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Showing content with the highest reputation on 01/11/2020 in all areas

  1. 7 points
    fewseb

    de_grotto [WIP]

    Ive updated the beta version today, there will hopefully be a playtest soon. B side is lagging behind visually but other then that I think its come a long way in a short time span. https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1915402320 B site A site Middle CT spawn T Spawn Current Overview
  2. 4 points
    untor

    Swamp

  3. 3 points
    Twan_Neppe

    de_hotel

    Final update before the deadline Version 1.07 Biggest update: - Added cubemaps Other changes: -added a fence in front of the hedge near bombsite A -added a rope with a sign between the fences in the garden -added some more aesthetic props and decals in the map -replaced some more textures with others which are more suited for that spot. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- B site: A site: Mid: T spawn: CT spawn: ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- maybe after a good rating i'll further improve and adapt the map based on the given feedback.
  4. 2 points
    As a big Remedy fan, I can unfortunately say that Quantum Break is a very passable game. Deffo not the case with Control or Alan Wake.
  5. 2 points
    JeanPaul

    Black Mesa Source

    Im glad you liked xen! The lack of marine chatter is a bug and will be fixed. Also youre in luck because our release coming out of early access will include a human grunt ai overhaul and a ton of small earthbound map refinements
  6. 2 points
    Viiconov

    Patoosh

    The deadline is getting close, so here's what's up with me and my map. The playable area of the map is done, and the level of detail is roughly the same everywhere, apart from the background mountains, which turned out to be a lot harder to make than I expected. Still I'm leaving it here, because I've run out of motivation for it. I'm not even sure whether my bombsites are any good, so I can't justify putting any more work into it. I guess I see this as a "proof of concept" for a map. Or somthing like that. Anyway, here's a link to its Workshop page, if you're interested. The best of luck to all the rest of you!
  7. 2 points
    Vorontsov

    The random model thread!

    I like to post work in progress screenshots
  8. 2 points
    Zanek184

    Hideout [WIP]

    More progress, I guess. I've detailed around 65-70% of the map with a month left! I'm trying to finish this project on time, or at least get it to a playable state
  9. 2 points
    Zanek184

    Hideout [WIP]

    Detail progress. Only a few months until the deadline hits!!!
  10. 2 points
    fewseb

    de_grotto [WIP]

    Beta version of the map is now up on the workshop and there is a playtest scheduled for thursday https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1915402320 Here are a few screenshots Bombsite B Bombsite A Middle CT spawn T Spawn Please let me known what you think of the layout if you test it
  11. 1 point
    Twan_Neppe

    drainage system map

    i just started to work on an idea for a hostage map. it is themed in the drainage system of a fueling company on a port. Rumors are going around that the 20 largest ships in the world are polluting as much as all of the cars in the world... And besides that, there are companies that refine nuclear waste into the fuel for these ships... This seemed a pretty good scenario for me.. here are some pictures of the first work i've done..
  12. 1 point
    S.martin

    [WIP] cs_Zeppelin

    Here is my entry for the contest. I got the idea when I scrolled trough the skybox textures and wondered where you would actually use "sky051" and then a zeppelin came to my mind. Now I have a map with placeholder textures and props and really strange lighting. I would really appreciate it, if someone can give me some advice on the lighting https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1932894741 (Final entry is at the bottom of this thread)
  13. 1 point
    One of the most memorable levels I've played last year. It stuck with me for days, the game couldn't have a better climax hit. If Control isn't your cup of tea and you're just curious to see the level being played, you have to see this. Such a tripy design and seeing the level shapeshift is pretty fucking dope.
  14. 1 point
    JorisCeoen

    de_hotel

    Not sure how to do it myself, but perhaps if you edit the original post it allows you to edit the title somewhere.
  15. 1 point
    [HP]

    Black Mesa Source

    I'm almost done replaying HL2 EP2 and I've got hungry af for more HL. perfect opportunity to play this.
  16. 1 point
    Very tempted to spoil it, as I haven't yet had the time to play it. I'm trying to save this game for later when I can afford to enjoy it with all the Ray tracing bells and whistles. Really intrigued with the overall design of the game. Recently tried to play through Quantum Break and I've been very disappointed by several things. I believe this game will remedy QB's shortcomings.
  17. 1 point
    filous

    [CSGO] de_dlag

    Update #04 Hello! After a bit of work, and doing other stuff, I have managed to push out another Dlag update! This update is an response to a recent playtest. The most common feedback I have got was that the map was too small and should have been upscaled. I agree with that, so went back to the drawing board and rescaled the map completely. Here's the preview: The top overview is the new version of the map, the bottom is the old one. This changes timings a bit: (fastest route, T side) -------------------------- BEFORE ---------------- AFTER -------------------------- Bombsite A 11s 14s Bombsite B 13s 15s ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ This makes timings more in line with current CS maps (like dust2). Rescaling it was the biggest challange, beacause I was afraid of overshooting the scale and overscale the whole map. Everyone who played the original, please let me know how do you like the current scale of the map! Because of the scale, the whole map changed a lot, so I'm dropping here a couple of screenshots: Another issue I had to address, was holding off rushing CTs that caused a lot of problems during the playtest. The areas outside A and outside B now have more angles and more space, making the pushes riskier for the CTs. There are some changes to the B connector, but I am still not happy with that, so I'm planning to address it in the next update. Looking at the demo, I have noticed that A might be a bit too ambitious, and I might need to do a major rework of it. The reason I haven't really done major changes is that I want so see how the map plays out with the new scale. The update should be live on WORKSHOP!
  18. 1 point
    Roald

    Gongji

    It would be nice to have a prop_dynamic skateboard located at the ramp. And perhaps some kinda ping pong table somewhere with graffiti and all on it
  19. 1 point
    Kurtis Harmer

    De_Bath (WIP)

    I forgot to sign in and I forgot to drop the overview.
  20. 1 point
    Edude

    Classified

    There is still so much work to do, but things are starting to take shape. This first art pass will still take a long time to finish but I'm enjoying the results so far! I will focus on detailing the entire map as quickly as I can to have something concrete for the deadline. If I manage to finish everything (detailing, optimization, general polishing) I start a second art pass with more refinement.
  21. 1 point
    DutchCrazyGamer

    [WIP] de_zansort

    Finally started with detaling (probably not going to finish in time but i will try)
  22. 1 point
    EQN

    [WIP] De_Powerplant

    Hello guys, here is my submission for the exotic place contest. Takes place in a new Nuclear powerplant. I will post the Workshop link later that day Hope you guys will enjoy
  23. 1 point
    neptune

    Cappadocia

    3D Skybox Included lots of fairy chimneys, cliff,roads,balloons and Uchisar Castle (hotels already modeling) All balloons are animated and very low poly.
  24. 1 point
    Edude

    Classified

    It's been a while since I last posted on this topic and I'm really enjoying how the map looks right now but realizing the number of assets that still needs to be done brought me some concern and discouragement. I like to think of problems like these as obstacles designers must face in order to make really good levels, but in this case, I still have to do a lot to get to the minimum. Classified may not be completed on time for the competition, however, I will continue with the project and with more updates on the topic in case I manage to release an acceptable version on the final day! The screenshot below puts in a good perspective what still needs to be done to have at least an interesting version at the end, that would probably still need a lot of polishment... I will see how the next days go and leave more updates soon!
  25. 1 point
    ConsuminHelium

    de_estate

    More updates! Finishing up A site aswell as a few other minor tweaks. Map is almost complete with ~4 weeks till its due Before: After
  26. 1 point
    Squidski

    Gongji

    Hey guys, I just realized that it's been a while since I've updated this. Just to let you know, we are still working hard and plan to have at least something by the contest deadline. Here are some images
  27. 1 point
    Almaas

    [W.I.P] Marine

    Set on a remote island West of Norway, this tiny fishing village usually acts as a safe haven for ships during rough weather; however, an unprecedented summer heatwave has caused a flood of tourists to swamp the island. An unfortunate side effect of this sudden fame and fortune is the island's newfound status as a relatively unprotected, densely populated Norweigan outpost. In other words, the perfect target. Steam Workshop Page Older images used bellow -
  28. 1 point
    Squad

    Mustang (formerly Everest)

    I haven't been very active in this topic so far, that will probably change in the coming weeks Recently @grapen remade the skybox.
  29. 1 point
    Sick_TwinN

    de_napoli WIP

    Did some layout changes to the bombsites and added an entrance to mid, and detailed the map more
  30. 1 point
    poLemin

    Feast

  31. 1 point
    illG

    [WIP][DE] Antiquity

    Reworked A site, old site design felt too complex and like @zombi said was a little wierd. CT Spawn
  32. 1 point
    illG

    [WIP][DE] Antiquity

    Finally got myself a new PC to work with. Compile times are like 5x faster and I can afford to take 4K, max quality screens. So enjoy the new, hi-res quality screenshots... I try to use hi-res textures as much as possible.
  33. 1 point
    Donskioni

    [WIP] Touristas (now) de_xenos

    Hey Hey mappers! New workshop link: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1918639849 the current workshop file has an old radar, but should be good enough to get you around Being my first map I know this wont be perfect but am pretty stoked with everything I learned up to this point next month I plan on.. - 12 textures (some normal maps are messed up!) - 6 new props - clipping - cubemaps - fixing those pesky string lights ( the move rope lines are not accurate if anyone knows if im doing something wrong ) - fine tune the lighting ( white spots ect... ) - adding back the hint brushes (optimize) - a new 3d sky box (yikes) - soundscapes - final nav mesh/nav map Hope everyone has a great holiday! good luck in the new year! And yes
  34. 1 point
    Quotingmc

    cs_ivory

    Progress continues! Everything is still a work in progress but I can feel the progress in every compile. I have adjusted the sky a lot and am still fine-tuning the colours. The map is now a lot greener overall to break up al the orange rock and wood. The interiors are also developing but I still have a way to go in selling an African feel to them. As always, comments and constructive criticism are much appreciated!
  35. 1 point
    Estamie

    de_cathedral

    The map is slowly coming together but some areas are still rather bare. Places like both connectors, A site and the route leading from A site/CT to B have pretty much been collecting virtual dust the past few months but i'm hoping that i can focus on those spots now that i have a bit more spare time on my hands. https://imgur.com/a/c3jB2Nq There's still a lot of problems that need to be fixed (like the radar image, skybox, weird props/textures, etc) but i'm going to make the workshop submission public if anyone's interested, however the map is still barerly optimised so i apologise if it runs like garbo (runs at around ~190 fps on my i7-4970, gtx 1070 ti pc so i'm hoping that it's good enough for now) https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1797218805
  36. 1 point
    Radu

    Safi

    It's time for a quick progress update. I've cut back a bit on the colour, choosing to use it for the building base and certain details like doors, windows, roofs etc which is in line with the irl reference. I still need to add some more basic details, but textures should come into play towards the end of the month.
  37. 1 point
    JonyDrake

    Submerged

    A bit of progress on T spawn
  38. 1 point
    spa

    Rampart

    Update: Workshop Version Some progress here, but still far from finished. Im trying to balance assets building and actual mapping in hammer. Here's what a-site looks like so far: There's still a ton of stuff i want to improve here (like making the ramp into a staircase!) but other parts of the map needs attention. Atm im looking at making the actual ramparts into props for better geometry detail and mapping. However turning BSP into props has it drawbacks (as ive learned the hard way) Its extremely limiting what i can do in terms of decals/transitions with regards to damage/rust etc, but some of the shapes are just too complicated to make with bsp. I wish i could spend all the remaining time just noodling around with materials and textures! Edit: seems like theres an error in the uploaded bsp for a single prop. I will update asap. Edit: Fixed! (also added another custom WIP rampart section)
  39. 1 point
    neptune

    Cappadocia

    Turkish Bath. One of the hostage areas.
  40. 1 point
    neptune

    Cappadocia

    Fairy Chimneys. More coming soon
  41. 1 point
    Zanek184

    Hideout [WIP]

    I made an image slider to showcase the detail work on Middle! Check it out https://imgsli.com/OTQ5MQ
  42. 1 point
    Radu

    [WIP] Touristas (now) de_xenos

    Why are you taking photos with your phone? of the map, that's in-game, which has steam overlay running, that has a built in screenshot feature
  43. 1 point
    Donskioni

    [WIP] Touristas (now) de_xenos

    Fellow mappers, today shal me marked in history. The day I finally create a prop and.... more importantly successfully get it in game. Haha ... this took so much effort... I made a extreme amount of mistakes along the way... but finally made it... below is the monstrosity haha I haven’t textured it or baked it’s uv yet.. just a random image. .... looks like I’ll have some killer props to come!
  44. 1 point
    Squidski

    Gongji

    Pretty proud of what we've accomplished so far here. Still a bit of a ways to go, hope we can wrap everything up we'd like to before the deadline! (Obviously still WIP!)
  45. 1 point
    ExtraCheesyPie

    Shunker (Hostage)

    Surprise, this project isn't quite dead yet (at least amongst the graveyard of single post threads)! I might as well share some screenshots of what Bristn/OP and I have been working on. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Obviously still heavy WIP https://imgur.com/a/uFhJb2y
  46. 1 point
    fewseb

    de_grotto [WIP]

    Another quick update, I believe I have found a good solution to middle and I think I will have a playtest-beta version out in the next few days Until then here are some assets I have been working on for the map Rock Catch fencing as previously shown Wooden Bridge paneling, shadows are messed up do a shader error 2 kinds of large wooden doors with and without studding to replace the previous stock dust2 doors WIP Broken Version of above doors, I dont currently have a broken splintered wood texture for the core and the separate hinges are still pretty basic
  47. 1 point
    What is Agency?Just in case you have never heard of Counter Strike: Global Offensive, it's a hugely popular online FPS, successor to Counter Strike: Source and the original Counter Strike. The original came out in 1999 and the core gameplay has remained almost unchanged. Players are split into two teams and challenge each other in various game modes such as Bomb Defusal (one team has to plant and detonate the bomb while the other tries to stop them) and Hostage Rescue (one team must rescue the hostages whilst the other attempts to prevent that). The Bomb Defusal mode is by far the most popular, with maps designed with such detail that players can predict down to the second when another player is due to arrive in a certain area of the level. It's also the only mode played in competitive events and for huge prize money. This leaves the poor Hostage Rescue mode sitting on the sidelines twiddling it's thumbs and feeling a little rejected. In part this is because the Hostage Rescue mode is far more of a roleplaying experience, often with very poor odds of success for the team tasked with doing the rescuing. Often the levels are designed in such a way that the defending team has a large positional advantage, where simply staying-put will give them a good chance of winning. That's where we can start talking about Agency. Agency is a Hostage Rescue level, created as a collaboration between level designer Patrick Murphy, and myself doing the art. The basic idea being that Hostage Rescue could be just as precise and exciting as Bomb Defusal. It's been included in three official releases from the games creator, Valve, as part of their community level packs: Operation Bravo, Operation Phoenix and Operation Bloodhound. Phoenix being a community-voted choice, which was especially great to see that players enjoyed the style of gameplay and visuals that Agency brought with it. In this article I will go over the process of creating the art, from props to set dressing, texture creation and lighting, while maintaining a visually pleasing aesthetic and serving to enhance the gameplay. This isn't a postmortem but rather a walk-through of the various stages, hopefully to give some ideas to others, with lessons learned both positive and negative. Iteration from Whitebox to Final Starting out you should always have an idea of what you're going to create, even if it is quite vague, as it'll point you in the right direction for both creating architectural spaces and letting your imagination fill in the blanks as you build the basic shapes of the level. We knew we were going to build an office space, but style was leaning towards an older government building with red bricks and musty wood. As I started to put in some basic textures we decided it felt too bland, and similar to other levels in the game. In order to stand out and create something really interesting and intriguing that would entice players to want to explore the level we decided to modernize the space and use white as the primary colour - this would help players see each other more easily and provide a striking visual setting it apart from other levels. "Modern Office" is not exactly a style that has a single look, if you search for images you'll get back a lot of contrasting designs and ideas, trying to put every single one of those into a level would create a visual mess with no consistency. It's important to choose the right references for what you are building, something that looks cool in a single image or from a specific location might not fit into the theme of the level, and in a worst-case-scenario it might actually start to detract from the level as a whole. Trying to cram in as much content as possible simply makes your level feel less unified and jarring. Unfortunately when you are presented with so many fantastic designs and ideas it can be hard to pick out what is important. After settling on the location: a modern advertising agency's office, I broke down the needs of the level into a few different categories: Area SpecificGeneral UseOverall ThemeThe Area Specific content is "hero assets" for each location in the level. These are the things that help the player tell different areas apart from each other, a reception desk, a kitchen, a bathroom, etc. Assets that won't be used anywhere else except in their specific location. Examples of Area Specific Content The General Use content is the backbone of the building, it's wall sockets, ventilation tubes, sprinklers, desks and chairs. The things that could be used anywhere and would blend in to the background and not stand out unless you were specifically looking for them. Examples of General Use Content The Overall Theme content is what sells the theme of the level to players, advertising boards, company logos, large art installations and so on. These can be used everywhere but sparingly and should only be used as a subtle reminder to the player of where they are thematically. They shouldn't detract from the Area Specific content but should stand out more than the General Use content. This came in the form of abstract paintings, corporate logos, rotating advertisement panels and so on - things that would subtly tie the level together. Once these categories were laid out, searching through reference images became much simpler as you know what you need and only have to find an interesting design or detail that enhances a specific category. This isn't to say that everything was completely planned out or that development was flawless. Sticking to a plan only works until you open the editor, and if you try to force something you'll end up frustrated when it consistently fails to work. As an example we originally had the level set on the ground floor of a tall skyscraper. I spent a few weeks working on content for the ground but never really getting it to feel right within the theme of the level: the contrast between a dirty exterior street section and a spotless interior didn't feel right for the level, and felt a little too similar to another Counter Strike level. Patrick played around with some ideas and tried something I was afraid of: simply deleting everything I had done on the outside and adding an epic city vista. Instantly it felt right. The important thing to take away from this is that just because you have worked on something doesn't mean it's the right thing to be working on, and that getting input from other people with different ideas can vastly improve what you are working on. The first mockup of Agency's rooftop exterior The same space after an art pass Another incredibly important thing I realised is making use of modular assets. If you are going to duplicate something in your particular modelling software you should ask yourself: is this efficient? Chances are you're just making things harder to change later and locking yourself into a particular shape; eg: a walkway has a railing around it, you model the entire railing as a single object. Now if you need to change that walkway a month later you're going to have to go back and change your railing model. It's better to create a smaller tiling mesh that can be used multiple times, as often you'll find you can use that model in other areas and in different ways than you had initially intended. You're simply applying the concept of tiling textures to models, and in the process saving yourself a lot of time. A Believable Clean Art Style Creating a clean environment can often be more difficult and time consuming than a very dirty and cluttered one, simply because any mistakes are magnified by the lack of other objects to disguise them. A room with a single chair in the middle is going to end up with the focus being on that chair, if you fill that room with a hundred chairs you're going to be less concerned with the details of the chair and more worried about why someone would fill a room with a hundred chairs. In the modern office setting of Agency it would have made little sense to fill it with props and clutter, but a large empty space would just feel unfinished. A delicate balance of larger architectural shapes and smaller objects was needed. I like to think of this as functional art: it serves a purpose in the lore of the game world. Window and door frames, electrical sockets, thermostats and card swipes along with the maintenance apparatus of ventilation systems. These are the general use objects mentioned earlier, they fill out space and prevent an empty wall or ceiling from actually looking empty and at the same time they contribute to the believability of the level. It's important to think of the infrastructure of the building when placing these assets - if a wall has an air vent on it then the wall needs to be thick enough to support the ventilation pipes that feed it, Card swiping mechanisms need to be placed near doors at the correct height, electrical sockets should be placed logically in areas where they would be of use to the fictional inhabitants of the level and so on. Several examples of functional art details One of the most important things to do right when creating clean environments is to get the most out of the materials. It's not possible to cover every surface in dirt or decals, so the surfaces themselves become your way of showing detail. For Agency this was achieved by making liberal use of the phong shading techniques in the Source engine for models, and cubemaps for world textures. Almost all models in the level have some amount of phong shading, and although it doesn't produce a completely physically accurate result it can be used to create materials and surfaces that look relatively accurate. Simply by increasing or decreasing the intensity of the phong amount allowed for a vast majority of the levels surfaces to be rendered accurately. As I didn't need to have a lot of noisy detail in the materials due to the clean style I simply used a small phong texture as a mask for 75% of the models and let the lighting and general shapes of the models do the rest of the work. Simple phong shading to mimic real world materials As most of the surfaces had a single layer of material, ie paint or coloured metal, the phong shading could be completely even without breaking the illusion; however some of the dirtier surfaces such ventilation tubes and water pipes had several layers: a painted metal surface with area peeled away to reveal with metal underneath or a layer of dust. These had specific masks that would enhance the different materials, and showing wear and tear in the background assets added an extra layer of depth without compromising the clean style. Most of these textures were created with dDo, an excellent tool for quickly creating textures. I generally started with quite a dirty texture preset and toned down the details and noise until they were barely perceptible surface imperfections. Agency features probably close to 95% custom art, and that's a lot of work for a single person. Using dDo allowed me to make a lot of content relatively quickly, and kept it all visually consistent. The process of creating the assets with dDo was quite simple: first I modeled the basic ingame asset, then did a very quick and dirty placement of edge loops that allowed me to smooth the mesh and get a workable high poly. A very rough normal map was baked (along with a more solid ambient occlusion map), this rough normal map would never make it into the game, it was used purely for texturing with dDo. This rough-and-dirty technique was mostly used on the more general purpose assets that nobody would spend a lot of time looking at. For the objects that were in high traffic areas or that required finer detail a more robust normal map was created. Tiling textures used throughout the world were photo-sourced and tiled in Photoshop. A few examples worth pointing out are the plaster wall textures and the marble floors: The image above shows the ingame result, the diffuse texture, and the normal map of the standard plaster that is used throughout the level. The normal map was authored at 1024x1024 compared to the diffuse texture which was 512x512. I created several colour variations of the diffuse texture and for a very plain surface using a 1024x1024 diffuse didn't make much sense. The final touch was to add a subtle cubemap effect to bring out the normal map and add interesting coloured reflections in various areas. Another example is a marble floor used throughout the level. The normal map is unrealistic in that it portrays an uneven bumpy surface when in fact it is more likely to be uniformly flat. However to break up the reflections and add some visual interest to such a large and empty area I added a subtle bumpy normal map which warps the reflections, but is subtle enough that it doesn't get picked up by the lighting and actually appear like a lumpy mess. Good shading only gets you part of the way there, however. A poorly scaled model can break immersion instantly, especially when you are trying to create a believable real-world environment. There are tried-and-true metrics for Counter Strike so having a base to work from helped immensely, but these only give you a good starting point or a bounding box for your object. It's important to study real world reference and make sure your object is proportional to the world around it and also to itself. A unit in Hammer is an inch, so having wood that's 2 units thick, or a doorway that is 1.5m wide quickly makes things look wrong. Working with Designer Blockouts, and not Destroying Gameplay Agency was a collaboration, with Patrick doing the design work and me doing the visuals, this meant there was a lot of potential for overlap and working on the same areas, the potential for breaking things was huge. Often when you create things as an individual you don't have to worry about version control or stepping on someone else's toes, however when you work with other people either for pleasure or business you, as an artist, need to change your mindset. You are not creating a portfolio piece but rather something functional that has to withstand hundreds of hours of real people playing it. Your first role is to support the designer, and this benefits you as well. By creating the basic structures of the level: doorways, window frames, stairs, railings, cover objects etc, you are allowing them to work with the final assets and tweak gameplay according to those assets. Nothing needs to be finalized instantly, it's better to provide a rough mockup of the intended asset so the designer can play around with it and give feedback on the shape, size and silhouette. Once you are both confident it's going to work they can populate the level with these assets which saves you time in the long run, and once you finalize the model and textures they are going to be updated across the entire level without having to manually replace assets. It can be difficult to determine exactly when you should start an art pass, especially when a level is constantly evolving. Rather than sitting idly by whilst Patrick was ironing out the design of the level I started on the creation of a few visual test levels to explore materials, lighting and modular assets. Once the first iterations of Agency were created, with rough shapes for important cover and controlling lines-of-sight. I went in and created an art pass and altered many of these original gameplay ideas, simply experimenting with different shapes and designs for the rooms. We had a constant dialogue and never considered something finalized just because it was finished. Playtests would determine whether an idea was valid or not in a way that speculation can only hope for. The most important lesson learned during this process of constant iteration was that work is very rarely wasted, and it is far more important to stay true to a gameplay ideal than to have an area that looks interesting in a screenshot but utterly fails when players get their hands on it. A box is a box is a box, it is down to you as an artist to imagine how that box can be interpreted within the context of the environment. Initial art pass ideas for the central area (above) versus the end result (below) Initial art pass ideas for the reception (above) versus the end result (below) Initial art pass ideas for a hostage (above) versus the end result (below) Lighting An important part of any environment is the lighting. Too contrasted and moody and it becomes hard to identify players, too bright and monotone and it becomes boring and a strain on the eyes. For Agency I used a series of instanced lighting setups: a model to visualise the light source, a spot light to direct the light, and a sprite or light cone to add a visual effect around the light. Each light setup was unique to the type of model used for the actual light source, ie: all spotlights were identical, all fluorescent lights were identical etc. This meant I could change a single light and have the others update automatically, and always get an accurate result. Then it was just a case of placing these different types of lights where they logically made sense in the environment, and if an area was too dark an appropriate light source was added, and if an area was too bright lights could be moved around or removed entirely. This made it quite easy to light as everything was guided by reality, which has plenty of reference material, and had the side effect of helping to make the environment more believable. By using various colours on the floor and walls I could direct lights towards them and take advantage of the Source engine's excellent radiosity and spread interesting colours to nearby surfaces. In many areas the ceiling was opened up to reveal the sky and to let natural sunlight into the interior spaces, this was done to provide contrast to the electrical lights and to get extra radiosity bounces into the environment. Some areas had lights removed or toned down to allow other more important gameplay areas to stand out, for example the image below shows how the corridor here was darkened both by using darker textures and by using restrained lighting to make the room in the distance appear brighter as this is an area that enemy players will appear from. This could have been taken even further by possibly using emergency exit signs to add hints of colour to important gameplay areas and chokepoints. A consistent lighting language would have helped guide players during the first few times playing the level. There are some large open spaces that would have benefited from some coloured screens or lighting panels, or possibly making some of the larger glass surfaces tinted, to add a little extra colour and prevent such a monotone look whilst not being over-bearing or detracting from the realistic style of lighting I was aiming for. Final thoughts During the course of developing Agency I had a chance to learn a few things and come out the other end a, hopefully, better artist. So, what went well? The iteration process never had any hiccups, by using modular content and being prepared to discard ideas and art styles that weren't working we ended up with a better level. If we had tried to force the original idea of a ground-level government office we would have ended up with a completely different level, complete with underground parking lots and elevator shafts. Exciting stuff! The power of iteration cannot be understated, and understanding that a mockup or a blockout of a level is simply a temporary phase that doesn't represent the end result. Areas changed drastically between versions, sometimes due to design requirements, and sometimes of shifts in art style; but each version was better than the last, more refined and polished. What went less well? In direct contrast to the statement above, sometimes the iteration interfered with more important tasks. I got stuck on areas trying to get them to work instead of letting them sit for a while and returning to them later. I tried to force an idea for the exterior part of the level and it never felt right and consumed way too much time, when all it took was getting some outside perspective. Luckily during the process I learnt to trust designers when it comes to art, just because they might not build high poly meshes doesn't mean they aren't artistic. Another problem was building too much content completely unique for an area which meant when we inevitably changed things it became time consuming to shift assets around, and makes it less easy for others to re-use that content without creating an almost replica of the area it was designed for. These unique assets helped sell the realism of the level but made them harder to work with. Hopefully this has been interesting and insightful!
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