Note: this is a rant based on my personal frustrations with the Quake 4 map modifications. I'm trying to keep it civil though :)

Quake 4 hasn't been out for a month and there area already custom versions of the original maps popping out - there seem to be 3 versions of Over the Edge. And then there's the TDM map pack, made by a couple of great mappers, Teddy and Swelt.

I am all for building on the Quake 4 platform and improving it as a competitive game - exactly the same cycle Quake 3 went trough. But with Quake 4, I think people have rushed into things and made changes prematurely. Each new game needs to be given time to see what of the original features/maps/etc works and what doesn't. Quake 4 wasn't given that time.

Think back a bit - the Quake 3 tmp maps weren't made that soon after the game was released, modificiations were not made to all of the played TDM maps, and they were made by a member of a strong TDM clan. This time around all of the maps were changed, and not by top TDMers but mappers (great ones at that, but still).

Some of the changes were good, but some were not. I really do like Bloodworks A - it features slight improvements over the original, which was quite enjoyable as well. Over the Edge improved as well, but those changes were mostly made by a good TDM clan. Sandstorm did get only a slight change due to the makers thinking it won't take off as a TDM map. Where did that conclusion come from? Currently it seems to be the 2nd popular map in #quake4all pickup (behind Over the Edge TDM), and I do think the map has potential - it is totally different from the other maps, and plays quite nicely, despite having almost the original item placement.

Now onto the changes I hate the most. The original Fragging Yard, while being totally dependant on rail, and that totally due to the map layout, has a nice flow. It has clear primary and secondary areas and enough routes to move around between the two which give attacking quad or base many options. The great touches are the primary rail and RA placements, which put the taker in a big disadvantage - a very good thing. Enter Fragging Yard TDM A - secondary rail is removed, making primary attacking way harder due to the fact that the attackers can be picked out from all directions by rail and they can't fire back because, well, they don't have a railgun. They also don't have the advantage against the opponents who are going for rail or RA either because those items are more safely placed. This looks to me like a very one-sided gameplay.

While Fragging Yard TDM B is more balanced, the gameplay is actually more ridiculous - if the map before was dominated by rail and long-range standoffs, then now its all out close combat making it very dull and repetitive with the only decent long range weapon left being the starting weapon. CPM4 worked very well in Quake 3 without a rail, because the map was designed with that in mind. The Fragging Yard is not. I actually would like TDM maps without rail in Quake 4 as well, but not ones with huge open spaces, like the Fragging Yard is - this just feels utterly wrong. Of the out-of-the-box maps, Sandstorm is the one that comes to mind, when thinking about maps that could work well without a railgun.

If the railgun is a problem in Quake 4 gameplay (and I agree that it probably will be when aiming picks up a bit more), then the solution should be connected with changing the weapon, not the maps.