qe3 months ago2023-08-17 03:56:43 UTC 5 comments
This journal describes my journey in trying to bring an old map back to life.

For whatever reason, it seems like my time in the Counter-Strike/TFC mapping community was formative to me, and it’s a memory I keep coming back to. Something about the feeling of creative empowerment – the ability to create my own worlds – was intoxicating for me as an adolescent. I think I started mapping in 1999, when I was 14. I stuck with it as an active community participant until maybe 2002, but when you’re that age a few years can feel like a long time.

The mapping community was quite large in those days, with CS and TFC being two of the most widely played online games at the time. I went by the name of questionable.ethics, and mostly hung out on the mapping forum; I was even a moderator for a time (the easter egg in this map shouts some of my mapping forum buddies from the era). I am new to TWHL, and actually I think it opened after I had already started to move on from mapping and texturing. I love seeing people still working with these tools and making such great content. Truly some of the work here blows my mind.

Despite this being apparently such a big part of my life, I finished and released surprisingly few maps. I was actually making a lot more textures in those days.

The map is called tf_autocrat and would have been made some time between 2001-2002, in the twilight years of TFC as a widely played game. In making this map, I was fascinated by the way that stock TFC maps seemed to be set nowhere in particular. They were vaguely military or industrial, but primarily they were just non-specific battle arenas. Architectural embellishments were rare in the stock maps. The really nice user-created maps, on the other hand, were often set in urban or middle-eastern environments, the latter because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were on the news constantly.

In tf_autocrat, I wanted to maintain the vaguely industrial look of the stock TFC maps, but with a much higher level of detail. The overall terrain is still non-sensical and doesn’t correspond to any real-world locations. I never got the TFC entities working. Worse still, I had lost the most recent compiled version of the map and just had all the source material.

Back in 2020, around 20 years after I had started the map, I took advantage of the COVID-19 lockdowns to bring it back. I haven’t used a PC in years, but I was able to get all the tools working on my work computer. Using Worldcraft (or Hammer, as it’s called now) is a skill that never goes away. I added a new underwater pipe route through the tunnels, re-created the lights.rad and other missing files, and recompiled the map. It’s amazing how much faster this process is than it was in 2001.

Anyhow, here it is. It’s just a ghostly, empty map from a long time ago that I had the chance to explore again. There’s something very unique to the feeling of walking through a virtual space you haven’t set foot in for decades. I’m sure others here can relate. I hope you take the time to explore, and I hope you enjoy it. The custom textures in the map are all my own creations, so please feel free to use anything from the .wad you like.

I have uploaded this to the TWHL vault, the link is here.

The vault entry is filled with screenshots, but I'll repost a few here:
View of the overworldView of the overworld
The blue baseThe blue base
The underground cavernsThe underground caverns
Erty3 months ago2023-08-16 13:28:56 UTC 3 comments
Two weeks ago I and my girlfriend went on a trip to visit my hometown and see my family there.

I haven't been there in about 15 years, and I've had little contact with my family there in those years. It's not that I didn't want to, it's just... it has been difficult. Both emotionally, and for many of those years I've been a poor student who couldn't afford making the trip there.

I'm happy to have made that trip, but it's also somewhat bittersweet. The summer house where we spent so many summers is gone. The path we ran down to the sea on is overgrown with vegetation but still slightly visible.
The sea still looks lovely thereThe sea still looks lovely there
Apart from the playground having been turned into a communal grilling spot, my old home and street looks pretty much the same. It has been fun to show all these old places to my girlfriend and share stories about my childhood there.

It was very special to reconnect with that part of the family again. Still so much the same, even with so much changing 16 years ago, and with the passage of time after.

Just as we were going back home, Monday last week, a storm hit us. We woke up early from an awesome thunderstorm and lots of heavy rain, which I'd love the hell out of if we weren't trying to catch some sleep before our journey. Electrical issues with our train caused it to take almost three hours longer to arrive for our connecting train, and if that one wasn't delayed by hours as well we would have missed it.
Arrived back home at about 1 AM, tired, exhausted, and emotionally all over the place.

A week later and not really fully recovered yet. Started working at a new client yesterday though!
Erty3 months ago2023-08-16 10:40:39 UTC 12 comments
So there was this discussion somewhere (don't remember exactly where and when but whatever) and I was reminded about it.
Basically it was about whether one should/need to say thanks for receiving help/answers in the community.
Opponents of the idea may argue that
  • one shouldn't celebrate/reward the bare minimum of basic human decency (which includes helping each other out) since that should be expected
  • that it's not needed because it's not personal ("someone else would show up and help anyway / the one asking for help isn't the only one benefiting from the answer")
  • it doesn't matter
I do agree with the main idea of the first point but I'd say it's applied to the wrong context. Helping each other is of course basic human decency, but there are nuances to consider here for the type of help it applies to. In general it's help that doesn't require one to go far out of their way to accomplish, or helping someone with something necessary things they're not capable of themselves.
This, in my opinion, doesn't extend to receiving help with a specific skill for a past-time endeavour such as modding. Someone spent their own free time and went out of their way to help out. If anything, the basic human decency would be about thanking for the help here.

For the second point, even if the one asking for help holds this view they are forgetting that they are not alone. Those that help would often like at least some response or feedback about whether it worked, and so do anyone else with a similar problem looking for solutions. If one wants to be as rude as not thank for the help, they should at the very least respond somehow.

The third point is one of nihilism and egoism, views that are annoyingly prevalent online. Even if it doesn't matter to you, it doesn't mean it doesn't matter to other people. It can matter to the helper(s), and any sort of feedback of whether it worked or not matters to others looking for answers to similar questions.
Meanwhile the proponent points are very simple:
  • While feedback about whether it works is more useful, it at least gives the helper(s) some response which many appreciate and makes them not feel ignored
  • It's the polite thing to do
For certain people, while it might be easy to forget that even if they're asking for help for themselves, they are in fact still interacting with real people, both passively and directly, who will be affected by the interactions to some degree.
In my own view, I always thank people for the help they give, no matter how big or small. I always appreciate it. Though I don't think it's as important as in the very least giving some feedback, it still matters to thank for the help.

I know that most people that don't say thanks don't do it with outright malicious intent. Some of them might not even be against it but just simply forgetting to do so. Even then it's still rude not to do it.
So to wrap up my thoughts on the topic:
For myself I don't mind not being thanked for helping someone, but I do expect some feedback on if it worked or not (again, it helps others looking for help to know if the solution/answer is viable, and for me to know I wasn't ignored).
Of course I'm not here to police on how anyone acts or behaves, nor do I claim my views are inherently correct or objective. What's considered rude or polite depends on culture and norms and my views of it might differ a lot from someone else's.
jamie3 months ago2023-08-15 02:27:20 UTC 1 comment
I have become obsessed with this barrel picture that Meerjel01 made.
i love it :).
A diagram of why we have hands acording to The BarrelA diagram of why we have hands acording to The Barrel
I even made a 3D version of it:
barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel barrel

(Im just joking right now, trying to cheer up everyone here, specially all of you who feel bad or sad)
I'm a beginner with hammer++ and map making. I have saved my map made with hammer++ on my desktop named tutorial_3 and i have compiled it. But when I opened the devcon in half life2 , I couldn't find the map. And it says xxx not found or invalid. What should i do?
jamie4 months ago2023-07-31 21:06:25 UTC 9 comments
The user Erty released his tool Map2Prop, wich allows the user to make models from maps. I previously used this tool to make 3D models on J.A.C.K., but now i tested another idea.

GoldSource is not able to create maps with functional chrome textures. In fact, i haven´t seen any mod or GoldSource-based game that uses this (please comment if you do know one). The theory to test here is that we could create a brush, turn it into a model with the chrome texture and add it to the map. We also could add it to glass, so we dont just limit to a texture, but also add it a "shiny" effect.

To start i made a map with some random prefabs and stuff to test:
We will make chrome for the computer screens, the glass and metal frame and the Black Mesa logoWe will make chrome for the computer screens, the glass and metal frame and the Black Mesa logo
We will also make chrome for the bike and the metal boxesWe will also make chrome for the bike and the metal boxes
After creating the map, i made a copy and only kept what would be turned into chome models:
So good so farSo good so far
But before making the model, we need chrome textures. I quickly made some in Most, if not all of them, are pretty rough and ugly, but its meant for a test rather than an actual map, so we really dont have to care that much for quality.
4 textures4 textures
We "compile" the map and turn it into a model, but we ran across our first problem:
Either the chrome or the meshes are too big, wich turns the textures into a really simple chrome. I tested another theory, wich consisted in tiling the chrome texture to fix this problem:
It didn´t made that much of a difference. I didnt knew what caused this problem, but my theory was that there were very few faces on the model. However, i did not knew how to add more faces to the meshes, maybe there is some modelling tool that can do this but i didnt found anything useful. There was no other choice but to use the model.
I compiled the map, but ran across more problems.
1. The textures were opaque
This was a skill issue of mine, i forgot to add the "Additive" flag to the textures.
2. The model does not match the map
I dont know why this happened. The model appears to match the brushed in the editor, but when compiled it does not match. I tried moving the model several times, but in the end, i never got to solve this problem,
Looks fine in J.A.C.K. howeverLooks fine in J.A.C.K. however
The final versionThe final version
In the end, the map was somehow a failure. This because i couldn´t figure out how to solve the textures and the matching problem.

CONCLUSION/TL;DR: The idea looks good on paper, but is a pain on practice. However, im pretty sure that a skilled mapper or modeller could make this succesfully. If anyone wants to try to fix (or even improve it), here is a download link.
Listed4 months ago2023-07-26 04:27:44 UTC 1 comment
Working on a very gothic inspired build with some really nice looking real life reference images. I'm of course taking liberties here an there, but I think it's definitely gonna be a show of what I can actually do as far as making architecture, and it's helping me get a little more comfortable with just adding more complex decorative geometry. I'm really just trying to see how much I can push the engine with the scope of the build and the complexity of the architecture. Stay tuned, I'm currently about 1/4th the way done and I started about 6-7 hours ago, so it's gonna take significantly longer than most my maps.

**UPDATE 1**

This is by far going to be my biggest map. I don't even have the two side towers on the cathedral finished and haven't even started on the main cathedral part yet and it's 2800 brushes and the BSP is 2.63mb. This is likely not gonna be a map that's going to be played on and just strictly a show of what I can do, so I'm gonna just really focus in on detail rather than function in gameplay or any other real purpose...basically I won't be adding stuff I'd normally do to make the deathmatch experience more fluid and fun. I really love how the map is looking so far, and I might even experiment with more texturing stuff, though honestly the cathedrals I'm looking at don't have much variation in that department so maybe I'll just stick to what I know and not deviate too much cause it already looks fine.
Listed4 months ago2023-07-24 18:57:34 UTC 3 comments
I finally found a way to make something like cushions in HLDM. In quake live there's a tool texture for it, and I was a little disappointed to see it wasn't in Half-Life (maybe it was only added in later id tech iterations or maybe it was just never added to Half-Life). BUT I found a way to make the gravity trigger act as a cushion. I know this probably isn't new, however it's new for me and it makes it easier for me to do some of the ideas I have without effecting the actual gameplay too heavily. Maybe there's a better way to do it, but I tried looking it up and I got a whole lot of not related stuff, so this is what I had came up with. if anyone wants details just ask, but I won't bother saying it here cause I don't know if it's already info everyone knows and I'm just rehashing it.
Listed4 months ago2023-07-23 22:50:45 UTC 0 comments
While trying to finish jump arena, I decided to try and add a secret to the map, but in doing this I went down a rabbit hole of experimentation and learning how to manipulate the tools given to me from the gold source engine. There's a lot more stuff I can do with gold source entities rather than the idtech 3 quake live ones, and I kinda got, and still am, sidetracked from actually finishing jump arena. I know there's probably a lot more I could do if I learned how to code for the game, but I really just don't feel like learning all that right now, so I'm just kinda seeing what I can do with the tools given. I'm thinking about how I could use this, or maybe halflife 2 with the more advanced source, in some kind of multimedia project, but I need to think of a smart way to incorporate all the elements so it doesn't just feel like a virtual museum with music.
Erty4 months ago2023-07-23 20:39:55 UTC 2 comments
For those asking about a reverse Map2Prop, or Prop2Map if you will,
I did some testing to see how it'd work out...


User posted image

...I suppose I better not. The world isn't ready for this.
Erty4 months ago2023-07-20 16:36:51 UTC 2 comments
Hi again!

Juggling a lot of projects right now, both IRL and mapping/developing. Might have more to show/tell later on but for now I've made a page for Map2Prop with info about that little thing as well as download links with changelogs but more importantly it has a subpage for format specifications for some of the formats used in the project.
(Edit: The specifications have made their way to the TWHL wiki now over at Format Specifications)!

I've added a lot of my own findings where I could and hopefully made it easier to read by using consistent notation and style (but I'll gladly welcome any feedback for what can be done differently!)

– Erty
jamie4 months ago2023-07-18 22:03:58 UTC 2 comments
Recently Erty released a program capable of turning RMF and JMF to SMD, wich is pretty cool. I had the idea of attempting to make a 3D model entirely on J.A.C.K., to test and see if it was a good idea, or if it was better than normal modelling with standard 3D modelling software.
So, to start this, i tried to make a v_shotgun, and after some time i created a very basic model
~You can go and suck it, Blender~You can go and suck it, Blender
Wich is based on a random stock picture of a Remington (it looks more like the TF2 shotgun). Anyways i "compiled" the thing and honestly it did looked better than i expected:
I also forgot to plug in my laptopI also forgot to plug in my laptop
The only thing left now was rigging and testing, however i found quite a lot of issues when doing this (that luckly were not caused by the converter).
1. The pump-thing was incorrectly placed.
I forgot that the pump is located really far away from the barrel end, and that the hand would not be able to grab it.
I could edit the model in MS3D, however i wanted to fully model the thing in J.A.C.K, so that was definitely not an option.
2. The barrels are too short and the rest is very large
In the pumping animation, Gordon cocks back. This was an issue, since the pump was very far away from the hand, and i did not wanted to edit the animation.
GIF fileGIF file
So, i had to edit the reference to make the barrels longer and the rest shorter:
I edited the reference and added some more details:
Pretty much the same thingPretty much the same thing
Now it was time to rig and compile, but during the rigging process i ran across a problem. I dont know exactly what i did, but i "erased" the backfaces in the pump after i converted.
At this point i was very tired and it was really dark outside, but i needed at least a reference or a concept. So i quickly deleted the hands, moved the viewpoint, and compiled.
SS2 Shotgun?SS2 Shotgun?
CONCLUSION/TL;DR: Most of the problems i encountered were a skill issue of mine, but an experienced mapper and modeler should be able to use mapping tools to create 3D models easily.
Listed4 months ago2023-07-18 15:14:03 UTC 2 comments
My main goal of this project is to help get people a little more interested in making fun, fluid, and interestingly designed deathmatch maps, for all different deathmatch games. I have found myself really loving the old deathmatch/arena style of gameplay, But I don't have many people to play with so I have mainly focused on duel maps, though I do have a few bigger Quake maps that I never finished.

You may notice in a lot of my maps I only really like to focus on architecture, and not a lot of the texturing or the fancy wall geometry, because honestly, for me that stuff doesn't fit with what I'm doing and has been a massive waste of time when I've tried to implement it. I just like to keep things simple and make sure it's fun and fluid to play on.
KingYoshi4 months ago2023-07-17 17:50:28 UTC 1 comment
I like maps and Counter Strike! :D

So, to all the readers who are new and don't know what I do. I maintain the Counter-Strike Deleted Scenes FGD, Which has had a smallish update that was just pushed today. It has been a wild ride.

We left off from the last journal a few years ago. During that time I was in contact with a lot of cool dudes in the early 2000s game development scene. I had tracked down most of the staff from Ritual Entertainment, some of the Gearbox guys and a really cool dude that had left Valve, but still helped me out when making an approach. Made some new friends in the YouTube game and a rather outlier of a person that was fundamental in the rise of early mobile games.

Though all of the planning and searching, thinking and optimizing the path to the proper people. I got to talk to some guys from Gearbox, and a few enthusiastic members of Ritual Entertainment (Looking at you, Castle, Kevin and a bunch more). Then came the greatest, yet strangest contact that I had ever made. For anonymity purposes, I will call them JD. JD was something of an entrepreneur in the early 2000s, and made a large name for themselves with early mobile games. The popularity skyrocketed and made a lot of money, they then acquired Ritual Entertainment and moved the dev teams off of there internal projects and onto other mobile market focused projects.

I messaged my normal opener of who I was, what I do, what I intended to do and how JD could help. Their reply was…

“Can you tell me who told you to contact me?”

My response was “No one in particular, just a lot of my own investigation into who would become the default owner of the materials owned by Ritual.”

The next message I got would send shivers of joy down my spine.

“We recovered a lot of the files from the servers, I also have a lot of boxes with the old tapes and such that I have no idea what to do with.”

There it was. I was exhilarated by the thought of finally putting my hands on the treasure that I had been looking for, 3 years in the making and here I was. Looking at the X on the map and seeing it in front of me.

JD was a key person, a proverbial “Key to the City” of old assets and developer files. I had a back and forth conversation with JD for a few months and even went as far to confirm what was actually extracted from the older raid servers that had been long powered off. Finding not only SiN content, but also the original XBOX version of Counter-Strike. Which I thought was the greatest thing around, and meant that the Deleted Scenes were also bound to be there too.

At this time, I had also learnt that another company, Nightdive Studios, had been in contact with JD about the SiN franchise (Which resulted in a purchase). So, I knew that I was in the right place at the right time. But I would lose contact with JD after a while… The messages just stopped. I would occasionally check in, but no more came in after this.

“We are starting the process soon, I actually started to search through the code archives myself this past week.”

I followed up twice with a message, hoping for a stir… nothing came back.

I had lost contact with the one person that could have put an end to the chase I had started. I was absolutely devastated. Destroyed. Immobilized from the loss of the most amazing cave of treasure to ever have existed for this long. I still am partially dead on the inside from missing my chance. I truly have not gotten over my own disappointment in myself.

After that, I too just drifted away from mapping, modding and developing anything. I just… didn’t get it anymore. I still have trouble coming back to do things for the Deleted Scenes FGD, any of the drafted documents that I had made, or the mod ideas I wrote down so enthusiastically during my free time. I had failed and at the moment, I am still in the midst of understanding that failure. Was it my eagerness, or was it the simple fact that JD might not be an avid user of emails. Was it this or that, I am still unsure to this date. I might check in later to see if the case is the same, only time will tell.

I had failed my goal in the modding community, and real life is still kinda tough with losing my job this month, now the 5th time that has happened, which is a bummer. Not sure what life has in store for me, I still live in Japan, which is cool. I know I can’t do corporate anymore, I am quite lost in real life and in the modding life.

But I came back today, just for a little bit to add in what was done bit by bit throughout last year and this year. I am still in the Discord and still comment on the occasional thing here and there. It was nice to see all the talent again and the dudes making cool stuff in WIP chat. Although, when I look at that, I just think that my skills in everything I do in the past year have reduced. I don’t create as much anymore, and not to the detail that I used too.

Kinda tired nowadays.

Anyway, I hope y'all enjoyed the journal.

See ya.