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An Interview with Darth Norman
First of all I would like to give a warm welcome to our guest today, the very maker of fantastically detailed maps, Darth Norman.
First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself Darth Norman and how you first started off mapping?
Hi, my real name is Norman Paschke and I am living in Germany. I finished school last year (Iâ€™m now 19) and
started studying last autumn. When I was 14 I bought a new computer and the first decent game I got was Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast - and I LOVED it (I still do!).
So after playing SP and MP a lot, I got interested about how to make maps. I was always the creative oneâ€¦ I
drew a lot as a kid and made maps for Warcraft II and Starcraft. So I begged my best friend to download GTK
Radiant 1.3 (I think it was 1.3 at this time, I had 56k only and he had ISDN) so I installed it and tried to make some maps for JK2â€¦ oh well, my first attempts to make an outdoor map (Yavin of course ;)) were horrible.
But I learned very fast how to use brushes and patches the right way (huge thanks to Darth Arth's Mapping Academy
â€“ great German tutorials) and I was able to make my first map: Final Encounter . I know it sucks but at least it had lighting! Then another duel map followed, which was ok. And then Jedi Academy arrived in September 2003 and I moved on to this. Yeah you should know the rest!
Are you working on any maps at the moment?
Indeed, on two to be exact. â€œSiege â€“ Battle over Coruscantâ€ and â€œmb2_moseisleyescapeâ€ (working title) both
siege maps. BoC is of course a remake of the beginning sequence of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and the map includes everything of the Invisible Hand you see in the movie and more. I already released a trailer to show you what the main parts of the map will look like.
Mos Eisley Escape is a contest map for the Movie Battles II mod and will â€œrecreateâ€ the escape of Han, Luke,
Obi-Wan and the droids from Tatooine. Some WIP shots can be seen at the Movie Battles Homepage
There are also other projects that are frozen until I finished the current ones.
You have become pretty well known for your excellent quality and super detailed maps, such as
Arevass. Do you prefer making maps of your own imagination or would you like to build more movie maps like your Battle over Coruscant Siege map?
Well I always search for inspirationsâ€¦ and I get them very often from other games such as Unreal Tournament or Warcraft III. But I always try to think of something unique. I also like epic maps where everything is huge and wide and look beautiful. But I have to say that making movie maps is fun too and the building process goes quite fast on them (if you have good references!) but in general I prefer making maps of my own imagination. It is more fun to think of your own style and layout.
Which of your maps would you say is your favourite?
This has to be Arevass. It made me well known in our community and I still like to look at it!
What are your favourite map(s) made by the community?
My all time favourite is Bunker Wars
(Pre-alpha) by Dad*Mad (retired German mapper) which is a never finished JK2 map, I was totally stunned when I saw this one the very first time. I looked at this map for about 30 minutes (seriously) and my mouth was open the whole time! Then there are rgoerâ€™s maps (Sunset on Coruscant and Docking Tower Seven - lol I even remember their full name :D) which are just beautiful.
I would also like to mention sockâ€™s Temple of the Magician (aka Temple of the Massassi
-the JKA version) which introduced a new terrain technology.
Some great maps you mentioned there, they are some of my favourites too!
Lets move on to your mapping process. Perhaps you could describe for us how you go about making a map. Do you plan it all out before hand, make concept art etc? Or do you just start off with an idea and develop it as you are mapping?
The first thing is of course the idea. Itâ€™s mostly an eye-catcher, a special room, a cool setting or just a nice gameplay idea. To get new ideas I look through the texture folder of JKA or play other maps or just get one over night, then I try to focus on this idea, that means I try to think of a rough layout, the atmosphere, ideas on lightning and textures etc.
In this time I make some rough sketches of the layout or (if necessary) buildings/special structures â€“ nothing too detailed because I want to map it immediately! :P
Then I prepare some textures and shaders and start to map. During mapping new ideas pop into my mind of courseâ€¦ and some changes/compromises have to be made.
I know I sometimes have the tendency to loose interesting in a map if Iâ€™ve been working on it too long, or another idea has come into my head that I want to make. Do you ever get this problem, and if so, how do you deal with it. I always end up with lots of half finished maps!
Oh yeah I know this too well and sometimes it breaks my heart, but from time to time this happens. You know
when the idea wasnâ€™t that awesome anyway and when you get new map ideas you just drop that map and start a new oneâ€¦ that also happened to me. :(
Thatâ€™s why I try to have 2 projects at the same time so I can switch between them, it wonâ€™t get boring that fast. You would be stunned whatâ€™s in my maps folder!
How do you manage to cram so much detail into your maps, and did it take you a long time to learn just
where to put all of this detailing? Since I find it very difficult to put a lot of detail into a map, either because it affects the framerate too much or I simply have no idea where to put it all!
Hmmm thatâ€™s a very good questionâ€¦ fact is that you can create detail maps only if you know how to use Radiant and all its features (brush manipulation, patches, shaders etc.).
As you may know it takes me a lot of time to finish a mapâ€¦ thatâ€™s caused by the fact that I am a perfectionist and when I try to make a certain detail it can take hours to get it right! Afterwards it may looks very easy but the process of creating it took 3 hours.
I often have the image of the finished map right in my headâ€¦ but sometimes itâ€™s hard to build it in Radiant. I am doing most of the details in the first runâ€¦ I donâ€™t create the rough structure first and then the details. That happens at the same time. I also add some lighting (I HATE nolight maps lol). Another time-consuming fact is that I am compiling very oftenâ€¦ after each new part I have to look at it ingame.
Your maps also have excellent architecture and form to them, just how do you do that? Do you study real-world buildings or other things to get the proportions and the form of the architecture, or do you just design it as you go along?
I am interested in real-world buildings but since my maps are more fantasy or Star Wars based I have to think
of my own shapes and forms. I just guess I have a special eye for that.
What game types do you prefer, and why? (E.g. FFA, Siege, Movie Battles etc.)
I like Duel very much because its 1on1 (good framerate ya know ;)). But team based FFA, CTF or Siege is also
very nice because you actually need a tactic to win which is more challenging! Simple FFAâ€™s are...just funny.
What kind of map do you prefer? An indoor one, an outdoor one, or a mixture of both?
Personally I think a mixture of both is a cool map concept but itâ€™s hard to do, you can get some framerate problems very fast. I get the same problems on outdoor maps in general but I like them because the most
beautiful things can be found outside not inside.
The only thing that speaks for indoor maps is that you can create a great atmosphere in them. You can play with lightning and textures a bit better then in outdoor maps. But maybe thatâ€™s just me. :D
Well I think that that just about wraps this interview up, before we finish do you have anything else you want to say?
Hmmâ€¦ Donâ€™t let JKA die! ^^
Excellent, thanks for taking the time to have a chat with us Darth Norman!
It was a great pleasure for me, thank you very much for that interview.
**Note from the Interviewer**
If you want to check out any of Darth Norman's other maps or see the ones he has in production, head over to
his site here: Leveldesign by Darth NormaN