Hello, this is my submission for the 'Treasure Hunter' contest. This is the result of a frantic 17 day workfest, as I stupidly entered half way in. All custom assets are created by myself.
I gained inspiration from many area's of film, video games and real life locations. The main idea behind the level is to simply progress through an environment set within ancient caves, bearing a wealthy secret. Before I started the map, I fixed on setting the level in 'Ha Long Bay' hence the title. However I actually ended up scrapping most of the work I had intended for the exterior as soon as I saw skybox water does not have reflections, which was a disappointment. You can still see what I had intended, but its not what id hoped for.
When creating the caves I spent a long time studying the way valve made their caves for Episode 2, I had to predict how many displacements I needed and how I would use them, and how they would turn out before I even jumped into sculpting the caves. Robert Briscoe, level designer and environment artist for the remake of 'Dear Esther', originally a mod for hl2, has served as a brilliant inspiration http://dear-esther.com/ . His work is simply beautiful and ive been following him (no creepyness intended) for a long time. Tomb Raider also influenced the level a lot, area's such as the bridge crossing, the jumpy bits and the cushy things were all idea's I had stuck in my head from playing Tomb Raider Anniversary, which has some awesome environments.
In one of my favourite childhood movies 'The Goonies' there is a pirate ship hidden in a large cave. This is awesome. I wanted to create a similar scene, with a pirate ship. As the outdoor location had been an Asian one, I chose to use an Asian looking ship, which was a bit of a bugger to model as I honestly couldn’t find many decent reference images. The ship (along with its cargo) is the real 'Treasure' of the map, this is why you're here.
Lighting the level was a difficult but fun challenge. There aren’t a lot of ways (that I could think of) to light an ancient untouched area without sunlight, so I used a combination of mystical flaming bowls and magical ambient light, which is made up of mainly greens and blues which add to the atmosphere.
The map has no real 'Ending' just as it has no 'Beginning', and I never intended to have them, I just hope the player enjoys the exploration. There’s plenty oh things I hoped to add and fix, there’s many visual issues which I have no time for.
Overall I have enjoyed creating this map, and I hope you enjoy playing. Ill have a full write-up on my blog. http://williambullen.tumblr.com/ Ill also be uploading the .vmf for anyone to take a look at.