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The following text is a collection of Questions & Answers in relation to common error messages that occur during the process of compiling maps and levels with either Q3Map or the updated Q3Map2 for use in any game powered by the Quake 3 engine.
It was originally posted on the Quake3World level editing forums before the big f.u.b.a.r. of late 2004. Thanks to a forward thinking chap (thanks scourge34) a copy was saved and all was not lost..! It's an ongoing resource that has been gathered over a number of years by several helpful and dedicated individuals from the Quake3World community. It's not a complete list of all the possible error messages that might crop up, but a comment on the more frequent problems that arise from editing and creating content for games based on the Quake 3 engine.
MAX_SURFACE_INFO is specific to Quake 3 engined games and tends to crop up more often when using the original version of Q3Map rather than ydnars updated Q3Map2 (the original Q3Map has lower limits and a lower tollerance for errors than Q3Map2 so will throw up problems more frequently), the former (Q3Map) usually being included in 'official' tools sets based on QeRadiant and not GTKRadiant.
The MAX_SURFACE_INFO error itself happens becasue the compiler is reading (parsing) too many shaders (surfaces) when it gathers data for the compilation of a map. Becuase there is a limit to the number of allowed shaders - somewhere in the region of 3000+ - if the compiling process goes over that it errors out with the above message.
Remove any custom shaders you may have installed, either by directly extracting them to the 'scripts' folder or by their presence in various custom PK3 files. Essentially your editing environment should be as close to the original state it was in when the editor was first installed.
If you don't want to remove any PK3 files then download and use the latest version of Q3Map2.