VerticalVilleTwo – Mapping Challenge Announcement

We have become very accustomed to playing maps and mods on one level.

That’s not to say that some maps don’t include more Z-axis gameplay, but in general it’s something that could be used to more and better effect.

This mapping challenge is all about (the bass – no, sorry) having the player move up and down in a realistic way.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they can ONLY move up and down, but the idea of vertical gameplay or movement should be the central theme of each entry.


The deadline for submitting maps is:

Monday 28th September at 10pm GMT (that’s the night)

That’s 18 days, with 3 full weekends.

General Advice

DO NOT GET TOO AMBITIOUS. If you can’t build it in 2 weekends then think smaller.

Something is bound to delay your progress. Leave time for testing, bug fixing and polishing!


I highly recommend The Beta Testers Collective. Although, they are technically on a break, they still might be able to help.

Of course, you can get anybody you want to test your maps, but the BTC are very good at it and provide excellent feedback.


This mapping challenge is sponsored by NodeCraftWe are NodeCraft. We make running game servers, simple.
Please check them out for your game server needs. They host the site and it has never been faster.


I will be giving away various Steam and ORIGIN games. A final decision will be made after the deadline, although there will be at least a few $5/10 games available.

Judging Criteria

The winner will be chosen by a readers’ vote lasting 2 weeks after the release of the mod OR by Phillip depending on the number and qaulity of entries.

General Rules
  • Maximum two maps per mapper per entry.
  • 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 and RunThinkShootLive.Com the right to release the map as part of the VerticalVilleTwo Mod.
  • Maps must not appear on ANY other website 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_vvt.bsp
  • All entries must be sent to: no later than the deadline.
Final Thoughts

It would be a good idea to play the original VerticalVille if you can.

If you have ANY questions, please don’t hesitate to ask, either here in the comments or by email if you prefer a private answer.

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. Salamancer

    Was hoping for this one, I’ll try and put together something interesting

  2. I have some interesting ideas for this one. Hopefully I can make it in time with everything else I need to get done.

  3. didnt adam foster ( minerva ) come up with the idea of vertical mapping … the mod that made him famous was pretty small horizontally but it was massive vertically
    wikipedia wrote ” Instead of relying on horizontally-sprawling, immense maps that stress the engine’s area-capabilities to its max, Minerva maps are incredibly small. This is because of Foster’s ground-breaking idea to utilize every possible area to its maximum potential, and instead of expanding horizontally, he expands vertically”
    this makes so much sense and im amazed no one else made maps/mods this way ….. !

    1. Salamancer

      Indeed, my entry looks to be following heavily in the footsteps of MINERVA, with a good splash of the second Dark Souls 2 DLC. I always loved the Brume tower from Dark Souls, and I’m interested in trying to recapture some of that magic.

    2. You wanna see interesting usage of map space? Check out the second map of Mission Improbable (the one with the bridge). The level’s horizontal, but let’s just say the map isn’t…straight…

    3. I really wouldn’t call that a “ground-breaking” idea. In fact, I can’t help but snicker at that whole “Design” section on Wikipedia. Not because it’s wrong, but because it’s hardly unique.

  4. I think I’m confident enough to throw my hat into this. This is a pretty unusual build with several unique design challenges, but I’m happy with the result so far.

    1. GREAT! I’m always exciting when you enter the challenges and I am sure others are too.

    2. Reached the point where basically everything works, so now it’s just polish polish polish!

      1. Salamancer

        I’m still in the stage of base brushwork and AI, I’m going to be hard fought to finish on time.
        You guys don’t need lights or textures right?

        1. You guys don’t need lights or textures right?

          No, of course not. Those things only distract from the gameplay.

  5. Finished and submitted.

    Things I learned from this project:

    – How to use the “Face Normal” setting works in the Paint Geometry displacement mode. How did I not know this before? I was just editing X/Y/Z independently and didn’t realize that for Face Normal to work, you had to Alt-RMB on the surface.

    – Overlays don’t stick to func_brushes.

    – For some reason, the Metalgrate texture with the nopassbullets variant uses $translucent for one version and $alphatest for the other, the former of which led to a weird sorting problem.

    – The OnPass output for path_tracks is flaky as hell sometimes. For one, the FlyToSpecificTrackViaPath input doesn’t actually make the flying NPC follow the track to the point you give it, per se. It first guides them to the nearest point on the track, and then takes it from there. Which means that if the NPC thinks it can “shortcut” there, it will. Yet, somehow, it hits OnPass on previous path_tracks from the moment you give this order. What it means, really, is that if you want a flying NPC to fly to a specific point, you really need to give it a path with just one path_track in it. And then tell it to move on to the next one with OnPass.

    – MoveSpecifiedSpeed is a ratio of top speed from 0 to 1, not a real speed. Still, it’s useful for making flying NPCs slow down. Remember in Forest Train how sometimes the helicopter would overshoot its intro position and clip into the bridge? Yeah, this would have solved that.

    – When it comes to Rollermines, InteractivePowerDown doesn’t work quite right, but neither does TurnOff. Pick your poison.

    – Camp 43 had an issue with a bugged car that I never figured out. It was a prop_physics that would keep passing through the ground. Turns out those car001 models with the “phy” suffix are actually supposed to be prop_ragdolls. They are the ones with the articulated doors and axles that you see in one of Highway 17’s Gunship encounters. Pretty neat.

    1. Paint Geometry? You mean you’re not using the Sculpt panel? Dear god, man! I think it’s missing one or two options PG has, but most of the features are there, along with some others. I don’t know about actually moving points along a face normal, but it’s got a “Brush Center” option that produces similar results, and I feel its ease of use compared to the other method makes up for the slight difference. I had an ungodly amount of displacement work to do on that Garry’s Mod map I showed you a couple months ago, and I can’t begin to imagine trying to fight through all of it with Paint Geometry. Anyone who hasn’t toyed with Sculpt would do well to give it a shot, I find it actually makes displacement editing quite enjoyable.

      1. Salamancer

        Why did you submit this early, out of interest?
        From my reckoning you had another 5 days

        1. Re: Deadline > As its design required a certain form factor, there wasn’t much more I could do with it.

          Re: Sculpt > I’m just used doing it the other way. It doesn’t take me that long to mold a bunch of displacement terrain even with the X/Y/Z way. Of course, here it helps that it’s all background, not something the player actually traverses.

          1. I should add, this ended up being very fortuitous, because Windows 10 spontaneously decided to throw up all over the place and crash whenever I used the Start button. Piece of junk. It’s a good thing I didn’t have to deal with finishing the level under those circumstances.

  6. Got to go into full crunch to get anywhere near of acceptable for the contest.

    1. Salamancer

      Good luck! Don’t be afraid to cut and edit your original vision to fit the deadline if needed.

  7. There is no way I can get it close to ready in time, I’ll sit this one out and start the next one when the challenge starts (Since I hopped into this one a week late, rip me)

  8. OJJ

    Yeah, I was working on an entry but other stuff got in the way, will probably release it some other time.

  9. Salamancer

    Very close to submitting, the map ended up being a shadow of my original vision. I ended up cutting or simplifying a good 60% of the map, but what’s left is decent enough I guess.
    It’ll be very rough around the edges, but hey, you guys might find it fun.

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