Splash DamageBlogThe Wolfenfiles: Researching Enemy Territory's Maps, Weapons, and Vehicles

Splash Damage Blog

The Wolfenfiles: Researching Enemy Territory's Maps, Weapons, and Vehicles

A big part of creating our games is the research that goes into them to ensure everything is consistent, plausible, and authentic. Much of this falls to our Lead Writer Ed 'BongoBoy' Stern, who first joined the company during development of Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory to handle writing and research duties. In light of Wolf ET's 9th anniversary, we thought it'd be fun to share some Wolfentrivia with you, including the events (many of them real!) that inspired the missions in the game, the weapon research, and a few other, previously unknown development nuggets. Take it away, Ed!

v-5-4

When I came aboard the good ship Splash Damage in 2002-no-that-cannot-be-that-would-make-it-ten-years-ago-oh-god-am-I-really-that-old-yes-yes-you-are-in-fact-you-look-older, work on Wolf:ET was well underway. Most of the map ideas had already been had, and people who actually knew what they were doing were turning them into playable virtual reality. As the newly resident damp-palmed weapons bore and history nerd, it was my job to come up with photo reference, additional details and vaporous notions for other maps that the level designers would smile kindly at before pointing out all the various ways my idea was impractical and no good. I think I’m pretty sure that not one of my ideas resulted in a playable map. I should stress at the outset, other, smarter people made the actual maps, I was just adjacent while they made them, so my recollections of the process are neither expert nor precise.


The Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory team in 2002

It seems very odd to think of just ten years ago as a fantastical olde-timey world, but the narrowband pre-Wikipedia age was...well, different. Nowadays almost all the photo reference you’re likely to need for most games is all up here, on the intertubes, in a glorious high-resolution browser window like this one. Back then, the web was resolutely low-res, and mainly lived in Geocities. We were better off getting reference books.

I remember feeling enormously smug for having tracked down the UK distributor of Schiffer military reference books, stalking their shelves, buying a select spread and huffing and puffing back across Chiswick bridge with them stacked precariously on my bicycle. As a way of getting high resolution images before our eyeballs in the office, it now seems hilariously long-winded. Perhaps the stuff that ended up being most useful was the wealth of visual detail on Atlantic Wall defensive positions, bunkers, casemates etc. It turns out that the geometry that protects you from line of sight and splash damage fire works equally well in reality, or on the virtual battlefield.

v-2-7

The plan was that every map in W:ET would be based either on an iconic WWII movie, or an actual historical event:


Maps like Fuel Dump were continually evolved during development based on play-testing feedback

Fuel Dump, as alert gamers detected, was built on a single player level from Return To Castle Wolfenstein and featured a Churchill AVRE tank serving as the Thing-You-Needed-To-Get-Into-Position-To-Blow-Something-Up-That-You-Couldn’t-Just-Blow-Up-With-A-Demo-Charge. Hmm. We should probably come up with a shorter name for that. One day I'll get a bridge-layer tank into a game, but that day has yet to dawn.

And speaking of tanks, no, the Jagdpanther in Gold Rush (and hiding in a parking bay in Siwa Oasis) didn't actually see service in North Africa but dammit, it was so fantastically low-poly and TANKY. And we'd seen one of the few surviving Jagds at the Imperial War Museum. It's still clad in its crocodile-epidermis-esque Zimmerit anti-magnetic mine coating, punctured by an ominously perfect group of penetrating 17 pounder holes at the right rear.

v-7-7

We arranged a visit to the Imperial War Museum where their curator of small arms very kindly let us handle some of their amazing collection of historical fire arms. It really is a lot easier to bounce around a map doing headshots than to physically handle an FG42, an MG42, a K98 with Gewehrgranatgerät grenade launcher attachment, a Garand M1, an M1 Carbine or a M3 SMG without dropping them and eliciting a pained expression from the curator. "They survive a world war, and then get totalled by oily-handed game developers," he kindly didn’t say out loud. I don’t know if trying to hold the MG42 contributed to the decision to only make it properly usable while prone, but its sheer heft certainly made an impression.


Guns!

In fact, the IWM let us walk around several bits of hardware that ended up in the game: Gold Rush's aforementioned Jagdpanther, Siwa Oasis' Pak 40 anti-tank gun, a colossal 80cm railway gun shell (although it's from Gustav rather than Dora), a Würzburg mobile radar, and a Goliath remote-control demolition vehicle.

v-5-8-3

We actually fancied that Goliath tracked mine as an objective vehicle in a map, but it wasn’t much bigger than the Engineer’s dynamite, so we lightly researched radio-controlled German WWII tanks, re-used the Jadgpanther model and added a huge demolition charge that would slide off the front glacis when up against the final objective. That meant the Goliath would no longer be an actual Goliath, so I think we called the map Goliath to make up for it. It didn’t work, though.

I was convinced we could build a map (dubbed Fallen Giant) around the colossal Messerschmitt Me 323 powered glider, but the gameplay was problematic. I think we were already working on a map based on Colditz when we found out about the amazing Colditz glider. Alas, the map wasn’t enough fun to play, and any objective that’s so surprising and counter-intuitive that it needs extensive explanation probably isn’t a great objective.


An early topdown showing the cut St. Nazaire map

I had high hopes for a map based on Operation Chariot, the raid on the St. Nazaire dry docks, but everything I thought was exciting about it was a technological nightmare. I’m sure we tried to do something with the Brest, Lorient or La Pallice U-Boat Bunkers, and for a while it seemed as if we could use the Maunsell Sea Forts or Flaktürme. I also flailingly pitched a map based on the glider attack on Fort Eben-Emael which, I regret, I provisionally named "You've Got Emael". That was a topical joke, back in those heady days when the landscape was composed mainly of mountains of AOL CD-ROMs.

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Now the days of narrowband internet seem as distant as the era of under-cranked silent movies and researching games this way seems utterly Bizarre and Weird. We’re delighted that so many people have had fun playing Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory over the last nine years. You chaps made the game what it was, and gave Splash Damage our start in the industry. We’re delighted so many of you think it’s a v-5-6, to which we must say v-4-3.

v-5-5!

42 Comments

10 years ago... unbelievable.... That pictures totaly finishes it, all of this really reminds me back to the good 'old days!
Posted on 1 June, 2012 - 19:00
plz make a new ET!!! their is something that actual fps still didnt stole and what make the game awesome its this HEADSHOT sound bro !!
Posted on 1 June, 2012 - 19:11
Ah... 9 years and still the best fps ever...
Posted on 1 June, 2012 - 19:12
In that picture,what gun is that man holding? Is it Sten? Too bad that in that time, there weren't UDK 3, otherwise we coulded see this epic game in better quality( textures, polygons count..) :penguin:
Posted on 1 June, 2012 - 19:16
In that picture,what gun is that man holding? Is it Sten? Too bad that in that time, there weren't UDK 3, otherwise we coulded see this epic game in better quality( textures, polygons count..) :penguin:
That's a MP 3008
Posted on 1 June, 2012 - 19:27
That's a MP 3008
Interesting, why didn't SD add that weapon into multiplayer? Looks cool enough Btw MG42 weights about 11kg, how the hell they used it in WWII?? And why didn't ET have shotguns? :D
Posted on 1 June, 2012 - 19:36
I want more whiteboard map drawings immediately! We got one of Radar not too long ago, and it was so much fun studying it and finding things that either made it or didn't. I could waste many hours looking at them - awesome stuff!
Posted on 1 June, 2012 - 20:53
Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, was originally planned as a full-fledged expansion pack for Return to Castle Wolfenstein developed by Splash Damage. The single player component of the game was never completed and thus was removed entirely.
I would like to know about this "Single Player Component" that was never completed, and how ET branched off RTCW.
Posted on 1 June, 2012 - 21:08
Hah! I remember killing Ed of Ed of Ed of Ed on Oasis - my favourite map! :)
Posted on 1 June, 2012 - 21:58
Is it not possible for SD to finish those cut maps, maybe for next year's anniversary? :) Or, if impossible, at least make them available to modders to finish? Of course, some brandnew maps wouldn't be rejected either...
Posted on 2 June, 2012 - 04:47
all the rights to W:ET are owned by id Software/Bethesda/ZeniMax, they would have to be hired by aforementioned conglomerate, and I believe they're busy developing a more successful independent developer program, wait and see, I'm sure you'll be at least intrigued.
Posted on 2 June, 2012 - 06:38
I'm wondering if there are any other 'jokes' or 'fun facts' out there. A house in a map based on someone's real house; textures made based on someone's walls/floors/roofs; .. I didn't expect that all maps were based on real events/locations and I'm really wondering to see the never finished maps.Thanks for sharing ;)
Posted on 2 June, 2012 - 12:10
That's a MP 3008
That's not an MP 3008 - That's an M3 'Grease gun'.
Posted on 2 June, 2012 - 12:54
all the rights to W:ET are owned by id Software/Bethesda/ZeniMax, they would have to be hired by aforementioned conglomerate
Huh? As far as I know, anybody can make ET maps using the assets provided. Why should the originals devs be forbidden to do so?
Posted on 2 June, 2012 - 13:21
Haven't played W:ET in 5 years... *goes to look up vsays*
Posted on 2 June, 2012 - 15:23
Huh? As far as I know, anybody can make ET maps using the assets provided. Why should the originals devs be forbidden to do so?
They can't do so on their own, as Nail said it belongs to iD, so SD have to ask iD.
Posted on 2 June, 2012 - 16:42
Does SD know we would rape murder and pillage for a ET LIVE/QW LIVE or specially QW2? :(
Posted on 2 June, 2012 - 18:32
Nice read. Thank you very much for the Wolfenfiles.
Posted on 3 June, 2012 - 10:24
Aha SD has revealed the secret docs, quickly bring them to the radio tower! How much of the SD developers/employees still play/recently played ET or any other of your games(ET:QW, Brink) ?
Posted on 3 June, 2012 - 13:06
They can't do so on their own, as Nail said it belongs to iD, so SD have to ask iD.
Why doesn't this make sense to me? I don't have to ask ID to use Radiant and create a new ET map or anything... why should someone at SD on their 'own time' have to? It's not being released as for profit... it'd be by the 'community'.
Posted on 3 June, 2012 - 17:17
iD asked SD to make an extension to their game, they used content from RtCW, and it belongs to iD. It's like you would like to use RtCW stuff in an other game, you don't have the right to.
Posted on 3 June, 2012 - 17:52
No. I don't understand the difference of a normal person using Radiant to make a new map, and an SD employee on their own time. Not issuing an 'official' release. Just a community release like all other players in the community do. Why is that difficult to comprehend?
Posted on 3 June, 2012 - 19:55
Then you can rip HL and TF2 since Source and the last game are free? Since they have a SDK? Wolfenstein is property of iD, they're still selling RtCW, ET is an exception, but can't be exploited like if everything were "free", the materials was made or taken from a commercial game still under licence.
Posted on 3 June, 2012 - 20:21
Then you can rip HL and TF2 since Source and the last game are free? Since they have a SDK? Wolfenstein is property of iD, they're still selling RtCW, ET is an exception, but can't be exploited like if everything were "free", the materials was made or taken from a commercial game still under licence.
Still waiting for you to make any sense. You do realize the ET community has been releasing maps and mods for ET since day one, right? People are adding their own assets all the time. The game isn't making any money for anybody (at least not to my knowledge).
Posted on 4 June, 2012 - 00:00
Yes, they are STILL under ET. But if you port Fuel Dump to an other game, you will have to redo EVERYTHING.
Posted on 4 June, 2012 - 10:00
Mateos is right, if you want a port or more details head over to id & contact them. I think I'm the main reason all these details were released (regarding my message I sent them on here).
Posted on 4 June, 2012 - 12:36
Mateos & IDan I think you are missing the whole point here. It was initially asked if SD could release / complete the "missing maps". It has nothing to do with porting maps to other games etc. For example here they have shown the layouts for radar, fueldump etc. Maybe they have the layouts of the missing maps and can release it or complete the maps with the current assets or make new ones(?) and release the maps. I think it is allowed, but I don't think it will happen. We can always dream though.
Posted on 4 June, 2012 - 12:42
I think it is allowed, but I don't think it will happen. We can always dream though.
It is, however, you must spam Eds or Badmans message post, so they can do so :D
Posted on 4 June, 2012 - 12:50
Mateos & IDan I think you are missing the whole point here. It was initially asked if SD could release / complete the "missing maps". It has nothing to do with porting maps to other games etc.
Finally, somebody else who makes sense around here. I have no idea why they were thinking I was talking about remaking ET, or porting anything from ET to other games...
Posted on 4 June, 2012 - 14:35
Finally, somebody else who makes sense around here. I have no idea why they were thinking I was talking about remaking ET, or porting anything from ET to other games...
I read somewhere in here about 'porting' so replied to that, it wasn't aimed at you. From my PM to badman...
9th May 2012: iDan: Another question, inside the SDK I can see maps which were never released. Do these maps still exist? Even if they were aimed @ the SP game. trainyard.bsp, mp_goliath.bsp, sp_bruck_test006, SFM1.BSP, village1.bsp. I seen that you released the drawing of a RTCW map on it's 10 year release date? Any chance of getting similar for ET? I understand it's owned by id, but surely you can release material you made? badman: "To answer your second question, the maps that were shelved were all created using vastly earlier versions of the editor and the game code, so they wouldn't actually work even if we did release them. I'll do some poking to see what can be done there, but don't get your hopes up."
Posted on 4 June, 2012 - 14:39
If I scroll up in the discussion, these maps has been set at the same level of "game assets" (Connector post, who started this), then Nail replied with what rights there's on assets, and it kept this way... Until stealth6 post.
Posted on 4 June, 2012 - 15:56
If I scroll up in the discussion, these maps has been set at the same level of "game assets" (Connector post, who started this), then Nail replied with what rights there's on assets, and it kept this way... Until stealth6 post.
Nails reply just looked like the standard can't do due to ID holding the rights etc. But in this case we're not trying to use the assets for a new game or to port it to a different game. Also since here they released the layout of the current maps I think the idea was are there layouts of the missing maps that we could work with? Or that SD could work with and release these maps. Maybe they aren't allowed to release any information about the maps at all... but it's worth a shot asking.
Posted on 4 June, 2012 - 16:10
id/Bethesda would still have to sign off on the unused maps, afaik they would be considered assets that belonged to id
Posted on 4 June, 2012 - 17:56
I want nothing more ardently than an ET successor and SD gives this webpage attention :wink: -> http://www.wolfmp.info/supporters.php :)
Posted on 4 June, 2012 - 18:01
I want nothing more ardently than an ET successor and SD gives this webpage attention :wink: -> http://www.wolfmp.info/supporters.php :)
Its ID Software's attention you need to attract
Posted on 4 June, 2012 - 18:30
Let them finish Doom 4 first :D
Posted on 4 June, 2012 - 22:38
Just to clarify the unreleased maps thing a bit: All assets Splash Damage created for Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory during development are legally the property of id Software/ZeniMax, as we were merely contracted to develop the game for id. Hence the need for approval.
Posted on 6 June, 2012 - 12:49
v586 vsay ftattack
Posted on 6 June, 2012 - 13:01
Thanks again for the details :D
Posted on 6 June, 2012 - 13:08
So re-make them on the weekend! Bah, I concede.
Posted on 7 June, 2012 - 18:59
v56 Thanks for the story Ed! For those that haven't seen them, there are some more background stories at Sock's place. SD, rock on!
Posted on 13 June, 2012 - 08:30
v56 Thanks for the story Ed! For those that haven't seen them, there are some more background stories at Sock's place. SD, rock on!
Nice addition. Thanks Loffy.
Posted on 13 June, 2012 - 21:12