BlackMesaDoorVille Announcement

26th July 2017

Hello and welcome to the very first Black Mesa Mapping Challenge.

This game offers so many mapping opportunities that it is a great shame more SP maps haven’t been released.

Hopefully, this mapping challenge will encourage mappers to make their first BM map and also inspire mappers who have already released a map to make another one.

Full details, including the theme, deadline date and exact rules are below.

Theme Details

The Black Mesa Research Facility is HUGE.

So many areas are off-limits to the player: Corridors, labs, storage areas, security sections, etc.

And you know what stops you from getting there? DOORS! Yes, simple, straightforward doors.

So imagine if you could open ANY door you found in BMRF and explore what’s behind it.

We would like you to create a map (with NO custom assets) that takes us behind your chosen door.

Your map could start immediately behind the door and the player does not need to be able to go back through it.

Or you could recreate the area leading up to the previously locked door as a starting point. We will allow you to lock doors that were unlocked in the game or even use a simple player clip – the pre-door section is simply to allow context for the player.

Please note the Black Mesa source VMFs are available in the mapsrc folder under your Black Mesa installation for you to examine.

Build a believable area behind the door that lets us see more of the Black Mesa Research Facility. Allow us to explore, or fight, or solve some puzzles – or any combination as usual.

The map can end anywhere you wish – you do not need to finish at a point in the real game, although you can if you want.

Remember, you can use any locked door from the Black Mesa retail version. We’re dying to see what’s behind it!


The deadline for submitting maps is:

Monday 21st August 2017 at 23:00 CEST

CEST is Central European Summer Time. Phillip’s Time.
Make sure you check your local time conversion.
That’s 26 days, with 4 full weekends – one longer than usual.

General Advice

DO NOT GET TOO AMBITIOUS. If you can’t build it in 3 weekends then think smaller.

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

Please note the Black Mesa source VMFs are available in the mapsrc folder under your Black Mesa installation for you to examine.


We highly recommend getting your map beta tested by somebody you trust.

Do this early in its development if you can.


A random Steam or ORIGIN game will be awarded to the winner.

Judging Criteria

Each entry will be judged on Design, Sound, Visuals and Gameplay.

The judges are looking for clever and interesting areas behind your chosen door.

The winning map will be the one that feels as though it could be part of the retail game and is fun to play.

General Rules
  • Maximum two maps per mapper per entry.
  • The map must be original and not have been released publicly before.
  • The map must run in a system with only Black Mesa installed
  • By entering the competition you grant PlanetPhillip.Com and RunThinkShootLive.Com the right to release the map as part of the RTSL-BlackMesaDoorVille release.
  • Maps must not appear on ANY other website before the release and for one month after the release of the mod/mappack.
  • No custom assets are allowed.
  • Phillip’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into about it.
  • The map MUST have a proper name.
  • The map MUST have a proper filename: bmdv-mapname.bsp (Please do not use capital letters)
  • All entries must be sent to: [email protected] no later than the deadline.
  • If you do not receive a confirmation email without 24 hours of sending an entry, contact Phillip IMMEDIATELY.
Submission Email Format.

SUBJECT: BMDV-Mapname (Not filename)

1. BMDV-Mapname (Not filename)
2. The name you want used for credit. For example Phillip Marlowe AKA PlanetPhillip
3. Link to compressed file (or attach it to the email)
4. Notes you want included in the readme.txt

NOTE: I encourage all users to include a proper readme-mapname.txt file but it is not compulsory.

Final Thoughts

As this is the first Black Mesa themed challenge, we suggest making it feel as though the area you build really could be behind the door. Don’t get too artistic.

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


  1. I’m really not a fan of being tied to pre-existing maps, but I’ll see what I can come up with.

    1. Agreed, feels a bit “cheaty/lazy” but im sure if you are creative enough, that part can quickly be skipped.

    2. Agreed. I’ve never been a fan of the DoorVille concept through its various iterations.

      1. Unq

        Everybody’s a critic

        1. The first Doorsville was both my favorite competition to map for and my favorite to play, so I’m happy! I’ve always loved the idea of exploring previously-unreachable parts of maps, makes the world feel bigger.

  2. Not a fan of being unable to create simple assets like signage and Sound effects. Would have helped a lot with creating new areas tied in so closely with the main campaign.

  3. JamaicanDave

    I had to read the description a couple of times but if I understood it correctly the challenge doesn’t tie you to pre-exisiting maps, but does want you to create a map that feels like a part of the BM facility. Building the locked door area from the main campaign is optional, so I think you can be pretty free with map design. In that respect the theme is almost too broad, but I guess they wanted something simple for the first BM challenge.

    Unfortunately Black Mesa doesn’t play nicely with custom assets at the moment, disallowing them is the best option to avoid technical headaches.

    1. This is the bit that tells me you have to tie it to a pre-existing map-
      “Remember, you can use any locked door from the Black Mesa retail version. We’re dying to see what’s behind it!”

      If that’s not what it’s saying then it needs to be re-worded as soon as possible.

      1. he probably means that because you can start the player behind the door, you can pretty much do whatever you want as long as it fits the area before that. But if you have a map in mind that you want to make you can just look for a door that fits that maps and choose that one.

    2. Agreed. I would’ve loved to have some custom sounds (think soundtrack and voice acting) or signs in this. Alas… but it’s an unfamiliar challenge (for me) to do without assets, and being challenged is cool.

  4. Would it also be allowed to build a map around a location you can see, but can’t get too? It’s at the beginning at the tram ride, I want to build on a location you can see from there, but can’t reach.

    1. Yes, as long as the location is from the retail game, thats fine.

      Even if the player couldn’t actually reach it in game.

  5. Anon_1528310

    cool!! but I am a newbie!! so I can’t figure out where to download

    1. Download what? If you mean this, then you have misunderstood. This is the announcement for a mapping challenge.

      Once the challenge is over, I will create a new post with all the details, including a download link.

  6. There were 2 new maps added about a year ago, but the vmf files for it are not in mapsrc. Is it allowed to decompile to use them?

    1. Yes, as long as the maps are part of the single player campaign.

  7. So, I don’t plan to enter this, but I’m going to throw out some tips for anyone new to Black Mesa mapping (but familiar to HL2 mapping) based on my experience with it.

    Be sure to experiment with elements before you build your map. Don’t expect entities to do everything their HL2 counterparts can. Some resist scripting altogether, some input/outputs may not work as expected, and there are other odd cases like ignoring enemyfinders and things like that. Don’t assume you can scripted_sequence all NPCs.

    Tentacles will always move up and down and bang their heads on three different levels, even if they don’t exist. There is no way to prevent this.

    env_cascade_light and env_godrays_controller control dynamic shadows and god ray lighting. Their options are very complicated and seem to be mostly left-at-default in the retail maps, except for color and angle.

    Music is played with ambient_generics referencing OGG files directly. I wrote a tutorial about this here:

    Scientists and HECU have their faces randomized at run-time, so they always look identical in the editor.

    The Helicopter has a giant fuselage corpse that gets stuck on everything, so make sure you have space for it. It also has a very weird I/O setup. OnHalfHealth, you’ll want to send ForceIncrementDamageEffectLevel (with a parameter of 1) to start the smoking effects. To detect the death of the Helicopter, use the OnWishToDie output. That will need to connect to a SelfDestruct input on the Helicopter to complete the death.

    The logic for a player picking up an item doesn’t always check to see if there’s a wall between the player and the item. A player can sometimes pick up weapons and items through a thin 8-unit wall from the other side by rubbing against it. Consider spawning those weapons with a point_template when needed, rather than always having them present.

    Refer to the Black Mesa source maps for light settings, especially for light_spot. Intensity on light_spot is not like HL2. Values from 250-300 are common, instead of 700 or more.

    Use the env_xen_portal_template entity to spawn enemies from portals. It’s just an npc_template_maker with a nice effect. Use Portal Size “Default.”

    I tried to make bm_bravado a good slice of things you can do in one location, and the VMF is included inside the VPK. You’re welcome to look at it.

    1. JamaicanDave

      I might add that the HECU (human marines) have a very strong tendency to charge straight at the player guns blazing, irrespective of any other game logic such as standoff’s. Couple this with their high damage output and you’ll find what might have been a fun and protracted combat using HL2 combine becomes a brutally short and potentially frustrating encounter with HECU.

      1. Yes, the HECU AI is just awful and my displeasure of fighting them is the reason why there are only a few in Bravado. However, I’ve found that they do obey standoffs/battlelines and you’ll need to use those or Assaults to tether them to a spot. Otherwise, they’ll rush the player.

        1. JamaicanDave

          I’ll have to give standoffs and assaults another try. I didn’t have much luck on my first few attempts, but that might be down to my general lack of experience using them.

    2. Taking a look at the mapsrc is inevitable at some point to find out how the heck something works. That’s how I found out how to play the dam music and make those sleeping zombies rise.

      Pro tip: You can use env_xen_portal, but not specify any class to be spawned, then trigger it via the “Spawn” input, and you’ll have a nice xen portal effect that can be used for much more than just spawning aliens (teleport, resonance cascade, and the likes).

      1. There’s probably an actual particle effect for those, like the teleporters in Lambda Core.

        1. Well, the official maps seem to use xen portals for the teleport effects in the intro (Gordon teleporting around from the testchamber), so I just used those. Sound and visuals are taken care of just by firing one output, very helpful.

        2. Oh, and picking up items is nasty. I had to build a big playerclip brush to prevent picking up a gun through a wall, and I had trouble because I would pick up the 357 through two walls and an entire room. Very annoying.

  8. Is it allowed to use numbers and “:” in your mapname?

    1. Yes, for the map name but I don’t know if you can use it for the file name of the map. Well, numbers can be used but I don’t know if the colon is an acceptable symbol for file names.

  9. Is it possible to copy/paste an existing part of a BM map, which will lead up to the door?

    1. JamaicanDave

      I don’t see why not. The area leading up to the ‘locked’ door is to give context to your map. I would try not to copy/paste too much though – the point of the challenge is to visit an unexplored area of the facility.

  10. Tim Age


    about that “recreate the area leading up to the door”-part and the various mentions of mapsrc – what are the rules (both from RTSL and the Black Mesa team) about copying a SINGLE room from Black Mesa’s maps? I want the part from before the door to be instantly recognisable, and I’m not sure whether I’d manage that if I had to rebuild it, not to mention the extra time spent on recreating it.

    Tim Age

    1. you can copy it from the offical map

  11. JamaicanDave

    Oh dear, a week in and I think I’ve bitten off far more than I can chew. Tsk schoolboy error. The question is do I soldier on, cut down what I have to something more manageable or start again on a smaller scale? Hmmm decisions decisions.

  12. just redownloaded black mesa ready for the release … how will this challenge be installed guessing it wont be the standard “steamapps>sourcemods directory ….. looking forward to some interesting entries

    1. Just to be clear, this is for the retail version, not the mod. The maps *might* work with the mod version, but there will be no support.

      As to how I am going to publish the mod, there is still some discussion. It might be via the Steam workshop or maybe via the site.

      1. i have the “steam” version phillip … i did use the mod when it was intitially released but the steam version is more stable .. infact im playing it again now and it seems much smoother,more stable and visually better …. its a good 8 months since i previously played it so i presume many updates have been applied to the steam version ….also how do you map for black mesa ( noob ) … ?

  13. If I make 2 maps, what does the second map needed to be named? (I’m talking about connected levels ofc)

    bmdv_mapname2_bmdv ?

    1. Please name it bmdv_mapname2

      1. aren’t we supposed to do bmdv_mapname_bmdv? 2 Times “bmdv”

        1. JamaicanDave

          I wondered this myself as conventionally the file name would just be bmdv_mapname.bsp. Perhaps it’s a typo?

          1. Pretty sure it should be “_bmdv” at the end.

            Conventionally, Black Mesa maps are “bm_”, but there’s no technical reason for that. It’s just what the devs did, and it helped distinguish the single player maps from multiplayer maps.

  14. JamaicanDave

    Is that a new e-mail address ([email protected]) for submitting? I vaguely recall using something with ‘planetphillip’ in the name previously. Or is my brain getting befuddled again.

    1. Yes, it’s a new one for the challenges.

  15. JamaicanDave

    Has it been decided yet how the challenge will be released?

    1. No, not yet. I’ll get all the maps and work with Crowbar to find the easiest solution

      1. JamaicanDave

        OK. I left a suggestion on what might work under the post discussing the remaining challenges schedule last month, though obviously it’s for you to decide whats best. It would be neat to have it for the bank holiday weekend, but understand that’s probably a little unrealistic.

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