Welcome to my Source Mapping blog, currently focused on Left 4 Dead 2!

5th September 2014

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Back On Track (HAMMMMMMEEEERRRRRR!!!!!)

Well, turns out that was it.  The default HDR option of -both caused not only the crash, but was slowing the compile down by almost 15 minutes even when it did work.  Switching to -LDR -HDR fixed every single problem and even made the first builds the crash was noticed in begin to function.

I have to admit, I’m lucky I found this post, because I’d never guessed this solution in a million years.  I was getting concerned I’d have to throw out a huge portion of Map 3, or split it into two maps, and both were terrible aspects for the campaign flow. 

Anyway, armed with this new fix, I’m going to try to get some new media online by tomorrow.  It’ll be nice making progress again!  Oh well, on the upside, this did force me to optimize the map far greater than I had ever planned previously, and improved performance in numerous spots.  So some good came out of it, I suppose.

5th September 2014

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The last several days …
An update is coming as soon as I resolve this nasty build error that has come up.  It seems to only occur on a full build, and it’s not the z-clip this time.  I’ve narrowed it down to last ten percent of the level and have a few theories, but Hammer isn’t giving me much to work with - other than crashing after a 30 minute bake time.
I’ll keep everyone posted, but I am really wishing I had access to more than one machine capable of building now, as it’d saved me hours of time; there’s no way to test this issue any faster due to it’s nature, and all I have to go on to fix it is shots in the dark.  None of these problems occur in any of the map areas when built separately, either.
Overall this might be one of the worst bugs I’ve had to fix in a very long time for both the prolonged testing-time reason and the fact it’s giving me nothing to go on.  Added to that, I’m not convinced it’s even my “fault,” and may be tied to a glitch in the compiler (which is the theory I am testing at the moment).
I’ll keep everyone posted.
ED:  I have found this while scanning the Steam forums on the issue, apparently a known bug with the -both setting may cause this.  I’m investigating now.

The last several days …

An update is coming as soon as I resolve this nasty build error that has come up.  It seems to only occur on a full build, and it’s not the z-clip this time.  I’ve narrowed it down to last ten percent of the level and have a few theories, but Hammer isn’t giving me much to work with - other than crashing after a 30 minute bake time.

I’ll keep everyone posted, but I am really wishing I had access to more than one machine capable of building now, as it’d saved me hours of time; there’s no way to test this issue any faster due to it’s nature, and all I have to go on to fix it is shots in the dark.  None of these problems occur in any of the map areas when built separately, either.

Overall this might be one of the worst bugs I’ve had to fix in a very long time for both the prolonged testing-time reason and the fact it’s giving me nothing to go on.  Added to that, I’m not convinced it’s even my “fault,” and may be tied to a glitch in the compiler (which is the theory I am testing at the moment).

I’ll keep everyone posted.

ED:  I have found this while scanning the Steam forums on the issue, apparently a known bug with the -both setting may cause this.  I’m investigating now.

19th August 2014

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Delays & Debugging!

Sorry for the delay in updates - something I plan to fix this week.  A number of things have happened that slowed progress down behind the scenes, in addition to a very nasty bug causing a crash during the compile of the map, but only on a full compile - meaning it would take a considerable amount of time to test, with no information on where to start.

Eventually the problem was tracked down to an env_fog getting an illegal z-clipping value.  Man, I hope Hammer 2.0 has a debugging code for that, it drained a ridiculous number of hours on the development of the next map set.

Anyway, looking forward to some more updates!

26th July 2014

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Quick Update

Just throwing a few screenshots up from the first zero G sequence in Void, with a bigger update soon to follow regarding Map 3 in general.  Despite getting derailed for a few weeks, map 3 is so far continuing to be largely stable despite being the most event-heavy map to date.

I’m looking forward to posting the next update!

3rd July 2014

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Correction! (Color)

The screenshots of the helmet effects I put up previously were lacking their color correction effects - just updating with some new shots including them!

2nd July 2014

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Helmet Cam

When entering hazardous areas, such as the vacuum of space, the survivors will need to enable their retractable helmet.  Viewing the world through it’s front mounted cameras, visibility is limited in these areas by the display adding to the claustrophobic nature of these environments.

The Helmet makes multiple appearances in the campaign, most notably on Map 3 since the majority takes place outside; but it also shows up entering Theta Labs on Map 2 as well.

More shots of Map 3 will be coming tomorrow, but in the meantime here are some more Zero-G areas using the new very alpha helmet art!

ED:  Color Correction is currently turned off, so the effect to improve in the pending map 3 shots!

1st July 2014

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Map 3 Update: Coming Soon!

Map 3 is nearing completion, with the zero-gravity effects nearly complete and tested.  I’ll be putting up a big update in a day or two, in between work on the last segment of the map, taking place in the Medical Center & Promenade.

Definitely looking forward to putting up some new screenshots, I wanted to wait until the HUD visual effects were complete!

21st June 2014

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Vertical Thrust

Hopefully a big update will be along in a day or two on map 3, which is nearing completion, pending a few issues I’m still working out. 

One of the big reasons for the delay this time around is that I’ve revamped the map to use the thruster system I talked about before to add vertical thrust upward, rather than just downward, to the survivors at points.  This has allowed me to open up the map in ways I had not considered before, including navigating large vertical areas and floating over massive chasms.

The zero-G area of the map is a departure from typical Left 4 Dead gameplay, and a real experiment to see how it plays out.  Steady attacks from hunters, which are unimpeded by the slow mag-boot movement of the survivors and can cling to numerous surfaces, versus survivors that have the ability to move in bursts with their jet packs.

I’d estimate 80% of the third map takes place in this section, with the last part returning into the ship to visit the Promenade and Medical Center, making this one of the largest maps in the campaign.  I’m looking forward to sharing more gameplay footage with you soon.

11th June 2014

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Test Area

I’ll be putting an update up showcasing some of the new zero gravity area and features in the next day or two, which are a major factor on map 3 with nearly a third of it taking place on the outer hull.

In the meantime as the suit art is not in yet, I figured I’d put some screenshots up of Monitor Head, in my zero-gravity testing area.  Excuse the level art, this area is strictly for technical testing and was done in about 5 minutes, heh.

EDIT:  Monitor Head also showed up in a cut section from Void, as a side effect to a vaccine against becoming infected.  I hope to release this as a bonus with Void out of context, however, as was an extremely surreal sequence.  A “Deleted scene” of sorts.

1st June 2014

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.5 Miles

Using the systems developed for my previous map 5 Miles, now optimized for multiplayer, Map 3 of VOID opens on a transport to the bridge with JUPITER informing the player that the infected are most dangerous in cramped combat environments followed by the arrival of another tram, this one under AI control and loaded with infected.

Similar to the boarders in Five Miles, the infected will proceed to attack the survivor’s train until they can destroy the vehicle, provided they survive the onslaught.

One thing I wasn’t planning for when I designed this set piece is how radically different a panic event can be when playing in such extremely tight quarters:  It makes for an extremely claustrophobic battleground that’s not like any I’ve seen in L4D2 so far.  Play videos of map 3 should be available in a couple weeks!

Next time I’ll try to bring more information about the zero gravity EVA sequences, an extended set piece that immediately proceeds the map 3 opening.

ED:  Optimizations found to make this sequence smooth in multiplayer may solve the remaining lag issues in Five Miles as well.  I may revisit a patch of that map in the near future.  In the meantime I am happy to report that I have tested this opening online with 100% acceptable ping!