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An Open Window is an experimental MOD for Half-Life 2, Episode 2. In this project I will attempt to bring the concept of different realities to life in a realistic scenario. Instead of being another Shooter, AnOpWi centers around the role of the player and his/her experience, emotion and memories. By interacting with the world the player will define his own reality within the story. For this project I chose an open development cycle, which means I will update very frequently and share every step I take in the process of creating this game. Next to the regular media updates, I will also share my thoughts on the different areas of game design in the form of articles. In every article I will also ask for your opinion with the Question of the Day. This MOD also functions as a knowledge base for new and experienced designers.

Report article RSS Feed An Open Window: PLD +20

Time for a new article with some development progress and a look at the function and role of models in game development. Also, a special Question of the Day!

Posted by Hezus on Feb 18th, 2011

An Open Window: Project Launch Day +20

The flu has passed, real life has picked up again and I've had a few hours to dedicate to the project this week. Time for a new article with some development progress and a look at the function and role of models in game development.

From all the comments on the last Question of the Day I gathered most people prefer to be mappers. This is not without reason, because being a mapper has it's advantages. The mapper has every resource at his disposal. The engine code is working, there is a large texture set available and he can use models at will. His role in a team is putting everything together. While I'm not trying to say the mapper has an easy job, he would be the only one who is able to release a full MOD on his own. The modeller on the other hand, needs to create his own content and often skinners help him creating the texture for the model. This gives him the opportunity to create exactly what he wants, and that's an option the lone mapper doesn't have. He is tied to the resources he has been given.

For AnOpWi, I've tried to combine these two advantages. While I have made characters and weapon models in the past, I can't say I'm as experienced with XSI or MS3D as I am with Hammer. This problem has been solved by a ingenious little tool called Propper. With Propper the mapper can convert objects he created from brushes directly to models. While it's doesn't offer the same possibilities as genuine modelling, the program has served me well over the few last years. Check out this page on how to use Propper.

In the current art pass phase, I'm creating loads of objects for the rooms of the house. These objects are referred to as props in the Source engine and are models. The engine can render these models faster than regular brushes. However, it's a time consuming job because I have to create both the brushwork and the custom textures. Next to that, the props need to blend into the scenery, which is hard to get right on the first attempt. To the left and right you can see a few random examples of props I have been creating.

As you can see from the screenshot above: it's the props that bring the scene to life and determine the final theme of the setting. In the next art pass, the remaining detail will be added and finally the lighting will be set, which will greatly differ from the screenshots you've seen so far.

Regular readers know I end my articles with the Question of the Day. Today's QoftD is slightly different and is more of a request and your chance to influence the development, if only slightly. Thanks for reading and all the comments so far!

Question of the Day:
Which prop model would you like to see in An Open Window? If you have a favourite chair, an awesome couch or a nice desk at home, which you would like to see featured in the MOD, take pictures from various angles and post them in the comment section below or send them through PM. This can range from furniture to random objects you might find in the average house. I'm eager to see what you can come up with!

Post comment Comments
Jike Feb 18 2011, 10:03pm says:

I love your articles.... Even though I myself know everything about what you say it yet is a terrific insight into your working style and mod progress!! :)

Keep it up! I guess I'd like a box of lion cereal in there... Keep it simple! :)

+3 votes     reply to comment
Azureraider Feb 19 2011, 2:05am says:

Answer: I would like to see Van Gogh's painting, 'Starry Night', in AOP. It instantly adds class, and can easily be used to add character to a room, and the people that live in it.

+2 votes     reply to comment
thefoofighter Feb 19 2011, 6:41am replied:

I see you have a hob/cooker in the background. How about one of them old style silver kettles with the big handles sitting on the hob boiling. You could use a simple env_steam(think thats what its called) to portray its activity.
I dunno i thought that might be a nice touch. I like Aboves idea of Starry night too

+1 vote     reply to comment
wilsonC Feb 19 2011, 5:17pm says:

Nice work so far. However, I disagree with using propper as a modelling program. It's great for placeholder art, but it looks awful in-game since they can't be textured properly.

Source doesn't light props very well, so most of the depth and shadowing on props is from the prop's texture, which you have little control of in hammer. Your props' meshes look okay, but without any baked shadows/AO in the textures they look flat and unlit.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Hezus Author
Hezus Feb 21 2011, 6:39am replied:

Shadows are indeed difficult in Source models. However, the principe behind the texturing is still the same whether you use XSI or Hammer. I'm convinced you can achieve nearly the same quality if you put enough time into making and applying the textures in Hammer. I might retexture the props in a later state, but for now they'll suffice for a project of this scale. But, as we both agree on, a real modelling tool gives you more control.

+1 vote   reply to comment
Reeze17 Feb 21 2011, 11:30pm says:

oooh, pretty.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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