Ember's Map Zone

Level design has been a long-time hobby of mine. I love creating spaces, studying architecture, and finding unique ways that these spaces can become meaningful places in games. Here you can check out maps I've created for various existing games:

Table of Contents

Dustforce

Dustforce is one of the first games I made maps for. All of my dustforce maps can be found on Atlas, the Dustforce custom map hosting site. This section is currently unfinished, screenshots to follow.

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Wip description, screenshots to follow.

A Safe Space to Sleep

http://atlas.dustforce.com/8312/a-safe-space-to-sleep

Adaptive Lavender

http://atlas.dustforce.com/8098/adaptive-lavender

A Faithful Courier

http://atlas.dustforce.com/7474/a-faithful-courier

Escape Room

http://atlas.dustforce.com/8253/escape-room

Refresh

http://atlas.dustforce.com/7946/refresh

Disease Control

http://atlas.dustforce.com/8750/disease-control

Twirly Tower

http://atlas.dustforce.com/6918/twirly-tower

Twirly Tower was a map I made after seeing the strange phenomenon of "twirlies" - a trick where you spam left and right direction buttons to give your character an extra wallclimb. The trick is dependent on occuring every 16th frame from the start of a new run, which makes it difficult to predict and painful to execute. This is around the time I met my now-partner JM who was showcasing this technique, and I wanted to make a map so they and their friend Sivade could attempt to out-twirly eachother in an honour-based head-to-head race to the bottom.

Something Sweet

http://atlas.dustforce.com/8679/something-sweet

This was a map I made out of an interest to explore a short idea: clipping through dustblocks. I wanted to showcase this strange tech by making it the main way to complete the map as characters with a shorter attack-reach.

Bluish Blush

http://atlas.dustforce.com/6877/bluish-blush

Periwinkle Blues

http://atlas.dustforce.com/8849/periwinkle-blues

Others not mentioned


HL2

Through iiboharz's streams of Black Mesa and Half Life 1, I got interested in trying to do Half Life 2 mapping. I had recently come back from doing Black Mesa stuff mid-2020 and felt like this would be a cool way to try something new in the world of mapping; actually caring about enemy placement, AI, and half life-style gameplay before trying to make a place that just "looked" cool (in my eyes at least). This is turning out to be my favourite mapping project so far just because it's utilizing all of the features that Hammer was designed for, and it's really refreshing and fun to have new directions in the world of i/o to try out, rather than the usual required logic for TF2 or the nearly non-existent logic for CSGO.

Over Interstellar Waters

February 2021

"You're trying to cross a river, but a combine-converted train station is the only way over it. The station has been largely abandoned due to its remote location, but the combine still keeps a few metrocops in the area to protect it from rebel use. You approach the station on your own; no weapons, no vehicles, no outside help. Good luck."

I am very close to releasing an alpha version of this map with the full gameplay loop in place, stay tuned for a download link. Most of my focus with this map is to find clever ways to re-use the same space, and to create more interesting combat opportunities against the combine than what is found in some of the other Half Life 2 coastal levels. I never thought I'd enjoy playing AI nodes until this map gave me reason to use them!


Black Mesa

Through Robert Yang's Level With Me series I got interested in Black Mesa and the way these new maps were put together. Looking at any screenshots or gameplay of it seemed like total eye-candy, like I couldn't possibly start to comprehend, but it was humbling to hear Yang take it apart for all its development shortcuts, immersion-breaking decisions, and overall jankiness to the game in general. I'd spent months prior learning the ins and outs of the Godot Engine and while it was fun to try and create games that emulated the fun I'd had in the source engine, I was getting tired of trying to figure out how climbing steps worked. Despite using the fantastic Godot plugin Qodot, it took some learning and still left the character conroller and enemy logic up to me to determine what I wanted to create. I realized I wanted to take a break from outright game development and give level design a proper try again. I had been hesitant to return to mapping because all my experience prior was on unfulfilling multiplayer mapping, where finding enough playtesters was incredibly difficult for my younger self, as an introverted perfectionist. Thankfully I've shed a lot of that since, and I felt it was time to try something more freeing and easier to test. Black Mesa became my first foray into singleplayer mapping.

Twilight Mall

June 2020

Gordon finds himself in an abandoned mall. He'd like to get out, but the security system on the front door won't let him. Help Gordon get outside.


CSGO

CSGO mapping is where I started to take mapping a lot more seriously, and it's where I picked up most of my mapping habits. I originally just wanted to create cool architecture that I could shoot bad guys in, and slowly learned the many restrictions to keep a map "competitively viable". This mindset definitely helped drive my maps to evolve in a certain way - allow checking one corner at a time, allow for rotations, etc. - but this mindset also gave me the most frustration as I tried to work hard on good gameplay that couldn't amount to much without rigorous playtesting. I was still too young to feel comfortable freely sharing things with others so this also became a habit. However, I've learned the most from mapping for CSGO, and it's helped arm me with the knowledge on playtesting maps, optimizing maps, working with bots, and even adding custom content to maps! I owe the most to my time spent in CSGO mapping. Check out some of the maps below! Of course, all of them have bot support.

Backyard

September 2015

This was my first map I considered "finished" released to the workshop. I figured that releasing it and moving on was more important than ridding it of dev textures. I managed to get 2 people to look at this map in an earlier state before adding a whole other dimension to it, which made the map overall pretty clunky and CSS-looking. I was glad to at least experience the joys of hitting "publish" and never touching the project again, on top of other little details like building cubemaps, creating a radar overview and adding soundscapes.

Play Backyard on Steam Workshop

Station

October 2015

This was my 2nd map to feel like it was going somewhere. I initially started this map just by recreating an image of a building that I saw, and spent hours on paper trying to make a layout that would work for this area. Looking back I'm not incredibly proud of the layout, but I felt like my brushwork was getting considerably cleaner by now, with many abandoned maps and even more abandoned layouts sitting on my old hard drive, unpublished.

Play Station on Steam Workshop

Future

December 2015

This map was inspired by Mirrors Edge and glow blogs. I started this map by creating the middle section - of which I had a specific idea in mind for - and then tried to build the map around that middle section. Looking back it's a bit unnaturally shaped and doesn't inspire great gameplay (hardly any cover) but I really enjoyed the way that rotates would've worked for CTs, as they start in an elevated room that separates their spawn from the path of rotation. It was also fun to feel like I had a strong theme for a map again; A futuristic skyscraper with exposed pipe areas, and boring old office atriums.

Play Future on Steam Workshop

Stopoff

June 2016

Stopoff is the map I've put the most individual effort into. The map has details surrounding the whole area, and it even has embedded callout names for the radar. I enjoyed basing the map around a construction site in the middle of a dense industrial coast. The map appears isolated, but I tried to give it lots of character with each area. This map showed me the endpoint of my previous mindset when mapping. I used to think that good maps had no dev textures, every corner was detailed, and each area was interesting and unique. I also didn't have much consideration for reasons outside of that, but I made sure to take my time to start enjoying the gameplay I'd put together before going head-first into detailing. I've since learned that it's important to keep the bigger picture in mind, and to reach out to others more often for testing and assistance. I'm proud of completing a map like this that stuck really close to my original vision. My hope is that maps from hereon out are more cogniscent of the entire map experience, and less about tunnel visioned details.

Play Stopoff on Steam Workshop

Office2

February 2017

A map I made back when I was on a hunt for interesting and unique CSGO gameplay. I wanted to create a sequel to Office (my favourite hostage rescue map) that would still have a lot of familiar elements, but used in a way that would be more condusive to competitive play. I think this is when I finally hit the jackpot of clean geometry, competent layout, and broken sightlines, and this map really moved my brushwork forward into something I can be consistently proud of to show to others. I spent some time on vacation in Iceland working on this map and took inspiration from the many diners and various buildings outside in the cold while making the outdoors areas. Although this map is heavily dev-textured and has no 3d skybox, I am incredibly happy with its sense of theming and atmosphere.

Play Office2 on Steam Workshop

Police

August 2018 through ~Feburary 2019

This map is my first ever map made in collaboration with someone else. I got to know S1mmy through the Source Engine subreddit/discord and we spent a lot of time working on this map. In terms of the layout we felt really confident, and were about ready to start playtesting before setting it aside. Many large-scale changes happened to this map. It was fun to work on a map with someone, to always have someone else to test timings, sightlines, bombsites, and to do mini-playtests. I really enjoyed this experience even if this map didn't see total completion.

Play Police (old) on Steam Workshop | Play Police on Steam Workshop

Humble

April 2020

I'm not sure if it was the covid pandemic or some other inkling of a thought that brought me back into mapping after a full year of working on music. What came out of this time was a map where I really wanted to focus on a understandable layout that I would playtest, ask for feedback, and practice getting better at parts I'd previously skipped over in the mapping process. This included:

While this may not have been the most exciting mapping project, I probably spent the least amount of time being frustrated while working on this map. I let it come together naturally and let the direction of the project be shaped by what I was creating, rather than redoing work because it didn't fit an original vision. This is probably my best-playing CSGO map so far, albiet right now there's only one bombsite, I had plans to expand it outwards into something else for full 5v5 defuse.

Play Humble on Steam Workshop

Misc. Maps


Unreleased CSGO Maps

These maps I am going entirely off of memory, there is no way to play these maps.

Glow

December 2016

Another defuse map inspired by glow blogs, I wanted to create the surreal feeling of thin, white-tiled walls surrounding flashy arcades and nightclubs. I created a comparatively unique-looking interior for this map, but the entire concept of the map came down to fighting in and outside a single building, without much consideration for sightlines, rotation, or a 2nd bombsite. I still had a lot of fun creating this unique space and might someday try the visual aesthetic again.

Oil

October 2015

A 3-lane defuse map. The teams were separated by a giant oil storage tank in the middle, and both teams were to climb a ladder up it to immediately expose themselves to the other team. The oil storage tank had planks connecting to a dilapidated warehouse on the right (similar to the one in FMPONE's LD Practice Map) and a building with a bunch of pillars inside on the left.

Reaper

A hostage rescue map with a focus on racing to the finish line, rather than replicating defuse's gameplay. Both teams were on separate tracks, unable to see the other side until they reached the halfway point with only windows to shoot through. The idea was for CTs to always pick up the hostages safely, but then to race to the end and avoid T fire. I might recreate this someday.


Team Fortress 2

koth_launchpad

cp_overflow

Unreleased TF2 Maps

Unfortunately most of my TF2 maps were not archived or uploaded anywhere. One of them was a map of large gears that players would be pushed around with, forcing them to fight in silly claustrophobic situations. There were many other attempts at making king of the hill maps but none of them personally interested me that much.


Portal 2

I got most of my start in hammer with Portal 2. I created many things in the Portal 2 SDK but chose not to upload any of them. I wish I had archived them back then, but I'm glad I at least have the PTI Map-Editor creations saved on my Steam Workshop.

PTI Maps

Rather than link each one individually, I reccomend you view all of my Portal 2 maps in one page for an idea of what I created during my earliest years of level design.