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

Art mods, Alt mods, Creative mods call them what you will, they have become more popular recently.

Whilst I am not a big fan of them, I recognise and applaud the creativity involved.

Using game engines for things other than gaming is certainly not new and and the more we explore possible uses the more interesting things get.

Recently I have been thinking about a possible use with two almost extreme implementations. They may sound silly, in fact they may actually “be” silly, but sometimes the process of defining and discussing them brings their own rewards.

The Easy One: Spot the difference

We’ve all played or at least seen those two images on the “coffee Break” pages of newspapers and magazines. Normally there are 7 differences that must be found. In the magazine that my girlfriend occasionally buys the differences are insultingly obvious, but in rare cases those difference can be quite a challenge.

What if a mapper decided to make map versions of that basic principle? Depending on the size and complexity of the map that could be a real challenge! Using a map format would allow the creator a number of options clearly not available to the creator of a simple 2D image. Not only would the map be 4D (3 dimensions plus time) but there would be the added element of the interaction of the player with the environment.

Let me be clear, I am not thinking of simple rooms across a hallway that the player goes between and looks for slight difference, I am talking about something where the player has to shoot stuff at the same time as look for difference in more than just a simple room.

I’ll be honest, getting the balance right might be too difficult and as I said earlier, make the whole thing silly. Making it almost impossible would be very easy it seems to me.

It could be as simple as throwing 5 instead of 6 army grunts at you, which during the heat of the battle could be easily missed, especially if the player is “on a rail” or similar.

I considered making this a mapping Ville competition but feel that it’s too specialised for a general competition.

The Not so Easy One: Bongard Problems

So if the basic two “things” idea is the simple one, what is the hard one? Bongard Problems, that’s what. I am guessing that 99% of readers have never heard of them, unless my readership is much more academic than I thought! Put simply, the Bongard problems are two pairs of six examples. The six on the left all follow the same pattern, whereas the six on the right don’t. The objective is to identify the pattern. I found them quite hard but still intriguing.

Now, making an exact copy of Bongard problems in game engines might not be too hard but as you might have guessed I want action too. Maybe it could work something like this….

Start with map A, which contains 3 distinct encounters within its setting. Each encounter lasts no more than a couple of minutes. Like all maps and mods, they can be replayed as many times as you want. When ready you load map B, which also contains 3 distinct encounters but they don’t follow the pattern set by the first 3. Objective? To define the pattern. Ready for the answer? Open map C for either commentary or maybe a video explaining the difference.

Patterns I image could be used, would be: enemies attack in odd numbers only, distinct progression of enemies from Headcrabs to Elite guards, Only right angles on all streets, paths, walkways. Of course, I am pulling these ideas out my arse as I write and with some thought I am sure you could make them much more interesting.

Now I know that most of my readers are not mappers, but I would be interested to hear:
A: your ideas for how both ideas above could work and be implemented
B: your ideas for other non-traditional uses of game engines

So, there you have it. Take a common idea and tweak and twist it a bit and make a mini-mod out of it.

I challenge mappers to make proof of concept maps for the above. They don’t need fancy layouts or lighting at this stage, just maps to show that it can be done. Unless the actual pattern requires textures, make them orange dev first.

Published

19th June 2011

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5 Comments
  1. -MoGG- T.E.S.9001

    20th June 2011

    This sounds crazy/awesome. I'd love to see it actually made!

  2. Rikersbeard

    20th June 2011

    To be frank, this interactive spot the difference sounds quite dull and boring to me. But I would be intrigued to see if a good modder can change my opinion!
    As to ideas for this competition.; mmmmmmmmmm; I'll have to think on it!
    Math and combat; what a subject that would be!
    As to ideas for the game engine:-
    An island survival mod where construction, utilising the physics engine, is used to construct shelter and tools, etc.
    You have to stay in the shelter during the night as you have no lights and strange things are out there!
    Part 2 sees you spying an island on the horizon with a radio tower using a crudely constructed telescope made from island flotsam and jetsam! You make a raft and head there. You "Rambo" this combine outpost and use the radio to summon help. The end!
    Just an idea.

  3. Hec 1053 comments

    21st June 2011

    Well recently I played a Half life Metro mod!!!!, yeah one where u can ride the subway train but shamely not controll it, I don't know if that's art but some subway station u can see in the mod are just beautiful: http://www.moddb.com/mods/half-life-metro-mod, if source and HL allow to do that kind of mods then I could say art is a possibility in moding more than just pull some bullets to the AR2 and kill everyone….

  4. Error 404 Not Found

    4th May 2012

    When I think spot the difference, I think of a split screen, when I think of spot the difference with combat I think of a game where something you do in the first screen affects something that happens in the second screen, and then I realise that idea has moved away from spot the difference and became some kind of strange puzzle shooter that takes place in the same timeline in a different dimension.
    You've opened up a can of worms with this spot the difference idea. You could do some real crazy shit with it, like if had a splitscreen and your character was in both screens and your movement and actions in both screens were identical but your tasks and targets were slightly different. For example in one screen you're shooting a combine soldier (w/e) and in the other there is an explosive barrel which triggers a trapdoor underneath you or something along those lines you might have some pretty interesting gameplay… Or it might suck :(

    • PlanetPhillip 4534 comments

      4th May 2012

      like if had a splitscreen and your character was in both screens and your movement and actions in both screens were identical but your tasks and targets were slightly different. For example in one screen you're shooting a combine soldier (w/e) and in the other there is an explosive barrel which triggers a trapdoor underneath you or something along those lines you might have some pretty interesting gameplay… Or it might suck

      I think this is what you are thinking about CloneVille Idea.

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