Posts Tagged ‘Level With Me’

Specially Level With Me, Adam Foster – Part One

In this very special installment of “Level With Me”, Robert Yang speaks with former celebrity modder / current Valve level designer Adam Foster about his work and process. In part 1, we cover his early Half-Life 1 mods, Valve’s / his approach to storytelling, and his work on the Portal 2 announcement ARG.

Robert Yang: I want to talk about your first mod, Someplace Else. It’s a Xen level without any jumping puzzles. What makes a Xen level a “Xen level” to you?

Adam Foster: Being set in Xen, of course!
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Level With Me, Level With Me.


Level With Me was a series of conversations with level designers like Dan Pinchbeck, Jack Monahan, Magnar Jenssen, Brendon Chung, Davey Wreden, Ed Key, and Richard Perrin. At the end, we all collaborated on a Portal 2 mod. You can download that mod here. Liner notes, installation notes, and screenshots are after the jump.
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Level With Me, Richard Perrin.


“Level with Me” is a series of conversations about level design between modder Robert Yang and a level designer of a first person game. At the end of each interview, they collaborate on a Portal 2 level shared across all the sessions – and at the very end of the series, you’ll get to download and play this “roundtable level.” This is Part 7 of 7.

Richard Perrin is currently working on Kairo, a slow-cooked first person puzzle game where you explore monumental ruins of a past civilization – it’s a game without words or dialogue, just spaces. He’s shown the game at Develop, Notgames Fest, and PAX to generally favorable reactions and has one of those alpha pre-order thingies up too.

(There are some moderate spoilers for Kairo, but the final game will be so different / you’ll have forgotten it by the time you play it.)
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Level With Me, Ed Key

“Level with Me” is a series of conversations about level design between modder Robert Yang and a level designer of a first person game. At the end of each interview, they collaborate on a Portal 2 level shared across all the sessions – and at the very end of the series, you’ll get to download and play this “roundtable level.” This is Part 6 of 7.

Ed Key worked for 8 or 9 years in the game industry, then took a slightly less exciting software engineering job and moved out to the countryside. When he isn’t wandering through sweeping vistas, he’s collaborating with musician David Kanaga on his first official indie game: Proteus, “a game of pure exploration and discovery.”
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Level with Me, Davey Wreden.


“Level with Me” is a series of conversations about level design between modder Robert Yang and a level designer of a first person game. At the end of each interview, they collaborate on a Portal 2 level shared across all the sessions – and at the very end of the series, you’ll get to download and play this “roundtable level.” This is Part 5 of 7.

When Davey Wreden made The Stanley Parable, a Source mod about the dissonance between game narrative and free will (among other things), it quickly went viral and surprised a mod community that thought Source mods were already dead. Now, he’s currently collaborating on an extended remake / reboot of The Stanley Parable and other projects.
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Level With Me, Brendon Chung.

“Level with Me” is a series of conversations about level design between modder Robert Yang and a level designer of a first person game. At the end of each interview, they collaborate on a Portal 2 level shared across all the sessions – and at the very end of the series, you’ll get to download and play this “roundtable level.” This is Part 4 of 7.

Months before releasing Atom Zombie Smasher to acclaim, Brendon Chung exploded onto the indie scene with the stylish FPS sketch Gravity Bone – but before then, us loyal followers (“Chungers”) had already been enjoying his short-form forays into FPS-dom for years. His Barista series, especially Barista 2, is proof that Brendon was doing this “indie FPS” silliness long before any of us. Damn.

(Be advised, there are substantial *SPOILERS* for Barista 2 and Gravity Bone, which are both freeware, so you should play them.)
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Level with Me, Magnar Jenssen

Level with Me” is a series of conversations about level design between modder Robert Yang and a level designer of a first person game. At the end of each interview, they collaborate on a Portal 2 level shared across all the sessions – and at the very end of the series, you’ll get to download and play this “roundtable level.” This is Part 3 of 7.

Of everyone I spoke to, Magnar Jenssen is the only one still actively working in the game industry as a level designer at Avalanche Studios. Before, he also worked on Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 (GRAW2) and Bionic Commando at GRIN, up until the studio’s demise. When he isn’t raking in all that sweet map-stamp money from arena_offblast for Team Fortress 2, he tinkers with some less profitable but absurdly polished single player Half-Life 2 mods.

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Level With Me, Jack Monahan

Doesn't look so dark to me.
“Level with Me” is a series of conversations about level design between modder Robert Yang and a level designer of a first person game. At the end of each interview, they collaborate on a Portal 2 level shared across all the sessions – and at the very end of the series, you’ll get to download and play this “roundtable level.” This is Part 2 of 7.

Upon visiting the game artist forum Polycount, the first thing you’ll see will be Jack “Gauss” Monahan telling someone the rail mount on their M4A1 gun model is misaligned by a few millimeters. He was also lead level designer on the 2009 shooter Darkest of Days, a well-intentioned time-traveling adventure where you annihilate entire Roman legions in the face with a laser rifle. Now, he blogs at Design Reboot and works on his indie UDK shooter, Animal Memory.
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Level With Me, Dan Pinchbeck


“Level with Me” is a series of conversations about level design between modder Robert Yang and a level designer of a first person game. At the end of each interview, they collaborate on a Portal 2 level shared across all the sessions – and at the very end of the series, you’ll get to download and play this “roundtable level.” This is Part 1 of 7.

A few years back, Dan Pinchbeck and I were crowned “frontiersmen of modding” by Jim Rossignol. I felt like prom queen all over again. While I promptly sank into relative stagnation, Dan concentrated his powers into a brilliant point of light — a full-fledged retail reboot of the 2008 Source-powered ghost story mod Dear Esther, fresh from the beach with amazing art design by Robert Briscoe, backed by the Indie Fund, and now looking better than ever. (Warning: there are mild spoilers for the endings of S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat and Metro 2033.)
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