New Year, New Logo and New Features

29th December 2015

I love running RTSL. I must do because I spend 80% of my free time doing it. But I am never happy. I know that a lot of the downloads are not working and a lot of the older mods need updating and 2016 will be called “The Year of the Content”. That said, there are lots of things that I want to improve and create.

Below, you will find details of most of my plans. I do have one major idea up my sleeve, that I hope to reveal very soon.

Social Media

Many other sites do a much better job of leveraging their content via social media, LambdaGeneration is a great example. I need to do this and 2016, will be the first year I’ll put more effort into it. My focus will be Twitter, which I have been using for a few years now and Tumblr. I used to have a Facebook page for PP, but I need to make sure any new ideas don’t create too much work for me and they need to dovetail into my routine and site objectives.


I never really paid Tumblr much attention until late this year. There are a lot of followers and it is image heavy. Unlike Instagram which is more photograph based, Tumblr is more about user-made content. It seems to me that this network is perfect for promoting in-Development mods. Therefore, I will be trying to work with as many modding teams as I can to help spread the word about their mods.

Ideally, I will be creating a week of exclusive content for each mod. For example, starting Friday 1st January, I will be posting 7 exclusive screenshots each day for The Trap 2: Mindlock. Each image will link to the mod’s ModDB profile.

I doubt I will be able to have 52 mods willing to work with me, but I’ll do my best. In between these sorts of mini-campaigns, I will continue to post images of older and new mods. Each post, gets linked to on the RTSL Twitter account, so even if users don’t have a Tumblr account, the can still see the images.

Lastly, I need to find a way to promote these images on the actual RTSL website itself. I’ll probably expand the footer section columns to include links.

RTSL and ModDB

I’ve had a rollercoaster relationship with ModDB over the years, but it’s clear they do a fantastic job of helping modders distribute their work. As much as I would love to go head to head with them over in-development mods, I can’t. Their set up is just perfect and I clearly can’t compete. However, what I can do is make it easier for players to find those mods and that’s one of the plans for 2016.

I will be creating a new page on RTSL that can act as a shortcut to finding mods. I have some ideas, but until I start creating the page, I’m not sure what information I will link to. I’ll talk to the owner of ModDB and see if we can work something out.

I also plan to interact more with the mods and telling modders I have posted their stuff etc. Maybe that way, I’ll get better known and modders might be more willing to send over exclusive images etc.

Extra Income

The site runs mostly on donations but the text ad at the bottom of each page adds about $100 a year. If I move it higher up it might generate more but not much more. I don’t want the site to be covered with advertisements, but I do want to generate extra income. I am going to remove the text links and try GoogleAds. I have already added ads to the search results page. If I do it right, it won’t seem intrusive.

In addition, I have decide to monetize all my videos I upload to the RTSL YouTube channel. I don’t know if it will generate much income but it’s worth a try. I will ask permission from the other RTSl streamers to monetize their videos too.

Half-Life Sub-Reddit

Starting January 2016, RTSL will be supplying the Mod of the Week (MotW) image and link to the sidebar of the Half-Life sub-Reddit. This is an image and a link to a new mod each week. There will be a balance between new mods and old classics. Hopefully it will send some traffic my way.

WIP Page

Some modders are looking to have public beta tests for smaller work. I will be creating a page where I will ink to a file that I host for people to test and provide feedback. In the file will be the map and a text file. Inside the text file will be the email address of the modder. Feedback will be sent directly to them. This page is not supposed to replace The Beta Testers Collective. That is still in operation and should be used when you want more detailed feedback on larger projects. This will be for single maps and map ideas.

New features for Profile Pages

Hopefully within a feww weeks, there will be some new features on the profile pages. For example, you will be able to see what maps and mods users have reviewed in the last few weeks. It’s all part of a larger membership project.

New Coder Needed

Jan has done a fantastic job improving the site, just look at how cool the PLAY archives are, but he has less and less time available. I am therefore, reluctantly, looking for a new coder. I need somebody with PHP and javascript experience to help build a few new features for the site and streamline the current ones. If you have a few years experience under your belt and are looking for something to use as portfolio pieces please contact me. There’s no financial reward but I will do my best to pay you somehow.

More Videos

2016 will see the introduction of a couple of new types of videos. The Minute Mod will be a minute’s worth of gameplay footage and a voiceover from me, introducing the mod. I’ve taken the concept from LambdaGeneration’s “60 Seconds of Lambda”, although I did make something like this before LG was around. Think of them as a trailer more than a review. Ideally, modders will use them on their sites and ModDB profiles.

The next type *will* be a review. I’m planning on making them about 3 to 5 minutes and I will try to make it as entertaining as possible. I’ll need to improve my video editing skills and I’m sure the first few will be pretty basic. I am hoping this will be a very popular feature.

Hall of Honour

We have the Hall of Fame, soon we will have the Hall of Honour. Not for mods, but for MODDERS! in 2016, 3 modders will be added to the page, each with their own section. More details very soon..

New Livestreaming and Other Events

I will be starting short-term stream events. 2016 sees me continue my newly named “Phillip Shouts at Leon”. I have plans for at least two other stream events.

New Streamer

2016 starts with a new Streamer – Dan Jordan, a modder and streamer will be streaming Source Hall of Fame mods during the 4th weekend of each month.

Stream Giveaways

SteamContests will be sponsoring the RTSL livestreams each weekend with a a few copies of a game to giveaway in the Twitch chat.

Panaoramic Images

I haven’t created many panoramic images in 2015, partly because I have been busy and partly because I can’t get high enough quality any more. I will investigate it soon and even buy the right software if I have to.


I have a pending list but will be converting it to a database table, which will be able to be used like the PLAY archives.

That’s It For Now

I say, that’s it, but it’s quite a lot. I’ll be very happy if I can implement all of the above, plus add lots of old and new maps and mods.

Hopefully, you are as excited about 2016 as I am. As always, let me know your thoughts.


  1. These sound awesome! I agree that social media is vital nowadays, though I think you shouldn’t discard Facebook so quickly as it’s the place where you can get the biggest reach.

    1. Well, I used it before and got no benefit for me time. When I asked my readers a few years ago, few used it. I am prepared to try but I don’t believe that FB is going to reach the niche market I am for. I am much more focused on WOM.

      1. Admittedly, organic reach on Facebook is a joke since they limited it immensely in an attempt to “motivate” managers to shell out cash for post boosting and ads. The trick would be to keep daily visual content coming, such as images and videos, to generate engagement and improve the Page’s rank, therefore leading to a broader audience.

        Even so, I have to agree, it does make more sense to use Twitter. I was just saying perhaps don’t rule Facebook out, but if it hasn’t worked for you in the past, then yeah, by all means narrow your focus. It’ll help reach the target you’re after.

        Oh also, I didn’t extend any coding help because I have no coding skills whatsoever besides some very basic HTML and CSS. There’s a good reason I built a website on (not even .org!).

        1. Twitter does a better job of complementing an existing web page or gallery. The sinister thing about Facebook is that in order to have a real presence on it, you have to do daily updates and “simulcast” everything over there, which robs from the main site. Whereas, with Twitter, you can just link back to the main site for more details.

          FWIW, I think Tumblr is kind of a mess. It’s the worst-of-all-worlds. Even if you find something useful there, chances are you’ll need to sift through dozens of huge animated GIFs to see it.

          Also, I just want to strangle the whole “millenialness” of it. The pop-up helpers, the snarky UI, the choice of predefined things to subscribe to – it feels like it’s desperately trying to pursue a certain type of individual and, for the most part, that’s what they’ve accomplished.

          1. As Maki says above, the thing about Facebook is that it requires daily work and it’s a duplication of what I do on the site and that’s my issue.

          2. I think there is a whole different atmosphere as a creator or just a viewer of Tumblr. Personally, I have no issue with the UI.

            The site make it easy for me to post images and that is what I am interested in. It’s not long but it would take me twice as long to do it on my site.

  2. Good luck! If you plan to spend more effort on social medias, I suggest you to use Buffer. It allows you to post something on your Google+, Facebook and Twitter pages at once by sending an email to a specific email adress.

    1. Thanks, I’ll check it out.

  3. These news are great to hear Phillip. I’ve been away from the site for a while now (I still check it every now and then) as I have done so many times in the past but I’m looking to come back for the Hammer Cup and get back into mapping.

    As Mythos mentioned I think facebook could reach a lot more people than twitter and tumblr. Personally I barely every touch my twitter account and have no intention of joining or just browsing tumblr, but facebook I check regularly and I would imagine that would be the case for a lot of people.

    As for the coding I would love to contribute to the site as I have some experience with it but currently I am so overloaded with college and projects that I want to do that I don’t think I would have any meaningful amount of time to help out with that. If you just need someone to help out with little things here and there I could try but I imagine you want someone more “full time” to implement features.

    1. I’m not actually going to use Twitter or Tumblr to reach more people. I use both for different reasons.

      I use Twitter to keep people informed of what I am doing, linking back to the site etc. For example, Twitch automatically tweets when I start streaming. That’s really useful for me. I also link tweets to the new images on Tumblr.

      Tumblr is used for very fast and easy to use image hosting. It provides a simple archive and even RSS feed.

      1. One thing I would comment on is that in the time after contests, you tend to post a lot of the updates on Twitter and not on the contest thread itself. Things like how many entries you got, when the release is planned, etc. This leaves people who aren’t following the Twitter in the dark.

        1. Fair point. I’ll make sure I do that on the challenge announcement page.

  4. Nice list of things/features for the site. Year 2016 is looking promising for Run Think Shoot Live! The name itself is still a bit of a hassle for me, I find it easier with PlanetPhillip.. but I slowly getting used to the change. 🙂

    I am not sure about the additional filler content; minute videos. I rather see quality content that adds value, create discussion and insight. Interviews, polls discussion, reviews, comments are my favorite content for this site. I find many of the videos badly produced/executed (not well prepared, technical issues, in-game volume, rants).. or lacking interesting narrative thought or discussion. But I want to like them.. I prefer well produced edited content rather than live streams with little preparation. And I hope that the podcast molds into something fantastic. 🙂

    Anyway, I love your passion and dedication for the site Phillip. I can’t wait for the new year and what it brings for RTSL! Keep up the good work; that goes for everyone!

    Have a good New Year everyone! 🙂

    1. Actually, if I may, I want to second this opinion on the content. While undoubtedly videos are a great way to engage people and livestreams are the current trend, I personally haven’t paid much attention to either. I prefer the stuff that I can both read and actively participate in: discussion topics, reviews and the comment sections.

      I find that it’s the people on this site and their insights that distinguish it – heck, I’m not even in this place for the mods, just to read what people think and say! Though in that regard, I’m sure I’m an outlier.

    2. Yes, well produced videos are wonderful but they take 4 times as long (estimated) than a blind playthrough. My livestreams are for a different audience and have a different objective. Firstly, they act as a rough and ready walkthrough. Secondly, they are fun because of the live interaction with the chat and allow giveaways of games and sometimes interaction with the author, which “produced” videos wouldn’t.

      I would love to produce those sorts of videos, but I don’t have time. I HAVE to play the mod for the screenshots and my reviews, so live streaming adds no time to my work but adds benefit.

      The Minute Mod videos are a way to advertise the site and the mod. In the past, people have posted links and said “check out this mod”. I am hoping that in future people will post the video instead. It’s definitely an experiment but I feel it’s worth doing. Think about how many mods and games have trailers. Take that idea and think of it as a trailer and advert for the mod and RTSL.

      BTW, sorry you are having trouble with the name. I’ll let you in on a secret: I wish I hadn’t changed it now. The plan was to get lots more content creators on the site but that has proved almost impossible.

  5. Unq

    Sounds like an awful lot to take on! I suggest not jumping in all at once to all of these. 🙂

    A good thing about Tumblr is that you don’t need an account to view the posts. See or better yet, the archive view –

    People can also set up RSS feeds for tumblr if they want.

    1. Yes, I certainly couldn’t do everything straight away, so slow and steady is the plan.

      The point you make about Tumblr is one of the reasons I use it and I will be promoting the RSS aspect too.

  6. Zekiran

    I like that you have a plan and some decent ideas about where to head, but I do wanna contribute a little.

    ** Tumbler is the devil. It’s the worst bunch of endless-scrolling crap mushed in together that I’ve ever seen on the internet. A lot of my ‘artist’ friends decided this was where they would purposefully put their new art, which is why I haven’t seen their new art, ever. Tumblr is a hipster arteest hangout at best, imo, and I will avoid any contact with it that I possibly can, including from here. It simply makes my brain shrivel a bit, looking at anything there or on twitter.

    ** Twitter at least has the express purpose of ‘saying something short’ but it also quickly devolves into a series of disjointed things which should more be placed into a proper paragraph and given the attention it deserves if it’s an important idea or update.

    Facebook needs to be a much bigger part of your plan, I’ve always wondered why isn’t there a way I can easily link the amazing things I’ve found here to fb or share something from your fb account – if you don’t want to run a group there, I’m sure that someone else will.

    And then there’s moddb.
    …. Moddb is what it is, it’s not better than your site for what I use it, and in most visible ways it’s a hot mess. The only time I will go there, is when I *know* you won’t have a thing that I’m looking for. Sometimes it’s a specific fix for a non-hl game or a replacement texture, but aside from those things, they *aren’t* a good layout, they *don’t* have a community worth mentioning. They have, for what I can see of it (because if there IS a deeper level of community there, it’s buried so deep under layers of spam posts and ‘first!’ and junk mods) a lot of people using the site, and that’s about it. But they serve a much, much wider territory than this one does, and that’s *good*. The overlap is *good*, as I vastly, hugely prefer coming HERE for any of the things I’d ever want to try. Their layout is… adequate? Unfriendly, poorly laid out, but searchable. Difficult to use, for me anyway, because they have so many damn *ads* all over the place that at times I’ve almost downloaded ‘this virus encapsulated in a downloader!’ – no thanks. Their ‘shine’ wore of a long, long time ago for me. Sure they have plentiful stuff. I feel like I’m rummaging around in an auction house trying to find it and good information about anything I use there, so my impression of them is *don’t emulate this*.

    If I had any ability to help you code, I totally would. I think the site as it is right now, is clean and visibly well organized, there might be some people looking for specifics and those could probably be integrated into the top dropdowns or the footer.

    I just don’t want to see the feature-creep that I’ve seen happening to all the other sites around, I’m not sure what marketing undergrads are behind it, but it’s bullcrap – i don’t need to have every site I visit *look like all the other ones*. It’s exactly like building a game by committee, “just because that other game has this feature doesn’t mean it’ll work in this one”. Just because other sites have x or y thing *doesn’t mean this one should* or could use it the same or to that extent.

    For my part, I’d love to see the site maintain what it is doing, as it is, with a bigger presence on Facebook and Twitter, and maybe more in the way of ‘somehow let’s get funding into it’ though I’m not sure at all how that would be done. I’m not interested in joining Yet Another So-Called Social Website just to see things that would either come up in my fb feed, or I would actually look for on a fb page by clicking once in the sidebar. Creating too much redundancy is what I’m seeing by moving into such places when they aren’t at all proven to have a user base that includes your target audience.

    As for the content… I’ve posted in the past about why I come here over any other site – I like it here, I like the format and the single-use ‘threads’ we can post about a specific mod or subject. While I can understand YOUR need to branch out, maybe you should try offering some of the bits you’d like to do (filler videos etc) FOR another site, make the link YOU, rather than filling this site as it is with less ideal content that would be better found on sites that already contain such items. I’d hope that other sites would WANT you to do guest bits.

    1. I’d also like to throw in one other thing about ModDB. Their ad scheme is just over-the-top. Not as bad as Wikia, but getting close. And while people will say “AdBlock!” – that’s missing the point. We shouldn’t be subjecting our fans to that kind of thing. Particularly with the false downloads, one of the dirtiest tricks out there.

      1. Zekiran

        Yeah that’s what has REALLY turned me off of using it at all.

    2. Zekiran, thanks for the input. Let me address each point:

      Tumblr: Sorry to hear you have had a difficult time with Tumblr. As with all communities, it’s the people that matter and in my experience the Half-Life people on Tumblr are nice. Yes, sometimes they post stuff I don’t like but the good news is that you don’t have to see any of that. You only see that sort of stuff if you have an account a “follow” lots of people. I use Tumblr as a simply way for ME to post images of in-development and other mods and for YOU to see them. I know you said you would never visit the site but can I ask you please to view the RTSL archive. It is nothing more than mod and Half-Life images – I promise. No interaction with other Tumblr users is needed.

      Twitter: I agree with your sentiments about Twitter but only when it comes to conversations, which I try to avoid. I use Twitter simply as a way of letting users know what’s happen on the site, not for discussing things. Here are some examples: “Leon’s mother died last night, so The Closure will not be released today. I am sure you all understand.
      I will update you when I know more.”
      , “We currently have a dead heat in the CrossoverVille vote: 26 to 26. If you haven’t voted yet, please do so. Voting ends 23:59 31st Dec”and “Will be streaming a new mappack called Project Omega in 30 minutes on the RTSL Twitch channel:
      It’s for things that a proper post would be complete overkill for.

      Tumblr and Twitter RSS: If you are an RSS user, you can simply subscribe to either or both feeds and read thinsg that way: Twitter RSS and Tumblr RSS.

      ModDB: The points you make are EXACTLY why I want to create the page I plan. Imagine coming to RTSL, checking the In-Dev page and deciding which ones you are interested in and then going straight to the ModDB page for that mod. Yes, you still have to deal with the layout etc but you can spend minimum amount of time of the site and get what you need. IF you are only interested in checking the image, Tumblr will have them all.

      FeatureCreep: I hear you. But I see most of my 2016 as trying to creating new styles of content while leveraging what I uniquely have: more SP mods than anybody else and in much greater detail. Facebook seems to be duplication, whereas Twitter and Tumblr have stuff that is not on the main site but links back to it. I suppose I could post the Twitter and Tumblr stuff on Facebook – I’ll think about that.

      Joining Social: The good thing about Twitter and Tumblr is that neither site requires users to join, especially if you use the RSS feeds. I hate being forced to join anything, and I would never do that to my readers. As I mentioned in a comment above, I am NOT using Twitter and Tumblr to access NEW readers. I am using it for my existing readers. My marketing campaign is simple: Create the best website I can and let my users spread the word.

      Content: I’m worried by the use of the word “filler”. I don’t see the Minute Mod and Review videos as fillers. I see them as leveraging the content I have. Just like the screenshots I create the Minute Mod will be a video version of those. Some people like looking at images and others videos to decide if they want to play a mod. For every mod, I write a review (actually, I am a little behind on some!) but that review will provide the content for the Minute Mod and Review videos.

      Generate Income: I have a plan for that but can’t say any more than that at the moment.

      Thanks for taking the time to write your comment, I appreciate it and I hope I have addressed your concerns.

  7. Just wanted to add – I’m really glad you’ll be taking over the r/HalfLife Mod of the Month feature. For as long as I’ve visited it, they’ve only ever promoted the stuff that is already heavily promoted – Dear Esther, Underhell, Minerva, Neotokyo, Nightmare House, things like that. It will be a welcome addition to showcase a wider variety of stuff there. I’d like to see that paired with a stickied discussion thread too.

    r/HalfLife is the kind of place where custom maps begin and end with Minerva. It’s ironic considering how everyone goes crazy for the tiniest crumb of HL3 information, but when someone in the community makes content, no one cares. I want that to change.

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