Making of Black April...
I've made a trailer video explaining the history of Black April event and showcasing the amount of detail of it implemented in the actual map.
From crowded streets around US Embassy to the accurate look of Saigon landmarks, every single peace is there for a reason to create or should I say recreate Saigon in all it's glory.
Since this map was being made for the contest, at that point I knew I needed to do several things;
1. I needed to make an urban (harder to make) map ( Since RS2 Workshop was full of jungle-based maps ) because I wanted to stand out!
2. I needed to make something historically important to Vietnam war.
3. I needed to make something they should, but don't already have in the base game.
4. I needed to make it clean, optimized and beautiful, as the official maps already are.
Before I started making this map I took a week to study Vietnam war and once I found that the last battle which ended the war wasn't covered in the base game, I studied anything related to Black April or the Fall of Saigon.
Then I took another week examining the Rising Storm 2 SDK and the style in which official maps were made.
( How did Antimatter Games level designers do things and why, as I wanted to make it as true to the official maps as possible. )
There is no wiki page or official forum tutorials that explain how their code for the game is set up but luckily I'm no stranger to UDK so figuring out how what is done and why from official maps wasn't such a hard thing to do.
Altho making Saigon itself is an enormous task for only one man I liked the idea of Black April being such an important historical event for the Vietnam war, and it was urban design, not a jungle.
So I guess that weighed in the scale to make it.
The Fall of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN)
and the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (also known as the Viet Cong) on 30 April 1975.
On April 9, PAVN forces reached Xuân Luc, the last line of defense before Saigon,
On April 20 despite heavy losses, PAVN finally overran Xuân Luc leaving North Vietnamese front line just 26 miles (42 km) from downtown Saigon.
On the American side, reports came in from the outskirts of the city that the PAVN were closing in.
At 10:48 a.m., US Ambassador Graham Martin relayed to Kissinger his desire to activate 'the FREQUENT WIND' evacuation plan;
Kissinger gave the order three minutes later.
The American radio station began regular play of Irving Berlin's 'White Christmas,' the signal for American personnel to move immediately to the evacuation points.
Under this plan, CH-53 and CH-46 helicopters were used to evacuate Americans and friendly Vietnamese to ships, including the Seventh Fleet, in the South China Sea.
PAVN had occupied the important points of the city and raised their flag over the South Vietnamese presidential palace.
The event marked the end of the Vietnam War and the start of a transition period to the formal reunification of Vietnam under the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
The Landmarks of Saigon
When a decision was made to make Saigon I needed to find the main landmarks that left a historical mark in that city which would make my map instantly recognizable.
Lucky for me most of the pictures of Vietnam war were from Black April so choosing the landmarks was really easy...tho making them is another story.
The Presidential Palace
The most important landmark of Saigon for the Vietnam war.
Since I couldn't find any models that would let me make something similar I decided to make my own models for it.
This ofc took a lot of time studying reference photos to get it as close to original as possible.
I managed to make the whole thing "Outside/Inside 6 floors" in about 2-3 weeks.
The Notre Dame Cathedral
The beacon of Saigon, standing tall above the houses.
The first version of the Cathedral was built with SDK models, but since players requested they wanna play on the inside of it,
I decided to fulfill that request.
To do that I needed to model it from scratch, same as the Palace.
Modeling also took about 2-3 weeks and I think I got the outside inside look to around 80-90% accuracy to the real thing.
The Pittman Apartments
One of the most famous photographs of Black April was of the last chopper evacuating Saigon before the fall.
I managed to find the building in the official SDK that had the same shape as the building I needed.
However, I needed to build my own collision for it since the upper floors were unreachable.
And with some added props I got the look I was looking for.
The American Embassy
While making the 1st objective, I wanted it to be simple 1-floor building that players need to capture and move on...
At the time the deadline to submit the maps to the contest was a week away and I didn't have time to model out the whole building from scratch so I made it in SDK using the official models.
Since Saigon wasn't destroyed during the Vietnam war I could have used the google earth to get a very accurate layout of the city streets, landmarks etc.
The first, unpublished version was built on that accurate layout but I decided I needed to move the landmarks closer to each other in order to gain better gameplay.
The rest of the city was built using the official RS2 models
For the first release of the map, I set up the simple gameplay code.
I wanted to see how players act and gather feedback in order to make gameplay players will enjoy.
Balancing out a competitive map is always hard in a game like RS2 because not all players play the same.
However, on the feedback gathered so far I think I made a decent one.
Commanders and squad leaders mean a lot and from what I've seen the one with better ones will win.
I've seen both sides win and I've seen both sides lose...thus balance is just right!
Of course, there is always something that can be added and for a map the size of this one, it can take a year to reach perfection.
Making the map took 989 hours of SDK work, around 1 and a half month of modeling and 14 hour light building each time I needed to build lighting.
I note light building separately because I had to build lighting on my friends PC.
My PC only has 8GB ram and is way to weak to build lighting for this enormous map.
I would like to thank my dear friend Tina Edge for letting me use her 32GB PC because without her this map wouldn't have seen the light of day!
I was hoping to win the contest and use the reward money to fund my game Spyders but sadly for me, the map itself hasn't been noticed at all by the judges in the contest results.
On Steam However as one of the last submitted map, it has 167 reviews 96% positive.
I was planning on completely modeling out the American Embassy if the map would enter the official lineup,
(one thing I didn't have time to do) , polish my models, make LODs for even better optimization, hopefully, play with lighting a bit more for the inside of buildings,
but seeing that it's not wanted I find my time is better wasted on Spyders.
I like to believe I made a damn good map and in its size the biggest one I ever made.
I know players have loved it since I spend a lot of time playing with them gathering feedback.
Despite the contest result, I find myself pretty pleased with how the map worked out!