for Half-Life 2: Episode Two

19th January 2015

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

In this challenge, modders were tasked with making a map with 4 distinct sections:

Section 1: RUN
Section 2: THINK
Section 3: SHOOT
Section 4: LIVE

Section 1 should be a race. A race against time where the player has to move and move fast. We call that running and that’s what I want the player to have to do. I imagine that at this point the player has little or no chance of winning if they stop and fight. Sometimes you just gotta RUN and fight another day.

Section 2 is about thinking. Solving a puzzle, find a way around an obstacle, something where brains not brawns are needed.

Section 3 is about shooting. Either killing lots of enemies or some sort of accuracy challenge. Could be with any weapon in any situation.

Section 4 is about that feeling of survival. It could be reaching a goal seen at the beginning or just moving onto to another adventure. Use of music and setting will be very important in this section.

As a whole, the map should take the player through each section, either clearly defined or subtly.

Basic Details
  • Title: RunThinkShootLiveVille
  • File Name: hl2-ep2-sp-mc-runthinkshootliveville.7z
  • Size : 68.4 MB
  • Author: Erik-Silver Toomere AKA ESToomere, Vincent Veber AKA Foofinoo, Alastair Toft AKA Addymotion, Nicole Brauer AKA VoEC, Maarten Frooninckx AKA Marnamai
  • Date Released: 19 January 2015

Download Options

Download to your HDD [68.4MB]

You can still use it with MapTap once you have downloaded it.

Nicole has kindly agreed to release her source files for her entry. They can be downloaded here: runthinkshoot_voec_ressources.rar

Manual Installation Instructions
  • Copy the RunThinkShootLiveVille folder into your SourceMods folder.
  • Restart or start Steam.
  • RunThinkShootLiveVille should now be listed in your Library tab.

If you require more help, please visit the Technical Help page.


The entries are displayed in alphabetical order, both here and in the mod:

From Ashes by Erik-Silver Toomere AKA ESToomere
Gman by Vincent Veber AKA Foofinoo
Outland Peak by Alastair Toft AKA Addymotion
Run Think Shoot by Nicole Brauer AKA voec
Terminal by Maarten Frooninckx AKA Marnamai


The RunThinkShootLive.Com intro video was made by ĜL1TCĦ³:
The menu music is from Half-Life and called Vague Voices (Black Mesa Inbound) by Kelly Bailey.

Custom Gridview Images

Five grid view icons are included in this file. To use the included grid view icon, select “Gridview” in Steam (top right corner). Right click on “RunThinkShootLiveVille” and select “Set Custom Image”. Then browse to the SourceMods folder and then to RunThinkShootLiveVille/steam-gridview-icons folder and select the image you prefer. Then click “Set Image” and that’s it.

Of course, you can create your own custom image if you prefer.

Which is your favourite RTSLVille entry?

Voting closes 2nd February 2015.


The playthrough/walkthrough below is provided by PlanetPhillip. See more of my playthroughs on this site: VP: PlanetPhillip.

The playthrough below is provided by Custom Gamer. See more of his playthroughs on this site: VP: Custom Gamer


There are 5 screenshots per entry.
WARNING: The screenshots contain spoilers.

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Reader Recommendations
Avoid It!
Think Twice
Play It Later
Play It Now!

20 recommendations, average score: 4.8 (out of 5), standard deviation: 0.46 (what's that?)
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Meta Review Data
Statistics based on 18 comment(s) with meta review data.

Using Gauge: Users
Manually: 18 Users

Time Taken:
Average: 1 Hours, 40 Mins
Shortest: 0 Hours, 45 Mins by Salamancer
Longest: 2 Hours, 30 Mins by EmoLevelDesigner
Total Time Played: 30 Hours, 8 Mins
If you believe this release is missing important tags, please suggest them in a comment?
Jump to a review
Phillip's FavouritePlay It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Personal FavouritePersonal FavouritePlay It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It LaterPersonal FavouritePlay It Now!Think Twice


  1. Phillip's Favourite

    Overall, I thought this was a very good collection of maps and feel that the theme allowed for enough creativity and freedom but also kept things controlled and focused. As one reviewer says in a later comment, this is reminiscent of the “Glory days of the mapping competitions” where we had a lot of good entries.

    That might be partly due to the fact there was a bigger prize fund and also the longer time period, but that doesn’t mean all future challenges will be this long though.

    Personally, I enjoyed Run, Think, Shoot, it contained humour, excitement and an element of novelty but I have to recognize that Terminal was a fantastic piece of work in so many ways. In many mapping challenges there is one map that stands out from the rest and is a clear winner, but not so in this case.

    Therefore, I have decided to announce joint winners. Both Run, Think, Shoot and Terminal were fun to play, contained some excellent set pieces but approached things from different angles. If I awarded one winner status I feel that would be saying that sort of maps should be entered into all challenges and I don’t want that to happen.

    Both winners will receive $40 prize money.

    I would like to congratulate both of them and thank all entrants for their time and effort.

    Onto the individual map comments.

    From Ashes

    I loved the start of this. No weapon and almost no time to get your bearings – just RUN! I completely missed the health pack on the wall in the small “room” of the roof opposite the starting building and that just shows that breaking conventions should be approached very carefully. You probably didn’t miss it, but if it were left lying on the floor near the stairs I wouldn’t have missed it.

    The “run” theme continues for the next few minutes and as I was playing it, I was pleased as this is exactly how I felt these maps should start. After the run, there is the train section which surprised me. this is the think section and it quickly turns into the shoot section.

    Eventually, we make it back to the original roof section, where we must destroy a Combine tank and to be honest, this wasn’t much fun.

    All in all, a great start, okay middle and a “meh” ending.


    This is currently the top entry in the “Most Frustrating” map list for the 2015 Awards! The first is a horrible representation of the “run” theme. The second section is almost as bad regarding the “think” section. It’s more a case of trial and error rather than real thinking. The third “shoot” section looks like it might have been fun but I inadvertently left “GOD” mode on and decided it wasn’t worth turning off.

    The author should have stuck with what he does best; standard city settings, and used those. All in all, the least enjoyable entry for me.

    Outland Park

    Another great start where the player simply has to run. There’s a feeling of relief when you survive but you know the rest is still to come. The setting is very well done and it’s nice to see snow being used. The “think” section was very weak but the parts after it almost make up for it. The “shoot” section was enjoyable, although a little forced at times. The original enemy makes a surprise return, just when you think it’s safe.

    However, there is one more battle that required me to try a few different approaches before I got lucky.

    The “live” section really does make the player relieved they survived but a twist at the end almost spoils it. I wanted happy endings!

    Run, Think, Shoot

    As mentioned above, this was my favourite entry. I like the approach and its similarity to “the Stanley Parable” is clear but that didn’t detract anything for me. The run section, the real one, not the “pretend” one was well done and the added use of the timer a nice touch.

    To be honest, I don’t want to write any more because I feel that out of all the entries, this is the one that should be played without knowing what’s going on.

    I can’t guarantee that you will enjoy it but I suspect certain players will absolutely love it.


    This map oozes quality, polish and detail. It would not look out of place in a retail game and demonstrates again that Marnaimi makes beautiful and thoughtful maps. Picking holes in some aspects of the design would be churlish. Yes, there were parts that I wasn’t so keen on but the great use and re-use of space was impressive.

    The set piece at the end was well done but I suspect a little more beta testing would have made it even better.

    Unlike other entries, Terminal does a great job of blurring the sections and presenting them in a more subtle way.

    Probably in any other challenge this would have won, but not today. Without doubt a personal favourite and I believe it requires at least two playthroughs to really appreciate its depth.

    Final Thoughts

    One think that struck me from three of the five entries was the re-use of space or areas. This was pretty well done in all three cases and shows how to maximize time and effort.

    As has been mentioned before, the PP, soon to be RTSL, Challenges offer a chance for mappers to try a build something a little different and I hope that continues.

    Well done to the winners and another huge thanks to all the entrants.

    I would also like to thank one PP reader for contributing to the prize fund. I haven’t mentioned their name as I am not sure I am allowed to.

    Let’s hope this is the start of a great year for SP maps and mods!

  2. JG

    Well, I haven’t played this yet, but I’d like to share my first impressions based on Phillip’s stream. I will play this mod at some point and reply with more feedback.

    From Ashes
    This seemed like it got off to an explosive start and kind of meandered a bit once we reached the apartment building. The way you tackle the APC is very anti-climactic.

    I normally find Foofinoo’s maps to be okay, if not fun, but this was just a terrible, underdeveloped map that should have never been released. It starts with a rising death scenario, which is a mechanic I absolutely hate, and then goes into a “puzzle” where you have to press buttons in the right order or else you fail and have to start again. All of this takes place in dev texture land, but when you finish the buttons, you are suddenly taken to a fully textured environment (why didn’t we lead off with this?). The author demonstrates that he hasn’t learned about the need to offer more than one monster closet in a battle with replenishing enemies. It’s really just a mess. I’m glad Foofinoo decided to enter a Ville competition for the first time, but if a map isn’t ready for prime time, there is absolutely no shame in aborting it. All mappers probably have dozens of unfinished maps sitting around. I know I do. And it’s not a waste because you might eventually come back to these ideas, or revisit a texture style you liked, etc.

    Outland Peak
    I really liked the setting of this map and it’s one of the few examples of a Surface Tension-style cliffside in Half-Life 2. I love maps that have you ducking in and out of spaces in isolated places (the Highway 17 bridge is a good example). The battle at the end seemed really overkill and there appeared to be a general lack of cover for all of the hitscan enemies.

    Run Think Shoot
    This map was really clever. To say anything more would be spoiling it, so really, just enjoy the ride. A lot of parallels to The Stanley Parable here. At first glance, this would be my winner.

    Another great Marnamai map, but it happens to take place in one of my least-liked settings, the bowels of a Citadel. This one came across as very meandering to me until we reached a fantastic set piece battle at the end where we fight Combine on a rising, rotating platform. This is a dynamic we don’t see too often, even in the retail maps, and it really stands out here. This layout is very tight and is a good example of flow control to make the most optimal use of a small space, but it also kind of demonstrates some of the problems with this approach – is progress actually being made? Where am I supposed to go? What am I supposed to do, etc. Like Overflow, there’s an aspect of this map that feels too designed, if you get what I mean.

  3. Play It Now!

    First of all. I have been really exited for this competition, I think the theme was really good and allowed for enough freedom.

    You can watch my playthrough on youtube here

    From Ashes
    Starts of with a great run scene where you run from the metropolice through what I assume is City 17. Then there is the button puzzle that seems to be the Think section. Then a train crashes in front of you, I’m not sure why or what the buttons did. Then you make your way back through the map you were being chased, wich is really cool and there you fight combine and zombies.

    A very enjoyable map, though it lacked in detail, the rooms were just floor, ceiling and 4 walls, nothing more.
    – 7/10

    The first part of this map reminded me of Miigga’s Baryonic Predicament where you need to race to the top of the room to avoid a deadly laser. This is fun and exiting the first time but if you watched my video, you see that I died about 30 times on that area, so in the end, it was just really frustrating.
    I also managed to bug Gman by dying at the same time the cutscene starts.

    I really, really liked the think area of this map, the whole map is built to be abstract so you can’t judge it by that. Its kindof hard ot explain but when you press a button, the room makes sublte changes, and with each change you need to press the correct button or else you are sent back to the starting room.
    The shoot area is simple, yet fun. Destroy all incoming manhacks.
    Then you are brought into the “real” world. The gameplay and detaling here is solid, but nothing extraordanary.
    – 8/10

    Outland Peak
    This map didn’t start of very well IMO. A section ripped from Episode 2. Then all changes. You see a stunning visual of a snowy landscape and an airlift. Absolutely beautiful.
    You make your way through the complex/building and fight of combine and zombies
    The final fight consists of surviving until the airlift gets to you.

    Really great map here, but not perfect.
    – 8/10

    Run Think Shoot
    This is a interesting one wich gave me strong Stanley Parable vibes. The author tricks you into thinking the map is worse than it really is. Each section is noticably devided, wich is fine for me. The map even gets a bit emotional towards the end, making me want Half Life 3 even more.

    You are acompanied by a “voice”, and by that I mean a text on the screen through the map that talks to you.

    Gameplay is solid and visuals are basic, but enough to not feel underdetailed.
    – 7/10

    Starts of great with an incredible intro section wich I’ven ever seen before. and puts you in the shoes of a character we all know but never seen.
    You run through the citadel while tons of combine soldiers are chasing you. Then you gear up and get back at em’. You take the train out and escape.
    – 9/10

    I am very impressed by all the entries in this competition and its so hard to pick a winner, but I’ll try.

    Overall, I think I enjoyed Terminal the most.

  4. Why won’t my review show up?

    1. Because it contained a link (badly formed too) and that puts it in the moderation queue.

      1. Oh yeah, that makes sense. Sorry about that.

  5. Play It Now!

    From Ashes

    The player lands straight in the shit with no time to take in the scenery, just run. The path is clear enough and the author manages to keep constant pressure on the player, so good start.
    The “Think” section of this map isn’t especially thought provoking but it is entertaining enough and it doesn’t outstay its welcome.
    The pace slowly ramps back up for the shoot section and while it was entertaining enough this is where the map fell down a bit, enemies were spawning in large linearly arranged squads which looked very artificial and made fighting them less engaging as you just mow down the line.
    The boss fight was a little disappointing and a bit of a chore to defeat but overall I had fun, this was a decent effort.
    Though I’m pretty sure Gordon died at the end so the live section didn’t seem to work out so good.


    This map is almost guaranteed to annoy everyone somehow.
    If you play this, quicksave often.

    The run section is tense but I didn’t have too much trouble with it there are a few jumps that are a bit too close to the maximum jump distance so you are unlikely to do them on the first try but the layout is misleading. The optimum route is actually to avoid the obstacles entirely and just jump from corner to corner but under time constraints most players are going to get tunnel vision and just go down what seems to be the intended path. I’m not sure if I was supposed to be able to cut the corners but if not then the rising wall of death goes up too fast.

    The “Think” section was either misguided or just very unclear. From what I could tell the only way to complete the puzzle was through trial and error (and memory) interestingly I didn’t notice that there was any difference between rooms 1 and 2 (Phillip later pointed out that 2 inverted the textures) which was very confusing though I’m not sure how I missed that change I know that I’m not the only one who did so perhaps a more localized change would have better introduced the idea of the room transforming. Through copious use of quicksave/quickload I got through this puzzle but without it this would be extremely frustrating as failure sends you back to the beginning.

    Then there is a little shoot section with many many manhacks which seemed a bit superfluous the arena was fine and fighting was initially fun but it just dragged on too long without any real variation.

    The final shoot section was more interesting. I did get stuck in the first section because I didn’t think to break the wooden debris in the fire pit (it didn’t look breakable to me but I’m not sure why) from then to the showers it’s decent but the shower section is very problematic. You are swarmed with enemies from all over and in the latter half you are sandwiched between two heavy machine guns so the combat is difficult. Invisible walls make it difficult to tell where you can actually go and the assets used blocked bullets in the empty space around them which made this very unfair.

    So this was fun in places but the frustrating and unpolished bits made this quite a frustrating experience overall

    Outland Park

    The run section is decent, it works well at keeping the tension up without being too unforgiving the only trouble is that it seems to end a bit too abruptly. The puzzle section was clear enough to understand it wasn’t particularly puzzling but it was a more satisfying length and it was never frustrating (though some of it you would barely consider a puzzle)
    The shoot section is the definite focus of the map and it is very fun to play through although there seems to be a few spots where the AI have a very hard time finding you and some encounters are very harsh the fist time round.
    I liked the ending though again I’m not sure that the player actually lived through that.

    Run. Think. Shoot

    Very entertaining entry a more tongue in cheek approach to the competition. The run section was suitably tense but the path was mostly clear ( I did get a little lost but not seriously lost) the think section was charming and the shoot section was very well balanced this was also the only map to have a legitimate “live” section which is nice.

    On a side note I appreciate the credit πŸ™‚


    Very nicely executed, the run section is tense and it is generally quite clear where you’re supposed to go although I did find I got stuck behind some combine running to where I was supposed to go so this maybe could have been set up slightly better, but overall it was good. The puzzle section was decent and the laser effects looked good although the flickering lasers seemed to be on for a long time which made the time windows a little hard to gauge. The shoot section flowed in perfectly, health was well placed to force the player down into the arena and once you had the AR2 it was a very pleasant murder rampage from there. I got very confused in the train section I thought i had to go across to the opposite side (rather than to the left) which is possible though I’m not really sure why I ignored the big glowing light. For the train elevator section I found I didn’t have enough AR2 ammo to be at all effective at that range. You get to the top, climb up the ladder start the train and jump on board which is always fun to do. Then you cut to outside the facility where the player appears to have smashed their face in on the billboard hanging over the tracks. Which was amusing but that ain’t living.

    Very good competition and good quality throughout even the weaker entries were strong efforts, I think the lowest I would rate any individual entry is “Think Twice” but there is nothing boring here. I did find it amusing that the player seems to die at the end of most of the maps given the title of the competition πŸ™‚

    1. JG

      Then you cut to outside the facility where the player appears to have smashed their face in on the billboard hanging over the tracks.

      Actually, that appears to be some unrelated character. Your character is actually seen leaving on the train. But otherwise, yeah, it’s an odd transition. In fact, during Daz’s stream, I swear I heard a yelp when the ending started, which really made it seem like you were that corpse.

  6. JG
    Play It Now!

    From Ashes
    This one starts off quite well, moving in and out of buildings and staying one step ahead of the Combine, as well as an APC on the streets. Eventually, you reach a nice looking train corridor which I guess serves as the “Think” portion. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but you cause a train accident (you monster) and wake up in a ruined version of the previous level. From there, you’re roving from one building to the next, shooting Combine. It’s easy to kill them before they even get into position, which looks odd. The architecture also takes a hit as the tenement interiors are about as bare as can be. All of this culminates with a severely anti-climactic APC – I hesitate to even call it a boss battle, really. You chuck grenades from the rooftop until it blows up. It really can’t hit you and, in return, most of your grenades roll away from it. Everything about this battle feels wrong and I don’t know why the author didn’t just give you an RPG and call it a day. From here, it sort of feels like you have to exit the wrong way, and making your way back down to the exit, you are treated to a cinematic of the Citadel blowing up.

    One of the surprising things about From Ashes is how long it is. It’s two maps worth of content and despite moving quickly through the world, there was a steady flow of new environments as I went. The levels don’t have the most intuitive layouts, and perhaps rely too much on annoying sirens to get your attention.

    Overall, I’d say this was better having played it for myself.

    I’m sorry, but it’s really bad. Obviously, I know from the streams of Phillip and Daz that there’s more to this map, but going by how far I could get, I couldn’t even make it past the first room. This room features several ridiculous platforming challenges which you are supposed to complete as an instant death forcefield rises from below. I gawked at the challenge on the highest tier, which expected you to leap from one skinny walkway to the next. Who could possibly think this was fun?

    Outland Peak
    This level takes place in a refreshing environment, high up in a snowy mountain with Antlion caves. You start off in one of the Antlion tunnels and get chased by a Poison Antlion Guard. This segment doesn’t outstay its welcome and you soon find yourself in a Surface Tension-style area with some light puzzle solving as you make your way to the Combine structure atop the cliff. This segment has a great feeling of isolation and lets you explore at your own pace.

    Eventually, you breach the Combine structure. You can trigger some fun infighting between the Guard and the Combine here, but you ultimately need to kill the Guard. This felt odd because it couldn’t chase you up the stairs and was forced to dance from side-to-side while you took pot shots at it.

    The last battle of the level can be brutal as you wait for a sky tram to arrive. Narrow walkways and a Hunter are a nasty combination. Fortunately, if you conserved some AR2 alt fire, you can deal with the Hunter easily. This section, much like the base interior, felt like it could use more cover.

    Overall, a pretty fun map that deserves some points for trying an environment we don’t see too often.

    Run. Think. Shoot.
    Like I said before, a very clever and humorous level that’s very reminiscent of The Stanley Parable. There’s not too much I can say without spoiling it, but it’s my winner for this competition. I don’t have much in the way of criticism at all.

    As I mentioned, Citadel environments are not my cup of tea, but this is a really good example of the style done right. Marnamai gives us another tight layout that constantly loops back on itself. It’s very well designed… arguably a little bit too designed. Sometimes when you’re trying to be clever and maximize reuse of a layout, you end up losing a sense of progress and direction. It’s never entirely clear how you are meant to escape – you pretty much stumble into the solution. It was nice to see a big laser trap room, and the major setpiece battle on a rotating platform was very cool. But I feel the map kind of meanders and the combat doesn’t present a lot of variety up until that point.

    In conclusion…
    #1: Run. Think. Shoot.
    #2: Terminal
    #3: From Ashes and Outland Peak (TIE)
    #5: G-Man

  7. Unq
    Play It Now!

    Shame on me for doubting the theme of this competition. We got a solid pack of maps to play, and the majority are well worth your time.

    My favorites are Run Think Shoot and Terminal. The two maps are quite different, but both are polished and are overall great experiences. RTS definitely echoes The Stanley Parable in its breaking of the fourth wall and humor. A great and clever map, I loved it.

    Terminal is a little more of a standard Half-Life 2 experience, but also really well put together. It’s a great rendition of Combine architecture (may even be the Citadel?). What I really liked (beyond the great Combine-style visuals) was the great way you kind of repeated your path in the Run and Shoot sections. They are essentially the same path, but quite different experiences once you’re armed and fighting the Combine soldiers.

    I also really liked From Ashes and Outland Peak. From Ashes is a really nice City 17 type map. I loved the Run section in this, the maps opens up right into action. The path you have to take is intuitive while running, and there is actual pressure from Combine shooting at you as you go – it’s nice and intense but not really threatening. The rest of the map is solid, but not without some missteps. The ‘boss’ encounter is well-intentioned but ultimately kind of boring (tossing grenades at an APC). And there’s an invisible wall keeping you from proceeding until you finish off the APC. A little more attention to immersion goes a long way – this could have been better handled by having an ally open a door instead of just blocking the player.

    Outland Peak was also a good time, in a setting we don’t often see. You start out in antlion caves similar to those in Episode 2, and the Run section is done pretty well here. Then, thankfully you escape and you’re treated to a decent vista outside in the snowy mountains, a nice change of scenery. The Shoot and Live sections later on are the highlights, and I really liked the tough standoff at the end while you’re waiting for the gondola.

    The one to avoid is Gman. It’s not only unfinished, but it opens with a timed platforming section that’s way too hard. It’s not fun whatsoever and hard to believe it was released. Skip it.

    In all, a great pack if you skip the second entry, perhaps even the best contest/challenge I’ve played!

  8. Play It Now!

    What a fantastic little pack, really reminiscent of the golden years of map challenges.

    – From Ashes starts off very strongly, possibly having the best run section of all the other maps, if not on par with the best. The bulk puzzle and combat is decent, but often relies on corridor shooting versus an excessive number of enemies as opposed to a well constructed fight.
    Flawed but a great addition and well worth playing.

    – Gman I admit I didn’t finish. Infact, I barely made it out of the starting area. I can’t pass judgement too much on this bar the first section I played, but I didn’t enjoy it too much.
    Perhaps if you are able to complete the obstacle course without too many issues, you could enjoy this entry, but I found it frustrating.
    Daz’s livestream shows the puzzle section after this to also be a nightmare.

    – Much like From Ashes, Outland Peak starts with a very strong run section followed by a very nice vista, my jaw dropped when I saw the snowy plains for the first time.
    The puzzle is lacklustre and the combat gets bulky and overly difficult quite fast, and there honestly came a point where I got burned out on the number of soldiers.
    Still, for a very strong opening half and at least a reasonably enjoyable second half, Outland Peak was a worthy contender, contributing to this pack in spades.
    It’s worth a full playthrough for the original environments alone.

    – Run. Think. Shoot. was an entry I adored. JG’s comparison to the Stanley Parable is spot on. It combines a lot of charm with some excellently constructed encounters.
    I feel as though the puzzle section was a cop-out, an unfortunate running theme, but the other sections were so spot on, it made me grin. The additional second half was the real killer though. I didn’t see it coming at all, and it really cemented it’s place as a fantastic entry. The section about “Playing little maps for a 10 year old game” might have been a shocking retrospective for some of us…has it been 10 already?

    – Terminal was drop dead gorgeous. I remember Phillip once saying words similar to “Big is easy, big and detailed like the citadel is very hard”, and Marnamai pulls it off without a sweat. This map combines the RTSL sections in a very well signposted and flowing manner, with some interesting mechanics and cinematic moments.
    I honestly thought this was a bonus map, I was shocked to see it in the runnings for winner. This is my personal winner, although Run. Think. Shoot. was oh-so close behind.

    One of the best challenges in too long, you’d be doing yourself a great disservice to not play this one evening soon. Bar an unfortunate dud in the form of Gman (perhaps it was a few gameplay ideas that didn’t quite work out?), every map here is pretty excellent.

  9. Play It Now!


    The beginning is very unimpressive. Since there’s no proper design, only blockout, the gameplay must compensate it, right?

    Must, but doesn’t have to. The “Run” section is yet another “escape before the lava rises” section, with balance that’s off which seems to be a tradition among such such scenes, “Think” is an uninspired guessing game with no actual thinking involved.

    In “Shoot” section the design finally appears, but it looks like it was taken from some map for Quake made in 1997, and there’s only one small room, only one weapon, one type of enemy and it lasts long enough to make you feel you had more than enough of this.

    Then there’s the ending which doesn’t look like one until you drop the door of one of the cells. The scenery behind the cave-in looks decent, and there’s a bad design decision – pile in the center of the room looks like it can be used to jump through the cave-in which makes the player waste their time. So here’s how it ends, just when it actually starts to look decent – another “nice” tradition.

    After reading other comments it turned out those wooden planks below are breakable and there’s a whole section of the map that I missed. However, it consists of some random rooms filled with random props that don’t make any sense of a location.


    From Ashes

    This one’s better. Good atmosphere, good variety, well done tension. Making player fall down in the end of the level and original way to destroy the APC are nice touches.

    A couple of places were misleading – APC looked like I was supposed to jump on it, ladder looked like I was supposed to jump and grab it. The explosion in the end could use some more special effects.

    Maybe that’s just me, but overall the place seem to look like just another good Half-Life 2 map that doesn’t stand out in any way, and the locations are not memorable.

    Other than that – very well done work. Clearly a lot of research and effort were put into pulling off this location with various design, fun gameplay and nice use of layout. Due to tension at the beginning I certainly appreciated ability to return where it all started and have a better look around.


    Outland Peak

    There’s some nice outdoor snowy vistas, but overall design lacks for proper details and looks bland. Why did this happen? Maybe the author spent too much time on outdoor vistas and didn’t have enough left to properly decorate caves and bases?

    The good old rotating wheels which came right from Half-Life 1 hidden behind each of three buttons here are certainly a good nostalgic touch.

    It was nice to see some logic in the Combine’s actions – “Why can’t they open their own door? Ah, they’re hoping that the antlion guard will do the job for them!”, however that guard can’t get through the narrow corridor, due to which victory comes too easily.

    Then the balance gets into another extreme as surviving while waiting for the tram is very difficult.

    Ending is cool and also a nice way to show how well the layout is used – we see the catwalk we used at the beginning.



    The beginning looks amazing. Perfectly done architecture of the citadel, excellent trick the author came up with that imitates the hero’s memories and imagination. Even more, the story is placed right into Half-Life 2 timeline as we’re playing as husband of a woman we’ve seen at the beginning of the game, so it’s not just a custom map but a small expansion pack here!

    I liked the way of hinting the player where to go – enemies here, so keep searching, camera there, so keep searching. Also good way to make that door memorable since we need to get through it later.

    Gameplay is also great. Fights are challenging and there’s some originality. The “avoid the lasers” puzzle is reused here, and this is the first Half-Life 2 map I see that does it.

    The place at the elevator for trains was misleading – I was sure I’m supposed to go forward, and jump to the rails and was surprised that I can’t neither open the door nor board the train. Appearance of enemies behind me convinced that I was on the right track. When I finally found the button, for some reason I could only press it after many attempts.

    Excellent work. Perfect design and atmosphere, storytelling that takes its beginning in original Half-Life 2, good puzzles and firefights, cinematic ending. Play it now!


    Run Think Shoot

    The beginning is not very impressive. Another usage of developer textures, here it at least tries to look like abstract art but needs better textures to look as good as Mirror’s Edge DLC. Then there’s boring run section that looks very bad due to lack of design and taking the contest’ rules too literally – only to turn into something totally different.

    This sudden change from bad to good makes the map exciting to play.

    Next room is an impressive scripting feat – randomly selects task to put in front of the player, working keypad with a screen, ability to detect using of crates and jumping.

    And the author’s favorite room has well done design in original style and excellent lighting with atmospheric shadows.

    Then there are few more surprises – there’s an extra level after the end credits which is also longer than expected.

    Overall it’s a great map which is good at using the idea of making things look different than expected.


  10. Personal Favourite

    When I first heard of the idea, I thought it was genius and I had a feeling that this time, it will work. And it did.

    From Ashes

    This one started off very interesting, and I really liked the Run section, but the Think section is incredibly simple and it wasn’t as good as others. The rest of it was very good, except from the part where you destroy the APC, because it was slow, compared to the rest of the map. Overall, it’s a very solid map.


    I remember playing one of Foofinoo’s maps, but I don’t remember what it’s called and thought it was nice, but this one was not as good. Generally, I like these kind of maps, but it didn’t work out as well here. The Run section was a pain in the ass. The Think section should be called “Guess” section because that’s what you do actually. Also, if you have the ability to make good maps with very good textures, do it from the beginning. Overall, this map could have been much, MUCH better.

    Outland Peak

    This one was very weird, but it was incredibly enjoyable. All of the sections were great, and I really loved the setting of this map. Not a lot to say here, just play it to find out.

    Run Think Shoot
    I really, REALLY liked this map. It was clever, the level design was great, and even though it didn’t have a Live section, it was very neat. It reminded me of The Stanley Parable, but without the awesome narrator and the 1000 endings. Overall, this is a must play.

    And last, but DEFINITELY not least…

    This map is freaking AWESOME!!! Everything in this map is great. The atmosphere, the combat, the setting and all the RunThinkShootLive sections were amazing. I choose this map as the winner.

    Overall, this PP competition was amazing and it was one hell of a way to start this year.

  11. Personal Favourite

    Woah! what a release to start off the year, if this is an indication of anything, then this is gonna be a fun year for HL2! So, without further adieu, lets get started.

    From Ashes

    Absolutely brilliant run section. Just brilliant. It’s actually pretty long, I kept expecting it to be over quickly, but I was wrong. I kept wanting to explore these neat areas, but I kept getting pressured from the constant enemy presence. This made the back track later feel all that much better. The transition to the puzzle section was a little odd. I felt like there should have been some walking or exploration before hand, kinda like the section after the train crash. I was still pretty pumped up on adrenaline and what I was doing or why. I didn’t even know I was causing a train crash. I liked the way the player was electrified, but the train crash looked weird because it looked like the train came from the other track. The sudden transition to the street-war aesthetic was a little jarring. I thought the train had caused, but then I realized it was just coincidental. Which reminds me, I like the way this map fits into the timeline. I presume it takes place during the last day of the uprising, since you see Gordon blow up the citadel. The background looked pretty odd too, it wasn’t till later realized it was the lack of fog. Without it the map looks pretty strange. I liked the street fighting part. You sorta come in mid-fight, which makes the world feel more alive. I wasn’t a big fan of the parts after that. The courtyard fight felt odd with the lack of cover. The building felt strange because it looked like it had a good layout (pretty of flanking routes), but it was a bit too large. You couldn’t use any of this layout before the CPs surrounded you or most of the soldiers moved to your level. Some additional scripting could have helped here. I liked the crates that lure you into the building, only for them to be behind a shield. People already talked about the APC. Maybe if it shot rockets over the edge might ahev made the fight more interesting, or just a couple Manhacks. The exit could have been boarded too, and then a stray rocket could hit it when the APC dies. I do like how the APC is encountered more then once, thus creating “relationship.” Its a shame the Soldier at the end were glitched. The building looked like an interesting fight, though it would have suffered from the same problems as the previous one. Overall, a good map with good ideas, but most likely due to time constraints, wasn’t as good toward the end.


    I get it! “RISE and shine.” …yeah, sorry I couldn’t finish this. One thing I did like about the platforming bit was that you tended to not take that much fall damage due to the layout.

    Outland peak.

    Great start. I thought the snow being slippery was a little bit odd, and the cliff side jumping puzzle was a little bit close. The vista was great, but it seemed to have some engine issues since some objects popped out of existence on the edges of the screen. I liked the puzzles, but the initial combat was a little tough. The lack f good cover and many enemies made it easy to get low on health. The soldier combat after that was more enjoyable, though. I thought the Guard fight was interesting. It kept trying to take cover underneath the catwalk, which was cool, but it would sometimes get stuck on the staircase. Maybe, if there was some more physics props for the Guard to hit, he could have made the catwalk less of a power point. The ending combat was pretty intense, but not too bad, and I enjoyed the ending. I’ve got a couple demos, if the author wants them, he can just reply and I’ll post them.

    Run. Think. Shoot.

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I loved this entry. It felt a little like the Stanley Parable, but it also felt unique enough to be its own thing. I really like the begging of this one since it plays with your expectations. The think part was funny, and the mapper in me was mystified as to what was going on in the background. The Combat portion was very Miiga inspired. That’s not a bad thing. I actually a couple things in these entries that seems to have been “reinterpreted” from other author, while also bringing some new things of their own. The ending on this map was great too. The end felt a little bit meaningless, though. I didn’t really get a feel for the “mapper’s” motive like I did with the narrator from Stanley Parable. Still great, though. I have a demo for this one too.


    I saw Marnamai working on this, but even then I was pleasantly surprised. There was that one game-breaking bug, but I understand how it got in, and it doesn’t spoil the map. Everything else was spot on. JG said the map was a little bit over-designed, but I’m not too sure of that. Overflow felt that way, but I felt this map gave the player some more down time and let them just “play the map.” The way the intro was done was great. I never really saw that before; I might have to use it in the future. This map is also a great example of ai_goal_assaults being used. New mappers should look at this map for proper application. The ending was really great too. The HUD was left on, a player_speed_mod could easily fix that. I like the way the ending plays with your expectations. At first you think you died, but then on the last train car you see you made it. Excellent map, I think I’ll have to play it again.

    Overall, a great competition! I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner.

  12. JG

    Alright, someone tell me – what’s the deal with the creepy catdialogue.wav in the /sound/lolkat folder? XD

    Maybe it’s some kind of remnant from AutoVille?

    1. Yes, sounds like it was left in there by me by mistake.

  13. JG

    Let’s get some more reviews for the folks who worked really hard on this! πŸ™‚

  14. Play It Now!

    There were some fantastic entries this time, I am struggling to choose between Run Think Shoot and Terminal as my favourite. The former really took me by surprise with its meta commentary on the competition and its players. Very clever and a bold new idea, if a little reminiscent of The Stanley Parable. Terminal gets bonus points for the scale and authenticity of the Citadel environment, amazing considering the competition limit.

    Of the other maps, From Ashes started very well but probably needed a bit more work on the ending. I’m afraid to say that like most people I was defeated by Gman’s extreme jumping challenge and trial-and-error button pushing.

    My own map, Outland Peak, had a lot less time spent on it than I would have liked, as I had a lot of other things going on. My personal goal at the start of the competition was to see if I could come up with an environment that we hadn’t really played in before, and the snowy mountaintop seemed like a good fit. The cable-car section was partly inspired by the game 007 Nightfire.

    There were only three new textures added to create the snowy environment (which were edited versions of the cliff faces from Episode 2); the rest of the textures are pre-existing in the Half-Life 2 files, so things like the snow being slippery weren’t added by me. Something I learned while doing the map is that Source has a very strict and apparently hard-coded particle limit, hence the snowfall being so patchy.

    Gameplay-wise I’m not too happy with either the Antlion fight or the final battle. I really wanted to have the player encounter the Antlion Guard that had chased them at the beginning of the level. Thie idea was to have it fight the Combine soldiers while the player watched from above, but the set-up for it doesn’t work that well and the room is completely the wrong size for the Guard NPC. I tried a couple of different arrangements to get it working better but I’m afraid I left it too late.

    As for the ending battle waiting for the cable-car, if I was to go back and improve it I would definitely extend the room out in both directions and add a couple of extra areas of cover, as well as maybe a side-room to give the combat more of a flow instead of just hammering the player with enemies. But alas, the lack of proper beta testing has been my downfall again. I promise that when my mod is finally released (whenever that will be) it will employ the services of the BTC as much as possible!

    Sorry for rambling on a bit, but I hope my thoughts on it are mildly interesting. Overall though this competition has been one of my favourites.

    1. JG

      One thing I would suggest for snowy themes is creating your own blend materials for them. Half-Life 2 actually has quite a few snow textures, even without Episode Two being mounted, but you’d get a more polished look if you blended them with rock paths and cliffs. It’s just a VMT text file, no actual textures are needed. It would go a long way to break up the monotony of white textures.

      And yes, the game has a particle limit of some kind. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but it’s easy to trigger it by having a very large smokevolume.

      1. Yes, that sounds like a good idea which I hadn’t considered. I think it would also help to hide some of the joins between different textures that are visible. Maybe I’ll revisit the theme some time..

        I had encountered the problem with smoke volumes before on a previous map, just never realised that the limit applies to all particles in the engine. It’s understandable why it exists but as far as I can see there is no way to change it to something less restricitve. Ah well, just something else to hope for in Source 2.

  15. Play It Now!

    This was an excellent competition overall, and it does make me wish that in the future we get longer time frames to work with for the modders because it’s kind of clear that the effort needed does require a bit more time, for really nice polished mods.

    From Ashes was a good entry, I liked it and would place it in the middle of the pack (because well, two others definitely shined harder). I was pretty impressed with the look of the map and how well the sudden surprise gave the map its very apt name.

    GMan while a name I can certainly get behind… I didn’t finish even the first map. Given that the creator didn’t bother to finish it either, I don’t see that as a bad thing.

    Outland Peak was probably the most beautiful *map* and area that I’ve seen, the map itself was just very nicely made. That said it left a lot to be desired in terms of figuring out what on earth to do at any given time. I had to restart at a save when I realized how to get through the one door and … well, I’d already killed the Guardian. That kind of left me a bit sad because otherwise it was a well thought out map. It gets my kudos for being fun, but I also managed to jump down onto the snow field and look around the back side of the map for a while which I figured was not intentional, particularly considering you couldn’t then just cheat your way into the ‘end’.

    Run Think Shoot I gave this one my vote because it was exceptionally amusing, as well as challenging and fun. Having a gravity gun = WAY cooler than guns. πŸ˜€ While it didn’t seamlessly work within the modding goal and uses meta-world instruction, that makes it feel more like a fun romp than a hard slog even when the combat was as challenging as it was. That arena was nicely made, it reminds me of another mod or two which had similar ‘supply depot’ style fights.

    Terminal was a very good entry as well, but didn’t get my vote because it was… well, samey? I felt lost most of the time, running back and forth several times over ground I knew I’d covered, and while that did make for a couple ‘oh now that door’s open’ moments, I didn’t have a clear goal at any time, and wondered just exactly what I was doing most of the Shoot portion. Without weapons for almost the entire map… felt a bit annoying and the use of repeated trial and error ‘where do I run’ deaths is not a learning curve I appreciate in any mod. Getting mixed signals from directions using light sources and having to double back, die, die again, and realize ‘oh there’s another corridor here I didn’t see because it’s pitch black’ … not too fond of that. It visually looked a lot like Minerva, which I also got hopelessly lost in. On one hand, I suppose that’s okay because you’re a civilian in a Combine citadel, on the other, I’m a player fighting a mod rather than fighting enemies on the map. Could be better, but was still very good.

    Overall, again, this was a great bunch of maps. A little more direction and focus would help most of them. The maps themselves in all but the unfinished Gman one, were quite good.

  16. Play It Now!

    Finally got around to playing all the entries so now I will try to give a bit of feedback and some impressions:

    From Ashes

    I quite liked the start of this one. It felt sort of intense and was reminiscent of the apartment escape at the beginning of Half Life 2 in a good way. I also liked how the space was reused (a thing that almost all entries used in some way or another).
    The puzzle at the bottom was not very exciting though, it was just flipping levers (and trying not to get hit by the train).
    Waking up after the train crash to the battle ravaged city and finding some comrades to fight with had a nice feel to it. But I think that after that it sort of lost its flow a bit. And while the fighting was nice at first it got sloggier over time. The fight against the APC was just too long and unexciting, lobbing grenades at the thing is just too slow to experience any sort of tension. Maybe having it explode after just one would have saved this moment.
    The ending also felt a bit lost. I also didn’t really know where to go at first.


    This felt like it just wasn’t tested enough. While I think that escaping from a death laser by jumping and climbing sounds quite exciting, the end result was just too difficult and unimaginative. Also (as I’ve now just realized myself), parkour in Half Life 2 is not very cool, especially if it is almost pixel perfect and on a timer.
    Then at the puzzle section this map just lost me, I don’t really understand the logic behind it and I didn’t manage to finish it. There should have been some explanation or hint as to what the player should do there.
    In the end I had to cheat to have a look at some of the other parts of the map.
    I think that I missed out on a couple of maybe intersting parts though because of that but I watched the ending and it was pretty anti-climatic.
    Although there was an interesting mix of dev textures and realistic environments at some points.

    Outland Peak

    To be fair, I really hate being chased by the antlion queen so this map and I got off on the wrong foot. I don’t know what it is, but this thing sends shivers donw my neck. But that does not detract from anything else in the map. The setting was quite nice and even though the environment could have maybe used a bit more detail here and there there were some cool effects (like the falling snow) and location (the cable car was super cool).
    Navigating the cliffs was a bit frustrating at points because it was quite easy to slip off and the paths were quite narrow, but not too much of a worry. I got stuck at the bridge puzzle because I didn’t realize that I had to HOLD e to turn the thingamajigs, but when I got it it was quite nice. πŸ™‚
    Stealthing into the combine base was a cool moment. As was the second meeting with my antlion friend which took me by quite a surpirse as you probably can imagine.
    I feel that the final arena could have been a bit bigger and more intriguingly designed to allow more movement for the player and more gameplay opportunites. I mostly just stood at one place and shoot at the oncoming combine, which did feel like I was defending my escape route but as I mentioned did not allow for much freedom in movement or tackling the enemies.
    The ending was so great, though! Having the music cut out and reveal the airship was such a nice touch.

    Run Think Shoot

    Well, since this was my map there is not much sense in commenting on it much.
    I’m really happy about the feedback you have written so far. I was quite surprise that so many people liked it, I really did not think that it would get so much praise at the time I submitted it.
    This was my second time submitting anything to planetphillip (or now runthinkshootlive) and it had been a long long time since I did something in Source. But I had so much fun working on this! πŸ˜€ (And also had so little sleep in the last days before the deadline that I was just a human wreck for a day or two after submitting)
    There are a few things that I do not like about it. As Phillip mentions at the last jumping section it sort of loses its flow and that really hurts the ending.
    But also I’m very glad that some moments work out exactly like I hoped (like playing with the players expectations at the beginning). Watching the reaction to the “Think” section in the videos above makes me smile. πŸ™‚


    A really nice start. marnamai managed to set the mood quite well here, the overlay with flashback scenes was also really cool.
    The “Run” section felt quite good and really energetic. Also it was a nice and smooth transition from escaping and running from gunfire, to hiding and laying low to finally getting geared up and taking the fight to them. I think this entry managed the transition between sections best, it feels really nice.
    While I liked the laser section and (as I said before) even though it worked quite nice after the running, I would have wished for a bit more of a clever puzzle here.
    Fighting through the combine forces and the previous area was good, again cool reuse of space. But I did get a bit lost at times, especially towards the end. There should have been a bit more guidance for the player.
    I liked the environment a lot. It was all centered around the big train elevator thing which worked quite nicely and even though it was standart combine like architecture the map still had a unique feel in its environment.
    Being on the turning platform at the end and fighting combine left and right was really nice, it could have been a bit more of a bigger fight though, maybe something like at the end of HL2 where there is a bit more of a back and forth. It just seemed to end too suddenly.
    The ending was also interesting and I liked the “Live” moment. The carcass in the wasteland with the player in the background riding the train is just such a great image.

    In the end I liked Terminal the most out of the four other entries. While each had its own nice moments I did feel however that none really worked with the idea of the “Live” section, except maybe Terminal.
    I mean all had Running, Thinking and Shooting and at the end you survived, but I guess I had hoped that people would get more creative with the concept and work out something cool for “Live” instead of just having a cutscene at the end.
    But I still think this is quite a good map pack and I not only had fun playing but also had a lot of fun participating. Hope to see you all next time. πŸ™‚

  17. Play It Now!

    This was really an enjoyable set of maps to play. I don’t normally like “running” maps where you are defenseless, but with this contest that part was usually over quickly! There were some great entries here:

    From Ashes: This map started off very well with the immediate need to flee without a weapon of any kind. I liked the train area but was confused how the derailment fit into the story. The combat was pretty good but the map had a strange ending which looked like the author ran out of time. 3/5

    Gman: This map had some interesting ideas, but was incredibly difficult and frustrating. I admit I gave up on the first section as I couldn’t complete it in time. The second section was just trial and error as far as I could see. Eventually I clued into what I was supposed to do but there was zero fun in it. The third section was also disappointing as you face endless enemies and are given weaponry that is clearly unsuited for the challenge. 1/5

    Outland Peak: This was a visually impressive map. The scenery is beautiful once you emerge from the tunnels. It reminds me of a Borealis mod I played some time ago; I forget the name. The combat was ok, but I had difficulty with the Ant Lion Guard. The first time I played it I killed it outside the building, and then couldn’t get the door inside to open to proceed. Then I managed to jump off the bridge and get myself stuck on the snow outside the building. Eventually I figured how to replay it correctly but then didn’t know how to get through the second door. The solution came to me again over time, but I thought the whole door mechanism here could have been handled better. The cable car area was quite striking, but the ending was a little anti-climactic. 3/5

    Run Thnk Shoot: This was a very interesting entry. The visuals were very good and the running part has a clever twist. Where this map really excelled was the humour the author displayed when you take off on a Portal-style rebellion against the rules. Very cheeky indeed. Yes, I am still playing maps for a 10 year old game and I don’t regret it πŸ™‚ 4/5

    Terminal: This was my favourite of the maps. I love the Citadel environment, and this map looked beautiful throughout with very good gameplay. The running part was quite interesting and kept you on your toes. Once you finally got some weapons and got into combat, the difficulty level was always well balanced. The end section with the train was really well done. I wish I had taken a little more time to appreciate the last part but I can always replay it for that. 5/5

    This contest had some great entries and was a really good start to the year. Let’s hope there is more of this to come. Thanks to Phillip and everyone involved for their hard work!

  18. Play It Now!

    One computer upgrade later, I’ve gotten around to playing the Ville. Did you know there are simple adapters that let you use DDR3 SO-DIMMs in regular LO-DIMM slots? I didn’t until about a month ago, and the otherwise useless eight gigs of laptop RAM I had sitting around now call home the shiny new (but on sale and with a rebate) motherboard I grabbed on Christmas. Wee!

    Down to brass tacks:

    From Ashes
    RunDerailATrainThinkShootLiveVille doesn’t have the same ring to it, no, but I still had a good time! Found my way out of the map at the end, dropping down on to the Combine barricade and then hopping over out by the smokestack. I did figure out how to move on after a bit, but it seemed more inviting to go the wrong way than to go back into the building. It’s strange, I know; since the entirety of that BSP was spent backtracking through the areas from the first one, you’d think it would occur to me to continue that and go back in the building. I think it might have been that since I came out through the doorway, but now don’t have the wooden bridge anymore to go back through, I discounted that path immediately. Not to mention the APC drawing my attention.

    I actually rather liked the ending. I did get to Live, after all, if only for one glorious, shining moment. Life’s more precious when it’s shorter, right? Or something.

    How dare you? I hope you fall ass first on a cactus.

    All kidding aside, dev textures have never really bothered me, whether because a map is actually unfinished, or simply because the author liked the Abstract Training Space aesthetic. Here I found them similarly inoffensive, but I imagine even those who don’t care for the style could easily overlook it in light of the map’s frustrations.

    I suppose it’s a good example of what it’s meant to be, if in fact I’m correct in believing it’s like those trick jump maps you see for Counter-Strike, TF2 and the like. I don’t really play those, though, so don’t quote me on that. I did cotton to the prison environment at the end, to a certain extent. That visual style and combat setup (with perhaps fewer enemies that were in more selectively placed squads, one mounted gun instead of two, etc.) could be fun. I think you should take that and run with it.

    Outland Peak
    You miserable bastard. “Snowy mountainside” is one of those ideas I’ve had floating around in my head for years now, I’m supremely jealous someone actually did it.

    One could argue my love of the setting has tainted my perception of the gameplay, and one could be right, but I couldn’t care less what one thinks, if one is going to be a Negative Nancy. The map looked about as good as I’d expect wide open cliffside could in the Source engine, with these draw distances and under this deadline, and though I got my ass handed to me toward the end I still felt good about it somehow. I’d have to call this my second favorite entry.

    Run. Think. Shoot.
    I’m terrible with math, frankly, and I really struggled with some of the probably-not-challenging-at-all equations, but I got through them nonetheless. Great fun, though I do know enough to wag my finger at PEMDAS going out the window for some of the challenges. Tisk, tisk.

    Exquisitely designed and detailed environments in this one, holy hell does it look pretty! Cute fourth wall stuff, too, though I do feel the commentary toward the end, touching on the challenge itself, and on HL2, was in danger of taking itself too seriously. I’m not the biggest fan of the philosophical ponderings of your Stanley Parables and Bioshocks, if I’m being honest; playing things like that I always feel threatened, like the depth of my intellect is being called in to question. I know it’s born of my own insecurities, but it’s easier said than done to shake the paranoia, and being told why I do things is a little offputting.

    Luckily this map managed to stop before going too far down that road, so thanks to being only the barest glimpse at the things driving me further along my spiral of self-loathing, it lands in my third place spot, close behind Outland Peak. I prefer the way OP and Terminal blend the different aspects of the theme together, but that’s just personal taste. I’ll be hard pressed to get upset if this map wins.

    On top of the wonderful game mechanics were all the great technical accomplishments, I’d really love to know more about the hallway at the end. I’d have thought nodraw would give you the hall of mirrors instead of plain transparency, is that some kind of skybox voodoo?

    I never really disliked the Citadel, in the strictest sense, except maybe in that it signaled the end of Half-Life 2. Once Episode 1 came along, that changed, but I’m still sort of ambivalent toward it, maybe it’s just that most custom maps in that setting don’t click for me.

    Talk about bucking the trend.

    This is my favorite map in the pack, good going Marnamai! I did get lost, so I have to agree there’s room for improvement in directing players, but beyond that I don’t really have any negative comments. The striking introduction and the map’s color palette were wonderful on their own, but then there was the laser room, the train theme, and of course that magnificent turntable lift at the end: grand, sweeping motion, those great curvy circles, and that sound effect! It’s a ballet of an ending sequence, and would have made the map for me if I hadn’t loved the rest of it. But of course I did.

    All in all an exciting way to start the year and rev up the new site. Inspiring, too, I really want to get back in there and make some more maps. There’s so much else I should be doing, but damn it if you people don’t remind me how much fun this is.

    Here, now, my customary first-look Youtube playlist, this time with seventy-five percent more unnecessary cursing: I’ll be updating the playlist and video descriptions to point to the new site once it’s officially ready for public consumption.

    1. JG

      Rob, you must have the patience of a saint to have actually gotten through “G-Man” without cheating. XD

  19. aster

    All maps where good. I Loved RTS. Sometimes i feared GlaDos is around the corner… πŸ˜€

  20. Play It Now!

    A truly great ‘Ville”, minus one. The Ville could have been a PF except for it.

    My favorite was Outland Park, but it was so close between it and both Run, Think, Shoot and Terminal. I also enjoyed From Ashes very much as well.

    My ratings;
    From Ashes 7/10,
    GMan 1/10,
    Outland Park 9/10,
    Run, Think, Shoot 8/10,
    Terminal 8/10.

  21. Nicole has kindly agreed to release her source files for her entry. They can be downloaded here: runthinkshoot_voec_ressources.rar

  22. Hec
    Play It Now!

    Ok, so let me begin this recommendation, by saying this was indeed a very, very good competition overall. We had plenty of good entries and mostly real cool HL2 action in the flesh. So now, without much delay let me display my thoughts on each entry.

    From Ashes:
    This one definitely deserves an honor mention, because the run part was thrilling and starting in those rooftops give a sweet classic HL2 atmospheric taste. Also I just loved the fact the scenario is set into a very classic HL2 city with its respective CMB Citadel. Besides that, the combat was always nice and intense; though I feel the main shortfalls on this entry are the hard contrast between the well detailed outdoor areas, and the quite plain and empty indoor-building apartments areas. You know, in the moment you face more than 6 CMB soldiers in the upper floors of the building I’d loved to have at least a mounted gun to dispatch those there. Also sometimes the path was prone to confuse the player specially when you return to the rooftop and have to deal with that Combine APC. I also believe the ending part could have been a lot better, I hope to see a bigger and complete mod from this author in some near future.

    Many have labeled this entry as frustrating, head aching, ugly, and so many more adjectives. Sorry for the author, but they’re absolutely right. I just cheated on this entry as soon as that impossible running section became a no way out alley!! Also the think-puzzle part was absolutely crazy without a bit of a clue to give to the player of what to do, and is the perfect example of how NEVER to plan a puzzle in HL2. Finally the combat section, I can say it was the least lousy part of the entry, and I’d have prefer to play a entry in a scenario like that than in those ugly orange walls and grey floors!! I really don’t know what else to think about this entry. It seems to me that it was mostly unfinished and maybe the author was too much ambitious. Anyway my humble advice as a player to him, is to make a more concise concept without those pain in the arse crazy parcour puzzles.

    Outland Park:
    From my point of view, this was another honor mention and very nice entry. The first I loved was that it was set in a polar-artic scenario with a very cool CMB structure on that cold place. Then the combat is very nice, the running section it was also thrilling and fun intuitive path to follow was available; maybe the lowest point to this entry is about the puzzle part, not very challenging at all. And finally the ending was cool and in this I actually felt the struggling for survive. I’d love to play more cold artic scenarios in HL2.

    Run, Think, Shoot:
    A very worthy winner. Never the less I didn’t vote for this as the winner, because though it was an excellent, clever concept, I just feel this competition fits with a more conventional HL2 style. Here we have a cool clever mapping design with a very outstanding break the 4rth wall concept. My critic on this entry is about the running part, it was cool, but I never really felt in an HL2 Scenario excepting the arena-combat part, and there I also think I really never felt it into the HL2 Universe line. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, I did, in fact got me amused more than once, but the “portalish” Stanley parable aura just didn’t work a million percent for me. I also felt the think part quite dull respecting those arithmetic problems. Finally I say I’d love to see more of this very talented mapper and I hope he’s working on something big.

    This was my vote, and my personal winner. I loved the HL2 pure environment on it. Also the intro give me a very well hook to follow the story and wanting to play more in there. The running part was the best of all, very thrilling and literally felt those CMB bad guys stepping on my heels!! The puzzle part was nice too, and the combat always was intense in that colossal CMB structure, I guess it was a depot prisoner point. The escape was just beautiful and I just loved that HL2 spirit all the way in the entry.

    In conclusion.
    This was a very satisfying competition to play. Really nice for my liking, and actually making me want more of those HL2 fresh maps in cool scenarios.

  23. For anybody who is interested, here is a video of an unfinished entry:

  24. Play It Later

    I have to say I was fairly disappointed with this map pack after hearing such good things.
    There are moments of greatness of course in some of the maps. The intro to Terminal particularly impresses but unfortunately there wasn’t much fun on offer.

    From Ashes

    I like the reuse of space on this map and I actually think this was possibly the most satisfying to play. I never felt like I didn’t know what to do and the mapper did a good job detailing everything to a nice enough level. Overall a good entry.


    Poked around on the ground floor of the first level and never made it any further. Must have spend less than a minute trying to play this. No idea what I was supposed to do but it wasn’t obvious and so I didn’t bother wasting my time on it.

    Outland Peak

    The poor design of the Antlion Guard section made me give up before I even made it outside.
    Not sure why the mapper would leave something so frustrating at the beginning of the map. Was no fun at all and made me shout at the screen. Ragequitted!

    Run Think Shoot

    Amazingly polished work. I happen to know how hard it is to get a working calculator to behave in source so to see it done with such style was excellent. The run section was very witty and reasonably fun when it got proper. The think section was pure brilliance.
    Unfortunately the Shoot section let this down. Simply throwing 100 combine at the player isn’t much fun and while some may crave that sort of challenge I’d rather use my brain when attempting to fight instead of just desperately surviving.


    Looks stunning and astonishing work given the time allowed. Unfortunately the gameplay for me really let this down. Poor signposting meant I repeatedly took wrong turns in the run section and continually died. Got very frustrating after a while so ended play session before finishing.
    Shame cos it looks wonderful…

  25. Personal Favourite

    At first, I didn’t understand the huge title of this mapping challenge: RunThinkShootLiveVille? I asked myself how the entries needed to be connected to the site, and the explanation was quite remarkable. 4 sections: Run, Think, Shoot and Live. I fell in love with the idea straight away. The 4 sections basically define the main gameplay elements that HL2 mods can provide, so I was curious to see what the entries looked like.
    WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the mapping challenge entries.

    From Ashes
    It is good

    My favourite part of this entry is the very beginning. The ‘Run’ and ‘Think’ parts are, in my opinion, what makes the map good. At the start, you have to run away from a Combine raid, passing between buildings, on rooftops and on the streets. In a way, I’d say it is even better than the first Combine raid at the start of Half-Life 2. There, you just run in the same apartment building until you reach the rooftop. This map provides the feeling of a real chase, and I enjoyed playing it because of that.
    The ‘Think’ part is only a few levers that you have to pull one after the other, so it isn’t complicated. But I enjoyed it nonetheless, partly because I like atmospheric things in maps, rather than the action.
    The rest of the map, to me, felt more like general Half-Life 2 gameplay, so I can’t say much detail about it. It was nicely made, but it didn’t have anything that I could note. The use of the areas you ran through before is nice, you get to reflect on the path you took at the very start of the map, but this time, you are armed, and you are opposing the force that made you run in the first place.

    It is okay

    I don’t have much to say about G-Man. The ‘Run’ part was good, I enjoy the levels where you have to climb up to the top of a room as it’s slowly being filled with lava (or emancipated by a laser, in this case). However, I couldn’t even begin properly at first because I didn’t even know that the wide gray dev textures are meant to be ladders. There are 3 of them on the walls at the very bottom, 2 of which are meant to be supports for the laser and the remaining one is the ladder. This, coupled with the dev textures (which makes the map more arcadey) is a slight minus, but the actual ‘Running’ part is good.
    The ‘Think’ part is awful. It is nothing but a guessing game of trial and error. At first, I tried to find out which buttons to press based on how they’re located on the walls, or if I had to press them in a certain order – but no, it turns out that you have to press the right buttons to progress to the next room, and if you hit the wrong button, you have to do the whole combination all over again. At one point I decided to just noclip, go to the last room, and hit every button there so it’d take me to the next stage. This part was just not fun.
    I don’t really know if I got to the ‘Shoot’ or ‘Live’ stage properly or not. After ‘Thinking’, I appeared in a normally-textured place with a bridge, buildings and rain coming down. I got a shotgun and had a few spare health vials and batteries lying around. After trying to do something, I realised that there was no way to exit this room, so my thoughts seem to have triggered the map to make manhacks fly at me. Music turned on, and I started fighting the manhacks… but the only weapon I had was a shotgun, and the manhacks flew out every 5 seconds or so, so I just stood there, shooting them one by one, until I ran out of bullets. Since there seemed to be no way out of the this stage, and I didn’t see any more ammo lying around, I just got killed by the manhacks and moved on to the next entries. When I came back to write this review, I flew around the map in noclip and realised there was another part that I hadn’t visited, which seemed like a set of hallways and corridors, presumably a continuation of the ‘Shoot’ stage. I ran around it a bit and killed some metrocops, but I didn’t understand how to activate it, so I just left the map at that. Ironically, it seemed to be the best-looking part of the map.

    Outland Peak
    It is great!

    I can’t really describe it. Outland Peak starts off with a chase that has haunted me back in HL2: EP2 – running away from an Antlion Guard (the green kind). No matter how many times I used to replay that scene, either with friends on Synergy or not, my heart started up like a motor and I was shaking even when I got to a safe spot. So this, as a start to the map, really boosted my adrenaline.
    Then, after the ‘Run’ part was finished, we got to the ‘Think’ part. The transition from the caves to the bright, bright snowy environment was great. It calmed me down after the chase and I admired the scenery for a bit. It wasn’t so calm, however, as the little laser bridge puzzle had me stuck for at least 5-10 minutes. I was even thinking of cheating. I knew that the buttons on the laser had to correspond to the lights on the console above. But I didn’t understand what I had to do. The first two levers didn’t move, and the third only bobbed the piece up and down if I pressed it. I didn’t know that the buttons had to be pushed and held to do the puzzle, so I just pressed the one that was working until I accidentally held it a bit longer than usual. I don’t expect buttons to do something in HL2 games if they’re held, usually they can only be pressed, so that kind of threw me off. Nonetheless, I was satisfied when I finished the puzzle and moved on.
    I had to walk around the base a bit, on catwalks that were right on the edge of a huge, deep fall. It was quite enjoyable to solve the steam puzzle to get into the base, and the two zombies signified the start of the ‘Shoot’ phase.
    The combines weren’t that hard to kill, so I was happy that I could move on. I climbed the stairs and pushed the button. Something must’ve happened, right? I looked around, walked up to a door, and it opened for me. There was a small bridge I had to cross, with another door at the end. This one, though, looked like a blast door, so I was unsure whether it’d open automatically like the previo– *BAM!* It flies off, I hear a stinger, and infront of me is the terrifying green beast that I’ve talked about before. My adrenaline kicks in once again, and I start running for my life. At first I ran into the newly opened door to the side, only to be greeted by an army of soldiers. I died. Then, I went to the bridge again, knowing I’d have to run away as soon as the antlion guard showed up, and I got killed once again by the combines. The cycle repeated a lot of times, at first I tried to fight my way through the combine-infested corridor, which always ended in failure, then I started trying to feed the combines to the antlion guard. However, they did not like the idea, so they didn’t come out of their hole even though I tried to lure them out. My only choice was to try to kill the antlion guard. I did, and music started playing, so I realised that it was the objective the mapper had in mind. It was sort of counter-intuitive for me, though, as I always thought the green antlion guard was made to be unkillable, and I didn’t really think of anything but ‘Just run away’ when I saw it. But the map went on, and I fought my way through the corridor, finally.
    Another fight followed shortly after, and then I saw the infamous ‘Wait for the cart to arrive’. I got into my Last Stand mood, and started fighting the Combines that came around to kill me (Actually, I hid behind the wall where the NPCs couldn’t see me because I had a small amount of health, so I waited behind it for the whole fight), as I waited for the cart to make its way to me.
    When it finally arrived, I ran in, and heard the funky Half-Life soundtrack. Hurray! The map is finished, it was interesting to play. I assumed that the ‘Live’ part was the final stand. However, the music soon abruptly ended, the cart stopped, and I heard a gunship. I knew that it was the end. The gunship shot at me, and everything faded to white. I fell down and died from the fall.
    I see the ‘Live’ part as something that makes you desperate to survive. I was desperate to survive when the gunship came, but unfortunately I had nothing to do. I wish there was some way to run away, but I understood that it was the end of the map, and I calmly accepted that fate isn’t always on your side.

    Run. Think. Shoot.
    It is WOW!

    Run. Think. Shoot’s resemblance to the Stanley Parable is amazing. I knew from the start of the map (and from seeing that it, along with Terminal are the winners) that this map is going to be good. The boring ‘Run’ part instantly made me know that the ‘narrator’ of the story is going to make it fun as the map goes on. I knew that there’d be something more interesting instead of this long corridor, and I patiently ran forward, reading the narration. Then I got teleported to a burning house, all within style of the map, with a clock ticking down from 60. This instantly made me run, and the intuitive design helped me out with escaping the burning house. It was quite interesting! And I still had enough time on the clock remaining when I left, so unexperienced players could probably make it in their first try as well.
    The ‘Think’ part made me giggle. It was a classroom where you had to solve basic math questions. I solved the first few until a door opened for me to leave when I was done. I was expecting there to be a much harder ‘Think’ part, considering there was a basic and advanced ‘Run’ part, but it just ended like that. This doesn’t mean that I disliked it. This part was actually quite funny and raised my mood a bit.
    The ‘Shoot’ part was probably the best action moment out of all the mapping challenges I’ve played so far. It was a big arena filled with weapons, health kits and batteries to spare. I knew that as soon as I hit the button, the elevator would start going down, and the combines would start spawning. I was prepared. And the map didn’t disappoint me! I had moments when I was cornered and with little HP, and I managed to survive, make it to the elevator, and have fun! This was really, really well done. And of course, I was curious what comes next, since the title of the map didn’t have ‘Live’ in it. I appeared in a small cut-off room with nice music playing, and a button labeled ‘Live’ in the other corner of the room. I sat in the room for a bit, until I went to press the button. At first, I didn’t realise that the narrator was still speaking to me, as the credits started showing up and I stopped paying attention to the text. But then I realised he didn’t want me to press the button. I was told to quit the game. I walked around a bit, walked back to the lit corner of the room, but the music has stopped. Then I came back to the button and pressed it.
    The rest of the map is a Stanley Parable fan’s paradise. It showed all of the inner-workings of the map in a way that made it look like the game was ‘falling apart’. The black void that we used to see in the previous parts was now behind-the-scenes concrete floors and walls. We were now ‘alive’. We saw what was outside of where we were before. What was actually there. I enjoyed the commentary which broke the 4th wall a few times, and the final part of the map nearly outweighs the first few. But the map was balanced and good in every single way nonetheless. It is definitely one of my favourites.

    It is WOW!

    Terminal was one of the best community-made maps I have played in my life. If I was showed this map and told that a Valve employee made it, I’d be surprised to later be told it was made by somebody who never worked at Valve. The detail, the design, everything about this map is done in an exceptional way, on the very same level that people working at Valve could do. Since I’m a big fan of the Combine and especially the inner part of the Citadel, seeing the glorious blue walls, blue lights, and red cameras made me have the same feeling that I got when I first entered HL2’s Citadel or Metastasis Minerva’s underground base. This map is exceptional.
    The intro was great. I didn’t even realise how the map managed to make these images appear on the screen, telling the story. I soon realised that we were playing as the man whose ‘train was stopped in the woods’ before the start of Half-Life 2. Finally, we’d know the story of this unknown person. The map starts with you looking around the Citadel in a pod, and soon you see that you will be killed by an energy beam. However, a stalker interfears with the beam’s electronics and you are instead given (temporary) freedom. The alarms start shouting, and you start running for your life. The turns and drops in the ‘Run’ sequence are intuitive, and I only had one part in which I was confused where I had to go. You constantly hear the sounds of troops running after and shooting you.
    Then, you’re given time to breath, as they lost track of you. The ‘Think’ part starts. You crawl your way through small spaces and around Combine soldiers. You have to pass inbetween a few detection lasers to get weaponry in a room somewhere far away. After you do that, you are given a few weapons and the Combine now know where you are.
    The ‘Shoot / Live’ parts start. You shoot your way through the squads of Combine soldiers running at you, you press buttons here and there to make your way to one of the stationed trains, which then gets placed down on the tracks. You once again have to climb back into the control rooms that you’ve been to in order to start up the train. But once it does, you can simply jump down onto it and make your daring escape. The screen fades to white, and you’ve won! Then a cutscene plays, where you are seen riding off into the distance, as your train scares off the crows sitting beside the track.
    This map is great. And I will definitely use some of its parts as a reference in-case I decide to make anything Combine-related. I also like how it re-uses the areas you’ve already been to. After I started the map again, I saw that I was going through parts of the map that I will soon fight on. It was quite nice to see how the rooms, corridors and pathways in this Citadel actually serve a purpose, and they’re not just there to make it look pretty – because you will soon be standing where you could only look before, fighting the enemies that come your way.

    EDIT: I don’t know why, but after I tried editing the comment, all of the headings became normal text and I wasn’t able to make them into headings again.

  26. Play It Now!
    It is great!

    very nice mod you need to play it now…

  27. Think Twice

    I didn’t care for any of these.

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