"Fluoroantimonic" | mariteaux
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Last modified: 12/12/2020
After months of making various failed passes at mapping something worth releasing, I started to get antsy. Why was I scrapping everything? In a year, I only had two maps to my name, really? The prospect of speedmapping (mapping with a time limit) was appealing. I'd have something to release, and it'd give me a chance to get an idea out of my head, because I have way too many. I just had to find a date.
And then I told Terrafusion.
I figured, since 100 Brush Competition #4 had just wrapped up, people would just nod politely and this would be a solo release for me. But people seemed interested. Others wanted to get in on it. Some of the people interested were in that competition, even. Absolute nutters, wanting an event so soon after the last, but I stepped up to host. We decided on a base theme, and a single day to build it. We just had to find a date.
We figured Saturday the 2nd into Sunday the 3rd worked. Without thinking, I rushed off to func...and announced the theme early. I was pretty adamant about this being a 24 Hour Jam followup, since the term "speedmap" has been used to describe events up to a week long and is therefore meaningless, but now, people had all weekend to work on it. I have no luck posting on func, it seems, so SM183 ahoy.
I like to impose challenges on myself while I'm mapping. As if "build a functioning level in a fucking weekend" wasn't enough, I also wanted to use an editor I had very little experience with. The BSP Quake Editor is one I've had a longtime fascination with, despite not having any real luck using. It's clunky and old and weird in spots, but some of its features are genuinely pretty novel and uncommon even today. (I always appreciated the compile profiles being regular old batch files.) What's even better is that less than a month before I started, BSP was finally being updated again. At long last, in the year 2018, BSP had proper mouselook. I had to use it.
Now, there's no tools in BSP. J.A.C.K. and TrenchBroom both have separate tools for making brushes, splitting, selecting faces, texturing, but with BSP, everything is centered around the modifier keys. You shift textures around holding the Shift key, and rotate them using Ctrl + Shift. Clipping is done using Shift + right-click, with two separate operations for splitting the brush in half or "carving" it (getting rid of the selected half). If you click on a face, and then click on a second, both stay selected, no modifier key needed.
I spent the first day of the event working on an idbase level centered around powering up a slipgate. I made a semi-big room with a barred in slipgate, like a prison (hence the map's working title, "Perfect Prisons"), and a rocky area around the corner with a broken bridge. This would lead into a big, warehousey arena area with whirring turbines. Press three buttons on three levels to get power restored to the complex and escape through the slipgate (after fighting waves of monsters, of course).
Over a matter of hours, though, this idea fell apart. Something about my inability to rotate brushwork (surely I missed something, that's basic brush manipulation) or my inability to create interesting, believable room shapes, but halfway through the event, this wasn't panning out. I wasn't that into the idea. Fuck it, we'll do it again, I thought. We'll do one better this time. I'll use a WAD I've never used before. Rubicon it is.
And so, with 24 hours left in the event, I got to work on "Fluoroantimonic", my real entry for SM183.
I had a few ideas for this one from the outset, the first being to homage NewHouse's "Deadly Slimes" from 24 Hour Jam. Despite the map being woefully short, it's built around a neat idea, that of retractable bridges over pools of acid. This became the heart of "Fluoroantimonic": the superacid pool dead center, on the lowest level, with a retractable bridge over it.
This is also where the name of the map comes from: fluoroantimonic acid is the strongest acid known to man, and when you activate it with hydrogen fluoride, it will eat through fucking anything it touches. Glass, metal, flesh, you name it. You have to keep that shit in a special container, that's how strong it is.
I wanted to build in layers and have the player continually descend, with the exit also being on the lowest level. The burning question at this point was "Why can't the player just hop out of the spawn bunker and land in the exit?" In fact, by hopping down, the player can skip most of the level altogether. I solved this problem by locking off the exit door with a gold keycard, which is stashed across a bridge on the top level.
Each layer was to have a different shape to it. I started at the bottom and built up, so while the layout opened up for me as I built layers on top of layers, when you play the map, everything actually becomes incredibly claustrophobic towards the end. At the same time, I had to ensure that players could get to the top of the tower just as easily as they came down, in case they missed that gold keycard. I added a teleporter back up to the top, and made all the lifts two-way. In a sense, it's the most deathmatch thing I've ever built.
The final hour of the event (I got lazy) was spent trying to beef up the encounters and enemy teleports in the map. At the time, I thought you had to make a brush and then turn it into an entity using the "Make Entity" button, which is super slow. I later found out you could just press that button and spawn an entity at the camera position. Nevertheless, I switched to TrenchBroom for the last hour or so, just to populate the map.
Oh yeah, and I totally managed to fit in a turbine at the bottom of the level. Fuck yeah.
So I finished the map, sent it out to a few playtesters, went to bed, and woke up to four other entries. Artistical, dumptruck_ds, NewHouse, and prengle all made maps as well, some of them close to proper solo release quality. Everyone did something totally different, and I can't commend the people who participated for doing so enough, especially given such short notice.
As for my own map, for 24 hours, it's not all that bad to play, really, and Rubicon textures will always be to die for, so it looks nice too. All went fine for the 48 Hour Jam in the end.