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ORIGINAL TITLE: Entity Limitation notes:
The HL engine itself has a hard limit of 2048 entities, point or brush based, which is a data limit of about 0.5M. On top of that, Half-Life likes to generate it's own temporary entities in-game for certain effects (ie. beams, sparks, projectiles...), these temporary entities have a limit of around 500, see 500 overflow temporary ents! above.
But the compile tools have a limit of only 2048 for all editor placed entitys (MAX_MAP_ENTITIES). (I am not sure if the temp entitys come out of this 2048 limit as well, but I suspect they do.) And there is a sub-limit on switchable lights of 1024 (MAX_ENGINE_ENTITIES). Additionally, you also have a compile side sub-limit of 400 for brush based entities. Mods that use cutscenes to start a round have even lower limits - DoD is now talking about 400-500 as the playing map limit of total entitys! NS has a similar situation.
Moreover, there seems to be special limits for some entitys, like the limit of 16 rotating entitys that stop at the same time, due to the sound limitations. Or the limit of 32 players in most mods, or the general 8 fixed lights shining on a face limit, the 3 switchable lights on a face - and so on.