March 8, 2009
I’m looking for a few brave men and women (5 or so) who want to test a semi-finished version of my Beyond Belief 2008 Quake level. I’m expecting some brief feedback about difficulty, level flow etc. You need to have a beefy system since the level only has a “vis -fast” and is a total resource hog. You want to be a good player, as well, since I only have hard difficulty implemented right now.
If you’re interested please leave a comment with your email address (make sure to “encrypt” it so that spam bots don’t harvest it). I’d like to test the map in as many Quake ports and configurations as possible (classic plain vanilla Quake is out of the question), so please let me know what port you’ll use. I’ve mostly played and test in DarkPlaces, I’m interested to see how FitzQuake etc. perform.
October 15, 2008
One of the challenges has actually been to not add too much detail to various areas. It’s nice that today’s computers are stretching Quake’s limits, but the composition quickly becomes too busy. If think that that first shot is stretching it. What do you think?
September 28, 2008
Every level in progress reaches a point where it’s not much fun to work on anymore. It’s those dreaded last 10%, which usually consist of applying a lot of polish – and getting to all the work that the author just didn’t really want to do (but has to ). When you’re just doing the level for fun, it’s even easier to procrastinate on those areas – and eventually hit a roadblock. I hit that spot a week or two ago, and stopped working on the level for a while. For me, the breaking point was mountains.
September 22, 2008
In his neverending quest to one-up me, Warren Marshall has released his Quake 1 Base level, Evil Exhumed. But Warren didn’t just create a huge level (that will remind you a bit of the archeological dig sections in Doom 3) and new textures. Oh noooooooo! He also programmed an entirely new level editor for the Mac to make this level. I cannot compete with this level of commitment! So head over to Warren’s page already and download the level!
As for BBelief2008, this is how I described my current status to Warren earlier today:
Need to finish mine…I’m somewhere at the 75% mark now, but that just means that I’m getting to all the areas that I didn’t wanna do before God I hate making mountains in Quake…
September 17, 2008
One thing that has bugged me a lot about Quake environments – especially now that I’m taking another look 12 years later – is how sterile they often feel. That’s not a new complaint, of course. Back in ’96, several print reviews expressed the same sentiment – undoubtedly still under the impression of a recently released Duke Nukem 3D, which created a much more intricate world. Most of Quake’s sterility can be attributed to the game’s lack of visual storytelling.
As explained in my earlier post, visual storytelling is all about adding a sense of history and purpose to the 3D environments that the player traverses. A well done 3D level never feels like it was built for the player (or, by extension, for the game). A good environment feels like has its own identity. The more the player feels like he is passing through a living, breathing place (or better yet, the more he feels like he is trespassing), the better.
September 7, 2008
If there haven’t been a lot of updates on Beyond Belief 2008 lately it’s because I’ve resisted the urge to post simple editing blurbs like “And now I’ve added this room! Take a look!” With nobody having played the level those posts wouldn’t make much sense, anyway. And if I explained every little detail you wouldn’t have to play the level anymore because I’d already have spoiled everything!
With that said, my output has definitely decreased in the last couple of weeks, and that’s for a very simple reason: the Olympics are over.
August 26, 2008
The weekend was filled with racing, so I didn’t do much level editing. So now might be a good time to discuss the criteria that I apply when making decisions about what goes into Beyond Belief 2008 and what doesn’t. And to muse about guiding principles in general.
When embarking on any artistic endeavor, it’s good to establish focus early on. On multi-faceted projects, these principles help the author determine which ideas should be included in the work and which ones should be left out. This is true for many creative undertakings: commercial games, books, screenplays, movie… It’s true for hobby levels, as well. So here’s the guiding principle I established for BBelief2008:
I want to evoke fond memories of the original Quake.
That’s a decidedly mundane ambition, especially if you consider that 12 years have passed in which the Quake community has moved on to much grander projects. Looks like my plan is to make a map that amounts to nothing more than a tribute level. But this guideline makes a lot of sense to me for various reasons:
August 24, 2008
Have you heard of Quake Expo? I hadn’t until a few weeks ago, when I stumbled across the 2006 page. Basically, Quake Expo is an effort by the still existing editing community for classic Quake to shine a light on all the editing efforts that are keeping the games alive. There’s virtual booths where people present their work, and various events like speedmapping and speedmodding. Pretty cool.
There’s another Quake Expo this year, and my two items of note are a Beyond Belief 2008 booth that I opened (mostly a recap of material that I’m posting on this page). And an interview with me on Quaddicted. That interview was conducted before I’d got the mad idea to make a new Quake map, btw, which is why none of the work is touched upon.
August 24, 2008
One of the fun parts about making this level is that I don’t have to worry at all about planning ahead. That’s the way of working that comes naturally to me: I never planned out my levels in the Doom and Quake days. I just started working on something and discovered where the level would take me.
You can’t do that in today’s professional game development, of course. When working with a team on a commercial game, things tend to be much more planned out from the start. Every level has a place in the game. The start and finish are usually predetermined. Certain story points need to be hit, specific gameplay elements need to be utilized. And things are so complex today, with several people working on the same environment, that the level needs to be roughed out as early as possible. So that the environment artists can start working on the building blocks. So that lighting artists (if the game has them) can start thinking about the look of the level. So that gameplay elements (which might not necessarily all be proven out yet) can be tested as early as possible – in the levels that they’re supposed to appear in.
August 22, 2008
In the last two weeks I’ve been working on a little side project, purely for the fun of it. And fun it has been! Straight-forward, old-fashioned Quake. An expected audience of 27. Maybe 28. But that’s the cool part, I don’t have to live up to any expectations that come with modern, professional 3D games. I just get to this for myself, doodle in 3D and remember old times (I’ve always done a lot of level design work while watching the Olympics).
I’m using BSP for this, which I started using back in 1997 after finishing the original Beyond Belief. It’s great to still see the editor maintained, it works in Vista without a hitch. Running Quake in a floating window for easy map checks certainly is an improvement over the old DOS days
I’m not sure when the level will be released, but I’m determined to finish it. I’ll post more information later.
August 7, 2008
I have added video of two Beyond Belief levels to the Quake page. I played the game using EZQuake and the high-res textures, which is pretty damn neat. Much updated graphics! Particle trails, coronas, distance fog, water effects… gives the game a whole new dimension. Check out these 1600×1200 screenshots, and head over to the Quake page to watch the video!
There’s a few definite problems with EZQuake, most stemming from the fact that it’s mostly designed to be a modern QuakeWorld client with multiplayer capabilities. Getting a single-player game going is a bit of a pain in the ass, especially for the uninitiated player. And a few items don’t seem to behave the way they did in regular Quake. The first BBelief map has an elevator that lowers the first Nailgun that the player gets, plus a monster, and this event is completely broken. The gun hovers in the air – it’s impossible to reach it, and the monster is nowhere to be found.
Those are definite annoyances, but checking out a bunch of maps is still a lot of fun!
July 16, 2008
As I’m verifying the links to all of my old Quake and Doom files, I keep finding cool stuff. The Beyond Belief speedruns were great back in the day. What I didn’t know is that the QDQ team had also recorded video versions of the speedruns, which make it so much easier to watch. Here’s the SBB2 Lite Run:
Video currently offline.
This is my own Flash version of the movie. It’s kind of crappy compared to the real deal. If you would like to see the run in 640×480 with less compression artifacts, go to the official SBB Page and download their .avi file. You can also snatch a second version of the run in first person view.
I’m still getting acquainted with the Flash movie player, and with hosting these movies on my own server. I’ll have to see how much bandwidth the streaming of these files is taking, and if the servers are fast enough. Please let me know how well this is working out for you!
May 15, 2007
10 years ago today, Beyond Belief was released. How time has passed!
I knew that I wanted to make a Quake episode from the moment the game got released. I kinda had to, after all the Doom design work I had done before. And those were interesting times – the mapping and modding community was still in its infancy and a tight-knit group. There weren’t that many games to mod for, anyway – Doom, Quake and Duke Nukem. Quake was the only true 3D game. We’d hang out in the #Quake and #QuakeEd channels a lot, trash talk about various things and generally discover the exciting internet world that was out there. I’d clog up my parents’ phone lines the entire night, using a long phone extension cord that ran from my room to the lobby. It’s hard to imagine these days, but back in 96, talking to people from all over the world was something incredibly new and exciting.
Initially, I wanted to make two Quake episodes with 8 maps each, but eventually I settled on only one. Building these levels took a lot of time, and while I didn’t exactly kill myself with my university workload, I had other things going on in my life that also required attention. The tools weren’t quite up to par to what they are today – I made most of my maps in Quest. A very capable editor, but it lacked basic niceties such as shaded 3D view. All my levels were build in wireframe, and in the beginning I had to align textures by hacking the text file and manually typing in the UV offset. I’d compile the level, run it and see if the texture looked correct. If it didn’t, I’d count the number of pixels that I had to adjust for. Back then that was possible because the textures were low-res enough and there was no bilinear filtering to disguise the shapes.
November 15, 2005
“SPECTRAL”? I don’t remember that for the life of me… Anyway, fixed the link to Arma3.zip, which incorrectly went to the Beyond Belief download instead. I guess a few people have been trying to download it lately, maybe I should convert it to Q4 sometime?
BTW, FILE_ID.DIZ files were little info files you’d add to your BBS uploads, so that the BBS could display the info its interested users. Ah, the time before the Internets…
November 7, 2005
I’ve updated the Downloads page with links to the GDC material and some other stuff (dotXSI4Maya Plugins, Toggle Component Mode script etc.)
Desktop computer died on me the other day while playing Quake 4. It’s up and running again, but I haven’t made as much progress on Arma6 as I could have. Ah well, no rush…
October 25, 2005
I have started work on Armageddon 6 for Quake 4 It will be a port of a DM tourney map that I’ve had lying around for a while. Should be fun! Good, oldschool DM design, and I had the layout tested by some top duel players a while ago so I know that it will make for some good battles.
Update: The map never got finished
October 20, 2002
John-Paul has ported the Beyond Belief code to Tenebrae, the Quake 1 mod that adds per-pixel lighting to the engine. Because Tenebrae is only using a few entities (like torches) as dynamic light sources this doesn’t change the appaerence of the tech levels all that much, but all medieval levels looks pretty cool now
You can download the changed progs.dat files right here, just copy them into the BBelief directory and start the game with tenebrae -game bbelief.
July 4, 1999
Single release of my CTF level that I made for the Quake 2 Allstars map pack. I should convert this to Quake 4 at some point… More information can be found in the Arma5CTF readme.
Download Armageddon 5 CTF.
December 24, 1997
My first (and only) Quake 2 deathmatch map. Just a random collection of rooms with some early inspiration taken from Q1DM3. The central room became the flag room of Arma5CTF. Pretty big, good for 4-16 players. More information can be found in the Arma5 readme.
Download Armageddon 5.
September 16, 1997
This was my contribution to the original Rocket Arena mod for QuakeWorld. Uses textures from the second Quake mission pack.
Download Armageddon 4.
August 23, 1997
CTF Version of the Arma3 DM Map, using Mission Pack 1 and some modified textures. Originally created for the Allstar CTF pack.
Download Armageddon 3 CTF.
August 7, 1997
Small DM map for up to 8 players, started in the Ritual offices when I was interviewing during QCon 97. This was also my first map created in the BSP editor.
Download Armageddon 3.
May 15, 1997
The 9-level SP episode for Quake that got me my first job in the gaming industry. Back in its days this got over 10000 downloads in the first two days. There’s also various speedruns available. Start map, seven regular levels and a secret map.
Here’s a nice review/retrospective of Beyond Belief.
Download Beyond Belief.
Download the Beyond Belief Prog Files for Tenebrae.
Download the Beyond Belief .map files (can be loaded in any Quake editor).
Download the Speed Beyond Belief demos (BBelief completed in 4:25 minutes!).
Download the Speed Completely Beyond Belief demos (100% kills and secrets).
Download the Speed Beyond Belief Lite demos (completed in 2:20 on Easy).
October 19, 1996
My first single player map for Quake. Can also be played in DM, parts of the map open up to make the layout more deathmatch-friendly.
Download Armageddon 2.
September 11, 1996
Doom 2 Map 01 was Doom’s quintesential Deathmatch map. Everybody played it. So it was no suprise that dozens of conversions came out when Quake was released. This was my version of the map. I think I created it at a LAN party, and we played the hell out of the map for a day or so before going back to regular Quake.
September 2, 1996
My first ever Quake level. Mostly a testbed (3D? What’s that?), but you might still get a kick out of it for nostalgic purposes.