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

This has been discussed a few times in other mods but I felt it was time for a proper debate in its own post. I have copied a lot of the discussion from another post because it was what started my thinking about the idea.

To summarize, Robert Yang wanted to know why I didn’t add non-combat mods.

I promised to think carefully about it and I have. Unless a lot of PP readers don’t want me to then I will start adding SOME “art” mods from next week. However, I won’t be adding everything that doesn’t fit the criteria of the site, just the ones that I think are interesting and are single player – no MP mods will be added. In addition I won’t commit to playing or reviewing them. I will post screenshots supplied by readers or by the mod maker themselves. Of course, other readers can post their comments and review but they won’t be able to add recommendation images. I don’t want the overall results diluted with non-combat mods.

Lastly, I won’t be mirroring the files either. Not doing the above will help ensure that I can still post the mods without a negative feeling of obligation at the work involved.

I accept that what I find interesting is very subjective but I need to limit it in some way otherwise I will have to add hundreds of maps and mods.

So, here is the question:
Would you like to list some “art” mods?

The Poll

The Original Discussion

Robert Yang
I always meant to demand a better answer from you, actually


5th May 2010

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  1. Mike 2 comments

    5th May 2010

    Very well said Phillip! Your site – do with it as you will. Please just don’t stop.

  2. Bolx 214 comments

    5th May 2010

    Hi Phillip

    Before I start I

  3. Jasper 677 comments

    5th May 2010

    No, because I am an ardent supporter of your criteria.
    This reminds me of the Wasteland non-combat map thread in the Forum a while ago. You stuck to your guns and I was very glad you did.

    This is your personal site and I find it quite wrong for some to attempt to pressurise you into something you would rather not do.

    To members and visitors alike it’s your fervour and time that is precious to us. PP is the HL site because of you.
    Your site, your hobby. Only do what you want to do, I say.

  4. planetphillip 4336 comments

    5th May 2010

    Let´s not focus on Robert Yang, he has every right to ask whatever he wants. Also, claiming that RY has rigged the vote by asking his friends to vote is totally unfair.

    As he points out, there are much bigger websites that he gets plenty of coverage from.

    There are lots of other mod makers that would see their mods added here.

    To put things in perspective, off the top of my head, it would include a couple of Egyptian theme mods, the Radiator series, Dear Esther and Korsakovia, Blind Monk and maybe a couple of others.

    Whilst it is my site and I will ultimately do what I want with it, it´s also a service and if providing a new service doesn´t cause me too many problems but makes the site better, then I have to seriously consider it.

    No more comments directed at Robert please.

  5. Ian 3 comments

    5th May 2010

    I don’t think the mods you mention need to be included on PP.

    One thing you could do is improve the “Links” section (e.g. by adding descriptions), basically make it easier to find HL SP mods/maps not fitting your criteria.

  6. Grey Acumen 505 comments

    5th May 2010

    I understand the issue behind the complaint. PlanetPhillip is THE place to come to for single player maps run on the source or gold source engine, and that’s all there is to it. ModDB is drowned out in Multiplayer mods that are constantly releasing “news updates” in order to stay on the front page even though the mod itself hasn’t been updated in months or years. There’s another place that’s decent for finding source mods, but I can’t remember what it’s name is and it doesn’t really support decent discussions about the merits of the mod, just the downloading of it.( There’s really no place for Art Mods to get any decent publicity.

    However the idea that PlanetPhillip IS the place for these mods is a VERY risky proposition. While the artistic mods might be able to fit within the general description of Phillip’s guidelines, that doesn’t mean that they would be embraced by the community the comes to the site. If I were to judge Korsakovia (so far my favorite of the artistic mods I’ve played) only on its merits as an artistic mod, it would undoubtedly get a Personal Favorite, but when judging it overall and against other incredibly fun mods to play it would likely come down to a Play it Later or Maybe recommendation, and I could easily see other people giving it lower scores.
    Would someone like RY then complain that it’s not getting the ratings that it deserves because people aren’t judging it by its own merits? Artistic mods aren’t the same as other mods, certainly, and can’t be judged by the same standards, but by putting them in with the other mods on the site, you are subjecting them to those standards whether it’s deserved or not.

    I agree with Jasper that Phillip should stick to his guns, but it’s still up to Phillip to decide what “his guns” are. Just because he’s started with shotgun doesn’t mean he can’t switch to .357 if he feels the situation calls for it. The mods he’s noted already (one of the Egyptian themed mods and korsikovia specifically) are some high quality mods that actually offer some very decent gameplay. Just simply listing them on the site, and neither offering mirrors nor allowing recommended images would be a reasonable concession. It’s actually what I would have suggested he do myself if he were actually going to go through with adding them at all.

    On a personal aside, I’d love to see portal maps make a bit of a comeback since they have their own section but less than half a dozen entries. Decay and Synergy would also be nice to see on the site, since you can still play them by yourself even if the focus is in the coop. I’d be happy even if they all had to follow the “no recommended images” conditional, but I’m sure all of those may be stretching the rules even worse than the artistic mods.

    Either way, whatever Phillip doesn’t cover, I’ll be working on covering over at Asteroid Acumen.
    However I still need people to submit more suggestions to keep the list growing. I’m happy to compile the list and give decent reviews but I really don’t know where else to find mods to add to it other than places I’ve already gone to. I’ve had 4 people offer to submit suggestions, but only 2 actual suggestions so far.

  7. Billy H 3 comments

    5th May 2010

    I would like to see art mods for the simple fact that I enjoy them. I honestly got more out of Dear Esther than I did Riot Act, for example. I voted yes.
    Of course, it is your site, with which to do what you like.

    • planetphillip 4336 comments

      6th May 2010

      I have top accept that not everybody is like me and loves combat all the time. That’s part of the reason to add them, a little variety for readers.

  8. Rikersbeard 268 comments

    5th May 2010

    I read your article on these

    • planetphillip 4336 comments

      6th May 2010

      I like your idea of adding the best ones that match your criteria.

      I think perhaps you have misunderstood. None of them match my criteria, which is why they are not on here already.

      I just finished playing, or is that experiencing,

      • Rikersbeard 268 comments

        6th May 2010

        I played ‘Dear Esther’ because it was mentioned on your site, othrwise I don’t think I would have ever discovered it. Or known that there is such thing as an ‘Art mod’. Thanks for that…..

  9. Gypsy Jim 185 comments

    5th May 2010

    I feel I ought to change my vote now I’ve read the comments, but maybe it is because of the current drought of Mods/Maps that I found myself voting “Yes”.

    I also have to say that “Dear Esther” really didn’t quite do it for me, interesting though it was, but it did open my eyes a bit as to what else mappers & modders can actually do with the Source SDK/Hammer etc tools that are out there. It doesn’t always have to be Combine/Zombine/Ant-lions & Head-crabs I suppose, and an occasional foray into (relatively) uncharted imaginations/vistas can be quite interesting from time to time.

    I do wonder if one of the keener PP regulars (after reading Grey Acumen’s post above) might be able to take this load off Phillip and run it as a sister-site, or even a sub-section of PP?

    If the drought suddenly ends and some of those major mods out there do actually get finished, then I suspect it might all be a bit academic anyway, but let’s face it, until HL2 Ep3 or HL3 actually do come along before we’re all past caring then most PP readers will play whatever’s going. I know I will, as long as it’s got several PINs of course……:)

    • Billy H 6345 comments

      6th May 2010

      I agree with that, a sister site devoted to art mods would probably be a better solution than hosting them on PP. Not all PP readers are keen on art mods, and Phillip himself doesn’t really enjoy reviewing them, so a sister site run by an art mod player catering to art mod players would please everyone.

      • planetphillip 4336 comments

        6th May 2010

        I think the problem with a sister site is that it will be just another site to visit, whereas if they are on PP, they are easily accessible to its current readership. I also have to admit to a worry that if I went into partnership with another webmaster, they may stop or do things in a way I didn’t like, I can’;t deny I am a control freak.

    • planetphillip 4336 comments

      6th May 2010

      I do wonder if one of the keener PP regulars (after reading Grey Acumen

  10. Zekiran 207 comments

    5th May 2010

    I wouldn’t mind seeing them, with the restrictions in place that you’ve mentioned. They’re not combat and you don’t like them, so there’s no compelling reason to review them. :)

    So far I’ve played only a couple and while I can appreciate the work that goes into them, they’re not very fun. Some are just outright confusing and that’s hardly why I want to fire up a mod.

    As long as I know that what I’m playing is going to be very different from the experience I’m normally expecting, that’s fine. I don’t see these things overtaking any of the other mods here.

  11. Botolf 44 comments

    5th May 2010

    I voted Yes.

    The “art mod” community is putting out some of the most interesting/pioneering releases, and that segment of the community going to become even more important in the years to come. The thread on the forums, while something, is essentially meaningless (in essence a footnote). It’s passed over and doesn’t draw nearly as many eyes. I’m all for having another category for art mods on the main site.

    As to keeping all of this manageable for yourself, I think posting entries for Those so inclined to make an artsy mod tend to be less numerous and more willing to put effort in anyway (ie there’s no real equivalent to a box with three Combine soldiers in the “art mod” circle). Sticking them into their own category and applying an “arthouse” sticker or something like that for front-page releases would be a suitable approach, I think.

    Frankly put, to give art mods their place will help put PP into an enduring position into the future. Games as meaningful art is happening, and indie influences seen in our modding communities is where that flame is burning brightest.

    • planetphillip 4336 comments

      6th May 2010

      Frankly put, to give art mods their place will help put PP into an enduring position into the future. Games as meaningful art is happening, and indie influences seen in our modding communities is where that flame is burning brightest.

      Another good point. By being seen on PP, they may influence some traditional mappers to try something new, and that’s always worthwhile, even if the results aren’t as good as expected. They may help them learn story-telling techniques that can be incorporated into combat mods.

  12. Botolf 44 comments

    5th May 2010

    Woops, left a thought unfinished in my post above:

    As to keeping all of this manageable for yourself, I think posting entries for the artsy section could use a higher, more “picky” standard of selection. Post the stuff people are liking, taking note of, or stuff with effort put into it.

  13. Talon 6345 comments

    5th May 2010

    I think that some of the art mods may be fun to play, and there may be some that I don’t know about. However, I suggest placing them into their own category so that users who are looking for a shooting-style mod won’t be mislead into downloading something they aren’t looking for.

    BTW, would you consider Fakefactory Cinemantic Mod be considered an art mod?

    • planetphillip 4336 comments

      6th May 2010

      However, I suggest placing them into their own category so that users who are looking for a shooting-style mod won

      • Grey Acumen 505 comments

        6th May 2010

        *crosses fingers for portal/decay/synergy*

  14. Bob 4 comments

    5th May 2010

    I support your decision to post those you think have merit.

  15. Kasperg 6345 comments

    6th May 2010

    I voted yes, since the kind of discussion/feedback that would appear around these sort of mods in PP would still be valid for other mappers as some elements like pacing, narration, presentation etc are common to all types of mods, not just the art ones.

    On the other hand, it’s true that some of them don’t register as “Half-life” to me. Being Half-life isn’t just about running on the same engine, using some of the textures and re-skinning the original models. Radiator for example would probably be the exact same mod had it been made for Crysis, Unreal2 or whatever game you can come up with. The fact that Valve’s SDK is the easiest and most complete for us to use doesn’t mean that everything we make with it has the Half-life tag in it. What is “Half-life” about Dear Esther, as interesting as it might be?
    This doesn’t mean that all maps and mods in this site are based on the HL universe. Raphael Gillot’s Rebellion looks and feels like HL2 while it deals with its own story and characters. Our own Random Quest is a universe of its own but you still perform basic HL action like combat and jumping puzzles etc.

    I think it’s up to Phillip to decide where to draw the line.
    Speaking for myself, I say some of the art mods offer a lot more of what I like than some of the really bad maps in this site (arena maps, I’m looking at most of you…) can do, meaning I’d establish a minimun quality standard before establishing a theme or gameplay style standard for a map to enter the site. But again, that’d be me. :)

    • Grey Acumen 505 comments

      6th May 2010

      well, the idea is that WE are the quality standard at this point. Crappy mods get crappy recommendations and get shuffled to the end of any search the organizes them by rating, and also adds nice red and orange marks that are easy to spot and avoid whenever looking through lists alphabetically too.

      • planetphillip 4336 comments

        6th May 2010

        Well put. I prefer to add everything that meets the criteria and let the group decide on it’s rating. That way everybody gets the opportunity to play it.

    • planetphillip 4336 comments

      6th May 2010

      I voted yes, since the kind of discussion/feedback that would appear around these sort of mods in PP would still be valid for other mappers as some elements like pacing, narration, presentation etc are common to all types of mods, not just the art ones.

      Good point.

      What is

  16. dougjp 117 comments

    6th May 2010

    Not interested in these mods. If somehow you feel compelled to include them (and I truly hope you don’t), please segregate them to a different area of the site which doesn’t clutter up the ‘default’ view at all when opening the site.

    If the pressure “seems” to be upon you so that this is even being considered, remember the requester already says other larger sites give him good coverage of these kind of mods. The response then, I my opinion, should be simple. “Glad you are already more than satisfied, and bon voyage. Thanks for writing, but no thanks.”

  17. Kyouryuu 285 comments

    6th May 2010

    I would find it very difficult to defend why posting yet another horrendous “my first map that I spent 5 minutes on” is justified while another mod is denied despite having as much artistic and technical merit as anything else, all because it fails to meet a narrow definition of what SP games ought to be.

    So, yes, posting these art mods (need a better moniker, “art mods” is so pretentious sounding) is a good thing. If nothing else, they’ll get people thinking about how some of those ideas might be integrated into your more traditional mods. That’s the thing about the bleeding edge. Half the time the idea never works the way you want it to – but when it is exposed to others, they can figure out how to take it to the next level and make it palatable for everyone.

  18. Berrie 68 comments

    6th May 2010

    I voted yes. But only for the fact that I would be interested in playing them.
    I have enjoyed Radiator quite a bit and would not mind seeing them posted here.

    However it’s your site and if you feel they do not meet the criteria you have for mods to be posted here, it’s well within your right.

  19. planetphillip 4336 comments

    6th May 2010


    That said, I am not committing to adding newly released ones and I certainly won’t be rushing to post them, like I do with normal combat mods.

    I’ve just added 12 direct replies to individual commenters but I want to address you all.

    Think of these additions as “blog” posts, in the same way as my real themes posts. Not everybody will read or enjoy them, but I have a little poetic licence as to what I post outside of the SP maps and mods category.

    Don’t worry, the effort required to add them is very small, especially since I won’t be adding mirrors or my own screenshots etc. In addition there will only be a few every year anyway.

    From this point forward I will try and add one a week until I have the backlog uopdated.

    For Reference I will add:
    Dear Esther (when version 2 comes out)
    Radiator series
    Blind Monk Society
    and a few others.

    Please post your recommendations here and I’ll check them out.


    • Grey Acumen 505 comments

      6th May 2010

      That’s awesome. I already have reviews for most of these, so I’ll have those ready to go as soon as I see your posts, but don’t hesitate to draw on them yourself, since I’m sure I remember you mentioning that there are a few of the art mods you haven’t bothered to get the whole way through.

      I had a bad introduction to Dear Esther (I was told it was a puzzle mod) and so I ended up very jaded by the experience. The Dear Esther “HD” should be a very nice chance for me to play it with the proper mindframe, and the beauty of the scenery should help offset the boredom I got from just listening to the story.

      Korsakovia and Curse will be nice to have on the site, since they actually HAVE combat, it’s really only stylistic differences that set it apart from the rest of’s standard fair.

      Radiator will definitely be one that I will be interested in reviewing. There are aspects about it that I really find interesting, but also aspects that I absolutely hate with a passion.

  20. Sirocco 6345 comments

    6th May 2010

    Good choice Phillip.

    I think it will give PP more depth and meaning when you do.

    If it’s not too much work nothing ventured nothing gained.


  21. eeVee 289 comments

    6th May 2010

    I was finally reading this and going to respond, but you already made up your mind… :)

    I’m glad you decided to add some of these. It’s frustrating to recommend Dear Esther in a list of mods and have to say, “But you can’t get that one from PlanetPhillip.” If someone is going to moddb do DL a mod, why wouldn’t they DL all of them from moddb and bypass your site?

    I, personally, found Dear Esther boring. But I think it’s an excellent mod so I do recommend it (and Korsakovia, but I always forget about Radiator for some reason–no offense to the modders), with the caveat.

    One thing I could not find in the forum was your “What PlanetPhillip doesn’t cover” thread. Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough yet.

    • Grey Acumen 505 comments

      6th May 2010

      It’s stickied in the New Releases and Upcoming mods section.

      The direct link is

      please feel welcome to recommend other mods that don’t turn up on I’m still finding more stuff as I go.

      • eeVee 289 comments

        6th May 2010

        Thanks for the link! I actually might have wandered into that forum, but only once so far, as there are still so many mods left for me to play. (As I said, I probably just hadn’t looked hard enough yet.)

        I’ll read it in more detail later. I know there’s definitely a mod that’s not here that maybe should be. I’ll email Phillip and if it doesn’t fit his criteria I’ll add it to your thread. :)

  22. Anon_221013 6345 comments

    7th May 2010

    art mods are for wimps that think guns are bad

  23. Dias 32 comments

    7th May 2010

    Personally, I’m fine with puzzles & platformer type maps, but really all that matters to me is if it’s actually got something to do. Maps/Mods that only require minimal (W+Mouse) interaction, are a complete waste of time to me. They might as well be videos. If I’m going to go through all the trouble of downloading & installing a mod, I expect for there to be more to it than an animation &/or audio that could just have easily been a youtube video, .mp3 file or plain text.

    But if it were up to me, I wouldn’t even bother uploading mods/maps that I didn’t think were worth playing.

  24. Muzzow 24 comments

    2nd June 2010

    I voted no, although I wouldn’t mind an “art” mod as long as Half-Life has to do with it – and with more than merely using the engine and/or some props and textures.

  25. Hec 1002 comments

    30th January 2012

    Wow, a little time ago, i thought in Korsakovia mod, so i search it in the “keywords” search of PP, and directed me to this interesting discussion, so i have to say little but pretty consise things about this.

    I think some mods like you mentioned here are kind of relevant as a genere itself in HL2 modding universe, so i’d say that being definitely one of the most important forum for HL discussion and recomendation site, i’d love to see a special link that at least from here direct us to a place wheere u can review and download those relevant clasic titles in HL2 art modding.

    I know that many people don’t like to play them and i definitely respect their points, but if we are really deep into the modding scene as gamers, i think those works also deserve a propper special space to review them and, just talk about them.

    I think the same happens with the Total Converssion mods from HL1 to HL2, here in PP are just few of them, and is ironic, bacause many of them are really classic and Must Play pieces in HL modding History, i’m glad that for example 2011, closed the year with the impressive G-String, which is from my point of view a whole mod that combines combat, art and concept in a FPS mod. so, i’d say that if PP gave G-String a space, why don’t have one propper space for the most relevant art mods??, i know there is alredy one where Phillip once comment about non strict, SP FPS Mods, but i think maybe the lack of time from Phillip as manager and owner of those spaces make of those links kind of forsaken, so i just say that i’d love to see a more close space here in PP, to see the relevant art mods.

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