Hard!Ville Mapping Challenge

16th November 2016

Even though I am not a very good player, I love challenging but doable sections in mods. I don’t mind replaying sections again and again if I know I can do it. It might not be pretty or fun to watch if I am livestreaming, but I sure as heck enjoy it.

Theme Details

I want modders to create a map that is hard to play. Either through carefully planned combat or because there is some difficult to pass obstacle.

I am not a fan of jumping sections, but as long as they are possible for most players and not just expert jumpers, then that’s fine.

Puzzles can be included if you want but the overall feeling should be one of hard.

Now, this is important, so pay attention. Simply throwing tens of Combine Soldiers or Hunters at players is not what you should be doing. That’s just stupid. The best and most rewarding sections of most mods are the ones players have to really work hard to pass.

Lastly, don’t think that this has to be a BOSS fight. There are plenty of other situations that can be hard too, although if you want to have a boss fight, that’s okay with me.

As always, if you have any doubts or questions, just ask in the comments or send me an email if you want a private reply.

Image in featured images taken from Lone Fire Warrior’s Deviant Art Page.


The deadline for submitting maps is:

Monday 5th December 10pm GMT

That’s 20 days, with 3 full weekends.

General Advice

DO NOT GET TOO AMBITIOUS. If you can’t build it in 2 weekends then think smaller.

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


Please get somebody to test the map before submitting.


If you decide to use the Per-Map Opinion Images, please either watch the video below or use the VilleReviewTemplate.txt file. Thank you.


I’m not sure yet if there will be prizes.

Judging Criteria

The winner will be chosen by a readers vote lasting 10 days after the release of the mod.

General Rules
  • Maximum two maps per mapper per entry.
  • The map must be original and not have been released publicly before.
  • The map must run in system with only Ep2 installed
  • By entering the competition you grant PlanetPhillip.Com and RunThinkShootLive.Com the right to release the map as part of the Hard!Ville Mod.
  • Maps must not appear on ANY other website before the release and for one month after the release of the mod.
  • No assets from retail games other than HL2, HL2: Ep1 or HL2: Ep2 are allowed.
  • Other assets are allowed with written permission from their original authors, which MUST be included in the entry.
  • Phillip’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into about it.
  • The map MUST have a proper name.
  • The map MUST have a proper filename: MapName_hardv.bsp
  • All entries must be sent to: [email protected] no later than the deadline.
Final Thoughts

HArd is not the same as 1,000 enemies. Hard means difficult to do, requires concentration and skill.

I will do my best to release the mod on the weekend after the Monday deadline.


  1. Iยดm just going to assume that there will be a few troll entries.

    Anyways, Iยดm excited to play this one. Making hard but not frustrating gameplay scenarios is one of the hardest things in my opinion.

  2. Still don’t know why no Lost Coast assets? It’s free, everyone can have it, and there are some nice textures and models, not too many, but always.

    Also, an idea for hardest map – try to get HL3ep3 ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I think it might be a porting problem rather than a legal problem. Lost Coast runs on a different branch of the Source engine which makes including it in a base mod package less straightforward as there is no automatic porting capability. Normally when you create a mod the engine will automagically import and include all content from HL2, EP1 and EP2. Lost Coast is excluded from this.

      So to include Lost Coast in the mod would require manually porting assets, and even then, it would be only the assets, not code. One of the beauties of working with Valve’s base SDK (used to make mods) is that it natively supports all HL2, HL1 and EP2 code, so it will flawlessly run any map created in any of these games. Hell, in theory you could build a EP2 map with Hutners in the HL2 editor and it would run properly in a SDK base mod! Whereas if you created and compiled a map for Lost Coast, it would/could refer to code that is NOT part of the SDK base, which, even if you ported all other assets properly, would break the map.

      TL;DR: Lord Gaben hath decided that Lost Coast shall not enter in the golden heaven of unified Half-Life 2 modifications.

      1. Well I think, you are overanalizing a bit. There is not much additional code in Lost Coast (to be honest i cant recall any original script used in there). All I ask is using those few additional textures and models that you can just copy to mod or better, embed into your map. It won’t incrase mod’s size much ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. You aren’t supposed to copy assets from one Valve product to another.

          1. why can Black Mesa use Portal 2 assets then? And Stanley Parable uses CS:GO assets.

            1. Because they paid for a license.

              1. Maki what are you talking about? Because I’m talking about Lost Coast, a free product, and about mods, that are also free. Besides Valve doesn’t mind people copying things from their games to mods, they stated that in emails numerous times.

                1. First, Lost Coast isn’t a free product. A person who signs up on Steam can’t instantly go and download Lost Coast. I believe you get it when you buy the Half-Life Complete Pack, if not Half-Life 2.

                  Second, that isn’t Valve’s policy. They don’t want authors to gank all the assets from Portal 2 and put them in Half-Life 2. Yes, a random prop here and there, they probably won’t care. It’s not like the Valve Police are going to come knocking on your door. But it’s simply not the case that you can wholesale copy assets from one game to another.


                  1. Who says about copying entire game assetts?
                    Lost Coast has like 10 new textures and 5 models. Srsly ๐Ÿ™‚

                    Although I didn’t know Lost Coast isn’t availible for everyone, that’s bummer.

                    PS. Maybe its availible with direct link to install it?

                    1. Lost Coast is not at all a free game, but it’s granted in almost every single VALVe game pack.

                      Orange box, the CS:S CD box (That also contains DoD and HL2:DM), any Half Life collection and the VALVe complete collection all contain a copy of Lost Coast – this is why it seems so easy to get.

  3. Im dissapointed. When you teased this Ville I expected Black Mesa, but okay, its your decision. But I wont participate on this one even though I really like the theme. I have a mod to finish. For Black Mesa Id make an exception.

    Every mapper should make the map as hard as possible but the map should still be beatable with minimal damage, if u are really good. I say minimal damage and not zero damage because this isnt Doom, you cant always prevent damage from hitscan enemies.

    The discussions afterwards about difficulty might be interesting.

  4. This’ll be fun!

    (to play)
    (I can’t really do mapping very well)

  5. UtharQ

    I might try to make something but doing anything good will be hard.


  6. I will do my utmost to put in a sub par entry this time. Let’s see if it reignites my creative pilot light.

  7. This challenge will be… hard. Pun only slightly intended.

    I’ve got a few ideas but I’m not sure if they’ll be fun or not yet. Right now I’m looking to other mods and games for inspiration.

    What I’m really curious about is if the person who made the Combine soldier models in the header image will let us use them in our maps…

  8. OK, count me in … ! I’ve got some ideas too about hard (but not insane) gameplay and I hope I’m able to implement that correctly. Btw, I’ve decided to go cold-turkey on barrel stacking puzzles.

  9. Could I make it spooky AND difficult? I dont think you specifically stated the theme itself so you could decide what it is as long as its hard to play?

    1. The theme is HARD, after that it is up to you, so yes, you can make it spooky if you want.

  10. Mr.Walrus

    Sadly exams are coming up soon for me so I can’t compete- excellent mapping concept though, I cannot wait to play it! It’s lovely that we’ve got these mapping competitions- thank you again Phillip for all your hard work.

    1. I love how, despite being on a sabbatical, Phillip still manages to keep the site alive with new content.

      Indeed, thank you for all you hard work!

  11. This sounds like fun. I’ll try my best to make something fitting the criteria although it might miss the mark. We’ll see.

  12. I guess Abandon: The Town would be a great example of the “right” difficulty.

    1. Disabling saves to increase difficulty is cheap and hopefully nothing we will see in this challenge.

      1. Not really that cheap, to be honest. So many people (myself including) have a habit of quick-saving after each enemy encounter or just every few minutes. This ruins any kind of tension. Instead of disabling saving completely it’s better to just use checkpoints.

        1. This works as long as there are no problems with the number of checkpoints and their placement. Checkpoint placement in Abandon: The Town isn’t ideal, too.

  13. OJJ

    Theme is a little too vague in my opinion it’s like the gm_flatgrass of competition themes, alot of freedom but not much is set up for the user.

    1. This works as long as there are no problems with the number of checkpoints and their placement. Checkpoint placement in Abandon: The Town isn’t ideal, too.

  14. I worked on the start of a map a while ago, so this is a good opportunity to finish it. I’m not the best at mapping but I’ll see what I can do…

  15. ooooo! LoneFireWolf does some amazing Valve-related stuff, nice idea using some of his artwork!

  16. I don’t have the exact layout of my map nailed down yet, but I am working on some gameplay mechanics that I’m super excited about. It sounds like there’s going to be a lot of entries this time so I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

    I had a question regarding the rules, though. There is a small setting from the episodes that I thought I could incorporate in my map that might add to the storytelling in sort of a “DoorVille” kind of way. It’s not very big and it doesn’t affect the gameplay, it’s just to give a sense of familiarity to the location where the map takes place. Would it be frowned upon for me to “steal” this area for my map? For now I’m going to err on the side of caution and assume it would not be okay.

    1. Yes, you can use the “DoorVille” setting idea.

      1. Thanks! Just for clarification, do I need to re-make that area myself, or can I use the actual section from a map in the game?

        1. SPY

          This is a really, really nice ville Phillip!!!
          I can’t promise anything, but as you know are
          (specially) my early (source) mods ‘famous’
          for there many enemies / hard to play.
          And monday 5 december is doable, for me.
          So, …… who knows, i will do my best.


          (your right when you say;
          HArd is not the same as 1,000 enemies. Hard means difficult to do, requires concentration and skill.
          So it will not have just waves.

          1. I hope you find time to enter.

  17. is it too late to join this? may I still enter?

    1. Yes, of course. You’ve only got one week though.

      1. I will do my best I have made a plan, how will i submit it once I’m done .

  18. Even though I have joined late with just a week I have something that should be fun and hard to play.

  19. OK, so my entry is nearing completion. Some polish here and there and the project is probably done. However, I could use some playtesters to spot any serious flaws in the gameplay. I’ve heard of the Playtesters Collective?

    1. Unq

      Unfortunately the Beta Testers Collective was disbanded. I can playtest your map today if you want, hit me up as Unq on Steam or @DonAKAUnq on twitter.

      1. Hi,

        I saw a whole bunch of people on Steam named Unq, but I’ve picked the one with the headcrab as avatar ๐Ÿ˜›

  20. SPY

    Today i have decided to not finish and sent in my 2 maps, at first it was fun to map again with Hammer. But to finish the second level, (first one is done) i need to work the whole day today and tomorrow. And then i thought back again about all negative comments and asked myself, why would i even bother to put in so much time and effort when most of the RTSL community and Phillip himself don’t even like my work. So i decided to pull back from this, maybe i will release the first map at some day although i am not sure about that also.


    1. I am sorry to hear that Leon,, I have always enjoyed your many maps,,
      Please release these at some stage.
      and remember- its impossible to please all of the people all of the time— ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. Anon_1473429

      Don’t worry about a few moaners Leon, I love your stuff and would love to see the new mods. I’m sure there are many others who think the same.

  21. How many entries were there for Hard!Ville?

      1. JamaicanDave

        I thought there might be few more – there seemed quite a lot of interest at the start of the challenge. Still, 5’s pretty good considering HL2’s age. Be interesting to see what people have come up with.

  22. Have you thought about asking the person who created the header image if you could use those Combine soldiers to replace the default ones? I was going to do that individually for my submission, but I was too busy working on the map so I never messaged him. It would be an interesting way to change things up for this ville. Maybe that’s a terrible idea, I don’t know. Just a suggestion.

  23. Mr.Breen

    I took today off of work to play Hardville, so I am sad that it isn’t out yet, is it coming out later today maybe? I thought Phillip did these things on the weekend after!

    1. Can you give us any idea when it will be available Phillip?

      1. Hopefully before the weekend.

  24. Hard!Ville is ready for release. I will create the post tomorrow morning and hope to release it before 10pm Central Euro Time.

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