The Reviewers' Interview Series from The Quake Workshop

The third installment in our Reviewers' Series of interviews is from Ian 'SnAzBaZ' Packer of SnAz SPQ2.

How long has your site been active?

About 2 months.

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

Well, I had played quite a few user-made levels for quake 1 but didn't think a lot of them were any good. I bought quake 2 when it came out and played a few levels and I was so suprised by the quality of them that I decided they needed the credit they deserved. Emailing the author with positive comments wasn't enough for me, so I started up my review site to make levels much easier to find.

Ever dig in and try your hand at editing yourself?

Yes, I started editing about 6 months after quake 1 was released and produced 4 levels then. The editing side of quake led to me buying quake 2 so that I could continue creating levels.

How do you think that affects your review approach?

I think it effects my reviews quite a lot as it helps me appreciate the hard work thetas gone into the levels and notice the 'hard to do' parts of the level.

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

I don't!!! I'm just so quake 2 mad that I don't get bored of it! I know it makes me sound like a bit of a sad bastard but I'm not really!

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

I plan to take over the world in the next 4 months, world domination will be mine!

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

Mainly from submissions, I get about 20% of levels from searching and sometimes I take a peak at other review sites to see what I've missed.

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

I would guess between 5-6 on an average week.

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

I tend to rate/review levels depending how much enjoyment I get out of them and not technical stuff like texture alignment and bugs. For example, 'First Strike' was the QE-Radiant contest winner, it won because of the lack of bugs etc..However, I didn't give it a very high score because I didn't find it very enjoyable to play at all. The advantage of this system is that the readers downloading the level from my site won't want a level that is not enjoyable to play. Unfortunately, this approach doesn't give the authors as much credit as they deserve if the level is unenjoyable but technically good.

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?

All the improvements on quake, the fact that it has better weapons and monsters (IMO) but mainly the improved structure of the levels.

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

Quite simply, I don't go back to play the original levels.

You got Quake and now Quake 2. What really separates the two from each other from the single play standpoint for you?

As I said in the first question in this section, the improved structure of the levels. In quake 1 you went back and forth between base, medieval and wizard levels that didn't connect together in any way.

Do you still fire up Q1 from time to time?

No, why play quake 1 when you have quake 2?

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

I like the mine levels, because of the realism in the levels and the great features such as the digger thingie that chases you and the laser that breaks through the wall.

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

Lack of storyline, objectives etc...

Why is a theme so important to a map?

It makes the level more realistic, I mean, if you start of in a base type room and then in the next room there's a mine shaft and the next and power core it seems really weird and stupid.

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

No, what's the point in making a quake 1 level for quake 2 when If you wanted to play it you could just fire up quake 1 and play it how it was meant to be played?

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

Yes, it has. I think because people who have been editing for quake 1 have continued to edit for quake 2 and carried the skills that they have already learnt over to the quake 2 editors.

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

I just love tanks, they are my favourite monster by far. Parasites are IMO the hardest to deal with especially when you have a group of the buggers sucking away at you all at once.

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

The gunner has 2 weapons, the grenade launcher is best used from high places shooting down on the player and the chaingun is best used in close up combat.

The medic can be used best if it is spawned half way through the level in an area you must go back through. It will heal all the dead monsters you have killed making the amount of monsters that have arrived at the battlefield more random.

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

Berserkers can be very weak when put on a walkway that is reached later on in the level and can still be seen nearer the start as the player can simply kill the berserker without any resistance. Berserkers are best placed around corners in cramp corridors.

Tanks are easy to kill as they are so slow and a 'hide behind box, side-step shoot, side-step back' method will always work well with any weapon (except the machine/chain gun).

Any patterns you have seen with monsters so far?

No, they are all exceedingly stupid.

What do you think of the bosses for Q2?

Well I think they are better than any of the quake bosses however I find them a little to hard when used in the wrong room in a level. When putting a boss in a level it is important that the player is provided with lots of cover and ammo. Fighting a boss in flat room with nothing but supports and a blaster is pretty impossible.

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)?

I haven't noticed much difference in the lighting change between quake and quake 2.

Colored lighting. What a great toy... uh, tool,... for us editors.
What can you say about it?

I think it's great, it adds an extra side to the atmosphere in levels and if used properly it is possible to create stunning effects.

Have the level editors out there used it cleanly?

Is it abused or overused?

Yes, one common thing is that an author who doesn't have a 3dfx card makes a level with a load of colored lights not realising what they look like and then when someone with a 3dfx card comes to play the level it looks horrible!

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

Erm, Versicolor Verimination used color well, but the coolest color I've seen is in the blue base's lift on q2ctf2. It is a purpley bluey color which looks just great.

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

It's worse to an area which is to dark, at least when it's too light you can still navigate yourself around.

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?

Yes, definently.

Do you like to see people experiment, stretch the existing textures into combinations that weren't tried in the id levels? Or are the strengths of the matched textures that much more superior?

Well it depends how good it looks..Unfortunately, the majority of texture experiments don't look very good.

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

The base textures are by far my favourite set.

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

I think the textures should drive the architecture, it looks more professional.

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


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

I hate them, it's really annoying when you've got so far in a level and then you suddenly die and have to start again from the start (unless you saved).

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

Yes, authors are constructing very interesting machinary, mixers and all kinds of other cool rotating stuff.

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

Not a lot, the speed of a level is very important to how enjoyable the level is. Levels with high r_speeds are generally hard to play.

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

Don't make them in stupid places such as on top of a crate etc..they must actually be 'secret'

Which gun is your pride and joy for Strogg blasting?

Heheh, it has to be the super shotgun.

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

Levels with a restriction can be more challenging but if you have full fire power all the time the level can get boring.

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?

Having monsters dropping item's is the best way to integrate items to the level however it is important to get it right. Having infantry drop a super shotgun is a bit stupid.

What is your take on the special powerups, quad for example? Do they fit with a strong single player environment?

Some fit and some don't. The enviroment suit and breather can be used to create some good combat situations but the quad doeas much better in DM levels.

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

Get a decent editor!! I recommend Qoole or Quark for beginners as they are easy to learn, for more advanced editing, Qed or QE-Radiant are better.

Anything else you want to add?

No, not really....

Thanks. We all appreciate it.