March 26th, 2010
I've started a lot of projects in the last 5-6 years. Here's where the higher-profile ones all went.
My original interest in this project was to try and return to single player design, which I'd largely ignored for years of Quake3 multiplayer mapping, and since Doom3 was simply the latest id game, I started there almost out of habit. I thought Doom3's combat had potential that was strangled by a slow, weak player character (it wanted so much to be Doom2 and scary at the same time, and didn't know how), so I came up with a pretty traditional framework. The desire for a reasonably small and unique environment I could establish and explore lead to "space freighter" in pretty typical creatively-bankrupt Alien-fanboy style. The explanation of why there were monsters on the ship was solved pretty much the same way.
Art themes were explored, as were combat tweaks, design ideas were written and re-written at length, and levels were blocked out, but I was never terribly enthused by the difficulties of using the engine vs. what I could achieve with it, or the unoriginality of the whole plan. I occasionally returned to it, or at least thinking about it, recasting it briefly in my mind as a nonlinear survival horror affair or something else I thought would make the premise interesting enough to recapture my attention, but it never happened.
Byzantine seems to have been a casualty of my maturation as a designer and an artist. Many of the creative desires and drives at the time were more sophisticated than the themes I was trying to express them through. I didn't realize this and wasted a lot of time and effort attempting to adhere to both.
The motivation behind another Quake3 map was inspiration for a new visual theme, which came from Peter Gric's suspiciously Mental-Rayesque "paintings" of bright sky and ambiently occluded geometric forms. I thought it would look neat as dressing for a space map, so I put some artistic muscle into a somewhat EvE-inspired skybox and suitable matching lighting and atmosphere, then realized if I wanted to release it I'd have to turn it into a multiplayer map.
Coming up with a layout was far a less interesting task. I'd want to do it properly if I did, and currently I define properly as a layout built with the effect that items and layout have on gameplay in mind, so that the map plays a positive & active role in the gameplay. This is where I felt my previous maps fell flat, successfully allowing combat to happen unimpeded but without really putting much of a unique stamp on it. Developing the solid understanding that would inform such ideas would require playing the game a lot more, which I haven't done in years.
My current idea is to admit that I'm only in this one for the theme and just remix another completed map - not one of my own this time. (Being open and honest about it, of course.) I can even think of a few good candidates without much effort.
Interest in a new LunSP on Func made me decide to go ahead and start exploring options. I want to step away from the base stylings of LunSP1 and attempt to emulate what the best Q1SPs like Contract Revoked and the Bishop's Bane Series have all achieved: to dig out and amplify what makes Quake, Quake.
I was very into this project - a solid design doc is done, levels are planned and half-built, and I even modified some of the original tools to allow me to create my own animated monster models in Maya. Quake's tech is just robust enough to give me options and ideas, but mod coding in QC/modeling and animating 350 poly monsters/texturing in 256 colors/mapping on the 16-grid are simple enough to be easily within grasping range of having fun, so my interest stayed fresh.
I took what had planned to be a permanent Quake1 hiatus out of friction and disillusionment with the community, but I recently ran around in game with the new weapon I'd created for LunSP2 and just couldn't stay away - I still love the ideas in it too much to leave it alone for very long. LunSP2 is, at the moment, actively in development.
Edit [3/28]: This post looks a little nicer with some imagery.