Stellar Void WAD – Part 1

With the recent release of SIGIL by John Romero I became interested in trying out Doom mapping myself using the same restrictions – only original Ultimate Doom monsters, weapons, linedefs etc.

In the 1990’s I messed around with just about every engine/editor I could get my hands on, but other than a few Marathon maps never really put anything together for release until the Half-Life era. Over the years I have played a lot of Quake single player maps, there was a lot of overlap with the early Half-Life mod scene though Worldcraft websites, but realized at the start of this all that I haven’t actually followed the Doom mod scene much at all.

I started off grabbing Doom Builder 2 and sketching out a few levels I thought would be interesting, basing my ideas off what I experienced going through SIGIL. Later I would go back and play through Episode 4 of Ultimate Doom to see where he was building from, but I tried to preserve a little of my own ignorance about what constitutes a good custom Doom map just to see what I came up with on my own.

After a few months of slaving away in the editor I’ve put together 3 full levels with some little intermission spaces and a boss arena.

You can download the whole WAD here: StellarVoid.wad

Requires Ultimate Doom. You should be able to play just fine in any limit removing sourceport, but only ZDoom based engines will have proper level names and ending text. In other engines it will replace Episode 1. Originally I thought it would all work in vanilla but there are some sightlines that are too long and crash the game. I should have tested there BEFORE doing final polish. There is a blue switch that doesn’t change textures in E1M5 and I don’t know why. If you have the time I encourage you to play through the whole thing before reading further!

Here I will be going through my process for each level, from paper sketches until the final wad file linked above. This first post will cover the 3rd map in the WAD – Lunar Palace. I do not consider these maps shining examples of what can be done with the Doom engine, I am just getting started after all, but I wanted to document my process in case it was useful reference in the future. Hopefully you enjoy the wad and can find something useful or inspiring. One important takeaway is that even with a decade of professional level designer experience I ran into some serious roadblocks and had to reboot an map from the ground up. It also wasn’t a weekend project, I probably spent a few weeks of full time work on this wad spread over a few months. Anyway, here we go!

The first map I sketched out and started building was called Lunar Palace.

The upper right has the first layout, the central room of the level with the idea that there are 2 key locked switches ([R] and [B] on the map) that the player discovers pretty quickly. These keys would be found in the two wings of the Palace, one themed around a full moon and the other a crescent. I wanted to do a transformation from one moon phase to another in the space but quickly realized that was impossible with the stock scripting functions.

The “outside courtyard with ribs” was a later addition when I realized I would need to offset the crescent room from the main arena. I quickly set about getting the layout into the engine, this was going to be fast and easy!

Translating the sketch into Doom Builder

Already there were a few changes:

  • Red Key Bridge – This was changed to be grid aligned, I didn’t know floor textures in Doom were fixed to the grid when I started. This meant the last section of the wrap-around steps wasn’t a part of the player path.
  • Switch Room – I added a room in the middle of the “Full Moon” room with a switch to raise the Red Key Bridge. The fight needed a second phase and I wanted a more direct player action to cause the bridge to raise rather than crossing a trigger line.
  • Missing Platform – In the crescent moon room, which looks really lumpy I know, I originally intended for the player to ride a platform up and jump over to a path which lead directly into the center arena. When I got down to laying things out it was going to be very hard to connect the rooms that directly and the fight in the outdoor courtyard felt so hard it didn’t need the extra challenge. It was replaced with a simple lift.
Lunar Palace at the end of the first day mapping

I plowed forward, doing a texture pass to separate the different areas. You can see above that I started adding teleports for falls and sorting out the actual player flow. Note that the ending bridge is now cut into two pieces so each key switch raises a portion and monster closets are strewn all about. At this point I felt like I was almost done!

Refining monster and item placement

I started trying to play the level for real and realized my item placement needed a lot of work. Something I took from SIGIL was that ammo management can add a lot of tension on Ultra-Violence difficulty and I wanted to make sure I had some of that while at the same time avoiding fights with beefy enemies without proper firepower – Cacodemons and Barons can be a challenge or a slog depending if you have to slowly battle then with under-powered weapons.

There was a problem though – the Switch Room just wasn’t working. I had the door into it stay open so the player could see back into the main “Full Moon” room and notice the platform rise up, but a few things made the design not work.

  • Doom Switches are GIANT – A switch linedef can be any size, but the default switches are all big, which means when the player stands in front of one much of the camera is blocked. Even if you COULD see the bridge, it mostly didn’t work well.
  • Switch was hidden – The switch wasn’t facing the player when they entered the small room, you had to walk around to the other side of the pillar to see it. Not terrible, but also adding an element of hunting for the switch I didn’t want.
  • Solution Too Early – If a player went into the switch room before really noticing the Red Key, totally possible with all the combat in that area, they solved the bridge problem before realizing it was gating them.

A version of this can be found here: First Layout

First Playtest

To fix the switch room issue a New Switch Area was added, bringing the whole stairwell of the “Full Moon” room into the flow and setting up a situation where the player can see the bridge raise and another round of combat start via the teleporter in the center. I also started adding secrets – some were always intended like the Rocket Launcher, but others like the Armor secret at the start were patches to issues where the player could get somewhere unexpected.

Another big change here is the conversion of the teleport in the crescent moon courtyard into a set of stairs. Originally I had a teleporter there even in my first sketch because I imagined the bridge there to be very high, but since you can’t have a bridge the player can travel UNDER in Doom I had to build it much lower so the space wasn’t completely bisected. The teleporter never really made sense and the need for the player to jump over the blood-lava was a lot clearer with a clear step path to the upper platform. At this point I posted the map online to see if anyone would playtest for me. Luckily Andrew Yonder (@Mclogenog) was able to run through the map and recorded his first experience!

You can download this version here: Lunar_V1

I also received some feedback from @vectorpoem on some landmarking issues in the hallways. Taking all this feedback in I set about fixing the problems for the next version.

  • Hallway Torches – Both hallways got torches that clearly separated them visually so the player knows which exit they are taking from the arena.
  • New Secret – I had a little series of rooms off to the side of the map from my first experiments in Doom Builder. I decided to give the old Switch Room a purpose and keep some of those original vertices around by adding a secret there.
  • Imp? – At the last minute I tossed an imp that gets revealed with the Red Key Bridge. He doesn’t do much, but sometimes he triggers infighting with the Baron which is interesting. Probably should have deleted him but at this point I already had so much time into the level I was trying to just wrap things up.

In the final version I changed the start location to add a teleporter connecting to the Stellar Void level, which at this time was just a sketch in my notebook. Before tackling that level I would move on to a level I called Sun.wad or originally “Solar Sacrifice” – which will be covered in detail in the Part 2.

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Stellar Void WAD – Part 5

If you have just stumbled across this post, I recommend starting with part 1.

I already had the idea that the player would teleport from the sacrifice room down to the Lunar Palace and decided I wanted a repeating dream sequence when traveling between spaces. There are a few levels in Ultimate Doom that use the FireBlue textures and I decided to throw then into this space. I use some of the less flexible fire textures in Solar Sacrifice but I wanted to cover my bases. Same with the skull floor, just a texture that was too noisy to really integrate into regular levels.

The three transition dream levels

I cleaned this up a bit inside the final wad file, removing the enemies from versions that didn’t need combat.

I still need to fill out 2 levels for a full episode so I set myself to making a boss map, starting from the new version of Stellar Void. The player starts off in what was the sacrifice room but now it looks normal, just a well lit cargo space. The center of the star would lead to the same switch but rather than raising the floor it would open up the whole star, revealing a big mob fight.

First version of boss map

I put two corpses in the center of the star where the first two enemies are to hint that all this might be in the mind of the player character. Doing some quick tests on the fight I got the balance to be challenging but possible. Up until this point there wasn’t a BFG outside of a secret so placing it here gave the level a new element. To bring back in the dream element from the transition maps I added that in, this time letting the player actually get to the switch. By this point I was going pretty fast, trying to get everything together.

Final layout of the boss map

The final thing I did was add a little jail for the player to be trapped in at the end to this version of the map.

The brig

This became the basis for the true ending map and was added into the original Stellar Void map so that room was always present. I wanted the final text to trigger shortly after you entered the brig without player action but that wasn’t possible using the existing scripting so instead there the lowering platform as a timer.

With all the parts finally I assembled the whole thing together and discovered that the player would transition into maps with very low health from the level end damage floors in the dreams. To fix this in vanilla I just put supercharge powerups right at the start of Lunar Palace and Solar Sacrifice. If you just skip to those levels you’ll be a bit overpowered but it was the only thing I could think up without locking myself to ZDoom.

Thank you for following along, I hope this record of my process is useful. It was a great learning experience and really got me thinking about level design in a way I hadn’t in a long time. There are no cutscenes or scripted events in Doom. The player always has control! The palette of possible events is narrow and yet still expressive. With some Dehacked magic I can probably get my whole experience working on vanilla Doom. I have ideas for some more maps, but for right now I have to take a break. There are Psychonauts levels to finish still.

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Stellar Void WAD – Part 4

If you have just stumbled across this post, I recommend starting with part 1.

With the original STELLAR.wad level a mess I retreated to a nice empty level, still looking for a nice, short BASE style level to kick of my little map collection. Since thinking about space ships along the lines of Doom hadn’t really worked out for me I decided to try something closer to something I was a lot more familiar with, at least when I was young – Marathon.

Arrival – Marathon 1 Starting Map

I hadn’t played Arrival in probably 10 years so starting off just from my memory I ended up with something that looked like this.

Tiny.wad starting point

You started at the bottom of the map, overlooking what was supposed to be a docking bay. I had forgotten the docking bay area in Marathon was off the hallway after the start room rather than right next to it, but regardless, this game me a starting point. The idea was for the player to the upper left blue square, get a key and return to the half-started maze to reach an exit the player could see from the big arena room. Super simple!

You’ll note that I don’t have any sketches for this one, I figured the map would be so simple it wasn’t really needed. If I had taken the time to plan this map out in more detail it might have gone somewhere. Instead I tried slamming the better parts of the first map into this one to save some time.

Tiny.wad with copied in maze from STELLAR.wad

This version of the map didn’t last long though because of a chat I had at work one day – basically I was bemoaning the failure of STELLAR.wad and how the idea of criss-crossing over a star shaped room at different levels seemed to have become more about the side areas and puzzles. It occurred to me that the center of the star could be the thing that moves, rather than having these complex paths outside of the main arena. The whole center just needed to be the size of a good platform.

That evening I set about trying to work out a star shape that was a good scale over to the side in Tiny.wad. In short order I got the exaggerated shape of the star in there and the maze section attached via teleporter.

Trying out the star shape again

You can find this version here: Tiny_StarStarted.wad

With the first lift->switch->raise center platform worked out I quickly started adding in bits to the level, many of them recycled from my other attempts, including taking the bottom bit from my Marathon experiment.

The star after stealing some more and updating the flow

Its pretty easy to see how the original start for the level was grafted onto the star shape. Note that the first lift (marked in yellow on both screenshots) got moved to be directly across from the player entrance to the center of the star. I was worried about the pillar blocking the view but decided the player would see it no matter what if they ran around the room rather than to their left where it could possibly be harder to find. Plus, this let me keep the lift floor texture on the grid. Most of the elements here are still present in the finished version but I had a few problems.

  • Not enough points! – In this build of the map the center pillar was supposed to open and reveal the level exit because I didn’t have enough points to work in a teleporter room. All the points were used up just getting it to the level of the computer room in the upper left. (note: That is another room stolen from the original Stellar that I added towards the end, although the trap there was added for this map)
  • Too many dead rooms at the start – To create the feeling of a ship in the same way Marathon did I felt like there needed to be several room with machines and cargo at the start, otherwise it was just a bunch of hallways full of enemies. The side rooms were good for feel but not for player flow.
  • Start points were too narrow – Just as I feared with the first map, the pointy bits of the star were too narrow for good gameplay. I had already expanded them in a few places but was wary of losing the star shape on the automap.

Over the next few days I set about finding solutions to these problems, leading to the final stand-alone version of the level.

Final version of Tiny.wad before merging into the collection

In this map the side areas at the start are blocked off and the player learns they need the blue key to reach the exit RIGHT AWAY. This creates clear goal through the language of Doom (exit door texture, blue markings etc) rather than the old goal of “Reach the teleporter” which works just fine when you have terminals or audio logs but not with the toolset in vanilla Ultimate Doom.

These rooms become available later, when you use the central teleporter to reach what used to be a throw-away computer space. The storage area got a whole twisted computer maze attached leading to the “sacrifice room”. See, by this point I had settled on the idea that the player character didn’t understand where these monsters came from and only discovers this sort of hidden ritual space with monsters buried in the ship at the end of the level. I REALLY didn’t want any Demons earlier in the level but the enemy palette of Ultimate Doom is just too limited. I used the Pinkie Demons since they seemed the least magical and kept the Imps/Cacos in the final area only.

You can get this version of the map here: Tiny_BeforeFinalPush.wad

Aside: One thing that really helped this level come together for me was adding in some secrets that I like a lot somewhat early. This could be a personal thing, but I feel like secrets are a major element in making a Doom level feel complete. It gives the player a reason to explore, to try things out and really get a sense for how the space works. My original Stellar.wad didn’t have any secrets in it when I put the level down and I think that really hurt how I thought about the space. In the whole player path there wasn’t really a single choice except for some meaningless dead-ends.

From here I would go on to piecing together the levels into a single wad file, only to discover that I REALLY didn’t like finishing Solar Sacrifice and getting dumped into E1M4. Against my better judgement I started working on some Transition Maps and a final boss arena – head on to Part 5.

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Stellar Void WAD – Part 3

If you have just stumbled across this post, I recommend starting with part 1.

As I worked on Lunar Palace and Solar Sacrifice I was always excited to start working with the BASE texture set, it has so many useful looking textures that I had been avoiding in the Hell based maps. The idea was to begin the wad on a spaceship and exit via a teleporter to the surface of the planet in Lunar Palace, then take a Lift down into the depths for Solar Sacrifice.

As you can see in the below sketch, the core idea was pretty simple, a star shape with each branch higher than the last. The player would start in a docking bay and make their way upwards towards the top of the station. Travel between elevations would happen in a mix between side areas and crisscrossing the main arena space.

Initial Sketch of Stellar Void

A few notes about style – I wanted to make a map along the lines of the Tom Hall maps in Episode 2 of Ultimate Doom, densely packed and elements of functional machinery all over. E2M7 was a big reference point for some of the texturing work initially.

The first side area would have a floor made of platforms that you could trigger in different patterns to eventually jump up to the next floor. A few areas would use shootable decorations as switches like in SIGIL. Those are marked on the map with little target symbols. This would be tutorialized in the first room, the player would have to force open a door into the central room. Confident this layout was the right scope to be the first level, I started working away in the editor.

Things went wrong in short order, though I didn’t really understand it at the time. I wish I had some earlier snapshots of this map as well but you can see how large and complex things got in this first version below.

Stellar Void V1

In order to have gameplay in each of the stars points I ended up making the whole center room much larger – you will note in my sketch the star shape is a lot smaller compared to the side areas. I also became invested in trying to fill in the gaps, trying to reach something like my E2M7 reference point while still strictly following the lines of the star.

Image result for doom e2m7

All of this resulted in some massive spaces this central room below.

The central room early in development

I was also running into limits on how the shootable linedefs worked. I didn’t have experience using them before and there are only a few options. Obviously enough for SIGIL to work, but I couldn’t find a way to get my moving platforms puzzle to work at all. I started thinking this map would have to come after Lunar Palace, something where you return to space before diving down into Solar Sacrifice because it just was way too big to be the opening level.

One of the star points with armor.

In addition to starting with a space that just wasn’t the right scale I also started doing lighting passes way too early. I wanted the level to feel creepy and dark and wasted a lot of time doing essentially look development and avoiding the design issues with the space. It started to feel like this map as never going to come together and I stopped working on it for a while, thinking maybe I could just slap the other two into one file and call the project done. After a few days away though I started a new level called Tiny.wad, which I’ll cover in Part 4!

You can download the first version of the level here: Stellar.wad

I also have an earlier version, from the first layout shot: Stellar_Aug.wad

No promises that either is fun or even playable. Maybe someday.

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Stellar Void WAD – Part 2

If you have just stumbled across this post, I recommend starting with part 1.

The second level I started for my wad is called Solar Sacrifice and actually appears as the third proper level. My goal was to use sun shapes to form towers in a large open map to contrast with the carefully controlled flow from Lunar Palace. The general idea was to open up the central sun spire to finally lower the barrier around the “Shattered Sun” in the lower left corner to battle the boss and clear the level.

In the end this level is my favorite but it went though a number of significant revisions to the flow that are harder to articulate just in top town maps. I hope I’m able to convey the process in a way that is intelligible to someone who hasn’t spent several weeks staring at this mess of sectors.

First Sketch of the level

The first key would be inside a castle at the north of the map which was accessed via a rocky path up the cliffs. You can see the first version of the interior in the lower right, connected where the [A] is on the larger layout map. When the player exited the castle at the other end there would a switch that opened a part of the Central Sun Spire, unleashing a wave of enemies.

The second key would be through the connection marked [B]. There you would find a a lift up to a cliff where they would teleport between some spires inside the main area to a “flame tower” with imps in platforms that move up and down. At the top would be the blue key.

Sun Temple Ideas

I quickly realized that path was far too short compared to the castle route so I made the addition of the Sun Temple in a new addition to the central cave. This would give more space for combat before getting the key. You can see the revised main cave layout sketched in above along with one of the bonus spires.

Unfortunately I don’t have as many versions of this map saved off but I can talk through some of the changes from the original sketch.

A version with the layout mostly done, missing some details

Lava Everywhere!: I added lava all over around the Sun Spire because once I made it large enough to look impressive there was just way too much open ground for the player to run around on. It was easy to get lost at the beginning of the level. By reducing the ground and having connections grow over time the player is a lot easier to funnel towards the objectives.

Castle -> Sun Spire: My idea of lining up the castle exit with the central sun spire just never worked out very well. The interior of the castle would have to be SO big that it was almost its own level and the enemies spawning far in the distance weren’t very threatening unless I spawned a million Cacodemons. Instead I shifted the Sun Spire over and used the idea of a series of teleports from original path [B] to connect the castle to the “flame tower”. I felt safe stealing this idea from [B] because the new timed lowering key in the center of the sun temple provided enough gameplay.

Recycling the teleporter idea into path [A]

Separated Paths: You may notice that I have marked the Blue Key switch with a box outline in both of the editor shots so far – that is because it is the pivot for the player path through the first part of the level. In the original sketch I had both Red and Blue switches next to each other at the start but in the final version the paths are separated. The blue key instead reveals a path towards the Sun Temple which provides the Red Key. This makes each key part of a loop that cleanly leads the player to the next step. I wish the end of [B] was 100% guaranteed to be seen before getting the key but fixing that issue would require major surgery. I ended up adding the large chunk of rock that rises after getting the Red Key to try patching this issue.

[B] path loop

Flame Tower: The idea of a bunch of Imps moving up and down on platforms flashing high contrast red was really exciting but I could never get it to work well. Additionally the [B} ended up with a bunch of Imp’s up high were the player couldn’t get since they don’t drop ammo but have ranged attacks. I kept the tower idea but instead had the platforms just rise up to reveal first Baron of the level.

Revised top of the Flame Tower

[A] Path Return: My original sketch doesn’t have a return route from the Key at the top of the flame tower. In the final version I added a cave that connects back to the starting path, this way the player comes back to the Blue Switch head on, exactly the same way they discovered it the first time. It also gave me the chance to ensure the player gets the chain-gun if they miss the optional one earlier.

Return path for [A]

Length: Playing through the level throughout development I started to worry there were too many ideas crammed into the level and it was getting too long. Since I was pretty happy with the core of routes [A] and [B] I added a Cyberdemon boss inside the Sun Spire and revealed him from the Red Key Switch. This made the entire “Shattered Sun” area in the original sketch optional, a space you only could find via a secret. At the time I was thinking it would lead to the secret level and only be accessible after entering the Cyberdemon area.

You can download that version here: SUN_BeforeFinalPush.wad

Ultimately I couldn’t let myself cut corners and just throw away the reveal of a whole new area on a secret leading to a level I hadn’t even built yet, so in a final push one weekend I turned the exit near the Cyberdemon into a Yellow Key and put in a new switch station.

A yellow switch appears

There were countless little changes in that last push but this was by far the biggest. The old secret route to unlock the alternate exit instead became the home of the BFG9000 which makes the final fight a lot easier. I thought I had saved the smallest, easiest level for last, but Stellar Void would prove to be the hardest idea to translate into the game of all – continue on to Part 3!

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About Precipice:

In collaboration with Global EESE, a student team at the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver, BC has been working on an interactive simulation. The simulation intends to make vivid some of the future scenarios developed by Global EESE. The experience takes place in a 3D environment where the player is presented with a familiar scene set in the present day and a future scene set in 2032.

The future scenario manifests the worst outcomes of the present scenarios. Within the 3D environment are a series of characters with whom the player can interact. Through these conversations the player learns of the characters situations and perspectives on the environment. As the conversations progress the player makes certain decisions, influencing the characters to be more aware of the environment and potential risks. If the player successfully convinces the characters to be more aware they create a positive change in the future. The player can move between the future and the present as they complete puzzles and conversations to see the effects of their choices. When the game is completed a montage depicting the future sums up the consequences of the players choices.

The simulation was built in the game engine Unity using traditional game design methodology combined with the research and work of Global EESE.

The team at the Centre for Digital Media consists of artists, game designers, writers, and programmers.

The process behind Precipice.

My Role:

Our initial project assignment was to create a “vivid” and “human” representation of scenario data compile by the Department of Energy. To meet these needs I worked with our lead game designer to create the concept of Precipice. Officially I held the role of Team Lead on the project, but I also assisted in a number of other areas in addition to scheduling the project and integrating the work of team members.

A key component of our game is the dialogue engine which display the comic panels in sync with audio clips and text. We originally purchased a pre-built dialogue engine, knowing we did not have time to start from scratch, but it quickly became apparent we had needs that would require lots of customization. As the most experience coder on the team, I worked with the designer and art team to create the comic layout system and modify the dialogue file format to speed development of our specific product.

One of the greatest challenges on this project was the sheer amount of content we had to create, and I utilized my visual art skills to assist the art team in keeping on schedule. Working with our writing team, I designed all of the in-game posters, bulletin boards, and narrative artifacts such as the newspapers. I also created a number of the comic panels, following a style guide created by our art lead.

The last major component I created was the User Interface for tracking as players progress and displaying text on the screen. We had initially wanted a minimal UI, but through play testing it became apparent we needed more feedback in our game. Since everyone else was still working hard on getting content finalized, I took on the task of designing and coding the UI.

Precipice was an ambitious project, we started with global scenarios and distilled that information down into one 3D Café and 400+ comic panels in two time zones. Due to the level of skill and dedication the team brought to the effort, we were able to complete all major features and deliver a product the client loved without having to work significant overtime or extend our schedule. There remains, as with any project, many good ideas left on the cutting room floor, but I am proud of what we accomplished.


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Jimson and the Jazz Crabs

Jimson and the Jazz Crabs is a simple adventure game created in the classic style of Sierra On-line. I started this game because I needed a project to keep busy while looking for a job after graduation. The game character Jimson is based on one of my roommates in college and the Jazz Crabs were inspired by a song titled “Jazz Crabs” by You Say Party! We Say Die!. The game was created in Adventure Game Studio since it would allow me to get right down to making the kind of a game I wanted.

Originally I began this project just to keep busy and entertain my roommates, but people who don’t even understand the inside jokes seem to enjoy the game. I stopped development when I first moved home, but one day I had an idea how to complete a quest line I’d been stuck on and sat down to add it into the game. A few days later I had finished the game and had a some friends test it out. Taking their feedback into account I streamlined the game so it made more sense and released a final version. I have to say the feedback from my initial version was key, without that I am sure many of the people who have played it since my final release would have gotten frustrated and not completed the game.

[Download] [Walkthrough]

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Happy Bunny Garden Panic

Happy Bunny Garden Panic is a 3D puzzle game created in C++ and OpenGL. I acted as the project manager, program architect and game designer on the project. Learn more and download Happy Bunny from the game page.


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Newtonian Drop

Newtonian Drop is a physics-based Source-Mod. Players navigate a science research center where they interact with with objects powered by the Havok physics engine. The intent of the project was to create an interactive illustration of basic physics principles.

The mod was created by a team of 5 students for our Building Virtial Worlds class.

[Javascript required to view Flash movie, please turn it on and refresh this page]

Walkthrough Video

I was primarily responsible for combining, texturing and polishing the individual exhibits into a single coherent environment. The greatest challenge of this project was the lack of fidelity and control over physics in Half-Life 2. The physics objects work well for the fast paced gameplay of death-match, but values such as fiction and gravity are not editable from within the level editor. This greatly limited which concepts we could successfully illustrate, but I feel the final product demonstrates the value of our original vision.


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Vale of Tears

Vale of Tears is a small game I made with Matthew Hanns Schroeter for our Game Design class in Fall 2009. We have a very limited time to make the game as the focus was on testing the product. I did all of the coding and menu/background art, while Matt did all of the character design and animation work. We pitched the game as follows:

In a dystopian 19th Century England, a novitiate of the Second Order with the passion for spiritual life is gifted with the ability to fly from the darkest areas of inter-natural communication. Left to test her strength of character against a ravaged landscape littered with temptation and sin, she must return to the cloister to prove that everybody – no matter how evil they are, can be saved.

The player assumes the control of Sister Clare, guiding her through the air to dodge and absorb helpful spirits who can be helpful.  As she collects spirits, the sanctity of the cloister is re-enforced against the assault of evil. In the end she faces a minion of hell in a true test of her virtue.

We set out to make a game so dark and ridiculous that the serious subject matter could be taken lightly. I am not sure if achieved our objective, but the simple gameplay is entertaining for a weekend, and I enjoyed putting it together.

[Check it out]

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