I guess I should preface this article with a warning.
Warning: This article may get technical in some bits.
There… now with that out of the way we can get down to business.
I used to map, I used to map all day long. I would wake up, descend into my ďcaveĒ, map, come up to eat, then sleep. My earliest memory of mapping was when I brought a friend over to check out Team Fortress Classic. He had the idea that we should make a map, so I did all the grunt work and he did the creative work. We created a team vs team kill box with traps, this map was expanded upon in the future into something a little bit more complex.
Itís interesting to look back at those times because I am still plagued with the issue I had then… my lack of creativity. It seems that in all cases of my mapping carear I was simply an instrument to someones mind.
Besides making maps for Team Fortress Classic, I had the obsession with creating what were called ďprefabsĒ in hammer. There once existed a site called ďprefablandĒ, there people could post creations, like tables, and chairs, and cars which were all created in hammer. This was before model based mapping, when mapping was primarily brush based. I had my own profile on prefab land and I often did requests. Someone once requested to recreate the crossfire sequence from Half-Life Deathmatch, you know the one with the button the sets off the explosion and everyone has to get inside… safe from the blast. Another example was a door collection set, yup you heard me right, doors. Basically I created a pack of doors that people could copy and paste into their map. I had every door from the default halflife wad file covered… I felt important. In fact a few of my prefabs can be seen at this link, but unfortunately they are not viewable as the way back machine didnít index the actual prefabs. My name alias is CubicVirtuoso.
I almost exclusively mapped for SvenCoop when it was released, or when I really started to take and interest in it. SvenCoop allowed me to take some of my more singleplayer oriented ideas and share them with a multiplayer audience. I have my own SvenCoop Map Database profile which includes some of my more public maps.
Again, with SvenCoop a lot of my creations were ďconversionsĒ often I would ďripentĒ a map change some entities and convert it to SvenCoop so that a singleplayer map could be played with friends. Even my current project is a conversion of a more recent Half-Life mod to SvenCoop.
Enough talking about me for a second, I feel this whole article has no substance — other than maybe a blast from the past into prefab land. Iím curious as to how some of the more creative types on PlanetPhillip get their inspiration. Are there other mappers out there who feel they completely lack creativity as I do? I have the technical knowledge to map, at least in goldsource, but when I sit down, open up hammer, nothing comes to mind. Iím not just asking mappers for their source of creativity, all creative types, writers, painters, etc.
Admittedly, I abandoned my goal of being a game designer because of this lack of creativity. Has creativity, or lack there of, ever stopped you from doing anything?
Maybe itís not as simple as I think, maybe the process of creativity is just as difficult as making a map. Perhaps Iím not giving it enough time, not enough length for an idea to mull over in my mind. Maybe Iím naive and ignorant in thinking that an idea just pops up naturally and quickly.
Just this year I have come back from almost a five year hiatus and began mapping again. Mapping in Hammer is like riding a bike, you never forget. Your fingers just naturally hit all the shortcut keys, I assume this is also the case in programs like 3D Studio Max.
I decided to challenge my creativity on a much smaller scale and enter into a community SvenCoop mapping project called: ragemap2012. The idea being that each mapper who enters into the project only has one our to create something, 24 hours to post and move it onto the next person. I stressed since now I had people depending on me, I was eighth in line and started to prepare 3 days in advance. I played the previous ragemap, sat in bed contemplating, took extra long showers in hopes that something would come up. After a couple of days I started to really panic, no ideas, nothing, what was I going to present to the people I admire. Why did I enter this event? Iím just going to make a fool out of myself.
In frustration I just opened hammer and started creating brushes, originally I wanted to create an homage to something I really enjoyed from the first ragemap, a silo where the players used a giant fan to get to the top. Already I was relying on someone else to spawn my own creativity, but perhaps this was simply inspiration.
In the end I threw away the homage and ideas started to pour out, what if instead of a fan that takes you up a silo you had teleports. And what if… in order to activate those teleports someone had to stay at the bottom while the other person ascended. And what if… during the whole time Alien Controllers were shooting at you and the other members of your team had to protect you as you ascended. I had an idea.
Was that all I needed? Does all creativity branch from inspiration? Itís the famous chicken or the egg paradox… of course some creativity is spawned from necessity.
In the end Iím quite happy with my submission (Image 1 Image 2). I was able to play test it with some friends from Podcast 17 and it was quite an enjoyable experience. It fit real well in the sequence of creations and I look forward to seeing it in the final product. I really did learn a lot of things that I didnít know before, i.e., how to use a multisource properly. For any gldsrc mappers, feel free to take a look at my final product. Perhaps it might inspire others.
5th February 2012
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