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2002 Archives

Turtles! 26 December 2002

There's been a "turtle-mapping" contest going on over the last week, and Scampie has just slapped up the five receivedentries for The Second Q1 TurtlemapContest. Entrants who made the deadline are CZG, Remnant, 'hrnfaxi', Pushplay and Leviathan.

At a quick glance, the maps are most impressive, except for Pushplay's, which crashesWinQuake for some reason. They range quite a gamut, and I'll discuss them in detail later.

My mapping's been enhanced by the purchase of an optical mouse. This means no more strugglingwith sticky balls again, which has to be a good thing.

Speaking of which, I've finally made a tomb chamber for Ontranto which actually looks good.As I may have mentioned before, the second map is to be designed as a pair of DM maps, whichhopefully will offer some nice vertical DFA action. The optical mouse really helped here!

My next update will be sometime in January, when I will actually make some resolutions.

Contract Reviewed 15 December 2002

First things first: I've had screenies for Kell's 4-map pack Contract Revoked sitting here for bloody ages, so I've finally got around to writing up the review. I mean, it's in the farging Guest List, so I'd better get on with it and review Contract Revoked.

Ontranto is finally underway! I've still got a raft of QuakeC to write up, but I've got the meat of maps 1, 4 and 5 down on paper, as well as half of map 2. I've started laying brushes for map 1, which is a tricky bit of work with lots of clipping and vertex pushing. My main interest is getting the guts down, then tweaking it for performance.

I may have mentioned this before, but I'm intending to treat map 2 as a merged pair of DM maps, one formal and one organic.

However, a new project I'm involved with is eating my balls, along with a nasty sinus cold I copped on Friday. It involves another webcomic I'm a raving fan of, and prepping it for print.

Since Peej is in Australia and won't get home for several months, Qmap is going to stay dead for the forseeable future. So join us reprobates over at Qmap3 as we poke, prod, dickwave and jump up and down on Peej's test rig and try to break it.

One last thing: Rorshach has released four new sets of textures along with his stonking HeadHunters3 work, i.e. Jackboot, Clockwork and so on. These should be worth a look!

Papercut chainsaw 21 November 2002

I've had a couple of design documents for The Ontranto Project typed up on computer for ages now, so I've finally indexed them into the site. This'll give you an idea of what I'd like to shove in there, and how it all fits together.

Also, that tutorial on how to use Riot's Q1rad lighting program is finally indexed in the site too. Sorry about that; I kept forgetting.

There's a Web project that I'm still fiddling around with that combines a pic/file post, weblog and article post into one. I'm basically doing it to make modification of the Tactical Nuclear Bubblebath somewhat easier. I'm also doing it to exercise all those database design and software engineering skills I spent good money learning. However, my testbed is on Tripod, so I'm learning Perl to create the demo model. From there, it'll be a matter of learning to interface with MySQL, translate into PHP and ASP, add forums, guestbooks, maybe even wiki features. My first Perl program — a conversion of an ASP page renderer I already use — works great. If only I could get PWS to run instead of download Perl scripts though...

Finally, Qmap's b0rked, Peej is on holiday digeri-ing his doo somewhere in Australia, so everyone's trying out the alpha version of Qmap3. 'Snot entirely there yet, but looks good so far.

Spit that umbilical cord out, mister! 13 November 2002

Well, Kona's been at it again; a week or more ago, he released another SP map, Ultramarine. It's a bluish semi-medieval pile done in modified Q3 textures, with all the usual suspects (Barons, Axemen, rocket and nail Ogres, etc.) The only beef I have with it is that the visual ambience of the place is too clean and light for the ugly "'eavy metal" Necrobrood ambient sounds he used. Still, it's a toughie to finish, that or I'm more crap than I realise.

A chap called Underworldfan has started a review site for Q1 and Cube SP maps (you can find out about Aardappel's Cube here.) Reviews include Ultramarine and Satarship Bunker.

An impromptu corkboard has a lot of Ontranto design documents pinned on it; what's depressing is the fact that I'm still going around in circles a bit. Then again, my self-imposed deadline is 31 December 2003, so if I can cruft up a quick start map and maybe skip a secret level, and the Mansions idea, at one map every two months I may be able to do this on time.

What's been eating my time are a couple of website redesigns: The larger (by bulk) is the renovation of the Tactical Nuclear Bubblebath — I never realised just how much stuff was up there. The other is a more professional site redo for an organisation.

Yesterday I was attending a sort of "Work Mentoring Day" for disabled people like myself all day. I'm unsure where this could go myself, but apparently it does offer the option of working part-time, which with all my projects I have on, would be very good. Here's hoping.

SV_KEEPALIVE 2 23 October 2002

Now I can finally update — now that exams are finally over.

Would you believe I had to reinstall PSP again? Yeah, that's right. I was trying to caption the latest E Motel, and... well... no line or shape drawing tools, the bezier selection tool doesn't work properly, yadda yadda ya. Some of the filter effects are k3wl though, so I may keep it.

Ontranto is limping along; Right now I'm working on the idea of making prefab "swamp pools", which I'll then bolt together. Maybe after that, I'll address the river map.

You're looking at a site using CSS now instead of <font> tags all over the shop. This should make rejiggery a lot easier and fix that <tt> bug.

There's been a couple of welcome Quake mods appearing: NotoriousRAY's Hexameron: Phase One and the long-awaited speedchainmap Subterranean Siege. Both have QuakeC, megaenforcers, great idbase architecture, rotating dingleberries and cool gameplay.

A Polish fellow called MaTi has released Satarship: Bunker, a base map done in Speedy's version of idbase. MaTi has released DM maps before, and this shows in a structure that is fairly undifferentiated; halls and rooms full of crates, very little light, and most of that minlighted. Progression is good, but more powerful and contrasting lighting would have made this better.

Finally, Fern's gone the same way as Shambler - his site's closed. The in-depth reviews are gone; now there's only links to stuff Shambles never reviewed. Damn and blast!

SV_KEEPALIVE 1 28 September 2002

Firstly, in my attempt to make this site more of a "portfolio" of my work, I've started a new section of files called "Projects". This'll link to any collaborative projects I've had more to do with than testing.

The first entry up there is Tronyn's massive Soul of Evil.

Argh! Three essays still to write and complete. Two exams to swot for. Three websites to update. One new image program to master, and... what else was there... Oh, yes. Cartoons. And Ontranto.

The new program is The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), chosen because I became sick of mucking about getting around PSP's evaluation timer. The GIMP is free, and it has some impressive features. However, the installation is tricky (you need at least three zips) and the way it runs isn't what you'd expect at all. Right now I'm using it to make screenies for an SOE page that'll act as part of a portfolio.

Ontranto's run into a snag... finding the right architectural style and texturing for the temple sections of the episode. It has to be something that won't look out of place as ruins, or underground, or well-kept. It also has to fit into the realist style of the episode as a whole. I've tried making my own tex, but they don't look too good. Daikatana's Greek textures are far too bright and colourless. And as for Kell's... I suspect they'll be done to death soon enough, and they're too clean anyway. I may have to bite the bullet and use Hexen II's Roman ones, since I used them in Towne anyway.

As essays go, though, one's almost finished but needs focussing; one has a framework, but needs fleshing out, and the other isn't even started yet. I've rented the video it's to be about but I never feel like watching it. This must change!

Worse, I drew a funny-lookin' space tanker called Slugbucket. I must not cave in. I must not cave in...

Here we go 30 August 2002

You'll notice that the shape of this page has changed; this is entirelydeliberate. As I attempt to break into the world of the employed, this site -home of several projects that I have not only participated in, but led,and brought to fruition - is going to take a major role as a billboardfor my talents.

Currently, as far as this site goes, I still have a lot of thumbnail making todo. In particular, the Guest List, and texture wads.

One thing you will notice is that many maps have been taken off the site andreplaced with "bundles" - F'rinstance, RC2 and RC3 are now in one zip, all myold 1998 maps are in one zip, my Rocket Arena maps are in one zip. The idea isto reduce the amount of "dead wood" by lumping it all together.

For now, though, I'll be testing it live, looking for any breakages. If you spotsomething, let me know ASAP, folks. Me? I'm outa here. Lectures start nextMonday, and I've still got essays to write and look... forward... to.

Change is Commencing! 26 August 2002

OK, the guest list code is finally working properly (thank God for arrays!), so I'm just shaking out some bugs before changing the default.asp file which powers this place. And the list files.

There may still be a few broken images and stuff after the changeover, but I'll try to stomp on them beforehand.

One of the neato things I've done is that anything in the Guest List will auto-link to a review (if I did one.) Everything is looking good, although I still have to make contact sheets for texture WADs. And go through the guest list and gussy up the thumbnails as well. Sigh... a Quakehead's work is never done!

See ya!

Shakeup in progress 18 August 2002

As I mentioned last week, I'm revamping this site a bit - better eye candy, slicker layout, blah blah woof woof. Here's what's happening:

The header is now a self-contained table. This makes it a lot easier to shift things around, and more to the point there's less scrolling to find a link. As a side effect the title graphics have been changed dramatically - tan replaced with blue, Stencil with Wide Awake - and it looks amazingly good. I oughta take some snaps of the existing format so y'all can see the difference.

The main function for displaying most articles - renderPage - has been overhauled as well, allowing for more flexibility in content. Best of all, if a file doesn't have screenies, no more broken image placeholders! Whee!

renderList just got fixed today as well - but it means I'll have to go through the list data files and alter them all to work properly.

I still have an load of screenies to take and/or resize, and some reviews that are still on the back burner. And there's the famous guest list too - I need to retake them screenies, maybe fluff out the remarks - hey! I've had an idea!

/me runs off to put his idea into action

Shakeup Coming 9 August 2002

You know, I've done a certain amount of 3D design, Quake mapping. Coding too. And then there's the major project, OUM, and all the QC for Tronyn's projects.

Discussions with the careers people at university led to the suggestion that I construct a portfolio of my mapping work.

Now, the easiest way for me to do that is to revamp the site a bit, emphasising my more reknowned works and underplaying the old, feeble ones. So, I'll be downloading my own maps, dusting them off, packing the older ones into single zips and uploading them again. And making lots of screenshots. And futzing the ASP scripts to do clickable links on the fly, which'll help with reviews as well. And kluging them to redirect you if you punch in an old link.

Schoolwork has been eating my ass, naturally, but with a two-week break looming this won't be such a problem for a while.

I've been considering revisiting Swamp and Towne in an eight map episode. I mean, vastly expanding what I did with those two maps, from scratch. With maybe some QuakeC to helpwith certain effects.

Lemme 'splain: When you look at either map, they're split into self-sufficient parts: Swamp,mine/cave and tomb, river, docks, cheapside, highside. And then there's the temple. You'd actually get inside the temple this time. And a start map makes eight. Any of these could be expanded to make an entire map. Hmm.

Return of QCAPE 9 July 2002

Many people, over time, have asked where they can find a QuakeC editor. It appears that a lot of older files have vanished, so I've uploaded my copy of QCAPE - the editor I've used on Operation Urth Majik, Coven of Ebony, Soul of Evil and any others I've forgotten. Look under The Toolkit.

Peekaboom has relaunched his site, which now acts as a repository of all the deathmatch maps he's collected and enjoyed. Yes, I am in there :)

RetroQuake has posted a review of a mod by Loki's Missions called Escape for Q2, giving it a 10. I have to say it's certainly impressive, especially with the cinematics and that massive canyon section, but a number of times I found myself searching for teeny tiny buttons that were the mission objectives, and hamstrung by being unable to make vital jumps. The story's well told though, central to the mod, and well worth a look as long as you have a more modern system than mine!

I know I have a number of reviews to do, and I should really get on and do them. Later, kiddies.

Ominous Rumblings 17 June 2002

Kell has finally released his long-awaited map pack Contract Revoked.

Kona has uncorked another Q1SP package, Nihilore. It's a two-map set done in a reekingly atmospheric "gothic/steampunk" style with plenty of modified grunts and enforcers. Reviews coming shortly.

Fern has on offer the four maps received for the latest 100-brush contest. RPG's S4WK offers some impressive outdoors architecture peppered with rather unimpressive l33t talk, Distrans' Dismembered Crates is only let down by the ending, and the other two... er, yes.

PoX has released a nice package of extras for Q1 that emulate some of the cooler aspects of Q2, such as func_water and ladders. Don't look at me when I'm slobbering!

Even More Recent Non-Developments 4 June 2002

Kona's about to release a Q1SP pack called Guncotton. As a beta tester, I can say it's gonna be cool. Expect lots of modified monsters and stunning architecture.

Tyrann is putting the final touches on a nice Q1DM, Dark Ritual. This is shaping up to be a damn good piece of deathmatch.

A fellow called Qubix is releasing a new Q1 episode piecemeal, and the first piece is called Security Base. Simply put, you find yourself amidst your rapidly mutating fellows and have to find a way out. It's fairly short, and you end up plinking at Spawn with shotguns, never pleasant. Expect lots of ambushes from dark corners and fairly plain architecture. Hopefully later maps will be better.

Recent Non-Developments 18 May 2002

I have finally graduated! Bachelor of Science. Ain't it grand?

Meanwhile, Ice Station Charlie has been delayed due to playing with something called Gensurf. I'd hoped it would be useful, but 'twasn't. Rats. Also I've been making a prefab of a marine's drop pod, since I need one and there aren't any to be found anywhere.

Here's something else: I'm working on a web comic called E Motel. Have a look at what I've done so far (all five panels) and let me know what you think. If you can be bothered to do so, you lazy, apathetic, indifferent piles of adolescent yak smegma.

Something interesting 5 May 2002

Ten days until the graduation ceremonies. Eep.

With the release of Freshteam's arctic base set, I've started work on something I call Ice Station Charlie. Really I could do this theme in straight Stroggos, but this makes the start fairly interesting. I forsee a three-map package, hopefully without too much bad geometry. I've just had to toss my original idea for the outdoor sequence because it was too damn open...

Playing catch-up 13 April 2002

You know, in all the time I've worked on SoE, I've never actually seriously played the game. I've just loaded up one or two maps to look around, look for bugs manifesting, check that a fix actually did.

Well, I finally finished the first SP episode (normal skill) and was impressed. This set - putatively ugly Bulow sky aside - is well made, colourful as all get out, fits together perfectly, and really presents a challenge (cough, dragons, cough). BTW, a dragon is no match for a shambler.

Someone suggested that the "grunts in clown suits" could have been replaced with the archer and crossbow using dudes from Fantasy Quake. Now, I decided to find out how this flew, so downloaded the thing - you can get it here (thanks Shamb :) - it's 23MB, dates from about 1997/8, and has some interesting stuff, but is, alas, undocumented. The original site appears to be dead as, too.

The mod has six player classes and fifteen maps in two episodes, complete with "shops" in unlikely places. Since there's no documentation, you'll probably be pretty lost as to what impulse does what. And also as to what you have to do next, as I was. Often. Feh... At least I can use the resources for my own ends.

Oh - I finally got my claws on a copy of Quake II - in a DVD-style case for $15. The first time I tried to install (CD flavour), the installer crashed. So I tried the typical. That worked, but eventually I decided that faster load times weren't worth half my free disk space, so uninstall, and re-CD-install. Worked.

Now, if you have QII and are looking for a good user-made SP map, get Spog's "Small Pile of Gibs" through Ten Four. It's a bleeding masterpiece, and the architecture is incredibly well designed and interconnected. I wish I could map as well as this. Heck, I wish I could map, period.

Here's a useless list from my Zip disk cleanup, in which I separated different types of stuff onto particular disks:

  • MOD files: 2
  • MP3, RealAudio and WAV files: 4
  • Program files: 2
  • Quake related crap: 5
  • Miscellaneous scrag-ends: 1

SOE finally released 4 April 2002

Yeah, I know, it's a bit late to mention this, but I will anyway. The massive (23MB zipped) mod Soul Of Evil, comprising 10MB+ of new models, skins, QuakeC and sounds, 2 episodes of 5 levels each, 5 deathmatch/DMSP maps, and three secret levels, is finally released. (Hey, where'd everybody go? :)

So far the only bugs mentioned have been a few which seem to bite some people and not others. Namely, cutscenes and custom episode end texts.

One of the most irritating things about the number of Quake ports out there is that some mods will crash certain engines for no obvious reason, yet work fine on others. Case in point: Poxbots - crashes WinQuake, fine with DOS- and MacQuake. Why? Dunno.

Or The Cassandra Calamity. Sometimes the end text crashes; heaven knows why. I've even had trap_lightnings and/or func_particlefields crash Quake on some maps, yet not others. What causes this? Who knows? (probably the same gremlin behind Canonical_Vector: degenerate.)

Ultimate Quad Capture Reviewed 2 April 2002

I actually started this review ages ago, but I finally finished it. Now CocoT and all of youse can find out what I thought of UQC.

Apart from going to Auckland for a conference the weekend before last, I've been working on stomping out the last few SOE bugs, particularly in DM and DMSP play. Hopefully I've squashed them all.

One last thing... 7 March 2002

Once upon a time, I promised Aardappel some code to allow customised map cycling. Alas, my stupidity didn't allow me to figure out what was going wrong until much too late. However, I finally realised the problem was one lousy line!

So now, since it appears to work, you moddy types can bung this inelegant solution into your own mods. Here's how to include map cycling.

The Everlasting Institute of Loneliness 6 March 2002

I give up.

For some time I haven't been able to put brushes together to produce anything resembling a promising map. I tried Biff's idbase, but all I got was a cheesy start map. I tried Mr Clean's gothics, but... nothing.

Let's face it, kids. I'm all mapped out.

But, I believe I will stick around and see what cometh up next. Good stuff is still appearing, and that includes TOChrisQuake v1.1 - a modified software engine that gives you the usual fancy crosshairs, interpolated motion and skyboxes.

And lemme tell ya: skyboxes fuggin' rock! (Although you do have to re-palette them so they work OK.) These things provide a sense of place - take Misyu's MISDM12 for an example - that straight brushwork cannot do. Makes you wish Quake had this in the first place, huh?

Oh - I've a few pressies for y'all. Three succulent texture wads converted from Q3:

So, why am I merely going to barrack from the sidelines? Well, there's several reasons.

First: The current state of the Q1 art is leaning heavily towards increased detail, modified GL engines and other high-powered stuff that my elderly computer simply cannot handle, and cannot be upgraded to handle. According to TOChrisQuake, my framerate can drop as low as 4fps, usually. Nonetheless I will continue to play any interesting Quake stuff that appears on Qmap, and make rude remarks about it.

First-and-a-halfth: Even if I finally got a decent computer, would I bother coming back? I look at the latest FPS, even Quake II, which I've wanted, and I wonder if I really need to play them. Then again, I may feel differently in a year or two. (And Duke Nukem Forever may actually release!)

Second: I'm trying to kick off a career. I've recently been informed that I've completed all requirements for a Bachelor of Science, and will graduate in May. Therefore, I'm now more interested in starting a career - and went into town today in order to find out what my summer course results were, drop off money for the academic garb, and oh yeah there was a brief but memorable piss-up too.

Third: I've been bitten by the cartooning bug. However I'm still feeling my way into this - my figure drawing needs work, and the plotting, and the sheer knuckling-down - so don't expect to see anything soon, like a successor to Tom Scott!

Fourth: I'm sick and fucking tired of being alone. I'm thirty now, and if I had the chance I'd write a letter to my 1989 self with lots of advice about what to do and not do. It's time I started looking for love... no, friendship first. Love can come later. This would be easier if I actually had a clue about what to look for and how to find it. And how to find out how to find it.

Tryin' to give the muse CPR 4 March 2002

There's been a few interesting events on the Quake front, so let's see 'em:

CocoT uncorked a multiplayer mod called Ultimate Quad Capture where you have to nab all sorts of pretty coloured quads in order to win. However, you're then literally a marked man - there's an ID number on your back - and it's not as easy as you might think. There's also a load of options I haven't investigated yet, but hey, this baby's promising. Note though that it will not run under DOS as it uses long file names. I'll complete a review shortly.

Kona has produced a three-map monstrosity called Necrobrood. It's done in a magnificently evil and twisted version of id stone/metal, and features some of the best grunt and enforcer skins, creepy ambient sounds and hard-ass gameplay I've ever seen. Go get. Better still, Here's what I have to say.

Necros then sprogged Once Upon Atrocity hard on its heels. A huge interconnected mass of Q3 styled badness only really let down by high r_speeds and a truly atrocious case of fullbright speckling. If you have GL capability, use that, and turn fullbright support off. Again, here's my review.

I believe I am J00R D4DDY 30 January 2002

Ladies, gentlemen and those not covered by the above categories, allow me to give you my review of the Coagula Contest. Do not expect any great shakes in the rigour department. I'm busy with schoolwork.

Further, I hath learned from The Lieutenant that I have one of the best Quake mapping sites in 2001. Something to do with content. Mmm... must add more eyeball violence... then I conquer the world! Muahahahaaaa...

We have a winner 24 January 2002

Well, how about that? I won Tronyn's Coagula Contest! Now be good - um - whatever-you-ares and go see how things stacked up. Good thing it finally released. I've been meaning to update with some news for weeks.

Tronyn has given up on his Roman Wilderness of Pain and uploaded the resultant scraps for everyone's interest. What they are is a mix of bloody id metal, Rogue's tan/brown Roman texturing, Zerstörer metals and meat; A rather peculiar blend that doesn't really seem to work in my eyes except in one or two pieces (map Q is very exciting.)

Tyrann has released version 0.92 of his corker lighting program TyrLite. This version supports the external .lit file for coloured lighting instead of the more controversial BSP30 map format and fixes a few problems with minlighting.

As for me... I guess I'm simply not in the mood for mapping; I've been fiddling with scraps here and there, but little is gelling. Maybe I should just stop after all. Not update the site, not mess with Worldcraft... just stop. Then again, perhaps it's more like "get these effing papers out of the bloody road, graduate, then, once you either go back for another degree or find work, start fiddling around again."

Actually, there's an interesting discussion of Qmap about the latest games like Return to Castle Wolfenstein (acronymed to RtCW, which I always seem to expand to "ringing the cart wound", please pass the straitjacket) and Medal of Honour, and how much harder someone mapping for them has to work to achieve or surpass the quality of the "stock" maps nowadays.

Right. On to something else... Dave Kelly's comic Living in Greytown finally drew to a close on the 10th of January, although as I said earlier the end really began around October. Mr Kelly's style is a rich, colourful, soft-edged one, making heavy use of what look like pastels and coloured pencils. Living in Greytown is a charming yet adult tale of a town run by a devil called Phil that you cannot escape, and its eventual fate.

Also steadily drawing to a close is Jennifer Diane Reitz' Unicorn Jelly. At first it appears to be simply a cutesy pixellated story about a jelly that wants to be a unicorn, but the story quickly deepens. Surprises, gaming stories, and an incredibly detailed universe lurk within.

Trying to figure out which way to go 9 January 2002

Recently I've been working more or less exclusively on Tronyn's massive mod Soul of Evil, trying to get the QuakeC done and delivered so we can all release it and go home.

In case you missed it, he's finally released A Desert Dusk 2: Scorpion Garrison. Imagine a weathered, worn complex nestled inside desert canyons, festering with Centroids (those *!?ing robot scorpions), fantastic architecture and incredibly fierce gameplay. I'm not kidding: this mod not only partakes of Phantasmal Garrison's layout, but also it's difficulty!

Also, the Coagula contest is almost ready for release, with the judges giving the five survivors a poke and prod. Starbuck's enormous 37000-portal vis-breaker Oxymoron was finally dropped after a power cut at Tyrann's scratched it from the running. Me? I'm more or less running middle place. We'll see. I'm interested in what the other two maps are like...

On the DM front, Jaj has signed off Quake mapping with the sexy Frag! Frag! (til you drop). Three three-level atria full of GeN textural goodness and fraggies. Also, Vondur has uncorked Aghast which is a very nice olde skool 3-level map, sort of a cross between DM1 and Solarfall. Well worth a looky.

Meanwhile, in my continuing attempts to convert visitors into slavering Elf Life addicts, I tell you this:

Baughb is getting married.
Filis is heartbroken.
Something is not right here.

Well, actually, Carson's got everyone speculating like mad, then wandered off for another week. Look for my posts on the forum, under "Wedding Speculation". I swear, I've four of the damn things so far...

Finally, you've probably noticed that things have changed on the sidebar front. This is due to space considerations: Since I'm gearing up to do reviews, this has the possibility of making that sidebar waaay too long for the page. The idea? Only expand that menu for the region you're in.

As for reviews, all I have at the moment is an oldie for Than's The Final Threat. More will come eventually. Depends how my mappage gets on.

2001 News

 

Tac Nuke Bubblebath  The E Motel  Elf Life Guide