Map on the Edge of Forever: Beta Test Notes

Obsidian: Version BETA 4, Oct. 9th, 2009

Initial Impressions

I'm not sure if you've ever played any of the Myst or Riven games, but this map reminds me a whole lot about some of the puzzles and themes from those games. The puzzles in those games don't rely on any explanation but rather based on your observation and intuition. You have to notice small visual details (clues) and solve by hitting a machine and observing what it does and then figure out how to make it do what you want it to do. Visually, there's a magical feel to the games but there's never any actual magic involved and everything has an explanation. There's a very mechanical and scientific (weird science) way in which everything is powered and runs, but it leaves you with the impression that however fantastical it may be, it's all potentially possible.

In the same way, I think you've managed to do the same with these puzzles. They certainly were challenging and you have to keep hitting the same button over and over trying to observe exactly what they do and what has changed before you can think about how to solve it, which is very much the same as the puzzles in the Myst series. In style, all the machines feel tangible and while probably not practical in real life, it still feels like there is a science and mechanism behind it all (especially with all the extra audio clicks and switches that you hear in the background). Even the ending sort of reminds me of Riven and the "one-man prison", but more on that later.


Most of the puzzles were challenging to some extent which is good. The first two had me scratching my head, some other puzzles I'm sure would also test my gray matter if I let it but found it convenient to hit all the buttons randomly instead. Each one looked amazing and had its own unique qualities. Sounds were impressive on all aspects.

Puzzle 2

I took a right and did P2 first. Labeled I, II, and III, there were also 3 switches so my inital impression was "okay, hit the generators in sequence following the power lines", but alas, that didn't actually work. I and II reset, III stayed active. My initial intuition here was wrong, the switch on the battery didn't control the 3rd cell, it activated the whole unit. This wasn't entirely obvious and I would say that the labels and power lines actually threw me off. So figuring that out, I noticed that it didn't matter which generator I hit, the first battery always started first and that was the "eureka" moment where it wasn't a matter of sequence it was a matter of feeding the right amount of charge into the battery to fill it up.

So people don't associate a single generator with each individual battery, I think perhaps you should reroute the power lines so that the two generators are daisy chained from the battery in series rather than in parallel. I also think the primary battery switch could use a slightly longer spin-up time, I didn't notice the blue glowy things at the top starting up the first time because I was still standing too close to the switch to see it. Second time through, I noticed it light up after standing away from it.

Puzzle 1

Once figuring out P2, P1 was a snap. It's pretty obvious that you have to time the generators with the coils at the top to charge the battery. I could also see the 3 stacked batteries light up when hitting the master battery switch.

Puzzle 3

I really just ran around in a couple of circles hitting switches at random until it opened. It probably took me less time than actually figuring out which switch controled which weights. I like how the weights have different lengths of chain, nice details. I did manage to squish myself under one of the falling weights. Ouch!

Puzzle 4

Not too difficult, you just have to be quick! There are a couple of "bugs" with this puzzle. First, I think that if you actually power up the unit before climbing up, the cap piece moves down and that prevents you from accessing the skull button above. Therefore there is no way to get into that trap door in the first room of the map if you're missing a button and you can't finish the game. Second, it's possible to hit the skull button above and not bother to power up/complete P4 by using the alternate route by the skull and hopping around and past the door. You don't get to use the teleporter by P5 but you can just walk back. Basically, it's possible to collect all the skulls and not bother completing P4 and still jump down the final trap door to "finish" the map.

Suggested changes: Don't allow the player to manually open the alternate route above. Make it open automatically after solving the puzzle. This forces the player to remain in this room until he's actually solved the puzzle while still allowing him to get the skull above in case he forgot it (though he'll have to take the long way if the cap comes down).

Puzzle 5


More random button hitting (yeah, I could use my brain and actually do some thinking...). It was pretty much a given that I would try to jump up and climb those coils, but I'm not sure how other people would fair, they may not be as obsessive compulsive jumpers as I am. I guess you can sort of see the teleporter at the top. I'm not sure if you need to make this more obvious, but perhaps having a power cable run up along the wall and into the teleporter room could be a more direct pointer?


Barely visible without noclip cheat! Broken & cracked window. Used decals?

It's not entirely obvious that you need to collect all the skulls in order to finish the map. I thought they were just some special secret, maybe getting a bigger gun to face the final challenge or something. I think you should make it appear as if finding all the skulls and pressing all the buttons will power up some other final machine back in the first room. Perhaps have the machine have 9 skulls on it that light up as you find them.

The only skull that I really couldn't find was the one on the back of the generator by P1. I only found it after much flying around with noclip. Without cheating, even if I were looking straight at it by jumping on the window ledge, you can only barely see it. I suggest you make it a slight bit more obvious there is something behind the generator by perhaps breaking the glass in the window behind it with the cracks converging on the skull. Otherwise, there's no real reason anyone would think to look behind that thing.

I liked the skull behind the wall near P2. I love how it opens up using the hidden brick that slides out. The one in the elevator shaft looks pretty nifty too.

Visuals and Gameplay

Just after opening the gate in the spawn room, looking out on either side, the roof line should probably be extended. It looks like it's been chopped off.

Extend roof line.

Extend the teleporter portal distance by about twice the current value. The portal camera also looks to be skewed off center as if it's angled slightly to the right. Not sure if this is intentional, but it looks a bit weird. The roof of the teleporter looks a bit bland compared with the rest of the map. Add a bit mechanical things, hanging wires, wooden support beams, etc.

Extend teleporter distance. More doodads!

Sparklies along the wall by the first elevator shaft and also between the two batteries

Sparklies Sparklies

By the skull button near the elevator shaft, it's a bit of a pain jumping out of this pit. The wooden boards look like it could be used as a makeshift ladder, so you might as well clip it as such. Build some very thin steps with player clip so that the player can climb directly over this wall.

Thin playerclip stepladder.

This generator thing when switched on doesn't make any sounds or light up, it's hard to know that it's on. Make it start up with a rumbling and buzzing so that I know that it's been activated.


I dislike doors that look like they can open but can't. I never get to use these doors, but they look like something that will open up for me eventually so I keep walking up to them to check. Make this first door look like it's obviously locked or broken. Perhaps add a couple of handles on the doors and lock them up with Chinese style locks.

Door is locked.

The one at the top of the elevator is even worse. Because of the fancy elevator to the top of the map, I keep thinking that this is my final objective to meet "The Guardian" so I spent a lot of time wondering how to get it to open after solving all 5 puzzles. I would probably do something like remove the door completely and make the top of the elevator into some kind of observation tower or something. But make it obvious that it's a dead end and there isn't a whole lot up there except for that switch that reveals the skull button.


Out on the balcony, you have a little black polygon on the floor.


Glass here looks a little too transparent. Try tweaking the environment map to make it shinier to make it a little more apparent that it's glass.

More glassy!

This skull button near P5, even after pressing it, the glowing eyes don't turn off while all the other ones in the map do.

Still lit.

Curiousity has me, what are all these glowing things doing out here? I'm sure it's for all the triggers in some way.



Lots of landmarks to go by, so I didn't get lost so much as not know where the final objective was. Without knowing how many puzzles there were in total or as mentioned above that the skulls were actually the key to the end and all sorts of false doors, I really didn't know whether I had completed everything and how much further I had to go.

For that reason, I think you need to add a "final" puzzle in the spawn room that basically tells you that now that you've unlocked all the doors and explored the entire map, you still need to turn on all the skull switches to complete the map and find out the "truth" of the Guardian of Forever.


My monitor is colour calibrated on a regular basis and I'm testing with the default Q3 gamma settings (also tested with r_overbrightbits off), so with a fairly "benchmark" setup, I can say that the map looks well lit. So I know that other people have commented that your map is dark, but I think that they just have really dark monitors that are not properly calibrated. Actually, for a single player map, I wouldn't mind it being darker in ambience than it is now with more direct focal lighting. You have a lot of detailed windows and skylights, it would be nice to see some strong directional lighting coming in and casting strong shadows with sharp edges. You may want to experiment with that and see how things look.

Computer Specs and Performance

My computer specs are completely overkill for Quake 3, so the entire map ran fine at perfect framerates so I can't really comment on how it would run on older hardware. Looking at fill rates and polycounts, etc. I'd say that it should run well enough with nothing going obscenely through the roof, especially since this is a single player campaign and there's nothing to shoot at.


Okay, I get it. You've fallen into a trap and now you are the "Guardian of Forever" locked in a pit with a portal that leads you nowhere. That's pretty sadistic and it's a little infuriating after spending over an hour and a half running around trying to unlock everything and finding all the skull buttons. But I digress that it's a pretty epic ending with a strong conclusion to the theme of "forever". I suppose the difficulty of solving all those problems compounds to the feeling of being trapped at the end with no end. Well played, sir!