How did you start mapping? Created 7 years ago2012-01-25 09:44:21 UTC by Lajron Lajron

Created 7 years ago2012-01-25 09:44:21 UTC by Lajron Lajron

Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 09:47:45 UTC Post #302935
Well i was thinking should i create this thread.
But i thought it would be cool that everyone tell us how they started mapping for games.
I don't know if this thread was before so this is what you basically have to write :

~What made you start mapping in the first place?
~What was your first map?
~Where did you get inspiration for your first map?
~To who did you show it & how did they react?
~Your advace to future mappers/current mappers?


~Your story
I started mapping because i wanted an admin at some server i told them that i know how to map but i was a noob i used
It was really stupid of me but then i started using hammer at the beggining it was really hard but i watched some tutorials on the internet about it and started creating better maps.
My first map was a deathrun map called deathrun_blabla
I didn't upload it but some players created a video about it
Damn it.When i look at deathrun_blabla and my current maps i see so much diffrents.
Back then i didn't use NULL/SKY texture for the places that players couldn't see.
Than the map had so much bags but every next map was better and better.
I got inspiration from another map called i forgot the name but it was a deathrun map.Players told me the map that i created was really good but damn it was really bad :roll:

After that i changed communitys i went to the Clarion Community where i meet "Stojke" and some other mappers but how the years passed the mappers went from the community.I and stojke where the only ones/twos.Than stojke helped me about mapping and told me about TWHL.
So thats my story
What are your storys?
Sorry if this topic is stupid ._. i just wanted to know your story about mapping.
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 09:58:26 UTC Post #302936
~What made you start mapping in the first place?
Found Worldcraft on my HL CD when I got it a long time ago in early 2004. After a few months messing around going from only the included help files, I randomly searched the internet and found TWHL.

~What was your first map?
Gyradell, a derelict overground nature versus structures type theme. Originally the textures were randomly generated from the Corel Photopaint Texture Generator. Still a useful tool, though I don't use it anymore.

~Where did you get inspiration for your first map?
I lived in a historic town and plants grew on everything anyway. Always admired the tenacity of nature.

~To who did you show it & how did they react?
I showed my maps to a friend, who in turn would play through the single 1-map HLSP scenarios. I also managed to make CS maps shortly after learning to map and brought them to a LAN Cafe at the local mall where a dozen people jammed out on them. Some were better than others, most were small, unrefined, and experimental. I made 9 maps in a week and we played them all.

~Your advace to future mappers/current mappers?
It can only get harder from here. Never forget to have fun.
Rimrook RimrookGoldsource Guru
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 11:50:19 UTC Post #302938
Back in 2007 when I connected to the internet( actually used the internet before), Counter-Strike was extremely popular in my area and a lot of friends and colleagues were connected through a huge LAN to the internet. That means we had no lag at all, and we could constantly find 4-5 locally hosted servers by random people.
So at a point I discovered a couple of map hosting sites and started downloading lots of maps just to explore them and propose them for playing. I even kept a notebook( I think I still have it) in which I wrote the name of the maps I liked most.
At this point I thought people who designed these maps must be some kind of advanced game designers(basically it was... MAGIC for me). That's to say- I was convinced that it's next to impossible to create such a map. It's basically the same way I still think today about creating 3D worlds in other games- like NFS.

I experimented with the Starcraft editor before, and at a point the curiosity in me just exploded. There must be an editor for counterstrike too!( knew nothing about "gold source... blah blah"). I searched, and I found the Hammer editor. I was so excited! I expected to find something easy to use( it is now, but then...) like the Starcraft editor. I installed it, and when I opened it for the first time the program just scared the crap out of me. Literally I've lost all hope of ever making maps. The first impression was that it was such a hard program to learn that I abandoned the idea for about 4 months(this happened around March 2007).
Then, as the summer holidays approached, I gathered some courage and started googling after Hammer editor. This is how I discovered a few sites like, snarkpit, and others. Among these TWHL was the most appealing, part because it had an orange theme and I like orange, and part because it seemed to have an interesting community.

So TWHL had a silent student for a whole summer. In the first week I had progressed a lot. I still remember my first map- a cube using cs_assault textures. Ah, that was my day. It was such a special feeling, I felt like breaking a thousand barriers :).
And then I started with a map: samurai_jack_mini_map_#number. Each map had new features and I would test it with my friends. I think I still have uploaded the last map of those series(version 8 or 9 if I remember correctly), samurai_jack_mini_map_ultimate. And then I joined you guys in the autumn. You can say that my progress on the internet forums coincide with my age on TWHL.(4 years 4 months).
My first big project was The_Dome after I've seen a tutorial on creating domes.

And that's the story you might not know, the rest of it... it's on the forums :).
Striker StrikerI seriously doubt myself
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 11:51:37 UTC Post #302939
~What made you start mapping in the first place?

As well as Rimrook, i found VHE on the game disc. It was around 2002th, i used to mess around some mario editors. I had no idea what did what mean, since i did not know a thing about english. I experimented, never knew what does what do. I paused it till 2005, where i already knew English and worked on the maps. I made some crappy maps that were local compiled, most of them had such errors it is funny when i remember now :D
My first serious map was pitch black! I had no idea why, than i noticed i had a giant skybox in the entire map. Fun times. I used to bother my brother to search for tutorials and such, and translate :D
I got ADSL in 2008 and since than i searched for tutorials, tools, RMFs of other people so i can observe them.
Gotten way better over time, than i found out about Chat bear and some Russian sites, after which i found out about TWHL ,and here i am now.

~What was your first map?

I have no idea, i do remember some of my first maps had errors from bad clipping, you could swim in some areas, in some not, they didnt even have sky, they were CSG/BSP only compiles. But my first fully functional map was named field_base and it was for Half Life deathmatch.

~Where did you get inspiration for your first map?

From playing CS and HL of course! I am madly in love with 70s/80s tech and their representation of future. Thats why i wanted to map in the first place, Half Life was my most favorite game of all time when i was a kid.

~To who did you show it & how did they react?

No one, every one was playing CS, only i was the HL player, plus, my compiles were not playable in multi player :D

~Your advace to future mappers/current mappers?

Keep on mapping, and keep on having fun with it. You have the tools to create a world people will enjoy and appreciate.
Stojke StojkeOPL - 3
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 12:34:07 UTC Post #302942
~ What made you start mapping in the first place?
Like a couple of the guys above, I found WorldCraft on my HL CD and installed it. I didn't have a clue what I was doing however so I left it for a while. Then an article in PCGamer inspired me so I picked it up again and started experimenting.

~ What was your first map?
Right here. On reflection though, I'm not entirely sure this was my absolute first map. This was certainly one of the earliest though, from around the year 1999.

~ Where did you get inspiration for your first map?
Experimentation. I always wanted to be able to tell my own stories and mapping seemed a good way of doing it.

~ To who did you show it & how did they react?
Nobody, I never had the internet until around 2004.

~ Your advice to future mappers/current mappers?
Multiplayer Mappers: Kill boxes are not fun. Single Player Mappers: Horror maps are never scary, do something original. No more zombie mods for the love of god.
UrbaNebula UrbaNebulaGoldSourcerer
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 13:11:26 UTC Post #302943
A friend of mine at school introduced me to Counter-Strike mapping, specifically for kz maps. After a while I started messing with single-player mapping. I've never actually released a real map, though I did make a close-to-fullbright room full of crates once :)
Penguinboy PenguinboyHaha, I died again!
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 14:25:12 UTC Post #302945
I read it on the back of my old halflife box that you could download and use wolrdcraft to make maps. My very first map was a hollowed cube with a xen tree and a light in it.

One of my earlier maps entailed a house with a pool and diving board. There'd be secrets via func_illusionary doors in plants that you could go inside and other random stuff exploring entities. I remember making a map where you started out in some weird part and then fell way down into a night skyed area with a little multi story building. It had an elevator and each level had different stuff in it. One level had giant gummy bears that were func_pushables. Another had, well I don't remember :D

I remember another early map that was "shooting practice" where you start out in a room full of guns and walk down a hallway full of doors. Each door lead to a small room/ environment for a different monster from halflife. You would push a button and for example a headcrab would appear and you could shoot him. His environment was xen like with waterfalls and weird lighting.

Another interesting map was for the map a machine contest. Though I never finished and submitted it, it was an old abandoned merry go round/ carnival area. You turned it on from an old control station that had a tv in it with an animated texture of a badly drawn porno playing... When it turned on one of the horses ran off of the ride and crashed through the ground. You then jumped down the hole into a sewer that took you around and then under the merry go round where you could see the rotating shaft and some extra horses and neat stuff.

I've made probably three maps where you eat shrooms and begin to hallucinate. Things happened like your ceiling growing and shelves beginning to float allowing you to move upwards to a revealed door. Strange lighting occuring. A picture of the devil appearing and his nose growing. Yea creepy stuff...

I've even mapped a giant skull that opened and closed his jaw. You would stand on a platform and jump into his mouth and fall down his troat. I also made a map with water and a ship rocking in the waves. You jumped onto a floating box and into the ship and you could go in a door on the ship but it teleported you to a big interior area with bookshelves and a crossbow "harpoon".

Yes, I made tons of maps. Hammer is really awesome. Didn't release a map until torture. Was pretty young at the time and got some unfair criticism that I didn't know how to handle ie. ignore.

Forgot to mention, I too randomly found twhl, probably from google. Learned almost everything I know about mapping from the beginning from this site, I really do owe a lot to you guys.

My advance is that no matter how good you get at mapping, halflife has some unfair weaknesses and limitations. But, it compiles extremely fast. Get good at hammer for fun but if you plan on going into architecture or game design, look into more advanced programs that can make complicated geometry. I am using rhino and the things I can make in it make hammer look like ms.paint. But the experience i've gained from the wntire experience is quite un attainale elsewhere. So, keep at it. Learn it, master it, and keep doing it. Make maps for their playability if they are to be played along with their aesthetics. Look at surf_icebob for counterstrike for example. It has tons and tons of things you can do "surf wise" and it looks so simple. This took lots of thought, not just random placement of stuff.

Oh, inspiration for me comes from other video games and life experiences. I would point mostly at super metroid, banjo kazooie, zelda"s", megaman2 and halflife. Note their musical qualities as well. Very inspirational.

Edit: Forgot to mention. For the longest time I didn't know hammer could mirror objects vertically and horizontally with ctrl i/l. If you are ever making something symmetrical, construct one halve and then mirror it. I made my entire hunter ship from metroid prime without knowing this...

Also, hammer likes triangles. :D

And utilize the hell out of vertex manipulation. For everything!
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 16:28:01 UTC Post #302948
~What made you start mapping in the first place?

I was looking for a copy of "Mysteries of the Sith", instead I got qED II, a commercial level editor (from Wizard Works) for Quake engine based games in early 1998. I thought it was an expansion pack for Quake at the time. It took me ages to figure out the program's real purpose, and the basics of the three dimensional editing. I didn't do much mapping until I got my hands on Worldcraft on Half-Life's disc in late 1998. It was much more user friendly compared to other editors on the market.

~What was your first map?

It was bunch of poorly connected blocks without lights. I could swim inside the brushes. I think I had an exterior map with floating Strogg ships, which was used for the scripted scenes. My first real map was an office level for Half-Life. I didn't have any device to backup my work. I lost all of my stuff in formats every time.

~Where did you get inspiration for your first map?

I was inspired by early shooter games like Dark Forces, Duke Nukem, Blood, Hexen, so I wanted to create my own levels.

~To who did you show it & how did they react?

My family. I don't remember them showing any interest. My friends, well, they wouldn't understand the basics. I was just a little kid. I didn't have an internet connection until late 1999.

~Your advice to future mappers/current mappers?

Spend your time to create a good, and fun gameplay, find people to playtest your maps. Accept the flaws of your map.
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 20:02:08 UTC Post #302949
Yer all a bunch of noobs. I made my early mapping experience in Wolfenstein3D.

[TLDR at the bottom]

My start in mapping goes back to about the year 1999, when I got my first computer. Until then, the only games I knew were those in other people's computers. Most of them were DOS-based and Windows was a rare novelty to me. Along with a crapload of demos and shareware versions of old games that came bundled with the computer there was a shareware version of Wolfenstein 3D (shareware was just Ep1). I had played it before so I knew that was one of the greatest games ever, but I couldn't figure out why the rest of the game was unavailable (as in, episodes 2-6 removed from the shareware version).

One day some acquaintance of my father brought me this unusual-looking disc, all black except for the lone words "Wolfenstein 3D" in cyan on it. Maybe this disc had something of interest - perhaps even the missing parts of the game - so I grabbed it without a second thought. Turned out to be a huge collection of folders and files (that now I know was internet-type content, but I had no idea at the time). Lots of folders with custom Wolf3D mods (most of them just the content files, it took me a while to figure out why there were no playable .exes in there and how was I supposed to make use of them) and some folders with extra stuff that wasn't games at all. Names like "MapEdit 4.5" and "MapEdit 7" got my curiosity, but I still didn't even associate that with the idea that game content could be modified; plus the .exes in there failed to run. I left those uninteresting non-funcioning programs aside and proceeded to get my hands on the "playable" games, each one of which turned out to be some kind of hacked version of the game (custom content, but I didn't know) and quit a bit bitter because none of them were the full game I was looking for.

But what were these dull-looking programs? It took some time but when I got them to run they all showed these big square graphs on a black background. What the hell was this? After some fiddling I noticed one of them looked a lot like the floor plan of the first level in Wolf3D. Matter of fact, the next one also looked a lot like a floor plan of the second level, and the next one like the third. It didn't take long to make the connection, and I got my hands to it right away.

I started by making small "convenient" modifications to the existing levels, but after a while they got boring and I started making my own levels. Basically by putting all the placeable stuff I could find in the editor. I made 10 levels for the whole shareware episode. Let's say I called it WolfenStu :lol: :P . They were crap, but I still thought highly of them. My friends also thought they were awesome, so shortly after I made another 10-level pack - WolfenStu 2. Then came WolfenStu 3, 4, and 5. Each one meaner than the last as I gradually learned the subtleties of the W3D engine. There also was a resource editor, so for pack 6 I started drawing new sprites to replace the knife with a lightsaber and the gun with a hand throwing a red brick.

Unfortunately, I lost all of these the next time I had to format my hard drive. I think there might be a possibility of finding one or two, though. I'll look for them.

Fast forward a few years to when somehow, a Counter Strike disc came into my hands. It came along with a bunch of boring multiplayer games that seemed to use the same engine (HLDM, Op4, etc. plus Redemption which I thought was crap for not being multiplayer, despite me not even having internet access). I no longer have that disc. At the time, maybe you knew someone that knew someone that knew someone that had a cd burner, so I had them make me a copy so I could loan out the copy without risking the "real" disc getting damaged. Ironically, I eventually lost the "real" disc and I was only left with the copy. Which unfortunately was one of those cheapo no name blank discs that look the same on both sides, and after a while the plating started peeling off and no longer reads. On the other hand I somehow ended up with a HL disc. I didn't even care about it, everyone was playing CS at the time.

One day a friend said he knew someone that knew someone that knew someone that somehow had made his own map for CS. Nobody believed him, but I immediately started searching the internet for some form of level editor (whenever I was visiting someone with internet access) and eventually came across some program referred to as Worldcraft that I couldn't figure out. I kept it, but also kept looking for easier and user-friendlier alternatives (that turned out to be worse).

I eventually went back to Worldcraft to try and make some decent CS map to play with my friends. And for years, my only mapping resource was random google searches. I only came across TWHL in 2009 and I immediately registered. Most of the mapping sites I had visited before were all flashy looking with ads and popups. I loved TWHL because it was easy on the eyes and didn't look massive, more like that small bar around the corner where everybody knows everybody.

TL;DR: First tried out mapping for Wolfenstein3D, until I moved to Counter Strike. Didn't play Half Life until about 2006-7.

~Your advice to future mappers/current mappers?
If somebody else could do it, you can do it too. Game makers don't do magic, there is always a way to do things.

Also, less is more.
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 20:59:02 UTC Post #302951
I actually got it from the Half Life disc as well....still have my original disc. I actually have the five disc Half Life 2 Episode 1 as well. This was before Steam got all big and I didn't like the idea of not owning the CDS.

I wish I still had that first real map I made. It was a small room with a floor spot light and a npc_metro police in it. I put some posters on the walls, I think movie posters cause I remember doing alot of movie poster textures right afterwards that I used in a theater map. I just loved the idea of being able to put your own textures in...well, and the fact that I shot that policeman over and over again. lol

I think my ACTUAL first map was an attempt to use the whole of the space in the editor which obviously turned out to be a huge mistake along with the fact that EVERYTHING was out of scale on first render....well, after I took out the huge box. I think it was an attempt at a castle...utter failure.

I actually started with the whole idea of mapping with Tony Hawk on ma PS2. Some level editor that I spent hours with. Half Life was like a hook in the mouth after that. I was also addicted to Final Fantasy 7 at the time. I love game where you have to make combinations.

I have actually been in the game making business for quite some time. Considering I am a bit older I have a total of 20+ years making games on various systems all the way back to some word adventure games I made for the TRS-80 model I and the Atari 800. I am actually a Graphic Artist at heart. I tend not to share alot of my work cause I am selfish like that.

My current work is in total contrast to my first work all those years ago. My current project is a Hope Shuttleport. Hope is my youngest daughter so I named the shuttleport after her. Kind of surprising what the source engine will do when you push it a little. All textures, models, and materials are originals. I have taught myself well along with the help of many online communities including the people here at TWHL.

Advice for anyone looking to do this kind of thing.....hmmmm....??

I think the phrase follow through applies here. Try to finish something before you move on to something new. For me, I have way too many open projects that are not finished simply because I had a whim to do it. Fight that urge and complete the task. This sometimes requires dedication and patience but it pays off in the end. Be balanced? Don't let mapping consume you because it has a tendency to do that. If you have alot of free time already then cool but don't stop your life for this shiat. Some people have a knack for this stuff and some people have to work entirely too hard to succeed. If it's just a hobby then cool but be prepared to learn and learn some more cause it's always changing. If you stick with Valve it will anyways. All platforms move up and you have to roll with the changes. And lastly, know who you are and stick with it. If you are a mapper then map your heart out. If you love lights then make some maps and become the best lighter you can be. If you like sound then I guess you know what to do. Stick with what you know best if you plan on being hired. This really applies to local hobbyist who stick together and create maps. Coders are the main stay and if you know coding then stick with it cause it's a dying art. Nobody wants to put the time in to learn it anymore. Soon we will have machines programming machines.....scary....

Just have fun with it....
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 20:59:58 UTC Post #302952
~What made you start mapping in the first place?
I started mapping before I even knew what the word meant. My brother had worldcraft running in his (ridiculously short) mapping career , I just pressed random buttons until
~What was your first map?
The first map I really remember creating was a hollowed out green triangle , coated with a toxic water texture , that had 3 scientists magically floating in it. My first "released" map was B.O.G which you can still see in the map vault. It was an experiment and trying not to use hollow all the time.
~Where did you get inspiration for your first map?
If by inspiration you mean the random keypresses , then I'm going to assume my brain.
~To who did you show it & how did they react?
Nobody. I would die.
BOG , as i've said before , was uploaded here. General consensus was negative ; i'm not surprised.
~Your advice to future mappers/current mappers?
If you make something that's terrible , i'd suggest putting down your tools and walking away.

Just kidding , do the exact opposite. Work and chip away at any problems and errors , and remember to always experiment. You won't be a succesful mapper if you always work by someone else's rules - By experimentation and realisation of errors , you'll find your own way of mapping - and that'll be the best method.
Instant Mix Instant MixTitle commitment issues
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 21:14:06 UTC Post #302953
You pressed random buttons until what? Until WHAT?? I want to know!!
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 22:42:54 UTC Post #302959
Haha, I used the Tony hawk game for ps2's editor as well. It was a lot of fun to make king of the hill maps. I also made ramp "roller coasters" Oh yea I also played roller coaster typhoon. And the sims...
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 22:46:53 UTC Post #302960
Oh the good times had with The Sims. My houses were the envy of all my friends :cool:

...because their houses were complete crap. Not because I was any good.
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-25 22:54:36 UTC Post #302962
Until I made a box. And then realised that you could move and scale the box.
Instant Mix Instant MixTitle commitment issues
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-26 00:00:19 UTC Post #302965
For the longest time I didn't know hammer could mirror objects vertically and horizontally with ctrl i/l. If you are ever making something symmetrical, construct one halve and then mirror it. I made my entire hunter ship from metroid prime without knowing this...
Indeed sir! I too didn't know about the "Mirror Image" or Flip-Vertical/Horizontal tool, and i spent many hours of my life meticulously building both sides of complex symmetrical objects, for basically no raeson, LAWL. CTRL-I/CTRL-L are probably one of the most useful tools in hammer imo.

I also rely heavily on Alt-E and CTRL-M scaling now, where for now most of my mapping life i would never think to use them. When you really get a feel for Hammer, all the different tools combine to form a very powerful and efficient prototyping platform. I also love that there is never one single "right way" of doing something, to achieve a similar result.

I still haven't found a use for the hollow tool yet though, which is highly ironic because i think it's one of the very first tools learned to use, from a tutorial probably here or on Countermap :P
Captain Terror Captain Terrorwhen a man loves a woman
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-26 00:15:03 UTC Post #302966
I've only found the Hollow tool to be useful as a quick and dirty way of building a room for a test map.
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-26 02:14:45 UTC Post #302971
This thread just taught me about CTRL-I/CTRL-L. Someone should have written it down sooner! :P

~What made you start mapping in the first place?
When I was just a kid, I used to draw floorplans for levels in (mostly) FPS games. I must have designed tens of games, none of them really worth even salvaging the concept of. :P Then one day my brother got a burned copy of Starcraft. I watched him play through it, like I did every time he got a new game, and I started playing it. Sometime around when he bought the Battle Chest edition of Starcraft, I discovered the map editor and was hooked. As the years went by, I used different level editors with the games we had, Age of Empires (bleah, no customization), UT2004 (3D, but subtractive space, ugh), Warcraft III (Now here's a good RTS editor!), etc. One day he showed me a map he made in the Source SDK (a big empty room with dev textures, a platform, and some barrels) and I knew what I wanted to play with next. (He however, lost interest a few unfinished maps later) Unfortunately, he went off to university and took his steam password with him, but digging through the computer I found his old WON Half-life installation, which I happily played through, remembering how awesome it was from watching him years prior. And lookie here, the directory has an older version of the Hammer editor!
...With no Half-life FGD. :|

~What was your first map?
My first map was some crappy Starcraft map I can't remember and no longer exists. Moving on, my first compiled map in Hammer was another crappy map, but this time for The Specialists. I heard that there were roleplay servers, so I made a little office as a roleplay map. It had a hidden sawed-off shotgun, cubicles, invisible glass (I hadn't gotten the hang of texturemodes yet) and was complete crap. I've since deleted the BSP and destroyed the source files.
~Where did you get inspiration for your first map?
~To who did you show it & how did they react?
Nobody. They reacted with disinterest.
~Your advace advice to future mappers/current mappers?
Don't give up, because you will improve with practice. It pays to learn to make custom textures and models (which I haven't fully grasped yet), and spelling is important too.
JeffMOD JeffMODCall 141.12
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-26 02:38:33 UTC Post #302972
They sit alone in basements, the detritus of their previous snack only landing on their laps on the off-chance that it makes it past their overhanging stomachs. Dim illumination from their monitors provides a view of the cheesy crisp dust surrounding their unwashed, spotty faces as they raid dungeons with their level 50 Dire Owl Panther. Independent or ‘indie’ game designers have a commonly believed stereotype regarding their lives (or lack thereof,) but as the major companies in the video game industry care more and more about cost and profit and less about creativity and innovation, it is left to the indie developers to remind us that a truly original concept will be far more memorable than Generic Shooter 12 or Another Football Game 2010.
The vast majority of best selling games have indie roots before they’re picked up by a studio. Left 4 Dead – one of the best sellers of 2009, for example originally existed as nothing more than a nameless modification, or ‘mod,’ of one of the most popular online first-person shooters– Counter-Strike.
Such an impact on the game design industry and responsibility for so many game concepts which show genuine flair and ingenuity couldn’t originate from such cheese-encrusted roots then, surely? Perhaps we were too quick with our assumptions about indie game designers.
Leslie Young, M.D. is a well respected paediatrician, husband and father from Long Beach, California. Since immigrating to the United States from Taiwan in 1985 and subsequently becoming a physician, Dr. Young now spends much of his free time playing and designing levels for first-person shooters.
“Of all the genres, first person games capture my imagination the most. The immersive 3D environments literally create an alternate reality.” He categorically answers when I ask why, “Designing levels for these games allows one to escape into another dimension and allows others to be immersed in the world you created.”
However, being a doctor – arguably one of the most time consuming occupations known to man as well as a husband and parent, Dr. Young faces quite a challenge to complete any level design projects he undertakes.
“Two approaches work for me. Either spend a few days intensely mapping - spending about 6-10 hours a day - finishing the level in less than a week or spend 4-6 months making a map, spending only a few hours on it per week,” he explains before adding, “I definitely prefer the intense binge style, but that can really hurt my relationship with my wife. So now I am opting for the latter style.”

Before parting ways, I ask what he thinks of the stereotype given to indie game designers.
“I am an amateur body builder and runner; I’m training for a marathon in October and I’m more sociable than my wife who is a computer programmer,” he discloses, “It takes some maturity and patience to be a good level designer.”

Every rule has an exception, though, so it’s possible that Dr. Young was just a one-off and that other indie designers do live up to the stereotype. To find out, I spoke to Andrew Morris, a 23 year old website designer from Knighton, England who has been independently creating levels for games for eleven years.
I asked him why he is interested in creating game worlds.
“I guess partly because of my knack for storytelling and also partly down to my love for actually creating something which people can interact with.”
So why is he willing to do it for no financial gain?
“It would be a dream come true to create levels on a professional level,” he replies, “I used to design websites as a hobby and now I have made a career out of it. While I do still enjoy it; working from someone else's specifications is a lot more challenging and unfortunately you can find yourself doing things that you would never do for one of your own projects. I would probably need to be left to my own devices in order to succeed in a professional level design environment.”
When queried about the stereotype, Andy gets notably frustrated.
“What it essentially comes down to is people failing to take a step back to see the big picture. Many of the designers and gamers I know do it as one of several hobbies,” he exclaims, “when they are not sat at a desk, chatting to fellow designers or building levels, they will be out socialising, exercising, writing, reading or any number of other activities. The entire gaming community is subject to an endless amount of controversial slander, even from political figures, and it is something that needs to stop.”
So what can these bedroom designers do when they want to take their hobby to the next level? 19 year old Antanas Budvytis from Lithuania took his love for unique art and design - previously invested in graffiti art - and learned how to create immersive 3D environments. Years later he wanted to take his passionate hobby to the next level and moved to Dundee, Scotland where he now studies Computer Games Technology at Abertay University. I ask him why he continued to invest hours and hours of his life into game design before there was any possibility of him taking it to a professional level.
“I would keep going as long as I knew someone was actually playing it.” He replies honestly.
These are three people from completely different backgrounds who are all connected through the art of indie game design. They all take something different from it - be it an escape from a stressful job, a way to make it in to the industry or a simple desire to create something for others to play but without exception, they are all highly intelligent, friendly, sociable people. Stereotypes, it would seem, are not entirely accurate.
  • For a journalism class, Feb 2010. Seemed relevant.
Archie ArchieGoodbye Moonmen
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-26 03:24:06 UTC Post #302973
My borther and I started making custom Doom maps in 1994, then gave it up for about 5 years until HL was out and kicking.

Played around with a couple SP maps, but it didnt take.

Years later (2006) I offered to make a map for an RP server I played on, because the guy who was going to make the map was taking forever. I ended up making a full city map in about 2 weeks. RP_Burbank. It was fun, but it only got funner from there. That was for a HL mod The Specialist.

Moved to Source and Gmod mapping -> started Source mod -> moved to UDK -> Profit.

Advice?... don't be afriad to show other people your work, and be prepared for people to tell you what is bad about it, that is the only way you get better. Unless you just make maps for yourself, you NEED others to tell you what they like/dislike.
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-26 05:27:25 UTC Post #302975
During a bring your child to work day I wound up staying late. Turns out my moms office ran Team fortress matches after work. I fell in love and one of the programmers gave me a copy of half-life and everything, worldcraft was on the CD.

From there it proceeded into a long process of simple maps, random ideas, and remaking. I never really finished much. Plenty of "Almost theres". I spent hours every day after school in our new computer lab working on maps.

TWHL was the first place I started asking quetions and posting WIPs. Lots of good advice. I was always to ADD to finish, but I enjoyed the progress. Seeing a world evolve under my hand.

Now that was a long time ago
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-26 06:31:24 UTC Post #302976
It's my first time reading Archie's paper for his journalism class. I was pleasantly surprised to find my own interview in there. Thanks for sharing.

As for my story:
~What made you start mapping in the first place?
I was visiting my college roommate when I saw a copy of Half-Life on his desk. He stopped playing the game long ago, so he gave it to me.

I had problem playing the game, so I had to explore the CD. By chance, I found the Worldcraft editor, and I started investigating its capabilities. To learn how to use the editor, I Googled Worldcraft, and I found TWHL.

I made my first map without ever playing the actual Half-Life game.

~What was your first map?
This was my first playable map.

This was my second map. You can read some of the original comments posted by ZombieLoffe.

~Where did you get inspiration for your first map?
Before I had a chance to play Half-Life, I made the first map, imagining what the game must be like. I used my existing knowledge of Black Mesa in Colorado and extrapolated the landscape. I imagined a battle on top of the mesa, with a cliff drop-off on all sides. This way, the surrounding landscape is actually a threat, in addition to the enemy combatants.

~To who did you show it & how did they react?
I shared my first map at TWHL, which actually garnered fairly positive reception. This really encouraged me to design more maps.

I remember CaptainP and ZombieLoffe were very important teachers and motivators in my early mapping days.

~Your advice to future mappers/current mappers?
Keep mapping. I had since mapped for Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source, and Portal 2. I prefer the single-player experience, because it allows me to tell a story and craft the player's experience.
satchmo satchmoWhat you can do today should have been done yesterday.
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-26 07:57:02 UTC Post #302977
I have been playing videogames since way before Dimbark was born. Mostly I played Blizzard titles like starcraft and diablo, the former of which shipped with an editor. That's where I first started mapping. Then moving on I got into goldsource games like counter-strike. From that I learned about mods such as Redemption and Wanted, both top mods at the time. Then I got to play Half-Life somehow, and from there on I decided to play every mod that I can get a hold of.

Wait, the question was how did you get to mapping for HL. I totally forgot. My advice to the younger members are to learn about mapping alot, and make plenty of maps because, once you're in college there's pretty much no free time for you to pursue your mapping ideas anymore. MAP WHILE YOU'RE STILL YOUNG!
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-26 12:24:12 UTC Post #302979
I shared my first map at TWHL, which actually garnered fairly positive reception

UrbaNebula UrbaNebulaGoldSourcerer
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-26 18:22:56 UTC Post #302981
I don't remember.
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-26 22:26:24 UTC Post #302985
Well after downloading Hammer and giving up on figuring it out I found this site. After reading some tutorials I got my maps working. So without TWHL I would never have started mapping. :D
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-26 23:06:14 UTC Post #302987
~What made you start mapping in the first place?
From memory, I began after watching my brother creating some maps for Half-Life (pretty basic stuff). I'd also seen him make one or two things in Duke Nukem 3D, which probably caught my intriege. It seemed interesting enough, so I eventually tried my own hand at it.
Going from my crappy memory, after realising that I didn't really know what I was doing, I started looking for some tutorials. I believe I pretty much stuck with the ones I found either on Vlatitude69 (or whatever the site was called) and here, TWHL. Eventually I stopped visiting Vlat and just came here, even after I pretty much stopped mapping. I still dabble.

~What was your first map?
Never really released any maps. I never quite make anything I'm happy enough with.

~Where did you get inspiration for your first map?
Probably a mix between my brother, Half-Life, and whatever popped out of my brain.

~To who did you show it & how did they react?
No-one. My mapping has pretty much just been for me.

~Your advace to future mappers/current mappers?
Take things one step at a time.
Have some idea of where your map is going before you make too much.
Not being a tool is an amazingly effective way of getting better help.
Jessie JessieLadytype
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-26 23:15:32 UTC Post #302989
~What made you start mapping in the first place?
Playing Marathon on one of my dads Mac's. I found the editor and started making stuff. From there I dabbled in the new things I found.

~What was your first map?
First map ever, no clue, first completed Gold map was some CS:CZ goodness. A demolition map with it's own cool theme.

~Where did you get inspiration for your first map?
I don't know, playing games I imagine.

~To who did you show it & how did they react?
My first complete map was for my clan at the time, they liked it. I made a bunch of smaller GoW inspired symetrical maps for them to dick around in also. I do have an incredibly awkward story about when I was just starting out and the creator of de_dust, de_dust2, de_cobble, de_tides and some others David Johnston. I basically sent him the first eagerly half-finished room connected to a hall I ever made and he actually wrote about it in his blog. I don't think it was even compiled, I think it was a shot from in-editor. It probably took me an afternoon. Funny stuff. He was nice about it, it was pretty obviously nooby and so he went over basics.

~Your advace to future mappers/current mappers?
If you hold your shit up on a plate in front of a professional shitter, he's going to call it shit. Keep shitting anyway.
Posted 7 years ago2012-01-26 23:52:25 UTC Post #302990
A long time ago, the only Steam game I had was Team Fortress Classic. On the community I joined, there were a lot of custom "adventure" and "puzzle" maps that gave me lots of inspiration. I attempted to get into it, and asked some of the members of it for help. Then some jerk tricked me into deleting my system 32 files.

I started again later and one of the people gave me a link to the tutorial list on TWHL. I used them a little and gradually got better in my maps, sticking with the community. Then I came back to TWHL and started to get into it, and I pushed myself into the community.
Dimbeak DimbeakRotten Bastard
Posted 7 years ago2012-02-13 12:06:48 UTC Post #303357
~What made you start mapping in the first place?
I always enjoyed creating things. I didn't have a computer as a child but I saved up my money and bought an X-Box. There were a few games that had map editors, and I tended to spend more time playing with the editors than I spent in game. This didn't really stop at maps though, my brother had a number of WWF/WWE games, and I spent ages messing around with the create-a-character options in these. I also borrowed Driver 3 from my friend, and would spend hours using the video editor to make car chase scenes.
I got a laptop for Christmas one year, and while it was relatively low end I didn't really figure out what that meant at the time. I bought Prey and Just Cause, and neither of them ran at all. This was the end of my laptop gaming for a few months.
Eventually, however, I got talking with one of my school friends about map creation. He said that he had a copy of Half-Life, and that came with a program called WorldCraft, which one could use to create maps. He apparently found it around the time he first got the game, and while he messed around with it for a while, he didn't much understand it, so it lay forgotten until now. He burned me a copy of the disk (something which I felt somewhat guilty about, but I reasoned that if I ever saw the game in a shop I would buy it, so it wasn't piracy)
We spent the next few weeks messing around with it. I remember going to his house with my laptop, we would both sit in the same room and mess around with WorldCraft on our computers. At the time we were incredibly noobish. RAD was turned off by default, and we hadn't figured it out, so all our maps were fullbright. The fact that we didn't have any lighting anyway stopped us from realising the importance of sealing maps from the void. In fact, I actually made a map in which you have to fight and climb your way from one end of the map to the other, on the outside surface.
We figured out how to use entities, but not how to do much else. We tried to get the lighting to work, to no avail. We tried to make transparent glass, without success. I remember my stroke of brilliance, to try func_illusionary, see if that worked.
It didn't.
Eventually, during on of these trips to my friend's house, he compiled a map, and it came out pitch black. Not good for gameplay, but it showed that he had managed to get the lighting to kick in. He showed me how he had been messing with those little check boxes in the compile window.
Neither of us had internet connections at home, so we used to go onto the computers at the town library and look up mapping tutorials. I stumbled across TWHL, and I took it for just another mapping site, and so soon forgot about it. However my friend saw it, and joined up, and became this guy.
A few days later, he told me to join, and so I did. At some point later, he stopped mapping. I haven't seen or spoken to him in ages, so for all I know he has completely forgotten about it, however I haven't. And here I am.

~What was your first map?
Depends how you define map. There were a number of test maps I made. A single door, a vending machine, things like that. I remember making a massive vault door, a func_door_rotating. Unfortunately I didn't know about flags, and it rotated the wrong way. I hastily changed the surroundings to make it look like it was supposed to open that way.
My first actual map was a godawful abomination. Two rooms, with a vent underneath going from a raised section in the middle of the floor in one room to the opposite wall of the other room. I didn't have any idea how big the player was, so the vent was about the size of a corridor. I didn't have a clue how to do anything. I made steps up to the raised platform by making a wedge shaped block, then using the carve command with another block to cut out step shapes. The clipping spazzed out when I tried walking up these steps (not surprising), so I just placed a few crates to climb up.
I wanted to make a ladder from the vent to the other room, something I didn't know how to do. There was a func_pushable stepladder prefab, which I placed in the vent and stretched to fit. Every time I tried climbing it it just moved away, so I jammed it in a wall to stop it moving.
I can only say it's a good thing I abandoned the map at this point, and it was likely lost when the old laptop succumbed to a ridiculous amount of viruses and stopped working. I did burn a few things onto CD's to save them, it may be on one of those. If I find it maybe I will upload it someday.

~Where did you get inspiration for your first map?
From anything and everything. I find my level of mapping inspiration is inversely proportional to the amount of skill I have. Back then I had millions of ideas but I couldn't do anything with them. Now I have no ideas.
Although whenever I am unable to map for a long time this inspiration comes back. Since my HDD failed I've had loads of ideas, which I've written down for later.

~To who did you show it & how did they react?
Anyone I could. MY friend, TrooperDX3117, who thought the whole thing was brilliant. My other friends, who didn't really get the idea. Anyone who I sat beside in school classes, I would show them the floor plans and such I'd drawn. Some thought it was cool, some didn't care.
My parents, my mother didn't really get it, but my dad thought it was an excellent hobby, and encouraged me to continue.

~Your advace to future mappers/current mappers?
Try hard, don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't be embarrased, most mappers were bad when they started. Save your earliest efforts so you can laugh when you see them in a few years time. If you're stuck for ideas then don't allow yourself to touch Hammer for a few days or weeks. If you enjoy mapping as much as I do you'll be itching to start using it again, and your head will be full of ideas.
Don't eat yellow snow.
Posted 7 years ago2012-02-13 22:01:19 UTC Post #303361
Back then I had millions of ideas but I couldn't do anything with them. Now I have no ideas.
I find myself in that exact situation. That sucks.

As for the func_pushable stepladder prefab, I discovered that you can't climb it as it is. While the top surfaces of steps are separated exactly 16 units and you CAN go up them, the whole prefab is raised by these "wheels" and the bottom step is too high to get to without jumping. Only once I used that prefab, and I got around that issue by clipping a few units off the bottom of the ladder and moving it down.
Posted 7 years ago2012-02-13 23:05:48 UTC Post #303362
Back then I had millions of ideas but I couldn't do anything with them. Now I have no ideas.
Same here i wonder why that is? ='(
Captain Terror Captain Terrorwhen a man loves a woman
Posted 7 years ago2012-02-13 23:48:20 UTC Post #303363
We got past our childhood?
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