All the World’s A Stage
Team 3 stands still for a place in the limelight. by – Todd “Tungsten” Northcutt
Family first. Work second. Quake third. What kind of formula for success is that for a development group to adopt? A fantastic formula, as it turns out, if the work of Team 3 is used as an example. The merry band of mappers have created some of the most spectacular maps the CTF world has ever seen – and continue to do so. Born slightly over a year ago, Team 3 brings together a group of friends (real-life and on-line) who have been working together for nearly two years. Hafhead, geezer and Phats took some time to answer our questions about the Team:
GameSpy: By the name alone, no one would ever guess Team 3 was a group of mappers, creating some of the most popular maps currently being played by Quake 2 fans around the globe. Why 3?
geezer: [We] started Team 3 almost exactly one year ago. Most of us were part of Dteam, but due to some silly politics things there didn’t work out there. At that point some of us had already been together for almost 9 months and had a good rapport going. We choose the name of ‘3’ because for most of us Quake mapping was #3 in our lives (after family and work).
|Phat Chance – One of the offerings from Phats in ThunderWalker 2: Rolling Thunder|
GameSpy: What occupies slot #1 and # 2 for each of you? How long have you been at #3? (Feel free to think of all kinds of silly jokes with #1 and #2 here. I certainly have! -Ed)
Phats: Darren Korman, aka Phats. Level Designer at Monolith Productions . Team 3 youngin’ and favorite target of Geezer’s Cane.
Hafhead: You know you’ve got a lot of kids when you make a Teletubbies CTF map. I’ve been doing maps since the old Doom days, but I’m not going to rant any more about my history because that’s what puts people to sleep when they read these interviews.
Geezer: I’m a software engineer by day and Quake mapper/player by night.
GameSpy: Unlike many other mappers and development groups, Team 3 works closely with mod authors, rather than releasing “independent” map projects. How did this come about?
Phats: Well, when I was beggining to map while attending college 3 yrs ago now, I was fortunate to live on the very same dorm floor as the ThunderWalker CTF mod authors Marc “Panda ‘O Fire” Rittierodt and Robert Hayden, aka Fezzik. Basically, I pestered them constantly for a month and a half as I worked on a map ThunderWalker 3. I’m a ThunderWalker Leech. As Dteam worked on maps for Q2 ThunderWalker, I continued the tradition by pestering Panda relentlessly about whether our Dteam maps would be included in the mod. The maps for that mod (Q2 ThunderWalker) which we all relentlessly tested together are of a far higher quality than anything any of us could have created on our own.
Geezer: This gave us a taste of working closely with mod authors. After this we did some solo projects, then Tomikazi and I hooked up with Kunani to work on the Capture! mod. We liked working like this as it allowed us to do some custom maps and provide input to the developers.
|geezer’s Force Ten, from Capture!|
GameSpy: The work on Capture! with Kunani eventually landed on id’s Quake 2: Extremities CD. How cool was it to see some of your own work on shelves in stores?
Hafhead: I missed the boat on this one- too bad, as I actually did a Capture! map. There was some confusion between myself and Kunani, and it never got released. I eventually did a CTF version of that map, but it is too big and complex for L-Fire and now sits in the Project Graveyard on my disk drive.
Geezer: Unfortunately Extremities was kind of disappointing. First off they completely goofed and somehow put other people’s names for credits on Capture! And for some reason we never got our autographed copies (or any royalties) from Kunani. I’ve tried on several occasions to get stuff from him, but to no avail. I’ve also never seen it on store shelves. So, while it’s a nice idea it didn’t do much for me. :-)
I did have a mapping headhunter contact me once to see if I was interested in joining a company. I wasn’t, but thought of Phats and got them hooked up. The rest is history as they say, and Phats now works at Monolith.
Phats: I was never involved in the Capture! Mod which some of the team members contributed to. Fortunately for me, I landed myself a job with Monolith Productions where I currently work as a level designer in time to get my name into the credits for both Shogo and Blood2.
Hafhead: The switch over to working with L-Fire happened before I moved over to 3 – I’m trying to ride the wave of success from the first map pack. Although they’re not officially done, I suppose the L-Fire 2 beta maps have already gotten more play than many released CTF maps. It has been a lot of fun working with L-Fire and the whole YYZ crowd. My LF2 maps are far, far better than they would have been without their help.
Next: Beta testing, curves and mad sheep!
GameSpy: How has publicly beta testing your maps for so long changed the way you develop?
Geezer: Beta testing is the way to go. Having a forum to discuss problems people have or suggestions just makes the maps better. Having 32 real players on your beta map just rocks. You stress the map a lot more than you would with bots, and they can all provide feedback. Overall it ups the quality of the maps, and I think it shows in our finished products.
Hafhead: The big bonus that I get is that I can lay out the items in an unusual way and see how it flows. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I can find out things that will make people hate the map before release, and fix them. Slippery When Wet (my highly curved one) has had the ents rearranged on a major scale at least 3 times. I’m still not totally happy with it, but at least I know I fixed the major badness.
|Neurotica, by geezer, is in the first L-Fire CTF map pack.|
GameSpy: The first L-Fire CTF map pack was a huge success: over 25,000 downloads and the “Official Maps of the OGL“. When can we expect to see the second pack? I know people are chomping at the bit for them ;-)
Hafhead: The maps kick ass. The success of the second pack largely depends on whether people are still playing Q2CTF at all.
Geezer: lfctf1, Neurotica, has been a steady #7 in the Champions League for Quake CTF map list for a long time. It’s the most popular non-id CTF map being played, and is even above the last 3 id maps released (q2ctf6-q2ctf8). It feels good to fire up GameSpy and see your map on a server — and the server isn’t empty!
We were considering holding off the second L-Fire pak, but I think we are going to wrap them up and release them. We’ll have 5 or 6 maps to ride out the last days of Q2 CTF (for us at least :-). It’ll keep people happy until Q3A releases, and might even get me to fire up Q2 again.
GameSpy: Quake 3 will bring a new tool to mappers, much the way that Quake 2 brought colored lighting. How do you see this changing the way maps are created?
Hafhead: The “curved surfaces” of Q3 are the second worst feature I’ve seen in an id game yet (ladders being #1). If the game is released with these working like they do right now, I’ll be very disappointed. If you use the lower setting, large curved surfaces can be very deceptive. There are a lot of places where you accidentally walk off an edge that you thought was solid ground or lose another player because he has vanished into a wall. Curvy-looking geometry is cool, but geometry that looks one way but clips totally differently is very uncool. I’d much rather see well-designed maps that use real brushes laid out like curves (like you see in a lot of the user-created DM maps out there for Quake and Q2).
|Phong shading makes Slippery When Wetby Hafhead shine.|
Phats: I’m sure there will be a good amount of quality usage of Q3a curves among the amateur ranks. Anyway, the horrid examples will make plenty of fodder for Cranky Steve.
Geezer: We have pretty strict poly count guidelines for ourselves, and this will fall into that category. It’s always a challenge to see how far you can go with looks and style w/o making the map unplayable.
I have a feeling that doing curves right will be a bit tricky. Like most things it’s something that needs to be used carefully.
GameSpy: Before we part, I’m sure there’s a question on everyone’s mind: Do you have any plans for Quake 3?
Geezer: Oh yeah!
Oh, you want specifics? :-) Rather than planning anything huge right now, we’re going to wait and see what the final product will include. Most of us in Team 3 liked the idea of no grapple. It presents an interesting mapping challenge for us. I’ve also been getting into Unreal Tournament CTF a lot lately and being grapple-less is just fine with me. You can definitely plan to see some CTF maps from our team. Will we convert some of our popular Q2 CTF maps over to Q3A? Not sure yet.. again, we want to wait and see what is included with the release first.
While I like UT, I doubt I’ll be doing any maps for it. Maybe our resident mad hacker Zinger can do a Q3A to UT map converter!