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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hail to the King, Baby!

For some reason, I seem to have developed a reputation as the Video Gamer of the J-Blogosphere. Maybe it has something to do with my constant pining for an XBOX 360. Well, whatever the reason, I'm happy to accept it. But the truth is I've only been into video games since 2001. During the ten years prior to that I was very much a computer gamer.

I'll spare you all the sordid details, but suffice it to say that my move to computer games followed an embarrassing stage when I was into pen and paper role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and Traveller. What I enjoyed most about those games was how open-ended they were, how they allowed players to take the rules and craft their own adventures, build their own dungeons or castles or star ships.

It was fun but tedious, and required a lot of reference tables and calculations and die roll modifiers, and when computers came into my life in the 1990's I looked forward to being able to design my virtual worlds with their help.

Although technically my first computer games were flight simulators, it was the first person shooters that really got me interested. And it wasn't the games that came out of the box that excited me, as much as it was the fact that they were eminently modifiable. Meaning that with a little brainpower and determination, you could modify the game and create your own virtual worlds.

Doom was the first game that allowed me to design my own "levels" or maps where the player could run around and blast monsters. I took some of the deck plans that I had drawn up on graph paper a decade earlier and created levels based on them. It was really amazing to watch my creations come to life on the screen, crude as the Doom graphics were at the time. I even uploaded my levels to AOL, and they were popular downloads there.

But Duke Nukem 3D was what really got my fire going.

The game as sold was fun, if silly. As you can tell from the picture, it was more or less a campy Ramboesque shoot'em up where you, as Duke, got to save the world and elsewhere by blasting alien goons and spouting one-liners ("Come get some!" or "Hail to the King, Baby!", or my favorite one, which would come on if you didn't move for a little while: "What are you waiting for, Christmas??")

Duke Nukem had two major things going for it:

1. It came with its own level editor, which, while missing some key elements (like instructions) worked better than anything else at the time, and

2. It included a plethora of real-world textures, or images that you would superimpose on the floor, wall, or door geometry to make it look real. Kinda like wallpaper on a blank wall. This was because, unlike Doom, which took place on some haunted Marine base on Mars, Duke Nukem took place in Los Angeles.

So for a modder, it was like a gift from the gods. Thousands upon thousands of levels were posted online by eager level-makers dying to showcase their design skilz.

To be fair, most of these were crap. But some stood out.

I wanted to make my level stand out too. So I pulled out the original blueprints of my house (which was built in 1931). I thought, "how cool would it be to make a 3d representation of my house out of these?"

Very cool, it turned out. It was a LOT of work. Modding is basically programming, and if you've ever tried to write or edit a computer program, you know that this can be very difficult, meticulous, and tedious work. Things go wrong and you don't know why. Usually it's because you forgot an extra parenthesis somewhere, or a number was a little off, or a texture was missed. But once it was done, I had an enormous sense of accomplishment.

I uploaded it to the Duke Nukem 3D forum on AOL (this was ten years ago) and it became one of the all-time top downloads there. It even made its way into a few CD-ROM compilations which were sold for money (sadly, none of which found its way into my pockets).

So without further ado, here's a virtual tour of my house, as seen through the eyes of Duke Nukem. The design is from ten years ago, and we've done a little remodeling since then, so the photos don't match up exactly:

The front:

The living room, fire place, couch:

Dining Room:

Living room:


Another view of the kitchen (note we've moved the fridge):

If you're one of the geeky few who have a copy of Duke Nukem 3D on your hard drive, here are the maps: Scout.map, House2.map

New! Walkthrough (with director's commentary):

Pardon the scan-lines.


yellojkt said...

That looks like a lot of work. Having people go on rampages through my house would terrify me.

I used to play Castle Wolfenstein. That's old skool.

Anonymous said...

Most Impressive.
I trust you played DN-3D with the parental controls on, of course.

Ezzie said...

That's really cool and impressive... and must have taken a ton of patience.

Wolf3D and Doom were good; Descent2 was a huge hit in WITS when they used to allow games, because you could have a dozen guys playing against each other.

Neil Harris said...

I played the old Duke Nuke in college early 90's. Of course I rocked the retro Castle Wolf (1 and 2) on my apple II+ back in the 80's.
Now it's just Tony Hawk ProSk8er and StarWars games for me on my PC.

Eli said...

Wow! Most impressive. But one question: I see you have a bathroom in in, but why no toilet? One of my favorite things about DN3D was using the urinals and gaining health.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

I know nothing about this stuff I just have to ask who that beautiful little stunnin boy is with those gorgeous eyes?

PsychoToddler said...

yellojkt: Yes, I'd also be scared if there were monsters in my house. Especially in the boiler room where all those egg-pods are...

anonymous: Oh yes, the controls were on. I missed many of the blue jokes.

Ezzie: Now they play Call of Duty. I think Descent is still in play there.

Neil: My first FPS was actually a Star Wars game, Dark Forces. Excellent game, even now.

Eli: The house has the same number of toilets as my real house. The toilets are sprites and don't show up on the overhead map. The bathtub is funtional too. I still use urinals to regain health. "much better"

SWFM: That's The PT!

Jack's Shack said...

That is pretty cool.

tuesdaywishes said...

I see Duke Nukem has no texture for the hand-knitted afghans in your living room. Odd of them.

PsychoToddler said...

Not to mention the hoparoo and the big green ball.

Halfnutcase said...

y'know PT, those programs usualy have texture editor that would allow you to add such things.

Further I think that I should point out PT that you goofed big. everything in the pictures is WAY off scale to the character (about 2/3ds actualy.)

although that would make it more fun to play around in, but it looks a little weird, especialy as your couch is like, way to high.

But good job.

I must be the only one who used to play such games not for the sake of shooting things but for the sake of exploring and having general good wholesome fun. I loved cheats that allowed me to get rid of all the monsters so that I shouldn't have to kill them.


PsychoToddler said...

HNC: Good pickup. You are right, Duke ends up being about 2/3 the size of an adult in my house level. That's actually not my fault.

In the editing program, I used a Duke stand-in (actually it was a respawn point) to gauge the scale of the ceiling and furniture. It looked jsut right in the editor. However, the stand-in was bigger than its in-game character. I didn't realize this until most of the level was done. But I left it because having more space makes it easier to maneuver around the level. Most game versions of real environments are bigger than their realworld counterparts because they would appear to be paradoxically too small if they were accurate.

It has to do with collision detection and the virtual space allotted to the player character, and the fact that while humans can bend and squeeze around corners, computer characters can't. It's more akin to walking around your house wearing a giant barrel around you.

Also the perspective of the in-game character is different than the perspective of the camera that I used to take the pictures. I'd have to use a wide-angle lens to better approximate the effect.

Thanks for paying attention. (BTW we also used to play without monsters. Iguana and The PT used to do cooperative matches and no one was allowed to shoot.)

Ralphie said...

I use urinals to gain health, too. But I don't play any video games.

What I don't get is, where is the guy with the big guns in the real pictures of your house?

RaggedyMom said...

Although most of the content of this post reaffirms my thoughts that gaming people really have some totally different gene in them, it was actually very neat to see the comparisons and also some general house photos, and of course, baby PT!

And it's pretty cool that your work is famous among your kind.

outofAMMO said...

ralphie: have you met Mrs. Balabusta?

Abba: they were really big hits? How come no ne ever told me this?

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Isn't PT much older now? Either way knaina hara what a beauty.

PsychoToddler said...

your work is famous among your kind


where is the guy with the big guns in the real pictures of your house?

ralphie: have you met Mrs. Balabusta?

Ooh, Ka-zing!

How come no ne ever told me this?

You were there. Actually I believe your first words were, "Aa ta king, baby!"

SWF: We like to start them young.

Halfnutcase said...

well, you could at least have made the furnature and the counters lowered to real hight.

that would have made the rooms look alot more like the real house in and of it's self.

infact it would look so much more like the real rooms that I think it would be instantly recognizable. (and it might allow duke to climb over them!)

outofAMMO said...

Abba. I felt a lot better before you told me that.

PsychoToddler said...

HNC: Did you actually download and play through the level or are you just busting my chops based on the screen shots? If I had made the furniture "shorter" it would have made everything look wrong. It's really not as off scale as the pictures would make it seem. I suppose I could have crouched and cropped the real photos to match them up better, but I was on a time limit (I had to snap the shots before the PT came home and destroyed the house).

Seriously, when you play it and see it in motion, it looks totally natural (ask anyone who's done so, and who's seen my house).

OOA: Oh yeah, I also know that you used to call yourself "Thuperman".

Halfnutcase said...

PT, I didn't say that it wasn't in porportion. It looks to be in excelent porportion. (and many compliments on that.)

It's just kind of wierd that anyone running through there is running through with the PT's perspective instead of an adults perspective.

its like being a child again, yay!

you did a wonderfull job.

(and of course, I'm sure that you would have loved to have had a house that big! :-))

outofAMMO said...

How about that picture of you in a white suit, abba?

Doctor Bean said...


(a) great work on the levels
(b) to make this post 5% funnier, borrow a shotgun and take the pictures in your house with you holding the shotgun under the camera.

Trust me. I know funny.

Ralphie said...

Just noticed something... in the PT photo, the game controller seems to be plugged into the PT.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

you're embarrassed by having played tabletop RPGs?! All right, doctor, your geek license is hereby suspended pending a hearing to see if it has to be permanently revoked.

and my goblin minions will be stopping by your Duke Nukem 3D house soon to repossess your NES.

PsychoToddler said...

Bean: It would have been even funnier if I had thought to snap pictures of you running around with your shotgun out when you were here. wait, that sounded bad...

Ralphie: And your point is...?

Steg: I guess you're right. It could be worse. It's not like I was into Live Action Role Playing Games.

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Ralphie said...

Do goblins count in a minion?

Jewish Blogmeister said...

Promoting violence are we? You bad, bad man....I used to have Duke on my computer......

outofAMMO said...

Ralph: My sis Iguana sure doesn't. She's close enough.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Steg: I guess you're right. It could be worse. It's not like I was into Live Action Role Playing Games.

that strange whistling sound you hear is the rustling of innumerable shiny foam swords rattling in your direction malevolently.

Halfnutcase said...

steg, why not just hide a sphere of anhilation in his den of solitude? :-)

that might get him quiet, unless of course the PT wrests control of it from us.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


i'd prefer to hide a beholder in his gazebo of iniquity :-)

PsychoToddler said...

Iguana used to call a "beholder" a "bee holder".

As in, "look out, abba, there's a Bee Holder in the next area."

PsychoToddler said...

Just don't cast a spell of toiletpaper annihilation in my fortress of solitude.

Halfnutcase said...

just a fireball PT, Just a fireball. ;-)

and steg, y'know that sheets of cloth work very well when fighting beholders don't you?

and stay away from books. Books are DANGEROUS! :-)

and the pseudo dragon ate my squirel!

Anonymous said...

I clicked on both links but was unable to download either one, the link merely caused the page to reload. I don't suppose it would be possible for your to e-mail me an alternate link or e-mail scout.zip and house.zip to me?


MarkG said...

The house level looks great. Anyway, here's some trivia you may find interesting: much of Duke Nukem's commentary, and personality, was inspired by the character Ash in the film Army Of Darkness. Highly recommended, if you get the chance to see it.