Dark Forest

for Half-Life 2: Episode Two

31st March 2018

“It is sometime after the events of HL2:EP2 (where have we heard that one before!?)

An early morning mission sees Gordon assaulting a facility overrun by zombies.

The Combine are thin on the ground, they are forced to leave some strategically important assets undefended.

Rebel intelligence has identified one such location, a Combine dark energy reactor retrofitted inside an abandoned Soviet missile base.

A crack team of Rebel special forces was sent in but are assumed dead because we have not heard back from them since.

Be careful, there is only one viable way in and out.

You are to go in, find access to the reactor, thought to be on the lowest levels of the facility and find a way to destroy it.

Intelligence suggests that a series of beams keep the spheres stable, so disabling these should eventually lead to a core meltdown.

Once you have disrupted the reactor, make it back to the extraction point.

We are counting on you, Doctor Freeman.”

Basic Details
  • Title: Dark Forest
  • Filename: hl2-ep2-sp-dark-forest.7z
  • Size : 5.53MB
  • Author: Flynn AKA Freeman
  • Date Released: 31 March 2018
Author’s Note

This is it then, the final bell.
2005 was when I started my first hl2 map, released in 2006. That one was called “City-13”.
Then followed “Gut_Rot” (Christmas 2006) “Courtyard” (2007), “Corridors” (2009).
Needless to say, I didn’t have the average teenage life, otherwise I wouldn’t have been stuck in front of my computer, mapping, when I could have been having an actual life.
Not a choice, just circumstances, but I digress.
These days, with much less time on my hands, due to a full time job and money to fund real life hobbies, I’d rather be doing them than mapping, as much as I’ve enjoyed it over the years, it was something that I started doing to kill time, when I had so much time but no money, now the situation is the reverse.
Mapping is satisfying but it is an incredible amount of work for a 1/2 hour’s gameplay.
I’d rather be riding my motocross bike at weekends, that’s one of the things that I wanted to do back in ’06 but lack of a job stopped me.
I started this map back in November 2013, when I built myself a new gaming computer. I’d never mapped on a computer with a good screen size and a decent amount of RAM before, so I wanted to see what I could do.
I wanted to make a map that has some outdoor elements but that also has a nice industrial indoor portion, inspired by the Black Mesa facility in the original HL.
Also, I wanted to capture an industrial feel in the main facility, just like the old original HL levels.
It wouldn’t be a good map without a related near disaster story to go with it, so here’s one. In October 2017, when I had some time off work, I decided it was time to start getting back to work on the map again. But I was having trouble with Steam, so I uninstalled it, and deleted the entire Steam folder…
Obviously forgetting that the .vmf map file was in a sub folder of the Steam folder. It was only because the “hammerautosave” folder was kept (very sensibly by Valve) on the main C:\ drive that I was able to recover it and continue building the map from the autosave file.
I still can’t believe my mistake! I was having some sort of problem with Steam, I wanted to be sure that it was a fresh install. But I totally forgot that my .vmf file for the map was kept in there.
Luckily the autosave was quite up to date because I had Hammer open a lot without doing much work on the map.
After that near disaster, I was eager to get it finished. However, the last time I’d worked on it was January 2017, due to starting my first full time job shortly afterwards.
A big push over the 10 day Christmas holidays in 2017 saw it almost ready to finish.
Apart from during the Christmas period, due to being only able to work on it at weekends, it has taken awhile to do the final tweaking.
Finishing this map is a massive weight off my shoulders, I feel like I’ve been released, now I can enjoy some hard earnt freedom…
Weekends are going to be free again for anything that takes my fancy (probably motocross riding and generally being free).
So this is my last and, I think it’s fair to say, best map. Gotta love going out on a high!
This is Flynn, aka Freeman, signing off!

Gauge Users

Download directly into Gauge [5.53MB]

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Download Options

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Manual Installation Instructions

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

  • Copy the contents of the maps file into your …\Steam\SteamApps\common\Half-Life 2\ep2\maps\ folder.
  • Launch Half-Life 2: Episode Two
  • Open the console and type map DarkForest and now press ENTER.
Known bug

If you save a game and then quit out of hl2 then resume the saved game, you will get the “ai_disabled” error.

Videos

Coming Soon. Maybe.

Screenshots

WARNING: The screenshots contain spoilers.

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

7 recommendations, average score: 2.57 (out of 5), standard deviation: 0.53 (what's that?)
Total Downloads
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Meta Review Data
Statistics based on 6 comment(s) with meta review data.

Installed:
Using Gauge: Users
Manually: 5 Users

Time Taken:
Average: 1 Hours, 2 Mins
Shortest: 0 Hours, 33 Mins by Startacker
Longest: 2 Hours by HashtagMC
Total Time Played: 6 Hours, 12 Mins
If you believe this release is missing important tags, please suggest them in a comment?
Jump to a review
Phillip says MaybeMaybe?Avoid It!Maybe?Maybe?Maybe?Think Twice

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13 Comments

  1. Phillip says Maybe

    Let me get straight to the point: I didn’t enjoy this.

    As with anything that an author finishes “just to be done with it” (my words, not the author’s) never feels finished, loved even.

    I managed to get out of the map in one place and might have found more if I could have been bothered.

    The whole thing has this “set up” feel. What’s with all the mines, cannisters etc laying in neat rows all over the place?

    It feels like a MP map with a tacked on story.

    I still can’t believe I only died once and that was because I got stuck in the water trying to jump over a rock and had 5 Hunters shooting at me.

    The number of enemies rather than clever and well-thought out placement are what makes this map hard and I suspect if you actually play on HARD you will find it a challenge.

    I hate to be so mean to somebody who is saying goodbye to the community, but the reality, at least for me, is that this is a mess.

    The ideas and general plan seem really good but half could be removed and it would be better.

    This is a perfect example of author needing to focus more on polish and quality than on making bigger and longer maps.

    I say MAYBE because some might enjoy this approach.

  2. I’m pretty sure the download link shouldn’t say “hl1-sp-operation-rosenberg-mod-demo”… it downloads the right file, apparently, but it’s labelled wrong.

  3. Maybe?

    It’s a weird map with numerous issues, the biggest of which being the following:

    – The map often explicitly tells you what you’re supposed to do by having text show up in the middle of the screen. This is already not a good way to handle things, but it’s made worse by the fact that it’s still very hard to figure out what to do and in the end I felt like I solved everything by accident and there are numerous levers I pulled that were probably necessary for completing the map but I still have no idea what they did.

    – Way too many enemies getting thrown at the player; I ended up running past most of them except in the big puzzley room where I had no choice but to fight them.

    I recorded my playthrough with commentary. You can find the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4unqjHHpWo

  4. Avoid It!

    —- THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —-

    If this wasn’t confusing, then I don’t know what is.

    A little heads-up: the long play time is a) a guess and b) because I was low-key distracted worrying about my boyfriend’s plane safely landing, so I took a break every few minutes to distract myself with something else. A realistic play time probably would’ve been around an hour or 45 mins.

    To the actual map, then. I feel pretty bad for the rant-to-be, as this is the author’s goodbye from mapping, but I don’t know how to phrase this in a polite way without watering up what’s to come.

    I have to agree with Phillip: this seems set up. Aside from the paradox in the description (the Combine leave their stuff undefended, yet I am to expect Combine forces defending the base?), the whole map full of neatly placed items and enemies… it looks too artificial.

    The entire set of objectives is rather confusing. The author displays a lot of onscreen text – poorly formatted, I might add -, which I always feel makes bad mapping obvious, as “good” maps are more intuitive and draw the player’s attention to the objective without additional text. Also, I found myself unable to make any sense from the texts – I failed to find a vent, so I simply jumped down to storeys, breaking half my virtual bones. Most of the time, I ran around, pressing everything that vaguely resembled a button. I still don’t know how I blew up the generator – it just suddenly exploded. With me on top of it, killing me the first couple times. I hit the quickload button an awful lot.

    It feels like the author tried to make up for the lacking visuals and lack of a challenge by placing an awful lot of enemies. I survived on 8HP for the longest time after destroying the generator, and the way to and through the base wasn’t much better either.

    The battle against the APC and the strider was pure horror. Going by the sheer amount of RPG ammo I picked up on the way, I must’ve missed a rocket launcher somewhere in between – I helped myself to one by means of sv_cheats in the end, after blowing up the RPG by patiently tossing grenade after grenade through it (for some reason it wasn’t solid… heck if I know).

    Hunters, then. Despite their name they didn’t hunt at all, but patiently hid out in the woods, so I could take the lot of them out by using up my explosives and then patiently emptying my magazines into their synth flesh bellies.

    Now came the only highlight – the chopper. I’ll go out on a limp and say the author is good at scripting but less so at architecture or details, because while most buildings looked rather bland and boring, their was some neat logic, such as crumbling architecture or the wooden shack being shot to pieces by the chopper. That was actually rather fun.

    Phillip, I’m shocked to learn that I beat you in terms of glitching out of the map – I found at least five or six spots that allowed me to leave the area I was supposed to be in, wandering around on roofs, falling down untextured cliffs or seeing the leaking backside of a seemingly solid wall… everything else aside, this map is a sloppy piece of work at best, sorry to say this.

  5. Maybe?

    I think it’s been pretty much said already what’s wrong with this map and I must also agree. It’s like the mapper had so many ideas but didn’t know how to fit them all into the design. Plus it’s kinda OTT at times with the enemies but other times rather interesting – I liked rolling grenades under the entrance which was half open!!

    Much of the time it’s far too dark and you’re left wondering were to go, esp earlier on when you can hear numerous fast zombies in the woods and there’s no ammo. I took a chance a ran like hell – which actually worked out for me – I doubt I could have ever fought off everything otherwise!!

    I played this through to the Hunters at the end but died and I figured I’d had enough by now…!

    Overall, the balance just wasn’t there for me and it became a slog. It has lots of great ideas but they’re sometimes badly implemented, like a drawn out badly produced B-movie! It’s not bad. But it’s far from good. I’d still say download this and play it because there are some good parts amongst the bad.

  6. asterixer

    Did it run under Linux?
    Yes and no. A LOT of Bugs happend.
    You can press buttons in the final room and nothing happens. Suddenly the whole area explodes without i do anything…etc. Some doors didnt open, some Hunters suddenly spawn in front of you. etc.

  7. Maybe?

    Well, I managed to complete this map without cheats but it took me a lot of tries. The part leading to the huge generator room was actually acceptable to sometimes even good regarding gameplay and the visuals weren’t too bad for the most part either, though there are quite some floating props around. And indeed, the neatly arranged rockets, propane tanks and explosive barrels were weird.

    The design of the generator itself was pretty cool, albeit somewhat blocky. Disabling the thing however was quite a task as I didn’t know how to proceed, although pushing a number of buttons in the water seemingly resulted in the generator gradually exploding into pieces. There’s a glass door on the top of the machine that can be opened and I threw some grenades in, but those had no effect. Jumping into the newly opened space results in getting stuck, so that’s kinda dangerous.

    After the destruction of the generator, a broad variety of enemies show up on the way back, sometimes in huge numbers. I encountered an APC and a Strider while I never picked up a RPG-launcher. The APC got destroyed with a number of grenades thrown at it, while I took down the Strider with a combination of AR2 and SMG altfire, propane tanks and explosive barrels. It was certainly a challenge but not very dynamic. Eventually I got shot at by a whole army of Hunters, a variety of Combine Soldiers and a chopper to top things off. I got shredded to dust at least 10 times in a matter of maybe 5 minutes. After killing the Hunters and combine soldiers and dodging the helicopter I returned to the starting area and the map ended.

    Personal verdict is ‘Maybe’. It certainly isn’t the worst but expect the gameplay to be very rough at times!

  8. Maybe?

    This map has a lot of potential but many rough edges. I was able to jump out of the map pretty easily and also got stuck a few times. In particular, there is one room where you exit a vent onto some boxes stacked really high. I used grenades to kill a bunch of zombies below which of course destroyed the boxes. After that I went into a little room and flipped a switch, but then I could not get back to the rest of the map. I also exited the elevator at the wrong spot once and got stuck there.

    There are far too many enemies in the waves that attack you. I had so many manhacks attacking me at one point my computer began to have performance issues. I also didn’t understand why I had to go back to the control room multiple times to press the same button to destroy the target.

    I think if this author had some good playtesters and had made revisions based on their feedback I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

  9. Think Twice

    There’s a lot of ideas here that seem cool, but its bogged down by lots of enemy spam. I ended up just running past enemies at the end because I didn’t have the patience or ammo to fight them. I had also drained my ammo at the beginning, even with the hidden AR2. I groaned with the number of hopper mines.

    There’s a lot of rockets lying around in a house and sprinkled in other places, but no actual rocket launcher. An APC, Strider, and Helicopter/Gunship show up as well, so grenades are the only viable way to kill them.

    The detailing at its best is the generator room, although I wish something was done with the big box of dark energy balls. Part of the detailing gets in the way after destroying the generator. The rest of the detailing is just alright.

    A lot of the layout is confusing and feels pointless. A pile of rocks you have to climb over to continue makes it seem like I’m not supposed to go that way. There’s a cafeteria(?) that had a good amount of zombies in it. It looks like I can crouch into it, but I can’t, so I never ended up going into it. Got stuck once from jumping off the elevator.

    Also, is the increased ammo capacity on the map end?

    I recorded my playthrough, you can find it down below. Only mods I have on is an experimental sound mod for some weapons. Epilepsy warning for 1:15-1:23 and 33:26-33:32.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxKkFH9P2mE

    1. There actually is a rocket launcher. You have to crawl through a vent in the final building until a piece breaks and you fall out. Then you stack up some stuff to get back into the same vent and you get into the room with the rocket launcher. But don’t then go into the next room as you can’t exit it properly. At least I couldn’t

  10. Flynn aka Freeman

    Hmmm, well thanks for the feedback guys.

    I am considering adjusting some things in the map.

    A common complaint is that most ppl haven’t been able to find the rocket launcher.

    I can make the button in the cafeteria enable the elavator if necessary (so that the player can’t proceed until they’ve found the rocket launcher) but then there kinda isn’t a lot of logic to that.

    I can also reduce the enemy count and increase the brightness of the map, but that will take some of the challenge out of it.

    So there are some things I can change but I need some guidance on how to implement them.

    It’s hard to make things obvious without making them too obvious and forcingthe player to think a bit.

    Thanks for the help!

    1. what I personally found the hardest was figuring out how to get downstairs (I didn’t find any vents and eventually jumped) and how to blow up the reactor – I disabled all the beams and nothing happened, eventually it blew up the moment I stepped on top of it (several iterations of “die in the process and load last save” follow).

      Perhaps you could make that a bit more obvious? Placing a light or something to catch the player’s eye near the vent one is supposed to go through might help, at least for me I can say I would have needed something to draw my attention to the objective.

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