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KingGambit's WiP Blog
- A Forum Thread for Insurgency
Step 1: Initial Phase and Goals
First and foremost, I set the major goals I wanted to achieve with my level:
1. A **unique environment** not only aesthetics but gameplay as well.
2. Unlike Insurgency's frenetic open-world environments, I made the decision to create a more deliberate layout (i.e. Ministry).
3. Capture points must be intuitive and have their own identity in regards to visuals and design.
4. Utilize movement mechanics more.Though the movement is quite restricted in Insurgency, I couldn't help but implement various ways to move around the level, other than the typical "run from point A to point B" feeling.
5. A gamble was to reduce visual noise and provide a clear setting to easily discern players from the environment. It breaks from the Insurgency tradition of using fog, props, and dark areas to your advantage,
but I was confident the risk would pay off for the unique feel of my map
6. Dynamic layout (different game modes can have players spawn in various locations to change the experience)
After some quick brainstorming, the idea of a temple/mosque excavated inside a canyon or cave seemed to suit all my goals.
From there I drew a rough sketch to build off of:
I garnered some assets form an eclectic mix of religious cave temples and mosques to start molding the theme of the map. Here are some of the references I used:
![http://i.imgur.com/nQ48yhy.jpg](http://i.imgur.com/nQ48yhy.jpg "http://i.imgur.com/nQ48yhy.jpg")![http://i.imgur.com/L02yXxF.jpg](http://i.imgur.com/L02yXxF.jpg "http://i.imgur.com/L02yXxF.jpg")
Step 2: Layout and Level Design/Building PHase
I identified most with Ministry and saw a lot of potential in its level design:
- Like: Isolated routes (very unique), verticality, bilateral symmetry
- Dislike: Some routes too isolated and ran too deep into enemy territory (makes it hard to cover flanks and deter spawn campers), capture zones felt uninspired, could've utilized verticality more, too visually symmetrical in some places
With that, I went through several iterations of sketches of my map's layout until I got something I could work with:
As seen in the picture, I browsed the prop library and picked out any assets that suited my map's theme, and set them out so I could readily use them when the time came.
The valley-shape was intended to deter spawn campers and give defensive advantages (more mobility for defending side while allowing high ground advantage):
One of my main goals was to create intuitive and unique capture zones (both in visuals and design):
- A: safe routes, water so you can't prone, large enough to deny cap safely and create "deadlock" situation and wait for reinforcements.
- B: exposed routes, close quarter engagement. Lots of positions can guard B so teams want to be the first to take control. Creates that "first rush" moment in which players blitzkrieg the cap point at the beginning of a round. Grenades can be lobbed over shelves.
- C: A bit generic. Not much cover. 2-story zone in which players can enter from either the exposed main entrance (sun silhouette wall) or from the bottom of the staircase. Grenades could also be thrown into C from outside (right of picture).
Though movement mechanics are quite restricted in this game, I tried to implement platforming and fun ways to maneuver around the level. A good example is the stone pillars near C which not only provide good cover but can be used to jump across the water as a shortcut:
My level had certain "centerpieces" which I felt were essential to creating my map's visual identity. A lot of these required custom props which I used placeholders for. These placeholders would then exported into 3ds Max and Photoshop to create the assets:
1. Export placeholders as dxf. I'd copy-paste all the placeholders into a new vmf, then "File>export as DXF"
2. I'd import the dxf into 3ds max, then create the model
3. Next, I unwrapped the UV for texturing in photoshop
4. Finally, I'd use an awesome tool called Wall Worm on 3ds Max to convert the model and textures into formats suitable for Hammer editor.
I focused on polishing the important areas first (cap zones, spawns, and centerpiece areas):
An example of this was the bell towers which utilized the verticality of the level. Instead the typical "top-down" dynamic of sniper nests, I let the towers peak into A as well as some of the mid balconies so there was more use for them as well as more danger (you wouldn't be able to just camp up there safely). I also stratified some levels in the tower to break up the boring climb as well as add some variety to the positions:
One of the fun ideas I had was to produce a "gong" sound whenever someone shot at the bell. I thought it was a nice way of indicating that there was a player up in the bell tower (if you shot up at the tower and missed, there's a good chance you'd strike the bell).
This was done by creating a "func_button" brush entity around the bell and triggering the bell sound on damage:
Step 3: Details and Optimization
Once I got my map at a playable state with crude details, I began my art pass and added all the details which would bring my map to life:
To be honest, I didn't really have a process for this part. I just went around my map (both in-game and in hammer); whenever I saw an area that seemed too plain and reminded me that it was just a flat brush geometry, I'd add details until it wasn't noticeable.
Though the layout was symmetrical, as with the tradition of asymmetry in Insurgency, I tried to make the counterparts different (i.e. pool for Sec, storage cellar for Ins):
Gradually, my map began to look better and better in the span of a couple weeks dedicated to the details:
Step 4: Optimization
My environment was very complex and fogless which made it a near impossibility to use Z-clipping. Furthermore, the map was a swiss cheese in regards to routes around the map; there were too many wide open entrances that made areaportals ineffective except for at the sides of the map.
Though I know I could've optimized the map more (controlling the prop fade out values, better hint brush), I elected to use occluders to block out most of the rendering of props. some before and after shots:
Optimization is definitely one of the things I need to work on for this map, but I'll see how it pans out (I didn't have any fps issues during play tests so I'm hoping further optimization won't be necessary).
Though it didn't turn out the same as what I had in mind, I'm content with the decisions I've made. As a little thank you for taking your time to read this, I thought I'd share a little secret of mine in an easter egg I had planned on putting in the map which uses an exploit that still works in the game.
[Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbcWEaxWmkc](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbcWEaxWmkc "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbcWEaxWmkc")