I was hired by Splash Damage shortly before the launch of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, and helped design and prototype some of Brink’s early concepts. As the studio’s Senior Level Designer, I designed two of the 8 maps that shipped with the game, and was heavily involved in scripting gameplay elements for all of them.
Container City was amongst the earliest maps to be made for Brink, and was frequently used as promotion for the game. As an escort mission, it is designed to entice players through the entirity of the map, completing objectives along the way in order to win (and trying to avoid getting spawn-camped).
Refuel was one of Brink’s later maps, designed to be compact with arena-ish qualities, intended to appeal to a range of playing styles.
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero
Condition Zero had a turbulent history. I became involved as it fell into the hands of Gearbox Software, providing a couple of maps, only one of which - Tides - became part of the retail game. Sienna was released along with a game update.
Sienna was designed in early 2004 to be my final map for CS 1.6. My desire was to create another map in the same vein of Dust 2, with the tightness and openness that many people seem to enjoy, whilst also trying out a few experimental features. Most notably, it features several small connecting passages and intricate alcoves and platforms designed to encourage particular play styles. The map is set upon an upward incline, with the attacking team (Terrorists) needing to advance up towards the bomb targets, whilst the Counter-Terrorists must defend from higher ground.
Sienna is the last map I worked on for which I produced the majority of textures. During the last stage of its development cycle it underwent an art pass at Valve, during which it took on a far grittier and individual feel, but maintained the same theme I had created. The above two screenshots are from the last version I worked on.
You can read more about Sienna in The Making Of: Sienna.
Tides was initially just a small map I was working on after Cobble, again using all custom textures. Gearbox took it off my hands, re-textured and made an appearance in Counter-Strike: Condition Zero (above).
Tides was updated by Valve for inclusion in Counter-Strike: Source.
Radio Station (unreleased)
Originally known as “Radio RzE” as a homage to John ‘rizzuh’ Jensen, the webmaster of the CS-Nation website, this hostage rescue map was developed prior to the announcement of Condition Zero, and then subsequently acquired by Gearbox (along with Tides) to feature in it. Unfortunately however, it didn’t make the cut into the final game.
Unlike every other CS map I made, this map was set entirely indoors and inspired by one of my favourite CS maps,
cs_office - but spread over two floors of a fictional radio station. Like Tides, I developed my own textures but on closer inspection it’s evident why Gearbox chose to replace them.
In retrospect, as a dark map with poor signposting, winding hallways, tight corridors and almost non-existent tactical agency, it probably didn’t play very well at all. It had a few oddities - like “On-Air” signs that flashed if a player was inside one of the (very dark) studios, and a couple environmental references to ‘The Matrix’. I almost certainly had more fun making it than anyone would have had playing it!
Technically, all the maps below I made as a hobbyist mapper, but when Valve Software bought Counter-Strike, they also obtained the rights to these maps and they became my first works to be available at retail.
Dust is certainly the map with which most people associate to myself, and has become not only excessively popular, but a hallmark of Counter-Strike itself. Despite being so simple and basic, it rapidly became a favourite amongst players and held the title of most-popular (or most-played) map in the world for many months.
Dust has seen various updates in its life, not least by Ritual Entertainment in Counter-Strike: Condition Zero and by Valve in Counter-Strike: Source (above, respectively). In both updates, the map layout has remained mostly the same, but the map has undergone significant visual improvements to make it look much more realistic and improve the gameplay.
You can read more about Dust in The Making Of: Dust
Dust 2 (de_dust2)
Dust 2 was initially designed to be Dust 3, in response to the popular understanding that sequels rarely match the quality of the original. The map is a slight departure from Dust, featuring tight conflicts and many more elevation changes than the original map, but apparently boasts much more appeal amongst players and stole the most-played title from Dust. If Dust is a map for casual matches, Dust 2 is a map for organised massacres.
Like Dust, Dust 2 has also seen a number of updates.
You can read more about Dust 2 in The Making Of: Dust 2
Cobble was born out of a desire to build a map based on a castle. I was delivered with approprate textures by Chris Ashton, the artist behind the Dust textures, and proceeded to create a huge castle which ended up being entirely unsuitable. Heading back to the drawing board, I then built Cobble in a matter of hours, designed around the same principles that had found favour in Dust - notably the simplicity and openness.
Cobble does however suffer from a few glaring problems. Most notably, the scale is unrealistic and hence players look minute in the environment. While never as popular as Dust or Dust 2, Cobble has remained a favourite amongst clans and is amongst the top five most played CS maps.
Cobble was updated by Valve for Counter-Strike: Source.
Team Fortress Classic
After the success of Dust and Cobble, I was contacted by Valve to produce a map for Team Fortress Classic 1.5. As an enormous fan of the game, I quickly got involved making it the first mapping contract of my career. Casbah was difficult. It aptly demonstrated my immaturity as a designer, sprawling out into an entire mess of a town, which was later cut into something more playable and appropriate by Valve’s David Sawyer. James Storey produced textures.
James Bond 007: Nightfire
The PC version of Nightfire was produced by Gearbox Software, who chose the Half-Life engine for the game, and therefore I felt very at home with the level design tools required. Whilst not the hugest of successes, I did quite enjoy the experience of working on a real Bond game from my bedroom.
When I was asked to create a Casino for Nightfire I wasn’t sure where to begin. After all, casino’s are a big part of the Bond image. The map was derived from unfinished works on the TWINE game, and hence uses the same textures and general stylings. My initial casino map, like Casbah, sprawled out into a large two-floor mess which required significant reworking to bring back to a sensible size.
Power Station (dm_power)
This map was based on a theme from one of the single-player missions in the game, and hence is effectively a derivation. The layout adopts a classical focus in the centre of the map containing a high-value weapon.
Romania is one the maps I am most proud of, one that went through 3 or 4 very different revisions before coming to rest on the S shaped configuration that made the final game. The map ended up as a passage through a small (semi-Romanian) town, featuring many high vantage points, looming buildings and quick shortcuts across the map. The majority of the textures were my own.
To ease anyone’s doubts about the accuracy and authenticity of this map, I have been assured by a Romanian colleague of mine that it bears very little resemblence to Romania at all.