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Evolution Of The Quake Map
I've played a good number of Quake maps at this point, many of them recent creations but a few old ones as well. I've noticed a shift in design over the years and it's interesting to see how the scene almost collectively evolved over time. I've briefly had this discussion with maybe Shambler or Kinn but I thought that it would be worth talking about a little more.

The oldest maps are very clearly a product of their time. Mappers had to account for performance and for engine limits. It seems like the most ambitious mappers at this time were either on par with id1 or even surpassing it in some regards. Mexx seems like a good example of the high point of this period. Other maps seemed to be a product of mappers learning the tooling system and getting their feet wet.

I don't know when the next period started but in the early 2000s, it seems like maps started becoming a lot more ambitious. Kinn's Marcher is the quintessential example. The environments looked larger and more awe-inspiring, and gone was the unintentionally claustrophobic feel of the id1 style except for when it served the map. However, the maps still seem very derivative of id1 in their chunkiness and less propensity towards embellishments compared to modern maps. I don't know how long this period lasted but in reference to the discussion that I mentioned above, honey was essentially considered to have preceded the modern period of Quake mapping.

The third distinct period to me is the current one. I think that Shambler or Kinn described it as the every-brick-a-brush mapping style. The attention to detail is off the charts. The architecture is something to marvel at, and the life that modern mappers breathe into their creations is astounding. The mappers who worked on Arcane exemplify this style even if some of their earlier maps fell into the preceding categories. The skilled mappers of this period can be handed just about any texture pack and create something beautiful with creative use of textures, especially when it comes to trim. Take a look at what ionous was able to accomplish with only 6 textures in the most recent map jam. Even in cases where the brushwork isn't overly complex, texture usage is next level and I often find myself asking how the mapper managed to come up with this.

This third period also seems to be comprised of mappers pushing the bounds of how we think about Quake maps. There are some really interesting themes and concepts, as well as mods that add so much more depth. Ter Shibboleth by Orl, Redfield's Alice map, and the underwater jam map with the submarine bit come to mind.

I'm curious as to whether anyone agrees or disagrees, or if there are more distinct periods that I didn't notice. I'm not really talking about game play - I'm more so just focusing on aesthetics, particularly texture usage and brushwork, as well as advancements in modding and in source ports that allowed for new themes and greater complexity.
Noice Topic 
I've gotta scooch and will add more later, but just wanted to confirm that I did indeed coin the "every-brick-is-a-brush" term to describe the mapping style that really took off with sock's stuff and AD. The important thing to bear is mind is that this coincided with the introduction of detail brushes in ericw's tools, making this sort of detail an inevitable development.

I think czg both started and ended the 2nd period - that era lasted about ten years and was topped and tailed with Insomnia and Honey. I remember after Honey, everyone just felt like deleting all their WIP maps and moving to the Tibetan mountains to become a monk or something. Necros and Tronyn were also big players during this period.

After Honey, sock came along and started the 3rd period. 
Every Brick A Brush 
Was done early in Quake, only the brushes became smaller and smaller.
32x64 became 16x8 and so on.
Just nitpicking here, i am truly amazed with some of the maps released lately.
Ideas i never could come up with, being executed in excellent fashion.
Go map ya‘ll!! 
@Kinn: interesting that you mentioned those other names as well. I've played a few necros maps and I only recently started Something Wicked on which Tronyn worked. The very second that the start map in Something Wicked loaded up, I immediately thought of Honey. It was all about the sense of scale as well as the atmosphere that they created, partly through the use towering structures looming high over the player.

#mfx: that might be true but in earlier maps, it seems like I seldom see broken bricks and arches with pieces scattered about everywhere. I understand that tooling limitations did not lend themselves to that style in the earlier days in light of Kinn's point about ericw's tools. Even if mappers were employing the every brick is a brush technique, it's not something that ever really jumped out at me.

I didn't get into Quake until recently. Orl's Ter Shib and Arcane Dimensions are what finally piqued my interest. Consequently, my mapping ambitions are modeled after what I've seen in this current era. It's incredibly daunting for a new mapper. The detail in Leptis Magna, swampy, azad, crucial, Necro Keep, Terror Fuma, Zendar, and so forth is what I strive to achieve. The evolution of mapping has been a treat for the player but a nightmare for the beginner mapper because the scene took a while to evolve into what it is today, yet the boundaries have been pushed beyond the capabilities of newcomers. 
The evolution of mapping has been a treat for the player but a nightmare for the beginner mapper because the scene took a while to evolve into what it is today, yet the boundaries have been pushed beyond the capabilities of newcomers.

You wouldnt believe how this can be a burden for oldtimers as well, every map HAS to be better than before etc.. 
Really Interesting Topic! 
I was and remain most fascinated by the earliest period. The concept of what a 3D level even was, was barely even defined, and there were almost no examples to draw from, limited tools, slow PCs, etc.

You can't be derivative of that which does not exist. The combination of less preconceived ideas and more constraints led to people producing some truly unique and bizarre creations.

While it's somewhat embarrassing to admit it, I basically have no insight into the third period. I am excited to check out all the maps I've missed over the years. 
Map Scale And Ambition 
coincided with engine and compiling tool improvements in addition to faster PCs being available over time.
I would also say that Trenchbroom played a massive part in the mapping boom of the last 4-5 years or so. The ease at which you can throw down brushes is immense. 
The combination of less preconceived ideas and more constraints led to people producing some truly unique and bizarre creations.

This is partly why I'm drawn to Quake mapping. No matter the endeavor, I like to work within a fairly limited set of constraints. It's easy to get overwhelmed with too many tools at one's disposal. Even though complexity has increased with engine and tooling advancements, it still feels great to work on Quake maps and Doom as well.

@Fifth I think it's worth noting that some of the really technical mappers who drove the modern era don't use Trenchbroom. I've seen sock use radiant on stream. That being said, Trenchbroom is one of my favorite pieces of software and I probably wouldn't have bothered with trying to map without it as well as dumptruck's tutorials. 
Ambition Vs. Productivity 
AD_Magna is certainly the most accomplished and large map I’ve been a part of, but Pulsar and I worked on it pretty consistently for about nine months. I’m proud of what we accomplished, but I find it more enjoyable to crank something out in a few weeks (which is why my larger maps are all stuck in dev purgatory). It’s far more creatively satisfying to be able jump around with projects.

Maybe I’ve just accepted that AD_Magna will be my high water mark, but would rather just have fun working on smaller maps. 
“No matter the endeavor, I like to work within a fairly limited set of constraints.”
Boy, you’re gonna love this: 
Agree With Ionous 
ad_tfuma is probably going to be my magnum opus, I had 10x the fun working on my retro jam 4 map. 
There's a case for saying we're in the 4th period now, dominated by small, quickly-made and often half-finished jam and speedmaps. 
Maybe that is needed, noone in their right mind wants to map on a single bsp for 12 months and still wouldnt call it finished. 
I hope that maps like Terror Fuma and Leptis Magna don't fall by the wayside. Those weren't just maps to me, they were experiences. Some of the longer maps in AD are like brand new games or at the very least, like an entire new campaign. Although there have been some beautiful speedmaps, I'm not too much a fan of the format. However, some of the longer jams are happy medium that produce incredible results like xmasjam2018. Bal's map in that pack fused the elegance of the modern map with the scale and wonderment of Tronyn's and czg's behemoth maps.

I think that it would be interesting to see more fusions of past and present styles. However, that might lend to some of the problems that mappers don't want to face like extremely long dev times. Maybe we might see more mappers consolidate their efforts in some cases to produce something on the scale of Something Wicked but with the fine detail of AD maps. Honestly though I'm surprised at how quickly you all finish smaller maps with the level of detail that you put into them. 
I'm generally willing to buy the division of Quake mapping into three eras, but there are some really stand-out maps that slip in-between. Where does Contract Revoked belong? The start of 2, but it seems to prefigure 3. Than's Subterranean Library is also firmly in the 2 division (same year as Honey) but it does prefigure 3. For what it's worth, I did also get into playing Quake because of the Arcane Dimensions maps; particularly Realm of Enceladus (and I've tracked down, I think it's mfx's original that it was based on). 
Agree With The General Distinctions And The 4th Period. 
Still maintain that small can be beautiful tho. 
I would split “era 1” into two parts. Fist part was in 1996 where the community was learning the tools and really nothing great was produced, though it some interesting experiments. Second part where “id quality” was achieved and slowly surpassed. The second part started in the beginning of 1997 (shadow over innsmouth) and lasted until the end of 1997 (mexx10 or ikspq5 were the last big maps from this era,) when many people switched to quake 2 mapping and there was a sudden drought of maps. Then the “second era” listed above started, as the remaining community slowly revitalized by around 2000. 
Anti-spam Re-bump. 
Never Thought Of It 
in distinct periods. But it's certainly true.
For me the most astonishing aspect of that thought is, that it somewhat resembles the evolvement of other arts which are divided in distinct periods, in this case the evolvement only happens in much shorter periods of time.
It's also very interesting to see how the scene influences itself, how that influence then again inspires even new "retro" games, of which we have seen a few over last 5 or what years.

But i certainly missed a lot of that, i think the last relly influencal releases i have played where the before mentioned "Honey" and Necros "Ruins" (i think that was the name).

Apart from the "every-brick-is-a-brush" aspect we also saw a huge increase in qc hacking around then.

As for the steep increase of quality and skill/time needed, thats also one of the reasons why all my Quake 1 projects where stuck in dev purgatorium too.
Was kind of too proud to release something that i didnt think met the standarts of the period.
In hindsight propably a mistake in regards of learning and keeping up, but inspiration left me after a few weeks of work on a single map most of the time.
Unfortunately i also lost most of my old scraps, did'nt backup it properly.

To come back to the "every-brick-is-a-brush" thing, i would very much enjoy reading more about more modern brushworking techniques and tricks, as well as sharing some of my own (even though most of them will be considered "old", i guess). 
Don't discourage yourself. Stop worrying if your map meets "standards".

These are the only standards worth meeting:
Is it playable?
Is it fun?

Anything beyond that is icing on the cake. Never be afraid to release a map that is "only" id1 quality or lower in terms of visuals. Oldschool maps and wild, sparse, abstract maps have charms and great ideas that you won't find anywhere else.

Sure, always try to improve your skills. But try to come up with and implement interesting gameplay and fun unexpected situations. I still will never forget one really old map that was lackluster visually but had one of the most memorable traps...a variation on the slowly crushing walls with spikes and you had to jump up the spikes back and forth to escape before they came togther and killed you.

Hrmm...yep, time to go follow my own advice and get this uber episode out of dev purgatory... 
Inspiring Words 
They actualy got me to throw all preconceptions over board and start a new map.
Thank you! 
I think there's three elements to be considered in how mapping has evolved. I believe it's all a bit more fluid;

As others have mentioned, this is critical. Enhanced engine limits, Trenchbroom (and other editors) and compile times that weren't measured in weeks. Tech has two important parts; lowering the barrier to entry and raising the bar for quality.

It takes time for devs to learn what works and doesn't. For this they need a continual learning state where they can build and get feedback. This has been aided over the years by different platforms. Now you've got Discord, Twitter, Youtube - back in the 90's the social aspect was nowhere near as easy or complex.

Critical Mass
The more people building stuff, the more active and competitive the creative space is. This is a more subtle element, but greatly affects the other two. developers strive for things when they see their peers achieving things. The more people they see achieving, the greater the drive to build something yourself.

Of course, if there are distinct periods then the first two should probably be:

- Gold Key Age
- Silver Key Age 
Came as a player around the year 1999 and never made any impressive map. I was mostly a "second era" guy and only came back recently because of the renaissance of retro-FPS such as Aeon of Ruin and Ion Fury.

I'm probably biased towards the second era, because that's pretty much when I was in the community. I did and still enjoy/play some of the old mods/map packs such as Soul of Evil (came out in 2002) and Nerhara Project (forgot the year but definitely second era). I also remember Rubicon, Castle of Koohoo and others, mostly before 2007 I think.

This is probably controversial, but I'm not really into the super-detailed maps that came out at the second half of the second era, and that's partly why I left behind. I do enjoy Necros' Altar of Storm very much, which is a fantastic piece of work, but I think most of the fun comes from scripted monsters (but the architecture definitely helps). I mostly enjoy map packs or mods that introduce some background story with new monster so I'm definitely biased towards these kinds of mods/map packs :D

For now I haven't played many 3rd era maps so I can't say much about that. I tried Trenchbroom a bit and it looks like it's really easy to punch out some good architecture with this new tool so I'd expect a further step-up of architecture. Not sure if the professionals can push up a medium-high quality map in under 3-4 weeks of full-time development but it looks to be quite possible. 
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