Map and Releases Comparison for – Half-Life 1 and 2

11th February 2007


Here is a research idea that would simply require the collection of data, which is then presented in a graphical manner. This data and presentation would then form the basis of a number of questions to be further investigated. Interested? Then read on.

Map and Mod Releases Comparison for Half-Life 1 and 2

This particular project would consist mainly of numerical data. It would chart the releases on maps and mods from the date of the games release. Fluffy The Hamster recently made a post on the PlanetPhillip Forum that echoes what many others have no doubt been thinking: “Where are all the HL2 maps?”. Perhaps the mapping community goes through release stages. If so, what are these stages controlled by? How have the release of other games effect the map and mod output. These plus many others questions should be investigated before the data is lost.

We could probably list a lot of questions that we want answered and perhaps this is the best way to start. The more specific the objective, the more likely we will find the answers. However, I’m also a believer in the concept that sometimes we shouldn’t ask any questions and just let the data speak for itself.

Open Floor

So, this is your chance to ask some questions about the maps and mods released for HL1 and 2. As mentioned above the serious questions probably need to be asked after we have the final data in front of us but I have some non-quantitative questions that can be asked now….I will start the ball rolling and hopefully you can continue….

  • Do we think the complexity of creating maps and mods for HL2 in comparison with HL1 a serious factor in the reduced releases?
  • How many people move from mapping for Hl1 to mapping for HL2?
  • How many stopped mapping once Hl2 was released?
  • How many people started their mapping experience with HL2?
  • Has the Source engine spawned more mappers overall that GoldSource?
Content Creation Survey

These types of questions can’t really be answered with simply numerical data and would need a detailed survey, but if Valve can create a hardware survey why not a content-creation survey? Unfortunately that’s another project that will have to sit on my “Long-term Tasks” list.

Having said that it wouldn’t take too long to create a detailed survey which is then promoted to as many mapping forums and websites as possible. Does anybody wish to collaborate with me on this project? You must be prepared to take the project seriously and put in significant time and effort.

Perhaps we could even set-up a subdomain on PlanetPhillip to collect and publish the results. Please contact me if you are interested.


  1. I think enemy variety might be something to do with it, HL2 has far less enemy variety (I’m guessing texture variety is about the same), with HL1 you could make a theme like a Temple and Xen creatures could still look somewhat fitting (and be fun to fight).

    In HL2 however pretty much all you have are Combine, some Zombies, Ant lions and a couple of heavier things (Gunships and Striders), and, well, only a few of these are particularly fun to fight in a straight shoot-out (unlike the HL1 enemies, which all needed a variety of tactics). So if you wanted to go beyond HL2’s more realistic themes (textures are probably a lot easier to find/implement than enemies) and still make the enemies feel right and the gameplay fun you’re probably stuck outside of making completely new ones (although mods like Black Mesa Source may help in this regard as they will add a lot of the old enemies etc in).

  2. Zockopa

    Yeah,interesting. But my question is not
    “Where are all the HL2 maps?” but where are
    all the good HL2SP maps ?
    HL2 is a couple years out now. Its not a new
    game anymore. Back then HL1 was followed by
    plenty good fanmade SP-Maps and Campaigns in
    a similar timespan.
    For sure higher complexity is an issue for more
    ambitious projects,but even smaller releases
    above the pure funlevel are rare. Why?
    Me thinks that now a game becomes far quicker
    old than nearly ten years ago. Back then there
    was HL,Quake2,Unreal,Jedi Knight. Most fanmade
    efforts in SP were focussed on this games for years. All those games are unique and masterpieces in there own style. Even now new
    projects surface for this games from time to time.
    Actually the market is flodded by medocre FPS
    games and not a single game can focuss a fan-
    community large enough to be a fruitfull ground
    for a steady mapping scene.

  3. Zockopa

    MMAN@: Right. HL2 has a smaller “imaginary headroom” based on the games content than HL.
    And while mapping in HL2 is more complex the
    bandwith of possibilitys for a fanmap is far
    smaller than in HL1. In HL2 u are limited to
    the postapocalyptic theme the game offers.
    Also the AI in HL2 is far weaker then in HL1.
    The combine are simply no match for the old
    grunts for example.
    If I remember what was released for HL1 in roughly a years timespan: Freemans Revenge
    Xeno Project 1 & 2,USS Dark Star,ETC,Recon
    Redemption,They Hunger 1,Mission of Mercy
    Chaos Theory,Subhumanity etc….
    Even large Campaigns with costum content.

    HL1 was a large inspiration I guess,which is
    for HL2 simply not the case,cause the game-
    mechanics in HL2 are not an enhanced version
    of HL1 but quite the contrary. Under this
    perspective HL2 is not (much) different than
    Deus Ex 2 and Unreal 2: a simplified sequel.

  4. I think enemy variety might be something to do with it, HL2 has far less enemy variety (I’m guessing texture variety is about the same)

    That’s why I am so looking forward the Black Mesa. I’m actually hoping that it will reinvigorate the HL2 mapping scene. I really want to see Black Mesa style maps.

    In fact that will be a future poll.

  5. Ryan "Quakis" Rouse

    I’ve always wondered myself why there might be a lack of good HL2SP maps and why I prefer to map for HL1 over HL2. And others have answered that for me, it’s deffinitely variety. HL1 could have many themes without the use of new textures. But HL2 would need a lot of imagination to create a new theme with default resources.

  6. Agreed about the content thing. In HL1, there was little need to add any new enemies, because they were already varied so much, and they could be applied to so many different situations. Take the standard grunt as an example. I know of very very few first person shooters that don’t rely on some kind of human enemy, and the grunt is perfect for filling this standard role, because it isn’t a specialized monster at all. Sure, they’re supposed to be Marines, but in reality they could be anything from a terrorists to genetically altered super-soldiers. And with some incredibly simple reskinning, you can improve upon these themes a lot.

    Then, there’s the two types of friendly characters (scientists and security guards) which admittedly are more specialized and harder to fit into a lot of situations, but not to the point where it would look ridiculous after some small modifications.

    And there’s also the aliens, which if taken out of the HL1 storyline, could really be any kind of alien out there. They’re colorful and they emit strange noises that don’t have references to a specific game. They certainly don’t act all oppressed and gloomy like in HL2.

    And most importantly, there’s the varied textures and other content already included in the game. If you don’t like what’s there, anyone could make new textures, but it’s not absolutely necessary to create a unique environment. People have made whole cities (although slightly lame looking) out of nothing but the HL1 textures, and they were never meant to fill that role. Most early HL1 mods were made exclusively of these textures, and used them in a very acceptable manner.

    So yeah, in the end I think it’s just the flexibility of the game that made it so popular to mod for, and I’m happy about that.

  7. GanjaStar

    Did the same company make half-life 1 and 2? Very difficult to tell how they made A.I. worse and how they made the surrounding universe so bland? People always complained about the Xen section in HL1 and so they got a water down edition in hl 2. It is the fans fault the aleins got booted out of half-life. Also in hl 1 mapping the most common maps were “Grunt fests”. Any experinced hl1 sp player will tell you grunt fests were the most abundant maps. SO in a way I blame the fans.
    This should be one of your polls phillip, should game developers listen to fans?

    I think half-life 2 shows a game spoiled by fans who cannot comprehend the game mechaninc behind fun, so they get the wrong ideas about what works and what don’t work in the game. Then you get a perfect engine with real life phsyics, and a world with no substance.

  8. People always complained about the Xen section in HL1 and so they got a water down edition in hl 2. It is the fans fault the aleins got booted out of half-life.

    Really? No way! That’s hard for me to believe since Xen was one of my most favorite parts in Half Life.

  9. GanjaStar, nobody ever complained about the aliens, just Xen, and Half-Life was fine up until then. I see no reason why they couldn’t have put more aliens in if they’d wanted to, but it wouldn’t have made much sense. Xen was defeated by the combine, and its more useful creatures were enslaved.

  10. I see no reason why they couldn’t have put more aliens in if they’d wanted to, but it wouldn’t have made much sense.

    Perhaps they could have included aliens that the Combine have adapted in the same way they did with humans. Something like a Vortibine!

  11. nobody ever complained about the aliens, just Xen, and Half-Life was fine up until then.

    Really, this is the first I’ve heard of this but I don’t read up much on why people disliked it. What was the reason Xen was disliked so much in HL?

  12. It was the jumping puzzles, mostly. People thought the whole stage was just really frustrating, badly designed, didn’t look organic like it was supposed to, and wasn’t fun.

    Personally, I have no problem with it. I think it’s got some pretty neat level design in it, and I also think it looks pretty good for the era it came from. The gameplay was pretty weak in the jumping areas, I have to admit, but the other environments like the caves, the underground swamps, the factory, etc. Were very fun for me.

  13. With today’s technologies we can’t afford simplicity for these kind of games, the more advanced a graphics engine is the more demanding the comunity is.

    Let’s make a comparsion:

    Doom/Doom 2 mapping and modding is a huge, very huge database of mods and maps around the cyberspace, there are hundreds if not thousands of maps for this games, their design and engine is very simple.

    Quake/Half Life/Unreal: Now we have more life-like enviornments with tons of new effects and 3D techonolgy to enhance the experience.

    Half Life 2/Doom3/Farcry: Now the true life-like experience begins, with expressive characters and almost photorealistic environments. The player comunity now can’t expect less than the officials have offered, the mod comnunity slows down.

    At least that’s how I see it, and still there are lots of mods in production. But as I tell you, the more complex the technology, the more man power needed, and maybe, all the upcoming mods for these years to come will cost us money, maybe except for the massive comunity projects as black mesa.

  14. I agree that the technology and quality has improved but shouldn’t have the tools used to create them? Shouldn’t they be as easy to use a possible.

  15. Ah! With the Hammer made easy application you have announced you have shut me up!

  16. Ah! With the Hammer made easy application you have announced you have shut me up!

    It’s just an idea. It will probably never happen.

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