File structures in Valve games

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Blank image.pngTodo: Add a seperate section for GoldSrc and Source 2.

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

C:

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

Program Files (x86)

This is where most 32-bit programs you download will be installed to if you have 64-bit operating systems. For 32-bit operating systems, only Program Files folder exist.
All 64-bit Steam games would install on this location.

Steam

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

steamapps

This folder holds all or nearly all games and mods. Most things outside of this folder are just for the Steam program itself. Such as ACF files which was used to show installed games on the Steam Library.

Blank image.pngTodo: Expand on what's in here.

common

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. Some of them will 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:

Blank image.pngTodo: add CSNZ (Nexon Studio) and deleted scenes, DODS

Alien SwarmAlien Swarm: Alien Swarm\swarm

Counter-Strike: Global OffensiveCounter-Strike: Global Offensive: Counter-Strike Global Offensive\csgo

Counter-Strike: SourceCounter-Strike: Source: counter-strike source\cstrike

Counter-Strike: SourceCS:S (Half-Life 2 content): counter-strike source\hl2

Counter-StrikeCounter-Strike: Half-Life\cstrike

Counter-Strike: Condition ZeroCounter-Strike: Condition Zero: Half-Life\czero

Condition Zero Deleted ScenesCS Condition Zero Deleted Scenes: Half-Life\czeror

Day of DefeatDay of Defeat: Half-Life\dod

Deathmatch ClassicDeathmatch Classic: Half-Life\dmc

Garry's ModGarry's Mod: GarrysMod\garrysmod

Half-LifeHalf-Life: Half-Life\valve

Half-Life: Blue ShiftHL: Blue Shift: Half-Life\bshift

Half-Life: Opposing ForceHL: Opposing Force: Half-Life\gearbox

Half-Life Deathmatch: SourceHLDM:Source: Half-Life 1 Source Deathmatch\hl1mp

Half-Life: SourceHL:Source: Half-Life 2\hl1

Half-Life 2Half-Life 2: Half-Life 2\hl2

Half-Life 2: Episode OneHL2: Episode One: Half-Life 2\episodic

Half-Life 2: Episode TwoHL2: Episode Two: Half-Life 2\ep2

Half-Life 2: Lost CoastHL2: Lost Coast: Half-Life 2\lostcoast

Half-Life 2: DeathmatchHL2: Deathmatch: Half-Life 2 Deathmatch\hl2mp

Half-Life 2HL2DM (HL2 content): Half-Life 2 Deathmatch\hl2

Left 4 DeadLeft 4 Dead: left 4 dead\left4dead

Left 4 DeadL4D (The Sacrifice DLC): left 4 dead\left4dead_dlc3

Left 4 Dead 2Left 4 Dead 2: Left 4 Dead 2\left4dead2

Left 4 Dead 2L4D2 (The Passing DLC): Left 4 Dead\left4dead2_dlc1

Left 4 Dead 2L4D2 (L4D1 content): Left 4 Dead\left4dead2_dlc2

Left 4 Dead 2L4D2 (More L4D1 content and Cold Stream): Left 4 Dead\left4dead2_dlc3

PortalPortal: Portal\portal

PortalPortal (HL2 content): Portal\hl2

Portal 2Portal 2: Portal 2\portal2

Portal 2Portal 2 (Art Therapy content): Portal 2\portal2_dlc1

Portal 2Portal 2 (puzzlemaker content): Portal 2\portal2_dlc2

RicochetRicochet: Half-Life\ricochet

Team Fortress ClassicTeam Fortress Classic: Team Fortress 2\tfc

Team Fortress 2Team Fortress 2: Team Fortress 2\tf

Team Fortress 2TF2 (HL2 content): Team Fortress 2\hl2

addons

This folder is not created by default in most games, but most plugins such as SourceMod and MetaMod: Source are usually installed on this directory.

In games such as Postal III, and all or most games since Left 4 Dead engine branch, this is where custom content was installed, such as: custom models, maps, sounds, etc...; In Left 4 Dead engine branch (or in some games), only VPK files were supported for custom content.

This folder was also used by Garry's Mod for it's custom content (such as Lua scripts, and other mentioned above). They either contains folders or GMA file.

cfg

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

custom

(only in Source 2013) Similar to addons in Left 4 Dead engine branch games, except both folders and VPKs are supported.

logos

Contains spraypaints for a multiplayer game.

manual

Contains a manual explaining a multiplayer game.

maps

Holds all the BSP files for a game.

maps\workshop

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

maps\graphs

Stores AIN files used by AI systems.

mapsrc

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.

media

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

models

Stores models.

particles

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.

reslists/downloadlists

See Content_Streaming.

resource

Contains various files dealing with text and languages, and other VGUI resources.

SAVE

Contains all Save Game Files.

scenes

Contains scenes.image.

screenshots

Self-expanatory.

scripts

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

.vpk

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.

sourcemods

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

Usually, a Source 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.