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18 Apr 2024, 00:00:00 (PRT)

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A story of an amateur mapper's journey of learning
Posted in: Mapping
Posted 2009-02-19 at 03:29 by PARAMEDIC.CA

I thought I would tell you all about my learning as an amateur mapper and how I learned how to map (just enough) to produce a Project Reality Map. Just so you all know I map for the pleasure of "making something" and to get away from the daily routine of regular life. By no means do I profess, or really want to be, some sort of mapping expert as there are artists such as Rhino, Duckhunt, Code Red Fox, Dr. Rank, and the rest of the PR Level Design team who are much more technically, and artistically advanced than I. I enjoy spending my time here at PR by sharing ideas, working on challenges, and most of all gaming (which really suck at, right dB?)

My Beginning of Level Designing as a past-time[/B][/U]

I always have been a video gamer. I remember when I got pong for Christmas as a child, moving to the Atari system, and then being jealous of my friends who went right to Coleco and Intellivision systems. Yes, I am very old.

My first real taste of multi-player online play was the Rainbow Six series. With fellow comrades from my workplace we would spend countless hours shooting at each other in small maps during rounds that would last for only mere minutes. Eventually, this group of peers formed a squad that ultimately matured to what is now the Devils Brigade Squad [DVB]. Some of the faces you see today on the PR Team and community have roots at the DVB.

[U][B]Joint Operations: my first taste of a large multi-player FPS[/B][/U]

After, the Rainbow Six series became redundant a new game was released called "[URL=""]Joint Operations[/URL]". This game was mind blowing for the times. It featured huge (I mean tremendously huge) maps with 150 player servers. The matches were never nearly as coordinated as found in Project Reality, but it was insanely fun game to play.[IMG][/IMG]

One of my squad mates during the Joint Operations years was developing maps for Joint Operations. The Joint Operations game relied on server based level which were more often developed by Clans or squads instead of development teams. At this point I started mapping. Under the tutelage of [DVB] Steve I started making both multi-player and Co-op maps for our squad. After a year of playing Joint Operations, a modification team called Brutal Arts started publishing the early versions of a Reality Mod for Joint Operations. This group of individuals (some of which we can find in PR now) developed their modification with a Realism vision that is very similar to the PR Mod.

[U][B]Reality Mod for JO:[/B][/U]

I was hooked on the Reality Mod for JO and started making maps for our squad based entirely on this. Some of these maps turned out to be very popular in the community. I miss mapping for Joint Operations dearly. Although the editors were terribly complicated and inflexible, the abilities to modify events, AI, and vehicles within the map were extremely cool and prolonged the playability of many maps.
Transition to Battlefield 2[/B][/U]

AS the Joint Ops started to become "old" there were rumors of BF2 starting to surface and most of the us at the [DVB] were very excited for its release. After some bumpy times within the [DVB] we transitioned to BF2 upon its release. After few months of playing Vanilla BF2, one of my peer squad leaders, 2Slick4U introduced me to a Newer BF2 Mod called Project Reality Mini-MOD.

[U][B]Mapping for Project Reality as a Community Member[/B][/U]

This was around 0.3 and remember playing Oasis for hours marveling about the uniqueness of not only the game play but the players themselves -I was hooked. I was reading the PR forums one day and there was mention of a mapping contest and I thought I would give the BF2 Editor a try! I spent countless hours trying to read the EA tutorial and put together my first map [URL=""]Dongshan Island[/URL]. Well, it didn't go so well :) I was ripped apart on the forums and I distinctly remember the only real kind words of encouragement were from [R-DEV] IronTaxi :) All-in-all, it was still a good learning experience battle wounds and all.

[B][U]Round two at making Realty Maps[/U][/B]

So, I decided to make another map taking advice from the community members on the forums. Being Canadian I thought I would make a map that was focused in theater that Canuks were presently in, so I picked Afghanistan and named it Operation Archer.

My first versions of Operation Archer were drastically different fromt he present version of Archer. All the villages used modern houses, motels, and and even a nuclear plant. [DVB] NEO, [DVB]DEMM, and many other DVB'ers help me test for floaters, errors, and glitches. I owe many thanks to them for helping me with that.

I posted a few screen shots on the PR forums of my work with Archer and I had many nice comments and even more nasty ones. [B][I][U]Don't worry, I remember all of you who were nasty pricks:) [/U][/I][/B] Nevertheless, [R-DEV]Fuzzhead sent me PM one day and asked to take a tour with me on my map to see what my map was all about.

We spent countless hours going over Archer and discussing the fact that I should remove all of the modern aspects of the map (ie. houses, gas stations, and other modern statics) and make it much more realistic. Fuzzhead also indicated that I should consider making the map to a new game-style that was being produced by the DEV's called "insurgency"

[CENTER][I][COLOR=Lime][U][B][URL=""]The Original Operation Archer Thread[/URL][/B][/U][/COLOR][/I]

So... Off I went removing statics and the like to re-invent Archer with a more traditional looking Afghanistan environment. The map was beginning to to look as it does presently except for the terrain which didn't change until I met [R-DEV] Katarn.

[U][B]Katarn Tells Me That Archer's Terrain is "Alien-like"[/B][/U]
So I made the majority of changes that Fuzzhead suggested and we were starting to be happy with the design so we invited a few [R-DEV]'s to view the map as a beta. So a few viewed the map and they seemed happy with the maps progress. Then Katarn joins my squad while testing and says "ummm, paramedic... you are off to a good start, but we [meaning the DEVs] were talking on the forums and ummm.... your terrain looks "alien-like"

So I thought about it and I basically took the smooth tool in the editor and went over square inch of the map. Afterward, the DEV's were impressed with my ability to take constructive criticism and offered me a [R-CON] position with the team.

As the 0.7 release was nearing I had about 90% of Archer complete and the rush was on to finish the map. Unfortunately, I had real life challenges on the go as well. I was in school just finishing my Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership, I had twins who had just been born, and a new job. I couldn't find enough time in a day to work on archer and the DEV team decided that I was too far behind to have it published this release. Oddly enough, I wasn't too upset with this and patiently continued to work on it

[U][B]Opportunity knocked when 0.75 came along:[/B][/U]

I was near completion of Archer when 0.75 was coming along. WE were very happy with Archer and how we had made the map with very large view distances (1111m) without much lag on our computers and the new destructible walls added to the excitement of this map.

[CENTER]"[I]One who is too insistent on his own views, finds few to agree with him.[/I]" Lao Tzu

Not all DEV's liked Archer as it was totally "different" to the the perceived normal of mapping was to be done in PR. I am (and continue to be) less rigid with my process of mapping and I will pick away at different components as I see fit taking advice from my peers who advice in kind, helpful manner.

Being in my late 30's, 3 children, and flourishing career I had few expectations of this map other than it had been (to the most part) a great opportunity to meet very intelligent, artistic, and robust people from all over the world. That in its own has been the best return-on-investment for my two years working on Archer. [U]Yep, Archer took two years to develop to this point.[/U]
Archer gets Published: great excitement and a smidgen of sorrow[/B][/U]:

Archer gets released! Its an absolute monster though! It took me to 96hrs to lightmaps all the destructible statics that were found in the villages and another day to do the rest of the map. Nonetheless, Operation Archer was now released and I was glad to have it off my plate.

Unfortunately, the map frequently crashed during a full server load due to teh large amount of destructables. This was never picked up in testing as we rarely had more than twenty on a server -lesson learned. Nevertheless, the map played ok and used to sit in game and just watch the ebb and flow of player movements in anticipation of having a second crack for the next release.

[CENTER][U][B]Paramedics Rules to Mapping and Leadership

[/B][/U][B]Rule #1: [/B]Do NOT take yourself to seriously[B]

Rule #2: [/B]every feck'up is a learning opportunity in the rough[B]

Rule #3: [/B]Teach and be taught[B]

Rule #4: [/B]Mapping and leadership are like frying a small fish, poke it too much and it falls apart. [B]

Rule #5: [/B]Change is good and not to be feared[B]

Rule #6: [/B]Treat others as if you want to be treated[B]

Rule #7:

Rule #8:

Rule #9:

Rule #10:


[B][I]more to come.....[/I][/B]
Updated 2009-02-21 at 13:49 by PARAMEDIC.CA
Views: 23021 | Comments: 12

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Total Comments: 12
  1. Old Comment
    Nice story mate! I appreciate your contributions to the mod and taking the steps to actually start mapping, despite the criticism at first. Now Archer is one of the coolest insurgency maps in PR and I am very well looking forward to Devil's Tower! Keep up the good work
    Posted 2009-02-19 at 07:47 by ReaperMAC ReaperMAC is offline
  2. Old Comment
    =Romagnolo='s Avatar
    Very interesting reading! Now I want to start mapping again :P

    I had an Atari for Christimas too
    Posted 2009-02-19 at 12:47 by =Romagnolo= =Romagnolo= is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Outlawz7's Avatar
    That's some interesting history there, I also used to do maps for NovaLogic games
    Posted 2009-02-19 at 15:38 by Outlawz7 Outlawz7 is offline
  4. Old Comment
    D|ehard's Avatar
    Very Nice mate.
    Posted 2009-02-20 at 00:58 by D|ehard D|ehard is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Scot's Avatar
    Archer. Rocks.

    At the moment, it stands at one of my favourite maps of PR ever, and I've been playing since 0.4 Great job mate, 2 years not wasted
    Posted 2009-02-20 at 16:03 by Scot Scot is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Nice history, looking forward to Devil's Perch
    Posted 2009-02-20 at 21:48 by McBumLuv McBumLuv is offline
  7. Old Comment
    ^Way to get the name right McLuv.

    Cool story mate, I agree with Scot, Archer is epic. Archer Redux is like epic squared. I'm so glad people more servers finally play Archer.
    Posted 2009-02-21 at 01:08 by Colonelcool125 Colonelcool125 is offline
  8. Old Comment
    DeltaFart's Avatar
    I remember Delta Force, that was always fun. Loved how the models never really changed through the ages with DF
    Posted 2009-02-21 at 06:31 by DeltaFart DeltaFart is offline
  9. Old Comment
    Nice read! I love archer right now. 2 years for a map! That is an insane amount of work!
    Posted 2009-03-20 at 08:38 by cyberzomby cyberzomby is offline
  10. Old Comment
    PARAMEDIC.CA's Avatar
    Originally Posted by cyberzomby View Comment
    Nice read! I love archer right now. 2 years for a map! That is an insane amount of work!
    hehhe, yeah.. but the map had taken many turns and bends along the way I, like many other DEV mappers have busy lives outside of PR so finding time is tough to build these maps.

    Learning how to use the editor is even tougher, although i had a vision, getting the map to reflect that vision is tough with the editor we are given.
    Posted 2009-03-20 at 19:27 by PARAMEDIC.CA PARAMEDIC.CA is offline

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