It occurred to me how the mapping world is very different to how it was when I started out 10 years ago (when I was, err, 12). Back then, all we had to teach ourselves were big manuals and some dodgy software that would only occasionally crash and not take all your work with it.

One of the things that annoyed me though, while I was mapping for Quake and Quake 2, was the divide between mappers working in industry and those doing it in their bedroom. There was no insight into how real maps in real, commercial games were made, or the strategies and issues tackled during their creation. As far as I could tell, games came with maps, very casually, and that was that. There was never any insight into the thinking behind the maps, why certain choices were made over others. At the same time, the mappers were fairly faceless.

A few years ago (at the peak of CS 1.0, when e-mail addresses of mappers were shown at the start of every game), I got e-mail by the dozen a day from people asking how to do A, B and C, or why I did this, or if I’d do that, or asking for money, hints, tips, advice and all sorts of stuff. I got some utterly bizarre requests and e-mail from very very confused people. I once told someone I wasn’t going to make a snow version of Dust, so they e-mailed me back a torrent of abuse including threats to my family and suggestions that I owe a snowy Dust because CS players like him had helped me make a fortune. Other people casually made remarks suggesting that I could retire on the fortune Dust had made me.

That’s not how it works. At the time I was student, living in a dingy house, collecting my student loan every few months. Dust did not make anyone a fortune.

So, that’s kind of what this blog is about. Firstly, it’s about some of the background thinking that goes into my maps, some of the logic that I’ve learnt or made up as I went along. It’s about some of the problems and issues I’ve had with my maps, why I chose to do one thing rather than another. And, to an extent, it’s to point out that making a successful map is not the key to stardom and wealth. Anyone could create a map as popular as Dust. They could also create one far far better than Dust, just not anywhere near as well-played. The clever bit is using what you have got (be it Dust or something you’ve called ‘Dirt’) to take you further.