Shawn Olson's Blog
I'm not your average gamer. I've been playing the same set of games for over a decade. Mostly CS 1.6, CSS, CS:GO. Some Hidden: Source, Insurgency and Battlefield too. I'm like a dog chasing a ball with this group of games. They never get old just like basketball and sex never get old.
I also love level design and creativity. I spent a lot of time in Worldcraft/Hammer at the turn of the century. My hobby was building levels for CS 1.6 and HL deathmatch. During that time I also delved into various mainstream 3D packages. I tipped my toe into several until I found my real passion: 3ds Max.
For around a decade I fantasized about building levels for CS in 3ds Max. The consensus in the modding communities was that it is impossible, not to mention pointless. As I'm pretty much dismissive of popular opinions, I ignored this. Eventually I found a set of tools called Convexity that did allow some level of success in this endeavor. I started learning Convexity around the time I moved into the Source Engine. And it was at this point in time that I came face-to-face with the problem with my beloved franchise: Valve makes great games but really painful processes for asset creation.
When I was mapping for CS 1.6, I never used models. Everything was world geometry. So I was shocked to find how painful it was to build models for Source. I started realizing why so many levels reused the same assets over and over--as most artists don't want to write text files and learn commands (the QC file for Source models) and then open command-line compilers to convert assets into engine-ready MDL files. I learned that doing something as simple as sending a textured model of a pipe from 3ds Max to Source could take far longer than I expected. And more complex models were often prohibitively time-consuming for a hobbyist like me.
I almost gave up on Source at that point. But I loved level design and making things for the games I played.
So I started Wall Worm.
Wall Worm started as a project simply to make it easy for me to export simple props from Max to Source without manually making a QC file, batch file or manually compiling. Soon it expanded into textures and materials. Eventually, it grew to include complex models, animations, and more. In time, as my interest in completely replacing Hammer grew, I added full VMF exporting and level compiling tools that far exceed the capability of Hammer.
At this point, you can build a level for Source inside 3ds Max entirely. Here is a WIP book that gives you the low-down on this: Hammered to the Max: A Hammer User's Guide to 3ds Max.
Wall Worm has given me many opportunities to collaborate with many creative and talented people. In the early days of Wall Worm I collaborated some with Neil "Jed" Jedrejewski (AKA Wunderboy), Cannonfodder and Micheal Little (of Convexity), all of whom have important roles in the history of Source Engine asset creation. It's opened the door to share ideas with many other creative folk. Most recently I was hired by Robert Briscoe to help add tools into Wall Worm for his port of Dear Esther to Unity.
Now that I've released Wall Worm 2.0 and a few commercial plugins for 3ds Max, I'm looking forward to getting involved in some new projects. Mainly I'm interested in getting involved as a technical artist and/or environmental artist for commercial Source Engine projects. Anyone interested in hiring me will get the benefit of the most inside knowledge of anyone in the world on using 3ds Max and Wall Worm for Source.
One more thing. No, I am not interested in working on free mods. And building a level for $500 counts as free.
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