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You are presented with an empty area like the void of outer space. You create your level by adding to this space blocks such as the walls of your buildings.
I like to refer to this process of level creation as adding to the void.
However, some other games (such as the Unreal series by Epic Games) work this process in reverse. They present you with a giant block like a block of clay. You then carve out your level from this solid block.
With Quake 4, you add to your environment. I find this a much simpler concept to understand. Just like building a house in the real world, you add a wall, add a room, and add details by building up from nothing.
Breaking Down the Game
In This Chapter
^ Making your own maps ^ Placing textures in the game ^ Adding interactive elements as entities ^ Scripting your way to reactive elements
^ Using graphical user interfaces to make a more interactive world
^Quake 4 consists of several elements that all come together to create
what you see on the computer. There are sights, sounds, and interactive elements. All these pieces that make up the game can be found within one common location in the game: the game level. However, before it becomes a level, it starts as a map.
Making Maps and Playing Levels
The level is the virtual world in which you exist as the player. After you start the game and make a selection from the available menu, be it a single-player or multiplayer game, your player is released into the level. Here you can explore the game environment very much the same way you would explore a local park, school, or other environment in the real world.
Whether you are playing a single-player mission or a multiplayer battle, each environment between loading screens is called a level.
Loading screens appear in both the single-player and multiplayer game types. The multiplayer games make the screen obvious with the display of a loading bar and still image. However, the single-player loading screens are often hidden with short movies called cut-scenes. These span the time between the end of one level and the start of another in the hopes of keeping you further submersed in the game play.
Part I: The ABCs of Modding
The term level most likely came from the predecessor of the shooter gaming genre, the role-playing game. The goal of role-playing games is to increase the level of a player by progressing through the increasingly difficult environments
of the game. Therefore, the two terms became synonymous. You would level up your player by progressing levels of difficulty
in each environment.
Before an environment becomes a playable level, it starts life as a map. The map is named such for a few important reasons:
As you create a playable environment, you must map out the position of everything within your environment. Thankfully, the mapping editor takes the tediousness out of this task.
You then save the map with the .map extension.
Versions of Quake prior to Quake 4 had no use for the map file other than for the original creation of the level. The map, when completed, would be converted into a file that could be played by the game, and the map file was no longer of any use. The difference between the map and its compiled version has lessened since the development of Doom 3. The map file is now one of the files required by the game for play.
Making Your Own Maps
I find that one of the biggest thrills of modding is the ability to make my own maps and then play them in the game. I really enjoy being able to create a virtual environment, make it unique, and then offer it to others to enjoy.
Mapmaking requires more than just the placement of a few buildings. It’s more like creating a real building or small community, and then furnishing it. You must place all the walls, ceilings, floors, and other structural elements together to make up the buildings in your game. However, you must also paint the walls, add tables and chairs, and drop in enemies to fight. You must consider every object or feature that is to be represented while playing the game.
I could just jump right into the map-making process with you, but first I think you should have a good understanding of the game environment. To make a good map, you should understand how your placed objects and features are perceived within the game. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you need to go back to school and learn new theories and rules. Because you live in a
Chapter 3: Breaking Down the Game 25
three-dimensional (3D) world, relating the real world with the virtual one is fairly easy.
Building blocks of a map
Adding walls, ceilings, and other structures to your map is much like playing with blocks or Legos. You lay out each block next to another to create a sealed room where the player can have fun. The blocks can be of various sizes and shapes and placed together in just about any orientation you can think of, allowing limitless possibilities for the construction of your map.