Audio Interview with Sam Combs

9th June 2012

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

I got the chance to chat with Sam today. Sam is the author of Station 51 and A Brief Detour, he’s also made other maps for other games.

But let’s be honest we only care about SP for Source!

Sam has some of some of his portfolio over at Carbon-Made and is currently working at GameLoft.

We talk about game and level design, modding and a bunch of other stuff.

I mention that Station 51 is top of the Readers’ Recommendations for Ep2 and Sam mentions the 7 Day FPS Challenge.

Anyway, Sam may drop by, so if you have any questions you want to ask him, please post them in the comments.

Listen to the interview



  1. Anon_443530

    Station 51 is such a great piece of work. Hopefully a part 2 is on the way 🙂

    Interesting interview Phillip!

  2. Hec

    Hey Sam, do you have in mind, lets say, a CLASSIC gameplay line when develope the HL2 maps???, I mean, it really caught my atention that there’s not much big trouble for give gamers puzzles, just some cool and clever combat into really cool rich scenarios, I mean, I think your 2 HL2 maps have that combat richness, and I mean, that last HUnter battle in Station51 was really clever, really great, I felt it like a peak action movie scene, that’s what I mean, you know your maps seem to have a conective point when we talk about combat action. That’s to me the classic way to develope maps for HL, combat and make the player move and explore in detailed maps, more than just give him a bunch of puzzles and short combat time.

    1. It was a conscious decision for me to not include any puzzles. The focus for Station 51 was combat – like I said in the interview, the main weakness of A Brief Detour was really weak combat areas, that didn’t give you enough room to maneuver, and there was little to no room for exploration.

      Nothing against puzzles, and I think I’ll try and incorporate some into the next half of Station 51, hopefully without detracting from the combat.

      1. Hec

        Oh thanks and especially I thank you to just focus in combat, because that’s what I love, I mean i’m an almost totally puzzle-hater gamer, you know, I like the puzzles, but not over used, that’s why I loved ur map, because that focus in combat rather than annoying puzzles!

  3. Jim_Partridge

    Sam echo’s many of my personal feelings about mapping here. Great interview…

  4. Miigga

    Great interview

    Also much respect to this guy, Station 51 is a fantastic map

  5. Ade

    you mentioned a map called dm_lightindustrial or something? mind linking to that, also?

    1. Sure, dm_light_industrial is here:

      That’s the first map I’d every released, so it’s pretty weak. Not the best flow for a deathmatch map, and it’s a little cramped. It was still great to release something, it seems every release gets me feedback that makes the next project better.

      1. Ade

        you mind checking your gmail? 😀

  6. Ade

    About hl2dm ofc:
    To Phillip, the uni changed to halflifenation
    To Sam, there’s also

    Offtopic: can you change the format of the audio playback so that it doesn’t stop and reload after I post a comment?

    1. Offtopic: can you change the format of the audio playback so that it doesn’t stop and reload after I post a comment?

      No, whatever format the file is it will start again when the page reloads. Only thing I can suggest is to download it or type the comment and wait until the interview finishes.

      1. Ade

        yea, I guess youtube commenting spoiled me on that one

        1. Yeah, I think YouTube uses AJAX.

      2. Miigga

        Or open the same page in a new tab and make the post that way.

  7. Thanks for the comments everyone! And thanks again to Phillip for having me on.

  8. WizardExt

    Thanks Sam and Phillip. One of the better interviews here. I really like how humble you are Sam. Interesting to listen to your story, thoughts and opinions. Station 51 is a great map, I hope to see it grow into something longer and even more polished. And of course to see more upcoming Half-Life 2 single player projects from you.

  9. This mod is the sleeper of the year so far. Mission Improbable was also great, but not a sleeper…we expected part two (the full mod) to be great. But Station 51 came out of nowhere and is immediatly one of my favorite mods. Cant wait for part 2.

    I dont know what the author will do for part two. I know part one ends with an airboat ride, and I mentioned if that continues in part 2, I hope it is long like water hazard is. No mods ever have driving sections that long. Phillip says it’s because it takes a long time to make a section that the player passes in seconds.

    Let me make a prediction…since no mod ever made has a long driving section like Water Hazard (around 45 minutes), the first one that does it (as long as it is polished), they will be an immediate star in the HL2 community. I hope that happens here.

    Even if it doesnt, I expect part 2 will be as good as part 1 🙂

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