'Asylum'

Quake 4 FFA and Tourney

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Make something real....

I spent a while looking around photo sites on the net. I have always liked pictures of abandoned buildings and decaying places. I was inspired by my research to create a texture and model set that would fit this kind of theme. At that time I was sure what game I wanted to make a level for. I knew it had to be 'next gen' to achieve the realism I wanted but I could have picked Quake Wars or UT just as easily as Q4. As is so often the case for me I eventually went with my heart and headed back to idtech :)

Firstly I collected free photo source images from the net and took countless images with my own camera. I had a pretty good idea of the kind of things I was after from my research. The next week or so was spent editing images and creating the necessary image maps to use in game.

Among the modding community there has been some debate of late as to whether normal maps (the image stage used by the game engine to generate 3d surface information for 2d art images) should be made using a plugin or normal map generator or by creating high poly models and rendering out an image. For me the answer was pretty straight forward. If an artist wants to create a complex door way or pipe wall in 2d I can see the logic in taking the time to create high poly models. This wasn't what I wanted to do. I needed plain 'real world' images. I am a doer not a talker. I needed to actually get on with the job in my limited time (the entire level from textures onwards took 2 weeks to create). So for me using a normal map generator (in this case Crazy Bump) was the sensible option. This wasn't simply an easy or lazy approach, achieving good normal maps from images is not a straight forward process, but it was a time saving approach that I felt justified in utilising.

I made a couple of box room texture and model tests first. I wanted to know what my game assets would look like thrown together in a kind of real world clutter and lit by idtech 4.

After some further tweaking to images and models I was ready to start.

As normal the map was quickly blocked out for layout and scale testing. When this stage was complete the actual level building could commence.

After spending a lot of time working in Blender3D I had forgotten what a pain Q4edit can be. But as most of the detail went into the textures and models the level editor itself was used mainly as a 'compositor', an application that simply brought all my assets together.

The key aspect of idtech4 is detail. The lighting is harsh so geometry needs to be smooth and simple. Details are created with models and decal layers. I created and used many decal textures to attempt to achieve a unique look for each area, desperately trying to avoid obvious texture repartitions from tiling images that would never occur in the real world.

Game and detail entities were then added, clipping of areas to improve game play and flow was done and portals added to the level to control vis (so that more or less only what was seen on screen at any one time was being rendered by the computer).

A little more testing and a few tweaks later...two weeks from the point that I began without a single texture, I had a completed level.

The map will play pretty well with bots. I have not included a bot navigation file, but if you run the level in Q4Max you can compile a bot file and blast away till your hearts content :)

I thoroughly enjoyed making this, and hope somebody has some fun running around in my new little world :)