Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Infestation



After a whole summer of Hammer Notepad less videos, your probably wondering "What happened?" and you call back to when I use to post a video at least every month or so. Well its a long story. So lets start this from the top.

Introduction:

I have videos filled with Beta videos and interviews of Left 4 Dead, Portal, And Portal 2. And I still watch them even though I watched them hundreds of times over. Why? Well for some reason, watching videos like that gives me inspiration, and I say to myself "I wanna make something like this, with this style." Kinda silly since I have Left 4 Dead, Portal and Portal 2, but its not the same playing the retail and then watching a game in progress video. And If you know me, If I'm not creating something new, I'm recreating the old.

I have the Left 4 Dead videos from QuakeCon 2007 and Showdown LAN, and I love the videos of them. Why? Well for those who don't know, In the older versions  of Left 4 Dead, (Remember, the FIRST one, see I don't put a 2 at the end?) The maps mostly had a dark sky and buildings had their window lights on, lighting up the map in contrast to the dark sky. Although, in the commentary, the developers did not really want this look, but for me, this looked way way more like an apocalypse then to the final style and the Left 4 Dead 2 style. Many people may disagree, but that is what I think. If there was a zombie outbreak, and you were told to evacuate your homes along with the million and a half other people, would you remember to turn off your lights? And if you want something you can't have, you make it.




And this started with 'Terror-Strike' in 2009, a Counter-Strike: Source 'Dress up' into a Left 4 Dead style game. The Terrorist where the infected and the Counter Terrorist where the survivors. I picked Counter-Strike: Source because, well for once, it was Turtle Rock's game prior to Left 4 Dead, and in the beta clips, its clear that most content came from Counter-Strike: Source. The first map was kind of a rip-off from the No Mercy apartment map, but most of the clips where from that map and I really wanted that beta feeling. For the skybox, I got a beach Skybox from Gamebanana, which was kinda close to the original skybox. Sadly, I only have this picture from that entire project.


So what happened? Well at the time I was also working on Project-Beta, and Blue Portals and this was only something to work on the side. It eventually died, and I can't go back to it because Counter-Strike updated and the newer UI will lose the old Counter-Strike - Left 4 Dead transition.

Later that year, I started getting into the wonderful and stressful world of programming Source with no C++ background. Smart, isn't it? Me trying to program one of the hardest things and I can't even program an EXE that makes a window saying "Hi"? I must been determined when I started. But on the side of mapping I programmed (or attempted too) with weapons for the most part and how the weapons effect AI.




I did not program all too often, and I struggled while doing so. But that is how I learned mapping, I struggled without any pressure from anyone and I felt smart when I got something to work. And that is mostly how I learn things in general. 

While wrapping up Blue Portals in October with Chamber 10 + bug fixes, I started a new sourcemod. In this, I was really working on the Gravity Gun and trying to make it less of a weapon, and more into a puzzle device much like the Portalgun is. After a few weeks for struggling with that, my attention jumped into Antlion AI. And then I had the idea of a L4D map, but filled with Antlions.  I mapped mostly from the style of the old No Mercy Subway and I just filled it with Antlions. In the End, I got this:




The First Start

A few months later, someone contacted me about this video and asked if he could help work on it and make into a full working mod. I was a little skeptical as usually when people contact me about projects, they are usually mappers. But this user, Pelk was a coder, and a pretty talented one too. (I'm not sure I'm saying that because I suck at coding, but after a few months of knowing him, he did some pretty cool stuff.) 

We first started on a First person adventure mod, where giant infested insects where taking over the city and you had to get out. Only one map got done, and that is mostly because I had Blue Portals work to do and there was much to get done, and it kinda got overwhelming. And I knew that this would not be like BP where the self made puzzle elements would drive development. Also, I never really map in Half-Life 2. And the fact that I was more interested in Blue Portals: Extended Play, (or Both Portals as it was called) and the updates the project was cut and the only code adjustments was his AI spawning system (Which was pretty damn cool) and an increase of env_projectedtexture limit. 

Revival

Portal 2 came and the tools where limited to the Swarm tools for a short time. Later, as you all know, the Beta tools where released. But still I was annoyed about the VPK system and how overrides would be harder and more annoying to do. And all this really made me miss how easy and flexible The Orange Box was.  In fact, I was so depressed how harder the new stuff is that I was going to make a post called "What is so great about The Orange Box?" And on top of all that, I was wondering if developing a Blue Portals was even possible in Portal 2. So I went back into the safe haven of The Orange Box, or Source 2007. 

Knowing that the first Portal is even more dead before the announcement of Portal 2, I knew I could not go back to the good old days. I don't really play Team Fortress 2 that much, nor really enjoy it that much as I did with Portal to develop for it. So the last pick was Half-Life 2, and the option of what Source code to pick was once again in front of me. What was going to be the next big thing that is fun and new to develop?

Going back to my Antlion Subway map, I decided to take another whack at it, but this time it will be for Deathmatch. I contacted Pelk again about the revision and he was very interested in it. I also Contacted SNIPA and Colossal for models and textures and they were also in on it. But there was one issue. Everyone was going on vacation because it was like the beginning of July. But before Pelk left, he attempted and failed to install a AI patch for MP, most likely because the patch was out dated. While everyone was enjoying their vacations, I took matters into my own hands and did as much as I could as possible. I do admit, I got most of the coding from the Developer Wiki, but some of the tutorials are outdated and /or unclear. So sometimes I would spend hours getting something to work while the step by step tutorial was right there. But hey, they are there to use. 

Knowing mapping and the I/O system was my strong point. The games rules and Antlion spawning were map logic. And the design I wanted was, you guessed it, the old Left 4 Dead beta, with dark sky and buildings lighting up the map. I did not wanna make a big, long map with a long path to test it, so I decided to make a smaller map, and test it with a survival type of gameplay. So the idea was that you where going to defend a house until you died (I guess). But houses are something that is very generic. 

So I put it all together. Well The idea of giant insects were often a horror genre from the 1950's, there is not really much games from that era. [Unless its World War II related or Fallout (But that is more futuristic)] So I Google'd House plans from the 1950's and decided on this model. I had to alter some of the rooms not because of copyright theft or whatever, but the house looked very odd with the other two bedrooms. I also changed the shape of the bathroom, and the size of most rooms down so it looked reasonable in game, and not look like a giant mall. 



When the others got back, I showed them my progress with mapping pictures. But Pelk was more focused on another mod he was working on, and SNIPA and Colossal were doing more TF2 work since Valve really liked the models. So Infestation was an "Only me project" and I had to use resources from other games (Like Day of Defeat: Source, Counter-Strike: Source and Left 4 Dead.) Why didn't I stick with HL2 models? Well, as you all may know, they kinda suck in today's standards and I really wanted to break the HL2 feel, although I could not edit the shaders. And there is no weapons from the era I wanted to set the game in, so I had to reinstall Day of Defeat: Source for the view models and sounds. So the entire idea fell apart and I got more into Portal 2 mapping instead, going back to my roots. 

And now I decided to show it? Well, I'm still working on it, but its not the number one thing to do on my list. I have many other projects going on and to be honest, I feel like only one or two are going to get done. And having this entire mod to do with no modeling or code help is a waste compared to a full mapping job which I'm experienced at. I do admit, its really fun to work on. If I had ideas to make this better and less flat and not rip L4D even more or Nazi Zombies. I would. But going back to the introduction, a few old videos drove me into making something like this. I can't believe it ether.

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