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A history of A Roman Wilderness of Pain, 1999-2009 by Tronyn

The A Roman Wilderness of Pain maps spent ten years in development, on and off. The project began in 1999 as a series of 13 short maps, each basically a setpiece surrounded by a few small hallways. The first 12 maps each featured a roman numeral marking the map number, and the final map had a Quake-style Q. These maps were eventually scrapped, the lighting in particular was annoying and generally too dark, though the scrapped maps were generally playable, featuring items and monsters (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, Q). A while later I returned to the maps with the intent of remaking the same layouts with a much greater level of architectural detail, and explicitly trying to develop a very gruesome style with flesh, skulls, spikes, blood and so forth. This effort produced NewI and NewII, the first with totally revamped architecture, the second with just a few rooms revamped. I then abandoned the maps again and released all of the map sources.



In 2004, five years after the inception of the maps, Mike Woodham released A Roaming Wildebeest In Spain his second level based on my scraps (the first one was FMB8, a large open Egyptian temple map). The story behind this map is its own epic saga; Mike Woodham had been trying to create a large terrain map called “Caves and Canyons” for months, and was having a very tough time of it due to engine and compiler limitations. Mike writes, “I lost weight, friends and the will to live many times during the last several months and I wont be doing another terrain based map.” The result of this was Mike combining one of his terrain sections with Roman Wilderness of Pain maps i, ii, viii, ix. He explains, “I removed all lights in the individual maps and re-lit, changed 95% of the textures and only changed brushwork to make joining the individual sections easier.” The new texture theme was sunny and Egyptian, rather than dark and metallic, with lava rather than blood.


In the meantime I had been trying to string together most of the Roman Wilderness scraps into a single map (BigRome). The layout was very flat, but I did manage to get most of the maps into a single map. Luckily, this map was so huge that I could not get it to work properly. aguirRe had a few laughs at this map. The outside of the map was surrounded with rockwork, which he advised me to keep and cut other parts of the map. I eventually decided to chop up this large map into four maps, so that each one could have a more coherent design and theme. The first map, CanyonRome, kept a lot of the terrain work, and had only the gatehouse structure in terms of manmade architecture (a combination of VI and VII). The second map began where the first one ended, and consisted of everything after the gold key door in the final Roman1 (this is why, as many players noted, the second section of Roman1 is not really linked with the first section, and has a distinct style). After having trouble with getting this outdoor terrain and rockwork to vis properly, I rebuild the entranceway to the first map as a smaller, enclosed canyon with a bridge in the centre. I then realized that the second map was quite small, and could be pasted onto the first map as a second section, and the whole thing would still compile faster and better than the version with wide open terrain at the start. I had now moved from four maps to three. Roman1 now incorporated I, II, VI, and VII. The theme of the first half of Roman1, “A Roman Wilderness of Pain,” was more runic-metallic, with a brick temple sitting on top of a metallic fortress with a sewer and a dock. I included tech monsters as well to reflect the Doom 1 or Quake 3 style of mix-n-match evil. The second half was a series of rooms and hallways which mixed flesh and metal.


Roman2 incorporated only maps IV and IX, but it was important to stick to these two sources only for this map, as it had a very specific theme, a “Venice of Blood,” and only IV and IX of the original Roman Wilderness maps had architecture overtop pools of blood. The pools were on different levels so I had to adjust the level of blood to fit the two maps together. The final raft ride at the end leads to the entrance to Roman3, a section I built from scratch. Roman3 incorporates V, X, XII, and Q. There is a fair amount of totally new architecture in the map, especially the higher levels, huge arches have been stacked on top of the V map for example. Thematically, I decided to go for a slightly gothic look, using some flying buttresses and spiked arches right alongside the usual Roman architecture with metallic details and flesh/blood wherever possible. I was particularly happy with the player’s ascent in this most vertical of the three maps. The final confrontation might be too difficult, with two boss characters, however.


A Roman Wilderness of Pain was released in December of 2009, ten years after the maps were first started, and five years after Mike Woodham released his map based on the scraps. It was very nice to be able to use most of the good architecture from the original project and build it into three coherent subthemed levels.

BSPs and map sources for all of the versions of the maps here mentioned can be downloaded here. Mike Woodham’s FMB100 can be downloaded here. The Quake episode, A Roman Wilderness of Pain, can be downloaded here.

Written by Tronyn

16 Responses to “A history of A Roman Wilderness of Pain, 1999-2009 by Tronyn”

  1. negke Says:
    09.08.2010 14:44

    Nice read, cool screenshots. The development of this release is quite an epic – got to give it another play-through then!

  2. Anonymous Says:
    09.08.2010 17:27

    Tronyn you are awesome mapper full of ideas skills and imagination, and all your projects are a living proof of it.

    Personally I love your maps but I think they are very big, and if you start making maps smaller that might make then even more fun to play and less boring for keeping people to come back, when we died at some point… I like to play maps from start to beginning.

    Anyway I might not map anymore but surely I will keep playing what will come in future!

  3. MegaQuaker Says:
    09.08.2010 21:40

    This was an impressive read. And ARWOP is one of my favorite Quake games ever. It almost “feels” like it’s a Doom add on, which is a great thing in my book. Coincidentally it was exactly half a year ago from today (February 9th) that I played this incredible masterpiece.

  4. necros Says:
    10.08.2010 05:49

    it’s been a long road, getting from there to here… :P

    thanks :) i’d like to see more of these kinds of things from other mappers. well, unless the story is boring.

    cheers, dude. glad you finished them in the end.

  5. alwaysQ Says:
    12.08.2010 09:38

    nice read & incredible maps <3 quaddicted !

  6. Tronyn Says:
    13.08.2010 12:48

    Thanks guys, I’d like to see this kind of thing from other mappers as well, especially if anyone’s taken years to finish a project, as I inevitably do. The Doom vibe I take as a huge compliment – nothing will ever recapture The Ultimate Doom E4: Thy Flesh Consumed, for me. But if I ever tried to be almost that evil, it was here.

  7. MegaQuaker Says:
    14.08.2010 03:26

    Tronyn, it’s a well-deserved compliment, very welcome for it. :)

    This was actually the second add-on I ever played for Quake (in my recent massive go-through of Quake SP maps, at least). The only one before that was the main map of “For Love of Evil” (by Hrimfaxi). Needless to say, this did a massive job in getting me into the game. Few other Quake releases quite match this for me. That’s even with the fact that the end boss it to tough (my one complaint on the whole thing, which you semi-admit yourself).

    Since then, I’ve played the vast majority of quality releases all the way back to 1997 – virtually the entire life of the game. In fact I’m about to hit the bottom of that barrel and either replay some levels or play some good, but less “fantastic” levels. Given I’ve enjoyed the maps from 1997, though, I’m sure some of the merely “nice” levels of the current age should fit the bill for me.

    And yes, I am a huge Doom fan too (also Heretic, one of the more popular Doom knockoffs). I don’t like Quake 2 very much though, in my opinion it really loses the thrill/style of the first Quake.

    In the Doom universe though, I’ve still got lots more add-on levels to play (I play Doom II as well although you don’t mention it). Knee-Deep in the Dead was always my favorite original Doom set of maps though. But yes, Thy Flesh Consumed was evil, and in terms of Doom connections, ARWOP felt more like it than any other original Doom set of maps.

  8. Sajt Says:
    26.08.2010 01:07

    Um, so like I got stuck in one of those towers at the beginning that come out of the water (they have the ogre platforms at the top). I jumped inside it, and I get the centerprint “When Scrags fly.” (or something like that) when I bump the sides. This riddle doesn’t help! I shotted at every brush I can find and nothing happen. I’m already 150 kills in, and yet I’ve spent 99% of my time in that one red pool alone! (Which is sort of fun.) I’m in DarkPlaces and cheats are disabled. Please to be helping me, My legs are getting tired!

  9. negke Says:
    26.08.2010 09:26

    Oops, you weren’t supposed to go there. The cages only open after pressing the buttons behind the SK door above (which spawns a horde of Scrags). There’s no way out for you. Try this: type sv_cheats 1, quicksave, quickload, noclip out (not sure if DP allows this, though).

  10. Sajt Says:
    27.08.2010 11:08

    I’m such a stupid. How didn’t I think of that. Thanks neggies, I owe you one. But I didn’t even have to do a fancy jump to get in there. TRONYN! Also note to self or LordHavoc, sv_gameplayfix_stepwhilejumping should default OFF! I know, right? But it’s just as easy to jump in there with it off.

  11. Please do not use Darkplaces :-( Says:
    27.08.2010 13:27

    [...] a bug that you could fall into that lava pool and those platforms were only decoration. Thanks to Sajt for mentioning this variable. 27.08.2010 in Rant | No Comments [...]

  12. LordHavoc Says:
    27.08.2010 18:46

    sv_gameplayfix_stepwhilejumping defaults to 1 because it is only an enable for the sv_jumpstep cvar (which is a documented extension, so I could not remove it), sv_jumpstep defaults to 0 because only certain mods would want to use the behavior.

    Cvars that are worth testing to see which one(s) produce undesirable behavior in this map:

  13. LordHavoc Says:
    27.08.2010 19:06

    I narrowed down the dm2 lava platforms bug (which is probably related) to sv_gameplayfix_stepmultipletimes and will discuss this cvar with divVerent, it seems to cause the same sv_jumpstep behavior that is off by default for obvious reasons.

  14. Tronyn Says:
    30.08.2010 04:21

    thanks for the reply, but random note… isn’t LORD HAVOC just a crappy mislabel for PROFESSOR CHAOS? sorry, couldn’t help it. Maybe people won’t even get it. Anyway, appreciate the engine and adjustments.

  15. stevenaaus Says:
    30.08.2010 11:10

    Ah Haha!
    Seriously.. Forest does have the coolest nic’ around, and it seems i’m not the only jealous one ;)

  16. LordHavoc Says:
    31.08.2010 00:59

    I have changed the default of sv_gameplayfix_stepmultipletimes to 0, and autobuild versions should pick up this change.

    Regarding my nickname, it was actually chosen based on a game company name my dad suggested once (Havoc Software), but that company never came to be, and that company name has been taken anyway.

    More recently I was informed that the name “Lord Havok” was a villain in 1930s-era comic books, which concerns me as it makes it sound like I ripped off a comic book character name :P

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