Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quaking 02--Putting the Sky in a Box

The original skies for Quake are pretty darn cool--a disorienting mass of dark purple clouds churning and swirling in the atmosphere.

However, because the source port I'm using for Quake (Darkplaces) supports custom skyboxes, I wanted to make my own sky for my map.

A skybox is a series of six square images that are used to create a box appearing to envelop the stage or map as a single 360° image of the surrounding environment.

To better illustrate what I mean, here is a series of six images that I have stitched together, that, in Quake, will make up my skybox.

  As you can see, if folded into a cube, with the images on the inside, you would get a 360° "skybox" to surround whatever is on the inside. In the game, the skybox is fixed in place, creating the illusion of a far off and massive surrounding environment.

Inside a box, without any sky texture:

Creating an environment for the Quake skybox can be done in Terragen Classic, simply set a few variables and presto--insta-landscape! With that done, you can render six images (there is a nice Quake III oriented skybox tutorial by sp1rit HERE, which you can use to make skyboxes for Quake as well), slap them into your skybox folder (\id1\gfx\env\) and look at your creation in the game.

This is how my skybox looks in game:

 I think it looks pretty nifty. =]

Monday, September 26, 2011

Quaking 01--Partay Like it's 1996!

The itch must be scratched. Once again I've started mapping (or creating a level) for the undying, 1996 id Software title Quake. The art of "Quaking" as I like to refer to it, is as rewarding as it is difficult.

Quake is one of my favorite games, not, as it is for many, for the multiplayer experience (I'll be the first to admit that I am terrible at playing most games against other people), as Quake was an early leader in the world of multiplayer "electronic sport", but for the single player experience and the many, many, single player levels and campaigns that have been published by dedicated mappers over the past 15 years.

I have never finished an entire map, but every time I make an attempt I develop new skills and my appreciation for the architecture of good level design grows.

Quake is an older computer game and, as such, there are strict limits to what a mapper is capable of doing with their maps, you must divide your maps into different sectors where the other sectors are not visible so that the computer only has to display one small area at a time, larger areas will result in game breaking glitches. The result of this limit is that the play areas are small and maze like giving the player an uneasy sense of claustrophobia and panic. There is rarely a way to avoid confrontation with your enemies or catch a breather in the frenzied world of Quake.

Another interesting aspect of Quake is that the world is split between a clunky, retro sci-fi theme and a dark fantasy theme. As you tear through the original single player campaign you will see the world around you go from a grungy, retro-futuristic, military/industrial aesthetic to one of nightmarish castles and keeps filled to bursting with abominations that want you dead.

Anyway, I started making a building inspired by some of the structures in the US capital, this is how it looks in game right now:

And this is how it looks in Radiant (the editor I'm using):

 I will post more about my current map as I get father along.

Peace. Love. Quake. =3