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Style And Level Design
Some time back Gilt started a rather interesting discussion about style. The discussion was cut short when the QMap db got fragged (some say 'twas the reason), and I believe it's well worth reviving.

Let's go...
refresh my memory. 
i can remember the tumor layout.
the GTA3 discussions
one guy doing the architecture and one the texturing (i LIKE that since i loathe texturing and only ever have time to do blocks and now my blocks are gonna be called suspension parts for formula student car: yep not enough time for mapping so far :-( 
testing stuff 
lunaran and rpg are doing that -- lunaran has already designed a layout, rpg will do all the brushwork, and then lunaran will "skin" the resulting geometry. 
i think it's the best way of doing it. if you know each other enough to have trust and also if you take the job seriously. does anyone else do it regularly? (dunno if daz and killaz did it like that or if they just merged various parts of maps...)

i'd like to ask rpg how he works. does he choose the rough textures and then lun realigns them or does rpg "clothe" all brushes in any random tex and lun chooses the tex set and makes the wad? 
I do the architecture in 3 or so basic textures, and then Lun will make appropriate textures for all the surfaces and retexture the map. 
I like texturing and textures often inspire a lot of my brush work, but I really hate when you need a certain texture to fit a theme and you just can't find one. It makes me wish I knew enough about photoshop to do all my own textures. 
It Makes Me Wish... 
...i had the patience to do them. how long does it take to make a dozen or so textures, anyway? 
I find it easier than mapping anyway.
If you just want a particular texture - you can always modify exesting one. I do this all the time, rather than struggling with the set that doesn suit my brushwork.
Creating new textures that would look good in quake pal is not easy, but making average truecolor stuff is just a matter of knowing how to use the software right.

Tutorials at
And texture forums at 
About Design... 
BWDM1 = design of the century. 
About Time... 
BWDM1 = vaporware.

Please prove me wrong. :/ 
Haha Beat This RPG 
Title : King Of My Castle
Date : 18/6/99
Filename : bwdm1.bsp
Author : Bram "geuss who?" Weterings
Email Address :
Description : A medium sized DM leven for 2-6 players for Quake 2 
bwdm1 was for Q1 f00

I did have a really old version around once, but it was on an old PC. 
i have a feeling if i tried it would be exciting untill i finally used the tex in my map(s) and it looked crap. like when i'm sitting for an hour with some music, adding stuff, go down for a cuppa and listen when i come up and it sounds muted (if you add too much and it all collides), boring, bollox (rather sums it up).

practice makes perfect of course... 
Texture Time... 
The textures I made for Q1 were a lot easier than those for Q3, mainly because of the double scale of the latter. The color palette for Q1 is not actually as much of a problem as you may think - I find that some of the best creativity is when people have limitations, but those limitations are clearly defined. It's really a case of understanding what the palette is made of and therefore what you can get away with once you reduce colors down to 256.
Another thing that makes Q1 textures easier is the almost complete freedom to make what you want; crumbling blue brickwork laced with stainless steel gigeresque pipework? No problem! Such things don't always work in other games, even Q3 :(
The time I spent making textures for my first Q3A map, The Color Of Anger, was vastly greater than the time spent learning Gtk, building brushwork, meshes etc.
Complex, intricate textures like trim or feature-specifics such as doors and jump-pads, can take many hours. I think my kothic jump-pad took about two weeks, a few hours each day. But when making textures specifically for your map, you also have to remember all the textures that are made but end up not being used.

Anyway...mapping styles:
...or somethin' like that. 
Hiya Kell... 
I used your Knave textures when building a section for Q1-Turtle Map 1. Now I know how much work went into them, I must thank you again. I can sling you the .bsp if you want to check out the usage.

re: Mapping Styles
I grasp the "tumor" style and the "monumental" but I'm wondering if you can clarify "cavernous" with an example. By concentric do you mean "chaotic", where the major design feature is iterated at every level from layout down to detail? 
I'd like to see the map, distrans :)

cavernous: maps that are based on expending brushwork for size rather than detail. Insomnia was like that IIR.

concentric: where the map is built around a main area/feature which the player visits and revisits multiple times throughout completion. Peripheral areas are all smaller and carry diminutive versions of main motifs.
I could probably cite Libris Vertiginis as an example, but there are others.

re: chaotic; what you describe sounds like another approach worth mentioning, though I think the term 'fractal' is more accurate terminology. Can't think of an example off-hand, though I am slightly drunk and I've just discovered my website has been reverted to an older backup :( 
Bad luck about the site :(

Insomnia struck me more as monolithic rather than cavernous, although in truth both are appropriate.

The concentric notion makes sense now. Perhaps some of [Kona]'s maps fall into this category as well, although the revisit in those instances tend to be on a new level vertically. The "e3" map from ProdigySE would seem to be a good example of what you are talking about.

Fractal, yep that's the notion. Biff_debris would've made a fair fist of this sort of level but I can't think of anyone who's actually pulled it off (apsp1 maybe?).

/me waves at biff

Level fragment for the Q1 Turtle1 on it's way :) 
Satanic Concentricity 
apsp1 was more of a mutliple-concentric map (being centered in certain areas around a certain colum, ie the beginning area or the generator) but these are rather chaotically placed so I can see where you're coming from. 
I take your point about apsp1 as a multiple-concentric level, but the notion of chaos I was alluding to was wrt chaos theory. So to distinguish from the randomness of chaotic (in your sense) level design we could do worse than adopt Kell's notion of "fractal" level design as a descriptor. 
Evolution On The Visual Front: Part 1 
In terms of style and design, the possibilities are approaching the unlimited. It is very near the point where engine strain is no longer a factor as they can now handle almost anything someone can conceivably build (with the exception of stupid things like rooms the size of the grid). So then, the limiting factor then becomes, the design skills, work ethic and imagination of each individual. This, in turn, further raises the standard of level design, and provides for more variation of form, color and composition; more detail, interaction and dynamism. Now, not only is gameplay more flexible, but the quality of the environment which defines it must be more cohesive and believable. And when I say believable I do not mean that it must reconstruct anything that exists in the world, past or present, but only that it must present a "yes" to the question "Could this reality exist as it is?". This is where the imagination may run to the horizon in a kind of "controlled" directional creativity.

Point two. Such a degree of design freedom is changing the way level designers must approach projects. The days of wedges, cylinders, blocks and spikes are drawing to a close. Now, these forms must be considered merely the starting point of construction in exactly the same way that they are regarded in ultra-high-number polygonal modeling, and they must not be considered acceptable as the details of the final environment (with some exceptions). Such a mundane acceptance would allow a balloon to represent a human head, which is absurd considering the power and capability of modern rendering. Thus, such objects are, appropriately named, primitives.

Moving on, there's textures. Textures have, up until now, been used primarily to assist three dimensional constructs with detail as well as the visual illusions of depth. Hence, one sees many textures with highlights and shadows very 'loudly' pronounced. This is obsolete. Again, the cutting edge is being defined by film-quality modeling. Textures' new primary purpose must be to give forms a material. That is, to make a cylinder metal, or a rectangular prism brick. Details such as dents and rivets on the metal cylinder or cracks and mortar on the brick should no longer be grouped with the texture but 'physically' modeled into the cylinder or rectangular prism, respectively. It can be summarized quite easily: More 3d, less 2d. You might be thinking "Well hey, 2d is important too and it adds so much!" but you must remember that this is, ultimately, three dimensional (or four if you include time, which you should) design. Stop and study the real world about you; look at how much variation there is in form; look at what juts out or dimples in; look inside your computer with all the small three dimensional details! Most everything is a material and a form. Thus, form should not where at all possible be dictated by two dimensions exclusively. And yes, that means more work for you, the level designer. Now you must create multiple textures for smaller areas of architecture and further develop the details. However, this problem is somewhat alleviated with the advent of displacement mapped textures (in Doom 3). But, this merely allows for the creation of prefabricated details, which still had to at some point be modeled (unless I'm misunderstanding how these new 'textures' work).

Anyway, this innovation in texture functionality (displacement mapping) provides a suitable transitional, easily manipulative and highly practical methodology for refined detail construction. Trying to build a circuit board as detailed as possible in 3D is very tedious to say the least. Now what if you needed 10 variations? OI! The headaches and long hours foreseeable there! A better solution might be to create many small details in low level 3D, sometimes referred to as 2.5D, (meaning 1 dimension of the 3 is considerably reduced in size in relation to the other 2) and use them interchangeably like modules to create a larger 3D construct. Thus, the smaller details may be moved and rotated, and even given different materials to provide for much more variation with minimal hassle in miniature design. It would be possible to have a computer program generate such variations for you as well. But ultimately, level designers must provide more variation at a smaller scale or risk bland, bare design (where realism is concerned).

Now, since I can only post 5000 characters in this post, I must continue in the next one. 
Evolution On The Visual Front: Part 2 
Now, if you were to stand out on a city street and try to observe all there is to observe, you would be there all day, and would still not recount everything. The amount of information presented to the senses is staggering. There is so much there that selective attention is necessary. This is what the level designer must understand. They must provide enough detail to imply ALL the information that selective concentration ignores. This is no easy task since there are seemingly limitless areas that the attention of an individual might wander. The cutoff, in the real world, is the point at which the senses become saturated or the variation is so minute as to be indistinguishable. It is the point at which the eyes can see no smaller or farther or the ears can hear no softer or word-that-means-distinguishing-multiple-sounds-mixing-together-in-a-wash-of-noise-er. Now, obviously, virtual worlds are getting closer, with each new engine, to providing the ability to present such massive amounts of information, but there is still a long way to go (if it ever gets there). So, the 'professional' mapper must keep all of this in mind to create an environment and further imply more then what is there. Remember, it's a place, not a map.

Also, I do not mean to imply that more is always better or that more is good everywhere. Only that detail and design must be in balance with probable, plausible realities and imply whatever they cannot practically represent.

Finally, I have forgotten the full reason for having started this post as well as the ideas and points I wished to convey. And since I'm quite susceptible to narrow thinking (tunnel vision) I have probably made some blatant errors in logic or fact. But since I won't find any of them until after I click 'Submit', this will have to do.

A final, final note, the gameplay dictates EVERYTHING else. Design that first. Then build everything else around it. Also, perhaps if I get a second wind I'll dive into theory on gameplay design (which could be totally wrong too).

And so they all lived happily ever after.

I Won't Get Into Details, 
but the main point i disagree with you on is the claim that the burden is shifting from textures to geometry. I believe that both textures AND geometry should do as much work as possible, and that means more work this year than last year. I can understand stylistic choices that lead to either flat textures, or simplistic geometry, but these aside, you should get the full value out of both geometry and textures. 
How Much Can One Man Do? 
A set designer doesn't create every facet of a set, a lot of it just happens. If we wants to create a room he builds some walls, paints them, buys a used table and some drapes. Sure he chose the paint, drapes and table, but the subtletly of the textures and shapes came for free.

Right now a mapper doesn't get that, if you want you table to look a little worn you have to think about where to put that nick and the scrap marks, and then create them very slowly and carefully. I think that mapping tools are going to have to start taking more of the work.

Like, (if I can take my ill thought out example further) a tool for scuffing up the table. Tell the tool where and a few paramters and the AI does the rest. It's like taking the terrain generating tool to the next logical step.

It's late and my example sucks but I think you can see what I'm getting at. I've taken all the work off mappers and put it squarely on the programmers. :) 
Whaddya Mean "title Cannot Be Empty"?!?! 
I agree that one mapper can't deal with the amount of detail rapidly being required. I think metl mentioned something about this on a QMap post; that as the process of mapping evolves, the tools we use must evolve too. I think we're already past, or at least passing, the point where one mapper does everything in the map themself. Even though it is possible to make the terrain entity, make the textures and shader for it, build the conventional architecture, make the textures and shaders for it, do the item placement for all team modes, build custom map objects many maps like that are actually made by just one designer?
I also think that your comments regarding how a mapper must understand perception of 'real life' is getting more and more important ( I think it always was ) and that believable is not the same as realistic; e.g. the spaceships in Star Wars are not technologically realistic, but they are very believable. I'm just saying I hope we don't get stuck with tons more 'concrete and kevlar' first person shooters :/ 
Part 3... 
Perhaps I was a bit unclear about my discussion of textures, or I forgot to adequately summarize it. When I said more 3D and less 2D I was referring to the function of textures to create detail and depth on an otherwise flat surface. Textures themselves are not obsolete. Also, metlslime, when you say "both textures AND geometry should do as much work as possible" I completely agree with this. This relates directly to implying more information to the senses then is truly there.

Pushplay, absolutely. The workload can become tremendous. I briefly touched on that when I mentioned computer programs doing some of the work for you. As for your example of wear and tear, a "visual algorithm" could be a solution. That is to say, one could build an entire map like "new" and then run an algorithm that creates weathering according to user inputted statistics (like Wear_Amount: 50%). Mind you, this is all theoretical and my limited background of coding prevents me from further pursuing the reality of this suggestion. It may not work. The alternative is, as you suggested pushplay (elaborated by Kell), multiple people working on a project. Lunaran and RPG's duet is a good example. In a highly detailed environment, the main brushwork would be more simple and flat geometry (big forms) while the texturing would be all the little 2.5D stuff as well as the materials. So, RPG would build the table and Lunaran would give it material and wear.

Kell, I used 'believable' and 'realistic' synonymously, both implying plausibility of existence. If you make the distinction that 'realistic' means of or pertaining to the real world (and our understanding of its physical retraints), then it becomes antonymous. Either way, I agree with you, especially about the monotonous "'concrete and kevlar' first person shooters". We've had enough of those. It's time for developers to start using their brains more.

Next, this is more of a problem I see with engines then it is something that level designers have much control over (though maybe they should). Very few (in fact none that I can think of) engines render blurry or soft edges. Everything is sharp, clean and hard. Believability demands fuzzy, blurry, soft edges in some instances. So where are they? But, not wanting to go headlong into a discussion of this, as it leads to issues of lighting and ultimately physics, I will stop there.

Also, something I neglected to include before is layout concerns, even though this is the precursor to a study of gameplay design. Level designers need to start thinking like real architects. That means functionality as well as form and structural integrity as well as visual aesthetic. Does your map have proper plumbing?! While that's an extreme example, it presents my point well. Constructs don't all have to function as a real world counterpart does, and more importance on such things is only necessary when they are large elements of what is being designed (like a coolant system for a fusion reactor or something). I personally have a great deal of difficulty with chaotic placement of anything. And, I usually look for a reason to have pipes "here" and a valve "over there" and would rather not just place them haphazardly. Unless of course, the subject of construction is nature. In that case, a bit of seeming randomness is called for. But never forget about gravity. That is to say, mountains don�t start at a point and get wider as they go higher (usually) because they can�t support themselves in that way.

Stepping back, the over all layout of a map should be modeled more as a place and less as a linear progression of architecture to the level's conclusion. Now while a less functional design, for instance, of a map depicting a military outpost can still produce fantastic results (visually and ... gameplay-ly), the amount of plausibility and the illusion of a real place can be further improved with attention to "real" functionality. Where should the outpost's guard towers be? The command post? Should it be surrounded by a moat? Is it on a hill? How many entrances are there? What kind of equipment is inside? Why is it there? The list of questions can go on and on. The designer must find an acceptable middle ground. I, for one, find designing an actual place in the most entirety possible (on paper) and then applying a gameplay model to it to dictate what areas should be accessible and how, an effective way to work. It remains to be see if this will produce engaging gameplay, however. And since we're now at the topic of gameplay, I might as well touch on that too. 
And Part 4... 
I have long been debating linear versus non-linear level design. In the method I just described, non-linear design can be created quite easily (though linear design can be created just as easily). Looking at the single player gameplay of past first person shooters (with which I am familiar), I see a pattern of tunnel-like guidance to puzzles and/or obstacles that the player must overcome to finish the gameplay. This promotes the run and gun tactic of play very heavily and requires little on the part of the player to think about where they are going and why (past the point of " find the silver key!" or " get to the other side!"). With the increase in level complexity and the increase in illusion of place, the gameplay should, accordingly and proportionally, also increase in its demands on the player. Now, not only is the level designer asking themselves while building an environment "Why is this here and that over there, etc?" but they are forcing the player to think in a counterpart manner. "What do I need to accomplish? What must I find to do that? Are there multiple ways to get there? Are any of them safer then the others? Are any of them suicide missions?" Such question require the player to become their character. In essence, gameplay becomes a first person shooter role playing experience (where the level designer is the "dungeon master"). It is my belief that the level designer need only present the player with a problem and provide the possible tools for solving that problem and let the player do the rest (which can range from finding the 'tools' to determining how they should be used) (Tools should be defined as anything that the player can make use of to help their progress across a map. So that could be a monster, a gun, a key, architecture, a vehicle, anything). Perhaps players do not need all the tools that the designer has left, perhaps they indeed do need all of them or are even forced to invent new tools from the environment (picking up a metal pipe and using it like a club to break a window to access a certain area). This, of course, also requires the enthusiasm and want of the player to think and to 'play'. For those that just want the Doom approach (sit back and frag away), this is NOT the ideal solution to gameplay.

Okay, all of what I just said may have come out incoherently, so let me provide an example. The player is going to try to make it to a slipgate to get home, but the slipgate is heavily guarded by evil minions of all sorts. The player has limited weapons, ammo, armor and health. There are numerous way into the slipgate complex but only one way to activate it and only one way to get to it. The player must find a way. They could go looking for a fight, run in through the front door and risk the guards teleporting in reinforcements or they could enter through ventilation system and proceed with as much stealth as possible, hiding any guards they disable and trying not to trigger any alarms or make much noise. Along the way, there could be such obstacles as restoring power to the slipgate and setting a bomb to destroy the complex after a hasty exit.

Also, the balance between dangers, puzzles and difficulty is a fine line... and it should be scalable to players of multiple skill thresholds. Gameplay should strive to induce emotional responses from the player: fear, excitement, enjoyment, anxiety, pride, worry, caution, surprise. Though admittedly, gameplay is ultimately, a preference of the player and thus one can't design much or discuss much about it in a very general context. So, that means that all of what I have just said about it are factors that I personally enjoy in a game. And anyway, my train of thought has derailed so I will leave off here. Please, post comments if you agree or disagree. I by no means claim to know what I�m talking about. 
Abstract Design And Duos 
Then what will happen to custom mapping when level designing becomes much more complex and way more time-consuming? It already takes quite a while for one person to build a level, but that one person may yet need to learn texturing and modelling just to make a map. Will mappers actually team up a lot more in the future, or will they still do everything by themselves? I can see how some mappers could decide to specialize in certain fields, for example, building those detail brushes in UT2k3. Then again, one can't always find just the right detail for a particular area, and needs to make one himself or herself.

And with UT2k3, it's really easy to code something simple that adds a lot to level. In fact, it's very nearly absolutely necessary. Now one can add a lamp that swings fairly realistically when shot at, but it needs some tweaking and a few lines of code to be added. That is, if I remember correctly. And if more duos or small teams do pop up, will they stop producing single levels, and instead concentrate on small units, perhaps whole episodes with varying amounts of new stuff added by just coding. Half-Life already does this in a way. Single levels are very rare, usually SP stuff consists of at least a few bsp's, and often they have some new models or new code. Then the player just launches HL, chooses Custom Game, enjoys the new background image, and starts playing. Will mini-mods take over the world of custom mapping, small teams of maybe three people?

And then there are the people who consider mapping to be an art form. Let's take sock's recent Q3 level SAFE as an example, or that zippie's Q3 level, whose name I've already forgotten. Certainly not real places, but good certainly good levels, both of them, as they simply ooze CHEE. Oh, and then there's American McGee's Alice, absolutely full of more abstract stuff. Who will start building cubic or impressionistic levels? Will there be a post-modern era for mapping?

Plausibility of existence? In what world? Does SAFE create around itself a complete universe, so that we may play the level and say, "Yes, these constructs are believable"? Suspension is disbelief is important, yes, but just how important is it?

And like nane, I really don't know what I'm talking about, just posting. 
Smart Mapping Utils 
Photoshop has a huge library of abilities regarding manipulating a picture to get the desired effect. I think eventually map editing tools and model editing will follow suit.

nane: Thanks. I'm no longer taking any blame for excessively long posts. :) You should put these posts on your website as rants/articles, because they are pretty good. Even though I disagree in more ways than I can remember just now, equally as much as I agree with other areas. :)

I think that there *IS* a very, very fine line between adding a better experience and destroying it through clutter. Demand too much from the player and he'll prefer to go play the inferior, less sophisticated, simpler games instead, because they're more fun than collecting a hundred items and having to spend time figuring out what the *#^*@ game whats from him. What we're talking about is the choice to pursue fast-paced run around and shoot stuff with big guns and/or sneak around and avoid combat and do Day Of The Tentacle-style puzzle solving and command-item-receptor matching. This is not a good combination in my opinion. The player either wants to shoot stuff or he wants to spend his time figuring something out. And usually it's a different player that wants to do each, since they are so different. The game Vagrant story generally went out of its way to make sure you didn't have to fight enemies when solving puzzles; that would have detracted from both experiences.

Rather than go to the extreme just yet, a very mild combination of deathmatch and puzzle solving, which crosses the gradient of parts per million over time, would be much better. Quake and other sp experiences already incorperate some puzzles, and as time goes by, more and more thinking-puzzle solving has been mixed in with the pure fps. Every game is adding more puzzles, more traps, more choices for the player to make.

The challenge is, knowing what is too much. Like I said, you can enrich the experience with a little spice, but too much destroys the whole meal.

I suppose that's where experimentation comes in.

I would like to see a sp fps that lets the player choose just how to tackle a problem: charge forward or sneak in. That kind of stuff interests me, but I haven't seen it done *well* just yet. 
"I would like to see a sp fps that lets the player choose just how to tackle a problem: charge forward or sneak in."

This gives me some motivation for my first SP Q1 map. We'll see ;) 
This Is Becomming A Novel 
I think a realistic weathering algorithm isn't just possible, I think it will become necessary. I don't think that it's a programming problem so much as it is a math problem. The algorithm would probably involve thousands of passes using simultaneous equations, which computers are ideally suited for. The only thing standing in our way is that I don't think we have these algorithms yet.

One more thing I'd like to say is that I don't believe that these more involved types of maps are going to be the only way to go. I think that there were always be room for the more simplistic shooters simply because they're fun. Platformers for exmaple never really died, they just moved onto the GBA. I look forward to when this game comes out: 
I wonder when we'll hit the breaking point, where we (as a society) cannot provide what is demanded of us, and current utilities have failed to swoop in and take care of it for us. Has it already hit us? I'm talking about business, mathematics, engineering, any job. Even the demands on us as parents, breadwinners, etc continue to rise and combine with others. When will this blind charge forward trip and fall?

When will society crash because everyone expects everyone else to be superman?

I rather like the Dilbert doomsday prophecies. Maybe Dogbert will save us. I don't want society to crash. I'd miss Quake lan games. :) 
This Is Only A Test. If This Had Been A Real Emergency... 
Wazat, you rock. You should be in #terrafusion more often.

I could form these posts into some sort of level design theory journal, but I have no website to post them at the moment.

pushplay, you're right too about simplistic games dying hard. I mean, pong IS still around.

Vigil, yes. Though I hesitate to expect to see modern art forms finding their way into mapping because, while mapping could be considered an art, it's ultimately a game. That is not to say someone couldn't take it and use it as a form of expression. Just that at the moment, no one truly does. And as I said in #terrafusion, though I think you missed it:

<nane> Vigil, the mini-mapper team is very probable in terms of what the future holds
<nane> especially for games like Doom 3
<nane> unless one uses stock stuff
<nane> I believe some professional developers already work in teams on level design

Such a team could take multiple routes. They could chainmap (each person makes a fully complete section of the final map) or divide tasks up as RPG and Lunaran have done.

The world needs more pretty flowers.

Ah, Pong 
I'm considering doing a quake1 minimod of that. Seriously, 4 player pong using bombs. :)

Someone has already tried using Quake for artistic expression. It was a disaster. Dead bodies strewn everywhere. And that's just after *I* was done with them. ;P 
Once You Pop, You Just Can't Stop! 
Another thing, Wazat, about your comment on gameplay that allows the player to approach a problem however they want, that was one of the main ideas I presented in my novel. Drop the player into an environment with two things, how they got there and why they must find a way out. Let them do the rest.

I had theoretically designed a Q1SP map around this concept. I was to build a large industrial complex and present the player with multiple solutions to the final conclusion. Each difficulty setting on the map, easy, normal, hard, nightmare, was a completely different game through the same environment. The start map presented this to the player quite simply. The game would be easy if the player made their way into the sewage system and sneaked (Yes, that is the correct word) into the base. The game would be a nightmare if the player charged straight in the front door with guns blazing. And, as a result of the different locations (I had 4 in all, one for each difficulty) of each games' beginning, the pathways through the industrial complex had to adjust accordingly. Then, in each game, make minor differences in obstacles and plots, rearrange the placement of the buttons, doors and keys and you have four games for the price of one.

Anyways, the player should choose their path. Oprah calls this Empowerment. 
That's good. It's simple, and it doesn't require a lot of matching of items etc or figuring out obscure solutions. Straight forward choice and execution. 
Just on the distinction between believable and realistic...

It's logically possible that I might flap my arms and fly from Melbourne to Sydney, but not physically possible given the world as it exists. I might believe without contradiction that it is possible whilst never actually being able to do it. However, in virtual worlds "reality" is up for grabs on a lot of different levels. One may well set the scene such that an inhabitant can jump the equivalent of six stories in a single leap (Ziggurat Vertigo). The game designer is in effect realising a possible world...and here's the kicker. To be believable, possible worlds must be consistent - but only in the strictest sense of the word. For instance, there's no problem with me finding myself inverted after traversing a teleporter in Zippie's Stampot - that's just the way that teleporter works in that possible world. However, it is hard hard for me to believe that I can be in two places at once. It is not consistent with me investing myself in a particular avatar at some given time. It's hard to believe because it's logically impossible.

And the point of this...well I guess it's a precursor to asking,"In game design, just how far can we twist reality before teh experience becomes unbelievable?" "Is breaching logical impossibility our only barrier?" 
Realism In Movies... 
I forget who said it first, but good movies all start with an amazing coincidence or impossible premise, and then everything follows logically from that. I don't think good (or realistic) game plots should be any different.

If I opened a portal to the realms of hell, I shouldn't be finding alien technology half way through the game, it just doesn't follow. Realistic all becomes relative to me opening that portal. 
If I opened a portal to the realms of hell, I shouldn't be finding alien technology half way through the game...

Unless of course that hell dimension is an alien construct and the cracks are starting to appear. Hmmm, not a bad premise for a movie... 
On A Technical Note 
would it be possible to make editing tools where you can manipulate the texture in-program like to add some noise or "battering" effects in certain areas. it would be useful like maybe in corners of walls and stuff. i dont wanna come up with impossible thigs but...if anyone made something like it you could all have basic textures and the edit prog contains the tool to add an extra layer to the textures.

end of note 
But done right. 
nice idea actually
In adition to the set of predefined textures/shaders you have a library of effects you can apply to any surface with some spray-like tool, adding dirt, stains, moss etc. And the compiler itself creates aditional texture pass with all those effects 
Ranting Ranting... 
nane, is there any chance to try that map with alternative routes, I`m interested even if there is nothing to look at, just for a gameplay 
Detail And The Future 
> Then what will happen to custom mapping
> when level designing becomes much more
> complex and way more time-consuming? It
> already takes quite a while for one person
> to build a level, but that one person may
> yet need to learn texturing and modelling
> just to make a map.

It will, as soon as Doom3 comes out. It already is, really, for the Unreal2 engine. Half of any UT2/U2 map is models and extra junk they stuck in - so is Doom3. We're all going to have to turn into modellers to keep up, or start collaborating a lot more often on things, or both. Mapping is starting to turn into modelling: shaders, high poly mapmodels ...

In 1998 we had Quake 2. Next year we'll have Doom 3. Now, think about five or six years ahead of THAT ... boo! :) 
Future Of Games 
Gamespy last year did series of articles and interviews regarding future of games. Featuring Sweeney, Spector, Molyneux and something else 
Oh Well 
i'm actually better at modelling than mapping (quite good at the first, crap at the second) so that keeps me optimistic. i dont like animating tho so BOOOOOO! 
the joys of being a coder... 
There's joy in being a coder? 
Yes, But You Have To Look Real Close 
Us left-brained people don't have to do any real work. It doesn't even matter what end of the body it comes out, managers discard it equally. There's a bit of satisfaction in being permanently doomed but assured it will never get any worse. :)
Dilbert type senario. 
if you're a masochist. ("What new and exciting things are broken today?" et cetera) 
Per-surface Shaders In The BSP? 
This is where part of the discussion appears to be heading.

Now, I've been playing a couple of Doom/Build engine games recently, but there, instead of textures being complete images, they're constructed from piles of "patches", or even "decals" (like hazard signs.)

The impression I'm getting is this:

In the future, texture-specific shader files can be overridden by surface-specific shader files.

The question, of course, is whether this is a good idea or not... 
Shaders are going to have to be texture specific to a certain extent (if we're ever going to get any serious shadering done) because the textures are mostly responcible for determing material. Concrete doesn't damage the same way that iron does. And steel doesn't weather the same way copper does.

What I see as most useful is textures defining a series of characteristics about themselves. Then the mapper would say "scraped damage here," "scorch mark here," "water damage there" etc on a per surface basis.

That work share work evenly between texturer and mapper, while putting a lot of it on the cpu. I always believe in making the computer do all the bitch work. 
Ya Know... 
We really need to get more people that work at game companies to read and post in discussions like this. Since they are the ones making the technology, it would be excellent for us, the community, to bring up points of mapping (tool designs etc) to developers. Developers could also benefit because they could get direct feedback about design ideas or even questions about topics they might not have thought of. This is of course provided they want feedback, keep the discussions from mentioning anything specific that would fall to NonDisclosure Agreements, and have the time to even bother with this minority community.

I disagree with what you wrote. 

I'm guessing that most Quake levels are semantic architecture. 
Qmap Archive 
I really hope peej finds a way to at least recover all of the qmap posts/threads for archive purposes -- there were some meaty conversations on there. 
Back To The 2D/3D Stuff 
I mostly agree with the stuff Nane talked, but I totally disagree that small embossed textures should be replaced to brushes, because by small sizes there is barely a difference between 2d and 3d, and textures can contain much more details than a light entity can effect an embossed brush. (Example: compare the TECH04_6 texture with a round-cornered TECH04_2 texture.) And even if this detailed-brushes-stuff looked better (but it doesnt), then okay, here you are, you got beatiful brush-rivetted door-jambs and stuff, and you only see the grey void instead of the rest of the map :).
In my opinion there is certain threshold (according to the size of the object) between texture-detailing and brush-detailing, it is not a fix value, depends also from the amount of emboss. This threshold is very easy to find, if one doesnt, and uses textures instead of a big ceiling-decoration made of thick bars or puts small 2x2 pixel brush-needles on a metal surface, then that one is stupid, and needs more experience about Quake mapping. 
Oh Yes 
of course, you have a point.
otherwise one goes mad in search for detail and each map takes months to do.

there is always a quick and efficient way (or various) and not so efficient ways.

a bad mapper can always use his texturing skills for example. its good that each mapper has his own view.

we are lucky there are so many good texturers around and we depend on them (not me personally but...) 
About Puzzles: 
IMO that puzzles shall be as natural as possible,you can find examples in Halflife. But for Fantasy game s as Quake or Unreal(tech fantasy)you can even a new world and make the players bilieve in the Natrual things THERE. For example you can't jump more than xx meters up,but if the game occurs on another world (matrix i.e.) it's possible to jump that high,so you can make pouzzles like that. 
Dear God. 
Indeed, i now have a team of like 10 environment artists, lighters, texturers, and vfx people, who take my blocked-out gameplay spaces and turn them into fully realized locations. 
I'm doing this wrong... I'm making everything myself!!! 
Dear God

i know, who ends a post with "Boo!"? 
Much worse. It was "boo! :)" 
Semantic Architecture? 
That's an interesting article with some interesting terms.

Thank you very much for that. :3c 
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