One Cool Cat

INVIS have been keeping very busy over at Section 8 Studios. His recent work can be seen in a few upcoming levels, one from SweetnutZ (you know it as the snow map) and from Servinal of 4Saken, in his level, ut_scottbase. The new model is a Thiokal Spryte 2 passenger snow cat. Check out these shots of the snow cat.


Some might have heard that cloudscapes has put aside his ut_canyon level in favor of a new design and level. “I’ve had an unwelcome surprise on how q3a seems to be handling polygons while my work on ut_canyon,” says cloudscapes. For more information on this “abandoned level, check this link. His new level is tentatively titled, ut_nightoperation. He describes the level as, “night time nature map with about 1024 units viewing distance before everything becomes completely black. Except for the many lights on the structures and in strategic positions on the map…One base is a scientific lab. The other is a chopper/parachute drop off.”

Work on ut_streets continues…slowly. As I mentioned, it will not be included in Beta 2.6. Actually, I don’t have much time right now, as we prepare for a release of the “next” beta. I will also enroll the talents of Dragonne and RabidCow to kick in their talents and knowledge when it comes to working within GtkRadiant.

I had plans of kicking out a few reviews, while I have been on vacation the past ten days. No, I was not lazy at all, but my efforts are directed in other directions at the moment (Beta 2.6) and have not had much time to update at all. But fear not, we have a few good reviews forthcoming.

I also want to say thanks to those who responded by e-mail on my latest rant, Busted Punk! Many seemed to get a kick out of it and agreed with what I had to say. Bottom line, CHEATING SUCKS! So, if you have not read it, check it out.

nocheats

Feast or famine here on The 6th Floor…but after however many years I have had this site up, I am sure many come to expect that. It is not that there is no news out there. One can ALWAYS find news! Actually today, I come bearing, well, nothing at all. From the land that we, the level designer make, things are sort of in a lull. There are projects that are being worked on, as I continue to scan the Level Design Forums. Rest assured when SID releases the new .def files with some updated features, level design will take off again.

I have seen some screen shots recently of SweetnutZ [remember him?] and his latest project. You might remember hearing it as “the snow map.” We featured it here on the floor a few months back. Well, let’s just say, that this is “Raven quality” work he has done on this, now-titled-but-will-remain-untitled level. Some excellent work.

I have also completed my first full layout. Yes, I know only three years into this damn project and I finally am on my way to releasing…err…re-releasing a level. I have spent the past two days rebuilding NRGizeR’s level, ut_streets from the ground up. It has taken some time and after looking at the original .map file. Oh my god, what a nightmare! Although it was not nearly as bad as Trainyard was. At least NRGizeR knew to add hint, clip and trigger brushes. Screen shots? Uh, yeah, right. Not yet, as I have one small portion of the level actually textured, that allowed me a single “teaser” that I shared in #urbanterror yesterday. Maybe you saw it, maybe not.

Finally, the best news has been saved for the last. The new point release has brought PunkBuster to the Quake III and Urban Terror Communities. The long wait it finally over. My only suggestion. OPEN THE README132.TXT file and follow the instructions before asking a stupid question. Oh wait, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people…or something like that which brings us to our last bit of news.

The OGC bot is no more. Boo hoo hoo. I am just heartbroken for this hack. As post on the hack’s web site, “There has been a licensing problem with releasing modified quake3 SDK files. Apparently, mods can only be released in binary form, and not source form. This means I will need to rewrite alot of the Q3 SDK code OGC uses. However, once this is done, all the source will be 100% owned by me, except for the GNU crypto stuff which is also under the GPL, so can be included.” That is a no no…hahah PUNK BUSTED, BITCH! I’m out…

PS – Damn, forgot to mention, the entire reason I did this news bite. There is a new rant posted titled, Busted Punk! that talks about PunkBuster, Urban Terror and cheating. Check it out!

Urban Terror Review: Casa by SweetnutZ

Casa by Matt “SweetnutZ” Vainio
| Matt “SweetnutZ” Vainio | Score: 5.4 | By Oswald |

A small town in the Eastern part of Spain has erupted into a tactical suburban combat warzone. Special forces from the region have been called in to stop a highly trained force from taking over the town and holding it for ransom. Your job is to either secure the town and bring back peace, or to defend it against the special forces descending upon your position. Close quarter combat skills are vital to the alleyways, markets and town squares. With training and teamwork, you will succeed in making Casa your home.

Texturing [6.0]
This without a doubt is the proverbial, “icing on the cake” for Casa. When it comes to texturing, many search for usable texturing, which will complement a map and put the “final touches” to map. Having a graphic arts background, SweetnutZ masterfully crafted some incredible and beautiful looking textures, which takes the term, “realism” to the next level. Some of the best detail can be seen on the broken brick walkways and tattered, wooden shutters that dangle from their frames. A nice combination of worn stone, earth brick and cracked stucco on the structures that make up Casa.

Ambiance: [5.0]
Another very important component, that is too often overlooked are the sounds and lighting that draws you into the map. Casa, does with an array of different sounds. For example, a Spanish lute and zither can be heard playing a melody though out the town, while a stirring crowd can be heard, preparing to enter the shopping plaza. Located in the courtyard, near the archways a fountain can be heard as it is splashes. Adding different surface parameters, is something new, that not all mappers have been able to include. SweetnutZ does not leave one stone unturned, he seems combine the different surface parameters well anywhere you walk. The lighting is adequate and quite sparse, but located in many of the hallways. Being set during daylight, also makes it a challenge for true ambient lighting.

Creative Spark: [5.5]
What sets Casa apart is the combination of a successful, horizontal layout, with many twists and turns, with a slight elevation change and high quality texturing gamers desire. SweetnutZ was able to raise the bar, in terms of quality with the release of Casa. You need to look no further than the texturing itself. Unlike many levels, which give you a “new car feel” to it, Casa gives it to you live and in your face. It is the attention to detail, such as piles of sands in the corners and on stairs, weeds growing through the parched and cracking topsoil, its the old feel look to all the structures, accompanied by crumbling walls. One feature that seems a bit out of place, in terms of implementation, are the sprites that look like flora and fauna, that all come out looking two dimensional. The hanging flowers and the planted flowers are a prime example. Yet, the action is usually fast and furious, who the hell has time to stop and smell these flowers? Those “little things” do count for something and in Casa, they do not go unnoticed.

Construction: [5.5]
In the months leading up to the release of Casa, in Beta 2.3, SweetnutZ spent many hours refining the layout and design of Casa. The early versions, while impressive, pale in comparison to this, the final product. Successful maps are usually measured in terms of r_speeds and the FPS its generates. SweetnutZ has been able to keep the r_speeds, on an average of 7000-8000 and FPS well above 80+ under testing conditions. There is one intersection, which jumps up to 11,000+. This is a highly traveled area, but the jump is very minor and only momentary. Overall, the layout is very solid and well designed. Not many dead spots, or sniper perches to hole up in. The level was intended to be played out in the open, or firing and taking cover behind the think stone walls. .

Playability: [5.0]
Finally, the last hurdle, of a level that seems to have it all, from design and layout to texturing and ambience. Playability is a key in any map and Casa is no different. The spawn points are separated by some difference, which gives gamers a few seconds to sprint and get into a defensive/offensive position before engaging the enemy. I cannot tell you how many times I spawned and ran like hell down an alley over looking the shopping plaza, only to be spotted and removed a moment later by a sniper on the far side. The level is not so large, that is cannot support a small number of players. We were able to fit a 8 v 8 game comfortably, in many areas of Casa. Some of the narrow alleys and hallways were painted red with blood as heavy weapon fire was exchanged.

6th Sense: [5.5]
Is it the texturing? Is it the layout? Maybe it is the coinbird. SweetnutZ has included a few “objects” in Casa, which keep the level entertaining, to go along with the criteria for a high quality level. I cannot say enough good things about Casa, except wait until we can play CTF on this level! SweetnutZ has somewhat disproved my theory that “first level should never be released.” Don’t forget to locate the “obligatory crate.” A single crate located in the this level, sort of taking a shot at all those maps that use an abundance of crates to provide cover. We are all fortunate that there were not crates flown in from all around the world to occupy the beauty of this level. Casa definitely is “en fuego!” So, as they say in Spain, “Mi Casa is su Casa!”

Final Score: [5.4]
[Oswald] For his first attempt at mapping, SweetnutZ has created an amazingly good level! Many “first levels” come up quite short, but this without a doubt has something for everyone. To those who say the layout makes the map, this is one of those times, where the texturing makes you drool and ask, “Who’s yer daddy?” That’s easy, SweetnutZ is. He has combined all the major aspects into a fine piece of work known as Casa. This level comes highly recommended!

[SweetnutZ] Probably the greatest thing about Casa was that it actually got finished. I started working on the map a couple months before we started work on beta 2.0, about November. At the start of the new year, I had to devote all my time to the identity and interface work of beta 2.0. I wasn’t sure I would finish, but I am glad I did. Probably the biggest challenge of the map was trying to create a layout that blocked visibility enough to where I could add the level of detail I wanted. This is why you notice in a few areas there are strange hanging brushes in the sky, because the skybox comes down in placed to block visibility and quake3 does some strange things with visibility through skyboxes. The only part of the map I am totally satisfied with is the texturing. Taken from a variety of sources, I really worked hard on making the entire texture system realistic and cohesive. I am glad that people cool seem to enjoy playing the map, I was not entirely sure how it would be received.

More Maps!

The community that supports Urban Terror never ceases to amaze me. There has been drastic improvements over levels created for pre-Beta 2 and those under development, post-Beta 2. Recently, more screen shots are showing up in the Level Design Forum.

Here are some new shots of an upcoming level that is still in development. The map is going to be called ut_laneway by [[TLB]]cisum. Here are some screen shots and what cisum has to say about it:

[Laneway #1] | [Laneway #2] | [Laneway #3] | [Laneway #4]
That’s a “re-imagining” of my backyard the famous Danfort Ave. I walk down this lane every day and say hmmm this would make a nice CTF map. So I made it  (I’ve taking over 250 photos so far).

It plays fast, with teams spawning on a random end of the lane. It’s 75% done. Only the one house is done the rest are still just simple clones. The cement blocks are to be replaced with roof type vent things. The sky is a temp as well until I find (or make) one with out mountains.

If I try hard I can make tris hit 10 000. And i still have to do the house’s so I have to find a few ways to optimize. This has been under development for 3 or 4 weeks. I expect to take another 2 weeks or so to finish it. Then I’ll submit it to SID for a last chance tweak. Then I’ll release.

Next up, comes some alpha shots from a very un-urban setting. The level is called ut_maya by BCU. Not many details available on this level. Here are some early screen shots of some of the fauna and rocky areas in ut_maya:

[Maya #1] | [Maya #2] | [Maya #3] | [Maya #4]
Finally, eXKalibuR released his level, ut_museum level last night. It weighs in at 9.56mb, but from the short time I spent checking it out, it really shows promise as one of the best community developed maps to date! This is NOT a beta version, but the final version. Check it out. There are also some Easter eggs and interesting effects. Nice job, eXKa!

You can also read up on the latest review here on The 6th Floor. After putting in some serious time playing ut_casa, it has been reviewed. Does this map live up the all the hype? Is it all about the texturing, but suffer from a lack of playability? Will the coinbird be coming to get you? You can find out by checking out the review of Casa by SweetnutZ.

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.