Poll Question 306 – What’s the longest break you have had from playing HL games and mods since you first started?

21st January 2015

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

Andrew just posted a review for a Half-Life 2 map and mentioned he hadn’t played HL2 in over a year and I just couldn’t imagine not playing for more than a few weeks and that’s when I am on holiday and away from my PC.

Of course, I am passionate or obsessed, depending on your point of view, but I feel most of my readers are as addicted as I am, if not more.

This seemed an interesting question and I considered expanding it to ALL games and mods but I’m more interested in just your HL habits.

Your Chance to Vote


  1. I had a break for a while, can’t remember why or exactly how long; no HL no comment!
    I guess it was all the Greenlight and broken mods, not just failing eyesight. So old!
    But I came back and knuckled down to finally tackle Black Mesa source and found that it deserved to be mod of the century! Worth the, oh so long wait! And crystal clear with glasses!
    I had fallen out of love with Half Life due to its poor graphics and have yet to finish it. But with BMS I have got half way again. So my break with that version of HL is very long!

  2. A few months, usually I need my daily dose of half life but when games on steam are on sale…

    I bought the Saints Row Full package for 10 bux a few days ago. I’ve not had so much fun in a long time. Even if I don’t play I mess around with the editor, dreaming of finishing a map someday…

    1. JG

      Saints Row is awesome. I’m not sure there’s any one perfect Saints Row game, but each one is great in its own way.

  3. AI

    Joy joy next month I’ll be the magic number “69” but at least the computer is working very well! (ha-ha) HL Hmmm! well Black Mesa source plays nicely! Played Wolfenstein the New order on the hardest setting, never died so many times!! rikersbeard why not try FakeFactorys mod for HL2 a nice improvement!!
    Also waiting for The Closure (hope I spelt it right) BTW: Phillip I found 2 of the mods you wanted! send you an e-mail with the names.

    1. I am waiting too for The Closure… Seems a big mod.
      I like Leon’s mods.

    2. Well AI I have played the cinematic mod 4 as thats all my PC could handle. loved it, better music and interesting character models. Only beef, teeth too white. The rule for modelmaking is never black, never white alwyas shades of…
      Ha! I died enough in the original PC Wolfenstein!

      Ps. If you switch AI arond you can see the lights!:)

    3. JG

      Wolfenstein: The New Order is wonderful. It’s probably the FPS that comes closest to capturing the feel of Half-Life 2, at least with respect to shooting and level design.

  4. galocza

    well, shame on me… 8)

    it has been years since i last played anything half-life based. a few (many) years ago i wanted to play through the better mods and i completed many but there was a hiatus and never picked it up again. i recently played vtmb again, and i definitely hope that an another playthrough of dark messiah will be in my future and they are both early source based games.
    i guess i never was that much a fan of hl games as many of you here, not that i dont appreciate them, they are great but there are others that i like so much better.
    still im a daily visitor here, download the mod if i find it appealing, read Phillips thoughts, vote and rarely even comment.
    to tell you the truth im not sure my visiting here is about hl anymore.

    anyway i plan to play through black mesa if its ever finished and once again hl2 with the cinematic mod (and hl3 oc 8) but i think more or less this is for me.

  5. JG

    My opinion is probably controversial, but to be brutally honest, I wouldn’t be nearly as interested in Half-Life if it weren’t for its modding potential. Being able to mod things myself, and seeing what other creative people come up with, is really what I find fun these days. Not necessarily the game itself. In truth, I think aspects of HL2 have been surpassed by other games – although perhaps no one game surpasses it in every respect.

    It’s really two factors. One is that FPS games with an emphasis on single player are a dying breed. And among those which do exist, they simply don’t support modding. The publishers want to charge money for DLC and end up locking down the tools. You can’t build a new BioShock map. If those games let me, chances are I would have gravitated over there in time.

    1. Salamancer

      I couldn’t agree with this more.
      The big pull for me with HL2 and modding is the ability to tell a story, present a challenge and craft an experience for others with a reasonably minimum amount of technical knowledge (and it being contained within a single design package).

      Making games is a very compelling idea for a lot of creatives. We like to tell tales and make people feel things, and video games are a great way to express this desire.
      However, your only options in this regard is to:
      – Make a game from scratch or with a commercial editor (e.g. UDK) where you have to add in a lot of legwork like coding or custom content. Being able to simply place an npc_combine_s on a brush with a pre-made texture cuts so much work and expertise from the project (as opposed to having to make *everything*)
      – Use a “Tilegen” editor where you simply snap together blocks like a jigsaw puzzle, much like the Portal 2 “PTI” editor. These are usually alright, but I’ve found I can never really express anything with these, I can’t add my own design or story to them and I certainly can’t do anything than the very bare minimum to constitute as a level. These never seem to build communities.

      Quake and Source SDK games are the only exceptions I can think of that circumvent this. They strike a very happy balance, giving a lot of creative freedom whilst requiring a level of knowledge that is acceptable for a single person to learn (with a decent learning curve and with all the hard parts like coding contained within entities and simple IO systems).

      For me, I don’t take breaks from HL2 as much as I duck into the editor every now and again, or play a big mod/mapping competition off the site.
      As much as I loved the original games, they aren’t the reason I come back. I come back for the releases where people showcase their ideas and challenges in the engine of, and with the mechanics of, Half Life 2.

      In regards to modern games, is that perhaps due to the practice of using meshes and 3D models to build a level, as opposed to bsp brushes? Certainly the workflow would be different, and require external programs (See the UDK model importer, generally used with 3DSMax/Blender/Maya).

      1. JG

        Totally agree. As much as people criticize the BSP approach to level design as archaic, it’s still way faster to build maps in this manner than to expect a user to launch an expensive 3D modelling program, build super high-resolution models, do all the texturing for them, and then export them back to the game. You always have to ask yourself – does all this extra work result in a better end product? One which is more fun and engaging to play? Not necessarily. That’s why indie games look the way they do; they have to strike a compromise somewhere.

        I’ve had experience with the “build everything” approach. Even in a very minimal game, I didn’t personally find it to be that fun and though I have no shortage of ideas, I’m reluctant to dive into those waters again.

        1. wesp5

          You both sound as if you like to create maps on your own! How about a new challenge? Just recently an unofficial SDK was released for Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, which uses an earlier Source engine and the same old Hammer editor. Now our community is desperately looking for mappers that have experience with Source and would like to create new levels!

          1. Ooh, I loved that game! I’ll have to check that out once I’ve finished my current HL2 projects having a skim through the forums on Planet Vampire it looks like mappers may need modding experience as well to really get anything out of it.

  6. I played HL back when I was a kid; no Steam was there at that time. Many years after discovered mods and replayed the entire game. A few more years, a legit Steam account after, I acquired HL2 w/ Episodes and played it. Thanks to a bad internet connection, haven’t tried out any mods yet.

  7. We are currently traveling around Australia in a caravan,, so when Valve told me I needed a 6GB reload, anything HL stopped.
    When did you last download 6GB using mobile broadband?

    I still havent/wont be reloading LFD2.
    (though I may just buy another set of discs)

  8. I was introduced to the Half-Life series circa 2000. I played and replayed the entire series (Half-Life, Blue Shift, Opposing Force, Counter Strike) for about 3 years until my interest waned. In 2010 (late to the party, I know) I received the Orange Box as a gift, and still play it today. So about a 7 year break between Half-Life series.

    Recently I found my old Half-Life CD’s in storage and was quite surprised to find that the CD keys were still redeemable on Steam!

  9. I’m ashamed to admit that since I got hold of the original game in Summer 1999, I don’t think I’ve gone a week without playing one of the HL titles or mods. It’s most likely due to actually working on mods myself, but it’s also one Hell of a game series. πŸ™‚

  10. Zekiran

    The only times I’ve really taken much of a break from any HL-related things are when my main computer isn’t working correctly. It’s the only one that can run modern Source where as my laptop can still run goldsrc.

    I have a lot of games I like to cycle through, though, so it really depends on what my mood is. Like some others above, I really enjoy Saints Row 3 and 4. I still have a massive backlog of triple-A games that sit either uninstalled or unplayed on my Steam library… Mass Effect, Prototype, hell I even have Skyrim but that’s … eh. I’m not that hot on fantasy.

    But I check back here a lot, to see if there are new things or things I’ve missed. I managed to miss the goldsrc mods listed in the ‘best of’ competition the other week, so I played both of those. Even very old mods can still keep my interest, HL is one of those worlds where I feel comfortable settling down to play it.

  11. I had forgotten this but I actually originally bought Half-Life 2 purely because Counter-Strike Source came with it at the time Half Life was of no interest to me.

    I found out about this site from watching Daz’s level design analysis videos (from a forum relating to L4D mapping I think) and this site got me into Half Life 2 and mapping. I had dabbled with the toolkits for other source games (which invariably includes hammer) but things like the Beta Testers Collective, the active community here and generally being able to get your work out without it being lost among the torrents of other releases you find on less niche sites.

    The main reason I play Half Life games is because of this site. So yeah, I’ve probably had at least a years break from playing Half Life games though now days generally a maximum break of a few months… It’s grown on me.

    1. JG

      I’d agree that Daz’s videos form a significant part of what I’d call the Half-Life 2 “support structure” for mods.

      What I mean is, when a map is finished, part of the fun is reading reviews, watching gameplay streams, looking at Let’s Plays, etc. I still see new videos from Forest Train and that keeps me excited. Especially when you see different nationalities play. Knowing that someone halfway around the world got a kick out of your work – there’s nothing like it. No matter what language we speak, the reactions are the same. In essence, a good mod is a gift that keeps on giving for the mapper.

      I say that because not many modding communities have this support structure. Often, you build a map and throw it into the void where no one will ever see or appreciate it.

  12. Unknown

    I am embarrassed to admit the actual time that I have spent playing mods for the Half-Life Series. Every time I think I am done with Half-Life a new modification is born, and I get sucked back into it.

    It’s become difficult to ignore really if you are the type of person to favor story-line, and structure over graphics. I feel that modifications have a certain “charm” that games don’t stack up too. The reason I say this is because think of how many of these game platforms, how they operate, and who their target audience is.

    Steam will always supply games that people request, but since modifications are free Steam wouldn’t make very much of a profit if any. Modifications seem to attract a much smaller quantity of people compared to big independent games like Skyrim or Minecraft.

    There is a bigger majority for high-end games, and for people who like mods are more of a minority if one compares the spectrum. Mods carry a special sentimental sort of value in the sense that “they are completely free” and many mods are created based on “passion” not “money”.

    These mod developers aren’t forced to create something based on what someone else wants they are trying to create something based on their own ideas, talents, and experience to bring them to life. Many of the greatest creations were created through “free will and free thought” not “money or catering to a company’s needs”.

    Modifications in a sense are also more of a rarity, and are more collectible then games. If a mod isn’t very well known, no one downloads it or acknowledges the mod, and the developer permanently deletes the mod in many cases “it can be gone forever” and it may never comeback.

    High-end games will always be sold, and shared to the masses, but with mods it’s a different story. I think they are more important then what people see the man who made Minevera Metastasis if he never made that mod he might not have a job right now, and the same goes for Cry Of Fear Development Team.

    Mods create jobs for aspiring game developers, and are free for all to enjoy. The Half-Life series has also become one of the largest platforms for mod development I think their is over 300+ mods for Half-Life 1 alone, and that number is probably even higher.

  13. I finished HL2 almost two years ago and haven’t played any HL game in this interval (we don’t count HL2: Lost Coast, do we? πŸ™‚ ). I have, however, been watching a lot of HL1 and 2 speedrun videos in this time – does this count? πŸ™‚

    Anyway, yesterday, before seeing this post, I decided that the time has come to fire up Half-Life 1 again. I probably won’t replay tens of mods I have, but the original game + official expansions should keep me busy over the weekend :).

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