Odin's Guard was my entry to an old Snark Pit "Contrasting Themes" competition. The map was to be arena-style and use two distinct themes. Odin is split into two major arenas with only small connections and linked via teleporters to a teleporter hub cavern thing.
The map came in second in the judged results and placed first in the player's choice voting.
My final, largest, and longest-running Op4CTF project. This one spanned 4 from-scratch versions and was originally christened "Helix" before the final version. Tortuosity represents a rollback to the second version of the old Helix series.
Faction was entirely built upon a texture set by Simon "sock" O'Callaghan. I started constructing it as a Deathmatch Classic map, but for a variety of reasons I eventually gave up on that and converted it to straight HLDM.
The level contains interesting geometry, but I let myself rely a bit too heavily on the pre-defined shapes in the textures and many rooms end up looking a bit too same-y. The level would have benefited from more areas like the outer walkway and "window" tunnel to break up the monotony of the interiors.
Gauntlet was designed in the vein of a tiny and frantic Gearbox map, "Hairball." I wasn't sure if the simple single-route layout would work, but it seemed to be received quite well. It was also fun to do a smaller level.
Valor is one of my better efforts overall, and definitely near the peak of my early DM work. Things went very smoothly in making this and I had the single most involved playtest of any of my maps with a decent-sized group from the Valve ERC IRC channel. It was fun to make and fun to play, and for that alone I consider it a huge success.
Quake III: Team Arena's mpteam6 was a space CTF map where the bases and central arena were connected by funky warping teleporter tunnels. I drew inspiration from this and Quake III's CTF4 to make a floaty space CTF map with a funky warping teleporter tunnel.
After running into some of the Gearbox crew on their official Op4CTF server, I learned that Wormhole had found play time in the Gearbox office. That run-in got me in contact with a couple Gearbox designers who were kind enough to provide valuable feedback on my later CTF levels, which in turn put Gearbox on my "studios to apply to" list - I'd be hired there five years later.
At the time I made this level, I always considered it adequate, but not one of my strongest. I was actually confused when a couple community acquaintances referred to it as my best HLDM map.
In hindsight, I've started to see it more their way. The level plays it safe in layout and geometry, but has a simple layout and flow ideal for small matches.
Sector A is a bit too large for a good deathmatch experience, but was an extremely valuable learning experience. The level was my first large-scale undertaking and while I may have gone a bit kitchen sink on some of the random tricks in the level ("reflective" floors, electrical arcs, and even a test chamber), my overall Half-Life level design knowledge skyrocketed after constructing it.
I was particularly happy with how well I was able to recreate the pre-disaster Half-Life feel in many of the areas using screenshots and Valve's released .rmf files as reference. Those skills in emulating existing styles have come in immensely useful in my professional career.
While not my first level released for Half-Life nor my strongest, Sector A jump-started a rush of releases from 2001-2002 and resulted in significant growth in my level design ability.