Special Challenge – NostalgiaVille

27th April 2018

Half-Life 2 has been around for longer than 13 years, but many will agree that the game has still not lost its charm. However, as Episode 1 and 2 came out, people switched their focus to the new environments and gameplay that were introduced. NostalgiaVille seeks to balance out the scale by re-introducing the classic environments of Half-Life 2 in the modern day.

In this challenge, you are given 2 months to create a level set in the early chapters of Half-Life 2 (think City 17 up to and including the Coast, however we find that the City and Canal sections in their pre-Uprising state are the least prominent within usual challenge entries). Don’t feel pressured to work for the whole 2 months, as that would mean a high risk of burning out, but consider the possibilities for the scope and scale of your entry.

A big focus of NostalgiaVille is, well, Nostalgia. The player should be reminded of the time when they first played Half-Life 2, and levels should, to some degree, feel familiar. So feel free to include HL2 Easter eggs, references, and maybe even altered segments of the original chapters in your entries. However, with time, technology and level design practices have improved.

We would like the early Half-Life 2 environments to be used and a level of familiarity in the level design to be kept, but gameplay can be either similar to the way it was in the original game or changed to add new concepts into the old environments, thus combining the new and old in your entry. Keep in mind that even if your map follows the same ideas from the environments in Half-Life 2, it should be polished and up-to-date with modern standards in other design aspects.

A good example of this is Jason Gimba’s Precinct 17, which is set in pre-Uprising City 17, Half-Life 2 but is detailed more similarly to an Episode 2 map, with more brushwork, props, higher lightmap density, particle effects and HDR. Undoubtedly, it is also structured better than old Half-Life 2 levels and mods, with clear distinction between action and calm moments, and there are plenty of techniques which manage how the player is led through the level and how they discover their surroundings.

Custom models, textures, music and other assets are very welcome, as long as they are integrated well into the environment.

About This Special Challenge

This challenge is a joint challenge between RTSL and Niker107. He suggested the theme, wrote the description, the length of time and other aspects. Essentially, it’s his challenge but run through RTSL.


The deadline for submission is 11pm UTC Sunday 24th June 2018

World Clock


The top 3 entrants will win cash prizes as follows, all paid via PayPal:

  • First place: $300
  • Second place: $200
  • Third place: $100

In addition, I am also very pleased to announce that a Metrocop facemask will be very kindly supplied by Michelle Sleeper and you can actually watch them being made on the Making It Up Twitch channel. Go check it out. Shows are on Tuesday and Saturday.


For this challenge you MUST NOT USE the RTSL MDK. This challenge is for Episode Two.

However, we would still like you to use the RTSL Submission Template.

Lost Coast Assets

As detailed in the General Rules, Lost Coast assets can be used.

Please pack them into your BSP.

The Judges

Niker107 – NostalgiaVille host, HL2 mapper, RTSL ville participant, Joint 2nd Place winner of The Hammer Cup 2016.

TanookiSuit – Experienced CS:GO mapper, member and staff on MapCore.org, 3rd Place winner of the MapCore 2017 level design competition.

3kliksphilip – CS:GO / Source mapper, creator of many early Hammer tutorials, prominent CS:GO YouTuber.

Klems – HL2 and CS:GO mapper, 1st Place winner of The Hammer Cup 2017.

TheWhaleMan – Experienced 3D modeler, environment and texture artist, member of MapCore.org

The scoring system will also be announced soon.

General Advice

DO NOT GET OVERLY AMBITIOUS. If you can’t build it in about 6 weeks then think smaller.

Something is bound to delay your progress. Leave time for testing, bug fixing and polishing!


We highly recommend getting your map beta tested by somebody you trust.

Do this early in its development if you can.

Updates, since the initial publiation
  • Other people may only help with the creation of custom assets and not add to or edit the maps.
General Rules


  • End your map with a point_clientcommand firing this exact command: disconnect; startupmenu
  • Maximum three maps per mapper per entry.
  • The map must be original and not have been released publicly before.
  • The map must run in system with only Ep2 installed
  • Other people may only help with the creation of custom assets and not add to or edit the maps.
  • By entering the competition you grant PlanetPhillip.Com and RunThinkShootLive.Com the right to release the map as part of the RTSL-SC2018-NostalgiaVille Mod.
  • Maps must not appear on ANY other website before the release and for one month after the release of the mod.
  • No assets from retail games other than HL2, HL2: Ep1, HL2: Ep2 and Lost Coast are allowed.
  • Other assets are allowed with written permission from their original authors, which MUST be included in the entry, preferably a link to a public page that shows permission has been granted. In addition, custom assets MUST BE ABLE TO BE USED IN MONETISED VIDEOS.
  • All files submitted MUST be in lowercase and any custom assets must have unique names, both folder AND files.
  • Entrants are requested to send their VMF files in with their entry. A section in the ReadMe.txt file will make it clear that they are for educational purposes ONLY and MUST NOT be used as the base for other levels without prior permission of the respective author.
  • Phillip and Niker’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into about it.
  • The map MUST have a proper name.
  • The map MUST have a proper filename: entryname_sc18_nv.bsp
  • Submit a mapname_readme.txt with your entry. Even if it is just your name and your entry, although you should try to create a proper one.
  • If you do not receive a confirmation email within 24 hours of sending an entry, contact Phillip IMMEDIATELY.

REMEMBER, any custom content must be able to be used in monetised playthrough videos posted on the internet.

Submission Details


  1. Enter well BEFORE the deadline. I will accept all late entries as bonus maps.

    Last year, I was flexible regarding entry deadlines, but NOT THIS YEAR.
    Even 1 minute is late!
    It is also WHEN when I receive it NOT when you send it.

  2. Read the General Rules above
  3. Please follow the submission guidelines, included in the submission template carefully.
  4. This submission template must be used UNLESS you are sending in just a BSP file.
  5. Upload your compressed file (rar, zip or 7zip), using the Submission Template to a free file sharing service.
      (Try uploadfiles.io, filedropper.com, wikisend.com, mega.nz or mediafire)
      Please avoid Google Docs – it’s often difficult for me to download from them.
  6. Send an email to [email protected] with the following details:
      SUBJECT: SC2018-NV-Entry name
      BODY: SC2018-NV-Entry name (Not filename)
                   The name you want used for credit. For example “Phillip Marlowe AKA PlanetPhillip”
                   Link to compressed file (or attach it to the email if it is small enough)
Final Thoughts

We can’t wait to see what entrants create, just remember when players play the map it should feel like a better version of Half-Life 2.

As always we look forward to playing the results!

If you have ANY questions, please don’t hesitate to ask, either here in the comments or by email if you prefer a private answer.


  1. Anon_1642814

    great idea for a challenge! was replaying the original levels they have something solid an integrity to them a lack of hyperbole that crept into the episodes a little and broke the immersion.
    must disagree about “modern standards” yes the technical side has improved but the spirit of games has gone backwards if everything is explicity articulated and polished for the player it feels dumb i mean part of a video game is understanding metaphore-what things represent then your imagination can fill in the details a simulation of reality has no creativity no impulse to come alive in the mind of the player imho hl2 is a real masterpiece

    1. Unq

      Yep. But by “modern standards” we’re really talking about level design and detailing rather than gameplay of modern shooters.

  2. OMG OMG

    RTSL is teaming up with http://www.msleeper.com to provide a fully-finished metrocop helmet as a prize for NostalgiaVille.

    Can’t thank Michelle enough for the support and be sure to check out the twitch.tv/makingitup stream to watch them being made.
    More details to follow.

    Check the images here: https://www.instagram.com/overworlddesigns/

  3. “Other people may only help with the creation of custom assets and not add to or edit the maps.”
    Should we assume from this rule that the challenge is essentially meant as a one person design effort? A map designed by two can’t be submitted as such? We’d love to work on an entry but we’d ideally co-design the thing, on top of asset work being distributed between us.

    1. …also, our interpretation of this rule is that it limits anyone else working on the map to focus solely on asset work. Being that the latter takes up a fairly significant chunk of time, and that it’s pretty interweaved with the design in terms of having to jump between them to make sure they align properly, it starts to feel less worth it for anyone but the submission holder to become involved.

      1. The reason the rule against having more than one person work actively on the map or on the assets is to keep the competition fair. If there was an entry that was made by two people, it could undoubtedly be a lot better than those created by single entrants, but it would be unfair to judge it against others on equal terms.

        Under the rules of this competition, the entry should mostly be done by a single person. Custom assets here and there are fine to spice things up, and since mappers don’t usually know how to model, it is allowed to have an asset “helper”.

        However, if you’d be fine with participating in this challenge outside of the competition aspect (so, submitting your map as a bonus map), I would personally love to see what you could create as two mappers and modelers (as far as I can tell), and I’d value that kind of contribution just as much as an entry made by a single person.

  4. ChickenMobile

    I know the rules mention the map should be from City 17 to Coast but would a Citadel-themed map be allowed?

    The Citadel levels were by far my favourite. The architecture was just so vast and alien, it was awesome. Plus it had some great puzzles and ambience.

    1. Personally I would jump to play any new Citadel map if I was given one, but the judging process and the overall consistency between the entries would be hurt if I were to broaden the boundaries of the theme further. As it stands, for NostalgiaVille, the Citadel is excluded from being accepted as an official (non-bonus) entry. But don’t let that stop you from including Combine architecture in the HL2 environments included in the theme! Perhaps this could be an interesting way to see how City 17 or the canals would look like if they had more Combine technology in place. I particularly like the APC garage in one of the airboat maps where the player has to open a big water gate.

  5. Hi, I want to build train station from this concept , and put all scripted events from standard hl2 maps, so it will be the same story, but with different layout and visual style, will that fit into this challenge?

    1. If the map consisted solely of a visually redecorated train station and with all the regular citizens, metrocops, and other entities in there… then I would probably say no. Remember that, while this challenge limits what environments you can use, every mapping challenge is about producing interesting gameplay (and RTSL challenge entries must always include at least some action / puzzle elements). My suggestion for your idea would be to go with the concept art visual style, but still make it remind the player of the original train station, and include at least some form of gameplay …if that all makes any sense.

      1. Thanks for the reply. Yes I have plans to expand the area with some environmental puzzles. Ideally, I’d like to rebuild first two chapters, up to the Kleiner’s lab, not sure how much work it’s gonna take, that should fit into 3 maps I guess… I will only submit it, if there will be enough gameplay and satisfying visual quality.

  6. Geez, I’m late! I have some little free time to join up in this one – I’ve also watched good old Half-Life 2 E3 2003 trailer. I know one specific environment to make references! I hope I can make it in time!

    1. Same thing ! Time to start making a map

  7. Oh wow, this is really cool!

    I came onto this really late into the development, but I’m interested in participating.

    I had an idea, but I think I have a question first… are we allowed to use one of the existing Half-life 2 maps as a base for this contest and build out from it? Going from the description, it sounds like this is encouraged, if anything.

    Also, are there any available beta testers to play through maps like the beta test network or anything? I don’t really have a lot of friends that play Source.

    Thanks, and I look forward to trying out for this one!

    1. I’m glad to hear that you’d still like to participate; remember, there is still more time left than the usual challenges.

      However, you are not allowed to use an existing Half-Life 2 map as a base and modify it for this challenge. You are meant to use one of the early HL2 environments, by that we mean the general palette of textures and models used in that area, the type of things that happen there, etc. and create your own level around that area.

      As said in the description, you can add short segments of the original maps to tie your level into original storyline, but they shouldn’t be the main gameplay areas of your map.

      You are also encouraged to try out new things in the environment you choose.

      1. Thanks for the prompt response!

        Unfortunately, over the past week, a handful of emergencies and events have kind of sapped my time for this. I’m still working on a side level for fun, but it’s not looking good for finishing anything on time…

        I might keep a log going for it as I make time, but it’s not looking too hot, at the moment.

        Also, Hammer is quite a bit more fickle about working than I remember…

  8. This is a question in general, not specific to just NostalgiaVille. Are people allowed to use mapping editors other than Hammer for entries?

    1. Unq

      Yes, it’s never been in the rules and is thus allowed. One map I know was generated by a script was krassell’s Micro Adventure in the Billion Units Experiment challenge.

  9. TheVikingBoi

    So as far as I can tell you can’t reuse ANY segments from ANY HL2 map already created, right? I’m wondering if I can do something like returning to Eli’s lab when it’s half destroyed, or going back to the first part of Ravenholm to tie everything together.

  10. The judges for NostalgiaVille have finally been announced.

    They are:
    Niker107, TanookiSuit, 3kliksphilip, Klems and TheWhaleMan

    More details in the Judges section of the post above.

  11. When is BONUS MAP deadline?

    1. About 2 weeks after the official deadline.

  12. This looks promising… can’t wait to try it out.

  13. Anon_1668727

    When released NostalgiaVille

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