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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1 (Read 529 times)
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[U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Feb 26th, 2014 at 3:37pm
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I'd like to introduce a singleplayer map I've recently put up. I'm hoping it would be possibly part of a larger pack eventually. (we all know where that could go...) For the time being, I'm pursuing an episodic release of content where a new map arrives once every few weeks (or months; can't make promises still!). This is my among my first postings here so I might as well make a bit of an entrance with a bang.

--

I present to you an Unreal 227 singleplayer map:



--
Don't Shoot The Chest!
--

Several years have passed since the weakening of Skaarj dominion over Na Pali. The lands remain restless. You are a survivor of a ship long crashed. You've traveled long roads yet the path you tread remains the same: ruthless, unforgiving, yet intruiging.

A day has passed since an attempt to raid a Skaarj supply depot went awry. Hungry and tired, you approach an inn with a Nali proprietor to pass the two suns. Before you landed on a natively-tailored bed, your eyes pass your translator's interpretation of the inn's house rules: "Take care of the furniture." You escape quickly into the world of dreams only soon to be interrupted by the chirps and squeals of native wildlife. Then it was time to set out again...

--

Download Links: (11MB including a few system, texture, and music files for completion)
Download from Google Drive
Download from Dropbox

--

This map was made partially as a study for various workflow techniques surrounding UnrealEd, most of which I've discovered only during what is basically the end of my mapping career for Unreal games (that end keeps getting pushed - and that's mostly a good thing! Mostly...). As such it may feel occasionally uneven on a variety of parts. Nonetheless, this whole sideproject had been inspired by games like KumaWar where a slew of free content was dished out once every while (and often in a timely manner, but not exactly in with quality assurance.) Our communities are very small and big projects taking years to develop has given me the suggestion to try out something like this with more frequency.

A few features of the map:
~Use of 227 features! Sunlight, particle effects, distance fog! (that's not really a distinguishing feature, isn't it?)
~OddsOfAppearing gameplay. Replaying will result in a reshuffling of monster positions and counts!
~Off-beat storyline. (whatever that means!)

Please give this a try! Smiley This is not at all tested for coop most especially since there's only one PlayerStart and a lack of end-to-end pathing.
  
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Re: [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Reply #1 - Feb 26th, 2014 at 6:46pm
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First of all, I noticed in the readme you are the guy who made DM-FoT-Arken. This map is impressive, and the build quality is astonishing, but I think its lighting is diserves it because the red/yellow mix is just plain weird. Also, getting all the brushes out of the map so that no one can do jack sh!t with the map is kind of a dick move. But you're not the only one to do this awful thing, so I'll let it pass. I just wanted to voice my disappointmend with this, and compliment you and the build quality: is BSP just that flexible in Unreal Tournament, or did you do something special to reach that level of detail (like play with the build sliders or something) ?

But enough about Arken, let's talk about this map. First of all, I didn't open it into UnrealEd (well actually I did, but just briefly to see if I was embarking on a 2h long map); I guess it's limited to Unreal 227 given all the particle effects I've seen and the fog you used?

So now, on to the map itself.

First of all, spoilers be ahead, play the map before reading my stuff.

First of all,the little intro is GREAT. I have seen small intros for many maps, and apart from the very simple yet awesome intro to the vigil99 adventure, this was one of my favourites : it's short, to the point, coherent and funny. The "discussions" were intelligently set up and it didn't feel forced, I liked it, from the  Nali outside the door to the Emails from the counter-guy. I loved the lampshading of your "Don't question how I got here so fast" :p

The build quality is very nice and clean. No superfluous detail, yet the maps are very beautiful, there is a lot of deco, and some parts are very impressive, such as the great corridors after the aqueduct. Basically, everytime you put in a bit of grandeur, it was very, very nice and good. The smaller passages were nice and well-made, but less creative. This is not a reproach, but I find it interesting because I tend to to the opposite : tons of details in the smaller and confined areas and less in the great open zones (I'm thinking about my DmP17 for instance).

The theme is rendered with great skill, I loved the work on light sources: the windows in the inn, the many small blue crystals in the ground and so on, all have their own coronas and this makes a very nice effect. Especially the windows, although it sometimes becomes heavy on the hardware.

The most awesome (in the proper sense of the term) part of this map was of course the freaking crumbled aqueduct! It's incredibly beautiful and it's BIG. The fact that the player can see it a bit before getting on it from another "window" is also very nice and an example of great planning. I loved it.The particles, the sound, the lighting, the build, everything was just about PERFECT, I loved this part, to the point when the character said "this is way too dangerous for just a broken chest" I thought "Who cares idiot, this is great". Well actually, my first thought was "oh right, we're still doing that, the story".

And then, the gameplay. I found the map to be like many Unreal SP maps, where there is a global lack of ammo and health, but even though I was always a bit short of everything, I was never critically short of anything. So the balance remains very good and quite superior to many SPs I've played. However, since this is the first map, most of the time is spent as pest-control: spiders, tentacles... Without the slith and the one Skaarj, I would have thought the map was greatly lacking except for the final fight.

And then, the final fight of course. Indeed, I knew it was going to happen, since the ASMD in plain sight, the grandiose decorum and the crumbled stone gave it away immediately. This room is the one that ate away at my framerate, so the fight against the Titan was going pretty bad when the second one emerged, at which point I may have exclaimed something directed at you (and your mom) in the heat of the fight, because it started getting really hard. It took me 6 tries to win, and in the end, I just ducked behind the crumbling stone and hoped no rock would ricochet on the wall behind me. I was more or less expecting the plaque to crumble for good seing how sadistic this last fight already was, but it remained steadfast, so yay (they don't make crumbling stones like that anymore; crumbling stone technology has gone downhill since then). It was such an abrupt increase in difficulty that in the end the hero goes "phew, that's over", but I was thinking "yeah, I know where this is going, there's still on monolith standing, there's gonna be a huge ass-kicking thing hiding inside just to slaughter me, right?", but I was wrong. The map ended.

Great map, very good and nice. Also, great use of sound and music (especially in the intro), I love details like that. I'll be looking forward for the next episode.

So yeah, so far, 9/10, I love this, keep mapping!
« Last Edit: Feb 26th, 2014 at 8:28pm by Hellkeeper »  

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Re: [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Reply #2 - Feb 26th, 2014 at 7:04pm
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we are looking for a new screenshot yet for the Oldunreal mainpage next month, would it be ok for you to make a shot of your map? Or maybe you want to send me a specific one? Would be great!
Unfortunately I didn't find the time yet to play the map, but will do on weekend I suppose Wink
  

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Re: [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Reply #3 - Feb 27th, 2014 at 2:43pm
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Forgot to add: I had a Diablo 2 flashback when spiders and tentacles started dropping ammo and health.
  

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Re: [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Reply #4 - Feb 28th, 2014 at 5:25pm
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The map looks very nice on the visual and technical side. Rooms are  pretty well detailed with some nice lightning. I kind of fail to see Hellkeeper his problem with the orange/red colors. Not every level with ancient.utx textures needs nuclear green light everywhere. Also, got to love that intro. Every player ever just breaks everything they could to search for ammo which this nicely exploits Grin.

however there are a few very annoying flaws.

For one thing, I just hate it when levels make you jump around on small and/or thin surfaces. Because of the fast movement in unreal is my natural instinct to tap the movement keys which, as we all know, makes you jump. This was especially aggravating in the part where you have to jump up on the broken side of the bridge. There is a BSP bug there that screws up the collision making it very difficult to know where to jump. To make it worse, every direction you jump in causes you te get launched of the bridge. I didn't save so I had  to do the whole level over again just because of shitty geometry (I just cheated my way back using god mode but it was still annoying). When I die I want to feel it was my fault. Not the fault of lazy map testing.

I also found it kind of tedious how there is a lack of Automag ammo compared to Stinger ammo. I used the Automag only ones because which made me wonder why I got this gun to begin with. Not that it matters, Most enemy got killed with my Dispersion Pistol because most where either spiders or tentacles. The Dispersion Pistol upgrade also lies wide open making the gun quickly the preferable choice.

On to the overal level design, Like I said, it looks nice but it is very straight forward with little to no dead ends or alternative routes. Making getting lost, where unreal level are known for, Next to impossible. The upside of this is that you never see the same room twice. The downside is that I never felt accomplished when I finnaly found the right route. Combining this with the fact that enemies are a breeze makes me feel kind of empty after I completed the map. Execpt for...

The final boss(es). I personally hate Titan fights and this one is no exception. Titan fight always make me feel like I am playing a one-hit kill cover shooter instead of playing Unreal. I don't blame you for this. Every level I played that had Titans in it felt like this. where I do blame you for is placing two of my most hated enemy's in the same room. Like every Titan fight, It just gets down to finding the right spot to cover yourself from the rocks. Having twice the amount of rocks flying at you make this all the more tedious. It took me 4 tries to get it right (which is still beter than Hellkeeper Grin.

Conclussion: The level look very nice and you clearly know what you are doing when making the aesthetics. The giant canyon looked amazing and the water particles where very convincing. There where frame drops (20 FPS is the lowest it did go on my pc) which shouldn't be there in a game from 1998 running on a mid-range game pc but I could look past that sinds they didn't hinder the gameplay (the game ran 60 FPS and the moments it mattered most). The intro definitely made me smile for a while so you got that part covered.

But in the end it just felt like I ran through a large hallway with weak enemy's here and there with a shitty cover shooter at the end. I did enjoy it (until the Titans atleast) but This would bore me pretty quickly if it was much longer. Add a little bit more exploration to the next levels and I would love to see more.
  

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Re: [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Reply #5 - Feb 28th, 2014 at 8:22pm
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Overall, I agree with all you said. I didn't experience any problem with the jumping on the bridge though.
Yes it's very linear, but it's quite rare to see maps as "freely explorable" as Unreal's, in my experience. And it didn't deter me too much. What you say is perfectly valid though, and more exploration would indeed be great.

Quote:
I kind of fail to see Hellkeeper his problem with the orange/red colors. Not every level with ancient.utx textures needs nuclear green light everywhere.

I was talking of another map he made, not this particular one. I just seized the occasion. That being said, I am personally a fan of green, and wouldn't mind more Tongue
  

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Re: [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Reply #6 - Mar 1st, 2014 at 4:54am
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Thanks everyone for the lengthy responses. I'll let it be known that for feedback, I never ignore and just go 'tl;dr' on what has been said and I treasure responses greatly. Smiley

---

Quote:
Smirftsch: we are looking for a new screenshot yet for the Oldunreal mainpage next month, would it be ok for you to make a shot of your map? Or maybe you want to send me a specific one? Would be great!

Why that'll be my pleasure. Tongue I am totally good, if not ecstatic, about having my work shown off. For who selects the screenshot - roll the dice! I can take one or you may also catch whichever spot you prefer the most!

---

Quote:
*stuff about DM-FoT-Arken*


First of all, about DM-FoT-Arken's color scheme. Yes, it's a huge frackin' mess. This color scheme I wanted to create a look of molten steel, bathing the level in warm lighting that made it feel somewhat like a forge. This was during the time BSP details overshot the logic behind how lighting should be put together, resulting in a mishmash of red and orange (I called it 'gold') colors that made the map look like pepperoni pizza in the end.

As for the removal of BSP brushes, this was done out of necessity to cull unnecessary weights on the map in order for it to be easier to download off from servers. (I have gut feeling that a map that's 40MB from a server is going to be good but given the old UT redirect system? It was a pain in the ARSE to download. I'd rather look for it elsewhere like on Mapraider on my own!) For the record, I always offer my brushed maps available for download if someone really just talks to me about it (a PM, a forum message, an e-mail, whatever!). In fact, I openly encourage frankensteining maps for study, something other mappers are not keen on accepting. (I don't frankenstein geometry though - that often takes LONGER than making them on your own trying to match everything up, seriously.) There was no change to engine architecture to compensate for the map - I could easily import the geometry into U1 and it would still work.

---

Quote:
*on linearity*


I must say that linearity was a choice I willingly took during the production of this map. The idea was for this map to be produced from an auto-pilot workflow based on impromptu layout and architecture. Basically, whatever follows goes!

Among my design choices was to make a map of significant linear length as a starter just focused on letting the player gain a huge distance from his starting point to get to the good stuff. (think like vehicle maps in various SP campaigns out there, where it's run [or drive] the F away from point A to point B)

I will claim right here though that map 2, which already has significant content, runs the complete reversal of map 1's linearity where loops, branches, and one-way ramps dominate the layout. Since map 2 still follows a temple theme though, it is still not quite the same as running across open terrain and finding small places around - I could get to that on the map that follows though!

---

Quote:
lack of ammo diversity


I must humbly request another playthrough of the map again - the map uses OddsOfAppearing for creatures and I very well made sure to bring out ammunition for both guns an equal measure. (for the record, there's actually more manually-placed AutoMag pickups than Stinger ones) However, there may be a chance for one play session to completely favor ammo for a specific gun as consequence, since half of those ammo are dropped by monsters (which may or may not spawn due to OddsOfAppearing).

Maybe I'd rather actually remove the DP power up at the start?

---

Quote:
*the Titan fight*


I can't help but say I made sure to give the player all that he needs as a minimum to fight the Titans and, intentionally, with weak weapons. The Titans have greatly downscaled health, and measured quantities of ammo were spread around the place to compensate. A non-stop circle strafe can deal with these, relying only on whatever weapons were left at hand, which is why the place is wide enough to let the player run around the corners outside the 'toothed' edges. (trust me when I say the fight really doesn't take that long!)

I do playtest my map repeatedly and add or remove things. (although half the time, I fail to play to 'break' the map than just play to it)

But yes - I do fully understand how it feels to have the map author pit you against a Titan. It's that "Are you f***ing kidding me?!" kind of affair for me too, and I often don't put up bullet sponge critters in my work. Tongue

---

Quote:
*jumping parts*


In the end, I do admit I'm not good at making athletics obstacles. (The bricks on the face of the other bridge end are the platforms but it's easy to accidentally slide off of them, for one.) For the heck of it though, I thought the jumping parts I made are at least somewhat easier than many BT maps where players were forced to jump across floating 2x2x2 cubes. I made at least a lengthy surface area like a runway for the player to run down to and land on the other side, giving a lot of leeway. The jump distances between smaller blocks are also extremely small.

Nonetheless, there will be better-made platforms in the future if there will ever be any while I also potentially create a new update for this map with some gameplay fixes.

---

In any case, thanks everyone for their feedback. Cheesy I got some really juicy responses here so I hope to be back soon. For this campaign, I'm sort of planning surprise releases so there might not be much news during the interludes. This project is really like a touch-and-go kind of thing.
  
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Re: [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Reply #7 - Mar 1st, 2014 at 11:36am
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Well, everything I said about Arken was addressed, and your explanations are more than understandable. Thanks Smiley

Contrarily to Skywolf I didn't have any major problem with the only place where jumping is needed. I fell once because I misjudged the jump's length, but otherwise, the planks are large enough and it's not a hard one. Didn't get ammo problems either, apart from the stress of being always on the brink of lacking ammo.

As for the titans, they have low health indeed, but the what bugged me that the room is hard on the framerate and that made the entier affair a bit tedious. Otherwise, it's not particularily unabalanced; just hard, but in a fair way, I thought.

Anyway, congrats and keep'em coming.
  

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Re: [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Reply #8 - Mar 2nd, 2014 at 8:04pm
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Replayed the level and you redeemed yourself from the bad ammo distribution.

HOWEVER: I did find quite a big flaw in your level. The gate in the bottom left of the Titan room (from editor view) has too much room between the grades making it possible to walkthrough there and skipping the part with the Skaarj and making it possible to be near invulnerable during the Titan fight because their boulders never seem to pass through.
  

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Re: [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Reply #9 - Mar 3rd, 2014 at 4:11pm
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I love the current screenshot on OldUnreal's frontpage. The fog, the particles, the architecture... This is as very nice one Smiley
  

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Re: [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Reply #10 - Mar 5th, 2014 at 9:57am
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Well this looks very interesting for me Smiley. I also like the new screenshot on the main page that shows a great ravine. I havnt worked with the particle system so far, but planned to finish a deathmatch map with the new features.

I hope I find some time next weekend to throw an eye on this.

EDIT: ok, I just made a playthrough of the map and I really like it. I dont give a long reply here, because my english is to bad for this.


The map design is quiet good. Maybe some parts/elements of the map repeats to often. It is visible that Copie'n'paste is used at some places. But which mapper doesnt do that, hehe Smiley. The climping parts doesn't annoy me (I collected some skills in bunnytrack maps Wink). They are really an alternation in comparison of "just walking on flat area and look whats happening". I would like it when the player can discover some secrets/goodies on this way beside the "main route". I'm also missing the use of the z-direction a bit.

I hadn't problems with lack of ammo. I had in the first half of the map more ammo at ones disposal, than in the second half.

The waterfalls are really great and it's a very good use of the particle system. I also tried to make one without particle effects and the result was really ugly. You could also used the particles on some more places.

My fps went down to 8 in the last room where the titan fight. On my first try I was shooting on the first titan and didnt notice that there is a second one. But the fight was ok in my opinion. Maybe you should place a big sign there that says: "Save your game NOW"  Grin.

So I'm looking forward for map #2 Smiley.
« Last Edit: Mar 6th, 2014 at 6:58pm by Pedi »  

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Re: [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Reply #11 - Mar 11th, 2014 at 3:31pm
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You should probably script something that changes pickups (such as health, weapons and ammo) and monsters to be generated as you enter a particular area of the map, rather than at the start of the level. That way, if you desperately need a certain type of ammo, you'll be more likely to get that kind of ammo later on in the map, and if you desperately need health but have plentiful ammunition then you'll be more likely to get health and armor pickups instead.

Just food-for-thought.

EDIT:
@Smirftsch, what's with the "Max Favorite Topics" thing?
  

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Re: [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Reply #12 - Mar 11th, 2014 at 4:27pm
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Amaroq Clearwater wrote on Mar 11th, 2014 at 3:31pm:
You should probably script something that changes pickups (such as health, weapons and ammo) and monsters to be generated as you enter a particular area of the map, rather than at the start of the level. That way, if you desperately need a certain type of ammo, you'll be more likely to get that kind of ammo later on in the map, and if you desperately need health but have plentiful ammunition then you'll be more likely to get health and armor pickups instead.


I advise against the game being so docile. Receiving what you need when you need it is taking away the challenging part of the level; the one where you have to use weapons which are not your first choice, and change your game to a more subdued approach bceause of a lack of health.
  

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Re: [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Reply #13 - Mar 11th, 2014 at 4:49pm
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I never meant on a room-by-room basis, but on a huge-chunk-by-huge-chunk basis or on a checkpoint-by-checkpoint basis.
  

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Re: [U227] SP-DontShootTheChest Ep.1
Reply #14 - Mar 13th, 2014 at 12:13am
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This was a fun, good job. Looking forward to future releases. Thanks !
  
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