May 12, 2008

Term 5: Day One

Well, today marked the first day in the new term. As I was driving into class today, it occurred to me that the events of last term already seem so far away. It felt more like I was returning after a summer break than simply a week off, it felt like I hadn't seen most of my classmates in quite some time. I'm not sure if this is simply because last term was so dense that it occupies a large span of time in my mind (despite being a mere eight weeks in actual length) or if it is my mind reacting to that traumatic period by trying to block it out as much as possible. Either way, it felt good to be back, or at the very least, I was feeling optimistic about returning, which is a good sign.

Not to much to report on today, we had our first Level Design V class today which was basic syllabus, course guidelines, and the introduction to our new editor, Hammer. For those who don't know (which would have included me a few months ago), Hammer is the name of the editor for Source / Half Life 2. We covered only the most basic topics like how to make bsp brushes, add models, and do simple environmental lighting (i.e., light from the sun), but my initial impression is it is a bit more cumbersome than Radiant. The compile times are longer and lighting isn't in real-time so you need to compile the lights in order to see your changes. It would seem, however, that it calculates light bouncing around the area, which creates more realistic looking lighting using only a few sources, at least I think so. Doom 3, on the other hand, had real-time lighting, but didn't figure anything out on it's own, you sort of had to paint in the lighting exactly how you wanted it, which is both positive and negative for various reasons. Anyway, I've been told I'll like the editor and it is additive which I prefer, so I'm keeping an open mind, but overall I really like Doom 3 / Radiant, so Hammer will really have to impress me.

That's pretty much it, I've just been trying to play through HL2: Episodes 1 and 2 as quickly as I can so I can get used to the assets and what they've done with the game so far. I know, I know, hard work, right? Tomorrow marks our first game design lecture and our first special topics lecture with Sandy Petersen (Ensemble Studios), both of which I am excited about so I'm looking forward to it. I'm enjoying this time when we don't really have any homework and I can get excited about the upcoming material as I know it's sure not to last for very long.

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