It's all about the speed. You can have the best looking map in the entire universe but it won't be played if you need this to run it (my system): P3 600, GeForce 256 DDR, and 256 RAM. Try to get it to run like a dream on this: P2 (or AMD K62 or 3) 233, Voodoo1/Riva 128, and 64 RAM. Sounds impossible, right? No. I beat Half-Life on my oldest computer, a P133 with a 2MB Matrox 2D card and 48 RAM in software without a single slowdown. Those Valve guys are smart at designing their levels and you can be, too. All it takes is time and practice.
First Thing's First
First off, NEVER EVER
make your level out of a box. If you make a 4048x4048 box, hollow it and then build a map in it, I am going to hurt you. Hurt you bad. Always make your level with speed in mind.
If you have 2 wall sections that intersect, then use the good old vertex manipulation tool and do this:
If you have a small light fixture on a large ceiling, make it a func_wall then have it 1 space below the ceiling. If you have a light fixture on a wall, make it a func_wall, it won't break up the wall. Use a func_wall
flask on pipes; it will save a lot of polys. If you have a large outdoor area (not too large) with rocks, make the rock texture larger. Do this by going into the texture application tool and setting the scale to 2.
To check your r_speeds, go into HL with the -dev command, then type r_speeds 1 in the console. Wpoly is World Polygons, Epoly is Entity Polygons, ms is your ping, and fps is your framerate. Keep your Wpoly under 400 and Epoly under 900 at all times. Reduce detail to get Wpoly down, and reduce the amount of entities for Epoly reduction.
More on r_speeds.
If you plan from square one with speed in mind, your level should be playable on everything. If you need a system like mine to run it, start over. Here are a few tips to help you in your quest for a fast running level
- Never play test your level on a military-grade supercomputer.
- Never have a lot of complex brushes in one area.
- The Half-Life engine can't and won't do large areas. If you want wide open spaces in your map, build a level for Tribes or wait for HALO to come out.
- If you get one tiny spot with high r_speeds, its OK only in a low-traffic area. If the main arena of your level has lag up the yin-yang, re-do it.