I will play every level in Rubicon X and comment on them.

For topics about the story, help in a certain level, game discussion, or finding/discussing content.

Post Aug 22nd '09, 02:41

T11: There's No Place Like Up
Of course, this level is the crappy counterpart to Attack of the Wheenies. It's just a continuation of the previous level.

However, where Attack of the Wheenies was a fun little run-from-bad-guys romp, this level is an infinitely frustrating test of patience. The objective, based on the name, is simply to climb; the exit is at the top of this vast Pfhor hive. You start at the bottom. The level is a big jumping puzzle, working your way to the top, as respawning enemies hound you constantly through your climb.

This level is enormous, the architecture is repetitive and the texturing and lighting are uniform. There are no distinguishing features from one area in this map to another. I mention this now because it's important to put this in context: it's far more difficult than it ought to be to even figure out what the ledge to jump to is. Even getting off the floor (where the bulk of the respawning enemies are) is tough; there are several large buildings to choose from but only a couple you can enter.

Even from there, it can be difficult to figure out where to go when you find the right building. Your task for the following pic is to spot the wire panel.



Now, while the infinite horde is trying to get to you and you're desperately looking for where to go, how the hell are you expected to find that wire? It's the little blue-and-black panel above the 3x can. Even if you see the 3x can, you might not notice the wire. It just looks like another blue texture. It took me three or four lives to actually recognize that it was a wire.

From there it's just an irritating climb that takes way too long. This level is long! Even without deaths, this level takes time, patience, and a keen eye for details. So throw in infinite Fighters that bother you while you're near the bottom, infinite Wasps that bother you as you get higher, and Enforcers hiding on ledges around corners to electrocute you long before you could even think to expect them. This level is a hopeless nightmare, and again, another level that might be tolerable on Normal but is so ludicrously difficult and unfair on TC that it makes me wonder if anyone actually bothered to test it.

The respawning enemies thing was a fun gimmick back in Attack of the Wheenies but long overstays its welcome here. Besides this horde of enemies constantly bothering you, there's so much stuff in this level that it just confounds the player. And it all looks the damn same! You have to spend far too much time thinking and looking about the next spot to look at that you just have to allow yourself a death or two to probe the next area. There's no other way! And the path doubles back on itself and continues in these weird unexpected angles. This level gives no quarter whatsoever, as if the game actually wants you to lose.

Interestingly, there's a "secret" shortcut path that's more obvious and sensible than the actual way there. The jump you need to make is no more difficult or obscure than any of the actual jumps, and you get triple health for your troubles!

This level is a gimmick gone way, way wrong.

Level design: 1/5
Aesthetics: 1/5
Memorability: 3/5; this is the level that, if it were done right, would be a quirky and interesting sort of puzzle level.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Aug 22nd '09, 02:54

T12: It's not *my* brain
And it turns out all that messing around in the Pfhor hives was a total waste of time. Tycho finds the tower guarding his clone self... in the middle of some desolate mudflats. Absolutely nowhere near the goddamn hives.

The AI is actually currently held by the UESC, meaning you're now fighting humans. Not AMDDs, though, just the regular loser UESC troopers. This is actually a really well-done level in terms of architecture and aesthetic, though it's also very easy and short. There's not much to say: you climb to the top of the tower, shoot a few UESC troopers and bobs, repeat until you reach the top, then jump down and break a bunch of stuff. The layout of the level is just excellent though, and even though it's small and short, it's intriguing and well laid out. And it's a good breather after the intense difficulty of the previous level.

At the end of the level, an Enforcer teleported in in front of me and electrocuted me. I thought this was a human level! Where the hell did another Enforcer come from? It was a pretty undeserved death, but whatever. Beyond that, it's a trivial level in terms of gameplay but the architecture is excellent.

Level design: 4/5
Aesthetics: 5/5
Memorability: 3/5
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Aug 22nd '09, 03:09

RyokoTK wrote:At the end of the level, an Enforcer teleported in in front of me and electrocuted me. I thought this was a human level! Where the hell did another Enforcer come from?


That made me laugh.
D?rovací tvá?í.

Fobo: I find it hard to keep a sentence down under two paragraphs.
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tehWastedJamacan
SuFu, SD

Post Aug 22nd '09, 03:17

T13: Like home this ain't IV

T14: Bob is everywhere!

Time to take the fight to Durandal. We're finally back onto a semblance of a real plot: Durandal has the remainder of the Dangi scientists (the guys you were supposed to not kill on The Tar and Feather Club), so Tycho wants you to board the Rozinante and kill off the scientists.

This level itself is pretty anticlimactic and trivial as well: Durandal doesn't seem to take much offense to your invasion, though he does teleport you into vacuum a couple times. The level itself is quiet and nonthreatening; you have to fight a few Compilers, and the final big room has a bunch of Defenders in it. So it's not really... a combat-based level.

The level has the atmosphere of the Rozinante but none of its architectural charm. Most of the spaces are just big, dimly lit, and empty; unlike the expository Rozinante levels, which have a bunch of really intricate bits of architecture, this one is just big and boxy and kind of boring.

Let me reiterate that this is the assault on Durandal. This isn't like some small, trivial task; Durandal is the final boss, and this level is just dull and easy. What's there for me to say about this one? It's bland, easy, and boring

Level design: 2/5
Aesthetics: 3/5
Memorability: 1/5
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Aug 22nd '09, 03:24

T-Secret 3: Get Over It
(I think the name was specifically targeted to me.)

This secret level is buried in an author's insert by Clund talking about the development of RX. Clund, at least, admits that this level was mediocre and didn't meet his expectations. Demonstrably, his expectations are very low.

Anyway, this level is just two gigantic empty boxes, with the floor textured in some Salinger textures and all the other sides are sky. Ringed around the periphery of the level are Fighters. Everywhere. Probably fifty of them in total. When you jump to the second box, two or three Juggernauts teleport in as well because this wasn't idiotic enough.

I have no comment. This is just a dumbassed level, but at least Clund knew it when he included it. (Wait... why include it then?) Like most of the other secret levels, this one has no reward whatsoever except for the Mortar, and now that you have one (well, two) level left two use that pile of crap in, consider yourself adequately rewarded.

Level design: 1/5
Aesthetics: 1/5
Memorability: 1/5
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Aug 22nd '09, 04:46

This post is going to be pretty swift.

T15: Break the Sword
The same as Eat the Sword, only so much easier it's ridiculous.

I have to admit, though, the secret exit to Blasting Cherries still confounds me. I've found the hidden wire, I reached the Invincibility, but I can't find what to do from there.

T-Secret 4: Blasting Cherries
Like Sucking Cherries, but harder.

T16: Lazarus ex Machina
Toadstools gives you the post-Rubicon history of what happens when you fail to stop Lysander from releasing Achilles.

Hard Vacuum gives you the post-Rubicon history of what happens when you leave the UESC to topple the Pfhor instead.

Lazarus ex Machina gives you neither. Oh, and Durandal isn't really dead.

My thoughts about the Tycho plank is that it's remarkably mediocre with a couple especially bad points. Attack of the Wheenies and Not My Brain are fun and creative levels, but that's about it. The reuse of levels from other planks without any real edits, to me, smacks of laziness. Most of the levels are just boring and bland, or genuinely bad. This is definitely my least favorite plank; all in all, very unsatisfying.

The storyline of the Tycho plank is a sloppy Frankenstein's Monster, trying to quickly conclude the Salinger plank but taking its own direction, ignoring the Pfhor plank completely. Tycho seems to have no real motivation or mission, except to stop Achilles, but he sets you on several nonsequiturs that go nowhere and are a little less than enjoyable.

The lack of a reaction to your betrayal of Durandal is pretty remarkable. Why isn't there a history entry? Did it not actually matter, working for Tycho? Durandal actually was going to be a nice guy and not use Achilles as a lever against humanity, and you were just a dick by betraying Durandal? That's stupid.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Aug 22nd '09, 05:10

The way into Blasting Cherries took me absolute eons to figure out.

You see, there are actually TWO hidden wires!

One of the secret wires is on the inside of a door.

[attachment=2984:Picture_8.png]

The second one is in the most un-obvious place you might as well just play Myst instead. Pfhorge found it for me:

[attachment=2982:Picture_5.png]

In the middle of the picture there is an octagonal room, almost undistinguished from the dozens of others like it in the level. Only someone who is familiar with the textures would notice that one of the walls has an offset that gives the other half of the texture (the texture is the verticle Jjaro set texture with a sort of vent on the right half, thats what youre looking for). Then, after that, you crap around for another million years until you've found the way into the room made of hallways in the middle.

[attachment=2983:Picture_6.png]

One of the doors in the middle houses an extremely unobvious door right next toteleporter that sends you to the secret terminal room. Provided you've mashed both of the wires, then the door infront of the secret term will be open. Of course you've also gotta have beaten the level first.
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Shadowbreaker
Melbourne, Victoria

Post Aug 22nd '09, 11:41

I see! I found the second wire, but not the first one.

Considering how trivial it is to find Eat the Sword and Drinking Vitriol, it puzzles me as to why the heck this one is so hard.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Aug 23rd '09, 01:32

Actually there ARE the post-Rubicon histories.

After inserting the chips to slots, if you back to the terminal where the chip was, you can see them.
pfhore

Post Aug 23rd '09, 02:03

no kidding! well now I know
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Aug 25th '09, 00:56

P.S. Ryoko and I played some frozen co-op games. Of interest: we accidentally ended up going through levels fog-free and they looked a lot better than they did with fog. It Begins With an Ending did, at least.
underworld : simple fun netmaps // prahblum peack : simple rejected netmaps
azure dreams : simple horrible netmaps // v6.0!!!: thomas mann's greatest hits : simple simple netmaps
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irons
(.Y.)

Post Aug 25th '09, 01:44

Yeah, this is true. It certainly was a lot less dream-like but it looked really superb.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Aug 30th '09, 19:25

Ryoko and friends-

Reading this was superb nostalgia. I laughed out loud at many of Ryoko's hilarious remarks, vividly re-living those (five?) years of very extended development time. Magnificent work.

Some comments:
- We should've had distinct Rozinante transition levels when you switched planks to smooth over the story.
- I've learned a lot about how to be a better writer in the ten years since I penned the story. Wince-worthy exposition abounds. I look forward to reading some of Ryoko's work.
- The maps were made before the story. With more resources, we could've made the pairing more cohesive. We did our best under the circumstances, but it's clear that our ambitions were too great for two guys working at a hobbyist's pace. Little trivializes a game narrative more than mandatory quests where the player is instructed "Go here and do this unrelated thing".
- A second issue with the separation between map and story was that we had to fill terminals when there wasn't specifically something that needed to be said. This diluted the story.
- Thirdly, I didn't write in specific goals and instructions for each level. This is mostly because the goals and directions for many levels changed up until the very end, and I was too busy making textures / terminal art / chapter screens / website to go back and add clear goals. It probably would've only taken a few days, and made the game much stronger. Hindsight.
- You're insane to play it on total carnage. I play it on kindergarten and die sometimes. Then again, I like to look at textures and read terminals more than I like to shoot.

I always smile when I see people still enjoying Rubicon after all these years.

Vid on,
Scott
Last edited by fuelfive on Aug 30th '09, 19:26, edited 1 time in total.
fuelfive

Post Aug 30th '09, 20:38

Don't get me wrong, Rubicon still has probably the strongest narrative of any third-party scenario. It's certainly better than my own, at least in the original rendition of my scenario. Most of my grievances with Rubicon arise from poor level design choices (and some gameplay decisions that did not stand up to Total Carnage) instead; most of the lack of clarity in the directions undoubtedly arises from the writer not being the mapper.

Rubicon never seemed especially difficult when I played it on Normal back in '03 or so, but I was surprised at the great leap in challenge when I turned it up to TC (this was only a couple months ago). It was certainly a test of patience, if nothing else. :P

Undoubtedly the writing and storytelling is the strongest part of Rubicon, especially with the advent of Rubicon X which I believe did far more harm to the game as a whole than it did good. The new Rozinante level is probably the only thing I can say was a genuine improvement. What really stung was the lack of bug-fixing and revisions in the original content; I wasn't expecting a George Lucas Special Edition overhaul, but only a handful of issues were really addressed and I was expecting a much tighter overall presentation. But if nothing else, the game has a story that's interesting if not a literary masterpiece.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Aug 30th '09, 20:42

I certainly think Rubicon has the most compelling story and atmosphere, and to a guy like me, that's more important than 100% perfect gameplay. Why else do I like to wander around Five Finger Discount?
underworld : simple fun netmaps // prahblum peack : simple rejected netmaps
azure dreams : simple horrible netmaps // v6.0!!!: thomas mann's greatest hits : simple simple netmaps
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irons
(.Y.)

Post Aug 30th '09, 20:58

irons wrote:I certainly think Rubicon has the most compelling story and atmosphere, and to a guy like me, that's more important than 100% perfect gameplay. Why else do I like to wander around Five Finger Discount?

I completely agree Irons. While I've been so busy with other things that I haven't finished RV:RX, the engrossing nature of Rubicon was my main motive for doing it in the first place - I felt that a game with that much story and atmosphere shouldn't be neglected. I am also pleased at Ryoko's critique as well because in my adoring fandom for Rubicon I think I either ignored or glossed over some of the inconsistencies that he points out. Nevermind the fact that, as I've probably said before, I'm in no position to examine the structural qualities and deficiencies of Rubicon.
I have been wading in a long river and my feet are wet.
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L'howon
Somewhere outside the Citadel Of Antiquity

Post Aug 30th '09, 21:13

I like games with multiple endings.

But I usually go the journey like this:

Chimera (Given)
Save Admiral Corroway
Finish with the Tycho plank.


There are a lot of levels between saving the admiral and joining Tycho.
Usually I just skip to it.

I like Tycho's plank because your tying up all the lose ends with max efficiency.
MoppyPuppy
Lake Nebagamon, WI

Post Aug 31st '09, 01:43

Meta wrote:If the U.E.S.C. couldn't win with his help before why would his capture be the only thing keeping Durandal there and the U.E.S.C.

Who says the UESC couldn't win? They just hadn't yet.

Maybe the appearance of you and Durandal caused such a massive drop in Pfhor morale just by your presence on the planet that once Carroway was rescued the UESC was able to easily crush the panicked Pfhor troops.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Aug 31st '09, 11:03

Durandal, in the first Rozinante level, he says that you and him are "here to tip the scales".

If you actually believe that crap, your retarded.

Durandal had you take the AI Haller so that way there would be no AI more sophisticated than him.
Durandal captured the Dangi scientists to kill all humanity.

Tycho is also using you for his own twisted purposes.

Lisa Corroway, the Admiral's DAUGHTER is a head director at Dangi that works on Achilles.

No one is telling the truth.
Maybe I'm wrong on specifically how they aren't.
But its clear that they aren't in general.

"Truth is the first casualty of War" Its written on the intro screen.
MoppyPuppy
Lake Nebagamon, WI

Post Aug 31st '09, 17:46

MoppyPuppy wrote:No one is telling the truth.
Maybe I'm wrong on specifically how they aren't.
But its clear that they aren't in general.

"Truth is the first casualty of War" Its written on the intro screen.


Indeed, that's the whole of Rubicon, as I intended it anyway, summed in a sentence.
fuelfive

Post Sep 1st '09, 04:43

Well, you've definitely captured it. The whole time I was playing I felt deceived and manipulated by pretty much every party. It's not necessarily a 'fun' feeling but its, in my opinion, the thing that takes the game from "good" to "great."
Meta

Post Sep 1st '09, 08:43

Strangely enough, I had no problem believing in my mind that it was Durandal talking to me.
Or even Tycho.

Some of the actions they took I just couldn't bring myself to believe, but I didn't dwell on it.
But you feel so alone in the levels after saving the Admiral, (the path I always take.)

You see friends again if you take the fight to Dangi with Durandal, but other than that, you feel utterly alone.
It feels cool sometimes, but other times its kinda depressing.
MoppyPuppy
Lake Nebagamon, WI

Post Oct 10th '13, 19:08

RyokoTK wrote:P09: Rozinante VI
Hope you didn't like those weapons, because this level abruptly takes them from you. It's strange why; there's no legitimate reason plot-wise why you would lose them, but apparently there was an "anomaly" and you lost them.


Replying to a thread from 2009 ... why not. We needed this to be a rebellion level in case the player entered it carrying uplink chips from another plank, since having extra chips in inventory would screw up future levels.
fuelfive

Post Oct 11th '13, 01:42

This was a great read so far. I've only read the Chimera and the Salinger comments, but those are what mattered to me the most since I never wanted to go onto the Pfhor plank. Maybe it was my inexperience as a player. Either way, it creeped me out when I was younger.

I remember a lot of these levels well - good and bad. It gave me a good laugh to see your comments about certain aspects of the game. The best of all were the enforcers and the maser bobs. Strangely, in the original Rubicon on normal, I managed to kill the two enforcers near the save on the Pfhor level where you lose your guns. Also, the way I dealt with the maser bobs was with the shotguns and the SPNKR (overkill a little?), which I referred to as the "Sprinkler" back then. XD

So many memories. Rubicon happened to be my first third-party scenario, and the one scenario my mom couldn't complete due to how the textures made her sick (such a shame).

I want to see TK make more comments on scenarios!
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Destiny
USA

Post Oct 11th '13, 03:57

The problem is mostly that there aren't any other scenarios I want to play.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

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