire point is moot. Workshop maps aside, there’s zero reason for me to put money on something that both is unfinished *and* was promised as ‘will be free’. They don’t intend to finish the unpaid version, have stated that clearly in their communciation, so I fail to see why I need to support working from that exclusionary setup. ‘Yay workshop’ is about it, and that’s pretty thin.

            2. I’m all for it after the Hammer Cup.

              But I would be concerned about potential upkeep issues. The game is still fluid and minor adjustments from one patch to the next are inevitable. Workshop allows easy deployment of updates, however, so everyone remains on the same page as changes are made.

    2. I have just finished a BM single player map. I am just sorting a few problems but i may release it soon.

      1. nice! will definilty check it out 😀

      2. Cool. Definitely looking forward to more Black Mesa content. Bravado is lonely. 😀

  26. I found this article about Fukushima’s Former Residents Return Home To Ghost Town In Emotional Photos really interesting.

    Those photos show how people just up and left.

    Anyway, thought you might like it.

    1. Very interesting. If I’ve eventually honed my skills enough, I’d like to make a map with this theme.

    2. Zekiran

      Urban exploration obviously played a huge role in a lot of the set designs for Valve’s games (and any others that use real-world settings). It’s always so very sad to see lives just… upended like that. This town, the areas around Chernobyl, even any given small town in any part of the world – sometimes they’re just … abandoned. Boom, gone. The things people leave behind you have to wonder what happened in some places. This one and Chernobyl are obvious – get out while you can – but there are places scattered around you can look at websites doing urbex, that … there was no big disaster, there was nothing immediate that said, “you have to leave take only what you can carry”, yet there are schools with toys and bags and clothing in them, homes that just… don’t even look abandoned based on the things left in them, with surroundings of equal desolation. I know people who have had to leave their homes, myself included, but I got to go back and get my stuff out, after a while. I can’t imagine all of them like that.

      But it’s heartbreaking seeing the interviews of the people who claim, “no one really wants to go back here”, they’ve had to move on.

  27. Level designers should watch this:

    1. Zekiran

      So I’m pretty sure my ex worked with or under him when he was here in San Diego 😀 Since my ex was part of the first wave of Cognitive Science graduates, and I do recognize the guy’s name! hehh. such a small world.

      And yes, damn doors.

      For Half Life / source level purposes, we have ‘doors with a flat texture’ indicating ‘there’s not really an opening here’, and ‘doors with a handle to jiggle’ which might mean ‘a door meant to distract or an actual door’, and then some which just open when you come near them arbitrarily. Knowing those things – someone should probably use that aspect if we see a PsychologyVille 🙂

  28. Fans of Rick and Morty might want to watch this:

    It’s just a fun musical remix using some of the funny catchphrases.

  29. OJJ

    Judging from the twitter post tomorrow’s ‘ville could be any one of these 1432 words

    1. Or maybe I counted the letters incorrectly, purposefully or accidentally.

    2. Unq

      ButtinskiVille confirmed

    3. that’s false. “BlackMesa” for example isn’t listed there! It could be BlackMesaVille

      1. Correct, there’s nothing to say I haven’t created a new word too.

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