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Hellkeeper, 03/01/2015, 19:04


Qesh Qesh Qesh Qesh Qesh

Download Qesh (374 KO)

Now that 512k mapping contest has ended, I feel free to release my entry. Here is DOM-512K-Qesh.

The contest revolved around making a UT99 map in 512 kb or less, including full pathing, screenshot and the provided logo to be included: the map had to be a full map, yet remain small enough to fit in a tight size limitation.

Out of 31 maps by 15 participants, my own map achieved 3rd position (tied) in the main vote, and was 4th in the gamer's choice vote. I am very satisfied by these results, have received very good comments for this map, both its gameplay, ambiance and build quality, and I applaud the winners for their great maps, especially sinnical's Aquarius and TomcaT112's Sonder, which were my two favourites and earned well-deserved 2nd and 1st place respectively. I will not go over each map of the contest in detail, as I already did so while casting my votes, but there were only a handful of maps which were objectively bad or half-made. Most of them were of great quality, and I am happy to see so much creativity still lavished on this dear old game.

About Qesh: this is a Domination map, a gametype I always enjoyed but which has less maps and seems to be less popular. It is striking in this case, as only 2 DOM maps were made in this contest against 16 CTF and 13 DM. As a result I didn't expect to win as the two DOM maps were obviously lost in a sea of DM and CTF, and it always proves hard to compare maps which are so different.

Qesh is my first Domination map. First of all it is notable that I started from nothing, instead of reusing parts of old projects (this will seem to be contradicted by what I say in the readme of the map; bear with me): I entered the contest with no clear idea of what I would do and thought I would attempt some CTF but after Senate I felt like attempting something new. Assault would have been interesting but I am not familiar enough with this gametype to try and make a map for it, especially under such tight constraits in size and time (we only had a month to submit our entries). DM was not an option as I felt quite bored of mapping for it after all those years. So Domination it was. I first envisioned a very vertical layout which didn't felt right and was replaced with symmetric one, which was boring and felt like Domination played like CTF, a bad variation on UT2003/2004's Double Domination. In the end I decided to go for three Control Points. One room turned out to be very similar to a part of P17 which had been scrapped, so I scavenged a few brush from the abandoned layout, and another room of another ill-fated unreleased project was used for the main "lift" room, providing the basic proportions but no actual structure.

Now, mapping for Domination is not entirely different from mapping for Deathmatch: both gametypes are, as Amisa puts it, cyclical: instead of a linear progression from A to B as in CTF, players need to always have access to all parts to reach any Control Point at any given time. With 3 Control Points, 3 rooms was not enough as the layout would have ended completely circular or would have had at least one critical chokepoint, which hampers fluidity. The final design has 4 rooms, one serving as the main spawning location and giving access to all rooms at once. Next was the placement of my three Control Points. As I wanted a lot of Flak Cannon action, there are many small corridors and even the main rooms are small enough to make a volley of burning hot metal chunks a real threat.

Because of the limited decorations I could fit in 512 kb I have chosen an ancient temple theme which looks nice enough with big rough geometrical shapes, straight lines and limited colours in the lighting. The two fancy effects I added were a low level of water at the lower level and a fog effect on the ceilings of open-roofed rooms. This, coupled with limited noise and a basic grey skybox, gives a nice wet and cold atmosphere which has been appreciated a lot by other participants. Each Control Point has been placed so that they can never be fully controlled as there is always the possibility of an attack from behind a defender, no matter where he is standing, so points quickly change hands. With enough players, the game is frenetic and tensed, just as Domination should be.

Because each actor had to be perfectly placed to limit their number (and thus the total size of the file), it has been necessary to "cheat" somewhat. In many cases, several functions are piled in a single actor. In many cases, for instance, pathnodes also emit light and sound to replace light actors and AmbienSound keypoints. I'll take this opportunity to remark that very few map in the pack used sound effects; mine was the first one to include them and only a minority of the contestants made maps that were not totally silent. Finally, like all contestants, I had to distribute a map without any brush included to remain under 512 kb: the maps are thus not rebuildable as it would destroy any BSP. However, most of us also included a secondary .unr file that contains the map with the brushes included, so that fellow mappers may take a look at the CSG.

All in all, this has been a very satisfying and exciting challenge, and I have been forced to learn a bit about Domination. I also had to map in a completely different way from my usual method. Maps like P17 or even Exar show that I like to trim and build everything out of sunk brushes with only limited parts of the main structural brushes visible. This time, there is exactly 0 trimming and sunk brushes, so the entirety of the map is actually made of structural brushes with two movers and a single zone portal which is the water zone surface. No optimization was done at all as it didn't fit. Bare texturing and a couple of sheets with masks are the only form of decoration I could get. Gameplay is very fluid because there just isn't anything to get stuck on. Bots only have problems in one area, around the "Bridge" Control Point, where they may have trouble getting up on the bridge from the inundated level due to the very narrow access to the ramps and the scarcity of pathnodes.

Update: 19/04/15: The pack containing all finished maps is now (finally) available on the Maps page, or directly right here.

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