Revising the re-make process

GazGaz SirPVKII Team
edited 12:01PM in Dev Journal
When I joined the PVK team, back in 1999, I had been making levels for about a year. I'd never released anything "publicly" on the web, and the main reason it caught my young teenage eyes was the fact it had medieval knights in, with the bonus of pirates, I owned both teams in lego sets. (Viking lego was only a recent addition in 2005!) and had grown up with lego since the age of 4.

Anyhow, combining a love of creating levels, Pirates, Vikings, and Knights, it was a match made in heaven. Off I went, and made my first level. pvk_shores.

A month or two after that, and I had created pvk_island.

This however, was not the level that you have come to love today, in fact it was very different in layout design, and if you dig about fileplanet for the very first release of pvk (1.0) you'll find it in there. Suffice to say, that after its release, I'd lost interest in it, and went on to make another map, based on...yep, an island! I liked it much better than the previous level, and released it as a replacement. This was the map that became a lot of peoples favourite, and come 8 or so years later, I decided to remake it for PVKII.

And man! Did it take me forever! I've tweaked it yet again for beta 2.1 as well. In hindsight, the key factor that made remaking pvk_island for PVKII take so long, was that I didn't plan it. I built it on a whim, knowing the basic layout from the old map. I was still learning the new tools of the source engine, and so didn't make it as well as would've been desired. A number of areas in the level have since been remade (without anyone knowing the difference) giving slight increases in FPS (frames per second). Players reported many factors of imbalance, and since as you have witnessed, had major changes applied.

Sick to death of Island now, I was determined to make the next level I created in a totally different way.

Going back to pvk1, the third and final map that I created for the mod, was a level called pvk_pinegrove. Like island, and shores, it was made on a whim, me having fun in hammer (the level editor), and releasing the fruits of my labor to the pvk team. They like it, and release it with the next release.
8 years later, and miraculously, it, like pvk_island turned out to be a number of peoples favorite pvk map.
Having remade island, Yeehaa, a fellow pvkii team member, asked if he could make a remake of the level. I agreed, with the only request that he keep the same layout as the original.
Yeehaa, then set off, decompiled the old pvk1 map, and traced it in hammer until he had a complete layout replica of the map, and proceeded to start texturing it, as well as set some basic displacement terrain (method used in creating the source engines terrain).

Unfortunately, due to other maps needing changes for PVKII 1.1, Yeehaa lost interest in the map, and so it sat in the development folder of the mod.

Fast forward to before the release of PVKII 2.0, and now I've worked on pvk_island for such a long time, I want to set it all on fire, never to see it again. However, to refrain from such actions, I had a poke about the developer map directory, and fell upon Yeehaa's efforts of pvk_pinegrove.
A quick IRC conversation later, and Yeehaa doesn't mind if I take up the helm on my old maps remake. We're in business!

Ok, so theres a whole load of waffle, and if you have read all the above, I salute you! Sorry about that, a nice history lesson at least smile.gif

Now that island only needs tweaks here and there, I took Yeehaa's source map, and removed all of the textures it was using. Good textures, but not ones I personally felt fitted pvkii.
Once all the textures (bar a small few) were replaced with Valves Orange and Grey development textures, it was time to work on the layout, and focus on making it look pretty later.

Here is what the original layout looks like, followed by another overview, this time of Yeehaa's re-textured version:


Note: The red lines are to show tunnels as they are very dark. Also note, I have made the center area (the pirate spawn) a cave opposed to the old version, where its open. As well as expanding the top area slightly.

In the original map, pirates spawn in the middle of the map, with Knights and Vikings spawning randomly.

I tried re-imagining what the level would look like, and from this making some basic adjustments of the overall terrain (making part a cave for example). I also decided, due to the popularity of booty maps, to make pinegrove, from what was originally a team deathmatch map, into a booty map, with a twist.
In previous maps, at least one team have started with chests in their zone, this time, however, I'm trying it whereby there a 4 chests, each in a different location outside zones. They must be scouted, and returned to your teams base.

With this in mind, Knights now spawn on the left side of the map, whilst Vikings spawn on the right side.

Having had so many issues with Islands balance, I wanted to make sure that this map was going to be balanced from the get go. So my first port of call, was Grogbots! Currently grogbots are development only, as they are still in the process of being made by Akz. Grogbots are essentially bots for PVKII.
I ran about the level so far, laying waypoints for the bots, telling them where they could run, and where chests and ladders were located about the map.

Unfortunately, the bots are yet to navigate ladders, and so to counter this, I made some very steep stair cases for a temporary fix.

I added 3 bots to each team, and watched them from spectator view for around 5 games, analyzing their movements, and which team was winning. After that, I took it to 4 and then 5 per team.
The results were quite satisfactory, however they was one major flaw. The bots couldn't use ranged weapons! Whatever the class of bot was, they resorted to their basic melee weapons.

Given the bot watching, I made some adjustments to the map.


Note I've now removed the buildings, and added the stair/ladders as well as placed booty capture zones (grey squares). There is also the addition on the tower, bottom left. It is important in level design to teach the player where they are in the map, and the tower serves as a key landmark.

The next stage was to show it to Blade, our lead tester, having helped me immensely on the refinement and balance on island, I trusted his judgment on this new level. He pointed out a number of flaws in positioning of both spawn areas, and chest zones. Suggesting that I move the spawns a distance away from the chestzones to allow attackers a chance of escaping with a chest.

As with making all changes to level work (mainly displacements (terrain)) its a bit of a pain, but I knew he was right. So with the information he had given me, I moved the location of the chestzone for the pirates, as well as carving out some extra caves for the pirates to spawn in.
I also replaced the church building on the left side of the map, and placed knight spawns.

The viking area, the right side of the map was then opened up. There are now cliffs along the bottom of the map down to an ocean, rather than a beach in the previous version. I also opened up the top, and the top left of the map. Allowing for some 3d sky views and more interesting scenery, rather than having the whole level enclosed in cliffs, which is rather boring.

Heres what the level was looking like:

Again, I showed it to Blade, and we had a run about in it. We decided to see what the balance was like layout wise, and timed each other running as the same class, from one chest zone to another. What we found let me make decisions on the layout of the level. Our research told us that Knights could get to the pirates base in 17 seconds going the top route, and 22 seconds going to bottom route. Knowing this showed that the lower route would never get used, as players (and bots) would always take the top route unless getting chests in the lower region.

Vikings however, took 20 seconds to reach the pirates, using either the top route, or the bottom. Vikings were balanced, Knights were not. A fix was needed.

Off I went again, and made some changes given our findings.


Here is the result. The major changes were to the bottom left of the map, I have radically shrunk the amount of cliffs and changed the direction of the tunnel out to the tower. The Knights chest zone is now lower down nearer the church, and the other building in the knights area, is now higher up. This offers attacking teams to climb up on the roof and fire down at the knights, or ambush them and run off with a chest.

To counter this for Vikings, the addition of a treehouse was built. Offering opposing teams an alternate route to attack from. The pathway up to the treehouse has since moved closer to the top of that area, so that its harder to chase an enemy going up.

The Pirate spawns have been shifted slightly, with the upper cave now sporting an upper deck to prevent campers dropping kegs into their chestzone, without the enemy reaching them.

Lastly the green path has now been changed, allowing a more interesting route, as well as better optimization map wise.

I hope thats been a somewhat interesting read, sorry if it was a bit long, but I wanted to share it all with you smile.gif Please let me know if you enjoyed this dev journal and what you thought of it.

Thats the layout covered. Next time, I'll try and show you the progression of the map visually. But for all those of you picture hungry, here are some very WIP (Work in progress (not finished!)) screen shots of the level, old version followed by new version.









  • BladeBlade PVKII Team
    edited 12:01PM
    Good write up smile.gif
  • ColonelColonel Finger Lickin' Good PVKII Team
    edited 12:01PM
    Excellent write up and beautiful work! I find these journals keep the community interested immensely. I'm sure everyone agrees with me when I say "maor nao". smile.gif

    Everything has its beginning, hop aboard the grogboat!  
    Colonel: Co-Lead | Level Designer

  • LordTrilobiteLordTrilobite Baron Grunwald disapproves. Senior
    edited 12:01PM
    Looks epic.
  • TobbeNTobbeN Senior
    edited 12:01PM
    That new map looks awesome. The nature really caught my eyes. smile.gif
    I has a keg!
  • schatzmeisterschatzmeister PVKII Team, Beta Tester
    edited 12:01PM
    Looks more than promising. Especially interesting was the part about the balancing. And the bots. I want them harhar.

    Just one thing I noticed that I'd like to criticize. Just because on path does take longer to go than the other doesn't automaticall mean it won't be used. But it is not a bad thing, to fix it, either. icon_agapirate.gif

    Will Turner: You didn't beat me. You ignored the rules of engagement. In a fair fight, I'd kill you.
    Jack Sparrow: That's not much incentive for me to fight fair, then, is it?

  • Mr.VMr.V Senior
    edited May 2008
    Beautiful. I love the screenshots to compare, this is definately a huge step! smile.gif

    PS: pinegrove and lighthouse were my favorite maps in PVK1, yay!
  • Banjo BoyBanjo Boy Pickin' to Beat the Devil PVKII Team, Authorized Creator
    edited 12:01PM
    Excellent job, can't wait for this to be released! Now I wait. biggrin.gif
  • Hubb Jubb ManagerHubb Jubb Manager Purveyor of Hubb Jubb Juice Senior
    edited 12:01PM

    AMAZING Gaz... absolutely incredible...
    Hubb Jubb Manager

    Serving Hubb Jubb Juice since 2002
  • J-coJ-co Tramp Senior
    edited 12:01PM
    Fantastic! I was happy to see a new dev journal entry and this is definitely a very satisfactory one!
    It looks very good and i like the windmill especially, great work on that!

    I am looking forward to playing it!
    I have an aristocratic smile and like to punch people
  • frigatefrigate Senior
    edited 12:01PM
    Great job, is this one of the maps we can look forward to in 2.1? Also are you or any other team members working on porting some of the other maps from pvk1?
    Member of the one territory party. One tower in desert ruin, one head on colossus, one boat in grog boat, one horn tower in helms deep is our slogan. Obviously specials (knight) break territory style game play, so our party supports a server side and mapping option to have specials turned off.
  • GazGaz Sir PVKII Team
    edited 12:01PM
    Thanks for all the kind comments guys biggrin.gif

    Been working on the map some more this weekend, and have almost completed the upper waterfalls near the pirate base. Trying to make it look pretty and run well is tough! FPS > Looks, trying to push it as hard as I can though smile.gif *shakes fists at water*

    Frigate: It won't be ready for 2.1, I'm aiming for a 2.2 release smile.gif So far as I know, this is the only remake in progress, personally, its probably my last remake, I'd like to do something fresh in the future smile.gif
  • KyraxKyrax Senior
    edited 12:01PM
    Awesome biggrin.gif biggrin.gif
    Keep up the good work !!
  • FrazzFrazz Senior
    edited 12:01PM
    really really really really really cool. ive been looking for a nature-ish map.
  • Cool ManCool Man Senior
    edited 12:01PM
    Yeah. This is one map that I've waiting for in Pvk2! I thought the Pinegrove of Pvk1 was the best map in the mod. Few maps worked so well with both small and large amount of players. From publics to clan matches. With large teams, you didn't have the typical problem of all 18-32 players concentrating on a small patch of land (island's knight or pirate base, desert ruin's tower area, for examples) where kegs fly and arrows and shots come from every direction and where you can affect the course of the game very little, if at all. On the other hand, pinegrove avoided the problems of some bigger maps, where easily over half of the time was spent wandering around and looking for enemies. Unlike in most Pvk1's maps, Pinegrove had no "useless space", that is places that no one ever went to, where nothing ever happened. The whole map was in use, and the battlezone could move very swiftly, covering the whole map.

    I also think it's a nice change that the objective might actually be playable even in clan matches. In fact, that booty system seems likely to work well. Perhaps it'll avoid the usual pitfalls of booties. Even the fact alone, that you haven't taken the road of just placing a booty in about the middle of a map is worth thanks. I would have been happy with the old teamdeathmatch, but it's better like this. Looks very good to me.
  • jRocketjRocket Pixel Punisher PVKII Team
    edited 12:01PM
    I concur. What made the original fun was the fact that the players didn't spawn as a team in a base and instead the spawns were all over the map. it would be interesting to see how it plays out if the same concept is taken in booty with both the players and chests spawning throughout the map.
    edited May 2008
    I love that map in pvki, and the only thing I wish to say is KEEP IT AS CLOSE TO THE ORIGINAL AS POSSIBLE.

    Seriously man, keep that bad boy the same, I love older halflife maps, and I loved this map. I myself am very disopointed that you made the pirate spawn a cave. The reason the pvki map was great because it was very open and bright, I don't know about you guys but I hate dark maps, I love sunny bright maps. From the screens it looks like you darkened things down a little, so I'm thinkin that needs to be changed.

    otherwise one of the most beautiful maps I've ever seen.

    I'm very weird, I prefere old half life maps to new source maps, only because the atmosphere they create, I just enjoy the lack of detail and the bright setting. I tihnk by you making the map darker, making the once "tropical" waterfall pirate spawn a cave, and adding a million trees, will change the atmosphere I loved in that map and alot of old pvki maps.

    please just stay to the original as much as you can
    Ingame name: {JEBUS_54}
  • jRocketjRocket Pixel Punisher PVKII Team
    edited 12:01PM
    Just to try and be useful with a critique here-

    The green on the bottom of the trees doesn't blend well with the ground at all, since the ground is a dirt/brown color. Maybe try making some greener grassy parts to the ground where the trees are and by the river, either using a blend texture or a decal/projection. Might be a good idea to place those grass sprites around those parts too, although the grass sprite doesn't look so good in my opinion because it looks like its a plane thats clipping with the ground.

    The map could use some smaller rocks scattered about. Small rivers and creeks usually have quite a lot of smaller rocks about. The big ones are great. Maybe have some of the bigger rocks in the river and have mist/water splashes hitting the rock in the direction of the river. Also, some small branches and twigs would be great. If they are pine trees, there should be some pine cones about as well.
  • schatzmeisterschatzmeister PVKII Team, Beta Tester
    edited 12:01PM
    Well, the green is moss, and it grows on trees. Even if they grow on "dirt", though you might say the forest is not dense enough to drive away undergrowth... a bit more green on the ground would be okay.

    Pine cones, yes would be nice too see, but that is more of a detail than something essentially.

    Will Turner: You didn't beat me. You ignored the rules of engagement. In a fair fight, I'd kill you.
    Jack Sparrow: That's not much incentive for me to fight fair, then, is it?

  • GazGaz Sir PVKII Team
    edited May 2008
    The screenshots are still very much Work in progress, rest assured I will take note of all crit given, and work with it as best I can smile.gif

    Fear not dark caves, some cheeky pirates have lit some nice warm bright fires inside them, lighting them up rather nicely. And the waterfall still remains, its just turned 90 degrees, Pics soon!

    The map won't be 100% the same as the old map, given it has a lot more trees, more accessible places (such as the church interior). I'll make sure this map is tested to death, and get it balanced and more importantly FUN! If the new booty sucks, I'll make some changes. If it still sucks, I'll make it team deathmatch.
  • VazzarothVazzaroth Senior
    edited 12:01PM
    Awesome. I love devs having a good eye for balance.

    And I never played PVK1, but that new map looks amazing. To me, it really feels like a Viking map. Pirates have the Island map, and overall the new one (sanctuary I believe?) feels very Knight-y, but I never felt like the Vikings had one. It may not be intended to be, but it seems like it with the Coniferous forest... and I like it.
  • LordTrilobiteLordTrilobite Baron Grunwald disapproves. Senior
    edited 12:01PM
    pvk_sanctuary is a custom map, you probably mean pvk_frostbite
  • [BD]ScurvySam[BD]ScurvySam Senior
    edited 12:01PM
    Nice update. Why cant you guys do this kind of stuff more often?
    Beautiful work Gaz.
    "For you, the day Bison graced your village was the greatest day of your life. For me? It was Tuesday."
    -M. Bison
  • STaTIoNSTaTIoN Senior
    edited 12:01PM
    Really nice work Gaz. "Was that made using hammer?!" xD

    Will custom mappers be able to use those trees? They look really nice.
  • Jean LafitteJean Lafitte Senior
    edited 12:01PM
    You had done a good work, so don't be afraid to upset with major tweaks you believe to add, paying deep attention at every detail as you do, makes it so appreciable enough, also it doesn't need all to be 90 degrees, a chaotic conception on design makes it 100% realistic einvironment.
    Good work!
    "Beware the salty dogs"
    *Grammar nazis you've been warned about Muphry's law*
  • CreedCreed Senior
    edited 12:01PM
    Awesome work dude, very nicely written, thanks for all your efforts, PVK just wouldn't be the same without its awesome levels biggrin.gif
    Fuck me I slayed Gandalf!

    I shall devour your hearts and crap out your souls! You shall all taste oblivion! Which tastes like Redbull, which tastes disgusting.
    Ingame name: Curium hope to see you soon! (So I can let you taste Oblivion!/Redbull)
  • SiforSifor Members
    edited 12:01PM
    Wow !!! fantastic work smile.gif i really like what you do !!!

    just a little question... tongue.gif did you keep the secret house with the teleport !? biggrin.gif

    hehe ! good work !!! smile.gif
  • GazGaz Sir PVKII Team
    edited 12:01PM
    That would be telling! wink.gif
  • nikiniki Members
    edited 12:01PM
    the screenshots look really amazing wink.gif you paid so much attention to every detail, there is just one thing that does not fit in and that is the windmill even though it look really good, but how is it supposed to work with all the trees in front of it and as there is a river, water would be used to power the mill as windmills only work if the land is flat

    i hope you could cut at least the trees in front of it down, making a watermill would be too time consuming and you would have to throw a nice, time consuming windmill away

    hopefully this post helps you
  • RothgarRothgar Server Admin
    edited 12:01PM
    Visuals == Holy Shit.
    Dawgclan Network > > Official PVK II #1 Beta 2.4 (-FF)
    21 Players, 33 tick, Custom Maps & More
  • sir iconsir icon Senior
    edited 12:01PM
    very nice work Gaz.
Sign In or Register to comment.