Valve Hammer Editor

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Valve Hammer Editor is a program developed by Valve (makers of Half-Life 2, Portal, and other games which run through the Source engine) for the purpose of producing map files that can later be played. This page details on the functionality of Hammer and how it is typically used.

Comrades of Hammer Editor[edit]

Hammer Editor is, of course, not foolish enough to attack alone. When one meets up with Hammer Editor, it generally comes with the following:

  • VBSP- This program "compiles" the map, meaning that it renders it into illegible gibberish and causes Hammer Editor to refuse to open it ever again.
  • VVIS- Usually follows along with VBSP. This program attempts to handle the mysterious task of "optimizing Portal clusters". From what we can discern, VVIS must therefore be the only force presenting a dangerous portal-cluster-storm from causing significant damage to our planet.
  • VRAD- Usually, if VVIS and VBSP have failed to crash your computer already, VRAD manages to. After about twenty minutes, VRAD will give up, freeze your computer, and make a reboot utterly mandatory.
  • VTEX- Converts image files from one format you can't produce into another format you can't use.

More detail on the above[edit]


To understand what compilation is, we must look first at the roots of the word. Observe carefully. Com - pile

Com- is an abbreviation for the word "compost." -pile means "pile of." Essentially, when you take into account the standard Latin word order, this means "pile of compost." This is the process:

  • Map is saved once
  • Map is saved again in a format you can't open
  • VBSP sets the map outside in a breezy area where it can ferment in peace.
  • The map slowly rots away
  • VBSP buries the map in the ground next to a tree that isn't doing particularly well.


As the second step of map compilation, this performs three tasks. All three are very technical and they involve the optimization of portals and thus prevention of portal storms. Moving right along. . .


  • Map is examined to see how many faces it has
  • Map is examined to see how many square-feet it uses
  • Map is subdivided (cut into tiny pieces)
  • Map is laid to rest on a "hash table"

As the third step of map compilation, VRAD (rad meaning radical) looks at the charred remains of your map, left behind by VVIS and VBSP, and then grinds them into hash. First it observes how many faces there are, as a two-faced map is both impolite, and physically impossible. Afterwards it determines how many feet it has, to determine whether it is a biped, quadroped, or pedophile. It will then open up a console window to spam the user with the results, cut the map into pieces, and convert it into bratwurst on the hash table.

The Hammer Console[edit]

Fortunately, the satanic minions of Hammer Editor are confined to an easily ignored console window. The bad news is that they tend to escape and erase invalid solids that you were planning on fixing later. An easy process of exorcism goes as follows, to return your map to its natural state-

  • Find a Bible (or Torah)
  • Find a Cross
  • Approach the monitor without fear, and stand around four feet back.
  • Cite any one of the many passages of Leviticus 20. Loudly.
  • Stop using Carve and the Torus tool for everything.

The demons of Source tend to be easily provoked by concave solids, so be sure to cut your map into smaller, convex pieces before they get the chance.

Console messages[edit]


You probably did something really stupid like putting a player inside the floor. But it yells at you a lot regardless of whether you did anything wrong.

Other messages[edit]

Generally, if you got a message that doesn't say Error!, this is an indication that you are going to soon have an Error!

To my knowledge, there are no other messages that can display in the console.

Editing tools[edit]

So far, the only elements of Hammer that have been explained are the compilation process and the console. A user still needs to make the map. There are a multitude of tools that you can use to do this.

Selection tool[edit]

Just guess.

Magnification tool[edit]

Makes things easier to see.

Camera tool[edit]

Allows you to move your view around at exactly the same speed you could have moved it without the camera tool, but without the hassle of being able to do other things.

Entity tool[edit]

Allows you to bring powerful and mysterious entities into your map, to do your bidding. These include powerful and mysterious player start points, powerful and mysterious large heavy objects, and powerful and mysterious walls. The power and mystery can be commanded, but never conquered.

Block tool[edit]

It's like Legoes only not as much fun.

Face edit tool[edit]

Contrary to the apparent functionality, it does not make the faces of others around you more attractive. Believe me, we would have started with you if it worked.

Texture tool[edit]

This one isn't very funny.

Decal tool[edit]

Considering the difficulty of applying textures directly to walls, this groundbreaking invention actually allows you to put graffiti into your own maps, automatically! You can save yourself the trouble of finding vandals with 3D design skill.

Overlay tool[edit]

Allows you make overlays. Who would have guessed?

Clip tool[edit]

It works like scissors only when you try to cut something, your map falls apart and autosaves itself.

Vertex manipulation[edit]

The name of this tool, likely a loan word from Swahili or Arabic, describes a concept so incredibly complicated not even I, the omniscient editor can explain it. (Hint- It lets you move points in space)

Editation Views[edit]

There are seven different views you can edit your map from in Hammer. They are called as follows-

  • 2DXY
  • 2DYZ
  • 2DXZ

The first three look like random lines drawn towards who-knows-where. The last four look like that too, but in 3D.

General Tips and Tricks[edit]

  • Hammer Editor is very easy to use. The trick is finding the documentation for it.
  • Hammer Editor is free. You just have to buy 30$ worth of software to use it.
  • Hammer Editor is not in English. It is actually a poorly spelled dialect of Saami which merely looks like English.
  • Your first map will be the best map ever made. It will be a six-sided cube that the player sees briefly before falling through the world into space.
  • Your first map will seem like the best map ever made to you because you have such bad taste.
  • Hammer Editor is not worth the hassle.
  • But it's better than portal storms.
  • Hammer Editor wants your soul.
  • In Soviet Russia, Hammer edits YOU!
  • Hammer is in some way connected to the meme "over 9000".
  • All your hammer are belong to us.