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.