AQ2 Review: Kumanru by Shmitz

Kumanru by Mark “Shmitz” Major
| kumanru.zip | 510 kb | Mark Major | Score: 5.0 | By Oswald |
* There’s rumor of great treasures to be found in the newly discovered Temple of Kumanru. However, there are more greedy hands than can comfortably share any fortunes that may be found, so order of day is to take care of the competition first, and THEN go looking for the riches. Every once in awhile a very balanced map comes along which stands above rest. Kumanru: Altar of Kumanru is one of these gems, shining like a new found treasure in a lost city.

*- Reproduced from Kumanru readme.txt file.

Texturing [5.1]
The large, stone blocks used in construction are reflected in texturing seen throughout temple walls and floors. These textures dominate most all of map layout. The altar room, meditation room and slaughter room each convey a different feeling as seen in style and texturing used. One has dyed, dark green circular patterns on floor, with a raised, multi-textured/colored altar in center of room. The meditation room is set into floor and is surrounded in off white stone which the temple is built in. Outside in the courtyard, there is a small section and rocky cliffs, which lead to a temple entrance. Beneath the temple there are water filled caverns and stone carved patterns in the walls, which help to break up a reoccurring stone theme. Mark has paid exceptional attention to getting most detail out of simplest of texturing. This in part to lighting effects.

Ambience: [6.1]
What makes this map most impressive is use of lighting effects found in the many rooms of temple. Every area you enter, every corner and hallway you go through, there is some lighting effect used to create that much sought after ambience. Each room is lit completely different, one in the glow of a raised golden altar, another, in a recessed portion of floor, cast in a reddish glow. Down in the lower cavern system, its beautifully light in a glow of green. Well located yellow lights glow brightly, helping to break up the continuous green glow to create an eerie feeling while exploring. The use of shadows and darkened corners are endless. With a layout such as this, lighting helps to accentuate wonderful structural design on temple. The only sound you will experience, is when you are crossing the ledge in an attempt to dodge cast iron bells to get to a sniper tower, or on floor, in that particular room. This seems to be the only deficient portion of the map, good solid sounds to help create that so often needed ambience.

Creative Spark: [4.1]
This map goes in a completely opposite direction than many other maps of its time. While authors were laying out and constructing vertical cities of concrete and metal, Mark too took a different approach. Sometimes those maps which are simple, are successful. When you think of Kumanru, visions of Indiana Jones and nonstop action begin running wild. That is where this map takes over and excels. There have been other maps of this type when have attempted to recreate a map of this style, but most seem to be lacking one of details which Kumanru has.

Construction: [5.5]
Do you want to know secret to this maps success in Action Quake community? The r_speeds! The polycount is just outstanding on this map. Turn r_speeds “1” (ON) in console and take a run through map. These speeds peak at about 340, while averaging in low 100s. This is an excellent map which almost any system could run on an Internet based server. That is reason this map has gained its popularity. I don’t feel as if there are any major technical flaws, just a few areas which could may of helped playability. I think small, outside courtyard could have been increased in size. At times, attempting to hop up rocky to temple entrance can be difficult. There also needs to be another route into and out sewer area. It is too easy to control this area and dominate entire map.

Playability: [4.0]
This is a great map, which suits any type of style of game play, as choice of weaponry is not crucial. As experienced many times before, watch for snipers, squatting and sniping from either tower, into courtyard area. As rounds progress, it becames a game of cat and mouse as both teams wander the map looking for an advantage, without holding down a single area. The only exception is lower cavern area. It is possible for a team to guard entrances, thus beginning a standoff with the opposition. Most other areas seemingly have a “backdoor,” allowing for surprise attack. There are many pillars and corners to hide behind for cover. Not to mention what few prefabs we had, you are able to duck behind them. The map seemed to play best with teams of six to eight players per side.

6th Sense: [5.2]
I think many will agree, this is a great overall map. Given the layout, lighting and playability, this map has become a mainstay server favorite. There are many maps which try to emulate the combination which Kumanru has, but none have matched its success. There are many different areas and passageways which lead, virtually all over map. There is no need to feel trapped in a dead end. An escape route is just around corner, out window or down through floor. I wish there were more maps which could combine the needed effects to create results similar to this map.

Final Score: [5.0]
[Oswald] Upon initial release, this map was a success. It seems to have grown in popularity, as many servers I check are still running it. And for good reasons, as reflected in our choice of including as one of best Action maps. There are prettier looking maps out there. Maps which are more intricate. Maps with outstanding lighting and sound. But few have successfully combine these major categories to create an Action Quake map, like Altar of Kumanru which stands test of time, even as new Action maps are being released.

Oswald Rant: Quality Not Quantity

After reviewing Action maps for the past 6 months, I have begun to draw some conclusions on maps in general. First, there are far too many mediocre and down right bad maps available for Action Quake2. Secondly, I realize scoring for The [old] 6th Floor was far too lenient and my reviews only adequate. Finally, in an attempt to get quality maps exposure, The [new] 6th Floor will concentrate on that small percentage of maps which exceed in the standards we have set forth and we will not hesitate to exploit maps which are far less inadequate.

Currently AQMD has released 135 “official” maps to the Action Community. This number will only continue to rise. After experiencing and reviewing these maps, there are 25-30, approximately 25% of the maps which we consider worthy enough to be reviews. How did we come about this? It’s our site we can do whatever the hell we want, that’s how. Actually, this is based on our review criteria and an overall agreement on those maps.

There are just too many bad maps being played on a majority of servers. You have seen those map rotations, which have urban as every other map. Who is to fault? The mappers? Players? Server Ops? Consider this, authors submit their maps, they sit for a week or so at AQMD’s Test Matrix. The author gets his clan buddies to give his map high marks, then begins complaining because it has not been released. Maps which are submitted for official release, go through some basic standards: zip structure, r_speeds, lower case file name (for Linux users) and a read me text. Nowhere does it say maps have to have an ingenious layout, unique texturing and a good, strong game flow.

Mappers usually put their blood, sweat and tears into a map, in hopes of getting it released. But when they submit crap and it is released, they think they have done no wrong. When in reality, the map is lacking from the beginning and the author goes on to create another map, with no improvements. Good maps are getting lost in the shuffle of all the horrid maps floating out there. Mappers expect their maps to get some attention and exposure on servers, most don’t.

Now, I can see you sitting there, reading this saying, “Okay, so what the *uck are you thinking? What maps do you think are good?” here is a sampling of maps which are unique and considered to be better then the norm: urban2 by Gerbil!, actcity2 by CryptR, kumanru by Shmitz and city by Ruskprick, just to name a few. Disagree if you must, but this is my rant and our site. Create your own if you don’t like what we say.

What is the solution to getting better quality maps? If I knew this, I would not be ranting. One possible solution is map standards. These standards could be used as a guideline a map must be created by is a possibility, but not so stringent that it is impossible to get a map released. These standards should be used as a guideline for mappers to follow. Some of you actually have a clue and know how to create excellent maps. So for you, continue submitting your work. But for those of you who can “talk the talk”, but not “walk the walk,” examine our reviews of maps, ask questions and either create a great map or don’t bother submitting it.

Daily Rant – May 19

I guess when updates come, they come in bunches. I just finished a review of the Altar of Kumanru by Shmitz. It’s an older map, but a very popular map, found on many Action servers, such as SnipeNet Cinemas. Got a request via email from Jairdan to review team jungle. Funny, but somehow, like I email him back, I forgot all about team jungle. Still seems to be a widely played map. So, hopefully coming by Thursday, I will have this map up and reviewed. Action Quake 2 website, thanks to Sureshot, has added my link over on their links page. Also, Love2Play, known throughout the Quake community also added me to her GamePower site.