Portfolio: Dominic Szablewski

Selected works in Animation & Game

All works presented here - except for the Quake 4 RTS - can be found in the works/ directory of this DVD-Rom. Please note that you need the corresponding games - namely Quake 3 and Quake 4 - in order to play the game levels listed here.


Experimental Space Floater for Quake 3 Arena

Lichtwärts Screenshot Lichtwärts Screenshot Lichtwärts Screenshot Lichtwärts Screenshot Lichtwärts Screenshot

Built solely as a design experiment, Lichtwärts pushed the Quake 3 Engine to its limits and did something nobody realized the game was capable of.

My goal was to create something beautiful and clean for a game known to be harsh, dirty and dark. Lichtwärts consists almost exclusively of only one color. There are no textures in a traditional sense, rather than large planes. This made lighting the map extremely important, but also difficult. Though I used radiosity to compute the light in the hope to get a cleaner look, the generated lightmaps still had to be tweaked in Photoshop an re-injected into the compiled map file.

Several shaders were written to give the map a very stylized look. The most important and obvious being a Cel-Shader that gives every object an outline, quite similar to a comic book painting.

Though this map focuses on the look, it is still very enjoyable to play - not for competitive team games or duels but for fun matches.

Lichtwärts was shown in promotional TV-Spots on SpikeTV for the Video Game Awards 2003. Some short machinima animation featuring the map were created by ill clan.

i am... moved! this is one of the best things i've seen for quite some time. not really playable, and framerate sucks, but damn! it's visually a dream come true!
Nicolas Bouvier Concept Artist at ID Software

Kritische Masse

Large Duell Map for Quake 3 Arena

Kritische Masse Screenshot Kritische Masse Screenshot Kritische Masse Screenshot Kritische Masse Screenshot Kritische Masse Screenshot

This multiplayer arena for Quake 3 was built with gameplay in mind from minute one. The whole layout was built first as a simple skeleton with no details or textures whatsoever. The item placement (where to put weapons and powerups) was elaborated in countless test matches in this skeleton. Friends and fellow mappers gave suggestions on how to improve the gameplay. Not only the item placement, but also the layout itself was tweaked numerous times, making the gameplay of Kritische Masse a true community effort.

The map stretches over 3 1/2 floors, to make games very vertical and interesting. Stronger items and weapons are on the lower floors, so no player can dominate a game from the upper ones. There is always a chance to turn the tide. Though the map was built with duel matches in mind (1 Vs. 1) it is large enough to work very well with 2 Vs. 2 players.

After the layout and item placement was finished, details, textures and lighting were added. A dark and moody, yet very high-tech look was established mainly by carefully placing lights. There is no sky visible in this map at all, which gives it a quite claustrophobic feeling.

The secret room in Kritische Masse (last screenshot) is a homage to its early gameplay test versions, that helped establishing the layout. I made some screenshots of the various stages of construction of this map, documenting its progress: Skeleton » Details » Textures » Entities » Lighting


Small, fast paced Duell Map for Quake 4

Sturmernte Screenshot Sturmernte Screenshot Sturmernte Screenshot Sturmernte Screenshot Sturmernte Screenshot

Sturmente for Quake 4 was a challenge not only gameplay, but also graphics wise. While the Quake 4 Engine brought lots of improvements, it also is extremely hardware hungry. In order to create a map, that is fun to play but still not too performance intense, the layout had to be carefully crafted. I went for an action packed, small and fast layout, as opposed to a large and very tactical one, like in Kritische Masse.

Planning the visibility so, that only few areas are visible at a time, allowed me to put quite some detail in this map. I refined my high-tech style from Kritische Masse to work with with the Quake 4 Engine. Some structures were replaced by bump mapped textures to increase the performance of the map.

Again, much effort has been put into the lighting. Though Quake 4 allows you to actually see lights sources as you place them, every light and casted shadow also costs performance. Light textures were used widely to gain some structure and refine the atmosphere. So lighting this map was difficult, but in the end worth the effort.

Sturmernte was featured in the 05/2006 issue of the German gaming magazine PC Action.

Quake 4 RTS

Real Time Strategy Total Conversion for Quake 4

Quake 4 RTS Screenshot Quake 4 RTS Screenshot Quake 4 RTS Screenshot Quake 4 RTS Screenshot Quake 4 RTS Screenshot

This total conversion for Quake 4 is still in the making. Its goal is, to transform the First Person Shooter into a Real Time Strategy game. Some playable prototype maps have been constructed by me, as a playground for my real task on this project: Programming the interface, logic and AI for this Mod.

The gameplay focuses mainly on tactical approaches. Small groups of soldiers, engineers and medics can be commanded around a level with simple mouse clicks. In order to finish a mission several tasks, like destroying a reactor or just eliminating the enemy, have to be completed.

Currently the story, a singleplayer campaign and several missions are designed and the first final game maps are constructed by different team members.

So far the camera movement as well as selecting and commanding units to walk, run and shoot have been completed and work smoothly. I'm working on a HUD system, as well as gameplay logic at this moment. The main AI (pathfinding, attacking etc.) has been taken straight off of the First Person Shooter, but was tweaked in many aspects to work well within this Real Time Strategy game.

Working with a codebase you have not written on yourself, is quite challenging. Luckily the Doom 3 / Quake 4 Engine was ID Softwares first one that truly makes use of OOP. This makes injecting code a bit more easy, though the engine itself is far more complex than previous ones.


Arcade Game for PC and Nintendo Gameboy Advance

Yuckfu PC Screenshot Yuckfu replay Yuckfu GBA Screenshot Yuckfu GBA Photo Yuckfu Packshot

Yuckfu is an arcade game for Windows PCs and the Nintendo Gameboy Advance, in which the player has to collect boxes, while dealing with the physics of the spacecraft he's controlling. There is no goal, other than to gain a high score.

This game grew on the idea of a friends humorous suggestion: »You have to make a game where you go absolutely mad when you loose« I succeeded. But you don't go mad because the game is unfair or unbalanced, but because you made a mistake. Due to this very fact, the urge to play again is very high. Yuckfu is quite addictive and so assembles a true arcade game, where you would throw on dime after another into a cabinet to play it.

Yuckfu follows the paradigm - easy to learn but hard to master - in its purest form. The games task and mechanics can be grasped in just a few seconds, but it takes hours of play, to be able to control the spaceship fast and safely. Replays can be saved, and you can also submit any score you archive to an online highscore table for everyone to see.

The Nintendo Gameboy Advance port of Yuckfu was build for the 2004 Mbit Contest. 28 Entries were submitted to this competition and Yuckfu was picked among 9 other games to be burned on some 500 cartridges and sold to the public. The GBA version added sound and refined graphics, in order to work well with a small screen.

All works © 2002-2007 Dominic Szablewski except where otherwise noted.

dszab@chaosquake.de - www.chaosquake.de