Report article RSS Feed Map System Overhaul

ESF has ditched the standard .bsp based map system from half-life and has replaced it with a more modern system that allows greater poly and texture limits.

Posted by Mastasurf on Nov 15th, 2009

As many of you already know we switched the whole map system of the Half Life engine to something else. This update is there to tell you about the basic changes to in game maps.

We are now using VBOs (Vertex Buffer Objects) to boost performance due to loading an increased amount of polygons. Vertex Buffer Object is an OpenGL extension that provides methods for uploading data (vertex, normal vector, color, etc) to the video device for non-immediate-mode rendering.

The most notable change due to this system is that we no longer use standard Half Life BSP files for our maps. While these files are still necessary to get the map recognized by the game itself and added to the map list, we are only using blanks. Meaning the BSP files are all an empty box with no entities at all. Instead of BSP files we are now using model files in the OBJ format.

OBJ files are used to represent 3D geometry data in form of the position of each vertex, the UV position of each texture coordinate vertex, normals, and the faces that make each polygon defined as a list of vertices, texture vertices, and normals as well as material settings. Therese material settings can be used to give certain material properties to in game objects allowing them to be rendered differently. You can set things like defuse colors, specular lighting terms, etc.

Due to these changes we were able to make the quality of the maps a lot better. So instead of being limited by standard Half Life BSP file limits which were round 2000 visible brushes, we now have a max limit of 70,000 polygons which allows us to make terrain a lot smoother and more detailed than standard Half Life ever could.

Old file format

New file format


Using this system also allows us to use other benefits of modeling such as normal maps for an even higher quality of the textures on the maps.




With the maps more detailed and since we lost the restrictions of the old BSP file format we were able to drastically increase the size of the maps themselves. While the old system allowed the maximal size of a box map to be ( 8192 x 8192 x 8192 ) we are now facing an unlimited size in the maps. Meaning that the only limit is how far the player is actually prepared to fly. So you can fly in a direction for 3 hours and you'd still be going forward if you wished to.

Map size comparison

Of course the new format also has its own limitations. Since the entire OBJ model is rendered at once on the graphics card this means that no matter where you are the entire map is being rendered at once. Meaning that even if we can move into one direction for a long time we would reach the end of the map due to the polygon limit. So we decided that the mappers themselves would have to limit the maps by using a box or other shape, in combination with the XSPR files featured in an earlier update to get certain animated texture effects.

Post comment Comments  (0 - 50 of 51)
remeth
remeth Nov 15 2009, 6:35pm says:

looks cool

+1 vote     reply to comment
Krayziee
Krayziee Nov 15 2009, 6:37pm says:

The map boundry takes the feeling away when playing, I guess but sure is handy, the animated textures Rock!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Sub-
Sub- Nov 15 2009, 10:00pm replied:

You only see the map boundary up close and considering how big the maps now are, you won't be seeing it much. It's much better then running into invisible walls

+2 votes     reply to comment
omegamaelstrom
omegamaelstrom Nov 15 2009, 10:53pm replied:

kinda like tenkaichi. except more space.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Nebcake
Nebcake Nov 15 2009, 6:55pm says:

The new map quality was what simiply blew my mind, you guys are doing a superb job.

+2 votes     reply to comment
xilefian
xilefian Nov 15 2009, 7:00pm says:

Oh my god that made me think entirely backwards about goldsrc...
This is amazing, it's like, amazing! Huge RPG games on GoldSrc could be made using this map format! Or maybe not, I don't know too much about this so I can't really say anything except:
AMAZING!

+1 vote     reply to comment
AxiumDust
AxiumDust Nov 15 2009, 7:34pm says:

i love you guys...really no **** but each of you guy i love ya for making Half-life a better place...ESF and this naruto game commin out its gonna make you stars big ehffen stars. you rock! btw when you done could you make a Bleach game? lol btw whats the name of the song on the video?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mastasurf Author
Mastasurf Nov 15 2009, 7:47pm replied:

Thanks! The song is untitled. Literally...

The Ownership Society - Untitled

+1 vote   reply to comment
SpaceRanger
SpaceRanger Nov 17 2009, 3:33am replied:

I CANT WAIT! WOOO

+1 vote     reply to comment
UnS33n
UnS33n Nov 15 2009, 8:38pm says:

YOU GUYS ARE F***ING AMAZING!

+3 votes     reply to comment
ceriux
ceriux Nov 15 2009, 10:05pm says:

wow amazing =)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Doommarine23
Doommarine23 Nov 15 2009, 10:12pm says:

I hope you guys release this stuff after the mod, it would really help alot of people out with their projects and it seems like really promising stuff that will further the quality of HL mods.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Breadsticks
Breadsticks Nov 15 2009, 10:58pm says:

How does the new format handle occlusion, to reduce overdraw? Does it use an adapted version of VIS or something entirely new?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Hezus
Hezus Nov 16 2009, 4:06am says:

Wow, this Half-Life mod is revolutionary. I'd like to know more about how the new map system works. How are entities defined for example? Do you have a seperate file which handles the events and coordinates of entities? And what program are you using to create these landscapes?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Grega
Grega Nov 16 2009, 8:53am replied:

Any modeling program that can handle OBJ file exports.

+1 vote     reply to comment
AlekZanDer
AlekZanDer Nov 16 2009, 4:12am says:

WOW!This is so amazing...

+2 votes     reply to comment
awesomepossum
awesomepossum Nov 16 2009, 4:50am says:

That is pretty nifty, You guys have done an amazing job overhauling the hl1 engine. sounds like you've basically built your own engine on top of it. very impressive

+1 vote     reply to comment
FERlanga
FERlanga Nov 16 2009, 8:41am says:

How would this new map system work for other mods? I mean, how would one add brushes for doors to open, stairs to climb or events?

+1 vote     reply to comment
KarrdeKNR
KarrdeKNR Nov 18 2009, 12:28am replied:

I talked to a few people. I think it should still be possible to add any entity to a map. For example, spawns are entities. Now that being said, I don't know HOW you would do it as I don't have the technical background.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Grega
Grega Nov 18 2009, 8:55am replied:

Well for point based entities you need the coordinates that you can get from a special command while flying round the map.

Basically that command reveams your current coordinates when you type it into the console. You can get the entity coordinates like that. Then you just place the entities.

Not sure how the brush based entities work since we no longer use brushes though. I do still need to talk to green about some of that stuff ^^

+1 vote     reply to comment
KarrdeKNR
KarrdeKNR Nov 19 2009, 3:22am replied:

Well, guess that's a definite maybe then :P

+1 vote     reply to comment
sixcentgeorge
sixcentgeorge Nov 16 2009, 2:53pm says:

is it possible to convert old maps to your new format for map ? and then are maps merge-ables ? if yes could you build the dlls for hl to support the new format ?
that could be wonderful to play without the loading stops ;]

+1 vote     reply to comment
Grega
Grega Nov 16 2009, 6:06pm replied:

If you can find a program taht decompiles the HL BSP files and makes them into a format that 3DS MAX can use then yes you can port them.

OBJ files are one of the most comon modeling program exports. They are frequently used for porting a model from one program to a different one.

As for no loading times. Not a chance. The model needs to be loaded and tahts about 8 MB of data minimum. Loading that takes a while. So even if you did change the code to load up map segments one after another youd still need to reserve that time for loading.

+1 vote     reply to comment
xilefian
xilefian Nov 16 2009, 3:31pm says:

Now I think about it, wouldn't this make the development time much longer?

+2 votes     reply to comment
Grega
Grega Nov 16 2009, 6:03pm replied:

This system is allready ingame so no ^^

+2 votes     reply to comment
Myloman
Myloman Nov 16 2009, 10:38pm says:

Each update just keeps getting more and more awesome. Really nice changes and improvements. Keep it up :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
Minuit
Minuit Nov 17 2009, 2:22am says:

Crazy, absolutely bloody crazy. You guys are insane and I love it.

+1 vote     reply to comment
emkill
emkill Nov 17 2009, 3:29am says:

we just need some sort of ragdolls or player model physics and it will be TEH game

+1 vote     reply to comment
AligBorat
AligBorat Nov 17 2009, 8:59am says:

there's a rumor about the specs being higher than Hl2..:/
and the map size..8100+ x 8100+ and on...wouldn't that lagg like shizz?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Sub-
Sub- Nov 17 2009, 11:44am replied:

It's not a rumor, one of the coders have said that the specs will be higher.

As for 8100 x 8100 lagging, it depends on your system. I get pretty good fps

+1 vote     reply to comment
KarrdeKNR
KarrdeKNR Nov 17 2009, 4:03pm replied:

Like any modern game, though, we have LOD options.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Grega
Grega Nov 17 2009, 4:07pm replied:

Standard HL supports the size 8192x8192x8192

We mearly went past that limit. Besides the size of the map doesnt really make it lag. The number of polygons used in the OBJ model on the other hand does. Thats why we said to limit it at 70k ^^

+1 vote     reply to comment
AligBorat
AligBorat Nov 18 2009, 7:34am replied:

oh, good to know :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
D3ads
D3ads Nov 18 2009, 5:45pm says:

Woaaah, I dunno what to say about this.. speechless, first the awesome mapping technique and water effects and now this... man, amazing work I'm awe-struck :O

+1 vote     reply to comment
D3ads
D3ads Nov 18 2009, 5:47pm says:

Btw do normal maps apply for models too or just geometry?

+1 vote     reply to comment
KarrdeKNR
KarrdeKNR Nov 19 2009, 3:24am replied:

Geometry. Normal mapped player models look weird.

+1 vote     reply to comment
arniuxx3
arniuxx3 Nov 19 2009, 9:28am says:

will you make world map? :)
i mean Dragon Ball world

+2 votes     reply to comment
Grega
Grega Nov 19 2009, 9:27pm replied:

No.

That would be dumb for a game thats not a MMO dont you think ^^

0 votes     reply to comment
arniuxx3
arniuxx3 Nov 20 2009, 5:13am replied:

if for reall i think it would be great that you could just fly from one place to other... -_-

+2 votes     reply to comment
Grega
Grega Nov 20 2009, 8:13am replied:

Youd end up flying 20 minutes for a fight that lasts 5 minutes.

Just so you can fly 20 minutes again.

Map limits in ESFs case are a good thing :p

And with the new animated textures youll no longer be surprised by an invisible wall. Instead youll see the thing ^^

0 votes     reply to comment
weasil
weasil Nov 20 2009, 3:58pm replied:

I got to agree with arniuxx3. would be pretty cool for like a different game mode! :)

+2 votes     reply to comment
arniuxx3
arniuxx3 Nov 20 2009, 4:11pm replied:

And with the new animated textures youll no longer be surprised by an invisible wall. Instead youll see the thing ^^

what you mean invisible wall? before i seen where map ends, becouse in the map end it was just picture -_-
WE Were Closed In The Box!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Grega
Grega Nov 20 2009, 6:49pm replied:

Yes but that picture was wrapped round the map completly. The negine handled it like a seperatepart of the map alltogether.

Ever tried playing a map like ROSAT? You had no clue where the map ends.

Same goes for the ceeling. You had no idea how much space was abbove your head before you hit it.

You were trapped in the box. But you couldnt see the box. Now you can tell where the box ends.

+1 vote     reply to comment
arniuxx3
arniuxx3 Nov 21 2009, 6:38pm says:

Rosat You wewe completele in A picture that has Thing in it...

I didn't have clue where ROSAT end's ,but i didn't even clue where it starts -_-

+1 vote     reply to comment
arniuxx3
arniuxx3 Nov 24 2009, 7:08am says:

other question will you make maps like in Map size comparison?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Grega
Grega Nov 26 2009, 5:34am replied:

If you mean like planets then no.

That was only cause it looked better like that than if it was flat. Maps are still flat not planet like since the gravity is direction based not point based.

+1 vote     reply to comment
arniuxx3
arniuxx3 Nov 26 2009, 7:05am says:

No i mean do maps by size like in comparison

+1 vote     reply to comment
Grega
Grega Nov 26 2009, 8:54pm says:

The person making the map determines its size.

Besides to big maps are a bad thing. Allso do note that while everything in the comparison picture is the map. The player himself can not leave he city area. That is the limit of the playable are set by the creator of the map in that specific picture. For example the ROSAT map is bigger than that though.

+1 vote     reply to comment
arniuxx3
arniuxx3 Nov 27 2009, 11:58am says:

why do i think with new maps format we going wait longer for the mod? -_-

+1 vote     reply to comment
KarrdeKNR
KarrdeKNR Dec 2 2009, 6:14pm replied:

It's already been in for a few months.

+1 vote     reply to comment
arniuxx3
arniuxx3 Dec 5 2009, 8:08am replied:

Isn't It Beta?

+1 vote     reply to comment
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