This is a Left 4 Dead 2 campaign that takes place in a winter-alpine environment. The original L4D survivors must escape from their lodgings and get on the last train to safety. On the way they will encounter a mix of snow-themed environments across four maps that will challenge their ability to survive against the odds. The campaign remains unfinished at about 80% completion but works as a Left 4 Dead 2 campaign from beginning to end.
- Set in a post-apocalyptic winter-alpine environment.
- Terrain varies from small deserted town to perilously-narrow mountain passes.
- Obstacles make use of weather. Break through an ice wall, avoid the slowing snow and watch where you step on thin ice.
- Dynamic map layout - some areas contain different routes on each play, it's not always predictable!
- Playable in Co-op and Versus modes.
- Town (RUN!) - features alpine lodgings, deserted town and a working ski slope.
- Lake (JUMP!) - features a ski jump facility and a fragile ice lake.
- Ascent (CLIMB!) - features a tourist-friendly cave system and high mountain passes.
- Finalé (SURVIVE!) - features an abandoned city in ruin.
View screenshots and video at NikGupta.com
View an early alpha video of the Lake on YouTube
In late 2010, three fresh game design graduates from Brunel University decided to build upon their portfolio by demonstrating their 3D level planning ability in Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 for PC. The project started in theoritical form under the codename of "Operation: WENDIGO" with the original intention to have four maps that would be distinguishable from the slew of custom campaigns already available. A niche was found in snow-based environments and thus the foundation for the campaign's setting was established. The workload was divided three ways: Lewis would create the first map, Nik the second, and David the third, with the finale being a joint contribution as an experiment in understanding tight team-based level design processes.
The team learned early on that all of their abilities within Hammer Editor varied immensely. Lewis was the first to understand how to create point and brush entities customised for the campaign and made good use of them in order to create novel features. This included spawning a tank at a fixed point to dramatic effect, creating snow that would slow Survivors down, and forming a ski slope that could only be traversed with the aid of a prop_dynamic entity (i.e. ski chairs).
Nik was often obsessed with the visual detail of his maps and was the first to include fully working lighting and prop details as if ready for final production. Although this looked great and helped the team to aspire to a finished look, this would sometimes backfire when testing revealed a game-breaking bug caused by certain props.
On the other hand, David, with prior experience in 3D level design, was quick to produce fast-compiling and structurally-complex barebones maps. The Ascent needed displacements as a final touch on top of the foundation brush structures but time became a limiting factor.
A proposal was made for a fifth map, the Hotel, to be inserted between Ascent and Finale. It would have included a revolving restaurant, an abandoned but working missile-targetting system and a fetch-mission set by a lunatic art curator that would let the survivors continue. Even though the research for these proved they were possible, the map itself was later scrapped due to the unavailability of time.
Before mid-2011, the Lake was originally called the Sawmill and provided a crescendo panic event taking place in a labrynthine sawmill. Scattered logs would have provided the maze-like structure whilst spinning saw blades would have added an additional obstacle for survivors and infected alike. The sawmill idea was deemed to ambitious and dropped, making the ice lake the center of focus for the map.
Towards August 2011, the project was abandoned due to all team members having their own commitments. The project remained in an idle state till early 2013 when it was revived by Nik. With Lewis' permission he made several modifications to the Town, including aesthetic improvements to the starting area, the tank house, the grocery store and the leadup to the saferoom. A version of the obstacle-laden ice lake in the Lake was implemented. The textures were changed in Ascent from developer textures to more natural looking ones. This was repeated in the Finale too as well as adding a working escape vehicle in the form of a train. All the maps were chained together to form a working campaign, with accompanying graphics and unique campaign poster.
Although the campaign is unpolished, it remains as evidence of experience in scripting, graphics, level construction and game design.
In a way, the team sabotaged itself by treading the less-trodden route of setting the campaign in a snowy environment. This was made particularly apparent when the team failed to find (m)any game assets relating to winter within the L4D2 SDK. Originally the team wanted a snow storm similar to that seen in Hard Rain. However, getting snow to work with func_precipitation, especially over large areas proved to be too troublesome and was eventually scrapped. This was a major blow to the immersion of the setting.
With more time, the campaign would have had more custom textures, extra displacements for better looking levels and custom models which better represented the cold along with the intended narrative. In addition, some voiceovers for NPC characters would have made this worthy of publishing in the L4D2 Workshop.
Overall, the team benefitted from this exercise in level design and learned much about the intricacies of Hammer Editor as well working in a team.
The team consisted of three mappers:
- Nik Gupta
- David McClure
- Lewis Whitling