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Wywiady > Wywiad z Blaz'em (ang)
przeprowadzony dnia 26.06.2004
Autor : cOOkie MonsteR / Data : 2004-06-26 15:58
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cOOkie MonsteR: Hi Blaz. At the begging gratulations for graduating school, now you are in army what next?
Can you tell us who you really are when you don't hide behind Blazeeer nick. Where did come from your nick, what's its origin? What are your inerests besides mapping?
Blaz: Hi, my name is Philip Klevestav. 19 years old living in Stockholm (capital of Sweden). The nick Blazeeer I'm not really sure how I came up with the 3 e's. The name was originally just Blazer, but I felt I could spice it up a bit. I've got a lot of stuff I like to do when I'm not mapping. Working out, watching movies, being with friends, going out etc. Although I wish I had more time for both mapping and working.
Ah, after army I've got lot of plans. First thing I'm gonna do when I'm free is to apply for game dev. jobs here in Sweden. It's going to be very hard to get one though. But I will try to kep my hope up. If it turns out I won't get any job I will probably just apply for other type of jobs or perhaps study some more (which I don't really feel like doing at the moment). But right now I mainly have to focus on surv.
cM: Now back to your computer interests, we all know that you are a top-class mapper. What induced you to start creating levels? Could you tell us what was the first map you created and when was it, what engine did it use. What did you find particularly enjoyable about creating your own environments?
Blaz: Well, building stuff has always been something in my interest. Even before exploring the world of computers. Moving on to my first map I really didn't finish any playable maps first attempts. The first engine I mapped for was Duke 3D. Never understood it to well though. Moved on to Quake 1 later where I tried to make some levels without any good result. After that I mapped some for Quake 2 instead. My maps did look better now, but still far from decent even. When finally Half-Life arrived I moved on to that instead. Now the first really playable map I finished and put down some work on is cs_sanfran also featuring my own textures. I'm not really sure how long I've been mapping. Depends if I count the first unserious years or not but I could say since 1999 I did map more frequently at least.
cM: We all know you best of your HL mapping achievements, particularly de_morningstar. How long does it take to create a decent CS map? How was it in case of de_morningstar, could it have been made faster? Did you concentrate on the looks or tried to make a equalized layout while making de_morningstar?
Blaz: Tough question. The longer I work on a map the better it get mostly. To create a decent Cs map would still take some time just to get the layout well planned. I mean a fun map could be put together in one day. But it wouldn't be very big and it would definitely not look good. de_morningstar could have been done a lot faster. I learned a lot during the creation of it though. When I first started morningstar it hadn't been long since I finished my previous hotel map cs_sanfran. The quality of textures were very poor in the beginning and I had to redo all textures a lot of times before it reached the end result. I even rebuild the whole map after it was almost done once due to bad layout and lot of errors. So from first day of the creation to the final version I believe it took almost one year. If I was to do a map like that now it would probably take a month or two instead.
cM: How important do you think is the fun factor in CS mapping?
Blaz: The fun factor is very important, not only in CS of course but in all games. A game is not good if it is not enjoyable to play. I still believe that maps can be both good looking and fun. You just have to put down that little extra time to create a map that is.
cM: You use QuArK it's very interesting since most of mappers choose Hammer, what was the reason you decide to use QuArK.
Blaz: Ah, this question is easy to answer. It's simply because I used an editor called QMap for Quake 1. It's kind of an early QuArK. So naturally I chose QuArK when I moved to Half-Life since then I didn't have to learn a new editor. Also use it because it's so damn good
cM: We all still learn how to create brilliant levels, could you tell what is in your opinion the most importent thing while creating map and what features are the most importent to be a good mapper. Can you give a bit of advice for newbies and pro-mid about: How to create nice, interesting, equalized maps?
Blaz: The layout is always a problem. I still don't create good layouts the first try and I almost always have to tweak the maps a lot after I thought they were done. Only way to reach a good layout is to playtest the map a lot till it's fun to play.
The most important thing to get a map looking good really is lighting in my opinion. Try to always use some other colors than plain white. Shadows are very important to get a nice feel to the map.
cM: Lightning on your maps is also very realistic and gives great climate, do you make some plans or just run the map and check how it looks?
Blaz: I really just run the map and check it out ingame. I'm so used to HL that I mostly know how it will look. But sometimes you get surpriced, so it's important to test as well.
Lights always have a source. Don't forget that when you map. And it's easy to make things too bright. Try to use lower values on the light intensity. More gamma can be good as well if you want to create a scary feel of the map. Maps with a lot of contrast and bright spotlights are something I fancy a lot
cM: You are also a great texture artist, releasing to the community over 700 free textures to use, moreover you are creator of many official textures DoD, HL Rally, Snow-War, Action Half-Life and The Specialists. What programs do you use, could you tell us how is it possible to create such realistic textures. Do you alsow sketch/paint/photograph? Maybe you use digital sketch pad or some other hardware.
Blaz: Thanks Well, creating textures with quality is so much more than going out with your digi cam and resize some photos. It's a lot about contrast, brightness, colors etc. I never start out a texture with a photo. I always create my own base then use photos as layers on top.
I use a Wacom tablet to create textures. Sometimes it's EXTREMLY useful. It's like painting the stuff on a paper. Takes a while to get used to look at the screen while painting though, but once you get used it's a very useful tool.
cM: I know that you create levels for Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Snow War but those are all HL-engine MODs, have you ever tried creating maps for any other engine? Are you planning to make maps to other HL mods: Specialists, Natural-Selection or some else?
Blaz: I do plan to learn some UT 2003/2004 editing. Never really got the time to start doing maps with it yet just. I've tried some simple stuff though. I've also been mapping very little to Far Cry. I plan to release a specialist map or two perhaps. Depends if I can get them done now when I'm in the army.
cM: What induced you to create map to Snow War I think it isn't the most popular mod, is it? Have you got any plans for next map?
Blaz: I thought Snow War was a cool mod, so I wanted to create a map for it. Turning out to a map which got included: sw_blazwar. After that I thought, what the hell, why not make another map. So I created sw_terminal then, which also got included. Snow War is still a fun mod, especially on LANs. My next map/maps will probably be for The Specialists and HL Deathmatch. And of course my sinle player project HL - Submerg.
cM: You also create your own mod. Could you tell us something more about Half-Life - Submerged, what will it include, what sort of mod will it be? And of course we're interested in mapping powers of this mod
Blaz: Ah, there is a lot to tell about this mod. Half-Life - Submerged aims to be a very high quality mod with a great fun factor and very good looks. The mod will have new maps, new textures, new sounds, new models etc. I have some great mappers working hard on it at the moment: Marcos, Kreigore, Tailgunner and Evert. They have all released real quality work before, and I can tell you they won't disapoint you with their work in Submerged.
There will be a lot of scripted sequences in the mod. We've got our own particle system with rain, snow, smoke and fire effects. We also got a fog system. Right now there are no other special entities. But when or if we feel a need of something that original Half-Life entities can't give us we will probably create new ones.
cM: You have some experience in team mapping can you tell how you set up work in the team.
Blaz: Yeah, mapping in team is great and you get much more variated maps. It's important that you both (if you are two working on the same map) have a similar picture of the end result though. It's great when you get stucked, you just let the work over to the other person who might come up with a good idea. To get it working smoothly it's best that one person creates some parts, then send that over to the other person who continues.
cM: Do you have sometimes thoughts like: "Oh I can't make this map no longer" or "This map sux, no one will play it" I mean so called despair moments. Is there any inspected way to get rid of those thoughts and move on with the project?
Blaz: I do get that a lot really. I think most mappers do. You lose interest in a map very easily. This is why you should sometimes just get a break with one map and start another for a while. Then move back when you got some new ideas. Don't map when you are not motivated to do so. Instead do something else for a while, watch movies, play games etc. to get inspiration. That works for me at least
cM: I wonder what is your relation about creating levels. Have you ever thought of pursuing a career as a proffesional leveldesigner/texture artist in game industry or maybe mapping is only an episode in your life?
Blaz: This is something I would really like to do for living. But it's hard to get a job in the industry. But it would be little of a dream for me to work with the things I enjoy most. If not I will at least still try to create maps and textures as a hobby.
cM: What's your opinion about newbies who create only dust clones and maps like iceworld.
Blaz: I wouldn't call that mapping really. It's important to use your own creativity when mapping. This is also why I like to create my own textures to my maps. The maps are all from my mind then. Mapping is a great way to create places in your imagination, places that doesn't have to exist. You can go just as crazy as you want to. Try to take advantage of the freedom of mapping instead of copying already made work. I've done that mistake myself earlier.
cM: What is your feeling about Half-Life 2 ENGINE.
Blaz: I believe that it is a great engine that I will do some work on (already did some in fact, texture wise). Less limits means more freedom for the mapper to create what is in his/her mind. Really looking forward to it.
cM: Is there anything more you'd like to learn to improve your mapping skills?
Blaz: I still learn stuff every day. I should try to create more different environments. I can't say that there is anything specific I would like to learn. But sometimes I get "scared" of creating crazy architecture, I would like to have no limits at all when mapping. That's something I'm working on.
cM: Maybe you'd like to add something?
Blaz: Hmm. Well I hope that the amateur mapping scene will evolve and that large game developers will care about those amateurs working hard to create custom maps. It's a very important part to get better and more fun games. Good communication between developers, gamers and amateur mappers/modellers/texture artists etc. is essential.
cM: Thank you for putting in you priceless time, good luck with Submerged it looks tasty
Blaz: No problem and thanks a lot I hope it won't let you down when it's done.