Companion Piece – Map Labs Test Tube #2

for Half-Life 2: Episode Two

27th February 2019

For Valentine’s Day, the Source Modding Community Discord announced a short mapping challenge. This one was a Test Tube, which means it only ran for a few days instead of the typical 3 weeks.

The theme was to make a map featuring a companion or sidekick character. Bonus challenge for creating the map with a companion as well!

The challenge recieved 7 entries and 1 bonus map, here they are!

Basic Details
  • Title: Companion Piece
  • Filename: sdk-2013-sp-mlc-companionpiece.7z
  • Size : 197 MB
  • Author: The_GuardianTM, White_Red_Dragons, Matt71490 AKA Event Horizon, Steven Cabbage, Jean Knapp aka XBLAH, Aleksandr Lavrinovitš aka alex_mmc, 1UpD, Tiop, Dave, PineappleSurprise, David Driver-Gomm, Kralich, JanKaszanka, Aran
  • Date Released: 26 February 2019

Download Options

Download to your HD [197 MB]

Sorry, this version cannot be used with Gauge.

Manual Installation Instructions
  • Make sure you have the Upcoming branch of the Source SDK Base 2013 Singleplayer installed in Steam and run at least once. (Properties – Betas – select upcoming from the dropdown list).
  • Copy the “companionpiece” folder into your SourceMods folder.
  • Restart or start Steam.
  • Companion Piece should now be listed in your Library tab.

Reviewing

If you decide to use the Per-Map Opinion Images, please either watch the video below or use the file below:

CompanionPiece-Review-Template.txt

Thank you.

Entries

Listed as they are displayed in the mod itself:

Carnival Wanderlust by The_GuardianTM and White_Red_Dragons
Mapper’s Block by Matt71490 AKA Event Horizon
Hazardous Route by Steven Cabbage
Kraken by Jean “XBLAH” Knapp and Aleksandr “alex_mmc” Lavrinovitš
The Hatchling by 1UpD, Tiop, and Dave
Roller Mill by PineappleSurprise
Crate Expectations by David Driver-Gomm and Kralich
A Map with No Name by JanKaszanka and Aran (bonus map)

Community Poll

Time for you to share your thoughts! Vote for your top 3 Companion Piece maps. Poll closes 15th March 2019.

Which 3 Companion Piece maps are your favorites?

  • Crate Expectations by David Driver-Gomm and Kralich (5%, 4 Votes)
  • Roller Mill by PineappleSurprise (15%, 12 Votes)
  • The Hatchling by 1UpD, Tiop, and Dave (22%, 17 Votes)
  • Kraken by Jean "XBLAH" Knapp and Aleksandr "alex_mmc" Lavrinovitš (26%, 20 Votes)
  • Hazardous Route by Steven Cabbage (17%, 13 Votes)
  • Mapper's Block by Matt71490 AKA Event Horizon (8%, 6 Votes)
  • Carnival Wanderlust by The_GuardianTM and White_Red_Dragons (8%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 34

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Screenshots

Ask Toki.

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

3 recommendations, average score: 4 (out of 5), standard deviation: 0.67 (what's that?)
Total Downloads
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    Overall
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Meta Review Data
Statistics based on 4 comment(s) with meta review data.

Installed:
Using Gauge: Users
Manually: 4 Users

Time Taken:
Average: 1 Hours, 38 Mins
Shortest: 1 Hours by Steven Cabbage
Longest: 3 Hours by KILLER_9639
Total Time Played: 6 Hours, 30 Mins
If you believe this release is missing important tags, please suggest them in a comment?
Jump to a review
Play It Now!Play It LaterMaybe?

17 Comments

  1. Play It Now!
    Carnival Wanderlust
    It is okay

    I love the atmosphere that the author created. But the map turned out to be boring and uninteresting. I could not finish this map because I could not enter the access code in the secret room. And the companion was not very interesting. But it worth playing.

    Mapper’s Block
    It is great!

    This is really a creative map.There is a little crazy combat at the end. The author even recorded his voice for the map. I can’t describe everything here so I highly recommend playing this map.

    Hazardous Route

    It was very interesting to making this map. I’m lucky that the challenge started at the beginning of my school holidays. But setting up the NPC was very hard because of his autistic behavior.

    The Hatchling
    It is WOW!

    Well, what can I say about this map? It deserved the first place, didn’t it? Making a headcrab companion is a very interesting decision. But the combat at the end looks a little boring. Anyway it worth playing.

    Kraken
    It is good

    The authors made a rather large map and they had to spend a lot of time on it, I guess. But the companion turned out disgustingly useless and silent. In any case, the map is interesting and creative.

    Roller Mill
    It is good

    The companion turned out a interesting. But as for me, level design of this map is cheap and boring. Anyway I recommend this map.

    Crate Expectations
    It is great!

    I love the humour of this map. But puzzles are very easy and cheap. The end was good. In my opinion the companion is nice.

  2. KillerMate

    There is a note about the closure of the carnival in one of the room. The key code is there

    1. I tried to enter the code but it showed me error. I used noclip to go through the door.

      1. Regarding to what is been said:

        If you enter the code wrong, the keypad will glitch and you will have to restart the map

        The code is a 4 numbers pass.

  3. KillerMate

    In the note there is a date. This is the code. It worked for me (on the third door)

  4. There is a stream of companion piece and other challenges on my twitch channel.

    https://www.twitch.tv/stevencabbage/video/388463246

  5. Play It Later
    Carnival Wanderlust
    It is okay

    This one had a really good atmosphere and some decent visuals, but the gameplay was rather dull. The companion you get is a Combine Scanner. I didn’t know this at first and just walked past the thing the first time I encountered it. Later I thought that maybe the Scanner was the companion. I went back to where I first saw it and it wasn’t there and I had to restart the map.
    Actually, this whole map is beatable without the Scanner. The only thing it does is point a light at something which is not that hard to spot, and open a door for you (which you can actually open regardless of the Scanner being there).
    The “puzzle” with the door code was a bit frustrating to figure out. It’s not very likely that players will think as detectives when playing a map.

    Mapper’s Block
    It is okay

    I like maps with a bit of an absurd theme. This map accomplishes that but not much else. The gameplay starts out ok enough, but when you reach the area it’s just shoot-a-bunch-of-things and after a little while the map ends.
    Your companion here is a weird machine-thing-guy, apparently representing the creator of the map. It’s short, it’s a bit bland, and I expected better from Matt, who has released some great entries for other challenges.

    Hazardous Route
    It is good

    This was a decent entry. Visuals were good. Gameplay and combat fell a bit short in a few places though.
    Firstly, the puzzle at the start with the orange valve. I saw I needed it, and I saw that I needed three batteries to open a gate. I thought the valve would be behind the gate, and that I needed to find a way to open it. After walking around for a while, I eventually found the valve just lying in a corner behind some boxes. Not a great first impression.
    There is some zombie combat, which didn’t entirely work because sometimes my companion (which is a rebel, by the way) would suddenly stop doing anything and would just walk around the enemies.
    The first Combine combat was a bit too sudden, throwing six Metrocops at once at you, four of which right in front of you. After this there is a section with a Sniper and a Metrocop with a turret. This was quite annoying as the Metrocop starts shooting at you if you are only slightly within line of sight.
    The final part with the combat was also too dull. The enemies stand about 100 metres away from you, and with a turret with a lot of bullet spread this is quite annoying.
    All in all I would say this was an enjoyable entry, but it has some obvious flaws.

    Kraken
    It is good

    Very long and enjoyable entry, but sadly it falls flat on quite some points. Firstly, the map looks more like it was optimized for visuals rather than gameplay. There are a lot of open areas, so the combat usually revolves around peeking behind a corner.
    The map is just too dark at some spots. Not in the sense of it being atmospheric or anything, but just hindering your sight. Best example of this would be the cylinder-shaped “tower” section, where there are some Soldiers with AR2’s on multiple stories, who can see you clearly, but you can’t see them at all without the flashlight on, which doesn’t shine very far.
    This entry has some poor prop placement. I noticed a lot of things like pipes and doors not being alligned, and that wasn’t even when I was looking for it, it’s that obvious at times.
    The part where you are chased by the Ichthyosaur didn’t really work because you can easily jump over the trigger which starts the event, and just walk calmly through the area.
    At the end I was very confused where to go and what to do. I noclipped out and flew around to see where I was supposed to go. Turns out you had to run THROUGH THE FIRE and turn right into a hallway, which can VERY easily be missed.
    For the companion theme, this entry had Alyx. She disappears somewhere in the map and appears later, which I liked.

    The Hatchling
    It is great!

    Loved this entry. It has a very unique companion: a headcrab. This headcrab helps you with multiple things, combat, progressing through the map, etc.
    This entry is hillarious without any word being said. I laughed my ass off when the headcrab sat down in the little basket. There are a lot of funny and great things which I won’t spoil.
    Only real weak point I can find is the final battle not being that great, but I still didn’t find it that bad.
    This entry does everything this challenge wants mappers to do. It won for a reason.

    Roller Mill
    It is great!

    This entry uses a companion which I have always found criminally underused: friendly Combine Rollermines. I really love how this is used here. It allows for some puzzle solving and assists you with combat, but most of the time it doesn’t assist you enough to the point where you don’t have to do anything.
    Only weak points I can think of are the visuals, which sometimes didn’t look THAT well but were mostly good, and that sometimes progresing really just revolves around throwing the Rollermine in a vent and waiting.

    Crate Expectations
    It is okay

    This entry’s companion is a box with a smiley painted on, who can talk. You use him to solve puzzles and somewhat help in combat. The puzzles are nothing special, and some of them can be cheated. The crate also kind of helps you in the first combat encounters, acting as cover and something you can throw in Soldier’s faces. I only really needed him the first encounter, as after that you have enough ammo to shoot and don’t really have to use the box anymore.
    One of the things that bothered me was that when a save is reloaded, the voice lines at the beginning start playing again, and it’s really annoying.
    This entry had some potential, but it mostly falls flat.

    A Map With No Name
    It is bad

    This entry starts out pretty good but it goes downhill faster than a one night stand with a cactus.
    The map starts with a good setting and some good gameplay, but after that there is a fight with a zombie of some sort. It’s only one zombie, but it can take a about hundred shotgun shells before it dies. This fight is so incredibly tedious and boring, and the map is over after this.
    As for the companion part, it’s just Barney. He doesn’t say or do anything special.

  6. Well, alrighty, the Third Map Labs is here. Let’s see how it stacks up to the rest.

    Carnival Wanderlust
    It is okay

    This map started out pretty nice. Atmosphere was spot-on, giving off the definite feeling of abandonment and has a nice eerie feel to it. My issue with it is that in terms of gameplay, it’s basically nonexistent. You flip a switch, find a keycode and open a door. That’s it.

    It felt like there was supposed to be buildup to something, but it’s just some message about breakups leading to suicide? Felt a little heavy-handed. The companion was okay, but the flashing was quite annoying.

    Mapper’s Block
    It is bad

    Yes, it’s a more joke-y map, like “The Creator”, but like that map, it’s just too random and stupid for my liking, plus the amount of ammo you get is really, really low. Voiceover wasn’t absolutely terrible, but there’s nothing really of note here overall.

    Hazardous Route
    It is great!

    And then we have Freeman and Bo-… wait, wrong challenge. But yes, this is essentially the same concept as that really nice bonus map, but done slightly worse. Considering the time-frame though, it’s honestly really good. Aside from some finicky pathing, I really had no problems with the companion.

    Though I will say, that defense section at the end was baaaaad. Like, you’re essentially trying to snipe white dots with a machine gun, since they seemingly won’t come any closer. Overall, not a bad experience though, definitely one of the better maps that sticks to the theme.

    Kraken
    It is great!

    Speaking of maps not sticking to the theme, we have Kraken, a really, really good map considering the timeframe, but really doesn’t stick to the theme at all aside from a small section with a hacked rollermine.

    Hell, for 2/3rds of the map, Alyx isn’t even there. Disappointing on that front. On everything else though, it’s great. I’ve never, ever seen a map try to do a recreation of Kraken Base. The aesthetics throughout the map were quite unique, balancing between areas similar in aesthetics to HL1 to some industrial sections which remind me heavily of the sewer section from L4D2’s “The Passing”.

    Overall, despite it not really fitting the theme of the competition, probably still the best map here. Well done.

    The Hatchling
    It is great!

    One of the more unique companion-based maps, this features you teaming up with a newly hatching Headcrab to leave a set of caves. Firstly, oh my god, i’d never thought i’d see a parasite be this cute. Seeing them in that little crate was just adorable. Otherwise, the map’s pretty good. Headcrab’s a little slow, but generally the puzzles were fun, as was the final battle.

    Your companion’s fairly useful throughout, whether to progress or to act as a meatshield. Definitely a good one overall.

    Roller Mill
    It is great!

    Now this is how you use a companion, puzzles, attacks, simply chucking them at people, always useful throughout. While the visuals were lacking, it made it up in gameplay. Definitely one of my favorite entries.

    Crate Expectations
    It is okay

    Also known as “No expectations”. It’s a set of puzzle rooms featuring a heavy, annoying crate. Puzzles are repeated numerous times throughout, sometimes with no variation at all. While it uses the companion heavily, the quality of the map isn’t that high, and I found the companion not enjoyable in the least.

    The Map With No Name
    It is bad

    This is the only map that made me go “Huh?”

    It’s a simple door-opening section followed by the worst boss i’ve seen. One that takes obscene amounts of ammo to kill, and can be conquered by standing on a console. While it has more actualy gameplay than, say “Carnival Wanderlust”, it lacks atmosphere or, really, anything. Definitely one of the weakest entries besides “Mapper’s Block”.

    ———————————————————————————————————————————————————-
    Overall, this competition went way better than I expected it to, considering the timeframe. If I had to choose a winner, it’s probably be either Roller Mill, Hazardous Course, or The Hatchling. While Kraken was great, it just didn’t fit the competition that much.

    I enjoyed this quite a bit, and I’m definitely gonna’ keep out an eye for more of these in the future.

    1. Completely agree about Mappers Block. I couldn’t think of any other ideas so I just went with the first one that came to mind (hence the name). I was really close to not entering it at all but I still did despite my better judgement. Tried putting more effort into the presentation & visuals of the map than I did with The Creator, but it still turned out kinda ugly. In regards to the ammo, you originally got much more, but I had used “impulse 101” which I forgot doesn’t work without sv_cheats enabled.

  7. Anon_1757188

    Under Linux every Map is playable, only the last one is broken. Barney does nothing. So i got stuck at a locked door (with Dr. Kleiner behind the door, i nocliped…) And nothing happens…

    1. Linux is also my OS of choice. Thanks for the input on which entries worked. I have been playing with “wine” (actually PlayOnLinux) with very few problems. I gave up on native linux because often the mods failed. Do you have some tips or tricks (such as lower casing all the text in gameinfo.txt, etc.) that you use with linux? Distribution?
      __________
      And to all of the mod contribitors and site managers out there: Thank you again for the enjoyment you have given us!

  8. Carnival Wanderlust

    It is okay

    good Atmosphere but the companion was a combine scanner, i hate combine scanners and he helped you like once, also it was very short.
    Mapper’s Block

    It is great!

    custom enemies and the companion was the mapper himself.
    Hazardous Route

    It is good

    the AI is not that good but there is a gnome so it’s good.
    Kraken

    It is bad

    oh how far XBLAH has fallen.
    The Hatchling

    It is WOW!

    i got to carry around a headcrab in a plastic crate, mod of the year.
    Roller Mill

    It is great!

    i hate roller mines, but this one was cool
    Crate Expectations

    It is WOW!

    name 10/10 story 8/10 the crate 7/10 ending 9/10 mod 8/10 the crate is like the companion cube but it talks and you don’t have to be insane to hear it. -ign.
    The Map With No Name

    It is dire!

    it’s, just, what, i mean WHAT!?.
    mapping challenge 7/10 would play again -ign.

    1. You should format your reviews better. Also, elaborate more on the points you make, it feels like a joke review atm.

      1. sorry, i still don’t quite know what i’m doing.

  9. Carnival Wanderlust by The_GuardianTM and White_Red_Dragons
    It is bad

    Broken Its alright but it took me ages to figure out it was broke and the companion was annoying

    Mapper’s Block by Matt71490 AKA Event Horizon
    It is great!

    I loved the behind the scenes feel. Not the best but it was still good.

    Hazardous Route by Steven Cabbage
    It is great!

    Loved this. there was a great balance between puzzle and shooting. Companion was helpful which was great as there was lots of situations where he saved me from dying.

    Kraken by Jean “XBLAH” Knapp and Aleksandr “alex_mmc” Lavrinovitš
    It is great!

    The most part this map is awesome the layout and everything. The monster was broken and i couldnt figure out what to do. But in the end i came up loving it.

    The Hatchling by 1UpD, Tiop, and Dave
    It is WOW!

    I loved babysitting a tiny head crab. I felt like a mother crying every time an enemy even tried to attack him haha.

    Roller Mill by PineappleSurprise
    It is good

    Companion isnt the greatest but i had fun throwing the ball into a room and letting him do his business, got stuck on the first lift though. Had no clue how on earth I was meant to plug the ball into the wall.

    Crate Expectations by David Driver-Gomm and Kralich
    It is okay

    The map itself is alright. some of the puzzles were irritating. the balance bridge did not want to work at all. But i ended up laughing at the stupid Jayden smith tweets and the ending was great.

    A Map with No Name by JanKaszanka and Aran (bonus map)
    It is dire!

    If this was somebody’s first attempt at a map i would be willing to give this a higher score. However, puting this map in the same bundle as the others makes it seem like the ugly baby of the group. Companion did absolutely nothing the entire time rendering him useless. Overall Bad.

    1. Thank you for your review. It will be nice if you play RTSLVILLE2 and write a review for it.

  10. Maybe?

    Like the linux comments, my Mac struggles to play the maps as they were meant to be enjoyed… There are some good things here and the nice headcrab / talking box was funny. Overall, I cannot really rate this mod either way, because I know I’ve not seen the maps as their developers intended. Which is a shame for non-PC people :/ Perhaps one day Valve will update their SDK? (I’m guessing that’s the problem).

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