#Challenge on ETG.
#Challenge on Quakenet.
One day, while idling in #challenge-eu (on Barrysworld), jude dropped by and asked if anyone there spoke Polish. Since I knew RooS was in #challenge (on ETG) I directed jude over there, and sure enough RooS (who is Polish) spoke excellent Polish.
jude wanted to know if anyone could translate some messages on a Polish MB about his new map, q3jdm8a. It turns out that the map has been popular with a lot of 1-on-1 players (Gobo gave it a good plug on Truegamers.net). RooS (who organises some big Q3 leagues in Poland) played the map and really liked it. In fact, he had some buddies record a demo on it (the demo even uses an alpha of "pro mode") which you can get here.
So after a while, I'm sitting in #challenge again and jude and I get to talking and we decide to do an interview. I've always been very interested in the "mapping scene" and would love to make maps if I had (a) the talent and (b) the time. One of the things I've noticed about custom mappers is that very few make maps specifically for 1-on-1, or Team DM, and for this reason jude's work is particularly interesting.
jude has got a few maps available, including a CTF map, here are the links:
Interview with jude
jude: Well, i'm 25 in april, and i work as a Network Engineer for a well known Marketing Research company in Sydney, Australia. I'd rather be getting paid to make maps though :)
Hoony: How long did your map take?
jude: Well, some of the maps i worked on early being worked on over a period of 6 months still not be as good as someting i knocked up in 2 days just this week. I'm always learning something, a new style, a new cool way of putting textures together, that kinda thing. I'm sure i'll look back on q3jdm8a in 6 months and go *ugh*. How could i have ever released that.
q3jdm8a is a bit of a funny case because that map has pretty much existed for almost a year, but 9 months of that was in it's Q2 form. I did a quick (hency crappy) conversion of it to Q3 and then i made substantial changes to it again just recently - the lighting was a major eyesore, as was the texture scheme. One thing that i found is that the Q2 version of q3jdm8a played much better in FFA than q3jdm8a does. But in duel, the Q3 version ownz the Q2 version.
Hoony: Have you had a lot of feedback about your map?
jude: Not originally.. but when word got out that it was a fairly good duel map sure.. most of the people i speak to directly have been very positive.. whereas the comments from people who post reviews and the resulting comments on msg boards and so forth haven't been as good. One thing that keeps coming across is that while the maps that i make dont look as good as some, they play better than most.
Hoony: Did you have players play-test your map extensively before releasing it?
jude: q3jdm8a had extensive playtesting (alot of it was under duress), before i released it and q3jdm9 also had a large amount of playtesting. Playtesting is important because you find out the spots that you get caught on, the bits of odd texturing that you missed, and any obviously bad weapon choices, that kinda thing. On the other hand, my CTF map q3jctf5 didnt have any play testing by other people - i'm not so concerned about that though :) Much thanks to Mode2, Quarrel, Pyth, Zero, and Cake for the playtesting and suggestions. Chops, good work son, keep up the cutting.
Hoony: What were the "design principles" you used in making a 1-on-1 map?
jude: It's important for the map to have a good layout. More than one path to a particular area on a map, no real 'low traffic' areas (or if they are, its on purpose). It's also nice to encourage those kinds of kills and leet jumps and a display of skills that get a reaction from the crowd. Item placement also lends a big hand to the flow on a map, stacking one side of a map can turn a classic into something that gets deleted in 5 minutes. I think in alot of cases a good FFA map wont go well as a duel map. One of the reasons i can think for this is the Armor and powerups. Mega and RA arent what i really consider duel map items (of course, they can work very well - dm4, dm6 etc). Framerate is also important for obvious reasons, there's times where you can run amok with the detail, but i dont think duel maps is one of those situations.
Hoony: Do you think about what makes for good spectating when you make a 1-on-1 map, or only what makes for good gameplay?
I think when the game is fun for the participant it will also make great spectating. Chasing a guy around a map for 5 minutes for one frag cause he's continually 200/200 isnt exactly fun and exciting. Also the jumps and moves are important as well for spectating - compare a q2dm1 duel if there was none of the cool strafe/circle jumps to one with all those.
Hoony: It seems most of the well-known map makers make maps for small FFA's rather than 1-on1 (to me at least) - would this be true?
jude: I'd say that's fairly true. Atleast thats what i see in my limited experience. I mean, you get the exceptions like Deadstar who i hear is doing an awesome RA3 map, but apart from that i dont know of anyone personally who is only making duel maps.
Hoony: Do you know of any map-makers who make maps specifically for 1-on-1 (aside from yourself)?
jude: Well, i dont _really_ only make 1 on 1 maps, but if you want a map to be played you need to have something that will make it stand out. FFA maps are now a dime a dozen, but i dont know of too many maps specifically designed for duel. I also made a (huge) CTF map just recently. It was always something i wanted to do.
Hoony: What do you think of the tournament maps in Q3A? Q3A in general?
jude: I know the general consensus on the id Tourney maps isn't that great. But my personal opinion is that the Q3 tourney maps aren't as fun as the Q1/Q2 maps. I think that there's several things that detract from the gameplay. 1. Machingun.. how annoying is it to come out of an intense fight with 20 health, only to have the guy spawn next to you, and machinegun you to death and pick your weapon up. 2. 125 health spawn. Sure it's stopping the rail spawn camping, but continually having to finish off a repsawner with supershotty or plasma gets tiresome after a while. 3. Linear rocket damage. ie, it's possible to do anywhere from 1 to 100 damage in 1 health increments to an opponent depending on how far away from them you hit. I think if you get hit/splashed by a rocket, it's not the same as getting tickled by a feather. It's also very annoying to be doing more damage to yourself than to the other person when hitting them with rockets (some would also of course call this bad aim :).
I think also for duels framerate is important, and while i understand Q3 was designed pretty much for premium hardware, i dont think that my P2-450/V3 3000 box isn't too far off premium hardware.. and yet, i still get noticable frame rate drops even in vertex lighting. But to be fair, if there's no pain, there's no gain - eg, curves, shaders and all those other pretty effects that make the id maps visually so impressive.
Hoony: What do you think of the T4 textures (that shiny metallic stuff, and spot lights etc)
jude: I love the shiny metal textures, and the beam lights, they're pretty awesome. It's a bit of a shame the shiny metal textures have a bit of a performance hit especially in lightmap & high quality sky though. But again, it's all part of what makes Quake3 so visually impressive.
Hoony: Do you know who did which map etc, at id Software, or does it seem like they're all "joint efforts"?
jude: From what i understand, most of the id maps are a joint effort. eg, one person will do the basic architecture for a map, maybe some item placement, that sorta thing.. then it's off to the graphic artists and other designers for the detail. I know that i'd love to have someone like that.. But as far as knowing who made which map.. not really.
Hoony: When making a map, is the architecture, the "look", the atmosphere etc as important to your objectives as is making a map that plays really well?
jude: Not really, as i mentioned up top, i (and others) think that my maps play much better than they look. The original of q3jdm8 was rather horrid looking compared to what it is now though and that really needed improving. I think if i map plays excellent, but looks half decent, people will keep it - on the other hand, if it looks pretty good, but has bad gameplay you wont be looking at it again in a hurry.
Hoony: What do you think of players who turn off all the gfx for better fps, are they "ruining" their experience of the map? Is "looks" what's important?
jude: I think it's taken to extreme on both sides sometimes, ie, FxR|Scoob has a P3-450 @ 504 with a Geforce and plays with r_picmip 4, and lightmap lighting @ 640x480. That doesnt make much sense to me, but on the other hand i play with r_picmip 1, vertex lighting @ 800x600 on my 450/v3 setup. I think it's also largely personal prefence, but i think from a mappers perspective they want their maps to look as good as possible whereas the gamers will choose whatever looks the best to them..
Hoony: What do you think of the "mapping scene" and the famous QBoard?
jude: I think it's a bit like the old class structure in (old) England - A head Honcho (ZTN), the people who are close to the head honcho, and the commoners. Commoners sometimes aren't given a chance and looked down upon because they are exactly that. I think it's also a bit of a catch 22 situation with the recognition and perceived quality of maps, you cant be a good author unless people have have been heard of :)
Hoony: Are you a "student" of maps - have you studied the "classics" for inspiration, or do you prefer to work from your own ideas?
I never used to look at any other maps with intention of getting ideas, but i have recently. Not exactly plagarism, but i might take a specific set of steps, a piece of floor or wall that looks cool and work that into my map (i'm not talking about copy/pasting, but adapting an idea). I like to look at other maps, and see what makes them fun to play, what makes them look good etc.
Hoony: Are you right into making maps, or is this all a bit of a surprise to you? Gonna make some more?
jude: I love making maps. Iv'e been doing it for almost 3 years now, althought admittedly iv'e only really gotten what i consider good in the last year or so. I remember one of the very first maps i made and played an 8 player game of DM on it.. it was an awesome feeling to have other people playing on your creations, and even as bad as it was i got some good comments from the people playing it. As for more... iv'e pondered doing the retro thing and maybe making a Quake1 map. I also had some thoughts on doing a Counter-Strike map, but i dont think so.. But my next map will be a Q3 map (keep a lookout in the next 2/3 weeks for it).