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Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 13 Jan 2015, 01:06
by Semfry
Unreal Engine 4 requires exponentially more knowledge to make stuff in than UE1, it's probably the most intuitive the engine has been since it got more complex (since that's something Epic has specifically targeted with the new version after making their engine increasingly esoteric in the past), but the basic demands are still much greater. Presumably those students have been taught in various modern game design techniques so it's not really the same as it is for people who've never touched the modern engine before and have no textures or other assets to work with.

Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 14 Jan 2015, 01:33
by Mister_Prophet
It's good that people are discussing these things, I'll say that.

I probably have decent experience with the engines from 2KX, U2, and UT3. Even if you have people who know what they are doing (how many hands on this forum's userbase are comfortable enough raising their hand on this one?) it is a lot more work than what UE1 requires. You need to know the editor, have a handle on 3rd party texture and modelling programs, you may need to know skinning or at least understand it. Then there is the problem of there being no Unreal SP interface available outside of Unreal 2 (how many hands on this forum's userbase want to map for U2 and how many players do you think are available for it?). So, you need coding, scripting, the works. Someone has to make a gametype. I'll say that again, that basically means akin to Oldskool has to appear out of thin air.

I understand that people cite students who are capable of doing these things, and when I was younger I had time to do all the above as well. We're talking about scrapping together a mappack for Unreal sprouting from the creative well that is the mapping enthusiasts present on this forum or adjacent ones (if it gets that far, outreach will be important). There's ambitious and then there is ambitious. How ambitious does everyone feel comfortable being?

Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 19 Jan 2015, 22:35
by Sat42
Hell yeah, exams are over! :D

So yeah, about scrapping together a mappack for Unreal/UT Oldskool... maybe the next realistic step is to start discussing when would this be the most convenient for people (it will never suit everyone perfectly but there are some periods better than others).
We can take our time in the process, and also discuss the context/rules for the event. I'll say this: summer (starting in July but it can drag through September) would be better for me (we are talking about several weeks for this thing). But if everyone suddenly has an urge to do this earlier, then I'll do my best to map for the occasion nonetheless.

Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 19 Jan 2015, 22:46
by Delacroix
For a map pack we should come up with a proper, cohesive storyline and make sure it's solid in all the maps through-and-through, so that they're held together by more than just a subplot pack and generic "you are assigned to shoot stuff and get to the next level because REASONS" thing. If there is a collaboration, mappers should pick a person who'll write the main intrigue and submit map ideas so that the writer knows what kinds of levels are to be in.

Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 20 Jan 2015, 00:57
by Sat42
Nice to see you're back, Delacroix! :)

About this cohesive storyline thing... why not, but as some previous posts were saying, a linear campaign was not necessarily the idea. There was this desire to see a mappack built over a short period of time (no big commitments) and, for example, with a hub map providing a link to all the maps. Originally this thread was about a potential contest of course, but others mentioned how good stuff could emerge from a collaborative effort - even a relatively casual one.

Mister_Prophet wrote:I'm thinking a collaboration project just needs a good central theme, active participants, and the right motivation. Deja Vu was done in...what, a month?

Problem is finding someone willing to get the ball rolling. Or the time to. I'd take the task myself and maybe in the past I should have organized one anyway. I like these kinds of things, generally. If I had the time this is what I would do: Secretly make a HUB level. Just....sit down, and make a HUB/Nexus kind of thing. I wouldn't tell anyone about it. I would just make it. And when it was done I would take screenshots and upload it and make a thread. And in that thread I would say, Papa is announcing a collaboration project. The story is ___ and here is the central map. I have ___ exits and I need ___ mappers to make a single level that contains its own story with an exit that returns to this HUB, in which case the player can play another map. The only catch is dot dot dot

Or something.

UBerserker suggested a pack made after Unreal songs theme-wise (beta tracks included).

No custom content would also be the idea, apart from a special trigger for the hub:

BUFF SKELETON wrote:If you're gonna ban custom content I'm all for that, but it's absolutely trivial to implement a simple trigger to wipe a player's inventory, so I would do that at the minimum for hub links.

You know. And then after those 4-6 weeks we'd have something to release for the community to enjoy, and thereafter we could always gauge the amount of interest among participants for additional work aimed at improving/expanding the first version of the pack.
A cool thing about the type of project emerging here is its openess: as Mman said, it seems the forming idea here is a project with as few barriers to entry as possible - the get-together feel, without the pressure which could possibly arise from very ambitious projects, and it allows inexperienced mappers like myself to make something alongside more experienced mappers :) a community-party sort of thing! I'd find that fun and stimulating.

What do you think about this? :) (oh, and it's only because I'd really like to see this happening that I'm writing all of this, of course, but I don't want to give off the impression that I'm imposing ideas or anything)

Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 20 Jan 2015, 01:39
by Delacroix
I think banning custom content is a problem definitely because it may limit creativity a bit. Granted, the first contest had less entries but more of them had a somewhat complete feel to it and were more unique IMO.

That's of course just my private opinion.

Definitely custom textures should be allowed especially if we're going for a music-inspired feel because for example a beta music track would fit perfectly to a level which is designed using the 1996 Crypt textures or the 1995 Heretic-like textures.

I think that imposing platform parity may also be an issue - if I spoke differently before, then, well, I changed my mind after thinking it over. For the end user, it's no problem to install 227 or UT SDK, and for the mappers it may be seen at first as an added challenge but overall reports with the new 227 editor for example are cohesive that it's more stable and it's actually easier to deliver higher quality content - contrary to popular belief (or urban myth more like), it's easier to work with the new features rather than limit oneself voluntarily with the old tools.

It's quite obvious that a community patch such as 227 or UT SDK require something to actively use the features of the projects if they're supposed to maintain their presence in the scene. Saying "I'll stick with 225 or UT 436/Oldskool" quite simply put undermines the entire point of having them. What's the point of having them if nobody uses them out of sentiment?

I believe losing a few participants due to getting 227 or UT SDK (or both) allowed as platforms of choice will be compensated no problem by the recent additions to our community. In his latest release Cave Escape, or more specifically, in its documentation file, mapper Rubicon quite openly stated that it's time to embrace the current engine rather than dwell in the past. The UMS team also embraced 227 fully in the projects we are working on, quite simply because it works for us. If someone decides to refuse lending their talent to the common effort because of sentiments to old versions and fictional "barrier of entry" issues - because let's face it, I've been hearing left and right how the new tools of both the platforms I mentioned are superior at least for stability's sake - then it's hard luck but I believe there's more than enough people who will appreciate a bit more creative freedom that comes with being able to develop on whatever UE1 platform they desire. The problem with a joint venture project is that we need to determine what platform would work best for the entire team. My guess is Unreal rather than UT - single player and cooperative game types are available out of the box rather than through OldSkool which proved to cause problems in the past (e.g. with difficulty switching to medium in certain conditions). And it has a really beefed up UnrealEd.

Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 20 Jan 2015, 17:35
by Teridax
I like the idea of custom textures being available. Gryphon Revisited had custom textures and it turned out really well.

Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 20 Jan 2015, 18:20
by ividyon
People will have to make up their mind about whether this is supposed to be a contest or a collaboration. If it is a collaboration, I do not see any grounds for statements such as "227-only is unfair", as you can work with 227 and choose not to utilize its features, if you're really that set on a vanilla feeling. The reverse only constricts people in their creativity.

And it's not like using 227 automatically means making things more difficult and less accessible; some of 227's greatest lures are simple Quality of Life improvements such as better rebuilding, easy light map control, Sunlight, dynamic zone infos etc. which make ideas much more realizable which, before, would rely on tons of wobbly custom code, or countless hours of frustration when UnrealEd closes from hovering over an empty Properties window, or stacking a vertex on another for the umpteenth time.

My enthusiasm for another vanilla contest is rather low; at this point in time I believe to have seen just about everything there is to make with the old tools.

Hell, if I could, I'd advocate a firetrucks-only contest, to see people come up with fun little adventure, non-combat and puzzle maps...

Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 20 Jan 2015, 19:03
by Delacroix
Well, a firetrucks-only contest or collaboration would automatically enforce 227 as firetrucks (and trashbag) is a 227-based toolset.

I actually would like to support that idea. And I've been thinking of a hub-based synopsis for what could be a single level or a very short pack by multiple authors... kinda like Weedrow was... pitting players in a randomly-generated environment that'd require logical thinking and careful exploration to solve.

And yes, I said randomly generated. There is a small toolset for Unreal dating back to 1998 (it was ported to 225 and works with 227) called UnRogue that contains a series of items that allow the mapper to make random connections between parts of the level. At times a door or a portal may lead to Room A, at others - Room B, at yet another approach - Balcony F or Basement X. What I'm thinking is a sort of ancient starship that locks the player in and comes to life once the player enters... and to get out, the player would have to disable the ship's main generator, auxilliary generator, safety systems and so on, and so on. The only problem being that to get to a given location on the ship, the player would have to utilize the instant teleport system on it and complete a series of challenges in virtual environments (that could be potentially anything, ranging from a surreal psychedelic dimension to an ancient tomb or a jungle, or an underground cave). The entire thing could be completely non-combat, kinda like Myst.

Those of you who read the Prophet's Power novel or are involved in the UMS projects may have noticed already that the ship's constructors were not Skaarj, but that's a story for another time, if the idea gets accepted. So, firetrucks and UnRogue on 227, a limited number of maps, preferably a single map. Each particular virtual environment gets a separate mapper as well as one mapper dedicated to the main ship.

Thoughts on this?

Also, UnRogue can be easily found on OldUnreal in their Downloads repository. Look for "" in the Unreal Single Player maps catalogue on that site.

Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 21 Jan 2015, 00:54
by Buff Skeleton
I think it would be fun to do mapping improv. One guy has a week to make part of a map before handing off, who has a week to add on to it as much as they want, in whatever way they want, and take the story in any direction... until the week is up, where they hand it off, and so on. You could rotate through all interested parties a few times if you wanted more time to really build more content. Ultimately, you'd wind up with a sort of game of telephone in UED and it could be a lot of fun!

Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 21 Jan 2015, 00:55
by ividyon
BUFF SKELETON wrote:I think it would be fun to do mapping improv. One guy has a week to make part of a map before handing off, who has a week to add on to it as much as they want, in whatever way they want, and take the story in any direction... until the week is up, where they hand it off, and so on. You could rotate through all interested parties a few times if you wanted more time to really build more content. Ultimately, you'd wind up with a sort of game of telephone in UED and it could be a lot of fun!

This is pretty much exactly how the Chronicles of Weedrow went down, yes. :)

Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 21 Jan 2015, 01:12
by Sat42
I honestly started to think this was going ahead of ourselves in terms of ambition (when the idea was for more of a 'holiday' thing), but I read on and I have to say I like the idea in itself (and I'm glad you stressed "very short mappack" or even preferably a single map, Delacroix)...
But it's still more than what I had in mind - especially making it entirely non-combat, which would force someone like myself to think in very different ways from what I grew used to (gameplay-wise).
I'll have to comment more about this later on.

By the way I realised that Waffnuffly has just suggested an idea to which I could subscribe to any day! Heck, that would be fun (and laid back) for sure! :)

Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 21 Jan 2015, 07:16
by Mister_Prophet
We have a few good ideas kicking around. Seems the next important step is deciding what kind of collaboration we want to pursue. And to answer Sana, the more recent thread retrieval seems to lean in the direction of collaboration over contest. I don't think the way anyone is talking we are still proposing that a contest is the way we want to go. Does anyone disagree on this?

We talked about a HUB with individual user levels. We talked about an active, section by section hand-off in the fashion Weedrow was constructed (I was not part of that one). We talked about adopting 227 elements like firetrucks to do a more thoughtful, puzzle styled thing. I think we can all agree that a straightforward campaign like what Deja Vu was could be a default if nothing else comes together, though multiple people like the central theme approach (music still seems like the strongest suggestion to me). We need more ideas perhaps. And more voices from people interested in participating in the actual construction of levels. I'm one, but it depends heavily on when we start (my window is now, before May) and also on what we do (I'm less agreeable to certain ideas if my style is useless for it).

How to approach story depends on which of these we pick, and whether we want to do a serious or lighthearted thing. I favored the HUB idea initially because I liked the idea of having a basic overarching plot but allowing individual mappers the freedom to creatively pursue their own narratives so long as the center was considered, unshackled by too many limitations. It's also something we haven't really tried as a group, where as some of these other ideas are familiar. For this reason I also like the idea of using a unique approach like Firetrucks. I'm not as keen on doing an active section-by-section thing because I know how I am as a mapper and it's partly why it was easy for me to bow out of Weedrow and let other people focus on that stuff. Like I said also, as a group we sort of did that one already and this is why I'm not as keen to rely on a straightforward campaign if we can help it for the same reasons, though it is a good default option.

I suppose an alternative to what has been stated already is to expand the Weedrow scenario in terms of full maps. For example, a mapper is given a month (or some other duration) to make a finished level, in which case the next person has to use their exit to make a continuation. This is more demanding on participants, but I support it based on the circumstances surrounding what we went through making Deja Vu levels, and in my opinion that remains the best thing's userbase has done as a group. I'm very much in favor of a "shut up and map" approach.

Mainly, all I'm looking for is more cohesion. If we're going to do something we best start doing it. Some of us already have other projects so I'd say a quick, less ambitious thing appeals to some of us more than others. I'd be more assertive with this if I had the time to play team leader. But even if the idea is too much of a hardship for my ability to add meaningful content as a participant, I'd still relish the opportunity to involve myself in the capacity to help others.

Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 21 Jan 2015, 08:04
by ebd
I'm in favor of something that allows for either asynchronous development or shorter periods of time between hand-offs. Synchronized development works better with short scopes development cycles because it is easy to keep progress and momentum up, but when the lengths of time become longer it way too easy for "one more weekend" to end up being much more.

...and I know it isn't just me who is guilty of that.

Re: Potential contest participants, post here.

Posted: 21 Jan 2015, 08:59
by Delacroix
I'm all for a serious story with a non-combat puzzle approach, I can have a handout for you guys ready within a day's time if you're interested. However, I'm no mapper but a writer and that's pretty much all I can provide. A story for the central HUB if it were to be this derelict ship thingy. Where you take it from that point, is up to you guys.