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Hellkeeper, 28/10/2011, 19:31

Post-Mortem DmP17

Much like Exar and Honored, P17 is a map that was tons of fun to create and a nice change from DmRiot.

When DmRiot was released I was pretty much fed up with UnrealEd and I knew it would take quite some time for me to get back to it. I still wanted to release something in 2012 and not have another two-years gap in my schedule. I was soon asked to make a single-player map in the SkyCity style (think Na Pali Haven) for a single-player adventure under Delacroix's supervision. The map was finished in the first few months of 2012 after a long time in the making but was not very large, not very good (despite some work on architecture) and the single-player adventure is still not released and seems to be in developpment hell, which means I will release the map eventually if the project is finally cancelled. But that is not what I want to talk about. We are here for P17. In order to follow me, you might want to download a compilation of all successive versions of DmP17 as it was built.

Soon after the completion of this yet-unrealeased map, I started preparing for a new DeathMatch map in Unreal, with no clear idea in mind. I first needed to come up with a nice layout. I explored many of my abandonned projects (my first stop when I need to create something new is always this bottomless pit of failed concepts) and extracted the few good ideas I found there. One part was from Project VIL, which I had started while making Riot and still contemplated from time to time, another one was from a DeathMatch stub, another one was a bit of DM-Quaker and the last bit was an idea borrowed from Lruce Bee's, DM-TensileSteel. I like the way this map had a complex and compact layout, with small passages and few huge walls, with rooms carved in every possible space, an effect I somewhat recreated in DmRiot. The idea of a narrow lower level directly under the upper one was the idea that drove the map entirely. To link all the levels, I started working on an "angle-room", a room with all its openings on two adjacent walls, so that it could be put in a corner of the map to link two parts, instead of a large central room with many openings in all walls. This stage is seen in test6.unr, and is the first clear idea which emerged.

I came up with an entire layout: four rooms with three height levels and a lower central corridor. I had settled for a Starship.utx theme and wanted to create a map that would be the Starship equivalent of what I had done in Exar with Skaarj.utx. I also liked the idea of having the central lower corridor partially opened on the upper levels, which was the case on the northern side of the map. The room I had started with, which I will call Room One, was my main working area. I opened IsvKran32, one of the main maps using this theme, and copied one brush, the one used in most corridors, and reduced it to a section, to use as a gateway to a small corridor. It was placed at the top of Room One, and lit with contrasting yellow, red, and some dashes of moving blue on the screens. This is what is portrayed in p1-2012. I had also started working on the corridor between Room One, and Room Two, directly east of it.

In p2-2012 I reworked this corridor and worked on the access between Room Two and the lower corridor, made a quick doorway between the two rooms on the north, Room Three (north of Room One) and Room Four (north of Room Two). I needed to work on the two other openings of Room One: the smaller corridor and the ramp to the third level. This was done in p3-2012, which was also the time I renamed the former stages pX-2012, to keep track of the different versions, so I could go back to former stages of the map without losing all my progress by simply loading older versions. I made the doorway from Room One to Room Three. p4-2012 was when I decided to copy the ramp to the other side of the map to provide another way to join the third floor.

After a month-long break I reverted to p1, discarding all I had done except the passage between Room One and Three. I reworked the corridors between Rooms One and Two. The lower one reached its final form (only a few texture changes were made afterwards) and the upper one was mostly done. I reworked the size of some parts, and in Room Four, I changed the platform to a walkway. There were still obvious problems I would have to tackle latter. I began to work heavily on the ramp.

The p6-2012/p7-2012-stage (they are identical despite many changes between the two, which were subsequently deleted: p7 is a return to the p6 stage after many failed attempts) was a massive change. I finished the lower corridor between Room Two and Room One, I worked on the middle level of Room one and I finished a new version of the ramp, which I duplicated elsewhere. I began shapping the lower central corridor and the walls of Room One, but many problems remained, especially structure problems in Room Three and Room Four. In p8-2012 I started to work on them and I achieved what would be an almost final layout of the map, including the cancelling of part of the third level in Room One, a part which had been there since the test6 stage (the very beginning). I revamped the doorway between Room One and Room Three, moved the passage between the lower corridor and Room Two at the junction between the corridor and Room Three, but I found I had problems connecting a third level. I had also started working on the lighting.

By p9-2012, the layout was final. I had deleted any connection between the lower levels of Room Three and Room Four, moved the doorway that was between Room Three and the now-finished corridor, and made it the junction between Room Three and Room Four, connecting them on all levels. I added a third floor and saved some space for a lift in Room Two. This allowed me, in p10-2012, to finish almost all connections, even slightly reworking the middle corridor between Room One and Room Two. The lighting was now added as I created the architecture and I began with Room Four, the most complex. I also finished the ramp in Room One. By p11, Room Four was finished and the lighting scheme more or less decided: yellow on the upper levels, blue on the lower, some touches of red everywhere. I worked hard on the ceiling (the largest flat surface to work with in a map). Finally, with p13-2012, I called it a day, declared it finished, and I liked what I had done so far: a fourth of the map was now done, plus some small areas all around the map.

In p14-2012, I worked heavily on the third level on Room Two and Room One, added a couple some details to Room Four and then rushed to reach the p15-2012 stage where Room Two was finished. Most of its architecture was copied from bits of Room Four and rearranged, with reworked lighting and some pieces modified. I created a lift despite serious lighting problems. Some parts of Room Four were changed to a new architecture. Room Two and Room Four were now entirely finished and would not be modified. The building speed was also increasing rapidly.

At the p16-2012 stage I had very quickly started and completed Room One, which was now very different though very recognizable compared to its very first stage in test6. Lighting was becoming a real problem because of colours; p15 and p16 are the two only stages that are not built, for this very reason. I started Room Three by its junctions and then proceeded from the bottom to the ceiling. This is where p16-2012 stops.

There is no p17-2012 because p17-2012 is DmP17 (which is where its name came from, incidentally). The abreviation of Project, stage 17, started in 2012. I managed to change the geometry so much on the ceiling that the result looks about symmetric, despite one of its side being vastly larger than the other. I changed what I had done on the northern wall, filled the remaining parts, added pathnodes and sounds. I quickly made a simple square texture with a purple circle on a black background, imported it as a translucent base for weapons, then zoned the map. I had worked quite a bit on the BSP throughout the building process, so the BSP tree remained balanced. Between p9 and p12, my node count had been decreasing constantly. The final map has a 1.68:1 nodes to poly ratio, with 6339 polys and 10627 nodes for a grand total of 2493 brushes - more than any of my previous projects. The BSP tree seems more balanced than in Exar despite the map looking hellish in UnrealEd. Neither sound nor pathing or weapon-placement were thoroughly thought out, as I could not get anyone to beta-test the map before its release: the first iteration became final.

DmP17 in UnrealEd

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