But it seemed... smaller than my head at the time
All mappers have, at some stage, had to bite the bullet and admit that a certain gulf exists between their dream, and either their own powers of design, or engine limitations.
I am no exception, and here I pay respects to ideas that, alas, never saw the light of day.
Nuke Q1SP, c. 1998
I was impressed by a map package including Dextromethorpan at the time, and set about building an idbase atrocity.
The idea was that you were a brain-washed guardian of a reactor core. That is, when the core was unhappy, you left your happy dark place and fixed the problem, whence you could return to the dark and be happy again.
All I ever built of this thing was a small and squarish "reactor core" section. However, it was good practice, anyway...
Kadath Q1SP, c. 1999
The story and thus map design was influenced by Ogro's Q2 textures, which I'd converted to Q1.
Lost in a snowy waste (sky from Hexen II), you make your way to a rusty base installation. Alas, your struggles didn't end there. As you progressed through the base, your surroundings became more demonic and evil, and soon you were inside wholly organic structures, trying to find the exit.
One of the setpieces was to be a huge chasm, spanned by numerous bridges, but as a layout remained maddeningly elusive, the project was cancelled.
Sterbeklangen von Metall Q1SP, c. 1999
Translating roughly as "Death tones of metal", this badly misspelt line from a poem by Georg Trakl siezed my imagination and I started a single room. However, nothing more came of it. Alas for id metal! Didn't light my fires at all.
Tea and Tiny Cakes Q1DM, c. 2001
I've actually made a piece of this map, in id terracotta, but the design - two atria separated by connectors, and bookended by 'em - looked too much like Bal's Black Feathered Wings, so I've fallen off this 'un.
Hooligan Circus Q1SP, some QC, c. 2000
The idea here was to emulate Pete "Tiddles" Bisseker's interesting "Da Pak-esque" base style, but with some textures lifted from Kingpin instead.
The story was that a corporation (Blanco Chemicals) had been discovered doing business with Quake, and... you get the idea.
The concept was ostensibly canned (although I still have some resources) due to deciding that either the textures, or the design, sucked.
Care of the Wound Q1SP/DM, Coagula Contest I entrant
CotW was to have been partially influenced by one map in Elek's Soulstice mod for The Nehahra Project. It consisted of several huge rocks, festooned with metal-bound wooden decks. Sank due to compilation problems.
Far Aira Q1SP, c.2001/CZG07 release
I'd been doodling some Arabian tower/minaret thingies, and I became fired with the idea of a huge, CZG07-sized map featuring Iikka Keränen's "moonlight and cobwebs" arabian-style textures set amongst pale tan rock (remember that those textures are dark blue with pale trim.) I actually built the start area, but struggles to construct a coherent layout sank the damn thing long before it was finished. Just call me Iranon...
Pilgrim's Path FC1M3
In the original Swamp, the player had to swim along a long water-filled hallway (a "river") to reach the docks. Originally, Ontranto's third map demanded the player do more or less the same thing.
However, the trick was to be that one had to cross all the bridges across the River Ontranto exactly once in order to slip inside unnoticed. (The problem being that doing so was impossible.)
However, the question of space versus playability, not to mention sensible proportions for the bridges, meant that this concept was placed in jeopardy. The final straw was realising that the combat and gameplay was far too two-dimensional to be fun.
Ice Station Charlie Q2, two-map unit
Whether or not I'll return to this idea is open to debate. The plot was that you, either alone or with friends, had to ICE (Investigate-Confirm-Eliminate) an underground Strogg base. There was a gimmick: There were three ways into the base, offering three different routes and play experiences, but only one way out - the main exit and its welcoming committee.
The base was to be hidden in the midst of a maze of polar canyons, with you and yours scattered. First objective: Regroup and rearm. Second: Find an entrance to the base. Third: Discover and communicate base purpose to HQ. Fourth... oh, you know.
Originally planned with converted Fresh Team "arctic" textures, this idea sank when it became clear that it would take more skill than I had. Besides, how many people play Q2 any more?