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Announcing the winners of our RaiseTheBarVille Half-Life mapping challenge


Nova Exchange

By Erik-Silver Toomere (ESToomere)

“After taking a wrong turn on the way to Lighthouse Point… Gordon stumbles on a Combine secret”. Takes place between the chapters Sandtraps and Entanglement, replacing Nova Prospekt.


By Justin Carlto (SneakySpeckMan)

The strider at the end of Half Life 2 Episode 1 destroys the escape train, leaving Gordon and Alyx stuck in City 17 as the Citadel goes critical.

Blast Pit

By Dan Jordan (The_Rabbit42)

A re-imagining of the classic scene from Half-Life.


Mod Details

Title: RaiseTheBarVille

File Name: hl2-ep2-sp-mc-raisethebarville.7z

Size: 47.10MB

Author(s): Erik-Silver Toomere aka ESToomere, Justin Carlton aka SneakySpeckMan & Dan Jordan aka The_Rabbit42

Date Released: 09 May 2015

MapTap Users

Download directly into MapTap [47.10MB]

You must have MapTap installed before using this link.

Direct Download

Download to your HDD [47.10MB]

You can still use it with MapTap once you have downloaded it.

Manual Installation Instructions

1. Copy the RaiseTheBarVille folder into your …SteamSteamAppscommonsourcemods folder.2. Restart or start Steam.

3. RaiseTheBarVille should now be listed in your Library tab.

4. If you require more help, please visit RunThinkShootLive's Technical Help page.


There were 3 judges for this challenge: Phillip (RunThinkShootLive), Ryan 'Thrik' Williams (MapCore), and Don aka Unq (who very kindly supplied the RaiseTheBarVille first Prize).


Winner: Blast Pit

All judges felt this was the perfect combination of using the theme in a clever way and making a map that was fun to play.

Almost-Winner: Nova Exchange

This was a very detailed and thoughtful entry that all the judges enjoyed playing but felt it lacked player guidance too often.

Third Place: Delayed

While short and light on compelling gameplay, it delivers exciting set-pieces and great visuals.

The judges' more detailed reviews can be found in the comments of this article and/or RunThinkShootLive's equivalent article. Feel free to leave your own — in fact, please do!


For the winner

A lightly used hardback copy of Valve's rare Half-Life 2 development book, Raising the Bar, kindly donated by Don aka Unq. This book is a must-read for any fan of the game, and particularly those interested in its development process. In addition to being a collectable in its own right, this particular edition is signed by Valve staff, arranged by a friend of Phillip's who works there.

For the almost-winner

Don't feel bad, you nearly made it. Have a plush companion cube plus a MapCore mug or t-shirt, and know that we love you.

...and for everyone else

All entries, except the winner and almost-winner, will be entered into a random draw to win Sniper Elite 3. As this was one person in the end, this has now become the third-place prize.


A selection of 3840x2160 screenshots is available on Dropbox. They haven't been included directly in this article because they potentially spoil set-pieces within the levels.


The playthrough/walkthrough below is provided by PlanetPhillip. See more of his playthroughs at VP: PlanetPhillip.

Steam Grid View Images

Three grid view icons are included in this file. To use the included grid view icon, select “Gridview” in Steam (top right corner). Right click on “RaiseTheBarVille” and select “Set Custom Image”. Then browse to the SourceMods folder and then to RaiseTheBarVille/steam-gridview-icons folder and select the image you prefer. Then click “Set Image” and that’s it. Of course, you can create your own custom image if you prefer.

Other Bits and Pieces

There are a few additional things that you might want to check out over in the RunThinkLiveShoot equivalent of this article, such as a poll that lets you vote for your favourite, additional screenshots, and download statistics.

User Feedback

Recommended Comments

Here are my more detailed thoughts on these maps:
Nova Exchange: I assumed as soon as I saw the name that this might be an attempt to play around with what the Air Exchange chapter could have been, which was cut during Half-Life 2's development and was meant to come straight after Nova Prospekt. In terms of gameplay, it's a lengthy and well-paced level but I found myself feeling like it wasn't guiding me very clearly, and in some cases I got frustrated with fiddly scenery and jump sections. It uses the Nova Prospekt setting effectively, but falls victim to feeling too similar much of the time. I also felt that there was a lack of exciting set-pieces, which combined with high difficulty ultimately made the level feel a bit long and grindy. I think that this would have been an excellent map if its length had been shorter and the extra time used to refine the moment-to-moment play.
Delayed: This was a nice revisit of some great parts of Episode Two, and I thought that set-pieces were used very effectively. I do feel that it stalled a little after the exciting introductory sequence, as the giant antlion encounter got a little frustrating in the end and it took me quite a long time to get past it. However, the pace soon picked up again once I eventually figured out how to get through the concrete walls, and the level quickly but excitingly drew to a close with a set-piece and car sequence. I'd say that visually this level was splendid and there was a definite wow factor to seeing the citadel up close, but in terms of gameplay there wasn't anything particularly noteworthy.
Blast Pit: Being one of Half-Life's most memorable sequences, I was very keen to see what this level had in store. After a visually impressive arrival at a facility that serves as the map's setting, I soon had a smile on my face when I saw the tentacles reborn as a Strider. The level is essentially about navigating the facility that surrounds the circular room the Strider is trapped in and figuring out how to dispose of it, with its overwhelming firepower just as lethal as those tentacles. Well-designed puzzles that involve locating and activating equipment break up the action, which combined with plenty of nooks to explore and excellent use of scripted enemy encounters makes this level the most enjoyable overall experience. It also excels on the visuals front, with every area exhibiting impressive craftmanship.


Thanks again to those who put stuff together, even if you didn't manage to complete it. :D

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I played the 3 maps tonight and it was really great, congratulations !

Tons of work has been put here and it's very satisfying to play some half-life 2, even 11 years after its release. And it was big, i mean, you had only 6 weeks (is that right ? maybe even a bit less idk) and it was few hours of gameplay here with only 3 maps (espacially Nova Exhange which was really huuuuuge), so i really appreciate it.


I agree with the results, Blast Pit was really the best map from my opinion, of course it reminds me the gameplay idea from the tentacles boss from HL1 and that's great, it's a clever design idea (you reuse an area multiple times but the player never gets bored). But all 3 maps are epic and memorable.


The only big negative point i have is about gameplay and balance. I think it was by default but i also wanted to play it that way, so the game was on hard difficulty level and it was ... not easy

The big problem i had most of the time is that i didn't get the healthkits when i needed them, the autosaves were not always on the good spots (even once it saved 1 sec before i died so i was forced to load a previous save, otherwise i'd have died without being able to do anything) and the weapons were never the ones i wanted. The big problem with HL2 on hard-difficult level is that each bullet that hits you does at least 10 hp damages, when a bunch of ennemies is shooting you and you don't have powerful weapons but only that ludicrous smg that needs 30 bullets to kill 1 single combine ... you feel powerless

Or when, for example, in Nova Exhange you're asked to run in front of the vehicle with rockets and big machine gun in order to get rockets to kill it but you only have 20 health points ... you can't do anything.


And that's the problem i had many times (more on Nova Exhange and Blast Pit, i don't remember having this kind of problem on Delayed), on Half-Life you just can't be in front of an impossible situation, there is always something. The most basic things are the infinite grenades/rockets crates, but it's also about health.

On Blast Pit, i had a lot of troubles right after killing the strider when just 3 combines and 1 hunter gets in, the AI is just very annoying in this room because you can't really hide somewhere, your weapons are inaccurate and ennemies field of view is crazy (when they climb the stairs they can perfectly see you and gets the advantage from bellow, it's really frustrating) I died at least 10 times here because i was only 24 hp.


But all these things are just details (that may have been fixed but with the amount of time for the contest, that's fully understandable), it was really an excellent work, congratulations to all of you and thank you.

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