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 One Thousand Cuts (Q1SP)   Information File Size: 10.15Mb
Past or Future? Blue Sky Temple Silver Key Choices Cave Dwellers

This map is my homage to a classic texture set, a beautifully cold and chilling colour palette that I encountered many years ago and still fondly remember like it was yesterday. This map is an overly complex entity experiment that went in all the wrong directions, but yet it is strangely beautiful to drift through at night with pixel vision locked on! This is a map that has many different paths to explore that can only be experienced by restarting over and over again until the final end door is unlocked and you are standing where it all began ... and it finishes.

 Graphic Design
When Iikka "Fingers" Keränen released his first blue theme map in 1997 it was like a breath of fresh air, up till this point the majority of previously released custom Quake maps had been using the original green/brown textures, but obviously there were some exceptions. Even ID software tried to break the brown mould with a couple of bluish maps, ( E2M5, E3M6 and E4M7 ) but these were very late in the game and many people still thought that Quake was mostly brown.

Thousand-Faced Moon The first map in a series of three was the Thousand-Faced Moon Temple with a fresh new architectural style ( Arabic / Persian) and a gorgeous elder world atmosphere that mashed together perfectly with the various grey / white monster of Quake.

Some of the textures were built for certain architectural shapes, but there was plenty of trims that could be used to create different shapes. Even though the map was never lit with coloured lighting the results were spectacular considering the age of the editing tools.

Custom Edges The IK blue textures have a wonderful trick which may not be obvious nowadays because technical specifications have moved on, but most texture sets of the 90's were designed for certain brush edge shapes which designers keep ready as prefabs.

The surface detail on the IK blue arches has been pushed inwards from the edges so that the textures can be cut with different levels of complexity and still look good. The design directs the focus of the player towards the highly detailed (contrasted) curves and hides the low detail polygon cut edges.

After the release of Thousand-Faced Moon, Halls of the Shambler God and the final map Homecoming there were very few community made maps that used the IK blue style afterwards. Eventually in 2011 a large map pack called Arcanum by Dustin "Tronyn" Geeraert was released that took the original theme in a new direction with large scale architectural designs, horde style combat and various new monsters from the Drake MOD.

IK White The IK blue textures did not remain in blue for very long and in 2001 Alexander "KillJoy" Dennis converted them to a pale white palette with the release of Avanipaala Praasaada which had many new trims and plenty of highly detailed wall reliefs to give the set a broader range of architectural shapes.

In 2008 the white theme was extended again by S "Sidhe" Ives with the release of Dorghael Arhlannen for the Quoth MOD and featured lots of new floor designs that weaved their way around a completely white palace lit by strange crystal wall light fixtures.

I have always wanted to create something with the IK blue texture set, but I have never found the right motivation for this to happen. At the beginning of 2014 Romain "skacky" Barrilliot released a screenshot using the IK white texture set and it looked fantastic! Recently I have been helping out with the community map jams events over at func forums and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for mappers to explore the classic IK texture sets.

New Arches As much as I loved the original IK blue arch designs, I did not like the generic material used on the edges. It looked really noisy and I wanted something that was smoother, like ID metal1_6 (strangely named because it is a marble pattern) instead.

I decided it would be simpler to design my own arch templates rather than try to repaint the IK ones because I could control the curves and shadows better and also have the option to change the background pattern.

All of the new arches were designed to locked together in different ways to form long or short horizontal designs. The space inside of the arches was used for depth surfaces, but this ended up being awkward to use.

Arch Reference As the IK arch design was being replaced with my own version it made sense to use a reference image to help convey the feeling of the place being grounded in reality. This image (to the left) was the inspiration for the design of the arch at the start of the map.

The trick to Arabic / Persian arch designs is that the central point for the Intrados is higher than the horizontal supporting pillars and part of the lower half of the circle is used to create the iconic bulb shape. The small lower pillars were only used with this arch design to make sure it was noticeable and unique.

House Reference With the Photoshop template setup and the textures working well in a test map the design needed to be expanded horizontally for different shaped rooms and the inspiration for this came from a house directly opposite the bakery I love to visit most days of the week!

The top window of the house has a small balcony with three interlocking arches which look very much like the Synagogue of Santa Marķa La Blanca. The beauty of this design is the column width can be adjusted for different gameplay setups and still be consistent with the theme of the level.

Expanding Arches

Multiple Floors The IK blue texture set is really limited on floor tile variety (C1), while the IK white (B1) set has plenty of designs to choose from, which could be converted (B2) to blue. I wanted the new tile designs to be consistent, so I changed the grout depth and edge highlights to match and then created an extra version (B3) for rune pillars and important items.

One of my favourite Quake floor textures is (A1) wall9_8, which is luckily half blue (A2) already! The IK blue floor (C1) texture is very similar to ID city4_5 (C2) and is a perfect colour contrast match for additional details.

Lattice Work One very good texture in the IK white set is the tile (A/B) patterns, which are often used in many Persian Temples for decoration of indoor areas. I converted the IK white patterns (A1/B1) and negative versions (A2/B2) to blue and then decided to create some more.

A common theme in Persian tiles is the use of eight pointed stars, but I did not see that pattern in the white tiles until I created my own (C/C1) version! I also experimented with various metal (D/D1) patterns, which were perfect for the surface of the doors to help them stand out from the background.

Testing Prefab The prefab test map was beginning to take shape as the new textures and architectural templates started to lock together with relative ease and form new and interesting shapes.

This was also the ideal opportunity to test various lighting systems (bright yellow torches and glowing deep blue runes), find the best skybox sun angle and fine tune the global fog settings. With all the obvious texture gaps filled in it was time to move to the next phase (blockout) as more types will crop up once the details are put in place.

Custom Doors I really wanted the door textures to fit each arch frame perfectly with correctly placed inside shadows, exact metal edge trims and no stretching or density issues. The only problem with this plan was, as the floor space moved up and down the door textures were not flexible and required lots of special cases.

With each new door texture came the extra blank space around the edges because the size of Quake textures really need to be sized in power of two, otherwise they can end up being distorted by certain engines.

Luckily the extra space was perfect to setup the inside surfaces of archways and doors on more accessible textures that require less shifting around to get right.

Locked Doors Generally there are three types of doors; locked, unlocked and detail. Quake teaches players to open doors either by a switch / key or just to keep walking into them!

While testing the new door textures I added a switchable light source to the middle to hint at a possible power source and when the door opened and the light went off the whole setup felt really cool and dynamic.

Using the same power source idea on other large doors looked really cool, but it created a confusing visual language setup. To prevent the player from constantly walking into all doors I decided to add bars to reinforce the visual message and at the same time keep the really cool light and shadows.

Window View In my original blockout of the map the player moved along the side of the building using a narrow ledge to get access to the roof tops while enjoying a large view of the skybox. The more I thought about the ledge route the more I wondered if the player would get lost, so I added lots of wall arrows.

When I found this reference image I knew I had the ideal solution to my ledge problem, the side of the building would be perfectly framed by the large window and the player would naturally understand where to go next when they looked outside at the view.

Pointy Spires I planned for the top of the building to have several spires, but I wanted something visually different and not blue! I searched through pages and pages of reference images looking for something that reminded me of the bulb shape design used by the new arches and eventually found something fun to build.

I spent a lot of time creating a way for the eight sided dome circumference to flow downward into a four sided set of arches. It seemed like a really cool shape and I loved the idea of the mini dome towers being perched on the edge of the building like some strange look out tower.

The Palace of Hate ( E4M4 ) inspired this map in many ways, from healing pool gameplay mechanics to various architectural styles that may not seem apparent if unfamiliar with the original map. Even on a subconscious level E4M4 has been influencing my work over the years, which surprised me when I found out! There is no denying that episode four of Quake is rough around the edges in terms of build quality, but the core level design ideas are fun and fresh compared to the rest of the game and always a good source of inspiration.

As this map progressed from blockout to final detail phase there were certain architectural styles I wanted to borrow from E4M4 that I knew could work well with this type of structure. Simple high vaulted ceilings are the perfect counter to curved archways, even thou they are not synonymous with Persian architectural styles they do make a room feel large by lifting the ceiling upwards and adding a degree of architectural realism that the structure could support its own weight.

High above the silver key doors is the perfect walkway, a tall vertical layer slicing the room in two allowing the player to loop around the top and see what prizes they can get before opening the locked doors. This was a strong feature of E4M4, the map had distinct floor levels which weaved around in giant circles opening up into large vaulted rooms and then back again into narrow dark passageways infested with traps and monster ambushes. A tall vertical walkway is the ideal prize for the player, a chance to see a previously visited room from an alternative angle.

E4M4 Influences

Leading Perspective It is easy to fall into the trap of making arch quadrants as the underlying structure of a room and forgetting about how architecture can affect flow. When four arches are locked together in a square they present a choice, each direction is initially equal and there is no defined entrance or exit which can lead to confusion.

One solution is to make the size of opposing arches different so that there is a clear entrance and exit from the quadrant, or replace one set of opposing arches with a straight line highlighting the preferred direction instead.

Broken Layers What makes broken architecture so believable is the chance to see the inside layers and the mixture of different materials. It is like slicing through the trunk of a tree and counting the rings, the realism comes from seeing the cross section and all the details that come with it.

It is far easier to build a finished structure with all the floors, walls and ceilings complete than trying to create individually broken layers and getting the inner details wrong. This is why it takes me so long to create broken stuff, I build twice the amount of architecture and end up with one huge pile of broken rubble!

 Gameplay Design
Old Waters The only place in Quake where 'Healing Pools' exist is E4M4 - The Palace of Hate. The idea (mostly) relies on the fact that originally, liquid surfaces in Quake were not transparent due to performance reasons and liquids were often used to hide things from the player.

Directly below the surface of the water is a large pile of health packs, but this is a finite quantity which can only be adjusted by adding more health packs. My map has semi transparent water surfaces, it is going to look odd trying to hide a huge pile of health packs.

New Waters The new healing pool system is based on entity hacks that abuse loop holes in QC. The healing trigger (A) is setup as a dummy entity with delayed trigger functions and waits for the player. Once the trigger is touched, the player is healed by a specific amount and then fires extra targets (B/C).

The first target (B) is a counter which keeps track of how many times the pool can heal and when it reaches the limit will fire the kill targets (D/E) to disable the pool. The second target (C) is a relay to reset the touch function (A).

The visual feedback for the player that the healing pool is still active, is shown by having bubbles (F) rise up from the surface. These are setup as special entities with delays so that they appear less uniform.

Annoying Zombies Initially the healing amount and number of times the healing pools worked was a lot higher, but the system was easy to abuse because players could just stand in the water while constantly be healed during fights.

Some pools were so easy to camp that I add enemies (zombies) within range to be annoying enough to deter players. Funnily enough the healing pools turned into the gameplay mechanic 'stand still and heal over time' which is really counter intuitive to Quake gameplay in the worst possible way.

Quad Runs Everyone loves the thrill of grabbing the Quad Damage powerup and rushing through an area as fast as possible blowing up anything that moves into a large pile of gibs. Quad Damage is an item of frenzy, a switch that turns the players brain off and primal instinct on.

One drawback to this fun glowing blue light fuelled rampage is that the player does not take much notice of the environment. Anything that is remotely useful like switches, buttons or platforms are completely missed and once the bloodlust has worn off, it is like the players memory has been wiped clean!

Herding Knights In the large hallway after the start area is a rune pillar which drives a large herd of knights mad at the player. One of the most predictable behaviours of Quake monsters is there desire to run at the player in straight lines and the tall pillar bridges are designed for that flaw.

As the knights run forward the player can funnel the herd through the tight archways causing excessive pain animation traffic jams. The herd is designed to encourage infighting with trigger happy hell knights at the back and fast angry knights at the front.

Sneak Peak Once the player has lowered the silver key, they can take the platform back up and then hop, skip and jump across to the tall walkways circling the room. On either side of the walkway loop is a grate looking down behind each silver key door revealing the prize.

These grates are designed to help the player decide which door they want to open because there is only one key and multiple doors. It is in the players best interest to explore this route because the Grenade Launcher and Yellow Armour are up for grabs.

Beam me Up! In order for the player to be able to get 100% kills and secrets while exploring different parts of the map, a special set of monsters are teleported around the map based on which silver key door the player opens.

The teleportation squad is made up of: 8 x Knights (A), 5 x Hell Knights (B), 4 x Ogres, 1 x Fiend and 2 x Shalraths (C), 2 x Ogres, 2 x Hell Knights (D) and 1 x Shambler and Shalrath (E) which are linked to the final doors.

The first three groups (A/B/C) are spread throughout the relevant silver key area while the rest (D/E) make up the rooftop gang. To complicate matters each monster has unique skill level settings and some have the ambush flag for pacing and lynch mob prevention.

Map Choices The logic behind the map is that the player unlocks two out of the three silver key doors, grabs the relevant runes and then unlocks the final door allowing the player to escape the groundhog day loop.

The map keeps track of progress via runes which are not reset every time the map is restarted. There are a set of logic gates (shooters, doors and buttons) that work out how many runes the player has and then changes the map to suit.

As the player collects different runes the silver key doors are updated and locked so that each loop cycle of the map is a different game play route. The runes collected also affects what weapons the players has for the final battle.

Column Cover Midway through each silver key area the teleportation monster gang start to get serious with a mixture of Hell Knights and Shalraths and they bombard the player from long range with various attacks.

To give the player a chance of survival the upper areas there are a row of columns to duck behind, but they are not perfect cover. The Shalraths use homing missile that can easily swings around the tiny columns forcing the player to steer the missiles into the columns instead of assuming they will be safe.

Buttonless Surprise Probably the best part of watching demo files is seeing something completely unexpected, like someone unlock a secret in a very cool way. Not every secret is made equal in terms of logic and what may seem like a good idea at the time is often missed by the player.

The original map in the jam2 event had many secrets setup with buttons, which is never a good idea as they can be boring to find. After watching various demo files I saw plenty of good ideas for better access to secrets that did not involve the obligatory lazy button.

Spawn Hot Tub Quake designers are obsessed with secrets under lifts and various people have been pestering me about it for ages, but I resisted! Typically the player has to move the lift to find the hidden button / entrance which always seems counter intuitive to me because then you have to wait for the lift again!

The majority of lifts in my map have a secret to find which are all link to a mega secret to find afterwards and the icing on the cake is, there is consequences. The player can either get involved with the special hot tub or quietly leave the way they came in ...

Unfortunately this map experiment failed on many levels and some reasons may not be obvious at first glance, but after reviewing the feedback and watching the various demo's I do understand better why the design of this map fell apart. It is always good to try out new ideas and find out what does not work, because now I have a better understanding of what can be avoided in future map designs. Here is my list (in no particular order) of why I think this map is broken:

There are no architectural landmark. This is something I have spoken about on many occasions to many different people that maps without landmarks are forgettable and uninspiring and this map falls squarely in that category. It is a sobering fact that the best screenshot of the map is from a viewpoint that the player cannot even reach and the inside areas (even thou they are textured really well) are completely forgettable.

Entity setup too clever for its own good. Creating a map that can be replayed several times with optional areas and teleporting monsters around to match player choices is just too much effort considering the same could be achieved much simpler with several maps chained together. Simple paths through maps can create simply satisfying gameplay.

Quake players are inherently completionist. Players love to go back and find all the things they have missed, there is even a checklist in the game with monsters killed and secrets found to give players that final satisfaction of completing a level. Maps that don't have secrets are often marked down or are felt to be incomplete. Having locked areas that the player cannot access because they have picked a certain path just leads to the feeling of something is missing and not complete.

Broken Fly on the Wall

Too much time spent creating textures. Sometimes it is just better to mash stuff together and make do with what you have got, trying to make every nook and cranny fit together perfectly is a time consuming pursuit that is likely to not be appreciated by many people. There are plenty of better things to spend time on and creating pixel perfect brushwork is not one of them.

Prefab shapes were too rigid and inflexible. This led to a very rigid and visually boring layout with too much axial brushwork shapes and time spent trying to lock together everything in some architecturally perfect jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes it is better to have brushwork flaws because they create visually interesting locations that can lead to much more dynamic layouts.

Experimental maps are often misunderstood. I knew this idea was going to be risky because it is not apparently obvious what is going on. The whole 'your actions have consequences' idea is a very hit or miss game play concept and really goes against the grain of what Quake is about. The problem with experimental ideas is how they are presented to the player and if they are easily understood or if the player gets frustrated and feels the map is broken.

Down the Drain Ogre Vision

Editor scale does not equal gameplay scale. The initial architectural prefabs were tested separately in small isolated maps and the whole process from blockout to detail was completed in the editor without any testing in game. After several mapping projects I believed I could judge the player space and distance and I unfortunately ended up with plenty of awkward spaces where monsters and players were playing pinball off the surrounding architecture.

No vertical interaction between floor heights. The map has plenty of vertical floors, (lower cave, start area, upper floor and rooftop) but the interaction between them is via platforms. There are no large sets of stairs, gradual inclines, ramps or even connecting sub floors, every floor level is compartmentalized. This problem was partly due to the rigid texture design and how the archways connect to the wall panels, but also due to the blockout being disconnected areas.

Too many secrets revolved around buttons. This is always a tricky problem to solve when the map is designed within a short time frame it is difficult to think of cool locations and deal with all the other stuff at the same time. The latest version (link at the top) does go a long way to solving this problem by implementing better variety based on how other players tried to find secrets, which were a lot better than simply mashing buttons.

Maps are designed for others to play, not yourself. I do enjoy watching other people play my maps, seeing what choices they make and how they deal with different encounters. As a viewer it can be boring watching the same route choices over and over, but forcing the player to choose which part of the map to unlock just leaves players wondering at the end, 'where is the rest of the map?' Ultimately the best player choices are how they deals with different encounters and how they choose the different routes to approach them.

 Map Information
Map TypeSP (Single Player) only
DifficultEasy 28, Normal 42, Hard 69 - Monsters
DevelopmentOne Month, 3 weeks for the MapJam2 event and then 1 week after
Skybox'bluedays' skybox was originally by Hipshot and then re-coloured by me
TexturesBased on the Iikka Keränen blue set and then extended in all directions by me
SourceMap and texture WAD included in the PAK file

-ID software for creating Quake
-BSP/VIS Compilers - TYRUTILS v0.14 by Kevin Shanahan
-Light Compiler by Bengt Jardrup
-Coloured light and LIT support by MH
-TexMex 3.4 by Mike Jackman (good for organizing textures)
-AdQuedit 1.3 by Hicks Goldrush (perfect for pak files)

Architectural Concepts -
The Bridge Crane -
Florentine Library -
Shape and Form -
Single Player Maps -
Edge of Forever -
Freeport Docks -
Midnight Stalker -
Backsteingotik -
The Ivory Tower -
The Horde of Zendar -
Metal Monstrosity -
Castle Kaahoo -
One Thousand Cuts -
Fallen From Grace -
Single Player Mods -
In the Shadows -
Arcane Dimensions -
AD Only Maps -
Arcane Adamantine -
Arcane Monstrosity -
Firetop Mountain -
Forgotten Sepulcher -
Grendels' Blade -
Nyarlathoteps Castle -
Obsessive Bricks -
Ogre Fortress (e2m2) -
Slipgate Conundrum -
Tenacious Tentacle -
The City of Zendar -
Multi Player Maps -
Focal Point (QuakeLive) -
Pyramid of the Magician -
Mystic Gemini -
Si'Metrik -
Chiroptera -
Indie Games -
Flipper -
Firefox This site has been cobbled together by Simon O'Callaghan
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