Download Alien Swarm SP

Alien Swarm SP is available for download via the link below:


And here's more new levels to play through than you'll ever need!

Swarm Armory Map Database

Here's the contents of the Readme.txt

Alien Swarm SP by Aazell

Installation Instructions:

1: You must have an up to date version of Alien Swarm installed on Steam in order to play Alien Swarm SP

Extract the contents of AlienSwarmSP.rar to the following folder in your Steam directory.


Now restart Steam and you should see Alien Swarm SP available in your games library.

Launching a map in Alien Swarm SP:
From the main menu of Alien Swarm SP select Play AS:SP option and you should see the mission selection screen. All addon campaigns (if you have installed any and activated them) should be available within this screen also.

I have encountered no bugs (heh heh) as yet but if you do please send an e-mail to giving as much information as you can and I will attempt to investigate the problem.

Hope you have fun with it...

Thursday, 29 September 2011

How to change the Alien Swarm main menu

This tutorial needs work but hopefully this should get people started...

OK I've had this requested several times so here's how to modify the main menu, well at least the way I did it.

First you need to understand the concept in this post:

Got it?


The blurred loading image:

Go open up the AS:SP download file and open up the Materials/Console/ folder.
You'll see a bunch of image files and a few .vtf and .vmt files.
If you don't know what .vtf file and .vmt files are then go to the valve wiki and look them up, then come back here and carry on reading this.

You will need to modify the code to make the game search for a different background image.
Search all .CPP files and look for the strings



Alter each file reference name to the name of the files you will create to replace these.
I added ASSP to the beginning of each file of mine as you can see from my download.

To create my image I took a screenshot of a single frame of the background video I had selected to run (see below for how to change it). I then used to add gauzien blur to blur the image and resize it.

Once you have your image, use and the .vtf plugin from "nems tools" to convert your image into a vtf file and create your .vmt file. For the VMT file content just copy the content from my ASSP version.

The replicate and create the widescreen version of this, copying the dimensions of it's equivenlant you find in the .vpk.

Basically you just looking to replicate what's in the VPK file but with different file names and you're own images.

Does that make sense? I may re-write this later...

The Background Video

Alien Swarm uses a .bik format video file as the base layer to it's menu system. This .bik video can be changed but is not easily removed completely. The name of this file is set in the file "nb_header_footer.cpp".

The video panel basically forms the base layer of the entire menu system in the code. You can punch through the menu system to the game port screen below by removing the video reference completely from the nb_header_footer.cpp file but that also removes all the menu elements completely. Not very helpful at all.

If you are attempting to create a background map for your menu then I would recommend you record your background map in game, convert it to a .bik video file and then use it as your backgroup for your menu.

Changing The Menu Options

First off you need to understand that in order for the game to support multiple languages, a menu option and the text label that shows up on the menu are two seperate things.

For example. The function of Option 1 is to start a new game. However the text that appears in the menu will depend on your game language selection and each set of potential language values is defined in a different file.

There is a file for English, A file for Spanish, A file for German and so on.

So if we want to modify the options for the main menu then we need to make changes at several levels.


This file can be found in the \resource\ui\basemodui directory in the VPK files.

When you open it you'll see a bunch of sets of script that look like this:

"ControlName" "BaseModHybridButton"
"fieldName" "BtnSingleplayer"
"xpos" "100"
"ypos" "280"
"wide" "210"
"tall" "13"
"autoResize" "1"
"pinCorner" "0"
"visible" "0"
"enabled" "1"
"tabPosition" "0"
"navUp" "PnlQuickJoin"
"navDown" "BtnMultiplayer"
"labelText" "#L4D360UI_MainMenu_PlaySolo"
"tooltiptext" "#L4D360UI_MainMenu_PlaySolo_Tip"
"style" "AlienSwarmMenuButtonSmall"
"command" "SoloPlay"
"ActivationType" "1"

Each line here is a parameter that defines where on the screen this option will appear and what it will do when you click on it.

In the case of the set above, It's the button that activates single player mode (offline practice mode) in Alien Swarm.

You can see the system command is "Soloplay".

The "Visible" option here is very helpful. It will allow you to make an option visible or not (obviously). So by switching certain options on and off you can modify your main menu.
Check out this Valve wiki page for more info on the main menu set up.

The most important bit of info defined here though is the "labeltext". This is what links this menu item to the lanugage files we'll look at next.


basemodui_english.txt is the file that defines all the english text in the game. It can be found in the Resource folder at the top level and the good news is, it's not in the VPK file so you don't need to change any code this time.

Open the file and search for the "labeltext" we used above but before you do, remove teh # symbol.
So it should look like "L4D360UI_MainMenu_PlaySolo"

Should look like this:

"L4D360UI_MainMenu_PlaySolo" "PLAY AS:SP"

on the right next to this reference you'll see the UK language text that will appear in your menu.
For my mod I just changed the text from "Offline Practice" to "Play AS:SP".

Hope this is helpful. Lemme know if you want to know anything else....

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

AS:SP Map Review Criteria

I will be reviewing a bunch of the most popular maps and campaigns created by the community on this site. My reviewing critera may upset a few mappers out there but I believe they are valid. In my opinion a good map is not the best looking or the most complex. A good map is a map that the player has fun playing. Fun can be destroyed in so many ways.... heres my main list of sins that I'll be looking out for.

1. Lack of direction to the player
The Lara Croft Sin
The player is forced to wander around the map desperately trying the most stupid actions in order to progress through the game simply because the mapper didnt make it clear what the player was supposed to be doing.

2. The Pinball Wizard
The player is continually backing up into props and junk in the main play area because the map is too dark and too cluttered. For gods sake people, keep the play area clear of obstructions!

3. No Rest For The Wicked
No break areas are provided. Swarm continue to harass the player regardless of where-ever they are in the map. Think of them like the safe rooms in Left 4 Dead. Theyre essential to good game play and allow the team to regroup.

4. It's All Too Much!
The mapper is a hardcore player of AS and designs his maps to his own difficulty level. Maps should be challenging but not onslaught crazy! Getting this balance right is essential for fun to bloom!

5: Go Back Young Man!
A dead end forces the player to backtrack through the same area of the map. Bad news and boring for players. You might get away with it if the play is changed dramatically but it very rarely works. Always provide a different exit.

6: Looks...
Yes its only number six on the list.. deal with it!
I want to feel lost in the environment. Doesnt matter if its an ugly environment. If its good enough that it doesnt distract from gameplay then its good enough for me.

7. Sound
Sound adds another dimension to the world. If you couldnt be arsed to add ambient sounds your going to lose points.

8: Tell me a Story!
In order to be drawn into a map Im going to need a decent story. Additional points if the story is progressed during the map itself through datapads, voiceovers, screentext etc...

Busy life at the moment so will take me a little while to get reviews out the door. In the mean time if any readers want to comment on AS:SP playing experiences with certain custom maps, send me your thoughts and I'll post them up here!

Monday, 14 March 2011

My thoughts on custom maps...

I've spent the last few days playing every custom map I can get my hands on. The initial reason for this was to recommend and not recommend maps that work with AS:SP.

I began to write a post detailing my findings on each map. My writings began to look like a serious review of each map. Then I stopped...

I have no wish to piss off the rest of the AS mapping community by arrogantly passing judgement on individual maps. It's not as if I've done better or produced any maps that were noteworthy.

There are a few points however that I'd like to get off my chest.

What's The Story, Morning Glory?

With the exception of the objectives and the overview briefing screen I've yet to find a single custom map that attempts to provide any kind of story to engage the players. A good story may seem to be unnecessary when players are going to be simply joining a map and blasting their way through it but I disagree with this. A story is what drives the players along. Give purpose to their actions. With a good story I feel you can take a standard bunch of online players and transport them to a different place and time and really engage with the game.

There have to be consequences to the players actions (other than being made to look a fool by dieing in the first 2 mins) or the whole game is pointless.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The second thing that I noticed about the majority of the maps is that they lack any kind of clear and sutble direction on where the hell you should be going. It's a number one rule among game designers. The worst sin you can commit is to leave the player confused as to what they should be doing. The game should never be, trying to work out what to do. It should be about the skill it takes to achieve your goal.

By simply lighting up important areas or using some other method to draw the players attention to it, you can save an awful lot of headaches.

This shouldn't be hitting them over the head with a sledge hammer either. There should be no big arrows or on screen text saying GO TO HERE! Never the less, through smart use of textures and lighting you can make it very obvious as to where the player is trying to get to and how to get there.

Alone In The Dark

One last observation I made about many maps was that they were seriously underlit. It's one thing to try and create a creepy or threatening atmosphere, it's another to leave the player in almost total darkness surrounded by annoying map items so that they have to bump their way through a map like some overcomplicated pin ball wizard.

Regardless of the setting or the mood or whether the players have flashlights or not there really is no excuse for not lighting up every corner of your map at all times.
It doesn't have to be fullbright but it does have to be well defined to prevent the players falling over themselves...

Nut Up Or Shut Up

Ok so now I've spouted on about the problems with the current crop of custom maps I should probably put my money where my mouth is.
With this in mind I'm building a simple series of maps for people to playtest (either MP or SP) that will hopefully manage to not break each of the rules above.

My maps will have an engaging story, the players path will be clear at all times without feeling linear and all areas of the map will be appropriately well lit.

Gulp... what have I let myself in for???!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Over 150 downloads... woot!

I'm really quite happy with the response to the mod so far...

I've actually released very little to the open web in my time as mapper. I tend to get a certain way through a map then lose the passion for it. I've realised since it is because I don't prepare properly.. the trick to finishing a map is to know the whole layout before you even open Hamme for the first time.

Well I supposed it's a double edged sword in some respects. My user base must be cared for now, I'm sure they're a greedy bunch. Let's hope we keep the content flow at a decent enough pace to keep peeps happy.

To be honest I've only been contacted by two of the 150 people that have downloaded this.

No news is good news???

I would actually like to hear from anyone who's used the mod and try and put together a wish list for the next version.

Support: Custom Maps

I had some feedback today that reminded me I hadn't actually pointed out to users that they would need to install any custom maps they wanted to play into the AlienSwarmSp directory.

AS:SP is smart, but it's not smart enough to go looking in the offical game directory Addons folder for any custom maps you might have downloaded.

So in order to play custom maps you're going to have to create a folder called "Addons" in the AlienSwarmSP folder, then move your custom map .vpk's in there in order for them to show up in the mission selection screen.

I will be updating the current version of AS:SP tonight so that the standard package comes with the "Addons" folder included and instructions in the Readme.txt file.

Until then use this post as direction...

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Getting back to the beginning...

I've finally gotten all the functionality I wanted in place for me to build my map.

See all this began with a simple idea. Treat Alien Swarm as a top down Half-Life.
A single marine based map focussing on exploration and puzzle based gaming.

There were several things in the way of that.

1: The player selection screen and the ability for players to seleft their own weapons.
2: The offscreen player arrows which meant I couldnt place bots elsewhere in my map or the player would know they were there.
3: No ability to create cutscenes therefore difficult to tell a story
4: No other Human NPC's

Not sure if I can do much about 4. I will continue to check out the code but I think I've reached a point where I can crack on with mapping and be happy that the player experience will be what I wanted originally.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Cutscenes are mine at last!

What would a single player game be without a decent cutscene or two?
A bit rubbish if you ask me. Up till now it's been thought that Alien Swarm didn't come with any entities that allowed you to project an image to the full screen. I.e. present a camera driven scene to the players full screen.
The only thing that was provided was a small pop out camera screen at the side..
Well after a lot of tinkering I discovered that the image that was shown on that pop out video is actually a texture. That texture can be applied to any surface in a map by turning the brush you want it to appear on into a func_monitor, covering all sides in nodraw texture then applying the texture vgui/swarm/Computer/ComputerCamera.vtf to the side of the brush where you want the image to appear.

Nice... What's even nicer is if you use that image as an env_screenoverlay you can fill the players whole screen with the camera feed...

Here's a BSP map file for those who want to see the results... just drop it into your alien swarm maps folder.

Here's a .vmf map file for those that want to see how it's done.

Ahh I can now go to bed with a sense of achievement!


I have managed to create a new .VMT file that removes the security camera style overlay. It can be downloaded Here!