Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Left 4 Dead 2


So yes, Left 4 Deadford has been on hold due to a big change in my life. But I am picking up the tourch once again. Although I know I may have lost the interested from those who read this. I can give you some good news and make a mark on this blog of what my intentions now are.

Left 4 Deadford is now a Left4Dead2 Campaign.

I will not be updating this blog with anymore "Life!" or "Dont worry" type posts. Any posts after this will come with actual proof of progress. This may mean less posts but hopefully it will be a much more accurate log and therefore an interesting read.

Deadford never really got passed some basic level design and planning (well a lot of planning). I have brush assets made that you have seen, but there is a lot to do. With Left4Dead2 coming very soon I intend on carrying on building the levels, but leaving texture and entity work (lighting/interactive and cool stuff) until L4D2 is released as this will undoubtedly bring new things to play with although the basic brush work will carry over fine, and trust me there is a lot to build!

So next post might take a while but I promise, no more of these "never fear" type posts with no real content.

See you soon.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Campaign Summery

I thought I would post the route of the actual campaign, I have posted the route of the first level but as yet have not shared my plan for the rest of the campaign. I have had the route planned for quite a while now sat on my desk in a rather informal form, i.e. a print out I drew on. This is defiantly not to be taken as gospel as it will undoubtedly change as I add and take away from the levels as I build them to give a better play experience.
However, this is the plan that I am working to and is the basis for the project. I have provided small annotations to give you an idea what to expect in each level as you probably wont be able to see very clearly the finer details of the environment given the resolution and the fact that I've drawn a line straight through it. The annotations are just a small note of key features of the level.
Each level contains something different in environment to the last, although they carry the same theme, hopefully giving a nice variety to each level but maintaining continuity. If anything looks too "samey" now, I will defiantly be spicing things up later on with scripted sequences and unexpected passages.
Anyway, enjoy this route summary of the campaign.

From Deadford Designs

Level 1 Design rework

Game design is a fluid process, things have to change and adapt as development progresses due to any number of factors from a designer changing his mind, to hardware limitations, this is just as true for level design. Or in my case reading a map wrong at the start.
After spending quite a while perfecting the roads in the first area of the map and placing houses I noticed something wrong. This level was always meant to start from my house, because I know the distances from here to everywhere else better than anywhere in the town. But after placing my houses on the street I started to think, hey thats too many, the map must be out of date or something (which i knew it couldnt be because these houses have been here since the 60s) I kept looking out of the window trying to get an accurate count. I have already walked the route plan of the entire campaign so I am fresh with the area, but one thing I had not done is manually tally the number of houses, as I was going to rely on my google maps to tell me, which is all well and good if you are pin point accurate of your starting position on the map.

Which I was not; my first two designs (which can be found in earlier blogs) were a good 8 or so houses further up the street. All I can say is, things are a lot different from a few thousand feet up. So I had another walk again today and noted down all the houses, making sure I knew which were detached and which were semi-detached for the first street. Although this makes the map slightly shorter by hundred yards or so I hope the scale of the level will not be effected, if it is I can always make more changes.

Below is the new design, effectively the same, just shorter. If I had not had such a slow couple of weeks before I would have noticed this and made the change earlier, but now things are really into gear again, expect lots of refinements and screen shots soon!

From Deadford Designs

Thursday, 29 January 2009


Thought I'd make a post about what could in theory be done with the project. i.e, what could be done once all my mapping work is finished. So I'm looking quite a bit into the future here. But its nice to write down thoughts about the possibilities of a project. I'm used to writing in evaluation documents from university about what I "could have done" or what would make it better.

With Left4Dead campaigns you are given more things to do than before, normally when making a map for a source game like Counter-Strike you have the models and textures used in the original game, and you have to make a map with them. Adding custom textures, sounds etc are problematic as the server hosting the map also has to host all the new content and make the player download them when connecting to the server. With left4dead you can release maps as a zip file containing contents for multiple folders (maps,models,sounds etc) which you download and extract into the right folders. One example of a team of folks doing this for their campaign is the Dead before Dawn guys (search www.l4dmods.com). They have a huge amount of custom models, textures and now even their own music being made. (check http://www.l4dpodcast.net/blog/) for the link. So, these guys are a team, rather than just me on my own. But it certainly gives me ideas.

Possible Pipe Dream Ideas:
Ask a composer to make some music for the campaign.
Recruit an environmental artist or spend more time myself to make custom props.
Make myself or recruit a texture artist.

I particularly like getting my own music into the campaign. I will be watching the Dead before Dawn team closely to see how they pull it off.

Right, sorry about such impractical post, but its good to share my thoughts, even if none of them will be implemented.

Sunday, 25 January 2009


Thought i'd just write a small update. This week has indeed been quiet, I was really expecting the SDK to be released at some point this week. Looks like we're in a for a much bigger wait. I hope Im wrong though. So what now?

Well now I plan on getting all the brush work (if you're into unreal, that means bsp work)done. I plan on having all the roads done pretty soon, covered in nice orange dev textures so i can run them in HL2 multiplayer so i can at least play through it for testing. Then after the roads its placing houses and other brush work. I dont want to place too many L4D props into the level because I am very worried that when the SDK is released all the directories for the models will change and my map will be full of props that cant be found and would have to be placed again.

One thing im going to avoid is setting a timetable because this is a project that I cant really set one for, its a massive undertaking and although I plan on working solidly on it there are too many things that I dont know how long will take. So, the plan is. Get all the brush work done for level 1, starting with the roads then working up from there. Hopefully the SDK will be released once that is all done, if not, then I will probably spend extra time play testing the level and making sure the brush work is totaly polished. After that, possibly I can make a start on level 2.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Building - A small peek

Ok, so short of posting in game stills I thought i'd put up just a few pictures of the houses I've made. Below are 4 different designs taken straight from the houses in the immediate area around the starting zone. I took them from inside the editor in a flat view as any textures used at this time are just place holders/closest quick match.
This should give you a small idea what things will start to look like from a purely architectural side.

From Deadford Designs

From Deadford Designs

From Deadford Designs

From Deadford Designs

Monday, 19 January 2009

Suburban planning

So a small status update of whats happening with the project. Right now I have my head in Hammer (the source level editor) making houses. More specificly the semi-detached starting house that serves as the starting point for the map, i.e my house.

I have been carefully crafting the house, driveway, border walls, trying to follow a simple scale. Working in hammer units I have used the size of the player model in comparison to average human size. I am now happy with the scale I have created of the house and surrounding area.

I have a basic template of the semi-detached house, it still needs a few touches but once complete I will have the starting point for creating my suburbia. Using the finished starting house I can then comparitively easily make different versions, I aim to have about 4 different semi-detached buildings to make the first street with. Most houses in the area it is based on are all built from the same design and any differences are from extensions. So I can add/remove parts from my template I have in hammer to make many matching designs. Having an exact match for every single house in the town obviously is not an option, but the fact that the campaign is set in a suburban setting means all the houses look similar so I can use a few different templates and change them and still come up with a close match to the area.

Soon I should have shots of the buildings to show. Although currently because I'm using extracted game files and a custom mod to make the levels I cant at the moment get them to run inside Left 4 Dead. That will all be fixed soon, hopefully by the SDK.