Senior Multiplayer Designer
Jul. 2003 // Natural Selection
With the initial success of Eclipse in Natural Selection 1.0, a follow-up felt like a no-brainer. Veil is essentially Eclipse 2, boasting more varied geometry, more dramatic elevation, and more vibrant colors. Veil was added as one of four new official levels in Natural Selection 2.0.
Veil started as a symmetrical level, providing near-perfect timing to each hive from the marine start, but pure symmetry made for a boring layout. I started hacking up each side over the course of a few rounds of playtests to settle on the layout at release. Veil's layout feels a bit more sterile than Eclipse due to the symmetric base, but the original gameplay benefits remained intact.
Thanks in large part to its layout and timing, Veil also became one of Natural Selection's more popular levels, particularly in the competitive community. It wasn't uncommon to see both Eclipse and Veil ranking first and second in active player count.
Due to its popularity in the original mod, Veil was re-made for Natural Selection 2 by Shawn Snelling and officially added to the game in August 2012.
© 2003 Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Oct. 2002 // Natural Selection
After stumbling through two rough drafts of levels in the Natural Selection Tech Release, I started sketching out a to-scale layout for a third attempt, Eclipse. Only two locations from the original paper layout would remain by the end, but that was the jump-start I needed to get the level rolling and join the official NS playtests.
The playtesting process resulted in sometimes drastic evolutions to Eclipse, such as a 3 week stretch in which I rebuilt 80% of the level to tighten up a sprawling layout. During this same span I transitioned from the grungy wall_black texture set to the clean wall_lab texture set and orange lighting that would become the signature "Eclipse style."
Eclipse was selected to be one of seven official levels for the Natural Selection 1.0. The level quickly gained popularity and became one of Natural Selection's most played levels.
© 2002 Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Dec. 2002 // Half-Life: Deathmatch
Odin's Guard was my entry to an old Snark Pit "Contrasting Themes" competition. The map was to be arena-style and use two distinct themes. Odin is split into two major arenas with only small connections and linked via teleporters to a teleporter hub cavern thing.
The map came in second in the judged results and placed first in the player's choice voting.
Aug. 2002 // Opposing Force: Capture the Flag
My final, largest, and longest-running Op4CTF project. This one spanned 4 from-scratch versions and was originally christened "Helix" before the final version. Tortuosity represents a rollback to the second version of the old Helix series.
Apr. 2002 // Half-Life: Deathmatch
Faction was entirely built upon a texture set by Simon "sock" O'Callaghan. I started constructing it as a Deathmatch Classic map, but for a variety of reasons I eventually gave up on that and converted it to straight HLDM.
The level contains interesting geometry, but I let myself rely a bit too heavily on the pre-defined shapes in the textures and many rooms end up looking a bit too same-y. The level would have benefited from more areas like the outer walkway and "window" tunnel to break up the monotony of the interiors.
Mar. 2002 // Opposing Force: Capture the Flag
Gauntlet was designed in the vein of a tiny and frantic Gearbox map, "Hairball." I wasn't sure if the simple single-route layout would work, but it seemed to be received quite well. It was also fun to do a smaller level.
Dec. 2001 // Half-Life: Deathmatch
Valor is one of my better efforts overall, and definitely near the peak of my early DM work. Things went very smoothly in making this and I had the single most involved playtest of any of my maps with a decent-sized group from the Valve ERC IRC channel. It was fun to make and fun to play, and for that alone I consider it a huge success.
Aug. 2001 // Opposing Force: CTF
Quake III: Team Arena's mpteam6 was a space CTF map where the bases and central arena were connected by funky warping teleporter tunnels. I drew inspiration from this and Quake III's CTF4 to make a floaty space CTF map with a funky warping teleporter tunnel.
After running into some of the Gearbox crew on their official Op4CTF server, I learned that Wormhole had found play time in the Gearbox office. That run-in got me in contact with a couple Gearbox designers who were kind enough to provide valuable feedback on my later CTF levels, which in turn put Gearbox on my "studios to apply to" list - I'd be hired there five years later.
Repair Bay 4
Jul. 2001 // Half-Life: Deathmatch
At the time I made this level, I always considered it adequate, but not one of my strongest. I was actually confused when a couple community acquaintances referred to it as my best HLDM map.
In hindsight, I've started to see it more their way. The level plays it safe in layout and geometry, but has a simple layout and flow ideal for small matches.
Jul. 2001 // Half-Life: Deathmatch
Sector A is a bit too large for a good deathmatch experience, but was an extremely valuable learning experience. The level was my first large-scale undertaking and while I may have gone a bit kitchen sink on some of the random tricks in the level ("reflective" floors, electrical arcs, and even a test chamber), my overall Half-Life level design knowledge skyrocketed after constructing it.
I was particularly happy with how well I was able to recreate the pre-disaster Half-Life feel in many of the areas using screenshots and Valve's released .rmf files as reference. Those skills in emulating existing styles have come in immensely useful in my professional career.
While not my first level released for Half-Life nor my strongest, Sector A jump-started a rush of releases from 2001-2002 and resulted in significant growth in my level design ability.