Total Converts: Unpotting The History Of Half-Life Modding

By Graham Smith on May 8th, 2014 at 1:00 pm.

Totally legit.

Total Converts is a new weekly column about mods, maps, models, and anything player-created which you can use to amend or append your games.

Modding used to suck.

Back in 1999, I became hooked on Half-Life. Hooked in the way only 14-year-olds can, with a pure, uncritical love. The problem I had – familiar to many today – was that Half-Life was finite and I had no idea if more would ever be made.

So in between rounds of laggy, 56k deathmatch with a friend, I turned to mods, custom maps, and anything else I could find which would allow me to wring more from my investment in Black Mesa. I hung out in IRC rooms, read map review sites and slowly downloaded files from Fileplanet. It felt like I was crawling through obscure corners of the internet, at a time when the internet seemed to inhabit a strange corner of the real world.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into a gift ship while on holiday in an English seaside town and found the CD pictured above. A collection of Half-Life add-ons for sale in the most ordinary place.

Even then, with my limited understanding of game development and zero understanding of intellectual property, I knew something was off about it. I’d spent enough time buying pirated Amiga 500 games from the Glasgow Barras to recognise a knockoff.

Totally worth the £2.

I bought it anyway (and it turns out you can now download the whole collection from ModDB). In retrospect there are some pretty clear signs that it wasn’t an official release. The text on the back of the jewel case begins, “A complete collection of addons for half life including single player levels, Death match levels, Team fortress classic levels, new config files, a superb collection of new skins/models, editors and much, much, more.” After a long list of file names, it ends, “A must for any Half Life fan unleash the Power of Half Life!.”

The contents are similarly muddled. There are the character models bragged about on the back, including Homer Simpson and Alian (from the movie Alian). There’s a selection of maps, both single and multiplayer. There are mods, including beta 1 of Counter-Strike. But there’s also a stranger set of materials, including a WinAmp skin, some screensavers, and editing tools for, er, Unreal games.

The CD still works, though many of its contents wouldn’t be compatible with the Steam version of the game. What does work are the maps, which are mostly mediocre examples of the creativity that made the Half-Life community so vibrant. It’s a little like stumbling upon someone’s fanart Tumblr; that discomforting feeling when someone’s enthusiasm outstrips their talent. There’s nothing so awkward as sincerity.

So why have I kept the CD these past 14 years, while throwing out the majority of my physical game collection?

Look at the polygons on those wheels!

When we talk about Half-Life and its mods today, we tend to condense the story down to a few better remembered releases like Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat and Natural Selection. But there was a lot more to it, and that vibrant Half-Life community kept me entertained for years.

There were so many mods doing interesting things. Sven Co-Op was a bawdy mess, but its conversion of singleplayer maps to co-op multiplayer felt in some ways miraculous.

Half-Life Rally never felt complete and was following in the tire tracks of what Quake Rally accomplished years earlier, but its eye for detail and the scale of its tracks opened up Goldsource in ways that previously seemed impossible.

Action Half-Life, The Opera and The Specialists all found ways to make multiplayer fights more stylish. There were dozens that made them sillier, sometimes with simple ideas like the Snark Mod’s array of weapons based on the small, carnivorous roaches. Pirates, Vikings & Knights had a launchable parrot attack.

John, Jim and Alec yesterday.

There were even more single player mods that made worthwhile contributions. Neil Manke used mostly existing Half-Life assets to create a believable spaceship in USS Darkstar and a thick, pre-Ravenholm horror atmosphere in They Hunger. Dave Johnston (creator of de_dust) made ETC (and its sequel). Adam Foster, before he made Minerva and got a job at Valve, made the Xen-redeeming Someplace Else. My favourite remains Chris Spain’s Edge of Darkness.

I can keep going, but even while stepping beyond the obvious, I’m still telling the story of the winners. In reality the mod community was full of things you would never want to play, made by teenagers who dabbled, gave up and moved on. Most modders and mappers did not make works which expanded our idea of what was possible with the Half-Life engine, or chart new ground which would later become commercial releases. Most people made novelty maps full of point lighting and terrible r_speeds.

But this is why I love mods. Those people whose enthusiasm outstripped their talent? I’m one of them.

After having played so many, I came to the conclusion that I must be able to make a map of my own. I released just one, a 2-4 player deathmatch map in which I stubbornly refused to accept Half-Life didn’t have Quake 3′s jump pads, and set its floors so far apart you couldn’t get down without breaking your legs. It was awful. I would link it here, but I honestly can’t remember its name.

Mostly I just built and re-built and built again a single corridor. I have screenshots of that.

It didn't look this dark in-game, I swear.

I learned a lot and accomplished nothing. It was fun. It was a way to bask in my obsession with Half-Life during the six years it took for Half-Life 2 to come out. It was free. It was constructive. It led, via reviewing Half-Life maps and interviewing modders for fan sites, to my entire career. Modding made me. There’s nothing so awkward as sincerity.

I kept the CD because it’s a reminder that modding communities are more than the sum of their famous works. This is a kind of mission statement for this column. Sometimes I’ll do that thing – that Top X Mods For Game Y thing, because there’s nothing wrong with it. Sometimes I will speak to people who quote-unquote made it by turning professional.

But while mods’ function as a source of practice and experience is certainly useful, these communities aren’t just birthing farms for future weapon modellers. They don’t become relevant at the point at which they’re touched by the shrivelled claw of commercial credibility. They are relevant and exciting and fascinating at the moment a person loves something so much they decide to risk embarrassment in order to find out how it works so they can spend more time with it.

Modding used to suck. I hope it still does.

Next week: something you might want to go play. Although really you should be checking checking out ETS2 or Someplace Else or Edge of Darkness for Half-Life 1 right now.

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78 Comments »

  1. Iainn says:

    I loved CD’s like this, came filled with garbage and randomness, but there was always a hidden gem on there that was worth the price. Same with the shareware CD’s, mostly filled with guff but a few that would hold your interest.

    I’m sure we probably ran into each other at the Barras, although I would have been on my way to the “superior” PC stand… £5 for the first disk, £2 for any additional. Then CD’s came along, £35 for a CD with 350 games? Oh yes please, thanks Tango and Voltage.

    • Graham Smith says:

      Amiga 500 was, I think, a pound for the first disk and 50p for every disk after that. Although I partly recall inflation increased that to a £2/£1 divide.

      I still fondly remember the donut van and the smell of its freshly baked goods.

      • DellyWelly says:

        Aah, the donut van, 5 for a pound I believe.
        Gool ol’ Barras, 1st stop was ordering the game, then waiting forever for them to copy the floppy disks (commander keen, no doubt), then hit the van, then that god damn hardware shop. Dad, why did you love that hardware shop sooo much!? We got games to install!

  2. The First Door says:

    Oh, I remember loving They Hunger, especially the train! It felt like a proper road trip… well, a rail trip I suppose.

    • salty-horse says:

      They Hunger had an end-credits song way before Portal :D

      • torchedEARTH says:

        I am still waiting for They Hunger: Lost Souls. The Black Widow game site was last updated in 2008 so it must be any day now, the amount of time they have spent coding and not doing their blog.

        That’s how it works isn’t it guys?

        Guys?

        • Graham Smith says:

          I think Neil Manke, the primary developer, fell ill before the project could be completed. I hope he’s OK.

          • torchedEARTH says:

            I hope so too. He wrote me a very nice email years ago when I asked about some of his modding work. They hunger will remain timeless for me.

          • dethtoll says:

            Yeah, I think they said it’s never going to happen. It’s a shame, because They Hunger was a classic.

      • The First Door says:

        Oh wow, I don’t think I ever finished it as I don’t remember this song! Having said that, it has immeasurably improved my day now I have heard it, so thank you!

      • RAMoroney says:

        freeeeeeeeeesh

    • Shadram says:

      I loved They Hunger almost as much as I loved Half Life itself.

  3. Premium User Badge

    G-Lord says:

    This sounds an awful lot like my experience with Unreal Tournament maps and mods. I did get into the HL mods later on, but at that time it felt like the golden age of HL modding has passed.

    • Graham Smith says:

      UT had some great maps. I spent a lot of time playing Tactical Ops (“it’s a bit like CS, so it must be good”) and playing around with the various machinima tools

      • Premium User Badge

        G-Lord says:

        Aw man, Tactical Ops! Almost forgot about this mod. Played it before I even tried Counter Strike myself. Great memories, thanks for that ;).

  4. Tei says:

    The first MMO is World of Warcraft.

  5. Premium User Badge

    AngelTear says:

    Amazing writing. You made me care and relate to a something I would otherwise not really be interested in.
    Articles like this are one of the reasons why I read RPS.

    Thank you Graham.

  6. Ansob says:

    Ahem. You forgot the best:

    http://www.moddb.com/mods/front-line-force
    http://www.moddb.com/mods/desert-crisis

    Okay, Desert Crisis is a bit rubbish and was mostly fun because of the number of maps/silly weapons it had, but I still maintain that Frontline Force is one of the best gameplay experiences to ever come out of GoldSrc modding. I wish the planned Source engine version had ever been finished. :(

    • Leeroy says:

      You take that back! DC was my favorite mod, and I was still playing it up until a few years ago (there were 2 servers and 6 to 12 people who played on a sunday night at 9pm). The melee system was awesome as were the maps with multiple objectives and scripted events. lPlasma, one of the origional dev’s ended up landing a job at Bethesda and works on the Fallout games I believe. I have such fond memories of DC, great game.

    • Graham Smith says:

      While writing, I felt guilty for not mentioning FLF. I didn’t need another example of a mod made by someone who went on to great success though; Adrian Finol works at Valve now, after all.

  7. chrismcgarry88 says:

    My first experiences of mods and TCs was Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight, and then Half-Life. I remember Jedi Knight had a really strong modding community, as well as a really strong multiplayer community come to think of it. Some of it was really amazing, only trouble was any half-decent mod or TC never really become serialised or episodic. You were just happy with what you got.

    • Premium User Badge

      DrScuttles says:

      I have happy memories of making a Dragonball Z skin for Jedi Knight. Inspired by a rather fun DBZ mod where you could fly around as various characters punching superfast and lobbing energy attacks and all that. It’s probably collecting internet dust on the Massassi Temple, if it’s still up and running. But yeah, precisely the kind of thing I dabbled with and then quickly moved on.
      And I also remember bumping into the player who made a massive level of a Sandcrawler with replicas of Battleground Jedi and Canyon Oasis hidden around. Can’t remember what it was called now. But it was pretty cool; he gave me a tour of his work.
      Strange memories. The kind of peak that never comes again. The MSN Gaming Zone in the late 90′s was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not.
      Probably not.

  8. Rao Dao Zao says:

    I got most of my mods from PC Gamer CDs. :’)

    At least those tended to curate the actually worthwhile stuff.

  9. faelnor says:

    [...] teenagers who dabbled, gave up and moved on.

    We were all the same, weren’t we? I remember working on a secondary school-themed multiplayer Half-Life TC with a few friends, we had some fun ideas for weapons (from scissors to staplers to glue sticks that slowed people down) and game modes. Unfortunately, we never got anywhere beyond the modeling stage as none of us became competent mappers — and all left the school soon enough anyway.

    For me though, the era where the “internet” ‘seemed to inhabit a strange corner of the world’ was before that. I didn’t really get any special feelings from slowly downloading bad Half-Life maps from FilePlanet but I clearly remember feeling weird being handed floppy disks filled with Dark Forces and Doom fan levels by a friend whose dad could access BBSes. 1996 maybe? Computer networks were like magic to me back then, I had only switched from Amiga to PC and never really knew what a modem was until then.

  10. Spacewalk says:

    My absolute favourite ever thing for Half-Life was HalfQuake Amen. It was made for your suffering but it had such a beautiful weirdness I’d actually look forward to screaming in frustration just so I could bask in it’s beauty. You better believe it sucks with the best of them.

  11. FFabian says:

    I tried my hand at the Duke Nukem 3D level editor (don’t remember the name). My enthusiasm was continually hampered by the aging 386 (486?) I had, which constantly crapped out due to me adding to many explosive barrels&shit.

    • Shadram says:

      The DN3D editor was Build. I spent hundreds of hours with that, building levels for me and my college friends (which makes me feel very old indeed). Oh the memories… :’)

  12. skyturnedred says:

    Goddamnit, my backlog is already huge and now you’re telling me to add mods to that list too? Fine! I’ll just give up sleeping.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      That’s exactly like me, except I’ve long been a proponent and user of mods, so my backlog has increased quite a lot. 10-15 year old games with mods still gets played by me, while 7-year old games and younger are still waiting for me to give them some attention, lol. I have far too weird and interesting dreams to give up sleeping, so I’ll just keep on slowly chipping away at my backlog, while new games I want to play get released faster than I can finish old games.

  13. Farcelet says:

    Yoda mod. The crowbar was Yoda, the rockets were Yoda, the snarks were Yoda. The snark Yodas were especially great for the increasingly high pitched Yoda quotes coming out of them as they relentlessly pursued other Yodas (players).

    I was CIH-Boy in Counter-Strike (which ceased to exist past beta 6.2 – how dare they change the recoil and include an HPB-friendly netcode?), Sgt. Sheafer in Day of Defeat, Firearms and Front Line Forces – NOW COME BACK TO ME long lost internet friends!

    • TimorousBeastie says:

      On a similar note, Boxwar. You played as a crate, in a warehouse full of crates. The second anyone decided to swing a crowbar, the whole place erupted with warring boxes that you didn’t know were players.

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    Nick says:

    This is a great series, and particularly this one. It’s definitely important that we remember and hang on to the older more janky days of modding. A lot of the older Morrowind mods fall into this category.

  15. dE says:

    I loved those CDs. But they were also soul crushing for the mappers and modders. A friend of mine wanted to be part of the games industry. He deemed mapping a valid entry gateway and if the stories of others are anything to go by, that’s a pretty good way to go about it. He spent months on a map for Duke Nukem 3D, much of it was spent on figuring out how the game works, until he was good enough to craft that illusion of 3D in an engine that was really only 2D and a half.
    I remember spending weeks playtesting the map in various iterations on lanparties until it became a really decent map. He uploaded it to the web and went about finishing school. Around that time I bought one of those map compilations, I liked them. Lots of weird and really curious things on them. And lo and behold, my friends map was on it. Without credit, of course. And he never saw a single penny for it, of course. In fact, credit was meticulously removed and replaced with someone else’s credit. By the time he was done with school, he would have to move up to Half-Life, because Duke 3D just wasn’t a big enough thing anymore. But he never found enough energy to make another map again. Not least of all, because that map compilation seemingly added authenticity to the other person’s claim it was their map to begin with. So not only was it stolen from him, someone else now claimed it as their work and got away with it.

    To be honest, he probably wouldn’t have gone far with motivation so easily crushed in this soul crushing industry. But still, seeing someone else make money of his work with nothing he could do about it was a pretty sour experience. The added insult that the other person retconned things into believing it was his map to begin with was a bonus kicker. Extra points for irony, because that other person probably never saw a penny either, since it’s the perogative of these Compilations to steal what they can.

    * late addendum: I don’t mean to say that they all do the no credit thing. I’m sorry if it seemed that way.

    • Graham Smith says:

      I imagine most of the people whose work is included on this CD are unaware that it exists. That is a shame. Credit is at least maintained, as each comes with a readme.txt. (Some of those readme.txt’s even have phone numbers and home addresses inside).

      There’s also a great readme.txt for the whole set, which defensively explains and misappropriates the concept of “freeware” as justification for selling the things on the disc.

      • dE says:

        The removed credits thing, might have been a special trait from the company that made these here. They made a lot of these compilation CDs in germany and proper credits weren’t a part of it. I didn’t mean to slander this particular compilation you mentioned though, Sorry.

        And as you wrote, it’s a curious thing to have. Almost like a flea market for mods and maps. You find a lot of rubbish labors of love, but also gems with a lot of fun to them.

        • Graham Smith says:

          It wasn’t slander! The compilation I have is totally an illegal, morally bogus thing.

  16. Mittens89 says:

    I remember getting Team Fortress Classic working for the first time. It changed my life. It also tripled my parents’ monthly phone bill. I always played as a heavy, as i was rubbish and needed the extra HP to stay in the fight due to my slow reactions.

    I must have played every single HL mod that was on the monthly PCG demo disk. I miss demo disks. We have too many internets these days.

  17. derbefrier says:

    So many great memories. TFC and Action Half Life are the games that almost made me flunk out of college. so many all nighters on both mods. Hell i was even good enough at TFC to play competitively at the time. Plus the concussion grenade race maps were some of the most fun ever. I remember many long nights play Action Half Life on the server called the Moutain Dojo. I was even a server mod! It was a small group of people that played just about every day. BTW stealth slippers and the handcannon was the best. nothing has quite captured the thrill of diving off a rafter to blast someone in the face. Or jumping backwards out of a two story window blasting the guy who tried to sneak up on you with your akimbo 1911s to land safely in the water fountain below. good times.

    • Farcelet says:

      Hang on now sir! The Mountain Dojo rings a definite bell right here – was this a European server? No idea what name I went by, but stealth slippers and throwing knives were my thing. :D

    • HadToLogin says:

      Slippers and HC is HC-whore, not the best. Only total skill-less noobs use that combo :) .

      Last weekend was fun, we finally were able to get server full with players, instead usual 4-10 people.

      • Life Glug says:

        The HC was not for noobs (I know you’re joking). If you got the timing wrong or, even more humiliatingly, missed you ended up belly-down on the floor looking like an absolute fool with an empty gun. A soon-to-be-dead absolute fool with an empty gun. But there are few things more satisfying in gaming than a well-timed knife throw.
        I have AHL to thank for introducing me to the overlooked movie gem, Boondock Saints. The film is referenced in a map and I had to look it up.

  18. mugsgame says:

    Lovely article… and nice corridor too! I remember that obsessive recrafting in my Half-Life modding days, when the nearest I had to a design tenet was “more greebles = more professional”.

  19. Shieldmaiden says:

    Wow, you just transported me back to my early PC-owning days and the joys of staying up all night to download the latest mod I’d been salivating over as soon as it was released. Feeling all the nostalgia right now.

  20. The Army of None says:

    The part about slowly downloading maps/mods from fileplanet really hit me. How true that was. Downloading maps/mods for UT and HL1 used to take forever, but so much weird/interesting stuff!

  21. Life Glug says:

    Did anyone else here play Vampire Slayer? That was a great hl1 mod where you either played as a slayer or their prey. Vampires were fast, had a devastating melee attack, ran silently, jumped high, could leap forward and could regenerate health by eating fallen slayers. But they had absolutely no projectile weapons. Slayers had cool weapons but, in order to kill a vampire, had to reduce its health to zero at which point it would collapse. Then there was a tense few seconds where the slayer had to equip his or her steak, making them more vulnerable, and slay the fiend up close and personal. If you hit before the vampire has a chance to recover, your undead foe turned into gibs galore. If not, the vampire would leap up with a maniacal laugh and attack. It was possibly the only mod I played more than Action Half-Life (not counting CS).

    Regarding single player, I loved Neil Manke’s stuff. There was also a mod where you played a scientist at Black Mesa, at the time of the events of hl1, who helped some Xen creatures. In the second half of the campaign, the Xen creatures (including a Gargantua) help you against the soldiers. I wish I could remember what it was called, I think I got it from a PCG CD.

    • Wedge says:

      I think Vampire Slayer went through rotation once or twice when I was going through pretty much every HL1 mod we could find in the 04′s. Lived with a group of three others and we ran off one copy of HL1 on Steam with everyone in offline mode. Most of the multiplayer ones weren’t any good for 4 people, but Brainbread was the first fully functional co-op zombie mod I can remember.

    • Doomsayer says:

      There is a Vampire Slayer mod for HL2, but I’d be quite surprised if anyone played it anymore. I wouldn’t know how it compares to the original, but it was great fun while it lasted. Flying around as a Vampire while picking off the Slayers was awesome, and the tension of having to steak a Vampire to put it down totally rad. There was always only a few people playing it though. I keep hearing about all these awesome HL multiplayer stuff that happened but for HL2 it seems like there were way more small projects that died real quick.

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    Chaz says:

    I wonder what Adam Foster has done since going to work for Valve? It’s not as if they make many games these days is it.

  23. Skillasaur says:

    http://www.msremake.com/

    Play it now.

    (I mapped a little for this mod, so I’m a little biased, but it’s brilliant even now.)

  24. Distec says:

    I think I played almost every mod for Half-Life.

    ‘Kay, that’s probably not true. But man, does it certainly feel like it is. I’m tempted to namedrop each one I can remember, but I know it would only be a fraction of what I actually played. Even foreign language ones, which I didn’t understand but nonetheless blasted through. Countless weekends checking mod listings, hitting up Planet Half-Life for spotlight features, sometimes downloading three or four in one night to give ‘em a shot. Some made a lot of progress, some died after their first release. There were a lot that I found myself playing far more than the well-established Team Fortress and Counter-Strike. And it wasn’t enough to just play them. Oh no, I’d use a PAK explorer to extract models and sound files to play with. I actually went through a period where I set up Windows to play SFX from mods, or make entire music tracks/skits with their samples. Hmmm… I might go back to doing that!

    I’m a little sad when I think back to those days. What other games have had such a prolific mod community since then? TES games I guess, but those are kind of different. And I no longer have the time to wade through mods like I used to. I don’t think I would have the patience to try out some of the rougher ones any more. Which is a shame, because some of my most glowing memories came from those.

    There are days when it would be nice to get all goofy in a match of Rocket Crowbar.

  25. Howling says:

    Good times, learned so much from these days. Never actually produced anything proper (I did make Cratel Catastrophe 1 and 2 which I think ended up on one Half-Life maps website or another). I also ran the ERR… Editing Resource Resource for a while on PlanetHalf-Life. So proud…

  26. fuggles says:

    This is a wonderful idea for a column. I remember first going internet crazy with quake, then total annihilation, red alert and then massively for dawn of war.
    Through lack of time I still mod that, albeit sporadically, 10 years on from launch – I would love to help if you decide to look at Dow mods. If not I shall look on with longing at all the games and mods I don’t have time to play!

  27. Premium User Badge

    Matt_W says:

    Nice article! I remember getting a similar CD for Duke Nukem 3D at one point. I played around with config files and managed to stuff some of the included character models (like a medieval knight) and textures into the game. I built a level with a spiral staircase around an aquarium containing sharks that you could see into from the bottom and jump into from the top (a real feat with DN3D’s not-quite-3D maps). Had tons of fun figuring stuff out.

  28. randyo says:

    When I first got HalfLife, it was a cracked version, I was the same age as you, Graham, and we just had a pentium-166mHz computer. I had to run the game in software mode with the game scrunched down to the center 1/5th of the monitor. When we got our next computer, a whopping 400 mHz with a basic 3d-accelerator and my parents bought me the GOTY version, I went back and got really into the editor.

    I made 1 map, reyling on func_train, which was gonna be about fighting on a moving subway. Func_train was not good code, and the level eventually corrupted one day. I never went back to HL1. But I spent so many hours from 1997-2007 messing with editors for Warcraft 2, Starcraft, Disciples, Half-Life, Morrowind, Warcraft 3, Half-Life 2. TF2. So so so many hours, and I only ever released maybe 3 FPS levels and a couple half-finished RTS campaigns.

    Now I do this full-time. Working on both Waking Mars and Escape Goat 2, I had moments where I realized, “oh man, I’m actually building levels, making worlds, for a living.” I’m not working on the Warcraft 4 campaign, but this is more than I could’ve hoped for, and probably better.

  29. Phendron says:

    That point about enthusiasm and pouring your soul into a work even when it turns out to be rubbish really hit home for me. It’s funny how much I’ve seen it exacerbated as the internet has grown, the ratio of critics to earnest folk has grown exponentially in my mind and it is a difficult prospect to accept your own mediocrity.

    I didn’t dabble much in the C-list mods back in the day but I probably sunk at least 200 hours into Counterstrike, The Specialists and Natural Selection.

  30. Anguy says:

    Funny, I just listened to the Crate & Crowbar Episode (I believe it’s Episode 11) yesterday where you mention finding the CD in the giftshop, Graham.
    Nice to see how the cover actually looked like :)

  31. altum videtur says:

    Oh, to be 12 years old and obsessed with Jedi Outcast (and Academy).

    I would download multiplayer maps and play them solo just to see what crazy stuff the map makers put in. Some of it was… mind-bending. Brilliant secrets and stuff and so much good times oh my.
    Same for CS and climbing maps.

    *foggy eyes*

  32. Jinoru says:

    I’ve played a bit of this a while ago. http://www.moddb.com/mods/jaykin-bacon-source

  33. Artist says:

    Science & Industry for HL1. Probably the most underrated mod made. If you never played it you will never know how to properly use a suitcase! Just epic.
    http://www.moddb.com/mods/science-and-industry

    • BlitzThose says:

      I loved S&I I even rented a server for it when I was in my mid teens. there is a group on steam that still does weekly gathers on sundays.

  34. Hairball says:

    Come on RPS, use your following to start some sort of weekly old half life multiplayer mod night! A tour of the good and the bad.

    Brain Bread and The Specailists were two that I played a good bit of that no one has mentioned yet.

  35. Unruly says:

    What is this “Action Half-Life” you speak of? Is that some twisted descendant of the glory that was Action Quake 2 which could never live up to its predecessor?

    Rhetorical question! Of course it was! Oh, the hours I spent playing Action Quake. The custom config file to actually get the sniper rifle’s zoom to work, or to enable the awkward and terrible radio voiceover bits so you could try to tell people where the enemy was. Or the infrared goggles that you could choose, which just turned your screen varying shades of red, unless the enemy team was in the orange skin in which case they showed up as black blobs. Teamjungle, DeepCanyon, the various ActCity and Urban maps… So many memories of such great things.

    I know a lot of them got carried over to Action Half-Life. But I never really got into AHL like I did AQ2. I guess it’s because by the time I gave up on AQ2 and Rocket Arena 2, CS had already made itself the game to play. Not to mention the work that was being done on Urban Terror, which was an amazing mod for Quake 3. I didn’t really care for it last time I played its more recent standalone version, though. Adding in things like powerslides, wallrunning, and the like just made the game too… erratic? I think that’s the best way to describe it.

    For a while, I had dreams of setting up a dedicated server or two for Action Quake and Rocket Arena 2 running out of my home, but then I realized that my internet connection was terrible, and I also ran into problems with input lag when trying to play on existing, still active(!) RA2 servers. No amount of config rejiggering could fix it, despite the best efforts of the folks I ran into in the servers. Which made me sad…

  36. Beyond the Sea says:

    Don’t forget Poke646:
    http://www.moddb.com/mods/poke646

    Silly name but a really impressive mod.

  37. vitaminTcomplex says:

    I made The Opera, it’s awesome to see it mentioned in the article :) Valve invited us out to Half-Life Mod Expo in 2000, they were pretty geeked about the game and made some noises about hiring our programmer. I couldn’t make it to the show, I’d just started grad school, but one of our level designers did and made some great connections – he went on to work at RavenSoft a year later.

    We didn’t get packed into any of the official Half-Life mod discs, but The Opera was published in a copy of PC Gamer from late 2001. The coolest souvenir I have from those days is a picture of our ‘main’ characters that Mike Krahulik/Gabe at Penny Arcade did for us before he was rich and famous. Good times!

  38. Hardtarget says:

    Absolutely insane that Science and Industry was not mentioned in this article :(

    • sREa says:

      Oh yes! The elevator-style disturb-the-scientists music :P Oh and “Hellooo Daaave!?”

  39. pleaseletmecomment says:

    can’t relate to any of this but but i caught some serious second-hand nostalgia from this article

  40. uberhen says:

    Thanks for the article, Graham. I was a little bummed when RPS got rid of the Mods and Ends column, but this looks like a return to form.

  41. El_Emmental says:

    Oh the feelings… Oh the nostalgia… Oh the tears… ;_;

    I just can’t read that right now, I need a moment. It’s been years since any major (or even minor) media talked about the history of GoldSource’s modding, about all these long-forgotten names, games and communities. So much to say, I don’t know what to do. Remember, remember, fellow gamers.