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Let's Play: Black
Black is small 4 map episode by J.F.Gustafsson released in 1997. It lots of E1M2 style on display here. Beware of traps and backspawning! If you are looking for a map 'Quake the way id did it', these are reasonably close.

J.F.Gustafsson made several Q1SP maps, mostly with the same general theme of 'bricks and caves'. He also made a few Q2SP maps, 1964 being the map he is most known for. I don't know if he continued mapping beyond Q2.

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TIL 
 
 
Well, there you go 
#3 
Nice story bro. 
Soooo.... 
What can make more discussion happen?

Am I picking too old of maps? Should I be picking more 'cream of the crop' as opposed to 'a decent map from long ago'? Would it be easier if there was just a free-form 'nostalgia map thread' that could just go willy nilly into other maps?

I'm under no illusions that there are a ton of active members here chomping at the bit to spend all day chatting on func_ about 15 year old maps... but my last thread apparently went over like a lead balloon, and I already fear this will.

-----------------

Spirit mentioned on IRC that he hated these maps:

<SprititSpritit> Scampie: traps like those are just bad
<SprititSpritit> also the a-b-a-b-a-b button-door-thing-design is stupid


...and I wish that sort of thing were posted here as a starting point of discussion. This was a map from '97, and those sorts of things were in maps then. I still think these are good maps though, even despite instant death traps and 'key-door-repeat' type design. 
Time 
New content for Quake is already time demanding, so looking over old content, no matter how nostalgic or good it might be, is another lump of time that needs to be set aside.

Maybe just do them less frequently?

In my case I didn�t play the last and haven't played this because my time with Quake is spent modding rather than playing. 
I Like The Idea Here 
personally, now that I'm less busy, I'd say post one map every 3-4 weeks, and then I'm totally in. Other than that I just map in the hopes of releasing stuff this summer; I haven't even played the latest new Q1SP yet.

I always liked Black, it reminded me of Beyond Belief; I especially liked the boat. I wish more maps would have platform rides like e2m2 or Rogue's boat ride in r2m1 (I think it was). 
 
Ayup, maybe less frequently, but I still like the idea.

I saw this thread posted and I thought "well damn I still haven't gotten to the last one"... 
Ok 
so every 3 weeks? That sound fine 
 
Quick thoughts on the first map. I'm not sure I'll get to the rest before the weekend.

One comment first to set some context: I played mission pack 2 again within the past year, and I enjoyed it in a weird way. Those maps committed a lot of "mapping sins"... unfair traps, wasted space, herky pacing, attempts to do too much fine detail-work in brushes, spaces that weren't really wide enough to navigate in, protrusions that you can get hung up on, etc. But I couldn't say they were junk or anything. They had a sort of sincerity that kept my interest, and they really poked my nostalgia about 1990s shooters.

Anyway! This was kind of like that. Not exactly, but kind of. Particularly it's obvious that this is someone making a map less like a finely balanced sculpture and more like "I can build the cool cave dungeon from my old D&D campaign!"

Things I didn't like so much:
- The package came with a config.cfg for some reason? So when I quakeinjectored it, I didn't have any of my settings or bindings. Had to quit out, fix things up, and restart.
- The color palette, eh. Never been a fan of the stained-glass+wood look in Quake.

Things I was OK with:
- The backtracking and button-hunting was in a constrained space so it didn't frustrate me. (And it's part of the generally adorable old-90s-map thing.)
- Backspawning. After mumblety-hundred hours playing Quake I don't mind the monsters cheating a bit, if the map isn't on the modern difficulty scale.

Things that were cool:
- Climbing on the roof of a little house and shooting dumb monsters on the ground!
- Using a Quad to single-shotgun zombies!
- Boat ride!

Also a button hunt while snorkeling around in some shallow water and low walls was nice in a very specific Crypt of Decay-ish way. 
 
do you actually have to grenade-jump to the silver key in the first map or did i miss an obvious button or something? 
 
It's weird, you leave and go back to the button that opened the area and push the other button 
 
Shrimpie, as it is people can barely be bothered to enthusiastically comment on and discuss new releases, so it's not too surprising this is even more of a case with old levels. The "no time" excuse is convenient, but in most cases probably just a diplomatic way of saying "don't want to play Quake". Increasing the time between such threads likely isn't going to remedy this. If someone "can't" manage to play a map within a week, they probably aren't interested in playing/commenting on it in the first place.

I like the idea of these threads, however. And I'm all for picking old and more obscure maps rather than the most famous ones.

About Black:
A solid early release, in my view. I agree some of the things were kind of annoying, or at least, well, quirky in a 90s-map style sort of way.
The death traps, for example, which you have no way of avoiding the first time unless you're lucky. Nowadays they probably would be highlighted better and/or made to only damage the player somewhat.
I didn't mind the backspawning, even if it seemed cheap at times. You always hear the monsters and can react if you're fast enough; and after a while you come to expect these thigns to happen so you're prepared.

Probably the oddest thing about these maps was the progression. Lots of back-and-forth through the cramped maps, especially the first one where it was almost excessive. It felt fairly contrived and unnatural, as if the author tried hard to artificially maximize the play time. Sometimes almost puzzle-like situations where buttons appear or doors open in areas you've just been to with no indication you have to go back.

The end map could be seen as another one of those quirky things. On the one hand it seems a bit dickish perhaps to only reward hard skill players. On the other hand, I think back then it was just fine - I remember playing the first custom maps I had multiple times anyway, exploring every corner and admiring how the authors pulled it off. So something like this actually did add replay value beyond challenge and secrets and would have been received as a welcome bonus rather than a patronizing chore. 
 
Like Johnny Law said, yes.
What makes many of these old maps special is the fact that, seemingly, they weren't yet subject to all the conventions and notions of "good design" that we came to agree on, reproduce and expect in maps over the years. Black probably isn't even best example for this, but it still shows this mode of 'jolly experimentation'. 
I Seemed... 
...to remember rage quitting every time I tried this level. The backspawning was telegraphed so that wasn't the problem (hey, I've used the technique), but the insta-kill traps were just shit. It was like playing that arcade game with the dopey knight where one had to remember every joystick movement in sequence to get through.

I tried it again though...and rage quit after the second insta-kill trap with no environmental warning.

The use, and re-use, and re-use, and re-use of the initial area was pretty boring too.

I like having these older levels tossed up for comment, but I think they should be tossed up and just left without expectation. The threads will keep bubbling up as archivists and those new to the game come across them. 
Gave It A Whirl 
I did enjoy these maps, even if the demo doesn't really show it. It's nice to play an old school map, brings back good memories.

I died a lot, mostly due to the instant death traps, so its a bit of a long demo, if you insist on watching it. Bring some popcorn.

http://qrf.servequake.com/~orl/misc/orl_qblack_demo.rar 
Holy Backtracking Batman. 
That is all. 
Quality For Its Time. 
In terms of design, the first two maps were the standout. Once the IDbase section arrived, the designs became fairly boring, though the final level looked good.

Progression was odd. If it wasn't the constant backtracking, it was the counter-intuitive progression, no place more evident than in the last level. Once I killed the vores I rocket-jumped to the teleporter, only figuring out after than you needed to jump in the lava.

Maybe Zerstorer spoiled me, but the first time I saw the red lava, I jumped in, thinking it was blood. Not so much. The blue slime in the next-to-last level also fooled me into thinking it was water. The smidgen of new textures here were below the quality of their ID counterparts.

Traps. Ugh. Some at least gave a visual indication, but others not so much so.

While playing through the third level, it occurred to me how easy the base enemies truly are. Any weapon above the nailgun and shotgun allow you to mop the floor with the grunts and enforcers. I think maybe that was Quoth, Rubicon2, SoA and to a lesser extent, Zerstorer's, most enduring legacy, from a mapper's perspective; it allows the level designer to make base maps challenging again (aside from the rare outlier, such as Rubicon 1).

It was nice to revisit this, though. I think I originally played it thirteen years ago, back when Shambler's site got my interested in SPQ, so it provided a nice bit of nostalgia.

I'd like to think the first level was named in honor of Megadeth (the fact that another one of JF's early maps, 'Fucking Hostile' was named after a Pantera track suggest it was). 
 
I must admit, after being deathtrapped over and over again, i ragequit and felt bad.
Its quite interesting to see that, over the years, some unwritten rules were established, not to do such things(at least without the slightest clue).
Same applies to backspawning and button appearing in areas once visited. I made the experience myself;)
You only learn by making mistakes, and you only make mistakes by experimenting with such setups.

The brushwork was quite nice, i liked the broken wall bits that opened after backtracking, and a boat ride is always cool.

Anyway, thanks Scampie, for digging some of those early releases.

Gonna give this a try again tomorrow... 
Ah 
So guilt is the key! 
Cryptic Your Post Are, Jedi. 
 
I Find 
An unvarying ingress of alcohol helps. 
 
Finished the rest! Additional comments:

Yeah some of the instadeath traps are crap. I found the first one a little suspicious + funny, and a couple of the GIANT PISTON things were OK I s'pose. A couple of other cases were unforgivable.

I continued to like the climbing around on top of things and swimming under things.

I did the final map mostly backwards, same as ionous did. Anti-climactic. :-)

Good retro jaunt though. Which other J.F.G. maps should I check out? 
I Love Black 
 
That's What She Said 
 
You Know Who Else Liked Black? 
 
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Website copyright © 2002-2017 John Fitzgibbons. All posts are copyright their respective authors.