Archive for the 'Level Design' Category

TF2 Map Design: StareDown Preview

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008


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Okay, I’ve skipped a few steps here, but I need a little more time to put together a good Tutorial on how to do lighting.  Unfortunately I ended up brute force figuring out how to do it.  And do be quite honest I’m still working on it.  For now some quick tips. 

  • Light a small space with one light to see how it works
  • Play with the Lightmap Levels, they determine how much light bounces off a brush
  • The default Lightmap is 16, you will want to change this for stuff where shadows aren’t mega important, this will help decrease your map’s file size.
  • HDR Lighting is a pain and adds to your final file size
  • Colored lighting really helps set a mood
  • Focus your lights on the important stuff to help lead the player
  • Don’t forget to build your cubemaps in both HDR and LDR modes

With those tips out of the way, I am totally ready for the next major test of CTF_Staredown.  DrgnDen.com is hosting a server if you’d like to pop on.  In TF2 search for either CTF_Staredown or “CTF_Staredown DrgnDen.com Server“.  All we need now is a few big games to identify any major remaining issues and see what crazy strategies you can come up with, then just  one more solid weekend to do a very final lighting and detail pass.

TF2 Map Design: Balance and Bugs

Monday, December 8th, 2008

With the landmarks in place, it was time to get some actual gameplay in.  So we set up a dedicated server for a few days and got some small games in (View Gallery Here).  It was very quickly discovered that Snipers were WAY too overpowered.  There was only enough cover to make a sniper difficult to pick out.  Even with the alternate paths, snipers could just stand near the bridge and no one would get anywhere.

staredown_balance00.jpg staredown_balance03.jpg staredown_balance01.jpg

It was really quite exciting to play with friends and occasionally strangers!  To see people actually employ the strategies I’d planned was great, but seeing them use the level in all new ways was even better.

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TF2 Map Design: Landmarks

Friday, February 1st, 2008

Where’s the CP?Once the geometry was all built, I was anxious to test the map with real players.  I got ready to call some buddies of mine for an all night testfest when I realized… hey!  Even though I’ve been working on this map all week or so, none of my would be testers will know anything about it’s twists and turns.  They are pretty (NOT) forgiving so I slammed down the phone, fired up Hammer and dropped a little signage.  Both bases had the same texture so these location markers had to be huge and obvious.

In placing the signs all around, the obvious occurs to me.  This is what we as level designers are supposed to be doing throughout the entire process!  Maybe not always as blatant as the Capture Point there, but through textures, lighting, and geometry, information needs to be communicated to the player.  It seems like such a no-brainer, but is so often overlooked.  I have added a new goal to this project: Make sure each location can be described in 2-3 words.

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TF2 Map Design: Balancing the Scale

Friday, December 14th, 2007

staredown_scale05.jpg

My biggest gripe about custom maps is that many of them are just too big. As in, it takes more than 60 seconds to get from one end of them to the other. A ton of stuff can happen in 60 seconds. A flag can be returned, a player can die and re-spawn at least 4 times, and a sentry gun can be built in taken all the way to level 3 in this span of time. Anyone can tell you running for 5 minutes just to get killed in 5 seconds is just no fun. Therefore, defining the pacing to the level is pivotal.

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TF2 Map Design: Bringing the Hammer Down

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Building the BaseSo it’s all well and good that I have my sketch, but now I needed to get started actually MAKING the dang map.  This is where HAMMER comes in.  Part of the Source SDK, Hammer lets you create and modify level textures and models, as well as place scripted events.  Hammer is a pretty robust tool and is the same tool Valve developers use to create official maps.  At first, I was pretty skeptical…  I’ve used an earlier version of Hammer (back in TFC days) and it was rough.  Then, once again, when HL2 first came out.  It was better, but it still seemed impossible to achieve the level of complexity that one could see in the official maps.  The initial 5 minutes with the tool was changing my mind, and then I cam across the wonderful Valve Developer Community

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TF 2 Map Design Step 1

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Staredown Design SheetI have been playing Team Fortress 2 basically every free moment I with my friends and it’s been great.  Unfortunately, all the maps are Control Point/Assault style maps as opposed to Capture the Flag.  What this means is, I end up playing a LOT of CTF_2Fort.  I can’t escape it, especially when my friends feel nostalgic for the TFC glory days.  So after a swift kick in the pants, I have decided to build a map to put the CTF back in TFC.

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