The real must haves of the older days

Descent mission help and more WARNING: Spoilers inside!

Moderator: AceCombat

Which of these missions would you consider essential plays for a Descent fan?

Entropy Experiment
4
10%
Entropy Experiment 2
6
15%
Encounter at Farpoint 2: Dimensions
1
3%
Kryllridian Krusade
2
5%
Konflict at Karon
7
18%
Obsidian
7
18%
Bahagad Outbreak
2
5%
The Apocalyptic Factor
7
18%
Project Hydro (minus the first four levels or so)
1
3%
Project Mandrill
3
8%
 
Total votes: 40
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by MegaDescent » Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:33 pm

DarkFlameWolf wrote:I just wouldn't recommend Obsidian to a beginner in fanmade missions. That's all.
You said on the YouTube video comment you wouldn't recommend Phobos Encounter.

What missions from the list on the first post of this thread would you not personally overall recommend playing?
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by Naphtha » Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:05 am

Admittedly I haven't played all of the level sets on the list, but I did really like Project H.Y.D.R.O. that one time I played it, mostly for the same reasons Alter-Fox gave. One of its only real drawbacks is it's not co-op compatible, because of how one of the later levels is actually split between a main and a secret level... clever in execution, but it does kind of limit the game modes.

Ironstar and Ironblade are two mission sets I can keep going back to. I don't have as many favorite D1 single-player missions because there just isn't as much you can do with the game as you can with its sequel, so usually it's architecture and execution that I look for in a D1 set and both of those campaigns have some excellently built levels. The "Badlands" level of Ironstar remains one of my all-time favorites.

Konflikt at Karon also stands out for bringing more objective-based gameplay to D2 single-player. Every level feels incredibly distinct and the set has unique design motifs to it, so really my only complaint is the fact that it's only four levels long. But with the atmosphere the set brings, you really get immersed in the world Kruel built for players.

Other than that, I've always been a bit of a DFW fanboy (sheer difficulty of her sets notwithstanding :P) and I think it's a great honor that I've got Sirius and DH's help in the level set I'm working on now. The Lost Levels and The Apocalyptic Factor still stand out as some of the most difficult levels I've ever played for D2, but despite the challenge they still do an amazing job of stretching the limits of the game engine and practically reinventing the game itself.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by MegaDescent » Mon Mar 31, 2014 12:23 pm

So I was thinking, maybe it would be appropriate to put together a list a classic/potentially classic campaigns from post-2004, after DFW made her list:

[The (R) means at least Rebirth is required to run the mission stably, (R?) means I'm not sure]
* means I'm pretty sure it's unquestionably popular enough to call 'classic'

D1:
Nefarious Assault (R?)
The Outer Reaches (R?)
Descent Vignettes (R)*

D2:
The Enemy Within (R)*
Enemy Vignettes (R)
Legacy of Chaos
Black Prophecy

XL (for D2):
Anthology (even though it's technically one level)*
Dimensional Intersect (ditto the above)*
Belial System
The Sphere
Boiling Point*
Black Prophecy XL

Any important ones I'm missing here? (EDIT 4/7: Added an obviously miss, Black Prophecy XL, especially since it actually works for me now!)
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by DarkFlameWolf » Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:47 pm

NaphthaTurisas wrote: Other than that, I've always been a bit of a DFW fanboy (sheer difficulty of her sets notwithstanding :P) and I think it's a great honor that I've got Sirius and DH's help in the level set I'm working on now. The Lost Levels and The Apocalyptic Factor still stand out as some of the most difficult levels I've ever played for D2, but despite the challenge they still do an amazing job of stretching the limits of the game engine and practically reinventing the game itself.
Aww....thanks! :mrgreen:
As for Sirius and Darkhorse, they seem to be pretty much the community's level design assistants. They are kind, generous, skilled and always seem willing to help out a fellow designer on his/her project if warranted or said designer has proven their skills. They are awesome people and if chance happened that I worked with them again, I'd do so in a heartbeat! Awesome guys.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by MegaDescent » Mon Mar 31, 2014 3:19 pm

It's well deserved DFW. :) Having played The Lost Levels I am definitely a fan, although I didn't use the new ship and weapons (I didn't feel like dealing with a faster ship). Played Vignettes too, those were great if (eventually) really hard, but I beat it all regardless. Even your older levels, such as Deep Kragg Gorge and Bahagad, look like ones I'll want to play at some point.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by DarkFlameWolf » Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:22 pm

The Enemy Within was also my brainchild, but I had Sirius, Darkhorse, Pumo and several others helping out, but I did a good smattering of levels included in that set too. I highly recommend you try that level set because it is clearly some of the best this community has to offer, created by a small group of talented authors.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by MegaDescent » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:06 pm

I have played the first 3 levels of TEW like five times and like those all a lot. I really find Level 3 impressive for just how tiny the actual size is compared to the amount of gameplay in that map (not to mention, the cool shape). But Pumo's and Darkhorse's first offerings don't disappoint either. :) I really need to get on to Level 4. And I know it has some nice looking work from you as well (short-medium levels, just like Vignettes).

I also see both TEW and Enemy Vignettes continue your Lost Levels trademark of hiding a secret fullmap in every level (though, where's my next Lost Levels Level 13 Full Map/Omega Cannon puzzle?).
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by MegaDescent » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:33 pm

What port would you recommend for playing TEW - Rebirth (v0.58.1) or XL (v1.16.27)? Just the one it was designed most in mind for, I'm asking.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by DarkFlameWolf » Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:16 pm

I honestly don't have a preference to play TEW with XL or Rebirth. (Although I'd recommend XL for Vignettes)
As for the TEW, did you know it was the inspiration for Vignettes? I wanted everyone to contribute around 5 small 'concept-themed' levels. The idea didn't get across very well, so I took it upon myself to create an entire set around the idea, which became Vignettes.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by MegaDescent » Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:37 pm

At least Enemy Vignettes, is MUCH harder in XL. Not sure about the original. You have a slight advantage in XL though; robots generator robots behave 'passive' at first for 0.5-1 second or so.

Looking through the levels, I'd say some of the authors got the TEW concept while others didn't, but everyone did okay at least. I don't recall seeing any gigantic levels, not one in the entire 32 level mission, even the bigger maps are more just moderately sized. Not sure Darkhorse got the concept, but his levels aren't as big as many of his other projects and they are awesome anyways. :) In fact the same can probably be said to just about anything author, even those who didn't quite 'get it'. And as you make the remark on your videos, Sirius got it though, and so do your maps, at the very least.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by Sirius » Tue Apr 01, 2014 7:59 pm

As far as I recall, TEW doesn't have a hard requirement on Rebirth - it should work in vanilla D2 under DOSBox as well. There are a few (2-3 I think) robots that draw funny at times because I screwed something up with the model conversion that I couldn't figure out, but that was about it.

Since Rebirth jettisoned the software renderer you don't see those bugs in it.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by MegaDescent » Tue Apr 01, 2014 11:27 pm

Try the start of Level 9 - the generator there causes ridiculous lag. Also Level 26 (no discredit to you though, it looks like a great map!).
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by DarkFlameWolf » Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:34 am

I know the start of 9, for whatever reason seems to be laggy, but I haven't a clue why in vanilla Descent. As for level 26, well....that one is obvious why, it is a very complex main room with a bunch of cubes visible at one time with a big draw distance.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by Sirius » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:08 am

Well, yeah, but... the mouse works better in Rebirth too. QoL issues don't stop you playing it :mrgreen:
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by Naphtha » Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:59 pm

Not sure about Level 9 myself, but I do know of a couple strange cases where the wrong polymodel would be drawn (for me this really only affects the pre-existing Warlords in the last two levels, can't begin to guess why).


And as for Enemy Vignettes and concept levels... admittedly I fail at making concept levels, but I tried with the three secret levels I added. I'll be the first to admit they don't mesh particularly well, but I hope some people who found them liked them regardless. The difficulty curve's also interesting, because while it's definitely much harder than D1 Vignettes, whether it's harder or easier than TEW is up for debate and seems to depend on certain levels and sections.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by DarkFlameWolf » Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:26 pm

Well, we can all agree that anything I'm apart of is typically hard as nails. I like my missions rough!
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by Sirius » Sun Apr 06, 2014 2:41 pm

NaphthaTurisas wrote:Not sure about Level 9 myself, but I do know of a couple strange cases where the wrong polymodel would be drawn (for me this really only affects the pre-existing Warlords in the last two levels, can't begin to guess why).
I think you showed me that. Someone probably screwed something up with the HXMs - might have been me, I don't really know.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by DarkFlameWolf » Sun Apr 06, 2014 3:47 pm

I can assure you it wasn't me, I basically took the HXM files you gave me and just renamed them so they'd match the level they were to be paired with and plopped them in the HOG. Done.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by MegaDescent » Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:38 pm

Note (and thanks to Alter-Fox for helping me figure this out) :)

Black Prophecy in XL will NOT work correctly unless you manually set your hires_sounds value to 2! You cannot have them turned off in the cfg nor can they be set to 1.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by MegaDescent » Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:50 am

On a miscellaneous note, I was surprised yesterday when I found out that (the first) Entropy Experiment was actually released before Chasm was! I had been almost sure it was the other way around, that in terms of campaigns, Chasm had post-dated only ONP. But no, as far as I can tell, Entropy is THE first custom D2 campaign ever made (being that ONP is for D1). It wasn't until Mandrill that Solrazor began to follow the route Luke did all along (nonstandard objectives). Not that there's a problem with just finding the keys though, DFW has always been a fan of this but her works aren't any less interesting looking. :)

[Although, from what I saw on YouTube, at least three of her top five missions of all time DO involve nonstandard objectives - including her all time favorite.)
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by Alter-Fox » Mon Apr 14, 2014 1:45 pm

It's possible Solrazor didn't release Chasm as soon as it was finished, from what I heard he designed those maps more as an initial test of the D2 engine than as an actual serious project.
I'd be surprised if there weren't at least a few small singleplayer maps or missions released before Entropy because it wasn't made until D2 version 1.2... I wouldn't be surprised if it had been the first "major" singleplayer mission to get released though. But then, I didn't come to D2 until a little later.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by MegaDescent » Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:29 pm

Well, what I do know is that Level 2 of Chasm, 'Aqua Chasm', was indeed released as a standalone level, presumably Solrazor's first ever release. It is one of five non-campaign single-player releases Solrazor made for D1/D2 but the only one he used in a campaign (though another one was borrowed with permission for TEW). I'd have to assume beyond there he decided to make lava and ice variants, add an opener and closer, throw in a few secret levels, and turn it into a full campaign.

Luke made at least two classic multiplayer missions before going on to the Entropy Exp. series, and I think he released one single map 'Juggernaut' also, his only other singleplayer map, and it was not reused.

Either way though, scrounging DFW's list of classics over and over, I cannot find any custom campaign besides ONP that pre-dated Entropy and Chasm. So if there was one, it probably wasn't very popular, and quite possibly not very good either. Two great authors (in fact both later hired, I think?) pioneering the age of great D2 singleplayer campaigns, and not far apart in time either!

By later in 1997, Solrazor and Luke would both double up their great work, with Solrazor of course making yet one welcome more appearance in 1998. Then DFW and Kruel would show up later in 1998 or early in 1999....

Just a bit of history here then, I guess. The Encounter at Farpoint missions were roughly contemporary to Solrazor's last big works and then EAF2 to the emergence of DFW/Kruel, but they seem to have aged just about the worst of any of the 'classic' missions.

But in total, I can only come to the conclusion that Chasm and Entropy were indeed the first two D2 singleplayer campaigns of significance. Quite a good start I'd say, and not to mention Entropy gets even more added mileage, for showing Descent II can be about more than just finding the three keys.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by Sirius » Tue Apr 15, 2014 10:56 am

Luke worked on Descent 3... I'm not sure whether Solrazor ultimately went into gamedev or not.
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Re: The real must haves of the older days

Post by DarkFlameWolf » Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:29 am

He did go into gamedev, but last I spoke with him almost two years ago, he wasn't overly liking it.
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