Ever seen an AI create a map for Marathon? (Infinity)

Discuss map ideas, techniques, and give help.

Re: Ever seen an AI create a map for Marathon? (Infinity)

Post Nov 20th '14, 21:21

philtron wrote:
Tycho X wrote:
Wrkncacnter wrote:I haven't seen the level, but based on lave dollars's feedback, it sounds like maybe you should play some existing netmaps first before trying to make your own levels.


I'd love to play some more multiplayer, it's just so uncommon for me to actually find other players.
Everyone seems to start appearing 12.00 (PM) - 1.00 (AM) my time, and during weekdays I really don't have that kind
of time.


I think he meant that you should play some netmaps regardless of whether there's other players. You don't need other players to study map design and flow, and it's probably easier to do that when you're not being shot at, anyway.


Makes sense. I'll get on it.
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Tycho X
Aenna Prime

Post Jan 10th '15, 22:31

A singleplayer map I made. I haven't implemented terminal text yet, and it's easy on purpose. Critique is appreciated.
Only problem I found so far is the northern staircase ambush.
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Like A Sheep Among Wolves....sceA.zip
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Tycho X
Aenna Prime

Post Jan 11th '15, 11:19

Hey, this is nice. I crashed once when I checked the map, but I think it was unrelated. It gives off a vibe like Ne Cede Malis or Arrival, which I liked.

I think the placement & choice of enemies is very good for the first level of a scenario. The weapons and ammo were not too much and not too little. I think the gray mechanical textures are a little overused, and there are still places that look like platforms but aren't. The lighting is dramatic, but sometimes doesn't line up the way I think it would. Scenery seemed conspicuously absent.

The last battle around what I assume is the exit terminal probably didn't go the way you planned. Without trying to, I had all the aliens funnel into the blue hallway where the 'airlock' doors are, instead of fighting in the large open area.

The geometry is generally interesting and works well with the combat, though it was a bit too orthogonal for my tastes. Meaning that, because Aleph One doesn't do slanted surfaces, there's extra reason to use more diagonals and curves and less 90° angles in the axes you can control. But then, you have some leeway for the sake of giving this particular environment its own style. The same can be said for the seemingly large number of doors.

All in all, this level is quite promising. You may have found your niche as a single player mapper. I'd encourage you to make more levels with different feels to them, and then think about how to tie them together. [MUp]
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Crater Creator

Post Jan 11th '15, 11:26

Thank you a lot for the positive reply!
Yes, I did only at the end notice I hadn't added any scenery. Oh well. Also, the reason the 'final battle' doesn'T work is due to me not really knowing jack about scripting. I set the polygon at the top of the staircase as 'monster trigger', but it seems to trigger ALL monsters on the map, not just the ambushers, thus the reason the 'airlock' get's clogged up. I may have to just remove that poly and ambush for the sake of functionality. Would you know anyone kind enough to help me with the MML/Lua? I had originally planned a lot more for this, but again, my lack of knowledge limits me.
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Tycho X
Aenna Prime

Post Jan 12th '15, 02:12

Tycho X wrote:Thank you a lot for the positive reply!
I set the polygon at the top of the staircase as 'monster trigger', but it seems to trigger ALL monsters on the map, not just the ambushers, thus the reason the 'airlock' get's clogged up. I may have to just remove that poly and ambush for the sake of functionality.


Sounds like the problem is that you're not using zone borders to stop the monster trigger from spreading throughout an entire map. If you don't want a monster trigger to trigger monsters outside of a room than make sure that all the windows and doors leading into that room are zone borders.

But you might as well get rid of that trigger and those monsters, since going up those stairs seems to serve no purpose at all.

Crater Creator wrote: think the placement & choice of enemies is very good for the first level of a scenario. The weapons and ammo were not too much and not too little. [MUp]


Maybe me and Crater played a different map because I disagree. For more than half of the level you only have one pistol in very narrow corridors and at one point you have to fight a cyborg with that pistol. This is not fun and it is frustrating. When you finally get a fusion pistol (the only other weapon, there's not even a second magnum) it's in the second half of the level (after the teleport) which doesn't have rechargers or canisters, nor does it have a way back to the first half of the level where there is a recharger. At least I didn't find one.

I was running out of ammo, so I started trying to conserve by using fists. But most of this level is so cramped and narrow that I couldn't use melee without taking a lot of damage. In fact, most of this level is too cramped for the weapons you've given us.

Even the final(?) battle feels cramped because, despite taking place in a medium sized room, there are so many monsters that I couldn't really move around without getting stuck. The fusion pistol is somewhat helpful, but fists and a 1 magnum are trash in this type of fight.

One important thing to consider: if you're asking people for feedback on your map then you should make it relatively easy for them to play through the whole thing without too much difficulty. Even give people flamethrowers and rocket launchers if you have to, just to make the playthrough easier, because ultimately you're not trying to challenge us, you're getting feedback from us. We can't give you feedback if we give up.

Summary of things to work on:
1) Either give the player the space or the weapons he needs to deal with a situation; if you're making small cramped spaces then either provide the player with weapons to deal with that space (shotguns, assault rifle) or make sure those cramped spaces interconnect so that they still allow for a lot of mobility (escape routes, flanking)
2) Match weapons with monsters; one pistol against a cyborg, hunters, and troopers, is not a good match up
3) Be more mindful of when your players are going to need health
4) Don't do teleporting monster ambushes in narrow corridors, it's obnoxious unless you have the right weapons to deal with it. It's actually kind of obnoxious no matter what

Here are some things you're doing well:

1) Giving the player choices

Especially in the first half of the level, you give the player some good options. The level is essentially linear, but it doesn't feel that way because you give the player branching paths and reasons to backtrack. It kind of doesn't matter, but it still makes the level feel more interesting.

I especially liked the area where you hit a switch and it rearranges the doors to all the rooms (right before you meet the cyborg). The player has to do this to progress, but he can go back and hit the switch again if he chooses. The player gets to rearrange the playspace to suit his own preference. It's ultimately pointless because it's eight identical square rooms arranged in a 2x4 grid, so altering the doors changes nothing, but I still like it because it gives the player a choice even if that choice is meaningless.

2) Predicting how a player will react to a situation

Again, this is mostly in the first half of the level, before the teleporter. You created one encounter that you repeat which shows you know how to guide the player's behavior. You have a projectile fighter standing in the distance, tempting the player to shoot at it, which triggers the melee fighters to activate and come around the corner. It's becomes a little predictable after the first couple of times, but it shows good instinct and I think you'll end up making some very interesting monster encounters in the future.

Overall, it seems you have a good, intuitive understanding for the psychology of a player, but you've still got some polishing to do in terms of balancing the mechanics of a level.

Hope that's helpful.
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philtron

Post Jan 12th '15, 03:01

Yeah, zone borders are your friend for separating combat encounters. Lua scripting shouldn't be necessary. I'd assumed you were already using polygon types effectively, since the rest of the combat seems compartmentalized pretty well.

philtron: There is a second pistol in the very first room. It's in a cubbyhole behind a mechanically-textured door. I almost missed it myself, because it doesn't look much like a door (see previous comment about overusing the mechanical textures).

I suspect philtron's impression of the weapon balance would've been much better if he'd played with the second pistol. For me (playing on Normal), I felt like ammunition was balanced, because every time I noticed I was getting low, there were a few clips to pick up in the next room. Since most of the enemies were fighters, two pistols were enough to handle them, while still being a challenge. The fusion pistol comes at roughly the same time you start encountering cyborgs and hunters, which feels good - I hate wasting fusion ammo on aliens that don't have a weakness to it.

I wouldn't have liked the level as much if it had a flamethrower or missile launcher. Again, this level feels like the first level of a campaign, and within that scope, you haven't played long enough to 'earn' those heavy weapons in the first level.
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Crater Creator

Post Jan 12th '15, 04:03

Crater Creator wrote:philtron: There is a second pistol in the very first room. It's in a cubbyhole behind a mechanically-textured door. I almost missed it myself, because it doesn't look much like a door (see previous comment about overusing the mechanical textures).


I should have known. Maybe there's some hidden recharger in the second half of the level, as well.

I guess that's a whole separate issue then: communicating to the player what's available to them, unless you're trying to make a secret.

Having two pistols does improve the combat against the fighters a lot. Still, I think pistols in close quarters against cyborgs and hunters is no fun. You definitely fight the cyborg before you ever have a chance at finding the fusion pistol, and you're likely to fight a hunter before then as well. When you open the door to the fusion gun room, you trigger some fighters and a hunter in the room opposite, along with the projectile fighter in the fusion room itself. Basically, this encounter encourages the player to backtrack down the hall he came from (away from the fusion gun). Even if you go into the fusion room and grab the gun, you'll end up getting swamped by fighters and a hunter in that tiny room with no way out. It's not a fun encounter, at least not for me.

Crater Creator wrote:I wouldn't have liked the level as much if it had a flamethrower or missile launcher.


The reason for my suggestion wasn't that it would make the level more fun, but that having more powerful weapons as an option would make it easier to play test the level and critique the various parts. You could still avoid using the rocket launcher in order to see what the level is meant to be like. But, having that option for playtesting would be nice.
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philtron

Post Jan 12th '15, 13:58

Just play on Kindergarten, then.

I thought the level was fine. I got serious For This I Went to College vibes from Evil. I think pistol-only levels are super boring, but the level is short enough and if it were the first part of a campaign it would be good.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Jan 12th '15, 15:42

Thank you all again. This is really helpful stuff I didn'T notice myself. I'll make sure you have access to the fusion pistol before the hunters and possibly before the cyborg (you can use the Assimilated BOBs to your advantage to take out the cyborg). The Zone Border will be incredibly useful. I might upload an updated/fixed version of the map here.
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Tycho X
Aenna Prime

Post Jan 12th '15, 20:02

This is a great improvement from your previous maps. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the map in a lot of places, so good work. In particular I think you did a pretty solid job lighting the level. I didn't actually really have any problems with the monster placement. Pistol-only maps are, as Ryoko mentioned, a bit boring, but I didn't find it difficult. Running through it on TC I found it pretty easy to go through most of the map just using fists, and I actually sort of enjoyed the encounter with the cyborg. I'm not sure if the troopers were in the area of the map I was supposed to avoid (I wasn't really paying much attention), but that was the only place where I thought the monster placement was a bit questionable.

I think most of what I had to say has been already said. Keep mapping, and good work so far.
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$lave

Post Jan 12th '15, 20:08

I actually kind of liked the Cyborg encounter, too, because the room is shaped in a weird way. I assumed you were meant to avoid it, and that the doors shifting were to try to trip it up. I wouldn't really go any further with that concept, because it would get annoying really quickly, but I liked it.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Jan 12th '15, 21:00

I polished the map, changed a bunch of small things (added some scenery!). In particular I made it easier by adding a bit more ammo and the fusion pistol early on. A major thing I changed was the battle in the big hall: it's now playable. Did anyone find the secret vent?

philtron: There is a x1 health recharger in the 2x4 rooms, you'll find it before flicking the switch.

Crater Creator: before I had discovered zone borders, I used doors to 'split' the action/combat. That's mainly why there are so many.

Anyway, you're right, I shouldn't get stuck on one map so I've begun working on the next one, it has a completely different feel to it so far (wide open space, water+sewage textures...).
Attachments
Like A Sheep Among Wolves....sceA.zip
Polished version
(35.13 KiB) Downloaded 67 times
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Tycho X
Aenna Prime

Post Jan 12th '15, 23:15

Tycho X wrote:philtron: There is a x1 health recharger in the 2x4 rooms, you'll find it before flicking the switch.


Yeah, I knew about that one. I was talking about after the teleporter. It seems like we're supposed to beat the second half of the level with only one bar of shields, which annoyed me. Obviously, other people didn't have the same issue as me, but it made me dislike the second half of the level (after the teleport).
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philtron

Post Jan 13th '15, 06:06

Well, it's quite a bit easier now. You should make it through even on TC no problem-
As mentioned, it's supposed to be one of the first levels of a campaign
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Tycho X
Aenna Prime

Post Jan 14th '15, 03:38

I played your revised version. I liked it a lot more.

Getting the fusion pistol earlier made it more fun for me.

Still don't like the one way teleporter combined with no rechargers or canisters in the second half. It's playable, but I personally don't like the way it forces me to change my style of play. Still don't like teleporting ambushes.

The addition of the human remains, right after the teleporter, is a nice touch and works well.

The biggest change is the last battle. It's gone from being one of my least favorite parts in the level, to being one of my most favorite parts in the level. And I think all you did was remove the drones and rearrange some monsters? It's a significant difference and I liked it.

I only found the secret vent in Forge.

Some random things to point out:

We can play through the level and use the first pattern buffer without ever fighting or triggering the S'pht that's reading the first pattern buffer.

At the three teleporters, it's possible to just run past the enemies and teleport.

The room where the fusion pistol used to be is now pointless. There is no reason to go in there or even open the door.

Looking forward to your next map.
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philtron

Post Jan 19th '15, 20:20

Finally, after hours and hours of work I can proudly present to you; my largest map yet. It's around 1100 polys, has many tense fights, as well as 3-4 secrets. It's inspired off of many levels. Again, no terminal text. Do tell me what needs to be fixed.

Enjoy :P
Attachments
A Day With The Damned.sceA.zip
Win or die trying.
(105.15 KiB) Downloaded 72 times
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Tycho X
Aenna Prime

Post Jan 19th '15, 20:53

What stands out to me is that the exterior areas don't have any shading done on them, even though your interiors actually look pretty good. When you're going for geometrically complex rock formations, you have to go the distance on making sure each surface has differential shading applied or the viewer is going to lose out on the entire effect.

Otherwise the map doesn't have any glaring problems. I wasn't too impressed by a few of the teleport triggers but it wasn't too major of an issue.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Jan 19th '15, 20:59

Ah. I was thinking since it's the outside, no need for shadows. I'll see what I can do.
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Tycho X
Aenna Prime

Post Jan 19th '15, 21:09

There is pretty much no reason not to employ differential shading, inside or out.

Here's how I did rocks on a map for Starlight.
Image

You can tell that just by using some very basic shading effects on the rocks (not to mention, not using light 0 everywhere), it looks more attractive and you can more quickly parse the overall shape of the geometry.

(Full size pic.)
Last edited by RyokoTK on Jan 19th '15, 21:12, edited 1 time in total.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Jan 19th '15, 21:12

Rookie mistake, I guess. I'm just not sure which rocks to shade darker...
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Tycho X
Aenna Prime

Post Jan 19th '15, 21:14

Basically what you do, is you just pick an orientation (say, south) and say to yourself, "this is the lightest side," and then all sides that share that orientation have the same light. And then, the further and further away from that orientation, the darker you go. It doesn't really matter which side you pick is the lightest so long as you're somewhat consistent.

And bear in mind that you're going to have to apply shading to the entire exterior area, not just the rocks. :P
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Jan 19th '15, 21:25

Heh. I thought that might be how it's done.

Worry not, I won't forget the rest ;)
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Tycho X
Aenna Prime

Post Jan 20th '15, 11:26

It's possible to get on top of many of the rock outcroppings, even without using grenades. I think this is more than me seeing if I can break the map: they feel like jumping puzzles that could lead to secrets. I say embrace this: find some of these outcroppings where getting to the top is appropriately challenging, or modify them to be so, and put an item up there as a reward.

I think it'd be better if the player had to explore just a little, even a polygon or two, before the aliens come into view. Spawning him right in front of enemies seems weird, but then again maybe it won't when this level comes after another, and the player teleports in.

Use sound objects to cover the transitions between sounds, so you don't jump straight from all water and no wind sound to all wind and no water sound.

It's pretty neat that you got the aliens to follow the gray path outside. It was also neat that the earlier fights lulled me into a false sense of security. When all the BoBs died in this battle, I was like whoa, that's a lot of aliens left.

On the down side, the ammo outside here teleported in after the battle was over. For what it's worth, if the ammo didn't teleport in and was just waiting there, it wouldn't have seemed mistimed. It seems I came at some encounters 'backwards'. I didn't mind much, though, because it's cool to have the nonlinearity in the first place.

Getting close to the giant metal doors triggers the aliens on the other side. Why did I get so close to the doors? Because you're using that machinery texture on the floor again, so it looks like a platform to take you up.

While the total quantity of ammo was appropriate, for the last part of the level all I had was assault rifle clips & grenades. It was adequate, but I would've liked to have had options on what to use. I can cut some slack there if it's understood you'd be coming into this level with ammo from previous levels.

If you jump in the fountain at the north end, you're stuck. You can't get out alive from what I can see.

Unlike the last map, it's less clear if I'm finished, as there are still locked doors that could hold more of the accessible map. Of course, filled-in terminals would fix this.

I would've liked a shield recharger somewhere instead of just the powerups. But that's another one of those things that can be chalked up to a level's unique style. Difficulty was well-balanced like your last level to my mind: I died a couple of times, but not excessively so.

Wherever your secrets were, they weren't in the places I looked for them, for better or worse. The only one I found was the one east of the northern fountain, and that didn't count because duh, it's a door texture. Of course it opens! Did you put visual cues on the other secrets, or are they in entirely unmarked spots?

Have you thought about story at all? It would be an interesting exercise filling in those terminals after the fact. I mean, I don't know if these maps are destined to be part of the next great total conversion. But it wouldn't take much to string these and future maps together with a serviceable plot, kind of like dustu has been doing.

[edit]And if I've taken the time to write this much, I might as well throw in a good word for EasyShade. Its sunlight function is designed to light an area exactly as Ryoko describes, in a way that does the legwork for you. One of these days I mean to overhaul it, so you can do things like sunlight a single room instead of everything.
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Crater Creator

Post Jan 20th '15, 14:01

Ouch. That's a lot of stuff to fix.
In the following text I reply to each of your paragraphs;

Yeah, I was thinking I might add some secret on top of some of the rocks.

The idea behind the map was the UESC or whoever are invading some fortress type place. Thus the reason you encounter enemies from the start. Think of it as D-Day: as soon as the soldiers arrived at the beach they were greeted with a storm of bullets.

I really tried to make sure the sound was good this time; could you tell me where it's not right?

I'll put the ammo right after the first *outer* engagement.

I'll fix the monster trigger/zone borders thing; make sure they only trigger once you enter. I really like the mechanical texture, and it's next to a door...

Should I add more flechette ammo? Or maybe more shotgun ammo?

Ah, the fountain of death. I'll elevate the floor.

I realise I overuse doors as well as the mechanical texture: I just really like both of them, and the doors make the place seem more realistic. How? They make the place look bigger. What really bothers me on many maps is that, once you've explored everything, you realise you're in nothing more than a box. At least with those un-openable doors, you can imagine it continues.

Uhm... did you try going south? I designed the level to be non-linear, unlike the last one. If you go through the southern door, into a hall of sorts with a throne, you'll find a x1 recharger in the labyrinth. Maybe you just missed it.

They all have visual clues; if you'd like, I can post a list of all the secrets here.

I would love that; however, when it comes to storytelling, I feel like I'm the last guy you'd ask to write a book. I could TRY to come up with some *probably boring* plot; don't expect anything good though.

That sounds nice. I'll use Easy Shade on my other, future maps, since I don't want it to override the existing shading.
Thanks for the long text, it really helps better my maps! I've had many instances while mapping where I remembered someone telling me on the pfhorums: 'And this and that, it sucks. Do it like this...'. I've avoided plenty of mistakes through this thread.

I'll upload a fixed version of this map in a mini-scenario which will exist purely to better my skills. It probably won't be more than 10 levels. Expect to see previous as well as future maps in it!
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$lave wrote:Damnit bridgit, you are forgetting how fucking serious business the internet is.
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Tycho X
Aenna Prime

Post Jan 21st '15, 04:25

Your map's good. It's fun, it feels relatively balanced, it's nonlinear and gives the player a variety of options on how to approach a battle. Since there's no major problems, I guess it's time for nitpicking.

When using teleporter polygons, don't have the destination polygon also be a teleporter. It's annoying

As Crater Creator said, there's plenty of ammo overall, but you'll run out of everything other than the AR pretty quick. This didn't bother me at all since I was mostly using the AR anyway.

However, the only way to get a second pistol or a fusion pistol is for certain BoBs to die soft deaths (I don't think I saw them lying around anywhere). If they die from Trooper grenades or Hunter explosions then the player never gets those weapons in this map. In a full game this probably wouldn't matter. But, if you intended the player to get those weapons exclusively from Bobs then that's something you should be aware of.

I'm pretty sure I found all your secrets, and I wasn't trying too hard which made me feel pretty clever. (To the right of the pool, on the south side of the map behind a white panel, and the room at the beginning with the early Flechette. Is that them? Is their a fourth?)

Here's what I didn't find on my first playthrough. The entire section where you watch S'pht'kr and Bobs fighting Pfhor. I basically fought all the monsters in the North and just assumed I was finished. On my second playthrough I happened to be going to the recharger and noticed that a wall had opened up to this whole new section. At first I thought it was a secret. I still have no idea what triggers this door to open! The button that opens the big door to the north?

Speaking of that big door that leads to the north of the map and the MoaH. After it's opened, the player can close it again and then jump from the balcony over the closing door and get trapped in the North part of the map with no way out.

Switches. The player has to turn off each switch and then turn it back on to reactivate a platform. I'm assuming that's because you're using trigger switches instead of platform switches. Even the switch that opens the door to the simulacrums (a room which seems pointless since it has nothing inside except enemies) starts off in the "on" position and the player has to turn it off and then turn it back on to open the doors. You should only use a trigger switch if you're activating multiple platforms and/or lights at the same instant. Maybe each switch does activate multiple platforms or lights, but I didn't notice.

In the pool that the player can get stuck in, we can see the drones in the water. I don't know if that's what you wanted or not, but there it is. Also, there's some drones that activate from an indoor fountain or something; they get in each others' way and get stuck.

As for story. I don't think you need to do a ton of work on it. Three to four sentences per terminal would be enough to give us context on what's going on.

Anyway, it was a fun map. Keep up the good work.
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philtron

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