SHSU student recruited to work on mod for Portal 2

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“I’ve always been interested in things where you gave a deep level of customization and design.”

Maxwell Giddens, junior computer science major, makes maps and mods for videogame company Valve’s Portal 2, a physics based puzzle videogame that requires players to use momentum and their minds to complete levels. His work alongside renowned community developer Doug Hoogland has been published on The New York Times’ Bits blog and other gaming websites.

Giddens works in a program called Hammer. The program allows him to create levels inside Valve’s Source engine so players around the globe can enjoy the fruits of his imagination.

“It’s not just Portal, it’s the Source engine,” Giddens said. “It’s not only used for editing games. You can completely build a game from the ground up. So, the idea is to get used to engines. It’s a springboard of getting to know how to build games on a broad scale.”

Giddens met Hoogland in spring 2012 and has been working with him ever since on projects such as a mod for Wibi.

“We were hired to create a mod for Portal 2,” Giddens said. “The company contacted Doug initially, and [he] asked me to help him out. He was building the single player campaign, and it was a lot of work. Because of the time crunch, he asked me to build the multiplayer.”

Their first collaborative mod was released in January 2013 and picked up by PC Gamer and Kotaku, both major names in gaming news.

Hoogland said that Giddens’ talent was above par when compared to other map makers of his caliber.

“The logic and design behind [his levels] was amazing,” Hoogland said. “à Especially for someone who [at the time] had hardly touched the tools.

“It was really an honor to see somebody recognize and promote the hours I put in trying to make this the best I could,” Giddens said.

Giddens’ partner Hoogland is also well known for building another custom campaign that was created as a marriage proposal for Portal 2 fan Gary Hudston. Hoogland has been working with Valve’s source engine for more than six years.

As for Giddens’ work, he has only published a few maps. However, he has more than 5,000 hours of work with the game and development tools.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Giddens said. “I keep a lot of work to myself. Much of the stuff I’m working on is tied up in projects for mods that haven’t been released yet. A lot of my solo work is on the back burner right now.”

Giddens and Hoogland are working on a mod together and hope the have it published by 2014.

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