Updates and My First Official Project: Designing a TF2 Map

Currently I am “inbetween jobs”. This is a figure of speech which is generally used to say, without shame, that you’re unemployed. For my self, however, I am literally inbetween 2 jobs. I left my job in Shanghai in December and I received a job offer in Beijing (an extremely exciting, dream job, offer which I can tell you about when I sit down at my desk). Unfortunately, the Chinese visa process is very complicated and slow, so it’s taking much longer than expected to get my ass to Beijing to start working on something amazing.

Until then, I have been blogging, playing lots of games (not all for homework) and keeping up with industry news and theory. My initial thought, when beginning this blog, was that I was going to design my own game from scratch in the 9 months I spent in the UK waiting for graduate schemes to start. Fortunately, I have now received my full time job offer and that time is no longer available. Still, I’d love to actually create something and share the process with you guys. First, I actually want to list out all the sorts of projects that I’ve been thinking of, but haven’t really executed yet, and update you all on the progress.


Project Rumble – Cancelled… for now.

Project Rumble was my first real idea and the game I was planning to make during those 9 months of free time and interviews. Since that hasn’t happened, creating a web game and teaching myself JavaScript or ActionScript from scratch is pretty insurmountable. There’s just no time for it.

Furthermore, I believe where I wanted to place the game and what I wanted the game to be, are kinda not really appealing to me right now. I love the idea of a multiplayer battle arena, but the industry isn’t going that way right now, at least on the web. Releasing it on Facebook would require even more learning, and Facebook isn’t exactly small developer friendly right now. In fact, a solo man project is just completely pointless on Facebook. I’m not looking to make money from this thing, but I do want some people to play it! And, if I can make some money, it would be worth getting a reward for my hard work.

Project Rumble will probably never happen but, if all turns out well in my career and I get an extreme amount of luck and success, I will definitely make an online battle arena my masterpiece game. It will go way beyond what Project Rumble could have been, it’s my dream to design a game which could be called an online battle arena.


DotA Hero Suggestion – On Hold.

Not exactly a project that can go much further, but I thought I’d fill you in. I posted my hero suggestion on the official PlayDotA.com forums. I got feedback from a few people, including one very respected member of the hero suggestion community. It was all very positive. However, I haven’t quite received as much feedback as I would have liked, to really take another look at it and present to you guys. These days, there are so many people creating hero suggestions (frankly terrible ones 90% of the time) that I have to market my suggestion around the boards to get a good amount of useful feedback.

There are very few people who can make prototype maps for DotA heroes. Learning myself is going to take a long time, for something which is very niche. The possibility of it going further than just a hero suggestion is very slim. I will be trying to get more feedback and revising my suggestion, when I have some more time, but for now I have to place this on hold.


Project …mostly – Slow Progress

Project …mostly was introduced very recently and was birthed from some ideas I had in my head about a mix of Tower Defence and standard Facebook Resource Management games. I still like this idea, and it’s actually quite applicable to my future career. It’s a nice theoretical project which lets me delve deeper into the mechanics of social gaming and advancing the medium into the future. This will not be built, at least by me, alone. However, I do want to really get into the details of this idea and flesh out a real design document and concept for this game. It’s good practice for my future position, and I just love the concept I’ve got bouncing around in my head!

I don’t know when, but there will be more on this!


League of Legends Tank Champion Suggestion – Continuing

This is still ongoing. Female Tank Pt.II is coming very soon (half is done in a draft), and I am going to be continuing with this, as before. Expect me to break out my pencil and paper, work on original icons and lore for this champion. This is taking my DotA suggestion to the next level, in a game which I actually understand much more about. Of course, I’m still pretty new to it, so over the coming weeks I’ll be learning more and more from actually playing the game!


New Project Announcement – Designing a Team Fortress 2 Map

All of these projects above cannot produce something that’s workable. It’s all well and good having ideas about game design, but I really do need to get something playable on the table. From reading Jessie Schell’s Art of Game Design – A book of lenses textbook, I have really gained a lot more insights into the game design process. Iteration and feedback is key and it’s something that I just cannot do without a flesh and blood product.

Level design is something we all take part in, as gamers. 99% of us don’t do anything about it, but when we play maps and levels in games we complain. We formulate strategies, we try to find the best way to play the level and map. Even without saying anything, we are thinking of the design of these environments and how to take advantage of them to achieve success in a game. I want to take these thoughts, look deep into the mechanics of TF2 and come up with a polished, testable and well-designed map that can be played by others.


Map Stamps - A great way to encourage people to design maps for TF2


Valve recently introduced the Map Stamp system, a way for the officially incorporated Community Maps to make money for their designers. Valve also pays the original designer a few thousand dollars to take their map and make it real. As said before, I don’t want to do this for the money but the experience, however this is a real objective or milestone for me to aim for. I’m not sure if I even have enough time before I’m sent to Beijing (I definitely don’t), but I want to get the start sorted out, build a complete map and iterate it a few times. If I can even get 100 people to test it out, if I can get even 1 server to say “Hey, this is a great map, lets add it to our rotation” then I’ll have achieved something that I could never have done with the above projects.

My ultimate goal is to get it included as a community map. And, as I work on this project, I’m going to share my thoughts with you all and show you how I came to my design. Together, we will be learning the Hammer Editor and Source SDK. We will be going into TF2 map design theory as well as general FPS theory. This is the first real project which will 100% produce something, so I’m very excited and happy to announce that my TF 2 Map Project has begun!




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