This week we are giving you the much anticipated first look at one of our new maps: Jungle
For the media release we sent Syphus to interview Mike (AKA Teifi) the creator of Jungle.
S: Good morning Mike!
M: Morning mate
S: Firstly, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule for the interview, I'm sure that the community will appreciate the update. So before we begin, could you please introduce yourself to the community.
M: Hello everyone! My name is Mike and I study Games Design in Cambridge in the UK. I joined the TA team early on in its development and I was looking to contribute to making TA a really good game. I was particularly attracted to the team as they were looking to create a game inspired by Tactical Ops, which is one of my personal favourite FPS games.
M: couldn't have said it better myself.
S: So we are here to talk about your map. Now I know that mapping is one of the most complex parts of making a Mod as it is where all the elements of the game are brought together. So just how hard is it to develop a map for the Unreal engine and how good is the Unreal Editor as a tool?
M: One of the best features of the Unreal Engine is that it is so versatile and allows the user to really achieve what they set out to do. The editor itself has definitely improved over the years of production. As well as being extremely powerful and flexible, it is also great fun to use. It comes as no surprise that many professional game production companies use this engine.
S: So evidently you spend most of your time using the Unreal Editor but are there any other tools that you use in the production of a map?
M: Occasionally I use programs like Photoshop and GIMP in order to achieve the exact effect I want. However, just like I am experienced in the editor, many other members of the team are much more experienced than me in their own fields, such as texture art, or modelling so I leave most of this to them. This is one of the most rewarding parts of working in such a team; you are able to truly rely upon everyone's skills.
S: I see, so making Jungle has been a team effort between you and other members of TA, like the Props Modellers, Texture Artists and Sounds/Effects Artists.
M: Yes, everyone has a part to play in the successful production of something like this.
S: Well judging by the community reaction when we released the first sneak peek of it there are a lot of people looking forward for it. So let's talk about the map then, give us some background on its production.
M: Well back in October when we released a sneak peek of the map, it was in the early days of production and there wasn't much material to show at that point, it was just a basic framework of the map. Things have moved on since then and Jungle has really taken shape.
S: Well a jungle map sounds interesting, not many retail games can pull off a convincing jungle multiplayer map.
M: When I used to make maps for Tactical Ops, one of the disappointing things was that the engine wasn't powerful enough to make beautiful outdoor scenes, it was really only designed for urban environments. So when I started working with UT3 I figured that I would fully utilize the new engine and try my best to make the kind of map I've wanted to create for years.
S: So your motivation was to create something different from other FPS maps?
M: Yes exactly, I wanted it to stand out as something new that has not been done before.
M: My first plans started using pen on paper. I realized from years of playing and mapping for Tactical Ops, that the successful maps were the ones with a good layout. Especially important are routes that intersect with each other, rewarding brave players with the opportunity to flank enemies from another position. Also important is layout that allows good tactical opportunities for the more serious players.
S: Ah so the map is strongly design centred then?
M: Yes exactly, however the design you see here is the earliest concept and is very different from the actual layout of the map as it is now. It is something that has evolved during its construction.
M: I wanted to combine all of these attributes into one map, so I designed different parts of the maps to suit different players. For example, the caves in the middle of the map would suit players who preferred close-up shotgun-style fighting, the more open routes to suit players who favour the sniper rifle, and a more discreet route to favour the stealthy player. The current map is quite different from the original design, but it has changed only for the better.
M: The map basically revolves around a central hill with a river flowing around one side.
The objective is to reach the riverside terrorist camp on the lower side of the hill, and rescue the hostages. Players will be able to take any route through or around the hill, leaving plenty of freedom.
Hopefully the map will create a feeling of tranquility of the jungle, but also the chaos of intersecting routes of play.
S: That is great; it sounds like something that really has not been done in the past. Since you mentioned it, are we talking about a hostage rescue scenario here?
M: Yes, the hostages will be kept in the terrorist camp by the riverside. This is an ideal scenario for the map since this is one of the largest maps in TA. An objective such as hostage rescue makes sure players are not scattered all around trying to find each other. A common goal brings the players into the same location.
S: It seems that although the map is big it will never be hard to find the action, I like that idea, it will make sure that the game plays fast as well as fun. What other plans do you have for the map now? It seems like you are almost done now.
M: Well, the map is now in its later stages of development, and is gradually getting closer and closer to completion. There isn't a whole lot left to do, however there are some impressive models that are currently in being made, and will be added in the final stages. Hopefully these will polish the map off and make it stand out from maps in other Mods.
S: Spice it up a little bit more, very nice! Since you are in the later stages of development can you tell us what it will look like in terms of the environment?
Will be raining? Is it a night or day map? Have we been talking about a prehistoric forest or a war scenario like Vietnam?
M: The map was originally planned to be set under moonlight, but then after discussion and experimentation I realized that having the map set at sunset gives it a much more impressive atmosphere. This is also adds to the 'isolated' feel of the jungle.
M: Although I do like how Jungle is looking we can't forget the rest of the TA level design team. They have been working just as hard as I have been to create some amazing maps, all of which I cannot wait to play in-game. Keep your eyes peeled for their map media releases!
S: OK Mike, thanks a lot for your time it was a pleasure to have this first preview of jungle and I think that the community will enjoy it too.
M: My pleasure mate.