The Reviewers' Interview Series from The Quake Workshop

The eleventh installment in our Reviewers' Series of interviews is from Shawn \"Gl0ck\" Wallace of Trespasser. He really tore into these questions, so grab a drink and sit back for a long detailed read.

How long has your site been active?

My site has been around since January 9th, 1998 (ah, a newbie you say?). However, all the SPQ sites have graced my browser since Quake was born.

What decided you to try to play and rate all those levels anyway?

Right after Quake 2 was released, I thought, "I'll be original and have an SPQ TWO site! Yeah, no one has that yet!" I started working on the site on New Year's Day and lo and behold, Matt Sefton opens SPQ2 Level Heaven for business. Real original, eh?

Ever dig in and try your hand at editing yourself?

Yeah, I made about 10 or so Doom2 levels that were actually playable, mostly for my friends and I to deathmatch on, perhaps 50 or more that I scrapped after completion. I currently have a Classic Quake DM level in progress and am waiting to get a Voodoo2 to begin my Q2 editing.

How do you think that affects your review approach?

I don't let it affect my reviews approach. I play the level through and it gets on my site if it's genuinely fun. I've played levels that didn't look all that great but were such a blast to play I had to post them. I've also played others that were beautiful to look at but a bore to play. Go figure.

You just finished your 10,000 level. What do you play/do other than Q2 to keep from burning out on it?

I like sims as much as action games. Longbow 2, Activision's Mech series of games, NASCAR 2, Tom Clancy's SSN, Flight Unlimited, Links LS 98. I like adventure games as well, The Dig and Full Throttle being my favorites.

Got any other details you want to share about who you are and what makes you tick?

Golf. I love golf.

How do you collect your levels for review? Search, submissions,...?

Believe it or not, I get alot of submissions. I search the other sites and also, just to make sure I don't miss anything.

About how many levels do you think you play per week?

On average so far, maybe 1 or 2.

Scored ratings or basic descriptions after clearing a specific quality hurdle: there are lots of methods. Wanna "pro and con" your chosen approach?

Pro: People who visit my site will find levels that are definitely quality levels. I doubt there's one level on my site that isn't great.

Con: Because of my limited schedule, I can't review every single level that gets released, therefore, there may be levels I miss that are still quite good that won't find the public via my site.

Quake2, you opened the box, popped in the cd and fired it up. What was the first thing that really got you excited and kicked in the "wow" factor?

Atmosphere. If you want to sell me on a level, it has to have atmosphere. Included in atmosphere (to me) is theme, also. I want to have a goal, that helps me immerse myself in the game. Quake 2 does this very, very well. All the death animations are cool, too.

And now, what keeps you coming back for more and more and more...?

There's so much that can be done with the Quake 2 game engine that hasn't been done yet. I know there are level designers out there who will concoct these levels that one day will make me say, "Holy Shite, they've just upped the ante!" To me, that's one of the most exciting things about Quake 2, it's potential.

You got Quake and now Quake 2. What really separates the two from each other from the single play standpoint for you? Do you still fire up Q1 from time to time?

Quake 1 was unbelievable when it was released. The true 3D environment and monsters, the whole NIN-Industrial future atmosphere was awesome. My heartbeat raced when playing Quake 1 SP. Quake 2 is different, though. It's still as envigorating as Quake 1, but you have to think a little more (I didn't say alot more, just a little :-). Quake 2, to me, is Quake 1 refined. size=1>Do you still fire up Q1 from time to time? size=1> Oh yeah, I play Quake 1 about 1/2 as much as I play Quake 2. When you think about it, that's still alot!

Got a fav level, or hub set from the standard Q2? And what about it sets it apart from the other levels?

I'm not sure if I have a favorite unit. To be honest, I blew through the SP part so quick I didn't really come up with a favorite. I can't remember which patch it was, but after one of the releases I thought, "I better get this SP done before another patch comes out and I have to start over again." I know, you can start a certain unit up, but it's not the same, it's like you're stripped of what you had earned and had to start with what they gave you.

Without naming any map specifically, what is the biggest problem you see in levels?

Lack of theme. And no, I didn't answer this question after reading the next question. The plots are very simple, it's like we're stuck in Quake 1 mode. Don't get me wrong, there have been some awesome levels with original plots. I just think that a good plot will drive an author to create some very new and original designs in Quake 2 levels. I hope I didn't just insult anyone. :-)

Why is a theme so important to a map?

Perhaps I answered this one with the question above. My favorite all-time SPQ2 levels are the ones with themes. I forget where I am and become fully absorbed in the level.

Is it ethical/cool to redo maps from previous games (Quake1, Doom2, Duke, etc)?

I don't see any problem with it. If it's a good idea, the public will embrace the level. If not, can figure it out. :-)

Has the Q2 editing community matured more rapidly than for Q1? Any theories as to why or why not?

Editing isn't something new anymore. There was Doom and Doom2, then Quake. Their teeth have been cut, they're not fresh meat anymore.

Which monster is your favorite, and which seems to be the toughest to deal with?

Favorite: Gunner. He can plink you with his cannon or lob pineapples as you. He's got alot going for him.

Toughest (for me) to deal with: Parasite. That whole, "I'm gonna stick my tongue in you and you gotta kill me before I let go," thing just pisses me off. :-)

Give us 2 monsters and what you think are their strengths: the best placements to get the most challenge out of fighting them.

Gunner (again): Put one of these guys up high and you've got yourself a firefight in a can.

Gladiator: That railgun can punch a hole in you from a distance and his clamp grip will cut you like a dolphin in a fishnet. Put him down a straight hallway where you have nowhere to hide, and you might as well hang an "Out To Lunch" sign around your neck.

Give us 2 monsters and what you think are their weakness and the placements that hamper the monster's performance.

Icarus: Placing him in an outdoor area and he's toast. He needs something like tall, narrow structures jutting all around so he can fly in and out to give himself cover.

Brain: They're too slow. They need to be sped up just a tad. They'd be, possibly, the toughest monster in the game if they were quicker.

Any patterns you have seen with monsters so far?

They've limited the monsters in Q2 with the same weapons the player has. I think, for a monster to be considered formidable, he needs to have a weapon that, when fired, the player thinks, "what in the holy hell was that thing, and I hope it doesn't ever hit me." Then you have memorable foes.

What do you think of the bosses for Q2?

The final boss was a wee too easy. I had Invul, a Quaded BFG with some Hyperblaster for desert and he went down like a $15 hooker.

I have heard it said that the radiosity lighting in Q2 has really cramped the lighting, in that stark shadow contrasts aren't as common in comparison to Q1. What is your take on this? Is lighting markedly different between the two games (ignoring color for a moment)?

Is lighting markedly different between the two games (ignoring color for a moment)? Well, I may have a little different take, because I don't have a 3D accelerator. I think the lighting is quite good in both games, because both games go for different styles. When used correctly, shadows add a whole new level to 3D gaming.

Colored lighting. What a great toy... uh, tool,... for us editors. What can you say about it? Have the level editors out there used it cleanly?
Is it abused or overused?

I wish I could see it. :-)

What is the strangest use of colored lighting (odd color for instance) you have seen - whether it worked or not?

You're rubbing this in, aren't you? :-)

Is it worse to have an area that is too dark or too light?

If you know how to use it, dark and light areas are almost necessary in an SPQ2 level. They add so much.

The texture set for Q2 is pretty extensive, and well supported by theme sets, but are you seeing fewer original textures due to the change in the format of the texture files?

Personally, I think the texture sets for Q2 give enough variety that authors haven't used all the combinations out there, therefore they have no reason to really come up with their own textures yet. They'll get bored soon enough with what Q2 comes with, then I think we'll see some original stuff get released.

Do you like to see people experiment, stretch the existing textures into combinations that weren't tried in the id levels?

Sure. By experimenting, you can only get better.

Or are the strengths of the matched textures that much more superior?

Once again, the authors haven't grown bored with the provided textures. When they do, they'll begin making their own. Good or bad, other authors will see these original works, they'll get ideas, they'll start making their own and so on. Editing isn't something new now, it's got some worn edges, these authors know what they're doing. It's very exciting to me what can be done with Quake 2.

Hell, what is your favorite texture/level feel (base, warehouse, city,...)?

I don't know that I have a favorite. The waste textures and the warehouse textures are very clean looking (not literally), and they make great atmosphere.

What visual clues do you consider for whether textures go well together as a player?

When you run past a texture, not realizing the author has pieced his textures together from different sets, then think, "Hey, wait a sec," that's when I think the author has something going for him.

Visually, should the textures drive the architecture or vice versa?

I think theme should drive both textures and architecture. If your map doesn't have a theme, then I think it really can go either way. If you have a specific texture set you're wanting to use, then it will affect the architecture. If there are certain structures you're wanting to make, then they'll need certain textures.

Are you still surprised by the new ideas that people use the new tools (translucents, light emitting brushes, etc) for?

I'm always surprised! Surprised are what makes these levels great. I love to see a new structure or something original that when I see it I actually stop and say, "Wow, now THAT is cool." That's one of the best parts of playing these SPQ2 levels.

Traps, many love the challenge they present.
What is your perspective on "architecturous carnivorous?"

You can't compare Quake 2 with Tomb Raider, but it doesn't hurt to try! :-) This is probably my favorite part of a map, when you have navigate through a tricky architectural obstacle. I like having to think, "How am I going to do this?" You can curse me, but I love to jump from limb to limb.

This is related to an earlier question; Rotating brushes, are they being used for good dramatic effect beyond just fans?

Just now I'm really starting to see better use of rotating brushes. I can't really say it's in the SPQ2 world, being that it's more in the DM levels. However, I'm sure good rotating brushes are sure to follow into Single Player maps.

How much are you willing to sacrifice performance (r_speeds etc) for something that absolutely looks cool?

Completely willing. It's all about learning how to do things and making them efficient at the same time. If I have to sacrifice performance for an author to make something amazing, by all means, do it!

Secrets: what is the best way to implement them into the flow of a level?

I'm not into shooting walls. To me, secrets are best implemented by almost accidentally finding them or seeing them and wondering, "How do I get from here to there?" Those are the best secrets to me.

Which gun is your pride and joy for Strogg blasting?

Up close: Super Shotgun ; Far away: Hyperblaster. I like to see Strogg's melt.

Are levels that restrict weapon selection and ammo more exciting/challenging or do you like full fire power every time?

Really, that's dependant on the theme or even the architecture. However, I will admit that the levels I enjoy most are the ones that DON'T give me every weapon. Usually, you're not given every weapon for a good reason(s). Therefore, gun muscle and firepower aren't your only options for getting all the way through the level.

Obviously, just leaving health and ammo laying around is pretty cliché. What are some of the better tricks to integrating items into a level's theme and flow?

Put them in crates. Put them where it would make sense, not just for the player's health or in a particularly combat-heavy area, but also where they'd make sense structurally. I enjoy getting in a firefight and having to backtrack to get health I didn't need before. Once again, this provides for the total immersion in the level.

What is your take on the special powerups, quad for example?

Hehe. Quad good! Yes, I believe power-ups are very good, especially since id did such a fine job putting them in the game and having them make sense. And personally, I like the fact that you can grab a Quad and use it whenever you want. Quake 2 is different than Quake 1, therefore the power-ups need to be different, too.

Do they fit with a strong single player environment?

Most definitely.

What is your biggest tip for for someone just thinking about starting editing?

Start small. Don't go epic with your first map. And try to complete every single project. Even if it's a complete flop, by completing it, you'll learn alot about what your strong points are and where you need to improve. And don't ever, EVER quit.

Anything else you want to add?

These comments were in no way meant to offend or piss off anyone. They're just my views and I had no particular author or map in mind when I answered these questions. This is the end of the disclaimer.

Thanks. We all appreciate it.

Thank you.