Rocket Arena 3: Meet the Mappers — Big0nes Interview, by Essobie

Going to start off this little Meet the Mappers section by chatting with the Lead Mapper and Design Coordinator of the Rocket Arena 3 team: big0nes. Let’s get to it!

Essobie: Where to start… the beginning is good. So who are you exactly? What do you do for a living?

big0nes: Always a tough answer – harder than it should be anyways… basically I am a techie consultant – I work for a large company as a “Technology Consultant” specializing in Windows NT, Windows 2000, Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server…blah blah blah

Essobie: So people pay you to sit around and act smart?

big0nes: Hehe right – sometimes I gotta actually do stuff too =)

Essobie: Always good.

big0nes: Especially at the rate my company charges me out for.

Essobie: So currently you aren’t having any aspirations to “break into” the gaming industry as a mapper or otherwise?

big0nes: Well – as a part-time endeavor it would be a great thing for me, however at this point in my life I have a need for more money and stability that the gaming industry can provide. Plus, due to family considerations I am not really willing to relocate at this time. Not too many gaming companies based in the Dayton Ohio area that I am aware of.

Essobie: Right you are. Smiley Which kinda leads to my next question… rumor has it that you have a “lil0nes”, and another one on the way… what’s the status of that?

big0nes: lil0nes is my daughter. She a little over 2 years old now, and an absolute blast – she makes me laugh out loud every single day. The rumor about the 2nd lil0nes is true. The wife and I are expecting our second child in October… tomorrow we find out if it is a girl or a boy.

Essobie: outstanding.

big0nes: I am excited and scared about having two kids… hehe… Everyone says 2 kids is a LOT more work than 1.

Essobie: worried that you might have 2 kids running around DMing?

big0nes: hah – well I hope they grow to like gaming – maybe not as much as I do though. If Quake was around during my school days I would of surely flunked out.

Essobie: No doubt… luckily I got out of high school before I got into PC’s… I didn’t do to well in junior high because of the commodore. What was the first gaming platform you ever played on? “computer” or otherwise?

big0nes: wow… umm – well… I of course had an Atari 2600 like every kid in my day. Then I upgraded to ColecoVision. But… in the early 80’s I got my first PC and got into a ton of games and stuff back then.

Essobie: any 8.5″ floppies? Wink

big0nes: hehe… well first PC was an IBM PC Jr., think it was an 8088, thing was funny as hell in retrospect. At first no hard drive, two 5 1/4″ floppies and I think it had 64k of RAM – I played some of the earliest PC Games on that – Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, some ASCII Star Trek game, etc… Also my grandmother worked at a school and one summer she got to bring home the schools Apple 2 E I think it was – it had the Original Castle Wolfenstein on it – so I played that too =)

Essobie: ACHTUNG!

big0nes: yep =) that was the coolest thing – the first time a computer talked to me it said “ACHTUNG!” and “SCHWINEHUND!” err or is that schweinhund… my German spelling ain’t what it used to be =)

Essobie: I always thought that sound was breaking wind in German.

big0nes: Yea – its amazing though… back then I thought the sound and graphics were sooo awesome… but now I would see it and prolly laugh.

Essobie: my first “map” I ever did was for Wolf3D… how about you? What was the first game you ever did a custom map or level on?

big0nes: It was for DOOM – I did 2 maps for that, although the first one was just a modification of one of the existing maps that id did

Essobie: How about after that? Anything for like Duke3D?

big0nes: Well – I did a few maps for DOOM2, I played Duke and a few other games but never mapped for them. I was actually a little turned off to mapping at first after doing the DOOM and DOOM2 maps – although that was prolly because of the lame Shareware editor I was using =)

Essobie: heh heh… yeah… move a line one pixel to the right… and CRASH.

big0nes: Yea – it was really horrible that way, plus it just was anything but intuitive.

Essobie: Totally spoiled on Radiant, now, eh? How do you like it?

big0nes: oh yea – Radiant is the shit IMO, I tried several editors before settling on QER in the Q2 days. It took some getting used to like any editor does, but once you get into it there is nothing better IMO. Plus… well never mind…

Essobie: oh come on… you can tell them that I rule. Wink

big0nes: well, I haven’t played you since you became an lpb, and honestly I am a little scared too because you probably do rule now =)

Essobie: tee hee… Everyone and their brother is LPB now… I’m just another player. At least when I had a big ping I was impressive… now I’m “all ping”. So anyway… the RA3 maps… What are you striving for in your arenas that you are doing for RA3 currently?

big0nes: Well, the first thing I wanted was not to do gothic because everyone seemed to be doing gothic everything. This turned into quite a challenge because it seems the gothic textures provided by id are a lot easier to work with [compared to the other texture sets] IMO. I have hard time doing levels with base theme that have interesting texturing. Another thing I wanted was a similar theme throughout the whole Multi-Arena… mainly just a futuristic base type theme for all the arenas.

Essobie: that was kinda a requirement of all team members, right?

big0nes: well crt did state early on that he wanted to see “themed” Multi-Arenas, but it wasn’t a prerequisite really. But seeing how its crt’s mod and he has final say on all the maps – most followed that suggestion.

In the discussion phases of RA3 crt said that he really wanted to see for example a space station theme, where the arena selection room would have a train that took you to the different arenas, then each arena would look like it was on a space station. Again this was just an example. The problem I think with this is at that time no one really realized how much more work Q3 maps would be over the Q2 equivalents. The engine enhancements in Q3 allow for a lot more detail and the shaders and all the other goodies – which in the end means the maps take a lot more time.

Essobie: Of course, mappers don’t need the spectator areas anymore, right?

big0nes: True – which is a great thing IMO. Too often the spectator areas were an afterthought that you had to make fit into the arena. The alternative was to plan the arena around the spectator area which doesn’t make sense since you would have plan around something that doesn’t have anything to do with gameplay.

Essobie: I agree… so uh… how did you land the RA3 team title of “lead mapper / design coordinator”? and what does that mean exactly?

big0nes: hehe – I was the only one willing to do extra work for nothing =) I landed the gig just by being involved early on and probably running MAHQ helped. I did put the final release of RA2 together for crt and things happened from there.

As the lead mapping guy I was responsible for sorting through all the mapping team applicants stuff and deciding who should be on the team. I already know that I picked an outstanding group, so regardless of my own mapping I can be happy with the fact that I was responsible for putting together such an outstanding team of top notch mappers. The whole team is people who could easily be professionals, and some now are =)

I do find the title adds a lot of pressure on me. I am very self-critical of my work to begin with, and I am admittedly not the best mapper on the team. The title makes me feel like I need to make the best map.

Essobie: Aren’t you going to? Smiley

big0nes: After seeing a lot of the other mappers work I know it probably won’t be the best one in there, but I hope its in the same ballpark and well received by the players.

Essobie: how many applied for a position on the RA3 mapping team?

big0nes: I got 100’s of emails from people – I don’t have an actual count, but I was flooded with incoming emails from interested mappers. A lot of those emails pointed to screenshots and maps that I had to go check out, play examine, etc.

Essobie: And out of all that, you picked… 11 to start with including yourself?

big0nes: Yes, I believe that was the original number, unfortunately we lost a few to real life commitments.”

Essobie: Yeah… I was sad to see Wiebo de Wit get sucked into RealLife… his Overkill map is easily one of the coolest custom “Big Ass DM” maps out there….

big0nes: yes – but that happens when you want people to do the amount of work required for a mod like RA3 for free. Sometimes family and the stuff that pays the bills has to take precedence.

Essobie: Okay… one last question, and it’s what everyone out there really wants to know: When is RA3 gonna be out? =)

big0nes: Haha – oh man – like you and all the other team members a question that we are all sick of hearing. Although it is great to know so many people are looking forward to RA3. I could be real cliché here and say “when its done”, however I think I will opt for the more promising answer… SOON!

Essobie: ooo… don’t stick yer neck out too far. Smiley

big0nes: hehe yea… well soon is a relative term =)

Essobie: well man, always a pleasure chatting. Any last things to add?

big0nes: yes – with you as well – you and I have worked together a while – I was always happy that being the two guys running RA2 sites we didn’t compete, but rather worked together on so many things.

Essobie: awww shucks. Was always happy to run a site I considered a sister to MAHQ.

big0nes: umm – other than pimping various things, I think that’s it… We can do this advertisement free =)

Essobie: are you kidding?

big0nes: LOL… but I don’t really need to pimp Team 3 here – doesn’t fit – other than me, Suicide20, g1zm0 and smeghead are all on RA3 team and all on Team 3…

Essobie: Team 3… that’s on Planetquake, right? heh heh…

big0nes: Right… visit PlanetQuake/3.

Essobie: So much for ad free. Smiley

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