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Thread: Mapping ahead of time?

  1. #1
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    Mapping ahead of time?

    Is it possible to begin unofficial mapping for AS:I ahead of time?

    I can do a bit of source mapping, and I figure that why map for UT2k4's AS when I can map for AS:I?

    I mean, AS has very few players playing it now, so there won't be much exposure (although I am among those who still do)

    Now when AS:I is released, a larger swarm of players will come and play, and that may be the pinnicle of popularity. What better time to release more maps to the community while everyone is still watching?

    I think it would require you guys to release some fgd file or something, which you guys probably would not want to do. However, maybe a basic tutorial outlining what we would need to do to create the skeleton of a perfect sized map. Then when the game is released, we can add the entities and such we need.

    Yes? No? Maybe so?

  2. #2
    Developer solaris's Avatar
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    I'm gonna try and point out the issues i'm facing with making the campaign and the basic approach of making a map for Infested:

    One of the new features of Alien Swarm is obviously the tilted camera. That did change the way of making maps dramatically. The cam is tilted towards South. That means that you can't see the player if he's standing close to a south wall. Here's what you can do to prevent this:
    - Reduce the height of all south walls to something between 120 and 160. That's still too much, but it'll make it look like it's still a wall.
    - Then you have to either tilt the south walls with vertex editing (good!), place deco along the walls to prevent the player from getting too close to it (not bad) or just add clip brushes (well... ok).

    During combat you often want to move backwards while shooting madly at the swarm. So it's bad design if the player disappears behind a wall and gets chewed up simply because you can't see where your marine anymore.

    Another important thing is that we changed the lighting code. We really wanted to have pitch black spots and found it difficult to achieve this with the way Valve uses lights. The HL2 engine is all about photorealistic environments and is doing an awesome job at it. We wanted to have radius based lights like we were used with working with the epic tools.
    In short: I haven't really tried to work with the HL2 lights, but i'm pretty sure you can use them if you're familiar with them and don't run into problems, especially since Valve improved the prop lighting.

    Making levels:
    Basically the same as mapping for AS v.1.
    Fun things:
    - Lots of T- and X-sections
    - Our Ai are doing a pretty damn good job using the z-axis compared to AS v.1, so yeh... expect some cool z-axis action
    - We're facing performance problems with the all the amazing things you can do with physics. We're still testing, but so far it seems that it's ok to have around 30/40 phys_props in a netgame. I'd stay away from using deco you can toss around just for kicks and rather use phys stuff for cool puzzles.
    - Same netcode problem as with the Unreal Engine. You can't have something like a train level. Short elevators should be fine, tho.
    - Try to come up with cool co-op ideas!!! I heard Gears of War is doing a good job with co-op stuff, so if you got an X-box handy i'd suggest you could do some research.

    What i suggest you could do is:
    Get familiar with hammer. Brushwork, placing props and adding lights is what i do most of the time.
    Take out a piece of paper and sketch your cool map layout.
    Once you know how to work with hammer and have a plan for your level it shouldn't take you long to come up with something fun.
    All the Infested related things you need to know about level design are well documented and will be released in a reasonable time.

  3. #3
    Member Fuzzy Bunny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by solaris View Post
    One of the new features of Alien Swarm is obviously the tilted camera. That did change the way of making maps dramatically. The cam is tilted towards South.
    Will this mean that the camera rotation unlocks are not going to be in AS:I?

  4. #4
    instead of relying totally on the mappers to avoid a problem thats caused by your new camera system, why not also make it so if the player should happen to be obstructed by a south wall, the camera simply tilts enough that the wall doesnt block anymore, and then tilts back again when your away from the wall
    Last edited by UArchitect; 28th Jan 2007 at 08:26 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by UArchitect View Post
    instead of relying totally on the mappers to avoid a problem thats caused by your new camera system, why not also make it so if the player should happen to be obstructed by a south wall, the camera simply tilts enough that the wall doesnt block anymore, and then tilts back again when your away from the wall
    to be honest, that may be a bit annoyin if you need to hug walls.

  6. #6
    i dont think you understood entirely what i was saying, ill try to explain it a bit better...

    whats more annoying:

    a) in the event your vision is obscured by a "south wall" the camera pitches up a bit so you can see over

    b) having half your screen blocked by a wall and consequently being raped by aliens, only be told your a noob and then the mission is proceeded and then you start thinking about how unfair that was

    as i stated, this would only serve as a safe measure in case a "south wall" should block your vision, it wouldnt happen on any other walls, or happen at all if your visibility isnt blocked

    ill take one of the early asi screenshots to demonstrate:


    taken from this screenshot i have outlined one pillar, which looks roughly the height of the west wall, and also highlighted the size of the player


    in this screenshot ive placed the player in the center of the screen (which is where i assume it will be while playing) and made it "hug the wall" the red area shows the potentially blocked visibility by a wall of that height, as you can see theres enough space for two marines to sit against that wall and not be seen..thats alot of space to be blocked

    as for simply asking the mappers to "TRY and avoid this" take into consideration that making a wall in your map extremely short or sloping it may not be ideal

    in the above situation it would probably require a fairly extreme slope as far as walls go and would look weird compared to the rest of the walls in the map, forcing mappers to adapt a general sloped wall style all over the map which might go against their map design

    using meshes or objects/wall decos to block it would also need to be extreme..with a wall of this height thats two marines thick of random deco, and what if that deco then blocks the camera?....pile more deco onto the deco?...i dont think that would go down well

    not everyone will be using the sloped camera view, and not every mapper will attempt to map with the sloped camera in mind..especially if they use the "classic" view

    applying an auto pitching camera safemeasure just seems like a good idea to me, and i cant see it causing any problems or doing anything bad, certainly nothing worse than blocked visibility

    WARNING: certain individuals have pointed out that the above diagram may be quite terrible and possibly harmful to the human mind..therefore if it does not make sense to you, i suggest not looking at it to avoid any perment damage
    Last edited by UArchitect; 30th Jan 2007 at 09:52 PM.

  7. #7
    Well... switching from AS:I to ASv1 is bad enough for messing up my game. I dunno if I could handle the view randomly jumping around in-game.

    With that said, there is a camera tilting trigger available to the mappers, tho.


    Also, there's a simple solution to making sure the south wall doesn't look different: Slope the other walls as well

    Style bends a lot more than gameplay.
    Ah, to be a hero. Keeping such company...

  8. #8
    Super Moderator BiG_D's Avatar
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    Something about that last line caught my eye. I remembered something from a while ago...
    Quote Originally Posted by DeepQantas View Post
    On the contrary. I think you should always go for the better look and feel and have have the gameplay complement that.
    Slightly different issues, of course, but maybe still applicable? I would think in this case it would be best to allow for maps to have more diverse architecture, with the trade off being adding a little to the learning curve. No?
    It's not my fault everything you like is terrible.

  9. #9
    Member Felix's Avatar
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    On other games they just make the walls which would block the view transparent. How about that?

  10. #10
    Member Shiro's Avatar
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    I believe there is a [Item/prop width minimum pixel size- thing] that makes stuff fade out.. maybe there's a way to alter that for walls? (env_wall? XD)

    For example, if the "motorcycle" is 300px on your screen, it's fully visible, and if it's < 300px it starts to fade out. at 150px it's fully invisible.. Just a thought?



    LessThan300 = 00
    -___-;

  11. #11
    Member DiP's Avatar
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    I love all the numbers under 300 myself!
    Your order has been dispatched!

  12. #12
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    We've put together a small guide that hopefully helps you on your way to building your AS:I maps.

    Early mapping tips for Alien Swarm: Infested.

  13. #13
    Project Lead Dalai's Avatar
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    Just want to say that we did consider the tilting camera and the fading ideas, but decided against them because we wanted maximum visibility for yourself, your squad mates and the aliens at all times, not just when the player's current marine is obstructed.

    There are also other issues such as the disorientation already mentioned by DQ with a camera constantly tipping up and down and a performance hit that comes from having brushes dynamically fade in/out.

  14. #14
    Member Ki!ler-Mk1's Avatar
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    Does this mean that if the alien is obscured by a (South of marine)wall we cant target it in the same way as aliens under roofs in AS v1?

  15. #15
    Member Shiro's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tutorial

  16. #16
    So the camera won't be 100&#37; down like the ASw one?

  17. #17
    Member Fuzzy Bunny's Avatar
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    Awhile back they said there would be an option for the new isometric view or the old top-down view.

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