Parallax is by far my most popular map, with over 130,000 downloads on the Steam Workshop. It definitely filled a niche, particularly with the "NextBot chasing" crowd in Garry's Mod. I think its popularity can also be partially attributed to the fact that there wasn't anything else quite like Parallax at the time of its release. Abstract maps were nothing new, but something about the simplicity of the map must have drawn people in. It also spawned many sequels as I continued to experiment with new ideas (what is now usually referred to as the "trippy map" series).
There isn't a particularly interesting story behind this map, I just wanted to try something completely different and experiment with creating my own materials in the Source Engine. Development started in mid 2015, around the time I was working on gm_school. I took inspiration from those McDonald's PlayPlace structures you sometimes see, as well as a particular attraction from a theme park called SeaWorld, which I visited frequently as a kid. SeaWorld had this net climb adventure that was interconnected with a bunch of tubes and slides that I would frequently get lost in. I wanted to channel that feeling in Parallax—never knowing exactly where you are yet still having a good time. This resulted in a fairly spontaneous arrangement of corridors, tubes, and ramps that really served no purpose other than to send you around in circles.
The map is divided up into sections, each made distinct by specific colors and geometrical features. Some sections feature curvy hallways laden with stripes, while others display more angular designs or zig-zags. Each section's color choices are complementary to one another (they are opposite on the RGB color wheel), like blue-yellow, green-magenta, and so on. This high contrast of colors can create almost blinding imagery at times depending on the size and vibrancy of your monitor. Fun fact: this map (along with most of my others) was created solely on a 15" laptop screen, so I never got the full experience with a better monitor until much later.
The lighting throughout the map is fairly uniform, though some accent lights tend to blow out the surrounding textures way too much. Overall the lighting isn't anything too special, but it gets the job done. I suppose the unrealistic nature of it adds to the abstract feel of the map. All of the different colored surfaces are derived from a single plaster texture that I found online and reworked to be seamless. Again it's nothing special, but I feel a map like this doesn't really need anything more.
I still enjoy this map today, as do many others. Some may even call it a classic. Regardless, I think it's a solid start to the "trippy map" series and it certainly paved the way for some of my more refined maps down the line.