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 DM01Deimos - Work In Progress 
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Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:16 am
Posts: 143
Post DM01Deimos - Work In Progress
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About time I made a thread for this one. This will detail my struggle with the map called Deimos and it's many forms. It has been the tool of my education for these last few months - turning from idea guy into actual level designer and minor modeller. Note that I'm fully aware that the map isn't done. I'm writing this as procrastination and also because I haven't whored for attention in a very very long time.

Disclaimer: Some of these images make me flinch, and some of the ones I'm proud of will make any competent person in the field suffer a small stroke I'm sure. So be warned.

I've been working on Deimos as a project for several months now. I consider it my first map and has been scrapped twice before. First time I worked on it it looked like this:

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A full album can be found here: http://imgur.com/a/bfrhF

That was my first encounter with a game engine. (apart from slaving away at Elegy and Netarah for two months - but that's a story for another day children!) I swore by BSP. Then I realised I'd made a quake map. It was too tight and didn't really go the direction I wanted PFF maps to go. It wasn't very vertical - but I bet it would have been a good UT map.

The second version of Deimos came around during the 'Unity era'. This time I was forced to pick up blender because I had to make static meshes to build the map from. This really was required learning for me, although I protested profusely.
I learned how to use blender over a few months, but the result wasn't a playable map - which was quickly becoming clear after the first Unity movement was done.

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Note that any semblance of competence in the last image is produced because Voidspawn replaced most of my 'assets' with ones that won't stab your eyes out. The words 'Smooth shader', 'Edge seam' and 'Subsurf modifier' were still very alien to me.
Two things survived from the experimentations with 'Proto Deimos': Curved hallways and Solid Tunnel Segments. Seen in the lower left and bottom images.

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Claiming to be somewhat competent with blender, I set off again. Trashed everything to do with Proto Deimos and started experimenting with what the new movement was capable of. For the first time I also tried to create something of a scale standard.

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After screwing around with all kinds of possibilities, I quickly found some limits to what I or unity could do, I focused more on getting my blender skill up. This is all very relative, as I started with no modelling experience at all. It was still a miracle that my cubes spawned with six faces.
I now started constructing a new Deimos completely in the 3D program, exporting to Unity to test. Slowly but certainly it took shape and more importantly different archetypes of modular assets started to emerge from the rubble.

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After a couple of weeks I finally arrived at something I considered a complete map. I had playtested in Unity somewhat, the scale was right. Once more I called out triumph.

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And then the UE4 switch came.

I realised I had been led astray by Unity. The automatic fbx export from blender made me believe that I didn't have to worry about all this UV and collision nonsense. I cursed, I swore, and then I set to work. Converting the 150 odd objects into separate meshes. From there I started to rebuild the entire map from scratch in UE4. Which hurt a little. I didn't opt to import it as a single solid object for various reasons. I wanted to learn the new engine and I had 2 weeks off work to do it in (first having spent time to make the meshes) but I also realized that the map wasn't good. It still had pieces missing and I slapped on a lot of stuff 'to be tested' which didn't interest me. I was already tired of it before it was even played by another person.

And so the UE4 construction began.

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A plan never survives first engagement with the enemy. And this was no different. I followed the general outline of 'BlenderDeimos' but soon I found it incredibly easy to simply forget the areas I was not sure about. The arbitrary corners and nooks that I filled because I had to simply faded away and got replaced with what I thought of on a whim. And on the same whim I discarded those again, to be replaced with something that flowed better.

And that's when, for the first time in months I started level designing. It was Ignorance that cued me in on it. I had my set plan, I had Deimos - it was finished. I didn't want to spend time on it anymore. But he didn't have the emotional attachment to the idea of that map - an idea that had began to fade for me as well.

This skype chat followed:
Quote:
lots of neat stuff
but, not to be harsh, I say scrap it entirely
way too tight and complex
but I see several maps worth of ideas
- Ignorance

Quote:
I'm not going to scrap it, I've been working on it for 3-4 months.
- Me

Quote:
http://www.logicallyfallacious.com/index.php/logical-fallacies/174-sunk-cost-fallacy
- His reply

I'll admit to being a bit bitchy at that point. But let's face it I'm always like this. I'll consume something completely and think it's the best in the world, only to acknowledge 'ignorance' (Irony, thick enough for a knife) and move on to improve.

I scrapped most of the bottom and back of the map. And I was really stumped on some of the forward areas. I removed some of the fiddly bullshit that was cluttering the map and tried to find a more uniform theme to what I was trying to do. While this is happening I'm testing with the new UE4 movement and I'm realising that I was still trying too much.

I went back into blender and made less custom pieces and more general assets, instead of building the map around custom items I started using all purpose meshes. I tore down a roof now and then, but I noticed I did come back to some of the original ideas. I didn't scrap everything, far from it. I reduced and tried to find only the essential. A 'streamlining pass' that I found very crucial. More crucial than any other game I'm sure. Every bump and corner here is NON-TRIVIAL to movement. These maps can't be made by just putting down a few crates. They'll break flow and limit options, just by being there. Project Free Fall is a high demanding game - if you try to challenge it. We can have a room with rounded corners and let people jet around. But that's not what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to find our Lost Temple - Our Dust - Our Deck 17.

I'm fairly confident that Deimos won't be our 'base' map. But I'll try to make it that. After this, all the ideas that didn't make the cut will bleed into the next map I'll make. I've got plenty planned. But before that happens, we still have a long way to go. It's a greybox map - although I don't intend to overly complicate the meshes it has. I'll be looking to get some help for texturing and then there is the whole weapon and pickup placement happy fun time to consider.

So, for now - That's all there is to it. Deimos, currently WIP.

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Album can be found here: http://imgur.com/a/Xxohq I'll update that regularly.

_________________
Greth, much like Lilith, was one of Gods first children. He was subsequently banished from the garden of eden because he kept complaining about the lack of radial symmetry in the heightmap concept of the garden. The placement of the tree of wisdom was also lacking in strategic importance. All historical records featuring Greth, including Bible passages have been expunged since the early 12th century.


Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:46 pm
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Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:16 am
Posts: 143
Post Re: DM01Deimos - Work In Progress


Added a quick movement testing vid.

_________________
Greth, much like Lilith, was one of Gods first children. He was subsequently banished from the garden of eden because he kept complaining about the lack of radial symmetry in the heightmap concept of the garden. The placement of the tree of wisdom was also lacking in strategic importance. All historical records featuring Greth, including Bible passages have been expunged since the early 12th century.


Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:42 pm
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Joined: Sat Sep 05, 2015 7:29 am
Posts: 15
Post Re: DM01Deimos - Work In Progress
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Sat Sep 10, 2016 8:22 am
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