May 2015 General Chat

1st May 2015

As I sit here in from of my PC it’s raining. Great way to start May, don’t you think?

I’ll be creating a Poll Question about the recent paid mods fiasco, so please avoid that topic for now.

Besides that the rest is up to you.

Let’s talk about what you have been reading. I’ve restarted Rudy Rucker’s ‘Ware Series (no spoilers please) and I’m not sure I ever finished the first one even because about a quarter the way in and I don’t remember anything.

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 The Space Children (1958). An alien intelligence aborts the launching of a rocket with the help of a bunch of children.


  1. Pimping my current work… won’t be long till I release… check out the screenies of the new area…
    Image 1

    Image 2

    1. Looks good. Oh wait, I have terrible taste in mods.

      1. Hi, Thanks to the modders and PlanetPhilip for all your work helping gamers to enjoy mods. Half Life (and the later episodes) has always been my favourite game, followed by Left4Dead – 1 and 2.

        I am going insane trying unsuccessfully to play many of the mods, though. Changing gameinfo.txt, etc…

        I noticed that one game installed directly from the MapTaps app. That was great. Why are there so few and how do I know which games will install like that?

        Thanks again,


        EDIT: OK – I copied (dragged) the zip files into MapTap. I didn’t know I could do that. I’ll see how I go. Thanks again.

        1. Hi Geoff,

          1. Gameinfo.txt stuff: yes, this is a big problem. With the latest version of MapTap we have tried to fix that automatically. MapTap will create a copy of the gameinf file and then create a new one with the most likely fix. It works in many cases but not all.

          2. Direct installs: Most of the newer entries have a button to install directly to the application IF the release is smaller than 25MB. There’s no technical limit on the file size that MapTap could install it’s to do with trying to save bandwidth and keep the downloads fast for most people. If the mod has the red MapTap button, that is the one that will install directly into MapTap.

          3. Installing: Theoretically, all maps and mods found on the site can be installed with MapTap. However, in practice, some files are not formatted correctly. If a file has the naming convention I created: hL1-sp…, hl2-sp…, hl2-ep1-sp…, hl2-ep2-sp…, of-sp…, of-sp… then they should work, assuming you have the proper games installed. As you have seen, files can be dragged, both the 7z and rar and even .bsp, onto the application and it should install. BSP files have an additional dialogue box asking you which game you want to install it to. Files can also be installed via the main menu.

          Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any other questions, no matter how silly they may seem, and I’ll do my best to help. I’m even happy to call on Skype and do a screenshare for you to see how to use it. Just let me know if you are interested.

    2. JG

      Reminds me of Little Lamplight in Fallout 3, where all the children took refuge and forged their own Lost Boys-style colony.

      1. Wow yeah its similar… i’ve only played about 30 mins of fallout 3… really should give it another go…

        1. JG

          The somewhat clunky gameplay of Fallout 3 isn’t for everyone, but I feel it has a lot of fascinating ideas and stories for anyone who wants to build atmospheric, narrative-driven games. There is so much unspoken story between the lines, and it sticks with you well after you finish the game.

          Also, the whole “Soundtrack Dissonance” trope is something I adore, and Fallout does it better than any other game. Journeying across the radiated wasteland while jaunty 1950s pop music plays is a magical thing.

          1. I think I was kinda post-apocalypsed out at the time.
            Had played Rage and Borderlands not too long before…
            Also, although Skyrim and Fallout 3 are similar game models, the landscape in Skyrim is far more interesting. The idea of trawling across miles of featureless desert wasn’t as nearly as interesting to me as across snow capped mountains and valleys…

            1. JG

              I can’t argue that the environment in Skyrim looks far better than anything in Fallout, but I personally can’t stand medieval fantasy stories. They offer absolutely nothing that I can relate to.

              I’m not a huge fan of post-apocalypse myself, but I feel that Fallout has an edge because it has the Atomic Age retro-futurism thing going on. As a result, it ends up being a satire of stereotypical 1950s values (exemplified in sitcoms at the time) and how those values contrast against the devastation of the world, instead of present day values. That’s what gives it a twist from other examples in the genre, like Borderlands or Rage, which are more generic and literal examples.

              I’ve given Rage a couple chances, and each time it bored me to tears. Borderlands I love, but it had nothing to do with its environment or story (aside from Handsome Jack), but instead the addictive nature of the gameplay and high longevity / replayability factors. Borderlands is best when it’s operating in the “Space Western” trope rather than post-apocalyptic fiction, but it rarely goes there.

    3. Zekiran

      Oh those look beautiful!!

  2. In honour of the late Terry Pratchett, I’ve started to reread the Discworld series (or the ones I own at least)

    1. I’ve considered that but I’m more into hard-science sci-fi and worry it will be too fantasy, plus I’m not that into comdey.

    2. The Colour Of Magic is wonderful… they do tend to get a little formulaic after a while but there’s lots of fun to be had along the way…

  3. JG

    According to Lambda Generation, there’s strong rumor that Black Mesa will release on Steam next week and include Steam Workshop support. The Workshop, as well as Trading Cards, are publicly visible on Steam right now.

    Somewhat disappointingly, the devs have said through their forums and Reddit that the long-promised Xen will not be part of this. Instead, it would appear they are offering Half-Life Deathmatch. And probably a countless number of other improvements to the existing content, I’d imagine.

    What do you think? Do mappers feel that might give it a shot? How will RTSL cover its mods?

    I’m curious, because I like the Black Mesa setting, but I find mapping for HL1 to be challenging due to both the Quake-style “target” I/O system and because you have to model every prop yourself with brushes. It’s interesting how, despite looking far simpler, the workload isn’t as different as you might think versus HL2. Of course, BM looks to up the ante considerably. I’d at least give it a look, but I’m not sure how well it will resonate with me.

    1. How will RTSL cover its mods?

      I suppose as I do now, except instead of hosting the file on my servers, I’ll link to the workshop.

      I was really hoping to not have to do this until Xen was available.

  4. I was just curious Phillip. Why is it there aren’t any GoldSource based Ville competitions? Is it just a case of being easier to manage in Source or something?

    1. I ran one once, but only got one entry: NewBlackMesaVille.

      In general most of the modders who frequent the site and Source modders, but I have started negotiations with TWHL to run a joint GoldSource challenge fairly soon..

  5. Y’all probably know this already but BMS has recently been added to Steam Store (just like the rumours said it would).

    Gotta admit that $19.99 seems a lot and they even plan to raise the price as soon as the game leaves its Early Access state. It sure is worth paying for but I was expecting about $9.99…

    1. JG

      While I would have preferred a $15 price myself, the way I see it, if Source contemporaries like Stanley Parable and Dear Esther can charge $10-$15 for their relatively meager content, Black Mesa deserves at least that.

      The free version also still exists, and I’m sure Steam sales are inevitable as well.

  6. JG

    So, I’m playing through Black Mesa and I’ve, so far, made it to Surface Tension.

    My favorite bits of the original Half-Life were Office Complex and Questionable Ethics. It’s interesting how the same has been true here as well. I found BM’s Questionable Ethics to be quite inspiring, from the standpoint of “Ooh, I bet I could do something really cool with this texture set and props.” They ramped up the atmosphere and medical horror theme here, mostly thanks to the dimmed blue lighting. The out-of-control surgery machine is such an awesome prop too.

    It’s also refreshing after Residue Processing, arguably my least-liked chapter after anything in Xen. I won’t be missing Xen at all.

    I’m happy with the changes they did make. I feel they were justified and intelligently redesigned.

    I’ve had some issues with getting stuck in geometry at the trash compactor and Ichthyosaur cage. Some enemies going spontaneously brain dead. I hate the grenade physics, even if they were trying to mimic the chunkiness of the original. The collision of each grenade feels way too big and hits geometry you think you’re clear of. Crates feel like they have too little mass, as they tend to move away while you’re striking them (at 100 mph with a Crowbar, love that). And the load times are still brutal for me. Any time the game puts you in an instant death situation (like crushers), it’s quite frustrating because I spend more time reloading than playing. They have removed a fair number of these, however.

    1. The grenade physics has been a problem since HL2. Because of that pretty much all HL2/Episode based games or mods usually have grenades that suck. They just bounce and roll all over the place while their radius and damage is rather low. Useless.

      1. JG

        I disagree. HL1’s grenades are much chunkier and physically larger, so it’s harder to throw them through tight spaces. But I’d say Black Mesa’s are particularly unintuitive.

        A case in point is the part in Surface Tension when you encounter the snipers. I camped right next to the sniper nest and, for the life of me, could not chuck a grenade into it despite it being an easy shot in HL2 and aiming my crosshair right at it.

        The point is, about 75% of the time the grenades in Black Mesa don’t do what I expect them to do and I often hurt myself using them when they unexpectedly come back at me.

        I can speculate on the reasons why this seems to be. I think the main reason is a combination of the grenade’s physical box being larger in combination with the right-hand bias. What I mean is, when you toss a grenade, it starts from the player’s right side and travels toward the crosshair. While this would also be true of HL2, the grenade’s larger hitbox makes it more likely to clip geometry on the way there, especially door frames. That’s my guess, at least.

        The results are pretty glorious when they do work, however.

  7. JG

    So, I’m confused about a lot of these maps that are getting “bumped” onto the front page again that were added years ago. I thought the point was Phillip adding reviews for maps he didn’t do the first time, but then today’s map was something he had already reviewed in the past.

    I don’t know. It just feels like we’re pushing great stuff off the front page, like Jim’s Aftermath, with a sea of pretty mediocre “first attempt” maps no one except masochists or diehards would play.

  8. Just in case you missed it, Jim is looking for suggestions regarding his new map over on the Half-Life sub-Reddit.

    Go tell him what you think.

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