One of the rumours about Quake level design is that id Software required all levels to be impossible to write in Doom. Leverage your USP, right? That Unique Selling Point was the game being properly 3D and allowing multiple things to exist in the third dimension. Doom was basically 2D with a height map.
Vertical space isn’t something I think about at all for dungeon design, I’d literally do “a level” or “a room” at a time! So, how can I learn from Quake and make more interesting levels?
Worth noting, a lot of this isn’t unique to Quake, before someone says “platforms existed before Quake”.
Vertical space in Quake
- Pretty architecture - Gloom Keep is a lovely castle you see on arrival
- Falls - no guardrail is a bit of a hazard
- Height differences can be barriers
- Chasms you need to cross
- Platforms that are narrow/move
- Scrags hiding above you in EVERY DAMN NEW ROOM ARCANE DIMENSIONS 😡
OK the last two are more set-piece/flavour things.
I want to make rooms more memorable in SGCP as at the moment I’m describing “YoU Are iN a pREttY/UGly roOM” and I want to do better. One thing is to add more stuff than just hostiles. There’s already rules in the game for generating those.
I thought about the hazards I’ve encountered in Quake, both in a few hours of playing it here in good old
1985 2020, and also my memories of playing it in the 90s.
Turns out it didn’t take very long at all.
Obviously Slipgate Chokepoint has me thinking about Quake quite a lot. I’ve ripped the NIN soundtrack off my original Quake 1 CD that I bought for the Amiga 1200 that I owned. Fun fact, it could run Quake at about 9-20fps depending on the mod I loaded. I’ve installed a bunch of different Quake engines, and hi-res texture packs, then thrown them all out again, for something updated but unmodified.
And I’ve been having a load of fun. These are my musings on how and why I was having fun.
So a recap, if you take an enemy in Slipgate Chokepoint to a high enough -HP when you kill it, you have performed a Gib. Like in the FPSes it is based upon, you get a benefit if you gib an enemy, here that benefit is to immediately perform a second attack with Advantage.
The rules mandate that the GM describes the gib as exquisitely as possible. NO PRESSURE THERE THEN 😬.
Tried the example ‘Frayed Domain’ adventure again with the same two friends.
- Halved the number of enemies per encounter
- Theatre-of-the-mind combat
- No roll20
- Quake soundtrack playing through Groovy 🤘
So I have a Kickstarter problem.
And one of the things I backed this year was this beauty. Go look, I’ll still be here when you get back. It’s basically Quake: The RPG, and is an adventure/conversion for Stay Frosty.
First attempt, could have been worse. But I got a lot wrong.