7 Highlights of 2011 – The 7 Series

23rd January 2012

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Well, 2011 wasn’t exactly a fantastic year for SP Source modding but there were some interesting things that happened.

This isn’t a review of the year, just a look at some of the highlights.

I would also like to add a quick mention about Jasper. Jasper was a regular reviewer and interesting member here on PP. He passed away on 21 March 2011 and I still find myself thinking of him and wonder what he would have thought of certain mods.

So, here are 7 Highlights of 2011.

Don’t forget to add your own in the comments.

Number Seven: A few interesting blog posts
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

I started my 7 Series blog posts and have a long list of ideas for more articles.

One post that seemed to catch people’s imagination was Here is my story of how I got into gaming. Some interesting reads there.

My 80/20 rule discusses how puzzles work within Portal and normal FPS games, Mappers, never under-estimate how stupid players can be talks about how easy it is for players to miss stuff. Plenty of DOH! moments there.

The WOW Factor and Evenness of Quality almost seem to contradict each other but in fact highlight the same essential element of good design.

Send me your desktop got plenty of replies and asked readers to send me an image of their gaming area. WOW, a huge difference in styles are shown.

And finally I started a new style of article called Mod Reports were I weave a little fiction into a detailed report about a mod that is still in development. I should say that all facts related to the mod itself are true.

Number Six: Some great releases
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Obviously, I am not going to list all the maps and mods releases here, but there werea few that caught my eye.

Call In, Sile, Precursor, Random 17 and Daylight are all great in their own way and I recommend you try them all.

Number Five: Plenty of Giveaways!
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

I love giving games away. It’s nice to give something back to the community. 2011 was a bumper year for giveaways.

In total I gave away 63 games via the site. Some from me, others from donations and some from Steam Contests.com.

The Gargantuan Games Giveaway was a success, with 37 games given away.

Thanks to everybody involved and whilst 2012 won’t be as successful in this regard, I still hope to giveaway quite a few games.

Number Four: MapTap
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

MapTap is a free application that manages single player maps downloaded from PlanetPhillip.Com. You can install, play and uninstall directly from the application.

It makes play SP maps so easy, that you no longer have the excuse that’s it is too much trouble to install them.

I have lots of planned features and there will be big update coming soon.

Number Three: 100 Summer Days of Nostalgia and HHQQ
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

I can’t remember when it happened but I suddenly had the idea of running special events to motivate me to back date the map and mods posts. The first one was way too ambitious, but fortunately I managed to complete it.

100 Summer Days of Nostalgia was a huge success and consisted of one updated Half-Life 1 map or mod everyday. It received 15,598 downloads (from the beginning to 10 days after) and 926 Recommendations, which I think is fantastic.

The second event was the Hazardous Half-Quake Quatridual which was 4 days of MuddaSheep mods. Obviously, the scope was much smaller, but the concept was the same.

Look out for more of these theme special events in the future.

Number Two: The *Villes
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

I hosted 3 mapping competitions in 2011; RooftopVille, StriderVille and HalloweenVille.

All seemed to be fairly well received.

he first one in 2012 only had 3 entries but I will try a few more before finally giving up.

Number One: G-String
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

G-String is an amazing piece of work and probably is my mod of the year 2011.

Yes, it’s hard work at times but something this big, and I mean in scope as well as actual play size, deserves to be played by all.

I suspect that most won’t finish but that shouldn’t stop you from starting it.


  1. Greenmanm

    In regards to the #####ville competitions, why not just stop offering prizes? I’m sure you’d get the same amount of entries, and it’s more quality than quantity. Why not offer the winning map a highlight or something on the main page, similar to interlopers map spotlight with some sort of interview with the designer.

    1. Radu "IceMan" Tănasie

      An interview with the winning level designer sounds like a great idea. It would reveal so much about the steps he took to create the respective level aswell as the obstacles he had to face.

      I’m glad to hear you haven’t given up on the Ville competitions. I can’t wait to participate in the next one, hopefully as soon as possible.

  2. WizardExt

    I wouldn’t want to see the -ville contests to go away. I like them. I doubt prizes are that important, if that’s a problem. I think spotlighting the winner and the entries is enough of a prize.

    It’s been a good year Phillip. I loved reading all the articles and interviews. Especially the interviews. They are like cake! Nomz!!

    I am off to play some G-String now. I have been hearing a lot about it lately. And with you picking it as mod-of-the-year, I just have to play it. Keep it up Phillip!

  3. bobdog

    Agreed about continuing the Ville Contests – honestly, if you hadn’t coordinated them, the year would have been much, much poorer for HL2 enthusiasts. I know it’s an ungodly amount of work, but we are so fortunate that you’ve tackled one after the other. And sure it’s disappointing when some are more successful than others as far as map entries, but when you hit that sweet spot and get some really great maps in, it’s heaven.

    All hail PP!!! Huzzah!!

    1. Bobdog! Methinks you have been at the Charles Wells Bombardier, a fine ale if I may say so. If you’ve only seen the TV Ad look for the full uncut version on YouTube if the below link doesn’t work !!!


      1. bobdog

        very funny!

  4. Funny how I was too much occupied by some old mods or new non-HL mods that I only played GString, the *Villes and two mods of the five you mentioned in point number six.
    In the end, after 3 years since my discover of PP, I take more pleasure in playing various map’s on a single theme by different map’s, than a mod developed by one team with various elements on it (but always in the canvas of being “HL2” themed) : I mean, this is a bit like the Guildhall releases, I like how a good idea can be included and or forced in the gameplay, usually for the better, and also with the main question :
    “well, this is NEW for me : how the modder has think about that, and when will I be able to comprehend how he wants me to do things here and then”.

    The main problem with the various HL2 releases mods, after playing so much, is that it’s usually completly overwhelmed by the same mechanics :
    -Guns-Combine-Shoot-Medic-Ammo-Reloaded-(loop)-… The core of the FPS, of course, and cool to see that in mod’s, of course, but if you really want to do that, focus on Leon’s/SPY mod’s and that’s it.
    -Oh, here is a puzzle!! Is this going to involve… physics? Ggun-push things -pull things – open this : OKay… Sometimes, the puzzles of HL2 themed mods can be muche more clever than that, but overall it’s usually simple things to do “pauses” between endless battles.
    -And finally, the overall tone of the mod, because no new textures makes you lost in the same places again and again UNLESS it is done in clever ways, like, for example, the houses on Dangerous World and SpruceCape Mappack, where I took pleasure in visiting them… Because it looked like… credible… like “I want to see how this guy lives in his house”.
    I’ve also thought a map, or mapS, just can’t serve only as battlefields. There must be a history behind. Something giving us much more context. Making me want to be here.

    I didn’t expected GString to be your moty 2011, since its non-HL (first point) and you don’t speak so much about non-HL mods (second point), and also that the gameplay is a giant flaw of this mod (third point) but whatever, this would be like a giant sterile discussion like “who likes Dear Esther and who dislikes it”.

    I wonder how this whole GString thing will evolve. The author is clearly someone concerned by our modern day problems, commenting on her moddb page about various things internet or worlwide related, and it has been downloaded 2,000 times on moddb and 500 times here. The mod is on the process of being reworked to be “easier”, and could really evolve some day, after more and more patches and things like that (I expect a one year period to really see the flaws being corrected), into one of the greatest mods, if not the greatest mod, ever made. Wait and see…

    Finally, after much reflexion, I’ve wonderered how an AIRBOAT-VILLE could be…
    I remembered Water Hazard on HL2, the incredible sequence of Airboat on Forward Motion mappack, another cool sequence in Call In, and also in Combine Combat, Dangerous World (with a wonderful jump in the air, above a flying Combine Gunship, whoops!), etc…

    I think the Airboat can really be something of interest in future mod’s… Could provide lots of fun and cool situations…

  5. zonbie

    I feel really bad that I was unable to produce a map for the recent competition. I just had too much real world work (ie thousands of Soldiers suddenly coming back from Iraq). But the good thing is that I have a map that has a clear beginning, middle, and end. All I have to do is finish it up and release it. It will probably take a route that is similar to my old Sniper-ville map (Assault on Overwatch), just with a quicker turnaround time.

    The -Ville competitions are really great and inspiring. I would love to see more of them, because with each one that comes and goes, I get closer and closer to actually submitting a map for the competition. The continuous competitions are teaching me how to refine my map design and construction process.

  6. WizardExt

    s.anchev, I was also surprised about Phillips mod-of-the-year, since it’s non-Half-Life universe. Explain yourself Phillip!! 😉 Airboat competition I am a bit negative towards since water/driving/boat levels suck. Water levels are often mentioned as one the most frustrating moment in games: http://www.dorkly.com/toplist/30403/the-most-frustrating-situations-in-games

    But maybe thats a good theme, or good themes, to take on. Make sucky themes play good. 🙂

    1. Hi,
      Nah I really don’t think it is bad, look at my examples above : I’ve took great pleasure in these mods with their levels with airboat. Forward Motion airboat’s level is one hell of a level with an apocalyptic final when we cross a building full of Combine and we make everything explode, woo-hoo!

      I mean, I don’t know if it’s HARD to mod Airboat levels, since I’m a great mod player but a complete ignorant on how to develop/mod…

      I’ve also wonderered one thing, I hope some developers will answer me here :

      How much is it difficult to create a “pursuit” in a mod? I mean, with NPC riding a Jalopy or an Airboat and chasing/shooting at the player? I’ve never seen that before in mods, even highly custom content mod, so I think it must be something either too difficult, either impossible, either complety lame in-game (maybe the Source engine simply didn’t fit with that kind of idea), but I’ve always thought this would be total madness to see that kind of thing.
      Maybe I should send my idea to guildhall ^^

  7. Mega Sean 45

    You forgot to say GravityGunVille in the villes section. Anyways, this was a great year! I hope The Citizen 3, Dangerous World 2, Combine Destiny 2, 1187 2, Human Error 2, City 17: Episode 1, or Rooftop Retreat would get released this year. And I bet the next villes will be great!

  8. Hec

    I really liked the “nostalgia” events, and I hope some more could come, there are alot of scenarios that can be ready for some nostalgia event, like Op Force mods/maps, or some cool HL1 mods or mpas like: Horror Nostalgia events, where we can play Afraid ofMonsters, the original and the Director’s Cut, or Mistake, and Paranooia mods all of them TC in HL1, so that would be really cool, I hope Phillip at least can conssider this suggestion, but anyway, I feel 2012 especial events will be as good as those we have in this year.

    1. Unq

      I second that! Also I think a horror themed HL1 event would be a good one – you can add in the They Hunger mods and even the Swiss_Cheese Halloween maps if we’re desperate.

      1. Hec

        Yeah, I forgot they Hunger that single mod, even deserves a unique event, that’s pretty good, and I conssider Horror in HL1 engine is really rich related to mods which has pretty good stuff, I hope this year we can play at last cry of Fear, from the AoM Dc developers, I really loved that mod, and precisely the Director’s Cut verssion, has more than one alternative ending, which makes it even more interesting to play and possible replays.

        I also thiink mistake has 2 verssions “Mistake” and “Mistake -1”, I love them both!!

  9. In no particular order and by no means all.

    I have to agree with Hec the nostalgia event (100 SDON) was one of my favourites of 2011 and anyone who followed the Half Quake event already knows I (putting it mildly) didn’t enjoy it much!

    The Ville events of 2011 were a great idea and I would guess the entries made up a a fair proportion of the quality HL2(EP2) releases of last year. It encouraged those who can Mod/Map to produce something new. The other release’s in 2011 did contain a few gems but as a whole it felt pretty sparse.

    The Giveaways were a great idea, I’m pretty sure it encouraged some casual visitors to become members of the PP community.

    MapTap! I still haven’t made my mind up yet, while it’s great to download/install and launch a map with just a few clicks, I still prefer to download the file and have a copy in my backup folder on my external drive.

    G-String, a download of over 1.5gb and around 3.75gb unpacked is the size of a commercial release. It looks great but despite the fact I will finish it someday in the future it has not grabbed me enough to want to sit down and finish it ASAP.

  10. I think number seven should be number one!!! I really did enjoy your blog posts this year and most of them have still stuck with me (specifically the 80/20 rule), I reference that on Podcast 17 so much! We did our own how we got into gaming on P17 and it was really fun that was a great idea as well.

    Podcast 17 had a huge giveaway as well, our anniversary contest had over 100 games given away it was nuts — dunno if I ever want to do that again though way too much work haha, but we got some good sponsors out of it!

    100DOSN was a great feature, one of the best of 2011 in my opinion it opened a lot of new half-lifers to half-life one mods. Your work on that has not gone unnoticed.

    Lastly, don’t get rid of the ville compeitions, what will we talk about on podcast 17 🙁

  11. s.anchev

    Yeah, the top priorities for 2012 on PP will be, IMHO :

    -Election of the MOTY 2011.
    -Explanation on this G String mod from Phillip (I won’t let you go easy with it XD).
    -Continue making -Ville competitions, because it’s really honest to say that the Ville gave us great mods, regularly, over years;
    -The Hall of Fame of HL1 mods 😀

    Other than that, good luck, as usual.

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