September 17, 2009
Man, I love a good level design rush. When you’re in the zone creating a level, it’s a lot like playing a well-designed game: there’s tons of meaningful short-term tasks for you to do, each of which gets you closer to the greater goal of finishing the level. And you just find yourself doing “just one more thing” until it’s way past midnight. Monday night was one of those nights.
I found myself wanting to create a quick demo showcase of my level design abilities, and figured a little Gears of War level would fit the bill. “Just a quick demo.” When I started it was 7pm in the evening, and 10 hours later (8 that night, and another two in the morning) I had finished my first ever GoW level, showcased below.
Seeing how little time I had and how this was a showcase more than a fully fleshed out level, I decided to focus on one key attribute: “scenic vista”. I wanted to use a big, picturesque landscape as the backdrop, using all the skills and techniques I had acquired in my last few professional gigs; and I wanted to put a quaint (if that attribute exists in the GoW universe) mountain village on top of that. So I used all the tricks in my book to simulate and render out a nice-looking terrain (which ended up a 6700 tri static mesh with a 2k diffuse and normal map), which tiles 9 times to create the backdrop. The “city” itself is just a single road, and is heavily referenced from SP_Eba for quick turnaround. Throw in some atmospheric settings, cover nodes and enemies, and you have yourself a quick but pretty neat demo level.
This isn’t a complete map by a long shot, of course. More of a vignette, a small scene that describes the feel of the environment. The level is tiny, doesn’t fit into an overarching narrative and has no history. But I had a lot of fun assembling it, and in the process I reacquainted myself with UnrealEd (which I hadn’t used since the Unreal 2 days) and dug into the Gears of War asset library.
September 9, 2008
My Unreal 2 tutorials had fallen victim to the page redesign. But fear not if you’re still looking for U2 editing help! Hellkeeper has integrated all of my old content into his tutorial page, dug up all of the old documentation, and fixed all outdated links. He’s even translated each tutorial into French, if you feel more comfortable with that. Wanna dig into some oldschool Unreal 2 editing? Go visit the page by clicking on the image below!
June 21, 2005
This is a 2003 Unreal 2 editing article that I wrote for the German magazine PC Games. It’s in German, and you’ll need to register on the PC Games page.
June 7, 2004
This is an unfinished (but fully playable) Unreal 2 level (based on the PC Games tutorial I wrote in 2003) that I released to the community. No scripting or particle effects, but the map is fully playable and provides at least 30 minutes of gameplay. See if you can find all secret areas, there’s three dead hidden scientists! More information can be found in the Solaris Base readme.
Download Solaris Base.
February 20, 2003
Here is a small gallery of my Unreal 2 level design work – nine shots are from the Atlantis level, one from an U2 XMP map, and two from the tutorial mission. Almost all 3D modelling work was done by me, textures were created by Dawid Michalczyk (Atlantis), the rest of the texture artists and me. The Desert XMP mission was created by Scott Dalton, using some leftover models I had created for a discarded Unreal 2 mission. The tutorial level was based on earlier work by Grayson Edge.
February 18, 2003
(And other neat stuff). This article reveals all Atlantis secrets from Unreal 2.
Available during all interludes:
- Secret Button #1: In the briefing room go to the right side of the holotank. There’s a hidden button on the right side of the table, between the table side and the wall. Press it to get a Seagoat holo.
- Secret Button #2: There’s a secret button in the the Armory, right next to the door. Crouch and look up at the table. If you push the button you get Isaak saying “Flashbang” and an EMP burst. This is an inside joke more than anything else, Isaak used to describe the concussion grenade as “It’s basically a flashbang[...]“, and we got a great deal of entertainment from using that word in every possible context. The line got changed, but the voice file stayed.
- Secret Button #3: Go past Ne’Ban’s cabin into the back hallway and jump into the open hatch in the corner of the hallway. If you look back towards head of the ship there’s a button, press it to get a few evil Lincoln and Grant heads laughing at you. In case you’re wondering, Grant Roberts is a co-worker and friend (and the voice of Ne’Ban!), I copied that picture of the Legend webpage one late night.
- Seagoat License Plate: You have to cheat for this. If you got behind Dalton’s locker in his cabin you can see a Seagoat license plate attached to the back of the locker.
- Seagoats: in all interludes starting with Obolus the Seagoat is hiding somewhere on the ship. If you find him he will run away twice, after that you can use him to get a dialog line from Dalton.
- Photographs: After each completed mission you get a new photograph of the planet that you just visited, it’ll be attached to the big screen in Dalton’s cabin.
- Artifacts: Whenever you find a piece of the artifact it will appear on the table in the back of Isaak’s armory.
Only available in specific interludes:
- PostM00 (after Avalon): to get the secret Lincoln briefing you have to talk to the hidden Seagoat before Aida gives her briefing. Go to the upper deck, past the player cabin and open the hatch opposite to Ne’Ban’s cabin door. Talk to the Seagoat inside and reply with “Spam”, “Spam”, “Spam”, “Humbug” (an homage to the Ultima 6 cheat). When Aida gives her briefing you’ll see Abe Lincoln doing the distress call instead of Danny Miller.
- PostM04 (before Obolus): When Ne’Ban does his briefing there’s 12 pictures that get displayed in rapid succession over the holotank. To see them clearly you can either cheat (“slomo 0.1″) or open the editor and check out the textures (they’re in MattT.utx).
- Unreal 2 Dance Party: To access the hidden U2 dance party you have to use the console or start U2 from command line. If you’re in-game: open the console, enable cheats and enter “open atlantis?missioncompleted=83″. From command line: start U2 with “unreal2.exe atlantis?missioncompleted=83″.
- Birthday Interlude: Do the same as above, but use “missioncompleted=110276″ instead (Feb 11 is my birthday ). You start in the player’s cabin and are treated to a bunch of Seagoat and Lincoln balloons. The interlude is empty otherwise.
Bonus Secret: Tutorial
- Nali Shooting Range: There’s a hidden shooting range in the tutorial level that let’s you mow down Nali. Here’s how you unlock it: in the obstacle course (where Raff tests your movement skills) there’s a fenced in area on the right side with a few boxes in it. If you stand on top of the mantling block you can jump over theose fences. Walk into the open box to find a secret Grant head, the game will announce that the secret shooting range has been unlocked. Proceed to weapons training and complete all tasks. At the end of the grenade launcher tutorial don’t go to Raff but walk over to the fourth shooting range on your left, which will now open.
December 21, 1999
Deathmatch map for Unreal Tournament that I created December 99, right after Wheel of Time and Unreal Tournament had shipped. Includes all new textures that had been created for some early Unreal environments but never made it into a shipped level. Good for 4-16 players, can also be played in Domination mode. More information can be found in the DM-MM readme.
July 21, 1999
This gallery contains a few moments from my NaPali levels.