Happy whatever-you-call it. The time of darkness ends, and light returns. The end of the world got canceled for now.
I added a Downloads page where I’ll slowly collect various stuff that I made. For now, there is an RMQ demo 2 download (2 years since its release) and some assorted trivia regarding that. The page will be updated now and then without announcement.
For me, this was a year of change on many levels. I decided to leave the RMQ team, which was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. It was a long time comin’. I posted on the internal forum at the end of last year or so, saying I was unhappy and so forth. This was when I started (successfully) experimenting with porting my levels to the Warsow engine (or rather to the FBSP map format), which – objectively – was orders of magnitude better than the Quake one, but I knew it would never happen in RMQ because no one was ready to switch map editors and implement *another* new BSP format after we had just agreed on BSP2. The third demo (which I was only peripherally involved with) generated a lot of heated debate in the community including improvised, unauthorized mods to the mod in order to somehow “correct” it for some people, and the absolutely horrible “RMQ tedious beef thread”. I found a lot of those reactions really low. The negativity and vitriol on display there is still unbelievable to me. Frustration mounted. The team melted away and in the end, me and ijed tried to save the project by scaling down and redesigning, but the rest of the team was largely absent and we just weren’t wanting the same thing anymore. In the end, it was easy; I found myself writing a design document and on a whim, I came up with the name “Scout’s Journey”. Scout had been the name of Episode 1’s player character (we had wanted to do a different protagonist for each of RMQ’s four episodes, actually). I even created a first attempt at a logo, the one with the tilted Quake Q. And then I thought, “I have a design doc, a protagonist, and now I’ve even got a logo. Can I really go on like this? Who am I kidding?” It was simple from there.
There were a few things in RMQ that I was never OK with, such as the use of Quake 2 textures and the conservative mentality of other level designers which in my opinion resulted in foul compromises instead of doing what was objectively best. My main gripe, though, was that we never established a strong artistic direction for the entirety of the project; instead every mapper got what they wanted, down to special weapons and special protagonists for their maps/episode. I might be seen as also being guilty of this; however in my case, all I wanted was to add a female Quakeguy version really, and when I started to have my own weapons (the axe instead of the chainsaw, and my own double shotgun after the one from Demo 2 had been nerfed in my absence) it was in reaction to stuff I saw as not in line with the overall artistic direction of a Quake remake, or as a blurring of the mod’s identity.
Oh well, let bygones be bygones. Doubtlessly everyone will have their own version of the story. On the plus side, I think it’s fair to say that I got my wings as a game designer in the late phase of RMQ (it was 5 years, can you believe that?), and I’m thankful for that. I learned so much. And despite my gripes, it was at times awesome to be in that team, and I miss you all terribly.
The upshot was Scout’s Journey, which I like to say is my favourite game because I can make it exactly as I want to. In the second half of the year, I was incredibly productive and reached several definite milestones (many thanks to Spike and gnounc and the #rmq channel). I believe the story and mechanics of SJ are really solid, and I’m overall happy with the emerging art style and tech level.
There was a setback in mid-September when I shot my back and spent a couple weeks with pain on a previously unknown scale. Something like that can really push you back to zero. Suffice to say I got the message; as a computer nerd, which game designers broadly are, you really have to watch your health. I also stopped smoking around the same time (which I really only started every time I got really depressed, and I haven’t been really depressed for a while now, knock on wood). On top of that, there were some ugly family related issues that crushed various hopes and taught me a few life lessons.
However while I came back from that, I did some of my best work yet on the first level of SJ and all the related stuff.
The decision to do a Doom 3 map was a bit crazy – it came about when I hit a snag with SJ’s medieval maps. One doesn’t simply make Doom 3 speedmaps. Oh well, I’m sure I can finish it though and it will eventually be good, and I’m glad to have an idtech4 map to my credit. I solved the SJ related problem by fundamentally redesigning the problematic map – that means I’ll have to build a new thematic setpiece next year, which I actually look forward to.
Next on the list is a prototype of some central gameplay mechanics, some weapon and character models, more mapping, and coding some features. I also want to somehow make all the gamecode GPL-compatible so I’m in the clear license wise. That might require some rewriting and liberal application of the axe.
It is also decided that SJ will go standalone as an independent game project.
Finally, I guess I’m now less concerned of what others think and expect of me. Yeah, I’m weird, I’ve never been like the other kids, and no, I’m not like my dad. I think I can now finally say “I’m an artist”, instead of “I sometimes scribble and play with editors”. Yeah. Fuck you. I’m an artist.
Thank the gods. Happy Yule everybody.