Creating an Environment: Pt. 1 Goals & Geography, Cont.

From CG Society’s article on Valve’s Design Process.

With my map’s visuals already grounded in geography very early on, I knew scratching at my mind was that voice, “NO, you know better! Get the layout done and playtest it – No artsy fartsy polish until you know it is indeed, fun!” To me, that is the art of game design as play, and why working with art assets isn’t always puppies & kittens. It’s the harsh way of realizing why Mr. Casali’s process is the way it is, and I use the tone because otherwise I don’t get the work done I set out to. Any videogame project can be incredibly complex to make – they are technical mindgames, a time-Shamwow, and most often they’re both.

That doesn’t change the facts of my decision making. My first TF2 map, which was my big  “This Is What You Do NOT Do!” lesson, was meant to take place in the mountains, similar to that of Half-Life 2: Episode 2. For whatever reason, I couldn’t name the type of environment, and that ended up being Valve’s new alpine-setting that came with the Arena modes a few months later.

Paint-over of Arena Lumberyard - Great reference.

Paint-over of Arena Lumberyard – Great reference.

Forests are a locale I often gravitate towards, and they always find a way into my work. I think it links back to spending a lot of my childhood trips at this Slovenian camp groundwith  my family, which hosts acres of tall pines and evergreens beside some rustic architecture.

Valve adding all these assets to the Source SDK opened up the palette I was really hungry for, so I was very quick to utilize them in map without reservation.  I’ve been trying to work with the lighting to get a different mood out of the assets, but modifying the textures could benefit a slightly unique twist. The largest decision to come did inform the geography though, that being gametype. While I ultimately arrived at the Arena mode, I first ran with Capture the Flag (or Files in TF2’s world). The reason this did not utterly ruin my layout was because both gamemodes have been proven to work best in a symmetrical layout. Due to the depth of Gamemodes, I’m going to make Pt.2 devoted to them solely and their roles in my map, hopefully sometime tomorrow.

Below is a comparison of Valve’s lighting in Lumberyard, to the hues/time of day I decided to use thus far:

yellow highlights, washed out blue/purple shadows.

Lumberyard – Afternoon: yellow highlights, blue/purple shadows.

peach/orange highlights and violet shadows.

Arc Mountain – Dawn: peach/orange highlights, violet shadows.


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