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    PQ | Features | Mailbag | May 12, 2000

PQ Mailbag

Friday I'm In Love

Not with anyone specific, or with anyone specific, just in love in general. In love with all the great coverage of E3 we're getting from, actually. In love with the song "Purple Rain". In love with Quake 3: Team Arena! In love with the PQ Mailbag; in love with incoherence!

This Map Is Good Fun

Is it, or are you simply on crack? That's a good question. In his editorial "What Makes a Good Map?", RiO goes into great detail on, surprise surprise, what makes a good map. This information is invaluable for all you aspiring map designers that hope to at least be better than Erik or Jeff K. Those who don't read this, please stay the hell away from a level editor.

From: (address deleted)
Subject: The 'soul' of a map?

Having read the last PQ editorial, there are a few things I want to dispel that most people would glean from this article that I feel are more or less totally uninformed and wrong:

1) That it's all about looks. This is a bad thing to think. Yes, Coriolis Storm does look very good, and I was proud of it when it came out, but in terms of how it plays, there are lots of long constricting hallways that suck to fight in, a rather bland item balance that does little to heighten tension, a layout mostly symmetrical and not very vertical, and some other rather foolish mistakes (remember I had to release a patch :P ).

2) That it's all about gameplay. This is where Rio's oddly unrelated point begins to come into play. Professional gamers turn graphics detail down all the way when playing, while the top four maps at LvL are all theme maps (one being the desert, two being Japan, and one being another giant bedroom). But ...

I've found that when you start building a map for its theme, that's what ends up being the best part of a map. Speed and gameplay may and usually do suffer at least a little, sometimes a lot. If you build a map for gameplay, sometimes the theme may not be all it's supposed to be. But ...

How the end users should really rate the maps they play is on how much fun the map is, and nothing more. A map can be fun and exciting because it's set in a rusty old desert garrison, but that wears out. Lun3DM1 will likely go out of style soon if it hasn't already, and hopefully not stay on any top ten lists any longer than it deserves.

The kind of "fun" you get from the rush a map gives you, the tension, the challenge, the thrill that a mapper can induce by laying out and arming the maps he makes in a skillful, calculated design ... that's the kind of fun that endures, that's a good and proper fun. A map definitely has to pay enough attention to the looks of a map that he doesn't bore or repulse the player with unoriginality or lack of skill, but looks should never be the top source of enjoyment, when the fun should really come from the gameplay.

That, from the point of view of the author of Lun3DM1, is what makes a map truly fun.

Subject: What makes a good map ?

Hi, I just read your article on PQ intitled "What makes a good map ?". After reading it, my first emotion was disapointment because before reading it, I was thinking to my self "Ah great, I found an article that will point me in the right direction as a first time map maker !". Five minutes later, I thought about what you said and realized that there is no real guide as to how to make a good map. It's exactly like you said. It's based on each individual's tastes. There is no way that someone will find an idea that will please everbody. Maybe the idea will please 20, 50 or 70% but never 100%. I think that's what new mappers tend to do. Find an idea that will please every body and will eventualy concentrate all theire energy on that tought and take days or weeks to build theire map.

As a first time mapper, I find my self in a situation where I had a good idea. I was thinking on buildingh a PAK with maps based on a specific theme. At about 75% completion of my first map, I noticed a problem that was jeoperdizing my idea. My maps were using rooms too big for the Quake-2 engine to draw everything. Some parts were missing when playing it. I tried to downsize them but the problem was still there. I then learned about the limitations of the engine. I had to concentrate on another format but keeping the same theme principle. Even then I still had the problem and my R_SPEEDS was in the 800. I was on my fourth reformating trial of my maps and had lost about one month of work time. I got to think about what's different from my maps compared to other ones on the Net. I then started to understand that in general, maps aren't made of many big or medium rooms. They are made of about one big or medium room with smaller rooms that sometimes looks like corridors. I was trying to build maps with lots of rooms (mediums + 1 big one). It made me think that maybe that's why I still have the disapearing act and the high R_SPEEDS. I will now try to go with the general idea. I don't know what it will look like. I have some ideas.

What I am aiming at with my personal experience, is that new mappers aren't aware of some facts like the limitations of the Q2 engine. Most of the time, there first map will be either too small, too big, too many corridors, too many rooms, ... That's what happens when you are building something without any guide or suggestions from an expert. I wish there were general rules about building maps that new mappers could benefit from them. I know that on our site, I am planning to do such a thing based on my experiences, but I first, I still need to build my PAK. You migth have a great idea but if you don't know the general rules, then ...

From: Jerry Atricks
Subject: What Makes A Good Map?

I agree with you for the most part. I'm a level reviewer over at the QIC and I see my fair share of good/bad maps. I think it's more of a personal taste of the person downloading the map rather than the mapper himself that makes a good map. I've played maps that don't appeal to me asthetically, but offer some good gameplay. However, I've also found that most mappers that actually take the time to make a map look good (ztn for example) will most likely also produce that map with good gameplay design in mind. So it's a win/win situation for mappers like that.

I'm making my first Q3A map and find that I'm breaking most of the mapping rules just to make it look good. Does it offer good gameplay? I won't know until it's finished and my team playtests it. (for screenshots, go here) But as it stands, I'm working on it more as an artist/architect rather than a game level designer. It will not only be a level that's fun to play, but something to load up by yourself and look around. There are brushes (oops, do you know what that word means yet?) in there that are only a few pixels thick. will they ever be seen? Prolly not. But the fact is, they are needed to give that part of the map it's look and feel.

When it's finally done and out there for all to download, it will basically be up to the people to decide if it's worthy of their archive or the recycle bin. as a level reviewer, I try to be non-biased and keep my personal tastes out of the review. However, I have come to find that I tend to score maps that LOOK GOOD higher than those that don'e. The new Q3A engine offers more than the Q2 engine did, so why not put it to use? The days of flat, angular levels are gone, so why not put that to use?

Jerry Atricks

From: Doki
Subject: Your mapping Article


I'm A mapper Myself. Love the way you handled the subject.

Indeed . A level needs more than eyecandy and gameplay. It needs a soul but where does it come from. Yeps

I believe the Maps that stay on your Pc are the maps that Are easy to play at first. NOt to easy but have the possibility to make it as complex as you want.
You can just play or You can make weird jump moves etc.

See: the edge

The stuff I'm trying to map is kinda Impossible but Hey I'll try... BOth fast and furious gameplay together with a little tension building.
The possibility to just hop on and play it as a newer player but if your an advanced player than you'll have a lot of options and jumps to experiment with.

The soul thing.. Has a lot to do with the combination of gameflow and look. If the less crowded parts look real good and have a lot of athmosphere this will build up tension and will create the soul of the map.

Even if your playing a Tourney map if you put in 2 hallways that are awesome to look at it's always on this spot where your the most scared your opponent will pop up.

To ME This is what really makes A map special. Soul is nothing mysterious. If you analyze a map really well you can find what makes it's soul..
In short You can use Eyecandy for a gameplay with soul..

Sometimes the soul has nothing to do with visuals but with layout..

For example the longest yard.. As your heading towards the rail gun your already spooked if your not going to be blowed out of the sky.
When you make it your planning your attack And hope you'll be able to rail somebodies socks of. No graphics just really short moments of silence so to speak.. If the server is damm busie this goes away but than the fun(soul) is pure carnage skill and reflexes. I love This level with 2 to 4 players...

Which kind of soul you like is a matter of taste but one thing I think remains: The levels who (Yes comparing it to a person hehe :) stay do have a soul.

They are human so to say.

Why do you continue playing a map well you love the soul of the map. It's just like your friends they have some things other people don't have.

All this is just an opinion ofcourse but I think it makes a lot of sense.

Man this is scary comparing maps to people friends.. Let's not compare them to women :) hehe.


From: Thorian
Subject: The point of the article has escaped me

In the recently published article pertaining to the qualities of "good maps," I failed to see the actual point. It seems to be a universal generalization that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Rather than provide insight into several influencial factors of map-making (proper usage of techniques, lighting, grasping the physical dimensions of the engine, etc), I basically read a page-long ramble about how I'm the only person who can decide what maps are good, but they are only good to me because what I like is different from what other people like. There ARE key factors which make or break a map. How else are there popular maps in the first place? Obviously the majority of players must like a certain map for some reason, and it is that reason which I was hoping to read about. The whole concept of an editorial is to publish an opinion to spurn further discussion. Unfortunately in this case, RIO decided to not formulate an opinion, and thus really misses a point.


An interesting cross section of feedback.. I picked a couple readers that didn't like the editorial, and a few that had positive opinions of it.. The feedback was split pretty much 50/50 on this editorial, which surely means that it's still a major bone of contention. But anyways.. Lord knows I've played more than my fair share of crappy maps. I used to download every level from LvL, whether it looked cool or not. I stopped that after that horrible coloured lighting accident. Crappy maps will always exist; there's no getting around it. But people will learn. What we really have to do is keep tutorials and editorials like this around, but concentrate on getting beginning mappers to not release the first maps they make. This, and only this, will improve the map scene.

On Page 2: Qu35+!0n5 & C0mm3n+5

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