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An interview with Face
How the hell have you been lately?
I'm feeling great!
With discussion still going on in places about the beta testing fiasco, is there any statement that you would like to make to the people that have stood behind you and/or the people that have been giving you a hard time?
For those that have been behind me I really do appreciate them and all of their support that they've given me, it's these people who make up for the small minority who have given me a tough time of late. It's very easy for people to judge my actions surrounding what happened, a few said that I overreacted, but I really don't feel I did. After all, it was me who had spent all the time working on the map (Hell's Gate) only to have my wishes ignored by those who I had trusted. It's a strange coincidence that the day after this erupted, I was sent yet another virus...
Why the name "Face"? Does it hold any significance, and is it an alias that you commonly go by online?
Good question, and I'm sure I'll think of an answer soon enough :-). Seriously, I needed an alias and used the first thing that came into my head, once I started playing under the name "Face" I thought it sounded kind of cool, so that's why it's stuck with me. Ever heard of the saying "I never forget a Face?"...
Could you tell us about the real geographical location, Hell's Gate?
Hell's Gate is located at the Fraser Canyon in British Columbia, Canada somewhere in-between Hope and Lytton. I was doing a drive through Canada nearly two years ago and this was a visitor attraction along the Trans Canada Highway which formed part of my journey. What drew me to it was the Fraser River and the fact that you had to get a cable car down into "Hell's Gate". It was a very hot day and as you can probably imagine driving long stretches at a time can get uncomfortable, so it was one of the places I had planned to stop at just to have a look at.
What inspired you to begin work on Hell's Gate? What made you decide to model a map after a real location? Why Hell's Gate?
I had just finished working on the Towers map and I was itching to do some more mapping. I wanted to design a map from a real world location that hopefully people could relate to. From playing Deus Ex (Single Player) you are immersed into some realistically mapped out locations, starting from the very beginning with the Liberty Island map. I wanted to continue with this theme of merging real-world locations with artistic creativity, as I believe it makes for a much more interesting map. The key elements, for me, of the real Hell's Gate are the cable cars, the suspension bridge and the boardwalks. All of these elements feature in the map, each serving a purpose.
Do you feel that real-world locations are easier to map and/or more fun to play in than synthetic environments?
I certainly think that having a prior knowledge of the location is a bonus, but I wouldn't say it makes it any easier to map, especially if there's artistic licence involved! With the "fun" side of things, I guess it can work both ways. Allowing people to relate to the real-world adds a higher level of realism, which I believe makes things more fun. Thinking back to what I said about the Liberty Island map, it wasn't long after I had come back from New York when I started playing the game, so for me it was more fun playing that mission because I had actually been there... Does that make sense? lol! Surely you know what I mean?
What advice can you give for people who want to start out in the world of DX mapping?
First of all keep trying! It's very easy to get despondent, when things don't work or look the way you want them to, keep trying and trying and trying. Eventually things should start making sense and click into place. Secondly, read the tutorials, you will probably find a lot of the help you need in those, and don't be afraid to ask questions to those more experienced mappers, even if it seems like a stupid question, ask. If there's anyone that needs help and its something that I can help out with then I don't mind, ask away.
Starting off I would recommend just playing about with all the different options in the editor, to see what they actually do. Then if you've got a good idea in your head for a map, why not try designing it? It's usually a good idea to put at least a rough guide down on paper, even if it's just dimensions.
What resources did you use when you began mapping with Towers? Did you read tutorials at sites like the Universal Constructor, Deus Ex Ed, and DX Editing, or did you toy with UnrealED until you got it right?
To be completely honest with you I only used one tutorial for the Towers map, and that was on how to create an elevator. I just kept toying around with UnrealEd until things started falling into shape. The original Towers map had some weird looking huge tower with a massive round top bit... It looked kind of ugly and stupid, and I cringe to think of it. Moving on... lol!
Will you be using your own anti-spawnkilling system in your future multiplayer maps? Will it be improved from its debut version in Towers?
The anti-spawnkilling "system" in Towers is rather crude, but it does work to some extent. In my new maps, starting with Hell's Gate, there will be something much better that will totally eradicate spawnkilling and team-killing in spawn rooms!
And can you give us any hints or clues as to what it might involve?
If I told you, I'd have to kill you. Think of your readers!
Oh dear. I suppose we'll just have to leave it be, then. Deus Ex would lose half its fanbase to suicide if I was to perish!
When you gain inspiration to create a new map, where do you start in the design process? Do you sketch it out on paper first or do you jump straight into the editor? Do you write down a list of important items?
Good question, and I think it varies from person-to-person, what works for me might not work for others and vice versa. The first thing I do is note down what exactly I'm trying to achieve in the map, what's important, who it's aimed at etc. Then I start sketching some basic designs on paper and then jump into UnrealEd. Well, that's what I did for Hell's Gate, Towers was straight into the editor :-).
When creating a map, what design elements do you consider? What is the most important to you? (frame rate, visual appeal, gameplay, balance, etc.)
Well, with Hell's Gate I'm trying to get a balance of design elements. I believe that playability and the fun factor of a map should be considered a fairly important design element, as you could have an absolutely drop dead gorgeous map but with a really bad fun rating or frame rate, who's going to play a map with 1fps?
About how long has it been since you began mapping for Deus Ex?
If my memory serves me correctly, which it often doesn't, Towers was released in April sometime, it took a week to create ... so... about two and a half months?
How long are the compile times on HellsGate? What do you do while your map is compiling?
Hell's Gate takes about a minute to build in its current form. In the time it takes, I'm usually telling the PC to hurry up, but does it listen? No... Such disrespect! I don't know, just can't get the staff these days.
Sounds like BackDoorBandit. I tell him to hurry up with my coffee, and does he? No!
The amount of crap you have been given by a select few people is really a shame because to those who know you, you are one of the most open-minded people around. It's been said that you enjoy feedback from players. What venues can the average Joe use to give you his or her constructive criticism?
I welcome feedback (good and bad) from everyone, I'd rather people be honest and tell me exactly what's wrong and why they think it's wrong as this allows me to improve or fix the problem. I know some people fear offending others, but if it's a valid point and not a blatant dig at my work then I do want to know. I would rather have 10 comments detailing bugs in my maps than 10 comments praising them.
What I don't appreciate is people not telling me directly (to my face?!), and just talking about it behind my back without actually saying anything to me. People can use my website (which lists my email and other public contact details) as a means of getting in touch with me, www.facedesigns.co.uk (shameless plug I know), I will answer all emails where appropriate and I really do want to hear from anyone that has something to say.
Do you play many other fan maps? Have you ever played another mapper's level and smacked your head, thinking, "Why didn't I think of that??"
I've played a few user-made maps, both Multi Player and Single Player, but I can't say that I've ever "smacked my head" in that way. I think the reason being that we all have very different styles of mapping, what I map is different to other mappers, so I'm not really sure that the question really applies to me. However, recently, playing BigAl's map that he entered for the fan mission, I was quite simply stunned with his intro on board the aircraft, now that was very cool!
Have you ever considered mapping for a modification project? Do you feel that your talents are more used when you are the boss?
I was recently asked to join the team for one of the mods currently in production (I won't say which), and I am considering it. I do feel that unless the rest of the team members are committed within a mod project that you are better off working on you own.
Which map(s) in the original game do you feel show the most brilliance in architecture, layout, weapon and enemy placement, and interaction? (OR: what's your favorite SP map!)
Oh man! How could you ask me such a question, it's a tough one to answer! I must say that I have a great liking towards the Liberty Island map, it sets the scene nicely, it just seems so right - what with the statue in the centre, I thought I was back in NY when I loaded it up :-). The NYC street maps were fun to play, as the architecture seemed excellent with the enemy placement about right. Can I just say that I liked all of them as that's the truth :-)...
What is the "official" drink and snack of the mapper?
Drink... Usually Pepsi, ahhh, but then when I'm stuck for ideas anything with alcohol in it usually helps give me some weird inspiration! haha.
Snack... Probably chocolate, are you trying to make me hungry or something?!
Of course not =) And even if you were hungry, all you would have to do is load up UnrealEd and treat yourself, eh?
Ah but of course :-) Was that a trick question?! Haha!
The staff of DeusEx-Machina.com would like to thank Face for his time and the lease of his brain for the duration of the interview. Look for lots of up and coming things at Face's site
~Eberon - 6/30/01