I will play every level in Marathon and comment on them

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

I will play every level in Marathon and comment on them

Post Mar 1st '18, 08:05

Seeing how Marathon 1: Redux is a project that is currently underway, I thought it would help if there was commentary about the levels that could suggest improvements for the project.

Commentary on Marathon 1 is by no means new; I will try to link to the Tour of Duty for the levels as well. I will attempt to focus on improvements that could be made since that was not in the mind of the Tour of Duty authors when they wrote their commentary. There still will be commentary of my own, though. Despite the naming similarity to Ryoko's commentary, I'm probably not going to go in that direction. Since it is the original Marathon you won't find much architecture that gets good scores out of 5. Besides, I don't want to be mad at my favorite scenario of the trilogy.

The difficulty level I am playing on? There's only one true difficulty level.

If I refer to you, I refer to anyone who makes the maps for M1 Redux though that may be one person in particular.

LEVEL 0: ARRIVAL
Tour of Duty Link: http://forums.bungie.org/story/?read=62049

When you first enter the level, you've got a tough fight (unless you are playing on an untrue difficulty level, which is okay if you are a noob). I found that I was out of shape when it comes to fisting fighters; you can easily die here (well, I did) even if you are somewhat experienced with the Marathon franchise. I like the difficulty. If nothing else, it's a good way to discourage newbies from putting the difficulty on TC. It's just a good note to start things out on regardless.

The first terminal you read is a standard emergency broadcast. "All personnel are required to arm themselves and fight for their lives."
Spoiler:
It would seem like the bobs in the later levels didn't get the memo, though.
I notice the terminal states that the final terminal is in the hangar control room. When it comes to improving that room, you should keep in mind it is the hangar control room. There should be a bunch of switches that control things, such as the hangar doors that may even allow you to close the hangar to the outside. Maybe it should overlook the hangar?

While I am discussing the very beginning, I should mention the idea of having the player start in the hangar. How would you make the shuttle? It might look a lot more obviously 2D if the player got all up close and personal. The player would then presumably come in through the door to the hangar and not from where the player currently starts. It would alter gameplay some, but it might not be a terrible idea. On the other hand, if I recall the manual made clear that Durandal wasn't being very cooperative, and maybe the door that you would normally use just isn't functional. The problem is I'm not sure how you would do the presumed space walk that is required to get to where the player currently starts. Just something to think about.

I'm sure someone has said this before, but the architecture on this level is for the most part really good. Seeing into other parts of the ship is just good design, and really helps it feel like a real place.

Atmospherically, the music of the level combined with the stark contrast of light areas (say, coming through the window) with dark ones really sets the mood of the entire game out on the right note. Combined with the cramped conditions of the maze, you really get the feel very fast this isn't one of those games where you are a hero with epic music while you do massive deeds. Rather, it is a somber tale where you don't know what to expect around the next corner. That being said, you might be able to change the music here without ruining things too much, and if you use a lot of Craig Hardgrove's music it might be better to start things out with one of his pieces.

It's important to keep the space in the rooms with the windows, since you need it to dodge around the fighters. Ideally, of course, there might be some chairs or other obstructions since I imagine the first rooms as maybe common rooms or welcome area type of places.

It's worth noting it's very easy to not have to hit that one switch to get into the maze area since you can just "jump" around the pillar, though I'm sure everybody does that.

The maze itself is presumably some kind of maintenance area. The terminals are titled "Engineering access," so you could add say some sewage canals (maybe not large enough to go into though) to make it more clear this is a utility area. I also think there is a certain fan texture that would serve the area very well. If you wanted to spookify the area a bit, you could add like a single area with flickering lights, though do not go overboard with this. It could really set things off on the right note.

I'm not sure what the function of the area is where you jump out of the maze into. It would be hard to change this though without interfering with the fighters or the secret that's here, since you can't really modify the walls because of the secret and you can't really do too much to the floor lest you get in the way of the fighters. Maybe the whole area needs to be modified and redone, especially since it leads into what should be the hangar control room.

Other than standard things you would probably do without me saying (adding extra nonfunctional doors to make it feel like the ship is larger than it is, adding security camera images to the terminal maps and other nice pictures, etc) I'm not sure there's much more to say. After you run through the maze a few times to make sure you got the secret and are full on health (I'm not the best at this game, okay?), you go on to BGN. Maybe make things a little more convenient so you don't have to make so many circles through the maze (say, a health charger in the hangar control room), or am I just bad? Probably the latter. If I was better I could have avoided needing the health charger the second time in the first place.

Arrival is a pretty good level overall in my opinion.
CluckyInventor

Post Mar 1st '18, 10:54

CluckyInventor wrote:I notice the terminal states that the final terminal is in the hangar control room. When it comes to improving that room, you should keep in mind it is the hangar control room. There should be a bunch of switches that control things, such as the hangar doors that may even allow you to close the hangar to the outside. Maybe it should overlook the hangar?'


Good catch! Another item on the todo list.

CluckyInventor wrote:While I am discussing the very beginning, I should mention the idea of having the player start in the hangar. How would you make the shuttle? It might look a lot more obviously 2D if the player got all up close and personal.


General Tacticus's 3D models are included in M1 Redux. Sadly this means that bloom will have to be disabled if you want nice looking scenery (don't ask me why) but I think the models are more than worth it.

CluckyInventor wrote:The player would then presumably come in through the door to the hangar and not from where the player currently starts. It would alter gameplay some, but it might not be a terrible idea. On the other hand, if I recall the manual made clear that Durandal wasn't being very cooperative, and maybe the door that you would normally use just isn't functional. The problem is I'm not sure how you would do the presumed space walk that is required to get to where the player currently starts. Just something to think about.


I've experimented with putting a door between the airlock and the observation deck that doesn't open until you read the terminal. However, this spoils the ambush, feels a bit contrived, and makes the beginning much easier. Now I'm considering putting a new door on the ground level that leads to a room underneath the first hangar overlook, off which is an elevator to the normal start.

CluckyInventor wrote:Atmospherically, the music of the level... really sets the mood of the entire game out on the right note... That being said, you might be able to change the music here without ruining things too much, and if you use a lot of Craig Hardgrove's music it might be better to start things out with one of his pieces.


I am planning on using Hardgrove's Landing track here. It's a bit more upbeat than the original, but still has a sense of creepiness to it. This is the level where you as a player "discover" the Marathon, and I think the track has a sense of wonder to it that complements the level nicely.

CluckyInventor wrote:Ideally, of course, there might be some chairs or other obstructions since I imagine the first rooms as maybe common rooms or welcome area type of places.


Hmm, the "observation deck" is odd in it's standing-room only-ness. I think I can add some furniture while still keeping the area clear for combat.

CluckyInventor wrote:The maze itself is presumably some kind of maintenance area. The terminals are titled "Engineering access," so you could add say some sewage canals (maybe not large enough to go into though) to make it more clear this is a utility area. I also think there is a certain fan texture that would serve the area very well. If you wanted to spookify the area a bit, you could add like a single area with flickering lights, though do not go overboard with this. It could really set things off on the right note.


Fans, yes, and otherwise, noted.

CluckyInventor wrote:Maybe make things a little more convenient so you don't have to make so many circles through the maze (say, a health charger in the hangar control room)


I'm leaning more towards secret passageways than extra health terminals.

Good commentary! For BGN, are you planning on doing the original or my remake as it currently stands?
User avatar

ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Mar 1st '18, 17:02

I wouldn't spend too much time trying to come up with real world, logical equivalents for what rooms might be, as much of it could full under the category of 'chaos architecture', I think you might just drive yourself mad
User avatar

HunterOfShadows

Post Mar 2nd '18, 07:36

@HunterOfShadows I don't plan to spend time coming up with real world uses if I've spent enough time trying that I don't enjoy it anymore. I haven't reached that point yet.

I'm looking at both versions, but I'm focusing more on the Redux side of things since (1) the tour of duty for this level is fairly detailed and (2) that's more useful for the Redux project. But it wouldn't be honest to the topic of this thread if I didn't talk about the original a little bit.

LEVEL 01: Bigger Guns Nearby
Tour of Duty link: http://forums.bungie.org/story/?read=62057

This one's fairly straightforward, you just follow the corridors till you reach the end. Redux did a good job remedying this. Most spaces in Redux feel unique and have a purpose. It's also nice that you can go back to the beginning, but this does change the balancing for Never Burn Money some since you can leave the level on full health (which I didn't do in the original.

There still is an equally useless infravision powerup that requires grenade jumping for. What a noob trap.

Redux spoiler:
Spoiler:
I like the secret flamethrower since it puts the "guns" into "Bigger guns nearby" rather than "Bigger gun nearby." However, I feel it is a very strong weapon for this point in the game, and it might be excessive to give an ammo canister along with the flamethrower. Besides, if flamethrower ammo is a real scarcity then it makes it all the more valuable when you put it into future secrets.


The one thing I would change is as follows. When you pick up the assault rifle, you pick it up off the floor. Since when did people leave big, nasty guns just lying around on the floor? This is sort of a problem in the entire series but here I think we can do something to make it better.

EDIT: I was tired and not thinking well, deleted a terrible idea.

The best way to solve the problem is to have the rifle dropped by a dead BOB. It would certainly explain why it is on the floor. After a vicious fight, the cornered BOB falls leaving his powerful weapon behind, which the aliens don't think to take for themselves. EDIT: It would be really cool if there was a terminal which was the personal log of said BOB, "I'm scared, aliens are invading and I've never used a gun before. They're coming, Ahhh!" Then you leave the terminal and see said corpse on the ground.

Overall, good job on the Redux version, I have little to say.
CluckyInventor

Post Mar 2nd '18, 09:20

As I was reading your proposal of making the alcove special, my mind went straight to "Or I'll go the macabre route and just throw a corpse next to it," before I got to you proposing that very thing. For added effect, I can set the "random ammo on pickup" flag in physics.

I'd actually like to make the hypervision useful. I've got a solo script that does the trick, but it needs to be rewritten for coop.

Spoiler:
You're absolutely right about the napalm cannister being too much. I'd like to keep the flamethrower there, as Bungie originally intended for it to be here, but there needn't be ammo. I toyed with the idea of disabling the recharge station earlier, and decided against doing that before I decided to put 1x health powerups in the secret. With those extra suits, even though they are secret, there's no need for the charger to be working.
User avatar

ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Mar 3rd '18, 04:26

LEVEL 02: Never Burn Money
Tour of Duty link: http://forums.bungie.org/story/?read=62428

Seeing how I took some damage on BGN (yeah, I'm bad), I definitely appreciated the little health charger that was hidden away in one of the rooms. Why was it semi-secret in the first place? It reveals itself as soon as you get close to it. Did the owner of the room just not want people using his shield buffer?

I would normally classify these little side rooms as storage, especially since there is some ammo tucked away in one of them. Maybe you could put shelves and some extra doodads into these rooms to increase the storage feel. Another possibility would be offices, particularly for that one with the shield buffer. Trying to hide a shield buffer in a storage room is quite odd, but hiding a personal shield buffer in one's office? Particularly if you are a high-ranking member, you could definitely get someone to install that for you. I feel like someone could have fun writing a terminal which is the report of the manager who uses said office, talking about bland subjects like production output or whatever.

This whole area definitely feels industrial. Between those little things that go up and down and the proximity of the automatic manufacturing system, this level could definitely be spruced up by industrial gizmos. Maybe you could put windows to inaccessible areas that have platforms constantly moving, and maybe even some lava for added decoration (thinking of the reactor thing in Shake before using kind of look). I'd like to say that putting in windows to inaccessible areas of the ship is a great way to add flavor to any level that's particularly bland, though make sure there are non-functional doors to said areas to make things feel realistic. In general, if you want to add a window, if you think it is reasonable for it to have an outside view, give it one, but otherwise give it an inside view of other areas of the ship. Seeing as the AMS tower has the outside view, the lower level where you pick up the first two chips (which has a bunch of bland walls) could use some nice windows to other areas.

I think it is a really nice touch that you can turn on the lights in one of the areas. Find me a place that doesn't have a light switch. There should be more of these in general, though I'm not naming specific places. (I guess in non-residential settings it might be more common to be missing this feature)

The to-do list only has the task "Add second elevator for co-op." Let's talk about the first one though. I had a friend who played the level who really struggled to find the elevator. I'm saying: "It's right there! See the flashing light? See the area with a red circle on that one map?" You know why he struggled? Nobody expects there to be an elevator in the middle of an open area. So when you do add the second elevator, put it in some side room where people would reasonably expect an elevator to be.
Spoiler:
Of course, the million dollar question on this level concerns our favorite secret. Just what is the deprivation chamber? The name would suggests to me like some kind of torture facility. MIDA time? It would make sense, there's this giant inaccessible whole so none of the subjects can escape, whereas the MIDA personnel could use ladders and such to access their special 3x charger. I feel like there's a special opportunity to add a terminal written by one of the people who is getting, uh, deprived in here. That should be fun.


I really do like the Fat Man music, but it's too short! Do you have any idea how many times that track repeated while I was playing the level/writing my review? Craig Hardgrove's version is just as short so Redux might have to leave Fat Man out. :|

On a completely unrelated note, I see that IP addresses can go above 255 on the Marathon. I guess the Marathon was large enough for IPv4 to be insufficient, but not so large as to make IPv6 necessary. So they instead expanded the IPv4 protocol to take numbers up to a higher value (presumably 1023). To be honest, IPv6 is probably the better way to handle this since it is quite convenient to bunch things into chunks of 1 byte for computers.
CluckyInventor

Post Mar 8th '18, 08:28

I've spent some time puzzling over that recharge station. Another reason it remains closed until approached may be because the industrial equipment might create dust that the Marathon's engineers didn't want getting into their electrical socket. Adding fog to the level may reinforce this.

I've always seen those recharge stations as nothing more than electrical sockets, each colour wired for different phases. Not something you would hide, but something you might like to protect.

I really like Fat Man and intend to keep it. I could add a pause between plays, or have it alternate with, say, Chomber.
User avatar

ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Mar 8th '18, 17:15

ravenshining wrote: my mind went straight to "Or I'll go the macabre route and just throw a corpse next to it,"

Dead men do tell tales, for example someone might think:
"If this is such a great weapon, why is this guy dead?"
I just play 'em; I don't know how they work.
User avatar

HelviusRufus

Post Mar 9th '18, 00:48

Exactly the atmosphere Marathon should have!

this weapon
is highly inaccurate, but the
grenades hit hard and it's the
best we can do right now.


On the other hand,
Spoiler:
the BoBs in the closet with the flamethrower are alive and well.
User avatar

ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Mar 11th '18, 19:14

Sorry, Real Life is a thing that has to take priority over Marathon. I'll try to keep things coming but if get busy (like the last week), I'm just not getting around to it.

LEVEL 04: Defend THIS!
Tour of Duty link: http://forums.bungie.org/story/?read=62504

What is the compactor for? Ever seen Star Wars? There it goes side-to-side, but it is no stretch of the imagination to think a trash compactor goes up and down. On that note, maybe it should be taller but come down from the ceiling as well to make it even more compactor-like. Just think about it: the Marathon seems to have gravity, and it just isn't economically to launch trash into space. Besides, you need the recycling program of legends on a spaceship since you can't just get a shipment of new stuff (though it may be possible to mine some materials from the thing that the Marathon is built into).

Ideally, there would be trash-looking scenery objects that would be put on the platform as well. What even happens in Aleph One when you try to crush scenery objects?

To really make things better, you should activate the compactor from a control room and then have to run onto the platform. It feels wrong for a compactor to activate the moment a person steps inside, though it is reasonable to believe that Durandal just wants you to have a bad day.

It might make it easier (particularly for new players) to just have a staircase/elevator to circumvent the crusher, and leave the crusher as a secret for those who have played the original level, cough, I mean, those who have the guts to step into a crusher.

The rest of the level is fairly linear: just follow the corridors. For co-op, the choices are to (1) make things wider or (2) have 2 parallel corridors that players can use. I guess it just depends on the geometry of things.

To make things feel less linear (who builds a ship with only one path through, after all?), insert a bunch of non-functional doors that connect different areas which happen to be close on the map. Maybe some of then allow access only once you have reached the other side because some people really do like to go back to the beginning to save/check for secrets/etc.

This level has the rather infamous encounter with MADDs even though you haven't activated the systems yet. While there may be explanations for this, with Redux's introduction of armed BoBs, the whole question can be avoided entirely.

The only reason I can think of for the switch puzzles/final crushers is my very favorite reason, that there should be some other way around but a certain Durandal likes making our life difficult.

Is that thing where you only need to insert the center chip still gonna be in Redux?

A final note considering that secret tunnel you grenade jump to: if you fail, you can fall off the bridge and die, but if it is co-op you probably can't go back down there to get your stuff.
CluckyInventor

Post Mar 11th '18, 23:46

No worries, I'm having some RL issues as well.

After some quick testing, nothing happens to the scenery items on the platform, it doesn't even break breakables or cause them to disappear like corpses and items do. If the platform hits the ceiling, scenery items on the ceiling will stick to the platform as it descends. I think what I'll do is make unmoving mechanical monsters that use scenery graphics so the platform will crush them, and then have it stop just shy of the ceiling, so the "corpses" don't disappear.

I could move the terminal where Leela briefs you on the aliens, and put one from Durandal where he gets snarky about the door. It would be a good opportunity to explain it's function.

As for the chip insertion, I'll make sure you have to insert all three. Otherwise, you'd have extra chips in your inventory that would cause a problem on later levels that will require them.
User avatar

ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Mar 12th '18, 03:58

ravenshining wrote:Otherwise, you'd have extra chips in your inventory that would cause a problem on later levels that will require them.

Serve 'em right for not following instructions.
I just play 'em; I don't know how they work.
User avatar

HelviusRufus

Post Mar 14th '18, 07:23

The issue may lie in the fact that Redux might employ chips in future levels, and if you have extras it wouldn't just be ugly decorations that you are stuck with for the rest of your playthrough, it might end up more like Aye Mak Sicur with the chip from the previous level.

Level 05: Couch Fishing
Tour of Duty Link: http://forums.bungie.org/story/?read=62675

The very beginning of this level is yet another instance where time stopping can be very convenient. New players will likely immediately read the terminal, but will soon find themselves in an ambush that is very hard to survive, particularly if they are playing on the One True Difficulty. I find it best to immediately run to a spot where I can't be flanked and shoot anything that walks up towards me.

Besides, this is the kind of place that should likely be reworked anyways. One thing I noticed with Redux is the reintroduction of jump pads for terminals. There doesn't seem to be room for one in the status quo, and how did we teleport here without one? If the player starts in a side room that has room for a terminal they can read in peace before stepping into the narrow corridors and the inevitable ambush waiting for them.

Read you definitely should. "Durandal cannot gain access to a vital section of the ship." Ooh, this is a vital section of the ship? Just what is it? All I see is a maze. Perseus points out two issues with the level in his Tour of Duty:

First, Swirls is depressing music. This can change, I don't see any reason for swirls to be playing here in particular.

Second, this level is grey and lacks in saturation. I think the best way to fix this is to define just what "vital section" of the ship this is. It's easier to add elements of color if you have a theme in mind. When I see the final section of the level, I'm thinking of some kind of liquid storage, you are walking on a walkway above some kind of vats. Maybe filtration? If this area is part of some life support system, it would make sense that Leela would pull you away from the main shooting to go here. Durandal invading the Destiny 22 servers or whatever nonsense they play on the Marathon? Who cares! Durandal taking over the water filtration systems so he can grow in size? That's gotta stop this instant!

From a level design standpoint, the liquid level would have to be such that it did not interfere with the combat.

Would defining the area as a filtration/life support system affect things in the story development thread?

Of course, any other vital function of the ship would work for this area.

The CRIST terminal is one of those interesting story things that there should be more of. At some point, I think it would be cool to have a contest where people submit backstory terminals that could be looked at for use. Ever want to talk about function/history X of the Marathon? Now's your chance for everyone to see your work on X!

In the Tour of Duty, Perseus points out you can get stuck if you don't know to jam that one door. That might be something to fix. It's hard to overlook the switch, so it's not likely that you will get yourself stuck (you have to not jam that one door, for one thing), but if it ever happened it would probably be really frustrating.

Another annoyance with the level is the fact that the entry terminal doesn't update after you complete your objective. Players probably wonder: Why can't I leave from here? What am I supposed to do now? I did the objective, right? There should be some message that the added security prevents leaving from this location, and that they should find the other terminal.
CluckyInventor

Post Mar 16th '18, 02:30

I think Craig's What About Bob could fit in nicely here.

I love the liquid storage / processing idea! It would be perfect for the introduction of Troopers, because I have Troopers set to fire their SMG under liquids. Hm, maybe you could *start* in a vat of... something. Pass a pattern buffer on the way out... then get ambushed when you swim out and try and read the term. I may rework the trapping door such that you enter the room under liquid, and have to fight your way up to the walkways.
User avatar

ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Mar 18th '18, 08:05

I'm actually really flattered. I looked at the todo list and a surprisingly large number of my suggestions are on there. I figured I was the person who said a lot of decent things and a lot of bad things at the same time. (Remember when I edited out some of my own terrible ideas? Remember when I forgot cryostasis was a thing and assumed you had been a normal security officer for so long that your military training could be discounted? Just to start)

I approve of the use of Craig's "What About Bob?" for couch fishing.

LEVEL 06: The Rose
Tour of Duty Link: http://forums.bungie.org/story/?read=63308

I made it a goal to save enough BoBs since that is what the player *should* be doing in Redux. And in the original Marathon if you care about poor, innocent lives.

I played the first bit as I usually did, but then I heard "Aahhh!" "Aahhh!" "Aahhh!" and realized that I probably wouldn't save enough BoBs like this. So I tried running into the courtyard ASAP. "Aahhh!" "Aahhh!" "Aahhh!" Then I tried shooting from the windows. And shooting out the windows for a little bit and then running into the courtyard. The latter seemed to work the best but I still was met with the now all-too-familiar sound of BoBs dying. I was only able to save two at most. This is a great start to things.

I promptly ignored Leela's advice to use the marked save terminal since there is no health charger there, and when I ran into the thick of things to try and save BoB, I found myself wanting the health charger. Why doesn't Leela recommend the pattern buffer that has the nearby health charger? I needed that.

So I make my way towards Leela's pattern buffer, but when I get there I find that the Pfhor got loosed and smacked up my friendly BoBs again... This is going wondrously!

I head next to the elevator towards the flowering part of the rose. With some aggressive play, I saved some of the BoBs here. If only I could have started doing this sooner.

I'm going to take a sidetrack here to talk about texture usage and lighting in this level. Compared to the previous level, there is a pretty good mix of textures here. Combined with the very dark and very light areas of the level, the texturing is about as good as you can expect with only one texture set. Of course, we can do better.

I like the window that opens up and lets the player see into areas of the ship they have already been in.

But the real reason to talk about this happens right when you hit the switch to turn on the elevator that takes you to the flowering parts of the rose. When you go to the elevator you walk through this tunnel of what appears to be lights, but the lights don't turn on when you turn on the elevator! Showing bright light from this tunnel would be a good way to indicate to the player that they should focus their attention on this spot now.

Back to the story. Things got easier as I went through the dark corridor. By quickly mowing down the aliens, one can save most bobs here. This is before you reach the Pistil which saves you a very nice chunk of BoBs. By some good saving in the end, I was able to save enough BoBs even despite the massacre at the beginning.

Seeing as this is, as of the original series, the first encounter the player has with BoBs, there are some things I'd like to note. First, don't the colors mean something? I forget which color means what except for green signifying airlock technicians. The Marathon must need a lot of airlock technicians. I mention this because if security officer is a color they should always be armed, whereas airlock technicians probably shouldn't be. I feel there needs to be far more colors if each color signifies said BoB's job.

Arming BoBs may not improve their survivability for levels like the Rose, though. When they shoot, they aren't running away, which might counteract any support they provide. Of course, this assumes that they actually run away and don't run into the aliens the way they do when I'm around (which makes me very glad that natural selection is a thing that will weed out such individuals from society).

Also, this is the player's first encounter with hulks. They aren't used much in the series, and I'd like to see at least a little more of them. In this level, they are very annoying since they don't die very fast and they like delivering a rather lethal punch to BoB. On a level like Blaspheme Quarantine they are well used as distractions that keep the player busy and may let other enemies be unusually threatening (fighters, say) if the player is focused enough on the hulk.

I'm not sure if there are too many changes needed here. For one, the level has the gimmick of looking like a rose, and it would be difficulty to add much new architecture while keeping that. What improvements can be done are for those more skillful than I am. I've personally considered working on a level like Never Burn Money (since I have an image in my head of what the level could be) and improving it to the point where it is easier for someone else down the road to take over, but I haven't had the time (I've been struggling just to do the commentary). This is a level that I would gladly push onto someone else's shoulders since I can only think of minor improvements to make to this one.
CluckyInventor

Post Mar 19th '18, 07:32

LEVEL 07: Smells like napalm, tastes like chicken!
Tour of duty link: http://forums.bungie.org/story/?read=63335
This level has one thing in particular in my mind:

Major wasps

There seems to be an infestation of the things with the number I run into. On the One True Difficulty, this level is quite a bit more difficult since every wasp is major. "I die in one shot" becomes "it takes like 5 pistol hits to fell me." The introductory ambush changes from something to keep you on your toes to something you can legitimately die to. When I first played the level on easy, I didn't know where the charger was and ran through most of the level without charging. On TC, I have to whore that thing, I go there ASAP and make many return trips.

Why? Two words: MAJOR WASPS! You don't have the fusion pistol at this point. Pistols don't stunlock, and in the time you shoot one down you've lost most of your health, particularly if you have to reload. It's not like you can dodge in the narrow corridors. And if you don't have the dual pistol at this point (it's secret, after all)... this would be a nightmare. Even with the dual pistol there were times where I shot some wasps, went to the charger, but in the short time it took to recharge my shields, I heard a squawk and poof! Another one of the things had spawned! The cycle repeats.

Of course, nades clean up the wasps fairly effectively. It's how I dealt with most of them since I didn't want to spend an hour at the charger. But they sometimes survive the nade, and then you have to shoot another or starting shooting a relatively small target with a VERY inaccurate gun.

Even if you kill all the wasps you find, I found as many as four of the things just flying around. Bam! Bam! Bam! Time to recharge. Go towards the main area to collect the secret. Four more of the things are just floating around. Really? How am I supposed to get this exact timing secret when I can't even clear the level of the wasps?

I'm probably just bad, the true definition of a spazzeroid who didn't even pull his fist out once! (Though I don't feel that bad since I have a friend who was playing on normal and couldn't beat the purple compiler on this level and ragequit from then on LOL)

As for the secret,
Spoiler:
If this is the "death trap" that is no fun on this level, don't make the way out easy.
This secret is supposed to be hard. That's why you get the flamethrower so early... oh wait, sike! Redux lets you get it even sooner! If you do make a secret way out (which may spoil the term down here), make it very hard so that only someone who is incredibly desperate can find it. Like, desperate enough to spam their action key on an inactive pattern buffer.


Then there is this staircase puzzle. I always make the staircase even though you can just grenade one of the switches to bypass this puzzle. This puzzle is a lot easier than Colony Ship for Sale, Cheap! and I would like it to stay in Redux. Even though the wasp intrusions interrupted my puzzle solving.

I always get the ordering of the final elevators wrong. You'd think co-op mode (if you had it) would help with this one but the timing of things makes it probably easier for one person to do it. Speaking of co-op, there's a lot of narrow tunnels here that might make things rather difficult. That's probably not so bad in this level since each player can hunt an individual switch. The end passages might need to be wider though. Also, having only one charger might interfere with the "each player takes a side" strategy. Consider adding one to the other side of the maze.

There's the potential inconsistency in the final terminal text that Perseus points out in his Tour of Duty. Redux can fix this! The first terminal states that this place is near the sensitive engineering areas in the aft section of the ship. If you wanted to give this level more flavor (how much flavor does chicken have if every new meat tastes like it, after all?), keep that in mind. Near but not at sensitive engineering areas at the aft section of the ship. The tunnel systems feel relatively monochrome to me, but maybe that's just the way tunnel systems are.
CluckyInventor

Post Mar 19th '18, 08:18

I want this to be as much as possible a community project, not just my own project. So, I put a lot of stock in other's suggestions, and you're providing most of the suggestsions at the moment.

Before reading this, I added in purple, white, and black colour tables for the BoB, so yes, there will be more colours. Someone familiar with the code will have to correct me on this if I am wrong, but I've run some tests, and it seems that if a monster is set to "cannot attack" and yet still has an attack, then they will still run about randomly, while attacking if an enemy happens to get within range. This is much safer behaviour than the default of running directly at the target.

Spoiler:
In Perseus's Tour of Duty, a commenter notes that it is possible to grab the flamethrower, read the terminal, and escape, because of the time-stop feature in M1. Since I will not be implementing time stop, another way will be necessary. Probably another timing puzzle is in order, I'm not a fan of spam-clicking things.
User avatar

ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Mar 20th '18, 07:28

ravenshining wrote:and you're providing most of the suggestsions at the moment.

Hey, guys, I know you are reading this. Just because I start the topic doesn't mean I (or ravenshining) don't want to hear what you have to say too! This supposed to be a COMMUNITY thing, and having one or two people do most of the planning just doesn't seem to cut it. You'd better start coming out of the shadows, I know where you live! (Well, maybe I don't, but I need to sound threatening so you do what I say)

I've noticed that in the last two levels I talked about more gameplay sorts of things. What do you think about this? I'm thinking I should at least add some helpful suggestions along with it, like "what should I do about the wasp infestation?" for which the answer is "Maybe just make them spawn less often, or make the level larger so you can actually take a breath without having to worry about the things." I'm not sure how infinite spawning mechanics work in Aleph One.

LEVEL 07: Cool Fusion (Yes, it took me this long to notice my numbering was off)
Tour of Duty link: http://forums.bungie.org/story/?read=63369

This level brings a lot of new things to the table. Double health! New gun! (which, funnily enough, I never used on this playthrough of the level) And if the Redux todo list gets implemented, it could even be the first vacuum part. I've always figured the vacuum chamber wasn't pressurized; after all, there are holes through which you shoot the nades. This already disregards the upper final passageway that doesn't look like it seals off at all.

If you are ambitious, this whole first part of the level could use a revamp/redesign. Perhaps the player starts somewhere else, fights the orange trooper, has to grenade puzzle the switch, and then finally enters the vacuum chamber. I'd like to have the grenade-the-switch puzzle still there to teach new players the mechanic if they don't already know. Having the player start in the vacuum chamber with an orange trooper would be quite daunting. No AR and having to tackle an orange trooper with possibly only a single pistol?

If the player starts elsewhere, as a mapper you have more freedom to change the chamber and the areas around it. There's a charge corridor north (on the map annotation), but no charge corridor south. The charge corridor just looks like a bland hallway anyways. Shouldn't it look as techy as the Tech.50 fusion pistol I just got?

How about you also throw in some airlocks to the vacuum chamber. Then maybe it could start out as normal air, but when you flip the switch the liquid level rises, I mean, the air gets sucked out and it then serves as a vacuum room. The difference could be very clear if there are monsters in it the first time and then some more come in after you depressurize it.

To move on to the rest of the level, I'm noticing a lot of high ledges that deserve to have guard rails on them. Even the two-foot drop had a railing in BGN, you'd think these 12 foot drops better have one. I worry they might get in the way of the combat though. Can the monster still shoot you if the railing is there and you are far below?

Yes, Perseus, the flamethrower is by far the easiest way to handle that one ambush on Total Carnage. It's a really cool ambush since the lighting gets dark as it is triggered. For the record, you get onto that ledge by riding the first elevator of the wave and jumping. It's quite a risk of you getting crushed, so it's generally not worth going up there.

The wave has always been something I've wondered about. What kind of sane human would build such a thing? My favorite reason comes to the surface: It's not normally doing such strange things, but a certain rampant AI is being spiteful. Instead of adding another Durandal terminal explaining this, I think it would fit the atmosphere to have a BoB write a terrified log report of how he witnessed his friend Micheal getting crushed by the wave's malfunction (does this mean Radix gets to draw more anime? How well can he draw a terrified BoB who just saw their friend get crushed in a "malfunction"?). Put some blood next to one of the platforms to give some credence to the story.

You'd think you'd be able to control the elevator you came up out of the ambush from by some nearby switch and not all the way down below the vacuum chamber, but this would alter the gameplay. Maybe the switch at the top of the elevator is malfunctioning? Maybe the control room you head to controls a lot of elevators around the level? Or maybe there is a way to alter the geometry to make this elevator control more believable?

Leela should probably mention that she can't teleport you out from the starting terminal so you have to go to the one on the upper levels. It feels odd for it to be connected to the vacuum chamber with no airlock or any kind of door period to seal off the upper levels from the vacuum.
CluckyInventor

Post Mar 20th '18, 10:04

CluckyInventor wrote:Hey, guys, I know you are reading this. Just because I start the topic doesn't mean I (or ravenshining) don't want to hear what you have to say too! This supposed to be a COMMUNITY thing, and having one or two people do most of the planning just doesn't seem to cut it. You'd better start coming out of the shadows, I know where you live! (Well, maybe I don't, but I need to sound threatening so you do what I say)


To be fair, Radix came up with a lot of interesting ideas. Unfortunately she fired them all off a bit too fast for me to take in, and I feel bad about having been standoffish, especially now that I'm warming up to some of them and appreciating her terminal art.

CluckyInventor wrote:I've noticed that in the last two levels I talked about more gameplay sorts of things. What do you think about this? I'm thinking I should at least add some helpful suggestions along with it, like "what should I do about the wasp infestation?" for which the answer is "Maybe just make them spawn less often, or make the level larger so you can actually take a breath without having to worry about the things."


If you're saying something is too hard, probably the most I'll respond to that is maybe put in a pattern buffer before the part you think is hard. Smells like Napalm and BoB-B-Q are two nightmare exceptions to M1's overall easiness, however. BoB-B-Q might be easier to survive with the BoBs being armed, but more difficult to complete now that you have to save the BoBs. As for Smells like Napalm, Tastes like Chicken, if you find the secrets the answer will be in the title.

However, if you have ideas about how to make a level harder in a fun and interesting way, or more dynamic, or have ideas about pacing, that I'm more likely to respond to.

CluckyInventor wrote:I'm not sure how infinite spawning mechanics work in Aleph One.

TLDR:
Spoiler:
Many maps just have monsters placed on them. However, you can have additional monsters spawn in, by specifying for each species:
• the number of them the map starts with
• the minimum number present at any given time
• the maximum number present at any given time
• the chance for one to spawn (per unit of time?) if the number present is between minimum and maximum
• the total quantity available for spawning (which may be infinite)
• whether to spawn in a random non-monster-inaccessible polygon, or to re-use existing starting locations
Monsters spawned in this way will simply begin to exist if the rules are met, unless there is a placed monster on the map set to teleport in and random location is turned off.
One note relevant to Redux, is that M1 did not support teleporting items and monsters, they just quietly began to exist if spawned in. You will notice in your next level that this is no longer the case!

This may be obvious from how the east and west control stations are completely different at the moment, but keep in mind as you review G4 that my work on G4 is unfinished.

CluckyInventor wrote:I worry they might get in the way of the combat though. Can the monster still shoot you if the railing is there and you are far below?


I have the guardrails set to be destroyable, just like lamps. So they will block one shot and shatter. Getting monsters to navigate around them is the tricky part, one must be mindful of how the AI builds paths, and I had to restructure some polygons on BGN to make sure the Pfhor didn't get hung up on a railing.

CluckyInventor wrote:The wave has always been something I've wondered about. What kind of sane human would build such a thing? My favorite reason comes to the surface: It's not normally doing such strange things, but a certain rampant AI is being spiteful. Instead of adding another Durandal terminal explaining this, I think it would fit the atmosphere to have a BoB write a terrified log report of how he witnessed his friend Micheal getting crushed by the wave's malfunction (does this mean Radix gets to draw more anime? How well can he draw a terrified BoB who just saw their friend get crushed in a "malfunction"?). Put some blood next to one of the platforms to give some credence to the story.


Good idea. However, why are the lifts mechanically capable of crushing people in the first place? Perhaps this was part of Strauss's plan to mess with Durandal, giving him control of safety-compromised equipment.

In addition to your BoB terminal idea, I think another long, boring terminal describing elevators and platforms could be worked into this or an earlier level, with a note saying that due to budget cuts, mechanical safetys were not installed in favour of tasking Durandal with making sure all platforms operate safely.
User avatar

ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Mar 20th '18, 16:40

CluckyInventor wrote:Hey, guys, I know you are reading this.

Just want to say that I think this thread is a neat idea, like M1R itself, that I unfortunately don't have the time to even keep up with properly, much less contribute to. But I look forward to eventually looking back on it some day.
User avatar

Pfhorrest
California

Post Mar 20th '18, 18:49

CluckyInventor wrote:Hey, guys, I know you are reading this. Just because I start the topic doesn't mean I (or ravenshining) don't want to hear what you have to say too! This supposed to be a COMMUNITY thing, and having one or two people do most of the planning just doesn't seem to cut it. You'd better start coming out of the shadows, I know where you live! (Well, maybe I don't, but I need to sound threatening so you do what I say)

I read but don't have much to say. I will chime in and say that I always liked the loop-the-loop flow of Cool Fusion but I find the level to be too easy. I would suggest making it vacuum as already discussed and adding an oxygen station somewhere midway through the level, probably after 'The Wave' elevators and replacing the normal fighters with hunters/more compilers (As the fighters are not vacuum enabled and shouldn't be present if it's a vacuum level)
User avatar

Flowers

Post Mar 20th '18, 18:55

I haven't been reading it. Original Marathon needs no improvements.
User avatar

treellama
Pittsburgh

Post Mar 20th '18, 19:23

Umm I haven't been contributing my limited opinions on this 'cause I don't think they're very useful for you, but if you really want here they are:

-don't add/change any terminals/writing because anything you change will be lower quality than the original game

-don't add any "real life" architecture (as I saw suggested at some point); it was a smart and intentional decision
to avoid that in the original game imo because there's no way to do it convincingly in the engine. it's better to leave
everything up to the player's imagination 'cause the more you try to force "realism" into a blocky pseudo 3d engine
the more fake it will look.

-don't use any updated graphics or music. this is obviously personal preference but to me the more "modern"
pieces you add, the worse the dated piece look. you could replace everything in the game with hi res textures
and CD quality professionally produced music and all you'd accomplish is making the engine look even more
primitive

things that could be cool:

-slight changes to the pfhor chapter to make an encounter with hounds and/or armageddon beasts
or adding alien crewmen, but if and only if someone actually is interested in doing a convincing job
of creating low res spritesheets for them

-idk, this is basically just a really long way of saying "i agree with TL"

I think it's interesting reading your ideas/opinions on M1 though, even if I disagree with most of what I read.
User avatar

$lave

Post Mar 20th '18, 20:10

Since we're all sharing, I'll just say that I'm not reading it as I have no interest in playing marathon 1 or anything based on it.
User avatar

Wrkncacnter

Post Mar 21st '18, 03:44

i opened the thread to see what wrk wrote
patrick
末法

Next

Return to Marathon Discussion



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot]