The Mesa Cup 2018 – Challenge 2 – The Tram Complex

1st August 2018

Hello and welcome to the Mesa Cup, a series of three Black Mesa single player mapping challenges.

If you are new to my mapping challenges, please see the event’s homepage: THE MESA CUP 2018 as well as the CALENDAR of the mapping challenges for the entire 2018.

Theme Details

Trams and trains are iconic in the Half-Life series of games. Black Mesa especially has memorable tram sequences – starting off with the incredible atmospheric opening train ride. But there’s also the entire On A Rail chapter, and the short but crazy ride at the beginning of Apprehension.

For this challenge, we would like you to create a map that features a tram. The type of tram and how it is used is completely up to you. The player does not necessarily have to ride on the tram, but the tram must play a key part in the map.

We’re pretty flexible on what counts as a “tram” for this challenge – generally, something that can be ridden from point A to point B that isn’t just a simple elevator. What’s more important is how it’s integrated into the map and the gameplay. Maybe there’s a cool sequence witnessed by the player as they sweep by on a BMRF tram. Maybe there’s some clever tram-to-tram firefights. Surprise us!


The deadline for submission is:

11pm GMT Tuesday 21st August 2018

Important Note

This challenge will use the regular public (non-beta) version of the game.

We recognize there’s a possibility that a future Black Mesa update could break existing maps. That is why we have stated in the rules that the VMF MUST be included in the entry. That way, we can update the mod to ensure it works with the latest version of the game in case of problems in the future. Thank you.

The Mesa Cup 2018

The Mesa Cup 2018 consists of three mapping challenges, each with a different theme.
Entrants will receive points for each challenge they enter, and each challenge has individual prizes as well.
At the end of the event, the best 2 points totals from the challenges they entered will be added together for each entrant.
These totals will decide who wins the Grand Prizes.
This means that entrants do NOT have to enter each and every contest to win the grand prize but they will need to have entered at least 2 challenges to have a chance of winning the grand prizes.

There have been significant changes from last year’s Hammer Cup, especially regarding points and judging criteria. I HIGHLY recommend reading the full details here: THE MESA CUP 2018.

General Advice

DO NOT GET OVERLY AMBITIOUS. If you can’t build it in about 2 weekends 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.

General Rules


  • Maximum two 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 Black Mesa (retail version) installed
  • By entering the competition you grant PlanetPhillip.Com and RunThinkShootLive.Com the right to release the map as part of the RTSL-TMC2018-C2-The-Tram-Complex 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 Black Mesa 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.
  • All files submitted MUST be in lowercase and any custom assets must have unique names, both folder AND files.
  • You MUST include the VMF files in with your 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.
  • Please also include any specific compile parameters you want to be used if the mod needs to be updated to work with any new Black Mesa patch.
  • Phillip’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_tmc18_c2.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 without 24 hours of sending an entry, contact Phillip IMMEDIATELY.

In addition, 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 I receive it NOT when you send it.

  2. Read the General Rules above
  3. Please follow these submission details carefully.
  4. Send your files directly in the email, unless they are too large. Then, upload your compressed file (rar, zip or 7zip to a free file sharing service.
      (Try;,;,;,; or mediafire)
      Please avoid Google Docs – it’s often difficult for me to download from them.
  5. Send an email to [email protected] with the following details:
      SUBJECT: TMC2018-C2-Entry name
      BODY: TMC2018-C2-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)

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

Submitting an entry menu image

Entrants are allowed to submit their own entry image. We do not guarantee to use it though. All that is needed is the image – you do not need to create the VTF, unless you want to. It should be 17 kb.

It’s not compulsory but it will be appreciated. This can be done up to 7 days after the deadline.

1. Image should be 16:9 ratio.
2. JPG or PNG is best.
3. Weapons and HUD MUST be removed.
4. Neither too bright nor too dark.
5. The FOV can be changed. I use between 75 and 90.
6. Visual effects can be added but be sensible.
7. No text must be added.

1. The chapter images are small. Some images look great full screen but look meh when small.
2. Don’t spoil the map for the player. I find something near the beginning is better, but not always.
3. Don’t spend hours trying to get it perfect. Often people use it for reference only.
4. But, if you can find the right angle and lighting, a good chapter image can get players excited. Do not neglect the promotion of your work.
4. Funky, weird or strange generally don’t work. Keep it simple.

Final Thoughts

We hope mappers find interesting ways to incorporate trams in their maps, and as always we look forward to playing the results! We’re definitely excited to see what mappers can do in Black Mesa!

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.

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