Mappers, Games and Game Engines

3rd February 2008

I have some good news and some bad news. Which would you like first? The good news, you say. Okay, Leon Brinkmann and the Team he is part of is about to release a fantastic new Half-Life 2 mod called Strider Mountain. It’s going to be a great ride and I am sure most of you will love every minute of it.

So, what’s the bad news?

Everything comes to an end, and it seems that Leon’s current Half-Life 2 mods are about to end. When we finish a game we move on to the next one, why not mappers?

Now he will still be creating maps and mods for other engines, mostly likely Crysis and COD 4, so you can stop worrying, there will be plenty of new levels to play, they just won’t be for Half-Life 2.

Now, Leon is a well-known mapper and has made maps for many other games and the thought of him stopping using one engine and moving onto another got me thinking.

Here’s a question for mappers:
At what point do you decide to change the games you map for?

I know that Leon likes to map for game that are still popular and will receive plenty of downloads and therefore plenty of playing time, but some mappers stick with one engine for a long time.

So, this begs the next question:
Why do you map?

The answers to this are as varied as the mapper’s themselves but I do know why I want to map and that’s to tell stories.

Now, let me be clear. I am not judging or criticizing Leon for moving one because he spends hundreds of hours maps in the same way I spend hundreds of hours on and if he (or anybody) is not enjoying what they are doing then that’s just silly.

Leon tells me that he wants as many players as possible to play his maps and feels that will only happen with new games.

In fact, the size of Strider Mountain is more of a mistake than a definite plan. They were hoping to make a smaller mod and release it before the release of Crysis and move on. But with the addition of two new members on the Team it just grew.

Another reason they continued is that the mod contains LOTS of new content, including textures, voice acting, models and weapons.

So, all good reasons for continuing with the Source engine but not indefinitely.

Your Chance To Ask The SM Team Some Questions

Within the next week or so, I will publish an interview with the SM team and thought that you, the reader, may like to ask them some questions.

The team Consists of:

  • Leon Brinkmann – Level Designer
  • BalticForever – Technical Artist and Mod Leader
  • CubeDude89 – Lead Modeler
  • TB Biggs – Marketing

So, along with the answers to the questions posed above please feel free to add questions to the SM team. I can’t guarantee they will have time to answer them all but it’s worth asking!


  1. Kasperg

    “At what point do you decide to change the games you map for?”
    That’s hard to answer. I’ve been mapping for Source since HL2 came out, and I’ve released things like “Idol Hunt” for HL1 less than a year ago, with it’s obsolete method of terrain creation and a very inferior Hammer editor.
    A mapper is someone with the ability to translate a visual and/or gameplay idea into the world represented by a certain game engine. As time goes by, the target game engines allow you to do more and more, and your imagination isn’t limited nearly as much.
    The change from HL1 to HL2 is an easy one considering the editor and the engine are similar and the learning process is easy.
    Hl1 and Hl2 are also VERY popular games, which guarantees your work will be played and commented upon.
    You also decide the moment of change according to what each game offers. I prefer the HL2 themes over the HL1 themes for example. I have no interest in Unreal Tournament arenas so I wouldn’t map for that game (with the added difficulty of learning a new editor).

    “Why do you map?”
    Mainly to translate architectural and spatial thoughts into something solid and permanent. The fact that you can provide entertainment for yourself and others at the same time makes it an even more satisfying process. Sometimes that requires crafting a story, which is also a creative process with its own internal architecture and rules.

  2. Ryan "quakis" Rouse

    I’ve been working with Duke3D and the Build engine for the past 10 years and still haven’t really finished what I want to do with it yet. There have been times inbetween those years I worked with HL1, but nothing got near a release state. These days I’m slowly making my move towards Source for projects that the limited Build engine (even with advanced ports) can’t. But I don’t think I’ll abandoned the Build engine anytime soon, but will develop my skills with Source.

  3. cubedude89

    “At what point do you decide to change the games you map for?”

    For me I need experience for college in many game engines so thats my main reason for moving away from source after Strider Mountain.
    Plus different engines are capable of different things and its always fun to create new things.

    “Why do you map?”
    I love making games/mods just as much as I love playing them. Its an art, its entertainment, its just great. 😀

  4. SPY

    from the day that I started with sp-mapping (i never mp-map), this was around 2000 with Duke3D, (just like Quakis), then the editor of it, the Buildengine, was great. I used it also for mapping with games like Shadow Warrior and Napalm. But, this engine can’t create a real 3d envirement, (you can’t look realy up and down). from there I started mapping with Mohaa, Sof2, Cod1, Doom3, Quake4, Prey, Cod2 en HL2). like Phillip already mentioned do I like it when my maps are played by as many people as possible, (for my feeling it wouldn’t be worth it to put in tousands of hours for only 2 to 300 people).
    After our 3th and last Hl2 project Strider Mountain, what will be released in 3 weeks time I will indeed stop with HL2 mapping, (maybe in a few years time I will go on with HL2 4 or so, but for now it was enough). and there are so many great new games around that make me want to work with them that I simply have to stop with HL2.

    should people want to ask something to any of our team members then please do, we always will answer. we’re much to pleased that people are interested in this new project of us!


  5. MASTER74

    I’ve played Leon’s maps for CoD and HL2 and all of them are just fantastic… Keep up the good work Leon! 🙂

  6. Chris Fox

    I’ll be sticking with mapping for Source for a long, long time.

    I’m too dumb to learn anything more complicated!

  7. SPY

    haha, can’t imagen that’s true Fox!!
    but, I have to agree with stating that learning (again) a new editor is not always fun. still, it only takes a month of frustrations, and after that the huge excitement of being able to work with total new game stuff. otherwise said; it’s worth it, (but this is ofcourse a personal opinion).


  8. Kasperg

    Until I learn how to make normal and simple geometry in Sandbox Editor 2(Crysis), I’ll be sticking with Source too.
    The Sandbox2 Editor is of course light-years ahead of Hammer in almost every aspect, except easy and simple brush creation, which is a must for me. However, if I learn how to export VMF>DXF>3DS>Crysis (which is possible), things will change.

  9. SPY

    i do agree with you that Crysis is a totaly different editor, (it’s all about making a landscape/island and adding models, although there is a possibility to add something like brushsides, don’t know if you ever mapped with FEAR, but that works quit simular to that). so it is possible to work with brushsides, but working with realbrushes also is my favorite.


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