Oswald Rant: Community Mappers

I take much pride in what I have accomplished on The 6th Floor. What began as a small, unknown map review site for Action Quake 2 has grown to become a popular fan site for Urban Terror. While I never expected this to happen, nevertheless I am glad to be part of the community, offering my services, opinions and reviews.
I receive quite a few e-mail and ICQ messages from gamers in regards to the reviews I write on The 6th Floor. Seeing as it’s my site, I guess I have the right to post whatever I want without input or comments from outsiders. Some of the recent comments have attracted my attention, unlike previous ones. The comments go a bit like this. “Don’t you think your review of [insert map] was a bit hard, wonder what [insert map author] will think?”

While I review maps and write corresponding reviews for the Urban Terror maps, I have the utmost respect for anyone who decides to accept the daunting task of creating a map. While you might tell yourself, “Oh I can do this. Just toss a few brushes together and slap some textures on it.” There is much more that goes into a successful level design and its not as easy as you may think.

Why is it there is such a disparity between Silicon Ice Development created levels and third party, community created levels? I believe part of the success of the SID levels come from experience. More than anything else, it helps to have level designers like, BBQ, Gerbil!, NRGizeR and WetWired, all of whom have previous experience from Action Quake 2 and know their way around an editor like QERadiant.

If I am “too hard” on mappers, then maybe they should try and obtain feedback and criticism from those in the community who create levels. Of course you ask the every day player about a new map and they will surely, fill your ear with nothing but lies and misconceptions about your newly created level. Community developers must pay more attention to details, as many minor problems add up in the end. Things such as textures placed backwards, portions of the map scaled incorrectly, overlapping textures. These are but a few of the common mistakes that mappers continue to make.

What do I think of the overall quality of the community maps created for Urban Terror? Many of them need work. A few of the level designers were smart enough to toss a ‘beta_’ tag on them, in hopes of receiving feedback, which to improve their level. But very few seem to take any feedback and apply it to their map. It becomes the battle of “quantity” over “quality” in terms of maps for Urban Terror. I would rather see fewer maps, which were continually tweaked and modified until they something other than average.

In the end, hopefully the community knows and understands that Silicon Ice Development is there to help them improve upon their levels. The community can be a valuable source for information, if you are able to extract the constructive criticism from the nonsense. If you want your level to be recognized, then spend the time and go the extra mile when creating it. Good, quality maps are imperative to any mod’s success. Urban Terror is no different.

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