In late 2001, after a summer spree of cranking out HLDM level after HLDM level, I was getting restless and looking for some other projects to work on. A Counter-Strike map was tempting, as was the call of the more advanced Quake III community, until I spotted a new level + texture back by Kevin “Relic25″ Roberts. He was building the Alien-inspired level for a new Half-Life mod – something called “Natural Selection.”
If you’re familiar with my past work, the rest is history. I went on to make ns_eclipse for NS v1.0, and ns_veil for NS v2.0. They became the most popular NS levels over time, often ranking #1 and #2 in active player count, and helped establish my career as a professional game developer. Lessons I learned in developing these levels still pay off today. Some people’s eyes still perk up when I mention them, and over a decade later community members have seen to it that these levels will live on in Natural Selection 2, as seen in Shawn Snelling’s re-make of Veil.
Over the years, I’ve made a point of releasing source files for my old levels, but never included anything from Eclipse or Veil. The levels continued to be developed after I left my modding career behind and I didn’t want to create a situation where multiple versions of the same map were floating around. After over a decade and with a new game in the series released (and after consulting with Charlie), I figure that shouldn’t be as big a problem.
So, without further ado, here’s 75 .rmf files of ns_eclipse, ns_veil, and the original ns_veil (which actually came before ns_eclipse). Enjoy this slice of nostalgia:
Regrettably, the first month or two of each map’s work has been lost by way of overwriting the same file, but you’ll get to see some of the early beginnings of both maps: when ns_eclipse was grungy, and when ns_veil was 100% symmetric (above). Entire playtest builds of both maps are floating around in here, some so different from the final version that they could almost be released as a new map.
I wish I could give some interesting details about the changes from one version to the next or my thought process behind some of the changes, but after this long I’m even baffled by some of my own decisions, with some of the best locations in both maps left on the cutting room floor. Still, if you’re a Natural Selection fan and have NS1 + Hammer 3.5 installed, I hope you’ll enjoy this peek behind the curtain.
Huge mega-thanks of course go to Charlie Cleveland and Cory Strader, as well as Max McGuire and the rest of the NS1 and NS2 teams, and the NS community that has given these levels such a long and healthy life. I had a blast building these levels and it’s been incredible seeing people continue to enjoy them for this long. Thanks for playing.