There’s nothing more satisfying or enjoyable as a level designer as stumbling across a photo like this:
And then, a few hours later, find you’re staring at this:
What I’m doing here is principally establishing a theme - what you see here is pretty much all that has been done. The aim is to experiment with particular aspects of the idea, working out how the map should be built, how it should look, what sort of additional assets it will need, and importantly, exploring ways to use particular features of the theme as gameplay aspects of the map.
In this case, I’m quite excited about the prospect of a stream that runs alongside an elevated pebbled road, which combined with bridges and semi-darkness, brings out some intriguing opportunities. However, I’m particularly fond of the very long visible range (sniper heaven) when combined with the small nooks, crannies and cover that the envirnoment provides.
At the moment, there are no new assets in this at all. 100% of the materials and models are from CS:S or HL2, but that’s half the aim of this stage: to determine if existing assets are enough (unlikely), and also work out what new assets are needed and how they should be used. Already, I’ve started exporting DXFs to get size and scale of particular elements right, which will then be used to create new props, and then some more to replace the placeholders.
The next stage is to start creating more assets and simultaneously plan the map layout, taking advantage of what has been learnt here.
So, that’s how I start a map. Please bear in mind this might be the last you ever see it… (at least, looking like this!)