I got inspired to sketch some layouts by watching the recent Broodhunter video. After some scribbling done, as usual, in MyPaint, I chose to create a small set of Valve-style dev textures to quickly block out one of the layouts.
I have been traditionally bad at blocking out (I get hung up on details) but with these textures and working from the sketch I had made I was able to complete a layout in just a couple hours. I can’t say enough good things about working from concept art / drawings / sketches and using endlessly tiling dev textures. It speeds up your BSP work tenfold.
I was pleasantly surprised at the fast result – nice to know I’ve gotten better.
Here is the sketch I made:
I liked the last layout enough to open Radiant and quickly build a raw BSP version of it. Initially I used the orange dev texture I had experimented with years ago in RMQ, but I decided to make a yellow one and add a few extra ones for lifts, sky, teleporters, tech details and so on. These were all done in Wally, running under wine, using my graphics tablet (surprisingly Wally *can* be used with a tablet, although it can’t use the pressure sensitivity).
Basically, you just create a new wad, create a new image, choose the pencil and draw a filled rectangle of your desired colour, then draw a hollow rectangle of some bright grey. Make sure to not use the fullbright colours (last few rows) or you won’t see your shadows when you compile the map. I made that mistake with the earlier orange version. Those of you with a tablet can use that to write and draw on the texture in a crude fashion at least.
The basic texture I used is 64×64 pixels (in Quake, 1 pixel = 1 unit) because that’s the typical size of a Quake 1 texture (don’t laugh) and also roughly the height of the player, and the size of a crate, so it’s easy to work at a good scale.
Overall it was very fun and astonishingly quick so I can only recommend this method for creating your basic layout. I *am* going to use this in Scout’s Journey development in the future. I expect it to mightily cut down on the time needed for mapping.
Here’s the rest of the shots:
I plopped down a couple large details (I was thinking “specimen jar” for the cylindrical things) in order to give players some way to better orient themselves. Having something eye-catching every few meters in your map (no matter if single or multiplayer) makes those areas easier to recognize and remember (where am I? oh, there’s that specimen jar with the company sign on that other wall).
It was pointed out to me that having a teleporter in a base isn’t so smart, which is true enough and I can easily enough change that on short notice without having to worry about texture alignment and lighting. Yes, the map is boxed; this is one of the rules that are very beneficial to break if you know what you’re doing, because not having to worry about leaks lets you better focus on the actual layout. So, while blocking out, *do* box maps. I even do this to my single player maps. Having to invest a couple hours (and look at a couple pointfiles) later on when sealing the map is absolutely worth it.
I like the brushwork I did around the middle of the map, so if this doesn’t end up in Broodhunter I will probably use it elsewhere (that includes the possibility of a single player conversion or even another Scout’s Journey map).
Addendum: I made sure to vary the floor height every couple meters (á la DOOM); the main connections largely have angled floors instead of flat ones. I also often used ramps as placeholders for stairs. I will decide later which ramps to turn into stairs (perhaps based on feedback). The cylindrical details were done with Netradiant’s Polygon Builder plugin which I think I have mentioned earlier. Don’t get hung up on creating curves by hand! Only madmen do that. In idtech3 and idtech4 you can use patch meshes to create curves even more quickly.
All lighting is done “automatically” by sunlight with Bengt Jardrup’s tools, except some point lights using default values to light the lifts (ie functional lighting) in the cavity underneath the cannon. This gives you a sort of ambient shadowing which is nice and quickly done (a few keys added to worldspawn).
The anti-aircraft cannon was quickly added on a whim to give the map a hint of identity. It was inspired by WW2 gun turrets. It might be made to rotate slowly later. Unfortunately Quake 1 doesn’t support spline based movers such as in Doom 3, otherwise the barrels could move independently.
Main thing though, it was fun and valuable practice. Recommended!