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

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

Post May 13th '10, 02:31

This one is madness.

This topic is a bit of a departure from my other scenario commentary topics because I've never finished Eternal X. In fact, I've never even made it that far into it, and I don't clearly remember what I have seen. In other words, this is mostly a blind run of EX; at some point in the second chapter I will be approaching completely new territory. I'm scared! Therefore, this topic is going to be more of a journal of progress as I discuss what works well in EX and what doesn't.

The other departure from normal fare in this topic is that Pfhorrest frequents the Pfhorums, which presents an interesting opportunity: now I can hear his side of things as he defends his design decisions, which I expect I will dislike for the most part (apologies in advance). As usual, I will be focusing mostly on level design issues, which I know isn't his strength, but I'll do my best to approach the entire scenario.

As usual, I'll be playing through each level on Total Carnage. I'll also include the failure branches if I happen to fail on those pivotal levels; if not, I'm not going to bother going back. Sorry!

(there will be spoilers in this topic, deal with it)

01. The Far Side of Nowhere
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Two things immediately strike me when I play through this level: one, it's gray as fuck. Two, it has music, which is kind of nice. The music itself is a fairly peaceful ambient piano tune, which works for the theme of the level.

As for the level itself... yeesh. Expository levels like this one are extremely hit-or-miss for me. Done right, they are necessary interludes that establish the plot, and holy moly, Eternal needs that badly. So I don't fault EX for having this level in here. Done poorly, however, and they are the Neil Peart drum solos of level design. Which this level also is.

The Far Side of Nowhere is an expansive and bleak level with some very basic puzzles to solve. There is no combat, which makes sense in the context of the story, but as far as level design is concerned, it seems completely pointless to me. So this is some kind of human-controlled base on K'lia; why do I have to press switches to open faraway doors, lower stairs, and all of this other stuff? It seems like an excuse to show off the architecture, but the architecture isn't very impressive. It's huge, gray, and bland, and the textures don't really lend themselves to the architecture in general. I don't know if that's a poor choice of texturing or if the texture set doesn't support it, but in any event, I just feel like this is wrong.

Anyway, the stinker of this level is the behemoth glacier of text in the first terminal, which is page after page of backstory and exposition told in the format of the notoriously stoic main character. It seems unbelievably pretentious to me to not only give the heretofore-unnamed hero a name, but also a loquacious streak, in order to set up the backstory... but maybe that's just me. And the whole level is a little pretentious to me anyway.

The only expo-level I've ever really liked was the Rozinante series in Rubicon X. Mostly because it was pretty attractive and interesting, and you weren't on it very long at any given time. Also, because you kept returning to it throughout the course of the game, you'd be in different areas of it, and it would all become very familiar and complete as a space. But even then... I'd rather be doing things, y'know? Not reading.

Level design: 2/5
Architecture: 2/5
Combat: not applicable
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 13th '10, 02:54

02. Deja Vu All Over Again
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Great. Time travel. I hate the use of time travel as a plot device because it seems that, invariably, authors have no idea how to use it without glaring stupidities left over in the plot. We'll see how this one goes. Here, Hathor has warped us back all the way to the Marathon, and it's time for us to... um, do some stuff. From what I understand (though I could have glossed over something important), our objective in this timeline is to collect the remaining Mark IV Battleroids, of which the player is one and Hathor is another. Now, maybe I'm misremembering, but I'm pretty sure the Battleroids were all on Tau Ceti? Whatever. I'm sure I'm already proving myself an idiot, but Volunteers this ain't.

Like every other first level in history, this level is full of Fighters and easy to the point of pointlessness. Eternal X kind of gets a pass on that regard because you've got sort of a new arsenal to work with, except you don't; anyone who's played Evil is familiar with the shock staff, and anyone who hasn't can probably figure it out pretty quickly since I suspect the average Marathoner has killed about seventy million Fighters. I do like the gimmick of having to forage your weapons off of the Pfhor; it seems a little strange why the hero can do this now when he's never needed to before, but I'll let it slide because it's a fun gameplay decision.

As for the staff itself, it's fine. Seems to do potent damage; the melee attack one-shots Fighters, which is nice, and the ranged attack is suitable for a weaker weapon. What I immediately notice is that the knockback on the melee is absurd; I'm blasting Fighters a couple hundred feet back, which is sorta funny the first time but it's annoying when I look for all the staves they dropped and they're all in the next county. Fighters are knuckleheads and will just walk around corners, so it's easy and profitable to just camp around corners and melee them to death.

The reason for that is twofold. One is a physics change that I like: the staff bolt travels much faster than normal, making it a threatening attack to deal with. Charging down Fighters is now actually kind of risky. The other reason is because this level is a pretty humdrum corridor cruiser with minimal space to dodge. Since this is a human spaceship, I can appreciate the necessity for narrow corridors, but it is kind of boring anyway. The rooms themselves are almost always empty, which puzzles me; all the action is in the corridors between them. Whoever designed this level did a pretty good job replicating Marathon 1's meandering, meaningless level design, but the textures don't seem right at all.

The splicing of M2 Fighters and M1 Compilers is odd; why mix and match? But I digress. The architecture on this level is a little lacking; corridors are inherently uninteresting and the rooms seem kind of devoid of interesting stuff or point in general. The texturing is fine, but the textures themselves just seem a little too pale and lifeless. Actually, what's admirable about the architecture is the use of lighting; it's very nice and moody. But, overall, for a first level this one needs to be pepped up a little bit.

Level design: 2/5
Architecture: 3/5
Combat: 2/5
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 13th '10, 03:12

03. Septococcal Pfhoryngitis
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THE SECOND LEVEL IS A SEWER. IN SPACE. Fuck off, are you out of ideas already for this game?

Sewer levels are the purveyance of level designers without an imagination. Unless there's a reasonable plot justification where having a sewer level just makes sense, they should be avoided like the plague. And, in the case of this level, there's no real justification; Hathor teleports you into the sewers "on accident." Which seems to me like "well I have to have 10 levels in each chapter but this one really only can fill six so I gotta pad it somehow."

Bleah. On to the level itself, it's extremely straightforward and fast, which is good. It has the same strangeness in level design that a couple Rubicon X levels had. You're supposed to find an uplink chip and put it in a slot. Where is the uplink chip? In the S-bend of a sewage pipe that's open for no real reason. Is this a problem in real-world engineering firms, people accidentally throwing away vital technology in the toilet? There just is no sensible reason for key objectives to be in the goddamn drain.

The combat is fast and a little fun. You get acquainted with the M1 Enforcers for a bit. Apparently they now have a melee attack? I question the design decision in this; if you're going to have a time travel bit back to an already-established setting, retconning in new stuff is risky business. Especially when you expect something to behave one way -- because it does -- and then it behaves completely differently because you're monkeying around with stuff. Consistency is vital, especially when you want to go on a little nostalgia trip back to the M1 days.

There's not a lot to say about this one. It's better than the previous level; more rooms and fewer corridors, which is good, and it doesn't go on longer than it needs to. The architecture is serviceable; I suppose a sewer wouldn't be the pinnacle of good design. The one thing that bugs me is, upon inserting the chip, you are immediately teleported out of the level. What if I wanted to save first? Screw you, stop messing with me.

Level design: 2.5/5
Architecture: 3/5
Combat: 3/5
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 13th '10, 03:43

04. Dysmentria
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Jesus what hideous textures. Okay, anyway.

Hathor has already tried to off you by sending you to the Pfhor ship to hopefully get killed. At least, that's my interpretation of the first terminal of the following level; I'm sure I will be proven wrong later. It's sort of silly that Hathor would do that though; wouldn't she, of all the entities in the universe (save perhaps for Durandal) know that that's not really going to work? The hero is pretty capable of killing large amounts of Pfhor.

Especially when you have a 3x recharger right at the start of the level. But that one's necessary; the combat on this level can actually get pretty intense. There's probably six hundred Fighters on this level and no shortage of Scattergun Enforcers either, which will keep you on your toes because you basically can't not get hit by these guys. I've got mixed feelings about them; I was never a huge fan of them in M1 and seeing them come back in Eternal X is logical but annoying. I've played with similar enemies myself; The Gray Incident and two of the three Xmas episodes (Xmasodes?) had the wonderful sniper Troopers that just stand in one place and fire their machine guns. Ultimately, they're annoying more than challenging; once you know where they are, they're not a threat, so it's just a lame "gotcha!" kind of thing. These Scatterforcers are at least less troublesome because the Scattergun is surprisingly weak; blue Fighters are a lot more threatening on the whole.

I do like the combat on the level overall though; the 3x recharger takes a lot of the pressure off of the combat without reducing the intensity, which I think is good for this sort of level. What I don't like is the premise of the level; you're sent here without any sort of objective, since you're basically trying to be murdered, and what I felt the entire time was annoyance at myself for not carefully enough reading the terminals on the previous level. Turns out it wasn't my fault. Anyway, you just kind of wander around the ship clearing out room after room of Fighters and Enforcers until you find the exit, and wham, you're done. Most of the level is completely superfluous, it seems, and of course I explored the entire goddamned map before I found the right door to the exit. *sigh* The layout of the level is fair enough; you start around the center, right by a save and 3x recharger, and it's pretty easy to return here, which is great and really supports the action. After a while though, I got impatient with the whole thing, especially because the architecture is so samey and so hideous. These Pfhor textures are the worst I've ever seen; I don't think anyone could make a good-looking level out of these. This one has decent geometry, but it's completely washed over with the Barfomatic color scheme.

Overall, a fun level for a while, but it gets annoying and in the end it just seems like more padding rather than really advancing the plot anywhere. And this is only the third level; I feel like the storyline began in medias res but forgot to tell anyone about that.

Level design: 3/5
Aesthetics: 1/5
Combat: 4.5/5
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 13th '10, 03:45

And that's it for today. Four levels out of fifty-two... yeesh.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 13th '10, 03:46

I personally could not get enough of the new weapons in Eternal, they sort of made the game pretty easy but they were endless fun to kill people with, primarily because you didn't just run around with the AR the whole time. For instance, the staff gives you endless godly might against individuals, but sucks at large numbers. I guess there was just a lot more strategy involved sometimes than in Infinity.
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Shadowbreaker
Melbourne, Victoria

Post May 13th '10, 03:48

I will definitely grant that the weapons are fun to use, but I'm hardly far enough into the game to make any kind of overall statement. :P Still, swatting hundreds of Fighters down in seconds with their own staff takes a lot of the tedium out of the fact that, just like every other scenario ever, the first few levels have to be filled to the brim with Fighters.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 13th '10, 05:31

RyokoTK wrote:This one is madness.


phpBB doesn't like lots of quote tags, so I'm gonna bold your passages instead.

The other departure from normal fare in this topic is that Pfhorrest frequents the Pfhorums, which presents an interesting opportunity: now I can hear his side of things as he defends his design decisions, which I expect I will dislike for the most part (apologies in advance). As usual, I will be focusing mostly on level design issues, which I know isn't his strength, but I'll do my best to approach the entire scenario.

Thankfully, almost none of the levels in the final version were actually made by me in the end, so I have little offense to take :-) Also, I have long since come to terms with the fact that not even I will ever be happy with this, so fire away. Enough people out there like it enough that I can give a "meh".

The Far Side of Nowhere is an expansive and bleak level with some very basic puzzles to solve. There is no combat, which makes sense in the context of the story, but as far as level design is concerned, it seems completely pointless to me. So this is some kind of human-controlled base on K'lia; why do I have to press switches to open faraway doors, lower stairs, and all of this other stuff? It seems like an excuse to show off the architecture, but the architecture isn't very impressive.

Originally, you could run pretty much straight from the first terminal to the last. Imagine if all the switches in the release version were already hit for you, and that was about how it was. Someone commented that because of that most of this huge level pretty much went to waste. As it is the whole northeast quarter of it still never needs to be visited. So I added the "security points" or whatever.

The idea, story-wise, is there are these observation towers where the controls to various passages through the base are located, with a clear view of said passage. In "normal operation", the Bobs up in those towers would see you and hit the switches for you, but, to give you something to do other than run from point A to point B, you have to go up and hit them yourself. I could easily use trigger polys to activate things as you approached them, as though the Bobs were doing it for you, if the consensus (besides just Ryoko) is that "run straight from A to B" is better than the current setup.

Anyway, the stinker of this level is the behemoth glacier of text in the first terminal, which is page after page of backstory and exposition told in the format of the notoriously stoic main character. It seems unbelievably pretentious to me to not only give the heretofore-unnamed hero a name, but also a loquacious streak, in order to set up the backstory... but maybe that's just me. And the whole level is a little pretentious to me anyway.

You yourself just said that Eternal badly needs its plot established. I toyed with ideas for establishing all that backstory in bits and pieces throughout the game, but that would have Hathor (the only other character who knows all that) going off on tangents about things irrelevant to the present plot all the time, and would probably leave players even more confused than they already are by what's going on.

As for naming the player-character, I felt that was necessary in order to establish the intimacy between him and Hathor. She had to be on a first-name basis with you, and in order for that, you needed to have a first name. Other people have said that they really like this, so I feel good about that decision.

I hate the use of time travel as a plot device because it seems that, invariably, authors have no idea how to use it without glaring stupidities left over in the plot. We'll see how this one goes.

There certainly are glaring stupidities, but they are on the parts of the characters, (hopefully) not myself. I try to lampshade at several points that the characters driving the time-travel either don't understand how "temporal mechanics" work (like Tycho) or have stupid mental issues preventing them from seeing why the very existence of time travel makes their objectives pointless (manic vengeance for Hathor, and obsessive compulsion for Leela).

our objective in this timeline is to collect the remaining Mark IV Battleroids, of which the player is one and Hathor is another. Now, maybe I'm misremembering, but I'm pretty sure the Battleroids were all on Tau Ceti? Whatever. I'm sure I'm already proving myself an idiot, but Volunteers this ain't.

You are correct, they are all (except Marcus) on the colony. The objective of this and the next level is to get Hathor access to Marathon's engineering observatory so that she can scan for and locate the Battleroids on the colony, instead of us running around down there tracking them all down on foot.

What I immediately notice is that the knockback on the melee is absurd; I'm blasting Fighters a couple hundred feet back, which is sorta funny the first time but it's annoying when I look for all the staves they dropped and they're all in the next county.

Could you explain how to fix that without changing the damage the staff does, or the External Velocity Scale on every monster? The projectile the player's staff fires is just a clone of the standard fighter's melee projectile but more powerful and scales with motion like the fists, so I have no idea why it does that. I've likewise heard complaints about how the staff projectiles push you back too hard, but they are standard versions just made faster. Think these might be related?

The splicing of M2 Fighters and M1 Compilers is odd; why mix and match? But I digress.

I basically swapped in the monsters that I liked the M1 versions of better, and left the rest the same. I have no opinion on M1 vs M2 fighters, but I thought the M1 versions of Compilers, Hunters, and Troopers were superior, so those got swapped in.

Sewer levels are the purveyance of level designers without an imagination. Unless there's a reasonable plot justification where having a sewer level just makes sense, they should be avoided like the plague. And, in the case of this level, there's no real justification; Hathor teleports you into the sewers "on accident."

I'm curious why you think sewer levels are so bad, but either way, this level being a sewer level is, like many things in Eternal, something of a vestige of its long and winding developmental history. The plot seed was "transporter accident drops you and the uplink chip into an irrelevant place neither of you were supposed to end up". In early versions of Eternal, that was a lava-themed area somewhere deep in the core of the Marathon. But in later versions the lava set got repurposed to be Lh'owon-specific, and the level got retextured with the Marathon (sewage) set. If I had chosen the water set to be the Marathon set, this would have been a water treatment facility or something instead (I guess technically it still is). It was later remade entirely by D-M.A. but remained a sewer level for no particular reason just because of that history and because the exact location wasn't important to the plot.

Where is the uplink chip? In the S-bend of a sewage pipe that's open for no real reason. Is this a problem in real-world engineering firms, people accidentally throwing away vital technology in the toilet? There just is no sensible reason for key objectives to be in the goddamn drain.

The chip is in the sewers for the same reason you are. Originally you too were dropped directly into sewage somewhere (actually it was lava in the very old version), but Don changed that when he remade the level.

You get acquainted with the M1 Enforcers for a bit. Apparently they now have a melee attack? I question the design decision in this

Someone... I forget who... who was helping me with miscellaneous Anvil work suggested that all monsters should have melee attacks. I didn't see anything horribly wrong with that, and it kind of makes sense - I mean, just because I have a gun doesn't mean I can't hit you with it up close, kinda like Halo's Elites do - so I said go ahead. I haven't heard much comment on it, but if lots of people think it's a bad idea, it's not that hard to change it back.

The one thing that bugs me is, upon inserting the chip, you are immediately teleported out of the level. What if I wanted to save first? Screw you, stop messing with me.

We inserted a pattern buffer in the hall just before that last room and immediately at the start of the next level for exactly that reason. Being teleported out immediately is kinda non-negotiable story-wise; it's supposed to be a surprise.

Hathor has already tried to off you by sending you to the Pfhor ship to hopefully get killed. At least, that's my interpretation of the first terminal of the following level; I'm sure I will be proven wrong later. It's sort of silly that Hathor would do that though; wouldn't she, of all the entities in the universe (save perhaps for Durandal) know that that's not really going to work? The hero is pretty capable of killing large amounts of Pfhor.

Yep, and she does know that, as you'll see the next time you talk to her, on the next level.

These Pfhor textures are the worst I've ever seen; I don't think anyone could make a good-looking level out of these

You've probably said before, but I'm curious which Pfhor set of the three canon games is your favorite. These were meant to be something of M1 meets Halo's Covenant, with a bit of M2 thrown in. (Originally, they were MUCH more M2-ish, with very bright pinks and greens everywhere, before I darkened them to be more like M1/Halo, with the blue in there as a nod to the blue-grey Infinity set).

Overall, a fun level for a while, but it gets annoying and in the end it just seems like more padding rather than really advancing the plot anywhere. And this is only the third level; I feel like the storyline began in medias res but forgot to tell anyone about that.

If anything, I'd say it's just the opposite. If I were to start the story in media res it would either start on this level or more probably the next, which is where the overall plot-driving event becomes clear. The first couple levels are supposed to be sort of a baseline regular old mission (however regular a time-travel mission can be), before everything goes all sideways. You've got one at your base, before departure; a straightforward introduction to the mission with a clear objective and nothing unexpected; a minor hitch in the mission with the transporter accident but still everything is going more or less according to plan; then WTF why am I on the alien ship and how do I get off!?; and then the actual plot gets moving.

I even think of the next level, Sahkmet Rising, as the "first real level", with the preceding as something of an extended prologue. It's like the beginning of any ordinary story that doesn't begin in media res; you show the characters going about their lives doing things normally with whatever minor problems they might have and then something unusual happens and sets off the string of events that the story is actually about. I generally prefer in media res to that sort of beginning, but when your very setting and premise are as strange as Eternal's, it's kind of hard to pull it off without a lot of setup first. Otherwise people end up even more confused than they already are.
Last edited by Pfhorrest on May 13th '10, 05:39, edited 1 time in total.
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Pfhorrest
California

Post May 13th '10, 05:48

Pfhorrest wrote:The Far Side of Nowhere is an expansive and bleak level with some very basic puzzles to solve. There is no combat, which makes sense in the context of the story, but as far as level design is concerned, it seems completely pointless to me. So this is some kind of human-controlled base on K'lia; why do I have to press switches to open faraway doors, lower stairs, and all of this other stuff? It seems like an excuse to show off the architecture, but the architecture isn't very impressive.

Originally, you could run pretty much straight from the first terminal to the last. Imagine if all the switches in the release version were already hit for you, and that was about how it was. Someone commented that because of that most of this huge level pretty much went to waste. As it is the whole northeast quarter of it still never needs to be visited. So I added the "security points" or whatever.

I was thinking about this after reading Ryoko's and your comments about it...couldn't you just hide guns and items for the explorative player to find rather than forcing someone to actually go throughout the entire course of the level? It may end up being a waste of the area of the level, but it ends up rewarding those who go spelunking.
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LegacyTyphoon

Post May 13th '10, 07:38

Pfhorrest wrote:Thankfully, almost none of the levels in the final version were actually made by me in the end, so I have little offense to take :-) Also, I have long since come to terms with the fact that not even I will ever be happy with this, so fire away. Enough people out there like it enough that I can give a "meh".


Quite a few levels in the later chapters are mine, however, and I'm very interested in your comments. They were made a few years ago and I've come to dislike some of them myself so I agree: fire away.
Last edited by Drictelt on May 13th '10, 07:38, edited 1 time in total.
Eternal - Xmas I - Xmas II - Xmas III - Victory Dance IV - Winter I: The Venom - KTA III - Phoenix - somewhere in the heavens, waiting: The Syndicate
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Drictelt
Belgium

Post May 13th '10, 12:24

Thankfully, almost none of the levels in the final version were actually made by me in the end, so I have little offense to take :-) Also, I have long since come to terms with the fact that not even I will ever be happy with this, so fire away. Enough people out there like it enough that I can give a "meh".
My mission is not to dislike EX on general principle, and what I've played in the past I haven't really disliked. :P Like everything else, there are parts that I'll like and dislike. And I'm certainly not trying to speak for everyone, I'm just speaking for myself, so take all of this with a grain or two of salt. Not to mention, I'm sure you're probably ready to lay this monster to rest by now, so don't feel like you have to grossly revamp everything again on my account. :P

Originally, you could run pretty much straight from the first terminal to the last. Imagine if all the switches in the release version were already hit for you, and that was about how it was. Someone commented that because of that most of this huge level pretty much went to waste. As it is the whole northeast quarter of it still never needs to be visited. So I added the "security points" or whatever.
No, that's kind of missing the point, which is that the giant empty level is unnecessary for exposition. Whether or not you can run straight through it is sort of irrelevant. I feel that I shouldn't be getting lost in expo levels; save that for the real thing.

You are correct, they are all (except Marcus) on the colony. The objective of this and the next level is to get Hathor access to Marathon's engineering observatory so that she can scan for and locate the Battleroids on the colony, instead of us running around down there tracking them all down on foot.
Right, okay. I knew I had missed something obvious like that. :/

We inserted a pattern buffer in the hall just before that last room and immediately at the start of the next level for exactly that reason. Being teleported out immediately is kinda non-negotiable story-wise; it's supposed to be a surprise.
I agree on the story necessity for the teleport, but I disagree on the execution. The simplest way to do it would be to have some kind of exit teleporter that you're supposed to go to, where Hathor says "okay I'm going to take you to X" and you get sent to Y instead. What if I wanted to look for more items or secrets? But I guess I could just reload my save if it really bothered me.

You've probably said before, but I'm curious which Pfhor set of the three canon games is your favorite. These were meant to be something of M1 meets Halo's Covenant, with a bit of M2 thrown in. (Originally, they were MUCH more M2-ish, with very bright pinks and greens everywhere, before I darkened them to be more like M1/Halo, with the blue in there as a nod to the blue-grey Infinity set).
Of the Trilogy, probably M2. M2 has a good balance of bright "alien" colors and milder ones, not to mention the actual textures are good and clear. But I think the thing that gets me the most is that all of your textures of a given color are the exact same color. Every pink texture is the same shade of pink, as near as I can tell, so if you want to have a pink-colored room it's all the same pink. This isn't a problem with the Marathon set, for instance, where some greens are lighter than others or have other patterns in them that stick out.

Of all scenarios, Rubicon and Tempus Irae both have great Pfhor texture sets; both have a good mix of vivid M2 colors and utilitarian pale Infinity ones.

The first couple levels are supposed to be sort of a baseline regular old mission (however regular a time-travel mission can be), before everything goes all sideways.
I question this decision but at least you did it on purpose. :P

Could you explain how to fix that without changing the damage the staff does, or the External Velocity Scale on every monster? The projectile the player's staff fires is just a clone of the standard fighter's melee projectile but more powerful and scales with motion like the fists, so I have no idea why it does that. I've likewise heard complaints about how the staff projectiles push you back too hard, but they are standard versions just made faster. Think these might be related?
I'm not entirely clear on how knockback works, but I do know that the two biggest functions are the damage value and the damage type. For some reason, the engine has a huge amount of damage types, and some of them have more knockback than others. For instance, Compiler bolts and Fighter bolts have huge knockback, explosions have decent knockback, and bullets have minimal knockback, even if they all do the same damage. You could play around with that; there's no real reason why the staff has to do staff damage. I'm not entirely sure if velocity is a function or not, but it might be, since those Wasp pellets knock me back a fair bit too but they do minimal damage.

I think MML may be able to monkey with this too, but don't quote me on that. :P
Last edited by RyokoTK on May 13th '10, 12:31, edited 1 time in total.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 13th '10, 12:44

Pfhorrest wrote:In early versions of Eternal, that was a lava-themed area somewhere deep in the core of the Marathon. But in later versions the lava set got repurposed to be Lh'owon-specific, and the level got retextured with the Marathon (sewage) set. If I had chosen the water set to be the Marathon set, this would have been a water treatment facility or something instead (I guess technically it still is). It was later remade entirely by D-M.A. but remained a sewer level for no particular reason just because of that history and because the exact location wasn't important to the plot.

Of course, now it's possible to have any liquid(s) you want in any set(s) :)


RyokoTK wrote:Could you explain how to fix that without changing the damage the staff does, or the External Velocity Scale on every monster? The projectile the player's staff fires is just a clone of the standard fighter's melee projectile but more powerful and scales with motion like the fists, so I have no idea why it does that. I've likewise heard complaints about how the staff projectiles push you back too hard, but they are standard versions just made faster. Think these might be related?
I'm not entirely clear on how knockback works, but I do know that the two biggest functions are the damage value and the damage type. For some reason, the engine has a huge amount of damage types, and some of them have more knockback than others. For instance, Compiler bolts and Fighter bolts have huge knockback, explosions have decent knockback, and bullets have minimal knockback, even if they all do the same damage. You could play around with that; there's no real reason why the staff has to do staff damage. I'm not entirely sure if velocity is a function or not, but it might be, since those Wasp pellets knock me back a fair bit too but they do minimal damage.

I think MML may be able to monkey with this too, but don't quote me on that. :P


The element is <damage_kicks>. For each damage type, you can set the base kickback, how much to multiply damage for additional kickback, and whether there is a vertical component. Electrical staff has an already-high default multiplier of three, and then gets that additional massive boost from damage when you are running since it's melee.
Last edited by treellama on May 13th '10, 12:50, edited 1 time in total.
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treellama
Pittsburgh

Post May 13th '10, 12:58

And I missed one thing.

I'm curious why you think sewer levels are so bad

Sewer levels in FPS games is one of the biggest cliches in the book, and there's a number of reasons why:
1. Sewers tend to be excessively linear, or they tend to be excessively mazy. This one isn't bad in this regard.
2. The entire setting behind a sewer isn't compelling. Yay, I'm in the space where liquid shit is being processed!
3. There's no real room for creativity in a sewer, and when it is, it's almost always annoying jumping puzzles.
4. In the case of Marathon in general, it almost always means swimming around a lot in slime, which is always a stinker (har har).
5. Sewer levels tend to rely overly much on door-and-switch puzzles.

Basically, TVTropes can summarize it well in its Down The Drain article.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 13th '10, 13:10

RyokoTK wrote:And I missed one thing.

I'm curious why you think sewer levels are so bad

Sewer levels in FPS games is one of the biggest cliches in the book, and there's a number of reasons why:
1. Sewers tend to be excessively linear, or they tend to be excessively mazy. This one isn't bad in this regard.
2. The entire setting behind a sewer isn't compelling. Yay, I'm in the space where liquid shit is being processed!
3. There's no real room for creativity in a sewer, and when it is, it's almost always annoying jumping puzzles.
4. In the case of Marathon in general, it almost always means swimming around a lot in slime, which is always a stinker (har har).
5. Sewer levels tend to rely overly much on door-and-switch puzzles.

Basically, TVTropes can summarize it well in its Down The Drain article.

I was about to protest, "But Deus Ex--" but TVTropes (again with the TVTropes?) is on top of it:
DeusEx inverts this brilliantly (of course).
Last edited by treellama on May 13th '10, 13:10, edited 1 time in total.
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treellama
Pittsburgh

Post May 13th '10, 13:21

05. Sakhmet Rising
[attachment=3736:SakhmetRising_0000.png]

I don't get vacuum levels. I just don't see the appeal to them. Either they're terrifying races against time, because there are no rechargers (Acme Station), or there are rechargers and it just seems pointless, like this one. The vacuum system in Marathon is further compounded because firing your weapon, running, and playing on harder difficulties accelerates the O2 drain, so it's completely uncontrollable by the mapper as to how far the player can go on a single tank of air.

Anyway, this level has so many O2 rechargers in the right places that it completely trivializes the entire vacuum setting -- especially since apparently all of my weapons work in vacuum, so I don't think I see the point. I'm sure at this point it just has to do with establishing the setting, and I'm not really complaining about it, I just don't get it.

On to this level. I actually like this one; it's a pretty simple and straightforward level with a good layout. Although the level is more or less linear, it's structured around a central space that you can easily return to for more air and health, and new areas that open up branch off of that hub. That's just plain good design, not only because it helps the player keep his bearings, but because in the real world that's how spaces are made. When you're designing a level, keep in mind that you're making an area of some kind; the more the level ties in to itself, the more authentic the area seems. This level is also comprised mostly of rooms as opposed to corridors, which I definitely appreciate. The only weakness is that the architecture itself is extremely plain. Inoffensive, but plain.

I think I may have ADD, or I'm simply too impatient for the terminals in this game. Tycho provides the objective here, and while his terminal isn't really that long, my eyes start to glaze over after a little bit, especially when he starts describing the objective. I just couldn't follow along with his description of the goal. Thankfully the level itself is pretty straightforward and doesn't really need any description. I can't tell if this is my fault or the fault of the writing for being too loquacious and unclear.

The combat on this one is pretty good, but now that I'm fighting Troopers I have a huge pile of assault rifles, which means that once again I've got the ultimate weapon in my hands and all of the combat is pretty much trivialized. This is compounded by the fact that I can't really use the shock staff against Troopers without getting chewed up by their machine guns, and the Hunters can punch me too, and I'm reserving my Scatterguns for sniping. Oh well. I find it odd that there are Vacbobs on the Marathon, and that they all have the same Cronus fusion pistol that I do -- did I miss something? I thought these were from the future. These Vacbobs should be using the crappy M1 fusion gun.

Level design: 4.5/5
Architecture: 3/5
Combat: 3.5/5
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 13th '10, 13:26

I think sewers work in Ne Cede Malis type levels, where the point is to feel like you're rotting in shit.

EDIT

Shit, I really should change my avatar. I actually thought I was Irons for a moment.
Last edited by gmanyo on May 13th '10, 14:41, edited 1 time in total.
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gmanyo

Post May 13th '10, 13:55

06. Core Done Blew
[attachment=3737:CoreDoneBlew_0002.png]

I'm not sure how I feel about this one. I think, in the end, it's a big fat "meh." So I'll talk about it categorically.

Story-wise, it seems to make sense. I do like Tycho's role in this game; showing him how he is before he becomes comically evil is a pretty interesting direction, though I suspect that's not going to last forever. :) As for the role of this level in the plot, I can't complain; this level feels necessary to me, and that's important. I don't feel like I'm wasting time by playing the level, not that my time is that valuable since I spend more time whining about the levels than playing them, but never mind.

Architecturally, the level is pretty bland, like most of the Marathon levels to this point. One thing I will credit these levels for, with only one exception (Dysmentria), is that the lighting is surprisingly excellent. There's a lot of attention paid to the lighting, which really helps, because the textures by themselves are pretty plain, and generally the geometry and use of those textures is plain to boot. The main structure of the level is the big core that has done blew; it looks... a little too simple to me. I don't feel that huge structures are Eternal's strong suit, so when you see stuff like the core, it just looks plain.

The level design is okay, but I think it could be better. This one has sewers too; the problem with the sewers here is that fighting in waist-high liquid sucks, since half of your bullets will hit the water and do nothing, and grenades will fall too short and explode in your face. But I can deal with that. The rest of the level is just slightly irritating, such as having to open a slow switch-operated door every time I want to save, or being teleported left and right around the level, or blah blah blah. There's a little too much fighting in corridors for my taste, too.

The combat on this level can get kind of tricky, which is good; so far, I feel that the difficulty curve is fair, and that's a tough thing to get right. What's annoying is that twice on this level I was teleported around only to have a Scatterforcer appear right in my face. Once at the beginning of the level, and once near the end. That's just a really annoying and dirty trick, but I have a feeling that it was an oversight in the designer's monster placement. There are a couple other points like that, such as when you go to press a switch only to have Troopers and Hunters spawn in right next to you and around you (that was a very quick death). The worst of it, though, is the core room itself. There must be fifty Wasps in this big room, and you have to kill them all or risk being pelted to death when you cross it. Wasps are just inherently annoying; they're like Drones from M2, but worse, since you can't see them as easily nor dodge their shots as easily. And there's so damn many of them... clearing them out took probably ten minutes.

Overall, this level is just shy of "decent."

Level design: 2.5/5
Architecture: 2.5/5
Combat: 2.5/5
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 13th '10, 13:56

RyokoTK wrote:This one is madness.




RyokoTK wrote:05. Sakhmet Rising
Oh well. I find it odd that there are Vacbobs on the Marathon, and that they all have the same Cronus fusion pistol that I do -- did I miss something? I thought these were from the future. These Vacbobs should be using the crappy M1 fusion gun.


Your really gonna point this out?
We've all noticed it. But I thought implications of maintaining the sprites and sounds into an already large custom shapes file was universally understood.

The same could be said in TGI. The player's AR and the Trooper's AR look different. But sound the same. Same rifle? No.

RyokoTK wrote:05. Core Done Blew
I don't feel that huge structures are Eternal's strong suit.


Careful...

RyokoTK wrote:04. Dysmentria
Jesus what hideous textures.


Disagree.
Last edited by MoppyPuppy on May 13th '10, 14:14, edited 1 time in total.
MoppyPuppy
Lake Nebagamon, WI

Post May 13th '10, 14:16

Your really gonna point this out?
We've all noticed it. But I thought implications of maintaining the sprites and sounds into an already large custom shapes file was universally understood.
Well the player and the Vacbobs in Phoenix use different fusion weapons, and that's reflected in the projectiles themselves and the fact that the ammo from one isn't used in the other.

The same could be said in TGI. The player's AR and the Trooper's AR look different. But sound the same. Same rifle? No.

Besides the fact that, to the untrained ear, I suspect most firearms of the same type sound similar, I don't understand your point in bringing up TGI when this is true of virtually every scenario. Are you trying to discredit me or something?

edit: why am I even responding to you
some day I'll learn
Last edited by RyokoTK on May 13th '10, 14:36, edited 1 time in total.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 13th '10, 14:20

07. Heart of Fusion
[attachment=3738:HeartofFusion_0000.png]
[attachment=3739:HeartofFusion_0001.png]

Time to destroy Tycho's core.

This level's okay too, I guess. It's pretty short. The one thing that kills me about this level is that there is an abundance of elevators that are constantly moving, and they're all too damn slow. Because, knowing my luck, I'm always going to miss every elevator and it sucks having to wait ten tedious minutes for it to come back down, when really the elevators could stand to a) move faster and b) be player-triggered.

There's not a lot to say about this level that I haven't said about the other Marathon levels, which is fortuitous because this is the last one. (It appears I missed the failure branch here.) Lots of big empty bland spaces. The combat's generally solid, though a little easier than the last couple levels for the most part. The only exception is the exterior of Tycho's core, which is surrounded by probably 20 Compilers. Now, these are all purple Compilers on TC, and it's a big empty room with no cover, so after a minute of trying to kill them I had 50 bolts chasing after me and no easy way to deal with them. It turns out there's a way to get a lot of MADDs in the room, so that's what you're supposed to do.

Everything else about this level is pretty much fine; the level design is adequate, the architecture is a bit bland, and the combat's pretty okay.

Level design: 3/5
Architecture: 2/5
Combat: 3.5/5
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 13th '10, 14:30

08. To Sleep Perchance to Dream
[attachment=3740:ToSleepP...eam_0000.png]
[attachment=3741:ToSleepP...eam_0001.png]

I hate dream levels pretty much categorically. At best they're basically expo-levels with an opportunity for the level designer to wank around a little bit. At worst, they're... like this.

This level is basically a massive jumping puzzle through identically-textured rocks with permanent fisheye. You can see on the automap the extent of this level. Isn't this just a touch gratuitous? I don't get this at all. First of all, having a jumping puzzle when your FOV is completely out of whack is a huge douche move, since I'm missing easy jumps because I can't judge the distance. This is really irritating. Second of all, I spent probably 10 minutes following these beacons left and right, thinking maybe they're guiding me through this monstrosity? Turns out I was wrong and looking for something totally other.

The worst part is that this map actually caused slowdown for me. Not much fun when you're jumping around.

I don't even want to talk about this. This is just so bad.

Level design: 1/5
Architecture: 1.5/5
Combat: not applicable
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN


Post May 13th '10, 14:43

RyokoTK wrote:08. To Sleep Perchance to Dream
The worst part is that this map actually caused slowdown for me. Not much fun when you're jumping around.

I take it you mean slowdown as in actual engine lag? Because I've complained about that before, and still have yet to figure out why. Obviously the map is gigantic, and my shitty Intel GMA 950 integrated chipset can't handle much, but even my iMac with a GeForce 7300 does the same thing. It is literally the only time I've ever had AlephOne lag in a single player map.
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 May 13th '10, 14:50

As in performance loss, yes. I get about 20fps on half the map.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 13th '10, 14:51

MoppyPuppy wrote:The same could be said in TGI. The player's AR and the Trooper's AR look different. But sound the same. Same rifle? No.

I don't think there are separate sound slots for the two machine guns.

Edit:

Lh wrote:I take it you mean slowdown as in actual engine lag? Because I've complained about that before, and still have yet to figure out why. Obviously the map is gigantic, and my shitty Intel GMA 950 integrated chipset can't handle much, but even my iMac with a GeForce 7300 does the same thing. It is literally the only time I've ever had AlephOne lag in a single player map.

Most levels don't have so many transparent lines so close together.
Last edited by irons on May 13th '10, 14:56, edited 1 time in total.
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
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