With all that's been going on with the Online Store here the last week, we neglected to cover this story.. It's a piece by machinima.com called "Ask the Experts: Realistic Mapping".
The article talks to several folks in the industry, but most relevant to 3D Realms are the inclusion of two folks from the Max Payne game, Teemu Heinilehto (texture artist) & Aki Maatta (mapper).
Q: What work do you do in the concept stage of designing the map, and how does that make the rest of the work easier?
A: (Aki): "This varies on what kind of a map is in question, but basically, if I have a design document, I read it through a couple of times. If not and if/when I'm making such a document, I think of things that might fit into a certain enviroment/atmosphere, then try to come up with actual places that are of that theme and go take photos from such places. During and after the 'descriptive and photographic' phase I do a pen-and-paper sketch of the layouts and some possible smaller details, and then head to work."
A: (Teemu): "Since Max Payne takes place in New York, for inspiration for the actual look and feel we use real-life N.Y. photography and video footage. This has proved to be a successful method- it's good to first examine real locations and use them as a starting point from which to start building the actual map. Naturally lots of compromises have to be made - not everything can be "virtualized" and so on - but it gives the right direction from the start."
There's lots more from Aki & Teemu, as well as some from Greg Barr (Soldier of Fortune), Steve Cotton (Rainbow 6), and others. Check it out - there's lots of cool stuff in here. There's nothing really specific about Max Payne specifically, but it's a good insight into what goes into the making of a game.