Realizing My Childhood Dream : Forgotten Bunker 2 - Part I
tl;dr version: I'm a dude that fulfilled his childhood dream through his not bad at all second map.
This is my first journal. It's about my experience of making the Forgotten Bunker 2 map (currently in the vault) for Half-Life: Deathmatch.
Forgotten Bunker 2 is the sequel of a map I made back in 2003, when I was 15 years old. The first version, for which I don't have a copy anymore was rudimentary, wasn't lagging, but was violating pretty much all performance principles. Still, it featured an entrance with a shaft just long enough so that thrown grenade explode in the main room, automatic doors, a room with pillars which inspired the high-impact zone, some kind of lab and a long diagonal corridor leading to a small engine room where there was a crossfire-like button. People complained it was too cramped to play, but still I (pretty far from) mastered the use of trigger entities. I was happy. R.I.P.
At 30 years old, I was still playing the game once in a while. I was playing with a small community of remaining Half-Life: Deathmatch players, which I won't name. Kind of a love and hate relationship. I've always been unpopular among gamers which contrasts about my surprisingly active social life. I digress. After having played for so many years, I was bored and it just happened that we were playing a very dull map (to my opinion). So I messaged a vulgar version of: 'this map is boring' to all players (as douchebag I like to anonymously be) which a 40-ish years old admin, most certainly father and in a 'giving the christian example'-mode spoke through its mic. : 'Have YOU ever tried to make a map?'. I replied: 'Yes I actually did!' and replied further: 'It's called Forgotten Bunker'. To which he spoke back: 'Oh yes? Where can I get it?' So yeah, my next line was a miserable 'You can't. It lost it...'. At this moment, two things happened. First, 'F*** this guy, who the f*** he thinks he is?' in some sort of mis-placed ego driven rage. Second, I realized I could never be at peace not leaving a tangible legacy for this game. Not being able to show anything was torture. I had to fulfill this newly discovered childhood dream.
'F*** the competition!', I said for myself, as I say for myself at the beginning of every projects. Hatred driven projects are the way to go. Excessive pressure is a must too! Let's build upon an as inflated than fragile ego. I still digress. No seriously, I've grown up ... still... I still said 'F*** the competition!'. No, seriously, I always try to push things further in all I do. I'm a real enthusiast at what things can become... and you know, I thought there was room to explore for maps in this game. I started to lay out axioms of my disdain towards the entire world (joke): 1-Maps are mostly static space in which players can fight 2-Elevators are often the most complex feature of maps. I need to give credit to all genius inspired maps which have proven to be successful by their layout and architecture alone. These are exempt of my unequivocal hatred (wonder about how many 'joke' I can put before you really think I'm a narcissistic demon).
Back in the days, PCs and network resources couldn't handle the load of coop kind of content in multiplayer maps... and I suppose that by the time they actually became fast enough, no one cared about making feature-rich deathmatch maps. So basically, making a feature-rich Half-Life: Deathmatch map is like punching a little kid in the face (thus winning I guess?) but a little kid no one cares you to beat... like your young self... digressing again.
Having played many HLDM maps in the past years, I was filled with a recurring sense of dullness and the idea of making a standard map seemed lazy and infinitely boring. Of course there were more dynamic maps like Rats, but it was more of an exception. I needed something more articulated and imaginative so I cranked up the heat from the get go.
Axiom 3: I suck at layout, architecture and lighting. This, I defined later in the process. I actually found myself a talent at the gameplay level. If things are ugly, make them fun. Hopefully, I had help for the aesthetic part through Windawz, which probably don't want me to mention his name in this text. Too bad friend, I'm mentioning verifiable facts anyways ; ).
Ideas soon started popping in my head like crazy. I started getting the worst version of Valve Hammer and without any idea of doing things right, I started mapping the first prototype of Forgotten Bunker 2. I flooded TWHL forums like a vile greedy beast, until there was no more thread to bump. Sorry for that BTW, this was maniac. I spend time at work searching on entities, making plans for layout, portal locations. Except for practice, this step was mostly pointless, except for the ambitious 4 crossfire-like events I decided to include. Being an analyst programmer myself, entities wiring was relatively easy so I put a thick coating of butter on the toast.
Because yeah. This was the plan: Feature 4 crossfire-like events that will be chosen at random at firing. The layout and choice of the different rooms was also part of the plan. All the rest was born mid-flight... mostly through binge learning on all kind of goldsrc map making subjects. I was hooked. Add this, add that. It's enough. Add this, add that. Stoppp! I wasn't sleeping at night. Even skipped work few times so much I was passionned with realizing this dream of mine.