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Natural History Museum, London


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I've been there last year, i took a few pictures of the main gallery which look same as screens you have there. I wanted to compare with the Batman Arkham Penguin Museum challenge map, I think they lifted that map from this as well.

Well done, definitely feels there, and with the custom textures looks a lot like one of those virtual tours 

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Ah, never played Arkham City but I just looked at a video of the level. Yea, they've definitely taken some of this architecture for that map, but the layout's entirely custom as far as I can tell. Makes sense, really, the real museum's layout is pretty barebones when you get down to it, which I think they're trying to counteract nowadays by putting up a lot of temporary walls to kind of subsection the big halls into more densely usable spaces. Quite enjoying the arkham interpretation though, very bioshock-esque

[edit] was gonna upload a new file last night but I noticed some oversights that I'd like to fix first, here's a screenshot of the redone east hallway though - you'll notice the lighting is kinda drab because I forgot to make the windows transparent




Edited by ThunderKeil
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New file: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1PKLII33cFCqnOnBOmLTD8dFUealSDCbY/view


  • rebuilt east hallway
  • added details to hallway entrances & ground floor display chambers
  • redid parts of the north hall second floor
  • added details on third floor & got a bark texture for the sequoia slice
  • fixed clipping & missing walls at ground floor main hall wing entrances
  • fixed west hallway ''triple arch'' texture & rebuilt mesh
  • general texture cleanup
  • general clipping fixes
  • found out renamed map files don't run cubemaps lol (which still affects this release but I'll try to remember it for the next one)
  • increased spawn points from 2 to 24





Edited by ThunderKeil
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  • 3 weeks later...

New file: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YkZuPrQqfLiIxi3H_QLo2N1lZ7pFuFRc/view

Changelog; (yea it lists some v minor things but this was kinda just my checklist as I was editing the map)

  • east hallway: added doorway on end right
  • east hallway: entryway ceiling/texture
  • east hallway: back wall new texture
  • east hallway: display case side textures
  • west hallway: ceiling/window textures
  • west hallway: arch1 texture improvements
  • west hallway: ceiling arch texture
  • parallel hall: ceiling/window textures
  • parallel hall(way): arch1 & arch2 textures
  • wing hall: wall/window texture
  • main stairway texture improvements
  • upper bridge texture improvements
  • main hall second floor: new mesh for stained glass windows
  • main hall second floor: new stained glass projection
  • main hall second floor: goat gate unique texture & mesh
  • main hall second floor: moa room stained glass mesh
  • main hall: new window textures
  • main hall: improved / added more floor textures
  • fixed ''inside'' textures on all arches (maybe temp idk yet)
  • adjusted cubemaps & remembered not to rename bsp

Since it's relatively small changes all over the map I feel like new screenshots aren't super warranted right now, they're still meaningful changes though so if you're interested in the map please don't hesitate to get the newest version. [edit] got some new screenshots anyway but I decided to replace the ones in the main post rather than put them here

I'm kinda hoping this'll be my last upload before the ''rc1'', so if any of you *do* experience a crash while running this map, please let me know sooner rather than later. I've still yet to have issues on my end with these files but it wouldn't be the first time I'm getting some weird behaviour so honestly idk maybe my editor is just cursed.

Full release / rc1 will mostly mean colour correcting all the textures and adjusting clip meshes here and there, but since there's at least ( * glances at materials folder * ) like a hundred unique textures that's not necessarily just one afternoon of work. Also my texture editing folder's like 23GB and entirely not sorted so that's not gonna help speed things along ( ._.) Either way yea don't sit on the edge of your seat waiting for it and please download this release so I can fix some of the inevitable glaring oversights

Edited by ThunderKeil
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for 1000 views everyone ^_^

I've been kind of busy the past 2 weeks so I didn't find much time to work on the map. I've sorted & renamed most of the relevant textures though, so there's still some progress on that end

Don't intend to include this in any public releases, but here's a screenshot of the main hall with real-time reflections from a few weeks ago. It's kind of washed out & I could have gotten it looking better if I didn't layer the reflection over the regular floor, but then I'd've had to make like 10 different materials and idk I was probably tired


opaque reflections for reference;




Edited by ThunderKeil
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  • 2 weeks later...

Pretty much in the last stretch now, managed to do some good work on it through the autumn break but still falling just short of what I'd confidently call the RC1. Finally got lighting figured out a bit though, and swapped out all the dynamic models for static ones - so better shadows and no more seams.

Got nearly all the textures' colour and brightness normalized, and improved the meshes on all the custom props with much increased polycount as well as adding some more details while I was at it. Most of the map's detailing up till now had been done with - well - at lack of a beter phrase; hammer sensibilities. I should clarify that I have little if any real modelling experience, and rather have mostly just limited myself to working within the source sdk itself. This has caused some quirks in my work, such as that I (with very few exceptions) only create lines at relatively specific angles, as well as that I tend to be pretty conservative with my brushwork - well, conservative compared to someone using modelling software, but pretty liberal by hammer standards. On this map though, I hit the block and waterindice limit right before I intended to upload the first public version on here, so I had to start using propper to get that back down.

Since that pretty much completely removed my constraints, I've been able to add much more detail than originally planned, which is kind of a monkey's paw since I'd hoped to be done with it much sooner. What was I getting at again? Oh right - so the point is that even though I'd converted most of the map details into props, they were still designed with ''how do I make this out of as few blocks as possible'' in mind, which means very large and often very elongated polygons. So, yea, I've subdivided them and tried to equalize the polygon size a bit, which has improved the lighting a lot.

I've also culled some of what I considered redundant areas - in effect about half of the wing & parallel halls, since they were all just copies of oneanother. Some of the doors in the east hall are open now though, and the stairwell is fully usable now, too. Not very well detailed, mind you, but it's very hard to find references for it, nevermind create some acceptable textures.





Edited by ThunderKeil
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  • 4 weeks later...

I'd originally dropped doing the building's exterior, but it was pointed out to me that looking through the ceiling windows of - well - all of the parallel halls had you looking right through everything so clearly it needed to be fixed.

(rough) changelog:

  • added building exterior
  • made lots of arches less blocky
  • more windows are now transparent
  • improved lighting
  • misc. texture improvements
  • misc. model improvements








Edited by ThunderKeil
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  • 5 months later...
Posted (edited)

Hey so I usually don't like to bump my threads unless I've got something to show but oh well

Firstly, sort of antithetical to the point of this post but a short changelog; ( starting from my last post in this thread )

I'd like to expand on that last point a bit, but I'm gonna start at the beginning of the story so buckle up I guess

I started working on this around the beginning of June last year - not because I wanted to recreate the whole entirety of the london natural history museum, but because I was working on a different project going back to like the start of 2019. Now, the story of that project is honestly too much to get into right now but the important part is that I got sidetracked by the idea of adding small semi-interactive hub spaces into it; one of which ended up being ( the main hall of ) the museum in question.

Sidenote, maybe it's just me but I'm pretty surprised there isn't more publicly available documentation of cultural heritage buildings like this - you'll find a handful copies of the original floorplan around, some with a scale reference, but it's hardly as precise as you'd like it to be. Most of the vertical dimensions are purely based on pictures & everything is pretty harshly rounded off because lol Hammer units idk.

So - point being the dimensions are all bodged together in varying degrees of accuracy, and when I finally made the poor choice of adding the building's exterior to my list of things I shouldn't have gotten myself started on, big fucking surprise it didn't align on anything. Now, that was kind of fine because most of the windows were either opaque or just translucent holes in the walls, so whatever was on the other face of that wall didn't honestly matter that much. Nonetheless, I made a half-hearted attempt at warping the different floors on the exterior to line up with the inside.

Fast forward . . . a period of time, and I've forgotten about that & started to model the exterior of the building, when big surprise again oh no the windows do not line up to any vaguely okay degree. ( I'm . . . not entirely certain I had already realized this when I posted the screenshot of the exterior, but yea around that time ) Soooooooooooooooooo well I fiddled with it for quite a fucking bit and managed to solve it in some sense eventually, I guess I'm content with how it turned out but I wouldn't say I'm happy about it.

The main culprit? Well, hard to say for sure because hey I still don't actually know the building's dimensions; but I'm gonna take a wild leap and say the ceiling between the first and second floor probably . . . isn't . . 60 centimeters thick? What can I say, I eyeballed it. They're surprisingly tall rooms which I guess must've thrown me off.

I suppose the moral of the story is . . plan ahead more? Hardly an earth-shattering revelation, but I can't deny it's something I ought to strive for. In my defence I did try my absolute hardest to research the dimensions before I dug myself entirely down the hole already, but there's just only so-much information out there. I mean, if I'd have known ahead of time I'd be spending this much time on it I'd have probably emailed the NHM and asked if they had something in their not-entirely-public-but-also-like-not-purposely-hidden archives they'd be willing to let me have a gander over, but by the time I had spent that much time already I was kinda like yea but what if whoever ends up reading my email is some boomer who's not gonna take kindly to seeing the museum in a shooter game and all that . . I don't know man I guess I freak myself out to easily.

Second sidenote; the reason I've spent a lot more time on this than it should have taken is mostly just that I have a very . . iterative(?) process, I guess. I don't just make something, I make something up to the standard I think it warrants at that moment, and then I make it again 6 subsequent times with increasingly higher standards. Is that a good thing? I honestly don't know, although I can't imagine it is since it's such a damn timesink. Well, maybe it is if you're an artist, and isn't if you're an artist trying to earn a living. In some sense I suppose it speaks to myself more deeply, I think I enjoy editing things much more than I do creating them - I don't like a blank canvas. Once you work on something long enough that works out though, because you can edit the things you've already made . . 

So yea long post the point is I'm burnt the fuck out on this project and I'm taking a break

Edited by ThunderKeil
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  • 2 months later...
Posted (edited)

OK so I'm totally bumping this with no pictures again but hear me out - several things;

  • firstly, fuck april-me, prior-to-april-me was fucking right these floors are thick as fuck, everything else was just wrong
  • addendum to first point: Found a bunch of new architectural references of much higher quality than what I was originally working off. The main hall was honestly spot on but the width of the wings ( and by extension, the halls behind them ) had some pretty big issues which I'm now addressing.

Need to redo big parts of the east/west hallways but I'm hoping to have a download available again by the end of next week. in 2 weeks. in 3 weeks. it done when it done

Rolling changelog;

  • ------------------------- [ ~18/06/2021] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • wing exterior scaling fixed, new textures & models
  • created interior for eastern & western 2nd floor (second meaning top floor bc British) ( herbarium pre-war interior ) & improved wing roofs
  • redid front entrance ramp
  • new stone handrail texture ( which seems minor but this texture is used A LOT and honesty the old one was total garbage )
  • new metal handrails ( actually I've had those for a while now but I'm not sure I mentioned them previously )
  • improved mosaic floor textures ( the main one wasn't actually tiled previously, but it's so noisy that you might not have noticed the edges unless you looked close )
  • all main hall second floor central ceiling tiles are now unique instead of using the same one 6 times, the ones above the lower part of the hall are still repeated (for now(?))
  • cleaned up parallel hall archwall textures
  • turned main hall ceiling windows into models to fix translucency sorting issues & general quality enhancement
  • various model and texture improvements
  • ------------------------- [ ~20/07/2021] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • substantial improvements to stone handrail models ( second floor, bridge )
  • miscellaneous improvements to bridge & upper bridge area
  • substantial improvements to second floor centrepiece
  • brand new textures & models for wing pillars
  • added raised walkways to dinosaur exhibit ( west wing ground floor )
  • added unique textures and models for back-facing wing sections
  • rescaled & re-detailed west hallway & parallel halls
  • re-detailed main hall exterior to match back-facing wing sections & updated north towers
  • updated metal handrails
  • updated mineral exhibition cabinets
  • north hall: added skylight models & detailed exterior
  • main hall: updated skylight models
  • adjusted wing skylights
  • ------------------------- [ ~17/08/2021] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • updated main hall / north hall first floor exhibition cabinets
  • revamped main hall first floor "south-facing-doors"
  • detailed front entrance
  • added raised walkway in dinosaur exhibit & added tarpaulins to exhibition spaces
  • new seamless textures for small pillar clusters in main hall / north hall
  • adjusted main hall roof & skylights
  • improved bridge & upper bridge handrail textures
  • improved main hall staircase model
  • basic detailing for front gardens
  • sprinkled around detail props throughout building
  • revamped main hall floor checkering ( balcony hallway & second floor )
  • east hallway: cleaned up skylight textures & created detailed window props
  • fixed floor texturing around edges of main hall balcony & second floor
  • new material for metal handrails using tf2's australium cubemaps
  • west hallway: resolved scaling faults & added unique textures for opposing sections, misc. adjustments


  • north hall exterior re-detailing 🗸
  • east hallway rescaling & exterior detailing ( in progress )
  • fill exhibition spaces with placeholder tarpaulins 🗸
  • add outer tower interiors
  • (optional) replace dropship
  • improve front landscaping & road ( in progress )
  • add interactable doors ( in progress )

Rough progress estimate

  • main hall interior        90%
  • main hall exterior       95%
  • north hall interior       90%
  • north hall exterior      95%+
  • west hall interior        95%+
  • west hall exterior       90%
  • east hall  interior        95%
  • east hall exterior        90%
  • parallel halls interior  90%
  • parallel halls exterior 80%
  • wing interior               90%
  • wing exterior              95%+
  • wing towers (e)          85%
  • main entrance            90%
  • front landscaping       75%
  • road & surroundings  40%
Edited by ThunderKeil
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  • 3 months later...

I realized - or rather, it was pointed out to me - that I haven't uploaded any new files since like . . oh wow quite a fucking while

But I have been working on it! Just never really find a good time to compile since I'm still making big changes so there's always a rough edge somewhere

Anyway, this time's no different, but I was kindly asked by someone (dare I call him a fan?) to upload a more recent version of the map, so here it is I suppose. ( well, not actually here - I'm continuing my habit of adding downloads to the main post up above )







Edited by ThunderKeil
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