#Challenge on ETG.
#Challenge on Quakenet.
Tuesday, 09 May 2000 -
Monday, 08 May 2000 -
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.
Thursday, 27 April 2000 -
"What we have here is....failure to communicate".
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?
Who died and left you in charge?
Who's gonna lay the brushes?
How can I get involved?
Would you use my maps?
Let's get down to the rat killin' then....
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:
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.