here are some levels I made

Discuss and unveil current Marathon projects.

here are some levels I made

Post Apr 7th '14, 12:23

A few months back - maybe a year ago - I uploaded a Marathon Infinity map here. A few of you downloaded it, a few of you commented on it, and I appreciated it. I kept making levels. And I just used Forge in Sheep Shaver. So these are Marathon Infinity levels. They take no advantage of the Aleph One engine, unfortunately.

I was going to continue making maps, but I recently downloaded this awesome scenario called Phoenix that not only takes advantage of the awesomeness of Aleph, but the level designers are so good that my self confidence took a nose dive and I've given up. Sorta like how every time I hear an amazing guitarist I just think, why the hell do I still play? I could practice every day for the rest of my life and never be close to this good. Anyway, I tried using Weland, and to my surprise it is almost identical to Forge, except for the Visual Mode. But I couldn't figure out the Visual Mode lua or whatever, so I gave up there.

I might keep trying... we'll see. But for now, I'm done with Forge and the Infinity limitations - particularly when I see what remains of the Marathon community is so committed to Aleph that anyone who plays my levels will probably think, "yeah these would've been good...if I'd played them 15 years ago." So, here is a 6 map collection of levels I've made. There was a seventh, but it never really worked properly - if I can get into scripting maybe I can fix it, but it wasn't that great of a level anyway.

The terminals reflect my making-it-up-as-I-go-along story. Some of it is cool. All of them were written upon completion of the levels, so there is no real coherent story. I just wanted to make maps. But, now I realize, why am I still making levels that were designed for play on PowerPCs in the 90's, when we have the tools for Aleph??

Anyway, long story short, here is a collection of 6 levels I made. The first level is the one I uploaded here earlier. There are probably a few errors still in there, but whatever. I hope you all enjoy them. I've put some time into 'em so even if y'all just looked at the maps and gave me some kudos, that'd be cool. Enjoy!
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some-levels.zip
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doctorbenjiphd

Post Apr 7th '14, 16:31

doctorbenjiphd wrote:I recently downloaded this awesome scenario called Phoenix that not only takes advantage of the awesomeness of Aleph, but the level designers are so good that my self confidence took a nose dive and I've given up.

RyokoTK: Still ruining.
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Wrkncacnter

Post Apr 11th '14, 09:38

Thanks for sharing with us, doctorbenjiphd. I think you'll find people here are happy to accept new maps whether or not they take specific advantage of Aleph One, so long as the quality is there. And this is no beginner-quality map; people should give it a look. My thoughts:

Level 1
The lighting seems annoyingly dark.
There's a lot of text to get through in the first terminal.
It's nice to see what's ahead through the windows, though it seemed inconsistent which windows you could shoot through and which were solid.
This level is more complex and nonlinear than later levels. It gives the player every weapon, and throws nearly every enemy type at him. Also, the terminals skip any introductions and get right down to it. For these reasons, it really feels like it should be the last level in the scenario. Even if it isn't, being more selective with the weapons & enemies can give a level a more memorable, unique 'flavor.'

Level 2
Overall, I enjoyed the straightforwardness of this level compared to the last.
So my primary mission is to retrieve an SMG I already have, and then obtain a repair chip I already have...
A lot of the interior textures look busy. Too many horizontal & vertical lines clash with each other.
I enjoyed fighting the water F'lickta. There was enough space to duke it out with fists, and very few had to be fought underwater.
There's an interesting tactic in the eastern part of the map, where you can get the F'lickta to chase you into a water pool from which you can escape, but they can't.
I think the Mother of All Hunters looks dumb when you put him in a room he can't exit because the doorframe is too low.

Level 3
Some enemies in this level are conspicuously blind. They're looking right at me but they don't attack. Are you using zone borders and monster triggers appropriately?
Given the story that the F'lickta have been nesting and burrowing or whatever F'lickta do, there's a surprising amount of symmetry. In fact, the level is too neat and orderly. By the time you get one chip and insert it, you know the other one is going to play out the same way with little to no variation.
The northern hub with a save terminal & rechargers is in a good, convenient position.

Level 4
Interesting. This is the first I knew Drake was a human commander and not an AI. In hindsight I could've guessed since it rhymes with Blake.
Some map annotations here and there would be nice.
I disagree with the terminal claiming F'lickta are obedient. They're not very bright at all, and they attack Pfhor, S'pht, humans, and themselves indiscriminately. While one gets the sense they're an important part of the ecosystem, they're basically wild animals.
In the NE corner of the map, it's possible to get stuck in the middle of the three sewage-filled cages.
I've explored the entire level and killed all F'lickta, but none of the terminals updated to the success message. I seem to be stuck.

General
Ammo placement is pretty good. Playing on normal, I had to think about which weapon to use, and rarely maxed out on any given ammo type, but couldn't stick with one weapon all the time, either.
I expected some secrets. Either they're well hidden, or they're not there.
The player can see, and reach, some untextured walls here and there.
Something about your monster placement seems to make it unusually easy to get monsters to attack each other.
You use a lot of fake doors, which look identical to real functioning doors. This is annoying.
A lot of the BoBs aren't very useful because they teleport out before the enemies are dead or have even spawned. You can't give them smarter AI, but you can keep them around to safeguard against them leaving prematurely.
You have a lot of small detail polygons that don't have the ambient sounds of the surrounding polygons.

I was hoping to critique the rest, but as I said I'm stuck on level 4.
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Crater Creator

Post Apr 15th '14, 02:17

I skimmed through these, and there's some good work here. I think you're under-valuing what you've done. And if you're going to compare yourself to Ryoko, do it for the sake of improvement. You won't get far in anything if you beat yourself up for not being as good as the best when you're still a beginner.

The author of those maps you're so impressed by has written map-making guides. I'd read those if I were you.
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Ares Ex Machina

Post Apr 15th '14, 04:40

Crater Creator wrote:(Level 1)This level is more complex and nonlinear than later levels. It gives the player every weapon, and throws nearly every enemy type at him. Also, the terminals skip any introductions and get right down to it. For these reasons, it really feels like it should be the last level in the scenario. Even if it isn't, being more selective with the weapons & enemies can give a level a more memorable, unique 'flavor.'


This is an interesting idea. I like the sound of it. It was, after all, the *first* level I made. And because I had no idea I'd try and make another one, I went all out here. In fact, I didn't change the level order at all - the next one I made was Level 2, the third was level 3, etc. etc. Considering some of the narrow hallways, if I were to updated these I would go through and remove some monsters and try and get the zone borders to work properly.

Crater Creator wrote:(Level 1)(Level 2) So my primary mission is to retrieve an SMG I already have, and then obtain a repair chip I already have...


Well, this at least made me LOL. Had I given the player an SMG in level one? I know there's the easter egg with the locked door, but I thought I went through and made sure you couldn't get in there... and do you have a spare chip? Oops! I've played through these many times and never had that problem; I did however make massive retouches before uploading the map set here, so it's possible I screwed something up.

Crater Creator wrote:I think the Mother of All Hunters looks dumb when you put him in a room he can't exit because the doorframe is too low.


Hadn't even noticed. Will definitely fix this. :)

Crater Creator wrote:Level 3
Some enemies in this level are conspicuously blind. They're looking right at me but they don't attack. Are you using zone borders and monster triggers appropriately?
Given the story that the F'lickta have been nesting and burrowing or whatever F'lickta do, there's a surprising amount of symmetry. In fact, the level is too neat and orderly. By the time you get one chip and insert it, you know the other one is going to play out the same way with little to no variation.
The northern hub with a save terminal & rechargers is in a good, convenient position.


...Yeah..... I don't even really like this level, to be honest. It's boring to play. As I was working on it, I thought it might be cool for the map to be split down the middle as a mirror image of itself. It would also be cool to fill up every possible corner of the map. In theory, ok cool, but how it turned out, I'm not in love with it. And just fighting F'litcka is pretty dull. Oh, well...

Crater Creator wrote:Level 4
I disagree with the terminal claiming F'lickta are obedient. They're not very bright at all, and they attack Pfhor, S'pht, humans, and themselves indiscriminately. While one gets the sense they're an important part of the ecosystem, they're basically wild animals.


If I were to design an entire scenario with custom shapes and all, the F'litcka would definitely be replaced with new aliens. I don't care too much about continuity with the existing Marathon Trilogy, I just kind of came up with this idea about the alien specimens on your ship going crazy. F'litcka are the only non-Pfhor in the game that I could do that with.

Crater Creator wrote:I've explored the entire level and killed all F'lickta, but none of the terminals updated to the success message. I seem to be stuck.


Hmm... interesting. In that vent maze place I made (a throwback to M1) there are actually two exists - there is a door on the west size of the small maze leading to the center of the map, where eventually you can grab an uplink chip and open a door from a previously explored area. Then in the north-western area you can install the chip to activate a switch that will allow you to fight a dozen or so lava F'litcka. This is probably my best guess. If you really did reach all areas and kill all F'litcka, then, uh.... Idunno. I've never had this problem. Then again I know where every nook and cranny is. :)

Really appreciate your notes... I've made a great many Marathon levels in the past, and these are the first I've ever actually uploaded. Kind of weird that people are actually playing them now! Hope you can figure out what's up with level 4 and give some notes on the last few!
doctorbenjiphd

Post Apr 15th '14, 04:52

Ares Ex Machina wrote:I skimmed through these, and there's some good work here. I think you're under-valuing what you've done. And if you're going to compare yourself to Ryoko, do it for the sake of improvement. You won't get far in anything if you beat yourself up for not being as good as the best when you're still a beginner.

The author of those maps you're so impressed by has written map-making guides. I'd read those if I were you.


I appreciate the words, Ares... No, I've played enough garbage scenarios over the years to know I'm a pretty decent to good map maker. I'm no Frigidman or Ryoko, but I know some of my levels are way better than a few of the ones found even in the great Evil or Tempus Irae... I guess everyone is their own harshest critic, right? I'm just too lazy about doing things like dynamic sound placement, scenery, and my biggest problem of all - too many 90 degree angles! Texturing a map used to be one of my favorite parts, now it's just a big pain in the ass. And item and monster placing....uuuuuugh!

Either way, definitely Marathon map making break time for me! Don't have much inspiration right now towards what kind of level I'd want to build... I do know I'd want to do it with Weland, but I still need to figure out how to work the visual mode lua.

Thanks again!

Further downloads would be much appreciated, so long as you give me opinions and critiques!
doctorbenjiphd

Post Apr 15th '14, 18:28

doctorbenjiphd wrote:I'm just too lazy about doing things like dynamic sound placement, scenery, and my biggest problem of all - too many 90 degree angles! Texturing a map used to be one of my favorite parts, now it's just a big pain in the ass. And item and monster placing....uuuuuugh!


Heh. Dynamic sound placement is fun if you do it the right way - really it's about considering the aesthetics, the exact purpose of every element, and what exactly you want to convey to the player, but especially the first two. It's fun once you know what you're doing. My real inspiration as far as the use of dynamic sounds is probably Rubicon - the use of sounds in there is superb.

Scenery placement isn't very fun, but really you shouldn't have to do too much of it. Mainly, it can be used to convey 'history' - in other words, what a room is for and/or what has happened in it recently. To imply a previous battle, leave lots of blood and corpses (my favorite :D ). To imply that a room is used for storage, just leave a bunch of boxes/storage devices everywhere. Indeed, little touch-ups can convey an aesthetic that might not be terribly obvious. For instance, see the use of the glass storage devices on the Rubicon level "Core Wars". When combined with the texturing and lighting, you got a very strange sense of what the place was for. As a side note, Rubicon X is a wonderful place to study map aesthetics. Just do a Kindergarten run-through sometime, and take your time exploring every level, examining the aesthetics and taking note of what you like and think you might want to emulate.

90 degree angles are not really all that bad. Some very good levels have used a lot of them (see M1 or a number of levels from M2, for example). Something about rectangular rooms is just... appealing. If you really want things to seem less boxy, add a little nuance to the corners. For instance, one level I've been working on for Grendel has a whole first half designed largely around corridors running horizontally or vertically, all fairly large (that way you don't get claustrophobic) and designed in a way that should normally lead to lots of 90 degree angles and other such elements of boxy-ness. The solution was simple. If you'll recall, the Halo level "Truth & Reconciliation" involved lots of corridors that, implemented in Marathon, would feel terribly boxy. Yet in Halo they did not. Why? They threw in little curves everywhere. In Marathon, that is hard to do, but there's one way to do it: curve the corners. You don't even have to make it nice and round, just kind of curved. Here's an example:

Screen shot 2014-04-15 at 2.16.32 PM.png
Screen shot 2014-04-15 at 2.16.32 PM.png (9.78 KiB) Viewed 2775 times


As you can see, I just kind of curved the little corners of the corridor near the top, following a simple pattern I could apply to every single other corridor. Very easy to do, and very much worth it.

I agree with you on texturing - I used to enjoy it, now it's a hassle. How does that happen? <_<

Item placement is kind of boring, yes. Monster placement, on the other hand, is one of the best parts. What really makes it work is when you design your map with monster placement already in mind. So, designing cubby-holes for an ambush, or placing ledges with the intent to place enemies on them, etc, is kind of fun. Sometimes I come up with ideas for enemy placement in a level before even coming up with an idea of what the level is going to look like, or I develop the two side by side. It's fun to consider one's options. It's even more fun when you can create new versions of existing enemies, and consider how to use those. Trooper Machine Gunners, anyone?

One problem I have had before, just to point out, is that I often over-design my polygons. That is to say, I use a lot of polygons for no purpose. It's fitting that my first real level for Grendel takes up 1272 polygons, well beyond the total limit of polygons offered by Forge/Infinity. :rolleyes:
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PerseusSpartacus
Somewhere in the 19th Century...

Post Apr 26th '14, 23:38

doctorbenjiphd wrote:I'm just too lazy about doing things like dynamic sound placement

Funny you should mention that. I did notice your maps could use more variety with ambient sounds.
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Ares Ex Machina

Post Apr 27th '14, 03:45

doctorbenjiphd wrote:Hmm... interesting. In that vent maze place I made (a throwback to M1) there are actually two exists - there is a door on the west size of the small maze leading to the center of the map, where eventually you can grab an uplink chip and open a door from a previously explored area. Then in the north-western area you can install the chip to activate a switch that will allow you to fight a dozen or so lava F'litcka. This is probably my best guess. If you really did reach all areas and kill all F'litcka, then, uh.... Idunno. I've never had this problem. Then again I know where every nook and cranny is. :)

Really appreciate your notes... I've made a great many Marathon levels in the past, and these are the first I've ever actually uploaded. Kind of weird that people are actually playing them now! Hope you can figure out what's up with level 4 and give some notes on the last few!


I still have a chip but I've explored everything and don't see where it would go. Perhaps you could take a look at my save file?
some-levels-Save 1.sgaA.zip
(163.68 KiB) Downloaded 81 times
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Crater Creator

Post Apr 27th '14, 05:59

Ares Ex Machina wrote:Funny you should mention that. I did notice your maps could use more variety with ambient sounds.


This statement might almost maybe perhaps motivate me to go and put some more sounds around....maybe. :D

Crater Creator wrote:I still have a chip but I've explored everything and don't see where it would go. Perhaps you could take a look at my save file?


I'm not at home now, but I will check out this file in a couple hours once I get back. In the room where you pick up the chip there is a window looking into another room, you need to shoot the switch thru the window to open the door. This door is from the beginning side of the level and contains an ammo stash, a series of doors and a switch that by default is inoperable. You need to install the chip in a small niche room connected to one of the research rooms in the upper left side of the map. This niche room is also overlooking the original chip room and the ammo stash room...

^after rereading that paragraph, I realize how poorly articulated it is, but hopefully you can figure it out. Just in case, I'll check the save file anyway to make sure I didn't accidentally make it unwinnable!
doctorbenjiphd

Post Apr 27th '14, 21:02

Well, shoot. I hadn't activated the chip insertion switch. I swear I tried it multiple times, but I guess I didn't have the uplink chip at the time. You even made the yellow strip on the ground light up to make it obvious what the switch controls, which was a nice touch. Anyway, onto the last levels.
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Crater Creator

Post Apr 28th '14, 02:54

Level 5
It looks weird that the spot under the first terminal is brighter than the surroundings, as if the ceiling light is more powerful than natural sunlight.

I liked the overall design of this level, opening up layers of concentric rings, very much. The switches are set up thoughtfully so you can't get stuck or exploit them by stopping them early.

The elevator that takes you up in the very center was brutal. With fire coming from all sides, I decided it was easier to stay on the elevator, let it lower back down, and save/recharge while the aliens reposition themselves.

Only the right half of the last pattern buffer works.

Level 6

The east lava chamber was interesting. The first time I encountered it, I knocked out the circuit, burned to death, and thought "Darn, guess this was a dead end. At least the terminal warned me this would happen." My second time, I realized I had to go that way. I dashed in, hit the circuit, and ran out before the door closed. I grinned as the monsters burned behind the door, but then realized I still hadn't progressed, and that I could open the door again and see the untextured side of the lava. The third time I finally figured out you have to swim out of the lava.

Once you go through the vent and jump down the shaft, the next fight was really challenging! You only have as much health as you could save after swimming through the lava, and it seemed like there was always a major enforcer with an angle on you. I had just enough health to get through it - perfect.

That vent shaft, and the natural cave shortly after it would've been nice with some detail work - a splash of color or light here or there.

When you lower a short bridge, one side is untextured, which ruins the illusion.

In the SE corner of the map, there's a 3 WU long line that uses the texture with a round hole in it. While the player can't walk through this line, the monsters somehow can. That was unnerving!

It's a pretty long trek back and forth along the outermost perimeter of the map, plus it's dark and there's no action after your first time through.

It was fun blasting the last Mother of all Hunters over the railing into the pit below. [MSmile]

Level 7

A lot of aliens on this level behave oddly. They play their activation sound constantly without moving, or don't attack the player. I'm pretty sure all the infinitely-respawning monsters in the center are pushing the engine over its limits. By the end of the level, even my projectiles were disappearing! I think switching to monsters that don't drop anything would help.

I've been trying to use my flamethrower ammo judiciously, but finally ran out on this level. Ammo placement was very well balanced except for the flamethrower, which felt like you forgot the player had one several levels back.

One nice touch that's easy to take for granted is that as each of the 4 main doors open, the wall behind them is a different texture, so you can tell which way you haven't gone before.

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Overall, this campaign was rough in some spots, but solid and enjoyable. It fills a nice spot between your one-level wonders and your full 20/30/40+ level epics.
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