Q1 SP design theories 2.
These two pages contain some detailed design theories, which suggest how to make a high quality Q1 SP map, by analysing the various aspects that contribute to high quality Q1 SP maps. They are written as general guidelines (which the exception of Theory 0 which is an absolute rule), and it's the overall quality of the map that is important, rather than fitting in with any specific suggestion here. They are also written solely from a player's (and a critical reviewer's) point of view, not a mapper's point of view.
Choose a theory:
Theories page 1:
» Theory 0: The basic golden rule of mapping.
» Theory 1: What makes a proper Q1 SP level???
» Theory 2: Common flaws to be avoided in Q1 SP levels.
» Theory 3: What makes a map look good???
Theories page 2:
» Theory 4: What makes a map play well???
» Theory 5: Other aspects of Q1 SP map quality.
Theory 4: What makes a level play well:
As with architecture a LOT of individual aspects contribute to a map having good gameplay,
and of course, gameplay is even more important than architecture is. It's not easy to
specify what makes gameplay good without huge lists of examples, but the various aspects can be
pointed out to give some indication of areas to pay attention to.
1. Overall balance:
Overall balance, at it's most basic definition, is the balance between easy and hard -
getting the level so that it is hard enough to be challenging, exciting, and satisfying to
complete, but at the same time easy enough to be survivable, reasonable and playable for
most players. Obviously there is a lot more to balance than that - as the following aspects
» Easy to hard progression:
Arguably the most important aspect of gameplay to consider, if only because at least 90% of
custom maps fail in this area. All it means is that the map should progress from an easier
start to a much harder finish - this produces the most fun and satisfying gameplay. It's
very important to take the following into account: At the start of the map, the player will
have a shotgun, no armour, very little room to move, and a need to stay healthy for the rest
of the map. At the end of the map, the player will have more weapons, some armour, often
most of the map to manoeuvre in, and it does not matter at all if they finish with 1% health
as it is the end. Therefore, the monsters and combat situations should be balanced according
» Final climax:
A big spectacular ending to a map is good - it gives a sense of accomplishment, it sticks in
your mind and provides a lasting experience, it produces excitement. This is common to most
forms of media - we like to have impressive and memorable endings to things. So a level
should have some sort of impressive and challenging ending, whether involves spectacular
architecture, brutal violence, extreme cunning or any combination of those.
» Not offputting at start or elsewhere:
The level shouldn't have any unfair sections that are impossible to overcome on first
attempts and generally induce a desire to give up on the level. This is particularly
important at the start of a level, when the player is undergunned, and is not yet immersed
in the level and the desire to complete it. Offputting situations could include "too" hard
fights, sections that require trick gameplay, instant death traps, situations that are not
survivable without prior knowledge, and more.
The level should be challenging - it should require the player to struggle and really put
some effort into overcoming it. Quake is all about fighting, so the player should have to
fight and be tested in the normal repetoire of fighting skills (aiming, moving, dodging,
reactions, tactics, weapons choice). This produces the most satisfaction at completing the
level, as well as excitement playing it.
» Fair and reasonable:
However, the level's challenge should be tempered with fairness, so that it is not
unpleasantly hard and overwhelming for the player. It is very hard to define what gameplay
is reasonable or not, but for each situation, the player should be challenged and usually
take damage, but should be able to survive, given the previous combat situations -
preferably when playing the map for the first time.
» Skill settings:
Of course, the major problem with balancing the difficulty of the level is that people have
different skill levels - some find Quake really hard, others find it really easy, and there
is a whole spectrum inbetween. It's a gnarly situation when a combat is exciting and fun for one player and frustratingly unfair for another.
So, the best way to ensure a map's gameplay will have the
broadest appeal is to ensure it has proper and effective skill settings - so that players
can chose the appropriate difficulty. The skill settings need to make a real impact on
gameplay, whether they affect monster types, monster numbers, or items.
2. Combats and combat situations:
The nitty gritty of combat - the fighting, where and how it is done. Without reeling of a
vast list of examples, it's not easy to give specific details of what makes a good combat/
combat situation - it's an area which requires strong ideas, testing, playing around and
tweaking, as well as perhaps experience of other good Quake combats.
» Varied gameplay:
Variety is the spice of life - and of Quake gameplay. So it's good to have all sorts of
different combat situations to keep the player interested and test the full range of their
playing skillz. Doing the same style of fighting repeatedly just gets boring and
uninspiring, so different combat styles should be explored. For examples, see the types of combats below.
» Exciting and fun situations:
Well, the combats have to be fun and exciting! It's there aren't any firm rules as to what makes a fun and
exciting combat, but it is likely to involve a combination of movement, plenty of shooting,
good monster use, a challenge, some cunning, and all set in an appropriate combat area.
» Staged combats:
Staged combats involve the map having combats that are specifically set up and designed,
rather than just placing monsters in the map with little thought for the resulting combat.
Having a combat idea or design produces more interesting combats than random combats. Again,
it's hard to specify what makes a good staged combat, but having a strong idea or theme
behind the combat is important, as well as good monster choice/usage.
» Dynamic combats:
I.e., combats that involve both the player and monsters moving a lot. This is a
good thing to include due to Quake's style of monster - most Quake monsters need/want to get
close to the player. Equally, it is possible to fight most monsters in the open without
being outgunned - due to the lack of instant hit weapons. So open combats which involve a
lot of running around, dodging, circling and avoiding hordes of blood thirsty monsters tend to work
particularly well in Quake maps.
» Other types of combats:
Aside from dynamic combats, there are many other styles of combat to explore. Not always
easy (or indeed necessary!) to categorise, but examples would include: brutal close up combats, shoot and duck combats, running combats, sniping
combats, tactical and planning combats, shock and reaction based combats, highly 3D combats, multiple monster
combats, stop/start combats and many more, and combinations of various combat styles. There's no saying which sorts of combats work best in a particular map/situation - they should
be explored and tested to find which are most fun and effective.
» Interesting use of architecture:
The architecture obviously plays a major part in combat, and it makes combat more
interesting if the architecture is well used. Architecture that can have an effect on
gameplay includes that which gives you cover, that which forces you out into the open, 3D
designs and structures, use of water, lava and slime, architecture that is dangerous on it's
own (the latter should be used with great care). All of these can spice up combats if used
effectively and carefully.
» Architecture easy to fight around:
Although the architecture plays an important role in combat situations, care must be taken
that it does not inhibit or adversly affect combat - for both the players *and* the
monsters. Architecture that is awkward to fight around, such as cramped areas, lots of
detail that is easy to get stuck on, narrow walkways, overuse of slime/lava/dangerous
scenery, is best avoided.
Hey, these are the things you actually fight, so it's important to pay attention to how they
are used to make combat good, exciting but not overwhelming.
» Good monster choice:
You need the right monsters for the map overall - this mainly includes having monsters
that fit well into the map's theme (no Knights in bases, for example), and making sure the
monsters will be effective and fun to fight in the map. It also includes striking a good
balance between small "cannon fodder" monsters, medium "staple" monsters, and large
"mini-boss" monsters. Sticking to a strong theme, awareness of what each
monster is like to fight, and tweaking the monster choice are the most important things here.
» Effective monster usage:
The monsters should be used well, and placed in situations where they are taking advantage
of their strengths, and not being hampered by their weaknesses. Particular attention needs
to be made to how the monster reacts, how close combat orientated it is, how manoeuvrable it
is, how avoidable it's attacks are, whether it needs to be used in numbers to be effective,
and whether it has any unusual advantages or disadvantages. Of course, using monster
effectively must be tempered by not using it *over-effectively* - it would be easy to use
some monsters to make them almost certain to kill the player, so the player needs a chance
to fight back.
» Awareness of monster fights:
One amusing feature of most Id games is that different monsters will fight each other if
they accidentally get attacked by another monster. In almost all levels, a few monsters will
fight each other or can be made to fight by the player - this obviously reduces reduces
their effectiveness, but also can be a source of humour, and an effective way for the player
to resolve a combat. It's important when using monsters to be aware of any monsters that
might fight each other, and whether this would be detrimental to the gameplay.
And this is what you use to fight the monsters with. So a careful balance needs to be struck
having too few items and making the player really struggle, and having to many and the
player finding the map a walkover. How and when the player recieves items is also important
- most maps have items spread fairly evenly with a smooth progression of getting items, but
a few have large caches spaced out through the map with little inbetween. Either way seems
to work well, as long as the items are chosen and positioned carefully.
» Weapon/ammo balance:
It's important the ensure the player *just* has the weapons the need and nothing extra that
would make the gameplay too easy. Awareness of each item's strengths and weaknesses, and
their effects on each monster in the map is useful here. For ammo, it is essential that the
player has enough ammo to complete the map, as using the axe really sucks, but not so
much ammo that the player can waste it all by not having to aim or plan. A good rule of
thumb is to provide plenty of weak ammo (shells, and nails [unless the player has the
Perforator]), and much less powerful ammo (rockets, cells).
» Health/armour balance:
This is what the player needs to survive, therefore there should be enough to allow them to
surive, but not too much so they can approach combats recklessly. There's no set amount of
health and armour a player should get, it simply depends on what combats there are and how
much damage the player is likely to receive - tweaking and testing is important.
» Careful use of powerups:
Power ups can make combats easier, give the player extra stuff to use tactically, and make
things a lot more fun with some powerups. Of course, since some powerups are very powerful,
they should be used only rarely to avoid making combats too easy. The map author needs to be
aware of how useful powerups are in each situation, and also the weaknesses of each powerup
(losing armour with the 666, for example). They can spice up gameplay, but need to be used
and positioned carefully.
» Careful use of secrets:
The use of secrets has some similarities to the use of powerups - they both are things that
can spice up gameplay, but can also make it too easy if overused. In particular, a
careful balance needs to be struck between having secrets that make combats too easy, and
having combats that are too hard unless the secrets are found. A useful idea is to have many
secrets that give weak items (health, ammo, weak armour), and few secrets that give strong
items (weapons, strong armour, powerups). A creative idea worth considering is to have
secrets that don't actually give any items, but give a tactical advantage, for example,
being able to scope out future combats, escape from monsters, or gain a better tactical
Traps mostly fall under the category of "dangerous architecture", specifically architecture that
is made dangerous by the map author to test and challenge the player in some way, or to make
the situation harder and more damaging to them. Although traps can be a lot of fun, they can
also be by far the most frustrating part of a map if used innappropriately, so extreme care
needs to be taken when including traps.
» Monster traps:
These are the best sorts of traps: traps which don't kill you or get you damaged by scenery,
but unleash monsters on you, whether they appear out of nowhere, or whether you suddenly get
dropped into them. Why are these good??? Because they put you straight into combat which is
good, and they give you a fighting chance which is good - and monster traps are usually
non-fatal and exciting.
» Less damaging traps:
Something worth considering in a map is traps that don't damage you much, but just penalise
you a bit, be doing some damage. Good examples are nail/laser shooters, and low damage spike
traps. These are good for testing the players wits without killing and frustrating them,
particularly if they are used in appropriate situations, for example security measures in
bases, or portcullises in castles.
» No instant death traps:
There is no point whatsoever to traps that kill the player instantly - they are always
detrimental to gameplay. They are cause unwanted restarts, repetive gameplay by having to
replay the map, do not properly challenge the player, and are unfair and highly
frustrating. In general, instant death traps should not feature in maps. Traps that do kill
you, but give the player plenty of warning and time to use their skills to escape, are fine
as long as they are used well.
» Escapable traps:
This covers traps that *do* benefit gameplay by giving the player chance to escape, but a
challenge to recognise the trap and escape. The classic example of this is the spiked wall
on E1M6, The Door to Chthon. This is a fatal but slow moving trap, that requires the player
to run away and kill monsters to escape the trap, but is obvious and gives the player
adequate time to do so. That is just one example, and there are many other styles of trap
that could be escapable and thus fun because they provide a fair challenge.
This is the icing on the cake - the ideas that take "ordinary" good gameplay an turn it into
something special. Again, the ideas of the map maker are important, as is tweaking and
testing. These aspects aren't needed for *good* gameplay, but they tend to play a role in
» Tension and violence:
Really this is more a part of atmosphere rather than gameplay, but getting the player into
an apprehensive or violent state of mind can effect how they experience gameplay - getting
their heart racing, whether through a scary and unnerving atmosphere or through massive
brutal combats. This is quite a complex idea to explain, but it revolves around where the
combats are placed in the map, how they are set up, what happens before, after, and between
» Surprises and shocks:
This is what happens after you get the player tense and scared - frighten the hell out of
them =). Surprises and shocks can include many things, such as monsters teleporting in,
coming out of hidden doors or jumping from dark areas, things exploding or collapsing,
dramatic changes in the scenery to produce combats. Of course, there needs to be a balance
between getting the player in a very dramatic situation, and giving them the opportunity
to survive and fight back.
» Inspirational and original combats:
Another concept which is impossible to define - following on from staged combats, this is
the next step up. It basically means the map author has very strong ideas that have been
rarely used before, break free from the cliches of Quake combat, and make creative use of
monsters, items, and architecture. Again, this needs to be done carefully as there is a fine
line between creative ideas and gimmicky ones - and gimmicks should be avoided at all costs!
» Trick gameplay:
By trick gameplay, I mean anything that is not in the usual repetoire of running, shooting,
collecting keys/pressing switches and minor exploration. Trick gameplay usually requires
some sort of puzzle or challenge other than those normal gameplay aspects - it is rather
easy for trick gameplay to be offputting and frustrating (or perhaps even impossible for
some players), but it can also be used effectively to add to normal gameplay. Useful trick
gameplay could include using traps or dangerous architecture to kill monsters, using monster
infighting to resolve combats, major exploration, combats that are orientated around prior
planning, running past monsters, or trick moves, etc etc. As with all these ideas, such
gameplay must be used carefully to avoid ending up as an annoying gimmick.
Having a climax at the end of a map should by now be a standard idea - however, for extra
excitement, mini-climaxes can be spread throughout the map to keep the gameplay hot and add
variety to more normal combats. Since these would be partway through the map, they should be
less challenging than the final combat, and the player should be able to continue to survive
the rest of the map after them - other than that, the concepts for the final climax apply to
» Making player feel clever:
Probably the hardest aspect of gameplay to pull off sucessfully, because it requires the map
author to estimate how other players will react and experience the gameplay. It's also hard
to define, but the end result should be that after the combat the player thinks "Man, I'm
amazed I pulled that off, I must have m4d $ki11Z and cunning!!!". After all, the whole idea
of maps and gameplay is to make the player feel good and satisfied - and if combats can be
set up that makes the player feel special, that is great. However, I have no idea what would
make such combats - it's likely cunning, tactics, and the opportunity for the player to plan
these beforehand would play an important role.
Theory 5: Other aspects of Q1 SP map quality:
Atmosphere - the general pervasive tone or mood. In this case, the general pervasive tone or
mood of a level. Having an strong atmosphere is a Good Thing™, it gives the level a
sense of place - of actually being somewhere, and it draws the player in and heightens
their appreciation of the level. It's hard to say what gives a level atmosphere, as it is
more of a feeling rather than something physically in the level, but the following aspects
should be considered.
» Focus on a specific atmosphere:
Exactly what it says - creating a specific and distinct atmosphere, rather than an
ill-defined or vague one, will give a stronger and better feel to the map. Of
course, various atmospheres could be chosen to suit a map, for example it could have a
decaying and grimy atmosphere, a desolate and bleak atmosphere, and eerie and tense
atmosphere, an magical and awe-inspiring atmosphere or many others. But it should stick to
one distinct atmosphere and feel.
» Doing what Quake does best:
Although it would be futile to dictate what atmosphere a Quake map should have, it's
important to recognise the general style of the game, and try to create an atmosphere that
works well with it. In general, Quake is a "negative" game - i.e., the atmospheres and
feelings that work best with it are negative ones. For example, scary, dark, unnerving,
tense, shocking, foreboding, disorientating, violent, evil, grimy, dirty atmospheres all
work better for Quake than cheerful, bright, clean, familiar atmospheres. It is also
possible to create convincing Quake atmospheres that are magical, intriguing, awe inspiring,
exciting etc etc, but obviously these don't contradict Quake's style.
Lighting is very useful to add atmosphere to a map - or more often, darkness is! Areas of
darkness and poorly lit areas can add real tension and fear as to what is lurking there,
as well as accentuating architecture, and enhancing an already "dark" atmosphere. Equally,
light and contrast can be easily used to create a dramatic atmosphere. However, it's
important to avoiding going too far - fulldark areas are really annoying for gameplay, and
fullbright areas look horrible - subtlety is important.
Sounds also add well to the overall atmosphere, and come in two flavours. The first is the
ambient sounds such as wind, water drips, computer hums etc etc, the second is the sounds
monsters and entities such as doors and lifts make. The first lot of sounds are the most
useful for creating atmosphere - not easy to specify how they should be used, but obviously
they should be used appropriately to the theme of the map, and in the right areas to enhance
that theme. The sounds of inanimate objects should also be chosen to fit the theme, and the
monsters can be placed so that they can be heard - for example, hearing a Shambler breathing
or a Fiend grunting in a nearby room can add to the atmosphere.
Surprises can really enhance a "negative" atmosphere, by heightening a players fear, tension
or disorientation. Most "stuff" in a map can be used to surprise a player: for example,
monsters appearing, lighting changing dramatically, large areas of scenery changing,
explosions and probably sounds too. All of these can increase the feeling a player gets from
a map - usually a feeling of "AAARRGHH!!" =). Of course, since often these surprises will
involve some unexpected conflict, it's important to make the survivable and strike a balance
between excitement, fear and fun.
Theme and atmosphere are intrisically interlinked: you cannot have a convincing atmosphere
without a good theme, and a good theme will enhance the atmosphere - possibly vice-versa
too. The moral is, aside from the necessity of a strong theme for a maps looks,
it's also necessary to give the map a sense of place, a feeling that you are somewhere, and
the atmosphere that comes with that. As mentioned before, this doesn't have to be an
established or "normal" theme, as long as there is a theme, and the map presents a
2. Story and mission:
A story and a mission is not necessary for Q1 SP maps - appearing on the map, killing the
monsters, and finding the exit will suffice, as long as it's a good map of course. But an
interesting or entertaining story (that provides some background to the map) and a mission
(that gives you something more important to do than merely exiting) can enhance a map, and
make it more interesting and worthwhile for players.
» Using the Quake theme, or a convincing alternative:
Firstly, it's very important to be aware of Quake's distinct theme and style, and to make a
story that works with the overall style of Quake. Although fitting into the Quake background
""story"" might also be preferable, a completely different story is fine as long as it works
with the Quake style. For example, a story of you visiting the depths of hell, or clearing
out an alien infested base, or being sent back in time to destroy a demonic castle - all
these sorts of ideas would fit perfectly with the Quake monsters and map styles.
» Background of map:
That's what a story is there for, to provide a background. So it should do just that - fit
in exactly with the map's design, explain the map's existence, and give the map and the
playing of it a purpose. In this case, doing a good job of explaining the map is far more
important than literary skills - it doesn't have to be a very convincing explanation (this
is Quake after all), but it needs to fit well with the map itself.
» Expansion on Quake ideas:
This is one possibility for a story, but not the only one. Quake has an extremely simple
""story"", which makes it very easy to expand on that story, and still fit in with it. It's
not that hard to give a map a background that relates to the original game, and it's
possible to give it a very good and convincing background that still relates to Quake - it's
a nice touch to have a custom map linked to the original game, while improving on it.
» Overall goal and sub-goals:
This is the other job of the story, and of course an aspect of the map design itself, to
provide an overall goal that is more sophisticated than just exiting the map, and/or to
provide sub goals on the way that make getting to the exit more interesting. It's hard to
specifiy what goals/missions can or should be used, but the following genres of goal are
most common: destroying things, shutting down things, cleansing areas of monsters, more
complex ways of opening doors/raising briges/lower lifts etc, performing more complex tasks
to proceed to new areas. The basic idea of getting to the exit probably wouldn't change, but
it can be enhanced and disguised with more convincing tasks to perform on the way - and the
story would give a reason for it.
Traditionally, single player is thought of as pretty much a linear affair. And in some ways
it is, you have an entrance, you follow a path to an exit. However, it's not that simple:
SP gameplay can involve non-linear progression and multiple routes to the exit, as well as
secrets and side areas to explore - Id's own maps feature a surprising amount of this. Done
in moderation, exploration is a lot of fun and adds interest to gameplay.
» Progression through the map:
Balance is probably the most important aspect as far as progression goes: a balance between
having areas and routes to explore, and having a reasonably clear path to follow so that
the player does not get lost, confused and frustrated. Ideally, the player should be nudged
in certain directions towards the exit, but also given a few different ways to get there,
and some other areas to explore.
» Non-linear goals:
Essentially, having a number of tasks that are needed to complete the map, but that do not
have to be performed in a set order. This gives the player a sense of freedom, that they
can explore and chose what they have to do without being herded down a single path. This
also adds to the replay value of the map, because they can chose a different routes to
follow in the future. It's very important that if multiple routes are included in a map,
that they are equally balanced as far as items and combats go, so that a player is not
penalised for chosing the "wrong" path.
» Side areas and exploration:
Another way to add some exploration and choices to a map is to include side areas that the
player doesn't have to visit at all, but can do so to get some items, to explore, or just to
kill more monsters. Of course, without knowing how to reach the exit, the player may enter
side areas believing they are the right route - which is fine, that's all part of exploration.
» Care with backtracking:
Often in maps, the player will need to backtrack over areas he has already covered, for
example, returning with a key to a previously seen door. This is a normal feature of
maps, but care must be taken that it does not become tedious, since the player will be going
through exactly the same areas he's already seen. Some ideas could be: keep backtracking
to a minimum, have the backtracking occur in a different part of the same area (for
example, on a previously inaccessible ledge), and having monster reinforcments to keep the
» Complex secrets:
Another area of potential exploration, and one that avoids the risk of getting the player
lost and confused on the normal route to the exit. Often secrets are small and simple side
areas, triggered by simple hidden means. However, far more complex secrets can be included,
where the player can do a lot within the secret (including fighting, perhaps), and may have
to do a lot to open the secret. Since the secrets would be clearly secrets and not the main
route, the player can choose whether to explore or not in this case.
A simple "shoot monsters, find exit" map is fine for Quake, as long as it looks and plays
good. But there's also the possibility of including more radical and imaginative ideas for
gameplay, archictecture and design - map making is an activity that's only constrained by
engine limits. However, like all aspects of the map, any radical ideas should be used
carefully, and only included to benefit the map overall - not just for the sake of it.
» Fitting in with Quake and engine limits:
Of course, any radical ideas must be constrained by the engine limits, and also the style of
the game itself. The engine has limits on the map size, number of entities, size of open
areas, number of polygons, etc etc, and including radical ideas that exceed those limits
will make a map unplayable, or unable to run at all. Fitting in with the game style is harder
to specify, but it's important to be aware of the specific way Quake plays and feels, and
make sure and radical ideas work with that, rather than contradict it and be ludicrously out
» Purposeful experimentation:
If weird and experimental ideas are included, they should be included for a strong purpose,
one that clearly benefits the map. For example, a futuristic map with low or even
fluctuating gravity would be a fairly original idea - and if it was a cargo ship that had
spun out of orbit when some Quake forces had boarded it to release captured Quake monsters,
that would a strong purpose for the original idea. Or a map consisting on islands floating
on a sea of lava would be quite radical - and if the story was that you were escaping a
demonic world and a demon lord had fractured the land in rage at your escape, that would
be a strong purpose.
» Original map styles and themes:
This is perhaps the simplest and most sensible way to include original ideas - make a fairly
"normal" map, but give it a theme or look that is unique and original. This enables
the map to be original without compromising gameplay or risking the original ideas ruining
the map (though clearly the map should stick well to the new theme). This is an area in
which deathmatch maps excel: there are plenty of DM map makers who have blended themes or
created new ones, and thus give their maps a very original look, but because they have done
so with textures, details, styles etc etc, their maps retain sensible gameplay.
» Avoidance of gimmicks:
This is what original ideas must be tempered with: they should not end up gimmicky, silly,
purposeless or detrimental to the map. There are a lot of custom Quake maps that have
radical designs in that are nothing more than pointless gimmicks, and consequently ruin the
map. This should not happen, and any radical ideas must be used very carefully.
Normal Quake maps, which just use stuff from the original game, are perfectly fine - this
game is great, and maps that just use what's in the game can be great too. However, there
are a lot of single player modifications that could be used to enhance maps - *could*,
because sadly the vast majority of the modifications are low quality and do not fit in at
all with Quake's gameplay and style. If modifications are used, it's essential to choose mods that
are high quality, fit perfectly with Quake, and really add to the map, rather than just
being included for their own sake.
» Fitting in with Quake style:
Any modifications added must fit in with Quake's style. You should know the style by know:
it's a very strong, very distinctive, grimy, dark, gothic, and violent style. Many modifications
look grossly out of place in Quake, but there are a few (Zerstörer and SoA spring to mind),
that not only fit in with Quake's style, but actually enhance it. So whatever modifications
are chosen, they should do the same, and preferably in a subtle way, where they fit naturally
into the map, rather than overwhelming it with modified stuff.
» Extras to enhance map and gameplay:
This should go without saying, but any extras included should be included the benefit the
map overall, and not just included for their own sake without thinking about the overall map
and their effect on it. Like having a purpose for radical designs, there should be a purpose
for including modifications, perhaps to do with the background story, perhaps to do with
the theme, perhaps to fill a gap in Quake's army or arsenal. Obviously, mods should enhance
gameplay too, by making it more exciting, fun and interesting.
» Use of good, not bad, extras:
Again, this should be self explanatory, but it's essential to chose high quality mods that
will enhance the map, fit into the theme, and please the player, rather than low quality
and irritating mods that will cause nothing but frustration and disgust. I'm not going to
write a list of good and bad mods, they should be perfectly obvious - particularly if the
other guidelines in this section are followed.
» How well extras fit into map:
Touched on in above sections, but worth restating: if any mods are used, they should fit
into the map as a whole. Ideally, it should all look like one whole map, rather than an
normal map with modifications added. If it looks like the modifications have been added,
rather than looking like a natural part of the map, then they don't fit in and should
probably be removed.
6. Technical aspects:
Finally, a good map is one that is technically good - different to all the other aspects,
this is something for the map makers to be aware of and look for, rather than for me to
advise and give guidelines for. Nevertheless, these are some important areas that must be
» Ensuring there are no errors:
Or at the very least, no errors that affect the playing of the map (for example, some "item
in solid" errors won't affect the player at all). It's quite simple for the map maker: they
should play through the map several times, check for errors, and fix any that appear. Then
they should consider releasing the map, and not before. Since errors and bugs are obvious,
tangible things, there's no excuse to leave them in a map.
» Smooth running of the map:
The map must run at a reasonable frames per second, and have suitable low r_speeds. Maps
that run slowly are unpleasant to play (gameplay can be ruined), and ugly to walk through
as the choppiness spoils the ability to admire architecture. No matter how cool or impressive
the map's designs are, if they run slowly, then they must be altered or removed. Again,
something for the map maker to check, preferable using a wide variety of settings on their
PC, or even better, a wide variety of PCs if available.
Map should work in all Quake formats:
» The map should work in DOSQuake, WinQuake and GLQuake, so that people can play it in the
format they want/have to play in. If the map maker can't test the map in GLQuake, then there
is little that can be done, but if they do have access to GLQuake, then they should check it
in all formats, and preferably in a variety of memory settings too.
» Technically well made:
This is harder to specify, especially since I don't make maps, so I don't really know what
makes a map technically well made. However, I can guess that having no build flaws, using
no editing shortcuts that affect the map, making sure the map is as clean and as
economically built as possible, making sure all potential problems are solved in the most
definite way, and other such aspects, would be important to consider. Certainly any
technical flaws that affect the player's experience must be fixed.
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