“She pwned me!”

“Girls! Girls! Girls! Long legs and burgundy lips!” Yet these girls are not dancing down the Sunset Strip. They are avid gamers, who have taken an interest in computer gaming. Our series rolls on today, as we check in with “the land down under.” Today’s interview comes from rustyTNT, who I had not actually planned in my Fem Fatale Series. But I received an e-mail from her, after she read Bladekiller’s interview. “I am part of an all female clan…we call ourselves Dark Angels tag, |d’angels|…it’s great to hear of other female gamers, particularly one who is involved in the development of the game itself,” says rustyTNT. I decided to offer her the questions and get her spin on gaming. You can read about rustyTNT in today’s rant.

We also bring back a favorite, at least from what many have said about the screen shots. That being from one time level designer, dotEXE. He was the author behind the level, ut_riyadh, that has made an impact on the community. Known as a “sniper’s paradise” this level is best experienced in a match playing CTF. His newest creation, is actually a remake of an earlier 1.27 level called ut_101. Except, he has changed the look, layout and the name of the level. Here is where Iceland 101 comes into play, spell ‘Rej-a-vik?’ Hahaha…the new level is now called ut_reykjavik, I can see admins going, uh, I can’t spell it, guess it won’t go into the rotation. Just kidding…

Seeing as I cannot find them online, I am going to make the Defcon.5 tree map model available. This map model is nothing new and I am sure you have seen it in levels such as Revolution, Abbey and Casa. This map model includes two sets of four models, a small model (89 polys) and a large model (105 polys). So stop using those nasty looking brushes in GtKRadiant to represent trees. You can get the file, from the Files Section.

Interview with Áskell “dotEXE DOS” Löve

With the release of id Software’s Quake 3, and the creation of Urban Terror by Silicon Ice, gamers are taking to realism mods faster than ever these days. Here at The 6th Floor, we would like to give some background information on some of those people who have chosen to work on this project.

dotEXE is the latest addition to the Silicon Ice Development team and comes to us with some great ideas and a wealth of talent. Áskell, like a few before him, was asked to join the development team, after seeing the potential in his initial Urban Terror level, 101 and screen shots of his 202 level he was designing, before renaming it to Riyadh.

Oswald: You started out as a community mapper with a level called 101 and 202. Did you ever think that you would catch the eyes of SID and be asked to join in the development of Urban Terror?

dotEXE: I never had the aim of getting recruited by a mod team, rather I started mapping because it seemed to be a good hobby. I have no ambitions for making it in the gaming industry so getting the offer from SID served no promotional purposes for me, rather the reason why I decided to give it a try was the support it involved in terms of access to the teams talented modelers, texture artists, and map reviewers. Of course it was a plus that the SID team gave a very good impression.

Oswald: Talk about 101 for a moment. Did the community rally around it and enjoy it? Also, what suggestions and feedback did they give you on it?

dotEXE: 101 was my first map and was built without proper planning. The map initially was a replica of my own apartment, but as I continued building, it ended up being a whole neighborhood. From what I heard the community really liked the map, especially the more tactical players that liked the non-restricted layout which gave endless possibilities on routes between places. Of course the main complaint was the lack of furniture inside the apartments, but everybody who really know about mapping limitations knows you can’t make a map that is open like that and still very detailed. I think there are enough mappers making maps that are more closed and detailed, and that my maps will be a good addition being so open and instead low in detail.

Oswald: So the level 202 eventually became what was known as ut_riyadh. Did you originally plan this level as a terrain/CTF level or did the design of the map sort of come about as you were mapping?

dotEXE: I’m still not experienced enough to make a detailed plan that I can stick to through the whole mapping process, but with 202 the basic idea was a two base terrain CTF map. The only problem was I didn’t know how to make a proper terrain, so I started out using brushes and patch meshes and did two versions of the map like that when I realized that was just plain ugly. Then I started to experiment with the new terrain feature and from those experiments ut_riyadh became what it is today.

Oswald: Speaking of mapping, how do you develop your level ideas? Are you the type to sit down in from of your editor and start mapping? Or do you need to plan out your level and possibly flow patterns and decide how the level is going to work?

dotEXE: For me it’s about getting a very crude basic idea and then just start mapping. During the process I usually do a few complete layout remakes to reflect the ideas that pop up in my mind while mapping. My main thought is game flow, and the easiest way to make it good in my opinion is to have the map very open and thus with many different routes between places. Of course this way of mapping isn’t very effective, but as I lack the amount of experience that some mappers might have I can’t efficiently plan a head yet.

Oswald: How do the community levels compare to the levels developed by the Silicon Ice Development guys? Are there anything that stands out from any of the community level designers or any of the current levels you have seen?

dotEXE: We have a bunch of technically very good mappers in the community, but still there seems like something is missing in many of the maps. I personally download all the community maps, even the beta versions and check them out because often I learn something new from the mappers behind them. The maps with the greatest potential (game play + looks) are EXCALIBUR’s Museum and DICK DASTARDLY’s Golgotha.

Oswald: What has really changed in your mapping since joining Silicon Ice Development?

dotEXE: The greatest change involves access to the experienced team members for reviews and comments on my work in progress. Also the availability of modelers really makes my life simple because there are some things GTK just can’t do. Otherwise the biggest impact on my mapping right now is school that get’s in my way 🙂

Oswald: What is in store for dotEXE and his level designing? Anything coming soon that we can plan on playing for Urban Terror?

dotEXE: Right now I’m working on a total remake of 101. I decided to remake it because of many requests from the community, and because I really liked the previous version. I’m not going to announce a release date, but I’m pretty sure that if all goes well it will be ready for next update of Urban Terror.

Oswald: If you could change one thing in Urban Terror, what would it be? And the follow up, how do you think the community would respond to those changes?

dotEXE: I would like to see the feature of being able to lie flat on your stomach. As it can be a very advantageous position there have to be some drawbacks of using it such as very slow movement, not being able to shoot while moving in that position, and very slow to get up from that position. I think most people would like this to be a option, but I already see the limitations when people decide to lie because they would always be horizontal even if the ground they are on slopes by 45° 🙂

Oswald: That is all I have. Any shout outs you wanna give or got anything to p1mp?

dotEXE: The only thing I pimp is Urban Terror itself, and I hope the community continues to spread the word and recruit more players to the game so we can be steady on the top as the most played Q3 game type on the Gamespy.com stats.

Urban Terror Review: Riyadh by dotEXE

ut_riyadh by Áskell “dotEXE” Löve
| Áskell “dotEXE” Löve | Score: 4.7 | By Oswald |

dotEXE is the newest addition to an already talented group of Silicon Ice’s mapping team. All too easy is it to become overwhelmed in the atmosphere of his latest map Riyadh. You can almost feel the hot dusk breeze of the desert blowing through your hair as you watch the sun set in the red sky and darkness begin to overcome the map. But don’t be distracted by the thought of warm sand between your toes too long or you may find your innards have become your “outtards.”

Texturing [4.5]
While Riyadh is not full of colorful, eye popping texturing, the featured textures complement the map and its setting very well. There is a very simplistic look and feel to all the textures used on the buildings and walls. Many of the textures recreate a sandstone look, which dominates both bases. A middle eastern decor borders the many of the structures located in Riyadh. Many of the colors are a very neural, off white color or light tan. Each base is identified by the red and blue striped awnings. The crumbling buildings and lookout posts located outside of the bases have that wind blown and worn look to them.

Ambiance: [5.0]
The most unique feature is the bright, setting sun slowly drifting below the horizon, as day turns to night. The fiery ball gives off a brilliant red glow, which is reflected on the faces of the structures facing the West. To complement the warm glow of the sun, the sound of howling wind blows over the desert hills and through the narrow valleys. Each base has the sound of beating Middle Eastern drums as you enter the plaza.

Creative Spark: [4.5]
The Arabian desert functions as a majestic backdrop and metaphysical land for the second terrain level designed for Urban Terror, this level conjures thoughts of Sands initially, but one run though the level and you will see noticeable difference. The levels are quite similar, but Riyadh does offer a different style of play, due to the accessible hills and clear lines of sight. The level is anchored by two large bases, constructed in opposing corners, like Lawrence of Arabia preparing to do battle against the Turks.

Construction: [4.5]
As previously mentioned, Riyadh makes use of the Quake III terrain generator, which really lays the foundation for a very balanced layout. Located in opposing corners are towering, fortified bases. Separating the bases are a numerous hills and winding valleys, all of which provide many options when moving through the level. The middle mountain range basically separates the map into two distinct sides, making Riyadh a very successful CTF level. Intermediate structures located at vital points on the maps, make this level challenging to negotiate where you are not out in the open. Technically, the map is void of flaws, yet the r_speeds do skyrocket up to 17,000+ when you are viewing the entire level from each base. On average r_speeds run 11,000 through most of the level.

Playability: [5.0]
This level is all about layout. The Quake III generated terrain and accompanying texturing is well implemented. Three valleys are separated by small hills, which are climbable in most areas, making the game play unpredictable, as gamers will take the quickest route between two points. A straight line! For those who decide to move more stealthy, there are intermediate points, such as the towers and crumbling buildings located through the level at two of the main intersections of the level. Even when controlling these two choke points, you do not control the level. The level is still dominated by the sniper, from nearly every point in this arid, desert environment. Although gamers who favor the assault rifles and machine guns do play an important role in controlling some of the tighter points, like the intersections, where the buildings are. Also, having a healthy weapon like an M4 or UMP45 is really more advisable when rushing the base.

6th Sense: [5.0]
What makes this map stand out from the rest? I think this is the sort of map gamers have been calling for. The level is similar to Sands, but much smaller in size, which helps to influence more fluid game play. That is a good thing. CTF just rocks on Riyadh and a real thrill to play. Be wary of the snipers, who seem to dominate the map, not only on CTF but the other game modes. The terrain works well to provide ample cover when moving between bases. But don’t get caught with your drawers down in the open, as you will end up, “as dead as friend chicken, baby!”

Final Score: [4.7]
[Oswald] While dotEXE became with his first level, 101, Riyadh got his recognized by Silicon Ice Development and a position on the development team. His talent and professionalism is unmatched. Riyadh, is just another example of how a level designer can design a high quality level, using not one the complex terrain generator, but simple texturing. Riyadh is already a community favorite amongst the CTF servers. If you have any doubt about it, hop on a CTF and make a dash for the flag. We look forward to seeing Riyadh played more, along with his next project!

Givin’ it to ya hard

Let’s start Monday off with something I like doing, that being ranting. This week’s rant is directed at development teams, mainly those working on mods, who do not feel it is necessary to interact with communicate with their community. We have all seen it at one time or another, where a development team thinks they are “high and mighty” and virtually above the mod they created. Damn, I am already starting my rant, so with that introduction, check out Interaction Not Reaction.

I have also completed another level review for Urban Terror. This time we turn our attention to that small island in the North Atlantic. Yes, that’s right, Iceland, home to Áskell “dotEXE” Löve, the creative talent behind the highly successful terrain map featured in Beta 2.3, ut_riyadh. “All too easy is it to become overwhelmed in the atmosphere of his latest map Riyadh. You can almost feel the hot dusk breeze of the desert blowing through your hair as you watch the sun set in the red sky and darkness begin to overcome the map.” Check out the review of ut_riyadh. Rumor has it he is reworking his Beta 1.27 level, 101. Look for those coming soon.

I’m Back!!!

I’m back!!! It has been sometime since I have provided a worthwhile update on The 6th Floor. Now that QuakeCon 2001 is over and the Urban Terror 2.3 Beta is released, I will be able to focus a bit more attention on providing the quality reviews the community is looking for. The site is currently under some development, as I move from HTML/CSS to ASP and better way to present the information that has gathered here since 1999, when I opened the doors to The 6th Floor.

The most recent news was the announcement by Silicon Ice Development releasing their highly anticipated map pack, which has become known as Beta 2.3. While there are only minor code changes in this version, it does introduce 8 new levels to terrorize, along with 3 updated levels from NRGizeR. I feel this map pack will provide hours, hoping months of action for the Urban Terror community, as SID begins development on the next beta version. No speculation on its completion date. New levels include SweetnutZ and his first Urban Terror map, ut_casa. I stick by my guns, texturing makes the map, this is no more evident than in this level. The newcomer to SID, dotEXE seems to have created a much needed mirrored CTF level titled, ut_riyadh. I really do think the CTF players will quickly find this to be a favorite. Same fors for the snipers, better keep your head down.

Bar-B-Q finished up ut_rommel, which seems to be getting mixed reviews on the forums. It is not your typical Urban Terror level, but does play quite well. BattleCow was able to get his level, ut_uptown finished, and GottaBeKD was able to complete work on the elevator, that this AQ2 style level finally was released. ut_pressurezone is the latest creation from Gerbil!, who had considerable success for Action Quake 2, but has been suffering a bit of design block in his levels. Pressure Zone is quite an impressive looking underwater base, but from the preliminary comments I hear, there are more issues with spawn points. Something SID has been working on to remedy. Let me also say, these usually effect the TDM game.

Tub is back with a map and a half. His latest work is called, ut_austria and continues the European type village genre. Also pay attention to the impressive model of Michelangelo’s David, created by Meaty and skinned by BladeKiller. The level, ut_village also reappears for the first time in Beta 2.3. There are some issues with this level still. While Legomanser did some of the updated work on it, NRGizeR provided some insight into reducing the FPS.

Finally comes ut_alleys from Bot Killer, which was a map we had seen months ago, before he played Houdini and disappeared. But, he is back with a map that should play a bit like ut_pressurezone as many of the areas are tight. But this map does play on a few different levels. It is also quite large.

You can check out all the sexiness of QuakeCon 2001 over at theUrban Terror web site, as I provided a running diary of this year’s event and what Silicon Ice Development did while in attendance. Check it out!

The review for ut_casa should be ready in a few days. I am trying to get adjusted to the daily routine. Unfortunately being away at QuakeCon, I have been unable to keep up with all the happening on the Level Deesign Forums, but I can guarantee you, one of the other guys like LORDofDOOM or Mungo Zen are on top of it.