Last month, as I was shifting my portfolio to a new host, I made a fairly significant change in the site template. Down at the very bottom, the copyright information now reads:
© 2001-2011 Andrew Weldon unless noted
Indeed, the oldest levels on my site were released in late 2001, now going on ten years ago. I had just graduated from high school that spring and, with the assistance of a two week post-graduation LAN party celebration in my parents’ basement, shifted into a mostly nocturnal level-building frenzy.
I built and released five levels that summer – Zeta Sector, Phreneticism, Sector A, and Repair Bay 4 for Half-Life deathmatch, and Wormhole for Opposing Force CTF. I also began to involve myself in community sites like the original Snark Pit and the late Valve ERC. I met fellow aspiring designers who would become friends and future colleagues, many of whom I keep in touch with to this day. My CTF level, Wormhole, found its way into the rotation on Gearbox Software‘s official server and I found myself receiving feedback from developers at a studio where I would end up working 6 years later.
Of all the levels I released in 2001, the most important was my first – “Planet Half-Life HQ,” released in January. Planet Half-Life, then one of the central sites of the community, started a map contest in late 2000. The top ten entries would be combined into a PHL map pack for release after the contest’s completion. I got the wacky idea to try my hand at a submission of my own.