May 18, 2008

The Way a Weekend Should Be (mostly)

Ah, this was just a fantastic weekend, I got some work done, I had enough free time to go shopping and actually play a few games, and I don't currently feel behind on anything. Let's compare this to my first weekend last term where I spent around 18 hours over two days working on my first "speed map." This was of course after a week of 12+ Extinction core hours, a DFS Project Proposal, and an Ethics essay all in the first week. Yep, I'd definitely say this is an improvement. I don't expect it to stay this happy and carefree all term, but I hope that this is another sign that the worst of it is over.

While I was getting organized for the coming week, I was cleaning out some of my folders from last term and I happened to run across one of my weekly task list that I had printed out to discuss with the professor. The sheer number of tasks on there and estimated time to complete them blew my mind. It's like last term feels like some sort of dream. I know it actually happened, I know I experienced it, I can remember it (well, most of it) but only as a sort of vague dream. I guess it's one of those mental protection mechanisms, the ability to forget pain.

Anyway, not too much happened this weekend. I got my grade back for our first Half Life 2 in-class assignment. Technically, the grade was pretty much only participation. There was a list of requirements, and so long as you met them you got 100, even if the overall composition of your map was bad. Still, he included a grade for how you would have done if it had been graded normally, and I did well on both counts. I am starting to appreciate Source in a few dimensions. While I ultimately don't think it is as attractive as Doom 3 (which may be personal preference) or as easy to handle as Radiant, I do think Hammer does a lot to help out the designers and make it easier to work more quickly/efficiently. The one thing that does scare me though is the compile times, I've heard tell of some maps taking over 8 hours to compile fully, and almost 2 to compile "fast." That doesn't really seem helpful to an iterative design approach, but I guess we'll see what happens.

Other than that, I've just been working to familiarize my self with Half Life 2 and Hammer, and working on coming up with ideas for my thesis. If you all are interested, I can post some of my ideas (we had to write up three of them ) and you can feel free to poke at them. Or I might just do it anyway if I can't really think of anything to write. I guess from where I was a year ago I would have been curious to know what goes into a level design thesis, though now it seems to make total sense. Funny, huh? Alright, well that's all for tonight, later!

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