Rise Of The Triad’s Splendid Time-Lapse Level Build

It's a wall!
So let’s have a look at this, Internet. I am a nerd for development process, so watching the time-lapsed video (below) of Interceptor CEO Frederik Schreiber building part of a Rise Of The Triad level is an early-morning delight. The remake, which was announced at QuakeCon, is due by the end of the year. You can have a read of Nathan’s interview with said CEO just here. It’s quite entertaining.


  1. Geger says:

    where are the moving walls?

  2. DestructibleEnvironments says:

    I am looking forward to this very a lot. It is being re-made by my country too! The glorious danes.

    I hope it turns out great!

  3. Unrein says:

    God, I so wish more developers did stuff like this. Ever since I made my first level in Doom I’ve always wanted a “fly on the wall” view of professional level design.

  4. JiminyJickers says:

    Good stuff, I definitely don’t have the patience for level design. Impressive effort.

  5. LionsPhil says:

    The apparent lack of use of grid-snap tweaks my OCD something rotten.

    Also interesting to see that checkerboard blocking out that they then put smeshes over. Also also that the pickups seem to have grouped light and emitter entities actually baked into the map? In UT, you just place a pickup base, and it emits its own particle effects. (Lighting is still up to you, admittedly, but you could change that with a spot of subclassing and new defaults if you want all your pickups to glow the same, I believe.)

    • Rao Dao Zao says:

      Looks like the lack of grid-snapping is costing him a lot of time jiggling things around to me!

    • noom says:

      I suffered a similar reaction. I spent many an hour mapping for CS1.6 a few years back, during which process I learnt to be incredibly anal about the placement of every single vertex and the precise alignment of every texture. Watching this is gonna give me leak nightmares.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        Yeah, grid snap is useful in a lot of ways, actually. Asides from helping to eliminate leaks (the best way in Hammer is just to box the whole level), it is a great way to make sure that your corridors are the right size, things are the right height, etc.

        I’m really confused, though. Granted, it’s been a long time since I’ve used anything other than Hammer for level design, but it looks like they’re dropping objects or meshes on top of the level geometry? Why not just add textures to the brushes? I know they’re using another engine and editor than Source and Hammer, but does anyone know what’s going on here? I assume they’re using idTech4 or 5?

        • Rao Dao Zao says:

          Looks like Unreal Engine 3/later to me. I assume the hard geometry provides collision and the static meshes are all magical and ethereal, which would hurt my OCD when playing it and walking through the edges of things. :(

          • LionsPhil says:

            It looks like UnrealEd, yeah. I’m guessing they’ve blocked out the rough design and are dropping static meshes on top of it, and will remove the blocked-out bits later—apart from the bits they kept retextured as walls. I don’t see why you’d build a separate collision hull when smeshes can have their own associated with them.

            But then I’m also a bit confused in that UE1/2 were CSG-based, and you had to carve your level out of infinite filled-in space (actually quite a nice way to handle it—much faster to build than BSP, and no leaks), whereas this looks “open”, like BSP but not caring that it’s not even slightly sealed.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            LionsPhil, yeah, that’s what I was thinking. I watched again and noticed that he changed the brush of the tower into a much flatter shape for the roof after he added the mesh around it. I mean, at the end of the day it’s still static and you can’t pass through it, so it still provides collision as needed. It’s just that it seems like kind of a weird way to go about things considering they already seem to have most of it blocked in. The jutting ramparts and such make sense, but the stuff with the towers just seemed odd to me.

            Also, from what little I’ve recently messed with, Unity seems to do the same thing regarding level design. You build your world and all, but you don’t have to worry about boxing it in and having leaks. At least from my understanding. I’ve never messed with Unreal Engine, so I have no knowledge of how that works. I guess I’m just so used to BSP-based level design, going all the way back to the wonderful days of DoomEd, that anything different is just incredibly odd to me. Man.. DoomEd… Nothing like building levels vertex by vertex. :)

          • Qwentle says:

            It’s UE3, yes. It’s BSP geometry, though yeah, you don’t have to worry about leaks. Incredibly fast to iterate with in the recent versions of the engine. You add the extra meshes for detail that just texturing the BSP won’t give you, plus generally various things like stairs in BSP don’t work right (even though there’s a brush setting to make them, they need to have flat collision unless you want to shake the player’s camera around insanely whenever you walk up them). The static meshes can have collision if you want.

            Also, on an unrelated note, it’s good to see him following OMM rules and including a pallet with those barrels :)

          • LionsPhil says:

            DOOM was actually CSG-style, just in 2D; likewise BUILD. Conceptually it’s a big filled space you carve rooms out of, as opposed to Quake’s big void you have to place brushes in to seal up enclosed gameplay spaces.

          • Jackablade says:

            Interestingly, ROTT wasn’t. It used a somewhat beefed up version of the Wolfenstein TED editor (also used in a bunch of Apogees 2d games and Commander Keen), which led to levels made up of a lot of 90 degree angled walls.

            I think the reason for the doubling up of geometry is likely because the level has been built by a level designer previously and has then been handed to an environment artist to make it look all nice and stuff.

        • Net_Bastard says:

          Actually, the Valve developer community says multiple times to not just box the whole level when it comes to making the skybox, due to optimization.

    • Sir-Lucius says:

      Agreed, I found the lack of snapping somewhat surprising. Seems like it increases his chances of getting obnoxious z-fighting issues. Maybe he just didn’t layout the BSP geometry right on the grid? Having done that in the past it can be much more work to try to go back and get everything to snap and line up properly than to just eyeball it. You can also argue it leads to more organic levels.

  6. Keilnoth says:

    Oh man I am so tired of the dubstep…

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      I’m tired of it too in a general sense.

      But this is… Just not even remotely dubstep-ish.

      • Jackablade says:

        On the contrary, it’s a rather nice remix of one of the original ROTT backing tracks.

        • VAgentZero says:

          The “this is the boss level but you’re not fighting the boss yet” theme, IIRC.

    • JiminyJickers says:

      Did you comment on the right thread? Haha, the music in the video isn’t dubstep. It needs a lot of wub wub wub, haha.

      • Syra says:

        I wish all dubstep was punctuated with laughter – wub wub wub haha!

    • Sir-Lucius says:

      There is nothing in the structure of the song or the instrumentation that is even remotely close to dubstep.

    • Net_Bastard says:

      “Everything with a vaguely electronic sound in it is dubstep.”


  7. VeritableHero says:

    Looks like I need to reinstall Unreal Editor 3. This brings back very fond memories. It’s neat to see someone else actually working through a level, though.

  8. Bobtree says:

    The workflow looks tedious and error prone. Not impressed.

  9. Beelzebud says:

    Is this supposed to be impressive? It looks like someone building a map for Return to Castle Wolfenstein.

  10. LegTaste says:

    i think this looks pretty terrible

    dull looking textures and design, far worse than the standard console limited graphic style we see a lot

    This is not bad due to graphical limitations, its bad due to artistic limitations.