How to break down a new Level by nogame

How to break down a new Level by nogame

Since I’ve returned to Quake 2 in the past few months I found that the most unappetizing detail is that Q2DM1 is now (for all intensive purposes) the only level played. I will be the first person to state that Q2DM1 is a the best 1 v 1 level that Quake 2 has seen, however I also believe there are many other maps that deserve some game play.

In this .txt I will try to provide a moderately detailed tutorial of how to open up a new map and break it down to the bitter essentials. We’ll take this in steps starting from “Walking the level” and ending on “Retake Methods”.

When everyone takes a look at a map for the first time most of what they see will be level design, weapon placements, eye candy, etc. When the smarter players look at a map for the first time, they basically start to invent their “strat” on the level, by deducing the weak points, and the strong points of the map. That’s what our goal for today will be, to develop a strat for our new level. Also keep in mind that this strat is based solely on 1 v 1 game play and would have to be modified for team play purposes.

I believe it will be much easier to explain such terms by downloading a map that’s new to me, and probably new to some of the Q2 community. The map I have chosen is “The Crucible” or “ztn2dm5”. I based my decision on the popularity of the ‘ZTN’ series as well as it being used in the map list of the OGL.

Now, without further adu, lets get this show on the road. Here is the list that we will be tackling tonight. Order is important, so be sure you don’t get ahead of yourself. If you feel you’ve accomplished some of the lower levels of training on this level, it might be a good idea to skim through the reading anyway. It’s always nice to get as much input as possible when learning new things.

1) Walking the level
2) Weapon Locations
3) Power-up Locations
4) Learning Sounds
5) Tricky Jumps
6) Angles
7) Spawn Raping
8) Positioning
9) Timings
10) Slowing it down
11) Control Methods
12) Retake Methods

1) Walking the level

As we walk the level trying to orient ourselves you notice that there are a lot of turns and small confined areas. The level is basically made of three sections. The first room (which holds yellow armor, adrenaline and super shotgun), the second room (which holds mega health, railgun, and yellow armor) and the lower area (which holds bottom rl and red armor) that runs under both of the 2 larger rooms.

After you become somewhat oriented of the level you’ll realize that there are two open areas that are connected by very confined hallways. Also, you’ll see that there are two rocket launchers, this should obviously tell you that the level will be all ‘all rocket’ level. Judging by the low amount of health that is available, this level will might become one in which both players just tick each others health down lower and lower until one dies.

One of the biggest and most notable details about this level are its amount of corners, conjunctions and hallways. Add this detail with the low amount of health packs and you’ve got yourself a precaution level. This means that most of your frags will come from shots that are shot into corners and hallways just to make sure the other man is not around.

I believe that a player can get oriented better with the level through a few games. It took me about four games for me to get a solid feel for things on this level. However, I’ve seen people get used to maps in shorter periods of time, so it just depends on what kind of player you are. So find a buddy who is willing to play a few games on a new map, and just go for a few games.

2) Weapon Locations

Now that we have a basic understanding of the level, we’ll take a look at the weapons and see how they will affect the flow of the game.

Weapon placement on maps doesn’t just tell you where the weapons are, but it should give you a general idea of what rooms need to be controlled, what weapons needs to be timed, maybe even a glimpse of defensive strategy.

As you can see, there are two rocket launchers on this level, and just as I have stated before, the level is very confined. This combination would lead me to believe that rockets will be our main artillery on this level. Rail will be nice for ticking away at an enemies health and because of the amount of corners and hallways, I think Super Shotgun will be our best bet on a finishing weapon, because, unlike chain, you should really never have to worry about running out of shotgun shells while chasing an enemy down.

I can also see how a solid strategy could be based around the grenade launcher. Because of the upper and lower levels, it will be obviously be best to play an offense from the higher levels and the grenade launcher is great for flushing out that hard to find bad guy.

As far as weapon control, it’s a hard choice. I for one would not put extra effort into controlling any one weapon. Controlling the Red Armor, two Yellow Armors and Mega health is going to be enough for me to handle. Also, because of the two rocket launchers on completely different parts of the map, it’s probably a good idea to keep concentrating on the poseurs anyway. It’s next to impossible to keep armor away from him and grab both rl’s every time they spawn, so lets concentrate on keeping the armor away.

With those few points in mind on weapon usage and strat, lets move on to Power-up Locations and take a look of how they will effect our new strategy.

3) Power-up Locations

The poseurs are the secret to every map. These items give us control once we possess them, and this level will be no different. Since armor is a coveted item we will go on the basis of armor being a power up.

What poseurs are on this map? The most important is obviously the Red Armor. Whenever the Red Armor shows up in a level you can bet that there are going to be fights that three direct rockets may not kill the enemy. Knowing this, you want to cut back on the chances of this ever happening by timing that Red Armor and keeping him away. That will be our 1st priority.

Also, we have two yellow armors. These will basically be picked up whenever available and on the way to other areas of the map. It is important to realize though, that if you are out of control and you have gotten the Red Armor once, and you have at least one shard of Red Armor, you are still CAPABLE of having 200 armor. If you are ever desperately seeking to retake the map, it will be important to grab the RA just enough and make it out with at least a shard, so you can sneak your way into a full 200 if needed.

Ahh, look… it’s the Mega health. You know what that means, just another item to time. Also it means it is possible to get 200/200 on this map. Now your looking at some really grueling fights if both players get properly armored up. The Mega health will be our 2nd priority.

How does a person time the Mega health? Just in case anyone doesn’t know, the Mega health spawns after 20 seconds have passed since the last player to pick up mega health has dropped down to 100 health or less. In other words, if you are were the last player to obtain the Mega, when you eventually drop to 100 health, 20 seconds from that moment, the Mega health will respawn. Also it is good to realize that if a player has 100 health and picks up the Mega, it will take him about 1 minute 40 seconds to drop down to the 100 health level, in which case Mega will respawn. So if you can hold out for 1:40, you can start to time the Mega again.

Also, just for added pizzazz ZTN added the Adrenaline. This is a small treat but can be very important after a big fight. Its best to just keep in mind that its there, because of the low number of health packs it will be a big item when you are very low on health.

Also, the famed backpack graces the lower level of the Crucible. This item is especially good to get over 50 rockets and of course 300 bullets if you prefer the Chaingun. Remember, the backpack spawns every 3 minutes after it has been picked up. So most likely look for it around the 1st, 4th and 7th minute of a game.

Looking at all the poseurs on this level, it is easy to see that this level won’t be easy to one-shot your way to victory. There will be some long fights and most will probably end up with a player running away before he dies. This means you’ll have to earn every frag the hard way, unless of course your master Spawn Raping here, but we’ll get into that in a few sections.

4) Learning Sounds

I just got done playing two hours of only 1 v 1 on the Crucible with Fajin. After trading off many games we felt we had a pretty good understanding of the sounds. Unfortunately, this map may not be the best example of how to out-listen your opponent, because of two very loud ambient sounds. An ambient sound is that sound you hear atop the lift on dm1. Somewhat like a breeze that annoys your ears. Both of the larger rooms in the Crucible have ambient noises in them that make listening damn near impossible. However, there are a few things you can pick up on…

There are two long sets of shards. One is usually picked up after coming up the lift from the lower area. The other is the hallway connecting the two larger rooms. Fajin would pickup the shards in the hallway after getting the lower rocket launcher and red armor. His exit from the lower area consisted of coming up the hallway and through the shards to the Mega health room. Sometimes it was a great indicator of when he’s coming around the corner.

Also, the same set of hallway shards is like an alarm into the Mega health room. If standing on the Railgun & Slugs, you can look across to get a nice angle into the shard hallway with either RL or Rg. However this will leave your left side open, which sometimes got me killed.

The 2 healths are very nice and sometimes can give away the Red Armor pickup. The armor pickup sound is much softer than the low pitch 2 healths. If a single 2 health is picked up, its safe to say he’s getting the RA and either coming from, or going to the lower rocket launcher. Because of this you have a few options, you can camp the lift, in case they go up, or you can choose hallway pointing to the lower yellow armor. Most cases he choose either of these two exits as opposed to the exit by the backpack. I did as well because the exit by the backpack gives away your position, and also leaves you vulnerable to an enemy that is lounging above you.

The adrenaline’s loud ‘POP’ is heard throughout the level reminding you that your opponent now has 100 health and has gotten away from you once again.

The Chaingun and its 3 ammo packs next to it can also be used to deduce the opponent’s position if your close enough to hit them.

I’m sure there are more sounds to take note of, and cut the enemies off, but the ambient sounds are quite annoying and these are just the few that I found as Fajin and I played for two hours.

The best thing you can possibly do to learn the sounds is to PLAY PLAY PLAY. You can read about them all you want but you need to get a feel for the cut-offs and hear them yourself. So at this point in the tutorial you should remember what I’ve written and take a few hours and practice with a buddy.

5) Tricky Jumps

The most entertaining part of the levels is the tricky jumps you can do to get yourself out of trouble. On the Crucible there will be none of that! Well, there is a minimal amount that could save a few seconds, but for the most part, this is no Q2DM1.

The easiest way to find the tricky jumps is to walk around and keep your eyes peeled for any small steps, and inclines and anything that looks ‘jumpable’. I’ve done a moderately extensive search for the jumps in this level and this is what I’ve found:

There are some stairs by the backpack leading from Red Armor. They aren’t tricky at all, but its nice to get a quick boost to get out of the Red Armor area, especially when an enemy is close behind.

If you come from the lower area up the lift and head right, you will see stairs in front of you. I’ve found to get a quick boost of speed on this straight away, to just strafe jump up the steps to get to the larger room quickly to cut the enemy off. I know this is odd to mention because it’s obvious, but since I see so many ‘obvious’ mistakes, that I think are silly, I’m going to mention it anyway.

There are a few step offs as well. What a step off is, is a place where a jump is not needed, instead you can just walk off and get to the opposite ledge. From the upper rl you can easily step off to the platform above the YA. That makes cutting off a lil easier in some situations.

There is also a step off in the same area to the platform above the yellow armor, however this is done from the Grenade Launcher. It can be done with a jump as well, but a step is so much quieter. =)

There is also a incline jump by the Mega health. On the steps right in front of rail u can strafe jump while going up the incline and get a small boost. It’s much like the boost you get on dm8 by the railgun off its little bridge’s inclined sides. Anyways, this jump is a great way to run away from the chasing enemy or just to be tricky in general.

There are also many places to rocket jump on this level because of the different heights of the platforms, but I’ll definately say the most helpful is the rocket jump in the large room up to the higher platform by the railgun. It allows you to quickly go from the backpack area up to the railgun and secure the mega health if needed. I found it was easiest to do off the incline to the right side of the small stairs leading to chain gun on the lower level. Its best to rj up to railgun or straight to mega, I’ve found those were my most efficient tries.

Every level has its tricky jumps but I’ve always considered smart game play a player’s best bet. I have always said, “I’m a bread and butter player, I do what works, not what looks good”. I still stand by that, but I will say that having a player that knows what he’s supposed to do, and adding a strong jumping ability is an incredible player without a doubt. My advice overall though, is to learn the level and get comfortable with everything on it, and just do the jumps moderately along the way. Concentrate on your strat rather than a tricky jump. While that may not apply to this level because the jumps are very easy, I’m just stating a point to remember for further review of levels.

6) Angles

Angles are those very thin places where it great to shoot a rail or rocket through. There aren’t a whole lot on Q2DM1, but for an example we’ll say standing behind the shotgun with a railgun and looking into the mega health ready for a man to double jump up the crate to jump directly to the mega.

The reason players use angles it to lesson their chance being hurt as well as being seen, while shooting at the enemy from a strong position. Every level has angles and some levels have many, on this particular level there are a few really great angles to take advantage of.

I think it would probably be best to show you the angles with screenshots and give you an idea of what to look for in later levels. Keep in mind these angles keep you more or less at a safe distance but give you the ability to do some damage.

angle 1 angle 2 angle 3 angle 4 angle 5 angle 6

angle 7 angle 8 angle 9 angle 10 angle 11

After looking at the screenshots, you’ll notice there is little room for error and also little room for them to see you. You’ve gotta take your shot and run, or if your in a good position, capitalize on your shot and go for the frag. Either way don’t get aggressive, just play your smart game.

Like I’ve previously stated, this is a rocket launcher level. The railgun’s only purpose is for backup. Some ppl may disagree but these and a few others that I may have failed to see could be the ONLY spots you should use the railgun in. I know this sounds silly to all of you railgun fans out there, but we’re just trying to keep you alive. This whole tutorial is written on the basis of you playing a game vs an equally skilled opponent that has the same information as you. You need to out-smart your enemy, and running around in hallways with the rail just won’t get the job done.

7) Spawn Raping

Spawn raping is a skill that many of the better players posses. My personal definition of ‘spawn raping’ is: Taking advantage of an enemy who has not had the chance to regain armor or weapons.

First thing about spawn rape education is that ya gotta know the spawns. This particular level has six spawns. There are two easy methods of locating them all (other than running around). If online, bind a key to “observer; team hehe” this way you can instantly see a new spawn each time you hit your new bind. I prefer this to typing “kill” because you don’t have to wait between typing it.

Familiarize yourself with the spawns and what areas they are in. You’ll see that there are three spawns visible from the Grenade Launcher ledge, and if you remember a fourth in the underground right below it. That means you have a good chance of spawn raping if you’re in that area than any other.

The spawns to rape are those in the high traffic areas. A quick railgun spawn rape is obtained by simply switching to rail directly after a kill and pointing your crosshair at the closest spawn. If he spawns there, your up another frag, if not, you know 1 of 5 places he could now be.

More or less you tend to spawn rape directly after a kill and just cutting them off to the first weapons available. I know that’s pretty elementary, but that’s just what happens. You see, there are no immediate weapons right in front of the spawns other than the bottom rl, so it makes things a lil harder to deduce where your opponent is.

Unfortunately this level is not a good example of ‘how to spawn rape’ but if done properly you can get a few quick kills in there before they have a chance to capitalize. It just takes some good hard practice.

8) Positioning

Positioning is what separates the good players from the great players. Thresh liked to control the Mega health on Q2DM1, Dk05 and his famed “sit on the rl” maneuver won him pgl games on Q2DM3. Players have a certain style and technique of positioning that differentiates them from others.

There isn’t a static position on this level. The positioning you make will be ‘safe spots’ to fight in. Shooting from cut-offs as opposed to just getting into fights.

I will say that good positioning on this map is an upper level strat, however railing from lower levels is great to regain control or pick health off from an opponent. Just remember the if the bad guy does not see you it doesn’t mean you cant hurt him with rocket splash. In other words, shoot many precaution shots. That’s as good as position gets on this level.

When evaluating other levels on positioning. Its good to find the area with the key poseurs as well as many spawn pads. Q2DM1’s Mega health Room is a good example of a confined position; ZTN2DM3 is a good example of an open position (red armor/rl). The more and more you play the map, the more it becomes evidently clear on what the smartest place to set up camp is.

9) Timings

Weapon/Armor/Mega health timing is the key to any good strat. Whether it be timing the Mega health or Backpack (as in Q2DM1) or timing the Red Armor and Rocket Launcher (as on ZTN2DM3), it makes the game a little easier for you because your opponent can never fully set himself up.

The Crucible is HUGE on timing. I will definitely say timing the Red Armor and Rocket Launcher is one of the keys to my success on this level. Since the winner is indirectly decided on who picks up more armor and has control of the Mega health.

The Mega health is the key to this level. Its what gives you that added padding in a fight. It is of huge importance that the gamer that is in control can efficiently time the mega health and keep it out of the hands of the opponent. You’ll find in a fight against a heavily armored opponent, the Mega will be the only thing that kept you alive. The mega health is our #1 priority on timings.

The Red Armor is a huge factor to the success of winning this level. While it is hard to fit into the timing formula with the rocket launcher (because of the 10 second spawn time difference), you must remember to take it away from the opponent. It will be necessary to shoot yourself with a rocket if you have 200 armor, to make sure you can pick up the red armor again. The shot will take off less than 10 health, and it’s a small price to pay for keeping that RA away from your enemy. The Red Armor is our #2 priority.

While keeping the rocket launcher away from an opponent is hard, it is not impossible. There are two rocket launchers on this level, and it eventually falls into the hands of a sneaky opponent. Also, I would say 90 percent of my kills on this map are by rocket, and it’s a lot easier to stay healthy when he’s not shooting rockets at you as well. Given good rocket aim its easy to stay above 60 health when fully controlling the rocket launchers, but when fighting an opponent with the rocket launcher, it can be a close call, more or less depending on who had picked up the mega health. Rocket Launcher control is priority #3 on the timing list.

My personal pattern allows me to keep both rocket launchers, the yellow armors, the railgun, the mega health and the red armor away from the enemy, and it gives 10 second leeway to get a kill! It’s beautiful! You might want to alter it, but this is just what works for me.

Your pattern starts at the Red Armor. Grab the Red armor, move onto to the lower rocket launcher and 2 ammo packs, then head up the stairs to grab the yellow armor and proceed to through the hallway and grab the chain. Next move up the large set of stairs to the upper yellow armor, jump to mega, jump to railgun, then grab the upper rocket launcher. By doing this you have now successfully taken away all major weapons and poseurs from the enemy. It’s never easy to stick to this pattern tho, because the enemy causes you to wonder around a bit. If you stick to this pattern as much as possible, and kill the enemy along the way, the game is as good as yours.

10) Slowing it Down

Sometimes it is necessary to slow the game down a bit to either regain composure or just get your opponent out of rhythm. Every level has ‘slow down areas’ and you need to familiarize yourself with them to be ready for anything.

You will use a ‘slow down area’ when you have suddenly died and you were up by 9. Swiftly your opponent has cut your lead to 4, and you have 4 minutes to go. At this point, your opponent is feeling very confident about his ability and he’s definately on track to win the match. The best thing to do, because his control is so tight, is to slow down the level.

You can slow down the level by doing a few different things. You can hide, you can run, you can try not spawning, and you can find a good position and force him to attacking. I’m a big fan of hiding in good spawns myself. These spots are not dead ends, they have two exits, and both have a safe retreat.

On ZTN2DM5 there are a few out of the way spots you can place yourself in, to slow the game down. You can hang out by the lower rl area, right next to the lift. Once you hear, or see an opponent, you can then just go up the lift. You should be able to make it up the lift before you die. Also, there is a 25 health pack, behind it in a dark area, it is hard to see its angle from any of the upper levels, and this is also a good spot to slow things down.

Also, you can hang out in a corner staring down two hallways. When you see the opponent come into view in one hallway, just run the other way. Its just smart play.

When you are slowing the game down, dying isn’t a huge cost. What you are working for is to take off as much time of the clock as you possibly can. In the scenario above, if you’ve taken off 2 minutes by running, and you die, chances are you’re in a good place to do it again. If things stay constant, you should win the level by 2 or possibly 3 frags.

11) Controlling Methods

Timing, Timing, Timing. Keep the RA and MEGA away from the opponent the most, and you should win the game, it’s basically as simple as that. I chose to control by keeping the poseurs away from the enemy, others may constantly pick away at their opponent to keep them on the run.

Since this level has so many coveted items it will be hard to come up with any one control method. I believe that as we see different style players get used to this level, we may see some more interesting strategic methods on it. There is a lot of different things you can try, and a lot of different perspectives to look at the level from.

As far as controlling most levels, its best to find the place where the most poseurs are available, and just stick there. Hopefully there may be some spawns in the area to capitalize on. If the level is wide open, it may be a good idea to time a weapon, or perhaps if the opponent is an hpb, it will be a good idea to keep the rocket launcher away.

Depending on the construction of the level your controlling methods may change. Even on Q2DM1 we see many different styles of control because of the many different players.

12) Retaking Methods

Retaking a level is probably the hardest skill to learn while playing the better players. It involves a player regaining control of the level by being devious, out-witting or just having better aim. Most players do not make smart decisions when trying to retake a level, and a majority of players loose composure quickly when doing so. The trick to retaking a level is to just be as patient as possible.

The most effective way I’ve seen to retake ZT2NDM5 is to get a hold of a rocket launcher and just stick to the lower levels until fully armored up. It isn’t hard to get 200 armor on this level even when out of control. Since the Red Armor is in a somewhat bad area to get, it gives you the advantage if you get there first.

Once you have collected 200 armor, you should probably have about 15 rockets. You’ll need more, because at this point, you want to flush your opponent away from the mega health. The mega health will be the last bit of control you need to start racking up the frags.

Your best bet is to grab about 30 rockets and that 200 armor and head to the railgun. If you can successfully keep your opponent away from this area for 2 minutes, you could regain control. It is tricky though, because the wide-open area allows you to be railed by sneaky opponents.

Retaking control on any map is all about patience. Walking, sneaking, crawling are all terrific ways to regain control of a level. It all boils down to one thing: Get your opponent to make the first mistake, and then get into position.

13) Conclusion

I believe that ZTN2DM5 is a refreshing blend of the Quake 2 and Quake 3. Many armors and the two rocket launchers make for some great fights. There are plenty of fun angles to work with and every weapon could easily play a great part in the flow of the game.

The biggest disappointment however, was the fact that there aren’t many trick jumps. I for one could quite possibly be the worst jumper in q2 history, but I do believe they make a level interesting. However, I will tell you to experiment with the Rocket Jumps, there are some great opportunities to surprise the enemy by well-placed rocket jumps.

When learning a new level, it’s best to categorize the spots you need to familiarize yourself with just as I have done in this essay. Make analogies of points that I made in context of the new level that you may be learning.

Also, I’d like to say thankks to Fajin, Trip, Immigrant, Seanity, sh4ms, Phyzik and many others for their help in playing and practicing the map as well as editing the essay. Thanks again.

Good Luck and Good Game




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