JKHub's first interview
Some time ago, SiLink (who since retired from our staff due to time constraints) interviewed RichDiesal for JKHub. RichDiesal is among the community's earliest mappers, and is most well-known for his extensive mapping tutorials, which were once hosted on Map-Craft.
Here is the interview:
SiLink: Hello Richard, it is good to hear from you again . Thanks for agreeing to do this interview.
RichDiesal: Certainly! I’m actually a little amazed you found me. I haven’t been an active part of the JK community for years, although I still get the occasion e-mail asking for mapping advice.
SiLink: You are of course most known around the JK community for your Mapping university which was once hosted on Map-Craft, was there anything at the time that motivated you to begin that project?
RichDiesal: I think most professionals that create maps start out the opposite path that I did. They learn about the technical aspects of creating maps first, and then find games/companies to work for that let them use those skills. I just really liked Star Wars. I finished playing JK2 but wanted more, so I started out by trying to find fan-made maps. There were not many at the time, and most of them were pretty bad. I still remember one that was just a bunch of random 3D shapes in the middle of a massive (2 minutes to run from end to end) square room. I thought to myself, “I bet I could make a better map than that” and went to look for resources. At the time (I think it was late 2002), there wasn’t much out there. JK2 is based on the Quake III engine, but they changed many little details. So I was forced to read Q3 tutorials and then experiment until I could figure out what had changed for JK2. After doing all that work, and while developing Kamino, I figured I might as well share what I had learned. Thus the University was born.
SiLink: Obviously being very knowledgable about mapping, I'm sure a lot of people are curious if besides the Kamino Landing Platform JK2 map released 10 years ago, have you created any other maps yourself that you haven't made public?
RichDiesal: Toward the time of my retirement from the JK2 community, I was working on a recreation of the Jedi Archives. I always liked gently-glowing maps (which is why you see a lot of subtle lighting effects in Kamino), and the digital bookcase look from Episode II really exemplified that. But I hit a roadblock in trying to create the custom textures for the bookcases (although I can map, I was never much of an illustrator – the floor of Kamino was the best I could do!), and I eventually just gave up. Those two projects are really the only two intended for release I ever worked on, although I made many versions of the maps eventually used in the university.
SiLink: Thinking back to your time in JK, do you have any favourite maps/authors that you can remember?
RichDiesal: It’s been about a decade now, and I’m afraid my memory isn’t quite that good! I don’t recall anyone in particular at this point, but I will say that I was a fan of cleverly scripted SP maps (the ones that told a good story) and MP duel maps (nothing quite as intense as one-on-one!).
SiLink: I know we're going back a long way now but when did you first get into mapping? And how did you yourself learn how to use Radiant?
RichDiesal: JK2 was actually the first real mapping I ever did. Most people don’t remember how different the Internet was in 2002, but there just weren’t that many resources available. I had tried to get into Quake 3 mapping earlier, but the only way to do that was to buy a real, physical book. As a high school student (at that time), I just couldn’t afford it. But by 2002, there was just enough online where I could work it out. As I mentioned before, that’s the only resource I ever used to learn Radiant – the scattered Quake 3 tutorials that were available online at that time. I’m entirely self-taught, which may be part of why people related so well to the tutorials I put together – I knew what they were going through!
SiLink: Since creating the Mapping University, what have you been up to? Have you had any urges to return to the community or perhaps take up mapping again?
RichDiesal: When JK3 was released, I thought about getting back into it, but I just couldn’t find the time – I was just getting ready to graduate from college. In many ways, the Mapping University was a preview of my life – I earned my Ph.D. in 2009 and am now a professor of psychology at a US east coast university. I conduct research on how people learn using the Internet, which has a lot in common with what I was doing then! I still remember many of the lessons I learned helping new mappers out on LucasForums, especially in that monster Q&A thread.
SiLink: Thank you for your time Richard
RichDiesal: Thank you!