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

I believe I have indirectly mentioned how I got into gaming in a number of other articles here on PP, but I thought it might be nice if I heard how you did.

To do that it only seemed fair that I share first. So, with that in mind, here is my story….

I have to admit to being pretty bad about remembering facts and other important stuff, so don’t take anything as 100% sure, in fact, if this were a court of law, I probably wouldn’t say anything.

I have probably forgotten stuff, but I am sure the important parts will be here.

To start right at the beginning, I remember playing Pong while still at school and on a school trip to geology trip to Weymouth one of the other boys showing us how good he was at Space Invaders. I specifically remember him “jumping out” from behind the protection to shoot and then “jumping back in again”. I was amazed.

Well, after that I am sure I played a few games in arcades etc, but the only one I really enjoyed as Defender, although like all video games, I was never very good at it. Partly because I enjoyed shooting the people (Perhaps I invited person shooters!) which then changed the game into a different configuration and partly because back then you had to pay every time you played and just like now (how times don’t change!) I didn’t have much spare cash.

Anyway, things plod along until Sonic, the Hedgehog comes out on the Sega Mega Drive and I spent many hours playing that. I even got hold of a Sega Game Gear to play the damn thing.

Up until this point I would have been described as a casual gamer. Sure, I had fun playing them but I certainly had beaten any of them, or at least I don’t remember doing it. That all changed when I played Deflektor on the Atari ST or Commodore 64, I can’t remember which. Now the reason this game changed things is because it’s the first game I stayed up all night playing AND, perhaps more importantly it was the first one I remember finishing.

Of course, everybody stays up all night playing games but back then, when people heard I did that, they literally stared at me opened mouthed and asked if I were crazy. Those who have played it, might understand, why I was so excited when I heard about the Thermal Discouragement Beams in Portal 2. Seriously, somebody needs to make 100 levels of that shit and turn it into a mod. No Portals, No Weatley, No GLaDOS, nothing except 3 dimensional Deflektor!

Anyway, back to the story.

Even though I said it changed my gaming, I have to admit not remembering any games from then until I bought some computer magazine, which could have been a dedicated games one or just a general one. It had some demos on the CD.

The first one I tried was Star Trek: The Next Generation: Klingon Honor Guard and let me just say that my FPS SP gaming life nearly died on the exit of that little shuttle. All I remember about it, was this shuttle at the start of the game and the doors open and I had to get out. Of course, waiting for me were a bunch of enemies. Well, I don’t remember the details but for the next hour i tried as hard as I could to kill them them and get out of the damn shuttle. I sit him typing in shame by saying that I didn’t manage it.

Either on the same disc or another one just like it, was a demo of Unreal Tournament and that was, as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air likes to say, how my life got flipped, turned upside down. The intro was amazing and I can still recall the music and fly through. So, it goes without saying that this was a LOT easier to play than that stupid Klingon game.

I didn’t really have the concept of online gaming, but I knew that maps could be downloaded from the Internet and boy, did I do that. I had, yes had, so many CDs full of these downloads I must have been crazy. I particularly enjoyed the Assault game type. I remember having a South African friend over to my flat and we used to take it in turns to play. He loved defending and I loved assaulting, so we did that.

It was around this time I started building websites, but that’s another story for another day.

Being a collector by nature, I found out about Unreal, which of course, came first but was new to me. How I loved playing with the lights off and working my way through the two games and all the mods. (BTW, UnrealSP.org was the place to get the mods from and is still going, albeit with somebody else at the helm – keep up the good work guys!)

Now it was during this time that I heard about Half-Life. I knew it was an SP shooter like Unreal and it had some mods and even sequel games. I specifically remember being in PC World (which is a UK retailer) and looking over the aisle at the orange and blue HL and BS boxes.

It was like an angel and demon on each shoulder.
Go have a look, there’s no harm
Don’t you dare. Unreal is the best game ever. Don’t waste your time
Listen to yourself. It’s just a game for goodness sake

To be honest, I didn’t want to lose that feeling I had for Unreal. I didn’t want to get into another cycle of playing the games obsessively and then spending all my time looking for mods (If only I had listened to the demon – sorry buddy!).

Well, obviously, I did buy them and things really did change.

I never really became part of the community until much later, actually, with no disrespect to the Unreal community, but I felt it a little cliquey, I found the HL community much more friendly.

So where are we now. Well, obviously I run PP in my spare time and I play as many maps and mods as possible, but I have to be honest that I enjoy being a webmaster as much as I do playing the games.

I still occasionally play other games but I have become so ingrained into HL/Source that all other games feel weird. I get a lot of people telling me I should play other games and it is true but it’s hard for me to break out of that conditioning.

I can’t wait for EP3 and BMS, which I really hope invigorates the HL SP modding community.

So, there you have it. Written in one go, from beginning to end and posted immediately. I hope you enjoyed it and please, please, please, take a moment to post your journey into the wonderful world of video gaming.

Published

6th July 2011

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  1. Unq 451 comments

    7th July 2011

    Well I go back pretty far too…

    My parents did have Pong and it was nice enough, but the Atari 2600 we got really caught my attention. Space Invaders, Haunted House, Pitfall, Yar’s Revenge, they all were great. Adventure was my favorite, though. Simple but randomized, and that red dragon can be a killer. A couple years later my cousin showed me the Easter Egg, likely the first one ever in a video game. We also had Coleco and I played a decent amount of Intellivision at my uncle’s place over Christmas visits. It’s funny and great these days to have nearly all these games available on the phone I carry in my pocket.

    But the best for me was the Commodore 64, no question. The games were so varied, from text adventures to flight simulators to platformers to fighting games, it was great. At the time it was so eye-opening, since up until then games were much simpler. My absolute favorites were the genre-benders, like Infiltrator that was a mix of flight simulator and third-person stealth/action, and Project Firestart which played out like a movie aboard a research spaceship (sound familiar?) with multiple possible endings. I also tinkered around in BASIC a bit, writing part of a fantasy text adventure, and used programs like Racing Destruction Set and GameMaker to dabble in what might be the first generation of user-made content.

    And then, a dark period. I totally ignored games in favor of high school and college. I played only a bit of Nintendo and briefly had a Super Nintendo, but pretty much avoided games until about 1997 when I went out and bought a gaming-quality desktop computer. I started out not liking first-person shooters at all – I mainly liked strategy (C&C Red Alert) and adventure games (Gabriel Knight, LucasArts stuff). I tried all the FPS demos like Doom, Quake, Quake 2, etc. and found them all mind-numbing and boring.

    The first FPS I liked was Jedi Knight – partially because of the Star Wars connection, but it also had a decent story (albeit told through cutscenes) and incredibly engaging levels. I remember being awestruck at the size of the early levels like the huge canyon areas and the big Imperial tower, and of course the tumbling ship remains one of the best game levels ever in my opinion.

    I kept trying all the other FPS demos that were released, but didn’t like any of them. I don’t know exactly what motivated me to purchase Half-Life the week it came out, but that was the turning point for games for me. It wasn’t perfect, but its style and Valve’s approach were right up my alley.

    You might say the rest is history, in that I still love Half-Life, its offshoots, and in fact everything Valve touches. I’ve become such a fanboy although to their credit it’s an easy position to defend. I play other games from time to time, and occasionally there are flashes of brilliance. But for the most part I find mediocrity.

  2. Kyo 288 comments

    7th July 2011

    It all began at a small 5000 watt radio station in Fresno, California. j/k

    I had a Commodore 64 as a kid and I remember playing some games on it. My earliest exposure to an NES was probably at my aunt’s house, where they were playing Contra. I didn’t have much interest in games at the time. A co-worker of my father – his son won an NES in a motorcycle rally along with a copy of Excitebike and somehow this came into my possession. I still remember firing it up for the first time in the living room on an old Zenith TV. It was some kind of revelation. I remember shortly thereafter buying Super Mario Bros. and visiting a rental store. I remember seeing Mega Man 3 on the shelf, so this had to be around 1990.

    Anyhow, it just kind of goes from there. I was a Nintendo kid clear until the PlayStation era (in fact, in many ways I’m just now discovering the joys the Genesis/Megadrive had to offer). I used to doodle all the time maps for imaginary Mario games. The first game I edited for was Descent, and it was challenging getting the level editor onto floppy disks from the Internet at school (didn’t have home Internet) so I could play with it at home. I made a lot of maps for that series. I bought Unreal Tournament by the time it was $10 in the bargain bin and my gosh, seeing Mars rise over DM-Phobos was some kind of revelation because I had to make maps for that. I stuck with that series for a while, but I really wanted to get back into singleplayer stuff. So I picked up Half-Life 2 and loved the heck out of it.

    ReplyEdited at 3:05 AM, 7th July 2011
    • So, does that mean you haven’t played Half-Life or the expansion packs?

      • Kyo 288 comments

        8th July 2011

        I never finished HL1 and, consequently, never cared to play the expansions. I always wind up losing interest somewhere in the middle of the game.

        ReplyEdited at 9:02 PM, 8th July 2011
  3. Hec 967 comments

    7th July 2011

    Oh boy!, im 23 YO, and memories fly trough my head when i think in the 1st time i found games and electronic entreteinment in my life.

    It must be arround 1994 when my brother bought a NES console to his former girlfriend at her highschool, i played Super Mario Bros, Kabuki, BattleToads, and SMB3, and back then i was a casual player. i know i played that antique console for arround 5 years, but the reason for that is that here at my place my father, was so strict due to electronic games and console which he conssidered as addictive and bad for a “normal” chilhood, whatever that means, for him, the point is my dad was the killjoy guy there and he never had any plan odf buying me a console or games, no way!

    So arround 1995-96 we bought a Pc an Acer Aspire, which was so cool, and bring with some amazing games, obviously were amazing for me, due to i allways liked games and gaming since i had like 6YO, i remember that Pc brings with a cool SP game called Time Comando, from Activision, i tried to found that game now but imagine it was for Win 95, so u have to do some work in order to run it here at win7, also i played a cool ship game called TYRYAN, and another cool one called Descent which i played it recently and now i say what the hell is that!!, Hl is so better compared to that.

    Then, the acer aspire expired, and from the next pc’s we had here at home, i didn’t wait to play the Microsift’s Combat Flights Sims, started with the first one to the third one, that because i love air combat planes, and their simulation of killing other birds, almost as in the FPS experience, that was alrredy in 99 and first years of 2000 decade, and everything was about being casual player so far. I also played Age of Empires 1 & 2 back then probably that was the first startegy game who got me into the fun of gaming, and i was in junior highschool.

    And a breaking point in gaming happened in 2000, when i saw a retail box of SU-27 Flanker 2 combatflight sim which i ask that for crhismas and i hav it along with a crappy joysitck, i define this stage as a braking point because i knew that from that game on i belong to PC gaming ando not to the damn console world, which many use to love. My goal is still buy when i can the best dedicated PC gaming when i afford it in the further years.

    Defenetly the day that changed my life at least in what gaming respects, it was not the day that HL was released back in 98, when i was in elementary 4th grade, and my best friend Salvador and I watched Gotzilla and the classic Titanic. No, it was soo much after in 2004 when i was at the place of my best friend Salvador and i saw that grey case which says HALF-LIFE, and i told him if i can borrow it he accepted, and i have to say i thought that was going to be as boring or just dumb as the other poor games i’ve had experienced in my life, but i was so WRONG, i found it and i loved it, it was also the time of the internet and i obviously search for HL, and found the wonderful HL Spain site, where i played my 1st mod HL Invassion, and i have to accept the idea of having add.on contet to keep on play it the game was so fantastic for me, that i inmediatley fell in love and became an appasionated gamer of the game, and then in 2005 HL2 gets in my life and get here for saty until i die oh hell yes!!!. I was checking my old 300 GB hard drive, and i found a carpet of HL 1 and 2 mods and iv’e played more than 350 mods that’s for sure, and is still am,azing how HL1 is so fresh and it came here to stay, and as Phillip said, i can’t wait for the arrival of ep3 and BMS.

    I have to say also that i admire Phillip for running this fantastic website whch i discovered arround 2007when i thought iv’e completed most of the most at least all from the HL Spain website, so i started playing HL2 mods with Get a Life Mod, which it was the first one i download it from here, thing that i did because of the explainatory install instructions PP has, so i thought this site was so great and run by a committed man with we the HL gaming community.

    I’m still loving Combat Flight Simulation, so i have Il2 sturmovik, and recently i’ve also so devoted to Strike Fighters 2 Flight sim from third wire, which has a huge community of modders sharing new awsome war birds to flight and combat with!

    In 08 and also thanks to my pal, Salvador, i got Sim City 4, and about a year ago i bought SC4 Deluxe from steam, so i love to build my own customized big metropolis, so play that almost only when there’s a lull period in modding scene.

    Also i like other FPS related to realistic combat war scenarios, so i’ve played Call of Duty saga, and one that i really like Men of Valor which is related to Vietnam war, and i really liked.

    I also played crysis and i don’t feel like to play the sagas of that game…., and no matter which games i’ve played, there are no other game which can get me out from the devotion i have for HL!

    ReplyEdited at 8:30 AM, 7th July 2011
  4. Wozzle 111 comments

    7th July 2011

    My parents are pretty unique in that were very technically oriented and computer savvy long before I was born so I’ve always been immersed in computing from the moment I arrived home. Needless to say, gaming was a very natural extension of that for me.

    From the start I have been a complete PC gamer, without deviation. In fact, the first and only console I own is a PS3 and that was given to me as a gift.

    The earliest experience of gaming that I can remember was with some MS-DOS racing games on an old 386 my Dad had set-up for me (not that I knew what any of it was at the time; I was pretty chuffed at walking and talking) . They were so simple but I played them endlessly. It was all so mesmerising at the time.

    As I started to learn about the world outside, I was introduced, again by my Dad, to point and click adventure games. I think this may have been his attempt at reading stories to me because he was always so busy. He could start me off on an adventure and leave me to my own devices until I got stuck, at which point I’d have to save and shut off the computer and find something else to do until I could get some help. If anything, some of the those obscure puzzles have really helped me develop my problem solving skills.

    Going through Primary school (Elementary for those in the US), I was probably classed as being in the nerdy group. I wasn’t really good at sports but I didn’t care, I was good at video games and I had a bunch of friends who loved video games as well. One of them introduced Command and Conquer to the group and we were hooked onto Real Time Strategy. We played most of the good one; Command and Conquer Tiberian Sun, Age of Empires 1, 2 and expansions, Starcraft and Brood War expansion just to name a few. The best part of it was that my family had a few left over computers that we were able to set-up so we could create a LAN and have LAN parties. It was pretty awesome.

    The other component to our gaming, at the time, was also the Nintendo 64. I didn’t have one but all my friends did so when we weren’t LANing at my place we were at one of the others’ with an N64. Four player split screen was always so much fun, whether it was Goldeneye or Mario Kart or just passing the controller around on an SP game.

    When we weren’t playing, we would talk about all the crazy and stupid things that we did in our games for hours, much to the chargrin of our teachers and parents.

    It was in 1999 that I had my foray into the FPS world. My Dad handed me a CD from one of his computer magazines and pointed out the demo Half-Life: Uplink, suggesting to me that it might be something I might enjoy. Intrigued, I installed it and I played through the hazard course multiple times to get my bearing. It was really different; I’d never played anything like it before. Once I finally got the hang of the new control scheme and felt comfortable, I had a go at proper mission.

    The intro was pretty cool. I thought it was like an interactive movie and I was at the centre of it. I was told I needed to do something and the lift was the only way out so off I went. At the end of the lift ride, I was faced with a corridor filled with creates and a crowbar so I put my training to practice and started smashing those creates. When that first Headcrab lept at my face screaming, I shat myself (though it’s understandable; I was only about 10 at the time). I almost turned the game off right then and there. However, I persevered and made my way outside, where I was set upon by a number of army grunts, which promptly killed me over and over again. I declared the game too hard and I quit, turning my back on FPS and returned to RTS gaming.

    I was reintroduced to the FPS world when some of my friends had mentioned an apparently awesome game called Counter-Strike. We added it to our LAN game list and I found that I wasn’t too bad at it after a while but it wasn’t terribly engaging when I couldn’t play with friends. I started searching the content on the Counter-Strike CD my friend lent to me, when I came across Absolute Redemption. I played it and was absolutely wowed. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time but I thought that it must have been a Valve add-on or expansion or something because it was bundled with a retail copy of CS. I thought, if this add-on was pretty awesome, the full Half-Life game must be epic.

    I promptly bought a copy of Half-Life as part of the Platinum Pack, Valve had recently released. As I expected, I was wowed even more by Half-life and its expansions but I felt a sense of disappointment when it was all over. To remedy this, I thought I’d try to find the add-on Absolute Redemption to play again, only to find out that it wasn’t a Valve add-on but a third party mod.

    Once I found out about modding, my RTS gaming days died. I went crazy trying to play everything I could find. I thought I wouldn’t need to buy any more games ever again because there was so much free custom content on the internet.

    But after a while, I became tired of Half-Life mods and I started playing all sorts of other FPS games, introduced to me by my High School mates. That was sort of a dark age during my mod play days because it wasn’t really until the Orange Box came out that I started to get back into Half-Life and mods.

    I don’t think much has changed since then other than life giving me more stuff to do. I still play a wide variety of games and I also try to keep tabs on what’s happening in the source modding community too with the limited amount of spare time I have at my disposal.

    And so, that’s pretty much my life story so far…

    • It’s interesting to note that you nearly gave up on Half-Life and only came back to it through mods. It makes me wonder if we sat a complete newbie down at a PC and gave them HL2 how they would cope. And by “newbie” I mean somebody who has never play a computer game in their life. I am going to have to write about this more.

      Actually, I think using CS as a gateway game into HL is more common than we realize – time for a poll question perhaps.

  5. Frohman11 78 comments

    7th July 2011

    Bullied in school
    Found Gmod
    Got Internet
    Got VAC BANNED
    Started SDK
    Posted comment.

  6. Talk about myself? At length? With plenty of chances to go off on self-indulgent tangents? Don’t mind if I do!

    Consider this a counterpoint to Frohman11′s respectable brevity. TL;DR: I’ve played videogames since I was very tiny.

    I knew it was 1985, but had to hit Wikipedia to find out that the specific US release date of the NES was October 18th. I was barely two, and had things on my mind beside videogame consoles (“I wonder what new diaper fashions we’ll see for the Christmas season” and “Look at that shiny thing”). My parents, on the other hand, got hooked. It seems my uncle had picked up a Nintendo, and when my parents went to visit, they’d frequently be absorbed by the games. My grandmother likes to remind them of the time 1:00 AM rolled around to find them paired up in two player Super Mario Brothers while I was fast asleep in my stroller; she’d had to kick them out to get me home so I could sleep in my actual bed.

    This continued when they bought “me” a console of “my” own. In the middle of a particularly fitful sleep one night, I heard strange noises coming from downstairs. Sliding out of bed, and creeping as quietly as I could down the stairs, I peeked around the corner only to find my parents side by side on the living room couch, again playing Mario together. It took a few seconds for them to see me, but after finding out why I was awake they let me stay for a minute to play some.

    Super Mario Brothers was The Big One in our house, and I spent more than a few evenings playing the game with my dad (he was always Luigi; not until SMB 2 did I switch to preferring him over Mario, rationalizing as a child that tall and skinny was better than short and fat). My father was puzzled by my reluctance to stop and grab coins, and I was equally perplexed at his insistence on it. Watching him run through levels in fits and starts, constantly stopping for seconds at a time to hit blocks, drove me crazy. Even then I felt that whether you’re collecting “coins”, “points”, “money”, or anything else, it’s still a meaningless exercise. There’s a world out there to explore, and here we are getting mired in the archaic practice of arbitrarily assigning value to a score. I don’t need coins, gold or otherwise, when there are pipes to climb into.

    I missed out on several major tentpoles of that era. I didn’t play Metroid, Castlevania, or Final Fantasy, some of the biggest titles, and it was actually a few more years before I dove into Zelda in earnest. I’m almost happy it worked out that way, though, since I made up for skipping the famous names by playing the weird ones, namely Mighty Bomb Jack and Milon’s Secret Castle (neither of which I’ve beaten to date). There is this nigh on impossible to describe feeling that I can recall from those days, a rather abstract sense of not quite knowing what was going on. The lack of character development, dialogue, and storytelling in old games was an aid to the feeling of playing a dream. Not an “oh no, I’m at school in my underwear” dream as depicted in movies and television, but a real dream. Shifting sensations of space, time, shape and form that’s more than a bit difficult to put into words. I absolutely adore such experiences, and I bemoan the resurgence of “Siliwood” style game design. Clumsily aping Hollywood was tiresome twenty years ago, and I say “cinematic” is a dirty word when it comes to games.

    Despite the tremendously satisfying feelings all of that evoked in my squishy, impressionable mind, none of it really registered as a “thing”. Videogaming wasn’t a real hobby of mine, it was just part of everyday life, like the books, TV, and movies I loved. I don’t have any distinct memories of games being a passion, or sharing them with anyone beyond the most superficial conversations about Nintendo related stuff. Neither did I have what I now take to be the common experience of my generation; beside missing major games as mentioned earlier, I never heard about the famed “Minus World” in SMB, or any similar playground rumors. All of my friends played videogames, but I didn’t get truly lost in this universe until said friends vanished.

    After what felt like a lifetime but turns out to have been only a few years, my parents had to move. They’d done so already, during my infancy, but this time was out of state, and I didn’t exactly make friends easily. The kids on my new block were all die hard Sega Genesis players, and we didn’t have a whole lot to talk about, videogame wise. They were also mostly on sports teams, and generally hung out in different circles, so we were never really anything beyond cordial acquaintances. I think that isolation started me in on myself, though I can’t say I’m sorry it happened.

    There was one older kid, up the street a way, that I clicked with (we’ve since fallen out of touch, which pains me). He was a Nintendo guy, like me, and we bonded over mostly SNES games. The Super Nintendo is the first console I can remember desperately anticipating, and here’s someone else who knows how I feel. He and I both knew Super Mario World, then Link to the Past (I can’t count the number of hours we spent in the woods behind his house playing around with plastic swords), Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy VI, Breath of Fire, Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, Secret of Evermore, the list goes on. This is the period of my life where I developed the closest thing to a “passion” that I’ve yet had. 1991 through ’96 were my formative years, as far as games go, and the SNES titles aforementioned really firmed up my expectations with regard to simulated realities.

    Up until this point, I was exclusively a console player, my parents not being able to afford a computer. I’d heard of Doom, and played bits and pieces of it and Wolf 3D at friends’ houses, and thought they were amazing. The first person perspective was incredible, and took immersion to an entirely new place. I was aching for access to these games, but computers were outrageously expensive. By the summer of 1996, my parents managed to save some money for one, but it was a Mac, and as much as I loved that computer, I’m sure many remember that the game landscape for MacOS 7.5.3 was a bit different from what it is in the age of OSX. The highly regarded Marathon series didn’t catch my attention, and I never did much with that system in the way of games.

    Fast forward to September 1997. It was an eventful month, what with the release of Final Fantasy VII coinciding with my first day of high school on the third. Then, toward the end of the month, I was lucky enough that my parents dropped some serious cash on my first Windows machine. An NEC Ready 9736, with 233Mhz Pentium MMX, 32MB RAM, and 4.3GB hard drive, you bet your sweet bippy my friends were jealous. The first thing I got for it was Dungeon Keeper; I’d seen a friend reading the manual, asked him about it, and was intrigued. I’ve played the hell out of that thing, and Richard Ridings haunts my nightmares (MY WORKSHOP IS MORE THAN BIG ENOUGH, SHUT UP).

    I can’t remember exactly when it happened, or what spurred me on, but I suspect the shareware demo had something to do with it: Quake. Not the first FPS I’d ever played, but the first I’d owned, and it couldn’t have been a more wonderful time to get involved. I’ve since heard stories of the Doom and Duke3D communities, but Quake really seems to have blown the doors off the user generated content model, and I didn’t realize at the time how fun it would turn out to be.

    The game itself I thoroughly enjoyed, but it was making my own maps that was the big attraction. I’d dreamt of being a “videogame programmer” back when I thought that’s what you called the people who made games, but Quake opened my eyes to the reality of the situation. When I found out there were tools available for Quake that would let you make your own maps, I was ecstatic. Design your own little universe to explore? How can anyone resist that? Yeah, writing code can be fun, as can making your own enemies, weapons, textures and other assets, but level editing takes center stage for me. The manifestation and manipulation of your own, tailored reality is core to the appeal of videogames as far as I’m concerned, and I think developers should be spending as much time on tools as they do on the games themselves.

    Having learned of this concept, I picked up a copy of the Unofficial Quake Level Design Handbook, by Matt Tagliaferri, author of the included tool, QED. I liked the Special Edition so much I got a copy of the full thing and spent eternities toying with it. Never released any of my half-baked playgrounds, but it was satisfying enough to run around in spaces I’d built myself.

    The next few years are a blur: Quake 2, with similar level editing excursions, my initiation into the world of machinima around that same time (if it’s not Apartment Huntin’ or Blahbalicious, I don’t want to hear about it), losing myself in the lush tropical color palette of Unreal, my first 3D accelerator (“I thought Quake 2 could only look that good in magazine screenshots”, “Mother of God, Unreal looks even more amazing”, and many years later “I didn’t realize I would have such fond memories of Stipple Alpha”), Half-Life taking the “realism” angle of Goldeneye and similar games to the next level (and the way I nonetheless got frustrated enough with it to throw the disc across the room like a Frisbee; it shattered the second time, and I still have all the pieces), the list of maps I found for Half-Life via Silver Sorrow’s hilarious reviews on Hangar 16, and even my occasional multiplayer dalliances in the form of Unreal Tournament, Quake 3 (the former more than the latter, but they’re still both great), and Counterstrike.

    Then there was Old Man Murray’s preview of Serious Sam, the tech demo with yellow Kleer skeletons, the release of the game, the second one, the time I got so fed up with my Kyro 3D graphics card that I offered it free of charge to the first person to respond to my thread on the Serious forums and actually went through with it without any regrets, the childlike response I offered to the creators of “Escape from the Bastille”, a Quake 3 based fanfilm that I used to think I found disappointing but that really just made me jealous (and led me to try fruitlessly to make my own Unreal based alternative, give up, switch to a focus on live action filmmaking, and end up spending thousands of dollars over the years on video equipment that I still mostly never use), and overall the obnoxious nitwit I was for more than a few years at the start of the decade.

    And all of that’s ignoring the console side of things from ’97 onward; I left that out through courtesy, this is long enough as is. In short: Silent Hill.

    Eventually, after years of waiting, we arrived at Half-Life 2. I heard about it, got excited, watched videos and saw screenshots that gave me an impression of what I’d get, was disappointed not to see any of the things I expected, but loved it nonetheless. I saw a map GoldenShadow of the VERC forums had made of a trebuchet in a desert canyon, and within a month of the game’s release had tossed together a gimmicky little toy with a wooden tower that collapses when you press a button. I’ve been trying to do something more than that for the past five and a half years, and failing miserably. I still love playing custom content, of course, and PlanetPhillip has been a godsend.

    I’ve never really sat down and worked through all of this before, and I’m amazed at how easily it spilled out once I got started. I wish I could say the same for my mapping pursuits, but all in good time, right? One of these days…

  7. Duke 94 comments

    7th July 2011

    A relative late-comer to gaming, I had no interest in computers at all until about 94/95, when, by chance, I saw a friends kids playing something plugged into their television which turned out to be Resident Evil (number 1)…I stood and watched for a while and was both captivated and excited, though what about I didn’t know. I still didn’t get what computers were all about and did nothing for a while. Then I saw a demo of windows 95 in a shop window…drag and drop…this new internet thingy….something in my life was about to change…I still didn’t get it, but it seemed unimportant somehow, I just knew it was the future.

    Anyhow, I hot footed it to a store and bought my first PC..an AST. Wow, blew me away and my girl left me for someone that showed her more attention. Ah well, they come they go..

    I don’t know how, but I ended up with Realms of the Haunting as my first game, I guess it was mainly to do with the fact it was supposedly set in the Town in Cornwall I grew up in. Hmm, a bit of poetic license there …was nothing like it…but the game was/IS brilliant.

    Later I was introduced to Doom, and it’s subsequent clones, through to Quake and all the others of that time…(now completely hooked on FPS)…then Half-Life landed in my lap…and the rest, as they say, is history. I’m on PC number 9 now, but you know what ? I’d give almost anything for my first AST and win 95 back again…just to touch, once more.

  8. scraps 31 comments

    7th July 2011

    Jasper and Scraps didn’t start gaming until May 1986 just after we got married. Had a tiny computor (10″ screen, black and white). We had to share, it was an hour for him then an hour for me.
    First games were Prince of Persia and Blakestone.
    After that came Doom, Unreal and Quake, by this time we had a better computor (still sharing).
    We then discovered Half Life, Opposing Force, Blue Shift etc. When Half Life 2 came out i got to play it first, i like to take my time, no enemy live, i go back if i think i’ve left something alive, jasper couldn’t wait for me to finish and sneaked out to buy a second computor so we could both play at the same time.
    I think i speak for both of us when i say Half Life 2 is the best game we have ever played.
    We have Planet Phillip to thank for all the little mods etc we have been able to download so thankyou PP.
    Crysis came next, apparently this meant we needed two brand new computors before crysis 2 came out, bless him.
    Personally HL2 will always be my favourite.
    Scraps

  9. Ook 3 comments

    7th July 2011

    Sorry this is so long…I tried to keep it short, there is just so much I just don’t have time to write down….I did this in one setting, for better or worse, tried to keep it short, and this is what what was on my mind when I thought about here gaming fit into my life…..

    When I was a kid we didn

  10. voldomort42 2 comments

    8th July 2011

    I love reading everybody’s background!

    Lets see. I remember playing hours and hours of pacman on my parents Atari (don’t remember which one, sorry), then having a nintendo system sometime during the late 80′s playing classic Mario Bros and duck hunt. I never really owned any other consoles since my dad always had multiple computers around the house and I found immense enjoyment playing those old AGI games like Black Cauldron and Police Quest.

    I didn’t really do much gaming during the latter part of the 90s, but did enjoy watching my older brother play demos he obtained from PC gamer. Sadly, during high school and college I did no gaming what so ever, even though my siblings had obtained a Gamecube by that point. It wasn’t until about a year ago when I saw the Freeman’s mind series and thought, hmmm, that’d be great to play more games (ironically enough, I bought and played HL2 before HL1). Since then, I’ve been a casual player, having completed the HL saga (and all its expansions/variants), several mods, and several indie games.

  11. Falconer 8 comments

    9th July 2011

    When I was growing up, I remember my family owning one of those old Commodore 64 computers. It was basically insert-disk-and-type-”load”. Much different from today’s operating systems, but back then, as a child, I thought it was amazing. Anyhow, I can vaguely recall playing a variety of games. No fpses, but mostly text rpgs and stuff with simple graphics. I can’t really remember specific titles though, on account of it being so long ago. Something called “Wizball” comes to mind. Something called “The Bard’s Tale” which looked awesome on the packaging but I could never get it to work, thus it went unplayed. The official game of the movie “Hunt for Red October”. (About 2 minutes in, my incompetent command of the Red October ended up sinking the boat on a coral reef or some such thing.)

    Then we decided to upgrade to a macintosh. Not a great choice for gaming, but I still got to play some classic titles which really opened me up to the world of games. I remember my first fps being Wolfenstein 3d. I was hooked on that nazi-slaying fps action from the start.

    Later, I played another fps which to this day is still one of my favorite games of all time, on account of its fantastic story and atmospheric settings. Marathon (and its two sequels). It’s floating around on the internet somewhere, I believe it is a free download. I highly recommend it. Made by the same guys who later made Halo (which I personally do not care for nearly as much, but hey… it’s Bungie’s big moneymaker and so we’ll never see the end of it!) Anyway, it came out about the same time as the first Doom, and even though it had better graphics, gameplay, and it actually had a story beyond “kill evil demons!”, nobody ever heard of it for the simple reason it was Mac-only. There’s a windows port out today however, so despair not. I’ve heard rumors that Adam Foster of Minerva fame received inspiration from Marathon, will have to check that out.

    Another game I really enjoyed (coincidentally, also made by Bungie) was Myth: The Fallen Lords. Similar to an RTS, but much more small-group-tactics-based. The premise is that during the campaign, you use your small group of units to outmaneuver and defeat enemy armies that are often MUCH larger. Think Warcraft, but without resources and unit replenishment… what you see at the start of your mission is what you get. And, all set against a fascinating story. (At this point you can probably tell that I appreciate a good story :) It had an awesome sequel that was also made by Bungie, then they sold the rights or something, and another sequel was made by somebody else that ended up being so bad that it killed the franchise. Anyway. Now that I think about it, it’s kind of odd that the games Bungie made that few people have heard of are the ones I rank among my all-time favorites, while their ultra-popular Halo franchise turns me off. Something to mull over, I suppose.

    Eventually, I played something called Half-Life. I think we all know how that went!

    Currently I play quest/total conversion mods for Fallout 3 and New Vegas whenever I get free time. I also have a WoW account, mostly due to friends’ insistence. And of course, whenever something good for HL or HL2 appears, I’ll give it a spin. Currently awaiting Episode 3, BM:S, Random Quest 2, They Hunger: Lost Souls (which will probably never appear, but hey, I can dream, right?) and probably some other upcoming mods which I forget at the moment…

    • Duke 94 comments

      9th July 2011

      send Neil Manke an e-mail…he might reply, he did to me some years ago…worth a try..

  12. noface 6404 comments

    10th July 2011

    Im too lazy today to write something long.
    Note form?:
    Pokemon on gameboy when very little, had no computer for a long time (I lived in a squat with our own generated electricity and hippy parents). Dad got booted out, eventually had a computer, visit him and he had hl games loaded already. Played thousands of hours of team fortress classic (still young) but it was the only computer in the house. Had ps1 -> played millions of hours of spyro (completed it 13 times) and a few other games such as ape escape (brilliant game). Got my own PC, sat in my bedroom with it probably all night gorging myself until I nearly died (maybe not). Played GTA3:Vice/Liberty City games on PC (and TFC). Got PS2, played GTA: San Andreas (epic game) on PS2. By this time I was kinda obsessed with games. I actually remember the half life games and expansions affecting my brain so much that when we did some sort of creative work out school it would show that a lot of my ideas were from the hl universe (one time we made a ‘game’ book (google it) and my page was similar to the flooded kitchen in hl1)……play COD2 (epic). play a hundred other games.

    I was STILL young and I didnt actually understand hl1 and expansions (nor the real world).

    HL2 comes out, play play play fun fun fun.
    Eventually quite a bit older I came to the realisation (of the world) that the expansions were different viewpoints inside the Black Mesa facility, where a terrible experiment goes wrong and that was when I started actually paying attention to the story which made it even more epic to me.
    Think: COD2 was awesome, so buy COD4 but be unhappy at its generic boring short gameplay). TF2 comes out, play it, it was not as good as expected, stop playing.
    Later, I look back to the games I have played such as hl1, tfc, pokemon, san andreas, ape escape, find way to play them, epic nostalgia.

    —-cut the the end.

    Find Source SDK. Read and listen to tutorials. Get alright at mapping. Start making an epic map. Get bored half way through and stop. Try to find motivation. Find planet phillip. Start making a more epic map. Stop halfway through. Try to find competitions for motivation. Find planet phillip mapping competition. Start making epic map. Get halfway through and find a massive error breaks it causing it to no open. Find a working version of it with tonnes of wasted time. Bring it back to scratch, get past halfway mark. Have exams, go to hospital for perforated appendix, miss deadline. End.

  13. GreySpectrum 2 comments

    5th November 2011

    I’m a bit younger so my first memories of games are from after the arcade and text adventure height.
    So my very first memories of playing computer games was Putt-Putt’s Fun Pack, but there is video of me pounding on a keyboard of a computer with only green text for a display. I also watched my father and mother playing co-op Doom and Doom2 for hours before kindergarten. I was too frightened to play alone, but if I could get my father to play with me I loved to. Otherwise I would sit on the menu screen and watch the demo play over and over and over.
    I don’t think I had any concept of what Doom was about. Certainly not that these were demons I was fighting, just that they were target monsters. Finally I worked up the courage to play alone, and only then did I get to some of the final levels. Some of my fondest memories of childhood are playing co-op doom with my friends from across the street. (two boys older than I) I remember getting so angry I cried when one of the boys purposely telefragged me. To this day I know the maps of Doom like the back of my hand. I never even tried nightmare mode though; I didn’t play for the monsters, I played for the exploration.

    Heretic was great fun too. Half-life probably came after that. I enjoyed half-life, and the first moment of turning on the anti-matter spectrometer will forever remain in my mind. That and the hazard coarse. And the tentacle monster. And so man other fond memories. I don’t know how many times I have replayed the game over the years. There were several other games I played, mostly educational as I was in elementary school still but I don’t have much time references for any of these. Pokemon Silver came around this time, and I got Red Blue and Yellow as a gift for my birthday at age 10.

    A little bit of Quake 3 Arena demo and then Unreal Tournament. Unreal Tournament was a lot of fun, finding the locations of guns, the secrets, and just experiencing the architecture of every map. Then I discovered cheats. (“iamtheone” “fly” “god”) Flying in a game that I had been on the ground for so long of blew my mind. I think I must have had several dreams about it and to this day the way I fly in my dreams in in the smooth glide of that game. The guiding the redeemer missile also entertained me, and I set artificial goals for myself to navigate some of the corridors without touching the edges and exploding.

    I finally worked up the courage to ask my dad if I could play Opposing Force. It was his game and he had never played it, nor was it given to me so for some reason it had the allure of forbidden fruit in my mind. Maybe this was the first time I realized that I could play a game for myself and wasn’t playing it because someone in my family had first. I also got Age of Empires Gold Edition around this time as a gift and played this a lot, again co-oping with friends. After that dad brought home half-life 2 and we each played it, although me far more than him. It was me that suggested the orange box and I played portal first, since I thought it was probably interesting but not as good as the half-life episodes. Boy was I wrong, it captured my imagination like no other game. Afterwards I played episode one and two and loved them to pieces. I also tried half-life deathmatch. My first multiplayer game. See, all this time I had never experienced quake or unreal tournament as multiplayer games. I only ever played bots. During deathmatch I learned that in online competition you had to be way faster about everything. I learned to draw weapons by hitting the numbers without looking, to reload, and to pull a few tricks like firing and orb and whipping out the gravity gun to boost it for 2x speed. I followed my rank a bit and am proud of being around 1,200 on the GDawg servers at one point.

    Finally, looking for greater Portal challenges I downloaded my first mod. I knew mods existed, but I had never been interested enough to try and see if I could get them to work. After that, I watched a few machinimas, namely Civil Protection. The interview with Ross Scott brought me to Podcast 17 and suddenly there were many more mods for me to try. Namely the Radiator series. Of course, from there I learned about ModDB and PlanetPhillip which is where I am today. Since then I have played many more titles, in particular Thief 3, Mirrors Edge and of course Portal2. Portal2 was the first game I pre-ordered and I played it on the night it came out until I finished it at some unholy hour in the morning. I have cosplayed as Chell, made a Portal gun, and several papercraft portal objects. I have played many mods, but my gameplay preferences are heavily biased towards games with storyline, unusual environments, and some puzzles. As such I usually classify myself as preferring stealth. I have grown tired of pure fps, but can’t seem to get interested in rts, so I linger in a mixture of areas. I can’t play rpgs as I make them un-fun for myself by over preparing and grinding until I lose interest. Its bad enough that I never finished Pokemon Silver though I poured over 120 hours into it.

    If it isn’t clear yet, I’m a girl. I like to consider myself a gamer as I’m not too terrible at mods or portal or multiplayer, but I’ve never owned a console in my life so when it comes to that, I can’t hold a competitive candle. I’d play racing games, spyro, and crash bandicoot at my friends houses, so I can manage a console, but playing Heavy Rain for the first half made in painfully obvious that I play extremely incompetently. Most of my game playing has been alone. After I elementary school I moved away from the boys across the street and so for all of middle school I was alone in my gaming. High school reintroduced me to a few people that played games, but I am too timid to really play co-op or multiplayer since. Its really too bad that I don’t have much of a community to enjoy games with, though I read endless discussions and talk to my friends about them, I almost always play them alone.

    If for some reason you want to chat I’d be happy to meet some of the interesting people here. I really did enjoy reading these stories of how we all came to half-life in different ways. It reminds me how great the gaming community (in particular the half-life and modding community) is, and makes me realize I’m a member, or at least on the sidelines of, something very special.

    • That was a nice read, thank you for taking the time to write it.

      To be honest, even after you said ” I have cosplayed as Chell” I didn’t realize you were female. DOH!

      I’d be more than happy to chat with you. Just add me on Steam Friends and if you see me online say “Hi!”.

      • GreySpectrum 2 comments

        10th November 2011

        ( To be honest, not being recognized as a girl probably makes me feel better about it. While I think girls ought to be much more active in the gaming community, I also don’t think it should ever really be brought up, since it seems to be such a non-issue to me. Its just my opinion and I think can understand both sides of the argument for girl gamers becoming more or less visible in the community. )

        Thanks so much for responding so quickly and being so welcoming! Listening to Podcast17 for so long has made the hosts as well as yourself a bit larger than life, so its kind of amazing to me to even consider adding you to my steam account.

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