Realm of Steel Rats

December 28th, 2009, Challenge Pro Mode, History

cpm4Like many others, I’ve ended up spending over $100 during the Steam Holiday Sales, and I fully expect to buy even more stuff before it ends. One of the things I bought was the iD Software Super Pack, because I grew up with Doom and Quake and wanted to give them another go (however, if I want to play Doom I’d rather download zDoom or some of the other more modern implementations).

When Quake 3 Arena was released, almost ten years ago, I was still playing QuakeWorld with my clan “Underscore.” I didn’t really like Q3A, I thought it was slow and the player movement was bulky. I started working on a mod to get some more QW-like flow, which I called “QWFix.” It was a fun experiment, but I had some severe bugs which made it unplayable for some people (Q3A’s movement code was FPS dependant, a fact that caused some controversy when people discovered the “125 FPS sweet spot” a year later or so).

My dedication to the mod led me to another project called Challenge Pro Mode. It was a mod intended to be used by professional Q3A players and was created by a group of people from the Challenge Network (all sites in the network are now either porn sites or spyware search engines). I joined the team as a programmer, and worked mainly on improving the HUD and adding customizable player colors (a feature that seems to be default in the latest patch of Q3A). I also enjoyed making maps to test some ideas.

One of the maps I made was called “Realm of Steel Rats.” I made it during two weeks more or less spending every wake moment in front of the computer. I got severe pains in my shoulder and missed an exam due to that, but it was clearly worth it. The map turned out really well and is still played actively to this day! The map has received a face-lift by Swelt (sorry, but I do not know who that is), so the official version is now called “CPM4a.” You find both the original and the new version at Challenge-TV.

Now… the reason why I’m writing this tl;dr post is because there are a few things I recall that I thought about when I designed the map. These ideas are mainly focused on deathmatch maps, a game mode that has fallen out of fashion over the years, but may still be applicable to other design areas:

  • Imbalance means Interesting – Maps should have one good and one not so good area. Making all areas too balanced will make gameplay “unstable.” Put several important items relatively close to each other, but it must be possible to break the siege.
  • Symmetry for teh Loes – Simply avoid symmetry, it’s uninteresting. These days most people are making teamplay maps (CTF, King of the Hill etc), which makes it more important to have balanced maps. To make these maps more varied, rotated symmetry is better than mirrored symmetry.
  • Important Stuff should be Easy to Get – Place important items, such as powerups, in hot-spot areas that are easy to get to. It allows for much more intense battles. I really don’t like it when people places the Quad or Battlesuit out of reach, such as down in water pools or high up on a pillar etc.

So… I guess the final punch line of this blog post is that I was happy to see that people were still playing my map! I especially enjoyed the description of the new CPM4a map:

CPM4a – Realm of Steel Rats – CPM TDM map Khaile’s original CPM4 ranks amongst the most played custom teamplay maps ever. Popular in both vQ3 and Challenge ProMode, the Realm of Steel Rats has been used in competitions the world over and hosted countless classic showdowns. This CPM4a remix by swelt replaces the shiny sci-fi texture set with a dirtier industrial set, bringing the visual look of the map bang up to date.


EDIT: In case you’re wondering why it says “Khaile’s original CPM4,” it’s because “Khaile” was my old nick before I grew tired of people calling me “Kylie” :)

5 Responses to “Realm of Steel Rats”

  1. admin :

    Another edit… Found a team deathmatch game with commentary from 2003 :)

    Part 1:
    Part 2:
    Part 3:

    / jeb

  2. jello :

    looks like a lot of fun! this makes me miss the days making makes with Build and WorldCraft :)

  3. Mark :

    I too continued playing QuakeWorld while Q2 and Q3 were released, and picked up the iD Software Super Pack via Steam for nostalgia. Wish I knew about your QWFix mod. Thanks for the interesting post.

  4. Miklotov :

    Nice work, didn’t know you been working on Quake maps. Anyways good job!
    Yeah good old Deu 5.2 doom mapping days or even Quake WorldCraft loved it,.. even tho its pain in the a.. once you lose files or something unrepairably brakes after countless hours of work.

  5. GND :

    If swelt is on this page. i have been directred here. I am GND, one of the head people for the NA QW community. We are hosting a 4on4 draft tdm tourney, and i would like to make cpm4a and cpm21 showcased next season. For this i need the map source. please contact me if you “swelt” see this. thanks.

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