March 2015 General Chat

4th March 2015

DOH! I forgot about the chat post and I am 4 days late. Sorry about that.

So far this month, we have had the Source 2 announcement and even the BBC had coverage of Half-Life on its site – YAY!

I’m off on a long weekend trip this weekend to recharge my batteries, fingers crossed it’s sunny.

What have you seen in the news recently?

This Month’s Sci-Fi Movie

In June 2014, I started to use a poster from a classic Sci-Fi move as the background for the post image.

This month it is from This Island, Earth (1955). Aliens come to Earth seeking scientists to help them in their war. …

Check the images on the page above and you see more HUGE heads. Seems like they were obsessed with big alien heads in the 1950s!


  1. For some reason, I feel like Valve hasn’t announced everything yet, since the page about Steam Universe is basically a blank page again saying check in later for everything. I would think if everything they planned on announcing was already announced that the page would be viewable again…

    For those wondering the page is here.

    1. hypatos

      Yeah, perhaps they’re going to show off some of the extra features for aspiring content creators/active content creators. Seems like UGC is really their focus with Source 2.

  2. Funny video about bowling tricks from the 50’s here:

    Some of those tricks are actually pretty cool.

  3. JG

    Interesting tidbit: This Island Earth was the movie spoofed in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. It’s actually not a terrible movie by their standards, but the riffing makes it that much better.

    Plus, it introduced all of us to the wonders of the amazing triangle-screened Interocitor. XD

  4. I can’t be the only one to notice that Gaming is slowly fading away. Developers are so caught up on making money that they forget to make good games. I can’t name a single game that has gotten my attention the last year, or this year.

    Gabe is the only one that can save us now…

    1. JG

      Gaming as you knew it is fading away. Instead, it has become more democratized. Now, anyone has the ability to make the next big thing.

      Right now, indies are where a lot of innovation is happening. For any niche genre you are interested in, chances are there’s an indie who would love your business. You just have to find them. 🙂

  5. Hey everyone! I’m new here and I’m looking forward to playing and helping out with maps and mods. I had a quick question about how audio and music usually works for these maps. Do you tend to make or use new sounds and music or do you reuse the music from half life? I am a composer, so if you ever need any custom music, let me know and I’d be happy to help. I’m also learning some sound design, so some experience might help in that area as well!

    1. I tend to use the in game music (as I think many do) because it’s free and I have the rights to use it. If you’re willing I would definitely be interested in custom music/ sounds for my maps. I’m working on a map at the moment but until it’s out of Alpha stage I can’t really say whether I will end up releasing it or not. (And I wouldn’t want you to do a load of work for nothing)

      Do you have any work online? Or a soundcloud account where people can find you?

      1. Thanks for all of the replies guys! I was just curious about how it works here. Here’s my soundcloud link if you want to check it out Dysprogue.
        I am the guy that made the triage at dawn cover haha. I’ll probably stick to playing and reviewing here, because it seems like the music and sound from the half life games work best, but let me know if you ever need any help!
        Looking forward to some awesome maps guys!

    2. Unq

      Hi, I think it was your Triage at Dawn cover I just talked to you about on reddit. 🙂

      It’s hard to say what the usual is. Some mods use no music, many use the standard HL/HL2 music, and a fair few have custom music. Custom sounds are more common I’d say, but often in the form of voice acting rather than sound effects.

      I might certainly take you up on the offer in the future. In the meantime I recommend also posting at places like ModDB and (they have a Services forum). There is of course a huge indie game segment now as well that I’m sure is thirsty for good music and sound, perhaps once you’ve built a sizable portfolio. Mods are a good place to start.

    3. JG

      Most maps and mods use the existing music. Valve’s music is quite distinctive and difficult to replicate. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a Half-Life 2 SP mod where the custom music fit better than the normal music.

      Well, except for Phillip’s singing at the end of Human Error. That’s irreplaceable. 😉

  6. Zekiran

    I saw Chappie today. Good flick.

    There are down sides: yes, it’s basically Short Circuit. There are kind of weirdly forgotten real-world concerns like… hospitals and why you’d go to one. Product placement was quite obvious, but also quite funny. There will be much cringing involved when my ex sees it – since it covers “consciousness” in a way that just… well, frankly, isn’t. It oversimplifies things on that end a bit.

    The upside is, however, that unlike Short Circuit, Chappie addresses the militarization of police forces, violence issues, soldiers and gang violence in ways that obviously a 30 year old ‘kids’ flick could never do. Also, since it IS 2015 and we DO have far more in the way of most of the technologies shown in the movie, its much more believable and very, very personal.

    The character development of people that you’d want to immediately stereotype is so strong that that, I believe, is half of the balancing point between the social issues regarding conscious AI. It’s a bit preachy on the ‘let’s not be these asswipes who kill people’ but at the same time, those people become extremely important to the emotional level of the movie.

    As far as the effects go, good lord, they’re amazing. There was never a time I was thinking, “gee that actor is talking to a tennis ball in front of a green-screen”. I will want to find out whether they used a significant amount of physical props, because the effect for many close-up scenes was stunningly real. Overall the visuals were excellent, including many of the little things you’d notice among the rubble and backgrounds. The whole visual experience screams “there is more to this”.

    The music is also great, apparently the main cast members (aside from the ‘big names’) are a rap group, and played “themselves”, which must have been quite a hoot for them in addition to them being quite capable and talented in both acting and music. Their stuff was very appropriate to the movie, as was Zimmer’s added soundtrack.

    Strongly recommend seeing this movie. Understanding that yes it is essentially rehashing the “what if you turn a weapon into a person” idea – it makes me want to revisit my research about AI in the media (an unfinished project I started nearly 20 years ago, but now there’s SO MUCH source material!) this movie is practically a bullet list of my points for that research.

    You will get feels in this movie. That’s a very, very impressive thing. Also, getting to see Hugh Jackman and not recognize him because he’s not disguising his accent… 😀

  7. I wanna talk about game design… as usual.

    I’m playing through Bioshock 2 at the moment. Lots of people have commented that it’s inferior to Bioshock in many ways, I don’t really see that other than the story is weaker but the game design is almost identical.

    I love Rapture and Colombia, I love the style and the asthetic of all the Bioshock games but the level design and game design of the first two Bioshocks is very frustrating. Game design wise, the story is really shoehorned into the game in both of them. You’re just made to jump through a tonne of hoops before you get to the next major plot point. Too many levels where something is broken so you can’t proceed. The doors are locked, go turn this on or off in order to be able to move to the next level.
    This kind of goal setting is very frustrating for me. It makes me stop caring about my goals as a player and I forget why I’m doing all that I’m doing. This raised a question in my head.

    How do you make the player care about the goals you’ve set for them?

    Players mostly just move forward in a game and react to what’s in front of them. So the player goals are simply just a way of adding structure to that journey. I can’t remember too many games that I really gave a crap about the goals that were set for me.

    Bioshock Infinite did a great job by using Elizabeth. They make you care about her and so getting her out of Colombia really mattered to me as a player.

    HL2 games however I was less fussed about the overall goals. The plot is often quite convoluted with lots of sci-fi gobbledygook thrown in. Launching a rocket to close the super-portal was just something that happened after I finished the awesome battle with the striders.

    The original Thief games, especially Theif 2 made me care about my objectives. I was on the run and hoping to make life easier by completing the missions and solving the mystery as to who had framed me.

    I’d love to know peoples thoughts on how you can make a player care about their objectives in a single map or a short mod.

    1. Aside from having a strong narrative focus as you mentioned

      I think players can care about goals more if there are real consequences for not investing in them. I was playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution recently and in the first real mission (the first one where you’re augmented) you have an objective to save the hostages. Now I was playing the game as if it were like most modern shooters so I was kind of expecting just to run into the objective eventually. I got to the end of the mission and I found out the hostages had died. I personally replayed that mission to save the hostages but you could continue as well with the new knowledge that failing to achieve your goals have actual consequences invests the player more in the goals even if not all future goals have real consequences the precedent has been established.

      The other more obvious method is by telling the player about the reward for completion. (For context) Generally in levels the player achieves something then they get a reward that can be resources, plot points, a new toy or just some pretty scenery it’s something that game designers and modders do to help make winning feel good.
      So showing or telling the player about the reward you’re giving them is a good way to motivate them (though I can’t imagine many mods where “hey lets fight a horde of zombies to see a pretty flower” would really work)

  8. Why can’t you find maps by Author on this site?
    Just realised that its not possible and really surprised this hasn’t been done.
    I’m sure people would love to be able to sort maps by author…

    1. You can, you just need to search for them. Here is you: Partridge.

      I’ve already mentioned that I have been adding the author as a custom field from January 2015, which will mean that it will eventually be available as a column in the PLAY and sub-archives. For that to work it needs each author(s) to be added manually, and as I am sure you understand with over 1,300 entries that’s a lot of work.

      1. Ah yeah… was thinking it would be great in the Play matrix or when you’re in a mod page.
        Perhaps we can divide and conquer when it comes to adding tags for all mods in the system?

        1. The author is listed in the BASIC DETAILS of each mod page and sometimes it’s a link to their homepage and sometimes it’s a search on this site.

          Perhaps we can divide and conquer when it comes to adding tags for all mods in the system?

          Tags are a different thing entirely and allowing special users to add tags to maps and mods has been on the list of code updates for a few years. But there are always more important things to do – perhaps this Summer.

          Allowing users to add Authors is not something I have thought about much and it might be possible to do, but it’s always more difficult than the simple suggestion. For example, a way would have to be built into the code to allow me to see what authors have been added and a quick way to delete the input. You’d be surprised and the type of stuff people do. Before I knew it, there would be 50 mods with the author listed as “SHIT!”.

          1. Don’t bother me with details… I’m being fabulous…

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