Nod To Mod: Q3WCP9, Or “Great F***in’ Level”

Playing Quake Live is a troubling experience. It feels like a kind of monetised nostalgia. A browser-based themepark, or a visit to a mummified stately home. It’s wonderful to find servers heaving with people again after all this time – even though finding a game was seldom a problem – at least for a quick and dirty free-for-all. I still adore Quake 3, and my install has not left my hard-drive in a decade. But playing it like this made me realise what a mutant creature I actually fell in love with in the earliest years of this decade. What’s missing, particularly for an obsessed capture-the-flagite like me, is one particular map: Spider Crossings, or Q3WCP9. Without it, Quake Live cannot earn my love.

I suspect it’s the same for loads of other Quakers: the vanilla game never quite delivered. Quake 3 – clearly Id Software’s finest hour – was released in an unfinished state, and was patched by the Texan FPS kings for years to follow. But, once we’d digested the vanilla game, it wasn’t their efforts that really seemed to count. Instead, it was the incredible creativity of teams such as those that made Challenge ProMode Arena, Q3 Fortress, Rocket Arena 3, or Urban Terror. Their work evolved and completed the game that Id had created. For me, and for the tiny European posse I played through the nights with, the finishing move was made by the Threewave team. Their maps completed our experience. Our Quake 3 game, which evolved and focused over a period of three years, came down to just a few key maps and mods. From my personal experience, the OSP mod finished off the GUI that Id Software had started, and padded out the statistics and configuration fiddliness within the game that become so compulsive. Then came those vital maps.

There’s something supernatural about learning the function and architecture of a couple of FPS maps so intimately that you can visualise their every flat surface without even seeing them. That’s what it was like for a bunch of the Threewave maps. I played at least half a dozen CTF maps every day, and at least half of them would be one from this map-pack. By the end, half would be a single map: Spider Crossings, Q3WCP9. I regularly played defence in the 5v5 CTF matches the Euros seemed to enjoy so much. I began to hit attackers with my rail before I’d properly perceived them. Lizard reflexes. Rocket battles like kung fu.

There was something about the perfect symmetry of that map, and its layered entrances to the flag room, that made it CTF perfection. It was wide and clear enough for mad rocket jumps and acute railgun savantism, but it also closed up fast, for brutal shotgun-to-the-face point blank fights. It remains the one piece of gaming architecture that springs to mind whenever the slightest Quake 3 tangent is prompted in my mind.

When Team Fortress 2 hit I remember a blogger saying something like “it’s only got six maps, that doesn’t sound like enough”, and naturally enough, a thousand people responded: it could only have two maps, and if they were good enough, it wouldn’t matter. That’s how I feel about Quake Live – it’s got loads of maps, but I only want one.

Anyway, here she is in action. This isn’t my capture, but I wish it was.


  1. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Preach that Spider Crossing gospel, brother Rossignol.

    Can I get an AAAAAAA’ MEN?

    (In other words: IAWTC).

  2. Johnny Law says:

    Neat. That picture at the top of the article… I made that bit of the docs.

    Good ol’ Threewave.

  3. Kieron Gillen says:

    Great Fuckin’ Level.


  4. Mo says:

    Goodness, that looks amazing. I have way too much iPhone development work to justify booting up into Windows, but I very desperately want to do so to play a bit of Quake Live!

    I actually liked vanilla Q3A. I was never a particularly hardcore (read as: “good”) Q3A player, but it’s definitely one of my favourite games ever. It’s just the inherit simplicity it possessed: all the deathmatch action you need, none of the fluff. For that reason, I never felt the need to stray too far from vanilla Q3A.

  5. MrMud says:

    I cant play quake live because no matter how many times I install the plugin it still wont take me past the “download and install” page. Now that probably doesnt matter because quake without mods is not quake. I mean really, no one ever played straight up Quake3. Even if you werent playing a crazy mod you were at least playing promode or osp.

  6. ...hmm... says:

    hmm. that level reminds of about nearly every level in unreal championship 2: the liandri conflict on the original xbox.. that was fun, it had swords and stuff.. :/

  7. Tei says:

    As a player, I love classic maps (like el alamein (bf1942), q2edge (q2), DM4/DM6 (q1), front worlds (unreal) ). As something else, I hate that players reduce the variety of games in order to optimize it. Because I like shiny new things, like new maps, and new ideas.

    QuakeWorld introduced a features, that is important, the ability for the engine to autodownload maps. The protocol was horrible unoptimized for this, and the code never gor farter than that… you could implement the engine in a way to let the player play the game before the complete map is downloaded, maybe let see other people play while the map download.

    I am happy to see games like Garrys Mod move this idea further. If you connect to a server, It will download the python files the game need. Is also a incredible good and fun interface (you see the files as tiny icons moving to the left, different icons for the pythons, images, etc… )

  8. Pani says:

    Q3 was one of the games we played at our LAN party but my best friend was a Q3 nut and meant we all got our arses whooped. That was (and probably would still be) the big problem with FPSs, the huge difference in skills between regular players and casual players. That video reminded me of those days terribly.

    I keep thinking about getting the orange box – there’s so much talk about TF2 I really should try it, but I know I’m going to get annoyed at the insta-frags I get from all the hardcore players.

  9. Schmung says:

    ah gawd, the bunny-hopping. Quake 3 represents the absolute opposite of my idea of FPS fun and bunny-hopping and movement exploits broke the multiplayer of my favourite ever mod. Watching that provokes a full on physical cringing reaction from me. I can see the skill and I can see how you would enjoy it, but very much not my cup of tea.

    As far as classic FPS maps goes, I think there’s always one or two that you tend to latch on to, ones that push some little button in your mind and tends to suit the way you play. There was this Quake1 map called westworld or something that just huge, huge amounts of fun back in the day.

  10. Johnny Law says:

    The skill-matching in Quake Live addresses that a little, especially since it allows you to play “down one level,” which would help if you end up stuck in the lower reaches of your current skill bracket.

    Since they started the open beta, QL has started having technical problems on my system that prevent me from playing it — makes me sad — but during the closed beta I enjoyed it a lot. I’m not a big fan of FFA/teamDM/duel on most of the stock maps, but several of the CTF maps are fun (including some they cherry-picked from Team Arena and a new map), and Clan Arena worked well too on a couple of the stock maps + two new maps they added.

    I expect QL will never just be completely opened up to third-party content as it’s hard to see how that would work, but hopefully id will at least occasionally “bless” a third-party map.

  11. Feet says:

    I’m certain I played that level last night on one of the UK CTF servers.

  12. Johnny Law says:

    … and by “addresses that” I was referring to Pani’s comment. (Didn’t there used to be an Edit button for these things?)

  13. danielcardigan says:

    MrMud says:
    “I cant play quake live because no matter how many times I install the plugin it still wont take me past the “download and install” page.”

    Running Windows 2000? If so there’s a workaround.

    link to

  14. Feet says:

    Actually, no after watching the videa it wasn’t…

  15. Aubrey says:

    Booo! Strafe jumping is fun! People who whine about bunny hopping are teh borenongs.

    “Exploit” would imply that it breaks the balance of the game. While it wasn’t originally an intentional part of the game design, the fact that it takes skill to provide any advantage means it’s very far from game breaking. And gives some of the most silky smooth movement in FPS games.

    Breaks verisimilitude, I grant you, but if it feels good, I say go with it.

  16. Feet says:

    Incidently, I’m a Q3 n00b really. It was popular at a time when I was playing Civ on an older PC so it passed me by. So Quake Live has been brilliant for me, I’ve really been enjoying it, learning the levels where the weapons are and so forth. And cause it’s in my browser it’s perfect if I have a spare 10 minutes and I don’t want to spend 6 of those waiting for TF2 to load up.

    Quake Live gets a thumbs up from this n00by.

  17. Radiant says:

    When people talk of twitch gaming a part of me wants to correct them.
    It’s not so much a twitch of reactions as much as it is an action like sinking into the chair in front of your pc.

    It’s that familiarity of having done it so many times.

    You know where the armrests are; you know where that door is and when on your run there is going to be someone running through it.

    I saw someone crouching to get better aim the other day.


  18. MadTinkerer says:

    What Valve have done with their multiplayer shooters is to periodically absorb community-made maps into their standard map list. I can’t imagine TF2 without Steel now. But it’s the crazy, quirky, but still eminently playable maps that are a little too odd to make it into the official list that really are the icing on the cake. Maps like Toy Fort and that low gravity moon base one.

    Then there’s Balloon Race (v2, because it fixed a lot of exploits with v1) is an airship race between RED and BLU. You need to have one vulnerable “pilot” to keep the ships moving, because you can’t capture points until your ship gets there. The other team can board your boat any time the ladder is close enough to the ground. Whoever has the best out of five points wins the round.

    Stuff like that really does complete online multiplayer games. I don’t understand how anyone can play shooters on consoles.

  19. ascagnel says:

    If you choose one of the heartier classes in TF2 (Heavy, Demoman, Soldier), you won’t get insta-fragged. The more skill-based classes (Spy, Scout) and the need for the Engineer to know the maps are best held off until you get to know the game. As for the Pyro? That’s just fun ;)

  20. Radiant says:

    “I don’t understand how anyone can play shooters on consoles.”

    Very true but keep in mind console FPS are in their infancy.
    Halo was the game that got console players into online multiplayer shooters and that came out nearly 10 years after pc shooters were online [QW:DM].

    It’d be interesting to see where online console shooters end up in 10 years relative to where pc shooters are.
    Especially seeing as how pc online shooters have gone through a bit of a reset recently.

  21. kyrieee says:

    This map, along with the other Threewave maps, is really good, but I never played much CFT

    OSPDM5, CPM3a and that RA3 map everyone plays, ra3map2 I think, are the custom maps that sticks out for me

  22. Smee says:

    @MadTinkerer: agreed. I was at a friend’s house this weekend; he had just bought Left 4 Dead on the xbox. Watching him play (no FPS slouch, you understand) was akin to crawling up the inside of my own brain

  23. M.P. says:

    Mr. Rossignol is unfair to vanilla Q3A by calling it ‘unfinished’. Its stark, pure experience was never designed please the majority of players, but it provided the perfect drawing board for modders to create “new” games that catered to specific tastes, resulting in a proliferation of popular mods. You could arguably say that, although Q3 was a popular game, very few people were actually playing it, and I’d like to think that it was its simplicity which enabled modders to churn out so many great mods for it.

    For me, it was RA3 that really “made” Quake 3 (and, fortunately, that’s been partially implemented in Quake Live as the “duel” gametype, although the RA3 maps themselves haven’t). Everyone has a different favourite mod, and comparatively few people actually preferred the original boxed game. It was terribly hard to find a server for vanilla Q3 after about 2006, but there were loads of populated RA3 servers up till last year and I’m sure that was the case with other popular mods.

    I’m sure id realize this, and either they’ll open up QL for modding, or they’ll track down the people who made the original mods and buy off the rights to use their work. Quake 3 was a platform, not a game, and I’m sure they have similar plans for Quake Live.

  24. Schmung says:

    @ Aubrey : Oh, it’s all fine and dandy in the context of Quake 3. That sort of thing is pure endgame type stuff that your CPMA addicts and pr0Fins absolutely lap up, but that sort of thing your more realism based games just angers me hugely. I specifically stay away from stuff like like Q3 because I know I don’t like it, so when it impinges on something else I get all narky. Each tot heir own and all that.

    @ Madtinkerer : I spent an inordinate amount of time playing CoD4 on my 360 and while I missed the snapshot aiming that a mouse gives you and of having a nice solid set of servers with people I know playing on them it’s a far better platform for just playing with a few mates and crucially everyone is on a level playing field. You’re not hampered by your hardware in any way and you can be sure the guy on the other end doesn’t have an array od devastating scripts etc etc Yes, there are tons of 12 year old pricks and whatnot on Live and it’s not the way the FPS was meant to be played, but it does have it’s advantages.

  25. MrMud says:

    No, vista. But it seems to be a firefox issue as when I finally gave in and tried IE it worked.

    Having played a few games im impressed by the matchmaking but i start to remember how the vast majority of the q3 maps are complete rubbish.

    Considering there are some really great 3rd party maps out there its sad they arent included.

  26. JonFitt says:

    That video reminded me of the slidy hoppy nature of Quake’s movement. I know many people are completely comfortable with it, but I find it a jarring immersion breaker.
    It always felt artificial, and compared to modern shooters it’s a bit like comparing first person Mario3 to Mirror’s Edge.
    There’s just no physicality there.

  27. Duoae says:

    Used to love Capturestrike – still my favourite Quake/Threewave game mode and Spider was a fun map to play it on. Shame it will probably never get released on Quake Live.

  28. unu says:

    you should definately see how threewave maps enable kick-ass moves on the Excessive Plus mod (all weapons, no self damage, insta-nades with big splash), where you use bfg and nade shots into corners/walls to propell you at subsonic speeds thru the map :)

    too bad its soo spammy and its makers abandoned it :_(

  29. Simon says:

    Watching that video makes my insides ache a little. So much time spent on that game. It was a little scary how proficient you could get in reading some levels, cp9 was a great example. It was overplayed but when you have a level of such calibre, it’s not surprising. When it was bad, it was very very bad but when it was good (or even average)… word….
    I’ve only played the initial ranking match in QLive but it did feel like a snug glove. Sadly lack of time and a desk prove barriers too great at this moment to invest more time reminising and believing I could actually aim.

  30. StalinsGhost says:

    Quake Live is best played with chums.

    StalinsGhost = username :D

  31. Captain Captain says:

    Pani: Actually I think you will like TF2. As long as you got good situational awareness it’s very newbie friendly.

  32. rocketman71 says:

    CaptureStrike FTW!

  33. Pidesco says:

    I biggest wish for Quake Live is that they add old Quake 1 maps to it, DM4 and DM6 in particular.

  34. A-Scale says:

    There will never be a level like Destroyed Village in MOHAA. I could write a novel on that level. I lived there for three years, digitally, making my rounds on my preordained path, cleaning up German scum as I ran by.

    God. I just realized that I loved Medal of Honor more than I loved my first girlfriend.

  35. Caiman says:

    QL is fun because I only played the original online for a fairly short time, but I can see it getting tedious unless they have more variety in the game types. However, the beta nature of it clearly isn’t the time to be experimenting with that until they get the stability rock solid and the core matchmaking / skill mechanics working properly.

  36. DigitalSignalX says:

    That video / “kneeling to aim = humiliation” + “People who whine about bunny hopping are teh borenongs” = cringe.

    I love FPS’s – but it just seems like the whole industry has gone astray from tactical team play to “run n gun” or “twitch” gaming as some people call it. I played counter strike in from it’s earliest days for two years, and left when it became this huge ego-sink for most players who were clamoring for ranking systems, leagues and tournament play etc. It was fun because it was random team vs. team, and you could play to the strengths of each person’s play style vs. their team. Then unreal, quake, tribes etc blurred the line and teams were just colors made up of individuals and you HAD to be in a league or a ranking system of some sort in order to enjoy team style play.

    Now it’s all like sports for geeks I guess, all free agents pitching your hardware and reflexes vs. the other guy’s rig and reflexes, not to mention all the cock talk that is basically it’s own sad vernacular now.

    Anywho, you kids get off my damn lawn.

  37. Radiant says:

    You punch someone with the gauntlet the games goes “humiliation”.

    But you’re right there is a divide between people who just want to use online games as an activity, like an overly complex irc client and people who like to zone out and shoot things real good.

    This opting out of the ‘game’ always seemed strange to me I think the first game to really allow you to do that was Tribes.

    TF2 strikes a fantastic balance between the two camps allowing people who want to feel more directly involved with the game to get on with it whilst the guys who find the vs combat overwhelming can engee or medic.
    Where as something like BF has the first group over reliant on other people which frustrated the hell out of me.

  38. Radiant says:

    cue space giraffe tangent.

  39. Biz says:

    quake live is to unite the community. quake 3 currently has different patches and mods and even team arena and different server settings and it’s not easy to find games let alone with low enough ping. really, all the quake veterans want their favorite mod in quake live, but each of them have a different favorite one that it would become the way quake 3 is without a good amount of oversight by id. maybe they can gradually introduce mods so there aren’t 20 different game modes to choose from at the beginning for newbies to get overwhelmed by.

    id has succeeded in bringing quake back, and that’s what matters most. yeah, i wish a couple maps I like were in the game along with a couple game modes, but i’m having a lot more fun when i get under 30 ping to a dozen active servers with my skill and gametype preferences.

    it’s kind of tough for people who haven’t followed quake 3 for years to grasp, but the fact that so many people play free for all in quake live is significant. it’s pretty much the least popular mode in quake 3 which is surprising for everyone else because FFA is the first thing people think of when someone talks about quake.

  40. JP says:

    “That video reminded me of the slidy hoppy nature of Quake’s movement. I know many people are completely comfortable with it, but I find it a jarring immersion breaker.”

    I think, for the people who enjoy it, immersion doesn’t even enter into it. FPS movement even in games that do it well is already a pretty stylized version of how people actually move. Q3 and the best of its ilk just embrace that and don’t try to hide that you’re a weird little bounding box doing amazing things.

    @Gravatar DigitalSignalX:
    “I love FPS’s – but it just seems like the whole industry has gone astray from tactical team play to “run n gun” or “twitch” gaming as some people call it.”

    It’s weird to hear it told like that, because FPS games were twitch (Doom, Quake, etc) before they got tactical – how old are you? And aside from QL, Serious Sam and Painkiller, there’s not really much of a twitch revival.

    If you see twitch elements as undermining otherwise very tactical games, that makes sense… better not to be a muddle of two quite divergent styles. Quake Live seems to have a very clear idea of what it is though.

  41. BE says:

    q2dm1 – the edge

  42. Malice says:

    That’s really the only thing that’s holding back Quake Live right now,… I think… the lack of quality maps like threewave made for CTF.

  43. Moogsi says:

    Someone hunt down Scancode (who made cp9 and a few other 3wave maps), put him in contact with id, get him paid, and recompile the map for QL. I think there might have been a thread on esr to that effect :)

    Actually I think it’d be cool to see these people (who made such cool maps without ever expecting any remuneration) get given some money for their efforts.

  44. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Am I the only one who is somewhat annoyed by those grunts?

    Otherwise, could be nice, but I’m generally far too generalist to spend enough time to become able enough to actually compete with people instead of bots. Just being there for target practice isn’t my idea of fun. Ah well.

  45. Johnny Law says:

    The jump-grunts in Quake are pretty dire, but after a few thousand hours you tune them out…

  46. wviperw says:

    It’s funny you should cite CP9 as the pinnacle of Q3 CTF. While I agree that CP9 was definitely a fun map and it was one of the most popular to play on pub servers, I think a lot of the Q3 players today would argue that it is the DM17 of CTF maps. The video you linked to actually demonstrated this rather well–the wide open nature of the map makes it very rail-centric. Combine that with a very limited mid-field and no alt routes and you get a map that lacks some of the depth that other CTF maps (some released later) contain.

  47. Jim Rossignol says:

    I never minded rail-dominated maps, so long as they weren’t space maps. Being railed I can cope with, being knocked into the abyss was less entertaining.

  48. newborn says:

    Woo! I have “incredible creativity”.

    Anyway, I’m a lot of the OSP/CPMA features are likely to make it in to QL since arQon is now contracted by id Software and has the code sitting on his HDD.

    As for maps – there lies the problem. They can’t release maps they didn’t make and well.. id software couldn’t map their way out of a wet paper bag. Method has a few new QL maps though and fortunately, he CAN map to save his life.

  49. vicx says:

    I would wear a threewave t-shirt if I had one.

    In the end it is about the maps … and the grapple.

    also q2dm1 +1

  50. JM says:

    What is this alternate world where CS existed before Quake(world), Unreal, etc?

    CS heralded the new breed of tactical shooters, taking it away from the likes of Quake. We’ve had a million and one clones since.