for Half-Life 2: Episode Two

29th October 2013

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

This is the first mod in the 3×10 Mapping Competition Series.

Mapper were tasked with creating an ambush scene.

“The winning map will be the one that sets up the ambush in the best way, paying attention to the atmosphere, the surprise and the general gameplay. If a map sets up the ambush beautifully but is then boring to play, it won’t win.

Attention to detail is very important in this competition. I would much prefer smaller but highly polished maps than larger, less polished maps.”

Basic Details
  • Title: AmbushVille
  • File Name: hl2-ep2-sp-3x10mc-ambushville.7z
  • Size : 54MB
  • Author: Joacim Rappu, Richard Greenslade AKA Greenman, George Campbell, Sam Combs, Darren Weekes AKA Daz, The_Blazer, Rob Martens, Justin Carlton AKA Sneakyspeckman and Mark Allan AKA Officer_B
  • Date Released: 29 October 2013

Download Options

Download to your HDD [54MB]

Installation Instructions

This mod has been tested on SteamPipe and it worked perfectly.

  • Copy the ambushville folder into your SourceMods folder.
  • Restart or start Steam.
  • AmbushVille should now be listed in your Library tab.

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

Custom Grid View Icon

The file above comes with nine gridview icons. To use one, select “Gridview” in Steam (top right corner). Right click on “AmbushVille” and select “Set Custom Image”. Then browse to your “SourceMods” folder, open the “AmbushVille” folder and open the “steam-gridview-icons” folder. Select the image of your choice and then click “Set Image” and that’s it.
Of course, you can create your own custom image if you prefer.

Background Images

I have included 9 background images. This is the first time I have done this for a competition mod. I decided to do it because I didn’t want to have the same background image. The problem is that because I have unlocked all the chapters the background image shown is random. If you wish to lock the entries and only see each image after you have beaten the chapter, open the “valve.rc” file, found in the “cfg” folder, in a text editor and remove the line “sv_unlockedchapters 15”. Save the file and restart the mod.

Menu Music

I have included menu music but for some reason the volume is very low. When I try to boost it, it becomes distorted. Sorry.

“PlanetPhillip Industries” Models

This mod contains custom models for certain items. The ammo crate is the most obvious and is really the “Panoramic Image” version. See if you can see the others.

Video Introduction

The PlanetPhillip.Com intro video was made by Spartan301

The Winner and Honourable Mention

I played this in the exact order I have presented them in the mod, in the descriptions below and in my review. I played each one at least twice and some more. It was pretty clear, at least to me, that there were three “levels: Potential winners, very good maps and less-polished maps.
After much consideration and at least one change of mind, I chose Lost at Sea as the winner, because it combined polish, planning and fun.
Train Stopping is the Honourable Mention and for one minor detail (spawning enemies) it might have won.
The winner receives $20 of Steam games and the Honourable Mention $10. I will contact the winners directly, and discuss the details.

Final Words

Before I move on to the vote and individual descriptions/screenshots, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who entered and those who started maps but couldn’t finish. If you did start a map and it’s close to finishing, please take a weekend to polish it up and send it my way.
I am very happy with the final mod and look forward to the next comp in this series.

Vote for your favourite

Athelstan by Joacim Rappu

Starting in a town square you quickly realize that you have been ambushed. There”s nothing you can do except keep fighting until a way forward becomes clear.
You can then move onto a new section, but again, you have been cornered.

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Factory Condition by Richard Greenslade AKA Greenman

You squad is waiting for you above ground and the base seems secure. Take a quick tour to check everything is okay, you can never be too sure.

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Radio Tower Ambush by George Campbell

Leave the safety of your hiding place and venture above ground to the radio tower. All seems clear but stay alert, just in case!

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Rapid Raid by Sam Combs

Don’t spend too long wondering what’s going to happen – just get away. Once underground, you find yourself being chased by zombies, but make sure you look around as there is ammo and a weapon waiting for you.

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Lost at Sea by Darren Weekes AKA Daz

The Combine have been in and out of this place for weeks. Then they disappeared. Curiosity killed the cat!

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

Why can”t getting to the surface be simple? You just wanted a little fresh air. But, No, things are never simple are they?

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Temple Stand In by Rob Martens

Do me a favour. Go and fetch my garden gnome. He”s down in the make shift chapel. Should only take you a few minutes, thanks.

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Third Watch by Justin Carlton AKA Sneakyspeckman

You’ve spotted something on the scope. Better get down to the base and warn everybody.

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3 Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Train Stopping by Mark Allan AKA Officer_B

You are on the six step programme. Simply follow the steps to stop the train. Can”t be too hard, can it?

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


The playthrough below is provided by Custom Gamer. See more of his playthroughs on this site: VP: Custom Gamer

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

19 recommendations, average score: 4.79 (out of 5), standard deviation: 0.27 (what's that?)
Total Downloads
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Meta Review Data
Statistics based on 18 comment(s) with meta review data.

Using Gauge: Users
Manually: 18 Users

Time Taken:
Average: 1 Hours, 33 Mins
Shortest: 0 Hours, 30 Mins by Daken50
Longest: 4 Hours, 30 Mins by Hec
Total Time Played: 27 Hours, 50 Mins
If you believe this release is missing important tags, please suggest them in a comment?
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Phillip says Play It!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It LaterPlay It Now!Play It Now!Personal FavouritePlay It Now!Play It LaterMaybe?


  1. Phillip says Play It!

    I have to admit to being very pleased with the entries. Having 9 is pretty good, especially for such a short period of time.

    I was torn between two entries for the winner, but eventually chose the one I did because the other one was less polished.

    I am sure you will enjoy them as they all provide some fun gameplay.

    Please take a moment to write a short review, either for the mod as a whole or for each map, like I have below, then complete the MetaReview data, and vote for your favourite map.

    Here are my comments for each map.

    Athelstan by Joacim Rappu

    The first area is a little bland and doesn’t have the feel of a real square. Much more importantly, there is almost no build up to the ambush and I think that is very important. The map is split into two sections and once you pass through the hole in the wall it miraculously gets blocked.

    The second section is much more strategically interesting but there is no escape and the map never ends. I managed to kill all the Combine but that’s it. Nothing else happens. I managed to escape the map by stacking the benches against a wall.

    Lastly, there are rockets, but I couldn’t find a rocket launcher.

    This map was never a contender for the winner as there were too many issues, but the second part is fun to play.

    Factory Condition by Richard Greenslade AKA Greenman

    This is quite a dark entry considering it’s set outside and I would have preferred it being slightly brighter. The highlight is the destroyed building on one side that is lit nicely and provides both welcome cover but also space for one of the enemies.

    The dropship is not very well-placed as it’s too easy to shoot the Combine soldiers as they come out. It’s interesting that another square was chosen for the ambush. I suppose because the mappers thought it would provide action for many directions.

    As with the first entry, I never considered this for the winner, but again it does provide some fun gameplay moments.

    Radio Tower Ambush by George Campbell

    I enjoyed this map, partly because it’s bright and outside but also because it’s not just one simple area. Well, it is, but having buildings you can move around and in offers the player more possibilities and choices.

    The map initially crashed on me after I blew up the tank but the subsequent playthroughs caused no problems. The ending is a little sudden but all in all I well-produced and polished entry.

    Rapid Raid by Sam Combs

    Don’t blink because you may just get caught at the beginning. No weapon and a Metrocop chasing you can be surprising! Once you have escaped, you find yourself in a dark underground area. There is a feel of impending doom, but little you can do about it.

    The lighting is well done and the area is not exactly symmetrical, which is good. It is possible to get back to the initial underground level with careful placement of boxes, but that ruins the fun.

    Overall, this was a very good entry but didn’t real;ly do enough to be considered for the winner.

    Lost at Sea by Darren Weekes AKA Daz

    This map set itself apart from the others I had played up until this one, by setting a credible scene. It both intrigued me and made me hesitant. Clearly, all the entries had an ambush but this one kept me guessing when it would happen. As it turns out, the player controls that aspect.

    Darren had taken the innovative move of streaming his mapping sessions but I pointedly avoided watching, as I didn’t want to spoil my playthrough. The map is beautifully designed and built. You can take so many different routes that it never feels linear.

    When the attack comes, it comes with force and the player must work hard to survive. The means of escape is clearly shown to you but access is blocked. This map has obviously had a LOT of work and planning put into it.

    After playing this, I thought I had found the winner, but wanted to try and stay open-minded.

    All in all, a fantastic map and I have no doubt you will love it too.

    Struggle by The_Blazer

    Another very dark and bleak level, with what would be a terrifying jump in real life. The first ambush is nicely set off but it’s not much fun to play. The enemy has no options and it’s rather processional.

    The second part is quite nicely built, but would have benefited from a central column that could be used too.

    Was too dark for my liking and the actual ambush wasn’t exciting enough. The second part was better though.

    I never considered this for the winner.

    Temple Stand In by Rob Martens

    This has the second best introduction, in terms of setting the scene. Great voice acting, with a plausible scenario. The section that opens out to the storm drain reminds me of this Real Theme. I had high hopes, but again it’s so dark that you can’t really enjoy the potential of the area. I’m not exactly sure why a train carriage would be there, but forget that for now.

    Collecting the Gnome sets off the ambush, but it’s possible to just pick it up and run and be over halfway up before the soldiers appear. This means if you can avoid the Strider, then you are home free.

    I was more disappointed with this entry than any other, because the view entering the storm drain is amazing and I was really excited by the possibilities.

    This is definitely like the proverbial school report Could do better.

    Third Watch by Justin Carlton AKA Sneakyspeckman

    This has Sneakyspeckman’s feel about it. Just like many people can spot a Miigga map, I think I can spot a Sneakyspeckman map. The start is nicely done and you are given a sense of urgency. The foreshadowing of the hunter is brilliantly done and the main area is carefully planned.

    It’s not too hard to figure out where to go and how to get there but there’s little time to actually do it. I was very impressed with the design of this section and the player is rewarded for exploring.

    There is no doubt this is fun to play and just as fun to replay.

    Train Stopping by Mark Allan AKA Officer_B

    I had to laugh at the funny title and the six steps were certainly intriguing. It was a shame to have the white light and teleportation but from that point on, it just gets better – much better.

    The concept is solid and the design varied enough to not feel bland or repetitive. The enemies come from all directions and the explosive cannisters are a wonderful touch. I actually enjoyed playing this map more than any others and I seriously considered if for winner, but what fianlly changed my mind was the spawning of the enemies. I can happen right in front of your eyes. Now, I’m sure it happens in Lost at Sea but I didn’t see it and that’s important.

    If Mark had made “holes” for the combine to appear out of, I think I would have chosen this one to win. I hadn’t planned to have a second place, but this is it.

    Final Words

    I had a lot of fun playing these and would like to thank everybody who entered. Thanks to SteamContests.Com and William for providing prizes in addition to mine.

  2. Play It Now!

    Great ville competition, 9 good entries is a superb haul given the short timeframe.

    Lost at Sea wins for me, lot’s of touches that just say “Professional”. Did get lost a little in the elevator room, button didn’t work (Trigger to enable only when in lift maybe?).

    Radio Tower was bugged for me, hunters and some of the combine spawned under the map, and would shoot at me through the floor. Not sure why. Nice design though, in terms of the area.

    Athelstan’s first area wasn’t much fun, the strider and rushing combine combined with the lack of cover made it a bit too much of a challenge. Second arena fared better.

    Factory Condition is the best map ever seen in a half-life game, in my unbiased opinion. ;D (By which I mean, there’s a voice line missing from my map :[)

    I enjoyed Rapid Raid, liked how it rushed you from the very start. Solid design and layout work.

    Not played the others yet, but will edit when I do! Be sure to download and play this comp.

  3. Play It Now!

    Another planetphillip competition, and yet again I didn’t submit an entry. But this time I chose not to. I didn’t, and still don’t like the theme of the competition. I feel that an ambush scene only makes sense if you’ve already played quite a bit of the game, and just making it out of the blue doesn’t work very well.

    I’ll be very honest here and say that I only really liked three of the entries. That being “Lost at Sea”, “Third Watch” and “Train Stopping”. All others had more negatives than positives, and so I’ll only be talking about these ones.

    “Lost at Sea” – By Darren Weekes AKA Daz

    Daz is one of the few people I follow when it comes to level design, and I’m a big fan of his youtube videos. So naturally, I saw bits and pieces of his twitch streams where he was making this map, and I must say I’m a bit disappointed. I saw very little so as to not spoil the final result but what I did see got me quite excited. It looked very nice and seemed very well planned, but Daz went for a more expansive map, which ultimatly led to lots of weak areas in my opinion. It still worked better than any other map in the contest, with cool tricks, set pieces, and much better level design, but overall I think it would have been better to build a more enclosed and shorter map.

    “Third Watch” – By Justin Carlton AKA Sneakyspeckman

    The map used the author’s same approach as his forestville entry. Fog. An this works very nicely. Some might consider it a cheap trick, but it serves its purpose very well. It hides the fact that the map was done in a short amount of time while still giving a big atmosphere. The rest of the map was great aswell. I very much liked the start of the fight, where the strider blows up the cabin you are in. One small problem however was the way the fight progressed. Everything came at you all at once. Perhaps it would have been better to do a combine/stalker wave and another stalker/strider wave. Having everything at once felt unfair, even if it was not very dificult.

    “Train Stopping” – By Mark Allan AKA Officer_B

    I loved this entry. From it’s humor to the way it was presented and it’s idea. Everything felt great, and I didn’t really experience the problems Phillip had with spawning enemies. I thought it was very well executed, and didn’t make the player confused as to what to do with the bombs, which I was afraid of. Apart from the fact that it looks horrible (and since it was done in such a short period of time I can overlook that fact), I have absolutly nothing against this entry.


    I think that the winner of this competition is Justin Carlton with “Third Watch”. “Train Stopping” was more fun to play and I had a better time with it, but I felt that gameplay-wise “Third Watch” was much better (And being myself, I also value asthetics and atmosphere very highly.).

  4. Play It Now!

    This was an excellent selection of maps, I’m glad there has been a bigger uptake than the last few competitions. I’ve just written a bit about the entries for LambdaGeneration so I won’t repeat it here. I particularly enjoyed Third Watch and Lost at Sea; I would find it hard to pick between them. Like Phillip said, Temple Stand In had a lot of potential but I found the enemies a bit overwhelming and it was hard to find the gnome if you put it down in the dark!

    Definitely worth playing, looking forward to the next competition.

    1. I’ve just written a bit about the entries for LambdaGeneration so I won’t repeat it here.

      Please do, as readers may not want to visit another website for a review of these maps.

  5. DaZ
    Play It Now!

    Wow, thanks Phillip! This was a really fun competition to map for and I hope people enjoy playing Lost at Sea 🙂

    I had a lot of fun playing the maps in this pack and in the end I would have to say my favourite was “Third Watch”. It was a fantastic ambush with some nice scripted moments and the map had a nice eerie atmosphere!

    Honourable mentions would definitely have to go to “Radio Tower Ambush” and “Train Stopping”. radio tower had a nice layout for combat and looked nice, however I felt it ended too early. I was looking for a button to open the combine forcefield when the map just faded to black 🙂 Train Stopping was just fun. A nice concept executed well with a nice pay off at the end!

    1. I’m curious now, how many cursed dolls are there in the map? So far on going back in I’ve only found 2, with very few other places to look for them.

  6. Play It Now!

    Some highs and lows with this competition. I have some minor screen glare during the day, so the dark maps were an issue.

    Seems to be a good start. It needed some build up before the combine show up though. In the next area, there were a few too many soldiers. I got to the rpg crate, but had no rpg launcher and nothing happened. Not sure if this was a bug or just unfinished.

    Factory Condition
    Too dark. I liked the detail on the destroyed warehouse. Can’t say much for the combat though. Tip for the mapper: offset the repelling combine by a few tenths of a second (spread over a full second), it makes them look more realistic. At the end, the screen blacked out, but no quit to the menu.

    Radio Tower
    I liked the atmosphere at the start of the map. Unfortunately, the game crashed when I blew up the APC. This is a glitch I’ve encountered before, no fault on the mappers part. On my next try, I died due to two absurdly lucky grenade throws on the part of the combine. Finally made it through on my third try, though I never got the rocket launcher (blew up the APC with the smg grenades and regular grenades). Went back and found it later. I ducked to the right during the ambush, then the best cover kept me away from the house with the launcher.

    Rapid Raid
    Some good variety of sewer combat, with the ambush making for some good shotgun fun, though the scene overstayed its welcome just a tad.

    Lost at Sea
    I really enjoy exploration, so I liked this map quite a bit. Maybe its just because I’m a mapper, but the rockets are a dead giveaway as to how I’m going to be playing back through the map.

    I almost slid into the shaft thinking that I almost died, which was amusing. Unfortunately, that was the highlight for this map. I like the ambush door, but the combine got stuck and I had to noclip through. The last area had far too many soldiers in it.

    Temple Stand
    + Points for the location, walking into the main area for the first time was quite breathtaking.
    – Major points for infinitely spawning combine soldiers, especially after you kill the strider (kinda killed both me and the experience). You really needed more cover to make it to the RPG crate without taking a huge hit on your health. It was also a bit too dark.

    Third Watch
    I enjoy playing my own map, even after I play test it 50 times. If I don’t, then it probably isn’t good enough.

    Train Stopping
    Most original entry. I liked the artillery bombardment. It’s something I’ve wanted to do, but never had a place for. Fighting the chopper while it flew all over the place spamming mines on the head crabs was also fun. The ambush itself though, didn’t like so much. It was just a few too many things at once. I think it would have been more enjoyable without the soldiers, but that’s just me.

    Definitely some maps worth your time. My favorite is “Lost at Sea”, with “Rapid Raid” coming in a close second. Third place goes to “Train Stopping”. I know how hard it is to speed map, so props to all of the entries.

    For new mappers unsure how to quit to the main menu, put in a point_clientcommand and send it a command input with the parameter “startupmenu force”.

    1. Thanks for crits (Factory)

      I’m aware of the quit command, was just a deadline time thing. Spent a lot of time trying to fix the bugged dropship and dialogue, 2 things which are still present in the release ^^

      Ah well, that’s the thing with speed mapping. Fun all the same

      1. I know how it is. There is something extremely buggy in my map that I couldn’t figure out until after the deadline. Luckily, it also happens to be invisible, so you wouldn’t know it unless I told you 😉

  7. Some Guy

    Enemies kept spawning under the map in the Radio Tower map, also the main menu is completley white, why is that?

  8. Play It Now!

    I’ll only comment on the maps that stood out for me.

    Rapid Raid was well designed and looked good also. Not too big a fan of the beginning, I prefer to not be set upon the moment I spawn, but once I dropped into the sewer it then turned into a series of good gameplay choices with smart level design as I looped through the area several times.
    We all know Sam’s smart work from Station 51 and here I feel his feel for gameplay has improved. Great fun!

    Third Watch was fantastically moody at first. Justin clearly understands the fact that less is more. The fog combined with the eerie hunter sounds really put me on edge. I found myself running from rock to tree trying to spot them before they spotted me. This wasn’t a map just hurling bad guys at me, I actually slowed down, and crept forward at some sections. Maximum points for creating a great moment. Nice to see the combo of hunters, striders and the car all being brought into play. I had great fun taking down the strider in an interesting and fun environment. Given the area of woodland was so large it might have been nice to have me need to drive back through it for some reason after I picked up the car. Regardless, this was a well planned and fun game experience.

    Lost At Sea – finally Daz puts his money where his balls are and releases a map. LOL and what a map!! looks fantastic and plays really well. He always gives me crap so here’s my two cents!
    No autosave! which is a rookie error that Mr Weekes has often torn a young mapper a new hole for. Shame on you! No grav gun which is always a dissapointment for me. sigh… Some of the combine just run right up and shoot you from point blank range. I’ve always found that combine are best when held at medium distance to be honest.
    But lets face it, the look and design are great and to produce a map of this quality in the tight timeline supplied is astonishing. A huge achievement.

    Other honorable mentions…

    I loved the silliness of Train Stopping. Almost dreamlike in its design it was actually very playable up until I had to destroy the chopper and kill combine and headcrabs… then it all got a bit impossible…

    The level design of Temple Stand was very impressive with some neat ideas.

    The other maps were all playable but missed out on some stuff that I always look for. Sticking to the known HL2 conventions is really important e.g. openable doors should have handles etc… Player indication on puzzles is really important or I lose interest quickly and clear player direction on where to go is critical.

    Also, throwing as many bad guys as you can at the player doesn’t make the map fun or challenging. Well placed bad guys are the key to challenging the player. The more the player has to work to kill the bad guys, the more rewarding it is when they do finally kill them.

    Great work everyone and I’m so excited that the comp got so many entries. Was worried that the mapping scene for HL2 was dying a death.

  9. Ade

    Wow, so many big names on that list, I can’t wait to dl this tonight and see what the authors prepared!

  10. Play It Now!

    Some really awesome entries. I was kind of blow away by the scale on a few of these.

    I liked the setup in Factory Condition, giving me a little time to explore on my own. Could have used some more clutter and cover in the middle. And the window sills were too high, kept me from fighting from the buildings.

    Struggle’s scale was impressive, much better sewer than mine! The trapped room took way too long to clear, the enemies took their sweet time showing up to be shot, I got bored waiting for them.
    The vertical fight in the shaft was frustrating. The catwalks were spaced too far apart, making it hard to hit enemies, especially without a crossbow. It was also too dark to see the enemies really clearly, would have been nice if the sun came down more into the shaft. Also, enemies seemed to appear from nowhere, on the catwalks, and there were way too many at once.

    Temple Stand’s scale was also very impressive, and I liked the little makeshift church setup.
    But the battle that followed was a slog. Fighting with the gnome was a huge pain in the ass. Pick up gnome, get shot, drop gnome, shot enemy, find gnome, pick up gnome, repeat.
    I got back up to the strider at the top, but couldn’t find the exit door before the strider chewed me up. I ended up turning god mode on to get through it. The exit/return to the start was pitch black, so I had a hell of a time finding it while also being shot at. I also missed the rocket ammo box until after I turned god mode on, so I wasn’t sure if I had to kill the strider or not. The two very well lit doors at the bottom faked me out, I thought maybe I had to unlock them or kill everyone before they would open up.

    Train Stopping had an interesting setup, and another sprawling level.
    I ended up chucking the bombs out of the shack with the gravity gun, and ended up being able to place half of them this way without leaving the shack. The Combine and the headcrabs ended up fighting each other most of the time, which I was thankful for. Nice climatic end.

    Lost at Sea and Third Watch were the standouts for me.

    Lost at Sea opens with a really impressive vista, in a unique environment. I liked the interconnected areas, showing just enough of the next area to keep you moving forward and exploring. I got some Minerva vibes, with all the exploring before getting to the combat.
    I kind of wish the Combine tower you start facing was the end goal – I initially though it was. When I reached it early on, I wasn’t 100% sure what my end goal was until a bit later when I spotted the air boat.
    The container jumping was beautifully placed, I laughed at myself there.
    I also hesitated before getting on and trying the elevator, I tried to hunt down the cog I knew that generator needed before I even tried the button!
    A cool touch might have been having the final doors take a while to open, and having to hold out against a Combine assault until you could jet out.

    Third Watch was slick. That Combine APC entering the binocular views was perfectly timed.
    So many displacements! And detailed woods. There’s no way I could do that in a week.
    The ambush was also a surprise. It was the first building I tried, worked great. I even tried a second playthrough to see if I could trigger a different ambush.
    On my first try, I just drove straight through the shield wall without disabling it, was this the “invisible” mistake? 🙂 I also wanted to knock down that garage door in the rocket ammo room, but I couldn’t figure out how to knock those hanging I beams into it. The town area was really nicely detailed, and I liked the encounters in the woods, I was impressed it just wasn’t a straight shot.

    Makes me wish I’d spent more time on Rapid Raid, ended up being pretty short compared to the others. That might be because I started on the last Saturday, and wrapped it up by the next day! I had a hell of a time getting the rappelling ambush spawns tweaked so they would feel good, and I don’t think I succeeded. They were either too slow and predictable, or too fast and overwhelming. I erred on the side of too many enemies over too much time, should have cut it a little short.

    Silly aside: there are five watermelons scattered throughout Rapid Raid. Can you find all of them?

    Thanks to Phillip for running the contest, I really enjoyed the theme, and the short deadline helped keep me focused on cranking something out. Looking forward to the next one!

    1. Doh! That was a glitch I wasn’t aware of. Apparently needed to put in a vehicle clip. Oh well. You knock down the beam with a rocket.

  11. Play It Now!

    Athelstan – My own map. didn’t have time to finish due to personal reasons. The rocket crate is from an earlier iteration that I forgot to remove. Was a bit polish left that I sadly didn’t have time to add. I will probably not fix it and I will send in a contribution for the next competition instead.

    Factory Condition – I liked the atmosphere and the build up to the ambush. But there weren’t much cover and it was hard to find a place to rest for a moment.
    Also the second dropship got stuck when it took off.

    Radio Tower Ambush – It was a good, small build up with a good atmosphere. However the ambush itself felt a bit unpolished and the hunters either got stuck or were invisible. There were also small edges that you got stuck on that were annoying.

    Rapid Raid – Liked the build up and atmosphere. The ambush was a bit plain and could use a bit more variation. The enemies also came at you at a bit too fast pace.

    Lost at sea – Really liked the atmosphere, really felt like a HL2 map. But it felt like I didn’t really have a goal except exploring and when the ambush started I didn’t know where to go. Also the lack of autosaves was a bit lame when you died.

    Struggle – Liked it when you got locked in, felt a bit of panic. However, I would like some cover in the room. And also it was a bit too dark in the large areas.

    Temple stand in – Was quite the “epic” feeling when entering the large room. Also an epic feeling when the strider came in. It was however a bit too dark and I had trouble finding rocket ammo. Could also use some more cover.

    Third watch – Really nice build up with the small “horror” moments. The strider at the start of the ambush scared me. However it felt like there were too many health packs for some reason, otherwise it was a good map.

    Train stopping – The ambush came very sudden and had too many enemies. The bombs didn’t explode when shot or damaged. Since they were propane tanks it was kind of weird that they didn’t explode.

    I look forward for the next competition.

  12. Play It Now!

    This was a very good set of maps, it’s nice to see the competitions haven’t been left behind by mappers!

    I’ll go down the list.

    Athelstan – this was a good start but an obviously unfinished map. I liked the location setup, and the dynamic of moving between areas. Would be nice to see this finished on its own and hopefully with a plot to go with it.

    Factory Condition – I really liked the layout and style of this map setup. It was a bit dark, but that set a pretty good tone.

    Radio Tower – this crashed on me when it reached an explosive point and I didn’t go back in to try again, since it was a hard crash and not just a game hang. Obviously this happened to other people, so there must be something just a bit wrong with the code in there somewhere. It looked good, and was paced well, so I hope that this one gets fixed up and re-released at some point with fixes so that this doesn’t happen again.

    Rapid Raid – looked very good, but had some missing textures (the ceiling in the very start of the descent, I think?) that should have been replaced at some point. I’m not sure that I could figure out where to go very easily in this one, but it looked good and was very well paced for action.

    Lost at Sea – this was obviously a top-tier map. I love hidden things, so I’m likely to go back and look for the other “cursed dolls” (not knowing how many there might be, so…). The map itself was just unbelievably gorgeous in almost all respects. When I got to the top of the area though, the size of the map showed pretty harshly in the horizon line and skybox just squaring off. But still, visually that was the only thing that bugged me and felt out of place here. It was marvelously creepy at times, just like, what the hell IS going on here?

    Struggle – wasn’t much of a struggle actually, the combat was fun and fast, and the map itself reminded me more of places in HL1 than 2. Not much else distinguished it, though.

    Temple Stand In – absolute kudos to the map mood and visuals. Wow. The combat was too difficult and by the time I’d realized the strider shot out the gnome from my grabbity gun into the darkness below I knew I wasn’t really going to finish it. This seems like a much better map to explore a slower paced, non-combat puzzle scene, than an aggressive Ambush type fight. Excellent musical choices in it though. The sense of scale and amazing feeling of isolation down there was very well done.

    Third Watch – this was my favorite among all the maps. The location was beautifully executed, and talk about spooky! My actual surprise was: I didn’t take the road route down into the town. Instead, I kind of shimmied my way down the embankment next to the road, and explored a bit. The whole while, I could hear the Hunter above clomping and trumpeting occasionally. It was probably the single most scary bit about the entire competition set! As I made my way around, I finally saw the encampment and had a ton of fun breaking crates and sweeping around fending off the enemies as they came. Knowing that there’s an ambush is one thing, but I think this one delivered beautifully. When I got the car, I didn’t leave the map – I went back up the hillside to see the area the way I realized it was ‘supposed” to be seen. AND THEN THE HUNTER FOUND ME. I was SO surprised, I’d totally forgotten about the first one that spawns, and it hadn’t come down to roost with the others! I was laughing and shouting at the game heheh! This one got my vote for best of the set.

    Train Stopping – an amusing end to the set, though I did have to noclip around a lot. The area was disjointedly directionless – coming out of your “get up” phase I expected to actually go somewhere, rather than just be transported to seemingly another map entirely. Once on the half-flooded area, there was no clear direction to go, no visual clue about where to ‘meet” with the bomb makers. Once I did get to the house and the chopper started shooting, it was a bit frustrating. I lobbed the bombs around but several of them landed in the water sections and made them almost entirely impossible to locate. While there was more than enough health and ammo lying around to complete this if I’d done it sensibly, I did fly around a lot getting shot at at all times by the darn chopper. It was cute, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea.

    All in all, this was a great bunch though. Third Watch and Lost At Sea are the clear winners, though each of them brings something unique and they were all more promising and workable than poorly done. Overall the quality of this competition’s maps was outstanding. Good work everyone!!

  13. Play It Now!


    I didn’t get such a strong feeling of “ambush” from this map, maybe if I’d had to noodle around near the fountain for a while before the Combine showed up? I would also suggest the debris falling to block that hole should have an associated sound effect, along with a trigger_look arranged so as to make sure it only fires when the player isn’t watching. Beyond that, the geometry was too boxy for my taste, and I definitely would have preferred a proper ending, but I still had fun figure skating around Combine; I don’t usually play in that style, and now I feel like switching up my approach because I actually enjoyed it here.

    Factory Condition

    Better on the ambush front than the first map, and the darkness didn’t bother me too much, but I didn’t feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment when it was all over. Perhaps if there had been a wide selection of booze available at the end? I know not everybody likes “cute” in their Half-Life, of course, so maybe another, less goofy reward. If I had my way I’d ask for some more vertical movement, maybe some catwalks in the factories, or dunnage outside for some sort of industrial equipment that you could climb on and get the Hunters sneaking between. Always nice to trade off high ground with enemies during combat. Like the first entry, though, I was forced to play in a way I usually don’t, and had fun despite myself.

    Radio Tower Ambush

    Saw a boulder settle at map start; I also ran out of time for a final map_edit, though, so I don’t hold that against you. I’m sorry to report I noticed a section of dev textures leftover on the ceiling of the staircase just off of the starting room. Doesn’t look like it happened anywhere else, luckily. Very unfortunate crash, though I’m happy to hear it’s a known Source issue and not just my computer failing. Killed my momentum, but I was able to get back into it quickly enough. Fun combat (crossbow and both grenade types for the guys on the roof and second floor is indescribably satisfying), nice tight space in those buildings, and I hadn’t considered an APC as an enemy. Was it much of a chore to get working the way you wanted?

    Rapid Raid

    Being chased isn’t something I like for extended periods, but small doses here and there can spice things up. I fell in love with a watermelon, but it wasn’t meant to be; I think I stepped on it. Didn’t know about the others, I’ll need to go back and search, I love that sort of little extra detail. I agree, the rappelling soldiers were just a bit too much, but considering the time frame, I can easily see past them. That the map was built in two days is intimidating, to say the least.

    Lost at Sea

    I love, love, love abandoned locations, though I’ve never had the opportunity/friends/stones to do any urban exploration. The idea of a tiny little spit of land out in the middle of the ocean with a fairly involved structure built on it is right up my alley. I’m impressed by the way the map funneled me exactly where I needed to be without feeling like it was holding my hand, I had fun wandering around but still ending up on the right path with only the barest head scratching. You also do wonderful lighting, and you’ve earned a tremendous amount of respect for managing to make the brick textures I’ve never liked very much look fresh.

    As much as I enjoy exploration, though, I think the map seems cut a little short after the trap springs, most of my time was spent in the build up. I’ve discovered through playing this that as much as I love longer maps and mods, I prefer a more even balance between the different gameplay styles. I still plan to go back and find out what happens if you do that little “sidequest”.


    I felt the initial Combine trap could have been a little faster paced here, like they should have been more aggressively lining up at the openings to shoot me, though I still did take some decent hits, so it wouldn’t have to be bumped much. The open door, with the Combine barrier behind it, also provided significant cover, which seems like an oversight on their part. I tried not to hide near it too much during the fight. Really enjoyed the vertical combat at the end, there aren’t many opportunities to look or fight up and down in HL2 maps. It was hectic, but there was just enough health around to give me a fighting chance, so I had a good time.

    Temple Stand-in

    I’m afraid I can’t bring myself to review this map, the author is too devastatingly handsome and universally beloved for me to dare proffer a critic’s tongue lashing.

    Third Watch

    My framerate tanked as the Combine attacked, but I managed to play through, and my jaw is still on the floor. Fog, green/gray color scheme, beautifully fleshed out forest environment (I’d go crazy placing all those trees and rocks by hand, and displacements aren’t exactly my bailiwick), all things I adore. Combat was challenging without being frustrating, I had plenty of health and ammunition, and for once somebody knows how to give a car enough space to move around.

    I only noticed a few rough edges: the Combine shield wall at the end was still up when I drove through it, I take it it was supposed to be solid until I disabled something? Then, on a quick second look while preparing this comment, I successfully slid down the rock face behind the starting cabin to the valley below, where the road is. I like being able to sneak backstage, but a kill trigger would probably be called for. Finally, I saw a wash of some scratchy bluish effect over the fog at some spots; sorry to try talking shop here, but am I correct that this is some sort of areaportalwindow phenomenon? Not objectionable, just something that caught my eye.

    I’ll definitely be playing this one a few more times!

    Train Stopping

    Big, open area, which I love, gorgeous skybox, fun idea, absolute chaos that, like some other gameplay featured in this competition, typically isn’t my style but grabbed me nonetheless. Performance suffered a smidge at various points, which made things more difficult, where most of the other maps ran quite well, circumstances notwithstanding. Still not a dealbreaker, as I had a smile on my face the whole time. Trains are good, bombs are good, funny is good, and this map is great.

    Looking back over everything, I’d have to say Third Watch is my favorite, just barely edging out Lost at Sea by featuring a longer stretch of action after the initial Combine attack, relative to the overall length of the map. I’m also a sucker for fog, which helped sway my decision. Train Stopping was also in the running, but didn’t seem quite as plausible a Half-Life 2 companion as the others. It’s a game of inches, though, all three are superb.

    Now, the reason it’s taken me so long to comment here is this Youtube playlist: The night of the mod’s release, I recorded a series of videos showcasing my first run through each map, along with some commentary. Whether my design observations are of any utility to mappers more experienced than myself is open to debate, but I always like watching this kind of thing, and I thought at least it might be helpful to see a player go through your work for the first time.

    I’ve read the reviews of Temple Stand-in, and plan to respond in short order, but I’ll do it in a separate comment after I’ve organized my thoughts.

    Congratulations to Darren for winning, and to everyone else just for finishing an entry. I’m amazed I got anything done, ten days is even shorter than it sounds (but still fair, and a huge motivation to get one’s rear in gear). Finally, thank you Phillip for running another competition, I’m thrilled to have been a part of it!

    1. Thanks a lot for the video play through! Always fun to watch someone play what you spend so much effort on. I can’t believe you killed the headcrab with the car! Goes to show that a player will do things you never thought of, on purpose or otherwise.

      I can be very detail oriented sometimes, so brushwork is actually more time consuming for me than displacements. The bluish effect was an area portal, quick and dirty optimization. I didn’t notice it till after the deadline. Also, there was a kill trigger at the bottom, which I tested. How did you make it down?

      1. Happy to hear you enjoyed the video! I know I like seeing people enjoy something I’ve made, glad I could do the same for someone else. I didn’t actually notice the headcrab until I heard the thump and saw his little body lofted over the hood. It gets funnier every time I watch it.

        The kill trigger not working is apparently due to me being a big fat idiot who forgot he still had god turned on from poking around elsewhere in the map, sorry.

  14. ikar

    Wonderful competition, a lot of good maps, so do I really liked that the authors have written about the progress of the creation modifications: similarity of the “developer diary”, “Work in Progress” – miserably that no such diary in other modifications.
    I wonder whether it is possible to insert a developer comments, as is done in the Valve games?
    Despite the fact that there are some favorites, all maps have their own spice.

    Athelstan by Joacim Rappu
    “Square to die”
    Is the only map that I did not so like – open space, all squares , endless enemies and your allies quickly die.
    Still , the rebels AI initially not very good: they climb the bullets of enemies and player, and quickly come to die (Greetings to Valve)
    Maybe the author should experiment with the introduction of reinforcements for the player, appearing with a slight delay after the combines like
    And to add even more obstacles in the area: machinery , containers / booth stand posters etc.
    I want an improved version of the map – apparently , the time to polish is was not enough.

    Factory Condition by Richard Greenslade AKA Greenman
    “Mysterious Factory”
    Mysterious evening atmosphere, well passed the evening twilight
    however, a second rebel group behaved like furniture – just stood still during the attack quickly killed – Greetings to Valve, with their rebels AI
    By the way, at a certain position can be dealt with combines and transport will hang over the landing site.

    Radio Tower Ambush by George Campbell
    “The sudden death”
    The first half of the map is good, but after the destruction of the armored combine’s truck the game crashes to the desktop, I’m tried twice – so I do not quite understand how the map is ending, just will try to ignore armored truck next time.

    Rapid Raid by Sam Combs
    “Down to Sewers”
    Even though I do not like the sewer theme, there is an interesting puzzle game with barnacles

    Lost at Sea by Darren Weekes AKA Daz
    “Architectural masterpiece”
    First time you need to wander around, admiring the structure and diligence of author, and then do the “Oops, I did not have to push this button”
    more intricate levels, very beautiful, and a good final battle

    Struggle by The_Blazer
    “Way upward”
    Despite the fact that I do not like underground levels, way up in the second half of the map compensates for walking in the dark in the first half of the map

    Temple Stand In by Rob Martens
    “Temple of garden gnome”
    When I played for the first time, I did not quite understand the task, since there is no subtitle (and I’m not read the review), and I’m worse than hearing perceive language, and inspired by the cyclopean buildings in the spirit of “Total Recall”(1990) (as is similar to one of the maps in the modification of Estranged: Act I) I forgot mascot, an at the end of the map author thanked me for trying with frustrated voice 🙂 – Sorry, Rob, I did not meet your expectations
    When I saw a gnome first time, I thought for a moment that it might be necessary to bring … but everything started to quickly run, and in the confusion I forgot it 🙂
    There will be added a some light before battle (walking in absolute dark not good), and some when buttle start – after a while the light that appears behind Strider – is magnificent!

    Third Watch by Justin Carlton AKA Sneakyspeckman
    The classic ambush, allowing first time wander as “Hedgehog in the Fog” 🙂 in an atmosphere of calm classic thriller, and then accelerated by the events, and are converted into action, that not giving time take breath.
    It has everything: exploration, combat and puzzles, and a trip by car – ready now to integration into EP2
    It’s epic map competes with the Defense of the White Forest.

    Train Stopping by Mark Allan AKA Officer_B
    “Manual for the guerrillas”
    Initially caused association with Fallout New Vegas: Wasteland, railway, searching camp of demolition man’s…
    But when the action begins, the enemies proves to be too much, as set points, separated by a large distance
    it turned out that gravy gun was buried under bombs, and get to it did not work .. had to use the console.

  15. Play It Now!

    “Lost at Sea” is leaps and bounds ahead of any other map in this contest. Well deserved victory for Daz. I’m impressed that he managed to create that map in 10 days.

    I would put Train Stopping at second place.

    I am impressed by the amount of maps submitted for this contest and I hope the other two contests will also have a similar amount of entries.

  16. Ade
    Play It Later

    I fail to see how L goes after R, but okk, here we go:

    – I think the white letter P on the crates stands out way too much, like phosphorus even in bright daylight
    – the strider actually killed a combine while breaking the wall, not unseen but still funny
    – seeing the room I was suddenly in so empty I looked back to check if I was going the right way and the wall block was rather brusk and unnatural
    – I actually got stuck in the weirdly placed playground metal bars as I tried to run back to safety but got cornered, and managed to die by a combine pushover!
    – awesome autosave (was put right at the beginning)
    – the map could do with a little suit
    – another death from the strider as my team mates got slaughtered in the first seconds, I’m actually doing worse and worse
    – rocket ammo is just what I need when I don’t have an rpg
    – I can actually jump over to the 2 apparently unreachable combine and see unfinished door frames
    – and I think I broke a trigger, as I can still hear radio chatter but no where to go
    – after more running around, some enemy on the roof shows up, that’s when I noticed G-Man, and some other holes between blocks, but no luck for a proper end
    Playtime: 19m

    Factory Condition
    – the player is put in the map in a more suited way here
    – the half zombie has a witty placement
    – the action started before I could check out the entire area
    – minor lighting issues
    – and finally we get some suit
    – obvious invisible wall could’ve been avoided
    – as the dropship caught me in some warehouse, the combine were struggling to all get in through the 2 small entries
    – the red button door being open but the combine not advancing through it felt odd, therefore while following the rebel I was waiting for a fade to black any second, and as most of this mod, that was predictable.
    – the map should return to main menu tho
    Playtime: 11m

    Radio Tower Ambush
    – starts off rather nice but boring
    – and I’m facing a wall with this texture that odd enough doesn’t break down to reveal enemies
    – the fog feels more like steam and it could be toned down
    – going outside there’s a white forest feeling hehe
    – again with the rpg ammo crate, is my game broken?
    – I loved how I spotted the orange eyed combine through the glass just staring at me when all hell broke loose
    – ahh and there’s the rpg.. in another house, very little health tho for so many enemies in such a tight spot and I die but get put back at the beginning..
    – aaaaaand I managed to get the hunter get stuck under the floor somehow! u can imagine my wonder as I was watching bullets fly from very interesting directions
    – the apc didnt dare to pop in 2nd time round, either, until I approached it to be killed from 1 ft away… no, this map isn’t buggy at all and 3rd time was not with luck
    – couldnt finish due to bugs, I just wanna kick myself for literally being ‘the lady that breaks things’, as James Partridge referred to me once.
    Playtime: 16m

    Rapid Raid
    – apparently when a combine comes at you through a door to stunstick you, and you think he came through the main door from a hallway, and not some dead end room, you’re dead wrong!
    – again, loads of combine, lots of smg spraying and v little health makes Ade a dull girl
    – at least I didn’t die so much here and the map does end properly, no visible map bugs either; but no, im not happy
    Playtime: 9m

    Lost at Sea
    – node graph out of date, but we have a title! and the first vista is amazing; we can even explore freely without getting killed, and get rewarded! I’m loving this already
    – interesting fence delimiter (or whatever that was) and very interesting way to progress
    – minor lighting issues, but so far so good
    – this apparatus in the control room on the bridge looks new
    – maybe this isn’t a fence delimiter after all
    – hah custom sound for turning away from a force field
    – broken neon casting nice shadows on the floor, tho bit bugged on the top stairs bit
    – bit of low fps after seeing the boat
    – again, rockets before rpg..
    – aww and here I thought the elvator would take me to my ride, nice turnout
    – combine visibly spawning in front of me
    – and hopefully this map wont kill me because of too many enemies being used to increase difficulty
    – nice touch to finally give the player the first crates he spotted on his way in
    – nice of the author to have a non disturbing beep lead us to the next open door
    – and after escaping the sea fort, I die eaten by leaches! trying to go back I triggered the end text again, like it was laughing in my face with irony
    – this was the best entry yet tho the ambush itself didn’t feel like an ambush in such an open space/area
    Playtime: 20m

    – Decided to finish this over the weekend, so far so good; tho bland textures, the layout is detailed enough
    – the ambush here was the best I’ve seen yet! and its pretty enjoyable to survive
    – again, kind of hard and I die since no health around and autosave takes me to the beginning, instead of right before the ambush!
    – a custom save does not prevent another death unfortunately
    – why give empty boxes soI would go out of my way to get to them and just die?
    – it’s a good fight but very hard with so many enemies and the ending is blunt, I guess this would be my winner if nothing better comes along
    Playtime: 16m

    Temple Stand In
    – the angles here are really interesting in the beginning
    – nice to see good voice acting and the structure is interesting to look at
    – an rpg in a tub, out of all the ways we have been presented weapons hehe
    – but given that I find no rpg ammo, only smg ammo, and amazingly no health in all these crates I’ve been smashing, I die from the strider
    – aaah a good autosave, at last!
    – the trigger is badly placed imo, I can downright skip it and wander all throughout the map with nothing happening
    – then I figured it was the gnome I was supposed to get, so retried, but the strider destroyed it 🙁
    – Jesus, finally I find the rocket ammo box and get slaughtered by the huge amount of fkn combine coming at me, if this was a requirement, it’s a really bad one, I mean I would have em spawn in front or behind me in the small curvy corridor… no fun whatsoever
    – at least it’s got a proper ending
    Playtime: 23m

    Third Watch
    – hmm I sense a Sneakyspeckman map, and what a beautiful map it is
    – I take it back, THIS is the nicest ambush yet!
    – haha nice combine opening a window to shoot me
    – and a simple ftb ending but this was a really nice map, and given the abundance of enemies we are also given an abundance of health, as we should in all maps..
    – plus we get some variety in enemies, for a change, this entry is very nice to play and no wonder this author is my favorite; I don’t know all the requirements, but if the ambush and gameplay were the main ones, then this is the winner by far.
    Playtime: 10m

    Train Stopping
    – the under water seemed glitchy but overall a very nice view
    – some floating rocks and a shitload of explosives, why not, that don’t rly blow up
    – and I finally trigger the next step! and it all makes sense now, but it’s still unplausable to not have these bombs explode while taking fire from a chopper non stop
    – the new mechanic was a nice touch
    – it was weird to be given instructions at every step of the way thru simple text, but it works
    – it was enjoyable but nothing spectacular, I was expecting more boom booms in the end.
    Playtime: 11m

    1. I fail to see how L goes after R, but okk, here we go:

      Because I set everything up based on file name only to see that he used “Lost at Sea” as the real name but “seafort” as the file name.

      I think the white letter P on the crates stands out way too much, like phosphorus even in bright daylight

      Those are my models not the mappers and shouldn’t be directed at any one map.

      node graph out of date

      That was my fault for not updating it and is not the fault of the mapper.

      1. Ade

        Well being the first map played, it was where I first noticed it and it was brighter than most in the map pack. I know it’s your model, except I don’t know how much can be toned down and if in some places it’s just a brightness issue (but given the fact that they also glow in the dark, I think not, then again I’m noob at mapping). And don’t take it so hard, I didn’t rate any of the maps individually, it was just an observation.
        I could go and say they make no sense to glow in the dark in the first place, cus it’s just paint. Unless they’re filled with energy like the ar2 orb item and the suit item..

  17. This is a big one, I won’t blame you if you skip past it.

    I’ve read all the Temple Stand-in reviews (“Most Disappointing” and “Could Do Better” are the story of my life), thank you all for the critiques! The map was, indeed, based on the Saitama stormwater system. I’d been itching to do something like that since those pictures started making the rounds.

    In light of everyone’s comments, and DaZ’s AmbushVille Twitch stream, I think I know what the major issues were:

    The Gravity Gun (or “grabbity” gun; Zekiran, I thought I was the only one!)

    I screwed up the spawn items so you end up with grenades equipped on map load. This, combined with the gnome being out in the open, fails to emphasize the physgun and doesn’t teach you to punt the gnome up one level at a time. I knew not everyone plays the way I do, but without having given myself enough time for testing I had to live with it. Sorry, Ade, I really did want to get you something before the deadline.


    The Plot

    I didn’t really explain just what you had to do with the gnome. As the deadline loomed, I realized that would be a problem, and hastily expanded the start area, which originally had the player start in the exit door alcove. I just slapped a SelfIllum exit sign texture on a tiny brush, lit it with green to accent it, and started players on the other side, hoping they’d notice in passing. I ran out of time for any elaborate fixes there, but I could have at least lit the door conspicuously.


    The Possibilities

    My writing needs to improve. I meant to give the impression the player was being saddled with a burden by a character akin to Griggs/Sheckley (whoever was the buffoon), and that the gnome wasn’t necessary to finish the map. I thought people would get into a gunfight, then those who enjoy that would stick it out while everyone else would ultimately say “it is too much trouble, I’m leaving”. Unfortunately, the frustration ends up rightly turned on the designer instead.

    This ties in with my second point in another problem, illustrated by ikar, that anyone who uses subtitles and/or isn’t a native English speaker won’t know what to do, as the map is dependent on English voice recordings. With more time I’d have tried to tell a story where the voice is just window dressing. It is interesting to note this confusion led ikar to find the alternate solution to the map as mentioned earlier.


    The Lighting

    Even without screen glare, this is bad. I’d wanted high contrast, lots of things in silhouette, which combined with the fog would enhance the sense of depth. I went a bit overboard. I’m not one to be a slave to realism, but I wanted to make the place plausibly hydrodynamic. It was for stormwater overflow, after all, and that whole room would be filled to the ceiling in the worst weather. I could always have made some simple glass fixtures molded into the pillars, though.

    I added some dim blue fill light to the top and second level, trying at the last minute to help, but ended up rationalizing the darkness: I laid down task lighting on the important parts of the walkways to aid navigation, but allowed pools of shadow off to the sides for the adventurous. I thought players would either punt the gnome with the gravity gun or ignore him completely, but in either case would be running for their lives, and wouldn’t need much light. If I’d addressed the other problems, the darkness might not have been such an issue, but it’s still darker than it needs to be.


    The Combat

    Ugh. The soldiers were meant to get you moving, but still permit two gameplay styles: if you stand your ground, you get the challenge you’re asking for. If you’d rather not do that, you can run, and things are easier. With no NPC experience, I wasn’t sure if my designs would be too hard or too easy, and in testing I found there were too many soldiers alive at once. After adjusting that it still felt like it might be a cakewalk, so to avoid embarrassing myself with my first singleplayer release I increased the total enemies born at each spawner. They’re not infinite, but they may as well be with fifteen or twenty apiece. I also failed to understand that Frequency in an npc_template_maker is the time between spawns, not the time from one NPC’s death to the next one’s birth.

    Killing the Strider was another attempt at variety: if you insist on taking it down, you’re given more combat to deal with, but you can also just skip past her. I tried for the best of both worlds, but ended up with the worst.


    There’s a variety of other problems, too:

    Project Management

    -I didn’t get started soon enough. I don’t dive in without a plan, but hashing out the details is difficult for me, and I couldn’t get going for the first few days. Once I knew what I wanted, I built it in no time, but deciding on layout, combat, enemies, sound, light, all took forever. Answers only ever seem to come to me at the last minute.

    -I got it right when first planning, but in the last hours forgot I was four hours behind GMT, not five. I had an hour left when I emailed my submission, and could have polished a few last things.

    -It wasn’t until going back through old Villes, after submitting my map, that I realized there were readmes with many submissions. I’d have written something up if I’d known, and I’d gladly have sent along the VMF if I knew we could.



    -I didn’t design my combat early enough. I just didn’t feel comfortable investing in any particular AI layout until I was sure I could make the place look how I wanted it to. Turns out getting the Combine to do the simple things I wanted was really easy, especially with aiscripted_schedule. Next time first thing is going to be dev textures, floor plan, and enemy layout, hands down.

    -My Strider’s intro sequence ends with her snapping into place at the scripted sequence, instead of stopping wherever she already is. Still not sure what to do about that.

    -I couldn’t get the Strider’s SetCannonTarget to knock over the upright cargo container on the top level. Whether firing at an info_target or the container itself, nothing worked. There’s even an orphaned trigger nearby from my rushed efforts.

    -I went crazy with info_nodes, since I wasn’t sure how many the Combine need to do their job. I could probably trim those down a bit.

    -Screwed up the music triggers; I remembered to try stopping the first song at gnome pickup, but fired StopSound instead of FadeOut. It doesn’t even work, and on top of that I forgot to do anything about ending the second song when you return to the exit. Sector Sweep is almost three minutes long, plenty of time to get back after it starts.

    -Not very happy with my soundscapes. I decided on them in the last half hour of mapping, and they’re not perfect for the environment. I’d choose some different ones, or piece something together from the _util scapes and some ambient_generics.

    -Item/ammo placement was a haphazard last minute rush job, to be kind. Thank god for dynamic resupply crates.



    -Sloppy brushwork in terms of what you don’t see in the map; it looks fine in game, but is somewhat clumsier to work with in Hammer.

    -Some textures misaligned, wrong scale, wrong lightmap grid.

    -Didn’t find time to apply what I’d learned about making smooth light transitions between adjacent faces (select a face, Alt+Right Click on the adjacent one, then select THAT face and repeat the process one by one, making sure the lightmap grid is small enough to fit at least one luxel on each face), or chopping geometry behind func_details to apply nodraw to hidden faces, allowing the visible surfaces” lightmaps to stop properly and blend the same way world geometry does.

    -I specifically complain all the time that most maps are one box after another, but ended up with mostly orthogonal shapes.

    -Couldn’t totally solve the antialiasing gap/crack/seam problem. It’s something to do with details/displacements, the texture/lightmap scale of those objects and things behind them, and the nodraw texture. Increasing the lightmap scale as much as you can stand reduces the issue, but I haven’t yet found a scientific approach to solving it in every case.

    -I forgot some giant hint brushes to optimize the reservoir. Got them working early on, then went on to make geometry changes, planning to update the hints later, but ran out of time. Performance is still acceptable, I hope.



    I depended on too many assumptions here. That you’re in the system already, have done whatever you were there to do, and are only grabbing the gnome as a last minute favor for someone, I’m very happy with. But some things are too much:

    Why did they build a church at all? The Combine control the city, some rebels feel the need to reaffirm their faith, so they built a ramshackle place of worship.

    Why build it here? It’s the most cathedral-like location they could find.

    How are they safe from floods if the culverts are still open? The Combine’s terraforming activities have changed local weather, a nearby body of water is lower than it used to be, and presumably there are floodgates somewhere that can be closed.

    Why are the house lights still on? Someone with electrical knowledge jury rigged the old system, and added accent lighting to fill in some dark spots.

    Why is there debris in here? Whatever system screened it from the intake failed, then maybe a nearby rail bridge collapsed and some random garbage floated in before the climate change.

    One or two major mysteries for people to piece together, sure, but assumption on top of assumption is asking too much, and makes the result of those unseen events look ridiculous.


    Among my successes I’d count the lighting, from an aesthetic standpoint that is, and the music. Inhuman Frequency was a godsend, when I heard it I knew I had to use it, and Sector Sweep is a classic that couldn’t go ignored.

    All told, it was a tremendous learning experience, and I’m glad I got something finished and sent in. Can’t wait for the next one!

    1. Overall I felt your map had some really nice ideas.

      The concept of, go get the gnome, really had potential. We all know the Lil Rocket Man Achievement gameplay and many of us have tried it. So the idea was a good one and made me smile.

      It was a really fun moment when I reached the gnome, I knew instinctively that it was dangerous to pick up the gnome. A great moment of hesitation there like Indy picking up the Gold Idol at the beginning of Raiders.

      I think your map mainly suffered from being too chaotic. Taking inspiration from real life environments is good but can often lead to gameplay problems. Real life places were not designed for this purpose. The player needs a clear path or paths defined for them. Running around in the dark doesn’t really lend for a good playing experence.

      Many of the maps in this pack made the mistake of throwing tonnes of bad guys at the player. Too much going on at once. A player can take down a squad of combine when cover is available and some decent weapons. Add a strider in the mix and its just too much at the same time for the player to cope with.

      Also, if combine are implemented correctly, a squad of 3 soldiers should be a challenge for the player. In these maps we’re taking down hundreds of them as if their a gang of brain tards who’ve been given assault rifles… They just run right up the player… and get shot in the face.

      I’ve never entered one of these competitions because I think it’s almost impossible to build a good gaming experience in this way. I like the fact that they are going on though because it keeps things alive.

      Please please make more maps, I really liked the look and feel of this one and can see great things in future if you focus on the gameplay angle a bit more.

    2. Don’t worry, nobody expects your first map to be perfect! I thought the concept was great, and the environment looked fantastic, especially the use of fog. As you have noted, the main problems were the lighting and that the combat could be overwhelming, but these are things you can address in your next map. The idea of using the gnome was excellent, I just felt it was difficult to keep hold of in such a hectic scenario.

      A couple of points from your post; I think the Strider’s SetCannonTarget has to target an NPC or an npc_bullseye to function. I didn’t entirely understand what you meant about the npc_template_makers, but you can make them spawn another NPC after the previous one dies by altering the max live NPCs value.

      Anyway, congratulations for submitting an entry, hope we’ll see your work again soon.

    3. JG

      The second or third level in Mirror’s Edge is also clearly based on the Saitama sewers and it’s a good one to look at if you’re trying to do that theme. They leveraged a few mechanics to bring some order to the massive space –

      1. Because the walls are naturally concrete gray, the brightly-colored green balconies stand out on them.

      2. Lighting from above encourages the player – who starts at the bottom in darkness – to climb higher.

      3. Snipers are used to keep the player in the main gameplay area. They aren’t super aggressive or dangerous – but their laser sights are deterrent enough for most players.

    4. Ade

      Actually what was the other ending? I did go back without the gnome and when I reached the exit nothing happened, guess I had to trigger the strider first, eh?
      The lighting was weird in the sense that most of the fixtures were angled too much in my eye, maybe if they were focused like in a cone and shed light on the path instead of all around and, again, my eyes hehehe

      It sounds like you already have enough knowledge to map on your own, without time constraints and pressure to narrow you down and now you even have an idea of an order for the entire process, I’m always glad to hear people learn from these competitions.
      The backstory is actually quite complex and really good, shame none of it is presented to the player in any way.

      1. Yes, both endings require you to trigger the ambush before activating. It doesn’t make sense that the one you get without the gnome needs you to grab the gnome first, but I didn’t want people to accidentally trigger that option when they were just exploring in the first fifteen seconds of gameplay, so I started it disabled. I could have placed a trigger somewhere else, though, like it gets enabled as soon as you walk past it.

        The light fixtures on the wooden walkways are spread wider than they started only because as dark as it is, it was even darker before. I had them very tightly aimed at the ramps, but not enough of the path was lit up, so they had to be widened. They’re angled so severely because when you look up from the gnome platform I didn’t want the bright white of the lamps” interiors, or the corona from the env_lightglow, to be visible against the sunlight behind them. This way you get the depressing blues and greens on the way down, but the hopeful orange on the way up.

        The backstory was only there to give me enough justification to continue. Some kind of reassurance that what I was doing could make sense if you thought about it in the right way. That’s also the reason I like restrictions like an external deadline, because without it I’d keep overanalyzing my work, decide “this is stupid, nothing makes sense, I need to fix it” and tweaking everything again and again until I got sick of it and gave up. Most creative projects I attempt go down that road.

    5. Robert Martens

      I just realized I didn’t live up to my note in the above post about providing the VMF, so I stuck it up on Mediafire for curious mappers:

  18. Play It Now!

    What a great competition! it appears the only let down was too short a time limit for preparation, as suggested by other posters.

    For me, Lost At Sea was the runaway winner. Then I have a four way tie for 2nd place, all given a rating of 8/10. Those are, Radio Tower Ambush, Rapid Raid, Struggle and Third Watch. Train Stopping was somewhat behind those 4 for me. Cute, but “no cigar” for me. The other 3 were lower for various reasons, including;

    I think some kind of ending, Anything, even the basic text saying “The End” if creativity isn’t happening, should be mandatory on all maps……

  19. Hey Phillip, what about the next 3×10 competition? Shouldn’t it have been announced today? Or was it moved?

  20. Hec

    At last I’m able to play this comp. I started the first 3 today, I think they’re really bland so far… I hope I end and will review the whole mod tomorrow or Sunday! 😉

  21. JG
    Play It Now!

    Better late than never. This was a very good Ville competition, mainly because all of the maps were fun on some level despite there being a whopping 10 of them. Kudos to everyone who participated.

    My favorite, actually by a fair margin, was sneakyspeckman’s Third Watch, but I’m going to get into all of the maps now.

    This was probably the most simplistic of the entries. Athelstan basically consists of two parts, the fountain square at the start where the first ambush takes place, and a more interesting, multi-tiered environment where the second ambush occurs. Both ambushes suffer from a general lack of cover and considering that you’re dealing with a Strider and possibly infinite waves of Combine in the first, this is a problem. Additionally, there’s no build-up to either ambush, you walk into an area and Combine show up, just as with any other battle. I found myself running out of SMG ammo and having to take down distant Combine with the Shotgun. As others mentioned, there’s a rocket crate for a non-existent RPG and the level has no ending. There’s not a lot to this one, but it can be completed and it isn’t too challenging.

    Factory Condition
    There’s not a whole lot to this one either. Factory Condition is one giant outdoor area surrounded by nondescript factories. It is an exceptionally dark level and because of that, it’s hard to get a lay of the land prior to the Combine arrival. When the Combine do arrive, much like in Athelstan, there’s a severe lack of cover and Combine approach from several vectors at once. At the midpoint, a Combine Dropship arrives and drops off its soldiers one-by-one for you to shoot without any resistance. Once you’ve disposed of the Combine, you will faintly hear someone shouting “Hey, over here!” Follow the voice to reach the end of the level, which fades to black, but doesn’t end. Both Athelstan and Factory Condition are fun in the sense that fighting a reasonably sized group of Combine is always fun – the levels themselves don’t bring a whole lot to the table.

    Radio Tower Ambush
    Aside from that one dev texture on the ceiling, the author did a really nice job with the forest masonry theme here. Starting in a dank, wet building, you make your way down a canal and squirrel your way to the main arena. Here, you will be assailed by Hunters, Combine and an APC – the latter of which crashed for me when it does destroyed, but on a fresh game worked fine. One thing this level demonstrates is how lethal Combine can be with grenades in enclosed spaces – you can go from being in decent health to fighting for your life very quickly. It ends when you leap out a window. No, really, that’s how it ends. 🙂

    Rapid Raid
    From the start, I was pursued by a Civil Protection unit. Well, I would have been, until he tripped on the couch and died. That was pretty funny. From there, you head outside and fall down a manhole that seemingly does unavoidable damage, and then you’re in the land of the Zombies for a spell. At the end, you come across an interesting room where Combine rappel in from holes in the ceiling. It’s a fun map. It’s well propped, detailed and lit, but nothing about it screams “ambush.” It’s just a meandering little trip through the sewers whacking Zombies with the crowbar and running laps shooting rappelling Combine.

    Lost at Sea
    Clearly based on the Maunsell Sea Forts or something akin to that, the surreal Lost at Sea takes you a similar location where the Combine have clearly been up to no good, yet it is abandoned. You spend a lot of time exploring this place, navigating up some unconventional pathways and pushing buttons, before you finally start the ambush. The goal of the ambush is really to get down to the Airboat and escape, which I didn’t see beforehand despite all my exploration. It looks great and has a good theme and a variety in things to do, so why wasn’t it my top pick? Because the actual ambush is nothing special. In fact, there’s so much time building up to it (too much, actually) that my expectations were pretty high. Even the way it starts is very exciting. But when you get right down to it, it’s a bunch of Combine spawning out of thin air (sometime you actually see this) rushing at you without a care in the world. For being an abandoned place, it’s never really explained where this army of Combine came from. I feel too much time was devoted to the visuals and the actual gameplay suffered as a result. Also, getting chewed to death by leeches after escaping on the Airboat was quite painful, actually.

    This level is another one that’s way too dark, although it was nice seeing the slippery mud floor mechanic again. You start off in a sewer with plenty of Zombies. After reaching the edge of the tunnel, you are faced with a massive downward shaft. You can’t even see the bottom of it, but trust me, there’s water about a mile down so you’ll live when you are forced to jump. From there, you enter another enormous room and – surprisingly – nothing happens here. You just run for a mile to reach the world’s longest staircase to the world’s longest catwalk and you enter a tiny control room when – SNAP – that’s when the ambush happens. Yes, trapped in a tiny office, there’s an incredibly long battle with Combine who peak in from windows and wall cracks to shoot at you. It’s boring and it’s probably synchronized with the music because the exit will magically open when the music ends.

    So far, this level is kind of a bust. But we get this neat sequence at the end where we have to scale one of those giant pipes back up using circular catwalks and ladders while Combines on several tiers attack. This is kind of cool and it reminds me of the fan silos in Half-Life 1 as well as the stormwater drain level in Mirror’s Edge, which had a similar going-down-then-coming-up structure. It’s not enough to redeem this level, but at least we end on a fun note.

    Temple Stand-In
    Speaking of Mirror’s Edge, its level was based on the Saitama stormwater drain in Japan, which is clearly what this level is also based on. This one has custom voice acting and it’s decent (last line was hard to hear though), providing a tongue-firmly-in-cheek explanation about how you need to retrieve a garden gnome from a makeshift shrine. And, well, that’s exactly what you do. You make your way through an enormous stormwater drain and reach the shrine, grab the gnome and get attacked by a Strider and assorted Combine. I reasoned I had to bring the gnome back to the start, and I was right, but nothing really encouraged me to go that way. Given the complete lack of cover and the flood of enemies, standing around and fighting is suicide, so you might as well plow through this and go back the way you came. Also, this level is very dark, which is a pretty big problem if you should ever happen to lose the gnome. Cute concept, execution left a bit to be desired.

    Third Watch
    To me, this was the best map in the set because it ticks all of the boxes for what a good ambush entails. It uses a fantastic forest setting to build tension and ambiance as thick as the fog around it. I don’t even like foggy maps like this, but once I gave in to the creepy sounds of Hunters stalking me, it all just worked. Eventually, you reach a small logging village with some beautifully designed cottages and a warehouse. It’s here where the ambush is sprung with great surprise and scale. The non-linearity of this area is great, you can duck in and out of buildings, draw soldiers through doorways and run up catwalks to escape the chaos below. The whole thing is well designed – there is a reason why all of this is here and nothing goes to waste. My only two comments would be, one, the ambush is arguably sprung a bit too early, before the player understands the non-linearity of the area around them. And second, figuring out how to make the battering ram work wasn’t terribly obvious, but I did figure it out. Same thing for the forcefield hut at the end – it needed something in there (like a plug) to make it obvious what you needed to do to drop the forcefield. Either way, a top notch effort. I really should go back and look at some of sneakyspeckman’s previous works.

    Train Stopping
    I thought this was the weakest map of the group. The objective here is clearly spelled out – you need to blow up a train. To do so, you’re going to plant bombs. Lots and lots of bombs. And most of the bombs, as near as I can tell, are housed in a single hut. But you can’t place the bombs just anywhere – you have to bring them to specific points along the track. Points that eventually end up being far away from the hut. And each time you make a delivery, you get more and more enemies. Also, there’s a Hunter-Chopper that never stops taking potshots at you. When it comes to the actual ambush and combat, there’s no thought here. It’s just a swarm of infighting enemies and a helicopter you can’t do anything about until the very end. Even Athelstan and Factory Condition knew when to give it a rest for a second. I like the fact that there’s a goal here aside from just surviving the ambush, but ultimately this map was a chore.

    Play it now!

  22. Hec
    Personal Favourite

    I have to say, WOW, really I just have to say WOW!

    Overall a great competition, is probably between the first 3 excellent ones in the panoply of PP comps. that really are worthy, and this is just memorable. Why? well maybe because the plenty of entries on this one, and then the whole quality on all, 3 bland-poor ones and 5 from good to just terrific ones!! So I think that’s a good parameter to state this is an excellent comp. in productive and quality terms.

    Being said that. We can review this jewel.

    Athelstan by Joacim Rappu.
    Maybe the most bland of all the comp. Because the whole map were just too narrow and it felt like an arena style that just ruin the ambush feeling, also were some terrible details in there, like the total lack of an end and that wall that magically crumbles right after you enter the building.

    Factory Condition by Richard Greenslade AKA Greenman.
    Better than the previous one, but overall way too dark, the ambush feeling is there I’d say for 1/3rd of the map, and the rest just felt like an arena, though it does offer some fun entertaining times, battling against those hunters and there are plenty of space to move and combat strategically.

    Radio Tower Ambush by George Campbell.
    This one was a good attempt to do an ambush in an open space area, though the whole mapping was too narrow and there were some bad glitches all around the map, like some blind walls and you can actually get out of the map and see weird things like CMB soldiers and many Hunters just down the map, I proved that and I just didn’t used noclip. Also the layout of the map was weird and confuse, I guess if the goal were to tear down the radio tower that could be a proper end, but having to escape by that window to a closed hallway in that house was just to illogical. Despite of that there were nice atmospheric moments like at the beginning with all that fog and water rain all around you that was nice.

    Rapid Raid by Sam Combs.
    The pace was indeed very fast in this one at the beginning and I didn’t like that, also the whole map passed very fast. The ambush part was nice and very classic indoor ambush, but I felt like that I just wanted some more action after that and I didn’t get it.

    Lost at Sea by Darren Weekes AKA Daz.
    Well. I have to say it, a worthy winner. The whole map was just beautiful and that CMB-human wreck architecture was just Gorgeous, Beautiful!!! I felt like I was there and smelling just the sea scents on that sea fort!!!! Combat was just maybe in the right place, but I would have preferred some more challenge, maybe the gunship and then a helicopter, and some hunters would have been ok. But overall the whole detail was awesome and I’d love to se some more maps and mods from this excellent author!

    Struggle by The_Blazer.
    Maybe the toughest entry of them all. started way too dark in those underground tunnels, then the firs ambush is just classic and nicely done. Then the way up to the surface is just a big struggle!, so this map made honors to it’s name. I have to say being able to see the lights out there and escape in the forest was a total relief from that combat but great mayhem.

    Temple Stand In by Rob Martens.
    No,no,no. thinking it good this definitely was the toughest of them all!! I mean it!! that strider and just hundreds of CMB soldiers coming seemingly from nowhere makes this map pretty hard!! Also I got a bit confuse of what to do at the end, is very dark and at the first 10 minutes I didn’t have idea I have to backtrack to escape. Though, I think this map was good and also pretty huge which makes it impressive.

    Third Watch by Justin Carlton AKA Sneakyspeckman.
    This was beautiful. If Lost at the Sea made me smell sea in my room, this one made me smell forest!!! I mean it, a great atmospheric map in a big space open area, also I think this one was the better in environmental ambush feeling of them all, because that Strider just blew my mind when shoot it’s pulse shoot and I got blinded!!! then the whole lovely action started, a great map, definitely I’d give it a great HONOURABLE MENTION!

    Train Stopping by Mark Allan AKA Officer_B.
    What can I say about this one?? well just stunning, I guess that’s the perfect adjective to describe this map. Starts smooth and then you get to the (death) bomb makers and BOOM!!! action starts!! those freakin headcrabs canister missiles striking are awesome, the whole place feels like a war zone, and that’s just rocks talking about atmospheric feelings of the map! feels like those CMB are pretty pissed off bay the fact you want to ruin it’s precious train, maybe because of the load in it?? who knows but this feels just like the perfect prelude of a complete mod!! and this very talented author should do it!!! Overall a great well deserved honorable mention.

    In conclusion: This was a great mod competition, great entries full of action and quality, 3 first were kind of bland, but then the other 5 were great so play it and love it like me, very thanks to Phillip by this effort I just love you man! 🙂

  23. Play It Now!

    Another great PlanetPhillip competition. There are 9 entries and most (if not all) of them are mostly great. I don’t have a favorite entry here, because I liked them equally, which I rarely do.

    You should really try it out.

  24. Play It Later
    Lost at Sea by Darren Weekes AKA Daz
    It is great!

    This was one of the most impressive Ville maps I have ever played. It could easily be a “Personal Favorite” if it didn’t have so so many flaws, and at first I thought about giving it a “Personal Favorite” despite it’s flaws, but there were just too many, but as you can see, it is still the winner for me.

    Let me first talk about the good things though. The best part of the map was easily the exploration. It was fun simply to walk around, because the place was interesting, because you had small puzzles here and there, jumping puzzles or thinking puzzles, you found supplies and you had a clear sense of progress, because you kept advancing towards the top.

    The exploration also wasn’t just a gimmick, it plays an essential role in the map, because of how the final fight is set up. By spending so much time exploring the map in peace, quiet, however fast you want, you get to learn the area and remember the landmarks. Later when the final fight starts, you have to move through the whole map again to get to supplies.

    But as I said there are a lot of flaws or small annoying things. First of all the map didn’t feel very polished, which obviously is due to the time constraints. There were areas where movement wasn’t really smooth, because of the geometry. Sometimes you get stuck on some physics props on the ground. Some areas are too dark. Some areas looked too dull. With the darkness the author sacrificed gameplay for atmossphere, which wasn’t a good trade.

    When the final fight starts and you go down the elevator, combine soldiers spawn out of NOWHERE right next to me. I got killed immediately without even seeing them. The map doesn’t have autosaves, so I had to do the vey long start again. That was very frustrating and made me almost quit the map, but I replayed it because I liked it so much before.

    After that you encounter combine soldiers here and there, but a lot of them are placed in weird areas where it doesn’t really make sense, and somehow they set up barricades and stuff in such a short amount of time. Also while the author scattered a lot of supplies throughout the map, you don’t really need that, because of the infiinite rocket crate on the roof. Honestly I think the map would be a lot better without that crate. If there is enough ammo to kill 3 gunships, then it’s the player’s fault if he runs out of rockets.

    Without that infinite rocket crate, the whole area would have more value, the player would have to move around more, the fight would be more dynamic and could be the best gunship fight ever made. Adding to all this, was that the fps was all over the place, sometimes even dropping below 60, even though I normally play with 300.

    Then another thing was that friggin elevator. The button was glowing and there was that machinery we all know from episode 2 behind the elevator, where the gear was missing. So I thought I have to find that gear first, but nope, the elevator works anyway. I was looking for ages.

    Also I think the map would be even better if you could open some of the doors which block your path after you reach the other side of that door.

    Third Watch by Justin Carlton AKA Sneakyspeckman
    It is good

    Another great map. The intro is really good, it sets the tone, has a fitting atmosphere and looks great. Then the fight starts in a really cool way and the area you fight in was really interesting and fun. There were too many combine though. Are they spawning infinitly until I kill the strider? I hope not. That would be terrible. But it felt like that, and because of that I immediately went for the strider after dieing.
    The Combine soldiers did too much pressure and I didn’t really feel like I had freedom to move around, always in some corner doing cheap tactics to kill the combine without taking damage.
    At the end I didn’t know what to do, but then I realized I can drive through the combine shield with the car for some reason and the map ended. A bit underwhelming.

    Train Stopping by Mark Allan AKA Officer_B
    It is good

    A unique location and impressive visuals. What the hell was the author thinking though? I enter the house and out of NOWHERE million combine soldiers start attack including shotgunners and elites PLUS headcrabs everywhere PLUS a helicopter. I immediately died. The next time I entered the building and immediately ran out again so I did a cheap tactic here, but that’s what the map encourages you to do.

    The objective was a bit boring and it became tedious to place all the bombs. The rain of headcrab cannisters was cool, but all the headcrabs running around became extremely annoying, and were useless too, because they were never a threat, just annoying. There were too many supplies around, so after the initial attack the map became too easy.

    Then when fighting the helicopter, the helicopter became drunk or something. It stopped attacking me sometimes and dropped bombs in weird places, sometimes even damaging itself. Also why do the combine even fire headcrab cannisters when they want to attack themselves afterwards? So they have to fight the headcrabs THEY launched? That was a bit … stupid.

    Still. A fun and unique map with a climactic ending.

    Rapid Raid by Sam Combs
    It is okay

    This map seemed to be made by a less experienced mapper than the last three, but it was still better than those. It wasn’t as exxagerated, as chaotic. The start of the map is very weird, with weird level design, weapon placement and enemy encounters which feel random, but once you get into the main fight, you will have a fun time. The fighting area was much more interesting than in the last three maps, although there were a few issues.

    First of all I kept getting stuck on small physics props, because they weren’t flagged as debris. This was especially a problem when I tried to line up shots with the magnum. Then the combine reinforcements came way too fast. There wasn’t a single moment where I could take a breath or even reload safely. In addition the sound the combine do when they come from the ceiling was extremely annoying. Music started overlapping. Sometimes the enemies shot other places where I wasn’t standing.

    Without all these small flaws, I would give this a higher rating.

    Factory Condition by Richard Greenslade AKA Greenman
    It is okay

    Another map where you fight in a wide open flat space with not a lot of cover. This wasn’t as bad though, because the enemies weren’t THAT overwhelming. The fight still was too chaotic. You have only the pistol as a long range option for a long time which was bad, considering you have to shoot long range a lot of times. It wasn’t very, it wasn’t a lot of fun. The are you fight in was also simple as the first map, but more interesting visually.

    The ending was very abrupt and kind of a downer. I got the revolver, but then the map just ends, didn’t even go back to the main menu. I thought it’s not over first, so I waited, but nothing happenend. Because I got the revolver just before the map ended, it felt like the author ran out of time.

    Radio Tower Ambush by George Campbell
    It is bad

    I didn’t complete this map because it was extremely frustrating. It starts with very weird level design, but it looks good. I took a very weird path around the back of the fences, go up the hill and suddenly out of nowhere tons of combine appear plus an APC which completely wrecks you. I go in the a small house where I see lots of supplies, but after opening the door I get greeted by a combine with a shotgun and die immediately.

    I have no idea why people use APCs in their maps. They are clearly not designed for close quarters combat. In the main game you only encounter them when you are in a vehicle yourself. I had no idea what I’m supposed to do. I stayed in a corner where the APC couldn’t do anything to me and tried to kill the combine from there.

    Then Combine spawn in the house and shoot me from there, but again, my only long range weaopn is a pistol. I could try to get the crossbow from that small house, but it is guarded by that shotgunner and I can’t get close to him because of the APC. It didn’t help that the map has no autosaves.

    Athelstan by Joacim Rappu
    It is bad

    I didn’t complete this map, because it was weird as hell. Right at the start you start in a wide open flat area where you get attacked by tons of combine plus a strider. You have very little cover, there are lots of supply crates, but most of them contain useless stuff. So this fight was just crazy, there wasn’t really any strategy or tactic, just kill the combine as fast as possible. It was impossible to avoid a lot of damage.

    Then at the end of the fight the Strider shoots the wall for some reason, so I can progress, which is completely illogical of course, but hey. Then I was alone, cause all my squad mates died and I get attacked by million combine again, but this time, while I’m fighting the ones that attack me from my front, suddenly tons of combine come behind me and I’m surrounded. The map was unfair and unbalanced. Visually it was dull and repetitive. I didn’t complete it. It wasn’t horrible.

    Struggle by The_Blazer

    The level looked very underwhelming and dull for the most part. It wasn’t a lot of fun to explore or run around. Of course after playing “Lost at Sea” before this one, which was a very long map of exceptional quality, I might be too harsh towards this map. But the combat jus wasn’t really fun to be honest and I didn’t complete it.

    Temple Stand In by Rob Martens

    The level looks very impressive, but after getting the rocket launcher I didn’t know what to do. I kept running around, but didn’t find anything. Because the level is sooo huge and open, it got frustrating very quickly and I stopped trying. Sorry.

    1. some sentences might not make sense, because I changed the order of per map reviews after wards. For example the first sentence of Rapid Raid. Sorry about that.

  25. Maybe?

    Overall Struggle was the only one I cared for. It’s not really what I would call “ambush” maps. Closer to defendville kinda maps which I don’t care for either. A long linier map with resistance jumping in here and there as you progress. Going through mini ambushes on the way, is what I would call ambush. Maps overall are ok looking. You may like it better.

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