The Mapper’s Spotlight
I had the opportunity to talk, via ICQ with [tBd]NRGizer, from Finland. He is author of the maps mxcity and mxmines. His recently released map, mxcity is available at AQMD and looks to be a promising map. I decided to get his thoughts on a broad range of topics. The following is the conversation as it unfolded over the course of an hour or so. I’d like to thank [tBd]NRGizer for his time due to the fact he is charged for per minute use for his internet connection.
Oswald: Can you introduce yourself and give the Action players a general bio.
[tBd]NRGizer: I’m [tBd] NRGizeR (a.k.a. Carl-Magnus Björkell). I’m 17 years old and comes from Finland. I’m going the second year in High-school and I’m kind of an “computer nerd” since I spend most of my time in front of my computer, mostly playing AQ2, Quake, and sometimes I even do some mapping :)
Oswald: How long have you been into PC gaming and what lured you to Action Quake 2?
[tBd]NRGizer: Well I’ve been doing games ever since I got my first computer (a 16MHz 386) and started playing “Indiana Jones, the fate of Atlantis” (I think :) ) and then when I got some more powerful hardware I got into the 1st person shooters, I think Doom was my first. A classmate of mine, blackis, was the one that told me that there was this really cool mod for Quake II that was called Action Quake, so I downloaded it and tried it out. I must say that I was not that impressed with AQ2 at first but after playing it for a day or two I really got hooked, and I’ve loved it ever since.
Oswald: So what brought you to begin creating maps for Action Quake? Had you any previous experience?
[tBd]NRGizer: Well… I really wanted to contribute with something to the AQ2 world. I tried several things before I started to map, I tried skinning, icon creation and even some modeling, but I soon discovered that I really suck at making graphics and I’m really not proud of my modeling skills either. So I started to map and after some tries (pretty many actually) I created mxcity and I was quite pleased with it. I don’t have any previous experience when it comes to mapping, I remember installing Qoole about a year ago but since I didn’t understand anything of it (I didn’t even know it was used to create maps ;) ) I deleted it and didn’t re-install it until back in June this year.
Oswald: Speaking of your recent release, Malax City 2083 8:34pm (aka mxcity), where did you get the idea for your map and how did it transpire to become what it currently is?
[tBd]NRGizer: Malax is my home town (village) and first I thought of making a map of something that was situated here, for example some sports arena or factory or something, something that the people that live here would recognize. But then I realized that I really wasn’t good enough a mapper to create something that would be so close to reality that someone would really see what it was. So I thought of making a urban style map, but since we really just have one real street in Malax I decided to make a guess of what Malax would look like in 90 years (2083) The map was really much bigger at first, the street to the west (towards the sun) was the main street and was situated in the middle of the map at first, there was a bigger park, a parking house and 4 more buildings in Malax City at that time. Unfortunately I did not know of such a thing as r_speeds at that time. So after compiling the map for 2 days, and learning about r_speeds I discovered that there was quite many spots where the r_speeds were 3500+. NOT so good for game-play. So I re-made the map and just made half this time, it still has some bad r_speeds spots where they can be up to 1300, but overall they are quite good now.
Oswald: As has been seen with urban by Gerbil!, the use of the Coke-Cola texture was controversial, because it was considered an “illegal texture”. You have a great looking Dr. Pepper vending machine in one of the buildings. Any thoughts on this? And if asked, would you change the texture, if it meant keeping your map available for Action Quakers to download?
[tBd]NRGizer: Actually, FiReWaLKeR e-mailed me about a week ago and asked if I could do just this, and since I do want this map to be available in action, I said that I would, but then after a few tries I realized once again that I suck at making graphics so FiReWaLKeR said that he would find someone that would change the texture for me (thanks!) I really didn’t think about that the Dr. Pepper texture was a illegal texture when I inserted the prefab into mxcity, so I really don’t care what the name on the machine is, I just thought it looked nice.
Oswald: It does look great, best vending machine I have seen yet in a map! You mentioned you were able to decrease the r_speeds from 3500+ to 1300+. Did you attempt to fix the clipping problem, while standing at either end of the city or just decide to keep it the way it was?
[tBd]NRGizer: Hmm.. I really didn’t notice the clipping before you wrote about it in your “Daily Rant”, I guess I could have done something about it then since the map was still in the test matrix but I really don’t know how to fix it without changing the whole map so I don’t think I would have been able to fix it even if I would have noticed it.
Oswald: (This actually happened during our interview, which is why it is included.) By the way, I just got word from Death Magnet at AQMD, that the Dr. Pepper texture IS available from Rust, so I’m not sure if you should worry about it further. Unless something further arises, just leave the texture in place.
[tBd]NRGizer: Cool! :)
Oswald: Anything you found to be difficult when designing a map?
[tBd]NRGizer: hehe… about everything :) First to come up with a good layout, then to make some cool looking buildings and then to design the indoor parts. Of course it was a lot easier to design mxdowntown (my latest map) than it was to make mxcity since I know a lot more now than I did then. But I think the layout part will always be hard, and of course to get a good idea in the first place.
Oswald: mxdowntown? This must be another new map you are in the process of creating? Does this fit into the “mx” theme like city and mines both do? Can you give us some insight of what this map will hold?
[tBd]NRGizer: It is (as you may have already guessed) the downtown of Malax City, and it has alot of the things that I left out from the second version of Malax City, such as the parking house a playground, and a building site. It is already completed (it has been completed for about 1 and a half weeks) and I have submitted it to AQMD but I discovered today that there is a error in a texture, so I have to submit a update tonight.
Oswald: What maps do you enjoy from a gamers perspective/mappers perspective? Is there anything you take, be it an idea, texture, technique, etc and apply it to your maps?
[tBd]NRGizer: From a players perspective I really like the urban series, asylum, and aggression. The urban maps are just great, they really rock in both deathmatch and TP. I really like the Asylum TP, I really can’t figure out how that map can even work in TP since there are only two ways to get from one floor to another, and they are that near each other (the stairs and the elevator). But it just does and it is great fun. Aggression I like since it’s small and fast. That map has really inspired me to make the mx series. From a mappers perspective I really admire Ruskprick for city and ctbcity, they are so well done and complete, the sounds are good and the textures simply rock, (as you may have noticed the mx maps all use Ruskpricks textures). I really like KaRRiLLioN’s maps also since many of them (especially the highrise maps) are based on really original ideas.
Oswald: Are there any other map you enjoy, strictly as a player? You mentioned a few in the previous question. But take yourself out of mapping. Which maps would you consider playing again and again?
[tBd]NRGizer: I really like urban, and urban3, they rock. I really love sniping at actcity3. TP is great in asylum as I said already. But I really like almost every map that has been officially released, I don’t know if I would consider playing them over and over again but I still like to frag away on them on occasion. :)
Oswald: Do you consider old school maps like urban and actcity overplayed? Or do they still deserve to be in most server map rotations?
[tBd]NRGizer: I think that as long as people like to play them they should be in the map-rotations. If people starts to leave the server when a certain map is played that is a signal that that map should be removed, but I don’t really think about old-school and new-school maps in that sense. I say if a map is fun to play it should be played :)
Oswald: In an attempt to get maps tested and possibly get feedback to the author, what do you feel is a fair testing procedure? Should all maps be “officially” released or only those which stand out above the rest?
[tBd]NRGizer: I think that the system that AQMD is using now is rather good, since I at least wouldn’t have the time nor the energy to check all maps just to find out that half of the maps don’t extract to proper dirs and missing textures etc. I’m really thankful to have someone else to test that for me. The thing that I don’t like though is when all the AQ2 players are supposed to test the maps and then report to the AQMD what it was like, especially when maps don’t get released because of that no one reviewed them. If they didn’t get released because of low scores that is another thing. MapZone is a really great resource also since they host maps that haven’t gone official, since there may still be maps that rock even if they haven’t been officially released for various reasons.
Oswald: So you have seen the new testing procedures and the questionnaire type feedback form in the Staging Area, which rates how a map is doing in general categories (ie: r_speeds, textures, DM, TP, etc)? This gives players the chance to download some of the test maps and decide for themselves how well made a map is. Thoughts?
[tBd]NRGizer: Yes, I have. This, I think, is both good and bad since there may be maps that don’t get released because of that no one reported anything or simply hated it. But then again it’s really great that you can find out what turned out to be good/bad in your map so that you hopefully can do better next time.
Oswald: Do you think those mappers who have created maps in the past that have “officially” been released have an advantage over new, unheard of mappers?
[tBd]NRGizer: I don’t know. If KaRRiLLioN makes another map I think that it will be downloaded more than if an unheard of mapper would release his map, even if that map would be better than KaRRiLLioNs. But I also think that after a while people will realize that the map made by the unheard of mapper is also really good and they will start to play that one as well. My point here is that I really believe that it’s the map that counts and not the name.
Oswald: That is all I have. Anything you want to add or p1mp?
[tBd]NRGizer: Well… first of all to all the mappers out there, if you ever get stuck when making a map, visit Rust (www.gamedesign.net) it is simply the best site out there about mapping. Second I would like to thank you (Oswald) for 6th Floor, I really like your reviews. And third I would like to ask everyone to play the mx maps as much as possible ;)
Oswald: Well thanks for the props on The 6th Floor and for all your time. Hopefully we will see mxmines released soon, along with the upcoming mxdowntown. Keep up the good work on your maps. I am glad we finally had an opportunity to get together and finish this interview, I know you were looking forward to doing it. Thanks again, we all look forward to your future releases!