Here is another ZPS developer story to give you insight as to what kind of challanges and tasks our developers might have to face in daily modding life.
During ZPS development we've recieved a few donated levels from different authors. For example, we recently released zpo_harvest, a level that Darth_Brush donated.
Darth also donated a second map that was at an early stage of development, but he had no time to finish it himself. We didn't want a map with such a great theme and layout go to waste so we decided to complete what he had started. This map was recently seen in a ZPS media release and has been known as "Deadcity". It has changed quite a bit since it was donated, all thanks to Dr.Robot. He took over the project, and the level is now called "Shreddingfield".
When we recieve a donated map they always require some sort of work to adjust them for Zombie Panic: Source gameplay and style. This is a task that can prove to be quite difficult and might require a lot of design decisions and testing. This was the case with Shreddingfield.
Polishing and pimping:
While Darth_brush is a great architect, he hadn't spent much time on the interior areas of the level. Dr.Robot reworked every interior area, changed it around completely for a new style and pimped it with custom content. The outside also had a makeover with plants/trees, vehicles, lighting, buildings and so on to make it prettier. Everyone loves eye candy!
Gameplay decisions and objective designing:
It's sometimes hard to create an objective based map with an existing layout that was intended for another type of gameplay. You have to look at the setting and consider what kind of mission to use (escape, holdup etc). We choose an idea with a storyline that works well with the post-apocalyptic setting that Shreddingfield is based on. From there we had to decide what layout changes were needed to match our gameplay ideas.
Once the objective idea is set, the magic begins. In order to make the objective work, we reworked the layout. Some paths were removed, new areas were added and existing areas reworked for better gameplay. A lot of time has also gone into making the level look more realistic. We want the locations to fit with the story and the objectives. We always put gameplay first in our level designs, but also know that enhanced visuals really add to the overall experience.
Optimization and cleaning up:
As many level designers out there might know, the Source engine (compared to the HL1 engine) requires more model useage and less brushwork. Dr.Robot has redone certain brushwork for better optimization, replacing a lot of brush-based furniture with custom models made by himself. All this has contributed to a more stable level with a significantly smaller file size.
Before the objectives were in place, testing was mainly focused around finding issues with textures, props and exploits. Once the objectives were implemented, a whole new stage of testing began. Dr.Robot is working hard with the feedback and bug reports that the playtesting team provide him on a regular basis, and we keep recieving new updates.
While we won't reveal the objectives we can say that the level is coming along nicely and we hope that the players of ZPS will enjoy it as much as we do.
On a different note, if you're not following us on twitter, you should! Zombie Panic status updates will start coming more frequently through it! Follow us!
Until next time,
Zombie Panic Development Team.