Websitebob Titlepants

Thu, Feb 17th, 2005 | 3:50am

For your convenience I will rank the unrelated keyboard-mashing in this update in order of descending relevance, so you can just read until you see something more interesting out of the corner of your eye.

A couple people have emailed me over the past few years and asked where those lovely old tutoriarticles I used to have regarding deathmatch maps and stuff have gone and why don't I put them up on my new site? "I fully intend to do that, really," I say, which remains true for about an hour, "but now that I've done a bit more mappery than I had when I wrote them, they seem disorganized and dated, and I don't want to repost them without some significant rewriting," which is also true, usually for a bit longer.

Now, I have Important Projects (ones with attached deadlines and/or deep personal meaning) and Not So Important Projects (things people ask me to do in an email), and as soon as I make a promise to someone that I'll get right round to a Not So Important Project real soon, I wake up a few hours later in a ditch by the parkway or something with no recollection I ever intended to do any of those things. Then six months later someone else writes me a very similar email and GOTO 10.

I suppose where I'm really going with all this is to mention that the "I intend to put them up" state recently managed to outlast the "I want to rewrite them first" phase just long enough for me to upload the stupid things and add them to the stuff page in their original and nearly unmodified forms. Since I started mapping with the knowledge contained therein and I turned out okay, I suppose the articles are at least a good starting point, but none of it is to be taken as gospel.

My new year started with a bang, insofar as the sound a 120GB NTFS-formatted Western Digital makes when its master file table goes tits-up can be described as a "bang." Much data was salvaged, but unfortunately some wasn't, including the last month's worth of source code modifications for Byzantine, as well as every map I've ever made, starting with Doom. This makes Matt sad. While yes, most of those maps are still available for download, I don't have the uncompiled .maps for any of them which, if you're not a mapper, be assured are very important for things like modifying the maps in the future, proving to people like game studios I want to work for that I did actually do them myself, as well as the ever-present sentimental reasons.

Almost all of that stuff was on the last hard drive I had crap out on me, the IBM DeathStar that succumbed to the scratch of death like apparently all IBM drives do. It's still accessible and I'm positive I kept the damn thing, but thorough searches of the apartment here and the house that produced me have turned up no IBM hard drives, functional or not. I'm sure I wouldn't have given it to Chris, almost as sure as I am that he wouldn't want it, but if I did he'd have formatted it anyway so there's not much point in asking. People suggested I put it in the freezer, which is dumb, and that I try booting from an NTFS-enabled Linux CD and seeing if any more data shows up, which should prove to be much less dumb, to the point of being smart, just as soon as I get my hands on such a CD.

Byzantine is otherwise moving right along, as all projects placed under the oversight of Darth Pasquale do. At the moment I'm concentrating on setting up in-game cutscene pipelines - getting the two main characters modelled, textured, rigged, and walking around in game spouting witticisms when you click on them (which you'd know if you were tenacious enough to explore the previous link a little). Once I have a minute or two of cutscene work done (about 25% of the total necessary for Byzantine as I have it planned) I'll be moving on to the part of the project I should have started in August: "orange alphas" of all three maps. Building stripped-down versions of the maps without such superficial cruft as "textures" has a few advantages, namely that I can make quick and sweeping changes without having to redo much brushwork, I can be more free with shapes that will inspire textures later on, and I can produce a Byzantine that is completely playable in its final gameplay state from beginning to end so I can finally see what it'll be like.

There is, of course, a mounting problem. When I'd foist my gameplay alpha on people to get some more opinions and suggestions, there was always some reason why they couldn't give me any. Initially it was a consistent "it wont start, your mod sux" to which I would respond "you need to patch your game, you silly bastard." Recently, though, the argument has become, with increasing frequency, "I don't have Doom3 installed anymore." Now, I can completely understand this - if I weren't making a mod for it, I'd have uninstalled Doom3 the moment I finished it, if not before. It worries me, though. By the time Byzantine is done, is anyone going to have it installed at all? Surely anyone that only liked Doom3 enough to finish it and delete the folder isn't going to reinstall the game just because they saw some thing on Blue's News about a single player mod somebody did, whether or not they're aware that I've gone out of my way to make it not play anything like Doom3.

I do this stuff because I find it fun, and I want to upload the finished products and let other people find them fun too, but since I "came onto the scene" with Coriolis Storm, downloads have been tapering off at a consistently exponential rate independent of how good the maps are. Add to that the fact that Doom3 editing is now so much more labor-intensive that it's starting to skirt the line between play and work ... and we have ourselves a big problem.