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Why Did You Start Mapping And Why Are You Still Mapping?
For me it was because I was a kid in school and I wanted to do 3D because it was the cool thing to do, but I couldn't get my head around 3D Studio MAX (however I know now it was shit back then and it still is!), so I decided to try UnrealED after being so mightily impressed by the unreal setting of Unreal. I then couldn't get my head around how to make stuff in UnrealED because it was so... different, but then came Radiant and it all made sense and I found the joy of my life and from the year 2000 until around 2003 I made a shitlode of maps.

From before and around the same time I did a lot of 2D-level editing for Stunts, The Incredible Machine, Red Alert and Red Alert 2 (including Yuri's Revenge).

Then from 2003 I had my "art" period that lasted until 2016 in which I only did level design not for functional purposes but to complement backgrounds of artwork I did or to just plan out environments and settings, but last year, I started doing Quake 2 level editing as a hobby (I started a new job as a software developer and moved towns etc.) and I've been on the grind ever since because IT. IS. FUN.
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Making Levels 
I got interested in making levels when I was kid, creating small levels of flash 2D games. When I was a young teenager, I got interested in Serious Sam editing and that's where I learned basic terminology of building 3D worlds. I never got anywhere but instead made what would be compared to as small test maps.

UT 1999 was a big game for my friends and myself so I tried to learn to make a few deathmatch maps...again never getting anywhere.

I loved the Quake atmosphere and always wanted to make maps for the game. At some point I tried to use World Craft (or was it radient?) but simply couldn't handle the learning curve or at least I didn't want to output the efforts required.

For some reason, I did a playthrough of Quake 2 years ago and decided to see if there were any more current mapping tools. Enter Trenchbroom and the rest is history.

So I suppose I'd like to extend my thanks to Sleepwalkr for the development of Trenchbroom for it's why I can satisfy my desire to create maps in Quake!

Why am I still mapping? Well with the knowledge I already know, I can actually create maps from ideas in my head. As I continue to make maps, I get a little better at it each time and that's motivating for me. But perhaps the most important factor is that it's really fun to create a world! 
I like making maps because I've always liked building stuff. I'm a very artistic and creative person by nature and I've always been attracted to beautiful craftsmanship (either real like buildings, sculptures or jewelry, or virtual like maps or models). I have huge respect for artists and creators and it's one of the main reasons why I intensely dislike breaking stuff. I never vent my anger on objects or furniture, for instance. I'm actually rather interested in becoming a jeweler and a women's undergarment designer these days, since these two things are meticulously crafted and quite amazing to look at (and are a relatively realistic career prospect for me, since I'm awful at everything else).

I started getting into level design at around 9 with Warcraft 2, making maps so me and my neighbors could play new stuff. I quickly became pretty good at it too. Granted, the editor was insanely simple but making a good-looking map in this game does require a bit of work.

My first 3D map was made for Quake, a quite shitty multiplayer level I made at about 11. It was mostly an unlit garbage killbox. It's long, long lost so don't ask for it. I then migrated over to Counter-Strike and Unreal Tournament when I was old enough to have access to the Internet, and mainly made maps for my online friends. I ended up ditching Unreal Tournament mapping for Half-Life/Counter-Strike as I found it much easier.

I migrated over to Half-life 2 when it was released and my levels got enough traction that I was noticed by a few people and landed a gig in the industry. It was alright for a while but a combination of various things and especially high stress made me realize that just wasn't for me. Besides I really hate modern level design (both in theory and tech-wise) so I've been mostly making levels for old games for a few years now and have zero interest in mapping for games that rely far too much on meshes. I remember how disappointed I was when I opened the UnrealED that came bundled with UT2004 and realized how the maps were made.

So, right now I'm 26, I have been making maps since I was 9 and I still love doing it. I feel like I improve every time. That said I don't see myself working in the games industry ever again. I like the limits imposed by the jams and other contests since there are no real stakes and people aren't out to exploit you. 
You're Not 26 Yet Liar 
In A Month 
Whut, 25? 
Skacky, i've always rendered you older in my mind.

On Topic:

I started mapping for Quake in 98, out of the same reasons as Skacky, love for building stuff, general creative output, computerlove etc etc.

I was building plastic models of planes when i was like 8 yrs old, and i always did draw a good amount of stuff. My parents used to give me a pencil and paper when i was younger and "unquiet". Thx Mom and Dad!

I tanked it with some jobs i had, but i never lost interest.

Rewind forward a decade, and with more computing power i was able to build my sloppy maps w/o a week of vising.


Another decade later i have a job which is meshes all over, and im glad to push some brushes nowadays.
Like scribbles while on the phone at times, but it will always be here with me. Thx TrenchBroom!

And i always loved the quake palette, believe it or not.

Why I Won't Stop Mapping And Did Not Stop Anyway? 
When I started playing Quake I had a real strong feeling of stepping over a ledge with miracules posibillities. I had not the slightest intention I would ever make that kind of maps. I was just amazed by them, especially the medieval maps.

There were only a few editors, and all I had were a PCZone editor Qmap, with no definitions or help. I remember I opened a dm map and started to add monsters in the map even without knowing where they would end up. Just for the joy of playing that empty dm maps.

Qmap changed in Thread, then Qed, qbsp198, and Quark. From that moment I was biologized by adding cubes and trying out some imaginairy architectuals. And stayed onbelievable surprised in the way it could make places so irrisistable true. That it became caves in my mind that search a way out.

One thing stayed on my mind, and that was a way to create that entitties. That cartoonick glibbering creature with its awfull intention to skermish against the player.
Strange enough the only rael treasure ware I found was Qmle. It's a small and stubborn programm but for me the best way to get that rarebits running.

Mapping is like a magnet, how closer one comes, how harder it drags. 
Besides I really hate modern level design (both in theory and tech-wise)

I'm curious to know, what is it about modern level design that makes you hate it? 
Love Quake, Love Computers, Love Designing 
Age 5: introduced to Quake on my Dad's laptop on a long drive between states (IN->IL, fields not much to see). Got good enough to be dangerous. Played coop sessions with Dad, Grandpa, and Uncles. Always ended up blowing everyone up and stealing their packs.
Age 7 or 8: New computer couldn't run Quake and thus began the dark ages. At some point as a kid I pretended Quake with my toys, my first "mapping experience".
Age 13: Found tenebrae and was able to play Quake again. Downloaded Quark but couldn't figure out what was going on (still can't in the stupid thing). Made my first map which was a room with a flame and one ogre and a spike in the middle. Gave up on making my own levels.
Age 15: Got Half-Life 2 for Christmas, downloaded Half-Life 2 Deathmatch...discovered Source SDK and Hammer editor.
Age 16: Made multiple physics puzzle maps in HL2 Deathmatch. Rediscovered Quake and found Worldcraft 1.6 Shareware...and so it began.
Age 25: Created uber mod combining all Quake mission packs and major mods, yet to be polished for release. Keeping on mapping because Quake 2 sucked and someone needs to make a sequel and id ibviously doesn't know what they are doing. Plus it's relaxing to sketch out areas and come up with interesting things. 
Like Skacky, I Have The Mindset Of An Artist 
I first started to try mapping around 1997-98 because the tools were available and the prospect of making levels for the "mostest bestest" game ever was incredibly exciting. Excitement soon dropped when I realized the complexity of said tools and, without any tutorial or user guide whatsoever (and no internet to join the community and ask for guidance), I gave up with a much heavy heart...

When I came back to Quake last year (thanks to Doom 2016) after a few years' hiatus, this time I had an internet connection and I heard about Trenchbroom soon after finally joining the community. Having long craved for a more user-friendly map editor, I tried it and found it much more up my alley than ye olde tools. I'm still learning the editor and haven't released anything yet, but rest assured that I will in due time. 
I started for scientific purposes, and I continue not only for testing purposes, but also to build an example of the kind of visual quality that I like to see.

I never tried to map for gameplay purposes, mostly due to lack of inspiration on this aspect. 
Wow, I also thought Skacky was a lot older.

I started mapping about three years ago, shortly before I started using the alias "total_newbie" on here (I'd been a lurker for quite some time before that), but I have not been mapping consistently since then. There have been many long breaks of several months at a time, so I probably have only have about a year and a half's worth of experience under my belt at this point. Which is still kind of embarrassing for my current low skill level. Unlike others in this thread I never mapped or modded as a child, having grown up in a ...err... technologically deprived environment -- so when I started three years ago well into adulthood (not going to reveal my age, though) I really was a total newbie. And I often feel I'll never catch up: I still find mapping really hard and frustrating for the most part, though I keep hoping I'll have a breakthrough moment where it'll become easier and I can start just enjoying the creative process. But that hasn't happened yet.

Why did I start?

1) I was curious about TrenchBroom, so finally decided on a whim to install it and try it out.

2) I am an AFOL (adult fan of Lego), but Lego (or other building toys) requires money and space, neither of which I have in abundance -- which had led me to pretty much abandon that hobby in recent years. I thought Quake mapping could be a more cost- and space-effective replacement hobby and creative outlet.

3) Having played and admired many Quake maps, I wanted to gain a better understanding of what actually goes into mapping.

4) I wanted to give something back, having played so many maps myself.

Why do I keep mapping?

Well, I haven't touched an editor in several months at this point, so it remains to be seen whether I will continue.

In spite of having poured a lot of time and energy into mapping, I haven't managed to finish anything I'd consider playable (pretty much all my projects are at the stage of very incomplete brushwork, with no gameplay entities yet, barring perhaps a monster or weapon or two to test things like scale).

The amount of effort and time required on my part often doesn't seem proportionate to the potential reward -- even just getting the software to work properly often seems to require a level of prior knowledge I just don't have (the last time I gave up was after I could not figure out how to update TrenchBroom without having to reinstall my then freshly-installed OS). When I see others making decent maps within the space of a single month (and I'm talking about other newcomers, not the superstars like Skacky or sock or mfx), I get the sense that I must be doing several things very wrong, because my pace is exponentially slower than that. 
I think I've told this story before. I started mapping in games when I first discovered Sauerbraten. I played nothing except for that game for years, making weird abstract creations because that was interesting to pre-teen me.
After a while I took a break from the game when I got into highschool, but I came back to it a few years ago with a new perspective and started trying to map with a purpose.

I eventually released a map for the game that I'm still quite proud of, and was moderately well received by the community. After that I moved on to mapping for Tesseract - further down the rabbithole of obscurity. I suppose the difference there is that I managed to get my map into the distribution for the game, but you have to download a SVN build to get it.

After that I finally made the jump to Quake. There were a few reasons - I was inspired by Daz and his Custom Gamer videos, which I discovered around about that time, and I was also desperate for a sea change. I wanted to learn the tooling around Quake and by extension the tooling used in more modern games.

On that second point I'd say I'm a bit of a failure, but since then I've realized that it's not really all that relevant to know this sort of thing now, with the advent of 3D editing for modern game engines.
I'd say I failed because of Trenchbroom. Without it, if I wanted to be a Quake mapper, I would have to learn a primarily 2D editor. Instead I stayed relatively within my comfort zone.

At least I understand brushes now. 
That's interesting Skacky because I started with Warcraft 2 as well! That was a long time ago, I'd completely forgotten Warcraft 2 mapping till you mentioned it.

Then went to Doom2 and created a couple of levels which I thought were great (probably weren't). Then moved to Quake and created an episode, a bit shit but I thought it was good at the time. Shambler had a big bitchfest that it wasn't deserving of his time playing it and not worthy of a review on his website, so I said fuck that shit I'll go map for a game where players can appreciate shit. So Q2. Also some Half-Life but the community there was retarded all they want is realistic settings. Then Q3... but eventually back to Quake because it is the best game to map for. Then quit because it's too addictive and time consuming. 
I got Quake sometime in '96. I played it with my girls, and we took turns in getting through the levels. We used keyboard only in those days but got stuck on the final boss as we could not figure out how to kill it. That made me look for the solution on-line and that's when I discovered you could make your own maps. Well, that did it; the girls said, "Dad, we want more levels!", and I said, "I can do that for you!", and that's how the For My Babies maps started, and how I got into mapping.

Mapping took over as my main hobby for quite a few years: I was not a prolific publisher of maps but created many for home use only, and only released a few to the unsuspecting public, particularly those where I had used somebody's scraps to build on e.g. my, A Roaming Wildebeest in Spain, from Tronyn's A Roman Wilderness of Pain cast-offs.

I liked Quake and Quake mapping so much that I wanted to play and create bigger and bigger maps. And that is probably why I eventually ran out of steam. I created a map so big so it would not play in normal engines. I cut it down, chopped it up and spat it out as FMB-BDG2. This did run in several engines (I used FQ085 by choice) but I had spent so much time on it without ever completing what my original plan was, that I decided to stop mapping. Modern Quake was evolving and I could not keep up with all the engines, tools, coding, textures, trends etc.

Strangely, having come back to playing Quake, I now find that I do not like big maps. If a map goes on for too long, and especially if I get lost too often, I will abandon it. I find 20 - 30 minutes is just about right: the route should be more or less obvious - backtracking is OK as long as everything is well marked. I enjoy all types of scenery but I do need the architecture to make structural sense; even if it is a fantasy, ceilings and walls will fall down if they are not build to the proper standards (BBA 1902 part A (2003) or similar).

So, if you are a mapper, keep going and I will keep playing; I just won't go back to mapping as other things have taken its place. Besides, I am the oldest regular on this board and have served my time. 
My Quake Evolution 
I could go on and on so I am going to bullet point this and wrap up with some thoughts.

*In my 20's I saw Doom shareware and saved up for a computer.

*Doom2 comes out I finally had a good machine and level editors started multiplying and getting easier to use. My first maps were Doom 2 MP maps. We would play at work at night on the company network so I made a map of our office. Great memories of those days.

*Full-Fledged id software fanatic. Went to 2nd QuakeCon in '97!!! and 3 other times over the years. Attended E3 many times and met Romero and others. Always tracking the impact id was making on 3d graphics and gaming. I even met Robin Walker and Gabe Newell while they were demoing HL1 at E3!

*Quake mapping early on via Quest. Wold try other editors as well. Small SP test levels then moved on to DM only and stuck with that.

*Quake 2 - only box maps then was recruited by Team Evolve for sound design on Quake 2 expansion. That distracted me from mapping until Quake 3 arrived.

*Quake 3, Soldier of Fortune 2 and Call of Duty: United Offensive. All multiplayer maps - most unreleased. But I learned Radiant for those projects.

*Doom3 and Quake 4 tinkered with internal editors but the level of detail started becoming problematic (too much time to make a good looking level) so moved away from mapping for a LONG time.

*Would check in on Quake each year. mhQuake. Tenebrea, FitzQuake etc. Messed around with Hammer and TF2 maps.

*2015 found Daz's YT channel and Trenchbroom/tyr-ericw's tools and got hooked all over again.

*2017 Q1SP is kind of new for me. 99% of what I have created over the years was MP, so for me mapping is completely fresh, inspiring and addicting all over again just as it was with Doom2. SP is a different animal design-wise so I consider myself at an intermediate skill level.

*My long term goals right now are to learn QuakeC and contribute more to the community by way of video tuts and of course to continue to improve mapping.

I've had some struggles with stress, alcohol abuse and depression over the last 15 years. My work situation is much better now and I am starting to do things for myself now as opposed to working myself into an early grave. I will be 50 in a few months and I have turned back to Quake mapping because it makes me happy. I don't see stopping anytime soon... you guys are stuck with me.

Skacky is 25? WTF. 
I'm a fan of Quake since I started playing Id games 5 years ago. Discovered the whole func_msgboard scene maybe 2 years ago, always telling myself "I'd REALLY love doing that". Besides, I'm a fresh new environment artist in the games industry, I have a soft spot for good level design and I often feel frustrated seeing how modern demand in complex graphics takes a lot of time to build an interesting scene. With Quake I can just throw brushes and walk in them right away, and the pre-existing gameplay and sounds participate in the immersion factor.

I'll probably map more if I have the time. Working full time is not fun even when you make games, at some point you wish you could do it just on the side and step away from the computer a bit. 
Uh, Well, Mkay 
1998: Got the Unreal CD bundled with a friend's 3Dfx-card in exchange for a pizza (he already had Unreal) with the intent of learning mapping - in preparation for Quake III, which clearly I wanted to map for. Couldn't get into UnrealEd, though, and went for WorldCraft and Half-Life instead. Created some simplistic Half-Life Deathmatch maps that are now lost to time. Later mapping shifted to Counter Strike.

2004: Got into contact to help out the Nexuiz project with mapping and some minor QuakeC stuff. Mostly rescued some map drafts from other authors and pushed them into something that could be shipped. After release took the role of project maintainer for about two years. For Xonotic (the Nexuiz fork) I also helped out to brush up some maps.

I discovered Quake rather late, basically as a byproduct of working on Nexuiz/Xonotic. I love the new mapping tools (TrenchBroom and ericw-tools) and hope to finally have a single-player map in my repertoire. 
Being Able To Create And The Engage With 3D Worlds... 
...that's what got me in. Camaraderie kept me in. Whether it was swapping maps with Jack and Noel during the first 100b comp, trying to link minds with the Rubicondom crew, or slogging it out with the Travail mob in the lead up to release - camaraderie. The inevitable "community" crap never really overcame the genuine mutual respect, and that's one reason why levels/mods are still getting made.

Now that I'm thoroughly bored with Skyrim, I'll probably get my mapping setup running again. However, I'll be using it to explore stage, set and lighting design rather than level releases. I'll leave the latter to the impressive bunch of new dreamers. 
From my early childhood through my mid teens I was really into an obscure game series called Escape Velocity. It's obscure because the first two games were only released on Mac OS, but anyway, I got into using the editor for the third game in the series, Escape Velocity Nova. The game engine was quite limited (huge open world galaxy to explore, long mission strings, but it's 2D and there are no real "levels" but star systems on a flat plane with sprites for ships, planets etc.) but I still got really into it: first to make cheats (because grinding for money by hauling cargo was boring, also certain mission strings were terribly unbalanced) but eventually started making new weapons using default sprites/particle effects, etc. It was all just modifying properties and chaining together resources to do weird stuff the engine "shouldn't" have done, but it was fun. Eventually I started working on a partial expansion with a new story and a different gameplay balance from the original game, but like most large projects for EV Nova, it was not finished and is now lost. But I mostly worked on it because it was fun to dream and experiment, and after a certain point the hobby became more engaging than actually playing the game.

As far as "real" mapping goes, I was aware that people made maps for old games, and always thought it would be cool to make new "worlds" (as my dad called them) myself, but I never really looked into it because honestly, I thought it would be impossibly difficult for me to learn. No joke. When I was a kid I thought "only adults to this, it would be too hard for a kid to do," and when I was an adult I thought "all these mappers have been doing it since they were kids, it's too late for me to learn." I waited for so long because I convinced myself it would be too hard. After I started playing Quake again in 2013, for the first time since I was 12-13 years old, it took me three more years to convince myself otherwise.

I've only been mapping for about a year and a half now but I've improved so much since I started that I realize how foolish I was. I don't do it quickly, nor do I have the patience for it when I have time, but when I do it I do it because I like it, and that's the important thing. 
'nor do I *always* have the patience for it when I have time'... (worst kind of typo, the kind that reverses the meaning of the sentence)

@distrans you do you, but sad to hear you're not planning any SP maps. Ah well. ;) 
I started mapping because I saw a CD with a Quake Level Editor on it in a gaming shop. I tortured myself with the awful editor for a while and also gave it to a friend from school (you may remember Xen/Xenon). My first map was actually my classroom in 1997.

The online QExpo event came soon after, and I joined the forum, and the #terrafusion IRC channel. The community kept me coming back especially the speedmap events every saturday night. The fact i was free every saturday night proves how full and rich my social life was back then.

I don't really map now, but I've always loved the combination of art and craft you can explore through mapping and modding. You're free to make whatever you want, but restrained by technical limitations in a way that only makes things more fun. I still dabble with game ideas in Unity though, and dream of quitting my job to be a struggling indie dev. 
I turned 13 the day Quake was released. I remember it like it was yesterday, but not because of Quake. I remember it because that's the day I had the accident that would shape the rest of my life. It was a perfect storm of circumstances really, but to cut a long and painful story short, I was on a school trip visiting the construction site of a new science centre in Bristol, because our class had named it together so our reward was to meet the architects and find out more about the finished product. Anyway, this architect was showing us around the outskirts (obviously we weren't allowed inside the dangerous construction bits) when a cement mixer collided with a crane that was lifting a vat of chemicals to the top floor of the new construction. The crane toppled and the vat came free and ruptured against a bare girder, sending a torrent of extremely toxic liquid chemicals in all directions. It all happened ridiculously fast so nobody really had time to react. Our tour guide happened to be holding up a sheet of architectural drawings which washed out of his rapidly dissolving hands and hit me square in the face. Due to a reaction between the pencil lead used to create his drawings and the chemicals passing through, the precise lines and notations were basically burnt in to my flesh. I was the only one in my class to actually survive, if you can call it surviving. I won't go in to great details about the prolonged recovery process because it was gruesome, but every time I look in the mirror since I see those pencil lines and I'm overcome by a need to recreate the nightmare vision in some medium. I came out of the induced coma portion of my recovery period just as some Quake mapping software called Deathmatch Maker hit the shelves, and instantly formed an emotional connection with the grid layout and the dark thematic of the associated game. Some day I hope to do my face map justice. I still don't know exactly what was in that chemical vat, but I also feel that there's a more malevolent element at work. Sometimes I wake up in the night with the feeling that those scars on my skin are glowing and throbbing with some dark energy. 
Christ Almighty 
That sounds so terrible, like a super villain origin story. I hope your life turned out okay. 
Wins the thread, might as well close it now 
_at it's best. 8====D 
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