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  • recent articles

    NPC and Item Placement Theory
    17/03/05 11:35pm PST
    Non-Player Character (NPC) and item placement can influence both the gameflow and immersion of a level. This article aims to give some pointers on how to properly place them.
    - Hugh 'Hugh' Lloyd

    Got Props?
    13/03/05 08:32am PST
    A common problem in HL2 mapping is props not showing up in game. This article explains why and offers solutions.
    - Jeff 'Yesukai' Pritchard

    Simulating Randomness
    18/12/04 11:29pm PST
    This article focuses on how to properly simulate random events that should occur at a certain average frequency, or within a certain probability per period of time.
    - Skyler 'Zipster' York

    Adding Single-Player Weapons to Half-Life 2
    15/12/04 06:52pm PST
    Covers the process behind adding weapons to a single-player Half-Life 2 modification.
    - Skyler 'Zipster' York

    Your world in HL2
    06/12/04 12:17am PST
    This article gives tips and advice to anyone wanting to make custom photorealistic textures to be used in Half-Life 2.
    - Oksid

    Hiding in Shadow
    21/08/04 01:11pm PDT
    Describes how to create a function that has monsters disregard you if you are hiding in a certain level of "darkness," which can be set from within map properties.
    - Anders [Wolf] Jenbo (NoBody)

    XSI EXP for Half-Life 2 Tutorial - Camera Control
    23/09/04 12:43am PDT
    A SOFTIMAGE|XSI tutorial explaining all of the camera controls available to you in XSI!
    - Josh Enes

    Bump Mapping in Half-Life
    08/08/04 11:58am PDT
    Details a method of achieving real-time bump mapping in Half-Life, and provides an implementation of the algorithm.
    - Francis 'DeathWish' Woodhouse

    Real-Time "TRON 2.0" Glow For Low-Spec Hardware
    19/06/04 02:06pm PDT
    A sequel to the original "Real-Time 'TRON 2.0' Glow" article, this describes how to implement real-time glow that works on low-spec graphics cards.
    - Francis 'DeathWish' Woodhouse

    Hitboxes and Code
    05/06/04 06:25pm PDT
    How do I make only one part of a monster take damage? Learn about the relationship between model hitboxes and what you can do with them in a characters code.
    - Jonathan 'Teh_Freak' Smith

    Half-Life Unit To Real-Life Unit Conversion
    [Mon Nov 18, 2002 / 06:20am PST] Caleb 'Ghoul' Delnay - comments (67) comments enabled

    The Half-Life unit to Real Life unit ratio has always been a hot topic of discussion. First off, let me get one thing straight: there is no ratio, period. It is completely impossible to find a perfectly proportional relationship between Half-Life units and real world units. Why might you ask? There are several reasons.

    Usually when someone attempts to do this conversion they end up with 1 inch equaling 1 Half-Life unit. The logic behind their thinking simple - a player is 72 units in height, and the average human is 6 feet tall, or 72 inches. It doesn't take a genius to calculate 1 inch = 1 unit. But wait, the player is also 32 Half-Life units wide... I don’t know about you, but last I knew Gordon Freeman wasn't nearly 3 feet wide.

    Ok, even so, you say 1 inch = 1 unit… but try to actually build a map using this ratio. I guarantee you things will look very odd and disproportionate. Things like doors and doorways will look especially strange.

    The Half-Life engine was simply not built with real life scale in mind. In actuality, 1 Half-Life unit equals 1 texture pixel. All the textures were designed to look in-scale with the player's vision (which doesn't have the same view cone as a normal human). If you want to make something in scale, you won't be doing it in inches, meters, or any other real life measurement.

    Scaling Techniques

    You can still scale things to how they appear to the player, however. Most doors are generally 64 to 96 units wide, and 96 to 128 units tall. Hallways are anywhere from 64 to 256 units wide, and 96 to 192 units tall, just depends on what your trying to map. Stairs should almost always go up by 8 units each step, 16 is far too much and just makes the stairs look, well bad. Stair width is also good to keep low, usually 12 or 16, 32 is just too wide and your stairs will be extremely long, and 8 is too compact and claustrophobic. Using an info_player_start entity for scaling is very useful, as is the Half-Life Dimensions article. Knowing these limits will help you further understand what the player is able to do within the level and how he or she can navigate obstacles.

    Textures also help scale the size of rooms and corridors. Most are 128 x 128 units, and that is also the general height of a hallway or room. Of course you can always scale a texture to make it fit in a larger area, but you'll loose quality. Doors are also meant to be kept at a 1-to-1 scale, and are usually 64 x 96 units in size. Trying to apply these textures with a real life scale, like 1 inch = 1 unit, will just result in odd looking, malformed textures.
    article created on Sun Nov 17, 2002 / 12:32pm PST
    this item has been viewed 2578 times
    [Half-Life / mapping]

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    Jeff 'Yesukai' Pritchard
    Mon Nov 18, 2002 / 07:26am PST

      Maybe this will get it through to people who want to make maps of their school/home/work.


    Philip 'Cecil' Nilsson
    Mon Nov 18, 2002 / 07:45am PST

      Great article! I've been thinking about that a lot, but never really dived into it. When I map, I usually fit the brushes to the textures, they are already the right size, so why change something?
    I guess the best way to make real-life based maps is to look at what it looks like in-game and in the Hammer. Just put the brushes so that it looks like it should and then put a player-sized entity/brush in there and try to remember how many players/humans high the roof is and so on ;)

    And now just a quick note on the article: When you were talking about the stair width I got completely confused when you mentioned 8 units :D I thought you meant the width of the staircase ^_^ Talk about claustrophobia :p


    Mon Nov 18, 2002 / 11:05am PST

      I admit, I started out with the "1 unit = 1 inch" method, but quickly got over it :P I never really thought about the 32-unit wide player being nearly 3ft wide!!! (sounds like buying jeans, all these companies seem to make them for ppl who are wider than they are tall :D) Anyway, I now use a Zen conversion factor to scale things. And when making textures, decide the brush size first and then make your texture as close to the brush size as you can get (in multiples of 16), makes for very crisp textures :)


    Skyler 'Zipster' York
    Mon Nov 18, 2002 / 11:56am PST

      I'm actually interested to see whether or not someone will be able to come up with a ratio based on the actual view cone differences between a real human and the player's vision. I don't know if it would be possible, but it seems like the best place to start.


    Chris 'autolycus' Bokitch
    Mon Nov 18, 2002 / 12:18pm PST

      Well, any workable ratio is going to have to be split into vertical and horizontal ratios, as it's already been demonstrated that they're quite different (unless Gordon's been taking steroids). You're also going to have to assume that the standard FOV is being used (90?).


    Jesse 'EsBe' Kipp
    Mon Nov 18, 2002 / 12:26pm PST

      I think it would take some crazy mathematics to enable a mapper to take into account the effects of the player's POV. However, given the shape of the monitor in comparison with a human field of vision (180?) a value of 90 seems to fill the correct amount of space, nullifying the need to account for it.


    Mon Nov 18, 2002 / 12:57pm PST

      You can't determine an angle of 180 for a human's field of vision as it varies from person to person. For one, everything you can see in your peripheral vision can be "seen" but not seen as clearly as everything in your "tunnel" vision (directly in front of you). The exact acuteness of what you can see on your sides varies from person to person, plus, with practice, it can be improved (this is what speed readers do). So who's to say what a standard human's FOV is. This is probably why games and monitors are so wacky in relation - because they don't have a standard ratio to start from.


    Chris 'autolycus' Bokitch
    Mon Nov 18, 2002 / 01:02pm PST

      It doesn't matter what the human standard FOV is since we're dealing with the game standard FOV which doesn't vary from person to person -- you can set your FOV to something else (I used to play Quake DM with a 120 FOV) but the default is 90.
    comment modified on Mon Nov 18, 2002 / 01:06pm PST


    Caleb 'Ghoul' Delnay
    Mon Nov 18, 2002 / 01:04pm PST

      Generally it's 180 max though. I'd say right around 160 - 180 er something. Of course I know nothing about the human eye, so I can't really comment on this. As far as I know Half-Life uses a FOV of 90 degrees, which is a standard for First Person Shooter games I believe.
    comment modified on Mon Nov 18, 2002 / 01:06pm PST


    Mon Nov 18, 2002 / 02:03pm PST

      If you did work out a viewpoint that represented the median human's vision, would things look 'right'. After all, we are so used to the view we get in the FPS games that I am sure most of us have been playing for years. Also, you have to take into consideration the distance between your eyes and the monitor. Unless you happen to have a large projection screen, chances are there is quite a bit of "wasted space" in your peripheral vision surrounding your monitor. An actual human FOV would probably only look right in some VR goggles where your entire vision can only see the game.

    Good article btw, plenty of food for thought.


    Tue Nov 19, 2002 / 02:33am PST

      You know if you start up halflife, then move very close to the screen you eventualy get to a point where the 90 deg of the FOV in game fits into the 90 deg of your FOV that is directly in front of you, the game charachters don't distort out of shap at the edge of the screen but they do look a little podgy, the reaso is that no-one sits with there face atached to the screen so its done as an aproximation to compinsate for the players natural fish eye, while still allowing them to veiw enough of there surroundings to make the game playable,

    i figure if it was set to my vision from were i sit which isn't very far from my screen it would only be about 30 to 45 degs of my entire FOV, that is a very fine line to look out off, kind off peaking through a crack in a fence wall


    Jan ' Squad' Huygelen
    Fri Jan 03, 2003 / 11:50am PST

      Interesting article. One of the things I find quite difficult to make right is a train wagon (which is off course enterable). If I make the inside of the train accurate to real life, it usually looks to wide seen from outside.


    Marc "Foddex" Oude Kotte
    Fri Jan 03, 2003 / 11:57am PST

      My personal experience is that when I'm building rooms with this ratio:

    1 unit = 0.5 inch

    The world looks just fine... the only problem is that you will be playing at a hobbit-height ;) When changing the ratio in order to get the height right, in turn your world will either look to wide or too small... I've build my own house in Half-Life (for friend fragging ;-)) and it all looks just fine, apart from the hobbit-thing :)
    comment modified on Fri Jan 03, 2003 / 11:58am PST


    Caleb 'Ghoul' Delnay
    Fri Jan 03, 2003 / 10:04pm PST

      Still, that isn't perfectly correct. You can get close, just not right on. :)


    Marc "Foddex" Oude Kotte
    Sat Jan 04, 2003 / 01:40am PST

      Well there's still the .hull files you could use with hlcsg... maybe that will work? Not sure....


    Got Lag?
    Sat Jan 11, 2003 / 06:32am PST

      I find that 1 inch = 1 unit is fine for vertical scale, but for the horizontal scale you take 2.5 units for every real inch.


    Rob Bloom
    Tue Apr 01, 2003 / 02:32pm PST

      You know, even people aren't usually 2'6" wide and everything, people also generally don't run around carrying huge guns and everything. Part of the reason the player model is 32x32 is so that you can fit in all those huge guns and stuff Gordon uses, like the Gauss Cannon and RPG and stuff. =P


    Logan "Drizzt" Ver Hoef
    Tue Apr 01, 2003 / 07:51pm PST

      Though if you look at the player model, Gordon is kinda squat... If you open the pak0 file, pay no attention to the first player model. Open the sub-directory below it to see the model that's used in-game. I caught a glimpse on a camera, and GOD is he ugly! I have a really funny screenshot, but I can't figure how to upload it, so...
    comment modified on Tue Apr 01, 2003 / 07:58pm PST


    Stanislav "Nemo1024" Sokolov
    Wed Apr 02, 2003 / 06:24am PST

      This article gives some room for thought, especially since I am working on a real-life based mod, A Question of Physics. After a lot of calculations and visual verifications we came to a scale of 1meter = 45units. hulls.txt for HLCSG had to be changed to half Gordon's width and length, while preserving his height. Scaling code was changed using this excellent tutorial by Omega:
    Rescaling Half-Life the Simple Way

    Movement code was also ajusted so that Gordon does no longer run like mad :) (11km/h running and 5,5km/h walking, contra 30,3km/h running and 20,2km/h walking in the original). You also move slower sideways and backwards, which is not the case in HL.

    The mod will be using custom-made textures.

    All in all, if one wants to make a real-life building in Half-Life, it is not impossible - it just requires a lot of work to make it feel right.
    comment modified on Wed Apr 02, 2003 / 08:42am PST


    Laurie Cheers
    Wed Apr 02, 2003 / 07:41am PST

      Logan, the version of Gordon in the "players" subdirectory has two different bodies. I think you're talking about the low-poly version, which AFAIK isn't actually used in the game.

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