Mod and Map Archetypes

6th November 2011

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Let me start by saying that this article will not list archetypes, but is a call to the PP community to help define them.

The reason I am asking is because I read this BBC article and it started me thinking about how we could apply that to Half-Life maps and mods.

Ideally, we would have no more than 7, as I could then write a 7 Series article, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

If, and it’s a big if, we can agree on some clearly defined archetypes then I will convert them into TAGS and that will help players looking for maps and mods that interest them.

Now that I have started writing about it, I suppose it’s very similar to 7 Types of Half-Life Players.

I suppose I should write them myself but unusually for me, I am lost for words, so I thought I would open it up to you, the reader and them I’ll select the ones I feel are most suitable.

So, please define some for me in the comments.


  1. Kasperg

    I don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, but these are a couple of ideas:

    “One-man army”. You could apply this to mods like Offshore, Das Roboss, CtA and similar ones with heavy combat and little help.

    “Protagonist Location”. This would apply to mods where the location where it all takes place is the main highlight. Whoopservatory, The Mansion series, Tower and similar mods.

    1. Kasperg

      As opossed to “Protagonist location”, you could have “Journey”, which imply that the mod is both long and takes the player through a set of connected levels that cover a considerable geographical area (Strider Mountain, CtA, Offshore again, The Citizen 3 etc)

      Something along the lines of “Infiltration” could be applied to maps that aren’t as cleary theme-defined as the “Protagonis Location” type, but which largely consist of entering a certain area and ocassionally backtracking once the mission is completed (Minerva, Mission Improbable I, Powerstation 17 etc).

      The opposite of “One-man army” could be “Collective Effort”, for mods in which the sense of teamwork (implied or actually taking place) is persistent. Think of Rebellion, The Citizen and maybe mods like Eye of The storm to a lesser extent.

      And then of course (I don’t know if Tags cover this as of now), you could have the mods take place in “Urban”, “Industrial” or “Nature” settings (predominantly that is).

  2. “Puzzles” seems like a clear choice for one of the archetypes

    1. I don’t think that’s a good choice. There would only be 2 mods that would fit that:@ Research & Development and The Trap. Sure, many mods have puzzles but that’s why I already have a puzzle TAG. I wouldn’t define too many mods like that though.

  3. “No-Where” Maps starting in the middle of nowhere , with you waking up in a room and remembering nothing but your way out.

    “Half-Flow” Maps that are all over the place , but have a TO BE CONTINUED surprise.

    “Ambimentals” Maps concentrated more about storytelling and ambience.
    Those can be counted as every single entry of Halloweenville
    And storytelling mods like The Stanley Parable

    “Abstractus” Maps that are trying to stand out by not being in any part of reality.
    These maps can be counted like Insomnia and such.
    These maps are strange and follow usaly a independent style of design , however they are still looking good in the final product.

    1. Remember, the archetypes are only for use on this site, so defining mods like The Stanley Parable won’t really be applicable here.

      1. Oh yea , forgot about that …
        Well still , maps are sometimes made more for ambience than the fight , a exact showcase of it is gm_apartment

        [Here is a video playtrough so you know what I mean]

  4. Hec

    I imagine the fast basic ones, thinking in the main character we’re playing:

    Heroic. Come on, Gordon Freeman himself!! or whoever manage to escape from BM hell or any citizen-resistance member who kick CMB ass and then becomes a mini heroe by that.

    Victim. He doesn’t know where the hell he or she is, but suddenly finds a crowbar and a pistol and have to kill just to save his/her ass!!!!! at last finds out a really bad ass situation going on don’t they??

    Villain. any ennemy the moder puts as a central character and we play on their side, eg. Black Ops, Grunt, CMB, even xenian aliens could fit in that category.

    Redeem Villain. Any grunt or Civil Protection bastard whose work is to kick pacific and inocent stupid civilian asses, as scientists or forsaken civilians in HL2, BUT then something happens which makes them think: oh im such a bastard…., think i’m going to rebel against my malevolous employers.

    Mmmm I think in that line could emerge lots more but I don’t know, what do u think?

  5. Lambda

    “The Serling”

    In a reference to who I feel is one of the greatest Screenwriter, TV producer, and narrator of all time…. for those map and mods that have a nice twist at the end.

  6. NAN

    Challenge maps are a more obvious type. Perhaps my favorite, wherein the player is given a set of objectives to complete (“move this object from A to B without destroying it”, “survive this wave”, “kill X number of enemies”) in a very straightforward manner, instead of being part of a story or campaign. Good examples would be the bonus maps from Eye of the Storm, or the ending of Hunterville’s Combine Den.

  7. agent00kevin

    Zombie Blaster

    Ive noticed a lot of Mods with Zombies as the main enemy. A few give a little more depth and let you build defenses, but in the end, what are you gonna do?

    Kill some Zombies.

    Amnesia Mods

    The title speaks for itself. You wake up in a room, sometimes with a hangover, and dont know who you are or whats going on.

    What next? “Well, I guess Im going to need that crowbar for something. Better grab it.”

    KeyMaster Mods

    Mods that rely heavily on the fact that you ALWAYS need a keycard to proceed. No matter what the story or objective, you can be sure that very soon, you will need a keycard.

    The Non Mod

    “I have this really awesome Mod, and its going to be the best Mod ever. I just need mappers, texture artisits, coders, writers, sound artists, and modellers.”

    Not sure if this one actually applies, but this happens all too often.

    I got tons more but I think it is a wee bit past my bedtime. 😛

    1. Noface

      lol, 4:54am.

  8. Not sure if this is something that fits here, but I always like mods that are more complex than just basic run, shoot, move on down the hall/street/whatever. So my suggestion would be simply

    Basic: Very linear, not much thought required, just run and kill

    Complex: Lots of exploring, searching, solving and lots of interactive type set pieces ( I like to hit things with the crowbar! )

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