Steampipe and current issues

25th May 2013

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

This post was written by James Partridge.

You may have noticed that some Valve games haven’t been working as smoothly as usual.

Well, there is a reason for this and James Partridge explains and offers some help.

What’s going on?

Some people may have experienced problems with Episode 2 recently. Much of the dialogue has stopped working and Alyx and others just stand around looking weird. There have been lots of discussions going on out there about the cause of this and what’s happening to the Half Life 2 games in general. As there seems to be a lot of confusion, I thought it would be a good idea to bring all of what we know together and explain how this is going to affect mods going forward.

What’s happening?

Half Life 2, Lost Coast, Episode 1 and Episode 2 are all being upgraded to fit in with Valves more recent file system. Since Alien Swarm, Valve have been using a different type of compressed file type (like a zip file) called .VPK.
This new file structure is more efficient and allows for addons, maps, mods etc.. to be added and removed from a game in a far more flexible fashion.

This is all part of a project called, Valve Steampipe, their updated content delivery system, which is in preparation for the launch of the new Valve gaming console. The new console runs on Linux, so all of their game content has to be Linux compatible.

Why is this affecting Episode 2’s current content?

We’re not sure but what we do know, is that in order to fix the problem, you can opt in to the Steampipe Beta which will update your games to the new VPK format.


How will updating to Steampipe Beta affect my mods and mapping?

Updating to Steampipe Beta will stop all your prior Half Life 2 mods from working initially.

MapTap will most likely not work either until it is updated. (Once we know exactly what changes are needed, we plan to release an update – Phillip)

The Valve SDK which contains Hammer and the mapping tools for Half Life 2 has experienced a lot of problems with this new update and Valve promise they are working on this. Many mapping and modding projects have been affected and delayed.
Mappers who are desperate to get on with work right now should read this thread over at

How do I get my mods working again after I’ve taken the update?

See this post for more information about how to get your mods working again.

Older mods may need to be updated before they will work properly.

New mods may choose to release for Steampipe Beta only, as releasing to the older file format may affect how their mod plays due to the missing content and the fact that they will need to release an updated version pretty soon anyway.

So what should I do?

At the moment, the choice is yours, you can continue using the current broken version of Episode 2 or take the Beta update and wait for the modding scene to catch up.

The important thing to remember is that sooner or later (and it’s probably not far off), Valve will force everyone to take the new Steampipe version update. All mods will have to be updated.

How do I take the update?

Simple! Just right click on each of the Half Life 2 games, go to the Beta’s tab and in the drop down menu select “Beta – Steampipe beta”.
You’ll then get a series of updates and be asked to convert the content to a new format.

Is there any other benefit to joining the Beta?

Valve are releasing a lot of updates for the Half Life 2 games right now. There have been 6 beta updates in the last 2 days addressing a variety of bugs that existed for a long time.

Here’s a link to the Half Life 2 announcements page that details what’s being done.


  1. AI

    Did the update as stated, very simple thing to do! It seems to be working just fine, even my updated “BlackMesa”! 😉

    1. AI

      Just tried it with a new version of “Station 51” a no go! With “Strider Mountain” it seems to work ok.

  2. Hmm I didn’t realise this was affecting the SDK, I’ll have to look into this since it could affect my mapping. I haven’t noticed any problems yet though. Thanks for the info.

  3. Greenman

    Most mods are totally buggered with steampipe including the one I was working on; Missing textures and models are common (Station 51 was the first one I tried and there was lots of them)

    1. It’s a BP scale disaster – more oil stricken mods are being washed ashore every day..

  4. Gambini

    I think this is a time to take a step backwards and leave Valve work on fixing what they broke. Things are getting fixed and broken every a few hours so it’s not wise or safe to do any changes in our contents until the tide goes out.

  5. Amidnarasu

    *sigh* Here we go again…

    I just want to play my games and their mods in peace!

    I understand all this is for the better in the end, but it just seems to do more damage than good. It’s a good thing for all the Linux gamers, but just one headache after another for the rest of us.

    1. gambini

      it’s obvious that these are not your games but their rat labs. Every new thing they’ll want to try out will go through any of these source games first. If there’s going to be an android steam version, then HL2 will have to run on it, with all the damage the porting journey will cause to the game for all users.

      This was -by looking it with some insight- somewhat expectable. Since Half Life 2 has been the flagship (or trojan horse?) for Steam.

      1. Anon_803081

        The first Trojan Horse for Steam was Counter Strike! Without forcing all the thousands of Counter Strike players into Steam Valve would have never reached the propagation they needed. HL2 then came later to force the single player gamers into Steam as well…

    2. Alex

      Yeh, I totally agree, the recent updates have made me realise how important it is to own a game you love so much on CD or DVD so if the developers screw the Steam version up, you always have it as it was in its golden day – providing your OS supports it.

      Whilst I can understand certain games, mainly multiplayer needing cross platform support to enable users to play together, why the hell did games like HL1 SP, HL2 and so on need changing? Why cant Linux and Mac users have a completely separate build like some games do.

      Its sad when I’ve spoken to popular mappers and modders who say they are quitting or not working on projects due to this. Valve is killing the community which founded them.

    3. We don’t want to discourage their profits which these machinations are leading up to. Just fit your wife with tin panties and hope those bastards don’t have a canopener.

  6. Stefan

    Welchen Code soll ich bei Beta eingeben ??


    1. No code needed. That’s only for “private betas”.

      Kein Code erforderlich. Das ist nur für “private Beta”.

  7. Max

    I’m not quite happy with SteamPipe, since it also affects the quicksaving, making the game freeze entirely for 1-2 seconds.
    I’d rather stay in favour of the old, non-SteamPipe versions, since mods still work on that. It works quick enough without SteamPipe anyways.

    I was actually quite disappointed in Valve for SteamPipe, breaking everything in the process, but at least they didn’t force this update on us, and they’re actually working on getting the issues fixed.

    At least, custom maps still work.

  8. “Steampipe, the new and exciting way for valve to **** all over your mods (whats left of them) whilst steadfastly managing to avoid the release any new content.”

    “Screw messing up mods a few at a time, we need something that will **** ALL of them, properly, and for good. Let’s see them “get mods working” after THIS baby!”

    *huge, constipated straining noise* – THUD.

    …and thus steampipe is extruded. Now everybody, enjoy your ‘special gift” from gaben. And he wonders why people pirate their stuff?

  9. SPY

    Great to hear that Strider Mountain (SM) still works well AI, thanks for that. I was already afraid how this new update would corrupt my previous mods. Although some people still even have problem with (SM) due to older updates. That Valve updates corrupts mods is getting really, really old. I do understand why they choose for updating, I really do. But personally I think that it has caused so many damage and frustration over the years in the modding community that it would still be better if they didn’t force there updates on us. I have changes messages with Jim Partridge and he has loads of troubles with this new beta update thing just after he releases his latest SP mod for ep2. They are fixed now, same counts for many other new ep2 mods and older ones, but for that they player needs to change to the beta steam.

    LIke I said, this is getting really old. I am about to finish my latest SP-mod after 3 years of work. ANd till now I don’t have troubles with mapping and modding, although striders really do behave like crazy, same with antlions. They start to fly around like crazy when they are spawned to close to each other!! Am glad that I still need to go over all of my 21 levels before I release them, but I already know now that I will have to fix a lot of stuff due to this new update.
    same old story,
    (am I glad this is my last Source project for now, will continu indie development.
    Its said to say because the last 7 years were really great and I made my best work on this, when I may say so. But all these troubles with updates. I really can’t take them anymore, they are real nightmares to mappers and modders.

    1. This turdpipe update couldn’t come at a worse time for The Closure. Everyone’s really looking forward to the release of your Master work – I really hope this freshly extruded lump of delight from valve doesn’t wreck it! Please persevere..

    2. JG

      It’s hard to blame you, Spy, and I wish you well going on the indie route.

  10. No amount of complaining will help,, the last time valve changed things there were a “lot” of maps being written,, and we are all still here–

    just a thought,,
    while I know valve are releasing a console,
    anyone else find it hard to understand why they would play around with a ten year old file system? Its not like Valve to go out of their way to make OUR lives easier,

    HL3 nearly ready anyone?

    1. You’re joking! I laughed so much I nearly peed. The GABEN ate HL3 years ago, didn’t you know? It’ll never happen – it will be postponed into oblivion, whilst there’s still infinite loot to be had out of hats, trading cards & similar coloured-glass-beads.

  11. 2muchvideogames

    Steampoop already messed up HL1, now it’s messing up HL2 and eps. Game over, modding community.

    1. Seems that the GABEN is closer than ever to perfecting his W.M.M.D. (Weapon of mass mod destruction.) He just can’t resist the temptation apparently; maybe he’s pissed because we’re not buying his hats when we play mods, or maybe that it’s because civvies are producing more (and better) single-player content than valve has, for YEARS.

      Either way, this does look like the big one. Time to try that Xash3D thingy…

  12. Hec

    HELP!!!!!!!1 It may sound stupid but I don’t have any clue of how to update to steam pipe beta!!!

    When I search the update via game properties and then “select the beta you would like to opt into” and then I select “Beta – SteamPipe beta” it asks me for a code MANDATORY.

    I don’t have idea of which code is???

    Please help how can I solve this I want my HL2 all ppropperly updated.

    1. Hey Hec!

      You only need to select the Beta for Episode 2. Leave the other games alone.

      You dont need a code. You should just be able to select the Beta and click on OK. Once that’s done you’ll have to wait until the conversion process begins and let it run.

      Once complete you’re into the Beta.

      Hope this helps…

    2. JG


      What I had to do is right-click on the game and go Properties, then the Betas tab, and then select the Steampipe beta – you don’t need a code. Press OK, THEN TRY TO RUN THE GAME. That step seems to be missing from the directions I’ve found because as near as I can tell, you have to run the game first and the process doesn’t start until you do. When you start the game, you’ll get a prompt about doing the Steampipe conversion and that will take some time (Half-Life 2 was about 20-30 minutes, the Episodes were a lot shorter).

      1. Hec

        @Jim_Partridge and @JG, Many thanks, i’ve alredy did that, I run the game and then the beta update started, many thanks for your kind answers.

      2. Joe_Freeman

        Just my 2 cents, probably not even important, but on my Steam there is no “OK” button after selecting the Beta….only a “Close” button. Makes no difference really, just wanted to mention it. Thanks everyone for the helpful info!

  13. I wish everyone would stop being so overdramatic about all this.
    All Valve are doing is changing the file structure for the HL2 games.

    It takes minimal effort to update the mods to make them work with the new Beta.

    Modding is by no means over. Its just a change that we need to adapt to.

    1. JG

      From what I’ve gathered, it seems like Source SDK is totally broken for the Steampiped Half-Life 2 series. They published updates to get the tools working on TF2 and HL2DM, but not HL2, and inquiries about it have gone unanswered. I’ve heard that you can copy the Hammer executable from the HL2DM over to the Half-Life 2 folders and possibly get it to work, but have not tried it myself. I’ve also heard that some people are only converting Episode 2 to Steampipe and leaving the other games alone so they can still use the SDK with them.

      To their credit, Valve has been responding to issues on GitHub, but they are still very quiet about the timeframes for certain fixes like this one. The fact that it is a beta notwithstanding, I also don’t see any meaningful improvements in the Steampipe versions of these games.

      1. So they’ve shifted their arses to sort their mess out for multi-player products, but single-players still get the big ‘silent finger’? But surely, that’s not like valve…?

        OH, WAIT….

        1. I was actually able to finish Deep Down by extracting the materials and Models folders to my Ep1 folder structure and run Hammer for Ep1.

          Works fine and compiles ok if you have mod structure to work with.

  14. SPY

    Thank you very much Sparks for your kind words.
    For sure will I finish and release this latest SP mod of mine, glad to say that my Hammer is still working fine. I haven’t updated my ep2 to the beta, because I don’t know what will happen. Some people had huge troubles with the SDK after that, and some don’t. And I simply can’t take the risk of suddenly not being able to map anymore, even the thought of that makes me afraid.

    And you are right Jim, this update/beta doesn’t give us much trouble but it is the so many update that does corrupt things. And that is what is bothering me most. We all make mistakes, but to release again and again updates that frustrates the modding scene is something that I can’t understand. It really looks like Valve doesn’t mind, or even likes what it is doing each time to us. Ofcourse is that not the case, but it really does look like that sometimes.


  15. JG discovers how to roll back from beta. I’ve tried it and it worked fine hammer working etc…

  16. Hec

    Well I have 2 say ive updated all my Hl2 games and then just paste the new config file codes info in the current ones of the mods im playing and everything just worked fine! I was able to launch and play all my mods even Middle Ville with no troubles.

    So if you get stranded just carefully and patiently follow the instructions of this great “troubleguide” post many thanks to Phillip and the guys involved in this preventive effort of advice everyone how to fix bad stuff.

    1. That’s excellent news, good feedback Hec! Hopefully my misgivings are unfounded. I was fully expecting another bombshell like the 2010 fiasco (after all it’s been 3 years since the last disaster, & I guess we’re overdue) but with luck and skill this may be survivable after all. Nice one!

  17. ikar

    I have a question: is there a difference between gameinfo.txt for HL2 EP1 EP2 CSS Source SDK – based mods?
    If you have a link to examples of how to modify these files for mods using EP1, Source, SDK CS:S?
    What do you think about how to retest all the mods, as we already did it in 2010 and update the information in the theme (or here on the website of Phillip) here people start testing mods for Linux
    (they found that some of the problems solved by the change in the names of file to lowercase – when I tested mods in 2010, I also changed all folders and files to lowercase (under Windows here is utils “Recase”))
    I have tried to remake and run a few mods used the same files as the Deep Down – many are working, but with some problems (those that use the Source and CSS) would still be wondering how to connect the language resources and translation

    it would be great if after testing Valve and modders have made hl2mod_support.vpk hl2ep1mod_support.vpk hl2ep2mod_support.vpk and function of their autoload and connection when it detects / install mods

    Deep Doown
    CModelLoader::Map_IsValid: No such map ‘maps/ep2_background03.bsp’
    map load failed: ep2_background03 not found or invalid
    SOLID_VPHYSICS static prop with no vphysics model! (models/props_foliage/tree_pine_tall_cluster_01.mdl)
    SOLID_VPHYSICS static prop with no vphysics model! (models/props_foliage/tree_pine_tall_cluster_01.mdl)
    SOLID_VPHYSICS static prop with no vphysics model! (models/cliffs/rocks_medium03_veg.mdl)
    SOLID_VPHYSICS static prop with no vphysics model! (models/props_lab/corkboard002.mdl)
    Hud element “CMapOverview” doesn’t have an entry “overview” in scripts/HudLayout.res

    CLocalizedStringTable::AddFile() failed to load file “resource/deepdown_russian.txt”. – if I want to translate subtitles it’s enough to translate deepdown_english.txt ? after reading still have some questions…

    I have archives of all the gcf-files since December 2009 (I did backup before major upgrades) – they cover more than 1,5 TB – I think if now all transferred to SteamPipe probably I should extract their contents, to compare and delete duplicates – do not feel like to buy a new hard disk

  18. Well, that’s it then. Seems like the inevitable has finally come to pass.

    Having been offline for a couple of weeks, I’m online again (briefly) & thought I’d sync. steam, seeing as it is still typically broken & won’t work in offline mode (“No stored login info” error/bug). So I thought I would give HL2 a try to see what happened and lo, the following doom-laden message was displayed:

    “Steam needs to convert the game content for “Half-Life 2″ to a new, more efficient format.. [EVIL CACKLES]”

    DAMN THEM. Knowing it would happen eventually doesn’t make it any less terrible!!

    Read – “GABEN is now going to remotely **** all your remaining Half-Life files, and you know what? There’s **** all you can do about it, you sucker. That’ll teach you to put your faith in vlavle! So go ahead and click OK to begin the irreversible, terminal file corruption…”


  19. This thing came today on my steam, and I just did these converts for hl2ep1 however not hl2 and hl2ep2. Else a lot of mods I have will not work. Including my favorite cinematic mod 12 🙁
    Will this post or method enlisted here work still? I used a downgrade technique for cs 1.6 but not sure about the source engine.

  20. Well it seems the ‘masters’ @ Steam have struck again. It appears they have updated things to where I can’t play today what I played just a day or two ago. A case in point is Coastline to Atmosphere to name one, originally an App 220 mod. The startup sequence can’t find a file startup_loading.vtf, for instance. Ok, so I find a copy and then startup fails because it !could not load library client, just like in the 2010 days, but now none of the fixes work.
    Since this is a ‘Leon’ game (and one of my all-time favs), it’s galling to have all this crap dealt to us for a second time!and no one can tell me it’s the mod, because!
    a. I’ve played it so-o-o-o many times over the YEARS, and
    b. It’s authored by Leon, one of the best modders out there, and
    c. The system is asking for files it has NEVER asked for before!!!
    This also seemed to happen to a few newer games like Deep Down and EXIT. I was able to patch those with the startup_loading.vtf file inclusion.
    I’m still going through my Library, one game at a time boy, does this SUCK!!!

    1. It sure does. I was carefully not letting steam online as it was trying desperately to screw SDK2007 and EP1&2, but one careless slip & BAM, all ****ed up now. Thanks vlavle, remind me to pop round to yours and scratch up all your DVDs, corrupt all your tunes and delete your downloads!

      The GABEN forces you into giving him the keys to your PC, then when you’re at work he lets himself in the back door, empties the fridge, drinks all your beer and then does a big deposit on your couch before slyly sneaking out, giggling like a schoolgirl. That’s what you get for trusting him. “Let steam update” they said. “It’ll be fine” they said. “Stop making such a fuss you big Baby, vlavle know what they’re doing” they said. Guess ‘they” are feeling pretty stupid right about now. They certainly should be!

      Vlavle just couldn’t bear us playing mods, since they’ve produced such a huge pile of absolutely nothing in the previous, oh-how many years? Just shows how much they care about the once-loyal community who got them where they are today.

      VOTE WITH YOUR WALLET. Don’t take it lying down!

  21. Does anybody know how to work around the Steam Pipe problems for mods with the following configuration in the “gameinfo.txt” file?

    SteamAppId 218
    AdditionalContentId 420
    ToolsAppId 211

    I got a lot of my broken mods working by using the tips on the web page listed below, but mods with this configuration (for example Nightmare House 2) are still not working.

  22. Jottl

    I’ve been avoiding the steampipe updates for awhile now by deselecting “automatically update” for hl2, ep1, and ep2 in steam. In doing that, in the past, steam would give me a warning that I needed to convert these apps before launching them (steampipe). I usually just clicked “cancel” and then the games would load with no problems. This worked for mods that called upon hl2, ep1, etc. But now, today, when I try to launch hl2 or any mods that rely on it, the warning pops up, but when I hit cancel the games don’t load. So I’m assuming that steampipe is now officially out of beta and I’m forced to update to the new more “efficient” mod-breaking versions of hl if I want to play any mods? Is this true? When I try to run a mod that requires any of these games, steam automatically tries to update the hl games. And is there any current way to avoid the steampipe versions of hl2? Steampipe breaks a ton of other older mods not even listed in this thread. And up to now, I’ve been able to avoid installing the steampipe versions of hl2.

    1. JG

      Steampipe has been “out of beta” for months now. If you download a fresh copy of Half-Life 2, you will get the Steampipe version. I don’t know of a legit way around it, if they now force you to get it.

      1. Jottl

        Thing is, I’ve been able to avoid it because steam was allowing me to open up the non-steampipe hl games and additions if I just declined to update to steampipe. Now valve is making updating to steampipe a requirement before even opening the games. I’m just disappointed b/c if you look around, there are tons of mods that aren’t workable using steampipe even with gameinfo tweaks. I wonder if there’s any way to get these mods running w/out updating to steampipe. Someone on the steam forum told me to save my cfg’s and send them to him. Why would that help?

  23. A ton of my maps and mods remain broken, despite applying the new gameinfo.txt patch.

    The most common error is that the entire screen is rotated 90 degrees anticlockwise, and so is mouse movement. Example: Compromised (HL2 ep2).

    Another error is a change in behaviour. Example: union01, union02.bsp (HL2 ep2). It gets stuck at the start – you are not released from the pod.

    1. JG

      I would strongly suggest removing Half-Life 2 and its Episodes and re-downloading fresh copies from Steam. The vast majority of Steampipe problems are resolved by making sure there is no old HL2 data messing things up.

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