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Design process
Page 2
 Stage 5: Detailing

The map still looks rather empty, so the next stage is the creation of model props. 3D Studio Max is used to create more detailed props, such as the drinking fountain, leather sofas and the laptop. They are then UVW unwrapped, skinned and compiled for use in the Half-Life 2 engine. Props which will react to the environment will be assigned physics properties such as mass, material type and 'health'. These props are finally placed into the map.

Also, more interesting lighting is added to give the level more atmosphere.

Tools Used: 3D Studio Max. Adobe Photoshop CS 2. Valve Hammer Editor.

 Stage 6: Polish

In this final visual area, a great deal is done to take the map towards a stage of completion. Cubemap entities are added, which will give textures within the level more accurate specular reflections. A fog entity is placed to give the map a very light fogging and paintings and decal overlays are added to the walls and floors to break up the repetitive nature of a map. However, this level was always intended to be a clean, warm I.T. company, so the dirt and trash is kept to a minimum.

Shadow entities, glow sprites and volumetric lighting is added and tweaked, not forgetting dust motes, clouds and the 3D skymap. Finally, any logic script that might be needed for certain entities and map conditions is written within the editor. I/O commands are also set up for the capture and destroyable entities (so that a team can actually win the level).

Tools Used: Valve Hammer Editor.

 Stage 7: Sounds and AI (If needed)

Whilst not often considered a particularily important part of level design, I feel it is one of THE most important ways to make a map an enjoyable experience. In this stage sound generator entities are placed near any objects that would create a sound; computer towers, bright strip lighting, water pipes etc. Also, 'soundscapes' are placed at the entry points to every room, to let the engine know how much reverb and ambience to apply to the player's sound when they pass into the new area.

As far as AI is concerned, in single player missions, AI nodes and pathways will need to placed in order that the enemies can navigate terrain and decide where to attack from.

 Stage 8: Final compile

The map is compiled and tested once again by as many friends and mod members who can lend a hand. Any final adjustments are made to the design after this testing, with all criticism taken onboard. Finally, the level is given a full compile, using HDR if available (not on this map, but see the Warehouse for an example of HDR ingame) and as many light bounces as possible.