Next Mapping Challenge

18th November 2015

So, I have been thinking about the next mapping challenge and one thing that I need to decide on is the date and deadline.

I know people get busy around Christmas time, but I also know that many people have free time.

I would like to know what sort of schedule potential entrants would be interested in.

Please tell me your preferred dates and I will take into account all the responses.

I haven’t decided on a theme yet, so let me have your ideas on that also. I have one idea but I am not convinced it’s right.

Also, this time the prize won’t be games, at least not the first prize, but a set of three HL/Portal inspired prints. The winner will have to buy the frames, but I think it’s a better prize than just a game.


  1. Salamancer

    I think that the 18-21 day comps have worked the best, it’s a great balance of concise and affording.
    My vote would indeed be for closer to the holidays, 7th-11th starting time would be ideal for myself, if I were to enter. The prizes also look awesome.

    In terms of theme, this one is always a bugbear. Verticalville seemed to go down well, and a lot of the visual theme comps go well. Enemy related themes get a lot of people working on them, but some enemies are either annoying (sniperville2) or hard to work with (striderville).
    The ones to avoid, I think, are ones which require more advanced knowledge of how the editor works. For example, themes revolving around enemies harder to AI for (e.g. gunships), hard to build environments (e.g. rolling coastline) or custom work (e.g. voice lines) are doomed to receive less entries. I know tutorials for all this exist, but there’s a difference in knowing how to make a helicopter fly around and shoot, and being comfortable in it’s use so you can really bring out the best of it. If you introduce an entry requirement, then you’ll both turn off a % of your mapper base that *don’t* know the more advanced stuff, and you’ll have a lot more entries that try and do something with the theme, only to give up once their first draft doesn’t match their vision.

    One thing that I saw worked well was on interlopers, when they asked people to build a scene based on the theme of “vastness”. Being able to interpret that in many ways lead to a lot of different results, but yet it was restrictive enough that people actually had to think about it and work on it, as opposed to pulling up pictures of any old map.
    Perhaps a similar approach could be adopted?

    1. The problem with using Interlopers as an example is that they never required a playable map and themes that might work for that sort of map might not work for playable maps with enemies and objectives. I also feel that we have done themes like that in the past; AlphabetVille comes to mind.

    2. Prior to Forgotten Journey, I think most Interlopers contents were focused far more on aesthetics than gameplay.

  2. OJJ

    I’ll be able to do maps after the 21st of December, I believe.

    1. I will probably run a short challenge over that period.

  3. Zekiran

    While I’m not a mapper obviously and can’t hope to get in on the prizey goodness, I’ve wanted to see a Gman specific challenge emerge at some point. Maybe not this round, but something to toss around for later perhaps.

    Since a good number of people seem to think ‘fetch and open’ missions aren’t all that good, and almost literally everyone hates escorts, that’s like half of what I could come up with heh.

  4. Bastion

    May be worthwhile to get the mapping contest started as soon as possible or after christmas, because when December turns I assume there will be a lot less people with free time to do a full mapping challenge.

    For themes, here are a few
    CoastVille (Based around the coast section of HL2)
    DarkVille (Map with lighting as the central mechanic)
    AntlionVille (As the name describes)
    ApertureVille (HL2 level where we go to Aperture science from Portal)
    BorealisVille (Make your own episode three map essentially)

    1. CoastVille has been shot down so many times. Mappers don’t like the idea of making sections where players speed through.
      DarkVille sounds interesting
      AntlionVille has already been discussed but wasn’t hated completely.
      ApertureVille is too close to GravityGunVile.
      BorealisVille is a possibility too.

      1. Salamancer

        Antlionville could work. It was the close second of a choice a while back.
        I’m surprised we haven’t had it yet honestly

  5. How about a ChristmasVille : a friendly time of the year in City 17 where combines and citizens gather around and enjoy the spirit of christmas 😀 .

    Or like Zekiran suggested a Gman specific challenge perhaps GmanVille?

    1. Salamancer

      This could actually be quite a fun one to do, if a little hard to implement. HL2 doesn’t conventionally have christmas themed props, and the snow textures are pretty limited, but having hilariously mocked-up snowmen combine could be fun.

      1. Santa Breen.

        That is all.

  6. I don’t have any specific preferred dates. I’ll likely be busy with a job throughout December, but hopefully I’ll have enough time to squeeze a map entry in (although I always say this.) I also like the prize, it would be neat to win something other than a game. A time-frame for the competition of just over two weeks sounds good to me, since I’ll probably be doing most of the work on weekends. But anything up to three weeks makes sense.

    Since we’re spitballing Ville ideas, here are a few:

    HeistVille – The player must break into a secure area, steal something (perhaps a vehicle, a weapon, or a happy-looking gnome), and take it to a safe location.
    NemesisVille – Someone or something just ruined your day, and now it’s payback time. It could be a helicopter, a sniper, Breen, or… a crate? The nemesis should harm the player or frustrate their progress at the beginning of the map, appear throughout the map, and be overcome at the end. The more satisfaction the player feels for overcoming their nemesis, the better.
    ReplayVille – Make a map that specifically rewards being played through twice. Maybe there is a choice of paths, a story with branching decisions, different weaponry options, or a trick you learn at the end that gives you an advantage on a second playthrough. The best entries will feel significantly different when you play them again.
    PhysicsVille – Make a map that focuses on physics. It might involves puzzles, ways of taking out enemies, destructible environments, or any other application.
    SnowVille – There aren’t many default textures for snowy environments, but there are enough to make it viable. It’s a kind of environment that isn’t usually done, at least.

    And here are some bad, probably-bad, and very-bad Ville ideas:

    CrowbarVille – Pretty self-explanatory.
    HammerVille – Only .vmf files will be accepted. The winner is the map that is the most interesting to inspect in Hammer.
    AlphabetVille Two – Helvetica Boogaloo.
    ReverseVille – Phillip must submit a unique, fully-playable map to everybody who enters the competition. To enter the competition just email Phillip before the deadline, and tell him that you would like to enter. The prize goes to the person who receives the best map.
    SketchVille – Anyone and everyone can post a sketch, diagram or text narrative describing a complete map. All entries must be based on a description posted by somebody who isn’t the entrant.
    ImpossibleVille – Create a map that is impossible to finish in a way that is interesting and/or infuriating.
    MysteryVille – The competition theme is revealed after the deadline. Good luck!
    StealthVille – The best idea for a competition… or the worst idea? There’s only one way to find out.
    MarriageVille – You remember the guy who commissioned a Portal 2 map to propose to his girlfriend? It’s time to get in on that action, by creating the best marriage proposal in map form that you can.
    PatienceVille – Create a map that can only be completed if the player possesses zen-like patience. Moving a hundred watermelons from one container to another. Killing a slow but steady stream of enemies running down a single corridor for five minutes. Stacking two dozen crates to reach an exit. These and other exciting possibilities await.

    1. Some great suggestions there. I actually like the bad ideas as much as the good ones.

  7. bobdog

    I keep hoping for a BridgeVille — any kind of map with a bridge as a central focus. Could be very simple, could be intricate, might have to go over it, or blow it up, or just stop something from crossing like a train, Strider or Combine. Might be really tall or just 10 feet off the ground.

    I think that would appeal to other players and mappers could choose a number of options according to their skills.

    1. Salamancer

      I think this one’s also a great idea. Having such a centerpiece location like a bridge to clamber up, down and all around would be a great focus.

      1. Mr.Walrus

        I agree, I think a Bridgeville would lead to some awesome maps.

    2. I proposed BridgeVille years ago as I also think it could lead to some great maps but was voted down as mappers said making a bridge was too hard.

      1. Unq

        A bridge like the one you walk under in HL2 is daunting to make. But I think you need to encourage that *any* bridge is OK – like bridge-like areas in the Citadel, or catwalk-style bridges in Black Mesa, etc. As long as it’s open to loose interpretation I think it’s a great theme.

        1. Well, that’s what I tried to get across.

          1. A bridge usually has issues in terms of the view to either side and what you do to make it look interesting. This is not an insurmountable problem but it is rather time-consuming unless you do what Valve did and fog it out.

            As far as the earlier comment about coastlines, I think it’s vehicles more than coast. There’s nothing wrong with coastline. Vehicles, though. When you have a short deadline, asking mappers to make an elaborate roadway that the player is just going to zip through in a few seconds isn’t a very efficient use of time. The best you could do is something like Ep2’s finale where it’s very non-linear and open so the space gets reused several times as the player traverses it. But that’s not really in the spirit of VehicleVille, imo.

  8. retroville

    a little bit portal: it has to be in a 60s, in a facility, has to be puzzle themed

    1. Strangely enough, I have been pondering something similar.

  9. Has there ever been a canalville? I always enjoyed Route Kanal, and I’d like to see maps that try to do a “back to basics” style, instead of 10 different weapons and 20 combine soldiers.

  10. There’s no certainty that I will do the competition, but of I were to enter, I would to prefer it to be after my winter Mocks (so the 12th of December onwards).

  11. Despite not wanting to deal with Hammer again, I find myself interested anyways. Funny thing is I find working with displacements easier than regular brushes, guess I’m just different. When I make a map, I want to make something “fresh” that I haven’t seen done in the Half Life universe before (or at least a portion or aspect of the Half Life universe that we have not seen before). That could be anything from environments, to specific enemy combinations, to physics puzzles. The theme has to inspire, while not being to lax on constraints, something I’m sure Phillip has continually had to balance. I admit to being guilty of basically meeting the requirement of the theme by using another one that inspired me more (for example, if the theme was HeistVille, I would probably shoe-horn in CoastVille because I think it would be different and interesting).

    Some ideas:
    TerraformVille – Make a map dealing with the combines harvesting of Earths resources.
    RetrieveVille – The player must retrieve something and bring it to a location. Could be a heist or some other objective to the resistance.
    CoastVille – Coast section of Half Life 2, maybe an objective that doesn’t require blasting through it.
    OverwhelmVille – The player is an ant next to the force that is the Combine machine. Survive.
    VastnessVille – Give the player a sense of smallness…
    ChasmVille – The players objective is to get across a chasm, could essentially be BridgeVille for those who want to go that route.
    FogVille – Use fog as a gameplay element.
    MergeVille – Take any three Ville ideas and merge two of them together for the entry.

    “Eh” ideas:
    SkyboxVille – Create a large or interesting 3D skybox that affects gameplay in some way. Shadow of a mountain, signal flares, etc. Kind of a knockoff of VastnessVille.
    DualVille – A dual between the player and a specific enemy. It would be a trick to get them to retreat without dying.

    1. Loving some of those ideas.

  12. Since we’re on the topic of ideas: CrossoverVille – make a map that incorporates elements from other Valve games. Could be story, gameplay, whatever – e.g. a HL2 map set in Aperture Science.

      1. Mr.Walrus

        A crossoverville would be incredible. Gordon visits Aperture Science, return to Black Mesa, CSS-styled missions, etc. While maybe a little less extreme I also imagine maps that just crossovers between the original game and the episodes- like seeing what’s happened to the terminal from original HL2 by the time the Citadel is melting down in EP1, going through the canals again after the Citadel razed half of City 17 in EP2, or visiting White Forest long before Gordon Freeman arrives in City 17 in the original HL2.

    1. Zekiran

      I *always* like crossovers. 🙂

  13. Mr.Walrus

    I’m really fond of location themes that evoke a specific atmosphere, such as the Halloween/Horrorville competitions and particularly Rooftopville (my favorite, for its feeling of being high up). I’d like to suggest:

    – Vastnessville (mentioned above, give player a feeling of being tiny)
    – Retroville (also mentioned above)
    – Atmosphereville (generally making atmospheric environments)
    – Lostville (forgotten locations- towns, ships, bases, temples, etc.)
    – Noirville (or “darkville”, an oppressive and dark feeling)
    – Storyville (there must be some kind of narrative)
    – Mountainville
    – Chasmville
    – Winterville
    – Fogville
    – Rooftopville II

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