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hardcore_gamer

Why do Quake's base levels suck so hard?

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I am talking about the first level of each episode in the original Quake.

Unlike the base maps in Doom/Doom 2 which are often some of the best maps in the games (just look at Knee-Deep in the Dead), the base maps for Quake are just plain bad.

The biggest problem I have with them are the textures. They are almost all brown (and can thus probably be blamed a lot for the popular "ALL OF QUAKE IS BROWN!!!" myth) which makes the base levels look extremely bland and ugly. There is almost no color variation at all in Quake's base levels.

The second problem I have with them is that they don't really look like anything. I guess you could say the same about Doom/Doom 2, but Quake has a much more advanced engine and many of the levels in the game do actually look and feel like real places that could exist. I mean just look at some of the user made levels for the game! Many of them look 10x better then anything in the original game.

Considering how good the level design in Id's classics are I can't help but feel baffled but how hard Id dropped the ball when it comes to Quake's base levels.

What do you think contributed to the lackluster nature of the base maps in Quake?

And if you think the base maps are actually good then why?

Thoughts?

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They're not bad, they're just...there. They introduce the episodes so they're a bit on the easy side. E1M1 is still one of my favorite Quake maps because it really shows off what the engine is capable of without being complicated at all.

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I thought they were cool, I like the textures. It would be nice if someone made TEKGREN equivalents of these Quake base textures for Doom.

Does anyone else get a weird, uncanny otherworldly vibe going on despite being Earth bases though? Maybe that's just the music.

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hardcore_gamer said:

Why do Quake's base levels suck so hard?

They don't.

hardcore_gamer said:

There is almost no color variation at all in Quake's levels.

FTFY.

But Quake is not Doom. It has lightmaps and stuff to create convincing environments.

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One thing I've been noticing while playing Quake levels, both id and user-made ones, is that they are often very full of corridors. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe it's just that id made a lot of levels and got lazy and the community isn't as matured as Doom's. Or it could be any number of other things. The monsters are definitely different enough to warrant that sort of architecture. Maybe it's just more prominent in the base levels.

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One thing that bothered me about the base maps is that the grunts and enforcers are only on those maps and not in any of the others. Also, you don't find any of the other enemies in the bases. You'd think that there would be enforcers every so often in the episodes with the thunderbolt, or grunts to help keep your shotgun ammo from running out, without resorting to using a bunch of large shell boxes in the maps (it's especially bad when you have 96 shells and there's no way to avoid picking up 40 more). You'd also expect a few lesser demon type enemies to sneak through the slipgates. Like around the second half of the map, you might run across a knight or two, or just for laughs, have a shambler pop on in just as you're about to leave.

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Yeah, I prefer Doom's more natural progression to Quake's strict policy. In Doom, techbases grow gradually into hell, and you can encounter Sergeants at any time. In Quake it's obvious from the start in what time and place you are.

To OP: I think they suck because they're too easy and you know it. Just some monsters who are equivalent to Wolfenstein's dogs, Doom's weak zombies and imps aren't going to be a threat.

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I remember Grunts occasionally leaking into the other levels, but it was the Dogs that we hardly ever saw anywhere else.

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Membrain said:

One thing I've been noticing while playing Quake levels, both id and user-made ones, is that they are often very full of corridors. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe it's just that id made a lot of levels and got lazy and the community isn't as matured as Doom's. Or it could be any number of other things. The monsters are definitely different enough to warrant that sort of architecture. Maybe it's just more prominent in the base levels.


Its because of the different tech.

With Doom you "draw" the areas that you want to create, almost like drawing a picture. This makes it very easy to create non-linear rooms and areas with lots of different angles.

However, Quake uses "brushes" and works completely differently. Brushes are basically blocks that you shape into different things in order to create a map. While this allows you to create maps in full 3D, this also comes at the price of making it much harder to create rooms and areas that don't look "blocky".

This is one of the advantages the the Id 1 engine has over the later ones. A mere 2.5D engine may have its disadvantages, but it DOES have some advantages as well. And one of those advantages is that its much easier to create rooms and areas with very complex shapes.

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hardcore_gamer said:

Its because of the different tech.

With Doom you "draw" the areas that you want to create, almost like drawing a picture. This makes it very easy to create non-linear rooms and areas with lots of different angles.

However, Quake uses "brushes" and works completely differently. Brushes are basically blocks that you shape into different things in order to create a map. While this allows you to create maps in full 3D, this also comes at the price of making it much harder to create rooms and areas that don't look "blocky".

This is one of the advantages the the Id 1 engine has over the later ones. A mere 2.5D engine may have its disadvantages, but it DOES have some advantages as well. And one of those advantages is that its much easier to create rooms and areas with very complex shapes.


It may be easier to do that, but 2.5D only goes so far. Creating any small world details and structures that look even somewhat convincing is pretty much beyond the limitations of the engine. So while it may be possible to create rooms in complex shapes slightly faster in an engine like id Tech 1, doing much beyond that is pretty much out of the question.

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The corridors were probably for occluding geometry more than anything else. Quake was pushing PCs to their limits when it came out. It's entirely possible to do Doom-style level design in the Quake engine, they just chose not to so that damn turtle wasn't blinking all the time.

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Perhaps the reason might have been because ID employees established a firm deadline for the release date without realizing that the process of producing something as high-quality as the maps of their other titles would require twice as much time as was originally estimated, due to the complexity of the new engine that was developed?

This is just a guess which seems to make sense to me.

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I really liked all those base maps, even the DM* ones. I spent more time playing DM and CTF, but even in SP mode the monsters didn't seem wrong to me. It just makes sense that the first map of an episode is going to be easier. Plus, they provided a good contrast from the rest of the episode.

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I agree, it's a fucking ugly game and gets its ass handed by System Shock 2 and Half Life.

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You have to understand though that Quake came before half life and half life did utilize it's engine.

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Half Life and System Shock 2 came out two and three years after Quake, at a point in time (the 90's) when processor speed was increasing at an incremental rate, and anything that looked great upon release looked dated even a year later. No shit HL and SS2 looked better.

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Caffeine Freak said:

Half Life and System Shock 2 came out two and three years after Quake, at a point in time (the 90's) when processor speed was increasing at an incremental rate, and anything that looked great upon release looked dated even a year later. No shit HL and SS2 looked better.


Ah yes, how shortsighted of me. Back then if you doubled the polycount, there was a big difference, now not so much. I still think it's ugly though, it's like they didn't even try to make the environments look better. Even Duke Nukem was better and that was 2D.

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I like Quake's base maps. But then again, I like almost every other map in the game.

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Caffeine Freak said:

Half Life and System Shock 2 came out two and three years after Quake, at a point in time (the 90's) when processor speed was increasing at an incremental rate, and anything that looked great upon release looked dated even a year later. No shit HL and SS2 looked better.

except sshock2 looked dated from day one. it came out 4 months before quake 3, but the stock monsters look like brighter quake 1 models.

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DooM_RO said:

Ah yes, how shortsighted of me. Back then if you doubled the polycount, there was a big difference, now not so much. I still think it's ugly though, it's like they didn't even try to make the environments look better. Even Duke Nukem was better and that was 2D.


Pushing things towards a more realistic end would likely have meant putting significantly more geometric detail in the levels, which wasn't really an option at the time, given how taxing the game already was on existing CPUs. I'll agree that DN3D is aesthetically more pleasing to look at, but it also has a COMPLETELY different art style from Quake, so it's hard to compare the two. In any case, a better aesthetic style only goes so far in a game when all your character has to do is look up or down in order to instantly ruin half the visuals in the gameworld by revealing how 2-dimensional they are. I mean, talk about killing immersion.

Not to mention Quake had a better engine that isn't plagued by half of the annoying bugs in DN3D.

And that also isn't to say I'm ragging on DN3D either, it's one of my childhood favorites.

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There is nothing uglier than early 3D graphics. If you couple ugly 3D with and ugly art style you get Quake. People complain about brown and bland looking modern games when in fact this trend started with Quake. It's interesting that the artstyles in both Quake and Doom 3 were limited by technology. Quake had too much brown and Doom 3 had too much darkness to improve the framerate. What I found interesting is that people say Doom 3 was much more bland than Quake. I find this quite puzzling.

dew said:

except sshock2 looked dated from day one. it came out 4 months before quake 3, but the stock monsters look like brighter quake 1 models.


Maybe it looked dated but it was far more interesting to look at.

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The base levels in Quake are the best maps in the game as far as I am concerned. I used to string them together as an episode in their own right.

It's all the gothic cthuloid stuff that I grew tired of very quickly.

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Most of the game takes place down in dimly-lit dungeons, or in ancient castles. Brown just fits right in. Of course there were also some red/orange and really nice blues. I never once found fault with the colors, or even the fact that the game is very dark. Now the monster/player models, those were pretty ugly (even at the time they didn't hold a candle to good old sprites). But that didn't really affect the enjoyment of the game as a whole for me.

In comparison, Quake II had a much better engine, with more vibrant colors and more details. But I only played through it a few times at most. Stuff in-game moved slower. It had all this complex architecture, with hubs so you can travel all over the place. There was an inventory of items and things you could "use". But by becoming more refined and less abstract, it lost that raw primal power that Quake had going for it.

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I liked the base levels more. It kinda disappointed me that it didn't have a full techbase episode like Doom. Maybe I would have played it more if it had. The expansions had pretty cool techbase levels.

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Jodwin said:

FTFY

I wish I had the time and inclination to make a hilarious "Oh, you" macro featuring a Shambler in a hands-on-hips pose.

Suffice it to say, I disagree, you're wrong and I hate you forever.

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DooM_RO said:

I agree, it's a fucking ugly game and gets its ass handed by System Shock 2 and Half Life.

Well, if you play with GLQuake...

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I actually thought the base levels were the best levels of the game, though the enemy type was incredibly limited. I felt it was kind of bait-and-switch... I loved all this cool futuristic-tech design, but then you get past the first level and it's all gloomy medieval keeps and dungeons. I guess I was just never into that kind of setting. Sure, in later episodes, the settings got more interesting, but yeah, I just wasn't into the whole medieval feel, and wished the game had more tech bases.

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Jimi said:

I liked the base levels more. It kinda disappointed me that it didn't have a full techbase episode like Doom. Maybe I would have played it more if it had. The expansions had pretty cool techbase levels.

That they did. The expansions in general were fantastic - much better than vanilla Quake IMO. I was pretty blown away at the time by how good Scourge of Armagon was.

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The final boss battle in Mission Pack 1 was also a lot more epic than the Shub telefrag...

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