Back in 1997, a start-up called Hipnotic Software released a mission pack for id Software's Quake. Titled Scourge of Armagon, the pack went on to win several game of the year awards and is generally remembered as one of the best add-ons ever made for a Quake game. The company, of course, went on to become Ritual Entertainment, and now the studio returns to its root with original content for the latest entry in the Quake series.
The version 1.3 point release for Quake 4 is set to ship with a copious amount of new content for the game, including several original maps and game modes created by Ritual Entertainment. For this feature, we sat down with two of the level designers involved in the project, John "HAL9000" Schuch and Todd "Mr.CleaN" Rose, for some comments on their creations, and have a bunch of exclusive screenshots, too!
Quake 4 1.3 will ship with two all-new game modes, titled Dead Zone and Item Buying. Both of these modes can be used with all the news maps, as well as some of the existing ones.
This new teamplay mode is a completely new gametype in Quake 4, based on holding key areas of the map called "DeadZones" to gain points. In order to do this, players must pick up DeadZone powerups from around the map, and then take them into the areas marked with a transparent scrolling border. Like all powerups in the game, the DeadZone powerup wears out with time, so as a team players must continually bring powerups into the zones in order to hold them. If more than one player on a team brings in powerup, the hold on the zone is stronger, with points accumulating twice as fast. If a player from both team enters a zone with a powerup, the two cancel each other out. In short, DeadZone is a new mode that relies on good teamwork to succeed.
A new gameplay modifier for teamplay gametypes, Item Buying is reminiscent of the 'Buy' menu in Counter-Strike and similar games. If the modifier is enabled, team members use credits to purchase weapons and armor at the start of a round, with a player and team's performance in each round determining how many credits are allocated in the next round to use.
Ritual houses some of the most talented multiplayer level designers in the industry, and the new maps included in this update certainly showcase this. Read on to find out more about five of the new levels, as the creators share their thoughts on them.
This map originated in Quake2 as "Hammertime". I built it for a friend of mine who asked me "Remember ‘LEDGES’ for Doom2? I want a map like those!" When Quake3 rolled out I rebuilt the map for it, which became an almost nightly favorite for my group of online buds. Having a chance to finally make a real, shippable version of the map, I couldn’t pass it up. After a couple weeks and a name change, the Quake4 version was done and has the exact same feel as the previous incarnations.
The map is best played with two or three players but works very well as one on one. There are quite a few trick jumps and shortcuts that aren’t immediately apparent; you’ll find them soon enough.
You already know this map, that is, if you’ve played the original Quake. This remake started as a "wouldn’t it be cool if..." project that turned out pretty good. A few modifications to the original "Claustrophobopolis" were necessary; because Quake had a slower internal clock, the amount of network data being sent was much, much lower. However, in Quake4, the clock is higher so the network data is greater - this is why the moving floor platforms have been left out. The critical, and at times annoying, central lava trap is still there though! A few areas have been opened up to make the map a little less linear.
Because this map is slightly more cramped than the other maps in this pack, you probably want to stick to four player games.
Stroggenomenon is a straight up tournament map with a visual style intended to be reminiscent of Quake 2. It is based off a map layout I originally released for Quake2, but rebuilt from scratch for Quake4 with a few improvements. The gameplay on this map is intended to be fast and unrelenting. Tourney play is all about control, and control on this map can be easy to gain but difficult to maintain. Because of the map's size, you're never too far from anything, but you'd better know where your opponent is headed.
There are a few trick jumps in the map, there may be more that talented players can discover. The item set is simple, but adequate. Have fun with it. For a real frenzy it can be played in DM mode, though I wouldn't try it with more than 3 or 4 players.
Warforged is a fairly straightforward map. There was absolutely no pre-planning involved, it was one of those maps where I just started laying down brushes and let it take shape. It seems to have a size and layout that ended up being fairly versatile, working well with 3-10 player DM, Team DM or our new DeadZone mode. This map has some inherent trick jumps, many of them are not too difficult. The only weapon not included in the item set is the DMG. For powerups you'll find the Megahealth, Quad and Regeneration.
Not much to say about this one, just a classic, old-school style mirrored CTF map with plenty of routes in and out of the bases. Four versus four works best for CTF. Deadzone mode works very well, with a pretty brutal hold zone dead center with very little cover.