How to use Source 2 Tools before s&box releases

You can use Source 2 Tools before s&box launches to create maps, particle effects, and more!

How to use Source 2 Tools before s&box releases

As we all anticipate the release of s&box, many are wondering how they can practice with Valve's Source 2 tools before the new game comes out. A large number of modders coming from other games such as Garry's Mod are trying to jump into the tooling that will be behind s&box, such as the Hammer map editor and ModelDoc.

If you are wondering what the best way is to try these tools out, you've come to the right place. Currently, there are a few different to test out tools such as Hammer, ModelDoc, the Particle Editor, and more. Below, the options are listed from best to worst.

Source 2 Hammer Editor

The Best - Half-Life: Alyx Workshop Tools

Half-Life: Alyx came out on Steam last year, and with it came some workshop tools for Source 2. These tools are the most up-to-date Source 2 tools you can get (aside from the tools bundled with s&box itself), and learning these tools will leave you in a great spot for when s&box comes out.

A full list of tools included is below:
- Hammer (Map Editor)
- Material Editor
- ModelDoc Editor
- AnimGraph Editor
- Particle Editor
- Image Subrect Editor
- Postprocessing Editor
- Source 2 Filmmaker
- Workshop Manager

One benefit of the Half-Life: Alyx tools is all the Half-Life: Alyx assets that are included. You can use props and textures directly from HL:A on your maps. It is worth noting, however, that Garry has no plans to allow content mounting at the moment, so these textures won't be available by default in s&box unless they are packed into the map.

The main downside of the Half-Life: Alyx tools is the cost. The game is roughly $60, and the tools come bundled with the game. At least if you have a VR headset, you get a nifty game to go with the tools! Lastly, it is worth noting that the workshop tools do not require VR to use or test.

On a Budget: SteamVR and Dota 2

Included in SteamVR and Dota 2 are also the Source 2 tools. The biggest benefit to these tools is that they are free! You don't have to pay a dime to use these, but the drawback is that the tools are many years old. There are a lot of differences between these tools and s&box's tools.

If you can pay for Half-Life: Alyx, we would recommend this route over SteamVR and Dota 2 tools. But if you can't quite afford HL:A, these tools will still be great for learning the basics of Source 2 tools.

I got the tools! Now what?

If you have the tools and are looking for a great place to start, we would recommend diving head-first into Hammer with tutorials from the Eagle One Development Team. The tutorials were created by ChimonaHehe and are considered by the community to be some of the best and most extensive. Eagle One has been hard at work on a mod for Half-Life: Alyx that includes a brand new 8 hour campaign. It's called Runway, and we recommend you check it out!

A sample of tutorials from Eagle One Dev Team

If you're wondering what else to do while waiting for the release of s&box, feel free to join the official s&box Discord server to chat with modders and regular joes alike!