for Half-Life 2: Episode Two

21st February 2015

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

The streets battle in Episode One were fantastic.

This mod contains 9 maps where mappers have created situations based around the idea of City Streets.

Don’t expect simple full-on fire fights though.

You might have to “think” you way out of a few situations.

I’m sure you will enjoy them.

Basic Details
  • Title: CityStreetsVille
  • File Name: hl2-ep2-sp-mc-citystreetsville.7z
  • Size : 77.1MB
  • Author: Jason Gimba, Joseph William AKA Jowo/Dysprogue, RedGroupClan, Rob Martens, The Blazer, David Newel, Maarten Frooninckx AKA Marnamai, WinterYeti & Tony DeBlasio AKA Starman
  • Date Released: 21 February 2015
MapTap Users

This release is not available as a direct download for MapTap.

Download Options

Download to your HDD [77.1MB]

You can still use it with MapTap once you have downloaded it.

Manual Installation Instructions
  • Copy the CityStreetsVille folder into your C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\sourcemods folder.
  • Restart or start Steam.
  • CityStreetsVille should now be listed in your Library tab.

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

Time to Vote

Vote closes 3rd March.


The playthrough/walkthrough below is provided by PlanetPhillip.
See more of my playthroughs on this site: VP: PlanetPhillip.

The playthrough/walkthrough below is provided by Pixel Twitch.
See more of his Let’s Play videos on this site: VP: Pixel Twitch.


WARNING: The screenshots contain spoilers.

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

17 recommendations, average score: 4.82 (out of 5), standard deviation: 0.15 (what's that?)
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Meta Review Data
Statistics based on 17 comment(s) with meta review data.

Using Gauge: Users
Manually: 15 Users

Time Taken:
Average: 2 Hours, 25 Mins
Shortest: 0 Hours, 30 Mins by Daken50
Longest: 3 Hours, 21 Mins by PlanetPhillip
Total Time Played: 40 Hours, 57 Mins
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  1. marnamai

    El Bucle got my vote, loved the setting.

  2. JG

    Much like with RavenholmVille, I’d strongly recommend taking a break or two while playing this. With 9 fairly diverse maps, there is a ton of content in this map pack and it’s pretty easy to get exhausted halfway through playing it.

  3. DaZ
    Play It Now!

    This was a great level pack with some real gems in it. A few of the levels I didn’t enjoy as much but for the most part I would say this is play it now/later status 🙂

    Avenue Odessa by Jason Gimba

    Enjoyed this one a lot. Your Cubbage impression was spot on! Thought things got a little wonky at the end where the strider just sits there idly staring at you while Cubbage presents his speech. I carried the gnome to the end but nothing special happened so that is an automatic -1/10 🙂

    Beneath the Overpass by Joseph William AKA Jowo/Dysprogue

    This had some nice moments but the level felt very cramped. Loved the use of Zombines to create a random element to what else would be pretty standard encounters. The bridge section against the APC was nice but again felt very cramped to move around in.

    Business District by RedGroupClan

    This one a bit wonky. The intro was not very good with the two cops instantly wailing on you with no build up or set up for the player. There was no real goal to work towards. I found a few bugs and issues in my playthrough which leads me to think this is the authors first half-life 2 release. There were a few good fights however and the author shows promise for future releases!

    El Bucle by Rob Martens

    Cool night time theme. Great to see new skyboxes in Half-Life 2 🙂 The puzzle at the start was nice though maybe took too long to get the required things back to the device. The last section of the map was 50/50 for me. Cool idea and nice visual but it seemed a bit buggy, hitting me through walls etc. Nice pay off at the end.

    Eye on the City by The Blazer

    My second favourite of the pack! Absolutely loved the eerie abandoned misty city settings. Seeing the gunship fly between the sky scrapers was super cool. Loved the train station area as well with all the beans and supports. Fun game play though nothing stood out.

    Memory Lane by David Newel

    There were areas in this that were fantastic, and other areas that felt boring or unfinished. It’s a real roller coaster. I loved the door maze, excellent! Didn’t like the legion of metrocops in the street or most of the dialogue sections. They were too slow and didn’t interest me enough. Interesting concept however!

    Raining Down Hell by Maarten Frooninckx AKA Marnamai

    Gorgeous level and very fun game play! Strong goal given at the start and you can feel the threat immediately which is a big plus. Nice game play variety moving from large street areas to cqc indoor battles. great mirror puzzle in one area. Epic battle at the end with striders, soldiers and hunters. Can’t really fault it much at all. Play it now! Got my vote…

    This Current Predicament by WinterYeti

    Very bland and uninteresting visually but has some great thought put into its encounter spaces and combat set ups. I ended up really enjoying this one despite the dull visual appeal. Nice looping layouts and merge together once you get the gravity gun and can start removing obstacles. Looking forward to seeing what else this author can come up with! Work on those visuals 🙂

    Trolleying Times by Tony DeBlasio AKA Starman

    Another classic Starman map in that he takes well established visual language from Half-Life 2 and throws it out the window 🙂 This resulted in me getting confused and lost in this level where there was no need to at all. I enjoyed riding the trams around but found it funny that the combine would use them for transport 🙂 A very frustrating level due to the issues mentioned above but the combat was ok.

    1. JG

      I think you got El Bucle and Eye on the City mixed up. 😀

      Also, I can’t take credit for the excellent Odessa voice. That was provided by Brett Kinsella. In fact, because of a miscommunication, the voiceover ended up arriving before I solidified the concept for the map. But once I heard the voice, I had to go in that direction.

  4. Anon_1388100

    Raining down hell has my vote, the map is just so well put together and seamless in terms of changing gameplay and areas that I have to give it my vote, close seconds for me were: Avenue Odessa and El Bucle

    Memory Lane was also very good, but it’s its own type of map that really came into its own but it could’ve been so much more.

    This Current Predicament wasn’t very interesting and was very hard to look at, but the gameplay was fun.

    Eye on the city tried to introduce new things but they ended up feeling clunky, like the slow crouch walking with nothing happening while sneaking and the big robot always shot through walls with its first attack, but the burst fire attack was really well done and I wished it only used that.

    Business District and Beneath The Overpass were okay, but mostly frustrating. Business District felt like it hadn’t been play-tested because I managed to get out of the map multiple times and the lift before the strider battle disappeared forcing me to noclip out, when finishing the map the game didn’t quit to the main menu. Beneath the overpass gave me framerate issues multiple times especially when moving out of the house to get under the bridge, it went at like 10 fps for me, seems to be bad optimization at fault here. Both of these maps had cramped finale fights that were a really big cluster**** and weren’t very fun.

    Last is a Tony Deblasio map, while the concept is cool the fact that he keeps refusing to use HL2’s visual language ruins everything about his maps, I got stuck multiple times, the vortigaunt at the beginning took like 5 minutes to open the door to the cramped room, the strider knew at all times where you were, meaning it’s easy to get cornered while exploring the area, the numberpad puzzle was kinda cool but without a crosshair it was extremely annoying. Finally I found the pyrotechnics box but the dropship landed on it, meaning that the dropship couldn’t move and I wasn’t able to progress. Maybe the map gets better after this point, but I have no motivation to play it again to find out. It’s a shame because it’s a big missed opportunity. 🙁

  5. JG
    Play It Now!

    Probably the best Ville since RavenholmVille, there’s a little something for everyone in this immense 9-map pack. Kudos to everyone who entered! A few words on each entry, other than my own:

    Beneath the Overpass

    Dysprogue continues to improve. We’ve come a long way from AssassinationVille, haven’t we? This is a fun map about planting a car bomb next to a big Combine machine. It’s fun for the most part, but the showdown with the APC is a bit too intense. The crashed ship and lumpy floor are not good conditions for dodging rockets. Like Anon, I ran into some framerate issues – maybe it was a smokevolume?

    Business District

    This is a really big map for a short contest. However, the author probably should have focused on something smaller and more polished. It has some very obvious issues, like the broken elevator, the stuck Gunship and the Strider that crashes the game. You can see where the author was going with it, though. I liked some of the visuals, like the “barber shop” and the generator room with the unusual red and white ceiling. I’m sure it exposed the author to a lot of varied scripting scenarios and was a great learning experience.

    City Eye

    A similarly ambitious map, from a scripting standpoint at least. A stealth segment at the start leads to a counterweight puzzle, but also some unnecessary backtracking. The following battle is also surprisingly brutal. All this leads up to the main event – the City Eye – what you’d get if you crossed a Sniper with a Strider. It’s an interesting idea which fits the Combine motif, but the execution has issues. I was not fond of the breakable cover. While there is a ton of health, it would have been just as easy to make the City Eye less aggressive considering its imperfect scripting.

    El Bucle

    My choice for the winner. Shares a lot in common with Avenue Odessa, actually. Both involve a train, a friendly NPC, humor and a single large battle. The big difference is El Bucle takes place in a pretty imaginative city environment with a wrought-iron, almost Victorian-style train station and skyscrapers that pierce the clouds. It has a wonderfully surreal quality and it doesn’t outstay its welcome. It also has a trait that I’ve come to like in some maps – where basically nothing happens for about half the map. It’s trying to build atmosphere instead of trying to cram a maximum amount of gameplay into a small time.

    Memory Lane

    You got Minerva in my Stanley Parable! A twisted, narrative-driven map that is unfortunately let down by difficult, relentless combat. Also, as a personal preference, I don’t like maps that constantly berate and accuse the player of being a bad person for narrative reasons which are unclear to them. It doesn’t make me want to find out more. It just feels awkward. Not as bad as Post Script, but in that same vein.

    Raining Down Hell

    Another excellent Marnamai release. I liked it better than Terminal and I feel it addresses the main issue I had with Overflow – where everything felt a bit too much like I was being led from one scripted setpiece to the next. Raining Down Hell gives itself room to breathe. It allows the player to meander and explore. I must admit, I was feeling Combine fatigue at this point, though it wasn’t necessarily the fault of this map. It would have been nice to see another faction here, like Zombies or Antlions, just to break up the Combine onslaught.

    This Current Predicament

    Ironically similar to Raining Down Hell in terms of broad layout and the way the level unfolds. Visually and aurally, it’s rather bland, but it is fun to play. Way too many flickering lights, however. I don’t suffer from epilepsy, but even I was getting a bit queasy with this map.

    Trolleying Times

    Well, it’s a Tony DeBlasio map, so you know what that entails. Refer to any other review I’ve written about his maps, because it applies here just the same. Literally. This level feels copy-pasted from his earlier work and has all of its shortcomings and a couple new ones. We’ve been making the same complaints for years about his unbreakable padlocks and obscure “puzzles.” It’s obvious he really doesn’t care at this point. Still, like a train wreck (or a trolley wreck?), there’s some weird appeal to it. A perverse enjoyment in seeing just how hilariously bizarre the map will get. Maybe the real entertainment is seeing how Phillip, Daz and other streamers react to it!

    1. But I do care JG. You make great maps. I just try to make maps the way I like and hope a few people may enjoy them to. I try to be somewhat consistent in my maps (but don’t hold me to that). Closed padlocks either don’t open or require special force to open. I remember a commercial years ago of a padlock that took a rifle shot and still wouldn’t open. Likewise distressed crates are breakable and others are not. I never liked the idea of crates with nothing in them anyway. I never intend to frustrate people. With the job leaving little time for mapping I do take stuff from my old maps but try to change them somewhat and create something new for each map. I do enjoy making them. I just hope they are not too painful to play.

      1. JG

        But when people expect things to work in a certain way, and they don’t, it can be aggravating. Watch some videos of people playing your maps on YouTube and how they run around stuck for 20 minutes trying to figure out what to do. That’s not what you want, is it?

        There’s always going to be a discrepancy between real logic and “game logic.” It’s not because we hate realism – it’s in the interest of fun. Sure, bullets don’t reliably break padlocks in real life. I think the Mythbusters debunked that one. But it is an established trope in many games, not just Half-Life 2, that they do. I wouldn’t mind if Half-Life 2’s crates dumped a whole bunch of random debris like the ones in the first game did, but they don’t. Maybe Valve didn’t want to encourage players to break them because they don’t drop items anymore.

        But let’s take some things in Trolleying Times here, like we see in Daz’s video or Phillip’s. The vent that leads down to the sewer got everyone stuck because no one expects that panel on the floor to be a physical prop they can move. That texture is normally a decal. Every vent in Half-Life 2 that the player can break uses vent001.mdl. If you used that model there, there would be no confusion about what to do. Same thing with the valve wheel for raising the water. You should know from the wheel you operate to enter the room that you use the orange widget.mdl for the socket and the orange crank.mdl for the wheel. If you used that socket on the pipe, and placed that wheel in the storeroom, players would instantly understand what they were supposed to do. You already built the perfect setup for reminding the player what to do! 😀

        The steam hazards in the sewer – no one can see them, so when they get burned, it feels cheap. You should check the Emissive flag and adjust the transparency until they can. Non-emissive steam can be very hard to see even in optimal conditions. 😉

        Other stuff is an issue of timing. Having the trolley car of rockets arrive after the Strider means a lot of people aren’t going to notice it. They’ll do what I did – run over to that fenced area in front of the trolley garage and have no idea what they are looking for there. Everything leads players in that direction anyway – they want to get away from the Strider.

        Trolleying Times is better than your previous work, however, because the triggering isn’t nearly as esoteric. I’ve actually decompiled your maps just to figure them out before. Still, I wouldn’t have figured out Trolleying without Marnamai’s help. And that was even after noclipping around to try to find the entrance to the sewer.

        Again, I really think you need to enlist the help of the Beta Testers Collective and let them run through your maps and see what they get stuck on. What’s clear to you, Tony, is not clear to everyone else. And it never will be, because you are the designer. You know exactly what’s supposed to happen, when the enemies are to show up, and where the answers to the puzzles are. You know the perfect place to stand for a battle and where all the weapons are. But you have to approach this from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know any of that. And when they don’t know, they’re going to fall back on what they do – the conventions that Half-Life 2 already taught them. 🙂

        1. All good points JG. Thanks for the in depth response. OK, in my next map I will try to take them to heart. Hope folks don’t mind if I slip back a little. But I will give it a go. Still haven’t had time to play the map pack but looking forward to all especially yours. Take care.

    2. I used two env_smokestacks for the crash site (which I didn’t think would be an issue) and most of the stuff on the bridge is a physics object (the original design being that you would punt the crashed dropship parts as cover on a fairly empty bridge) my other suspicion is that the large quantity of mines cut the frame rate, you have the ones you probably came across but there are more behind the force field.

      I had heard complaints about this from beta testers I though I initially had a lot more sprites and cabling around the advisor pod (from the barn scene, not sure how many people made the link) I didn’t get any lag on my machine so other than sending it out for another test I had no way to know if I’d fixed the issue, sorry about that.
      There really isn’t much in the way of optimization here, and looking at it again there are some func_details which may be detrimental (with nothing behind them to block the LOS in the vvis calculation) . And I couldn’t get the map to work with area portals (looking into it more it seems there may have also been leaks in the map)

      As for space issues, I did consider adding a navigable rooftops adjacent to the bridge but I decided that would

      A: take too much away from the tension of the fight

      B: increase the risk that players would figure out they can just jump off the bridge and speed run the map (on lower difficulties you can still take the punishment from the turrets) and therefore cheat themselves out of the satisfaction of actually defeating that boss.

      1. JG

        I think you solved your own problem. There’s a lot of stuff that should be func_detail’ed which isn’t. And when you walk around with mat_wireframe 1, there’s a lot which is being drawn that the player can’t see. For me, there’s a noticeable hitch whenever the overpass area turns on or off.

        As far as the crashed dropship, I did punt it around to make better cover, but it’s a wonky object that doesn’t afford a lot of protection.

        I don’t think the Hopper Mines or the smokestracks really contributed to the framerate issues. There’s not an unusual number of each, and the smokestacks looked fairly tame in wireframe. 🙂

    3. Actually, I did sit down and try Post-Script after reading your review, and WOW, you’re not kidding about negativity. I actually couldn’t help but laugh while playing it because it was so out of left field.

      To be honest, I never really intended to ‘berate’ the player through the notes, but with how many times I wrote and rewrote it, it’s depressing to come back to it and realize that it was quite harsh in the end.

      1. JG

        Yeah, Post-Script was downright nasty in how it berated the player without any clear justification. It’s like you’re standing there, minding your own business, when someone you don’t even know starts to accuse you of things and tells you what a bad person you are. It’s super awkward and uncomfortable.

        I don’t think yours is anywhere near that level. It’s easy to see that we’re talking about a guy who has slowly lost his mind after dipping into Dr. Breen’s Private Reserve and how this has harmed and scared the people around him. He knows not what he does. I just think there might have been other ways to go about this – particularly having the player unwittingly do the actions we’re accused of doing – which would have helped. It’s like that bit in The Stanley Parable where we’re in the apartment with the “wife” and we have to press the buttons on the screen. The irony is that we can’t help ourselves, and neither can Stanley. 🙂

        But again, I don’t think the combat helped. Part of what made the narrative frustrating was that with every “reset,” I knew I’d have to fight swarms of enemies again, and I didn’t look forward to that. As others said, I totally think you could have gotten away with a small fraction of it.

  6. Am I the only one who’s seen terribly slow download speeds since the transfer to RTSL? I couldn’t download Tr1p because I was reading download speeds of 15 to as low as 6 Kb/sec. And for this mod I can’t get above 3 Kb/sec. All the other websites I use download at 4-7 Mb/sec, so it’s not my modem. Any ideas?

    1. JG

      I’ve mentioned this to Phillip before. I’ve never had speeds quite that bad, but I have seen it where a download will run really, really slow after starting off fast or vice versa. I think he said it had to do with the number of people simultaneously downloading. You might just try again in a couple minutes.

    2. Sorry to hear you have been having trouble. The files themselves are on a completely different server in another continent and country to the actual site. The new domain (RTSL) is host on the same server as the old one (PP), so there should be know difference in that regard.

      My site analytics shows no increase in the number of visitors to the new domain (just below 1,000 unique visitors a day), so I can only put it down to bad luck regarding the timing. It might also be trouble between the file server and your location. The best I can offer is my apologies and as JG said, please try again in a little while.

      1. May I ask where the files are being hosted from ? Because for me it’s actually been going much faster from what I can tell.

        1. In France. But I’m not exactly sure where.

      2. Thank you for your concern. Could you perhaps put the mod up on some other file sharing service like Rapidshare for those of us having issues with the server? If you don’t want to do that I understand. I was just wondering.

      3. Nevermind I got it working 🙂

  7. Phillip says Play It!

    Overall, I really enjoyed this release. There is a range of quality here, but that’s expected and in some ways hoped for. Encouraging mappers who haven’t entered before is part of the reason the mapping challenges are run, so we have to expect some beginner-style maps.

    Avenue Odessa by Jason Gimba

    Anything by Jason is high quality. He doesn’t release it, if it’s not – and that’s the way it should be. I found his map quite hard, but I did seem to be having a little nightmare playing these maps though. The voice acting is superb and that adds a lot to the whole feel of the map. One thing that new mappers can learn from Jason and even experienced mappers, is his ability to “tell” a simple, little story within everything he releases.

    It’s how the information is given to the player that counts. He takes the extra effort to amke sure all his areas are polished and happily accepts changes to the design when unexpected things appear, like how the voice acting changed the way the level finished as opposed to how he imagined it.

    A fun but challening map – great work.

    Beneath the Overpass by Joseph William AKA Jowo/Dysprogue

    I didn’t like the start as it felt too empty but it redeemed itself later on. In fact, the actual gameplay was more fun to play than the level was to look at.

    There was clever use of the tripmines and the use of space on and below the overpass kept the level from feeling too big.

    I feel this would have scored higher if it had looked better.

    Business District by RedGroupClan

    It’s strange because I actually quite liked the start, whereas DaZ didn’t. There’s no doubt it’s tough to start like that but sometimes breaking the regular way of doing things can liven up a stale idea. I will admit that two CPs might have been too much though.

    The rest of the level was acceptable to play and look at, but neither aspect stood out as impressive. Most areas were perhaps too large to detail properly and that makes then feel empty.

    All in all, quite a fun level, but I have to be honest, I had to look at the screenshots to remind myself of what it consisted of.

    Eye on the City by The Blazer

    This is a map of two halves. The first has the stealth setting and I didn’t enjoy this at all. Having to go back for the bricks was just annoying. However, once we got to the main section things started to get fun. yes, there were issues with the EYE shooting me through solid objects but considering this was done from scratch in 17 days, we have to say GREAT JOB.

    This could easily be made into a proper mod, with the player having to reach it from various routes rather than head on. A good example is Raining Down Hell, later in this pack. Of course, the type of weapon needs line of sight but if this were at the centre of a star shaped city center, with the streets radiating out and the player having to approach each street a little at a time and then move through some buildings to another street and get a little closer, it would have really felt more polished.

    To be honest, I feel the same about this as I did the Beneath the Overpass. If it had looked better it might have got higher score.

    El Bucle by Rob Martens

    Good start: Alyx makes it clear what you have to do. It’s always good when that clear and when mappers use NPCs to guide the player, especially ALyx or Barney etc. Once you get outside, that’s when the fun happens and it is fun but it just felt as thought the streets were there to confine me ratehr than for me to use to my advantage.

    Memory Lane by David Newel

    I rally enjoyed this one. Though as I mentioend in DaZ’s stream last night, it might have been better with less or even no combat. The combat interrupted the story and setting, especially the Combine at the beginning. There were just too many and the same can be said of the zombies later on. I suspect that David felt he needed them to make the map feel longer but I feel it was a mistake.

    A few combine, a few zombies and the snipers would have been enough.

    There was definitely too much text on screen though and a re-write might be able to make each section one line which would be okay.

    I loved the cart rolling down the hill and the doors were a great touch. I feel that if this had not been made for this challenge the basic idea would have turned out better.

    Raining Down Hell by Maarten Frooninckx AKA Marnamai

    Maarten can build great maps. He does everything really well. he tells stories, he makes the level look detailed and feel real, the combat is well-designed and timed.

    It’s challenging to play but not because the enemies are thrown at you but because they are well placed and used. I agree with DaZ again that this was more fun than Terminal and was probably my favourite combat map of the mod.

    This Current Predicament by WinterYeti

    My least favourite map – sorry. It’s not actually a bad map, but when it’s compared to the other releases in this mod, it’s clear that it’s not at the same level.

    It’s actually possible to miss 95% of the level by using the crates at the beginning and jumping over the fence to get to the Lambda symbol – watch my video to see.

    That said, if this is the mapper’s first or one of the first releases there are some good things to take away from it.

    Trolleying Times by Tony DeBlasio AKA Starman

    Tony gets a lot of grief from the readers here and sometimes I agree with their opinion but I do enjoy his maps. Somehow his enthusiasm for making stuff comes through even if the actual map breaks established rules. The cover to the sewer area was a nightmare and I was given the answer by Maarten in my livestream and I wish I had found it myself, but I understand it’s frustrating to watch somebody wander around for 20 minutes lost.

    I think what frustrates the more experienced mappers about Tony is he makes the same “mistakes” with all his maps. The cover is the second time we didn’t know where to go and as DaZ has said getting the BTC involved would solve these sorts of issues quickly and effectively.

    That said, I hope Tony keeps making “his” maps. Maybe I could run a StarmanVille challenge were the mapper has to break Valve conventions. Would make for a real “challenging” playthrough!

    1. Thanks Phillip, but JG is right and I will try to get with the program and frustrate less in the future, unintentional though it was.
      I’m sure my future maps will still be somewhat quirky, haha.

      1. JG

        A little quirkiness is a good thing. Every mapper has their own design quirks. That’s part of what makes every map unique. Even back in Doom, you could tell a Romero map from a Petersen map. You just don’t want those quirks to cause unnecessary frustration is all. 🙂

    2. alexnakam

      Yeah, a StarmanVille would be pretty cool, Trolleying times was really annoying for me, but I think the challenge kind of made the map better.

  8. Avenue Odessa

    This looks brilliant and is an excellent start to the map pack. It feels like it could be a real place which is what you’d want. The gameplay is also quite fun although personally I feel the sniper should have been more aggressive towards zombies, I don’t know if that’s the default relationship (I think some ai_relationships may have been broken between HL2 and EP2 as I’ve found from my own map that turrets seem to naturally hate rollermines for some reason)
    The sniping section is fine though, there is enough cover and enough distractions to keep the gameplay engaging. I don’t agree entirely with the decision to have the sniper get out of the building and run at you. I didn’t initially make the connection that the sniper was the combine soldier running at me as the payoff with facing that enemy is blowing them out of a window and this set up kind of robs the player of the pay off. I am being extremely nit picky here because there isn’t a whole lot of criticism to give. The fight scenes are challenging and well paced and the ai companion is well scripted, well acted and he leads the player really well. I would say he’s the best AI companion in the pack and that’s despite it being Odessa f**king Cubbage! Good start.

    Beneath the Overpass

    I did this one. And while it’s the best I’ve personally done I’m slightly dubious as to whether I should have actually released this. I was fairly unfocused during development and in the end I just ran out of enthusiasm rather than time. So this is probably my most personally disappointing entry for any competition despite it being technically better than previous entries. As intended it’s a fun few minutes to playthrough but I think the lack of ambition or scope actually ended up hurting it more than it helped.

    Business District

    The start to this really isn’t great this worked for “From Ashes” in RTSLville because you know you’ve got to run. Here it’s just confusing and I didn’t even realize I had a crowbar on the first attempt. It puts too much on player processing too quickly. The sniper is OK, but have him paint targets before the player gets into his line of sight otherwise the designer isn’t playing fair. The encounter at the combine barricade is quite bad. Repeating one sequence over and over is generally a bad idea and the combine respawn too slow so it ends up getting very boring not to mention confusing as there is no indication of what the player is trying to achieve in this fight.
    The strider fight doesn’t really flow that well and the arena is quite disjointed so the pacing feels wrong citizens turn up around some random corner to assist in a pretty satisfying fight. Then the big fight is kind of frustrating as the dropships get way too far from the player and you sometimes lose it entirely behind the buildings. The short comings are more noticeable in this map (as they are in my own map) as there are some really good quality maps. I would probably give this a Think Twice or a Maybe to this map on it’s own. The environments are decent looking (not gorgeous but not ugly) and it doesn’t do anything very wrong which is more of an achievement than it sounds.

    Eye of the City

    With stealth mechanics in a Half Life game and a custom enemy this map is just asking for trouble. I like that this map is ambitious it keeps it interesting, stealth mechanics aren’t entirely clear here (they haven’t been established in HL2) but to be safe I think most players will probably crouch walk if they see an enemy which given the general pace of HL2 gameplay feels painfully slow especially when all you’re doing is crouch walking. Actual stealth games are about observing, planning, positioning and timing and this map doesn’t bring any of these elements into play so the section falls a bit flat. And that you essentially have to complete it 3 times also isn’t great.

    The Eye itself looks great, it is fairly clear what it’s attacks are supposed to do, it’s unfortunate that some of the cover doesn’t work quite right which is unfair to the player but the relatively low damage and the abundance of health kits do compensate for this issue somewhat. The second phase attack isn’t as clear I think I just ran and hoped not to die but it was suitably tense.
    Visuals here are generally great with a few under detailed areas but given the especially ambitious scope of the project it hardly seems fair to criticize. Rough around the edges but fun to play if you can get a feel for it. I also think I found an issue where the player doesn’t get the suit after loading a save to anyone who may run into this issue the console command is “ent_create item_suit”

    1. El Bucle

      I liked the sense of humor on this one and the reuse of Alyx’s lines is pretty clever. I felt the intro was a bit slower than it needed to be, the visual language was pretty strong so I had figured everything out before I was shown it and it felt a little patronizing. When I was finally let out of my playpen things began to pick up, you have a little bit of combat but the main idea seems to explore the arena before you fight in it. The big fight is satisfying I actually quite like it when maps give you the rocket launcher, plenty of ammo and plenty of targets because ragdolls are always fun no matter how old the effect gets. The reminder about the train from Alyx was welcome because I had totally forgotten despite the great lengths taken to inform me at the beginning and the ending made me chuckle. I think I had the most fun with this map.

      Memory Lane

      This was interesting, it’s an artsy map so be warned but there are some cool effects thrown into the mix. I’m not a fan of how the story is told I think imagery, mechanics and sound tell stories in a more compelling way than text does which is one of the reasons I like video games. Also this could have done with custom textures because the text on the screen refers to locations but it’s not that obvious what location is what. So custom signage would have helped. There is also some combat but I feel this actually hurts the map as it doesn’t seem to feed into the theme or the tone of the map.

      Raining Down Hell

      Another particularly good looking map and the gameplay was difficult but fair. There were a few instances where I was confused as to where I was supposed especially at the end (I assumed the exit was over the bridge). There are a few nice surprises like when the Strider blows up the rocket ammo and you have to find another crate
      And judging by other gameplay videos there were a few nice touches that I missed.

      This Current Predicament

      This was a decent map and the level design (as opposed to environment design) was pretty good. It wasn’t always clear where you were supposed to go or what you were supposed to do and I did get a little lost but it does nothing offensive.

      Trolleying Times

      This one tried my patience a bit… a lot. I’m somewhat used to Tony’s unconventional approach to HL2 game logic but even so I didn’t end up finishing this one. The intro is overly long and communicates that there is a strider which reveals itself in a similar manner a minute later anyway. Once you’ve defeated the strider you have a tram car that does not work for reasons that aren’t actually clear. After a fair bit of messing around with elevator doors and crates and more elevator doors I find that I’ve gone in the wrong direction and I’m in a secret area. Damnit! (It’s kind of cool but the elevator doors are very awkward to deal with so it ends up being a lot of effort to go the wrong way)
      So I find the tram station but I can’t get in, I do some parkour, box stacking action to get on top of a wall that I didn’t realize I could just walk around. Damnit! (kind of my fault but still)
      So I give up on that and then a combine squad crash through a door that I had passed which is kind of a confusing way to layout the level. I get that it’s a way to preview where the player is about to go but it is presented as kind of a dead end so it suggests that this is the next puzzle.
      Going down into the sewers wasn’t actually something I had trouble with, like said I’m somewhat used to Tony’s unique logic. However it is kind of random considering there are a bunch of actual manhole covers that (I’m fairly sure) are not movable on street level. I didn’t get past the sewers because invisible steam was burning me and I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do. There are some pretty fun ideas, the combine riding trams was gleefully ridiculous and the combat was fairly decent. The environments looked quite good too (though for things like trams it may be worth learning modeling) I think I saw Tony saying something about trying conventional HL2 logic for his next map above and if he does that I think I would REALLY enjoy that map. Tony certainly doesn’t lack in creativity so I would look forward to seeing what he comes up with.


      I think this was a decent competition, a good number of entries and a good range of interpretations upon the theme. I think location based themes definitely seem to be the most popular seeing as the last particularly popular competition was Ravenholmville. That’s not saying every theme should be a location based theme I’m just noticing a trend 😀

    2. JG

      I admit, this is a convention break of my own. The Sniper is usually aggressive toward Zombies, but he’s not here because… well… why should he be? If the player is hiding behind a car and the Zombies are going to flush them out, why would the Sniper shoot them? They’re helping him do his job! 🙂

      The primary reason why the Sniper comes down from his nest was because I didn’t want to have Odessa magically open the big Combine door. I also didn’t want to stick an infinite Grenade crate here because, as in Forest Train, I wanted players to throw Hopper Mines at the Sniper. If they ran out of Hopper Mines, or simply didn’t understand the mechanic, this was a failsafe. There are two ways the Sniper comes down – either you throw something toward him, or you kill some number of Zombies in the area.

      1. Yeah, I did kind of figure that was the attitude behind the sniper. It’s not a big problem as I said in the review I’m nit picking with this map. The first thing I think most players are going to try is to let the sniper shoot the zombies and it’s a little disappointing whenever a strategy doesn’t pay off but you’re given enough leeway to adapt here so it’s fair.

        Sniper coming down the nest is fine although it may be worth having something change in the window to show that (maybe a door opening behind, a rifle model pointing up or have the sniper paint a target in the sky to suggest he’s put the rifle down) as it is it’s not really that clear what has happened.

        But again, nit picking.

        1. JG

          It’s really not nitpicking. It’s all stuff that goes into the “things to revisit” / “things to remember the next time this scenario comes up” pile.

          People shouldn’t be afraid to “nitpick” my work, because I get a lot more information out of that kind of feedback than you might think! 😀

          1. I’m aware that criticism is important which is why I give it, most of my feedback is intended to be constructive, but I feel it’s also worth giving some sense of the scale of the issue as well especially if I’m listing a number of issues on a good map and then just a few on a map that clearly isn’t quite as good.

  9. Play It Now!

    Avenue Odessa by Jason Gimba
    Very gorgeous map, loved the “Odessa” and the beginning. However, the latter battle and sudden rise in difficulty forced me to reconsider my favourite. I’d suggest more beta testing next time.

    Beneath the Overpass by Joseph William AKA Jowo/Dysprogue
    I believe this map got the most tests in BTC, and I loved the rough edges of the final product. Reminded me a lot of the HL2 beta. In fact, I’d go as far to call this BetaStreetsVille since a lot of the maps seemed to draw inspiration from the beta.

    Business District by RedGroupClan
    Not really sure what the goal was with this map, seemed to stop working every time I reached the barricade. Also, spawning fast shooting snipers behind the player? NOT COOL!

    El Bucle by Rob Martens
    Another BetaStreetsVille map, this one seemed to draw inspiration even from the alpha! Loved the new setting, the architecture made the map really stand out in my mind, loved the atmosphere. Also, the humour helped. Personally, third favourite map.

    Eye on the City by The Blazer
    A lot of the architecture reminded me of the beta once again. Sadly, the stealth part and brick smuggling didn’t feel very well tested and later on there was very little signposting on where to continue.

    Memory Lane by David Newel
    Interesting idea, very artistic take but constantly respawning enemies didn’t really help.

    Raining Down Hell by Maarten Frooninckx AKA Marnamai
    No comment.

    This Current Predicament by WinterYeti
    “Zombie speed run”. I managed to run this whole thing using only the gravity gun and about 6 shotgun shells, without that awesome feeling I wouldn’t rate this map very highly, needed a lot more polish and testing.

    Trolleying Times by Tony DeBlasio AKA Starman
    Interesting take, again, reminded me a lot of the beta, however no clear signposting on what to do.

  10. Play It Now!

    This was a fantastic competition, probably the best one in my eyes with some great variety and quality.

    I decided to write my review/feedback on a google docs’ file because it is quite long (and also allows me to add images).

    I seem to be the only one (at least from those that reviewed) that played all of the entries on Hard difficulty, so that might give you a different idea of the balance of each map. There is also a bit of a rambling on why my entry didn’t get finished at the end if anyone is interested in reading.

    Because it makes sense to write it here as well, Memory Lane by David Newel got my vote.

    Avenue Odessa by Jason Gimba

    A fantastic way to start the pack with, and overall my second favourite of the bunch. Right from the start it gets the player immersed into the world with that fantastic vista of the citadel collapsing and the ash falling around the player. The layered pieces of scenery in the skybox were done exceptionally well and it really captures that episode 1 feeling. Dare I say it looks on par with, or even better than Valve’s attempt during EP1.

    It then introduces the player to Odessa once again, and I must say the voice acting and the script was very good. I normally don’t like having companions with me. However, the only problem I had with Odessa in this one was the volume of his speech. It was sometimes very hard to hear him, especially at the end, it was very hard to hear him over the music. During my second playthrough I had to lower the music volume to almost nothing to be able to make out what he was shouting to the strider, emphasis on the shouting.
    Apart from that problem Odessa was very, very fun to work with. He was funny, didn’t stand in my way, helped me every now and then with those crappy sniper skills of his (he was exceptionally good at taking out the combine elite on the skybridge by the end of the fight) and he was generally very well executed.
    Kudos to you Jason, you created a companion that I actually enjoy having with me.

    The sniper at the start I’d say is the lowest point of the map. To start with he didn’t shoot at the zombies. While it makes sense for him not to, in HL2 and episodes they do shoot at the zombies so it creates a weird conflict between the two. Personally I feel that that’s Valve’s fault now that I think about it but it’s the same game so it creates an expectation in the players mind. The way up to the sniper could use a bit more and better cover. Because the cover the player had access to was very low it was hard to not get shot a few times during this phase, and since I play on hard difficulty it was extra punishing.
    I also didn’t notice that the sniper had come out from the building. I killed the combine that came out and was still trying to dodge the sniper and find a grenade to take him out. It wasn’t clear he was the sniper because really there was no reason for him to come out and get shot in the face. It would perhaps have been better to give the player some grenades to kill off the sniper, which would also help with the coming fight, seeing as the player starts it without any grenades. Should the player fail to use all of the grenades given, a timer could get Odessa to shoot a rocket into the sniper nest perhaps. Just some random thoughts.

    The fight itself was very fun to play, although the placement of the ammo crate and health and suit charger’s was very awkward. It forced the player to completely expose himself to combine gunfire which I don’t find is a good idea. The combine elite that break the windows in the skybridge were a very good addition to the fight. Since the player had really no long range weapons it gave Odessa a chance to be useful as well as forcing the player to either stay crouched behind the barricade (which is not a good idea) or move to one of the sides giving a very good flow to the battle.

    The hunters could have used a bit more polish though. To start with Odessa is completely useless against them. I’m assuming there are some console commands being given to the sniper to make him extra sucky, particularly much slower firing rate than usual, but it might have been nice to bump his skill up a bit during this last part. Much like another map is this same competition it didn’t provide the player any physics objects with which to kill the hunters using the gravity gun. All the player had were hoppers (if they hadn’t already used them all earlier) which work fine but are one time use, and there were not enough of them.

    The strider at the end was a bit confusing. I was expecting to need to kill the bastard, but I couldn’t find anything to kill him with. It took a very long time for Odessa to come out and call me to follow him, and even then there was barely any cover to hide from the striders shoots, which made me feel completely hopeless and at the mercy of the designer. The fact that he also just stood in the middle of the plaza doing nothing was a bit weird. In the end the train was pretty good and innovative (the way you get on it) and Gman was a great sight to behold.

    An absolutely great map that could use some more polish, as with any map, but still stands in my eyes as one top maps throughout all of the ville competitions.

    Beneath the Overpass by Joseph William AKA Jowo/Dysprogue

    This is a map that could have been great if it didn’t feel so cramped all the time. It’s something that everyone seems to be saying about the map and it’s true. There’s very little space to move, which makes it so that you get cornered very easily and especially makes the APC fight very unforgiving and not very fun to play. The twilight setting is something that I feel is very hard to make right and unfortunately this is not a good example of it. The lighting isn’t very interesting and the buildings on the side certainly are not. Very simple square buildings with basic texturing work.

    The car looked really awesome with the bombs stuffed into it, however you didn’t get to drive it until the very end. It could have made for a better intro to ride the car all the way to the start of the map while listening to the voice-over. As it stands the intro forced the player to just wait around the car doing nothing if he wanted to know the premise. The map picks up a little bit after that with the first fight being quite enjoyable. The zombine provides a nice and interesting twist on a fairly bland fight arena, unfortunately after that, the map starts falling down again.

    Beneath the underpass it feels even more cramped and this is certainly not a good thing in HL2. There are very few areas in Valve’s maps that feel cramped and even when they do, such as the beginning of the Sand Traps chapter, inside the tunnel filled with zombies, the areas are very wide and well illuminated, another thing that also caused a problem under the bridge as it was very hard to see anything.

    The fight with the APC, where you have to lob hoppers at it is great if executed correctly like in the map Overflow by marnamai a few months ago. However in Dysprogue’s attempt a lot of things fail. Again with the small space it’s very hard to dodge the APC’s rockets when you’re going to get new hoppers. The damage to the bridge, while it looked good, made walking around it even more of a nuisance.
    Another thing was the crappy cover. Once again refering back to Oveflow, in that arena you can stay in cover while still standing up. In this map however most of the cover forces you to crouch down, which is horrible when you are holding something with the gravity gun such as the hoppers.

    The turrets were very confusing. In my first playthrough I found the button (which is very well hidden) by chance, I pressed it and had no idea what that did. I continued the map without even realizing the turrets were there. On my second time through the map I completely forgot about the button and was completely clueless on how to deal with the turrets. Firing at them doesn’t do anything and it’s pretty much impossible to just try and run through the rest of the map trying to dodge their bullets.
    If the player decides to jump down before deactivating the turrets, like I was doing on the second try, he or she will find no way to deactivate them and make it very confusing on how to continue with the map.

    Overall, an interesting concept, but poor execution.

    Business District by RedGroupClan

    Alright, let’s start with the beginning (obviously). This is the weirdest start to a map I can recall. The first time playing the map I instantly turned around trying to escape the metrocops, just to bump into a debri wall. Then I ran a bit more into the level just to die to an unpredictable sniper.
    Why does it start with combines smashing you in the face? It catches the player completely out of surprise and forces him to frantically try and figure out what’s happening as soon as the map loads.

    After that the sniper is also not very good. It gives no warning to the player that it is there and it can aim almost straight down while the player is under the skybridge. Getting the grenades to kill him is also a pain seeing as it is pretty much impossible to do so without getting shot in the back of the head trying to get to them. Some solutions to this sniper problem would be to ‘wake up’ a couple of zombies in front of the sniper’s line of sight as the player is approaching so that they can see that the sniper is there (as it is shooting the zombies), and place the grenades in an alleyway towards the start of the map.

    After that comes one of the biggest problems of the map. What seemed to be pretty much infinitely spawning enemies. I know they aren’t actually infinite, like the ones on the rooftops during the last fight (I’m assuming they are infinite because they just kept coming back), but they definitely seemed like it. My first time playing the map I was ignoring them looking for a way to progress forward, which inevitably led me into invisible walls, which is also another major problem with this entry. I’d like to bring your minds back to the horrible design decisions of Call of Duty 4, which featured infinitely spawning enemies and was heavily criticized for doing so. You just don’t do it. From the mindset of the player it just doesn’t seem fair, and it certainly isn’t fun. The only reason to use infinite enemies is in a situation where the player is tasked with holding a position until ‘X’ happens, such as the rooftop holdout in Ravenholm where you must wait for a cart to come pick you up and bring you to Father Gregory. In a case like that however, you must make it clear to the player that they are waiting for something, and “that X something” must make the player clear that the waiting time is over.

    The same problems get repeated every now and then throughout the rest of the map. The elevator disappearing, the strider crashing the game (I have no idea how or why that happens, if someone has any idea I’d love to understand what’s causing it) or the various times you can look outside the map are things that others have already said and really should have been caught very easily with minor playtesting.

    I can say however that the last part of the map was pretty fun to play. The arena was fun, at least until the two gunships showed up. After that, coupled with the infinite respawning combine soldiers on the rooftops it became incredibly hard. I’m someone that almost always plays games on the hardest difficulty, even on the first time through, but I had to bump it down to normal for this one because it really presented quite a big challenge.

    Eye on the City by The Blazer

    This was pretty wild for me. Hated the first part, loved the second one. They were like polar opposites.

    Starting off with the visuals it goes for the same twilight style that Beneath the overpass used. I found it failed at it during the first part, but nailed it during the second one. The first one felt too dark and you could barely see the skybox. The second one was brighter and the buildings, especially those on the other side of the canal, made a good contrast and silhouette against the sky. While the first area looked bland and frankly uninspired, the second one was interesting and completely fitted the boss fight.

    The beginning puzzle and stealth section didn’t make much sense to me. I spent quite some time trying to figure out the puzzle. Since I couldn’t pull the ‘bucket’ by myself I didn’t think about weighing it down with something else, especially since there were no props around. Perhaps having a small prop around the puzzle could have worked better. Since the contraption needs two, the player would still need to go find another one outside, while the prop inside teaches the player how to complete the puzzle.

    Fighting the combine after getting the equipment is not interesting at all. I ran back inside killing them as they get in front of the door and stood there blocking each other. The area was too cramped for the A.I to move properly and really provide a challenge. The challenge was provided due to the low amount of ammo the player is given.

    The second group of combine came pretty much out of nowhere. There was no warning, just turn the corner and get blasted in the face with a shotgun. Especially if the player was looking towards the end of the road and the amount destruction there was, it would feel extra cheap.

    The entire map until the city eye does generally seem pointless and it feels like it’s just there to fill time.

    The second part however was very enjoyable. The city eye had some bugs, as would be expected from creating a completely new and innovative boss fight out of the scripting entities hammer has available, but those didn’t really detract much from the fun of fighting it. It seems clear to me that the author was very inspired by the tripods in the war of the worlds. From the look of the city eye to the sounds it made, everything took me back to the time where that movie actually scared me. And the dystopian looking cityscape around the player only pushed that feeling further. Again, there are bugs, such and the long range attack sometimes piercing through cover or it not shooting at certain angles were it should, but those didn’t really destroy the fun I had with it.

    If the first part of the map didn’t feel so pointless and boring, the boss fight would certainly have put it higher in my list.

    El Bucle by Rob Martens

    This seemed to be quite high up in other people’s mind. I didn’t find it as appealing as them, but that’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable.

    It was the shortest of them all, but again, that also doesn’t mean anything. The ambient and the atmosphere were I think, and a lot of other people seem to agree, the best of this map. The eerie fog coupled with the tall skyscrapers made for quite an impressive ambient that set a mood far different to that of HL2. The buildings were basic, not very detailed or interesting to look at, but the skybridge was very cool. Both blasting the combine soldiers there with rockets and having the gunship crash into it were awesome points during the map. Most of the maps in this competition featured skybridges in one way or another, but this was by far the best. In terms of skybridge making, this entry wins the first prize.

    Unfortunately, apart from that, nothing really captivated me. The fighting was boring. The first part, with just a couple metrocops was very basic and offered pretty much nothing. There wasn’t even any interesting cover. Then the gunship fight was incredibly easy, even playing on hard difficulty. Standing beneath the bus stops (?) near the ammo crate was all that was needed to completely avoid all of it’s attacks. The combine at the far end, on the rooftops felt completely pointless. Not only were they unable to attack me, I was unable to attack them because of how far away they were.

    The inclusion of Alyx was, unfortunately, not as well executed as Odessa in JG’s entry. For the first part you could just not follow her and have nothing happen because she wouldn’t come down to open the gate. And after that she really did nothing. When including a companion there really should be a reason to do so, but it seemed kind of random in this one. The ending was a bit disappointing as well, seeing as the train didn’t move at all, it just faded to black.

    Unfortunately I don’t have much to say about this one. It wasn’t particularly interesting to me, but a lot of other people seem to have liked it.

    Memory Lane by David Newel

    This was my favourite map in the competition. I know it’s not the popular opinion, but I love there narrative-driven, sad feeling maps. Then again I’m someone that finds sadness “beautiful”. (Please don’t label me as some kind of psychopath).

    At first it didn’t look like it was going to be very good. Bland looking area, with some basic brush work. But it quickly picked up with the door maze, which was very well made. At first it seemed like it was going to turn into a horror map but quickly fell down to just somber storytelling. And that’s really what captivated me. The idea behind it is perfect really. It’s already part of the HL2 lore, and I can’t believe no one has touched it yet. (Atleast I don’t know of any mod that use it). It has even inspired me to include such a thing in a mod I’m planning to start soon, hopefully David won’t mind that.

    As someone else said in the comments, it definitely would have been much better as a stand alone mod than an entry into a competition. Being forced down into the city streets theme and the small competition time didn’t allow the author to expand the concept as much as it could have. The story is simple, but effective. The repetition inside the map really emphasises the point that the water in HL2 is drugged to make people forget, and the map overall paints the combine as a devastating and cruel race that most other maps and mods don’t use. I don’t think even Valve in HL2 can depict the combine as such horrific characters as this map did in such a small time. Let’s face it, the combine are a horrifying, enslaving and mind-controlling race, yet Valve barely shows that in their games.

    I don’t agree that the combat was bad. It could have done without the infinitely spawning enemies and a few less zombies, but I didn’t mind it too much. Without combat it would have been quite a boring experience. There were bugs with some text appearing over others, but the biggest problem I found was the placement of the guns on the table in the first room. After the door maze I completely missed the guns and went up the road without any armament, trying to dodge the combine until finally I died and started back in the room again and found the guns. They could have been positioned a bit better so that the player really can’t missed them, because without the pistol the player won’t be able to enter the pet shop.

    The ending was somewhat disappointing. It didn’t really accomplish anything so the entire thing felt pointless in the end. However you can’t really expect to have a fulfilling story for an entry into a competition that has such little time.
    With that said however it definitely was my favourite and I’m hoping to see more like this in future competitions.

    Raining Down Hell by Maarten Frooninckx AKA Marnamai

    The second Half-Life’ish map and a rival to JG’s Avenue Odessa I feel. This map follows the traditional Half-Life formula and has many similarities to the first map of the pack. Both have fantastic visuals, both have phenomenally scripted companions and both are a lot of fun to play.

    It starts off with a great intro that doesn’t take much of the player’s time and completely sets up the map’s premise and goal. There is some RNG at the start where the combine suppression device can completely destroy your squad. I had one attempt where it literally killed all three rebels in one shot and I just restarted the map because of that. It’s completely random so maybe something could have been made to prevent that, such as making the rebels immune to it, or have more rebels join the player has they come out of the canal.

    What follows after that is fairly standard combat that doesn’t have much to talk about. It’s well designed except for the uphill fight were only one small car serves as cover for the player and it’s really hard to get a good angle to shoot from.

    It then presents the player with the SINGLE BEST exploration puzzle I can recall. It’s completely new to HL2 while not being absolutely random (I’m looking at you Trolleying times), gratifying to find and very rewarding to the player. I’m obviously talking about the mirror puzzle. It’s just so well executed. I found it, and even though I figured out I just needed to lob a grenade over, I just stood there, looking at the mirror and admiring the brilliance of it. Maybe I’m exaggerating but it really felt amazing to me.
    It’s not the only instance where the map excels at exploration. The entirety of it is riddled with good design that makes exploration interesting and diverse and balances the map very well. The reuse of space really helps this as well.

    There are so few faults I can point at this map, and the only one I can think of is the lack of physics props to kill the hunters with, using the gravity gun (just like the first map).

    It then seems strange that I don’t vote for this map after saying that. While everything about this map exudes excellence, I found Memory Lane and Avenue Odessa slightly more enjoyable personally.

    This Current Predicament by WinterYeti

    This was not really a map that stood out or was much fun to playthrough. Like Business District it seems to be one of the authors first maps and feels more like a learning process than an actual map. It’s definitely a good thing that both of these maps were submitted because it gives the authors a chance to get feedback on their work, what they should improve and focus on in their next releases and that’s definitely a good thing. Don’t do it like I did, never releasing anything for a very long time and finally release something that ends up being crap.

    The biggest problem I found with the map was the combat. Nothing interesting and all of it easily skippable. I challenged myself to complete the map without killing anything and managed to do it with 97 HP left by the end (one of the hunters managed to get a dart on my back side as I was running to the door). Even playing on hard it was incredibly easy, so the map I feel needed to be better designed to make it harder for the player to just skip everything. Most of this came down to the player being able to jump over many of the zombies, as well as the pathing for the A.I. not being very good. A lot of the times the zombies couldn’t follow me.

    There are of course some good points. It teaches the player the map’s main idea right from the start. Follow the wire and activate the panel to open the door. Tracing back your steps, now being able to open paths with the gravity gun is something that was well executed and deserves some merit.

    However it is very easy to break the map with a bit of clever jumping and finish it very fast. Two ways that I found were:
    Grab a crate from the starting room and use it to jump to the brick wall upstairs and consequently jump over the fence into the end of the map.
    With some clever jumping you can also hop over the fence by getting on the fence on the opposite side (by jumping on the car next to it).

    These methods for skipping parts of the level are things that are very hard to work around from a level designers perspective without limiting the players movement too much and as such they need to be thought of when first blocking out the map.

    Hopefully we can see some improvement in future competitions.

    Trolleying Times by Tony DeBlasio AKA Starman

    If you recognize the author (and you should), you know what you are getting into. Tony presents you with yet another “have fun noclipping around the place” map. This community gives his maps a bit of a bad time, myself included, and I hope he doesn’t take it too personally.

    He makes his own visual language that is completely different to that of HL2, and reuses a lot of his previous work in pretty much the same way. There are some good things that I liked about the map but I’ll start with the bad areas and come back to those at the end.

    To start off the map, the intro sequence is really crappy. You’re in a very small space with nothing to do, just waiting for an NPC to open a door. And even after the vortigaunt opens the door you’ll struggle to get past him and into a more reasonable area. There’s really nothing fun about it. You then get into an unfair fight with a strider you can’t kill just yet. There is no cover whatsoever to provide some measure of protection against the strider’s bullets, at least, in the streets. After that it’s fine and dandy until you kill everything, strider included, and just stop, without any indication of what to do next or where to go. The fenced off area in front of the depot is what seems to be the most logical place to go next yet you can never progress there. There is also a truck with the engine running, in the parking space near where you first start, that looks important, yet serves absolutely no purpose and you can’t interact with it.

    If you aren’t frustrated by now you will find that an absolutely random vent (that is always used as just a decal to add detail) in an obscure part of the level is the way to progress. The first time I came across I didn’t think much of it. After 10 minutes of trying to figure out what the hell I was supposed to do I tried hitting it with the crowbar thinking maybe it would break but it didn’t. After another 10 minutes I was randomly punting stuff with the gravity gun, and accidentally sent vent cover flying into the air. I just stood there for a moment facepalming. It’s just so random, there is no reason to do things in this manner.

    The sewers gets even worse, with steam that hurts you while also being almost invisible and a puzzle that requires a small valve that is really hard to spot and find. On my first time through the map I just no clipped my way into the depot because I couldn’t find the valve in the incredible mess a zombine grenade had created in the room where it was.

    After that it gets somewhat better. There is nothing too obscure, it just gets pretty hard if you didn’t kill the strider and the first combine trolley before going to the sewers.

    So, about the good things. The very start of the map was really cool. The getting up animation was very cleverly done and it worked perfectly. Much better than Valve’s ‘waking up’ animation in HL2.
    The combination lock, although it was used in previous maps by the author also surprised me by having a random combination each time, which I don’t recall happening in previous maps. I don’t know if it’s fully random or if there are a few random possibilities that the map can choose from, but still it’s great for replayability.

    There is also this piece of art by Will Gallagher which I really want it to become a bit of a meme in RTSL’s community. As DaZ put it, «The oppression train cometh!».
    Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

    My unfinished entry, Theater of War

    I don’t know if anyone cares about this, but I feel like I was hyping it to be pretty good while I was working on it so I think I should explain why it didn’t get finished.

    I have a pretty stupid problem which is the desire to restart until everything is perfect. That coupled with a pretty severe case of perfectionism is a bad combination that ultimately leads to failure and disappointment every time, without fail.

    It’s not just mapping that suffers from this. Pretty much everything I do in life suffers from the same issues. Last year I restarted a college project (a pretty big one at that) 5 times during the semester, much to the frustration of my colleagues who were working on it with me.

    I restarted my entry for this competition 3 times (although the third one barely lasted a couple hours). I thought about pushing myself to finish the first iteration, which was quite far in the making process, but I remembered what had happened the first time I’d tried that, with my DefendVille entry. In that one I pushed myself to finish it during the last few days, during which I felt pretty horrible and frustrated and ended up releasing something I wasn’t happy with. A similar thing happened with AssassinationVille, although that went mildly better. But I really didn’t want to go through it again in this one, so I decided to just stop.

    The map I was building was a mixture of the style of JG’s entry, where it was set during the events of EP1 with the citadel collapsing, and Marnamai’s more standard HL2 formula (although not nearly as good as either of those). The name came from the most interesting part of the map which was a fight in an abandoned theater, although in hindsight that went a bit outside the competition theme.

    I don’t know how it will go with other competitions. I definitely do want to enter them, although I really need to start working on the issues I have. If I do work on another entry I probably won’t post any progress updates until I’m absolutely sure I can release it. I felt quite ashamed that I was coming to the site regularly posting updates and then not finishing it.

    Here is a screenshot of the second version, which had much better visuals. Since I worked on it for quite a while I might as well show some of it.
    Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

    1. Or Phillip can edit it in I guess, that’s fine as well. 😀

    2. JG

      This was a lot of very detailed feedback. I hope other authors can glean as much from this as I did.

      A few points of note. The Citizen Returns was another mod that made a plot point out of the City 17 water supply, or more specifically, Dr. Breen’s Private Reserve.

      Concerning Odessa’s volume, I am also unsatisfied with how quiet he is and, short of making his voice play everywhere, I was at a loss as to how to make him louder. He already has a soundscript which tells him to play these lines at SNDLVL_150dB, which I believe is the highest you can do in HL2. And yet, even when you’re standing next to him at the end, he’s relatively quiet. The .wav files are also amplified as far as they can go in Audacity without crackling.

      As far as perfectionism and restarting goes, this is really the feedback you gave to the author of Business District. Even if you’re not 100% ecstatic with it, you need to get something out there, if only to see that the imperfections you obsess about ultimately do not matter. Restarting a project is a double-edged sword. While it’s true you can typically reconstruct things far faster the second time around, it’s not going to be without its own set of problems. Sometimes, you have to knuckle down and push through them. It’s still meaningful experience, even if you aren’t totally satisfied with the end result.

      All aboard the Oppression Bus! 😀

      1. Ahh yes, The Citizen Return does make use of Breen’s Private Reserve but doesn’t go much in depth on it. It’s pretty much just a location if I remember correctly, it doesn’t touch on the water’s effects on people.

    3. In response to your comment about Memory Lane, yes, I agree the ending was disappointing. I really couldn’t get anywhere close to intended completion and had to improvise something at the end because I had very few ‘scenes’ completed compared to what I wanted.

      Also yes, you can tackle the whole “poisoned water supply” thing. You have my blessing and stuff 😛

      But if you want my opinion, I think you should just finish Theater of War and put it out there first. I suspect it’ll be harder now that there’s no deadline pressure, but that’s mostly because I find deadlines to be the best motivator.

      Give a solid week effort at completing it. Just focus on that deadline (of one week from reading this) and cut features to get a solid experience out there. Don’t worry about perfection, worry about finishing it.

      That’s just my two cents, though…

    4. I also enjoyed Memory Lane for it’s story. It’s a map worth developing as a stand alone, and deepening the story as well. There are far too few narrative driven maps. Dear Emily is really the standard for moving through a powerful story. Memory lane has a lot of potential, though. If you could get a strong female narrator even better. There is a map where you look down on a square with Alyx, and get attacked by an airship – then end up in a theatre arena. The female voice actor in that is superb.

      My ideal map would have a strong story, problem solving and sequential building or destroying puzzles. Definitely no coloured Keys. 😛

      I do like street maps best, and the sense of a real place with it. Avenue Odessa was very well done, especially because it makes use of an interesting character, which is a big part of any narrative, of course.

  11. Play It Now!

    This was a terrific bunch of maps! I have to say there were no absolutely unplayable ones as there have been in the past, though as others have pointed out there are a couple with some issues that render them well out of the running for favorites.

    Avenue Odessa
    This was a very fun map. The portrayal of the comically inept Odessa Cubbage was just spot on. I loved the sniper bit, that was just a riot 😀 That said, the map was well laid out, but the enemies and level of ammunition I had with each set were a little hard for me. It did a good job of finding a spot to lead the player, with or without Cubbage’s encouragement.

    Beneath the Overpass
    I did not finish this one, it had areas that were much too tightly packed and too dark to see anything to determine what to do. I got stuck out the window in the alley. Could you just not get back IN the window once you’d left it? I felt that to be cheap if that’s the case. That’s as far as I got. It was too hard to find targets through the large rubble on the street there.

    Business District
    A good solid map, though I had a bug with the elevator that made it impossible for me to get out / to the right spot, until reloading. I don’t think this was memorable enough, I honestly can’t recognize it among the screenshots. I don’t think it failed in any way, I just don’t know that it stuck out in any way.

    El Bucle
    This is my favorite among the competition maps. Alyx’s presence is very well done, including the ‘doggie’ comment 😉 The map itself is clean and has such great atmosphere. However I did manage to completely miss the laundry room’s entrance the first time I made a pass around the place, and wound up (before reloading and finding it) grabbity gunning a car into the energy ball’s area. It let the ball loose, drifting along… but didn’t drop the force field. O.o Once I figured out the order of events the fighting and conclusion were quite fun. The skybridge area was very nice.

    Eye on the City
    I did not finish this one, it was far too unforgiving and difficult. I had to use fullbright to even understand where I was, let alone why everything was killing me if I tried to do anything. Too much back tracking even in the earliest portion, though a good puzzle insert it needed a little more introduction. Why would anyone think to sneak by an entire squad of Combine, with not one but TWO cinderblocks? Since you can’t throw them at the enemies, they were so much junk in my eyes. Got to the street with the eye and the one building which had a map, and decided that after having to Godmode even to get that far, I wasn’t interested in seeing how it could be done. Took too much sustained damage, from an enemy which makes absolutely no sense.

    Memory Lane
    My tie for second, with Avenue Odessa. With strong overtones of the background of Human Error (a mod which I adored) and equal influences elsewhere, even though normally I’m not hot on such contemplative ‘art’, this one works very well in the street competition. The fighting in places was a bit too hard, particularly in the ruined hotel, but it was still quite doable and the story was creepy. The endless-room sequence was equally amazing! A very sound thumbs up on this one. The map itself was very small and self contained, but how much story there was in it surprised me.

    Raining Down Hell
    I never like it when I can’t particularly control or help my allies. The best those poor guys could do was keep giving me ammo. The map was nice and clean, well laid out, hard to mess up when you’re following Barney!

    This Current Predicament
    The intro and outro text made me laugh out loud. 😀 aside from that though, this was a bit of a weird map. The first time I played, I stacked two boxes, hopped the wire fence, and ended the map. I figured… this CAN’T be all there was… There wasn’t. I went back, restarted, and took the long, long way around. The fighting was challenging with out being massively overwhelming – though I had to plot my way around that last Hunter fight. (And wound up gravity gun-car-pushing the hunters to death, was that intended?) The map was a little too confusing, I knew I’d been through a lot of it at least a couple times, backtracking, so if that wasn’t intentional, it wasn’t very well plotted out.

    Trolleying Times
    I got lost, as others did, looking for the way to start the 2nd trolley. That was the point, I guess? Too many areas to explore without knowing why you’re there – and also, I had to noclip anyway, just to try to get away from the strider as it had me cornered near the trolley building. I do hope that you work on these things that have been pointed out – the map was better than adequately made, it looked good and had what could have been quite fun fights. But little direction to them, and nothing to aid the player in understanding what to do. Like others have pointed out: think like a player, not like god. We don’t know what’s going on in your mind when you put the ‘wrong’ texture or item into play, and without any hints or direction, without any demonstration of ‘this is what to do’, we simply can not know what is right. Otherwise, still, a nice looking map.

    My overall thoughts
    This was definitely among the best Villes ever! Glad that there were so many good entries.

    El Bucle #1
    Avenue Odessa and Memory Lane a tight #2 tie.

    Good work everyone!

    1. Regarding Beneath the Overpass

      This is how the map looks with my brightness settings (the fog has gone since I took this but the lighting hasn’t changed much) Is this more or less how it looks on your screen? I’m just trying to get a sense of how bright I need to make it.

      The only invisible wall in the map is to prevent you jumping out of the map. I really dislike having to resort to invisible walls so I very rarely use them. So the window is unfortunately just an oversight, I added details to it and it got janky to get through.

      1. Zekiran

        That looks absolutely nothing like what I saw. I’ve had perpetual issues with maps being much darker on my screen than they are on other people’s, but my physical screen settings are already cranked as high as I can get them without washing out entirely, and I keep forgetting to adjust brighter with many mods.

        What I saw was… well, basically pitch black walls, only the barest amount of lighter texture in the form of the broken up monster carcass, and gunshots…

        1. Thanks for your feedback, it may be that I need to look into doing fill lighting for future maps.

        2. JG

          I didn’t think Dysprogue’s map was unusually dark. Or anyone’s entry, really. Ambient light from a light_environment helps brighten up the map across the board, but I’m not seeing anything too unusual here. If it’s something that occurs across many mods, perhaps it’s your monitor.

          1. Zekiran

            Yeah I do know my monitor is … I don’t even know what it is, but it can’t really be brightened/gamma’d up any higher for fear of burning it out. I’m going to try putting it on a slightly different height stand, I’ve got two and they’re meant to be horizontally flowing, but … I might have to put this one on another lower stand to see if that works better. The range it has of dark to light is really bad, if I crouch down it’s nearly black, and when I’m standing it’s nearly white. :/ I miss my original old monitor of about the same size, it was so much nicer than this one.

            But in either case, personally – smaller lights directly influencing where the eye should be going, is what I would suggest for any map. Not so obvious that it’s like the ONLY light anywhere, but it’s a visual cue that Valve uses to extraordinary effect in many ways, and generally the ‘best of the best’ mods do as well. Even a LACK of light – the whole street has functional lights except one, where there’s maybe a spark somewhere in an alley, etc., or the light that flickers with just enough frequency to note it.

            1. My view was the same as Dysprogue’s, so it sounds like something to do with your monitor. Why don’t why upload a screenshot?

              1. Zekiran

                Gamma in most of my games doesn’t show in screenshots, though I did go back and not only lowered my monitor physically so that my eyes are more centered / looking downward (to get a brighter angle) but manually adjust the brightness in-game and tried again. I could see much better in that alley. …. >_> That didn’t make the combat any easier, lol. But I could at least see it.

                1. Do you happen to play these mods on a Mac?

  12. Play It Now!

    I’m still stunned by the positive reaction to my map, thanks everybody! I’ll post another reply in the next couple of days with some more details about it, in the meantime let me touch on the other entries:

    Avenue Odessa
    Turtle Wax, Armor All, maybe Brylcreem? Jason “Brylcreem” Gimba? I’m trying to come up with a nickname that suggests an expertise in polish, because this is another JG release that’s as slick as they come. Lovingly handcrafted, artisanal if you will. I love the Episode 1 style environment lighting, the ashfall, the slightly angled structural details on the walls of the railroad right of way, everything.

    I must admit this map only takes my second place spot, since I found the combat a little too tough at the end; it was manageable, but a little tighter than I typically prefer. If I’d had a little more health, or some buildings to run through to escape the Hunters, I think I’d have felt better about it.

    Still really fun, though, and funny on top of that. Mr. Kinsella turned in a stellar performance as the legendary Colonel, really homed in on the Odessa sensation. Congratulations on putting together a map with oomph!

    Beneath the Overpass
    The introductory combat sequence was well designed, I really like that little apartment. After that the map gets a bit too cramped, in my opinion, some breathing room might have helped subsequent encounters. The overpass idea is a nice one, I loved crawling in and out of the buildings on the sides, up onto the road, the map felt like it had a lot of nooks and crannies. Build your maps like English muffins and you’re on the right track, I say.

    Business District
    I would agree this map feels stretched a little thin. This does have a “new mapper” feel to it, but try not to get discouraged! I guess there’s no way to say that without coming off as condescending, sorry. I mean it, though, I know the feeling. I rather like more ambitious efforts, myself, even if they’re less polished, but it’s certainly worth taking a crack at something smaller scale to see how it suits you.

    I do very much like the room where you get the crossbow, that tiered layout looks nice and works well with the weapon. I also enjoyed the gunship battle on paper, even though if I’m being honest I died over a dozen times, got frustrated, and ended up cheating my way through it. Lower the tracks they fly around, and I think it’d be a lot more fun. The typical RPG loop-de-loops are harder to maintain over the distances we’re dealing with here, and with two gunships you have to worry about one shooting down your rocket while you’re trying to hit the other.

    One quick tech tip: when making glass, any surface with the glass texture on it will automatically become double sided in game. Putting the texture on all six sides of a block brush will create a bunch of superfluous glass surfaces, and make your windows look odd. Choose only one face to be the window, put a glass texture on it, slap nodraw on the other faces, and you’re in business! District.

    Eye on the City
    Can’t say I was a huge fan of the bull gang busywork at the start, but tossing the cinder blocks one leg of the journey at a time made it more bearable. The City Eye design is a hell of a lot creepier looking than I’d expected, it gave me goosebumps the first time I saw it. Sorry to see the scripting didn’t work as well as you’d wanted, but the piles of health items made up for it, and I had fun clambering up the road to the rocket launcher. I somehow completely missed the map in my playthrough, lucky for me the way forward was pretty unambiguous.

    Memory Lane
    The pace of this entry was dragged down a bit by the deluge of CP, but I found the larger problem to be my confusion over the story. I know something was there, but I couldn’t put the pieces together to figure out what exactly my character is supposed to have been suppressing/forgetting.

    That hallway/door sequence was astounding, though, you could (and as far as I’m concerned, should) build a whole map out of that! I know some people don’t like maps that go too abstract with that kind of environmental funny business, but I love it. Like any good episode of The Next Generation, once you start playing with space and time, you’re in my good graces.

    Raining Down Hell
    This map is gorgeous and solidly built. Purdy and sturdy, just how I like it. A clear goal, well selected enemy groupings, and a route that starts serpentine in the best way, only to later open up into a free for all arena. This is my favorite entry, mainly for its honeycomb environment, but certainly not ignoring all the other things it does so well. If I were you, though, I’d set the staircase handrail static props to be non solid, I got hung up on them a couple of times.

    This Current Predicament
    The reuse of areas later on in this level, new pathways opening up once you’ve got the physgun, is really satisfying. It’s not the prettiest map in the pack, and some of those lights started giving me a headache, but progressing through the level made me feel good, and that’s the most important part of all this, isn’t it?

    Trolleying Times
    Tony’s maps have grown on me over the years, and now that I’m familiar with his standard palette of techniques I’m not as bothered by breaches of convention anymore. That’s not to say I outright like them, mind you. In this map’s case the floor drain is especially grating (hardy har har). I got through it immediately, but only by chance. I noticed the flashlight didn’t light up the texture, but it could easily have escaped my attention and never popped into my head that I should try fiddling with it. I also had to noclip out of the underground area when I went down there a second time: after escaping the room you have to flood, I got lost and ended up back underground in a fit of confusion. As far as I could tell there’s no other way out once the floodgate is locked.

    I don’t necessarily mind the notion of a map or mod flying in the face of its base game, as long as the new ideas are satisfactorily introduced. Personally I don’t feel the gameplay in this map is helped by the unconventional approach, but if that’s really what you want to do, improvements in player training would go a long way toward easing the pain of encountering something new. Teach me what to expect before I need to expect it, and it won’t feel like a “gotcha” when it comes around.

    The image of Combine soldiers riding a cute little streetcar is too adorable not to smile at, of course, so this is hardly the worst map I’ve ever played.

    Congratulations to my fellow participants, and thanks for all the cool maps! Special thanks to Jason, Marnamai, and WinterYeti for providing their source files. Beside playing the levels there’s nothing I like more than digging through the VMFs.

    Now get yourselves over to Youtube and watch me play these suckers:

    1. alexnakam

      I’ll explain, he was drinking Dr.Breen’s Private Water Reserve, which makes you forget how you got there and that kind of stuff. Our wife(?) wanted to show us some memories of her living with you. I still don’t get the killing stuff…

    2. Yeah, abstract stuff is heavily underdone, though, as I learned through this contest, doing it well in a reasonable amount of time is the real killer.

      I’m not sure that I could see something like an ‘AbstractVille’ working too well, due to the sheer amount of effort of getting the initial illusion working properly.

      And I admit, the story wasn’t fully fleshed out as a result of time being spent elsewhere. There is a story; it’s just poorly represented in this map.

  13. Play It Now!

    You can really see how influential this site is on the HL2 mod community.
    One minor site re-branding and it’s like the old times again, in terms of mapper enthusiasm anyhow.
    I remember asking Phillip around the deadline how many entries he had received. I was hoping for at least three.
    The answer floored me.

    City streets are tough in HL2 engine, as are large open spaces in general. Thankfully, most entries actually got it down pretty well.

    Avenue Odessa
    Firstly, Jason, please, you can’t make consistently good quality maps at this kind of pace forever. You have to sleep at some point.
    If you’ve played a Gimba release before, you know them to be of the highest quality. The environment is packed with character, and the voice acting addition skyrockets this entry to an extremely memorable position. The combat is stellar, but I fear the ending waves were a little too static, a little too gamey, and the final cutscene with the strider was a tad janky.
    Still, for 17 days work, you’ve made a release that’ll stick with me for a while to come.

    Beneath the Overpass
    Visually very tight and narrow, with very little to offer apart from the linear path. Thankfully, that linear path is surprisingly well constructed. Small gameplay mechanics like the large window in the first rooms, shattering almost immediately in combat, acting as a segway for a grenade-based assault really add to the gunplay.
    I found myself repeatedly going “are you serious?” at how overwhelming the combat was at times, particularly on the overpass, but I kind of liked that. I felt the turrets needed some counterplay, to be able to be turned off, but this was a pretty fun release.

    Business District
    Oof, this one was a miss for me.
    The start breaks some core rules of good combat design in HL2, particularly how it starts the player near a lot of enemies with inadequate supply. The holdout at the barrier also lasted far too long.
    The sections indoors were much, much better, but feel as though they were developed in isolation to the somewhat frustrating city sections. I did finish it, and props to making a reasonably good city environment (moreso in the second half), but I feel as though I needed a lot more cover, progression and ammunition. This would give me more creative decision in how to tackle the map as opposed to running around in a panic.

    El Bucle
    An odd visual style. A pretty solid one, but odd. The city certainly isn’t similar to that found in HL2, but the fog kind of makes it work.
    The humour and writing helped to an extent, the exploration very engaging and the combat passable. A solid, middling entry that really helps add to the overall experience of the competition

    Eye on the City
    A lot of progress has been made on The_Blazer’s artistic representation within his maps, and this map captures that very well. The atmosphere is rich, and the new skybox helps that.
    The stealth section was exceptionally boring (as effectively I am given no creative input within my gameplay decisions for 15s at a time, reduced to slowly crawling to my objective). The lack of gravity gun also hurt a lot.
    I was ready to give this map a mediocre review until I saw it. The deep horn blare of this twisted combine triffid, accompanied by a blast of searing energy, just blew my mind. It was a tad buggy at times, yes, and the city street was a little bare here and there, but I delighted in the originality of this new enemy.
    Rocket travel time didn’t help with its fast beam attack, often making it impossible to not take damage whilst fighting it, but this second half is an experiment done right, and I have to give you a lot of credit for that.
    At least emotionally, and in terms of enjoyment, it worked.

    Memory Lane
    I felt as though the city environment was massively undersold with this release. The fog really did not aid this map. Combined with the massive framerate issues I had, I opted to turn godmode on for this one, to just enjoy the narrative.
    The locations in the mod cycle between mediocre and excellent, with two of the narrative sequences being very powerful. The final destroyed building with the zombies was also very well put together.
    I was a fan of the narration and the story sequences (particularly the character switch in the vents), but the rest let me down a little.

    Raining Down Hell
    Marnamai. Please write a tutorial on your design process for maps. You’ve done it again.
    This map is gorgeous in every way, nailing the city street aesthetic, perhaps even surpassing any other I’ve seen. The lighting and colours are so perfect, you can almost *feel* the air Gordon is walking through. 10/10 on the visuals.
    If it was anyone but Marnamai, I’d be sceptical this was achieved in a mere 17 days, there’s so much content at such a polished degree. It was a real genuine pleasure to play.
    I honestly have little more to say, this combined with Odessa Avenue make for a duo of extremely strong entries, however I think this one might take my winning vote for it’s highly circular and open level design.

    This Current Predicament
    A reasonably good entry, there’s nothing overtly broken or bad about this entry, and it’s a good addition to the competition. The combat is decent, and it uses zombines exceptionally well.
    There’s a lot broken about the map, and it could do with a good few passes of tool brushes and beta testing, but it’s still…alright.
    I hit a wall at some point with directions and puzzles, and didn’t actually finish this one, but I’m pretty sure I caught most of it.

    Trolleying Times
    I feel pretty bad about this one, but I barely played TT. I might watch Daz’s stream to see what I missed.
    The opening scene was a little too long, and I quickly ran into a wall at the first keypad.
    At the very least, the visual quality of this map was pretty great, surprisingly so. If the author is able to iron out his skills in direction and player cognitive connection to mechanics, he’s got the art and spacing side sorted out.
    Improve on how game mechanics work within HL2, and how to direct the player, and how puzzles work best within games, and we might start seeing some very high quality content from you. I fear a lot of your talent is lost within the frustrating margins of having to deal with flawed gameplay.

    Good release, maybe even a great release.
    Onto the next!

    1. I’m very sorry that you had frame rate issues trying to play through Memory Lane. I did everything I could to try to optimize it as best as possible, but I ran out of time before I could do anything significant. Really, it’s my fault for designing a level that could be fully seen from one end to the other.

      1. Salamancer

        Eh, I shouldn’t worry too much about it. My main desktop broke a month or two back and I’m stuck on a 7 year old laptop until I raise the funds to fix it. Most modern machines should have the affordance to run your map, just mine is a fringe case of being way too outdated.
        I’ve a feeling a lot of it was the destroyed building in the later half. That’s a lot of stuff being rendered.
        A slight tweak in the layout of buildings, facing the detail-containing visleafs out of sight of the main street might have helped. A quick and dirty system of areaportals turning off when you come close (hidden by the fog) might have helped also.

  14. Well, I’m surprised both by the number of entries and by their quality. I’d definitely call this a highly successful competition. The deadline extension half way through the challange probably had something to do with it ;), and for me, this proves that the ideal time is more around 17 days than 10. 10 is a rush, more than 25-30 causes mappers to lose their attention. So if I had to state my entirely unqualified, unspported and unsourced conclusion, I’d say that the ideal timespan for a challange is between 17 and 25 days.

    All righty, time to review this thing! I’ll go with bullet points because there’s really a lot of maps and I don’t want to bore anyone to death or make my reviews a long, dispersive mess.

    Avenue Odessa

    + High-quality voice acting and custom choreography with a clear goal.
    + Very good visuals.
    + Good reuse of space.
    + Good standoff scenario.
    + Funny ending.
    – Unclear that the first Combine seen is actually the sniper himself.
    – I don’t know what else to put here because JG’s maps are always so good.

    Beneath the Overpass

    + Interesting idea with a clear goal.
    + Good combat until the APC.
    + Good reuse of space.
    +/- Visuals were functional but extremely simple.
    – Hilariously bad balance from the APC part on.
    – Ceiling turrets are invincible in HL2 and there doesn’t seem to be any way to shut them down.
    – Lighting does a poor job of directing the player. For example, near a ceiling turret there was a white, glowing vent thing and I though you could disable the turret by throwing something explosive at the vent. It did nothing.
    – Confusing to navigate after the APC.

    Business District

    + Huge, massive map with plenty going on
    + Visuals were not that good but the environment still felt “rich” and it made a lot of sense in terms of how the buildings were built and what was were. Not something you find in all maps.
    + Fun gunship battle at the end with good use of the gunships’ “cover each other” behavior.
    +/- Unintuitive but original idea on how to fight the Strider. Most people won’t expect to have to walk underneath it, especially because the rocket crate is not in plain sight.
    – Completely unintuitive start with no indication on what to do.
    – Terribly and pointlessly long standoff after the sniper section.
    – Overly linear and plain gunfights with no side routes, hordes of enemies and little cover that is not already occupied by said horde.
    [TIP] If you fade out the map in the end, please teleport the player to an empty black room so that he doesn’t keep taking damage or hearing sounds in the main play area.

    El Bucle

    + Original and well-done city environment.
    + Clear goal, clear story, thanks to good use of NPC ally.
    + Good pacing.
    + Amazingly fun gunship fight at the end thanks to intelligent pathing between buildings.
    + Good humor at the end.
    – No lighting was used to signpost things in the open part of the level, leading to some initial confusion.
    – Bad lighting in the initial indoor section.

    Memory Lane

    + Original take on the theme.
    + Story-driven and the story is actually well-presented.
    + Cool mind games at the first meeting point, and they actually make sense.
    +/- Zombie section was interesting but brutal.
    – Endless horde of metro cops and combine soldiers, who can occasionally spawn behind you while you shoot your way through the street.
    – Simplistic visuals in some areas.
    [TIP] Never use completely opaque fog without first obscuring the skybox with a completely black, non-solid brush in the 3D skybox. This non-solid brush will still let light from the skybox texture through but will take on the color of the fog if it is far away enough. There is also a gradient texture which can be used to smoothly transition from ground fog to skybox.

    Raining Down Hell

    + Clear goal with good reuse of already existing voice acting.
    + Good use of rebel NPCs which can serve multiple purposes from cannon fodder to mobile health packs, this encourages the player to keep them alive.
    + Extremely well-done and realistic city environment.
    + Very good and varied combat where each weapon has a role and the enemies do not behave suicidally.
    – If I really had to put a minus to this map, the ending is very underwhelming… Here Gordon, let me open the Combine gate so that we can escape to… the land of pre-made low-res cityblocks! …Oh my, they look horrible, fade out to menu, quick!

    This Current Predicament

    + .357 + zombies is a very fun combination that rewards skill.
    + Surprisingly fun Hunter combat, the mapper showed knowledge and good use of their weakness to physical objects and actually got the player to exploit it himself.
    + Great reuse of space thanks to the Gravity Gun.
    + Good feeling of progression.
    +/- Objective is presented but not in the clearest of ways. I missed it in my first playthrough.
    – Bad visuals.
    – Very rushed ending, the door doesn’t even open 🙁
    – Player direction can get really messy every now and then. Couple this with the unclear final objective and you get a minus.

    Trolleying Times

    + Good start with clear objective.
    + Good pacing despite the atrocious puzzles.
    + Good visuals, mostly in the city streets.
    – Visual language is still mostly nonsensical, as in the author’s previous maps.
    – Atrocious puzzles.
    – Stop using locked doors that are identical to unlocked ones everywhere so that the player is not forced to try to open every single door in the map.
    – Keypad. Stop it. Needless to say, I couldn’t finish this map.
    [TIP] Should have been called “Trolling Times”.

  15. Play It Now!

    I forgot to leave the recommendation image.

    I give CityStreetsVille a “Play it Now!” because even if some of the maps were not very polished, most were decent, some were extremely well-made and there was only one or two plain bad ones.

  16. MajorBanter

    I played them in reverse order, as I tend to burn out by the end few. Knowing Gimba’s was at the end was a nice way to work it for me.

    If you want more detailed feedback, drop me a reply.

    Trolleying Times

    Overall, an unpolished entry that shows promise – it needs tightening up around the edges. Personally, I didn’t have too many issues with the visual language, but I did read the comments before playing the level itself. In a word, clunky. Problems were things like good use of lighting being offset by poor use of lighting – a particular case being the room with the rising water. A spotlight or ceiling light would have shown me there were two vents rather than just one. I was also unable to figure out how to finish the level, as I couldn’t move the Combine APC off the tracks.

    Learn your lessons, and I think next time we should see something special. You have potential. Make it work.

    The Current Predicament

    It has some dreadful visual design, and some properly shonky stuff going on, but I really deeply feel that the author has talent here for gameplay design. It wasn’t perfect – reliance on the gravity gun to shunt vehicles allowed me to get to places I really shouldn’t have, but the weapons given were good choices, the enemies reasonably well placed, the ammunition and health amounts well judged.

    Genuinely, Winteryeti, well done. Keep it up.

    Raining Down Hell

    Well, it’s Marnamai. It’s good. Visually stunning, but I personally found the streets weak in terms of layout and direction, and the latter part of the map began to wear on me in terms of battle fatigue. I actually didn’t finish it once the strider turned up, sorry bru! Given the time frame however, I’m sure a couple more weeks of polish would have turned this into an excellent, spotlight earning map.

    The indoor fights on the other hand were a particular highlight of the competition, especially the attic sequence. The exact level of rock hard I like.

    Memory Lane

    I love seeing a change of tone and pace in these competitions. Unlike Phillip, I think the combat added an edge to the map that otherwise would’ve made it a bit too slow, but equally I feel there were too many enemies coming at the player.

    A nice concept, executed reasonably well. I appreciate the sheer amount of entity work that went into the map, and I’d love to see a similar, more visually polished effort another time.

    El Bucle

    A great, short level that sits well within the mapper’s capabilities. I loved the closed-in nature of the gunship fight, the swarms of metrocops at a distance great enough to make them enjoyable to pick off, and a brilliant slice of humour cutting through the whole thing.

    A little more focus on the visual polish, and developing your pacing ability will go a long way. A good effort, just needs a few more fights in the right places.

    Eye on the City

    This one’s a bit of a shame. There’s time spent backtracking, needlessly long corridors, and a massive boss fight that lacks any urgency because it’s frakking huge. Credit to the designer, there’s some good elements here; dropdowns to stop the player returning to old areas, some great entity work, and generally competent design.

    Definitely a case of refinement. Time constraints naturally mean things won’t be as polished as we like, that doesn’t mean you should pad things out. Try to keep sequences confined to specific rooms or areas, and it’ll pay off. The boss fight in particular just needed a few things here and there.

    Business District

    That start eh? For the first second I hated it. Then again, I’ve never felt more intimidated by a CP with an SMG. However, another non-finisher. There were no autosaves, and the strider fight – well, I didn’t find an RPG, but I did find plenty of rockets – that was as far as I got I’m afraid.

    I’m thinking another victim of ambitious scope, going big without the time to refine it. Some great ideas, and the initial barricade fight was good fun. Consider working on your difficulty and NPC use, and plan your time better.

    Beneath the Overpass

    Rollermines with hopper mines? Rappelling Combine next to you? A cramped, brutal map with some really great spaces, quite poorly used. Dysprogue, you know where you messed up on this I think, and while it’s certainly in the upper tier of the competition’s maps, it’s a disappointment because there’s a really solid level in here somewhere.

    Definitely a case of plan more and refine more. You can map fine, but it’s making the time and effort to sit and make every element tick.

    Avenue Odessa

    It’s Riomaki, JG, whatever. Gimba’s good. What’s demonstrated here is exactly how to make a competition like this work – a well designed area, with well paced enemy attacks and an interesting character hook come together in a refined, enjoyable sequence.

    It’s not flawless of course, but I don’t think I need to teach grandma how to suck eggs.

  17. EDIT: FOUND IT. (keypad number).

    Hated this one, too bad as the “Ville” is otherwise fantastic.

  18. Play It Now!

    This is one of the better “Ville” series mods, and with one exception they were all great. I found it very difficult to decide on which one I thought was best. It was between Avenue Odessa, Eye on the City and Raining Down Hell. I picked the last one. All 8/10 in my opinion. Beneath the Overpass, El Bucle and This Current Predicament 7/10, Business District 6 or 7/10 and Trolleying Times 4 or 5/10. I won’t bother repeating what others have said, I’m generally in agreement.

  19. Phillip, Darren, están gringos increíble. Se dice “ell BOO-clay”.

    Thanks for all the comments on my map so far, whether you enjoyed it or not I’ve found all the feedback useful! Just thought I’d share a few tidbits about the map and what I learned making it. Brace yourselves.

    This whole challenge, for me, was an exercise in the fabled “short but polished”. My map here is still not very polished, but it’s better than I’ve done before, and I feel like I’ve gotten a much better handle on what I can do and how well I can do it.

    I’ll again thank Phillip for that deadline extension. I understand it’s iffy to do in the middle of the process, but it was a massive help. My idea only started to solidify toward the end of the first week, but the deadline at that point was still only ten days, so I said “oh, well, maybe next time.” Once the news was announced, I did the happy dance for a few minutes, then got back into it.

    At first, like always, my pessimistic side showed itself, since I don’t really like City 17 as much as other HL2 environments. I’m a canals/coast man, myself. It then occurred to me that the theme was only “city streets”, not “City 17 streets”, so I brainstormed something bizarre and built some initial test maps. Decided to do a bright(ish), low contrast environment as a change of pace from the dark, high contrast entries I’ve submit in the past.

    Eventually I realized I liked the environment, but my backstory wasn’t workable. I spent days wrangling with the questions it raised until Occam stepped in and reminded me that the simplest answer would be not to bother. The end result was Combine enemies in a downtown city setting. Combine or, in this case, Civil Protection, since I’ve never been the biggest fan of them or pistol combat. It felt like it’d be good to try something I’m not used to.

    Once I decided to abandon my weird story, I was able to design one of the locales I’m most enamored of, midtown Manhattan in New York City. More accurately, a blend of that and an El station from Queens. There were elevated trains in Manhattan itself, way back when, but in recent decades only the outer boroughs have them, so I pulled the vague memories of the system from my childhood. Google Street View filled in the rest.

    I’m not happy that my El is basically running through a trench, which makes one wonder why it’s elevated at all, but on a deadline I had to make sacrifices of engineering logic in favor of controlling sight lines. The dingy, closed in result is kind of nice, I think, not just the way it feels on its own but as a contrast to the subsequent tall, stretched out architecture of the open city.

    As far as the progression of gameplay goes:

    The extended and, I must admit, patronizing monologue by Alyx at the start was, in combination with the barricade she won’t open until you get near the shield wall stairs, meant to drill into people’s minds what they had to do and where they were going. It doesn’t always work, I definitely need better lighting (read: any lighting) over where Alyx stands by the stairs.

    I also desperately need to broadcast the laundromat. The soft lighting and gray concrete textures everywhere don’t exactly call your attention in any particular direction. I had hoped the generator would get you looking into the alley, which would get you thinking about how to get back there. I also had the idea at one point to block the laundromat exit and have you drop down from a second floor apartment, but I thought better of trying to add something like that so late in the process.

    The Combine generator is the bane of my existence, I had problems with it for ninety-eight percent of the map’s development. I originally followed Valve’s example in d3_c17_10b too closely, by making a 40×40 ball spawner with only slightly larger func_clip_vphysics capping it. Maybe the spawner entity in Episode Two Source works differently, but set up that way I found the ball could easily escape its containment, breaking the map.

    With less than twelve hours until the deadline, I still hadn’t figured out the answer, and considered replacing the energy ball with that Episode Two autogun grenade closet thing, at least until I took a look at Valve’s implementation. It’s a nightmare, and it drove me to focus harder on refining my existing design. Some tweaks led me to the answer, making the spawner 2×2, which keeps the ball on the straight and narrow.

    Of course, where in that case it was sticking too closely to Valve’s design that caused my problem, now it looks like I deviated too much from theirs. Where they surround the whole thing with a clip brush, I used a playerclip instead. That means regular physics objects, like a car, crate, or turret, can easily find their way inside and disrupt the ball. So close, and yet so far.

    Now we come to the main combat in the map. One gunship would be too boring by itself, but two tended to create situations where they both landed on the same gunship crash target, which looked goofy. I needed enemies that’d be a small threat during the battle, and CP with long visibility/shoot seemed like an answer: they can pick off health faster than you’d expect, if you’re not paying attention, but you’re not hopelessly outgunned. As for positioning, the only place to put them that would be far enough away to create what I thought was satisfying crossbow action was atop the train station, but then how the hell do they get there? A dropship, of course, which ended up being another opportunity for some sort of humor. You’re given the initial impression that you’ll be able to just sit there and pick them off one by one as they hope out of the container, but then gunship.

    I’ve always enjoyed just sitting in Hammer’s sound browser, listening to various sounds and imagining what I’d build with them. The gunship alert, like similar Strider effects, just screams “downtown metropolis” to me. You run for cover as they attack, then look up to find they’ve vanished. It finally reappears at a distance between buildings, spots you, and howls. I didn’t manage to make things quite as dramatic as I’d hoped they’d be, but I still get goosebumps thinking about it.

    For the record, the gunship can in fact crash through the skybridge, but I didn’t want to script it to happen for everyone every time; I know most people won’t play more than once, but I’d have a perpetual itch in the back of my mind if I hadn’t provided the potential for a little unpredictability.

    It’s profoundly satisfying to find a number of people enjoyed the humor in the map, especially Alyx’s reaction to cleaning up the enemies. I scoured most of the Alyx VO and found all sorts of interesting things, but the “doggie” line exists without specific reference to Dog himself, and I’d have been remiss to ignore it. Having the player actually run to fetch something would have been funnier, but Alyx treating you as if you’re a pet she’s commanding seemed amusing too.

    I’m glad at least a few people liked the pacing of the map, because I felt like it needed more combat. I could just never could find a place to put more enemies that felt natural, and as the deadline ticked closer I realized I’d just be adding it for the sake of adding it.

    The ending I agree could have been much nicer, but moving the train would mean worrying about sight lines as players left the station during a long fade out. Shortening the fade, or better yet the train, might have worked, but a two car train seemed, pardon the grandiose terminology, distractingly inauthentic. I decided against trying to set the train up to move and focus on the map’s punchline instead. I’m not a comedy writer, but I’m reasonably happy with the end product.

    More technical details incoming! But in a separate post, since it’ll have links, and this thing is long enough without Phillip having to review the whole thing in the mod queue.

    1. Just a few extra miscellaneous notes that I couldn’t find a good place for in my other post:

      -I can’t thank Jason Gimba enough for the tip he posted in the CSV announcement thread about ai_script_conditions, it let me fire events only when player was near Alyx without having to keep her planted near a trigger. I’m going to abuse the hell out of this entity.

      -Like during my RavenholmVille and HorrorVille maps, I managed to track down and fix a bug in VMFII. This time it was func_breakable_surf that needed special treatment (its four corners are defined by keys missing, for some reason, from Valve’s FGDs). Metapyziks has accepted and merged my pull request, but the builds aren’t updated yet. You can build it from source if you’re so inclined, or wait for the next release:

      -I’d wanted to enable something based on a delay after the dead gunship had actually crashed, but there’s no output built into the entity for that, just OnDeath. I found that the Episode One attic gunship fight has an interesting entity filter setup that seems to allow the dead gunship ragdoll to activate a trigger. ep1_c17_02a is the map, I believe, and it’s something like a filter_activator_name set to the gunship’s name, but itself named “filter_gunship”, while a second filter_activator_name is set to “null” while being named “filter_gunship2”. The trigger in question then has its filter option set to the first filter.

      I don’t know how it works, maybe it’s hardcoded into the engine and only affects gunships, it certainly needs more investigation. I do know that I had some trouble where it wouldn’t work properly when my gunship crashed on one side of the skybridge, though, so I ended up forgoing the technique. To be fair, mind you, it’s almost certainly something I was doing wrong. I’m sure with more research an answer to my problem would present itself, and I’d recommend anyone who needs a dead enemy to trigger something should look into this.

      -Apparently models/props_trainstation/train_wheels1.mdl, when used as a static prop, causes the infamous “make_triangles:calc_triangle_representation: Cannot convert” error. It didn’t seem to have any effect on the map, but the message still showed up (only in Hammer’s output window, go figure, not the compile log). On top of that, hiding the models with QuickHide (hotkey h) didn’t get rid of the error, I needed to actually delete them from the map, or disable them with a VisGroup, to hide the problem. Switching them to prop_dynamic was the long term solution.

      -Speedmod entities need to have their speed changed to get the various spawnflag effects they offer; you can’t just tick the flags you want and fire ModifySpeed with a value of 1, you need to change it a little. I used 0.99.

      -At one point during development of the barricade sequence, I noticed the metrocop squad was right outside, when they should have been hanging out near the downed dropship. A little notarget testing, and I found that on map load they immediately started walking back to positions underneath the station. Not running the assault that brings them back after the flare launch, however; they were doing their actbusy thing but going toward nodes that weren’t actbusy hints. Not hints at all, in fact, just regular nodes. Restarting the game fixed it, so I don’t know what the hell was going on.

      Finally, I’ll share the fun stuff, the reference material I used as inspiration:

      For starters, there’s this location, which while not a station I’ve ever personally visited (as far as I remember), is representative of the majority.

      Some distance away, over 30th Place near the 59th Street Bridge approach, you’ll find the skybridge which inspired mine.

      Next up is a 3D Google Earth view of Park Avenue Plaza, basis for the shiny building across from the dropship crash.

      In late 2007/early 2008 I happened to be on the roof of PAP, and took the opportunity to grab a few shots of my own. One featuring the Citigroup Center, as seen in my skybox:

      The PanAm/MetLife building is also represented in El Bucle, as the tall green building behind the trainstation. It’s just about visible in the background of this photo:

      You can check the rest of my photostream there to see a few more, some better composed than others.

    2. JG

      Regarding the accursed Combine ball spawner –

      I believe the trick is to make sure that “Combine Power Supply” is checked on func_combine_ball_spawner. That’s supposed to make the volume itself act as a boundary for where the ball can go. I tried gaming my setup in the CombinationVille bonus map and the ball stayed in its volume regardless of how much I tried to interfere with it using chairs. Sometimes it wouldn’t bounce perfectly up and down, but it never escaped.

      It is a pretty annoying setup, to be sure. It still surprises me how the bases for it are not props.

      1. I was sure I’d checked Combine Power Supply in the options, and after going back to check I was right, it’s ticked just as it should be. I remember making sure that setting was selected from the very beginning, since I based this all on how the Valve bank map was set up.

        Going back into my map and trying my hypothesis, the crate is actually destroyed as soon as it touches the ball, but the turret can indeed disrupt the ball, as long as you can manage to place it in the generator while it’s still standing up (turrets’ collision being disabled, as it is, when they retire). I couldn’t get the car to do the same thing, but I can easily imagine it getting in there at the right angle and causing problems.

        Your comment about CombinationVille prompted me to go back and check your map. I got as far as the Library page for the mod, where I saw some screenshots I took back in August that I’d forgotten about. One of them, I’m sorry to report, showed something unfortunate. Note the chair. My apologies for not saying anything back then, but the mod had since been released and I guess I didn’t think it was important.

        1. JG

          The flag is supposed to keep the ball from leaving the volume. And, in fact, it’s what the code suggests it does as well. But it doesn’t surprise me that there’s a way to mess with it. As you suggest, it could be something that either broke or became more sensitive to breaking in Episode Two or in one of the version upgrades to the engine.

          Concerning some of your other points:

          – ai_script_conditions is indeed very useful for interactive NPCs. Odessa uses it several times to talk to the player if the player is near him AND looking at him for a certain amount of time. It feels more natural than having a big cylindrical trigger.

          – I’m not sure if this applies to the Gunship, but on the Hunter-Chopper at least, the whole “crash into a trigger” thing is really the only option you have. You need a trigger that filters for the Gunship and encompasses the area around the crash target. You will also need a failsafe logic_timer or a logic_relay (which you can disable or cancelpending on, respectively) to fire the events in case the Gunship doesn’t make it to the crash point. H-Cs are a bit different from Gunships in that you use the OnShotDown output to start this sequence, ending in SelfDestruct. Gunships lack OnShotDown.

          1. I don’t understand why even when functioning properly, mappers are expected to cap off the ball spawner with func_clip_vphysics on the Z axis themselves. Seems like a design choice destined to create problems like this. Curious.

            About the gunship, I did try a giant trigger over the whole map that filtered for the gunship’s name, but couldn’t get it to fire once the thing died. That led me to pick apart the Episode One map, where I found that oddball double filter setup. That seemed to work, but not when the ship died over by the train station roof. I suspect the trigger brush may just have not been thick enough over in that area, but I didn’t feel like screwing around with it forever, so I just went with a branch/delay approach.

            The gunship, roof CP squad, and skybridge CP pair each have a logic_branch that marks when they’re dead, and the logic_branch_listener watching them all enables Alyx’s “we made a real mess” script conditions after a seven second delay. Phillip’s video shows it just barely works, but barely working is better than not working at all. His video also enlightened me in showing that a crashing gunship can be slowed by further rocket strikes. Learn something new every day.

            1. JG

              I think the fundamental problem is that Combine balls are an edge case where they wanted them to be contained by collision, but still wanted the player to be able to pull them out or put them back in. That’s why the whole thing isn’t surrounded by a hollowed-out func_clip_vphysics. But as a result, unpredictable physics + unpredictable player = It’s not foolproof.

  20. A very interesting collection. My thoughts are as follows:

    Avenue Odessa – this was really good except you don’t actually get to kill the sniper. It just disappears once you get close which is disappointing. Also, what was up with the “faux British accent”?

    Beneath The Overpass – the path you need to navigate is interesting, but the volume of the instructions at the beginning is to low and I missed hearing what I was supposed to do. The ending is also quite abrupt

    Business District – too much spawning for my liking. I did like the ability to throw the gas canisters but thought the ending was weak

    Eye On The City – the beginning was strange as somehow the Combine can’t see you if you are crouched down here, and you have to make 2 trips to survive. Then the HEV suit magically appears once you get into the ammo cage. The enemy at the end was terrific though and it was worth playing just for that

    El Bucle – some good humour (Status: Nincompoops) but pretty small and simple. Wish it had more content

    Memory Lane – this was a really interesting and well done map. I just found going through the same street over and over a little repetititve, but I guess that was part of the story

    Raining Down Hell – this was terrific and I loved the addition of the “suppression” device. The best map of them all in my opinion. Barney got stuck at the end in the carcass of the fallen strider but that isn’t the author’s fault.

    This Current Predicament – I found this to be a fairly plain map and it was a little confusing that I had to double back to finish. On the plus side, I loved fighting the combine zombies with the gravity gun by hitting them with the wrecked cars!

    Trolleying Times – I was confused by this one. After the dropship deposited the 2 hunters it stayed there for the rest of the time wihch was noisy and annoying. I had difficulty getting into the building where the train car was. Eventually I got it but it was only after replaying the map. I would have enjoyed this map more if the combine dropship hadn’t been there with that awful noise all the time.

    Overall, the winner for me is “Raining Down Hell” and “Memory Lane” would be a trippy second.

    1. JG

      Also, what was up with the “faux British accent”?

      In what way? It’s strongly implied in Half-Life 2 that “Colonel” Odessa Cubbage is a fraud. The Combine Overwiki cited a post from Marc Laidlaw where Valve intentionally gave him a dodgy British accent to make the player suspicious of him. Cubbage had also claimed that he shot down the Gunship at New Little Odessa, taking credit for something Gordon Freeman did. This concept of Odessa being a shyster is also explored in the popular fan comic, The Adventures of Hercule Cubbage.

      For me, this makes Odessa a very interesting character as far as HL2’s friendly NPCs go. Among the major characters in the resistance, there really isn’t much internal conflict. The player trusts them implicitly. I think Valve noticed this too, which might have been one reason they invented Dr. Magnusson to rile everyone up. But until his arrival, there was Odessa. Although he’s ultimately a harmless buffoon, the fact that the player doesn’t entirely trust him – and is blatantly used by him – is a unique trait that distinguishes him from all the other friendly NPCs.

      1. To be honest, I was just going to chock the fake British accent to the original voice actor in Half-life 2, but this take on Odessa is much more interesting. I never really noticed the line about him taking credit for something that Gordon did, but seeing that he could just be a fraud is a very interesting concept.

        Never thought of it that way…

      2. Zekiran

        Hercule is such a great comic 😀

        I too absolutely feel that whoever “Colonel Odessa Cubbage” really is, he is NOT a Colonel and definitely not as Brit as his heavy affected accent implies. After all, his jacket says SECURITY on it. I play up on that aspect of him, in the one chapter in Repurposed (so far) that he’s appeared in. It will definitely show up again. I might have to swipe bits of this map’s presence (lol that sniping he does) when next he appears.

  21. Hec

    Just to let know. Business District entry has a terrible bug: once you find the Strider the whole map crashes.

    1. Strangely, it happened to me yesterday too. However, I played it a few times and that was the first time it did happen.

      1. Hec

        Yeah i replayed it twice, and the second time it was solved. Actually the bug Happened when i acces to the cellar in the workshop with zombies in it.

  22. John

    In Trolleying Times, how do you get the second trolley moving?

    1. Unq

      I think there’s only 1 trolley you get to drive. Have you taken the one out of the garage yet?

  23. JG

    I’ve gone back to Avenue Odessa and made a number of tweaks and fixes based on your feedback. I’m not entirely sure what form a 1.1 release would take, but there you have it.

    1. Please send it to me as I have to update the file anyway.

      1. JG

        I wouldn’t say it’s an imminent thing. I have some additional dialog on request, so that will take time to record and integrate.

        Among the things that have been addressed, however:
        – Sniper now shoots Zombies and Headcrabs.
        – Sniper is killed with Hopper Mines or Grenades. He doesn’t come down anymore.
        – Tweaks to the Sniper and Odessa Sniper’s timing.
        – Manhacks are not always in swarm mode, which creates some immediacy in that segment.
        – More physics props around the fountain area for fighting Hunters.
        – More health and armor around the level.
        – The player no longer takes substantial damage when the Strider shoots Odessa.
        – Odessa’s transition to leading the player is much quicker.
        – Odessa no longer looks like he’ll bang his head against the railroad signals.
        – Overall volume increase on all of Odessa’s lines.
        – Overall visual improvements.

        Things still on the list to address:
        – Redo lip sync and polish Faceposer scenes.
        – Add some dialog to more gracefully transition to Odessa’s leading segment.
        – Add dialog for if the player returns to Odessa early.
        – Add dialog for if the player blocks Odessa from leaving.
        – Potentially have Odessa throw down items to resupply the player.
        – Do something special for the gnome and the doll at the end.
        – QA pass once all this is done.

        Again, most of this is driven by your feedback, whether it came in written reviews or was observed in YouTube playthroughs!

        1. Sniper now shoots Zombies and Headcrabs.

          Noooo, don’t do that. I know I was one of the people complaining but it actually is a great mechanic. The zombies force the player out and for that reason the sniper probably wouldn’t shoot them. I just feel Odessa needs to warn the player with something like..”Oh! By the way, watch out for that cunning sniper. He doesn’t shoot the zombies”.

          1. JG

            It ultimately makes very little difference in actual gameplay. It didn’t require me to add more Zombies to compensate or anything. It’s just a player expectation that, for better or worse, is ingrained in HL2.

  24. Hec
    Play It Now!

    This, like the previous one, was a very nice competition. As a gamer I’m really glad to play plenty of entries within multiple cool city streets scenario. I also have to say I awaited this competition for so long, as I was one who always claimed for a city-urban ville, so once we have it here lets review it in deep.

    Avenue Odessa by Jason Gimba

    As many has noticed, all of the work from this author is quality and is very neat in mapping and gameplay too. Here with this entry there’s no exception. Is a quality piece of map and the whole gameplay is well paced.

    So my only criticism is mere subjective, I felt the map quite short, maybe too short, although every enemy was well distributed and placed in the map, I think I like to fight in a wider urban scenario with wide avenues and squares. Despite that this entry is an honorable mention, because the voice acting was delightful and the combat also is kind of short but intense all in all leaves a pretty nice taste after play it.

    Beneath the Overpass by Joseph William AKA Jowo/Dysprogue

    Overall I enjoyed this entry, but I felt the whole map quite too dark or badly lit. I also didn’t like those narrow alley streets where we start the map, and the whole urban scenario was quite bulky. Though the combat felt just OK, I really didn’t see the use of placing roller mines, in my opinion roller mines are maybe the most horrid enemy in HL2. In conclusion I felt this entry OK but not so Great neither, it has an average quality.

    Business District by RedGroupClan

    I was kind of excited by this entry as I like big HL2 Urban maps. And the action is there from the very moment you have to send those metrocops to the grave! But I feel the space was kind of badly used in the whole big map. I mean, I’d like to have more combat in that big circular avenue.

    Also with this entry I had a terrible bug that literally killed my HL2 game as stopped working once I enter into the cellar of the automobile workshop, that one with the zombies and headcrabs inside. I don’t know why that happened but strangely it was solved with a second from the scratch re-play.

    Despite that, the combat was intense and I liked it. It can get very hardcore at the end in that big open square, and some may found to battle 2 Gunships very hard, indeed it is. But I loved the mayhem, I finished only with some 5 of health but I didn’t use any cheat, so that leaves a sweet victory taste. But the finale was absolute horrible!! maybe some tech aspect was screwed off but that screen fading in black and not a thing to say: “its done. Thanks for playing” feels pretty awkward.

    El Bucle by Rob Martens

    “El bucle” in my native language Spanish means “The Loop”, so it has an interesting name but I have not absolutely any idea of why its called that way! As there are none reference to some loop in that entry at all.

    Anyways the whole open area section is very nice to look at, as feels as some modern occidental city, like those in Canada or the US. The combat felt OK but kind of bland. I really don’t like to fight against too much metro cops because they are not a big challenge as the other CMB soldiers. Here I think metrocops were just too many, some hunters would have been perfect and the Gunship battle was a nice detail.

    I also have to say I didn’t understand the finale. I mean, Why Gordo and Alyx headed to a wrong destination?? I hope this author continue some more maps in the future to explain that, as it sounds like a good idea for a wider mod.

    Eye on the City by The Blazer

    I loved the originality on this entry. And I don’t really know why some other modder haven’t tried the concept of a mighty eye cannon before. Actually if “Raining Down Hell” entry wouldn’t have been so good as it was, I would have voted for this entry as my winner. Despite that the mere concept of that mighty weapon and the actual implementation of that concept inside the map deserves a very special honorable mention.

    Is true that the beginning part it can be annoying, and maybe in some director’s cut edition can be suppressed and offer some night time combat instead. But once you reach the main avenue to destroy the eye cannon, things gets pretty nice avoiding the deadly laser beams. Though as I’m a hardcore player I’d love to have some extra challenge in there, like a sniper or some CMB soldiers in that section, despite that I really, really enjoyed this map.

    Memory Lane by David Newel

    This made me remember that house horror ville entry. Quite psychological horror touches with just screen text, and I think if combat would have been suppressed, that just wouldn’t bother me at all. Because the exploration of that dark city was sweet, it was nice to see how the story develops as you fetch curiosities in those places described in the notes this mysterious girl lefts for you.

    Despite that, the combat felt nice and I loved the snipers in those high rises. My only complaint about this entry is that left me wanting more. I mean, I thought it was another finale, but apparently there’s only 1, right?: as the one where you fall from the improvised table bridge, left more doubts than answers in this mysterious map. I hope the author can develop the story more in a longer and well deserved mod, I really love to play that in this rich HL2 universe.

    Raining Down Hell by Maarten Frooninckx AKA Marnamai

    This was a very nice entry. Just beautiful and with a very high almost valve quality standard. So it looks good and play even better. I loved that urban combat scenario, against CMB troops, Hunters and Striders! The combat pace was great! almost like in the original HL2 game where you battle inside City 17 in the heart of the rebellion.

    What more can I say, I voted for this as the winner as I liked a lot, I think is a well deserved winner. And I may dare to say Marnamai is at the level of Adam Foster’s work and he can perfectly can get a job in valve!!

    This Current Predicament by WinterYeti

    Possibly this was the one I liked the least. I felt the most areas sad and deserted, battling only against zombies is not cool and here I didn’t like it neither. So yeah I guess in my opinion this entry was the blandest of all, and you know, also the paths to solve the puzzles were strange and that’s it. I really was not very entertained by this map.

    Trolleying Times by Tony DeBlasio AKA Starman

    This was the perfect entry to play at the end of the competition, because the whole big map felt like a very big bonus entry. I loved the start pace of this entry and the combat was very nice too!
    We even fight some Hunters and that menacing mean Strider! Up to there this entry is perfect.

    BUT things screw off once you get totally lost of how to proceed to the Trolley Workshop which doors are totally closed!!! I guess little details like this are the main shortfall in Starman’s maps. I didn’t know that strange vent in the floor of the cellar was the access to the underground area of the map, and it took me figure out like 20-25 minutes, a very bad waste of time in a map. Then once you’re into the Trolley Workshop problems didn’t finish as you need a code to turn the power on!! I also get again lost and confused by other 10 minutes!!! What a torture! until I see a big bad arse lock in some vault and found the damn code.

    Despite that and once you solve those confusing issues in this map, the ending is pretty nice and the combat in there too! Overall I enjoyed this entry, and I liked how this original concept of the trolley was implemented in this map.

    So in conclusion
    This was a very nice competition, I really liked most of the entries and I hope we have more and more entries to compile in the future competitions. 🙂

    1. I struggled with the combat in my map. As I mentioned in my two giant posts earlier, I’m not a big fan of metrocops either, but I’ve had great success using these mapping challenges as opportunities to explore things I’m not comfortable with. I thought it was a good chance to try something new.

      I also considered Hunters, but two things made me leave out further combat: first, with the generator disabled, the Combine barricades under the train station were then stuck in their respective positions, so I couldn’t open new routes, or close off old ones, without adding a lot of mapping work for myself. Second, as JG discussed in his review, I didn’t want to try to stuff too much gameplay into too short a timespan. With a map that only lasts between six and eight minutes (maybe fifteen if you play it slow), I felt too little combat was better than too much.

      The finale was supposed to be funny. At the beginning, Alyx says that you missed your train, but maybe you can still catch the other one. In a train station with only two tracks, however, typically the trains travel in opposite directions. If you missed the one you wanted to get on, and instead board the other, you’ll end up heading away from your intended destination. I thought it’d be enjoyable to paint Gordon and Alyx as a couple of bumbling fools who’d made a silly mistake.

      As for the name, it serves several purposes:

      First and foremost is that the map was an attempt at so-called “loop” gameplay. Essentially, it’s having the player’s destination located nearby their starting point, but inaccessible, forcing them to travel in a loop around a series of obstacles before ending up close to where they started. I don’t believe I actually succeeded in making such a map, but it was my intent when I settled on the name. Search the Source SDK Docs wiki for the phrase “loops (level design)” to find an article describing this technique in more detail.

      Second, if a bit weaker, is the common gunship combat technique of guiding your rockets in a spiral toward the enemy, thereby avoiding its gunfire.

      Finally, “the el” is a common nickname, at least here in the northeastern United States, for railroad systems like the one you see in my map. It’s shorthand for “the elevated train”, and I thought that tied in nicely with the other possible interpretations of the map’s title.

      1. JG

        Being from the West Coast, I always thought it was the “L Train,” as if it was on the “L Line” of the train system. “El Train” makes sense, given that it’s elevated. “The El,” passing through Spanish however, sounds like “The the.” XD

        1. I’ve spent my entire life in the suburbs, personally, but my parents grew up in NYC, as did my grandparents. I picked up most of this stuff from their stories, and from occasionally visiting/working there. The subway system does have letter designations, I remember thinking the same as you until they explained the difference. Interestingly, a quick Google shows me there is in fact an L line, so context is important when talking about the trains. I think most often the word train is only used when describing service designations: “I’m going to take the L train” means the particular line you need to get on, where “I’ll take the El” means the elevated railroad.

    2. Yeah, Memory Lane has only one ending. Unfortunately, it is the one that you experienced. I never did manage to fit even half of what I wanted into the map as a whole, and that includes story.

      I did get a lot of feedback suggesting it should be remade into a mod. I can’t really imagine I’ll go much further than a single map (maybe two, depending on how difficult it becomes to maintain the level), but I definitely think there’s potential in finishing this as intended.

      No idea when, though…

      1. JG

        I’m sort of confused. Although it ended at the same point, I swear some people didn’t get the “To Be Continued” text that I got. 🙂

        1. I assumed that was just in the pre-release version of the mod that the mappers got.

            1. Yeah, there were a few different versions flying around for some maps.

  25. I realise its a bit late,
    but just thought I’d mention how much I enjoyed Phillps vid of playing Avenue Odessa.
    I havent laughed so much since his last one.
    I love the way everybody plays maps differently, add that to Phillips accent ( for some reason Aussies love Pommy accents) and his commentary and it was great.

    Ya gotta be happy with 9 entries Phillip,,

    1. Pedro,

      I’m glad you enjoyed my videos and yes, I am very happy with 9 entries.

  26. Unq
    Play It Now!

    Well I laid out more in-depth opinions in the recent CityStreetsVille podcast, but here’s more.

    My favorites of the bunch was Avenue Odessa. Nice opening vista, and I loved the Episode 1 style. Solid combat as well, though a bit more health near the end would help. Perhaps a way to offer the player health if he/she takes a risk, perhaps closer to the starting area, to make him/her come out of ‘cover’ near the fountain? Some nice touches of humor, both subtle and absurd.

    I really liked what I saw of Raining Down Hell – but as mentioned in the podcast, it kept crashing out on me right near the ruined building and footbridge to the attic. No error message, no warnings other than enemies becoming invisible a second or two before the crash. Definitely a strong map overall.

    After those two, my next ‘tier’ would include El Bucle, Beneath the Overpass, Eye on the City, and Memory Lane. Quite different interpretations of the city streets theme. El Bucle was great for its humor, tight combat, and daytime hazy setting. I liked the cramped feel of Overpass which made it different from all the other maps, although at times it was too cramped especially with the Combine tank bearing down on you with all the obstacles on the overpass. Eye on the City had a decent and short ‘stealth’ puzzle, and then surprised you with a unique and tough enemy. Unfortunately that enemy wallhacked and shot you through cover. A better introduction of the Eye could have helped build tension, and a little tweaking of the laser would have really helped cut down the frustration while still keeping the challenge. I liked the different approach of Memory Lane, and the sections with the hallways and doors designed to throw off the player were clever and did just that. Not the best combat-wise, but I definitely appreciated the uniqueness of the map.

    The others were all worth playing, although they had some shortcomings that kept them from really being higher in the pack. Really glad to see new challenge participants, though!

    Overall a solid competition with a nice variety of takes on the city streets theme, and a mix of ideas. Worth playing.

  27. Play It Later

    There’s some fun to be had here and other maps to be avoided.

    There seems to be an ongoing trend of simply throwing as many bad guys at the player as possible in maps these days. The right combination of NPCs, architecture and weapons can make even a single combine a challenge to kill. No idea why people insist on throwing 50 of them at the player at one time.

    Let’s get started…

    Avenue Odessa
    Nicely mapped and looks good.
    Design was nice right up until the final battle. Very little cover provided so no tactical options for me as a player. Very few physics props, and other elements that I would have liked to improvise with. Grenades might have been nice. An onslaught of bad guys with no where to hide and no other option than to cower behind the one shield provided and hope they don’t throw a grenade. Quite frustrating.

    Beneath the Overpass
    Mapping was pretty poor. Suggest mapper spends more time looking at the game and how things are put together.
    Missed the crossbow completely (Why would you put it there and not in the bathroom?)
    Was completely overwhelmed when i got through the window into the apartment as I only had a pistol.
    Ragequit shortly afterwards.

    Business District
    You start your map with me being shot in the face. You can get lost.
    I quit immediately as the mapper clearly has no idea what he’s doing.

    Eye on the city
    Think i missed this one. Will go back and play later.

    El Bucle
    The fairly basic mapping at the start was made up for by the interesting US downtown style area above ground. Nice use of fog and though it didn’t look realistic it certainly had a distinctive style that I liked.
    The fights and puzzles were so so. Nothing new or interesting to write home about but the combat was well balanced. Rob didn’t throw a billion combine at me which i appreciated.

    Memory Lane
    Yes yes very clever… and also rather annoying… moved on quickly…

    Raining Down Hell
    Looks great as always.
    Gameplay suffers from balancing however. As per my point at the top, gameplay is ruined by the fact that Marn insists on simply throwing bad guys at the player to create difficulty. There’s no reason for this and I hate that kind of gameplay.
    I played through most of this cursing at the screen as i was continually ambushed by just too many combine. Also, they’re often just a little too far away, so fell back on using the pistol as a sniper rifle (which I hate doing) or the crossbow once I got it.
    Odd use of item crates. Not enough where you need them and too many where you don’t.
    The final battle is a joke, i gave up even trying.

    This Current Predicament
    This map suffers from a mapper who needs more experience but there is some fun to be had along the way. Nice use of the cars and grav gun to block routes earlier in the play until the grav gun can be obtained.
    Focus more on what players will do rather than what you would like them to do.

    Trolleying Times
    Pretty poor mapping
    Annoying scripting. I spend the first 10 mins in the toilet.
    This isn’t a game, it’s just a series of events that you’re a witness to. No idea what the mapper was hoping I’d do but I clearly didn’t do it.

    I think people are being a little too generous with their review scores at the moment. There’s clearly problems with all these entries. Perhaps Phillip should consider different phrases because of course I think people should play this, probably might be good to play Right Now but that doesn’t mean its great…

    1. Slightly confused as to what you’re saying happened in your playthrough of Beneath the Overpass. The player starts with the Gravity gun, pistol, crowbar and smg (so by default you should start with your grav gun out) and there was a shotgun in the bathroom which the player practically falls on…

      1. Can’t explain it. When I entered the apartment there was an influx of combine that made me utterly unhappy. Nose to nose fighting makes me a sad panda…

    2. JG

      I don’t normally respond to feedback like this, but I have to disagree on “very little cover” and there being “nowhere to hide.” The entire area is filled with vehicles to run/crouch behind and you can use the center fountain to ring-around-the-rosey the Combine. The Combine exploit this, and you should too.

      Marnamai and myself use the standoff system a lot. The Combine are not on an unrelenting scripted schedule to go and get you. They are behaving in a tactical manner, advancing through cover, flanking and trying to flush you out. That’s what standoffs do. They bring out some HECU-like behaviors with the Combine and they need to be treated as such, or else, yes, you are going to get beat down.

      I agree with the “player is always right” philosophy in general, but there are limits. I’ve seen video of people trying to tank this battle, as well as the Sniper, and that’s just not a strategy I’m willing to encourage or entertain. Same with camping and trying to do the whole battle from one spot. Not going to happen.

      Also, for the record, there are 5 simultaneous Combine in the first wave and 6 in the second, with 2 up there on the skybridge who serve to cut the arena down the middle. It’s not 50 guys.

      Do there need to be more physics props and health/armor? Absolutely. I concede that, and there will be in the standalone release. But, in its current form, the battle is certainly winnable. I mean, our dear Phillip did it on Normal and I think he only died once. 🙂

      I think people are being a little too generous with their review scores at the moment. There’s clearly problems with all these entries.

      You are entitled to your opinion and others are entitled to theirs. Any map faced with a strict 17-day time line is bound to have some issues and I think it’s crazy what some mappers managed to accomplish in such a short time, especially Marnamai. I think reviewers are taking these limits into consideration. No one is expecting perfection here, but what you are getting is more than an hour mostly entertaining content for the low, low price of free. 😛

      1. Ok let me respond.

        The fact that it’s a mod and free is irrelivant. All the mods and maps on here are free and we are encouraged to review their work.

        I am, indeed, entitled to my opinion.

        The timeframe of the comp is taken into account and in my opinion other comps have shown a higher quality of mapping and level design. Regardless of the timeframe the play experience is either fun or it isn’t. In this case I didn’t find it to be fun.

        A hold out arena should offer various routes for the player and enemy to battle. I attempted to flank the attackers in various ways and found the design to be flawed. Sorry if you feel this to be a harsh judgement.

        I’ve submitted plenty of work to the site which met with fair and mixed reviews and feel I’m qualified to offer an informed opinion.

        I didn’t say this map specifically threw 50 bad guys at the player. That comment was more directed at other maps in the pack. It was the lack of cover and player options that bothered me about “overpass”.

        1. gah sorry didn’t mean Overpass. Meant Odessa.

  28. Play It Now!

    A bit late to the party with this review but I got chance to play through this Ville map pack while uploading a massive video to YouTube.

    I’m not going to go into each map in too much detail but I will just mention the points on each that stuck in my mind for better, for worse.

    Avenue Odessa was simply amazing. Moving down the street from cover to cover, avoiding the zombies and ducking sniper rounds. The stand off at the end was ok, but felt a little weaker by comparison and the finalé with the strider was just kind of odd.

    Beneath the Overpass committed one of the deadly sins of mapping as far as I am concerned. I got trapped between the overpass wall and the buildings. You shouldn’t allow the player to enter a space with no possible way of getting out. Some players, myself included, make daft mistakes when they’re not sure how to progress, which is another issue I have with this map.

    Business District felt as though it was made by a relatively new mapper who was a little out of his/her depth… I was getting shot in the face before the level even faded in from black, there were several invisible walls and fighting constantly spawning metrocops at one point was getting so dull that I wandered around for 10 minutes assuming I’d gone the wrong way…

    Eye on the city was OK. The starting puzzle was neat but a little drawn out. I would have preferred to start in the puzzle room, work out what my goal was and then collect a single breeze block to weigh down the cage rather than two. Nothing else stuck in my mind I’m afraid, other than the titular “eye on the city.” I really enjoyed working my way up the street, but after acquiring the rocket launcher there was no challenge to finishing it off which was a shame.

    El Bucle was one of my favourites, which puzzles me because the mapping seemed a little basic, but it was definitely very original. As others have said, it feels more like a western city as apposed to eastern European. I liked it.

    Memory Lane was a little annoying for me. Some voice acting instead of text would have improved it tenfold in my opinion. Other than that, the map was fairly bland.

    Raining Down Hell was probably my personal favourite of the lot. It felt very official and if I’m perfectly honest I would have taken this suppression field battle over the one in the original game.

    This Current Predicament bothers me in that it didn’t feel like a city at all. At risk of sounding a little daft, it felt like a video game… Of course, that’s exactly what it is, but it felt dated. Older than HL2. Hell, even older than HL1. It took me back to the days of Duke Nukem 3D and Doom. The primary objective throughout seemed to be “Move forward and kill the things” while the environment only vaguely resembled what it was claiming to be.

    Trolleying Times was a chore to play. The design of the city street was great in my opinion. Everything below ground however was just strange. The gameplay was also difficult to enjoy. I had to resort to watching Phillip’s playthrough 3 times just to find my way, and in the end I just wanted to finish the damn thing through sheer frustration. Sorry…

    Overall though, there are a couple of gems here that deserve to be played, but don’t spend too long on the maps that are frustrating you. You won’t get that time back!

  29. Many of the maps in this Ville were okay, while others were rather poor. Nonetheless, I completely recommend “Raining Down Hell” and “Avenue Odessa” as excellent (in that order). I intend to replay those maps at some point!

  30. Play It Later

    As is my habit, I’ll review the maps in this StreetVille mod from best to worst:

    El Bucle
    It is great!

    For me, El Bucle takes the 1st place in this Ville. While the environment was sometimes a bit simple, I really liked the USA-style of the city. The fog and the skyscrapers created a fascinating and good looking atmosphere. Gameplay was good as enemies were challenging but never overwhelming and Alyx was well implemented. All in all a very solid map … !

    Avenue Odessa
    It is great!

    Avenue Odessa follows closely behind El Bucle in my opinion; visually, it was superb and the gameplay was good. Though there was little stuff to throw around with the gravity gun and things got a little confusing at the end with Cubbage Odessa appearantly provoking the Strider though it was hard to understand due to the music. Still a very enjoyable entry despite these minor cons.

    Raining Down Hell
    It is good

    Raining Down Hell takes the third place with nice visuals and -again- good gameplay. Its hard to detect flaws although Barney proved to be a serious problem; first I lost him somewhere in a building and had to backtrack to ‘retrieve’ him. After he eventually reached the console at the Combine bridge between two buildings, nothing happened. I found out Barney is supposed to gain access to the bridge, but he did sadly not in my case. Despite this, Raining Down Hell was still an amusing experience.

    Memory Lane
    It is good

    Visually not stellar but the story was REALLY immersive. The highlight was in the vent were you found the burned corpse and suddenly realise … you’re literally gonna get burned … ! One of the most memorable moment in HL2-mods in my opinion. Combat however dragged on too long and distracted too much from the fascinating story.

    Eye On The City
    It is good

    The nice custom skybox and good lighting resulted in a visually nice map. Gameplay in the beginning was kinda boring but improved later when the ominous Tripod-esque structure came into picture. This bizarre weapon sometimes damaged me while I was behind cover, but lots of health and batteries made up for this error. Nice map … !

    Beneath The Overpass
    It is okay

    Kinda narrow and I gotta say the environment looked somewhat basic. The gameplay wasn’t perfect but it was certainly doable. The Combine machine attached underneath the overpass was a nice touch.

    Business District
    It is okay

    OK, so this map starts with two Metrocops shooting you in the face from inches away and combat at the barrier further down the street dragged on WAY too long. After that, gameplay was actually pretty good but I got consistent crashes shortly after encountering the Strider. A shame, because I was curious how this map ends.

    This Current Predicament
    It is okay

    Very basic environment and gameplay wasn’t very exciting. The encounter with the Hunters later in the map was kinda rough but I managed to beat This Current Predicament legit.

    Trollying Times
    It is bad

    Trollying Times looks very nice actually … ! But … I spend the first minutes in a small apartment and couldn’t go anywhere. When I got outside, a Strider and a number of Combine really beat the crap outta me and I died 28 times in a timespan of 5 minutes. I eventually succeeded in destroying the Strider with exactly 1 Health remaining, but then a bunch of Metrocops decided to ruin my day. My death count reached 40 just fifteen minutes into this map, and I ultimately decided to give up.

    1. Couldn’t resist the temptation to replay Trollying Times and conserve my health carefully to make it through the initial battle. This map is … odd. Turns out the initial battle was the heaviest in the map and what follows is a fascinating yet odd underground environment; metal grates that are breakable while they don’t look they are, vents leading to dead ends, invisible but hazardous steam, and more. I guess I’m luckily a realised the very well-hidden dark valve crank was a crucial object. Once above ground, a door had to be opened with a code, but said code was also well hidden in a box.
      All in all, this was a very unconventional entry that made me confiused many times … !

      1. Sounds like you just had your first run-in with a Tony DeBlasio map. 🙂

        Yes, he has his own way of doing things that defies convention and leaves many stumped and confused. Thing is, it’s not even internally consistent. Many of his maps recycle architecture and scripting, so you eventually learn to identify one in advance and adjust your mindset accordingly!

        1. Yeah, gotta say it was a fascinating but sometimes frustrating (especially the merciless combat in the beginning). Looking back in hindsight it kinda makes sense but during my playthrough I scratched the back of my head more than once. But again; the visuals were pretty good … !

  31. Play It Later
    Avenue Odessa
    It is great!

    An exceptional map which takes humour to a whole new level. I really wanted that sniper to take out the zombies and it was a little strange to see him leave his position but this works well overall for what follows. I felt a little stranded in the battle against the combine but it works quite well… Though I lost interest when all those hunters came which I thought was way OTT. And our sniper friend is kinda rubbish too lol

    Beneath the Overpass
    It is great!

    I think this is a claustrophobic map! Often there’s nowhere to take cover and I felt it needed to be spaced a little better… but the design is there and the ideas work to a point. It just feels cramped, even for a city. The armoured truck part didn’t quite “feel right” to me. I also feel it didn’t work well with the car/radar at the end. However, there is lots of good action through a well thought out environment, just too closed-in for me. This is a map I can play again and again!

    Business District
    It is good

    What a strange start, but it works quite well. The sniper scene seemed somewhat unfair the first time I fell into the trap but the grenades are nearby and it works but a heads up would have been nice, perhaps if the sniper was active from the start? The battle after is a little strangely done which leads onto a spooky area before the Strider. This just stood there but I clobbered it with hits and then secondary fire from my gun. Didn’t really get this part… Loved what followed even though I thought I’d cheated by using the barrel to hop over the gate lol. The gunships where OTT imho. Needed better cover I thought… This could have been superb with a few tweaks to balance it and get certain parts making sense. Potentially such a brilliant map.

    Eye on the City
    It is great!

    I’m stuck between Good+Great for this map. The start was so unique and it took me a little while to figure I was to sneak by the guards, after looking everywhere else in silence trying to figure out if there was a weapon nearby etc, etc. Found the room and realised I needed a weight. Argghh!! I had to sneak back and collect a block BUT it wasn’t enough and I had to collect another!!! LOL this was killing me – heart racing like I’d ran a marathon!! Brilliantly done, I thought. The action scenes after are good and I really did enjoy every from the start to discovering the weird EYE on the city! Darn I did not expect this. I was a little gutted the game flipped into this end-of-level like situation tbh, because I wanted the adventure to continue on before reaching this stage. But then I was scorched by something I’d never seen before. Trying to nip in-between the safe places, looking for anything that would help was a killer. Save game time!! It’s hard, there’s not a lot of places and I found it a little unfair sometimes that the laser would still hit me even though I was hiding well… The only thing that spoiled this entire part of the game was the hefty backtracking. This shouldn’t be, kinda ruined what was a crazy map. And boy is it crazy, I was so glad when that thing died lol

    El Bucle
    It is great!

    Another map with some great humour and I liked that. This was designed really well for the earlier scenes, I thought Alyx was helpful too. The outdoors scenes reminded me of older / retro’y FPS games I’ve played over the years and I was so glad to see lots of ammo and decent places to shelter during reloading etc. I have zero complaints and really enjoyed this -short- map.

    Memory Lane
    It is okay

    A Marmite map! Quite spooky with an interesting story but it was often a little odd knowing just where to go next. The interlinking door part was outstanding but other parts are the mirror opposite like when the combine come in a massive amount. Didn’t seem to fit and work well, I thought. Good idea but there’s something that just doesn’t work and it feels awkward. I’d love to see if this ever gets developed+tested further.

    Raining Down Hell
    It is great!

    I’ve gotta say how much I enjoyed this challenging map. It isn’t always obvious were to go next but the flow of the storyline works so well. It’s a belting map spoiled by everything that comes with and after the strider! Seems like everything was thrown at the player and was a little OTT for me…

    This Current Predicament
    It is okay

    Rather plain in looks but I liked working my way through. Very demanding with little ammo lying around but this makes you club the zombies rather than being lazy and shooting them! I however found their patterns a little strange, esp outside after the staircase that’s littered with boxes. I dunno, felt awkward… The ammo situation and lack of more weapons didn’t work when the Hunters came and I was left almost defenceless. Not good. Shame really as this spoiled the previous parts.

    Trolleying Times
    It is okay

    Not too sure what to make of this one. It sure has its own style! I didn’t care for the start which made little sense and then I was stalked by a Strider. The combine coming on the tram was funny and I managed to kill the strider using the ammo here. The first time I play, I didn’t do this and went for a run instead. Found another tram but it was oddly behind locked doors, so I run back to have the combine burst out of the doors earlier on. Amazing that, loved it!! Just by pure luck, I tried my crowbar on the vents which first looked a part of the textures – but they break open! Not immediately obvious… So it’s all a bit clunky but enjoyable. Sadly, this ended when I dropped down into the sewers because I simply got stuck here. There’s a room with another vent but this leads nowhere. The two ends of the sewer are padlocked but they lead nowhere. There’s another small door near a dead body, but this lead into a room of nothing. Okay, there’s a button but it didn’t do anything for me. So now I’m confused…


    All in all, I really liked this Ville. There’s some odd ones mixed in with some killer ones too. Sometimes it was a little too hard for me and my gaming skills but I really really enjoyed this lot. Sadly, I didn’t really find a map that I would class as golden, but that’s just my taste.

  32. Play It Now!

    Raining down hell and The current predicament look and play good. The others I didn’t care for.

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