Marathon Chronicles

Discuss and unveil current Marathon projects.

Marathon Chronicles

Post Apr 26th '18, 21:10

Quick links:

Playable version of game files (map is probably out-of-date): https://www42.zippyshare.com/v/1Nu2ctGn/file.html
Latest version of map (you’ll have to merge it yourself in Atque): https://bit.ly/2rsTu9p
Complete playlist of gameplay videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... lymer=true
Playlist with latest gameplay videos only: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... lymer=true

Before anyone jumps in, there are plenty of caveats with the current form of this scenario; many are stated here and in the post directly above it. A brief overview of the status of this project can be read on Github.

Original post:

This is a long post. Over the course of it I’ll reflect on my experiences building levels, evaluate the state of what I’ve already built, indicate what I’ll need to do before I feel I can even release it an alpha state, and close off with some gameplay videos I actually consider worth showing people now. Apologies for rambling a lot and repeating myself occasionally; I’m going to have company the next few days, and I’d like to give people here something to see while I’m entertaining guests, but I don’t really have time to revise this properly before they arrive.

Marathon Chronicles is a scenario I’ve been building off and on for some twenty-one years (perhaps appropriately, since 7 * 3 = 21). It’s not even yet in a state I consider fit to release to the public as a game, even as an alpha; I’ve only ever shown it to some close friends in the past. There are a number of reasons I never released it; perhaps most importantly, I never finished telling the story I wanted to tell with it, or even came close. Part of this is because I never really set the story in stone. I was a rather naïve teenager when I started writing it; a lot of the terminals date back to fairly early in development, and they’re awful. They’re so awful that I’d prefer many of them to be permanently expunged from the historical record.

This may actually be the primary reason I haven’t released anything. If I were going to release it at all, at least in its current form, I’d probably just blank out most of the terminals, leaving only terse mission descriptions where necessary. I’ve improved so much as a writer even since the last time I worked on this scenario (2012) that my progress is difficult to chart. (I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words just since March, 2017, many of which were for a single writing project. This is still understating it; while that project is still incomplete, I wrote and largely revised about 65,000 words over about a six-week course. It still hasn’t been completed yet, though, owing to personal issues.)

Another major reason my scenario hasn’t been released is that I began incorporating other people’s content just for the lulz (I originally wanted the scenario to encompass as much of the Marathon universe as possible, including fan creations, as a sort of tribute to Bungie and the whole community, but this ultimately became infeasible), but I haven’t asked everyone whose work I used for permission. I explicitly recall getting James Hastings-Trew’s permission to use Tempus Irae artwork (though I doubt I still have the message from him; I’m sure that was a few email addresses ago now); I also incorporated a rather large number of weapons and monsters from Rubicon and Evil, but I don’t have any recollection of discussing this with any of their scenario creators, so I probably didn’t. It’s been so long since either scenario was released that obtaining permission for a noncommercial project would probably be a formality, but I wish do so regardless.

(I’m pretty sure I incorporated a few textures from Pfh’Joueur as well, though asking Candace for permission to use them is unfortunately a moot point by now. [R.I.P.] I also incorporated a couple of easter eggs from Gemini Station – specifically one bonus level and one throwaway graphic for that bonus level – though I think I probably obtained Mike Trinder’s permission for that, since I’d been corresponding with him off and on for several months; again, I doubt I still have the emails, though.)

Additionally, a few levels aren’t playable at all in the latest revision, several others have game-breaking glitches, many weren’t even finished, and overall, the difficulty and combat are highly unbalanced. Because I never settled on a final story, I also never settled on a final level order, so the difficulty curve is… erratic would be putting it mildly. The scenario has way too much ammo overall – comparing it to a game-length equivalent of the original version of “Roots and Radicals” would be an exaggeration, but there’s definitely way more ammo than anyone should ever need to complete the game, even if they don’t use fists or the fighter staff at all.

I never really bothered making formal announcements about my own work to the Marathon community before because I never thought it was anywhere approaching a state worth showing to people familiar with scenarios like Tempus Irae, Rubicon, Eternal, Phoenix, etc. I recently replayed the entire thing on Total Carnage. (Most of the time, surprisingly, I was able to power through without dying too often; the fact that I’ve play-tested these levels as much as I have probably means they’re way easier for me than anyone else’s levels are.) About 1/3 of the levels are absolute crap and probably can’t be remedied at all; another 1/3 or so need a lot of work to be truly good levels, but can get there; the remainder are mostly fine the way they are. But of course, beyond that, I’ll have to completely rewrite 90% of the terminals.

Which begs the question of: how long a story do I want? The reason I never finished it in the first place is that my reach vastly exceeded my grasp (a typical tale for this community, it seems). I wanted to make a branching story sort of scenario along the lines of Rubicon. The story I wanted to tell probably would’ve required more levels than Eternal has, and I don’t have anywhere near enough good ones. So I’d have to completely overhaul my plot. And I haven’t even begun working out ways to do that yet.

I also started out with the idea of making the game an alternate timeline from either M2 or M∞ and telling the story through Lost-style flashbacks, giving me the opportunity to make remixes of some of the earlier levels (I’m particularly proud of my revision of “Come and Take Your Medicine”, seen below, since it’s now necessary to explore about 70% of the level to complete the mission, rather than the 20% or so the original version required; like about 90% of my levels for this scenario, however, it was never fully completed) and allowing the use of more weapons than the traditional arsenal. But this ran into the problem, first, that the weapons often didn’t play well with one another when transitioning from one time period to another (Lua might be able to fix some of these problems going forward if I don’t decide to scrap the flashback idea), and secondly, that I needed a lot more levels to tell my story. As a result, the last revision is in a kind of half-assed state where some of the remixes use the original M2/M∞ weapons and others have the modern weapons, even though they’re clearly on Lh’owon, which ought to have been destroyed.

And there are some game-breaking bugs. Like I said, the weapons from different time periods didn’t always play well with one another. I fixed the issues on some levels, but the physics on others need work. One level can’t be completed at all; there are wires that refuse to activate. (They worked in earlier revisions; I’m not sure what I screwed up). And the weapons are sorely unbalanced.

I had the idea of making the player capable of carrying ammo for the Enforcer gun and being able to use its interface intuitively. It turns out the reason M2/M∞ don’t let you carry Enforcer ammo or get a good glance at how many shots you have left is because it’s ridiculously OP on higher difficulty settings. I’m not very good at the game, and I can power through all but a handful of levels on TC without dying much by using mostly the Enforcer gun. I think I can probably reduce this a lot by reducing the number of shots in a clip (I was giving the player something like 128, I think; I’ll probably reduce it to 32, same as the SMG, which it replaces here).

I also introduced Evil’s version of the Pfhor staff for every level. What Pfhorrest was describing in Eternal’s thread about its overpowered pushback against enemies is something I’m going to have to look into as well. One-on-one, it can stun most enemies into complete uselessness until the player kills them. I wind up powering through most levels with the Pfhor staff and the Enforcer gun about 80% of the time, to the point where they’re a crutch that makes it difficult for me to play other people’s scenarios smartly.

I also made the shotgun way too powerful. I figured that because time had passed since the trilogy, the weapons should be more powerful, both for the player and for enemies, so I beefed up the shotgun. Particularly in net games, it’s pretty much a game-breaker. I think I need to restore the shotgun to its exact state from the original games – and, for that matter, perhaps several of the other weapons.

I made a lot of these changes without really considering game balance. M∞ seems to be the most commonly played network format because the weapons are balanced better than the weapons in third-party scenarios tend to be. The weapons in Chronicles are… not nearly as well balanced. One possibility is to leave the weapons as I have them in the solo scenario and simply revert back to M∞ weapons for net play, and I’m strongly considering doing that, though it would require recalibrating the weapon and ammo placement in the net levels (or at least the net levels that are probably worth keeping) to account for the changes in balance. I’m leaning towards doing this at the moment.

The other aspect is the enemies. I don’t expect these to need as many changes. I substantially beefed up several of the aliens from the original trilogy, and I'm fairly pleased with where they ended up. Hunters’ and Enforcers’ weapons both do a lot more damage to the player. (However, this is a factor making Chronicles’ alien weapon even more OP than it is in the Trilogy.) Fighters attack more rapidly, move slightly faster, and have substantially more health - no more one-punch kill for minor Fighters now. (They’re different colours in Chronicles - mostly. Minor Fighters are usually chartreuse; major ones are dark green; minor projectile Fighters are cyan; major projectile Fighters are a different dark blue than the original trilogy’s. However, I also have M1 Fighters in the shapes file for specific circumstances, who appear in the same colours as normal.) They’re more of a threat to the player without being inexplicably strong for aliens of their size.

Enforcers sometimes have the disintegration bolts from Rubicon, but rarely use the ridiculous zap attack that can one-hit kill the player (I think I only left these in for at most three levels). Unfortunately, the disintegration bolts don’t actually disintegrate anything yet, because disintegration was implemented as a replacement for flame deaths in Rubicon, and Chronicles still has flame weapons. I think this is something that can be altered using Lua or MML scripting, which I may look into at some point down the road.

Sporadically, there are other aliens from various scenarios (mostly Rubicon and Evil) that mostly behave as they did in their respective scenarios. Most of them are sparsely used; Devlins and the S’pht’Wr probably make the most frequent appearances. Depending upon how I rewrite the plot, these can probably be removed entirely. I’m not certain what would replace Devlins (maybe I’d just go the Eternal route and reuse monsters from Pathways; these might actually make more sense in context) and I could replace the S’pht’Wr with... Compilers, I guess, though to be honest, the S’pht’Wr are more intimidating in some contexts. I could presumably also just recolour the S’pht’Kr as Phoenix did. I used Rubicon-style Hulks on a few levels, and I think I’m at least going to reduce their health; I may also reduce the health of the Juggernauts, honestly. Some of those monsters just get boring to fight for too long. 7,500 health or whatever they have is too much.

As I said, the levels themselves vary widely in quality, and some are awful and probably can’t be salvaged; many were developed when I was still learning how to use Forge and, for that matter, still learning how to play Marathon. Honestly, I got into this game as much for the editors as anything. I’d dreamt of being able to create my own game content since shortly after I started playing Mario as a kid, and this was the first time I’d been able to use a game editor that seemed intuitive to me. But I was also quite new to FPS games at the time. I’d played Doom casually, but “played” is perhaps the wrong word; I think I was probably mostly using cheat codes and just walking through the levels to marvel at the visuals, which at the time seemed like the coolest game graphics ever. I didn’t have any idea what FPS combat was at the time, much less what made a good level. And I hadn’t actually played much of the Marathon games yet, either. I don’t think it was until I discovered the Story page that I realised there was a lot more depth to Marathon than just the editor.

Despite this, two of my earliest levels have been salvaged to something… playable. (Specifically, the levels currently named “Illegitimi non carborundum” and “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk” began as two of my earliest levels; the former is probably still at least decent from a gameplay standpoint, though it makes absolutely zero sense from a construction standpoint, while the latter is one of the ones I’m mostly proudest of, though now that AO and Weland have removed the 1024-poly and 384-object limits, I can make it even better. I continued to work on “Anthems” much longer than any other level I’d started that early on.) Not perfect, but not a slog. I kept more of the early levels in than merited keeping, though. And even from the ones after I’d begun playing more, I was doing a lot of trial and error and not all of my experiments actually worked. Some of them are just too linear and require too much backtracking. Some of them just aren’t fun. Some are just bland in appearance. Some were based on ideas that sounded cool, but didn’t actually translate to the engine the way I’d hoped. (There was one based on the idea that the ship’s artificial gravity had failed, using liquid to simulate a vacuum and allowing Pfhor to fly and fire shots under water, but it turns out they’re very, very dumb when given flight power and the player is also able to float, and they also look stupid walking around in mid-air.)

Some are salvageable, though. Some can use some work, but are on their way to being good levels. Some are probably already good. So here are a few gameplay videos. They’re all on the only real difficulty setting, even though I’m not all that great a player. I’m probably way better at all of these levels than I am at anyone else’s, though, owing to the fact that I’ve spent so long play-testing them that I know them really well.


Please Excuse Our Dust. I’ll cop to this being a complete ripoff of “Roquefortress” from Phoenix, but I’m still fairly proud of it. It’s the first level I made after realising AO no longer had viewing distance limits, and it takes full advantage of the newly available scope for levels. Crucially, I don’t think there was an AO-specific editor yet, and I made this all within Forge. This means that I had to employ a creative solution to get around the fact that Forge would crash if I viewed the whole thing in visual mode. (I think Visual Mode.lua might’ve existed by the time I constructed this, but I don’t think I knew about it.) I set opaque boundaries in different segments of the level while texturing it, then restored transparency when I’d finished.

From a combat standpoint, it’s pretty fun. I suspect it could stand to use another recharger or two, and I should probably add at least one more pattern buffer. I don’t think there are too many trial-and-error aspects to the gameplay, but I tried to keep the same paranoia-inducing aspects of “Roquefortress”, where there are stealthy monsters who sneak up on you as you progress through the level, so it’s possible I didn’t balance those correctly.


Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. This was one of a handful of levels I co-created with other people – in this case, an old friend who also came up with the name of the scenario. (I’d credit him by name, but I’m honestly not sure if he actually wants his name mentioned here; I’ll ascertain this before doing so.) A fairly large part of the oldest part of the level (the central part) was largely his construction; I don’t recall how much (again, twenty-odd years have passed). I’ve continued working on it since. Some of the newer parts probably look cooler; the temple area, which is much more recent, is one of my favourite pieces of architecture in the level, though I think I need to provide more hints in terminals about how the player can traverse it correctly; the current route also more or less requires sidestep running, and perhaps I should revise it so that it doesn’t. The level also shows off my “dusk” revision of the Lh’owon landscape (which is part of the reason it currently has this title, which was taken from an album by Emperor. “Welkin” is an archaic term for “sky”, basically).

This was originally intended to be the first level of the scenario, and it has far too many Bobs for the “never, ever leave a single Bob alive” rule to be observed – if anyone were trying to do the Vidmaster’s Challenge for my scenario, I’d grant them a waiver on that rule for this level. The monster alliances are an outgrowth of my original conception for the scenario, which posited some future equivalent of the Treaty of Versailles. The idea was that gratuitously harsh penalties were incurred upon the Pfhor in the wake of their defeat, which ultimately resulted in renewed war between humanity and the Pfhor. This level is designed to take place in the midst of a fracture, so some of the Pfhor (Enforcers, Troopers, normal Hunters) are still friendly to humanity, while others (Mothers of All Hunters, Juggernauts) are hostile. There are some very combat-intense set pieces that the player doesn’t have to participate in much or at all; in most cases, the Juggernauts will die without the player firing upon them at all (since the player doesn’t have a fusion gun or rocket launcher, it would be a sadistically difficult opening if the player had to do much). There is one specific room where the Juggernauts won’t always die from NPC actions on Total Carnage, but I believe I have them set to teleport out if they don’t observe any hostiles, so it may not matter much.

I still think the concept for the level’s combat is cool, but I’ll probably have to rejigger the monster placement, since I doubt I’m going to keep the same story idea. Also, currently this is something like the third to the last level in the “good” ending to the scenario, though the terminals don’t reflect this at all. (Terminal texts are visible in both this and the preceding level, though you’ll have to pause the video to read them. These aren’t awful, like some of the terminals I’d written; they’re just bland.)

This level still isn’t finished. I intended to create another floor to the temple area but hit the 1024-polygon ceiling in the original Infinity engine. A lot of areas also don’t have enemies, which they will in a final revision; again, I’d hit the 384-item threshold. This will probably be one of the first levels I work on in Weland.


Here Comes the Flood. One of several levels I constructed using Tempus textures. This is actually a really old revision of the level; there are now at least Fighters in most of the empty rooms and hallways, and in some cases Enforcers or Hunters. (I still haven’t finished placing enemies here, either; again, 384-item limit.) However, my skill in this game has waned quite a bit since I recorded this film, and I’m no longer good enough to clear the climactic room (and to be honest, it was a stroke of luck that I even cleared it in this film). The basic appearance of the level is the same, though. Just imagine this, but with a lot more combat.

(Named after a Peter Gabriel song.)


Houses of the Holy. Another incomplete level with a lot of missing monsters. Some parts of the level are intended to be empty, however, as this playthrough demonstrates a very roundabout secret that essentially requires the player to go through the entire level backwards after opening a secret door. The overlook to the cathedral area is supposed to be empty. Other parts of the level still haven’t had enemy placement. The secret area was intended to provide back story for the player character regarding a tragic romance (I came up with this idea long before Eternal was released), but I deleted basically all of this from the terminals because, if I’m being honest, my romantic history when I’d written it was… limited, and my writing made this obvious.

Romance and related matters are where by far the worst aspects of my writing for this scenario emerged, honestly. The whole thing was simultaneously naïve and shot through with questionable gender politics that seem dated even by the standards of late ’90s/early ’00s video games and perhaps outright reactionary by 2018 standards. This wasn’t through any conscious intent on my part; I’ve actually held more sympathy for women than for men for most of my life, but I simply didn’t understand women’s perspectives on romance at all, and my lack of romantic experiences at the time made any attempt I made at treating the subject horrifically cringeworthy.

Nonetheless, I haven’t actually expunged all of this from the game as of this writing. I replaced all the terminals in one level (my “Ne cede malis” remix) with dumb Internet memes that were current at the time. Others are still largely intact, but will certainly be removed by the time I release even an early alpha edition to the public.

(Named for a Led Zeppelin album/song.)


Cut Their Grain and Place Fire Therein. The remix I’m probably proudest of. This is a revision of “Come and Take Your Medicine” that, as indicated above, requires the player to explore most of the level. I switched it to the Sewage set (actually the Jjaro set; the Sewage set is the Earth set, and I moved Lh’owon’s Sewage textures to the Jjaro due to their visual similarity) because part of the level mission is to flood the structure and create chaos for the Pfhor on the planet. The original level already felt like a giant fortress, but you never really had to do much with it; you could finish the mission without exploring even 10% of the level. The new revision requires the player to explore the level while fending off hostiles from all directions (with a few exceptions, most of which can only be accessed later in the level). I’m fairly pleased that I managed to make the monsters keep fighting regardless of where the player goes; there are drones, compilers, F’lickta, and ticks that continually wander the level, respawning to some extent.

This particular revision is sort of midway between the “flashback” and “modern” settings. The monochromatic colouring of enemies was my narrative convention for flashbacks. The only enemies that actually have vivid colouring match the sewage set – so basically the sewage F’lickta and the palette I introduced for the ticks in sewage levels. However, a lot of the weapons are more attuned to the current setting, if memory serves. There’s also a glitch with the player’s staff; I think I have the projectiles set to use the melee impact effect rather than the projectile impact effect. Should be an easy fix.

(Named for a song by the metal band Weakling.)


Everyone I Went to High School With Is Dead. Another level co-constructed with a (different) old high school friend. This is actually loosely based on the architecture of our school, Pine View School for the Gifted, which has produced several famous alumni (one, from the class of ’97, is known for writing Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and another, from the class of ’01 [our class, and yes, we personally knew each other] is known as the Academy Award for Best Picture recipient as producer of Moonlight, which is both the greatest film I’ve ever seen – no hyperbole – and a wonderful trivia answer thanks to the La La Land announcement mixup). This is currently the first level with actual combat, and as a result, the enemies are mostly just Fighters and assimilated Bobs. There are also friendly Bobs (I’ll again give the player leeway for not killing them all, since they respawn. I didn’t bother killing any here, but I’m sure it’d be a much more challenging level if I’d made them all hostile; I’ll probably try it on a subsequent play). The combat doesn’t flow quite as well as it does on “Cut Their Grain”, but it’s not a mess.

(Currently named for a song by Mr. Bungle. If you want to see the level’s original form before I began revising it, it’s on the Trilogy release CD as, I think, “Pine View (Hell)”. It used the M∞ Pfhor set originally; I revised it to a mixture of Tempus textures and a few of my own – crude – creations to match the colour of the actual buildings at Pine View.)


Another One in the Dark. Another incomplete level, but it employs a few tricks I really like. The player later crosses “under” the bridge near the start of the level, but there’s a distance of 2 WU separating the two bridge crossings in the physical map space, because of an “elevator” that doesn’t actually change the player’s height. As a result of this, this level makes liberal use of 5D space, but it’s not apparent to the player (on the other hand, this also made it much easier to differentiate the “over” portion of the bridge from the “under” portion). The elevator itself is something of a marvel; the player can see columns “outside” the elevator, and those columns’ walls move up and down to create the illusion that the player is traveling vertically.

Several portions of the level remain completely unpopulated, and honestly, apart from those few mapmaking tricks, it’s kind of bland. There’s a Trojan-style platform puzzle that’s kind of dumb, though it’s really simple to solve if you know what the correct solution is (this playthrough demonstrates it, obviously); there was supposed to be a second one, but due to the aforementioned elevator, I ran out of platforms. I thought I might try making a light switch puzzle, but I never got around to figuring out how I’d do one. I could probably just make another platform puzzle now; I assume AO and Weland remove the 64-platform limit.

(Named for a Wallflowers song that has nothing to do with the level; I just thought it was a really awesome name for a Marathon level.)


Acme Station (Jerry Bruckheimer Remix). To be honest, this title blames the wrong person; it should really be Michael Bay (not all of Bruckheimer’s productions employ gratuitous explosions, but most of Bay’s films certainly do). This will be fixed in a future revision. “Michael Bay remix” probably gives you the idea behind the gimmick before you even watch the video: everything (except melee projectiles) explodes. It’s one of the obligatory secret “vidmaster’s challenge” levels, and in the venerable tradition of the original trilogy, it’s way easier than the original level. (If I can beat it on TC, it’d have to be.)

I think it makes some major improvements to the original level all the same, though. For one thing, there’s an oxygen recharger. You have to travel through the whole level to get to it, but it’s there. There are also more oxygen canisters before you can reach the recharger, so you don’t have to speedrun the level; can take your time and enjoy the sights a bit. It’s also a bit less of a luck-based mission as a result; you don’t have to worry so much about enemies moving the right way to win the level.

The Cyborgs from the original level are replaced with Hunters here, so you can’t induce enemy infighting as much. Because everything blows up, your optimal strategy is instead making sure enemies have proximity to each other (and distance from you) when they die. All the Pfhor here have red blood. I introduced these with the intention of being a reverse analogue of the Assimilated Bobs from the original games. I planned some levels where the player would be allied with Pfhor, and the idea was that the humans would introduce assimilated Pfhor to mess with the player (and the Pfhor more generally). Thus far, I’ve only actually employed these animations in this level, though.

Among the other changes, there are a few new sections to the level, which I think look pretty similar to Greg Kirkpatrick’s original architecture, and there are now four sets of wires to destroy instead of three. The player also gets quite a bit more weaponry and ammo, which I felt obligatory since the level is a rebellion level.

This scenario has the AR available in a vacuum. To be honest, I don’t entirely understand why any of Marathon’s weapons wouldn’t work in a vacuum – and even if we don’t, in the early 21st century, have the technology to make them do so currently, we certainly would by the time the game takes place. Even if we accept that a flamethrower relies on oxygen, for example, it could just spew out oxygen and set it on fire. I don’t fully understand the real-world physics behind this, but in any case, the player gets the AR on this level. (The only weapon I have disabled in all vacuum levels is the rocket launcher, as the only concession to having fewer weapons available in vacuum. Even this doesn’t really make sense to me from a Watsonian perspective, but I privilege the Doylist perspective in some cases for gameplay reasons because, overall, this is still a game. It’s possible to disable individual weapons on a level-by-level basis, and I have the AR, flamethrower, etc. disabled in flashback levels. The flamethrower and the maser occupy the same spot in the game, and the maser is, of course, a vacuum weapon.)

Overall, this is way easier than the original “Acme”, but it’s probably also a lot more fun. I hadn’t read RyokoTK’s comments on the level when I made this version, but this should’ve addressed several of his complaints. And I think its gimmick is a pretty cool idea for a secret level.


…So this is, what, nine levels? I think there are about fifty proper levels in the whole scenario, not counting hub levels. I have TC completions of a few others that are worth uploading, but most of the others aren’t worth bothering with; in a few other cases I’m just not good enough to hack them on the only real difficulty setting in a single play-through without deaths. A couple of others might be worth showing just for how gratuitously elaborate I made the secrets in a few of my M2/M∞ remixes. I don’t think they’re particularly good, but they might amuse people.

I probably won’t have time to upload more videos for awhile, though; as mentioned, I’ll have company the next several days. And please excuse my often sloppy play; I’m no Vidmaster.

In any case, feel free to offer praise, constructive criticism, offers of assistance, suggestions for improvements to level design or gameplay, suggestions for improving my skill at the game, whatever. I’m also entirely open to merging this with some other ongoing project depending upon whether our creative visions align; it’d probably require retexturing a lot of levels entirely, but I’m given to understand that VML makes that a lot easier now.
Last edited by The Man on Jul 10th '18, 00:43, edited 7 times in total.
User avatar

The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Apr 26th '18, 22:25

Unfortunately I probably won't have the time to take much of a look at this (I haven't even looked at M1R yet) because I am so completely short on time these days, but I want to say something positive and sympathetic about finally sharing something of your long-in-progress work with community (especially something with Chronicles in the name, that was started around the same time, too).
User avatar

Pfhorrest
California

Post Apr 26th '18, 22:49

I read a couple paragraphs. I would say it's really amazing you can get anything done with the projects you're working on when you're spending so much time writing long posts on the Pfhorums.
User avatar

Wrkncacnter

Post Apr 26th '18, 23:36

Pfhorrest wrote:Unfortunately I probably won't have the time to take much of a look at this (I haven't even looked at M1R yet) because I am so completely short on time these days, but I want to say something positive and sympathetic about finally sharing something of your long-in-progress work with community (especially something with Chronicles in the name, that was started around the same time, too).

Thanks. Yeah, I need to look at M1R too (right now I’d say I’ve barely more than glanced at it). I’ll look at both that and your topic when I don’t have company, probably.

Wrkncacnter wrote:I read a couple paragraphs. I would say it's really amazing you can get anything done with the projects you're working on when you're spending so much time writing long posts on the Pfhorums.

Honestly, at least half of this stuff is at least partially for my own reference so I have a clear recollection of what I wanted to change. I don’t trust my memory of recent events much these days (long story), and having a hard copy of my thoughts gives me a reliable record for later. I also find writing usually helps clarify my thought processes; explaining a matter in words gives me a better understanding of why I think the way I think about it.

I fully understand if there’s too much text there for people to absorb. You can just click the YouTube links without any preamble if that’s more your speed.

That said, this probably didn’t take as long to write as you think it did. I doubt I spent even four hours on the OP; I’d actually be surprised if I spent much more than two. It definitely took me longer to encode and upload the videos than it did to write the OP (though, to be fair, I was able to do other things in the background at the same time).
User avatar

The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Apr 26th '18, 23:57

The Man wrote:four hours
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Wrkncacnter

Post Apr 27th '18, 00:40

Like I said, I wrote a lot of the above text at least partially to remind myself what to work on, and four hours is an upper estimate; I doubt I spent that long on it. I suspect it was around two and a half. I understand that I wrote a wall of text, but nearly all of it was to answer questions I think others might have about my levels,* and some of it was also for my own reference. If you don’t have the attention span or don’t care, you can just watch the videos and skip the explainer, and no one’s even forcing you to watch the videos. You’re acting almost personally offended by the existence of a long post.

(*For instance: “Why are all the aliens grey in some levels?” “Why are some Pfhor allied with the player in ‘Anthems’?” “What’s with all the explosions in ‘Acme’?” …ok, maybe ‘Jerry Bruckheimer remix’ is self-explanatory for that one, but a lot of the stuff isn’t obvious.)


Speaking of self-reminders, scattered other observations:

Medicine:
· Couple of jiggle glitches, mostly in control room and nearby areas. Fix these.
· May be worth just completely redoing the architecture of the tower area right after the control room; it looks incongruous with the rest of the level and doesn’t flow very well.
· Fix motion glitch with Fighters on catwalk (polygon angle problem). It’s funny, but breaks suspension of disbelief.
· Player staff projectile doesn’t have animation upon impact.

Another One in the Dark:
· Staff melee attack doesn’t play sound on impact.
· Final segment under bridge should have more powerful foes than Major Fighters.
· Jiggle glitch in dark room with Hunters and Enforcers, apparently (ca. 6:10 into video).

Acme:
· Probably just make the MoaH display the same size as the other Hunters, given that I reduced its size in the physics; half the time its head doesn’t even show up in the short corridors.

Biblical Candy Machines: (“Ne cede malis” remake; video to be posted later)
· Most of the new sections flow well, but there’s one door that should open way earlier in the process.
· Since I’m probably never writing the terminals I thought I was going to write, I should convert them to switches.
· That one pillar that can crush the player would be a cheap death; make it a solid wall.
· The secret with the alien weapon should be a one-way portal so the player can walk back through to the main part of the level.
· Alien weapons in the Devlin pools should probably be switched to shotguns or something else that fires underwater in Chronicles.

Delusions of Adequacy…: (also to be posted later… though maybe not in the immediate future; see final bullet point)
· Find a way to change it so respawning hunters prowl the whole level rather than congregating in the centre. (I never actually figured out why Marathon’s random-number god tends to favour some enemy respawn points over others – perhaps TL or someone else who’s worked on the engine has documented this.) If this requires giving them something to battle, that’s not the worst idea. Could use enemies hostile to player as well (Devlins, F’lickta).
· The underground segment doesn’t really make sense even if written off as a trippy dream thing or trippy Jjaro thing. Might as well just delete it.
· Rewrite terminals to give better indication of the revised locations for chip and its insertion point. I think they matched an earlier revision of the level, but I’m pretty sure they’re completely wrong now.
· The blind and deaf Enforcers around the Marathon logo lava pool might’ve been a stupid idea. Just make them activate whenever the door opens and they see/hear the player.
· Find out whether play testers find the lack of pattern buffers in the level to be a worthwhile challenge or whether it’s just annoying. This may require them to go in blind, so I’m not sure whether I’ll post the video immediately.

Overall:
· I completely forgot to fix the liquid sounds for lava and sewage in AO.
· I also never figured out why the game sporadically plays the “dying cydrone” sound when oxygen is depleting (I think Chronicles has it in the “unused 1” slot in Anvil’s sound list). I kind of like having a sound for that, but perhaps it should be something like a deep breath.
Last edited by The Man on Apr 28th '18, 15:28, edited 1 time in total.
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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Apr 28th '18, 01:59

I'll take a look at your videos and see if I can offer any positive comments. Don't mind Wrk's negative comments about the length of your post. I mean, it's definitely too long, but also, like, who cares; you do you. I know what it's like to dump out all your thoughts to get a handle on what you're thinking.

Although I don't understand why you're posting videos instead of some of the most playable levels. I mean, I read your reasoning for this, but I don't think it matters, and I think it's easier for the rest of us to give feedback with actual play experience.

Quick thoughts: Enforcer gun being good on hard difficulties might be due to it being tagged as "monster shot" which increases in damage of the shot as difficulty increases; you can untag this to stop it from getting stronger but this means the Enforcers won't stronger as difficulty increases, either; alternatively you could use a different ammo type for the player's Enforcer gun and a the original ammo type for the Enforcer's Enforcer gun. In another thread, I made some suggestions for how to make the Pfhor staff be unique but not overpowered. One suggestion was to have a "heavy swing" that does a lot of damage but also has a high recovery time; so the player is kind of "frozen" after making the swing, almost as if the force of it takes time to recover from.
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philtron

Post Apr 28th '18, 02:44

Watched a bit of "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk"; I kinda like the visual trick the terminals have going on, but the bright green text doesn't contrast well with the lighter parts of the image. Still curious as to how that was achieved, assuming they're not just double-wide images with text done in an image editor.

I'd also ask what kinda story you had in mind, but you mentioned it not being set in stone...
welcome to the scene of the crash
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General-RADIX

Post Apr 28th '18, 11:58

I’m planning to post a 15-20 level demo at some point, but I need to do some work on a few of the levels before they’re in a playable state. I’ll try to get this done by May 10 or so. I figured it’d be better to put gameplay videos up for now than nothing at all.

The “alien” tag can do a lot. There are some odd things about M∞; the Bobs don’t have the “alien” flag set even when they’re enemies, which is one reason a lot of new players think the game is so difficult. If you’re playing on easy or kindergarten, the Bobs are way harder than the surrounding enemies. On the other hand, the levels with mostly Bobs seem much less daunting on TC than the surrounding levels do.

Of course the alien weapon scales with difficulty, which is one reason it’s so useful on TC, but IIRC, several of the other guns also do more damage on higher difficulty, including the AR (not grenades, however). I can’t remember, but I think the shotgun and flechette may also be included there. (I don’t know if this was intentional on Bungie’s part; as I understand it, any projectile that deals an odd number of damage is considered an alien projectile, while anything that deals an even number of damage is considered, for lack of a suitable antonym, not-alien. I don’t know why – possibly to save space in the physics model [though given how tiny they are, I can’t imagine why that was a concern] – but in any case, I didn’t realise this until I’d been building Marathon levels for something like ten years, so it’s entirely possible the Bungie employee who created the default physics model didn’t realise it either.)

I’ve definitely considered nerfing the player’s Enforcer projectiles, but while I’ve altered the enemy Bobs to have the “alien” flag, I’m not sure if I want to break from convention by using a different projectile between the player and Enforcers. For the time being I think I’m going to try the 32-projectile magazine and see if that works the way I’m hoping it will.

The heavy recovery time for the staff is an interesting idea. I might try implementing that and see if it’s fun to play. The other idea is, of course, altering the physics and/or game scripts so staff damage doesn’t push enemies so far back.

There was an old app for OS 9 that did something to the images that fools Marathon into displaying the images across the width of the terminal. I think it involves setting the PICT’s width metadata to half of its actual value. I don’t remember what the app is called or what the actual values are, and I doubt there’s an equivalent for OS X or Windows, but I’m pretty sure it’s also what Rubicon uses for the end terminal graphics, and I suspect that once you understand how it alters the image, it’s a pretty simple alteration you can do with a hex editor. I agree that the text is difficult to read; if I were remaking the images, I’d alter the right half of the image by implementing a 50% transparent fill with black or something along those lines.

In any case, thanks for the feedback. Here are a few more levels:


Biblical Candy Machines: “Ne cede malis” remake, mostly retextured to M∞’s sewage set (partially to demonstrate that the Jjaro set is pretty close to being a palette swap of it, apart from the added textures), and in vacuum (I forget why, apart from to add challenge). The level also implements Lookers (not as many as I’m planning for the final version, honestly; I kind of forgot about them for the new segments), and there’s an entirely new second half of the level. A small portion actually repeats a segment of the M∞ level for continuity, and most of it is devoted to a terminal hunt; reading one terminal allows the player to progress further. This is, of course, where I deleted the aforementioned horrible romance writing. Right now you get a bunch of stupid internet memes that were current to when I was last working on the level, so probably ’08 or so. TBH, I will probably just change these to switches or something because I can’t imagine I’ll be able to come up with something satisfying for that many terminals.

This playthrough is from a few days ago (I had an older one, but decided I ought to post something representing my current abilities at the game), so there’s at least one point where I forgot where to go. Honestly, there’s one segment that should open much sooner; I’ve been intending to fix this for some six years but I honestly haven’t remembered what the shortest path through the level is for years, so I haven’t possessed an understanding of how to fix it. I think switching the terminals to, well, switches will make this much easier for me to fix.

The level name comes from Durandal’s ramblings in the M∞ demo (altered in the final version of the game). Most of Durandal’s terminals from both versions are implemented here. It’s that kind of level. There was supposed to be some other AI (which I not very imaginatively called Infinity) that was responsible for this and a few other plot devices, and the end of this level is supposed to coincide with its destruction. Much like my failed romance writing, I kind of doubt I’ll use this in the final version of the scenario. In any case, the reason for the reprisal of Durandal’s terminals was that it was intended to be the point where explicit, conscious knowledge of the different timelines was established within the continuity of Chronicles – both to the player character and to other characters (Durandal, Leela, Tycho, etc.)


Nightmare Heaven: An attempt to make a challenging level using only fighters. I think it’s fairly successful. The player has limited ammo when vidding it, but there are hidden .44 clips at the tops of the boxes in the central room; it’s challenging to get up there even if you know how to do it. I demonstrate the correct method here; I do it successfully on my first four attempts, but the last of these is for a box I’ve already reached, and my first few attempts to reach the fourth box fail.

I think I forgot to merge a physics model in for this level; this is why the fighters are M1 fighters here. (I moved the M2 fighters to the trooper set; I kept the M1 fighters in for the “Arrival” easter egg from “Waterloo Waterpark”, another level I remixed. The remix is based on the Win95 version of the level, which also included the “Arrival” easter egg.) Despite the standard physics, I sped up their staff animation, so they’re still more challenging enemies than standard M2/∞ fighters. If I put the standard Chronicles physics in, the level would be more challenging still, but the player would at least get the staff. Instead, you get the standard alien weapon, which has limited shots.

I think I forgot to set a mission for this (or, for that matter, an exit polygon), but it’s supposed to be an extermination/exploration mission. It’s not actually possible to reach several segments of the level yet; the idea is that you have to shoot fairly accurately to kill off all the fighters. Unfortunately, several segments of the level have glitchy movement for the player (mostly the shooting gallery-like areas above the outside sewage-filled ring), and it’s possible for the fighters to knock each other off their ledges. They’re currently constrained to move about specific segments of the level with monster & item impassable polygons, but if they get knocked out of their set region, they’ll just wander around the inaccessible central area of that floor, and the player can rarely even see them.

On the other hand, IIRC, extermination levels don’t actually require the player to kill every hostile enemy, so this may not actually be a big problem – but, on the other hand, I suspect it’s also possible to modify the fighters’ behaviour with Lua scripting so they’ll wander back to their home turf if knocked out of it. This is something I plan to look into.

Another oddity about this level is that the player can take advantage of a rather odd glitch in Marathon’s engine to punch through solid walls and hit Fighters on top of boxes. I employ this technique throughout this film; it probably wouldn’t be possible to vid the level without it.

Finally, because I forgot to texture a few of the walls in one room, the last couple of minutes in this are mostly dedicated to my amusement at the motion glitch this created. (The idea is ultimately to have platforms open walls and create odd 5D space – this level is entitled “Nightmare Heaven”, after an Arcturus song, because it’s supposed to be a dream level – but I never got around to finishing it.)


Motherfucker=Redeemer. A perhaps failed experiment. I constructed it after replaying Final Fantasy IV. This is inspired by the Mt. Ordeals segment of that game.
Spoiler:
The intended solution to the fight against the player’s shadow is not to attack it. If memory serves, tool-assisted speedrunners have shown it’s possible to kill the shadow through normal combat using an odd glitch, but it’s very difficult to pull off.
This is intended to be a Marathon version of that. None of the player’s weapons can harm the MarineShadows, as I call them; the only thing that harms them is their own projectiles, which are guided missiles that move very slowly. So the player has to take advantage of the platforms in the centre of the room and, to coin a phrase, hoist them by their own petard.

This level is symmetrical in several ways, including, apart from the liquids, vertically. I think I did this because I wanted the level to be as trippy as possible – it’s supposed to take place within the player’s psyche, which, as we’ve seen from Infinity’s dream levels, doesn’t always cohere to expected rules. The player normally proceeds at a much slower speed underwater, but I altered the physics for this level; as a result, there’s no difference between walking and running speed in this particular level. (I’m pretty sure I made this before Lua scripting, which I presume can make the player move faster underwater in a particular level without altering the player’s walking speed; I’m also guessing I could implement a version of the MarineShadow fight much closer to the Final Fantasy IV fight with Lua.)

Named for a song by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, who, apropos of nothing, are my favourite musical act of all time.


Delusions of Adequacy…: Co-constructed with the same friend as the Pine View level, who is responsible for nearly all the basic architecture of the level; this one can also be found on the Trilogy CD under this exact title. The original level is pretty great, though it doesn’t have a set mission – it’s just survival against challenging enemies for as long as possible. I’ve adapted it to have a proper mission, but my adaptation incorporated a couple of possibly failed experiments.

The title kind of gives away the fact that it’s intended to be a challenge. The only pattern buffer on the level is the one you see in the opening room. The remainder of the level is thus intended as a test of endurance – you have to survive an onslaught of difficult enemies while hunting through the level for the uplink chip and switch necessary to progress through the level. The terminals are supposed to give clues, but as I mentioned in my notes above (which are probably mostly incomprehensible to others), they’re geared to an old version of the level; IIRC, they actually reveal the steps of the correct solution in the exact reverse order. The only concession is that the current location of the chip insertion slot, which is normally invisible to the player, is shown in one of the visible terminals.
Spoiler:
(It’s in the room shaped like the Marathon logo.)


I’m not sure if this is too difficult for players to figure out on their own with the continually respawning enemies in the level – particularly since these enemies congregate around the only recharger in most of the level. Perhaps instead of introducing a pattern buffer I should simply add a couple more rechargers.

This film shows most of the level, but there’s a strange secret I may have added later in one of the overlooks to the central hub (it may have been the top left). I may delete this secret, and I’ll almost certainly delete the underground parts of the level, unless I decide not to use the “no pattern buffers” idea. (Perhaps I should just use that as a rule for the first half of the level.) I never bothered populating the rooms with enemies, and they don’t really make much sense. In my original story draft, I intended this level, along with two others not shown here, to explore the “Jjaro were at Tau Ceti” text on one of the M1 maps (“Never Burn Money”, was it?) – it’s intended to be set on Tau Ceti, demonstrating the oddness of Jjaro technology. Hence, several segments overlap one another entirely.

The final segment of the level has a secret ledge (it’s textured as landscape, and on the reverse side of the staircase) that teleports the player back to a replica of the starting room with a “pattern buffer” that’s actually a terminal that teleports the player into a lava pit. It’s possible, though difficult, to escape this. There’s also a (really awfully written) terminal in the room warning the player not to use the pattern buffer. I didn’t bother showing any of this in this film. I’m not really sure I’ll keep any of it, either; if I even bother keeping that teleport ledge, I’ll probably just teleport the player back to the opening room (they got that far and found a secret; I shouldn’t punish them for doing so).

In any case, I’m sure I’ll keep the segments my friend constructed; I think I might delete most of mine.


Entangled: Another dream level. The similarity in appearance to “Where Are Monsters in Dreams” is intentional. Overall, the level has a ton of blatantly obvious 5D space, because dreams don’t have to make sense. It’s pretty straightforward apart from this; it’s got fairly standard combat apart from being a vacuum level. A fairly serviceable nightmare level, I think; the gimmick isn’t cruel to the player and there’s nothing difficult to figure out. There are a couple of exit points. I may make it necessary to explore all of them before the player can leave (I may also have already done this; I honestly don’t recall). I think the terminal has the lyrics to Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”, and I don’t recall why. The level name itself comes from a song by Genesis, which suitably enough, is about dreaming. (It’s from their prog rock period, of course; I like some of their pop material, as well as the scattered prog songs on their later albums, but on the albums from Trespass through Wind & Wuthering, “Your Own Special Way” is the only song I don’t much care for.)


I’ll also attempt a summary of the story ideas I had at some point, but I doubt I’ll have time today; I still have company (though they’re currently out, which is why I was able to expand this post to its current length), and my best friend’s birthday is in a few days, so preparations for that are taking up some time as well.
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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Apr 28th '18, 17:38

The Man wrote:(I don’t know if this was intentional on Bungie’s part; as I understand it, any projectile that deals an odd number of damage is considered an alien projectile, while anything that deals an even number of damage is considered, for lack of a suitable antonym, not-alien

I've never heard of this. And as far as I know, player weapons do not scale up with difficulty level.

but while I’ve altered the enemy Bobs to have the “alien” flag

Just remember that there are two "alien" flags. One for shots (which alters damage of projectile) and one for monsters (which alters health of monsters).

The heavy recovery time for the staff is an interesting idea. I might try implementing that and see if it’s fun to play. The other idea is, of course, altering the physics and/or game scripts so staff damage doesn’t push enemies so far back.

You might have to do this with scripts. An enemy's reaction to getting hit is determined by the damage of the projectile: the higher the damage, the further it knocks back the enemy (negative damage will pull the enemy towards you and continuosly give them health). There's also an "External Velocity Scale" variable, but I think it only governs how a monster reacts when hit with explosion splash damage.
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philtron

Post Apr 28th '18, 19:49

philtron wrote:You might have to do this with scripts. An enemy's reaction to getting hit is determined by the damage of the projectile: the higher the damage, the further it knocks back the enemy (negative damage will pull the enemy towards you and continuosly give them health). There's also an "External Velocity Scale" variable, but I think it only governs how a monster reacts when hit with explosion splash damage.


I'm pretty sure the knockback is determined by a combination of:

  • The amount of damage dealt by the projectile, and;
  • The Damage Type specified in the Physics file (e.g. the Pfhor Staff shot has 'Electrical Staff' specified as its default Damage Type).

Think of it this way; by default, the Fusion Bolt and the Pfhor Projectile (what orange and blue Fighters shoot at range) deal a very similar amount of damage, but it's very obvious that the Pfhor Projectile has a much higher knockback - I'm pretty sure that in the past, when I was messing around with the Physics files, changing the Damage Type changed the extent of the knockback even when leaving the amount of damage untouched.

So, my guess is that there should be some way to change the amount of knockback for each Damage Type using an MML script. Keep in mind, though, that this will likely effect both the knockback from Pfhor Fighter attacks as well as from your own electric staff (assuming you use the same damage type for both).
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PerseusSpartacus
Somewhere in the 19th Century...

Post Apr 28th '18, 21:54

Ah yes, I'd forgotten about that. The Staff projectile especially seems to have an unusually high knock back. Does anyone know which damage types affect knockback in what ways?
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philtron

Post Apr 29th '18, 00:49

Default values are in monsters.cpp:
Spoiler:
Code: Select all
// How much external velocity is imparted by some damage?
struct damage_kick_definition
{
   short base_value;
   float delta_vitality_multiplier;
   bool is_also_vertical;

   // if non-zero, will enable vertical_component if
   // delta_vitality is greater than threshold
   short vertical_threshold;

   // whether monsters die a hard death, or in flames
   short death_action;
};

/* ---------- definitions */

// LP: implements commented-out damage-kick code
struct damage_kick_definition damage_kick_definitions[NUMBER_OF_DAMAGE_TYPES] =
{
   {0, 1, true, 0, _monster_is_dying_hard}, // _damage_explosion,
   {0, 3, true, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_electrical_staff,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_projectile,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_absorbed,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_flaming}, // _damage_flame,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_hound_claws,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_flaming}, // _damage_alien_projectile,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_hulk_slap,
   {0, 3, true, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_compiler_bolt,
   {0, 0, false, 100, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_fusion_bolt,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_hunter_bolt,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_fist,
   {250, 0, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_teleporter,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_defender,
   {0, 3, true, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_yeti_claws,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_yeti_projectile,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_hard}, // _damage_crushing,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_flaming}, // _damage_lava,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_suffocation,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_goo,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_energy_drain,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_oxygen_drain,
   {0, 1, false, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft}, // _damage_hummer_bolt,
   {0, 0, true, 0, _monster_is_dying_soft} // _damage_shotgun_projectile,
};
And are explained a little better & configureable via MML, here.

TLDR? IIUC:

Explosion, Electrical Staff, Compiler Bolt, and Yeti Claws all have vertical components to their kick. So does shotgun, but the multiplier is 0 so, no?

Electrical Staff, Compiler Bolt, and Yeti Claws additionally send you flying 3x faster than normal.

Shotgun and especially Fusion will *not* send you flying

Teleporter always sends you flying a constant amount.
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ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Apr 29th '18, 02:41

I am very close to certain that the "Alien" flag does not apply to player shots, otherwise the M2 alien gun would also scale with difficulty, which it definitely does not.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Apr 29th '18, 16:37

philtron wrote:
The Man wrote:(I don’t know if this was intentional on Bungie’s part; as I understand it, any projectile that deals an odd number of damage is considered an alien projectile, while anything that deals an even number of damage is considered, for lack of a suitable antonym, not-alien

I've never heard of this. And as far as I know, player weapons do not scale up with difficulty level.

It doesn’t make sense to me, either. It could, however, be a bug in Anvil rather than a feature in the Marathon engine. In any case, I distinctly remember odd-numbered damage levels being associated with the “alien” flag – either when I changed a projectile to “alien” and reloaded it, it would end up with odd-numbered damage even if I’d specified an even number, or else when I changed a projectile to an odd number of damage, it would end up flagged as “alien” regardless of whether I’d flagged it that way. Or both. IDK. It’s been awhile. But, as I said, this could’ve been a bug in Anvil – and possibly only in the later version numbers, which would explain why I hadn’t noticed it earlier.

but while I’ve altered the enemy Bobs to have the “alien” flag

Just remember that there are two "alien" flags. One for shots (which alters damage of projectile) and one for monsters (which alters health of monsters).

Yep. I can see why this would be confusing to n00bs, but I remember it. (It also alters how frequently the monsters attack and, I think, even their speed.)

Perseus and raven: thanks for the info; that should save me a lot of work. Does anyone know offhand if changing, say, the behaviour of “suffocation” damage type will alter any existing aspects of the engine? As far as I remember, I didn’t use it at all previously, and I’d prefer to make it so that my old films will no longer behave differently. But, of course, if that alters the way the player suffocates, it’s probably worth leaving alone. (Also, if players who kill each other with their staffs in network play would end up dying with the “suffocation” sound, probably not worth bothering with.) Maybe I should just alter the hound claws or something; I don’t recall using those at all. (Actually, I don’t even recall them existing when I worked on the game; were they added for AO?) Ideally I’d like the player staff and the Pfhor staff to have different damage types so that the Pfhor staff has a much larger kickback than the player staff.

Of course, if I need to alter the scripts in a way that changes gameplay of existing recordings, I can probably just save the old stuff in a different folder, so I guess it’s not a big deal either.

RyokoTK wrote:I am very close to certain that the "Alien" flag does not apply to player shots, otherwise the M2 alien gun would also scale with difficulty, which it definitely does not.

Are you sure about this? I thought that was its whole thing; it would be more useful on harder settings, because you were using the Pfhor’s own weaponry against them. It feels more useful to me on TC than it does on nonexistent difficulty settings, but I might just be imagining that. I’m sure TL or one of the other developers can answer this for certain though.
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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Apr 29th '18, 17:38

If you want the same fader with less of a kick, use "Hulk Slap" for your player-generated projectile. Apologies if I have no idea what you're doing, haven't had time to sit and read all that. Just answering things I see as I skim through.

There are three alien flags. One for shot speed, one for damage reduction on easy and wuss (damage is not raised for MD & TC), and one for monster vitality, speed, frequency, & repetitions. I went over the specifics somewhere on the latest page of the Redux thread.

Also, player shots DO have alien effects applied if used.
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ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Apr 29th '18, 20:27

Thanks for the info. I thought the alien guns seemed less powerful on the lowest (non-existent) difficulty settings; glad to know I wasn’t imagining it. (Was going to ask about algorithms but it looks like you already posted them in the M1R thread under a spoiler tag.) I’ll have to go in with a physics editor and see if any of the player’s other shots had the alien flag applied in the default physics for the original games or if this was something Anvil messed up during the creation process.

I don’t remember the shot speed setting at all. Learn something new every day.

I do use hulks in the scenario and I think they deal hulk slap damage with their melee attacks, but like I said, I’m almost certain I didn’t use hound claws, so I’ll probably just use those.
User avatar

The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Apr 29th '18, 23:09

I guess, if you want player staves to send enemies flying slightly and Hulk slaps to not send enemies flying at all, then yeah you'd need to use an unused slot like Claws, set vetical component to "true," change the fader, and set the multiplier to 1 or 2.

You probably don't remember speed setting because it's not mentioned anywhere that I know of, and Hackvil straight up gives you the wrong information in it's contextual help. I found it out by running a search in Kate through the source code for every instance of "wuss" (internal code for kindergarten) and "total_carnage"

Some testing confirms the odd-numbered damage thing is either an Anvil or M2/∞ bug. A1 respects the alien damage setting when set or not by ShapeFusion regardless of whether the damage is odd or even.
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ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Apr 30th '18, 07:55

Thanks again.

That makes sense; Anvil’s help was… not always comprehensible. Which option was alien speed, but mislabelled as something else?

Also, good to know about the odd-numbered damage thing – I can probably fix that for Chronicles going forward. I wonder if the default M2 physics and the models merged in with Blood Tides had that issue with the AR bullets (and whatever else – the flechette perhaps?).


Next, a couple of probably dumb questions, but I’m a bit of a n00b at compiling on a Mac. I finally went ahead and downloaded Mono 2.10.whatever since that seems to be the last version recommended with Weland, and of course I downloaded Weland as well. First off, I’ve installed Mono. I think. But I can’t find it in my applications folder, even when I sort by date. (Mac OS X Yosemite.) Does it install itself in some unintuitive folder or under some unintuitive name?

Secondly, when I get Mono running will I just have to compile the whole Weland folder or is there some specific set of steps I should use? None of this appears to be mentioned in the documentation for Weland – it just says “download the Mono runtime, which contains everything you need”.

I have limited experience compiling software, particularly on Mac OS X. I’ll presumably be getting more of it over the next few years as I’m finishing up an IT degree (I’m about 7/8 done already, but due to personal reasons it may be awhile until I’m completely done), but for the time being, this process is pretty impenetrable to me.

In any case, once I get Weland running, I’ll try to have a playable demo in a week or so. I may also have a few MML questions if I still can’t figure out what I’ve done wrong after taking a second look at the script I’ve written tomorrow.

For now, I have a few more videos:


Newer version of “Here Comes the Flood” that’s populated with enemies throughout. Turns out that the last room is easier than I thought to clear out with the shotgun. Because I didn’t expect to win this level, I spent a long time dicking around and indulging my borderline OCD with completing as much of the automap as possible, so feel free to skip the boring bits I spent doing that. (This level also reveals that green hunters berserk in this scenario. I felt this was a necessary concession because they have about three or four times more health than the M2/∞ variants, and around three or four of their projectiles will kill a player with 1x shields on Normal or above. Major Enforcers also berserk. Three of their projectiles will kill a player with 1x shields on said difficulties; I learned this the hard way in my first few attempts of the next level.)


The Black Angel’s Death Song – a level that proves that RyokoTK isn’t the only mapmaker I’ve shamelessly ripped off; this one looks almost exactly like a James Hastings-Trew outtake from Tempus Irae. I almost feel I should give him a co-credit for this one because some of the sections are so similar to “Gates of Delirium”. It doesn’t make as much sense overall, though; there are a few portions where, looking at the level as a much older human, I simply can’t imagine why any human would’ve constructed a structure like the one in this level in real life.

I intended to show all secrets, but I forgot about one in the area with the ledge. There’s a box catty-corner from the platform; if you stand on it, a 3x recharger will teleport in at the level of the ledge above it. There’s also a bit of cartographic OCD here, though nowhere near as much as much as in the previous video, and once again, I take advantage of berserked Hunters.

(Named after a Velvet Underground song. Evidently they got fired from one of their gigs for playing it too often because the audiences found it so cacophonous. I find it absolutely beautiful, which probably goes some way to showing how twisted my tastes in music are.)


Idioteque - this is one of the levels that, if I keep it, will need a lot of work. Some of the time I think I should just delete about half of it, then try to work the segments that don’t suck into new levels based around those segments. It doesn’t help that about half of it has no enemies at all, but overall it doesn’t make much sense why a structure like this would even be built, even if we allow “they’re aliens” as a reason.

On the other hand, the bits that have enemies are a lot of fun, and maybe that should override other concerns.

(Named after a Radiohead song, though you probably already knew that.)


Illegitimi non carborundum - Another level that makes zero sense from a “why would anyone build this structure?” standpoint but is a hell of a lot of fun to play. I think this may actually have been the very first Marathon level I started building. To indicate how little I cared about realism when I started this, almost all the walls were space textured and at one point you had to find a connecting passage that also had space textured floor and ceiling. Thankfully I grew out of that kind of bizarre thinking, but probably not before making about a dozen other maps with that mindset (probably all now lost to the mists of time).

There are a number of secrets here that make as little sense as the rest of the level. And this particular playthrough probably reveals more than any other I’ve posted so far how dangerous Chronicles’ fighters can be on TC. There’s a point at about 7:18 into the video where one fighter pins me to a wall with a stream of projectiles and manages to take me from about 2.2x health to about .2x health before I finally manage to get things slightly in hand. This takes all of about five or six seconds, mind you.

This level title is dog Latin for “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”, though I misspelled it with “Illigitimi” in the version posted here. According to Wikipedia, the proper Latin would actually be “Noli pati a scelestis opprimi”. I think, rather than correcting the spelling, I’ll switch it to the correct Latin, even though it’s much less well known than the dog Latin.


(All of these except “Idioteque” were done earlier tonight.)
User avatar

The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Apr 30th '18, 08:32

Glad to help. Answering your questions helps me figure out my own project.

The one for shot speed is in the long list of flags, it simply says "Alien" in ShapeFusion.

Mono isn't really something you "run" AFAIK, it just lives on your system and makes it so you can compile or run things that use it. Go to the weland directory and just type "make" (no need for configure or autogen apparently) and it should spit out a weland.exe file that isn't actually a windows exe file, which you can rename to somewhere convenient such as /usr/local/bin/weland
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ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Apr 30th '18, 13:24

You don't need to compile Weland, it's already packaged as a Mac application. After you install Mono, just open the Weland application.
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treellama
Pittsburgh

Post Apr 30th '18, 18:42

That’s apparently the problem. I don’t see anything in the folder that’s obviously an app. I think I just downloaded whatever the latest version on Github was; is there a separate download for the Mac application?

(I answered my own MML question; I’d forgotten to close the liquid “sound” tag. From now on, liquids should play sensible sounds. I probably won’t bother re-encoding previous videos, though.)
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

Fool's Gold · Last.fm · Marathon Chronicles · YouTube Vidmaster’s Challenge
User avatar

The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Apr 30th '18, 19:30

You got the Mac version right?

https://github.com/treellama/weland/releases

There's a Weland.app inside.
User avatar

treellama
Pittsburgh

Post Apr 30th '18, 19:55

That seems to be really common these days. People end up downloading the source code instead of the binaries from github. I'm not really sure how or why.
User avatar

Wrkncacnter

Post Apr 30th '18, 20:01

The source code says "Source Code" though.
User avatar

treellama
Pittsburgh

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