Greyboxing

greybox2

A couple days ago, I wanted to experiment with grey or white textures to quickly block out a level, which is literal greyboxing because the only colours then come from the lightmaps. I had done something similar a long time back when I used orange textures.

I have to say, I’m more fond of the white ones right now. The advantage is that you can fully concentrate on shapes without colour or any other material information getting in the way. Making that map took only around 10 hours.

Ironically, I started to imitate wood and other materials even though I only had grey textures (plus orange for interactive things).

One other thing I did was have angled floors that span several areas. So you’re walking on a slope instead of a horizontal surface. I eventually had to stop this because the horizontal distances got too large, and jumps became too difficult since the overall gravity assumes you’re moving more or less horizontally. This also exposed a few problems with Quake physics. It’s otherwise quite doable though.

This experiment also demonstrated again that Quake 1 is capable of some pretty lighting, the only reason why this isn’t apparent in the original game is because it uses really dark textures which limits the available bandwidth (because the lightmaps are multiplied onto the textures, a dark base texture limits the maximum brightness you can achieve).

It should thus be possible to make a relatively pretty looking game on the Quake 1 engine if one uses reasonably bright base textures which take well to coloured lighting (which has been available in Q1 for years) and overbright lighting (the spots in the screenshots where the lights blow out the underlying texture).

Most of the environment is actually lit by the sky, there are quite few point lights used.

Ideally I’d like to globally increase the gamma level of the lightmaps, something that can be done in Q3 to bring the impression of brightness up to more modern standards. Unfortunately I don’t think the Q1 tools can do this.

greybox1

I made a bunch of billboards for the map themed around Quake’s obituaries, which in true ’90s fashion inform the player that they’ve just been nailed, accepted someone’s shaft or even -gasp – tried unsuccessfully to put the pin back in (my favourite). This was good for 20 minutes of fun.

bill_nade

Anyway, so much for my little Quake themed deviation. Experiment successful. I kinda wanted to make a Quake 3 version of this, because a railgun might be good fun in there, but playing Quake Live for half an hour made me reconsider. The game just isn’t that interesting to me. I’m contemplating a Quake 4 version, but no one plays that and there are no good bots for it either. Warsow is another option, but then again you really need to build a Warsow map with that game’s extended movement in mind.

Here’s a quakeone.com thread that includes a link to the map.

Other stuff

Spike fixed vertex lighting on mesh objects recently, in Quake 3 maps at least. Here’s hoping that it’ll be fixed in FBSP as well soon, because this is one of the FTE rendering problems that have been bugging the shit out of me. When this gets fixed, I’ll continue the Blender mapping experiment.

fte00236

There was some discussion on IRC if vertex lit mesh objects should provide specific shaders, or if the engine should provide a default shader. As far as I now know, the latter is normally true.

I also sorted out a problem with smoothing groups on ASE models. Soon enough, polysoup geometry in levels should be fully viable. The thing I’m pondering atm is if I should export individual objects and assemble the map in Radiant, or if I just place everything in Blender. Workflow issues.

Random musings

It has come to my ears that some of my Q1 mapping tutorials could be improved. One of those areas has to do with Radiant’s build menu. I have to say that I’m unlikely to tweak the tutorials at the moment, unless there is a glaring error somewhere. This is because I’m not using things like the build menu anymore, and generally moving towards using 3D modeling suites instead of Radiant anyway. The only thing that I’ll probably build in Radiant in the future are caulk hulls. At that point, my own mapping process will be so far removed from the typical Quake 1 mapper’s that trying to write tutorials might rather confuse people instead of help them.

I’m still likely to answer questions related to game making though. It’s just that my view of Quake, Radiant and idtech engines in general has changed. I see mapping for those games as a curiosity now. Once I have my new Blender-centric pipeline working, I might do a tutorial on that though.

Another thing that makes me wonder is that my tutorials get quite a few hits, so people are reading them, but I see relatively little new maps pop out at the other end. Do people get frustrated along the way? What’s the holdup?

Random scribblings

order_dullahan_doodle

tank_1

banshee_blue

Continuing my various SJ related drawings. I have noticed that drawing stuff gives me ideas that I wouldn’t otherwise have, so it’s actually kind of helpful. It also makes it easier to understand how things such as a plate armour are constructed, so I’ll have a better idea about that when modeling it. I think I’ll not try to make “finished” looking concepts, but focus more on getting as many things to “paper” as possible.

Random SJ Story Slice

I think I mentioned a while back that I was writing cutscenes. This is largely a stream of consciousness kind of thing. People don’t often realize how much writing a game like this requires. It’s volumes. This should demonstrate how low-level the design process of the game is by now. Pretty much everything gets written down.

Here’s a sample from one of those hastily typed files. The game’s Tribal faction, as well as Scout herself, take some of their inspiration from novels such as William Gibson’s definitive cyberpunk novel, “Neuromancer.” So that’s the book plug for today.

scout walks up, cautiously, then introduces herself and says she is looking for her people. Tribals ask if hers are the “goat people”, Scout denies saying she is not a goat person and she just looks for other people like herself that came through the portal. Tribals tell her that her people came through the portal, then big fight with skei. most dead, rest captured by skei. Goat people later came from the portal – very dangerous, goat people. Tribals are afraid of portal for some reason – they don’t go there because “bad su”.

when scout asks how the tribals can understand her language, the shaman says “it#s more like you understand ours”. This seems completely normal to them.

scout says “If my people are with skei, I must find skei.” which makes tribals laugh – skei finds you, and then you die / you run. Skei very dangerous! Scout asks what skei are / what they look like. Tribals say, skei like ghosts with swords. Scout wonders how people with swords can win against soldiers – she says “my people have guns” and shows her pistol. Makes hole in skei. She doesn#t think skei would survive being shot. Tribals explain that skei win because of powerful su – deadly su. Scout asks what su is – tribal shaman says it#s like waving hands, and then great power, poof. Scout asks if tribals have su as well – they do, but only healing su, while skei have killing su, very dangerous. This makes them sad. Scout asks if her people have su – shaman says no, her people don#t have su “anymore” but Scout might, he is not sure. Scout laughs and says she is a soldier, not a wizard. Tribals don’t know the word, so she says she is a warrior. Tribals laugh and point at their tribesman, saying “these are warriors. You shaman.” Scout denies being a shaman.

Tribals invite Scout to smoke weed and stay with them, it#s safer than looking around for skei. Scout declines – it’s better to stay sober right now. Shaman however gives Scout some fairweed, and tribals reluctantly point scout in the direction where she can find skei (across the bridge). This makes them sad, too, but maybe is fate. When Scout turns to leave, the shaman gives her a shaman necklace (charm) to ensure other tribal groups will help her.

After Scout leaves, a tribesman turns to the shaman and says, “I think she is goat people. her eyes, so determined.” The shaman says, no, this one not goat people, but this one make waves. Is like dropping stone in water, makes many waves. This one wave maker.

One of the weed smokers asks the shaman “will wave maker live?” The shaman looks sad and says “No, will die painfully.” Then how can make waves? “Will make wave when dying. Most powerful there is.”

The other weed smoker says, “Great su return.”

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