HL 1 Ports... Before you start

These are my observations of what I have learned while porting some maps… just want the technical solution without the rant? Click here.

Want to read why you should use this solution compared to others? Read on.

When VALVe released Half Life 2, I was amazed at the jump in graphical improvements they made over Goldsource (Half Life 1) maps.

My favorite HL1 mod Day of Defeat was next after Counter-Strike, I like everyone thought most of the old maps would be remade. Well, turns out some were and some were not. Mostly VALVe did a great job on the ones they did do, but not all were done.

It can not be that hard after all? I tried and found out it is hard, damn near impossible to remake an old HL1 map and have the “gameplay” the same. Why?


One reason is because every window, door, hallway, tree and object placed in the old maps was in some cases, put there, developed if you will, for “gameplay”.

If it was not, players want it there because they found it was a good spot to ambush or access another area or it held some sort of importance that made the map good to play… good “gameplay”. Or we played it that much we like it for what it was…faults and all like a pair of old comfy shoes.

So, if we want an old map remade, or “ported”, what is important? Gameplay… or a nice looking map? Gameplay is king, who gives a damn in a First Person Shooter game stopping and spotting how wonderful the water rolls over that slime coated rock when 5 other players are filling you full of lead.


This is a way to get back the structure the way it was. Simple shapes that made the old map work, once you have the old structure in Hammer you can continue and upgrade the look of the map and keep the structure that made the map great.

Sure you have to change a few things to suit the new engine but the method as explained here may save you endless hours of getting the old gameplay correct.

You could just decompile the old map from the BSP?

No, unless you are really lucky and have the old .MAP or .RMF files from the original author, the process of decompiling older maps is not worth it. There are programs to do it and they make a hell of a mess.

Find out all the problems with invalid shapes and textures, there are many more problems not even mentioned in this wiki article… http://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Decompiling_Maps

As stated on that page there are programs to decompile an old HL1 .BSP file.

BSPTwoMAP, WinBSPc and one not mentioned debsp.

Out of all of them debsp will return the closest to an editable .map file that has proper blocks of the structure, but still has a heap of junk included.

Is it any wonder old maps are not remade… its too hard. There is a way, a little bit of work to get right when you first do it but deadly accurate and in the end will actually save you time if you are aiming for accuracy.


The problem of the missing author


This is a hard area to comment on… below is my attempt.

If you did not make the old one, you should seek permission from the author to do this. Authors of older HL1 maps in some cases are very hard to find, they may never return and could have stopped mapping years ago.

You should think about this and place a lot of effort in finding them. If you can’t find them, the only thing left is to publicly announce your intentions, Steam forums for the HL1 mod and source version should be your place to post. See if anyone is already working on a remake or at least get an opinion to proceed or not.

Trying to find a person who does not use a real name, has an email contact or website that no longer exists…is a big task.

I do not take the old map name if they cannot be found, when porting an old map for dod, may I suggest you place a prefix in the name, dod_thunder becomes dod_old_thunder or dod_thunder_source. That way if the author does turn up at least you have left the name available for them. Offering your version of the VMF would also be a good gesture.

You would be nuts if you did not mention that your map is based on the Authors HL1 version, the first lines of the readme, get it in there.

The map in my tutorial is dod_mainz made by c0w80y [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

For me so far…no luck. Some older posts in google and that’s about it.


Even that was not much help.

There are so many opinions on this, but what do we do when someone cannot be found? Do we not remake the classics at all? I would like to think an author would be thrilled to find out someone took the time, a lot of time, to remake their classic map so it lives again. But in the end, it is for you to decide to make it or not, others to play it or not.

To the people who think this is stealing, if you had any idea how hard it is to remake a classic port to source… you would use another word for it. Plagiarism with would fit better.

Consider this... the “thief” would more than likely spend twice the time remaking the map for source than the old one took, it is hard to remake the gameplay from a HL1 map and get it into a source based environment.

Copyright of intellectual property lasts 70 years… long time to wait for a map that may only last 5 years because of another game engine upgrade.

Copyright in video games custom content, oh please spare me. All my stuff is open source, I give away and encourage others to use bits of my stuff, even help develop stuff based on my work. No better compliment.

If you found a name, a real name, on some content and it said “copyright” you would do the right thing, well… how about a name like RaginBuLL with an address of ragin@long_gone.com ? How do you find this person when the email does not work and the name is not real?

If I see one more post filled with raging 13 year old trolls on this topic and the “ownership” of a gaming alias with a common word in it I will upchuck on my keyboard, turn off my PC and join an Amish community .

But go ahead and make up your own mind… do me a favor, don’t email your views, I have made up my mind and debate on the topic will not be welcome unless you are an Author of a remade map…that is a person I would love to talk to and get their views…. and permission!

Just try your best to find them, don’t take the old name, and credit them with the concept.



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