Welcome back to another entry within this series. Let’s just jump right into it. As with any form of game development, we would need documentation to keep track of concepts, current work in progress, what is needed, etc. At the moment, you already created a piece of documentation - the papermap. This will help you envision your project and give you a reference for how you want your map to look like in the end. However, we need more. Now, we have to create the design document: This document is one of the most important things that you would have for your map. It outlines the theme of the map, the assets that the map will use, and an idea on how the map will be completed. Due to the flexibility of the design document and the project at hand, you can say that you can not fully complete a design document. However, to get a document that is useful for development, you should flesh out the following pieces of it.
For my Advanced Level Design class, I decided that I would create a map for one of my favorite games - Portal 2. I have played the game multiple times, struggling through all of the main story’s puzzles and the community-made puzzles that can be found in the Steam Workshop. I wanted to see what developing these maps were like, so I jumped right into the Hammer editor and got myself started. It was a long and rather exhausting process, but I believe that learning about how maps within Team Fortress, Portal, and Left 4 Dead are made is a fun skill to have, as it would allow me and other people to join Source modding communities and create cool content that would keep these old games alive. So today, I am going to tell you the process that you need to go through to create a decent looking map and some tips about using the Hammer editor. Keep in mind, I am going to talk about Hammer from the perspective of developing a map for Portal 2, but most of the content within this post should be usable across all Source games.
For those unaware, Gametrailers.com is (or rather was) a gaming website dedicated to bringing news, videos, and reviews to the masses. While hosting trailers was always nice as per their namesake, it was some of their other content that had kept me going back for years. They had original shows such as Pop Fiction which explored the sometimes strange and wonderful world of gaming myths; Retrospectives covering the history of storied game franchises, and many others. Gametrailers was special to me partially because it was on that site that I saw the developer diary that made me finally decide I wanted to be a developer.
My journey to UAT began a bit later than many. After high school I already had a job that paid pretty decently but after doing it for years I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. So I began searching for schools, with my chosen field of study: Game Design and Programming. Programming of course was pretty easy, but game degrees are still comparatively rare.
There seems to be a lack of understanding when it comes to creative works. Whether it's just finishing the creative work in question or implementing new features; people seem to think that more people working on that project means the work gets done faster. The truth of the matter though is that this is actually far from the case. This isn't limited to just video games, but in fact most of the entertainment field. While it's true that projects with larger scopes will have larger teams that work on them, this doesn't then mean that adding more people will ensure the project is completed sooner. So in reality, adding people to a project only really helps if you were either short handed to begin with or you realize your scope has greater needs than you can currently fulfill. Moreover, the larger the scope gets typically the more specialized members of the team become. So when an issue arises in one department, that doesn't mean that people from another department can help solve the issue any quicker.
Currently in my Ethics in Technology class we're covering debates. In the past few weeks, we decided on a topic to present to the class, creating three separate propositions from that topic and then discussed those propositions using various ethical systems. Frankly, most of the topics were really interesting and for the most part everyone did rather well though one thing that I did notice is that people tend to get caught up in their own view of things. They have their own view of the situation and almost anything outside of that view is practically considered evil. So much so that they don't even stop to consider the other side of the issue. This isn't just confined to the classroom however, as you can usually see this kind of behavior clearly exhibited by people in the world everyday. In the real world I find this stance to be a little disappointing. It often seems that people either don't know or don't care about the other side of the issue and frankly it makes their argument weaker as a whole.