SubHuman’s Bot Outpost Interviews Headshot
Dennis “Headshot” Kaltwasser Interview:
This interview took place on 4-5-98, and was conducted via E-mail. This is what was said:
Hello Dennis and thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me.
1. Dennis Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, I’m 26 and live in Germany. Currently I’m in the final stages of studying politics and linguistics. Additionally I’m running a small advertisement agency together with a friend of mine. Other than that…hm…I like cheezy crust pizza…
2. I am a huge fan of your work, and look forward to each and every release. Which of your maps is your personal favorite? And Why?
This changes from time to time, but looking back I guess that for Quake1 it would have to be “ukooldm6”. I like the cohesive design, atmosphere and flow of the map. We really played it a lot. For Quake2 it’s “grind”.
3. How long have you been creating Maps?
I started out in October 1996 when I stumbled across Worldcraft. I wanted to do it for quite some time then but couldn’t really get used to any of the other editors. Before I released my first map (fsdm1) I made ten or so that never got released. Actually I even tried to make DooM maps back then but it got me nowhere…
4. What was your proudest moment as a designer? A particular goal that was difficult to achieve, or a certain obstacle that was hard to overcome?
This has to be the moment when I saw the news of DAPAK, being released on Blues News. Pulling this thing off was really the best. Dan and I worked on it pretty relaxed, and we got this pack together reasonably quick. But, It was a real cool project from start to end.
5. Which work was the most difficult to create?
I think the map that gave me the most trouble so far has been dapak7. It started out as a _completely_ different map and mutated during the building process, until nothing of the original idea was left. And it shows in the awkward texturing in places. After a while of tearing down areas and putting them back together it got very difficult to think of a way to give the map a decent flow. The .map file is a real mess. Oddly enough we had the most fun in this one when it was done…
6. What inspired you to begin level design, and what keeps you going?
We had a 4 machine LAN in our agency and we used to play DooM deathmatch. When I heard that it’s possible to edit maps for it I wanted to give it a try, but the editors available seemed far from comfortable to me then. After qtest was released the deathmatch mania took over and with the real 3d engine it seemed even more attractive to create my own maps. Then I found Worldcraft and things changed. From that point on, the focus shifted on all the maps I made. From pure playability, to look and feel. The atmosphere of a map is what interests me most nowadays. The challenge to combine these elements into a fun deahthmatch level with low r_speeds is what motivates me now I guess…
7. Any tools you want to give a nod to?
Definitely. Back when editing Quake1 maps the most useful tool I ever used (apart from Worldcraft of course) was Adquedit by Cable Hicks. It allowed for replacing textures in .bsp’s without re-compiling the map, which was great for trying out different texture sets. I also did all the texture export for my custom textures with it and it even was able to calculate sub mips. Together with RemipDLX (I think) and mipdip the best tool I ever had. For Quake2, every Worldcraft 1.5b user should check out danimal’s “voila” for adding texture properties.
8. I think one of the strongest features of your work, is the caliber of gameplay they provide. What things do you consider, when trying to maximize the flow and item placement on a map?
Basically I try to have as many connections to any given area as r_speeds will allow. If I do run into areas which are only accessible from two sides or even have a dead end, I try to direct the flow a little towards these areas, usually with a big gun I put there. A good example for that is the placement of the rocket launcher in dapak4 or in grind. Running through a two way area or even a dead end means taking a risk because you’re kind of predictable and this has to be rewarded. Another great way to tweak the balance and flow of a map is the placement of health. Rule of the thumb here is to make every area of the map attractive enough to visit. If there’s a good sniping position way up there on the roof I put the rocket ammo on ground level etc. Another thing which I learned to pay attention to, is optimizing single areas for a shootout with the weapons I expect the players to use there: tight hallways for the railgun, bigger areas with stuff to hide behind for the super shotgun, elevated position with atrium below for the grenade launcher… you get the idea.
9. Another signature quality of your maps, is how clean they are …. IE; You dont get snagged on corners or on the walls, no sticky spots on the ladders, etc. Any tips for other Map designers, on cleaning up user maps?
Hm, as for clean building: try to avoid brush seams at any rate. Play the map for at least an hour and put clip brushes everywhere you got stuck. Try to rocketjump to places and check if you can get stuck there. Also leave enough space, even in hallways, so that there’s room to fight everywhere. It’s very annoying to get shot only because you got stuck or couldn’t move. Also important for clean looking maps is chosing textures that fit together and look good when you set them flush with each other. The mmetal1_2 binding for the floors in all the dapak maps is a good example. Hm, now that I think of it…it would have been an even better solution to have floor textures with an integrated binding…oh well :)
10. I have always liked the names of your maps. Any particular theme you use when choosing them?
Actually it’s hard for me to come up with a cool name since I’m not a native speaker and always in danger to choose a very cheezy one :) So, I often ask people for ideas and danimal helped me with those for the dapak maps. “Kick the P.A.” is actually a song title and I found “Vascular Ray” for my next one after browsing Webster’s Ecyclopedic Dictionary for an hour or so.
11. Which other map designers do you especially respect, and which of their works stands out when you think of them?
Danimal, with whom I made DAPAK, is certainly one of the most talented map designers out there and his work truly inspired me a lot. I learned much about efficient texture use and clean building from him, especially through “Infernal Machine”. Also look at “guns and ammo”: I’ve counted four released Quake2 maps so far, “grind” included, that pick up its texturing theme, which pretty much says it all. On top of all he’s a very modest and friendly person. Other designers include, of course, the two other dapak2 guys, ZTN (Steeler, The Killing Machine) and Copy (Ukooldm2), as well as Ray Dahlia (The Becoming), Adriano Lorenzini (Messy Base) and ReTinal (broken1). Of course I’m forgetting quite a few here, especially new Quake2 designers…
12. LOTS of mods are coming along now for Quake2. Any you particularly enjoy, and have you ever considered doing maps for any of them?
Yep, I enjoy Zoid’s CTF very much and I even started two CTF maps already. I guess if I had stayed with the dapak team until the release, I’d certainly have contributed a CTF map. I was also planning to do a Rocket Arena level, which isn’t going to happen now. Other than that I didn’t check out to many mods, but Holy Wars sounds like a really fun mod too. “Kick the P.A.” was included with the Holy Wars mod.
13. When you play a map other than your own, what things make that map most interesting to you? A particular size, a certain flow to the play, or maybe it’s appearance?
I’m looking through a lot of the custom maps. The most important thing to me is that a map has a theme to it which should be consistent and executed well. It should have a good scale and interesting architecture. Atmospheric light is a definite plus. The rest depends on how a map plays which isn’t so obvious most of the time. There are a quite a few maps that look like crap but play superb and vice versa. However, I prefer to play in a map that has a nice atmosphere too.
14. As you know I run a Bot website, what do you think of this whole Bot invasion?
I think it’s a good thing. Personally I thought that in Quake1 the bots never were as good as I had hoped for. Although the omicron beats all the others hands down, it still doesn’t act like a real human, though it comes close. I always had the idea of a bot that was able to “sit down and watch” different players in a certain map and afterwards imitate their behaviour on demand. It would be cool to have bots with different characters, especially when you can tell who’s being imitated from playing against the bot. Just imagine: if this was implemented really good you could download the strategy file for “sCary on DM4” and play him 1-on-1.
15. Any you particularly like? Why?
From the Quake2 bots I’ve checked the CRBot and the Eraser so far and I’m very impressed, especially with the Eraser’s capabilites to simulate different characters. I think that’s the way to go, unfortunately it seems like it won’t be developed much further. Hopyfully the CRBot will support this in future releases as well. Fully featured, intelligent CTF support with good team ai is something I’d like to see as well.
16. The bots love your levels. Do you take any special safeguards to ensure a maps “bot friendliness”?
No, not really. Apart from trying to build “clean” I don’t pay special attention to that. But I will include an eraser route file created by a pro :) for the next (and last) map I’ll release soon.
17. You are departing from a very “comfortable” situation at DaPAK, and you left on very friendly and positive terms. Any chance that after a vacation, you may reunite?
Well, I didn’t leave because anything with the team was wrong. The dapak team was the best environment to develop and release maps I could hope for. Like I said, the only reason why I left the team is time, or better: the lack thereof. During the past 1 1/2 years I dedicated much time to Quake, maybe even a little too much. I just can’t keep on doing that. Being part of the team didn’t only mean to create maps but also to design and update the web site, answer email etc. which altogether took up way too much time. I still enjoy making maps a lot and I’ve got a couple ideas, too. So if I ever return to creating/releasing maps, I’ll definitely re-join the dapak team. Right now I’ve got to see into other things though.
18. What will you miss most about working with the team?
I guess the “being part of it” feeling. The whole process of planing stuff, discussing mod features, designing maps, checking out the work of the others, giving and receiving feedback.
19. What can we expect to see from HeadShot in the future? After a well deserved break, any chance we will see some more mapwork from you?
I will release one more map I made for dapak a while ago. It’s been sitting on my hd and recently I got around to polish it for the release. After that I guess I’ll have to delete Worldcraft to break the spell :) I may re-install it eventually, but not anytime soon.
20. Ok…Its you all by yourself…..a stylin computer….an urge to frag…..and a thundering herd of 6 Eraser bots…..Which map do you want toplay?
“guns and ammo” I guess.
21. Final Question: If you could have pictures of any Superhero on your underwear. Who would it be and why?
The Incredible Hulk, I dig green muscles…
Dennis, Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, I wish you the best of Luck in the Future.