SDK - Soul Destroying Kit?

Discussion in 'News' started by Pi Mu Rho, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. Pi Mu Rho

    Pi Mu Rho ValveTime Admin | Enemy of fun
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    For those of you that don't know me, I made the official maps for the highly-acclaimed Zombie Master mod for HL2. After something of a hiatus, partially caused by not ever wanting to use the Source SDK again, I offered my services to the team currently working on updating Zombie Master. So now I'm remaking my original maps - a relatively simple task, or so I thought.[br]
    I've been using Worldcraft/Hammer since 1996, and the Source SDK since its first release, and you know what? It's got steadily worse in that time. Sure, there's been improvements to individual tools - Hammer, most notably, has a lot of new features. Of course, it also has a lot more bugs. Hammer, however, is not the worst culprit. The SDK launcher is. It's not an application to be taken lightly, as innocent as it looks. Underneath that old Steam veneer (why doesn't it use your selected Steam skin, Valve?) lurks a black heart, full of venom and malice, biding its time before unleashing a wave of destruction guaranteed to infuriate even the most gentle of souls. Exaggeration? Hardly. [br]
    [​IMG][br]​
    I understand the need for the launcher, if not the underlying philosophy. The launcher exists to let you switch between the different game or mod configurations. It's a necessity - Zombie Master uses HL2's textures and models by default, along with its own. If you were making a map for CS:S, you'd need a different configuration. So that makes sense. What I can't fathom, however, is why we have three different SDK versions to choose from. Are people making new mods based on the 2006 version of Source? Maybe I'm missing something here.[br]
    Anyway, the launcher. It has a nasty habit of periodically resetting your game configurations. No explanation given, and no indication that it's ever going to be fixed. Those in the know make sure that the text file containing the game configurations is backed up and also set as read-only, just to prevent the launcher from eating it. [br]
    Now on to Hammer. As previously mentioned, I've been using it for years. I can more or less use it blindfolded (although I wouldn't recommend trying it.) but again, it has some major issues. Just yesterday, for reasons currently unknown, it stopped working with my Zombie Master configuration. For some reason (and I suspect a collusion with the SDK launcher) it wouldn't load files required for the editor to work. Nothing I tried would fix it. I reset the game configurations (and how telling it is that Valve saw fit to include that button in the launcher.) I created configurations from scratch. I completely deleted all traces of the SDK and re-downloaded it. Nothing. It's still broken even now. [br]
    Fortunately, I was able to find some information about how to move your game configuration to the 2007 SDK (what was known as the Orange Box) - it involves a degree of copying, pasting and editing game configurations to get it to work, but work it does. It's even a better version of Hammer, with a few extra features.[br]
    Except for two small issues. [br]
    [​IMG][/url][br]​
    First of all, I like to use batch files to compile my maps. A combination of Valve's insistence on using command-line tools, and their refusal to put the Hammer compile window into it's own process mean that Hammer becomes unresponsive until the compile has finished. Personally, I like to check on the progress while it's in progress. So batch files it is. Or rather, isn't - for some reason, the 2007 SDK won't let me do it. All I get is screens full of errors about missing materials. By the looks of it, it's not looking somewhere it should be, and I can't for the life of me work out why. It's most likely something glaringly obvious that I've overlooked, but I shouldn't be in this position anyway. It's quite ludicrous. [br]
    [​IMG]
    Secondly, Hammer refuses to load certain maps. Now when I say "refuses", I don't mean that it fails to load the map and gives me an error. Or that it displays a big red X with a message saying "No ****ing Way" or anything inbetween. It just closes. It closes Hammer completely, without error or warning, efficiently taking any other open maps with it.[br]
    The bizarre thing about this particular incident is that the maps it fails to open work perfectly well in the 2006 SDK version of Hammer. I even managed to open them in the 2009 Hammer. It's just the 2007 version that dies. Even more bizarrely, the only maps that seem to cause this are the 4 completed maps from Zombie Master. Bear in mind that these are the raw, uncompiled versions of those maps. There is nothing to differentiate them from any other, unfinished, map.[br]
    So now, unless I can find out why this is happening, I'm left with having to deal with a bunch of workarounds just so I can work. (For reference, I'm remaking the maps from scratch, but I need the originals for reference, and for the occasional bit of incipient copy and paste action.) [br]
    A brief note on the 2009 SDK version of Hammer, while I'm on the subject. It adds a few new great features, like Instancing (about time) but the new feature where, after a few minutes of usage, each of the viewport windows goes black is somewhat less desirable. As is the feature where the keyboard shortcuts that I am so used to, randomly stop working. [br]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Now believe me, I understand how hard it is to QA something like Hammer and the rest of the SDK. Valve's developers will have a pretty narrow and carefully-chosen selection of hardware and software, making it relatively simple to develop tools on. Making those tools then work consistently on the weird and wonderful selection of systems owned and operated by the general public is another thing entirely. I get it.[br]
    But, Valve, you have had years to get this fixed. It's shoddy.[br]
    In a conversation I once had with Mike Durand at Valve (coincidentally after I'd written a long rant about the then-state of their SDK. See a pattern?) he said that they were too busy making cool games to work on the tools, and I considered that to be a fair point at the time. Now, though, it seems like something of a cop-out. When Valve provide the engine and games that the majority of popular mods are based on, and that this is seemingly a point of pride for them, then they should put more effort into making those tools work. It's not like they don't have the resources.
     
  2. Au-heppa

    Au-heppa Pi Mu Rho's Worstest Enemy

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    Oh Pi, you rascal.
     
  3. Dekstar

    Dekstar Companion Cube

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    I think this is the thing Valve need to focus on. I'm sure they've got competition from Epic and their U3 engine.
     
  4. PvtRyan

    PvtRyan Party Escort Bot

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    Considering these tools are what Valve uses to make their games, are you still surprised that Episode 3 isn't out yet?

    What I hated most when I still did some mapping, was that your map needed to be sealed, as in: no leaks to the void that would screw up the light map renderer. Pretty sure that these days, I'd say screw it to efficiency and just put a big box around the entire map.
     
  5. Asknoone

    Asknoone Newbie

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    They'll have a better tool set in-house.
     
  6. PvtRyan

    PvtRyan Party Escort Bot

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    Sure, but the core is still Hammer I bet.
     
  7. Lobster

    Lobster The Freeman

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    It's funny you say that, in Alien Swarm, a map will not compile unless you draw a huge box around the map, turn it into a func_brush and name it Structure_Seal. Although in this case, its because the camera is locked, so it can use a more dynamic vis calculation. Even so, you can break a lot of old optimization rules these days and get away with it.

    The problem is, every time they update the engine they apply bandaids to the toolbase.. its kinda like they whitewash over their old painting, and start a new one on top, but the layers start to smudge into a mess.

    It is very true that the new standalone versions of hammer (L4D2 + AS) have amazing new bugs..

    My favorite is a focus problem where alt-tabbing can cause a loss of mouse function to any of the viewports completely, restarting doesn't fix it.. I searched about and found no working solution, but found that typing "Damn Bugs" into google and alt-tabbing fixes it every time.. it amuses me.

    Also they added a nice feature where you can adjust texture's using the arrow keys... shame the arrow keys used to control the camera and now don't, it has made selecting a lot of displacement surfaces at once a real pain in the ass.
     
  8. Lasphere

    Lasphere Combine

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    That would be a Hammer - created and fine-tuned for their specific systems. (different experience)
    It might, of course, have made some trouble when they changed to Vista-- Wouldn't be the first time. ;)
     
  9. hool10

    hool10 Tank

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    I never understood how to use Hammer or the SDK. It usually crashes on me and is not user-friendly. Unknown Worlds recently said that they did not want to use Source because "it didn't have the features they wanted (dynamic infestation) and was way too difficult to use".

    Also is all of your files corrupted when a new Source version comes out like the video recording files?

    I just never understand Valve now-a-days. Sure they make kick-ass games still but they are taking longer to make, are not what we want, are modifying them to the extent of alienating the fan base, and keeping the bugs. As the Source engine keeps getting updated, it keeps getting buggier and buggier and takes longer to load. This especially holds true to any OS other than XP. Source crashes every so often especially HL2 on Vista. Also is it just me or is TF2 taking longer to load with every new content update?

    Don't get me wrong, I always want to create my Blade Runner mod some day but I doubt it will happen.
     
  10. MJ12

    MJ12 The Freeman

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    Isn't Zombie Master that game that ripped of off Left 4 Dead?
     
  11. Asknoone

    Asknoone Newbie

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    No, no - it's the mod that ripped off ZOMBIE PANIC: SOURCE!

    You're right. It won't!
     
  12. Hectic Glenn

    Hectic Glenn Site Director
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    It's people like you that make me want to commit the perfect crime. Even if you don't deserve it, I just couldn't stop myself.
     
  13. Insano

    Insano Tank

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    I also heard they couldn't copy paste the dynamic director of L4D, so they just made a player do all the work.

    But damn it if I don't need those new maps, Pi!
     
  14. MJ12

    MJ12 The Freeman

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    Yeah I just tried it and it's pretty much a rip off of L4D but with worse graphics. You can't even play a hunter. Stupid.

    I was poking Pi's Belly you dum dum
     
  15. Viperidae

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    Remember when Valve said Source would never need replacement, because all cumulative updates would work on all games? Thus there would only be THE Source engine?

    [​IMG]

    We got trolled. We got trolled hard.
     
  16. Insano

    Insano Tank

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    If I'm not mistaken, it's because the code gets changed. If they didn't leave the option to use the old SDK, you'd have to redo a lot of it.
     
  17. Barnz

    Barnz Retired Content Creator
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    I never liked the Steam integration, it slow downs the process. It's worse on low-end computers. Secondly, I think the SDK should have been given for free to everyone from the beginning (now you can have it for free if you download Alien Swarm on Steam).

    They haven't changed Hammer much since the version three. They could simply make it open source, and spend their time on something other than fixing the tools. I remember the days when the market was full of commercial levels editors. Back then, it was nice to have a fully-functional level editor for free, but today, it's just shit.
     
  18. 63

    63 Newbie

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    Valve's product is Steam, not engines.
     
  19. Hectic Glenn

    Hectic Glenn Site Director
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  20. Orcone101

    Orcone101 Newbie

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    Level designers are the biggest whiners in history.
    "Bawwww my job is so hard!"

    **** up, ******! Your job involves sticking cubes and shit together, and letting the engine calculate the light values and shadows. CASE CLOSED

    orcone 1
    level designers 0
     
  21. Viperidae

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    infractions 1
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  22. xdrive

    xdrive Newbie

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    How dare you not provide free tools to me that work every time i use them without a problem!
     
  23. JimmehH

    JimmehH Spy

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    I thought valve changed to using tools like Max or Maya and then importing the models from that in to hammer?
     
  24. Pi Mu Rho

    Pi Mu Rho ValveTime Admin | Enemy of fun
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    Someone didn't read the article.
     
  25. Krynn72

    Krynn72 The Freeman

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    In my experience, all game engines suck. They all have stupid errors, are incredibly unstable, and are completely counter-intuitive to use. Even the UDK is a nightmare. The only engine I ever actually enjoyed working with is Unity3D. Freaking brilliant engine and toolset. Native Maya/3DSmax support? HELL YEA
     
  26. Pi Mu Rho

    Pi Mu Rho ValveTime Admin | Enemy of fun
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    I've had no issues with UDK. Well, so far. Plus, compared to Source, it's a veritable breath of fresh air.
     
  27. xdrive

    xdrive Newbie

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    I did, i read all of it :)
     
  28. Pi Mu Rho

    Pi Mu Rho ValveTime Admin | Enemy of fun
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    Oh, you're just being stupid then?
     
  29. Mess

    Mess Newbie

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    seeing as mike durand was recruited just to look after the public SDKs, he's doing a pretty shitty job
     
  30. -Psy-

    -Psy- Walking round in women's underwear

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    This is what Dario Casali's (creator of Goldrush, Pipeline, Thunder Mountain, etc) setup looks like and this was taken in from December last year. Now, sure, their tools might be better in-house but I don't think it's all that different from the crappy Hammer available to use right now that is still years behind anything else such as the UDK or Cryengine.
     
  31. Hectic Glenn

    Hectic Glenn Site Director
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    I didn't realise you were working on City17 - Ep 1, Mess. The extra tech you guys have in that mod is incredible, how are is the C17 team finding development with the SDK?
     
  32. <RJMC>

    <RJMC> The Freeman

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    I know a bit of modelling so I thought using the sdk was going to be easy but them I tryed and I was like wtf though I could make a not so ugly looking hallway but was still very ugly

    anyway I dont know crap about scripting or programing and the ideal sdk for me would be one similiar to the starcraft1 where you literally "paint" the place whit its stuff and everythign is done whit some buttons :p
     
  33. schoft

    schoft Newbie

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  34. Pi Mu Rho

    Pi Mu Rho ValveTime Admin | Enemy of fun
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    All valid points.
     
  35. Krynn72

    Krynn72 The Freeman

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    Play around with Unity for awhile, and you'll be pissed whenever you go back to UDK/anything else.

    That said, yes. UDK is much more user-friendly than the Source SDK. I just hate the whole package system they use, and how I have to build shit every 3 minutes to see what the changes actually look like. Their approximations suck.
     
  36. A Big Fat CoW

    A Big Fat CoW Newbie

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    How is this news?
     
  37. Viperidae

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    [​IMG]

    I don't think anyone actually reads anymore.
     
  38. Asknoone

    Asknoone Newbie

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    You have to be able to read first.
     
  39. A Big Fat CoW

    A Big Fat CoW Newbie

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    If I write "JELLYBEANS" on a bag full of shit, it doesn't magically change it into jellybeans.

    News that isn't news doesn't become news just because you call it news.

    But your sarcasm is adorable.
     
  40. Acepilotf14

    Acepilotf14 Sucked so much dick for this title

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    It's news because the moderators call it news.

    Welcome to internet forums, kid.
     

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