VIAVGA DM1 is a Doom 3 multiplayer level made for free for all (FFA) and smaller sized team based deathmatch games. The creation of VIAVGA DM1 was inspired by strong community demand for more DOOM 3-based multiplayer maps, as well as the uber-coolness of DOOMEdit, which also comes packaged with the full game. In other words, this map was just waiting to happen and I couldn't wait to make it so.
Although I've tried to imitate the same kind of frame speed performance of the default official DM maps, I have gone for a slightly different look and feel. This is partly due to the fact that I felt that the official maps all feel very similar to the single player levels, so I was inspired to make something that had a bit more of a Quake 2/3ish sort of mood to it. To this end most areas of the map have been illuminated a little brighter than the average default multiplayer maps and for the most part there is a little more room to move around. VIAVGA DM1 features several main combat zones connected via tighter corridors, ducts and hallways, containing a mixture of open areas for free-range (rocket jumping) action and various confined areas for close quarter combat. It is littered with strategically placed weapons armor and ammo at certain crucial waypoints and allows for multiple ways to move to and from most areas.
Throughout brief playtest sessions on a LAN, we discovered that VIAVGA DM1 suits slower paced duel games pretty well (particularly when both players have a reasonable understanding of the layout) but can also accommodate 4 players neatly. 2 Vs 2 Team Deathmatch games also work pretty well, due to the various routes and ambush points throughout.
All multiplayer weapons are featured within the level, although it can be pretty risky attempting to take the BFG (of which there is very little ammo available). Positioned in a lower tunnel rigged with an upward sliding deathtrap squisher (activated by one of two nearby switches), the BFG is not something you'll want to go for if anyone is aware of your location.
Although the action tends to be drawn back to the main combat area frequently another prime position of the level is the VIA room, which can be accessed in a couple of ways. Here lies a rocket launcher, a couple of small med kits as well as a mega health power up that dots the 'i' of the VIA logo. It is possible to rocket jump to the mega health, though it can be easier reached via a venting duct from above. Nearby to the VIA room lies a faithful shotgun as well as rocket and shell ammunition.
There is only one other power up available, which is that of invisibility. This lies in the lift chamber underneath the control room (where a healthy cache of ammo is stored). I decided against including a Bezerker power up as testing proved it to be a little too brutal.
Aside from the afore mentioned deathtrap squisher, VIAVGA DM1 also contains a few other deathtraps worthy of note. The most obvious being a red-hot pit of lava, which will instantly fry anyone who happens to fall into it. Less obvious and certainly more devious are several strategically positioned exploding barrels and gas tanks that can be used by creative players to take out their opponents. Some of these barrels can be moved and pushed off ledges to more lethal positions. Barrels will detonate immediately if their structural integrity is breached although gas tanks take 1 second to explode when damaged. There are also several fluorescent light fixtures that can be shot out to darken certain areas (very lethal when used in conjunction with exploding tanks and barrels. These are fairly obvious to locate as almost all other light sources are protcted by wire grills.
Unlike the other VIA sponsored DM levels I have created (for Quake 3 Arena and Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outpost), VIAVGA DM1 has been designed with a primary focus on gameplay as opposed to extreme high detail and eye candy overkill. But because of Doom 3's bump mapped textures and amazing light and shadow effects it seems that a high degree of geometric detail isn't as required to achieve a highly detailed scene. Whilst building the level and testing its frame speed performance as the process progressed I continually aimed to keep frames rolling at similar speeds to those of the official id maps. This is quite a contrast to most of my previous works, where I quite deliberately broke many level design optimization rules in order to bring otherwise powerful systems to their knees for benchmarking purposes. We are considering creating a more detailed benchmarking Doom 3 map at a later date, though we will likely wait for improved demo recording functionality before proceeding.
Ultimately, however, I am somewhat surprised at how much detail I've been able to incorporate and still keep frame speeds on par with the benchmark set by id. Despite Doom 3 technology being so fresh and new, it was surprisingly easy to create VIAVGA DM1 as quickly as I did. This is because the level-editing program is in most ways very similar to those used for the previously mentioned titles, which I'm very familiar with. Indeed, it is actually just a newer version of the same program with long awaited features that facilitate easy editing for Doom 3 technology. As a result of this, it was the new features that I spent the most time experimenting with and I learnt quite a bit in the process (especially regarding optimizing performance), which I'll be sharing in a beginners Doom 3 level-editing tutorial.
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