Eternal X 1.2

Discuss and unveil current Marathon projects.

Re: Eternal X 1.2

Post Jul 29th '18, 00:13

i’m away for the weekend and i’m sure this already exists somewhere, but could someone link me here to a starter instructions on the current toolchain (since I haven’t mapped since Forge)? I have Atque and Weland already but what do people use for texturing and lighting now and where can I look up instructions if they’re not straightforward? so i’m wasting as little time as possible when I get started mapping next week.
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Pfhorrest
California

Post Jul 29th '18, 00:30

Vasara is currently the best texturing add-on. Make sure you put it in the plugins folder within the Eternal directory; it doesn't work if you put it in Library/Application Support. Until I figured this out, I couldn't use it. The interface is mostly self-explanatory, but manually aligning textures is a pain. Unfortunately, it's like that in all the available plugins. The other big quirk is that tag switches default to whatever their state is when you save the map, as does platform texturing. As a result you will probably need to revert tag switches manually before saving the map, and platform texturing may require some guesswork
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Jul 31st '18, 22:04

Thanks! I'm about to install that now and give it a shot.

I finally had a chance to look at your playthrough of the start of ch5, and the gameplay all looks good to me, though I'm apparently a terrible judge of gameplay quality so I don't know what my opinion is worth.

I noticed you're not playing on Alpha 5 though. Sad not to see my new textures in action. ;)

One other thing I noticed, that I have noticed before, is that the non-musical sounds of The Dead Live In The Catacombs all seem really loud in contrast to the music. I don't know if those sound levels need to be turned down, or if maybe a different soundtrack should be used for that level? What does everyone else think?


On a different note, I have a technical question. I've been touching up those 'template' textures that I'm going to be using to help relight the maps, and I want to implement them using a custom CLUT. I hand-created an image of the 256 color swatches I want and saved that as a GIF with an 8bit palette and...

that palette had all the colors jumbled up but I guess that's okay so long as it works...

except it didn't put the (0,0,255) swatch at the start like I had it in the image, so ShapeFusion doesn't like it when I import the ACT file I exported from there ...

and ShapeFusion doesn't seem to have an option to import an ACT into an existing CLUT slot in the Shapes file, only to add a new one, which is not so helpful for a Walls collection...

so I'm wondering what I need to do, besides manually editing every swatch of the built-in CLUT directly in ShapeFusion (assuming that's even possible, I haven't actually checked), to get my nice well-organized CLUT image turned into something usable by Aleph One?
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Pfhorrest
California

Post Jul 31st '18, 22:29

Thanks. I'll upgrade to alpha 5 for my next playthrough. I'd been using alpha 4 when I'd played the levels, since alpha 5 wasn't out at the time, and I wasn't sure if there was anything that would break compatibility. I do think the number of enemies should perhaps be increased a bit, but I'll work on the balance over the weekend probably.

I don't remember anything about the sound levels overall, but since you've brought up sound levels, I've always thought the grenades were ridiculously loud in comparison to all the other sounds. Might be worth changing them from "loud" to "medium". If you think the volume of the level's soundtrack should be raised, though, you're probably right. Idk if there's a command to adjust the volume of a background track without replacing the file outright - hopefully so, as it's never good to encode a lossy music track a second time. Or maybe A1 supports ReplayGain. If it doesn't, that'd be a good feature request for A1 v1.2 whenever it finally comes out.

More later, maybe - gotta go back to work in a moment.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Jul 31st '18, 23:21

Pfhorrest wrote:Thanks! I'm about to install that now and give it a shot.
On a different note, I have a technical question. I've been touching up those 'template' textures that I'm going to be using to help relight the maps, and I want to implement them using a custom CLUT. I hand-created an image of the 256 color swatches I want and saved that as a GIF with an 8bit palette and...

that palette had all the colors jumbled up but I guess that's okay so long as it works...

except it didn't put the (0,0,255) swatch at the start like I had it in the image, so ShapeFusion doesn't like it when I import the ACT file I exported from there ...

and ShapeFusion doesn't seem to have an option to import an ACT into an existing CLUT slot in the Shapes file, only to add a new one, which is not so helpful for a Walls collection...

so I'm wondering what I need to do, besides manually editing every swatch of the built-in CLUT directly in ShapeFusion (assuming that's even possible, I haven't actually checked), to get my nice well-organized CLUT image turned into something usable by Aleph One?

Honestly, I'd use GIMP to create the CLUT from the image and import it, because I've had success with that, and it sounds like Photoshop is doing something stupid. If the existing wall textures don't have 256 colors available, I'm pretty sure you'll have to use Anvil to change the actual number of colors available, as I've not found a way to do that with Shapefusion.

You can't directly replace a color table, so just add a new one, then delete the old one.
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Wrkncacnter

Post Aug 1st '18, 06:11

Thanks for the advice W'rk. I didn't get to continuing on the CLUT stuff tonight because I wanted to get start on the actual map cleanup, but I'll refer back to your post when I (hopefully) get back to it tomorrow.

Tonight I touched up the The Far Side of Nowhere (and consequently also The Near Side of Everywhere).

One random little thing I decided to change on this map is the player start. You now start at the pattern buffer near the first terminal, the implication being that you wrote the terminal, buffed your pattern, and are ready to go now.

Then on to the reviews:

RyokoTK wrote:The Far Side of Nowhere is an expansive and bleak level with some very basic puzzles to solve. There is no combat, which makes sense in the context of the story, but as far as level design is concerned, it seems completely pointless to me. So this is some kind of human-controlled base on K'lia; why do I have to press switches to open faraway doors, lower stairs, and all of this other stuff?

This bit has already been changed since shortly after he wrote that, but I tried to improve on it a little more.

It's already long since been the case that platform triggers open the doors and lower the platforms and stuff for you, so you can just walk straight from beginning to end with no puzzles; yet exploring is rewarded by more ammo and a chapter-early chance to grab one of the strongest weapons in the game.

Tonight, I tried to make sure that all the doors and platforms are sufficiently fast as to never leave you waiting for them.

RyokoTK wrote:It seems like an excuse to show off the architecture, but the architecture isn't very impressive. It's huge, gray, and bland, and the textures don't really lend themselves to the architecture in general. I don't know if that's a poor choice of texturing or if the texture set doesn't support it, but in any event, I just feel like this is wrong.

Crater Creator wrote:This map was big, bleak, and dreary.

While "big/huge, bleak/gray, and dreary" is the atmospheric intent of this level, I've spent a few hours tonight trying to improve the differential shading (and lighting in general, particularly trying to make it make more sense in light of the huge sunrise in the east of the map), which together with the updated textures I hope makes it less ugly.

After running around in software mode with my low-res template textures, playtesting in shader mode with the new textures looked awesome to my eye, and I'd already grown sick of my own new textures until that. But I have no idea if my lighting is any good at all, so... it's probably still shit.

I think I accidentally misaligned a few textures while lighting things. Is there a way to make Vasara not change alignment at all, just apply the lights?

(Also, I think I encountered that problem of Vasara saving maps with tag states changed. Can someone remind me how to change tag states outside Vasara? In Forge I would have dropped myself in front of the switch that controls the tag in Visual mode and set the switch to the desired initial state, but in order to get anywhere in Vasara I sometimes have to use tag switches, i.e. I might have to flip one tag switch to get to the place where I can set another. So I imagine there's some way to just set tag state outside of Vasara?)

RyokoTK wrote:Anyway, the stinker of this level is the behemoth glacier of text in the first terminal, which is page after page of backstory and exposition told in the format of the notoriously stoic main character. ... I'd rather be doing things, y'know? Not reading.


Crater Creator wrote:The first terminal has good information but is super long.

I know we've discussed at length ways to improve on the obnoxious super long terminal at the start, and one thought that occurred to me, though it's beyond me means, is a take on the "cutscene" suggestion that's been made: might it be possible, via Lua, to walk the player on autopilot from start to finish, while the intro terminal text scrolls over the screen, then relinquish control to the player just before the final terminal? So he can go back and explore and grab ammo and stuff if he likes. Provided anyone likes that idea, can anyone help implement it?

Anyway, tonight's changes are synced to github.
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Pfhorrest
California

Post Aug 1st '18, 06:19

The easiest way to go about it is generally to flip the switch, then reset it back to whatever it’s supposed to be when the map starts. The best way to remember it is that it saves whatever the map state is when you save it. So if you want the tag switch to start inactive, it has to be set as inactive when you save it. You can activate it if you need its actions in effect to do something in the map, but after you do so, you’ll have to manually edit the tag switch again. This only seems to apply for wires, tag switches, and chip switches, though – it doesn’t seem to make much, if any, difference with platform and light switches.

I haven’t figured out how to get it to respect existing texture alignment. It’s one of the most annoying aspects of A1 texturing versus Forge texturing. The other big issue with texturing is any sort of platform that moves at any point in the map. If you’re applying textures to a platform, you’ll probably want it to be in its initial state when you save it. This may mean you need to temporarily alter the platform’s behaviour until you’re finished texturing it.

Unlike with practically every other level I worked on in the first three chapters, I was afraid to alter the platform behaviour in “The Far Side of Nowhere” too much, because I was afraid I might screw something up. I suspect there are a number of platforms in that level that could still stand to be a bit faster. I don’t mind it too much apart from that and the really, really long terminals; the dreary atmosphere suits the story. I might go in this December after my school semester is over and see if I can condense some of the terminals without removing meaning or style in the process. (Orwell: “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.” Probably at least half of my revision process consists of following this one guideline.)

I do like the autopilot idea. I think it’s beyond my Lua knowledge at present; it might be something Wrk or Ryoko have enough knowledge to do, though. I suspect it’s possible with the engine, but I don’t know that for fact.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Aug 2nd '18, 04:27

Tonight I sorted out the CLUT issue (discovered the "make gradient" button in ShapeFusion which made it easiest to just recreate the CLUTs directly in there), and fixed that tag thing and the misalignments on the -logues, as well as a few sound oddities; and also added Aaron to the credits finally.

On to The Tangent Universe and the other failure dream levels...

Ryoko had nothing to say about them because he skipped the failure branches.

Crater Creator wrote:Shouldn't the 'outdoor' lighting for this level reflect the giant sun shining from the west?

Lia has already fixed this, so hurray for her.

Hmm. These 2 MADDs open up an airlock to come in, yet I still don't start using oxygen. I think that could be changed dynamically with lua.

I made some lines solid to fix this problem.

The Living Receiver

No, no, no, no, no <grimace>. Please don't make me do combat with trip-o-vision and next to no health [MFrown]

I added a 3x can to the start of the level to help with that. The trip-o-vision is non-negotiable though, sorry.

I also added an invincibility power slightly off-course near the start of the next two levels, in lieu of the 3x, so the start of the level is scary but not for too long.

Why are all the BoBs deaf and blind? I'm finding that in general, Eternal uses more deaf and blind flags than it really should; it should use more zone borders and monster triggers instead.

I unblinded all the Bobs, and added more borders and triggers. Since this is the only version of this level with regular combat (and not just emptiness or wandering banshees), I don't think I need to replicate those changes across all five versions of this level. I also adjusted the monster behavior a little bit in the physics (Bobs weren't targeting compilers or tanks).

Once again, one of the tall thin circuitry panels is destroyable. Looks like you'll have to check all iterations of this map.

Rather than run through every level in Vasara to change the switch settings for all of those decorative wire panels, I just solidified the transparent lines in front of them all in Weland.

Since Lia already touched up the lighting on these maps some, and it would be a huge pain in the ass to replicate any more extensive changed across all five copies of the geometry, and it doesn't really look horrible to my eye anyway (but I guess my eye is shit so whatever's that's worth), I'm electing not to go and try to improve the differential shading on these levels tonight.

Changes are all up on GitHub again, of course.
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Pfhorrest
California

Post Aug 2nd '18, 05:55

Cool, thanks. Let me know if you’ve worked on any fifth chapter levels other than the failure dream level so we don’t end up working on the same levels at the same time. I suspect I might not have time to figure out Github’s interface over the next couple of weeks so we probably at least won’t have that source of hassle to deal with.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Aug 2nd '18, 06:36

I'm not planning to get to anything in Chapter 5 until December, besides the Failure and Success dreams. I'll be doing "Where Giants Have Fallen" and the other success dreams tomorrow, so if by chance you've done anything with that, please let me know / post it here so I can work from that (or I can just not do anything to it for now if you're in the middle of stuff).
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Pfhorrest
California

Post Aug 2nd '18, 07:22

Nope, I haven’t touched that level at all, either. It doesn’t have respawning monsters, which was at least 90% of what I’d changed. It might’ve been 100%; I don’t recall. I’m probably going to restart with my changes from the most recent version of the map in any case, because I don’t recall everything I changed, and I think I probably want to roll some of it back.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Aug 3rd '18, 07:02

Where Giants Have Fallen... is a terrible level apparently. :(

Crater Creator wrote:One side of polygon 453 uses a door texture, which must be an error. Then there's another side with no texture at all, for which I took a screenshot because there was no way I was jumping back down there to find the polygon number:

I couldn't find anything with a door texture near that polygon 453, but I did find something like that on the other side of the map, and it's likely that polygon numbers have changed since this review so that was probably it.

I couldn't find anything like that untextured one, but maybe it got fixed somewhere along the way too, and I did extensively look over the texturing of this level (see below) so hopefully it's not still lurking out there.

RyokoTK wrote:having a jumping puzzle when your FOV is completely out of whack is a huge douche move, since I'm missing easy jumps because I can't judge the distance. This is really irritating.

I think this was already the case when Ryoko wrote this, but the versions where you've got fisheye vision aren't a jumping puzzle, you just follow the water downhill.

RyokoTK wrote:I spent probably 10 minutes following these beacons left and right, thinking maybe they're guiding me through this monstrosity? Turns out I was wrong and looking for something totally other.

Apparently I got rid of those beacons some time in the past. I didn't like them anyway, always got stuck against them, and only had them in there because people said it was hard to find their way up the mountain. I'm looking into other ways to make the path up the mountain clear, see below.

Crater Creator wrote:I assume there's a way up the cliffs without grenade jumping, but I couldn't find a path that worked before I got too frustrated, so I bit the bullet and grenade jumped out of the southeast pool of water. And onto polygon 599, which was even trickier.

This is the big problem with this level. Finding some way up the mountain is apparently hard. I've tried to adjust some geometry and textures tonight to make it a little clearer where you're supposed to go, when you're going uphill and not just following the water downhill: I turned the aimless mix of grey and brown rocks into a subtly aimful mix of grey and brown rocks (grey rocks are the path, brown is everything else), and made a lot of the jumps into more just steps over chasms. (I also intended go redo the lighting on the level tonight and use that to highlight your way some, but ain't nobody got time for that... unless you do?).

But I'm afraid that that probably won't be enough to please people, so I'm thinking about other ways.

One way that occurred to me was that you could follow a stream of water uphill too, but trying to figure out where to add water to accomplish that, or where to add walk-up-able paths to the existing water routes, it becomes clear that I'd basically have to redesign the whole map, and I'm not up to doing that tonight.

Another thought that occurred to me, that could be neat on its own, if anyone is up to some Lua scripting: an Orb-drone could guide you up the mountain, and also defend you along the way. Or maybe like, a circle of them that hang around you, or something?


Anyway... texturing on this level is still pretty coarse, but then it is just a bunch of rocks strewn together on a mountainside, so maybe that's okay?

Changes are up on GitHub.
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Pfhorrest
California

Post Aug 3rd '18, 16:25

For whatever it’s worth, I kind of like that level, but I get that it would be incredibly frustrating to play for the first time on Total Carnage. Once you’ve learnt the path through the level, it’s not so bad, though it’s still incredibly difficult on TC even then. The biggest problem, I think, is that a lot of people don’t expect to have to descend so many times in order to climb the mountain. Retexturing would definitely help a lot, I think. Maybe more differential shading, too; IDK. I suggest making the correct path stand out by making it brighter than the rest of the level.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Aug 3rd '18, 17:33

That is what I had been planning to do, before I ran out of time last night.

I realized while falling asleep last night that I have at least nine Eternal work days remaining in the month and only eight other levels in chapter 1 to do so maybe at the end of the month I'll revisit the success dreams and try to polish up the lighting (and the texturing some more). [Actually, looking now, there are five weeks this month, so I have at least another three working days on top of that, so I'll definitely get around to that.]

An additional texture-change thought I had just now, that's partially implemented already: use smooth stone textures (21.dds) for the path floor and the lips of steps, and the rougher stone tile textures (22.dds) for non-path floors, and the rougher horiz and vert stone striations (23.dds and 24.dds) for the canyon walls. The smoother textures are also lighter in color than the rougher ones, so that automatically helps with the "light the way" thing. I'll also do it with actual lighting too, though.

Have you had a chance to look at the changes I made last night yet? Do they help at all?
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Pfhorrest
California

Post Aug 3rd '18, 22:21

Nope, haven't gotten around to looking at any of the changes yet. Probably tonight. If we both had similar ideas about fixing that level, I'd imagine it's the way to go.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Aug 4th '18, 02:46

Vidded the latest revision (video still has a few minutes left to upload/process). My thoughts (also posted in the video description):

Quick vid film of the latest alpha of this level. It’s already pretty massively improved from its previous state, though it has a big way to go still. As anyone familiar with previous revisions will see immediately, Pfhorrest has retextured it to a fairly large extent, instituting much better contrast and differential shading.

I’d say there are two big issues that need to be corrected going forward:

1. It’s a crapshoot on TC. This was my second attempt at filming it; my first went awry because I caught one of the Juggernauts’ attention and didn’t have enough health left to deal with it properly. One possibility would be to put in a 3x recharge can; that way a player who plays well enough can survive a Juggernaut shrapnel.

2. The path to the top is a lot clearer than it was, but it could be clearer still. My suggestion is to darken the parts of the level that aren’t part of the correct path substantially – like, 33% or even 50%.

I know a lot of people hate this level, but I’ve always kind of liked it. It was definitely flawed for a long time, though. It’s less flawed now, but it still has a bit further to go.

It actually wasn’t nearly as difficult as I expected, but it’s definitely a bit of a luck-based mission. That’s actually the case on most difficulty settings, for that matter. A lot of whether you can get through depends upon how many enemies’ attention you attract on your path upwards. They often get distracted fighting each other, but not always.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Aug 4th '18, 04:39

Haven't had a chance to look at that vid yet, probably won't until Monday night, but I didn't actually change anything about the lighting in the latest revison yet. I was going to but ran out of time. My lighting plan is basically what you suggest, with off-path areas 50% darker.

Also, I think possible in older versions of this map, the physics were set up so the monsters all ignored you and just fought each other. Maybe I should do that again.
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Pfhorrest
California

Post Aug 4th '18, 05:16

That might not be a bad idea, but with no other changes, it would make the level really, really easy. On the other hand, if you make them continually respawn, it would probably be awesome.

And cool regarding the lighting thing. I actually have a second suggestion which you’ll see below.

I actually played the level several more times just because each game wound up being quite a bit different. I posted a second video with more detailed thoughts. These are all based on the idea that the monsters stay hostile to the player.

I suspect this is more along the lines of how this level is intended to play than my previous video (https://youtu.be/NQAr2dbayY4) is, but there’s a large component of luck to it. Note that there isn’t as much combat as you might expect from the video length; I deliver the KO shot to the last Juggernaut at 5:16, but go back to collect an Enforcer gun I’d missed (even though at this point in the game it’s completely unnecessary to collect it; it’s one of my player tics). Even then, I’ve fulfilled that objective by 7:46 (it took me a couple of tries to figure out how to reach the ledge), but I take a few tries to navigate back through the level due to pure stupidity.

My thoughts haven’t really changed too much since my last video. This level can be really easy or really difficult on seemingly any difficulty setting, and which it is seems almost a matter of pure chance. You’ll get more “really difficult” games on TC and more “really easy” games on the difficulty settings that don’t really exist, but you’ll still get a mix of both either way.

One idea that’s occurred to me since my last video is not merely lighting up the correct path to the top of the level, but also having a series of smooth lights fading in and out in progression across the correct sequence, indicating the direction the player needs to travel. It doesn’t make much sense, but then, the whole concept of differential shading doesn’t make sense. It’s a game.

Other than that, these levels definitely need more zero-point modules (if you screw up shooting at the Juggernauts too many times on this level, you’re toast), and I still wouldn’t say no to a 3x canister at the start (we already used one for “S’pht’ia,” so it’s not exactly unprecedented), but differential shading is the main change I’d make to this level, really.

Actually, I might not even say no to bumping up the number of monsters a bit – the level gets really sparse really quickly. I wouldn’t have all the monsters in there respawn, but probably the drones, the invisible Cthulhu-looking monsters (IDK what they’re called), and maybe the fighters and enforcers. The floaty, half-invisible ones that explode (again, IDK what they’re called) are too dangerous to add more unless the level starts with a 3x recharge can, and obviously putting in respawning Juggernauts would be sadistic. Adding respawning monsters would make it a bit less luck-based, too.


Note that neither of these videos are actually very long. The first one is about five minutes, and the second one is quite a bit longer, but only contains about five minutes and twenty seconds that are relevant (the rest is just me dicking around after everything’s dead).


ETA: Oh. What’s up with fists in the fifth chapter? In “Echoes of Eden” you can only use your left fist; in “Where Giants Have Fallen” you can’t use them at all. I assume neither of those are correct.

Also, what’s the purpose of the blue switch in the last room of “Where Giants Have Fallen”? Is it even possible to activate? Was it ever?
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Aug 5th '18, 04:47

Still haven't had a chance to look at them cause I'm still away for the weekend, and no kdea what's up with the fists, but: Aaron, I see in Crater Creator's review that you mentioned you had you own level by level review somewhere. Could you link that here so I can work from that as well? Thanks!
User avatar

Pfhorrest
California

Post Aug 5th '18, 04:57

I don’t recall ever writing a level-by-level review, but from an email search, I did have this to say back in 2006… which is nowhere near as much text as I recall writing. Perhaps I did write some more somewhere, but I haven’t the faintest idea where to find it now. I’m almost certain I hadn’t written out level-by-level thoughts, though.

Maybe you remember me from like eight years ago on the Story Page. Or maybe not...

Anyway, first of all, I'd like to say that appearance-wise, Eternal X is a vast improvement over Mark V. It's almost as vast an improvement as Rubicon X was over the original Rubicon, really.

My primary quibble with the gameplay, which was a problem in Mark V as well, is that most of the platforms are far too slow. A lot of the time you end up having to stand around for six or seven seconds on a platform doing nothing, or even worse, waiting for it to come down so you can even get on it. In my scenario, which will probably never see the light of day, I've set it so most platforms take a couple seconds, tops, to get from their extended position to their retracted positions. One could argue that this is a primarily stylistic concern, but regardless, I found myself using the Jump cheat all the time. (I didn't have the time to make a proper run through the scenario without cheating at the moment, or at least that's what I tell myself...)

Also, on a related note, having platforms constantly moving can be a bother as well; I usually set them to deactivate at initial level, on a delay before activation that allows players to fall down an elevator shaft and get out before the platform activates. (Of course, if the elevator shaft is particularly long, it's faster just to leave the platforms always on). That probably IS a more stylistic concern, though...

The plot is quite compelling. I like that it's open-ended, and non-linear. My only real concern is that sometimes the presentation is written in language too intellectual for its own good. Obviously, some of this was intentional; Tycho and the Jjaro AIs are obviously written to be a bit, shall we say, erudite. However, sometimes the language gets so abstract that it's difficult to follow the story. Intellectual language probably wouldn't be that much of a problem on its own, but the fact that it's mixed with a metaphysically and logistically complex story makes certain parts of the story nearly impossible to follow. (I'd like to give specific examples, but honestly, I've only made one proper run through the scenario at all thus far; other than that it's been mostly jumping around. If you could get me a copy of the terminal text - as I'm assuming that, like Rubicon X, this scenario's map file will be impenetrable to Hex [and, for that matter, Forge] - I'd be able to give better feedback).

Anyway, it's a hugely impressive project, almost as impressive as Rubicon X was to me even, and between those two scenarios I'd have to say the standards of what I'm aiming to accomplish in my own scenario have been massively raised. So yeah, keep up the good work.


That said, I’ve played around half of the of the levels enough to have more detailed comments on them, which I’ll look into setting onto the page over the next couple of weeks. TBH, though, there isn’t much I’d change in the first couple chapters that I didn’t get to already, so I doubt my thoughts on those levels would be particularly urgent. The only real trouble I remember having in the first chapter in particular was being disoriented by some of the levels, but I'm easily disoriented, so that's probably not the levels’ fault. (I have not once played through “Five Finger Discount” in Rubicon without getting lost. At least five times.)

I’m also obviously not as picky about gameplay as some people are here – while I laugh to read some of the reviews people have made of levels of this scenario and Rubicon, I can’t say I noticed a lot of those issues. Then again, that might be my fault for not playing on TC as much – but then even with levels I have played on TC, I can’t say I noticed some of the complaints (“Where Giants Have Fallen” seems fine to me, difficulty-wise, apart from being a luck-based mission when scratch starting, for instance, but Ryoko tore it to shreds in his review).

In any case, apart from the aforementioned platform stuff (which I’ve mostly fixed throughout the first three chapters now), I can’t think of much I’d change apart from condensing some of the terminal text if possible, and maybe making the opening battles of “My Kingdom Pfhor a Horse” and “Third Rock from Lh’owon” a touch less dangerous to the player. And I’d probably set all those enemies to teleport in, because it looks silly for them to appear out of nowhere.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Aug 7th '18, 01:19

Thanks for that!

I finally got a chance to look at those videos and it looks like you're not actually playing the latest version of that level at all, you're playing the version from alpha 5, from two weeks ago, which doesn't have any modifications since 1.1, including the extensive retexturing or the geometry adjustments I did last week.

I looked into that fists bug thing, and it looks like it's been there since 1.1, and is caused by the MML that gives you weapons when you vid-start. Seems like giving you 15 items will remove one of your fists, and 16 items will remove the other, and anything beyond that gets ignored anyway. So when I gave you the WMC, you lost a fists; and when I gave you two grav blades, you lost the other fist and only got one grav blade for it.

I've fixed that by removing some fusion ammo from that MML on the levels where it gives you WMC or blades.

I've also adjusted the monster behavior on Giants (most monsters were already set to ignore you, just not juggernauts or w'rk nightmares, so I think that was just an oversight on someone's part). And I made the fusion drone who apparently already starts with you have a hover height that doesn't leave him shooting the ledge of the well all day.

That's all up on GitHub now.

Updates to Deja Vu coming later tonight.
User avatar

Pfhorrest
California

Post Aug 7th '18, 01:33

No problem.

That explains it. I thought I’d downloaded the latest version from Github and merged it, but I might not have remembered to change the map in the preferences. Then again, perhaps the version on Github wasn’t updated. Anyway, I’ll go ahead and grab the latest version now.

The MML bug sounds like a thing that might be better fixed with Lua, but I don’t entirely understand how that works. I’ve been trying to write a script that will give players a chip on certain levels of Rubicon and haven’t managed to get it to work. When it does finally work, it can presumably be updated to provide players with starting items in Eternal.

Code: Select all
Triggers = {}
Function Triggers.init()
   if Level.name=="Rozinante IX" or Level.name=="Like home this ain't II" or Level.name=="Bump and Grind" or Level.name=="Sodding the Logs" or Level.name=="I'd Rather Be A Lutefisk" then
      for p in Players do
         p.items["uplink chip"] = 1
      end
   end
end


I don’t really understand what I’m doing wrong here (some of the Lua documentation is pretty vague), but it’s probably a really dumb syntax error, so if someone out there is more familiar with things like how A1 passes variables in Lua and can isolate the problem, I’d appreciate it. (Once it’s fixed, I’ll also make similar scripts for Tempus, Pfh’Joueur, and any other scenarios people want vid films of that require chips carried over from previous levels. Note that this is a very crude script that, when I fix whatever the problem is, will probably screw up cooperative games – it’s specifically designed for solo play.)

Obviously, a modified version can also then be applied for Eternal, including giving players seven ZPMs on each of the levels in chapter five when scratch-starting… though maybe there should just be seven actual ZPM objects in each of those levels anyway, since otherwise, players might run out. I’m still 100% in favour of changing the physics for the grav blades to have 32k shots per trigger, but even if we do that, it’d kind of suck to have run out of ammo by “Giants” and have nothing but the grav blades to kill off juggernauts with. It’s possible to win the level even after that happens, but it may require a certain amount of luck.

…All that said, I have changed my mind on one thing that I didn’t care too much about before. I wasn’t too picky about dangerous openings in levels when they took two or three seconds to load, but since the new 3D textures have been implemented, levels usually take ten seconds or more to load even on my MacBook. Which is fine; the graphics are worth the loading time. But it makes it incredibly frustrating to play levels that have monsters that fire at you immediately. My ideal fix to this would be some sort of “T-Rex Activation” for monsters where they don’t act as though they see you until you move, but I doubt A1 offers that, and while it might be possible to program in Lua, it’s probably not worth it. So maybe just make the opening monsters blind and deaf and teleport in, then split up the starting space into multiple polygons and have monster activation triggers that occur whenever the player walks out. That way the player doesn’t get taken by surprise after a ten-second load.

And for whatever reason, the HD Pfhor textures still don’t load for me. For the record, case sensitivity doesn’t look like it actually was the problem.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Aug 7th '18, 01:52

The alephone log file will print out any syntax errors. You need to quit out of alephone completely for it to write to the log.

In this case, you should lowercase "function" and its for p in Players() do.

Also, you're not checking for whether the game is being restored, so it will probably make sure you have an uplink chip every time you reload a saved game on those levels.
User avatar

Wrkncacnter

Post Aug 7th '18, 02:21

Ah, thanks, I knew I had to have been making some stupid oversights like that. I’ll report back if I have any further problems after fixing those.

To make sure it’s not restoring a game, do I just change it like this:

Code: Select all
Triggers = {}
function Triggers.init()
   if (Level.name=="Rozinante XI" or Level.name=="Like home this ain't II" or Level.name=="Bump and Grind" or Level.name=="Sodding the Logs" or Level.name=="I'd Rather Be A Lutefisk") and not restoring_game then
      for p in Players() do
         p.items["uplink chip"] = 1
      end
   end
end

or does it work some other way? I see the bit about restoring_game in the Triggers.init info, but it doesn’t really explain what kind of variable it is or how it works.

ETA: Anyway, your corrections worked, except that I’m a dumbass and set it to give the player a chip on the wrong Rozinante level, which I now fixed above as well. I think it should now work on all of them, but I still should fix the saved game thing.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

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User avatar

The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Aug 7th '18, 02:38

It's a boolean parameter passed to the init function. So you'd define it like:
function Triggers.init(restoring_game)

and then use it within the function, like your example there.
User avatar

Wrkncacnter

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