Progress is always a result of past decisions. While we may spend so much time focusing on our future, we forget the influence our history has in creating who we are and what we choose to create. Now that I have effectively waxed philosophical, I think I will move on to the post at hand. Unless you want to hear more of my philosophical ramblings… No? Okay. Fine. I’ll move on.
Today, I explored a little of my brief history of design to gain deeper understanding. Within Hammer (the level editor for the Source engine), there are a wide variety of textures which come packaged with the software. As a beginning game designer, it is hard to imagine needing to create any original textures any time in the foreseeable future. Hammer makes these textures easy to access. The picture at left is a screenshot of the textures box from with in the application. Textures can be quickly chosen and applied with this box. A more in-depth tool can also be used to more readily view the textures. Hmm… I’m sure everyone really wants to hear all about my specific experiences with textures. However, I must deny you this pleasure for now. (If you must know more check out this post about Textures in Hammer.
Instead, I will discuss more of my other experiences from the day. Sometimes, things are not quite what they seem. For instance, over the past few days, I have been working on overcoming some of my personal fears which keep me from reaching out and expanding my horizons. With this horizontal expansion, there always comes the potential for disappointment. Yesterday, I proudly posted a screenshot of my first room. Needless to say, I was very excited about what I had accomplished. In my opinion, this pride was not misplace and much as it was misunderstood. While things looked correct in my screenshot, I soon learned that everything was not as it seemed…
Hammer provides developer textures that will allow the designer to understand the size relationships between objects without having to compile the map and enter the game to view the level. Obviously, my scaling was off just slightly. Now, I may be stretching the meaning of slightly since it is obvious that my room is taller than four grown men standing on each others’ heads. Notice that the outline of the in-game-sized man on the wall texture is barely taller than the baseboards on the far wall. Needless to say, I would have been very disappointed if I had entered the level and found out about this problem of size that no amount of email offers to increase my size would have helped. The impact of these developer textures cannot be overemphasized.
At about this time in my design process, I got really distracted. My friends, Casey and Noah, got on Xbox Live. I hadn’t played any games with them for a while so we played a couple hours worth of Halo: Reach. Casey spent about 20 minutes singing the tune for Hulk Hogan’s old wrestling music. No matter how much we protest the constant bombardment on our ears, he insisted that we know that he is “a real American…” He quit… eventually. I could easily digress into conversation of my tastes in gaming, but I will leave that for a later post. For now, it will suffice to say that I enjoy Halo and it has served as an inspiration for my dream of game design.
After a couple hours of complete distraction, I ate some dinner with my lovely wife, Traci, then refocused on learning game design. For the last part of my time designing today, I focused on understanding Point Entities in Hammer. Point entities encompass a variety of in-game objects including spawns, weapons, ammo, and a variety of other objects. This placement of these entities in the map was surprisingly easy. It simply required pointing and clicking on the 3D map in Hammer. I was able to learn the basics of point entities in about five minutes. I was able to do all this in that time span. There are no weapons on the map because I am currently working off the Team Fortress 2 version of the engine which has no weapons to place on the map. Once I get farther in, I’ll probably actually pay for the better stuff. In the meantime, enjoy the screenshot of my progress.
I’ll have to play around with this stuff some other time. For now, I’m happy with my progress. I already know more than I did a week ago. That’s it for today. If you read this far, you may as well follow me on twitter so you feel like you accomplished something after all of this.
Time Designing Today: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
-Learned more about textures
-Basic understanding of point entities