Descent 1 1/2

The place to promote and link to Descent levels - both multiplayer and singleplayer - D1, D2 and D3.

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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:05 am

Sirius wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:33 am
The built-in D2 levels largely weren't as big as I thought they were. They got a lot of space out of their cube count, but even so, the level in that screenshot might actually be comparable to level 9. I'm not totally sure since I can't see the whole level but nonetheless...

Xfing - roughly what level does the Phoenix Cannon show up? Was wondering if it's safe to assume players have it on hand by 27.
I think it'll have appeared by this level. Helix and Gauss will appear later than it, so it's quite a logical choice to introduce it right after Super Lasers are introduced. I also expect to bring in Omega earlier than those two weapons, since it's generally not as good. You need it for a puzzle or something?
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Sirius » Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:47 am

It's kind of a safety thing for a puzzle... it would also be possible to use a guided missile, but I don't think everyone is going to be able to make the shot with that. Phoenix gives a second option.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:46 am

LightWolf wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:49 pm
This has to be my most updated level.
Goodness gracious! Watch out lest you learn of the hell that is continuous improvement, like the rest of us :lol:

Yeah the level looks and plays fine now. I'd probably change some textures as it looks a bit too plain-ish in sections, and I'd change your grate choices too, since Zeta Aquilae is meant to look "new", and some of your choices do bring about a D1 feeling. This system is probably the one that does better the more colorful and clashing it is.

EDIT: Yep, I did do some final texturing tune-ups, the level looks a bit more vivid now. It's an adequate Zeta Aquilae entry for sure. Looking forward to the coming-up entries?
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Sirius » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:42 am

Umm... one other thing... :) Are cloaked walls off-limits? (The thought I had was kind of a decorative glass-like thing, not an integral part of the level.) Parallax never used them which might be a problem, although we are doing a certain number of things they didn't do but mostly with textures...
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:50 am

Sirius wrote:
Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:42 am
Umm... one other thing... :) Are cloaked walls off-limits? (The thought I had was kind of a decorative glass-like thing, not an integral part of the level.) Parallax never used them which might be a problem, although we are doing a certain number of things they didn't do but mostly with textures...
Well if you insist, I guess I won't stop you, as long as all the other requisite tropes are respected. I wouldn't want to hold you back, since I know you deliver quality :)
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:38 pm

I don't particularly *like* cloaked walls. In TEW's last room it was too difficult to tell what was a wall and what was open air.
If I'm to do an XL conversion of that I'll most certainly be replacing them with an actual glass texture (maybe one of D3's) just FYI. It's the only condition I can think of where I'd absolutely need to use a texture from outside of D1 or D2's high-res banks.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by LightWolf » Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:25 pm

Make the cloaked walls dark enough, and they shouldn't pose too much of a problem.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Sirius » Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:47 pm

Yeah this time that will not be an issue since you won't be fighting a boss in the area. Tell you what though, Xfing; once it's done I'll make a couple of copies, one with the cloaked wall and one with the contingency plan, and you can let me know which you like better :)
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Thu Jan 25, 2018 1:57 am

Mkay, that works for me
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Superbobby » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:07 pm

Here's a Dropbox link to the level I've been working on:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/1k5s637eo3ycv ... 8.zip?dl=0
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Naphtha » Sat Jan 27, 2018 6:46 am

Not bad, not bad at all. The space is used very well, and flying through it did feel like a Brimspark level with a handful of structures which felt like they were supposed to remind me of D1, like the stacked hostage cell and the central grated shafts. The one-way exit room with the Guppies was also a clever idea, though surprisingly dangerous. And the puzzles I've tried are not too frustrating to figure out. But I do have a few things to point out:

1. I think the level is supposed to be in FIRE.PIG, and the robots could be toned down until Xfing gets to item placement. The flythrough was a little dangerous the way it is now.
2. Related to the first point, there is this room on the top floor which might be too much of a death trap. It doesn't look like a lot of players could figure out how to escape before dying, and the powerups might not really be worth it. That might fall to Xfing to suggest something better, though.
3. I really like the central lavafall area and the theme around it, but I'd recommend switching out any opaque section you can fly through for the partially see-through lava wall.
4. I don't think the boss will actually be moving too much from its spawn area, which is a shame because I really like how it's laid out. Bosses in D2 just don't seem to move too far from their spawn if a wall had to be opened for them. But from what I've tried out, you could give it a few more cubes to move about before everything opens. If the entire floor in that space opens up, the boss could be a lot more active.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sat Jan 27, 2018 8:29 am

Thanks for the level! You really are superb, Obby (ha ha ha). The level is quite top tier and it brought upon the best possible D1 vibes, I couldn't hope for anything better, basically. Excellent geometry, huge size, stupendously appropriate texture choice, memorable boss fight - this level really has it all.

Do take to heart Naphtha's impressions though. I have several of my own:

- While the level uses such textures that the palette doesn't seem to matter much at all, indeed it would be better to use FIRE.PIG for fidelity's sake. Levels taking place on Brimspark should be using that palette. At first I thought you used the new palette (Descent.PIG) and that was the reason for Naphtha's comment, but Groupa appears to work decently as well. Still, Fire would be optimal for the theme.

- The gratuitous use of D1-exclusive textures was great. I've noticed though that you've restricted yourself largely to the template POG file. There are many more textures from D1 to choose from, those are available pre-exported on Dropbox. For the remaining two levels you reserved (because yes, please do make them), refer to the archives on Dropbox. Send me your e-mail, so I can give you access to the mission's folder, where all the files are kept. That way you'll have easy access to all the resources, as well as the ability to preview all the currently available levels so as to avoid repetition.

- Related to the above point - you've used exclusively D1's monitors in the mission, few of those too. I think it could use more of them in some places, and you could just reset the appropriate monitors (along with their shattering, shattered and exit sequence textures) to their original, D2 forms and place some of them in the mine too. Having both games' types of monitors would really bring something unique to the level.

- As for the death trap, since it's a one-shot matcen, I think it's cool. We really do need some of those pulse-pounding moments like D1 had plenty of. Placing an invulnerability just past the entrance to the room will solve this area's difficulty problem, since it's not skippable and contains a switch to open up one of the central grates. Let's make it easy if you know the trick to it, just like D1L6's red key chamber.

- As much as I love the super hulk and driller spam, the difficulty does seem way too tough for this part of the game. It's not a problem at this point though, since Alter-Fox and I will sort it out later on. Those infinitely spawning matcens (with cleverly ambiguous trigger points) lead to a flood of robots, and I'm not even sure the level can provide enough ammo to dispose of them. Of note is the fact that Gauss will not yet be available in the game, since it will be the last primary weapon made available before Fusion. What's easy with Gauss can be rather hard without it.

So basically PM me with your mail address and do take care of the few things mentioned by me and Naphtha, and you've got yourself a spot. I'll also be happy to mark off the remaining two level spots you asked for, since now I know for sure that you'll do a great job with them :)
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:10 am

Ok, I shared the folder with you, you should have access to all the required files now :)
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Sirius » Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:13 am

Regarding bosses and walls - from what I recall seeing, if a boss is behind a wall or door that opens up, there needs to be only one cube (the one that the boss is in) behind that wall or door, or it won't move into the rest of the boss room when it teleports. It's an exception case in the way D2 figures out what the boss room is, which is otherwise blocked off by any walls and doors. D2 level 4 is an example of a level that works that way.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Sat Jan 27, 2018 11:03 am

If you are gonna populate Superbobby I'll tell you what I do -- I populate with items first and then populate the enemies around that. Failing an insane test, which, if I did, my level would probably be far too easy :P, that's the best way to make sure everything's doable from cold start. And I always add just a few more missiles than I think I'll need.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sat Jan 27, 2018 11:15 am

Alter-Fox wrote:
Sat Jan 27, 2018 11:03 am
If you are gonna populate Superbobby I'll tell you what I do -- I populate with items first and then populate the enemies around that. Failing an insane test, which, if I did, my level would probably be far too easy :P, that's the best way to make sure everything's doable from cold start. And I always add just a few more missiles than I think I'll need.
Let's not populate yet anyway, since we don't have the difficulty curve established yet, not to mention an optimal item balance. The level should be harder than the ones before it, but easier than the ones after it, so it's best to hold off on that until we have all the slots filled. Some placeholder robots preferred by the designer to help us out later on are OK though.

BTW Fox, how are your adjustments to levels 1-4 going? I'm anxious to play them and see the changes :P
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:08 pm

Oh, and I finally figured out the whole MIDI song thingy. I would like to preface by saying that choosing an appropriate track for a level is one thing, but afterwards the track itself will become an inseparable part of the level's identity, so even if it doesn't seem appropriate at first, to the eyes of the players it might later on become THE track to associate with the level, kind of like it was in Descent, Doom and other games of that era with memorable music.

That said, I counted 33 MIDIs in total in both D1 and D2. Two of those will be used exclusively outside the levels (D1's briefing and D1's endgame briefing tracks), which leaves us with 31 tracks to use in the levels. That means that since we have 54 levels in the set, 23 of these tracks will need to be used twice, and 8 of them once. I think the ones that'll be used once are some of the rarest ones, not originally intended for the levels (with some exceptions):

Descent 1 Opening (Currently Level 1, but could get moved to some later, longer level afterwards to let it get more playtime, we'll see)
Descent 2 Opening (The penultimate level)
Descent Level 12 (level 21's track is its remix)
Descent Level 21 (read above)
Descent 2 Briefing (N'Tala)
Descent 1 Credits (Ideally some dark, ice-themed mine. would be perfect for the secret levels, but you can't really pick tracks for those)
Descent 2 Credits (not sure yet)
Descent Level 22 (only the final level)

I wanted to post this list somewhere just so I can refer to it later :D
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Sat Jan 27, 2018 4:22 pm

I was really sick this week; I managed level 3 the week before, though I'd like to give it another fly-through to refresh my memory on what I actually did. :P Otherwise I haven't had the chance to do much. Been in bed mostly. :(
Relatively busy at the hospital next week but I may have some time in the evenings.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:39 pm

From my end, I've managed to free up 75 cubes from The Cauldron, all the while making the chamber look even more elaborate. Two birds with one stone I guess! Still, unfortunately there remains plenty of tedious work to do to get rid of all the cube errors that the editor turns up, which mostly amount to cubes having triangular rather than rectangular faces due to merging two levels of cubes into one. That might take quite a while to sort out, but I do hope these changes will improve vanilla performance, making the level playable in vanilla (in the previous version it slowed down considerably due to the sheer number of segments to render at once). I might use the salvaged cubes to create some additional areas in the level too, though I could leave it to a volunteer secondary mapper too.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:40 pm

Ok, managed to get an error-free version much faster, saved around 67 segments while also increasing complexity, like previously stated. The room still probably consists of way too many cubes for DOSBox not to slow down, but I don't know how else can the cube count be optimized. I basically removed the entire second level of segments from the bottom and merged the third level into it, so spatial occupation is the same at a drastically reduced cube cost. As said previously, Ι've uploaded the updated version tro Drobpox so you all can have a look. The level could use some expansion to make it feel a bit less modular, but I'm short on ideas at the moment.

EDIT: Forget about the performance considerations, I'm confident now that a properly set DOSBox can run this chamber with no slowdowns. I've only got to figure out the way to do it :lol:

Oh, and I've made some adjustments to the MIDI list, based on playing the levels and having the songs play in the background. I took into account what fits and removed what felt off.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by LightWolf » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:26 pm

Be careful about what tracks you assign levels 2 thru 7 - they'll be applied to the 6 secret levels in that order. I don't personally think D1L8 sounds too Quartzon-y :P
(That track gets applied to Quartzon Planetary Vault based on the current scheme)
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:05 am

Actually that track associates more with the feel than the colors of the level IMO. It's perfectly possible to make a secret water level that would sound good with this track.

The track I feel the strongest about has gotta be D1L3, that one really needs to be in a lab level. Hell, I'm only beginning to realize how huge the influence of the tracks was on the overall ambience of the game. I never bothered to play D2 with the redbook soundtrack much, so I haven't made appropriate mental associations for that game. I did like Crawl for D2L10 though, the toughest level right until level 16 for sure.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:02 am

Wat? D1Level 8 for 4?
I really thought 10 worked there.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:05 am

Alter-Fox wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:02 am
Wat? D1Level 8 for 4?
I really thought 10 worked there.
I feel it didn't, for some reason. The decision is not final though, we can go back to 10 if necessary, or try 9, maybe that one will fit even better? I feel we'll go through plenty of iterations before we settle on something. At least we now know the track roster. I was thinking of some ominous, hard-hitting track for Eris for example, then I remembered D1L26 used Level 4's track and it suited it just fine. I think D1's Opening will be a great track for that level.

I wonder which levels to use D1 and D2 Credits for. For D1's I was thinking of some dark ice level, but the only one that fits the description IMO is the boss level you made. 2's credits is a surprisingly nice track with a somewhat lab-like feel I think, so we might slap it on some darker, lab-heavy level.

On another note, I think I'll try to make use of the cubes I've freed up for The Cauldron, was thinking of adding a side area in the huge cavern accessed through the corner segments on the upper right side of the room. Wondering whether to add an energy center there or not though - in any case such an area could provide the player with a foothold to more easily take care of the robots spawned by the matcens. To make things a bit harder, it could only be made accessible by hitting a none-too-obviously placed switch within the chamber. I'll try to be economic and use as few cubes as necessary (the merge feature does come in real handy!), so I can perhaps expand on some other areas. I think there's not much that can be done about the level's modularity at this point, but that's not necessarily a bad thing I guess, since we're going to have many sprawling levels in the set too.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:44 am

For the credits tracks -- why not save them for the Beta Ceti chapter where we're doing a bunch of other things differently too.
I had a basic idea for a combination Ice/Puuma level that could fit the bill for one of them. Which brings up a question related to that -- are we planning to use sub-reactors at all? And how would you feel about using them in a non-secret level?
I wouldn't use them for non-secret levels, as they introduce a too serious departure from regular gameplay. If someone chooses to use them in a secret level they make, so be it.
For Frosted Minerals I think either my own suggestion of D2 Level 4 or Lightwolf's suggestion of D1 level 14 would work better.
Yeah, I'd go with D1L14 actually, since D2L4 is a bit too mellow, while the former builds some serious tension and suspense.
I'm not sure about D1's level 9 song for such a bright level as level 4. Does it need to be one of the Mars tracks? D1 game5 or 19 would probably fit better than any of them.
19 is a bit too low-key for this level, it works better for levels that look empty but are full of surprises actually. L5 sounds like an idea, but I would probably like to keep it for some later, more impactful levels. I think going with L10 would be the best idea after all, since Martian connotations are actually hard to discard, considering these were the only levels in D1 with any hints of red. A non-Martian track would always feel out of place for someone who's played D1.
May need to fiddle it around a bit but it's doable. E.g. give D1 level 8 to Circularis, D2 level 1 to Coolyard Station, D1 level 14 to Varuna and D1 level 5 to Mars.
I like your little callback to the D1 demo with level 5's song. :D
D1L8 is a very memorable track, not sure if it wouldn't clash with Circularis though - that level embodies everything I like about the Zeta Aquilae style, and I've personally imprinted an association of the 4 tracks from D2 with it the most. Circularis looks the most like Turnabout Bore, which makes me think D2L2 would be the most appropriate track for that level. D2L1 sounds good with Coolyard, but L14 requires a darker and more spacious level than Varuna is, IMO - never really made an association between this track and the yellowish/tan texture of level 14. I gave Varuna L5 because it's got a boss inside, and I did imprint on this track being associated with the boss from D1.
BTW you've got D1 level 16 twice in chapter 2 and I'm not sure how well it would work for a relatively bright water level. :P Maybe that one should use 17 or 18.
Don't worry about that, these choices are placeholder, they'll definitely go. Level 18's track definitely needs to be used with a heavily lablike level - a lot of people thought it fit Miranda perfectly. It'd be real hard to choose an appropriate level for this track to be in. I'll think about that later.
And how 'bout D2 level 3 for R'eeie? I still think D1 level 9 is the right choice for Planetery Life Research BTW.
The choice for R'eeie sounds good. D1L9 is a bit too monotonous for a vibrant and varied level like Planetary, in fact it's one of the levels where I'd see L18's track working.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:45 am

Sorry, I edited your post instead of quoting it by mistake. I think you'll be able to sort it out though :P
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:08 pm

Lol.
I don't think d1l18 works for 25, it's a deliberately dark level that needs a deliberately dark track. I'll think on it-- iirc in the building phase for that one I only had a few d2 redbook tracks in my head.

I like the choice for charon too btw.
I always thought level 26 of d1, if they hadn't just chosen to repeat tracks, would have worked better with the level 7 song.

EDIT: if I had to say, d1l12 or 13 have both got that dark agressive energy that 18 kinda lacks. I'd go with one of them for level 25 if I were picking -- and put 9 in charon if I went for the latter.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:40 am

Yeah we'll see about that all. Yesterday I added a small optional area to the Cauldron, but I haven't finished working on it yet (a bit OCD about perfect parallel/perpendicular geometric alignments). It's definitely better to have more space here. Also thinking of making a huge, cavernous section consisting of relatively few cubes to link up the yellow area with some other branch of the level, to somewhat remedy its tightness. I've grown quite fond of this level, gotta admit! I should do some work on it this evening, and I might upload it to Dropbox within the day.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Naphtha » Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:32 am

Sirius wrote:
Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:13 am
Regarding bosses and walls - from what I recall seeing, if a boss is behind a wall or door that opens up, there needs to be only one cube (the one that the boss is in) behind that wall or door, or it won't move into the rest of the boss room when it teleports. It's an exception case in the way D2 figures out what the boss room is, which is otherwise blocked off by any walls and doors. D2 level 4 is an example of a level that works that way.
Maybe I misread this, but I felt like I've seen the opposite happen with levels I've worked on. Where if it's just one cube initially, the boss is harder to get to move, but if it has more starting cubes, it's more likely to move about. I suppose it's always something that can be worked out at a later testing phase if necessary, though.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Thu Feb 01, 2018 8:00 am

Well we do know for a fact that in D2L4 the boss is initially housed within a single cube. We also know that he does move around the entire arena he can basically reach, and only the standard-sized segments that constitute the entrances to the arena restrain him.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Sirius » Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:50 am

A (very) brief description of how it works:

Code: Select all

//	Create list of segments boss is allowed to teleport to at segptr.
//	Set *num_segs.
//	Boss is allowed to teleport to segments he fits in (calls object_intersects_wall) and
//	he can reach from his initial position (calls find_connected_distance).
//	If size_check is set, then only add segment if boss can fit in it, else any segment is legal.
//	one_wall_hack added by MK, 10/13/95: A mega-hack!  Set to !0 to ignore the 
void init_boss_segments(short segptr[], int *num_segs, int size_check, int one_wall_hack)
one_wall_hack is what enables the D2 level 4 behavior. This makes D2 ignore the first impassible wall it encounters for purposes of building this segment list. However that only applies to the first connected cube it encounters; if there is a cube connected to the boss cube that isn't behind a wall, it will clear the flag. That's why a single cube is the easiest way of ensuring a level actually uses this behavior; otherwise you have to rely on the algorithm checking the openable door/wall first. (You might be able to do that by ensuring the door/wall is on side 0.)
This function is only run when the level is loaded, so doors/walls that open later (like in level 4) will otherwise block the boss.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:44 pm

Naphtha wrote:
Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:32 am
Sirius wrote:
Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:13 am
Regarding bosses and walls - from what I recall seeing, if a boss is behind a wall or door that opens up, there needs to be only one cube (the one that the boss is in) behind that wall or door, or it won't move into the rest of the boss room when it teleports. It's an exception case in the way D2 figures out what the boss room is, which is otherwise blocked off by any walls and doors. D2 level 4 is an example of a level that works that way.
Maybe I misread this, but I felt like I've seen the opposite happen with levels I've worked on. Where if it's just one cube initially, the boss is harder to get to move, but if it has more starting cubes, it's more likely to move about. I suppose it's always something that can be worked out at a later testing phase if necessary, though.
BTW in Plutonian Shores L7 boss has exactly this problem (always teleports to it's starting position), probably can be fixed with this one cube hack. And PS L12 boss works correctly...
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:32 pm

Ok, donesies! I gave The Cauldron a huge, cavernous optional area accessible before you even get the blue key - once there are some guided missiles in there too, the most astute of the astute can drastically quicken their progression through the level, potentially allowing you to get the red key without having any other key on you. It does look a bit more interesting on the Automap too. 899 segments, so I guess I'm done with this one :P

I also removed one "floor" of the zigzag maze in Coolyard Station, it was completely needless. Not sure, but I think I'm done with this one too, at least for now :D
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:11 am

I've uploaded a "rebalanced" version into the main hog folder which, right now, is just level 3. Reason being I'm getting ready to go back to the arctic (work stuff) for half a month, and I won't have this computer with me -- if I'm to work more on this I need to make the files available to myself. :P
Intend to upload level 42 within the next couple days for the same reason.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:33 am

Mkay, I'll take a look right away. I hope you didn't delete the original file though (levels 1-4), since these levels are no longer backed up in separate folders on dropbox :P

EDIT: It's easy alright, kinda aligned with what I originally had in mind for "baby" difficulty :P Definitely easier than levels 3 from D1, D2 and Vertigo, but I guess that's fine (and to be expected), since this mission has so many more levels than those. One thing though - I'd rather that the cloaked lifters didn't drop cloaks, they should drop either health boosts or nothing. Cloaks further make the level easier beyond what it needs to be.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:58 pm

I'll make it energy instead if this is already so easy. I had meant to do that anyway... Problem with getting sick I suppose.
I do want to give it another look as I said. Just needed it in a place where I'll be able to get at it next week.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:39 pm

I think L3 was rather easy even in it's earlier setup. At least compared to CS and Vertigo. I don't believe that making many of the starting levels (for example, 10) significantly easier than standard campaigns is a good idea. But giving it more tension and style, would be the very nice. Maybe can be done by arranging several good difficult "key" fights, and making the rest of the level less populated and easier? And introducing/grouping the robots in more memorable/meaningful way, as Alter-Fox suggested. L2 especially suffers from this thing, you just have the similar robots everywhere and the same type of encounters always. Would also be interesting if those levels would require some nontrivial strategy to beat (for example do smth non obvious to be able to reach the energy center on cold start - like grabbing some weapons or cloak that is not on the "main path", or be fast enough so the robots in particular difficult area don't start roaming (but the latter should be probably left for some later levels - although this was used quite well in FS L6). And giving the player many ways to approach the same area, with some of them being "correct" and other "wrong" or"trap" kind of, is a good idea, too (as opposed to making a linear level that can be only done in one way). But it can be addressed only by level design. I really like the levels that are not only difficult but need to be solved like a puzzle, where you have a lot of ways to do them, and need to select the best one...
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:06 am

I believe we'll have plenty of challenges along the way, so don't worry too much about that. As for difficulty, I don't think the first 10 levels will be that super easy (Charon is level 10 I believe, and it's already quite hard, still haven't managed it without dying). We'll keep the difficulty low only until level 5, where the first boss will be encountered, afterwards I expect there to be a considerable spike. We'll see though, first we need to actually have those levels made. This mission will most likely not be as challenging or rewarding in terms of gameplay as some of the most revered fan missions are (at least not all of it) since its priority is nostalgia and atmosphere and many levels are designed "blind", meaning with no prior conception of certain gameplay elements (traps etc).

I'm overall very much for the changes that Alter-Fox is making to the balance, guess we'll work as a team on the population after all. Level 2 definitely needs to be dialed down, as it's rather tough, but we'll get there in time. We'l also make sure to introduce some places in mines where there are scary, tension-building robot setups (like D1's driller spam outside of shooting range - easy enough to deal with but still scary) and downright hard ones to handle. But really, there are so many levels in the mission that there are going to be ample opportunities to do all that. The Solar System's comparatively low robot infestation will be accounted for in the storyline itself in general.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:44 am

I definitely think some of those lifter traps on level 2 can stay where they are, if they're used more sparingly they could certainly add some fear to an otherwise pretty basic early level.
Also keep in mind that no campaign I know of has a perfectly linear difficulty progression from level to level. Would probably be perfectly fine to have a few difficulty spikes earlier on that aren't matched again until a few levels later; once that pattern is established then the feeling of not knowing what you're going to be up against starting a level adds to the tension as well.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:17 pm

Yeah I guess.

I should probably finally populate level 5 soonish. Gotta feel inspired first though :D

What do you think would be the appropriate power-up loadout for the first boss fight? If I'm not mistaken, the boss in the altered HAM file was made somewhat tougher than it was in original D2. But a single cloak and a single invulnerability placed conveniently would probably be enough to let you easily tip the scales in your favor. I think :P
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