I've been playing the first Half-Life for about 8 years now, and a large majority of that time was spent fragging friends on various deathmatch servers. Over time, my valve folder was slowing building up an arsenal of downloaded maps.
Recently I did a very long Twitch stream with my friend, and out challenge was to sit down and play a selection of maps that we’d remember from long ago and see if they still held up in any way. Our lot was 55 maps in total and we dedicated at least 5 minutes to each map, increasing it to 10 if we still wanted to check things out.
To our surprise, the maps that held up the most in our eyes were A) really
shitty looking, and B) Had something hilariously fun about them that neither of us could describe. I mean, hell, our favourite map from the lot that night turned out to be a map by the name of 1337_Street, and it’s just a street with blocky as sin cars and buildings with rooms you could teleport into. And yet my friend and I had so much fun on this map during out session that it practically stole the night. Another example of a shitty map being a hell of a fun time to play is just a map that was simply called “small.bsp”: a house that’s as badly brushed at it was textured, and yet I had a hell of a time playing it. Now, contrast that with some of the other maps we played that night. Our folder wasn’t just filled with people’s apparent first map creations; we also had some other really nice looking, thought out maps with excellent design choices when it came to making the map look nice, but the odd thing was that a large majority of them (besides the Karnak, pictured below, which is a BEAUTIFUL map that we had to skip because it was just too big for it to be fun for two people) were surprisingly boring, and we ended it just thinking about how much fun it was to tripmine the fuck out of the kitchen in Small. So what’s the point I’m getting to here? That shitty maps are better than well textured and well thought out maps? That sinfully blocky brushwork is far more entertaining than maps with excellent use of brushes? No, not in the slightest. However, our best moments from the session happen on those really shitty maps.
This just reinforces my, perhaps spotty, ideology when it comes to making HLDM maps. I usually don’t really use custom texture wads outside out of the ones that come with half-life, nor do I really try super hard to make my maps look good. If I complete a map and playtest it and my friends and I never want to stop playing it, that is WAY better (in my mind at least) to map that looks exceptional, but does not really get to the top of the list of map suggestions before we start playing. I mean, we still play 2Partment
as our first map in our sessions, and that just uses textures that everyone has seen 18 billion times by now.
Maybe I’m just a naïve mapper that needs to grow up from bad practices, but that’s just how I feel.