New Update Breaking New and Old Mods?

27th May 2010

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

I have basically copied all the replies from a forum thread started by JM Kasperg, a well-known modder.

Essentially, the latest update from Valve, has caused some mods to stop working. It’s the same for some mods in development. His original post explains things.

I’m creating this thread because I’m concerned with Valve’s latest Source Engine update.
The old HL2 engine has been replaced by the Orange Box one. The different logo (the bald guy with a valve in his head instead of the usual dude with the valve in his eye) was the first clue, but once you load HL2 (or any HL2-based mod), it is evident that the engine has been updated. Better lighting, more contrast, no anti-aliasing problems for Nvidia cards, better sprites for fire etc…
Sounds good, right?
Well, the Orange Box uses a different system for organizing scene files and subtitles thanks to its console version.
What does this mean?

It means that all mods based on non-Orange Box versions of the engine will no longer work properly.
You head correctly. Rock 24, Riot Act, Strider Mountain, The Citizen 1 etc are absolutely devoid of their voice acting and present serious incompatibilities due to missing model animations (probably discarded once they started working on the OB).

As you might have guessed, The Citizen Part 2 has ceased to work properly thanks to this update and I don’t know when (or if) it’ll be possible to fix in a satisfactory way.

In the unlikely case that this has only happened in my computer, I urge any and all of you who have one of those standard HL2 mods installed (not the Episode 2 ones) and check out if they work as they should.

Today is a sad day indeed.

Will check, did get an update message telling me that HL2 had been updated.

Thanks for the heads up!! I reinstalled Steam, cause I thought that was the problem!! I tried to run “The Citizen” and only got a blank screen(twice)!!!!!! So it was a GREAT fix! That’s a fine

I’m sure it’ll be fixed shortly or it will be easy to convert mods to OB versions. Because 2009 version of HL2 has everything that Vanilla HL2 has but also has additions too. Actually I checked out gcf files in steamapps folder and saw that we have a new “Half Life 2 2007 base content” folder as well as others. And yes according to what I saw they didn’t change the old HL2 files.

I think that means there will be an easy fix.

I have been running Strider Mountain with a view to seeing if there are any problems since Steam update of HL2. So far I have not encountered any problems, my version of SM was already loaded in steam before the update, are predicted issues related to subsequent inclusions of HL2 mods in Steam?

JM Kasperg
Predicted issues include all custom voice acting to fail (default voice acting *might* fail) in HL2 (AppID 220) based mods like the ones I listed before. Also possible is scripted sequences or particular character animations going missing (you’ll see the models revert to an arms-stretched-out idle pose).

I haven’t tried, but I guess these issues will have been fixed by Valve for HL2. They kind of forgot there were a buch of SP maps and mods that they would mess up in this process.

As for the conversion being easy, unfortunately that’s not the case. To give you an example:
I can’t build a scenes.image file (required for scene files to work with the Orange Box because of some X360/PS3 config thing) with the 2006 engine version because such an option doesn’t exist.
It exists in the 2007 version, but my mod won’t show up in the available list. It does show up when I select the 2009 version, but Faceposer always crashes in that instance.
Not a good start…

I know the engine fixes are all good (I was kind of hoping for the engine to get updated because of it) but the things it breaks for mods in progress and (as far as I know) ALL MAPS AND MODS made with that engine version is just not worth it. I’m amazed that Valve could’ve forgotten about the mod scene, which is what has been keeping HL2 alive these past 2 years, not their “episodic content” lie.

My Steam just had a massive 3 part update, now it works,BUT when I try to run “The Citizen”, at the start the Combine beat the cr*p out of me and I hear them talk, but after that I can walk around to each person, and NO voice action!!! Soooo now what?

Jason Gimba
Well, I can at least say Powerstation 17 runs fine.

I’m not entirely sure what changed from a mod perspective. Definitely HL2 itself is running on a newer engine. The water is vastly improved in the coastal stages, there is multicore support for rendering, and the nice blood effects from Ep. 2 were backported into HL2. It’s quite possibly the same level builds that were in the console versions of the Orange Box.

But in PS17, I don’t have all of these things as options. The water looks better and I can bump up the textures to Very High, but there’s no HDR support or anything. So I’m a little confused where these things have landed. Of course, being HL2, it never had an HDR version of the map to begin with, so maybe that’s the reason it’s not even an option? No idea.

Still, it’s nice to see these improvements rolled back into the previous games. May give a reason to playthrough HL2 again.

Would be nice if they updated HL2: DM though..

Grey Acumen
My observations:

1) Gamepad support has been vastly improved: Analog tilt actually affects your in game movement speed properly, there’s no more mirrored joystick while driving, no more disabling of horizontal movement while using the crane, and there isn’t an issue with selecting a weapon causing you to fire a shot before actually switching weapons.

2) FOV can be set to 90 in HL2 and EP1 now. (this option has also been REactivated for Portal, which originally started with a FOV slider but lost it for a while)

3) HL2 and Ep1 looks like the game forgot haw to render shaded areas properly. Even the darkest caves don’t need the flashlight to navigate them anymore. Tunnels that should be pitch black are bright as day. Which is a curse with a blessing, since even though HL2 and Ep1 run in Orange Box now, for some reason that doesn’t include the flashlight battery being separate from sprint and oxygen.

4) I’ve noticed some minor framerate drops, but nothing too bad on my own computer. I’ve yet to see how this affects things on my dad’s computer, which isn’t strong enough to handle Portal or Ep2, but was still capable of running HL2 and Ep1. It’s going to be just a bit annoying if my dad isn’t able to play HL2 now, because I only just finished setting it up on his computer 2 weeks ago.

5) Of course, achievements are nice. I’m probably going to end up skipping Lambda Locator, but Zombie chopper and One Free Bullet ought to be tons of fun to get.

6) Even though I can run my textures at “very high”, since I’m running in DirectX 8.1 mode, I can only do shadows at medium. I was able to run them at high before, even with DirectX 8.1. Despite that, for some reason textures all seem to look LESS realistic and detailed than they did in the old engine, but right now I’m hoping that’s just the fullbright issue and that it will go back to looking normal once valve fixes the problem)

7) Mods have been seriously damaged. Provided there isn’t any custom scripting, models, or voice acting everything should likely be fine, but as people have pointed out The Citizen has been rendered unplayable (you can’t get past the first part where the guy demands you return his TV) and mods with more custom content get hit even harder. Eclipse, a full conversion is completely broken, the first level produces an engine error, the second level can be played, but no enemies show up, it plays in 1st person instead of 3rd person like it’s supposed to, and none of the powers work. The worst part is that it’s the older mods that will be hit the hardest by this, since many of them may not still have the original people working on them or simply may not have kept the files to be able to create an update to keep them working properly in the new engine. The new mods for Ep2 are least likely to be affected at all, but they’re the most likely to still have teams and files active to create the necessary updates.

This isn’t the first time that Valve has pushed something that was badly received at first. Hopefully they will show their usual strength of listening to users in order to fix as many problems as possible. Going by PlanetPhillip’s site stats, there are close to 450 mods for HL2 and Ep1.(not counting all the mods that don’t meet’s criteria) Expecting all those people to just recompile their maps for Orange Box engine cannot be considered feasible. There has to be something that can be done on Valve’s end to accommodate the mods that helped keep the HL2 series solvent for this long.

JM Kasperg
Well, it seems I’m not alone. This person in the Steam forums describes the exact same problem:

It’s a pity that after all their promises of a self-updating engine, Valve managed to create such an incredible mess with their different games, engine versions and platforms.


  1. andyb

    I wonder if this was my problem with offline not working this weekend.
    I got an email from Phillip on Friday to test hunterville.I was going camping in about 30 minutes so I thought what the heck.I installed in my laptop ran steam and started the mod to make sure any files needed were there.Set steam to offline mode and shut it down.Get to my trailer for the long weekend and nada.Cannot connect to steam network try offline? Select yes and got the same thing over and over even thou it was in offline mode when I left.

    I get home Monday night fire up the laptop and HL2,EP1 and EP2 all start updating.Offline now works.Steam is starting to pi** me off

  2. My mod is on EP2 engine and it has lots of weird problems. Purple checkers, model errors, start up problems…

    Also Hammer is broken again. Black 2D windows problem is back: Nooooo…

    I hope I can find a fix quick, I was in a mapping combo recently and I don’t want to break it 🙁

  3. Gary

    looks to me like Valve are starting to get like Microsoft…”They think they know Better”!!

    1. As I’ve pointed out already, this is hardly the first time that Valve has pushed something that wasn’t initially well received by people. As long as they listen to the complaints and issues people bring up, then eventually the problematic stuff will get fixed and people will hail this as yet another sign of valve’s incredible commitment to their customers for continuing to support a game going on 6+ years old.

  4. fitzroy_doll

    Just to clarify:

    Mods based on the SDK Base (source 2006, appid 215), including Riot Act, CSS SCI FI, Powerstation 17, etc. are fine, regardless of their content. There is no problem with these, because they are based on a branch of the engine that is no longer being updated and are therefore safe.

    Mods based on HL2 (now source 2007/9, but appid still 220) which featured custom dlls are now broken, such as Garry’s Mod 9, SMOD (and, I assume, all branches except CSS SCI FI). Some of these *might* be fixed by changing their appid to 215 in the gameinfo.txt. You would also need to extract the entire scenes folder from the original hl2 content gcf and place that in the mod directory, as the SDK base does not include scenes. Otherwise there should be no problem, but I haven’t tested this. In most cases the update will be fatal to these mods.

    Mods based on HL2 but which did not use custom dlls, but did use custom scenes, such as Rock 24 and Random Quest, work fine but need to have their scenes compiled into an image: A community-minded person could do this for affected mods.

    Mods based on HL2 which did not use custom dlls, and did not use custom scenes, such as Causality Effect, are fine.

    1. Kasperg

      I tried to compile the Scenes.image file for my mods but it was impossible. That option does not exist for the Source 2006 version of Faceposer, which is the only one I can open if I have selected one of my mods.
      This also cause a problem for mods in progress like The Citizen Part 2, since we would be expected to compile that scenes.image file EVERY TIME we wanted to make even the smallest change to a certain scene. That’s kind of unacceptable.

      And as I said, the problems go beyond that and extend into the real of scripted_sequences an animations for which there’s no fix.

      1. fitzroy_doll

        You shouldn’t be trying to compile your scenes into an image in Source 2006. Source 2006/SDK Base/appid 215 does not need images – it can still read loose vcds like before. If you want to run your mod on the old engine you can do it with appid 215, and all your vcds will be fine. Why not just move The Citizen to this engine?

        HL2 is no longer Source 2006 – it’s now Source 2009. If you are trying to run your mod on the 220 appid, then you are now using Source 2009, which does have the option to compile an image…though the 2007/2009 SDK is currently out of action for a lot of users, it seems.

        In any case, I agree, it’s a complete pain that you have to rebuild the image every time you change a scene. This really needs to be changed, but that’s how it works for now.

        1. Kasperg

          This is what I’m up against:
          -Source 2006- Let’s me load the old version of Faceposer (the one I was using up until now) but has no File>Build scene.image command.
          -Source 2007- Only game selectable in the list is Episode 2
          -Source 2009- Faceposer crashes if I have selected my mod as the game. Hopefully this is the only thing I need to build the scenes.image and it might get fixed.

          Can you elaborate on how to use appid 215 for the old engine? What other modifications should I add to the gameinfo.txt?
          The Citizen (under appid 215) just crashes with a “Couldn’t Load library Client” error.

          I’m also reading in some forums that “No mod should run under AppID 220 in the first place” which I find a ridiculous statement considering how many mods run exactly like that (it’s actually the default config that the mod wizard gives you) and all of the fun times we’ve had with mods using that engine version.

          1. fitzroy_doll

            The reason the bases and not the games should be used is precisely because of the current issue. They (Valve) won’t break the bases, but the games are subject to updates which may have unpleasant effects (I am watching the approach of the CS:S update with dismay). There are, of course, exceptions, most notably Minerva which is based on EP1 (380), but that was more due to timing (preceded the OB). In general, it is far safer and better to run your mod on a base, then mount any extra content you need from there. The 2007 and later engines require no modification to do this:

            To mount the Citizen on the SDK Base, you have to set this in the gameinfo.txt:
            SteamAppId 215
            and in SearchPaths below you should have the following:
            Game |gameinfo_path|.
            Game sourcetest
            Game hl2

            This works for Rock 24, which was 220. There is a custom VCD in the first map which plays, but the sound that goes with it does not, but this is due to that sound not being in a soundscript file and therefore it is not precached. As long as you set up your sounds correctly (reference the script, not the wav itself), then you should be fine.

            1. Kasperg

              Thanks, someone told me the same thing in Moddb and it seems to work. No subtitles, but the scenes at least play 🙂

    2. Some Guy

      Hey, I tried playing Zombie Panic! Source, but whenever it starts up, the screen goes blank and says that (string of codes) referenced (string of codes) and it couldn’t “read” the memory 🙁 is there any way to fix this?

      1. You should contact the ZPS team.

  5. My SDK for EP2 is screwed up though 🙁 Think of ME

    1. fitzroy_doll

      This is a totally different issue, and is affecting lots of people. There are workarounds in circulation – such as:

      Originally Posted by IcarusNine: Changing a mod’s gameinfo.txt appID from 218 (SDK Base 2007) to 440 (Team Fortress 2) seems to work around it. I’m not sure what Hammer is using/associating with the appID, but the lack of it is what’s causing at least some of the problem.

      Ultimately all you can do is sit tight and wait. 🙁

  6. As a player (for what help it is):
    I’ve had a very quick look to see what the effects are.

    HL2. Took a very long to load while it was updating stuff.
    A bit prettier but noticed nothing else except that 2 of my keybindings had changed; Pause and Sprint.

    HL2 Map (not Mod). Dayhard Part 2 1st January 2005. OK but for.
    One Elite did not die even after taking 90 shots from the Pulse Rifle (AR) but finished him off with the Shotgun.
    1st Strider died like a Strider should, The 2nd Strider took 15 RPG shots (in Easy) and I gave up.
    Perhaps the Author hardened them and now they’re even harder?
    The Rocket Firing Robot OK.

    The Citizen is unplayable (as Kaspberg said)

    EP1. Same as HL2

    Appledacker DeadSpace EP1 partial conversion mod (not map) 22nd April 2008. OK

    EP2 OK

    Offshore EP2 mod 22nd February 2008 OK.

  7. Zekiran

    Though I’m not a modder, obviously I enjoy all the mods that come my way. Right now, I’m working on a play through of HL2 and my game crashes every time I turn my flashlight on. :/

    However, the updates to the engine has been done less than a day ago. I’m pretty sure that with a bit of patience and time, Valve will be able to sort through these issues. It can’t happen soon enough, but I’m sure that it will.

    It definitely sucks to have broken what worked great, but I’m hoping that in the long run it’ll work out for the best.

  8. andyb

    I’ve gotton citizen to work.At least most of it so far.I switched the gameinfo to 215 and copied the server/client dll from CSI.Still playin with it.

    1. Kasperg

      You’ve gotten the voice acting to work then?

  9. You can fix ANY mod using the old engine by replacing 220 with 215 in the gameinfo.txt.

    I don’t how it is with Episode One though. Anything above that should work. If not, use 218 instead.

    My two cents.

      1. Oh, and source works backwards too as far as I know.

        I was just thinking this: If anything Episode One wise doesn’t work, change it to 218 too.

    1. fitzroy_doll

      You also need
      Game sourcetest
      in the searchpaths if the game does not have its own client/server dll.

  10. Kasperg

    Ok, I managed to get the old engine up and running again. Subtitles don’t work but that’s probably fixable some way or another.
    Still, the modifications I’ve done to the gameinfo.txt of the mod will have to be done to all other vainilla HL2 mods that used AppID 220.

    Thank goodness for that!

    1. andyb

      Did you use a sever/client dll also as I did?

      1. Kasperg

        No, just changed some parameters in the gameinfo.txt

        SteamAppID is now 215

        The SearchPaths now are:

        Game |gameinfo_path|.
        Game sourcetest
        Game hl2

        And that’s it!

  11. AShinySword

    Just a quick comment to say the using 2007 engine in the SDK that previously worked now dosen’t however switching to the 2009 HL2:Episode 2 engine that previosuly had the meantioned issues stated above (Lack of grids, missing models, textures etc) Have all been fixed and work fine, at least on my machine, however I would like another community member to back me up on this for validity.



  12. Dienst

    Thank you phillip for posting all the comments here. We reported about the problem on, some people have been quoted.

  13. Ark

    Grr, want to post this on their forums but they seem to be quite a bit slow in activating accounts.

    For EP2, the fix has already been posted on the forums, switching the steamappid to 218 and adding 420 as additionalcontentid. However, in Hammer all the ep2 content shows up has ERRORs/purple-black checkboard. The way I’ve found to get around this, which may not be the best way but it was all I could find, was to switch the gameinfo.txt back to 420 while working in Hammer to mount ep2 (with no additional), then back to 218 and additional 420 when wanting to play the game. Note: you need to restart Steam each time you change the gameinfo.txt since it’s only loaded when the client starts up.

    1. Yes, this solution works. Thanks mate.

      A little annoying since every time I compile a map I need to restart steam but at least I can map now.

  14. SPY

    i am not amazed at all that this new updates messes up stuff !!!

    this is just one in a very long row of updates that messes up things, but as said above too, it will be fixed probebly in the long run. but untill then, GGGRRRRRRR.

    am glad to read from Mel above that Strider Mountain still does run fine, (although this could be caused like he said due to that that SM version was already installed, but I guess that doesn’t matter).

    i noticed the steam update to, and could map after that, so for now it all seesm fine. in Strider Mountain we didn’t use much custom voice acting, just a few. have to check if that causes problems now. we did use quit a lot custom models, but as MEl said, that does seem to work still.
    guess I have to play all my mods again, what will take me days and days, and that when we are in the beta testing stage of our newest mod.

    again a update that causes troubles, but, I have to say, I do love how Hl2 and the mods do look now, when it works. LOVE the ep2 blood!!


  15. Kasperg

    Just a quick observation:
    The version of the engine in which I’ve gotten the scenes to work again (AppID 215) does NOT include all of the Orange Box updates. While the anti-aliasing issues with Nvidia are fixed and effects like combine snipers getting set on fire after a grenade blast are there, detail textures, dynamic flashlight and the Ep2 particle effects are not working. We might be talking about an Ep1 version of the HL2 engine.

    And while scenes and closecaptions (with a small fix) work with this engine, the model animations and scripted sequences still get messed up and cause problems.
    Even with this apparent solution, some HL2 mods might not work properly because of that. There’s a LOT of broken scripted sequences in The Citizen Part 2 which we’ll have to go over carefully.

  16. Anon_222694

    no problems here but then ive nosteamed my “steam” games and run various versions
    ahh the beauty of steam in action indeed

  17. piehumper

    all the half life 2 games I have the eyes of every npc has two purple squares in them

  18. Valve updated Source SDK again last night.
    Open Steam and see News for details.

    In HL2 and HL2 mods (maybe EP1 & 2 too but I haven’t checked yet), the shadows of NPCs are now a jolly pleasant shade of light blue.

    Easy on the eye it is, realistic it is not.

    I’m getting even more suspicious that all this is a precursor to a new or much modified engine with backwards compatibilty to the 3 HL2 retail episodes.

    More updates to come yet, I’ll bet.

  19. If it ain’t broke DON’t fix it!… Yahoo did that with 360 and there “NEW AND IMPROVED” social site is deader than Granny Moses” dusty old vagina!..

    Almost ever one I knew there went to another site..Yahoo is like ghost town now.. When 360 was in full swing their servers couldn’t take it all.

    Change is inevitable. I know that, eventually I will tire of keeping up with it and just find some thing else to do.. My old man was right about computers when they first came out. “They’re good for playing solitaire and other games, but not much else”. If you really peer into this cyber abyss?..You can’t help but see the truth in that!… There will come a day when Steam and the rest of them push the envelope too far… and they like the dinosaurs and shrines will be buried in the sands of time….

  20. Reverend Ginger Wildheart PhD

    Rock 24 doesn’t work on mine, something about background image, materials/console/startup_loading.vtf? I’m guessing this is the valve in the guys eye/head?
    Can anyone help?

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