Remaking Basement: Clean Construction
Some of the maps in Nexuiz are just begging to be remade, at the least to clean up crappy brushwork and technical things, if not to improve both gameplay and aesthetic. If the maps were re-worked by a couple of dedicated individuals, who followed both a similar methodology of technical construction, as well as did things to improve cohesion throughout the game's set of levels, the quality of the overall game would be amazing, I think. As it stands I'm a lazy bastard with little time, so the following is a small example of what I'd like to do.
Below is "Basement" as it stands now:
I talked to Zombie at some point in time, the map's author, and he basically told me: "Yeah, I made it in a couple hours one day." ... or something to that effect. Compared to his other work, you can probably see that he wasn't kidding by the general look of the map file. Large brushes that extend uselessly to create the ceiling, lack of mitreing, etc. What would it look like if some extra time and care were placed into the construction? What are the benefits? Let's find out.
I'll begin by laying out some brushes that will define the major areas. I'm unconcerned with the random light fixture brushes, vents, whatever.
This is fucking tedious. If my goals were to make a perfect 1 to 1 remake, then this would take a lot longer and everything would need to be exact, but for our purposes one or two grid units off isn't a huge deal, it's not going to change the map THAT much. I'm now going to drag all my newly created layout brushes off to the side so that I have a nice "blank slate" to work with. PRO TIP: If, as in this case, you're working with a map that doesn't use caulk, then you can easily select your new brushes by filtering caulk brushes, inverting the selection, unfiltering, then reinverting the selection.
Now I'm going to make some slight adjustments to my new brushes. I have a personal hatred of brushes that sit 8 units away from the major gridlines, or anything not a multiple of two. It's infinitely easier for me to deal with a 256x256 area as opposed to a 256x248 (for whatever reason). So each brush gets expanded or contracted to fit these guidelines:
This is where you want to be careful of getting too carried away with modifying the dimensions of the areas, as we're generally wanting the same map... unless of course it's an obvious improvement. Here's my modified floor layout:
It's a little tighter in most places, but only by a few units... here's some brush simplification:
Not the perfect construction, but I was able to eliminate some useless edges or brushes entirely. I just consider this step good practice, ultimately the compiler will take care of merging things for you, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't try your best to avoid t-junctions and whatnot (where a vertex of a brush meets an unbroken edge of another). Again, not vital, but probably useful to do.
At any rate, I'm going to break with the original design at this point. The vertical placement of the upper area walkways presents some personal icky design problems. Like I said previously I hate those non-multiple of two placement or sizes of brushes in relation to major grid lines, and the lower walkway is sitting 136 units above the floor. This is probably to accommodate the archways underneath, as 128 units would probably start making things cramped. I don't exactly know what to do with that 8 units, and feel as though bumping the floors up to a nice even 160 (128 + 32) would allow for some more interesting details between the top of the arches and the floor. It should also theoretically add some more challenging vertical fighting, but that remains to be seen. I'm also bumping up the uppermost floor for similar reasons.
The vertically-adjusted layout:
Alright. Now it's time to start adding in the walls. There are a number of guidelines that I follow, but to avoid going into a 10 page paper about proper brush construction, I'll just give an example and then screenshots of what I ended up doing. Improper:
To keep the map file clean, strive your best to have brushes use only the space that is necessary, and no more. This makes changing things much easier. You'll have fewer leaks, z-fighting, etc. Proper:
So, fast forward a few minutes... my walled, ceiling-d caulk hull of Basement. Some slight changes were made for similar reasons to the other changes... the arches' dimensions are different, and the walkway that's sort of just floating next to the hagar area that holds 2 25 armors has been extended to the far wall, so it's not just floating. Just a nitpicky change.
A couple of cool things have come about from the little changes from the original. The adjusted dimensions will hopefully allow for more precise, cool looking details once that stage comes around. Take the archways for example. Originally all three were different lengths, covered in just one texture and are generally boring and not the same. In my version, you could potentially model and texture an archway model, and then use it for all three arches, with minimal refactoring of the surrounding brushwork. This is the "cohesion" I mentioned in the beginning. Not only within this one map, but, if you were to reuse that model in another map in a similar fashion, you'd have a more consistent feel to the game overall.
So, we're going to do some more fast-forwarding. Changes in this next screenshot include: all necessary faces are textured, jumppad, staircases. I'm now at the stage where I get to send this to people for testing. Are the changes too much? Is it just not Basement anymore? Is it improved, even? Etc.
Day 2: Progress Continues.
Day 3(4 maybe?): Improved Stuff:
A side-by-side of the original and my version: