RaiseTheBarVille Podcast

24th May 2015

Myself, Dan and Erik discuss the RaiseTheBarVille joint MapCore.org Mapping Challenge mod.

We talk about each map in detail and Dan & Erik go a little deeper into their maps

There’s even a little bonus chat at the end.

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RaiseTheBarVille Podcast: 1 Hour 13 minutes – 67MB
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  1. Howdy, for those interested, my name is Justin Carlton and I made the Delayed entry for the competition. I’m a roadway EIT (engineer in training) in Texas. I got into source mapping sometime between EP1 and EP2. Interestingly, I don’t play video games anymore, though I still enjoy mapping from time to time.

    As they mentioned in the podcast, there is a difference between making maps for the fun of it and making maps for someone else to enjoy. My first through 10th map was released as Forward Motion (OK, technically my fist map was a box with a gunship in it). Originally I just made them for fun, learning the tools of source engine as I went along, but I eventually thought someone might enjoy them, so I cleaned them up a bit and released them.

    To my surprise it was a big hit. That encouraged me to enter Phillip’s competitions. I admit I derive satisfaction from other people enjoying what I create, though I usually create something that I think would be fun, then worry about others enjoyment of it as secondary. It really does go back to “If I’m not enjoying it, chances are what I’m trying to create is going to suffer for it”. Which brings me to my entry, which was somewhere in between.

    I usually enter a completion if there is at least one thing new/interesting/fun that excites me (for example, catching the player by surprise in AmbushVille even though the player is expecting it). I didn’t really have that with this completion until I thought about walking around in a destroyed City 17, which was just barely enough to commit to entering. What was meant to be a short tie between the end events of EP1 and what was going to be a big strider battle on the surface wound up taking almost the entire completion to make.

    Why? This was by far the buggiest map I have ever had to deal with. I had to re-make several of the puzzles (more than once) due to corruption. Forcing Alyx to consistently follow the player was surprisingly difficult (for whatever reason, sometime she would stop following the player when you load a quick save and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why). In addition, hammer would routinely start bugging out my display driver whenever I looked at something hammer decided it didn’t like at the time. It then took 5-10 seconds to actually crash, which meant I had to restart hammer. It did this consistently every minute or less and I couldn’t find a solution. So as you might imagine, making this map wasn’t enjoyable.

    But getting to that surface section is what kept me going, not realizing just how much time it would take to make it playable. The last weekend before the deadline, I started with a blank map and made the entire surface section in a day and a half, then copied and merged it with the sub-surface section (the hammer crashes were correlated with map size/density so the new map gave me reprieve from the crashes, and allowed me to speed map, until about the time when it surface section was near finished). If I had known how much of a time sink it would end up being, I would have just skipped the tie in and just gone right to the surface, but hindsight and 20/20 and all that. I still think I got a few enjoyable moments out of the map, but I could tell that it was a lacking some of the usual spark. Overall, I felt frustrated/let down by the result. I think it really comes down to missed opportunity. There is absolutely no way this map would have been finished without the deadline extension.

    Side notes:
    – In one of my play tests, Alyx didn’t make it into the bunker in time and I watched her get vaporized by the explosion. I couldn’t stop laughing. How angry would some people be if they had to watch that? I toyed around with the idea, but decided not to. Plus, the portal could never have been closed if she died, the 7 hour war would have happened a second time, the end.

    – I knew the moment I had lost the competition when I watched Phillip play my map. He got to the underground sections and went “Oh I hate areas like this”, then got to the antlions and went “Oh I hate antlion guards”. Hahahaha.

    – I like the idea of a playtesting deadline built into the competitions.

    – I would not enter a completion that gave me a pre-built level. While I have a standard for visuals, I build a map for those game play “moments”, which I cannot create without full control of the design (I agree with Dan and Erik).

    – Just an FYI for Phillip, I have never entered a competition for the prizes (I just find mapping fun)(also I like winning), though the book was certainly tempting this time.

    – It is less important that your ideas are original and more important that they are implement well (they have to be enjoyable/fun). The difference between this and being a pure copycat are usually easy to tell apart. It’s the difference between being inspired by something and simply copying it.

    1. The Rabbit

      Thanks for writing this up! It would have been nice to have your voice and thoughts during the podcast.

  2. Unq

    Great discussion! And glad that Justin posted some notes here too, it’s always nice to hear mappers’ perspectives on their own maps.

    Dan, I was one of the people who managed to skip the whole outdoor section of your map. I watched Daz’s video and was shocked there was a whole huge section I missed! If I recall right, it was simply a matter of me going ‘backward’ through some vents compared to the expected path.

    1. This is a great example of why I worry about taking “paths” in custom maps.

      1. JG

        I think what you want to avoid is the “ping-pong” effect where a player is given a choice, but they aren’t sure which way is the right way, so they end up ping-ponging between the two until one path presents itself as the right way. The non-essential route really needs to terminate in plain sight or just around the corner.

        This is part of Half-Life convention. In other games, especially those with built-in maps, you can get away with this kind of thing more easily.

  3. Looper

    Where is the MP3?

    1. Under the heading “Listen to the podcast” is a flash button that will allow you to listen within the browser and there is a lso a big blue button that will allow you to download it.

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