Metal Monstrosity is a tough challenge, especially on higher skill levels. The map is wide open in many places and is designed to make the player fear the void (falling) and panic while fighting the sentry droids roaming the skies above. The floor space is limited, the ledges are precarious and the enemy forces are relentless, this is a place where the environment is as dangerous as the patrolling guards.
The initial layout was a haphazard collection of small platforms winding their way around several towers of metal. The platforms were arranged in such a way that they were close enough to jump between and offer the benefit of multiple routes in lots of different directions.
I did not think medieval monsters would suit this kind of environment very well due to the floor space being so fragmented and disjointed. I thought it would be a nice change to try a tech/base theme instead. Unfortunately Quake lacks a good collection of base enemies, but there is a mod called Quoth which does attempt to fill in the gaps with many new monster types.
One of my favourite skies in Quake is the fast moving purple clouds, they always seem the perfect colour choice for creating the feeling of elder landscapes. For some time now I have been playing around with the latest version of Terragen and this map felt like the perfect opportunity for a large cloudy landscapes bathed in purple moonlight.
As more platforms and routes were added to the overall structure, the map was beginning to take shape, but it still needed a believable mechanic for why it was floating. The quake metal texture set has some lovely glowing runes which are often used for teleporters. If the map structure was perched on top of mass of runic cubes then maybe the player might think that the runes are the power source keeping the structure afloat.
As I added the runic cubes to the bottom of the structure and blended them upwards, it felt like the runes were merging with the central towers and taking over. This gave me the idea of the runes bursting out from various parts of the structure like they were an infectious power source. This became a visual language for the player to show where buttons were and how everything was connected.
The original idea for the structure was to have a large radio telescope like dish at the top of the map, a huge natural progression goal for the player to climb towards and an obvious landmark. With the lift shaft being the only way up to the final area, it was the perfect location for the gold key objective.
As the structure grew under the shadow of the metal dish the upper walkways of the map were beginning to look very similar. I decided to try the lower runic like detail on the top of the structure and it created a lovely silhouette against the skybox. At first the cubes and spires pointed upwards like giant metal fingers, but I wanted the runes to feel more organic so I twisted some of them downwards and let them spill over the edges.
The final battle was to be on the dish at the top of the structure and I wanted the fight be the usual multi wave affair. I setup the waves to be spawned in at various points around the arena, but it felt weird there was no reason for the teleporting effects. One of the cool features of Quoth is the ability to generate lightning strikes and it seemed a perfect way to explain the monster teleportation.
I spent a while creating a huge brushwork sphere and then connecting all the AI spawns via lightning strikes from the sphere to the floor. The effect looked cool and I extended it to randomly strike the ground while the final battle was in progress. It created a nice side effect of players and monsters being hit sometimes and occasional comically being killed during the final fight.
For a long time I had solid bridges connecting all of the various platforms of the structure together. The downside to this approach was less opportunities to see the skybox and feel the space below. In my original Quoth test map I played around with force-fields and wondered what they would be like if the player and monsters could walk on them, instead of them just acting as barriers.
Eventually I found the right combination of entities, lights and special textures to create the illusion of energy walk ways and they did feel good to play with. It never got old flicking a switch and seeing monsters drop to their death. This also solved the skybox visibility problem and nicely added a strange tech vibe to the structure to match the Quoth monsters.
One Quoth monster that has gained notoriety amount the Quake community is the flying droid called Bob. It fires a large burst of plasma, moves very quickly and has an awesome fear inducing idle sound. I wanted the player to hear the idle sound long before they knew where they were.
Initially I setup a couple of Bobs on very long patrols underneath and above the structure and this produced some amazing random encounters. With the map having so much sky space the Bob droids really excelled at inducing fear and loathing in this map.
Eventually after much building, testing and days of rendering large cloudy landscapes the map was finally complete. It is certainly very tough and unforgiving but strangely satisfying to complete once the final exit is revealed. I hope everyone enjoys the map and please remember to vote and post your feedback below.