While others were still trolling our demo release thread at the 4chan of Quake forums, func_msgboard, I went and listened to Slash and sank a good 30 hours into expanding e1m3rq, Necrophilia. I made good progress and built the long-missing entrance area as well as one of the missing challenge rooms. What’s a challenge room?
Basically, it requires the player to press a switch. The challenge is either getting there, or getting to something you need in order to press the switch. I introduced pushables into RMQ years ago, and we gradually improved them to the point where a pushable box can travel up and down lifts, can fall down when pushed over an edge, can be stacked upon another, can serve as a mobile grapple point (and be pulled with the grapple), and can even activate a trigger. This room I just built revolves entirely around pushing a box down onto a button. The challenge is getting to the box.
Instead of building a nice looking area and then putting 400 monsters in because it has to have gameplay, as is done in Quake mapping much too often, I placed the gameplay elements first. I also built this room separately from the rest of the map, then moved it into place later and connected it via a dogleg corridor in order to block visibility and improve performance.
I started with the button. I knew that I wanted about two mini-tasks required to access the box, so I put two more buttons in on two higher levels, of which I pretty much built only the floor plan. Then I built a high tower with a platform at the top.
We just experimented with walljump in single player; so I made the first level accessible by walljump. For the second, higher level, I chose to place a grapple point smack dab in the middle of the room, and high enough to be inaccessible from the bottom. Finally I decided that the tower would be climbable via a ladder on the inside. For the last couple meters from the ladder exit to the platform, I chose moving platforms – straight from Super Mario.
That gave me the basic progression. The entire thing was somewhat influenced by certain puzzle rooms in Tomb Raider, because I originally wanted to homage three classic games in my map; Final Fantasy VI, Vagrant Story, and Tomb Raider. These ideas were however toned down in the progress of actually making the map, and reduced to inspiration instead of obvious homage.
The classic TR uses a shitload of water; the Egypt levels, for instance, often have water at the bottom of a room. I suspect this decision was made so you could have very vertical areas without the constant threat of fall damage; water would cushion the fall, and in those levels the platforming was extreme so the player would fall quite a bit. Same here. I decided to put water at the bottom, which then led to building a small back room connected by an underwater passage. I made this back room house the access to the tower.
Only then did I build actual walls and ceilings and some details.
As a result, this area allows for some of the craziest grappling, platforming and walljumping in the entire episode. The swinging grapple really shines here; the size and verticality of the area allow for great freedom using the hook. A skilled grappler can use various shortcuts to get around. I didn’t limit the grapple freedom because it rewards skill; all I did was make sure the player had to do at least one of the sub-tasks in order to get at the box. Hence, one of the buttons now releases the pushable onto the platform by a little mechanism.
The other button opens access to the platform for people who are less proficient with the grapple.
I put some traps in to round it off. These aren’t complete yet; I intend to use RMQ’s accelerating/decelerating rotating entities for a couple pendulum traps, for instance.
All this results in a strong Tomb Raider vibe, as originally intended for this part of the map. The area could practically have been from the original Tomb Raider game.
Necrophilia is planned to have three such challenge rooms, whose completion by the player is required to ultimately get at the Silver Key. Each challenge is of a slightly different type. Room 1 houses a pushable box puzzle similar to a three-dimensional Sokoban. Room 2 is this platforming one. Room 3 uses a moving light to mark the way across… something. That one still needs a lot of work.
I’m unsure if I will require all three challenges to get the silver key – admittedly that’s a long time spent pushing boxes in a game that’s mostly about shooting. Maybe I’ll let the player choose one or two. @ classic Quake fans: Not to worry, this map also has over 220 monsters on Hard skill, and it’s not even finished yet. I suspect it’ll be around 300-350 monsters and a broken vertex limit before it is done. All hail MH for giving us BSP2 so we can make even more bloated, sprawling levels.
This, by the way, is the beginnings of the entrance area. There was a hole in the ground, and in the hole lived… zombies. And strangely black placeholder trees, and misaligned textures. But it’s a start.
I hope to see this map, and the other one I posted tons of screenshots about (e1m2rq, the Castle of Something) in the next RMQ demo, along with a couple of new things that will make Quake veterans faint from shock. I’m aiming to deliver it this summer, but by now we all know what happens to deadlines in our project. The same that happens to BSP format limits – you hear the snapping of bones and grinding of teeth as they flash by.
The horror, the horror.