Dark Peak

A large part of my final year at university was taken up by a project of my own choosing. The specification was that I had to make a computer game that showcased my competency in several fields including programming, modelling, level design, animation and sound. I had wanted an opportunity to create a modification (or ‘mod’) for Valve’s Source Engine ever since the SDK release. I pitched the idea of a Zombie/Horror First Person Shooter mod to my tutor and after nailing down some details I began working on a treatment document and sketches for the game.

The game itself only had to be short in length, a 3D environment can be very work intensive to create and my project was to be more of a technical demonstration as opposed to a final saleable product. With this in mind I planned three short ‘levels’ based around real areas in my hometown, starting in my local pub.

I took reference pictures of the real locations and combined this with Google Earth to build the environments to scale and with the necessary details. All environments were created in the Hammer editor with 3D models and textures being developed in 3DSMax and Photoshop respectively. Character models from Half Life 2 were re-used but with my own custom animations and lip-sync sequences. A friend recorded some new dialogue for use with two of these characters. I created new weapons, scripted story sequences and modified zombie models from Half life 2 to represent the bulk of the game’s enemies.

I released this mod a year before Valve’s ‘Left 4 Dead’ when zombies in video games were still a fairly fresh concept. It can still be found on ModDB where it saw mostly positive reviews. The finished project, presented to my tutor and an assessor (complete with a lengthy dissertation) earned almost full marks and went a long way to earning my eventual First in Computer Games Technology.