I made another level!

Discuss and unveil current Marathon projects.

I made another level!

Post May 16th '15, 19:42

Hi all,
After about a year away from Marathon, I felt the creative impulse to design another level! Some of you might have downloaded a set of seven levels I uploaded a while back, and at the time I decided to hang up my Marathon hat--played Phoenix some, and knowing I didn't have the patience nor talent to match that quality of level making, I retired. Well, you can't keep a Marathon'er away for long!

I would merge this level with the others I had created, but I don't want to force the eight or so of you who actually played the short scenario to go through it again just to play one new level. So I'm going to upload this as a single level, even though its part of a greater scenario.

This mess of overlapping multi-level floors started as an idea I had to see if I could make a "boss level" in Marathon. It kind of works. Not a whole lot of aliens, but the ones you do meet are brutal. I've had to balance the hell out of this to make sure it is actually beatable (lowered the damage of some alien shots, for instance, and remove a few baddies)

There are probably some small errors. The only real Aleph advantages I used were the increased transparent lines and distance limits, and even those are hardly over the maximum. You could probably even play this in Infinity, but might get buggy in a few spots.

Enjoy, and let me know what you all think!

note: the Pfhorums doesn't seem to let me upload a file without zipping it first, I have no idea if I did it right, please let me know if it didn't work.
Attachments
showdown.zip
(208.69 KiB) Downloaded 74 times
doctorbenjiphd

Post May 17th '15, 03:13

The only difficulty in these battles comes from the fact that every enemy shot is homing and the cover isn't very useful.

There's a single Fighter. Then there's a single F'lickta. The there's the 1st battle against a group of enemies. Then the 2nd battle with a group of enemies. Every enemy's shots were homing, so that's as far as I got before I died. I didn't replay it because the last save point I saw was before the F'lickta and I didn't feel like going through those fights again.

The only decent strategy seems to be to pain-lock the enemies. The only reason I defeated the 1st group of baddies was because I lucked out and was able to lure them behind cover and pain-lock them one by one. It might have been more fun if there was more cover or some hallways that looped around each arena.

A couple months ago I also experimented with some boss battles. Check it out if you're interested: http://pfhorums.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=38127
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philtron

Post May 17th '15, 11:11

I admire the fact that you actually put effort into this - multi-floor levels are always a pain in the editor.

However, the difficulty was questionable - sure, this is supposed to be one of the final levels. But just giving homing weapons to all the enemies is no fun. I actually managed to get past the 2nd 'group' of enemies - but only thanks to the space and cover you offered us. The 3rd group, was, in my opinion, near impossible. You gave the player no cover, closed the door behind him (you're basically stuck in a tiny room) and placed 3-4 really annoying 'fusion towers', which, I believe you made indestructible? There was no way I could get past that. Tell me, did you actually properly test the level? And if so, at what difficulty?

I'd highly recommend removing that part completely or creating a big arena-style room. Maybe also get rid of those 'fusion towers'. Or at least make them destructible. I'd also remove most of the homing projectiles and think of other, more creative ways of making enemies more difficult. I highly recommend you check out the link philtron posted above. He had some cool ideas, and they weren't 'nightmare' difficulty.

You wanted to make this level hard, but I honestly find beating all of Phoenix on normal difficulty easier than this. And trust me, that's one heck of a statement.

Just make the map easier and change some of the units (by this I mean the homing attacks), and it should be fine!
I liked the huge lava pools at the start, it made the place feel much more grand.

That does bring up the question though; would hiding there really be such a good idea? :D
XXXXTYCHOXXXX

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

Post May 17th '15, 22:55

I replayed it and got to the room with the fusion towers. I agree with Tycho that it is near unbeatable.

I think it's important to note that monster difficulty doesn't rely on monster stats so much as it does on level design. Essentially, monster AI is programmed by polygon arrangement. How you design your map determines how your monsters behave, and how your monsters behave determines how difficulty they really are.
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philtron

Post May 18th '15, 00:56

Thanks for the feedback. I agree, the small room with the trooper is absurd. The only way I ever beat it was by running back through the door before it shut, which is cheap and lame. I expanded the room, put a few boxes and things that can act as cover, and a hallway in the back that loops around to try and provide some more maneuverability. Using this, I also rebuilt a couple later rooms with the same suggestions in mind--basically, either adding cover, adding connecting hallways, or both. I will probably tweak the physics model a little bit too, and will upload the resulting updates shortly.
doctorbenjiphd

Post May 19th '15, 06:02

Those changes sound good. I ran into a problem in the third combat encounter, with a 'boss' fighter and some more minor enemies. The boss fighter didn't drop an uplink chip when it died, and I didn't find one anywhere else. Therefore I couldn't hit the switch, and couldn't progress. This happened 2/2 times.
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Crater Creator

Post May 19th '15, 09:41

Crater Creator wrote:Those changes sound good. I ran into a problem in the third combat encounter, with a 'boss' fighter and some more minor enemies. The boss fighter didn't drop an uplink chip when it died, and I didn't find one anywhere else. Therefore I couldn't hit the switch, and couldn't progress. This happened 2/2 times.



He specified in the terminal at the beginning that you shouldn't blow up enemies or they won't drop the uplink chip.
It also specified that the bodies shouldn't fall into lava. Hope that helps!
XXXXTYCHOXXXX

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

Post May 20th '15, 00:18

Crater Creator wrote:I ran into a problem in the third combat encounter, with a 'boss' fighter and some more minor enemies. The boss fighter didn't drop an uplink chip when it died, and I didn't find one anywhere else. Therefore I couldn't hit the switch, and couldn't progress. This happened 2/2 times.


I had this happen once doing a play through. It seems that if you kill a baddie either right on the line border two polygons of unequal height, the item won't spawn. Also maybe if you kill them crunched up in a corner. Unfortunately I have no idea how to get around this, but considering it only happened to me once I figured it was just a bug. Of course the real problem is if it happens, it makes the level totally unplayable. :( I removed in the physics all hard deaths of months, so they *should* spawn the item at all times, even if it is in lava.

Attached is the update with better room dynamics and more cover in the later areas. The first few fights remain unchanged. Hope you will all take a look and actually be able to beat it. :)
Attachments
showdown2.zip
(216.62 KiB) Downloaded 68 times
doctorbenjiphd

Post May 20th '15, 02:59

  • The map geometry is largely enjoyable. There's notable use of lights, heights, liquids, sounds, split polys, other aesthetic details, etc. You were able to focus on the combat, and so was I as the player, because you've got the basics covered. One can appreciate the complexity when looking at the map view.

  • Regarding the room where I was stuck, the issue wasn't lava (there is none) or weapons (none you have at that point can cause a hard death). What I didn't notice at the time is I was playing on Kindergarten. I think your custom enemies aren't set up to account for easier difficulties, where they may be skipped. Use the "cannot skip" flag for any enemy that drops something important, and make sure that the level still works if a major enemy is downgraded to a minor one.

  • While I do find the homing projectiles annoying, they do prompt one to change tactics. Circle strafing isn't very effective, but punching is more effective than usual since it prompts the enemy to use melee attacks, too.

  • Given the small number of enemies per encounter, I was surprised how easy it was to get them fighting each other. I guess that's a consequence of many projectiles being in the air at once, and staying in play a long time.

  • For the first hunter/missile launcher fight, I need more AR ammo. With the fusion turrets, lava, and other enemies, you can't really stop and line up a missile. So this is a spray-and-pray kind of fight, where finesse isn't really an option and the AR would do well. What finally worked was knocking the hunter out of the room where he spawns. Then I could fight from that room.

  • One thing's for sure. That's the first time I can remember rocketing a drone and it didn't go down. [spnkr]

  • The role of lava was kind of interesting. You don't have to swim in it, but you do have to dip your toe in it, sapping your precious shields. It seemed like enemies weren't afraid of lava, and I didn't see one taking damage from it, either. I'd expected once I blasted the hunter into the lava, he'd take damage every other second, preempting most of his attacks. But nope, he stepped right out of it and kept fighting. Smart.

  • I don't like invincible enemies. If you want to make a dangerous area where there's constant suppressing fire, okay. But it'd be better if you could later get behind the turrets and, say, destroy some wires to disable them.

  • Thinking big picture, there are good and bad approaches to combat design. In some cases the results were neat. I was hunkered down behind a white square pillar, with constant fire from a fusion turret and one compiler shooting bolts at me frequently. I had just enough time to pop out, aim, squeeze off a charged fusion bolt, and duck back behind cover before the next bolt hit me. That felt cool.

    Other times it felt less cool, like when you try to close a door behind the player. At the room with the troopers and fusion turrets, I ended up doing something cheesy. I opened the door, dashed out to trigger the enemies, and then ran back inside before the door closed. Then I kept opening the door to pick them off bit by bit.

    Now, probably most mapmaker's reaction to that is "I don't want the player to do that. I should trigger the monsters further into the room and/or make the door close sooner." But if we're not careful, that leads down the path of not designing the combat to be fun, but just trying to counter every tactic we think the player might try. I guess my advice is, don't just think in terms of what makes this hard for the player. Think in terms of how the player can succeed, too.
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Crater Creator

Post May 21st '15, 00:50

I played the new version.

The new design of the first lava room is a big improvement.

In the room with the Hunter (the last room?), I like the way the entire room transforms when you hit the switch. Very cool.

The first elevator you take, the one that bumps you against the ceiling, one side is not texture which can cause problems when the player walks into it.

I still think it's a little too hard. If I try to fight enemies in the open there are still moments in the later fights when I get hit by so many projectiles that I can't move and then I die. The Hunter battle is crazy difficult even with all the 3x canisters; there were several playthroughs where there were so many Drone bolts in the air that there was no way for me to avoid taking lots of damage.

Other than that, good work.
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philtron

Post May 23rd '15, 00:25

One thing I forgot to mention:

Projectiles will go through the sides of some of the enemies. I believe this is because you've enlarged some of the models (like the Trooper), but didn't also increase the height and radius of the monster. So, visually the monster is bigger, but physically the monster is the same size as its smaller counter part.
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philtron

Post May 23rd '15, 08:19

philtron wrote:One thing I forgot to mention:

Projectiles will go through the sides of some of the enemies. I believe this is because you've enlarged some of the models (like the Trooper), but didn't also increase the height and radius of the monster. So, visually the monster is bigger, but physically the monster is the same size as its smaller counter part.



Yeah, that's quite important. Make sure to change it in the editor, doc!
XXXXTYCHOXXXX

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

Post Jun 16th '15, 19:35

So I'm about to play the first six levels you made. Do you want me to merge the two map files with atque, or would I just screw it up?
VikingBoyBilly

Post Jun 16th '15, 21:20

Just play the newer one.
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Crater Creator

Post Jun 16th '15, 21:58

It wouldn't screw it up. I altered some terminals to make instructions more clear, and streamlined the "story" a little bit, but the truth is all levels basically can be played as though they are single missions. I don't care much about the story, so don't put too much stock into it. I have made two more levels since the "Showdown" one I uploaded here, and will merge them into one map file shortly. I also included one that I had removed at the time because it never really worked that well...and it still doesn't work that well, but I will put some more effort into fixing it. All said, it will be a twelve map file.

Looking forward to hearing your opinions on my levels, VikingBoyBilly.
doctorbenjiphd

Post Jun 17th '15, 01:51

Oh, well, if it's still a work in progress, I'll hold out for that 12 map file before giving my opinions.
VikingBoyBilly


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