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A collection of text posts, including Poll Questions, Text Interviews with moddersand Phillip’s Blog. All posts are written to encourage friendly debate and discussion.

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The Lambda Cup 2018 – Challenge 5 – ReplayVille

Hello and welcome to Challenge 5, the final event in the Lambda Cup, a series of five Source single player mapping challenges.

Theme Details

For this challenge, we would like to you create a map that is fun to replay – or that specifically rewards you for playing through again. Variety is the spice of life, so offering the player different experiences during playthroughs is key.

One way to do this is by offering the player choices. Choice of path, or weapons, or companions, and so on.

Randomness can also make significant changes to the experience. Random enemy locations, random timing of attacks, or even random map layout changes that can lead to interesting playthroughs are all fair game.

Ideally the player’s choices or any random elements will impact the playthrough and offer variety on a replay.

Your entry could be a hub-type map where the player must achieve an overarching goal by completing a number of smaller goals. The hub area would lead to various points where the player performs an action that has consequences in the other parts of the map. For example, the player chooses to clear a building of zombies first and then attempts to pass a city street which has a sniper. Because there are no zombies left, the player finds it harder to reach the sniper since they are the only target left. If the player had attacked the sniper first, they would have found a shotgun which would have made it much easier to kill the zombies. But, because the sniper was killed first, they would find a lot more zombies in the building than in the first scenario.

In this case, “hub” doesn’t necessarily mean a map with corridors and portals – the hub area could just as easily be a crossroads in the forest, for example. “Hub” here just means a central area connecting to a variety of areas, where the player can make choices about how to proceed. If there is an overarching goal, it should be clear to the player – and ideally the smaller goals tie in sensibly to the larger goal. (Think of Blast Pit, where the player had to turn on the oxygen, fuel, and the power in order to fire the test engine to proceed past the tentacles. It’s not a good example for replayability, just for how an overarching goal can be linked to smaller goals).

Your entry could also be one where the player has to find the “correct” route in order to complete the map – along the lines of ChaseVille or some of the maps in the recent 72-Second Experiment. But keep in mind that it should be fun to replay – not frustrating and almost certainly not time-limited.

Or perhaps the player learns something during playing your map that allows for a totally different approach on a replay.

For this challenge the usual limit of 2 maps is removed. However, please don’t take that to mean you should build 10 maps.
We have removed this limitation to allow interesting “jumps” to each section, IF the mapper chooses to create a hub-style map.

As always, if you have any questions or doubts, please ask. If you want a private answer, please send an email to RunThinkShootLive@gmail.com – NOT planetphillip@gmail.com. Good luck!

There is one new rule this time [about affecting other maps], so please, please please, read all the rules carefully.

Deadline

The deadline for submission is 11pm GMT Monday 17th December 2018


16th November 2018 6 Comments

The Mesa Cup 2018 – Challenge 3 – The Surface Complex

Who can forget the moment when Eli Vance says that you must reach the surface and get help? Up until then we had just been wandering around and causing trouble (and a resonance cascade). Now we had a real goal – something to get us excited. Reaching the surface proved harder than expected but BOY! was it worth it.

For this final Mesa Cup challenge, we would like you to create a level that features a Black Mesa surface area as the prominent element.

The first two challenges have had maps that were set mostly underground, so now it’s time to get some fresh air. Your entry can be set completely on the surface, or a mixture amongst inside, underground, and surface areas. The main goal can be to reach the surface itself if you like, or the level can take place entirely on the surface.

We would love some foreshadowing as well as a WOW reveal moment, but the details are up to you.

This challenge lasts longer than the previous two; you have 5 full weekends to create and polish your entry. Please get someone to playtest it!

As always, let us know if you have any questions, either here in the comments, in the SMC Discord RTSL Challenge channel or directly to Phillip if you would like a private reply. If you ask the SMC channel, accept only Phillip’s, Don’s, or Crowbar’s answer. Whilst the regular members probably have an idea of what we’d say, it’s not official until one of us says so!

Deadline

The deadline for submission was:

11pm GMT Monday 5th November 2018


5th October 2018 7 Comments

September 2018 – General Chat

Well, it’s back to work for me soon. I’ve had all of August off and reduced hours in July, so September always feel really hard. That said, it’s nice to get back into a routine and I hope to keep some sort of update schedule going, but certainly not one release per day!

I will also begin mapping again and may start livestreaming practice at the weekends.

I am actually on a holiday until 6th August, visiting the UK.

What about you, what do you have planned?

Let me tell you about some changes. I have limited by tweets. I have stopped the Half-Life Art and other series, like Half-Life Proverbs. They got me lots of retweets, likes and responses but the reality is that it’s not part of RTSL core objectives. Stuff like that is better suited to Lambda Generation.

I may begin to post more mod images etc and I would love to post more mod news, but I don’t have time to constantly check ModDB.

I’ll be publishing my objectives for 2019 in November, but essentially I am going to try to limit myself to updating the site and mapping.

Can you guess the name of the mod shown in the image above? It’s called Half-Life: Echoes I can’t link to it in a spoiler, so you will have to search the site for it.


1st September 2018 16 Comments

The Lambda Cup 2018 – Challenge 4 – PhaseVille

Hello and welcome to Challenge 4 in the Lambda Cup, a series of five Source single player mapping challenges.

If you are new to my mapping challenges, please see the event’s homepage: THE LAMBDA CUP 2018 as well as the CALENDAR of the mapping challenges for the entire 2018.

Theme Details

The tagline of Half-Life is “Run. Think. Shoot. Live.”. You should know that but not everybody does. That’s where the name of this website comes from.

One of my favourite Villes was RunThinkShootLiveVille. It allowed mappers a chance to create small sections, each with a clear objective; both for the mapper and the player. Each phase was clear, precise and compelling.

For this challenge, we would like you to choose one verb from each phase and blend them into a seamless whole map:
Phase 1: Find / Escape / Ride
Phase 2: Solve / Fight / Evade
Phase 3: Drive / Descend / Chase
Phase 4: Live / Die / Fate Unknown

We are looking for natural flow between each phase. You CAN NOT change the order of the phases.

You are allowed to replace ONE of the verbs in the first 3 phases with one of your own choosing. That’s one replacement total allowed, and it’s optional – so if you like the list you can stick to those choices.

There is one new rule this time [about affecting other maps], so please, please please, read all the rules carefully.

Deadline

The deadline for submission is 11pm GMT Monday 24th September 2018


31st August 2018 4 Comments

The 72-Second Experiment Challenge

Let me put it simply: You have 72 hours to make a map with EXACTLY 72 seconds of playtime.

We often talk about how it’s better to have shorter, more polished maps than longer weaker ones. By “polished”, we do not just mean visuals (lighting, textures, environmental art), but also gameplay, interaction, storytelling, soundscapes etc.

You can make your map action packed or only have a few interactions. It could be a beautiful scene that the player walks through and relaxes, a non-stop gunfight, or anything in between.

For example, you could create a map that can be finished in 72-seconds but only if done perfectly. That would allow replayability in trying to find the optimum way to complete the map.

You can simply submit a map that can be played in one 72-second sitting.

There is an OPTIONAL template for you to use, that fades in from black, lasts 72 seconds and then fades out. The fades last 1 second each. Mappers may extend the “black screen” time at either or both ends of the map, to display text.

Ideally, we would like the text to be kept to a minimum. Everything should really be contained within the 72-seconds gameplay.

Locations, events, style of map are all open. The only limitation is the 72 seconds.

Be aware that the minimum AND maximum playtime of the map is 72 seconds. Don’t think that you can create a huge map and allow the player to reach certain points and autosaves. That is not the idea we are looking for.

If your map lasts longer than 72-seconds after the fade-in, it will be considered a bonus map.

Deadline

11am UTC Monday 27th August 2018

That’s 72 hours.


24th August 2018 6 Comments

The Mesa Cup 2018 – Challenge 2 – The Tram Complex

Hello and welcome to the Mesa Cup, a series of three Black Mesa single player mapping challenges.

If you are new to my mapping challenges, please see the event’s homepage: THE MESA CUP 2018 as well as the CALENDAR of the mapping challenges for the entire 2018.

Theme Details

Trams and trains are iconic in the Half-Life series of games. Black Mesa especially has memorable tram sequences – starting off with the incredible atmospheric opening train ride. But there’s also the entire On A Rail chapter, and the short but crazy ride at the beginning of Apprehension.

For this challenge, we would like you to create a map that features a tram. The type of tram and how it is used is completely up to you. The player does not necessarily have to ride on the tram, but the tram must play a key part in the map.

We’re pretty flexible on what counts as a “tram” for this challenge – generally, something that can be ridden from point A to point B that isn’t just a simple elevator. What’s more important is how it’s integrated into the map and the gameplay. Maybe there’s a cool sequence witnessed by the player as they sweep by on a BMRF tram. Maybe there’s some clever tram-to-tram firefights. Surprise us!

Deadline

The deadline for submission is:

11pm GMT Tuesday 21st August 2018


1st August 2018 No Comments

August 2018 – General Chat

I just looked at the July 2018 General Chat post and it talks about it raining. Guess what? It’s raining now. I just got back from my bike ride and was absolutely soaked – I love it!

So here we are August. I’ve got some things planned for the site, updates etc and hopefully some HL1 mapping too. I’ll try to start and finish one game as well.

What about you, what do you have planned?

OH, starting this month, I will be embedding the Half-Life Art and Half-Life Proverbs tweets into the comments of this post. Mostly for those people who don’t use Twitter.

Can you guess the name of the mod shown in the image above? It’s called Capital Punishment. I can’t link to it in a spoiler, so you will have to search the site for it.


1st August 2018 18 Comments

Open Question 001 – Why do you think Valve haven’t released Half-Life 3?

My Goodness! How long has it been since the last release of an official half-Life game? Too long, that’s for sure.

We all know how hard it is to start something again after we have taken a break – going back to school after the summer (teachers as well as students!), starting a new diet after eating whatever we want or doing exercise after lazing on the sofa for months.

It can’t be much different for Valve and let’s not forget that Valve back then and Valve now are very different. Different people, different objectives and different priorities.

There’s also the Duke Nukem effect. The longer you leave it, the greater the expectation.

So, what do you think is the reason for the lack of Half-Life 3?


21st July 2018 11 Comments

I Love Corridors

I am going to take you on a short journey.

I love corridors. Perhaps there is some deeper meaning about wanting limits or restrictions in my life. Perhaps I like the linear feel of doing everything in the correct order.
Anyway, a quick search for “corridors as metaphors” produced nothing of interest, so at least I have the title of my new academic research paper I’ll never write. I think I will keep looking though as I honestly feel there is something deeper here.

It contrasts nicely with my general dislike of arena or large empty spaces, at least from a gameplay perspective. That said, the best memories I have of areas in mods, were places where the enemies were all around me, although not at the same time.

Now, a search for “corridors in video games” produces some more interesting results.

The first is a discussion about How Valve took gaming out of corridors. I’ve yet to read it beyond the intro but it does look interesting.

Another results that is very cool is the “http://scificorridorarchive.com/”Sci-Fi Corridor Archive which certainly deserves further exploration.

And finally, for now at least, I searched for “corridors in architecture” hoping for something unusual and I was not disappointed. Obviously, it brings up lots of links about technicalities but it eventually led me to the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture which sounds totally cool and worth reading some more about.

From its website: “The mission of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture is to promote and advance knowledge that links neuroscience research to a growing understanding of human responses to the built environment.”, which totally sounds like code for making better games to me!

So, where are we? Well, I am thinking about how corridors in games represent the “process of change” and how they can be used to greater effect. I’m not planning to write a book or create a tutorial video because I’m not qualified to create either, but I will begin to pay more attention to corridors in games and specifically Half-Life.

Let me know your thoughts.


19th July 2018 1 Comment

50 Sourcey Days of Summer

It is with some trepidation that I announce the 50 Sourcey Days of Summer!

For the next 50 consecutive days, I will be adding new maps or updating older maps. All will be Source based, mostly Half-Life 2.

I have created a special page for the event, prosaically and rather obviously called 50 Sourcey Days of Summer and it is similar to the 100 Summer Days of Nostalgia event, which believe it or not I ran 7, yes, SEVEN!!! years ago.

It’s linked to on the second menu, under the header images.

I hope to post screenshots etc and even my review, for each map or mod I post or update. I plan to update quite old maps, so don’t get too excited. There will be new releases added too though.

I should tress that I will do my utmost to not miss a day but I seem to be much busier than 7 years ago, so I won’t make any promises.

I have already posted NostalgiaVille for today’s release.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions regarding the event.


15th July 2018 9 Comments