Former id Software designer Tom Hall's level the Corpseyard II appears in numerous editions with gameplay and structural changes, cy2.bsp (classic version), cy2sb.bsp (the 'Skull Bar' version), cy2a.bsp (the alternate version). This review covers all the variations of the map. The majority of the screenshots in this review are from cy2a. This level was created during Tom's tenure at ION Storm along with various other employees of the company at the time, as his design notes describe:
“...When I was working on Rise of the Triad, I made a level called One-Stop Gun Shop. William Scarboro, programmer on the game, took that level, gutted most of it, and made it into four towers, to better test the weapons and have more open space for “rocking.” This was a brilliant stroke on his part. I added the side area
for a little variety. This level turned into everyone's favorite, due to its intensity and simplicity. We named it, “The Corpseyard” (a courtyard in which crazy amounts of death and mayhem happens).”
“When we were making Prey, the game wasn't together yet, but Jim Dosé said he could make the Preditor (Prey Editor, coolest contextual tool name ever) output Quake maps. This ruled, so I decided to port the level over. It was a lot of fun, but wasn't too Quakey. So I added a lower lava area, and some secrets, some rocket jump places, and double hop tower access. Then I found it on a backup disk and with Noel's help got it in the new Quake (it worked with version .92 before). This was played a bit and I got comments. I changed a few things with WorldCraft (Noel's choice for editor). Then Matt “DaBug” Hooper joined us, proficient in the BSP editor. After we all played it awhile, I collected comments, weighed them, and Matt made the two cool rooms and teleporters and really prettied-up the level. After he and I did up a couple custom graphics, it was done. The “Tom?” monitor was Matt's idea, as that's where I'm always waiting for the rocket launcher.”
“Okay, then Noel noticed that you can pretty much get the Quad and be protected by the Quake symbol, and after a number of ideas, Shawn came up with the best one, which we found out you couldn't do, which was to have the four towers strike the center with lightning, but the built-in lightning deals only damage Cthon. Sigh. Anyway, I came up with an alternate that is kinda cool too, the Skull Bar.”
“The “Corpseyard Classic” (cy2) is also included, which is a bit
faster and simpler than the new Skull Bar version (cy2sb). Then the purist DeathMatchers didn't like playing against the level (i.e. the Skull Bar), so the new additions are added and the skull bar is removed. Each one suits different tastes, so play whichever!”
“So thanks to all those dudes, plus Romero and Shawn who had good comments, WhaleBoy for an early graphic, The Man With No Nick for writing the crazy 11-player net code in Triad back then, and the other guys at ION Storm for testing it.”
The map is very simple in its design, taking place over three levels, the lowest of which is a series of walkways over a vast pit of lava that's filled with all the goods; pentagrams, suits of armour and access to the all important Ring of Shadows and Quad Damage. As Tom's notes describe, the Quad was the focus of the various changes in the level in order to avoid it imbalancing the gameplay.
The Corpseyard is a great map for small deathmatch games as long as it's not taken too seriously. It's a little too large for dueling, but anything more than five or six players in deathmatch makes for chaos as well, so getting the balance right is important. There's more skill involved than might first be apparent here as well, a lot of the greatest items in the level sit on top of the buildings and towers, and can only easily be accessed by a running jump on the tower ramps or by rocket jumping.
There are no secrets in this level as such, but a number of its most powerful items are stashed in hard to reach places, either high up on the towers and platforms, or along small walkways near the lava in the lowest section of the level. There's a pentagram behind one of the structural pillars on the lowest level, a megahealth sitting on top of one of the buildings, a teleporter to the Quad (cy2a pictured, differs in the other versions), an array of health kits behind this pillar, and a service lift leading to the Ring of Shadows.