27 year old french UX/UI designer Guillaume, known has GyOm, started his career as a graphic design in Paris. Seven years ago he moved to Berlin and transitioned into UX/UI design. He’s also been photographing pro skaters for teams such as Antiz, Supreme, Supra and Carhartt among others. When Skater XL hit the shelves he booted up his old computer and fell in love with the game. Two weeks later he started a six month long project.
Published 7 December, 2020
Carl, Paris 2007. Photo by GyOm.
Rémy Taveira, Paris. Photo by GyOm.
The Berlin Project
Gyom has been into skateboarding since he was about 11. He had tried tennis and football and it wasn’t really his thing. But as soon as he saw some skateboarding videos and stepped on a skateboard, that was it.
When Skater XL was announced he took out his old PC, hooked it up, downloaded the game and fell in love. After two weeks he started his 6 month journey that ended in the Berlin XL map.
”Berlin XL would have never happened without COVID-19. That’s a fact, I’ve had much more time to spend at home and the only highlight of the week would be a bike ride around the city. I started this map around early April 2020 and I would say I felt like I got to a point where I was satisfied with it in August. So it was a 5-6 month project, beside my full time job. I don’t think anyone in the community really realize how long it takes to make large maps like these.”
As Gyom has a full time job, he can’t work on a map as much as he wants. The worst part for Gyom would be the days where he got alot of ideas during the day at work but couldn’t work on the map until the evening or weekend.
Downtown New York
Gyom is now working on his second map for Skater XL. It’s based on places around New York City. Alot of the inspiration comes from the ”New York Times” and ”Mean Streets” videos by lurknyc on YouTube. The feeling of the map is a little more raw and dirty with harder spots to skate, something that’s missing in Skater XL right now, as Gyom says. And he also want to make something unique for the game. Something he hadn’t seen before.
”It was hard to really decide what to do next after such a long project like Berlin. I didn’t want to spend another six months on a map, but I did know I could deliver a much better quality map in terms of performance and layout.”
The process behind the map is pretty simple; you start with a small street, that turns into a bigger street and then into a full block.
”That’s how it always goes, start small and then move from there.”
Image from Blender.
Image from Unity.
When he created the Berlin map, he went out on his bike and got alot of reference photos and textures himself from the real spots. As this new map is based on locations in New York, he couldn’t go out and collect his own textures and reference photos of real spots. So he watched a lot (hours) of skate videos in New York and took screenshots of all the spots that were inspiring.
”After a few weeks, I had some sort of a moodboard and spots I really wanted to include in my map and started modeling. You can find any type of textures online, so that wasn’t too hard. Even though it’s not the exact same texture than the actual spot, it does feel really close.”
”Lighting is always trial and error, you have to play around with so many different settings that impact how lights work, until you get somewhere you’re happy with it.”
The map is in closed beta right now. It will be released around Christmas or early next year for the public. You can get access to the beta version if you go to GyOm’s discord and do a small donation for his work.
Creating a good map
How a map flows, where spots are placed and the overall layout of the map is the most important things for a great map, says Gyom.
”That’s the biggest mistake I’ve made with Berlin. I made a layout that made it really easy to scale but much more harder to skate in-between spots.”
Having a good knowledge abut textures and lighting is also really important to create realistic maps.”
Some of his favorite maps are: The Courts, Streets 2, Easyday High and The Random Place.
”Besides favorite maps, I really enjoy discussing with other map makers. There is a lot of talented people in this community. I’ve been discussing a lot with Ollie, Goya, STPN, Italex and S4SHKO. It’s a such a great community and I always get excited to see what they come up with.”
Do you have any tips for new map makers when starting out?
”Everyone can do it. I really didn’t know anything about 3d software and even video-games until I started with Berlin. You should really start small, maybe just a tiny spot, and I can guarantee you’ll want to make more. I’ve seen so many people targetting a big map as a first map and never releasing anything because they got lost into it.”
For skater xl; is there more maps in the making or planning?
”I’ll focus on smaller maps, but with a great flow, the type of maps you don’t need to respawn every 10 seconds. I want to make an indoor park that flows perfectly, sort of like Hudland, but with my personal touch to it. This would be a two weeks project maybe. I also took so many pictures of textures this summer in Barcelona that makes me want to do a Barcelona inspired plaza. I have so many ideas of maps and so little time.”