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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 content RSS feed An Open Window: PLD +9

Just like in the PLD +6 update, today there are more in-game screenshots and another peek into the development of AnOpWi. The following article will be fully dedicated to the art of texturing.

Posted by Hezus on Feb 8th, 2011

An Open Window: Project Launch Day +9

Just like in the PLD +6 update, today there are more in-game screenshots and another peek into the development of AnOpWi. The following article will be fully dedicated to the art of texturing.

In layman's terms, textures are like wallpapers you put on bare walls. As you can see from the following screenshots, structures are important but in the end, textures set the theme of a map. And to make sure your theme is consistent, you'll have to carefully choose or create your textures.

An Open Window\ An Open Window\
Textures make all the difference in the world.

When you're making textures from scratch, there are a few important steps you have to take. First off, there is the research phase. Gather photographs or other reference of what you want to create. When you have enough material you can start working on your texture. For this part I use Photoshop, which is probably the best known program for editing, but you'll need to know your way around this software to create something good. Following tutorials is the best and quickest way to learn how to create certain effects.

A regular Half-Life 2 texture can be 512x512 pixels. To make sure this square texture will look good on a long horizontal wall, the texture needs to be seamless so it can repeat itself over and over. The trick is to make sure the player does not notice this.
If you have too many outstanding details or colours in your texture, it won't look realistic in-game once the texture starts repeating itself. This principle also applies to combining textures. Ceiling, floor and wall textures must share the same theme and create a natural looking setting. Subtlety is the keyword.

While textures are flat, most modern games have a built-in technique to make them seem three dimensional. This is called Normal Mapping (or Bump Mapping). Basically, it's another texture pasted on top of the original texture. This overlay texture tells the engine where to add more light and where to cast more shadows.

To the right the normal map. Light colours will emit light, darker colours will cast shadows.

In Game Development, adding details to your map is called an art pass. Before the map looks good there are still a few art passes left to be done and texturing was only the first step. Next up are the models and I will surely dedicate an article to them once they are done. And so this rather techinical article comes to an end but I hope you enjoyed it nevertheless. As always, I'll finish with the Question of the Day. Questions and comments can be left below. Thanks for reading.

Question of the Day:

How important are the visuals of video games to you?

Post comment Comments
Otter. Feb 9 2011 says:

Visuals? Well it depends mostly on the game. Like I don't expect a general fps shooter or rts to look good (but that does not mean I want the devs to be lazy and cut out on good mapping) but I do expect an outstanding game to look different, and under that I mean to be stylish.
I think we can all agree that Portal wouldn't been that good without it's current stylistic visuals and it's also important for a game with (some) horror elements because the atmosphere can really boost the scary feeling.
And of course there are games which could have been really general, but the graphics made them stand out from the others, like TF2.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Jack5500 Feb 9 2011 replied:

No, I don't think so. TF2 appeals with its gameplay and not with the old graphic and Portal with its mechanic and not the visual style, which is never te less very unique

+1 vote     reply to comment
macacos2 Feb 10 2011 replied:

You mean it's original gameplay

+1 vote     reply to comment
thefoofighter Feb 11 2011 replied:

Thats what a mechanic is
Every Game has one but very few do a good job of portraying it
Its really hard to hit the nail on the head
Valve just happen to do it every time
And portal was no exception
One of the best games ever made and its all down to that Core mechanic. its unique visual element was simply icing on the cake that happens to be a lie

+1 vote     reply to comment
Spooboy Feb 9 2011 says:

Honestly, I feel as if every game should look good. I guess that makes me a shallow gamer. Some people say "Oh SpooBoy, if a game is good it doesn't matter how it looks!". My rebuttal is simply this: for a game to meet today's standards (at least my standards), it must look fresh and pretty.

Don't get that confused with me not liking older engines or what have you. It's not like I won't play hl or quake because of their 'crappy' textures. But if someone tried releasing an actual game with crappy textures like that I would look the other way. Anyways, that's just how I view that sort of thing.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Metalspy Feb 10 2011 says:

Gameplay is more important than visuals to me. However, it is nice if a game has fitting and beautiful graphics because it makes it easier to 'immerse the player'. I don't mean high-res textures, high-poly models etc per se though. It could be retro styled (take, to name a currently well-known game, Minecraft for example) and still be very immersive.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Leon_Kilean Feb 12 2011 says:

Visuals are very important, for sure, those (--and sounds) tell all the information to the player. Im not talking about technical things like polygons, shaders, and how an animation is keyframed, but I mean that visually, the world is coherent with the gameplay and the story.

Ohh how many times I´ve been frustrated or confused the hell out of my head in a electronic game, just because the right guiding information doesnt come out of the visuals.. AND I´ve failed at that myself, as a modder.

It sure is a important thing to learn.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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