… it’s not as hard as you’d think!
Quake III Arena is one of the best multiplayer games ever, and easily one of the most refined game engines ever made. To make your very first map in Quake III, you need a copy of the game (naturally) and GTKRadiant—which is freely available for download at www.qeradiant.com. GTKRadiant is used to create maps for many games other than Quake III, so most of these techniques will be helpful in other games like Doom 3, Quake 4 and so on.
When you start GTKRadiant for the first time, you’re asked to point out to the location of your Quake III folder. By default, it points out to C:\Program Files\Quake III Arena. Make sure you change the path to your installed path, and remember to specify the game as Quake III Arena. When GTKRadiant loads, you will notice that the interface seems rather complicated. To make things a little simpler, we will change the layout of the viewports to 4 views by going to Edit > Preferences > Interface > Layout.
Changing GTKRadiant’s default viewport layout is preferable—it makes things
Restart GTKRadiant and there will be three views showing the map through the X,Y and Z axis and the fourth one showing a real-time preview. To use the preview, right click in the window and use the directional arrow keys to move around like you would in the game.
Brushes are the building blocks that make up the structures. The walls, the floor, the pillars are created with brushes. To create a brush, simply drag a sufficiently large box in one of the three views. In this example, we’ll make a box and then make it hollow—like an empty room, but without windows. To make the box hollow, click on the Make Hollow button in the toolbar. The rotate, scale and move tools can be found on the toolbar above.
Every surface you create can be given its own texture
Textures need to be moved into place and aligned using the Surface Inspector
While making the structure, you need to keep in mind that there are to be no leaks—no empty spaces leading outside the map. If required, make an additional hollow enclosure outside the main structure.
A map can’t have one single texture painted all over—we now need to set texture for each of these surfaces. Hold the [Shift] key down and left click on a surface. Now, click on the Texture Browser button, or hit [T]. Click on a category of texture from the left and click on the texture on the right to apply the texture on the surface. Depending on the size of the texture and the object, the proportions will be messed up. To fix this, start the Surface Inspector—View > Surface Inspector or [S]. Here you can select the surface in the same manner and change the alignment and tiling for the texture.
Adding Gameplay Elements
Things like weapon ammo, armor, jump pads and weapons contribute to a fun-filled map. A spawn point is the bare essential—to add one, right click on the view where you want it added and select Info > info_player_deathmatch. You’ll need many more depending on the number of players you plan on having in your map or you’ll have all the players spawning at that single spot. Similarly, place weapons, armor and ammunition. Lights are absolutely necessary unless you plan on playing hide-and-seek in the dark. Right-click in the top view and select Light. You can give it an intensity and colour here.
To compile, first save the map to (File > Save). Then, click on the Build menu and select one of the compile presets. Compiling the map can take a while if it’s very detailed and has many lights in it. If your compile fails, there’s a good chance that there are leaks in the map—GTKRadiant will tell you where they are.
To test the map, copy the compiled .bsp file from the location where it was compiled to your Quake III Arena\baseq3\maps folder. Start Quake III. Make sure the pure server is turned off by typing /sv_pure 0. Type /map mapname or /devmap mapname and your map should load.
When you feel you are satisfied with the results, its time to pack your map up so you can send it over to your friends so fragging can commence. Create an empty folder called Maps and copy the .bsp file into it. Next, use a compression tool such as WinRAR or WinZip and create a ZIP archive out of the maps folder. Rename the .zip file to .pk3. Now you can give your friends the .PK3 file to be dumped into the BASEQ3 folder of their installation.
If you are the one hosting the server, then you can have Quake III automatically send the map from your machine. Just make sure the clients use the command /cl_Allow Download 1 and you use the command /sv_AllowDownload 1.