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Tech Tips

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    PlanetQuake | Features | Tech Tips | 1-29-2000

Tech Tips
by Love2Play

1/29/2000: Shattered Realm

Was there any mod out there that inspired you to become part of a mod making team?

MadS: Back when I was modding for Unreal, one particular one caught my eye by the name of: "Sleepwalker TC". Their page was really professional and it appeared that they were serious about getting it done. I had a lot of other things going on at the time, so I wasn't able to commit as much as I had hoped, and ended up leaving them. I think they are *still* trying to make a demo.

Kiltron: I still to this day have the impressions some mods have left in my mind. Not mentioning in any particular order, but I enjoyed Assimilation, Generations, Chaos. Those were just a few of the many mods that were put out, and done well too from some of the other talents among the community. I've always wanted to be a part of a mod team to see how it is to work with one, and so far, it's been a great experience. I guess it preps you up for if and when you do land a job in the industry.

Mr.CleaN: not really

Senn: Not really, I have always liked the Rocket Arena mods and of course Three Wave CTF but my inspiration has always come from the id maps. I like straight deathmatch.

derPunkt: No, as I said before, I rarely get influenced/inspired. The main reason was MadShader, actually. He sent an offer and I was really in a doubt should I accept it or not. But then I've seen his models and I thought, hey, this guy rocks, his models would be awesome to skin and we could do some really good looking stuff. And that was it. The rest of the guys are experts at what they do, so I think we could get far with this.

What do you think are the most useful tools a person can use if they are interested in making maps/mods for Quake?

MadS: hmmm, that's relative to the user's preferences and skill levels. I use Nendo to model everything, then I bring it into 3Dstudio Max3 to fine-tune the mesh before skinning/animating. I also use UView to setup the UV mapping for the skin. Then I paint all my skins with the invaluable Photoshop 5. In the future, what I really wanna learn is Maya, Softimage, or Mirai.

Kiltron: Tools that I actually use on a daily basis when creating work for mods, or maps, are very common to the industry within companies. You have your 3dsmax, which is almost the standard these days when it comes to character, and animation design. There are others, but I stick with 3dsmax. Photoshop of course is by far in my opinion, the best graphics program available on the market today. There's just so many amazing things you can do with that one program alone, and if you know what you're doing, you don't need all those extra plug-ins and filters. It comes with all the necessities you need. And you can't forget Q3Radiant! What can I say, it's the best @&%$ map editor there is, and probably ever will be.

Mr.CleaN: Q3Radiant! I've also used Paint Shop Pro and Bryce4 to play with textures and sky environments.

Senn: Q3Radiant, Photoshop and a copy of Winzip =)

Kami0: The internet is probably the most useful tool for making mods. Someone who has never touched Quake can come in and learn to make mods relatively fast because of the vast amount of tutorials that have come out over the years.

derPunkt: If you are looking at it from skinners/graphicians point of view there are only two rules: Photoshop and Max (Lightwave is ok, but I don't use it.) Of course you can always get that cheaper thingie called Paint Shop Pro, it can do alot of stuff. But I preffer Photoshop coz I grew up on it =).

What are some of the pitfalls in mod authoring and map making?

MadS: That's tricky. You have to find a talented team first, and if you get real lucky, they will all get along and cooperate instead of trying to overrun everything. AS for map-making, I think it's a challenge to hit the right nuances and moods in a setting without overdoing it.

Kiltron: The hardest thing in my opinion when it comes to mod making is actually pulling it all together once you start getting larger quantities of the game designed. Bringing all the ideas together is a tough task. And I really do feel for a programmer starting from scratch maintaining a system that makes sense with all of our files. But I guess to a programmer it's the same to him as it is for me a mapper. A pitfall in map making, which I don't really consider anything when it comes to map making a real pitfall, but rather more look at it as just something that comes with the package. If you design maps, their not gonna turn out perfect the first time around. It consume a large amount of time to play test it, and get things looking and feeling the way you want them. And the only drawback when it comes to map making is the time put into it. And once it's complete, and done right, then you can really relax...well...for a bit, then it's on to the next one! :)

Mr.CleaN: Well, from what I've learned, if you're going to do a mod with any sort of team (even if it's one other person) it's good to make sure that everyone has the same level of dedication to the project. Some respectable amount of skillz doesn't hurt either =o) As far as mapping goes, there are more pitfalls than I could name here.

Senn: No sleep =) On my Aliens style map for Shattered Realm it wasnt uncommon for me to work on it for 12 - 18 hours at a time. I think my hard work and sleepless nights paid off though, I am really quite happy with how its turning out, it looks nothing like anything in Q3... and it only took me about 3 weeks to produce the map and all the textures =D

Kami0: Many people don't have the time to help with mods. A mod needs an immense amount of time to get out. Plus you need dedication. You may be able to get half your mod done in a day but will you be motivated to ever finish the other half?

derPunkt: Well, I am not exactly a person to give a comment on this question, but if you are doing gfx I have only one tip. Ask your art director everything. Its pointless to make a good looking skin/picture/model, when thats not what he is looking for. Ask him 10 times, you never know when he will change his mind. And use alot of layers =))))).

Can you give some key elements that you think should go into map making or planning the mod? What are the "experts" looking for?

MadS: hmm, as for mod making, I think that you need to find the elements in games that you love, and try to marry those concepts in a fun and entertaining way. I think there comes a point when it can get ridiculous and you are trying to shoot for too many gameplay elements that only serves to oversaturate the gaming experience. Find the right balance of gameplay and simplicity is the hey, I believe, in making a successful game. Half-Life is the perfect example of this, as is Metal Gear Solid (Imo).

Kiltron: Me on their payroll that would be nice..heh! But seriously when it comes to laying down the ground work for a map, it usually starts on a small scratch of paper or whatever. You kinda really have to know how the game is played, looked at, & created inside and out when you're making a map/mod for it. That one vision you get about what type of map you're going to create should remain embedded into your mind the whole process through. Also it helps to know what players like to see. Now there are different expectations hence creating a DM game or an SP game. More than likely in an SP game you will find environments that are, and tend to be a bit more interactive vs. the ones in a DM game that would be more fitting and designed for the masses of people that will be playing on them at once. Of course you want your maps to look top notch, very playable, and fun for that matter. All those key factors will make for a good map the way I see it. And in the midst of it all, you still want to make that player just wanna walk around and look at everything and just think to themselves! "Wow!" What I feel that the experts are looking for out of their employees, is the ability to be multi talented. This is a hard thing to achieve too. Of course each company usually has someone doing the specifics that they are most talented with for the game. Mapper, Texturer, Programmer, etc. I think that a company would hire someone they can count on for a number of things they could contribute to their game. Also keep in mind, meeting deadlines, working under pressure at times, redoing things you've spent alot of time on, and always having that grasp of knowledge to indulge in learning new techniques and never slacking is always a plus! A motto of mine, "Give Them What They Want!"

Mr.CleaN: There are some pretty standard elements that are usually considered in level design. Among the most important are: gameplay, map flow, item placement and balance, thematic consistency, texture usage and architecture. Mapping is both an art form and a science. You want to design a creative and interesting environment, but you have to learn to optimize that creativity within the boundaries of the engine. As far as planning a mod, I would say the most important aspect is to have a clear plan for the mod including features, storyline, etc.

Senn: When I plan a map I sketch out all the big areas on paper before I start building... next to my sketches I also jot down ideas for the map like texture choices, major weapon placement, special items, overall map themes and in this case for Shattered Realm, I try to develop a story behind the map. The maps are designed with a character in mind, kind of like that characters home, so I try to make the environment fit the characters personality.

Kami0: You need a scanner, that is one of the most useful things ever. You can draw something on a scrap of paper when you have an idea, scan it, then type some notes under it and you will never lose that idea. You must always be thinking about what you want in the mod.

derPunkt: Hmmm, I follow a simple rule. Only ONE guy does the design. It rarely happens that you have 2 designers thinking the same way. I do weapons, MadS doing characters and Senn and Kiltron are doing maps, and yes, we are designing those things individually but everything goes through MadS. That way you we won't end up with something cute, like Mickey Mouse, running around gothic cathedral.


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