Orangebox Breaks Some Custom Maps

Posted Aug 24, 2010
Last Updated Nov 12, 2011

In July, Valve updated the popular game Counter-Strike Source to a newer game engine called Orangebox. I'm personally happy that they chose to do this since it increases the odds that the game will be maintained. One major caveat for me: it broke several custom-made community maps. As level design is one of my main personal hobbies, this is a major problem. There are two main problems I've noticed in many custom maps now.

Many are missing textures because they utilized textures that were included with the core game in the past but have now been removed. One custom map that this destroyed was de_sacredplace. As bad as this is, it can be remedied by server admins by finding the old textures, adding them to their download servers, and adding an entry for those texture's in the maps' RES files. It's a pain, but it can be fixed.

The other, more ominous, problem is that many custom maps now crash CS. It's a hard crash. There is nothing output to the game console. Nothing gets written to any log file. CS just freezes on these maps. Both server and client crash! We've found three maps that will now crash CS:S. There is no server fix. The map has to be removed from the server.

I probably would have deleted the maps and moved on without a second thought had one of the now defunct maps not been one of my own. de_tension and ww_de_tension were among the maps that stopped working.

To my chagrin, I had to remove my own custom map from our game server. Being nearly done with a newer map, I was none too happy about this. I put the newer project on hold and went back to Tension. At this point I had come to view tension as a preview of things to come. While it has more technical skill poured into it than the majority of maps you'll find on mapping sites, it was still below the caliber of the expert mappers in the community. Sloppy displacements and texturing mishaps were among the worst problems. However, despite its weaknesses, it was is a good map; I certainly did not put all the effort into making it only to have it be unused a few months after release.

So I set out to recompile it. I have done so, and you can download version 2 here.

I never did learn the specific reasons for the map crashes. But here is what I know, did and suspect.

Tension only crashed when a round had started. If you loaded the map and flew around in spectate mode, all was well. You could fly anywhere. But when the round started and players started running around, a crash was almost inevitable. What I discovered was that if anyone went to the area across from the waterfall, a crash would happen. If the players happened to avoid that area, no crash.

Because the problem only occurred for players walking around and not spectating, I came to assume that it was a collision detection problem.

I started deleting displacements. Eventually, after deleting all of the displacements in the area along the area between the waterfall and the Counter-Terrorist spawns, the crash stopped happening.

So I rebuilt the whole area. I do not know the specific reason the displacements failed. But I assume that it was because I had too many of them cutting into one another. (When I had built Tension originally, I did not know about the Sew and Subdivide tools for displacements. So I just cut them into each other when building the rock faces.) It may also have been that their mesh density was too high—I had made them all at level 4 to create a smoother, organic look. When rebuilding, I dropped them to 2 and 3.

Whatever the case, I was able to eventually recompile the map and stop the crashes. I hope that other mappers can use this information to fix any problems they have with maps they made for CS before the Orangebox update.

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