Q4CTF7 - Tremors

Mar 27, 2006

I had never made a (successful) Capture the Flag map before Andrew Weldon and I started this one (and having only designed half of it, technically I still haven't). Q4CTF7 as a whole, though, was very successful. Andrew laid out a cave based on ramp jumps, overlapping bridges, and other trickery, I surgically attached a base from a CTF speedmap left over from a slow day, and for added boldness, we decided on an entirely underground, skyless theme with some new CTF-colored Stroyent textures.

Unfortunately, this led to near critical-mass levels of pipes. It worked very well for the theme, but looking back, I have deep regrets rivalling those that followed the crate incident of '99.

We approached this map unafraid of the large connected spaces, feeling empowered by the things we had learned on Quake4 about getting the best performance out of the engine. Secure in the knowledge that "all this will batch like really well" we marched forward and arrived at a map that ran even worse than Quake4 did before its maps were optimized. On top of that, the number one running complaint about this map was "it's too dark." It didn't help that one of our goals was to make the first Q4 multiplayer map that didn't have a global ambient light level.

After a great deal of anguish, I reduced the gloominess level by a fair deal (managing to preserve the pure black shadows) and made fairly painful sacrifices in the cave to bring things under control. Before all this happened, the cave had a number of different blends, with rock transitioning to dirt transitioning to requisite piles of sand and so forth, and lamps anchored in the rock casting little localized pools of light. That all had to go, sadly, and since then I've never been entirely happy with the "Rock1/Rock2" texturing or the single gigantic sunny-day-rivaling light. It runs with sixteen players, though.

This map was also a playground for pipeline experimentation for me, with mapmodels such as the cave and the "bendy area" done in Maya7 (previously only used for Q4 character models and props) and map mirroring assistance provided by a Python script I hacked up.

Responsibility: Construction, terrain modelling, lighting, and performance adjusts. Layout and item placement with Andrew Weldon.

Quake 4 id Software 2005.