I thought I'd paste up a couple pages of planning sketches I've made in relation to the map I'm working on.

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I dunno, I always find preparatory sketches interesting. These are really rough and just meant as notes to myself, to work out the space and keep it straight while I put it together. I have about a third of a newsprint pad with level design notes and sketches right now. It'll probably be filled before too long.

Oh, also, I've decided to interrupt work on the Mapes map (official title: Bunker Buster) to create a multiplayer map for entry into the recently-announced FEAR fan content contest . As I was saying that I hoped to have something ready for GDC (which Bunker Buster clearly won't be,) and the deadline for this contest is March 20, the same as the first day of GDC, I think the stars have aligned themselves in a challenge. I must create a small-but-breathtaking FEAR map by the 20th, enter it into the contest, and bring copies of it along with me to GDC as a sample of my work.

Well, now that I look at it, the date of entry for maps has changed to April 10. I could have sworn that yesterday the entry date was March 20. Either I'm illiterate (as the date to enter movie clips is 3/20) or they decided that the original deadline was too tight for quality maps to be created, tested, and submitted.

Well, okay. Same plan. I'm going to aim for 3/20 so I have something for GDC, then continue polishing the map for the next couple weeks and enter it into the contest shortly before the 4/10 deadline. It should be doable. I've spent at least half the time on the Mapes map so far dealing with AI and event/object scripting. There's almost none of that in a multiplayer map, meaning the process should be significantly shorter.

So, here's the idea for the MP contest map. I'm calling it Residential Evil, and it's going to be based generally on the mansion from (wait for it) Resident Evil. This idea came about in relation to the materials and prefabs included with FEAR. There are segments of the game set in a high-tech lab, and some set in crumbling apartment buildings and houses. I put it together and thought it would be cool to make a mid-sized MP map which was half run-down mansion, and half high-tech secret lab. The top floor will be the main foyer of the mansion, with an indoor balcony running around the edge at second-story height, and a curved double-staircase connecting the two levels. There will be a few side-rooms and hallways, and a master bedroom. There will be three semi-concealed doorways leading down into the lab level, beneath the mansion. The lab will feature a couple of examination/experimentation rooms, and a large mechanical stress containment chamber. In this central lab chamber will be the Plasma Weapon, as if it were an experimental weapon being researched in the lab. The rest of the weapons on the map will be small ordnance (pistol, shotgun, SMG, frag grenades, prox grenades, remote grenades.) The space will generally be close-quarters, so I want to stay away from the Big Weapons. The Plasma Weapon will be the only high-tech/heavy weapon in the level, and it should be balanced by its slow fire rate and a lack of sniping locations in the map (the only wide-open space being the balconied entry hall, which is on the opposite side of the map from the Plasma Weapon spawn.)

So, my goals are to A) keep the size down, as to make this project completeable by the deadline, and B) create a level with a free-flowing but claustrophobic atmosphere which lends itself to sudden, fast-paced exchanges of fire between the low-calibre arms provided to the players. And of course to make it look and run great. But that goes without saying.

I think I can pull this off. I feel like it'll happen. Hopefully I'll even place in the contest. Residential Evil is still in the early sketch stages, but look for updates here in the coming week.

NOTE: this map will not be based directly on the layout of any part of the mansion from RE. I actually kind of hate it when I see someone post on a message board that they are "remaking Facility from Golden Eye for Source (or Unreal or FEAR or whatever.)" Remaking someone else's level just seems so outright boring. What I'm trying to do is base the general tone and dynamic of the level on the major elements of Resident Evil, as a sort of homage. I won't be doing any research into RE in preparation for making this map. I want it based exclusively on how I remember Resident Evil being, without lifting anything directly from the game.

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