forest river devblog

forest_river is a old map I’ve been working on for a while now.

Since I only work on it from time to time I figured I could make a thread to post progress as well as cover miscellaneous topics that arise while working on the map.

Here is the last compiled version (compiled a year ago):[/t][t][/t][t][/t]


(traitor tester asset made for map can be downloaded here)

Since then I’ve migrated to a 2013 setup involving creating a custom mod to better manage the maps custom content. I also use custom compile tools and Gmods version of hammer along with a complicated compile setup. For this reason I haven’t made a compile yet this year.

Planned versions:

ttt_forest_river (day, priority on optimization)
zs_forest_river (night, priority on optimization)
gm_forest_river_day and gm_forest_river_night (unoptimized versions, HDR compile, better quality custom assets)

[editline]19th August 2017[/editline]

First topic:

To HDR or not to HDR

Tell me this: Are the above screenshots compiled with HDR, or not?

[sp]Answer: Nope, no HDR[/sp]

HDR is often exaggerated in its effects on a maps visuals. Results that are almost indistinguishable from HDR lighting can be achieved with smart LDR usage, while reducing the .bsp filesize significantly!

The seceret to making your LDR maps not dull and washed out is this: increase your lights’ brightness! Like, double it, add a zero or two! It can take some time to hit a sweetspot, but once you do you have achieved lighting that looks like HDR, but but actually is cheaper both on filesize and performance. (these setups still look good if you decide to make a HDR compile later down the line)

New updates coming soon!

What’s your plan for managing all the forks?

Gorgeous map, what is the grass texture you’re using with all of the nice props?

Have you thought of block-lighting the window frames? I think it’d make some really nice shadows

At the moment I’m working on one single version. The vmf is as optimized as it gets with regards to lightmaps and displacements and such, while the custom content is in full quality.
What I plan to do is finish the map in this state and then branch it.
The optimized versions will be pretty much derived directly, only the packed content will be reduced in quality to manage filesize.
The unoptimized versions will have the lightmap sizes increased, displacements set to power of 3 across the board and will feature packed content at full quality.

In short, I’m working on one single version for as long as I can, and then branch it off to fully separate .vmf’s.

I’m open to any suggestions here, because I’m still at a reasonable distance from crossing that bridge.

[editline]19th August 2017[/editline]

The grass texture is a combined detailsprite sheet made from RNL grass and ported skyrim detailsprites. Then it has been colorcorrected to match HL2EP2’s grass texture for a seamless appearance.

I can upload my sheet and the .vbsp file if you want it.

The windows already cast shadows because I’m using -staticproppolys, but the shadows aren’t visible because lightmap sizes are huge in this version. The gm_ versions, with increased lightmap sizes, will have shadows in their fully glory

[editline]19th August 2017[/editline]

Also, if you want me to elaborate on anything, I’m always open for it.

CC is also very welcome

Do you plan to continue making changes (beyond say bugfixes)?
Cause if not, then that sounds like a pretty good plan. Maybe put everything into a prime visgroup so if you make changes on one version you can backport them.

I personally track my projects per revision with HG (it’s like Git), it’s trivial to make branches with that, then keep track, but I haven’t tried backporting or 3-way merging with it, so that might not work.

Yes, I’d love to have that sheet!


As I said, they are intended to be used with the EP2 grass texture.

Also this is probably the most optimized detailsprite setup possible while still looking good

Is there any way you could upload it to a different website? My ISP blocked mega : \

Custom models

Here are some misc models made for the map

Chimney model, I can reuse this and its something lacking in default HL2 assets

Garage roof. I’m detailing one of the houses and this seemed like a nice way to give extra detail to a blocky spot

Beams for the garages interior. As I’m studying architecture making these kinds of structural details believable has become very easy. Here I used common C - shaped beams in a realistic setup.