Thursday, November 6, 2014

Setting up VHLT for mapping

The basics

What is VHLT? Its a new set of compilers made by vluzacn.
This dude made a new set of compilers from the existing ZHLT compilers. He added new features, improved lightings and added a whole bunch of other stuff.

If you are still mapping for goldsrc, you should definitely be using the VHLT compilers.

How to install

First, setup valve hammer editor. I have made a handy tutorial here which should guide you through the whole process. Oh and there is no need to download and setup ZHLT so ignore that part.

Now go and download VHLT from here.
The latest version is v33 released on 2/2/2014. This is probably the last one. I doubt any new version will be released after this although the source code is provided so you can always make your custom version.

Now extract the zip file into a folder somewhere in your c:// directory.

Note : There is a bug where you won't be able to compile if the path to your compiler is like this :
C:\Program Files (x86)/vhlt

This is because hammer idiotically parses the path and uses anything after a space as a parameter. So it will interpret the path as path : 'C:\Program Files', paramter : '(x86)'. This mind numbing bug has been around since years.
If you are getting a compile error such as "unknown parameter 'Hammer'", this is the solution. Use a path which has no spaces in it.

So, now open up hammer and go to options>build programs and replace the paths of csg, bsp, vis and rad with the ones provided by VHLT. Use the hlrad_x64 as the rad compiler if you are running a 64 bit OS.

That's it pretty much. You have VHLT installed, now go and make some maps.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Correctly taking screenshots in cs 1.6

Screenshots are useful when publishing your map. Unfortunately, most mappers out there don't take their screenshots correctly. Usually the hud is on and players hands can be seen. In this post, I will show you how to correctly take screenshots.

Step 1

Remove the hud. Type hud_draw 0 in the console to remove the hud.

Step 2

Remove the player hands and weapon. There are two ways to do this. First, type r_drawviewmodel 0 to remove the hands. If this works, congratulations. Your viewport is completely clean.
But if the previous command doesn't work, type opening cs 1.6 in single player mode. If it still doesn't work, type r_drawentities 0. This will remove the hands but also all the enitties from the map. Note that they are still physically present.
On a final note, some people go to the extreme and download invisible hand skins. Note that this is officially banned by valve and may cause some problems if playing on steam.

Step 3

By now your screen should be clear from all unwanted stuff. Printscreen command doesn't work for cs 1.6 so pressing f5 takes a screenshot. The image will be in your cstrike directory.

Step 4

Its time for dressing up!
Convert all the screenshots to jpg. I use Xnview to convert and resize them. Works like a charm.
I don't recommend amping up your screenshots in photoshop. People prefer natural photos although its ok if you are adjusting the hue and saturation if the screenshot is too dark.

Step 5

There is no step five. Start publishing your map along with the screenshots.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What is vhlt

If you are keeping up with the level design news for goldsrc, you may have heard of vhlt.
Vhlt is a new set of compiler which are generally better than zhlt. They actually are a fork of the zhlt project so you can use most of the command line switches of zhlt with vhlt.

Origins of vhlt

vhlt (vluzacn half life compile tools) were originally distributed over this sven coop thread. There, you can see the different versions of the tools.
Right now, the latest version is v31

Advantages of vhlt

vhlt adds a lot to the mix but mainly it is useful for the func_detail. This entity behaves like a func_wall except that it also generated shadows thus behaving like a normal solid.
Other useful changes includes the -blur command line switch which diffuses the shadows and other visuals changes like better shading, better lighting and shadows.


So should you use vhlt?
I would say yes because they are quite mature at this stage and there is no real advantage in using zhlt right now.
Installation is simple, just download and replace the compiler tools like csg.exe, etc from zhlt to vhlt. You will also need to add the wad paths. Follow the readme.txt given with vhlt and you should be fine.
Note : vhlt treats missing textures as errors and won't compile. Just keep that in mind.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Different versions of counter strike 1.6

Lets cut to the chase. There are many different versions of cs 1.6
However they are all either part of the 1999 version of cs 1.6 (non-steam) or the steam version.
But what are the differences between those two versions?

First of all, cs 1.6 has many different patches applied on it. Just search for cs 1.6 patches on google. This means that there is discrepancy between versions of the pre-steam counter strike and the steam version.
Meaning two players can't play together online using different cs 1.6 versions(non-steam and steam)
Then there are install packs which install the base cs 1.6 version along with tons of custom maps, install patches too and a few other extras (skins, models, etc)

On pirated versions

Lets be frank shall we?
There is a very healthy estimate that majority of cs 1.6 players use the non-steam version. While non-steam does not implicate piracy, the truth is that it is a fancy way of saying it is pirated.
Now why would someone use a pirated cs 1.6 version?
Actually there are legitimate reasons for using the non-steam version. First is that, it is easier to map for. In the steam version, you need to manually extract the packed files to access .wad, models, etc. This makes it a real hassle for mapping.
Secondly, steam sucks. Now why do I need to be online all the time to make a level? Doesn't make sense.


While using the non-steam version is great for mapping and generally mucking around, I recommend the steam version to play online.
Oh and while we are at this, many people have asked me why fog doesn't show in their map. Turns out, the steam version of cs 1.6 supports fog and the non-steam version doesn't.

Final note

I have started blogging for this blog after a long time. I figured out people in the goldsrc community are still around and kicking butt. I may as well put some time aside and post few more tutorials.