File structures in Valve games

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This information is from a Windows 10 computer. Some things may not apply for users on other operating systems. It may also be different if you have a non-standard installation of your operating system, Steam, or any game.

  • C:
    • Program Files (x86)
      • Steam
        • steamapps
          • common
            • Game Folders
              • mod folders
          • sourcemods


This is your system's C drive. It probably holds everything on your computer.

Program Files (x86)

This is where most programs you download will be installed to.


This folder is where most data for Steam is kept on your computer.


This folder holds all or nearly all games and mods. Most things outside of this folder are just for the Steam program itself. To do: Expand on what's in here.


This holds all or nearly all the games (and some tools) you've downloaded from Steam. The folders in here are known as game folders. They probably have the exact same names as the game names on their Steam store pages.

game folder

The name of a game folder usually clearly states what's inside it; Portal 2 contains everything for the game, Portal 2. For Source games, this includes base engine things, such as Hammer and integration with Steam (for achievements, playing status, etc).

mod folder

Mod folders hold all the content that a regular player sees while playing a game. Mod folders can use content from other mod folders in the same game folder, using gameinfo.txt. Confusingly, one is also called a game directory sometimes.

Usually named after an abbreviation for a game, such as hl2 for Half-Life 2.

Folders under a mod folder will replace corresponding content inside a VPK. For example, if you put a file at modfolder\models\player\player.mdl, it would replace the file at VPKNAME.vpk\models\player\player.mdl.

List of all mod folders: To do: add CSNZ and deleted scenes, DODS, TFC


Usually not shipped with a game, but it's recommended you make and store VMFs in here so that your maps folder will not become cluttered.


Holds many configuration files. See CFG for more info on the files inside.


Holds all the BSP files for a game.


For games that allow workshop content, maps downloaded from the workshop will be stored in here.


Stores AIN files used by AI systems.


Usually holds BIK files. (Video files for things such as the startup video)


Stores models.


May hold manifest files (particles_manifest.txt) or PCF files.

puzzles [Portal 2]

Contains automatic screenshots and P2C files of any Portal 2 tests you've made with the in-game puzzlemaker.


To do: seen in Portal 2/portal2.


Mostly contains files dealing with text and languages.


Contains all Save Game Files.


Contains scenes.image.




Contains many files defining properties for weapons, vehicles, soundscapes, and more.


A VPK can hold most things one would find in the folders under a mod folder directory. Some things have to specifically be placed inside or outside of a VPK.


Not to be confused with SourceMod. (The server plugin}

Usually, a mod that isn't available on Steam can be manually placed here. Steam will recognize a non-Steam mod if it is in this folder and the mod is configured properly.