the Junkyard: Cinderkarst's Open Interview

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Cinderkarst's Open Interview

Cinderkarst's Open Interview

Posted by: IVIaedhros on 05/23/2005
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Design Process


--IVIaedhros: Alright, with the ATR coming out soon, can you give us a general idea of how you design levels?
Cinderkarst: Well, first we settle on a height map set up between the LD and the producer. IE, is the terrain good for both HERCand human? Then, we discuss and put in features and bases based on the setting. We try to stick to Siege canon as closely as possible to stem any bitching from the purists.
IVIaedhros: What do you mean by canon? Are you referring to what worlds they're supposed to be based or just the general design theme?
Cinderkarst: The worlds in which they are based, as well as a general design theme. However, with design of most of the assets centralized between the concept artists and modelers, the generalized theme takes care of itself.
Generator: Can you show us any recent screenshots of some of the maps you've been working on?
Cinderkarst: Not quite yet, but if all goes well you should be seeing them very, very soon.

--IVIaedhros: How do you work with the other level designers...is this all solo or do you co-operate on maps together?
Roy_Fokker: Tell the truth now; you hate them all don't you.
Cinderkarst: Well, I'm currently working really closely SONOFMAN. He's helping me flesh out the stuff I want. Sentinal of MIB fame does what he can with getting things we need done. He really helped out in getting the terrain textures to the point they are now.
IVIaedhros: How do you work together with SONOFMAN? Will you work out objectives you each do or will you simply encourage/critique one another?
Cinderkarst: Well, I'd like to point out that when he types on IRC I have no idea what the hell he's saying. He's eternally losing the battle with his keyboard, but he is generally getting me the props I request, as well as troubleshooting issues I come across. Plus he does give me a pat on the ass here and there.
IVIaedhros: That's..lovely... yea, anyways, props...so he designs the objects for the map?
Cinderkarst: Well, I design some of the props too, but he's more knowledgeable than I when it comes to the workflow. Between the two of us we've done the interiors we have at this point. He's designed some stuff that is just fantastic, stuff you haven't even imagined, stuff that will make you weep.

-- Plague: Has there actually been any real play testing of any kind so far to determine balance, or is it all still first draft stats?
Cinderkarst: Can't tell you that yet.
IVIaedhros: ..Trajan showed screenshots of the buggy running around so there has been some limited play testing.

--IVIaedhros: Cinderkarst, are you involved with any department besides the mapping?
Cinderkarst: Not really, I chime in here and there but I don't really dabble anywhere else.

-- Aldaron: Will you be handling future released videos?
Cinderkarst: I don't do the promotional work.
NTDF Vyper: I will, when Traj decides it is time. I'm hoping to start on new promo material soon.
Aldaron: And what program(s) do you use to edit/create videos?
NTDF Vyper: I use Adobe Premiere and After Effects.
Aldaron: And about how much do those cost these days if I were theoretically going to buy them tomorrow.
NTDF Vyper: Premiere cost me $600 and I got a deal on After Effects $300.

--IVIaedhros: Here's something more general: what's the hardest thing about mapping right now?
Cinderkarst: On the hardest part of mapping Torque it's the fact that you have to work in a vacuum with interiors.
IVIaedhros: Can you explain? I'm not sure what you mean by a vacuum.
Cinderkarst: You see when creating DIFs, unlike Unreal, you have to work in a third party program. Thus, you can't make on-the-fly changes in the Torque map editor.
IVIaedhros: Have you lost any saved data that way..I'd be afraid of crashes.
Cinderkarst: I learned very, very well during my T mapping days to save a lot…and to turn off vertex lighting.
Roy_Fokker: :D
Cinderkarst: Roy got the joke.
Roy_Fokker: I would have though Kore would have fixed that by now…Kore you are slacking off.


Gameplay


Click for the full picture--IVIaedhros: Here's a question I've been thinking about for a while. How do you design maps to take into account all the different modes of play? I mean there are HERCs, infantry, flyers, and tanks and not only that, but they all of which have different abilities to go over terrain.
Cinderkarst: We take into account all different modes of transport and movement. As a matter of fact, my prelim Venus terrain was actually a little too sparse, so I added cliffs and valleys and just about any other geological structure I could think of.

--Kaz: Will gravity be a factor?
Cinderkarst: We haven't quite determined that. From my personal standpoint, it would frustrate rather than entertain, but I haven't heard the official word from Trajan yet.
IVIaedhros: I asked Trajan something like that a while ago and it sounds like it's going to be left for the community.

--IVIaedhros: Will the ATR have only WAR maps or will any of the other gameplay modes be present?
Cinderkarst: Hasn't been quite finalized what exactly we're shipping with the ATR, so I don't want to say anything at this point. Under promise, over deliver, or promise the exact amount, and deliver right there.
IVIaedhros: Well what have you been working on so far...has it been primarily WAR or have you seen anything else?
Cinderkarst: Been doing primarily WAR stuff at the moment, but it's only a matter of new components being delivered to my doorstep. The coders have been doing an amazing job of getting us stuff to work with.
IVIaedhros: That's good to hear, especially since there seems to be a lot of cycling going on with the staff recently with people coming and going all the time
Cinderkarst: That's to be expected though, especially with the engine jump and GG fans wanting to jump on board a promising project, but it's been settling down since and the names are starting to get more familiar on the dev boards, etc.
IVIaedhros: I'm talking more recently though...I guess it's still to be expected since this is a volunteer project and people have their lives.
Cinderkarst: Yeah, summer and all that. There's also fact that most are coming to realize that this is a labor of love: emphasis on labor. ;)

--Kaz: How will spawning work? Will you be dropped in random places, dropped back at base, dropped back to the Vehicle Depot or will you always be dropped starting as infantry or back in your HERC?
IVIaedhros: I would assume you start as a pilot...correct? *raises eyebrow* I feel terribly insecure if my assumptions are not right....
Roy_Fokker: LOL, I think you expect too much of him
Cinderkarst: Indeed he does. That's something I don't feel comfortable giving that info out.
Kaz: Doh!
Cinderkarst: We have spawn things fleshed out, but I don't want to comment on them.

--IVIaedhros: What will the average flight ceiling be?
Cinderkarst: Map-dependant, but I'm going to say "high enough" for now. That's very much a balance issue bridge we haven't crossed yet.

--IVIaedhros: Alright, here's another: are some maps being designed specifically with the thought of different vehicles/technologies being restricted?
Cinderkarst: The maps were designing now are sandbox in nature, that is, everything will be available for use. Further maps... that remains to be seen.
IVIaedhros: That makes sense, since why would you want to restrict things when they're first released anyway
Cinderkarst: Indeed, restriction and restructuring of core gameplay is generally the realm of the fan base.

--IVIaedhros: Now for the bases will base structures be completely destructible or will only a few key structures like generators and turrets be vulnerable? Like, will I be able to take my Executioner and blast through a wall?
Chemeleon: Complete destructibility won't happen. At this point, even having parts being destroyable, is very unlikely I'd say. However, key points in the campaign are certainly possible.
Cinderkarst: At this point, I believe we're only going to allow for base assets to go down like gens and turrets [in the MP version].


Level Design


--Kaz: Cinder, can you elaborate on the different types of terrain?
Cinderkarst: Well, it is very much dependant on the way the terrain is defined in Starsiege's canon. For example, early shots of Venus you see a deep valley with high mountains surrounding it. Basically, it's a mixed bag and it'll only get mix-ier.
IVIaedhros: What about acid or any other dangerous natural obstacle be making an appearance?Click for the full picture
Cinderkarst: There will probably be featured to some extent if I have my way on a few scores. It depends largely if they hinder gameplay to a point that it's just not fun.

--IVIaedhros: Here's another question on terrain...will the terrain type effect movement...say you can move faster on grass, slower in mud, etc, or will there only be simple terrain styles to blend in with the scenery?
Chemeleon: IIRC it's possible with torque. Whether we use it or not is "wait and see." That'd be interesting for sure, but I don't think we're going to do anything quite that simulation-like. It may turn out not to be fun or we might nix it to squeeze some extra performance out.
IVIaedhros: Well you've mentioned acid and water, so I assume that those at least will slow things down a bit.
Cinderkarst: Well, yeah, but you're talking terrainblock stuff where those would be handled in a waterblock situation. :p
IVIaedhros: Forgive my mapping ignorance.
Cinderkarst: It's no problem. I just don't want people getting the idea that we're doing old fashioned SS maps with no water or other natural liquids.


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