An Interview with Matthias Worch


Could you briefly introduce yourself (age, location…) and tell us when you were most active in the Q1 community?

I'm Matthias Worch, 32, now living in Sonoma, California. I used to make Doom and Quake maps from 95 to 97, and worked on a few professional games like Unreal 2 and Lair since then. Today I'm a project lead at Factor 5, still making video games.

How did you get involved in the community?

I was heavily involved in the Doom editing community, making the jump to Quake only came naturally. We were all following Quake's development and were ready for it as soon as it hit the Internet.

What Q1 contributions are you best-known for? Which of your works is your personal favorite?

I made a single-player episode called Beyond Belief that made some waves when it was released. That's probably also my favorite work (but don't ask me to pick a map), although Arma3CTF comes close. I just like the white brick look of that map.

What was your initial motivation to work for Quake?

I think it was as much a matter of pride as a forgone conclusion. There was a lot of talk of all the great things that people would be doing once Quake was released, although many had not created any Doom levels. I was one of the better Doom mappers, so moving over and showing people "how it's done" (in a friendly competitive way) was good motivation.

Of course the jump to 3D was also a big factor - there's only so much you can do in the Doom engine, and many 3D ideas for my Doom levels had to be discarded. I could resurrect those ideas in the Quake engine and go to places that the Doom engine hadn't been able to go.

Do you still have a website/links where we could check out/rediscover your stuff?

I run, and there's quite a bit of Quake material. I still have all the downloads for my levels, game retrospectives and a backlog of blog posts about the old games.

What are your best memories about this community?

It was a very tight knit group of people, and everybody felt like they were part of something that would be huge in the future. The only other game you could mod for at the time was Duke Nukem 3D, so the general public was likely to pay attention to your work. Meeting people in real life was incredibly cool at the time, too, this was the time the first big LAN parties started.

Are you regularly playing Quake? Are you trying out mods, maps and engines?

I just redid my webpage and had to verify lots of information on the old stuff, so I looked through all my old levels again. Lots of fun, although I didn't do things like play through the entire Beyond Belief episode. I just hopped around :) I haven't tried out other Quake maps or mods since 97, too much other things have been going on since then. But back in the days Quake was all I did for a while, constantly trying out other single-player levels and wasting nights and weekends on endless deathmatch sessions.

Have there been other games you have been playing a lot since you left the community (if you did)?

Lots :) Pretty much every FPS shooter, I have to stay up-to-date with the competition. In recent times I've quieted down a bit, but there's still many games I can get absorbed into. I think the last game I finished was Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Or the PS3 Ratched&Clank? Not sure, one of those. Now I'm looking forward to Gears of War 2, Resistance 2 and a whole bunch of stuff I'm forgetting right now.

How would you describe the Q1 community right now? Is there any contribution that really impressed you in the last couple of years?

I don't have a good handle on the community, but when I was rediscovering Quake for my webpage I was surprised by how many active community pages are still out there. I've read reviews for some impressive recent SP mods as well, but haven't played any of them yet. I'd have to say that to me the Quake engine ports are the most impressive pieces of work, because they allow me to go back to the old maps and rediscover them with wildly enhanced graphics. I liked Tenebrae when it came out, and now am running ezQuake with the high-res texture packs.

How do you picture the future of the community? Do you (objectively) think that people will still be modding/mapping for it in, say, 10 years from now?

If the source code hadn't been released Quake might very well be dead, but as long as people can keep the engine up-to-date with modern games there will be people making content for the engine. I don't know if Quake single-player maps will still be around in 10 years, the gameplay is getting further and further removed from modern sensibilities. But I can see people using the Quake engine for something.

Your #1 secret special ingredient to a good map (imagine a newbie asking for your advice)?

Have lots of ambition, lots of tenacity and good perspective on your own work. Approach your project with the intention of making it at least as good as the professional offerings out there, stick with the project through the first 10 failed attempts, and keep a realistic perspective so that you know when you have reached that level you were aiming for.

Of course that's very broad advice, but it's a good recipe for approaching anything professional in life. Just remember that you *can* make something that's quality if you put enough time and effort into learning it. Some things come harder to you or me than others do, but everything is possible. And when you're there, learn to trust your intuition. I never had much playtesting for my old maps, but I made sure that all of them were as compelling as I would like to see in a map. If you don't feel your own map, other people probably won't, either.

What is the question you would have like to be asked (but weren't), how would you have answered it and how pissed are you for me not thinking about it?

I'll take the opportunity to say that it's very cool to be a small part of Quake's legacy. I saw a forum post the other day from somebody who fondly remembered playing Beyond Belief when he was 7 or 8 years old (his dad had installed it for him). That's cool :) Seeing the BBelief speedruns (another one) has also been a lot of fun, it's amazing what shortcuts people have been able to find.