My first project - A tutorial

Discuss and unveil current Marathon projects.

My first project - A tutorial

Post Mar 12th '14, 04:15

Hi,

I'm Paul. I'm new to this community (since Feb '14). I've always been a huge Marathon fan and remember spending $40 a pop to get each new game when it came out. Anyway, I am a writer by trade and love to tell stories and game…what better way to do it than Marathon?

So I have created a small, 4-level game to teach myself Marathon mapping. It is NOT super pretty like so many of the excellent designs you guys are working on, but it is fun, hard to beat, and employs most of the functionality of a Marathon game (terminals w/branching logic, charging stations, lights, water, platforms, doors, chip uplinks, auto exits, inter level transports, monsters, weapons, etc. you get the idea).

I'm hoping by uploading this much less complex set of maps, that I will help other newbies. I also plan to create several youtube screencasts explaining how these maps were made to help others learn.

I will continue to build this scenario beyond the 4 levels, but I wanted to upload these 4 levels for the reasons I already mentioned.

I hope you like them. I had a blast making them!

My next area to tackle is more complex water, lava, and stairs (LOL, stairs seem hard and the stair plugin crashed on me…so I didn't have the patience early on to create tons of them so I just used platforms).

I'm in this for the fun so I'm not sure just how complex I will get, but I will make it challenging!!! :-)

http://simplici7y.com/items/fart-or-die

Best,
Paul
Last edited by dustu on Aug 27th '15, 22:59, edited 1 time in total.
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dustu

Post Mar 13th '14, 20:45

GG
Roses are rose red
Poems don't always make sense
Refridgerator
Dan
California

Post Mar 15th '14, 11:47

Dan wrote:GG


Wow. Thanks Dan! I'm glad you like it. I plan to really improve the story and add more levels if people like it. Like I said, I probably won't make really intricate levels like some of the master designers on here do, but I'll make them challenging and fun! :-)
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dustu

Post Jan 10th '15, 10:25

Congratulations. You're transitioning from the how-to-make-a-map phase into the how-to-make-a-good-map phase. Here's another batch of advice after playing through version 1.2.

Limit the textures you use for doors to a small handful. Try to establish conventions so the player isn't confused about what's a door and what isn't.

Raise the ceiling on the polygon adjacent to a platform, so when you're at the top you can run over the platform and fall down, instead of having to wait for it.

If a Pfhor squawks continuously, that's a clue that it can't behave correctly. It usually needs more polygons (not more space per se) around it to construct paths to where it wants to go. Left uncorrected, this will make your level easier than it should be, since the monster is having trouble.

In light of the above, go easy on the monsters. In level 2, getting up the elevator is nearly impossible without going postal on the BoBs, because it's always occupied by other monsters. Here was my strategy in level 2: tiptoe around the BoBs, good and bad, until I have a clear shot at an assimilated BoB. Then shoot him, and hopefully he'll kill enough VacBoBs and tiny BoBs that I can pass through. Not good.

One rule of thumb would be to check the monster parameters, and insure that the total number of monsters is less than the number of polygons.

It's annoying if another monster spawns behind you so frequently that you don't have time to read through the terminal before you're shot in the back. If you want infinitely respawning monsters, consider having separate safe and dangerous areas of your map.

Monsters need enough space to move. They can't spawn on a polygon with a terminal or switch, for instance, or they'll be stuck. Mark those polygons as monster & item impassable if you're spawning monsters randomly. Some cyborgs apparently can't move in 1 WU high rooms in level 3, so check on those - different monsters have different heights.

Also consider established conventions when it comes to switch textures. Each quarter of the texture is generally meant to be used by itself. The broken wires part of the texture doesn't look like you could plug in a chip to fix it, though I suppose some may take the term 'repair switch' to mean it does just that.

In level 4, why are my weapons taken away, from a story perspective?

When you have two adjacent polygons, and one has a ceiling texture, and the other has a landscape texture on its ceiling, it looks weird, because it looks like the ceiling is paper thin. Increase the ceiling height of the landscape-textured polygon so it looks like the structure has thickness.

There are few reasons to put multiple copies of the same weapon on the same level. The only reasons I can think of are if A) You can carry two of the weapon; B) The level is set up for coop play; or C) The extra weapons add to the aesthetics or story.

I liked the blue pfhor fighters teleporting in in level 4, but it was too much of a good thing. Yes, I know you wanted it to be hard, but the number of them on the first floor at once seemed excessive. Like, adding sugar to food only makes it taste better up to a point.

The reason pillars are cool - one reason, anyway - is because they introduce a degree of nonlinearity. Instead of just going forwards or backwards, you can go the left way or the right way around it. Look for other ways to add nonlinearity to your levels. As you get better at that, you can start putting your chips farther away from their switches, since traversing the space between will become more interesting.

Level 5 has the same problem that I can't read the terminal before I'm shot in the back. One solution would be to use verticality to your advantage. If the terminal were in a raised room overlooking the main floor, you'd be safe from most of the shots coming at you.

Spawning monsters directly in lava looks pretty dumb. Again, use monster impassable polygons.

Here's an exercise to challenge you. Pick one of the big rooms in your map, and modify it so there are 3 ways to go instead of 2. None of the ways can be a dead end, and they can't all be at the same height.
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Crater Creator

Post Jan 10th '15, 14:43

Unlike Crater Creator, I only made it through about half of the set before giving up. Apparently I didn't miss a whole lot.

The biggest thing I would do is urge you to look at the maps in Marathon 2, for where to go with your map design. They're a little more complex than yours; each map in Marathon 2 is somewhere around 400 polygons, but they're nonetheless really good sources of inspiration for how to combine hallways and open spaces together, and how to skillfully have height changes that not only look cool but also have an impact in gameplay. And they're still fairly simple maps overall, so it should be easy enough to parse them visually.

The one in particular I really like is Eat It, Vid Boi. It has some twisty tunnels and some big rooms, but it's very spacious (which your maps are not) and has some nonlinearity and exploration that make a fairly bare-bones map a lot more interesting.

Crater Creator said pretty much everything that I was thinking of, though.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Jan 10th '15, 19:26

I really appreciate all your feedback. I will address it all as much as I can in the short term and in the long term continue to update it and fix it as I gain more skills in how to use Weland and Visual Mode. :)

Crater Creator wrote:Congratulations. You're transitioning from the how-to-make-a-map phase into the how-to-make-a-good-map phase. Here's another batch of advice after playing through version 1.2.

Limit the textures you use for doors to a small handful. Try to establish conventions so the player isn't confused about what's a door and what isn't.

Raise the ceiling on the polygon adjacent to a platform, so when you're at the top you can run over the platform and fall down, instead of having to wait for it.

If a Pfhor squawks continuously, that's a clue that it can't behave correctly. It usually needs more polygons (not more space per se) around it to construct paths to where it wants to go. Left uncorrected, this will make your level easier than it should be, since the monster is having trouble.

In light of the above, go easy on the monsters. In level 2, getting up the elevator is nearly impossible without going postal on the BoBs, because it's always occupied by other monsters. Here was my strategy in level 2: tiptoe around the BoBs, good and bad, until I have a clear shot at an assimilated BoB. Then shoot him, and hopefully he'll kill enough VacBoBs and tiny BoBs that I can pass through. Not good.

One rule of thumb would be to check the monster parameters, and insure that the total number of monsters is less than the number of polygons.

It's annoying if another monster spawns behind you so frequently that you don't have time to read through the terminal before you're shot in the back. If you want infinitely respawning monsters, consider having separate safe and dangerous areas of your map.

Monsters need enough space to move. They can't spawn on a polygon with a terminal or switch, for instance, or they'll be stuck. Mark those polygons as monster & item impassable if you're spawning monsters randomly. Some cyborgs apparently can't move in 1 WU high rooms in level 3, so check on those - different monsters have different heights.

Also consider established conventions when it comes to switch textures. Each quarter of the texture is generally meant to be used by itself. The broken wires part of the texture doesn't look like you could plug in a chip to fix it, though I suppose some may take the term 'repair switch' to mean it does just that.

In level 4, why are my weapons taken away, from a story perspective?

When you have two adjacent polygons, and one has a ceiling texture, and the other has a landscape texture on its ceiling, it looks weird, because it looks like the ceiling is paper thin. Increase the ceiling height of the landscape-textured polygon so it looks like the structure has thickness.

There are few reasons to put multiple copies of the same weapon on the same level. The only reasons I can think of are if A) You can carry two of the weapon; B) The level is set up for coop play; or C) The extra weapons add to the aesthetics or story.

I liked the blue pfhor fighters teleporting in in level 4, but it was too much of a good thing. Yes, I know you wanted it to be hard, but the number of them on the first floor at once seemed excessive. Like, adding sugar to food only makes it taste better up to a point.

The reason pillars are cool - one reason, anyway - is because they introduce a degree of nonlinearity. Instead of just going forwards or backwards, you can go the left way or the right way around it. Look for other ways to add nonlinearity to your levels. As you get better at that, you can start putting your chips farther away from their switches, since traversing the space between will become more interesting.

Level 5 has the same problem that I can't read the terminal before I'm shot in the back. One solution would be to use verticality to your advantage. If the terminal were in a raised room overlooking the main floor, you'd be safe from most of the shots coming at you.

Spawning monsters directly in lava looks pretty dumb. Again, use monster impassable polygons.

Here's an exercise to challenge you. Pick one of the big rooms in your map, and modify it so there are 3 ways to go instead of 2. None of the ways can be a dead end, and they can't all be at the same height.
User avatar

dustu

Post Jan 10th '15, 19:29

Thank you for this feedback. I really appreciate the pointer to Vid Boi. I will check it out. But I am a newb so my map making skills are pretty rough. I keep trying, however, and am always trying to improve. So I appreciate your patience and help here! :) I will keep working on it! There will be several more releases of my map. :)

RyokoTK wrote:Unlike Crater Creator, I only made it through about half of the set before giving up. Apparently I didn't miss a whole lot.

The biggest thing I would do is urge you to look at the maps in Marathon 2, for where to go with your map design. They're a little more complex than yours; each map in Marathon 2 is somewhere around 400 polygons, but they're nonetheless really good sources of inspiration for how to combine hallways and open spaces together, and how to skillfully have height changes that not only look cool but also have an impact in gameplay. And they're still fairly simple maps overall, so it should be easy enough to parse them visually.

The one in particular I really like is Eat It, Vid Boi. It has some twisty tunnels and some big rooms, but it's very spacious (which your maps are not) and has some nonlinearity and exploration that make a fairly bare-bones map a lot more interesting.

Crater Creator said pretty much everything that I was thinking of, though.
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dustu

Post Jan 11th '15, 04:29

I'm going to toss this out there: for someone who is starting basically from no experience, I would say, do not spend a lot of time trying to do iterations of your next map. Move on to the next one, keep creating, and keep developing your skills. If you keep trying to revise your existing maps, you're going to be continuously held back by its problems.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Jan 11th '15, 05:50

I disagree. I've been working on the same map for 20 years, and it's almost playable now.
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Wrkncacnter

Post Jan 11th '15, 10:41

RyokoTK wrote:I'm going to toss this out there: for someone who is starting basically from no experience, I would say, do not spend a lot of time trying to do iterations of your next map. Move on to the next one, keep creating, and keep developing your skills. If you keep trying to revise your existing maps, you're going to be continuously held back by its problems.


I partially agree. It depends on the type of mapper. Personally I can't bear the thought of leaving a map unfinished/bugged, it needs to be near perfect (perfection isn't from this world). Of course it can't hurt to make more maps and test around with new architecture/landscapes/atmosphere. Again, depending on the type of mapper, you might learn more by mass-producing maps than creating a select few refined ones.
XXXXTYCHOXXXX

$lave wrote:Damnit bridgit, you are forgetting how fucking serious business the internet is.
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Tycho X
Aenna Prime

Post Jan 12th '15, 17:47

Part of it is basically getting in reps, though. You're going to learn quite a lot more about making maps if you go through the entire process multiple times and keep doing all the steps of designing a level and texturing it and whatever whatever whatever, you'll learn and develop more quickly and you'll avoid some bad habits.

Nobody's first maps are really worth trying to "perfect" because they tend to be so conceptually flawed that they can't really be saved; Fart or Die isn't really an exception.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Jan 12th '15, 19:32

Again, I agree, but in my opinion instead of leaving a map right after creating it, you should get it reviewed, fix the major issues and voilà; you'll probably avoid the mistake in the next map.
XXXXTYCHOXXXX

$lave wrote:Damnit bridgit, you are forgetting how fucking serious business the internet is.
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Tycho X
Aenna Prime

Post Jan 12th '15, 20:10

I'm going to side with Ryoko here. Even now, I often find it more worthwhile to completely scrap a map and start again, than to try to "fix" everything I don't like about it. Minor things, like an individual room being crappy, can obviously be fixed in a good map. A lot of maps are just too filled with flaws for it to be worthwhile to try fixing everything though, and as Ryoko mentioned sometimes there are such serious conceptual flaws that you really don't have an option but to start again.

I find that making a lot of unfinished maps teaches myself a lot more than making one very polished map in the same amount of time, in most situations. Both can be valuable, but there's little sense in polishing a turd. I think learning to abandon your work helps you keep some distance from it and see it more objectively.
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$lave

Post Jan 12th '15, 21:00

I think learning to abandon a work is probably the most valuable skill you can learn in any creative field.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Jan 12th '15, 21:06

Tycho X wrote:Again, I agree, but in my opinion instead of leaving a map right after creating it, you should get it reviewed, fix the major issues and voilà; you'll probably avoid the mistake in the next map.


There's nothing wrong with revising and fixing up a map that you just made. Most maps require a lot of tweaks and adjustments before they're good. I think the argument that Ryoko and others are making is that, past a certain point, it's a better use of your time to develop something new rather than fixing something that might be too far gone.
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Windbreaker
South Park, CO

Post Jan 12th '15, 23:17

RyokoTK wrote:I think learning to abandon a work is probably the most valuable skill you can learn in any creative field.


I agree. It is very important to "kill your darlings" or whatever the phrase is.

But, I'd also say, don't throw anything out, either. You never know when an idea from the past might inspire something in the future, even if it didn't work right the first time around.
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philtron

Post Jan 13th '15, 00:29

philtron wrote:But, I'd also say, don't throw anything out, either. You never know when an idea from the past might inspire something in the future, even if it didn't work right the first time around.

I'd go a step further and upload everything to simplici7y, to make sure you don't lose these critical files in a hard drive failure.
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Wrkncacnter

Post Jan 13th '15, 02:29

When don't you go a step further?
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philtron

Post Jan 13th '15, 05:02

RyokoTK wrote:I think learning to abandon a work is probably the most valuable skill you can learn in any creative field.


Absolutely, even though it is against my nature, and so is something that has taken me very a long time to learn. Not every idea you have is going to be successful no matter how much you brow beat it. Or it could be the opposite, and you can be hurting an already successful work: e.g Star Wars. (Though not many of us are ever going to suffer that problem ;))

Speaking as a music composition major and someone who has a lot of English majors in my family, it's best to have a lot of ideas and then choose which ones deserve to pan out. Also being able to objectively discriminate, and sometimes lopping off entire sections that just don't add to your goal, is a major part of the creative process. As a general rule: if you can't justify it helping you, it's hurting you.
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herecomethej2000
Ledyard, CT

Post Jan 18th '15, 15:51

I think this depends on whether or not you are making progress with an old map or what kind of mapper you are. In my case, I am learning and making progress so I prefer to keep working on a map.

RyokoTK wrote:I'm going to toss this out there: for someone who is starting basically from no experience, I would say, do not spend a lot of time trying to do iterations of your next map. Move on to the next one, keep creating, and keep developing your skills. If you keep trying to revise your existing maps, you're going to be continuously held back by its problems.
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dustu

Post Aug 26th '15, 15:36

Hi All!

I just posted an update to this map with fixes, improvements, and a new level out here:

http://simplici7y.com/items/fart-or-die

Enjoy!

Best,
Dustu
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dustu

Post Aug 26th '15, 23:44

dustu wrote:Hi,

I'm Paul. I'm new to this community (since Feb '14). I've always been a huge Marathon fan and remember spending $40 a pop to get each new game when it came out. Anyway, I am a writer by trade and love to tell stories and game…what better way to do it than Marathon?

So I have created a small, 4-level game to teach myself Marathon mapping. It is NOT super pretty like so many of the excellent designs you guys are working on, but it is fun, hard to beat, and employs most of the functionality of a Marathon game (terminals w/branching logic, charging stations, lights, water, platforms, doors, chip uplinks, auto exits, inter level transports, monsters, weapons, etc. you get the idea).

I'm hoping by uploading this much less complex set of maps, that I will help other newbies. I also plan to create several youtube screencasts explaining how these maps were made to help others learn.

I will continue to build this scenario beyond the 4 levels, but I wanted to upload these 4 levels for the reasons I already mentioned.

I hope you like them. I had a blast making them!

My next area to tackle is more complex water, lava, and stairs (LOL, stairs seem hard and the stair plugin crashed on me…so I didn't have the patience early on to create tons of them so I just used platforms).

I'm in this for the fun so I'm not sure just how complex I will get, but I will make it challenging!!! :-)

Best,
Paul


Whatever you do man, do not lose that fun. It is all and everything. :-)
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goran

Post Aug 27th '15, 22:57

Thanks Goran! I try not to! :)

goran wrote:
Whatever you do man, do not lose that fun. It is all and everything. :-)
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dustu

Post Aug 28th '15, 03:28

So I played this version.

If I recall correctly, in your first version the monsters respawned infinitely. They don't do that anymore (or at least the frequency is a lot lower). That is a big improvement in that the game is actually playable now.

This turned out to me more fun than I expected (although I played on Normal because Total Carnage was frustrating and annoying).

You throw lots of enemies at us in small, bland spaces, but you also send lots of ammo, shields, and even invincibility in a lot of spots. As a result it doesn't play like a Marathon game or like any other 2.5D shooter; it feels a lot more like some sort of arcade game.

If you wanted to keep going in this direction with your maps (fast paced, low risk, arcade run-and-gun) then I would suggest removing goals such as getting uplink chips or finding alien machines, and focus on levels that more or less just go from A to B. Goals are okay, but item hunting brings down the pace and breaks the flow of this kind of play. If you want to continue in the arcady shooter direction then I'd also suggest reducing the amount of backtracking that takes place, and if there is backtracking then make sure that when the player retreads old ground that there are new monsters waiting for him (monster closets, teleport triggers).

Anyway, good work.
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philtron

Post Aug 30th '15, 16:57

Hi,

Thanks so much for reviewing it. If you have a chance, can you rate it on this site: http://simplici7y.com/items/fart-or-die ? My initial reviews (vers 1.0) were not so great so I seem stuck at 2 stars. :)

Anyway, I thought your review was interesting. I had not thought about the difference between run and gun and strategy! I kinda prefer strategy...but do like the run and gun aspect on some levels. :) I think I'll try to tone down the run and gun aspect ( but not completely) and stick with strategy. So I may remove some of the extra weapons on some levels. On Total Carnage, however, weapons do help. :) So I'll have to weigh carefully what makes sense from a total carnage point of view (if that makes sense :) ).

I really appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

philtron wrote:So I played this version.

If I recall correctly, in your first version the monsters respawned infinitely. They don't do that anymore (or at least the frequency is a lot lower). That is a big improvement in that the game is actually playable now.

This turned out to me more fun than I expected (although I played on Normal because Total Carnage was frustrating and annoying).

You throw lots of enemies at us in small, bland spaces, but you also send lots of ammo, shields, and even invincibility in a lot of spots. As a result it doesn't play like a Marathon game or like any other 2.5D shooter; it feels a lot more like some sort of arcade game.

If you wanted to keep going in this direction with your maps (fast paced, low risk, arcade run-and-gun) then I would suggest removing goals such as getting uplink chips or finding alien machines, and focus on levels that more or less just go from A to B. Goals are okay, but item hunting brings down the pace and breaks the flow of this kind of play. If you want to continue in the arcady shooter direction then I'd also suggest reducing the amount of backtracking that takes place, and if there is backtracking then make sure that when the player retreads old ground that there are new monsters waiting for him (monster closets, teleport triggers).

Anyway, good work.
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dustu

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