Marathon Chronicles

Discuss and unveil current Marathon projects.

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Post Sep 12th '18, 05:39

Ah, right. I’ll see if I can figure out another way to make it make sense for Achilles to be an inciting factor there. It does seem possible that if the W’rkncacnter are mad Jjaro, and the Jjaro are essentially advanced humans, then it would be difficult for such a weapon to distinguish between them. But of course, there wouldn’t be any specific reason for Achilles to be the vector used in such a case.

Anyhow, here’s the latest alpha.

https://www11.zippyshare.com/v/izUVlXjH/file.html

Complete graphical overhaul throughout. Almost every texture that appeared in M2/∞ is now the version that ships with the current version of A1. Moreover, in cases where there weren’t bump-mapping, I’ve usually created it. (The main exceptions are control panels.) I’ve also brought in HD versions of almost all the Tempus and Rubicon textures that didn’t already have them. A few exceptions:

  • Collection 5, textures 114, 120, and 124 – I couldn’t locate these in the Rubicon X shapes file. It’s possible they were in the original version but were not included in Rubicon X. (It appears that the standard definition textures in Rubicon X’s shapes file were overhauled to match the HD versions; thus, none of the SD textures in Rubicon X match the textures in the original Rubicon.)

  • Collection 3, texture 111 – I just kind of like the original version more. I’m not sure I actually used this in the current Chronicles map anyway.

Additionally, a few don’t seem to load the HD versions for some reason. If someone can troubleshoot this for me, I’d appreciate it. These include collection 3, textures 24, 61, and 64. I’ve checked the MML and it seems to be right. If you notice any others that clearly aren’t loading the HD versions, let me know so I can look at them.

Beyond that, the last three textures in collection 4 show up blank. I can’t figure out why. There are just as many textures in collection 1 and it loads fine.

Most of the textures, I think, look better with bump mapping, even though a lot of them are just quick and dirty versions I made, but there are a few that definitely could use some sprucing up.

The following other textures also don’t have HD versions:

  • Water collection, textures 36, 46, and 48, and Pfhor collection, texture 37: I created the SD versions with Photoshop’s “Lighting Effects” filter, but for some reason, it crashes when I try to modify the light placement. If someone can remake them from the .dds files, I’d appreciate it. I made an HD version of water 48 a long time ago, but it’s obviously not Goran’s latest version, so it looks out of place.

  • Water collection, textures 49, 50, and 88: These were from the M2 demo, and thus I’m not aware of any existing HD versions. I don’t possess the artistic skill to make them myself. Again, if someone can make replicas, I’d appreciate it.

  • Water collection, texture 125: same deal, except it was from Marathon Evil, which also doesn’t have HD textures.

  • Earth collection, texture 28: I think some of this comes from Evil and most of it comes from Rubicon. I can probably do a half-decent upscaling of the Evil part, but the big problem is that it uses Bank Gothic for the “Alert” bit, and I no longer have it.

  • Earth collection, texture 100: Same deal as the M2 demo/Evil textures, except this was from Megiddo Game.

  • Earth collection, textures 102-110: I made these myself awhile back, and simply haven’t bothered remaking them. TBH I don’t know if 102 and 110 are even still used in the scenario so they’re probably not important. (Again, though, I don’t have Modula Tall and Bank Gothic for texture 102). 103-109 are used in “Everyone I Went to High School With Is Dead”, and I haven’t figured out how to remake them.

  • Pfhor collection, texture 72, and Jjaro collection, texture 123: Just been too lazy to remake these. I might get them this weekend.

  • Pfhor collection, texture 73: Again, I haven’t got Bank Gothic installed.
I think all of the others should have HD variants, but there may be one or two others I didn’t list.

I’m probably going to re-render my latest film of each level with the new shapes, but I won’t bother with all the old ones.
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 Sep 12th '18, 07:10

In my interpretation, the W'rk are mad Jjaro in the stage-3 sense of "Jjaro": they are beings with access to the Outside, who do not respect the Jjaro's edicts about not fucking with the course of history. Only stage 1 Jjaro were advanced humans; their creations were the core of stage 2 but that stage also incorporated intelligences of non-human origin; and then all of those were the core of stage 3 but that stage also incorporated transdimensional beings from who knows where. Out there in the Outside are still more transdimensional beings of all manner of origin, and those who go against the Jjaro master plan for time they call W'rkncacnter.

The one at Earth, being fought in Eternal chapter 5, is almost certainly not of human origin.
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Pfhorrest
California

Post Sep 13th '18, 01:18

I think I was confused how you’d defined the W’rkncacnter because you’d said Hathor became one, and she seems like stage 2 Jjaro at furthest. I must still not be clear on some of the details. I really need to print out all the terminals from both Eternal and Rubicon and read them properly outside the context of the games. I’ll probably work on that next week.

I think I do still see a way to work in Achilles, though. Perhaps what the Sphere intended to do could have been an attack specifically engineered to target the W’rkncacnter, but somehow a failure point was infiltrated and the attack it ended up delivering was actually Achilles. (There is no such thing as a fully secure information system; even if we hypothesise a completely secure encryption mode, it is still vulnerable to user errors if nothing else.) Not the version Dangi unleashed in the Pfhor plank; the hyper-powered version Lysander was planning to unleash before the Dangi Board of Directors shut him down. Moreover, Lysander could’ve been understating its potency; he reasoned that if humanity had been as abusive to him as Dangi was, no organic life forms were trustworthy, so he engineered it to wipe all of them out.

Again, I’m not fully sure this works – some details might have to be finessed a bit to get it to work. But I think it might actually tie up loose ends in both stories. The Salinger plank has the Chekhov’s gun of knowledge about Achilles that never actually fires. Meanwhile, the specific mechanism by which the Sphere inadvertently wipes out all organic life seems to be unexplained in Eternal. It could still be left unclear whether it’s malice, outside attack, or incompetence that causes the outcome – this might be something I’d try to explore in Chronicles.

But again, I’m not sure it’s possible to connect all these dots into a coherent picture with the existing outlines that have already been drawn. I don’t recall some of the specific details so well, so if some specific aspects need changing, I’m still open to suggestions.

(Of course, this outline does suggest that Tycho was right – the only safe outcome for humanity was eradicating all knowledge of Achilles. I thought that was pretty obvious, but it does still seem to be widely debated in some corners of the community.)

§

Unrelated to that, specifically on the topic of bump maps, I feel it’s probably worth bringing in some of the information from the current page of the Eternal thread. Some of the current ones I’ve used are very crude placeholders that I intend to replace with proper ones later on, but if other people have the knowledge, time, and most importantly, artistic ability to make them, I think it would be a highly worthwhile use of time. Since most of the current textures are drawn specifically from M2, M∞, Rubicon, or Tempus Irae – scenarios that don’t currently have bump mapped textures (apart from the water and lava collections in M∞) – they wouldn’t be useful merely here. A lot of textures that might benefit from glow maps are also currently missing them. If it would be helpful to have .png versions of all the textures that need proper bump/glow maps, I can make a separate .zip for them later this month.

The brief explanation is that to generate a proper bump map, the recessed areas should be black and the extrusions should be white, while the in-between areas, of course, should be appropriate shades of grey. In a lot of cases this isn’t radically different from greyscale versions of the actual textures, since recesses tend to have shadows in them, but it doesn’t work like that for every texture. (There are quite a few textures in which you can probably use about three quarters of the texture without changes, but have to, roughly, invert two of the four borders of bricks and the like.) I have rudimentary artistic ability at best, but I do have basic competence in Photoshop, so I can probably do a lot of them myself, but it will be a lot more time-consuming for me than it would be for someone with actual artistic skill to do them.

I don’t fully understand glow maps yet, so that might be a topic better explained by someone who does.

Of course, there’s also the matter of creating textures for K’lia, Tau Ceti, and Antichthon (Jjaro homeworld), which should perhaps be an even higher priority. I definitely lack the ability to do most of those.
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 Sep 13th '18, 02:14

Regarding Hathor: once she commandeers a Jjaro dreadnaught with its own Cybernetic Junction. she crosses the threshold to stage 3, having now unlimited access to space and time and beyond md the means to do things in it herself. She’s still juat a baby W’rk, but that’s how I interpret all W’rk to have originated.
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Pfhorrest
California

Post Sep 13th '18, 02:27

Sounds reasonable. I’m much too tired right now to figure out how that works into my planned outline, but I think the Achilles switcheroo could perhaps be made to work with that definition of the W’rk.
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 Sep 13th '18, 09:17

Off-topic, I've been pondering the exact mechanics behind Durandal coming back as Platina. Sort of, because the only concrete thing I have in mind at the moment is that it's not mundane (and perhaps Durandal's crew gave him a proper burial on an isolated planet, to very heavily rule out "someone just tried to reactivate him and it didn't work as intended").

Could Thoth have something to do with it? Sort of a parallel to/alternate take on/whatever of him and Durandal fusing near the end of Infinity; his motivations go beyond "we might have to fuse in this timeline" but, being Thoth, this isn't obvious at first. (Maybe Platina furiously calling him out would speed things along)

--

Off-topic to my off-topic post, I was thinking of Yrro being the avatar of certain ideas and my brain jumped to "Tycho claiming to be doubt itself in "Bagged Again", depending on how you read that sentence". Which he might still believe when he joins the resistance, but in a thoroughly burnt-out manner. Marcus still thinks he's being pretentious.
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General-RADIX

Post Sep 13th '18, 18:55

I like those ideas. I also like the idea of there being some sort of bleedthrough between timelines. IIRC there’s something in Infinity implying that stopping the W’rkncacnter in Lh’owon’s sun in the successful timeline somehow saved the others, so it’s not entirely unprecedented in the setting. I don’t remember the specifics, unfortunately.

In any case, I like the idea that knowledge Thoth acquires in one timeline somehow bleeds through over into others. This could be written in as being a result of the player’s actions in chapter three of Eternal, though, so I’m not even sure how necessary it is.

I also like the idea of using Tycho as the avatar of doubt. His phrasing in “Bagged Again” already somewhat implies that, and he’s certainly written in Rubicon as, essentially, the voice of scepticism. I’ll probably keep writing him that way in Chronicles.

My specific idea for Yrro was to write him as, essentially, the avatar of direct democracy in its purest form – or, put another way, the opposite of hierarchy. I haven’t written out my analysis of representative democracy versus direct democracy, but I intend get to it someday soon. My conception of Yrro stands in for the idea of horizontal organisation, where everyone has a say in things that affect them. Pharos would stand in for the idea of top-down control, seen in its most extreme forms in, among other things, autocracies and the modern corporation. I can, as I said, elaborate on this further at some point within the next few days, but I’ll have more things to do pretty soon, and I’m still pretty tired.

I think I might want to do this without turning Pharos into a one-dimensional villain, however. I think we’d discussed the idea of having him being subconsciously manipulated by some other force, but I don’t remember the exact specifics. I like the idea of having the ultimate flaw being the idea itself. He’s so consumed with his ideology that he’s unable to consider reality objectively. There’s a very memorable image at the very beginning of Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell that has stuck with me over a decade after I last read the book:

You watch an ant in a meadow, laboriously climbing up a blade of grass, higher and higher until it falls, then climbs again, and again, like Sisyphus rolling his rock, always striving to reach the top. Why is the ant doing this? What benefit is it seeking for itself in this strenuous and unlikely activity? Wrong question, as it turns out. No biological benefit accrues to the ant. It is not trying to get a better view of the territory or seeking food or showing off to a potential mate, for instance. Its brain has been commandeered by a tiny parasite, a lancet fluke (Dicrocelium dendriticum), that needs to get itself into the stomach of a sheep or a cow in order to complete its reproductive cycle. This little brain worm is driving the ant into position to benefit its progeny, not the ant’s. This is not an isolated phenomenon. Similarly manipulative parasites infect fish, and mice, among other species. These hitchhikers cause their hosts to behave in unlikely—even suicidal—ways, all for the benefit of the guest, not the host.

Does anything like this ever happen with human beings? Yes indeed. We often find human beings setting aside their personal interests, their health, their chances to have children, and devoting their entire lives to furthering the interests of an idea that has lodged in their brains. The Arabic word islam means “submission,” and every good Muslim bears witness, prays five times a day, gives alms, fasts during Ramadan, and tries to make the pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca, all on behalf of the idea of Allah, and Muhammad, the messenger of Allah. Christians and Jews do, likewise, of course, devoting their lives to spreading the Word, making huge sacrifices, suffering bravely, risking their lives for an idea. So do Sikhs and Hindus and Buddhists. And don’t forget the many thousands of secular humanists who have given their lives for Democracy, or Justice, or just plain Truth. There are many ideas to die for.

Our ability to devote our lives to something we deem more important than our own personal welfare—or our own biological imperative to have offspring—is one of the things that set us aside from the rest of the animal world.

I’ve avoided excerpting the whole intro so as to stay within the bounds of fair use, but he elaborates further in the next several paragraphs, including an explanation that the lancet fluke is no more sentient than an idea. This image might be part of the reason I’ve wanted to write a story where ideas have physical power within the setting for so long, though I think I’m also influenced by Pratchett and Gaiman’s treatments of gods in, respectively, Small Gods and American Gods (for those who haven’t read them, the gods in their settings derive physical power from humans’ belief).

At the same time, I’d probably want to contrast Pharos with another character who would essentially be representative of the worst impulses of humanity, as a commentary on why top-down control is innately susceptible to abuses of power. I don’t want to turn the story into too much of a period piece by making it directly mirror our current politics, but I suspect some similarities will be unavoidable. I may also mix and match pieces of other historical settings and events, perhaps including the Spanish Civil War, the Kronstadt rebellion, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the Free Territory of Ukraine, and Weimar Germany.

I’ll probably have more to say later.
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 Sep 21st '18, 00:27

Oof. No updates in a week, apparently, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been idle. Far from it; I’ve been so busy tweaking things that I forgot to make any posts in this thread.

Perhaps most importantly: New level. I’m not finished with it yet, but I think I like where it’s going. It’s certainly strange, though.

Cel din urmă vis

It’s sort of a trippier dream level counterpart to “Return to Yggdrasill” in some ways. I think I intend “Yggdrasill” to be a sort of link between the player’s dream world and the ‘real’ world, such as it is. This is straight from the player’s subconscious during a major break to their sanity. If play-testers have too much trouble getting the hang of this texturing approach, I can rethink it, but I think it should probably be fine. It probably won’t work well in software mode, though, at least with the original 256-color landscapes. I may have to re-render those.

I’d also been in the process of re-rendering a lot of my most recent videos, due to the graphical updates I’d made, but I abandoned that as I realised I was going to have to make more updates. It turns out that I’d been using the 512x512 versions of the Freeverse M2 textures for ages, and there are 1024x1024 variants. So I put all those in. Tim Vogel’s old tower landscapes have been pushed out of the main shapes for the time being, though I still intend to find a place for them in a few levels. I’ll either need to rejigger the landscapes or add a new frame to at least three collections. There are a handful of other texture changes I neglected to document and don’t recall. I’ve also thrown in a few HD textures of M2 control panels, which I haven’t yet pushed out to the masses yet. As a result, if you merge the map from Github right now, a couple levels won’t have HD control panels (“Transport Is Arranged” and “Ys”, I think; maybe also “Wheeling Hubcap Factory”, which uses the Jjaro control panels, but I think I already had those in the last alpha). I don’t think anything will crash, though.

I’ve also added under-media fog to a lot of levels. I’m probably going to change the scripts in a few cases; they look weird with landscape textures, but if I darken them, they probably won’t look so bad. I think I’ll end up doing text resources for MML scripts soon enough, since I’ve ended up reusing several scripts in several levels. Of course, doing that means a nightmare of keeping track of which script corresponds to which ID rather than a nightmare of pushing changes out into several files.

I also want to make note of this specific video of “Return to Yggdrasill”. Very notably, I did not make a single change to the level between this and the previous video. It’s all bump mapping. That’s probably the main reason I feel inclined to leave in those crude bump maps. The lighting just looks so much cooler.

Anyway, a bunch of changes are up on Github. I may push out another alpha tonight as well. If not tonight, sometime within the next week.

ETA: Latest alpha.
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 Sep 21st '18, 06:04

I really like the visual effects in this level! (And am kinda worried about what caused the mental break leading to it in-universe...)

--

Off-topic, wrt: those Pfhor sprites: don't know if I'll resume working on them tonight since I'm trying to give my drawing hand a break, but I do have all the greens laid down and have started shading them. Paused work to do some personal stuff, now my wrist is kinda sore.

Also been thinking some more about the Carroll Street Station ghosts and how their conversations with Marcus would factor into the plot/his character development, etc. Not yet 100% sure about how Marcus's encounter with Vince would go, just that their friendship on the Marathon would factor heavily into it. (Context: in Inmortalitas, Vince deliberately didn't socialize with too many folks on the Marathon, with the only exceptions being Volker [briefly], Marcus, and Hathor, all pretty much by chance)

Maybe Vince's role is mainly to provide clarity/moral support? (To contrast with Hathor who might be kinda-sorta supporting Marcus but in a more distant, cryptic manner) Also thinking that he'd be initially found by a row of phone booths, in reference to phone phreaking (Vince is/was a hacker, after all).

Meanwhile with Lysander, I'm thinking that his conversation with Marcus would prematurely end when Marcus brings up Charlie (specifically to call out Lysander for murdering him); Sandy goes quiet for a bit, then turns away and asks if there's somewhere else Marcus needs to be. (I'm writing this with the assumption that ghost!Lysander shows up as an android) Basically getting his guilt across to the player without him discussing it, which I don't think he would do.


...not exactly dev-related, but I came across "Burn my Shadow" by UNKLE recently and was reminded heavily of Chronicles!Marcus.
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General-RADIX

Post Sep 21st '18, 09:23

Thanks!

It’ll probably be related to combat trauma and the like. There’s more to my idea, but I should really be in bed.

Whenever you get the chance to finish the sprites is fine – I know that sort of stuff isn’t always easy to work on.

I’ll think about your story ideas tomorrow as well. I kind of want to start constructing a physical space for Carroll Street Station, but want to hear more of your description before I start just randomly constructing things.
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 Sep 21st '18, 17:01

The Man wrote:I kind of want to start constructing a physical space for Carroll Street Station, but want to hear more of your description before I start just randomly constructing things.


Too tired to be attempting sketches at the moment, so let's see...First and foremost, I imagine CSS as being incredibly dark bordering on pitch-black in most places, with the few working lights being fairly intense, but sickly-artificial (I don't think A1 can do coloured lighting, but I see it as slightly green-tinted).

Most of it's laid out like a normal subway station, or at least it seems that way at first--there are no obvious exits and it just sort of winds on in all directions for eternity, with any concourses only showing complete darkness outside. Trains are present (depending on how many polygons they'd require) and may be Marcus's only means of getting from platform to platform; none of the trains actually work anymore, but dozens of them have been strung together to form safe routes across the rails. If that makes sense.

The terminals all read as if a serial killer (or perhaps the W'rk) overwrote all the actually-useful data with their ramblings, so Marcus could be checking a terminal in a food court and it would list off menu items that are obviously fatal to ingest, or a terminal near a platform describing the various murders that took place there, in more detail than you'd think a cautionary message would require. Basically, he's not going to get anything useful out of them.

Certain transitory/connecting areas in particular stand out from the rest of CSS by looking more ancient/S'pht-y in design; this is where I imagine Hathor would be encountered for the first time, and maybe also the only place that Marcus can actually leave CSS from. (The fact that Hathor is initially hanging around a place like that is meant to imply that she might still be alive after all)

Other areas are architecturally-congruous with the rest of CSS but aren't normally found in subway stations--for example, a morgue. Given that this version of CSS is already (a single aspect of?) the afterlife, whatever's in those body-drawers aren't anything Marcus is familiar with. (While in my mind, Marcus runs into Lysander at the foot of some stairs, for the sake of allusion to the Dangi Corp., maybe the hell morgue is where that meeting would actually take place)

Maybe the controller booth that Strauss has holed up in is found at the end of a blood-spattered hallway, a reference to the awful things he did on Mars and was planning to do on the Marathon.

The sole upside to all of this is that there's no enemies.

That's what I can think of at the moment; I hope it's helpful. (Also, while looking up "metro station" on Wikipedia to make sure I was using the right terms, I came across this impressive bit of architecture, which might be useful for another "what is this doing in CSS" area)
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General-RADIX

Post Sep 21st '18, 20:49

On phone, so I'll again be brief, but that sounds amazing. I'll have to think how you'd make a subway train in Marathon, though. It would probably have to be a rough approximation unless I can replicate stone of Quartz' untextured wall tricks, but I kind of doubt they'd work at that angle. Maybe just use completely pitch black lighting for the ceilings in places so players don't even see them. Definitely sounds like a candidate for a zero miner's light level. More later.
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 Sep 22nd '18, 06:44

A few thoughts.

  • Perhaps this would be a good place to copy the Rubicon balls of light that just float around attacking each other, if only so the level isn’t completely empty. I’ll try to make it so they don’t damage the player, if possible. It’s possible to make their projectiles deal 0 damage, so I’ll probably just do that. I suppose there’s an argument that it’d be even creepier to have the facility completely empty, though. I could also do the Rubicon “troll the player with monsters’ activation sounds as ambient sounds” thing.

  • I’m not sure if the ceilings should be pitch-black with occasional light textures to break up the monotony, or if I should simply put a space texture at the top. I might actually try both and see what I like more.

  • The plan is to have the player visit this structure several times, right? If that’s the case, I think I might use a different line from the same song for each visitation. Off the top of my head, I’m liking the sound of:

    · Parasite Without a Home
    · Tunnels Painted Like Dawn
    · Flesh Made of Stardust
    · Iron Oxide Into Rust
    · Speck of Dust, Drop of Sea
    · Letter to the Night
    · Sightless, Songless, Silent Giant

    I doubt we’ll have the player visit the area seven times, so your feedback on which ones you like most might help me narrow it down a bit.

    (Every single one of these is a line from the Cult of Luna/Julie Christmas song “Cygnus”, though I’ve shortened a couple of them by a word here or there.)

  • What textures were you seeing for CSS? I was thinking of just using the Infinity Jjaro textures to start out, but I’m half-tempted to use the Chimera environment instead, just because it seems utterly perfect for a wrecked underground structure. Of course, if you envision it with unique textures, I can just start laying out the architecture and use temporary textures for the time being, then start worrying about “proper” textures later. One thing I suspect would definitely have to be created specifically for this level is a train track texture. I can probably do the bump map for that myself if you haven’t out how to do those yet, but I doubt I possess the skill to make the actual texture.
I’ll have to piece together my thoughts on the story aspects sometime this weekend. There’s a lot there to digest.
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 Sep 22nd '18, 07:44

* Rubicon balls of light (at least for certain areas?) sounds good; maybe the player doesn't encounter them right away (ex. "Science Stands Alone") and so might think they're in a real-world level at first?

* Of the proposed level titles, I think I like "Parasite Without a Home" (sounds a lot like Strauss to me), "Iron Oxide into Rust", "Speck of Dust, Drop of Sea", and "Sightless, Songless, Silent Giant" the most.

* wrt: textures, I didn't have a specific set in mind, but Chimera sounds like a decent fit (CSS in my mind is meant to look pretty grungy, and the Chimera environment feels more like that than the Jjaro set, IMO).
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General-RADIX

Post Sep 22nd '18, 19:13

Regarding the balls of light, that’s a good idea. I can probably just set a monster trigger polygon at some point in the level and have them all teleport in where the player can’t see them. Either that or use the Phoenix trick of having platforms that open after the player passes a certain point of the level.

For names, I think I’ll go with “Parasite Without a Home”, “Flesh Made of Stardust”, “Speck of Dust, Drop of Sea”, “Sightless, Songless, Silent Giant”, and “Letter to the Night”. I was planning to have five visits to correspond with the five “Slaughterhouse” levels. (Those last two titles are repeated about two dozen times in the song, so I think their appearance as level titles is pretty much non-negotiable. “Tunnels Painted Like Dawn” also appears that often, but I suspect it wouldn’t be as appropriate for the setting, since I’m planning for a lot of it to be completely pitch-black, with only occasional lit areas. That said, if I were to take a level title from each line of the chorus, there would be four: “Her Withered Song”, “Tunnels Painted Like Dawn”, “Letter to the Night”, and “Sightless, Songless, Silent Giant”.)

The grunginess of the Chimera textures was exactly why I suggested them. I still need to figure out something for the tracks. I suppose I could just create them manually with polygons, but they’d add up quickly and duplicating that exact same pattern so many times would get old fast. I might just be able to cobble together something quick ’n’ dirty from existing textures in Photoshop until someone with actual artistic skill can make a proper version.

I’m also thinking the player will visit individual portions of the station the first few times, and then the final visit will make it possible to explore the whole area. Maybe there will be actual enemies during the final visit as well; I haven’t decided.


…BTW, what did you do with “Save for Web” to get the output to conform to Marathon’s colour tables? I suspect I can generate much better-looking bitmaps of the landscape textures that way, but I need it to use the right colour table.


…So, for inspiration, I’m looking at pictures of actual subway stations, especially the actual Carroll Street Station in New York. I think I can make a lot of this work with the existing Chimera textures, but there are a couple of textures I’ll definitely need beyond the train tracks themselves. I’ll probably need custom textures for the trains themselves as well – especially the front and the rear sides. I assume we’re not going to bother showing the exterior – which might not be possible to replicate convincingly in Marathon either way – but I don’t know if textures that could convincingly be used for the front of a train currently exist in Marathon. Perhaps there should also be wall textures that read “Carroll Street”.

I think I probably can build a fair amount already, though. We should perhaps keep in mind that it won’t be possible for the train to move, but that seems to be fine with the above ideas. I don’t expect to be able to get to any of this today, since I’ve got some work I need to get to over the next few days, but hopefully I can start working on it on Tuesday or Wednesday (along with finishing off the stuff I’m doing for the Eternal levels I’m working on).
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 Sep 23rd '18, 04:56

The Man wrote:…BTW, what did you do with “Save for Web” to get the output to conform to Marathon’s colour tables? I suspect I can generate much better-looking bitmaps of the landscape textures that way, but I need it to use the right colour table.


In the "Save for Web" dialogue box, there's an arrow near the colour table and image size areas; clicking that will bring up the colour palette menu, from which you can load a pre-existing CLUT (might take some effort if your version of PS doesn't like looking outside of its own folders for it).

Admittedly, I'm not quite as confident in my texture-making abilities as in my other art-related skills, but I'll see what I can do after getting a chance to look around the level. (Or would it be easier to try and make something now?)
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General-RADIX

Post Sep 23rd '18, 06:34

I’m probably not going to have time to work on the level this weekend, particularly given the Eternal stuff I’ve been working on, so if you have time to start making textures, that’d be wonderful. The textures you submitted to the Eternal thread were great even if some/all of them wound up being superfluous, so you haven’t got anything to worry about.

I don’t seem to have that option in my version of Photoshop. It’s either an old version of the program or the option simply isn’t available in Elements. Oh well.
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 Sep 23rd '18, 16:54

Thought I'd give an update on my personal playthrough. I have made it to Biblical Candy Machines, but I seem to be lost at the moment so I am currently taking a break. I think I would have been further along if my power hadn't gone out thanks to a certain natural disaster. I am enjoying my playthrough and I particularly like the inclusion of many different items, enemies, etc from various Marathon scenarios. I can't comment on the story though, as from my understanding it takes place after both Eternal and Rubicon, both of which I have not beaten yet.

PS. There's a terminal on Biblical Candy Machines which shows a picture of the level, but the picture has the original Jjaro textures. It's only a small nitpick but I figured it was worth mentioning while I remembered
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Flowers

Post Sep 23rd '18, 18:15

Glad you’re enjoying it! Yeah, I need to update a lot of those terminal graphics. The thing is that I’ve changed the textures so many times that I figure I’ll wait until I’m sure I won’t update them again before I bring the images up to date to match. I can probably replace the images for levels using the M∞ Water and Lava sets, because I’m unlikely to update Goran’s bump-mapped versions again, but I’m likely to update the bump maps for pretty much every other texture set, and some of them (Rubicon and Tempus textures, mostly) may end up being replaced with higher-res renders if I can obtain them (IDK if the creators rendered them in anything higher than 256x256; I’ll have to ask them). Once I’ve done that, I’ll bring the terminal images up to date.

And if you’re lost in “Biblical Candy Machines”, I think my new segments must have recaptured the atmosphere of “Ne cede malis” perfectly. [MTongue]

You should be warned that the game’s about to get quite a bit more difficult starting on the next level. The sharp jump in difficulty is intentional, as I didn’t want every level to be super hard, and in fact you’ll still have some breather levels, but this was the point where I wanted things to get real.

Are you OK? That storm was serious.

And I would recommend beating Eternal and Rubicon when you have the time; they’re two of the best scenarios story-wise and, since Eternal 1.2 at least, gameplay-wise. Of course, Eternal 1.2 isn’t done yet, and a lot of it is going to be radically different when it is, so you’re probably best off waiting until 2019 for that one. Lack of story comments is fine, since a lot of the story for Chronicles isn’t even written yet.
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 Sep 23rd '18, 21:47

So, got two out of three current items checked off the list (the tracks, and the CSS logo). Gonna have to figure out what the trains look like; will probably work on that tomorrow.

The track textures were done completely from scratch; the logo is overlaid on the same Rubicon textures that the big yellow "UESC CHIMERA" is shown on. (BTW, Tharsis is a real region on Mars that, in Inmortalitas, the ten surviving second-gen battleroids lived and were abducted in)
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General-RADIX

Post Sep 23rd '18, 22:07

Thanks for these; they look goddamn amazing. I hadn’t thought of using two rows of textures for the train tracks; that’s much better than what I’d have done. I’ll have to make 90° rotated versions as well, but that should be nothing at all.

If you feel like making bump map indices for these as well when you get a chance, it’d probably be fairly easy; raised areas should be lighter, and recesses should be darker. TBH you probably barely even need to modify these specific ones, apart from converting them to grayscale and modifying the lettering on the logo. Some of the other Chimera textures would probably require more work for proper bump maps, though. I’ll do the actual work of converting them to .dds format in Aorta.
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 Sep 23rd '18, 23:12

You're welcome! ^^ I might see about making indices after getting the train stuff done.
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General-RADIX

Post Sep 24th '18, 01:19

Sounds good. Whenever you get time is great. You might also be able to do better 256-color, 128x128-pixel versions of these than I can as well since your Save for Web gives you a lot more options, but I’ll just whip up crude versions for now. I think I’ll put all the Chimera stuff, including your new textures, into the Lava collection, replacing the Tempus textures, which I can just remap to the Sewage set. (I think I only have one map left in the main scenario that still uses the Lava Tempus textures anyway.) We’ll also put the Antichthon stuff in there at some point, of course, but I doubt I’m going to use all 60 or whatever Chimera textures, so it probably won’t be a 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 Sep 24th '18, 01:22

I haven't been following this thread much, but I have seen what you're doing, Radix. Good work, I'm glad you found a place in this project :-)
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ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Sep 24th '18, 11:19

ravenshining wrote:I haven't been following this thread much, but I have seen what you're doing, Radix. Good work, I'm glad you found a place in this project :-)


Thanks. ^^

--

Got the train textures done (at least the front and back ones; if the sides are ever shown, I'm thinking they'd use texture #59 of the Chimera set, plus the normal doors).
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