Recently I posed a series of questions to the various modding communities that use Valve's Hammer Editor to create environments, levels, maps, and campaigns. I want to thank that entire group of 46 participants that submitted a response to the survey (the full list is at the bottom with website links) and I will conduct more surveys in the future. The answers below are just some of the highlights that I selected to share, and in cases where the same answer appeared frequently between participants I made a note of it.
How long have you been using the Hammer editor?
Experience of participants ranges from 1 month to 16 years (including WorldCraft experience).
What projects have you created using the editor?
The most commonly mentioned games were Left-4-Dead 1/2, Counter-Strike: Source/Global Offensive, Half-Life 2, and Team Fortress 2.
For people just starting with the editor what key pieces of advice can you offer them?
What do you find to be irritating when using the editor?
If you could add one feature to the editor what would it be?
Overwhelmingly, the most popular response to this question (43% of those surveyed) was the desire to have some form of real-time preview mode so that designers can properly see the lighting of their environment without having to compile.
When preparing to start a new map/level/campaign how do you start?
The answers to this question ranged from no 'preparation work at all' to a very robust process of pre-production.
What is an important and often overlooked element in map making?
The most popular response to this question, by far, was lighting.
What is your work process like?
Any funny or crazy editor stories to share?
The majority of responses involved some form of corrupted or lost files.
If you have ever collaborated with other developers please share your experience.
Have you ever used any other level editors? If yes, which ones and how do they compare?
The most commonly mentioned editors in this response were Unreal/UDK, CryENGINE/Sandbox, & Unity.
Do you have any interesting Easter eggs in any of your designs?
Survey group: TZK203, internethandle, Filip, novalin, Punishment, Wouter Pleizier / Blueberry_pie, Jacol, George "Noface" Campbell, Bernt Andreas, Brickinator, marnamai, Arran Seaton, David Zetterdahl "LordDz", SM Sith Lord, Ark11, Nijbu, Nicole, Rectus, Hopna, Jess Nielsen, Oliver "FRAG" Curtis, Garrador, The_Blazer, DerpyBlade or Alex, HoliestCow, Peter Brev, unknown, SotaPoika, Text_Fish, Mr Funreal, Roflmahwafflz, Fauckers, Rev_deaddiet, insane3004, someone, Marcy, Sam Morris, Leafo, Devieus, 4echo, Element, needadonut, Dan, BlazingOwnager, RainingMetal, & RuninWivSizors.
Brian Riggsbee lives in San Francisco CA. He enjoys gaming, writing, creating art, practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, chasing adorable dogs, and spending time with his wife and boy.