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.
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.
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.
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. .
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.