Column Chaos Progress Journal
This was a solo project in which I created a multiplayer map for Quake called Column Chaos.
Tools Used: TrenchBroom
Column Chaos is a multiplayer free-for-all deathmatch level for Quake. The idea behind the level was to create a central area where the majority of combat will take place. Everything revolves around this centralized area with all paths leading around and to it. The idea is to make it so all paths lead to this central area with a variety of paths that make the combat fast paced and chaotic. Each part of the map has at least two paths to ensure movement of the players. The map is meant to be roman-style with lots of stone and the appearance of being built without modern techniques.
March 4th, 2020 - Project Ideas
I wasn't sure exactly what kind of level I wanted to create at first and kind of just played around with the various items and textures included with quake. It wasn't until I did a tutorial that I came up with the idea of wanting an area with columns on both sides. It kind of just came to me as I was thinking of ideas; I thought columns would provide some interesting gameplay as they provide cover, block line of sight, and look visually appealing.
I decided I wanted to create a deathmatch free-for-all map and I wanted it to be fairly small. Its going to be for 2-4 players ideally. I knew what I what I wanted to do for the center area; a hall-like room with columns on either side to provide varies points of cover and to block line of sight. From there things just developed organically radiating outward from that hall. I wanted to make sure there was no corner or single spot that only had to watch one way along with a desire to create some different levels to the map. I wanted the center to potentially be very chaotic with many paths leading there while some outer paths lead around the edge as well.
March 11th, 2020 - Item Spawns
One of the challenges I had for the level was trying to decide where to place item spawns. Since my map is relatively small there weren't a lot of places I could place items without making it feel incredibly overcrowded. Since it is a small map and the fighting will happen very quickly and often there needed to be a decent amount of weapons and ammo. I solved this by trying to make the item spawns as an extension of the columns and edges of the map.
March 12th, 2020 - Greybox
After receiving feedback that my map wasn't quite clear regarding the various levels (since they overlap in places) I went back and added some additional images to address the issue.
March 18th, 2020 - Play Test
I had three players for the first test my greybox version of the game and respond to a feedback questionnaire after playing. I had three different players test the same version later on and respond to the same questionnaire. The majority of the questionnaire were questions on a rating scale which I made sure to make as clear as possible to avoid any confusion or ambiguity in the answers. I focused on asking questions specifically about the map and the map content.
My Questions included the following:
My Questions included the following:
- What place did you get?
- What area felt more fun or strategic to go to than others? Please describe.
- Were there any areas that felt less fun or places you tried to avoid? Please describe.
- How difficult was it to learn the map layout? (1 Very Hard, 10 Very Easy) (Rate 1-10)
- How difficult was it to find other players? (1 Very Hard, 10 Very Easy) (Rate 1-10)
- Did you spawn in relative safety or immediately die? (1 Not Safe at All, 10 Very Safe) (Rate 1-10)
- How difficult was it to find new weapons or other valuable pickups? (1 Very Hard, 10 Very Easy) (Rate 1-10)
- Did pickups feel as though they were placed in strategic areas or at random? (1 Randomly Placed, 10 Placed Strategically) (Rate 1-10)
- Did you feel like there was enough ammo on the map? (1 Not Enough, 10 Enough) (Rate 1-10)
- Did you feel like there was enough weapons and weapon variety on the map? (1 Not Enough, 10 Enough) (Rate 1-10)
- Any other comments about the map?
March 23rd, 2020 - Coronavirus Delays
Unfortunately, the Coronavirus has caused some delays with my progress on this level design. Due to the increasing dangers of the pandemic, I was forced to completely move out of my apartment with everything and only a few days notice. I was able to fully pack everything up and move out completely and drive to another state without incident and have since set up everything and resumed working on my level design.
March 27th, 2020 - Player Feedback
The feedback from the 6 play testers; chart is organized from 1 to 10 with 1 being the hardest (not safe at all, not enough, etc) and 10 being the easiest (safe, enough, etc). Based on the feedback I received the level appears to be going in the direction I intended as a close quarters, fast paced match with many paths and nooks and crannies.
Based off the feedback from the questionnaire and the comments from the play testers made I made some tweaks to the map. Spawn safety was one of the most pressing issues along with comments about the outer hallways and the bottom level.
March 29th, 2020 - Detailing the Map
One of the main things I did while updating the map and developing it is to make the columns and add arches to make the layout more realistic in terms of architecture and to make the level more aesthetically pleasing.
One of the main problems I faced was making sure that each face on the columns were properly lit. As you can see in the updated version of the map there are still faces that weren't properly lit at. This is mainly due to the light source being too close. However, to properly ensure that each face is lit I had to put light sources everywhere making it feel incredibly bright. This required me to go back and redo sections of the lighting by making many lower powered lights.
April 12th, 2020 - More Feedback
After another round of play testing some of the feedback helped me adjust my map mainly in regards to items. Some of the biggest complaints I received about the map centered around items and their spawn locations. Firstly, they felt like there were too weapons too close together. Secondly, they didn't like that I had no health packs on the level despite many avenues of escaping there wasn't much point if they couldn't heal. Lastly, they felt only minimal reasons to go down to the bottom level. In response to this I removed a couple of weapons and spread them out a bit so each area had only one weapon type available. Next I moved the grenade launcher ammo down to the bottom level and added health packs as well to encourage players to go to the bottom.
April 14th, 2020 - Teleporter to Stairs
I felt like the teleporters were always absent from any kind of feedback and rarely getting used so I removed them and took the room they were in and changed it to a hallway and stairs connecting back down to the middle level right next to the stairs up from the bottom level.
I also decided to add some little ledges on the walls near the stairs leading up from the bottom level to give the walls a bit more depth along with opening up some more paths players could take.
April 15th, 2020 - Finalizing
Lastly to finalize the map I did a few more touch ups in the central hallway before adding textures. The hardest part of the textures was actually lining up the ceiling textures so they flowed across the entire map. Most of the ceiling directly connects in one way or another across the map but in the editor are made up of different pieces so lining these textures up top had to be done manually.