1. Did you create all the maps?
NO! I didn't create the maps contained in this mappack. These maps were from many members of the Legends community. A couple maps have become more my ideas than than the original authors but I still credit every author for these maps where I knew who had created them. If you like any certain map in the mappack, remember to compliment the original author, NOT ME. They came up with the idea in the first place.
2. If you didn't create them why did you rename them with BT? Are you just trying to “steal” the credit for yourself?
No, I am not trying to steal the credit for myself. There were several reasons for renaming the maps.
A. To avoid conflicts and confusion with existing copies of the original maps: Many of these maps were in BTMappack-1.0 and used on several servers. By renaming the map I hope to avoid possible conflicts between the newer “BT” copy and the older version.
B. To reduce headaches for server admins: All maps use the same naming convention “outside” the map as well as “inside” the map. With the mapcycle feature in Legends, server admins can create a rotating mapcycle schedule of maps they want to run on their server. One issue I have seen in many maps for Legends is a disconnect between the filename the map is called and the name inside the map .mis file. I have tried to make this consistent for all maps in the mappack. Download mapcycle.cs
3. What makes these maps any better than the originals? Why should I use this mappack at all?
As I have said elsewhere I respect the effort, time, and talent it took to create the original maps contained in the BTMappack. The authors put in a great deal of time creating them. That being said, there were a number of mistakes that were common to many of the maps in this mappack.
A. “Dirty” .mis files: When someone uses the Legends/Torque editor to create/edit a map the editor “inserts” a number of editor specific lines of information. These lines are NOT needed by either the server or client the final map is being played on and should be removed before the map is released to the public. If these lines are not removed they may add to server stability problems and client issues. Even though these lines are not really being used by server or client, they still are being read into memory by each. In some cases this can cause very noticeable problems as these lines are read as errors and recorded in the Legends server console.log causing it to grow to enormous size. (sounds nasty eh!?) That large log file size WILL cause a server to crash far sooner than it should. Authors SHOULD clean up their .mis files BEFORE they release their creations to the public. If you are a mapper please refer to the following webpage to get an idea of what “clean” up in your .mis file means. It by no means has all the possible lines you should be looking for but will get you started. Mission Cleanup (thanks to Ilys for pointing me towards this valuable information)
B. Graphics and other files in the wrong folders Many maps had texture and graphics files in the wrong locations. Several maps had these files located in the Legends missions folder. Each of the affected maps in this mappack had to have every file of this sort moved and relinked to a more correct location. The only files that should be in the missions folder are .mis files, .ter files, and the loadscreens folder with the loadscreen files in that. NOTHING ELSE!
C. Lighting Directions Almost every map had the same basic issue. The “Sun” in the map might be in the Northern part of the sky, but the shadows in the map were being cast by an “invisible” Sun in the SouthWestern part of the sky. Legends defaults the section of the .mis file dealing with Sun direction to a SW Sun. Many of the map creators had not bothered to correct this oversight before releasing their maps. I don't blame them. It takes quite a bit of time consuming experimentation to get this right. There is supposedly a “formula” for getting this right. Not being a math wiz I resorted to good old fashioned trial and error until I was satisfied with the results. The lighting direction in a map makes a huge amount of difference in how the map looks. Theres a funny feeling when you finally hit it. The map suddenly “feels” right. I believe that feeling comes from years of our viewing lighting that is RIGHT. After all, our Sun doesn't “make” lighting mistakes. We see correct lighting all our lives and whether we consciously realize it, some part of our subconscious does when its wrong...or right.
D. Too much Light. Along with the above, many mappers had flooded their maps with too much light which basically washes out color and reduces shadows in the map giving the whole map a “flat” appearance. Where I saw this I tried to find a more reasonable balance.
E. Repetition of objects Some maps went way overboard on various objects such as trees and rocks etc. Perhaps the author thought it would be nice to have a “forest” effect but rather than varying the scale of the trees used, the author simply “planted” a zillion trees, all the same scale and all with the same rotation. I have tried to bring this under control by varying the scale, randomizing the placement and changing the rotation of these kinds of items. As well, even though a zillion trees may look cool, a zillion trees can play havoc on server and client system resources. Moderation is just as visually effective and will keep performance within reason for all.
F. Alignment of objects Many of the maps had very badly placed or aligned objects such and Inventorys and Turrets. I have tried to clean this area up as much as I can given the number of maps and time involved.
G. Much, MUCH more misc. items were fixed. Too many to mention here.
4. So I guess you think your “BT” maps are perfect?
No, I do not think the “BT” maps are perfect. After spending as much time on this project as I have, I KNOW they are not perfect and that there are still many issues remaining to be fixed. After throwing out mappack versions 1.01 and 1.02, I started on this project in mid February 06 and worked on it almost daily through the month of March 06. I have been steadily refining the 1.03 version of the mappack since then through several test versions and now into beta versions. At some point I will call it good...for the time being, and release a final 1.03 version. After that I fully intend to keep refining the mappack and perhaps work toward including some of my own map ideas in future versions. On the other hand NO map is EVER perfect and that includes most of the stock Legends maps, many of which have the very same kinds of issues as the community maps do. Creating a map is hard, time consuming, detail oriented WORK. Anyone who thinks otherwise should try it using the basic information from above as a guide towards creating a final “product”. It AIN'T easy!
5. So can the original author “use” what you have done?
ABSOLUTELY they can! In fact I hope they do. If the original authors can get some use out of my effort they are totally welcome to take the contents of this mappack and do whatever they want to it. All I would ask is that they give me some small credit mention somewhere and use a different name for the maps they create than the ones I am using here. This is only to avoid confusion down the line for users and server admins.
6. So, do you guarantee that I will like EVERY map in the mappack?
Of course not! I don't even like EVERY map in this mappack and I put the thing together. You will like some and you will hate some. It doesn't matter that you like them all. What matters is you have a choice for your server and a choice as a player that will require a single download.
7. Ok, this sounds like a cool thing, but why did you bother to create the mappack in the first place?
I love FPS types of games and I especially love the variety you can get with the maps for first person shooters. There is nothing cooler than playing a map that makes the edges of your monitor “disappear”. You are no longer sitting in front of a computer in some room somewhere, you are IN the world of that map. Good maps do that. Some of my favorite maps were from the mapping community that grew up around Tribes 1. Unfortunately very few players saw those maps because Tribes 1 did not auto-download maps to clients.
My other favorite game for custom maps is the original UnReal. There are some mind blowing maps that were created for that game. Amazing lighting, effects, ideas, terrains, everything! There are still a number of very active UnReal servers out. Try “Snipers Paradise” sometime for examples of some of these amazing maps.
By doing all the effort this mappack has required I hope that I can make it somewhat easy for the rest of you to not only enjoy these maps without waiting for multiple downloads of each map, but be inspired to contribute your own unique efforts to Legends. Maybe someday your effort will make someones elses monitor “disappear” from view as well!