#Challenge on ETG.
#Challenge on Quakenet.
Wiebo de Witt (real name) lives in Sneek, Holland, is 30 years old (that's oooldd man) and works at a "big IT company". As he describes himself: "so i'm a computer nerd. =] i've been mapping since Doom , but i never released anything until Quake 2. I know when i'm ready =] My Quake 3 maps were well received. Overkill is still used on servers a lot, because of its size. Expect a re-release with teamplay support of that one soon. No map packs or mods. I was on the Rocket Arena mapping team but i had to quit because of Real Life constraints".
Somehow, Barratus persuaded Wiebo to join the Challenge mapping project, which aims to bring mappers and gamers together in the design process, with the maps being designed with CPM in mind (they also tend to work well for VQ3). Wiebo is not like some huge fan of CPM or anything. He tells us that "I'm not an active Quake player. I suck at it and I am more of a mapper than anything else. What I've seen from CPM looks cool as it gives the player so much more things to do and show off his skillz. Insanity had to explain the double-jump to me so that's an indication of my knowledge. =]" Which sounds like a typical mapper, come to think of it :).
This is the whole reason for the CPM mapping project. Usually mappers have very little contact with the gamers who play their maps competitively. We wanted to try and change that. So Wiebo set out to make a map, and we hooked him up with some Belgium Q3A players, most notably Insanity who some of you will recognise from Challenge.EU. But it wasn't just any old map that Wiebo decided to make - it was a TeamPlay map, designed for 4 vs 4.
Most mappers make small FFA maps which may or may not work for 1on1, and very rarely work for 4on4, which is a specialised form of gameplay. The main reason mappers don't often make Team DM maps, so far as I can tell, is because they tend to be much larger, and a lot of mappers simply don't have the machine specs to compile them. Wiebo found this happening to him too, as his pII350/128mb/TnT2 was taking up to 8 hours to compile the map before it finally "gave up the ghost". Wiebo had to get a friend, Lord Imric, to help compile it in the final stages.
With 8 players, a Team DM map also has to be large and to include many distinct "rooms". Wiebo found that this design approach was very different to that employed to build FFA maps. Item placement was much more set into areas, and the "flow rules" that he would normally use to get a FFA map working didn't apply. With the size also comes greater complexity, requiring more input from the gamer designers, and with so many large rooms there was a lot of scope for building interesting architecture. All of these things meant the map took a lot longer to make. Wiebo would usually take about a month to build a medium sized FFA map (which is pretty fast). This one took three months.
Working with the gamer designers was a new and interesting experience for Wiebo. To make life easier, he got Insanity to do the reporting to him, thus delegating the task of summarising the many different recommendations and opinions. All communication was via the Internet, which must have been challenging in itself. A wide variety of approaches were used to discuss the map, including IRC, and even Wiebo connecting to Insanity's machine where Insanity would then walk him through the level.
I sent the beta to them, and we had meetings in irc. while they brainstormed over the map, i took notes and they sent me screenshots, demos etc. to get the message across. I made little rooms with test stuff which i sent to them and they would make screenies of that or make comments in the channel about it. That is how the double-jump to the RA came to exist.
Some of the sessions Wiebo describes as "intense". As an example, the gamer designers wanted a RA/RG room with just one entrance, which they felt would be exciting to play due to issues like defence, height advantage etc. To a mapper used to thinking in FFA mode, where flow is everything, this must have been a very creative and interesting experience.
I had a basic layout going and they liked that, but some things didn't work because of how i laid down the items. Also, more rooms were needed to make the already available layout work. There wasn't a RA/RG room when we started. it was just something they felt needed to be added. So we went by their feeling of what was needed to make the map work. It was a creative process. Lovely.
Asked if he felt that working with gamers in this way is good for map making, Wiebo does not hesitate to encourage any other mappers out there to consider a similar approach, and to offer some words of advice:
Hell yeah. This map would not have been the same without them. The map benefited from their input and it made me think about design in different ways, so i have learned a lot... Listen, listen, listen. Don't be afraid to throw away complete rooms/areas in the process. I had to do that and it was hard, but if it doesn't work let it go and start again. The result will be so much better, and more people will enjoy the map because of it. I hope people will enjoy this one as much as we enjoyed making it.
Insanity also offered some final thoughts on the map:
When Wiebo gave me the first test, I was amazed by the amount of detail he had put in it, the map looked great. Since it was a beta, there were a few areas I didn't like, or where I felt there had to be made some changes. Wiebo listened carefully to what I had to say, without having any complaints whatsoever. He really is a great guy to work with. The idea of the map was to have some areas to control, and having a central quad-area, which isn't campable because there are so many entrances. I think we pretty much have achieved that goal.
Asked what advice he would give a team preparing to play the map for the first time, Insanity said this:
Try to camp the ra/rg (which is very hard, believe me), and also try to get the RL-room... it's nearly impossible to control both rooms AND get the Quad at the same time, so when the losing team has the Quad their best chance to get in control is to clear the RA-room.
I hope plenty of teams give it a good go (and like it of course). Please feel free to leave your feedback in the comments. Congratulations to Wiebo and the design team, well done, on a huge effort and a great map.
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