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Hoony 10 Dec
Mr.CleaN 24 Jun
twoAM 23 Aug
Wiebo de Wit 08 Aug
Jude 19 Jun

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Challenge.World Maps
Latest News Introduction Classic Views Reviews

Random thoughts ? 2 comments
Map Project
Members of the mapping team have been studying comments generated thus far and will begin building their first project pieces in short order. We've got a decent amount of information to go with. More pointed feedback will come from beta test sessions. Decisions have been made regarding who will be doing what type map.

After reading the comments on the first review piece I've decided to revise the reporting format. I have 3 pieces in the pipe at the moment and expect to have them up near week's end. Thanks to those who left comments on the first piece and in particular to revelation for opening a few eyes on the team with his straight ahead "what's good and what ain't" views.

New faces ? 1 comment
I'd like to welcome a couple new faces to the project. Wiebo de Wit and Mr. Clean have joined ztn and jude on the mapping team. Both Wiebo and Mr. Clean are veterans of the Q2 mapping scene and have released 5 Q3 titles between them. Glad to have you onboard guys.=]

I've updated the Reviews section with the first of our reader submitted maps.

Site Biz
I'll be busy this week getting a few more details worked out for the project and some new map submittals posted. We're also looking at implementing a column (.plan) system for team mappers. Progress, random thoughts, problem solving and design issue posts should be of interest to other mappers. Keep a look out here for updates.

Pro Mode
I've heard talk around the office that a new beta release of CHWD'S Pro Mode should be out "soon". If you haven't tried this mod yet, do it now. Pro Mode works with all stock id levels as well as you're favorite user created maps. In addition to 2 flavors of play, Classic and Full, you can select from a number of ginchy new HUDs. Trust me, you're gonna like this Mod.

CHWD Maps - ReDesign ? comment
We've finished expanding Challenge.World.Maps to get some breathing room. Here's a quick tour of the new sections:

Latest News
"You are here". I'll use this space to keep you updated on the progress of our mapping project. You can also expect to see general announcements, other pertinent news items or heads-up directing you to recent updates and additions in other CHWD Maps sections. may pop in here from time-to-time, so be on your best behavior and pick up your empties.=]

We've placed a stripped down version of the opening article for Challenge.World.Maps here to act as a "mission statement" for the project.

Classic Views
This section will anchor our on-going analysis of several classic Deathmatch Maps featuring short articles1 by expert players, mappers and industry professionals. We've also got some nice illustrative demos for you to download.

The first map we're looking at in detail is, of course, DM4. So keep an eye out for updates as we develop that section.

I'll be presenting a mixture of author submitted and hand picked competition oriented maps. For the time being I've posted a few very simple ground rules for submittals. Expect Reviews to be expanded shortly.

That's about it. I invite you to go have a look around, do a bit of reading and favor us with your comments. Got a question or suggestion? .

Here we go.... ? 36 comments
Before I get started, let me take a moment to thank Hoony. First, for thinking out loud in his article "Where are all the mappers?" Second, for his decision to set up Challenge.World.Maps in direct response to your positive feedback generated by that article.

"What we have here is....failure to communicate".
As I first read Hoony's piece, that well known line of dialogue from an old flick rolled around in the back of my mind like an ambient sound loop each time I encountered a statement like:

since the "hardcore" players ignored his custom maps for years while playing the default id set (DM2, DM4 and DM6) he had little inclination to help them out now.


in Quake3 we're left with our bland rooms where clipping brushes abound, turning entire levels into the game equivalent of a rubber room. I want my boxes back. I want my ladders back. I want my strangely shaped pillars and other such things.

From where I sit the solution seems fairly simple, open lines of communication. The sad fact is I see these two groups looking at each other across a line in the sand. Nobody wants to take that first step. On one side our leering mapper might see our competitive gamer as a junk food eatin', Jolt Cola swillin' bundle of writhing nerves who would be happy as a pig in shit dueling in a single room fullbright map with a floor drain in the middle. Jumping to the other side, our competitive gamer might hold the opinion that mappers are trendy fops who prance around all the live long day with a pink handled screwdriver tucked in their back pockets stopping occasionally between sniffing bicycle seats to discuss the relative merits of caulk brushes. OK, so it ain't all that, but there does seem to be an air of mutual misunderstanding.

What's this all about then?
The concept is simple. We want to combine the unique talents of our community's competitive gamers and freelance mappers. The goal is to produce first quality maps for competitive league play, Pro tournament play and eventually maps designed specifically for Challenge Pro Mode. We'll do this in a closed format that works like this: Pair a mapper(s) with a volunteer team of competitive players. The player/mapper team will decide upon a basic concept for a 1-0-1 or 2-0-2 map (we're also looking at the possibility of working in a CTF mapper/player unit in the future). Closed playtesting will be conducted on interval builds, much as mappers always do it. Between builds we'll keep you informed of our progress with news posts on this section and perhaps a screenshot here and there. Once the beta map is deemed "gold", it will be made available to competitive leagues and the gaming public.

Who died and left you in charge?
I won't insult you by suggesting that having run Ramshackle for 2 years qualifies me as an expert on mapping. More correctly, I believe the experience allows me a somewhat unique perspective on and understanding of the freelance mapper's trade and the basic needs of players. I'll use what I've learned as a reviewer and beta tester to help reach our goal. At some point in the near future I will reassume the mantle of the dreaded map reviewer, in addition to my other duties, to select and dissect promising competition oriented pieces.

Who's gonna lay the brushes?
First, I did a bit of snooping around to see if there was any buzz amongst the competitive gamers....which existing custom maps, if any, would they consider for use in organized tournaments or league play. Then, I thought about mappers who had experience making maps for competition or whose maps had been used in competitions. Having only about a week to put this together I came up with a short list: ztn and jude. They have both since joined the project.

How can I get involved?
What we want from you is feedback. Whether you're a competitive gamer, a casual player or a mapper, it makes no difference. You're ideas, comments and criticisms (constructive, mind you) are always welcome. Right now we'll be focused on getting our first maps rolling. However, there are still positions to be filled folks (read: we could use a few more mappers), as we are also intent on producing maps designed specifically for Challenge Pro Mode.

Would you use my maps?
At this point we will spend all of our time concentrating on in-house maps for competitions and maps for Challenge Pro Mode. Once we get things off to a solid start our intent is to set up a sub-section here that will act as a review area to assist those seeking maps for competitive play. When the time comes we'll make an announcement here and begin taking map submissions so keep your wetware peeled.

Let's get down to the rat killin' then....
To get the ball rolling I thought it might be helpful to open some sort of dialogue. For the purpose of this dialogue I asked ztn "What makes Q1DM4 a classic map?" Here's what he had to say:

The Bad Place - Or DM4, also known as "(your name here) visits the Volcano God". The good ol' days of rocket battles and kamikaze-runs to get out of the MegaHealth room. If you were lucky enough, and caught your opponent scratching his ass, you could come out of the trap alive and get some frags along the way. If you've ever played Quake1 deathmatch, you know what I'm talking about.
They just don't make maps like this anymore - Sad but true. DM4 is everything but a well-balanced map, yet when I look back at the early days of Q1, I see myself playing this particular map. I can say with all honesty that "The Bad Place" is one of my all-time favorite professional DM maps. It might sound like I'm talking about my first love here, but that's not the case. E1M5 was my first love actually, that's because I got the retail Q1 months after the release. Anyway, I've read a lot of criticism about DM4, and have also played an "enhanced" version of that map which featured, besides a more balanced item layout, an additional teleporter to provide an alternate way out of the MegaHealth room. Good. Everything looks ok on paper, we have a politically correct weapon placement, no more dead ends, a few extra health packs here and there and so on. But when playing it, there was something missing. The new map felt like...a new map. Here's what I'm getting at...making a *fun* map is like making a good bar-b-q. You don't use just meat, you need to add pepper, salt and other ingredients, which separately will taste like chicken gourmet made by a Swahilian warrior, but when used in correct proportion, they will only add to the flavor of the end product. Sure I'm talking about a FFA oriented map here, 1-on-1 maps are a different story altogether. More on that later. Mind you, I'm not saying an unbalanced map is a good thing, no, I'm saying that some imbalance will add to the fun factor. And the game is about having fun, something that some of today's mappers seem to forget occasionally. Here I go again praising DM4, but it's a perfect example how a *fun* map should be done within the bounds of the engine.
Hot boiling lava! Oh, the pain! - Another thing that has taken a beating from players, but let's see if you can remember this: you are standing on the middle deck of the main area in DM4, you know, where the Grenade Launcher and Lightning Gun are located. Suddenly you hear that sharp thud as someone lands on his feet, followed by the sound of a weapon being picked up and then the metallic sound of picking up armor. If you have ever played DM4, you *know* where your opponent is now, and what his next move will be. You'll set an ambush near the Grenade Launcher and wait for the other player to appear at the teleporter destination below on the bridge over the lava. But, instead of blowing the unaware opponent to small gibblets, you are going to have some fun at his expense. When the poor sod finally appears, you send a rocket *behind* him to pushing him into the lava. If you think that's fun, wait to see what he types. Some new additions to your vocabulary. There's also a way out of the lava. It needs a bit of practice, but it can be done. You just have to have a Rocket Launcher, and a fairly good level of health and armor. Point your back to the bridge and face down while taking your hot bath. Now swim backwards while firing a rocket at the bottom of the lava pool, the blast will propel you out of the lava. When done properly, you'll be out in fairly good condition to collect some health and a payback. Try doing that in some modern maps without any lava. So again, lava can be fun, when used properly and in good taste.
Undocumented features - Now this is something that really adds to a map. The latest trend seems to be that everything must be clipped away to prevent players from getting places where they "shouldn't be." Who says where they should or shouldn't be? DM4 doesn't use clip brushes at all, yet it's still a very playable map. There are places, which should be clipped, allowing more smooth movement, but not everything! A player should be able to explore beyond the boundaries set by the author, which is another spice I like adding to the soup. There are many such places in DM4, which I'm sure American McGee didn't think of when he built the map. Some places are only accessible and/or usable through the anomalies of the player code. For example, you can slide slowly down the wall in the Yellow Armor room, just above the Red Armor room to prevent other players from hearing the distinguishing thud when landing on the floor. Another well-known trick is to strafe jump from the far corner of the upper deck to the Quad Damage. All these features are there because the author didn't *prevent* players from exploiting them, and again, in this case it adds to the fun factor.
D(r)ead-end - The dreaded dead-end room with a MegaHealth and Rocket Launcher combo. In duel play, it's best to avoid going there. But in FFA, a dead-end room can be fun, and puts player's skills to the test. In DM4, you can sit there quietly and heal your wounds while listening to what others are doing. Since audio clues are a very important factor in DM4, you know the moment to stick your head out and get away. Better yet, get out with a couple of frags. Heroic, isn't it?
Teleporter mayhem - I remember reading somewhere that John Carmack stated "teleporters only confuse players". Hell, that might be true if you're the type who gets lost in his bathroom. But not real men...and me of course. DM4, regardless of its small size, features 5 teleporters, some of them being two-way types. That's quite a number, considering most modern and larger maps feature only one or two teleporters, if any. Teleporters in DM4 play a very important role providing a way to kill multiple players at once, or confusing your opponents 'til their hair turns gray. Some say telefragging is annoying, and I have to agree to some extent. In DM4 the upper room, where you start in the single player mode, is quite lethal when packed. With 8 or more players you can get a kill or two for sure when teleporting there. You can also get telefragged before entering the teleport yourself. This, of course, always happens when you have full armor, 200 health (back then, the health and armor didn't wear off), 100 rockets, and you're just about to force someone to donate his left kidney. What a waste. So it's a matter of tastes (not the kidney, the teleporters) whether you like the crisscrossing teleporter action or not. I think it was fun when I wasn't in the most aggressive mode. I swear I once saw a guy telefrag 4 players at the same time...down on the lava bridge. An enormous spray of blood and guts erupted and man was it sweet. I believe I even have it somewhere on demo.
ndahadpsjep - Those are my thoughts on DM4. Since then, many good maps have been released which provide more balanced flow and better visuals. You'll notice that I left the visual aspect completely out here. That doesn't mean it's not important, but compared with today's shiny and glittering maps, DM4 is able to hold its own due to the fun factor. I'd say DM4 is "aesthetically pleasing", not overdone, and not too bland either. The layout is simple, yet interesting. In fact, you can see echoes of the DM4 layout in my most recent maps. Look carefully, they are there. For example, "Recycler's" central area...does it look familiar? How about "Bad Blood's" lava atrium? Those are my interpretations of a successful formula. Making a map is easy, making it play well, is tough. Making a classic is pure chance. Intentionally throwing in some imbalance and leaving the player more freedom to choose his path, the chance can be multiplied. Sterile maps play, well, sterile.

Since ztn was on a roll I asked him to list the essential ingredients for a great 1-0-1 map. Here's what he said:

  • Balance - In a 1-on-1 map, everything should be balanced from weapon layout to the architecture. Yet, there should be some slight imbalance thrown in. Whether that would be an extra item, a powerup or a place to camp, that's up to the author to decide. Tipping the scales in this manner is the driving force of the action.
  • Reward the player - There sould be a place that the player will contiune to visit...around which the game flow revolves. Here's another aspect: reward the skillful player. Make some items more quickly accessible using an advanced method like strafe or rockect jumping. Never make a significant item accessed only in that way. Everybody deserves a chance.
  • Keep the player in constant fear - Hard to accomplish but always a very effective device. I'm not talking about creating artificial threats like falling into a void or making death-traps. That sould be left for single player maps. The player must fear being ambushed by the other player. Look at it like this, create an architectural feature that telgraphs fear on one hand but looks simply harmless on the other. A quick example is the tunnel to the RA in Painkiller. What will you get on the other end -- RA or a rocket in your ear?
  • Every area should have a distinct purpose - Don't add empty rooms to pad the looks of a map. Keep it economical and keep the rooms stocked.
  • Space Planning - Places for vertical action and places for two-dimensional action. Some prefer the daughter, some prefer her mother.
  • Avoid very powerful items and weapons - The easiest way to keep one player from dominating the other.
  • Exposure - Force players to expose themselves when some items are needed. Power has a price.
  • Force players to jump - In the air, you are more exposed and more vulnerable.
  • Avoid death-traps - Traps might work in FFA, but not in duel.
  • Comfortable size - That should be self-explanatory, nobody wants to play duel in large maps running around on an endless bug hunt.
  • Avoid unlit areas - Or if you really need some dark areas to emphasize your architecture, at least light the floor. General rule of thumb: always keep the floor lit.
  • Audio clues - Always make areas sound differently according to player's interaction.
  • Rote - Make the surroundings interesting and easy to memorize. You should get the hang of a layout in one or two runs thru the map.

OK players, you've seen the classic DM4 from a mapper's perspective. You've also been given a peek at what a mapper feels is essential to produce a solid, playable, competitive map. Now we take the next step. Let's see if there really is a disparity of viewpoints between players and mappers. What do you think makes Q1DM4 a classic map? What do you consider essential ingredients for a great 1-0-1 map? We want to know. It's as easy as mashing the comments link.

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