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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:10 am
by Xfing
Ok, looks good! There are still some minor things left to do though:

- All the Gophers are blue, the tradition is to make only the one carrying the keycard blue, the rest the default texture
- Make the level darker, either by reducing the intensity of the lights or reducing their count (I suggest the latter)
- Make the reactor area a bit more sprawling by expanding it, as per earlier suggestions. Vertigo levels do indeed like large areas in them.

Do these things and we should be good

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:37 am
by Xfing
Okay, since LightWolf appears to be none too eager to claim his spot on the list (how ironic), I have an update of my own. Following Naphtha's advice, I decided to create a little demo of the mission, containing the first five levels. I've already finished working on level 1 - which in addition to finally receiving its objects, has received some more tertiary mapping as well. I'm marking its state for now as "beta". I'll slowly work on the remaining 4 levels and add their files to "d15demo.hog", which can be found in the Main HOG" subdirectory on Dropbox.

What I need your help with is testing - for now just level 1 - to tell me if the robot and item balance is right. I myself have been able to beat this level on Insane multiple times since I started testing it, so I'm happy with its "baby" difficulty level - this approximate level of difficulty will be maintained right until the first boss in the Ceres level, so I intend for these levels to consist of only bottom-tier robots + some melee robots - medium hulks and other potentially instantly lethal robots will be introduced only after the Ceres level. Overall, in terms of difficulty, my aim is to get a steady, organic progression with several spikes here and there, like in the illustration (the spikes don't necessary have to be these particular levels of course):
Image

I do realize that creating 52 levels where every single one is perfectly, ever so slightly tougher than the previous one is exceedingly hard to do intentionally, but we're going to try and get as close to that as we can. Descent 1 had a pretty good difficulty curve, but playing through it you can't help but conclude that the difficulty spikes of the levels were not intentional, since they happened too erratically (for example level 9 and 11 are way too close to each other, both tough as nails). The lesson I've learned from this is that both the geometry and the robot cast can create difficulty. If you're working off pre-made geometry (as we will be) and are aiming for a particular sense of difficulty, you have to use robots well, taking advantage of the traps and overall layout.

As for level 1 here - I've populated it with 22,200 points worth of robots (that's not counting the reactor), which is much more than D1's 13,000. When first making this level I thought it was puny and would be fast as blazes to play through, but it turns out that once the resistance has been added, it's as long or a bit longer than D1's level 1. With 52 levels I figured the first few can be very small, but I'm happy to have been shown that this level plays much longer than I expected. The more gameplay time the better, even with such a long mission pack. As for armament for the five levels of the demo, I've got this progression in mind:

1: Around 20 concs, 7 homers, 1 vulcan ammo, 1 laser upgrade (hidden)
2: Concs at discretion, 8 homers, 4 prox bombs, 2 vulcan ammo, 1 vulcan cannon (hidden), 1 laser upgrade (hidden)
3: Concs at discretion, 8-10 homers, 8 prox bombs, 3 vulcan ammo, 1 vulcan cannon, 2 laser upgrades (1 hidden, 1 obvious)
4: Concs at discretion, 12 homers, 12 prox bombs, 6 vulcan ammo, 1 vulcan cannon, 3 laser upgrades (2 hidden, 1 obvious)
5: Concs at discretion, 16 homers, 16 prox bombs, 6 vulcan ammo, 1 vulcan cannon, 3 laser upgrades (1 hidden, 2 obvious), 1 spreadfire

The rest of the power-ups will be shield and energy boosts, full maps, headlights, extra lives, cloaks and invulnerabilities, added according to need.

So just go ahead and play level 1, tell me what you think, or what you would improve, be it in terms of geometry or object placement. And LightWolf, finish that damn level of yours already!

After this demo is completed, Level 1-5 folders in Dropbox will be removed because of redundancy.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:47 am
by AlexanderBorisov
Can the demo be accessed and played by non-designers? Can you share a link if it is so?
Anyway good idea on difficulty progression, i've never seen any mission that is able do create a smooth curve on Insane difficulty, Often the end is anti-climactic, later levels (at least many of them) are in fact easier despite more fatal robots - once you have a plan how to deal with them, of course. I think it was the case in D1 FS, Lost Levels, Enemy Vignettes to some degree in last 2 levels. Not necessarily a bad thing, however. Also it is often hard to balance between luck-based difficulty and "predictable" difficulty (the latter can be handled by good flying skills, knowledge of the map and good strategy). You probably want both of the to some extent to make the mission really good (but not too much luck based of course).

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:22 am
by Xfing
AlexanderBorisov wrote:Can the demo be accessed and played by non-designers? Can you share a link if it is so?
Anyway good idea on difficulty progression, i've never seen any mission that is able do create a smooth curve on Insane difficulty, Often the end is anti-climactic, later levels (at least many of them) are in fact easier despite more fatal robots - once you have a plan how to deal with them, of course. I think it was the case in D1 FS, Lost Levels, Enemy Vignettes to some degree in last 2 levels. Not necessarily a bad thing, however. Also it is often hard to balance between luck-based difficulty and "predictable" difficulty (the latter can be handled by good flying skills, knowledge of the map and good strategy). You probably want both of the to some extent to make the mission really good (but not too much luck based of course).
Sure, you can test the level and give me your feedback, it's always welcome!

The level is here.
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jmk1cpm8q7zu ... g6B3a?dl=0

Keep in mind it's only one level thus far. The file will be expanded with more levels as they are finished, though I'm not currently planning on going past level 5 as of right now, since there is no level 6 etc. Might as well add the levels in proper order, easier to adjust the difficulty that way.

Oh, and you probably need the new palette to play the mission. It's here:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ccxg68q0xwc4 ... fyN-a?dl=0

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:39 pm
by Alter-Fox
A minor thing, but I believe I've got music ready (from myself and others) for all five of those. Could be a good opportunity to see what players think of the lyrical soundtrack idea.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:55 pm
by Xfing
Alter-Fox wrote:A minor thing, but I believe I've got music ready (from myself and others) for all five of those. Could be a good opportunity to see what players think of the lyrical soundtrack idea.
Yeah, sure, we can slap it on the thing. Still not sure how we're going to go about doing that, probably a dxa package, with other midis in the HOG for the retro soundtrack. I'm aware of no other way of handling that.

As for the release, I don't think I want to do a DMDB release for this, since the first 5 levels are in no way indicative of the mission as a whole (maybe only of its D1 portion), so instead it'll be made downloadable from this thread for anyone curious.

On another note - I spent a few hours expanding Level 2. In addition to tons of eye candy, it's received lots of new areas, since it was admittedly kinda too puny before. The progression of the level is the same as before, but now it's got lots of optional areas to snoop around in. Next thing I'm gonna do is populate the level with stuff, though not sure how soon I get to doing it .Give me your opinions on both how Level 1 plays, and how the new Level 2 looks :D

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:15 am
by AlexanderBorisov
Thanks Xfing, I successfully installed and played the level three times on Insane (not died in any of them), what I can say:
1) Texturing is very good. I really like those D1 textures in D2.
2) Geometry : simple but very nice. It is hard to judge, it is a first level and meant to be small and simple.
3) Robots : I liked the placement, and actually have no remarks on it; not very devious, but not too easy, either. The red key room and reactor room can surprise the player who likes to rush in.
4) Difficulty - I think it is harder than D1 level 1, but maybe a bit easier than D2 L1. Or at the same level. And much easier than Vertigo first level.
I still haven't found how to open the secret with laser upgrade (just looked inside with Astral cheat, I thought there is a Vulcan cannon).
At least you don't try to kill the player right from the start ;) like LL does.
Of course most missions nowadays try to establish themselves as "very challenging" in comparison to their predecessors, introducing dangerous bots quickly. Even Vertigo did it... In my taste it is a good trend to make missions more challenging (when not taken to the extreme), who likes an easy mission anyway? For example in Plutonian Shores it worked really well (you even have a couple of green platformers in the first level, but at the same time you have Vulcan here, so the difficulty is manageable). I am always waiting for the challenging levels, hope there will be many of them in this mission. At least, not too many easy levels in a row. And definitely want to see levels that make you think a lot how to get through, like L10 in Counterstrike (and some others, like 5, 6, 12). Also I think it is a good idea to introduce different kinds of difficulty instead of bumping it up a bit each level. For example, one hard level can have a lot of fast evasive bots, another have dangerous missile bots like PS level 10 ("Target acquired"), another have many hitscan Vulcan/gauss bots, or a lot of interconnected areas with roaming robots (which is in fact rarely used in D2 missions), or groups of snipe mode bots in large open areas. I.e in my opinion making it variative is more important than just raising the difficulty.
Because I don't think it will be fun to have say 15-20 easy levels than 15-20 moderate and only then you'll get to the really challenging ones.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 9:12 am
by Xfing
AlexanderBorisov wrote:Thanks Xfing, I successfully installed and played the level three times on Insane (not died in any of them), what I can say:
1) Texturing is very good. I really like those D1 textures in D2.
2) Geometry : simple but very nice. It is hard to judge, it is a first level and meant to be small and simple.
3) Robots : I liked the placement, and actually have no remarks on it; not very devious, but not too easy, either. The red key room and reactor room can surprise the player who likes to rush in.
4) Difficulty - I think it is harder than D1 level 1, but maybe a bit easier than D2 L1. Or at the same level. And much easier than Vertigo first level.
That's cool. I didn't aim to go for ultra-difficult right off the bat, definitely :P
I still haven't found how to open the secret with laser upgrade (just looked inside with Astral cheat, I thought there is a Vulcan cannon).
Don't want to spoil it for you, but keep in mind we're restricted to D1 mechanics here. No switches present. Location-based triggers for opening doorsare fair game, but I'll let slip that there are none in this level. Try from the other side, maybe? :D
Of course most missions nowadays try to establish themselves as "very challenging" in comparison to their predecessors, introducing dangerous bots quickly. Even Vertigo did it... In my taste it is a good trend to make missions more challenging (when not taken to the extreme), who likes an easy mission anyway? For example in Plutonian Shores it worked really well (you even have a couple of green platformers in the first level, but at the same time you have Vulcan here, so the difficulty is manageable). I am always waiting for the challenging levels, hope there will be many of them in this mission. At least, not too many easy levels in a row. And definitely want to see levels that make you think a lot how to get through, like L10 in Counterstrike (and some others, like 5, 6, 12). Also I think it is a good idea to introduce different kinds of difficulty instead of bumping it up a bit each level. For example, one hard level can have a lot of fast evasive bots, another have dangerous missile bots like PS level 10 ("Target acquired"), another have many hitscan Vulcan/gauss bots, or a lot of interconnected areas with roaming robots (which is in fact rarely used in D2 missions), or groups of snipe mode bots in large open areas. I.e in my opinion making it variative is more important than just raising the difficulty. Because I don't think it will be fun to have say 15-20 easy levels than 15-20 moderate and only then you'll get to the really challenging ones.
Thanks for the feedback, I'll definitely take all of that into account. The mission is definitely not going to be as hard as some (with the possible exception of the later levels), but don't you worry - once the Spikes and Maxes come in, it's gonna be tough as nails. As for the first few levels, they'll definitely be manageable, but keep in mind that even D1 L3 was already quite hard, especially that part with the matcens. Not every player is an expert at the game. Hell, even not every player plays on Insane :D

I'm definitely planning an all melee robot gimmick mine in the Solar System (later on would be too easy). Probably Jupiter or Saturn. That's definitely not something that's been tried a lot of times (none that I'm aware of) and has potential to create a new kind of difficulty.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 9:40 am
by Alter-Fox
Alex, your ideas of forethought and variety of difficulty are the same ideas I've tried to work into the "suggestion" enemy/item placements on my more recent maps. Maybe that will give you all a better idea why I do it.

I'm going to go on the record saying I agree that the difficulty needs to ramp up faster than it would if you just to the length in proportion to any of the parallax missions. Players still need a reason to stick out the first few levels before they get to the really interesting parts.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:11 am
by Xfing
Alter-Fox wrote:Alex, your ideas of forethought and variety of difficulty are the same ideas I've tried to work into the "suggestion" enemy/item placements on my more recent maps. Maybe that will give you all a better idea why I do it.

I'm going to go on the record saying I agree that the difficulty needs to ramp up faster than it would if you just to the length in proportion to any of the parallax missions. Players still need a reason to stick out the first few levels before they get to the really interesting parts.
Well, the first hard level in d1 was 8/27, and then afterwards nothing matched the difficulty of 11, so it's hardly a good benchmark of proper difficulty scaling IMO. In Counterstrike, level 3 is already hard, but the first really, really hard level has gotta be 5. So the missions get hard roughly 1/3rd of the way and 1/5th of the way respectively. As for me, honestly, I'd already say the difficulty of D2L10 is enough, as anything beyond that gets literally Nintendo hard - more frustrating than rewarding. I like a good challenge, but also one I have any chance of overcoming. Even a single Seeker can spell doom for a player taking into account D2's shot leading AI, let alone a Spike or a MAX. I really see no point in making this mission literally harder to beat without dying than say, Vertigo. Hell, even certain levels from Counterstrike are considered close to impossible to 100% without dying. There's no need to go that far IMO.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:07 pm
by Alter-Fox
I don't mean to contradict that and I meant to expand on what I was saying before I ran out of time. :P
I just think the beginning of the mission needs enough challenge to hold peoples' interest.

It is possible to go beyond that type of difficulty without being frusrating. Nintendo hard is more a question of fairness than actual challenge.
A little frustration is good for the soul anyway. It makes the player more determined and the eventual win all the sweeter if it's not too overdone.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:48 pm
by Xfing
Ok, so level 2 is up - just download the files again, the same link should still be valid. Same cast of robots + 2 kinds of lifters and the occasional smelter. Still no missile bots for instant deaths, but I daresay the level is kinda tough this time around. The laser boost is obtainable very late in the mission, all the homing missiles are around one particular area of the level, so you'll need to know where to look for them. Same goes with the vulcan, except that it's hidden. This time around though you get 12 homers and around 8000 (I think) worth of vulcan ammo and a cloaking device for the reactor room, which should even the odds somewhat.

Gotta say being limited to just 1 laser boost, 1 vulcan and a missile quota makes it quite hard for the goodie caches to have anything creative in them, except for shields and energy. Out of non-D1 stuff, I put in the full map and the headlight, just to spice it up a bit (also because they don't really alter the gameplay like the afterburner and the ammo rack do). There's also an extra life late in the level to sweeten up your efforts a little bit.

Gotta say I like having this wide cast of robots to choose from - especially since they'll be real good for themed selections alter on in the mission (especially the red, blue and green ones from D1 supplement some of D2's themes really nicely).

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:01 pm
by AlexanderBorisov
Xfing wrote: Don't want to spoil it for you, but keep in mind we're restricted to D1 mechanics here. No switches present. Location-based triggers for opening doorsare fair game, but I'll let slip that there are none in this level. Try from the other side, maybe? :D
Ok found it. All other secrets used marked walls (probably this even makes them too easy), so I thought I should open this marked wall somehow.
BTW you have Vulcan ammo and no Vulcan cannon in this level? A bit strange. And I don't understand why you give so many conc missiles the first level, there are not many places where you can use them.
Thanks for the feedback, I'll definitely take all of that into account. The mission is definitely not going to be as hard as some (with the possible exception of the later levels), but don't you worry - once the Spikes and Maxes come in, it's gonna be tough as nails. As for the first few levels, they'll definitely be manageable, but keep in mind that even D1 L3 was already quite hard, especially that part with the matcens. Not every player is an expert at the game. Hell, even not every player plays on Insane :D
Not everyone plays on Insane? Some CHEATERS out there? Hey I'm joking :)
Of course it should not be harder than everything else (not like AF for sure). Even if we take some hard missions, like TEW, what makes it hard? New robots? But after you are used to them it makes it more fun to play and does not increase number of attempts to finish a level. Of course Fulcrums and brown mantids are worse than most you've seen in other missions. Really hard are just a few levels like 25 with it's mazo boss setup, maybe couple more that are however manageable. In LL, there is mazo stuff with matcens (see LL L13 video on my Youtube channel

if you want to get an idea), levels are very long, some new dangerous bots and devious use of sniping robots. And still most levels did not made me to throw a mouse and kbd into the wall while I recorded Insane no death runs. What I am driving at, those mission are not so hard as it seems, and can be even made more enjoyable by making them easier very often - with reducing negative design features (for example make bad matcens one-shot and make levels smaller).

So I definitely agree with two recent Alter-Fox posts. Make it challenging enough to be more attractive, but try to avoid "bad" modes of difficulty. And I also agree that some luck based stuff makes the victory sweeter. But definitely not the nearly unbeatable boss that kills you 9 of 10 times at the end of long and difficult level :rant:
I'm definitely planning an all melee robot gimmick mine in the Solar System (later on would be too easy). Probably Jupiter or Saturn. That's definitely not something that's been tried a lot of times (none that I'm aware of) and has potential to create a new kind of difficulty.
Good idea would be, make those melee robots snipe mode or raise stats (to imitate Fulcrums). Anyway I liked the idea of robots stats increasing during the mission course that was introduced in TEW.
Well, the first hard level in d1 was 8/27, and then afterwards nothing matched the difficulty of 11, so it's hardly a good benchmark of proper difficulty scaling IMO. In Counterstrike, level 3 is already hard, but the first really, really hard level has gotta be 5. So the missions get hard roughly 1/3rd of the way and 1/5th of the way respectively. As for me, honestly, I'd already say the difficulty of D2L10 is enough, as anything beyond that gets literally Nintendo hard - more frustrating than rewarding. I like a good challenge, but also one I have any chance of overcoming. Even a single Seeker can spell doom for a player taking into account D2's shot leading AI, let alone a Spike or a MAX. I really see no point in making this mission literally harder to beat without dying than say, Vertigo. Hell, even certain levels from Counterstrike are considered close to impossible to 100% without dying. There's no need to go that far IMO.
I'd say D1 L6 was hard enough; and L19 a bit harder (if you aim for 100% run) than L11, at least it is more luck based with its cursed red area and reactor room. About D2, probably you will get used to new robots and shot leading AI, at least it happened for me (but probably only after I played other missions), so it is not actually that hard. Vertigo IMO is not harder on average than CS, first level is harder, yes, but there are only a few really difficult levels dispersed in many relatively easy ones. And I don't even remember anything in Vertigo that I was struggling more than CS. Maybe some last levels were hard, because of MAX, Sniper-ngs and SPIKEs. But not too bad, if you don't rush. Still I consider Vertigo to be a big step forward (without any regard to it's difficulty), because of new robots, new level design traits, like big spaces and mixed texture themes. And new types of challenge.
BTW what levels in CS are considered close to impossible? I think some could be punishing on cold start (like L21 and 22) but on normal start they are easier of course.

It is good idea to make many late levels very-very hard, too,if you find ways to do it without making them unbeatable and unpleasant to play. Of course need some breathers,too.

The question of whether you want the mission to be cold-startable, is another serious issue to consider. I am usually fine to play the mission sequentially when it is hard - and try cold-starts just when I need more challenge. But in missions like Obsidian or LL, trust me you don't need it...
About the music, I also wish to listen to level's music tracks if possible.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:02 pm
by LightWolf
Sorry I'm late. Life has a tendency to be in the way even when it gets out of the way :roll:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1w7BsHL ... sp=sharing

Don't be surprised at massive disappearances in the future - my schedule is random at best.

As for the level, I toned down the closer of the two matcens in the yellow door from missile bots to melee bots. The far ones haven't been changed - but from my experiences they don't affect anything until you get a foothold in the room anyway. I also darkened the level.

As for the gophers - the blue texture on all of them was a reference to... CS level 10? The one with the several yellow omegas. You'll figure out the right one due to the fact that it alone drops smart mines.


While I was away, I made this level that uses every last cube available:
Metamorphic Rock Excavation
While I did populate it, it is significantly easier than the others mainly due to the fact I got bored of populating a 900-cube level.

Also try to keep an eye out for the solution to the third entrance to the boss - while it is possible to escape on insane without it (and easier than Z2's exit run), the secret makes it quite a bit easier.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:38 pm
by Xfing
AlexanderBorisov wrote: BTW you have Vulcan ammo and no Vulcan cannon in this level? A bit strange. And I don't understand why you give so many conc missiles the first level, there are not many places where you can use them.
Good point. Well, I had no idea what else to put in, considering the gear restriction, and I didn't want the level to feel empty, that's why I put in those concs. What do you suggest I swap them for? Not many things to choose from, sadly :(

As for the Vulcan ammo, it's with continuous play in mind. I think I saw it done in level 1 of Maximum too - no cannon, just the ammo. Also, the above issue - not many things to replace it with, since it's level 1 and I plan on unlocking armament gradually to bring more excitement to the gameplay.
Thanks for the feedback, I'll definitely take all of that into account. The mission is definitely not going to be as hard as some (with the possible exception of the later levels), but don't you worry - once the Spikes and Maxes come in, it's gonna be tough as nails. As for the first few levels, they'll definitely be manageable, but keep in mind that even D1 L3 was already quite hard, especially that part with the matcens. Not every player is an expert at the game. Hell, even not every player plays on Insane :D
Not everyone plays on Insane? Some CHEATERS out there? Hey I'm joking :)
Of course it should not be harder than everything else (not like AF for sure). Even if we take some hard missions, like TEW, what makes it hard? New robots? But after you are used to them it makes it more fun to play and does not increase number of attempts to finish a level. Of course Fulcrums and brown mantids are worse than most you've seen in other missions. Really hard are just a few levels like 25 with it's mazo boss setup, maybe couple more that are however manageable. In LL, there is mazo stuff with matcens (see LL L13 video on my Youtube channel

if you want to get an idea), levels are very long, some new dangerous bots and devious use of sniping robots. And still most levels did not made me to throw a mouse and kbd into the wall while I recorded Insane no death runs. What I am driving at, those mission are not so hard as it seems, and can be even made more enjoyable by making them easier very often - with reducing negative design features (for example make bad matcens one-shot and make levels smaller).

So I definitely agree with two recent Alter-Fox posts. Make it challenging enough to be more attractive, but try to avoid "bad" modes of difficulty. And I also agree that some luck based stuff makes the victory sweeter. But definitely not the nearly unbeatable boss that kills you 9 of 10 times at the end of long and difficult level :rant:
Ok, we'll think about all that. I agree with making problematic matcens one-shot, or just creating several one-shot triggers from different angles, that's good design. As for all the other stuff, well - considering that we're designing the geometry first and the robots come second, we'll have to think of all that on the fly.
I'm definitely planning an all melee robot gimmick mine in the Solar System (later on would be too easy). Probably Jupiter or Saturn. That's definitely not something that's been tried a lot of times (none that I'm aware of) and has potential to create a new kind of difficulty.
Good idea would be, make those melee robots snipe mode or raise stats (to imitate Fulcrums). Anyway I liked the idea of robots stats increasing during the mission course that was introduced in TEW.
Snipe mode is fair game (though I'm not sure how exactly it works on melee bots), though from my own experience, Follow or Get Behind are better on melee bots for variety. In level 2 I set all melee bots to Normal, I heard it allows the robot to choose a best routine depending on the situation (though limited to one in total).
BTW what levels in CS are considered close to impossible? I think some could be punishing on cold start (like L21 and 22) but on normal start they are easier of course.
Yeah, those two definitely. Also that ice level you brought up yourself some time ago, not sure which one it is. 15 or 16 probably.
It is good idea to make many late levels very-very hard, too,if you find ways to do it without making them unbeatable and unpleasant to play. Of course need some breathers,too.
Well, it's easy to create an illusion of difficulty by stuffing the levels with very difficult bots, but giving you enough distance from them and/or maneuvering space that they're inconsequential. That's something easily overlooked.
The question of whether you want the mission to be cold-startable, is another serious issue to consider. I am usually fine to play the mission sequentially when it is hard - and try cold-starts just when I need more challenge. But in missions like Obsidian or LL, trust me you don't need it...
It's meant to be cold-startable of course. Personally, ever since I started cold-starting levels, I practically never play any other way. Of course if a level is possible to do cold, it's also completely fine during continuous play - it's a "if it's A, it's also always B" kind of relationship IMO.
About the music, I also wish to listen to level's music tracks if possible.
When it comes to the retro midi tracks, you know them - their order is listed in the original post. If you're asking about AlterFox's music, here's the stuff:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/c6t5vfs6nn2i ... 0c9wa?dl=0

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:35 pm
by Alter-Fox
Well, I don't really want to give away the music just yet. I can tell you there are songs from myself, Isaac, Martin, and D2disciple in the first 5 maps and two of them are lyrical.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:41 pm
by Xfing
Alter-Fox wrote:Well, I don't really want to give away the music just yet. I can tell you there are songs from myself, Isaac, Martin, and D2disciple in the first 5 maps and two of them are lyrical.
Well, you heard the man. Hands are tied :D
LightWolf wrote:Sorry I'm late. Life has a tendency to be in the way even when it gets out of the way :roll:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1w7BsHL ... sp=sharing

Don't be surprised at massive disappearances in the future - my schedule is random at best.

As for the level, I toned down the closer of the two matcens in the yellow door from missile bots to melee bots. The far ones haven't been changed - but from my experiences they don't affect anything until you get a foothold in the room anyway. I also darkened the level.
You're proving yet again that you've clearly not tested your own levels in terms of difficulty. Since when are you under the impression that having FOUR freaking matcens is by any stretch a good idea? And you haven't even slightly addressed the two matcens in the main hall that flood you with red super hulks and other abominations en masse. Weren't they mentioned? Wasn't it said that only one would be more than enough? Do you only read feedback selectively?

The level would need to be literally spamming megas and shakers to give the player any chance of dealing with that sort of resistance. While Fusion is going to be a thing, that's still way, way over the top. On a brighter note, I do like what you did with the reactor chamber, the geometry is nicer now. Though I don't see this level being darker by any stretch, it's just as bright as it was.
As for the gophers - the blue texture on all of them was a reference to... CS level 10? The one with the several yellow omegas. You'll figure out the right one due to the fact that it alone drops smart mines.
Fair point, I was thinkin in D1 categories, particularly level 20, where only the key carrier is colored. But keep in mind that D2L10 is a different story - the context in which the robots are placed is quite different. Making them all yellow encourages you to pursue and destroy every single one of them, which is high risk/high reward, as some carry threats, and some carry power-ups. Coloring just the key carrier encourages search more than indiscriminate destruction. We need to decide whether having all the gophers in blue won't be too hard on your ammo/energy and won't introduce too much of a luck-based element.
While I was away, I made this level that uses every last cube available:
Metamorphic Rock Excavation
While I did populate it, it is significantly easier than the others mainly due to the fact I got bored of populating a 900-cube level.

Also try to keep an eye out for the solution to the third entrance to the boss - while it is possible to escape on insane without it (and easier than Z2's exit run), the secret makes it quite a bit easier.
Too bad you didn't put more effort into correcting every single mentioned issue with Zandura II and instead chose to make a whole other level that no one asked you to make.

I'm not even going to acknowledge the level until you read the thread again and address all issues with Zandura, and do it right this time.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:08 pm
by Alter-Fox
Yeah, LW... saying you "got bored" with any part of the design is not a good way to gain our confidence considering your history.
And don't worry X... that folder only has two or three of the five songs I've lined up, and Alex still will have no idea *which ones they are*! :D

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 5:58 am
by Xfing
Guess we'll have to make the tweaks to Zandura II ourselves. Not really looking forward to it, really, as always.

Ok, let's get some feedback on that new level by LW. It's not bad IMO, but not sure if it's good enough. The boss arena is elegant, but too simple, and would likely need adding secrets. I'm sure many cubes could be salvaged from the default dimension tunnels etc. The texturing is fine - the only problem is that I'm convinced some of you other guys would make something considerably better given enough time.

Also, lemme know how Level 2 plays :D

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:48 am
by AlexanderBorisov
About level 2. It is much harder than L1 in terms of difficulty, I did it on my 3-rd try only. first two was killed by 2 snipe mode ITDs when approaching them from the wrong direction (from the top).
I liked the geometry, it is a bit hard to navigate in some parts, but I haven't seen anything like that before. Definitely this geometry goes well with a lot of melee robots; you have to plan how to retreat when several lifters rush at you. The big room at the end of lava river is very good. Multi-level central room is cool, either, and I liked that you made the second energy center, instead of forcing the player to return to the first one. In general i'd say that you don't need too much non-obligatory areas in a level (especially big ones), otherwise players will be tempted to skip it. Or place some very useful secrets in those. For example this big area with lava river leading to it, seems you can skip it altogether.

Texturing is good (similar style to the first level but richer), I even seen an "cyan-ice" texture i've never encountered before, probably it was not used or was very rare in D1.

About robots and their placement. Melee robots are very dangerous here (on Insane). Nice surprise from that snipe mode Smelter near the blue key, other smelters placed in curved tunnels are dangerous too (because of how Phoenix shots reflect and hit you when you retreat). Some nasty ITD's.
My only concern that on lower difficulty, the domination of melee robots could make the level easier than you expected (because you will have much more time to destroy before they reach you, them making them harmless). Need to be tested by someone who usually plays on Hotshot. I'd say you can start to introduce missile robots and ITSCs once you have Vulcan (maybe in the next level), like Vertigo and PS do. At least conc hulks and maybe even green platformers in not-too-dangerous locations. I remember PS also used Canaries, and Fox bots in level 2, and even some Ice Spindles (but they did not drop the Helix, of course). IMO flash missile modulas and hornets/baby spiders are fine, too.

I am a bit surprised to not find any matcens, however. Also this level is rather straightforward, does not need you to invent any kind of strategy.
Of course both levels need testing by other people, too.

On the long earlier message.

About ammo and missiles in L1 - yes I don't know what to replace them with. But at least in L2 conc missiles are useful against melee bots.
Snipe mode is fair game (though I'm not sure how exactly it works on melee bots), though from my own experience, Follow or Get Behind are better on melee bots for variety. In level 2 I set all melee bots to Normal, I heard it allows the robot to choose a best routine depending on the situation (though limited to one in total).
I also don't know how the melee bot in snipe mode will behave. Usually it raises the stats + also gives the bot hit-and-run behavior, not sure how hit-and run work on melee bots.
Well, it's easy to create an illusion of difficulty by stuffing the levels with very difficult bots, but giving you enough distance from them and/or maneuvering space that they're inconsequential. That's something easily overlooked.
Some levels should be truly hard like mentioned L16 and L21,22 of CS. Maybe in a bit different way. At least should not be doable head-on, make you think a lot for strategy, and require good skills to complete. I also don't think it is a big problem that CS L21,22 is very hard on cold-start; at least it is ok on "hot" start, how most people play it. I remember some later levels of Obsidian took me a lot of thinking and practicing various parts, but rarely more than 5-7 tries to make a full run after this practice part was over. That was good difficulty. But I won't object to smth taking even 20-40 tries. On the other hand Enemy Vignettes level 12 is "frustrating difficulty" example

You even cannot reach the energy center and clear the whole level reliably. This run took me maybe 150-200 attempts to record, even non cold start and not 100%...
It's meant to be cold-startable of course. Personally, ever since I started cold-starting levels, I practically never play any other way. Of course if a level is possible to do cold, it's also completely fine during continuous play - it's a "if it's A, it's also always B" kind of relationship IMO.
I want to just mention that a non-coldstartable mission can be fine, too. If it is challenging enough. And it will take a lot of testing and also planning on your side to make it truly cold-startable. Even in Vertigo in one level (18?) they seemed to forget about cold starts, and you had to fight two green spiders + plasma driller+2 sniper ng's with red lasers in the beginning, of course you die 9 of 10 times. The level itself was not hard, however (after you got the gauss). The last level in Vertigo was also a PITA to cold start.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:02 am
by Xfing
AlexanderBorisov wrote:About level 2. It is much harder than L1 in terms of difficulty, I did it on my 3-rd try only. first two was killed by 2 snipe mode ITDs when approaching them from the wrong direction (from the top).
I liked the geometry, it is a bit hard to navigate in some parts, but I haven't seen anything like that before. Definitely this geometry goes well with a lot of melee robots; you have to plan how to retreat when several lifters rush at you. The big room at the end of lava river is very good. Multi-level central room is cool, either, and I liked that you made the second energy center, instead of forcing the player to return to the first one.
Yeah, I thought that since we are not using D2 mechanics like disappearing walls, the upper grate wouldn't disappear, so giving the player another energy center would be essential for quality of life in this level.
In general i'd say that you don't need too much non-obligatory areas in a level (especially big ones), otherwise players will be tempted to skip it. Or place some very useful secrets in those. For example this big area with lava river leading to it, seems you can skip it altogether.
The design of the levels in this mission is meant to imitate Parallax, at least to a degree. Of course optional areas are entirely skippable, but they contain rewards that encourage exploring them. In this level for example, that optional area (and the entrance to it) is the only place where you can get homing missiles. It also lets you make your later red key grab easier, since it lets you pick off some of the resistance guarding the key from the other side.
Texturing is good (similar style to the first level but richer), I even seen an "cyan-ice" texture i've never encountered before, probably it was not used or was very rare in D1.
The texturing was meant to emulate the Venus levels from First Strike, obviously. The texture you're referring to did appear in level 4 at the very least, I also remember seeing it in level 21 and possibly in some others. There is considerably more of it in this level than those, though. But I think it's fair game and the theme has been preserved. If you like the texturing here, though, you should love levels 3 and 5. 4 is not bad either, but it's standard Mars fare with it being all red and stuff, but 5 is a completely new theme for D1, since we never explored Ceres in First Strike. Still restricted only to D1 textures, of course.
About robots and their placement. Melee robots are very dangerous here (on Insane). Nice surprise from that snipe mode Smelter near the blue key, other smelters placed in curved tunnels are dangerous too (because of how Phoenix shots reflect and hit you when you retreat). Some nasty ITD's.
My only concern that on lower difficulty, the domination of melee robots could make the level easier than you expected (because you will have much more time to destroy before they reach you, them making them harmless). Need to be tested by someone who usually plays on Hotshot.
As you know, I can cold-start, no-death 100% all of D1's levels, and I'm tackling D2 right now. It can still take me way 100+ tries on the harder levels to do so. You're a better pilot still. But even I see no challenge at all in playing any of the official levels on Hotshot. I don't think anyone that plays on Hotshot is concerned with the game being too easy, because they're making it easy on themselves on purpose. Balancing the difficulty for Hotshot is an exercise in futility IMO, because if someone wants the game to be harder, they'll choose Ace or Insane. That, and it's only level 2 - it's supposed to be easy.
I'd say you can start to introduce missile robots and ITSCs once you have Vulcan (maybe in the next level), like Vertigo and PS do. At least conc hulks and maybe even green platformers in not-too-dangerous locations. I remember PS also used Canaries, and Fox bots in level 2, and even some Ice Spindles (but they did not drop the Helix, of course). IMO flash missile modulas and hornets/baby spiders are fine, too.
You have the vulcan in this level too, it's in a secret compartment in one of the optional areas. I agree that the ITSC is a good robot to introduce soon-ish (as it takes off some of the pressure to introduce the medium hulk). Canaries are on my immediate to-introduce list too, since they're fairly easy robots. As for Foxes and Ice Spindles - the Fox is making its debut in later Solar System levels, since this mission's policy is to be as vanilla and nostalgia-evoking as can be - that means no restrictions on the robots dropping their weapon, but it also means introducing those robots a few levels later than the weapon starts appearing as a set drop. This means no Foxes until the Spreadfire has been introduced (which it will be in level 5), which means the Bulk Destroyers, Ice Spindles and Fusion Hulks are coming in real, real late in the mission, since this mission is going to be way stricter with introducing new types of weapons (which will in and of itself create part of the difficulty). It's acceptable, considering that there are many more robots of similar threat and function to choose from to take their place.

Other than that - I'm a lot for a somewhat different order of introducing robots than Parallax's missions had, in the regard that they sometimes delayed introducing comparatively non-threatening robots, while spamming super-threatening ones early on (D1L6, anyone?). The PTMC defense prototype, the Laser Platformer, the Secondary Lifter, the Canary etc - all these bots could be given a chance to shine in the earlier levels, creating some degree of threat without the need to resort to the missile bots early on. The missile platformer is one of the most lethal bots in the entire game on the other hand (especially with the shot leading AI), so there's no way I'm putting it in this early :D I do realize that hard bots can be made harmless by putting them far enough from the player, or with enough room to dodge their fire. I also realize that the lowliest bots can be absolutely deadly in close quarters, like the super-easily underestimated class 1 drone in level 9 of Descent for example, or ITDs in Snipe mode. All in all, I'm for putting off the introduction of instantly lethal mechs to some of the later levels, definitely post-demo. I'd much rather go for a gentler difficulty slope this time.

I think that in the demo you can expect, apart from what you've already seen in the first 2 levels:
- All the red Martian bots from D1 (advanced and secondary lifter, spider + spiderlings) + TRN racer + Hornets <- to supplement the Martian theme
- Cloaked Lifters (D1)
- Supervisor bot
- PTMC Defense Prototype
- Canary
- Class 1 Platform (laser)
- Diamond Claw, uncloaked (the Red Fatty itself spawns those, so might as well put some in as regular encounters too)
- ITSC
- Bomb-dropping Smelters (like in D2L2), PESTs (like in Quartzon) and Class 1 Drones (like throughout most of D1).
I am a bit surprised to not find any matcens, however. Also this level is rather straightforward, does not need you to invent any kind of strategy.
Of course both levels need testing by other people, too.
No matcens until level four. You know how it goes - in First Strike they were only introduced in level 3, and this has many more levels planned. We have two levels with only the blue and red key before we finally introduce one that has the yellow key too. Starting out small, you know :P
On the long earlier message.

About ammo and missiles in L1 - yes I don't know what to replace them with. But at least in L2 conc missiles are useful against melee bots.
Then let's just assume you'll carry over some more from level 1 in continuous play. There's really not much more I can come up with for level 1, and at any rate it's better too have too many than to have too few :P
Snipe mode is fair game (though I'm not sure how exactly it works on melee bots), though from my own experience, Follow or Get Behind are better on melee bots for variety. In level 2 I set all melee bots to Normal, I heard it allows the robot to choose a best routine depending on the situation (though limited to one in total).
I also don't know how the melee bot in snipe mode will behave. Usually it raises the stats + also gives the bot hit-and-run behavior, not sure how hit-and run work on melee bots.
I'm against tweaking the robots' stats, unless you mean speed, reaction time etc, which D2 itself did. But not stuff like health, that's definitely staying vanilla.
Well, it's easy to create an illusion of difficulty by stuffing the levels with very difficult bots, but giving you enough distance from them and/or maneuvering space that they're inconsequential. That's something easily overlooked.
Some levels should be truly hard like mentioned L16 and L21,22 of CS. Maybe in a bit different way. At least should not be doable head-on, make you think a lot for strategy, and require good skills to complete. I also don't think it is a big problem that CS L21,22 is very hard on cold-start; at least it is ok on "hot" start, how most people play it. I remember some later levels of Obsidian took me a lot of thinking and practicing various parts, but rarely more than 5-7 tries to make a full run after this practice part was over. That was good difficulty. But I won't object to smth taking even 20-40 tries. On the other hand Enemy Vignettes level 12 is "frustrating difficulty" example

You even cannot reach the energy center and clear the whole level reliably. This run took me maybe 150-200 attempts to record, even non cold start and not 100%...
Oh don't you worry. Among these 52 levels, many are definitely going to be tough as a mofo. I can imagine liberal fusion hulk/red fatty jr/vulcan driller/super hulk/MAX/SPIKE spam in the final few, along with some nasty traps and stuff. We'll be fine :P
It's meant to be cold-startable of course. Personally, ever since I started cold-starting levels, I practically never play any other way. Of course if a level is possible to do cold, it's also completely fine during continuous play - it's a "if it's A, it's also always B" kind of relationship IMO.
I want to just mention that a non-coldstartable mission can be fine, too. If it is challenging enough. And it will take a lot of testing and also planning on your side to make it truly cold-startable. Even in Vertigo in one level (18?) they seemed to forget about cold starts, and you had to fight two green spiders + plasma driller+2 sniper ng's with red lasers in the beginning, of course you die 9 of 10 times. The level itself was not hard, however (after you got the gauss). The last level in Vertigo was also a PITA to cold start.
Yeah well, we'll go for cold-startable I think, anyone should be able to play the way they want. Cold starters know what they're in for. We'll probably try to avoid situations like instant fire from missile bots right upon insertion - and if we do create such situations, we'll probably place stuff like cloaks nearby to allow the player to get a foothold.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:24 am
by Alter-Fox
Just throwing this out there -- Saving some of the weaker enemies for later in the mission is a good way to create a sense of progression. That was one thing that helped D1 feel, back in the day, like you were actually trekking across the planets and moons of the solar system instead of just sniffing for the cheese in different-styled mazes.

Ceres was in Descent 1 -- at least according to wikipedia the writers intended that to be the location of the first secret level.


As for robot introductions -- your point about FOX and ITSC reminded me to remind you of a small point -- if we're using robot briefings Lou Guard should probably appear before red hulk. Having one bot appear before later on briefing the player on another bot that's functionally identical would be kinda silly. I'm certain there are other bots that applies to as well -- Descent 2 had quite a few that only really existed to take the place of the D1 bots which probably would have been used when it was still CD-enhanced Descent.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:51 am
by Xfing
Alter-Fox wrote: As for robot introductions -- your point about FOX and ITSC reminded me to remind you of a small point -- if we're using robot briefings Lou Guard should probably appear before red hulk. Having one bot appear before later on briefing the player on another bot that's functionally identical would be kinda silly. I'm certain there are other bots that applies to as well -- Descent 2 had quite a few that only really existed to take the place of the D1 bots which probably would have been used when it was still CD-enhanced Descent.
Yeah, I do realize many robots in D2 are directly equivalent to D1's robots in function, like the PEST to the C1D and the PIG to the Small Hulk. That's why I'm putting them into the levels about equally - having just Small Hulks instead of Small Hulks and PIGS would change nothing in terms of gameplay, but it's to add variety and flavor. I'd definitely only go for Small Hulks in a Puuma Sphere level though, since those are green etc :D

As for your point - I think that in in-universe terms, the Lou Guard should come after the red hulk. The red hulk is presumably a modification of the Medium Hulk carried out by the alien virus, while the Lou Guard is PTMC's own project. We could either put them both into the same briefing, or just make a reference from one to the other in the later-introduced one's own briefing - I feel that would work no matter which one was introduced first, as you could put focus on the differences between them.
Alter-Fox wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:24 am
Ceres was in Descent 1 -- at least according to wikipedia the writers intended that to be the location of the first secret level.
Well, in the final product it was just some undisclosed asteroid instead. But I gotta say I really liked the theme of level S1 a lot. Probably the closest to neutral gray that we ever got in D1. Also gotta love how dark that level was, fantastic one overall.
Alter-Fox wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:24 am
Just throwing this out there -- Saving some of the weaker enemies for later in the mission is a good way to create a sense of progression. That was one thing that helped D1 feel, back in the day, like you were actually trekking across the planets and moons of the solar system instead of just sniffing for the cheese in different-styled mazes.
True! But I think it's got more to do with actually using the robots than the introduction itself. Like how Class 1 Drones were used in level 26 for example. We will still leave some robots for very late in the game, so there will always be someone new to fight, but I see no problem in reusing the weak robots in the late levels either.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:59 am
by Alter-Fox
That last point was more to the effect that say, holding off on class 1 platforms until saturn made them feel more like the PTMC actually built them to serve some purpose on operations further out into the solar system. They're weak so there's no reason the virus itself would have put them there so it felt more like the virus was working with whatever was already there. In that sense specifically saving a *few* weak robots for the late game increased the immersion of D1 by making them feel like they were actually part of a mining operation, designed to work on planets away from earth, and not just an instant army.

If we're going to have briefings for all the robots regardless of spinny-image-ness then red hulk vs lou guard doesn't matter. I still think the latter bot would fit better into Charon's colour scheme, but not that much. Vertigo basically treated them like reskins.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 12:04 pm
by Xfing
Alter-Fox wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:59 am
That last point was more to the effect that say, holding off on class 1 platforms until saturn made them feel more like the PTMC actually built them to serve some purpose on operations further out into the solar system. They're weak so there's no reason the virus itself would have put them there so it felt more like the virus was working with whatever was already there. In that sense specifically saving a *few* weak robots for the late game increased the immersion of D1 by making them feel like they were actually part of a mining operation and not just an instant army.
Well ok, I get the idea. Some such robots will definitely be held off, if only due to the drop restrictions. I can also do without the platforms for the demo, since there's already like 3 kinds of robots that do exactly what they do.

On another note, what do you think of LW's new fire level? Smash or pass? :D

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:40 pm
by Alter-Fox
Heh, do I want to know?

I was speaking to Shroudeye this morning - I'm not sure if you know of him - and he would like to do a couple levels for us. Unfortunately this was right in the half hour that dbb went down so I couldn't show him the thread. He'll be long asleep by now but I'll try to get a hold of him tomorrow morning.

I can tell you he's quite good, and his work is right up our alley.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:35 pm
by Xfing
Alter-Fox wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:40 pm
Heh, do I want to know?

I was speaking to Shroudeye this morning - I'm not sure if you know of him - and he would like to do a couple levels for us. Unfortunately this was right in the half hour that dbb went down so I couldn't show him the thread. He'll be long asleep by now but I'll try to get a hold of him tomorrow morning.

I can tell you he's quite good, and his work is right up our alley.
That's great news! Always happy to get some more contributions, especially since I haven't been very productive in terms of levels recently myself.

Also, I've asked on the DXX forum and Diedel says that when the codebase unification is done, D1-style robot briefings will be feasible. He also said adding D1-like exit sequences wouldn't be super hard either after some code tweaks, though that thing he's not giving high priority to, given that it's pretty cosmetic. Still, I'd be stoked to have those two things within the several years that we'll be wrapping up this mission in. That, coupled with our advances in the palette and sound departments, would mean a 100% D1-like esperience in D2.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:23 pm
by Sirius
Xfing wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:35 pm
Also, I've asked on the DXX forum and Diedel says that when the codebase unification is done,
That would be a bit of a surprise. :wink:

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:54 am
by Shroudeye
Hello everyone, Shroudeye here.

I've been talking with Alter-Fox and Sirius, and I'd like to build a few levels for you. You can check some of my work from here:

Miranda Control Center Incident My very first level for Descent 1, back from early 2000's.
Research Mine MN1988 A Descent 2 mission, more recent.

I can start off with a secret level, for example the 2nd Solar System level. Let me know what do you think!

Cheers,
Shroudeye

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 5:25 am
by Xfing
Sirius wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:23 pm
Xfing wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:35 pm
Also, I've asked on the DXX forum and Diedel says that when the codebase unification is done,
That would be a bit of a surprise. :wink:
Well, that's assuming Kp is Diedel. He changes his name quite regularly, mind you :D
Shroudeye wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:54 am
Hello everyone, Shroudeye here.

I've been talking with Alter-Fox and Sirius, and I'd like to build a few levels for you. You can check some of my work from here:

Miranda Control Center Incident My very first level for Descent 1, back from early 2000's.
Research Mine MN1988 A Descent 2 mission, more recent.

I can start off with a secret level, for example the 2nd Solar System level. Let me know what do you think!

Cheers,
Shroudeye
Welcome to the fold! I'll check out your levels right away, I'll post once I'm done with that :D

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:29 am
by Xfing
Ok well, what can I say - you're clearly a stupendously gifted level designer. A vague inspiration by Turnabout Bore was all you needed to make that D1 level, which is amazingly well-made (if a bit too symmetric for my tastes). The D2 level is brilliant too, with its vast expanses and devious puzzles. Your background is also quite similar to my own - playing Descent 1 for years before finally being introduced to D2. It shows in your texturing choices and makes you a perfect addition to our designer team.

Give me your e-mail so I can add you to the dropbox folder - that way you'll be able to upload your levels, as well as download and examine those we have up already. Same goes for the required assets, like for example Pumo's D1 palette for D2, should you wish to make a D1-based level. All the levels from the Solar System portion will obviously be using that palette; or the template POG files, giving you an easy start should you wish to have D1 monitors and other miscellaneous textures in your mine. There are also pre-exported D1 texture libraries ready for use in D2 levels, without the hassle of having to export them again. We're quite prepared :D

(I also recommend that you download the UUD2SP (it's in a thread in the Development subforum), that lets you enjoy all D1 robot, door and ventillation fan sounds in D2, for your own playing pleasure :P)

Make sure to consult the original thread for design guidelines. To make a long story short though, there are two primary design philosophy elements for this mission:
- More of the same, but better - I mean the same as what Parallax did. Keep all the established conventions - the mission is not something that tries to break new ground in terms of robots or nonstandard texturing gimmicks.
- Gratuitous D1 texturing - Even in D2-based mines, it's nice if there's at least one texture asset exclusive to D1, to reinforce the connection between the two games. These can either be used widely, or just individually, like some one-shot, decorative ones.
And that's basically it, other than that you've got free rein!
(Oh, also no D2 mechanics such as switches or vanishing walls in the Solar System portion, for a maximized D1 gameplay experience)

As for secret levels - you sure could design one, but at the moment I'm in quite a conundrum on those - since Kp has told me the code bases for Rebirth are getting unified, and it will in time open up major possibilities for D1 mechanics in D2 - likely including functional secret exits and secret levels. I had resigned myself to scheduling only D2-style secret levels with lots of puzzles and light resistance, but it might be soon possible to have full-fledged, dangerous levels like those from D1, where when you die, you don't get sent back to the original level's teleporter. If this was the case, we'd probably have 3 levels of either type, or 6 D2-style ones and 3 traditional ones. Anyway, I guess you can make a D2-styled secret level for now if you wish. Lemme know any of the other spots you'd like to take as you see fit.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:30 am
by Shroudeye
Thanks, Xfing.

Hmm, if the secret levels are on ice until the Rebirth update, I can simply move onto another level. Or, I can just design the secret level as a normal one (as the first Descent's secret levels were just that, an ordinary level accessed via a secret exit) with no teleporters around. Let me know what do you think on this.

I've downloaded the files from the 1st post. I'll check the Dropbox content as soon as possible.

See you soon.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:48 am
by Xfing
Shroudeye wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:30 am
Hmm, if the secret levels are on ice until the Rebirth update, I can simply move onto another level. Or, I can just design the secret level as a normal one (as the first Descent's secret levels were just that, an ordinary level accessed via a secret exit) with no teleporters around. Let me know what do you think on this.
Well, the thing is, this whole thing is super recent, I only found out about the code unification like a few days ago. I'm currently asking about D1-style rotating robot briefing animations, but this secret level functionality is a whole other thing. No confirmation at all yet whether it's coming at all.

Finding out about this codebase unification project made me a bit greedy for features, though it stands to reason that the mission would only be playable under the newest builds of Rebirth if we decided to go for the "regular level after a secret exit" format. Probably safer to just make typical D2 secret levels for now.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:03 am
by Alter-Fox
Yeah, I'd like to see it playable in XL as well. The only thing that really would need "porting" would be the hires D1 textures and sounds, at least as it stands now, everything else is still compatible. Something like that would make it far more difficult especially if it so happens there are enough people who'd play it that way to justify some big immersion changes like hub worlds or ambient effects.

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:19 am
by Xfing
Alter-Fox wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:03 am
Yeah, I'd like to see it playable in XL as well. The only thing that really would need "porting" would be the hires D1 textures and sounds, at least as it stands now, everything else is still compatible. Something like that would make it far more difficult especially if it so happens there are enough people who'd play it that way to justify some big immersion changes like hub worlds or ambient effects.
I wouldn't worry about that too much. The XL port will be so different anyway that we'll probably remove any incompatible elements, like rotating robot briefings. That said though, there is only one XL application and it can run both D1 and D2 levels, so I see no reason why it couldn't support this type of briefings, exit sequences and secret level exits after only minor alterations. Anyway, a separate XL version is your own pet project anyway, so it'll all be yours to deal with. I don't really care that much, personally :D

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:46 am
by AlexanderBorisov
Xfing wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:02 am
In general i'd say that you don't need too much non-obligatory areas in a level (especially big ones), otherwise players will be tempted to skip it. Or place some very useful secrets in those. For example this big area with lava river leading to it, seems you can skip it altogether.
The design of the levels in this mission is meant to imitate Parallax, at least to a degree. Of course optional areas are entirely skippable, but they contain rewards that encourage exploring them. In this level for example, that optional area (and the entrance to it) is the only place where you can get homing missiles. It also lets you make your later red key grab easier, since it lets you pick off some of the resistance guarding the key from the other side.
Yes that's true, but don't go too far with optional areas, IMO investing into obligatory areas is more rewarding; this particular area is ok, but in next levels you can place smth that is very necessary on high difficulty in such areas, like a cloak or invulnerability, or add a switch that unlocks a key for example, in the levels where D2 mechanics is allowed.
As you know, I can cold-start, no-death 100% all of D1's levels, and I'm tackling D2 right now. It can still take me way 100+ tries on the harder levels to do so. You're a better pilot still. But even I see no challenge at all in playing any of the official levels on Hotshot. I don't think anyone that plays on Hotshot is concerned with the game being too easy, because they're making it easy on themselves on purpose. Balancing the difficulty for Hotshot is an exercise in futility IMO, because if someone wants the game to be harder, they'll choose Ace or Insane. That, and it's only level 2 - it's supposed to be easy.
I was surprised myself but there are a lot of such people that play on Hotshot or Ace and still try to introduce a sort of "additional challenge", like not using D2 weapons, not taking secrets, coldstarts, etc when they even cannot do a level without deaths!

You have the vulcan in this level too, it's in a secret compartment in one of the optional areas. I agree that the ITSC is a good robot to introduce soon-ish (as it takes off some of the pressure to introduce the medium hulk). Canaries are on my immediate to-introduce list too, since they're fairly easy robots. As for Foxes and Ice Spindles - the Fox is making its debut in later Solar System levels, since this mission's policy is to be as vanilla and nostalgia-evoking as can be - that means no restrictions on the robots dropping their weapon, but it also means introducing those robots a few levels later than the weapon starts appearing as a set drop. This means no Foxes until the Spreadfire has been introduced (which it will be in level 5), which means the Bulk Destroyers, Ice Spindles and Fusion Hulks are coming in real, real late in the mission, since this mission is going to be way stricter with introducing new types of weapons (which will in and of itself create part of the difficulty). It's acceptable, considering that there are many more robots of similar threat and function to choose from to take their place.
About robot weapon dropping - this could be quickly fixed by setting drop probability to zero, done in PS and some other missions.
On robots use, I'd say you can create enough difficulty even with low-tier robots, of course; only it can be a bit monotonous to see mostly the same robots for many levels. This is where occasional introduction of stronger robots can help, for example I liked how the reactor room was staffed in PS L1 (see 10:40)

Do you find it too difficult or unappropriate (I mean, for you mission) in some way?
About using various robots from D1,D2 and Vertigo that have the same function - I myself prefer the levels that do not make a mixed salad out of them, of course it can be fun to use them together at times, but IMO it is more interesting to select one type that best suits the level or room texture, mood, storyline etc. This way you can easily break the monotony and make the levels look different to each other, more interesting and fun (especially important if you have 50+levels); another good idea is to "theme" a level or a part of the level around few robot types and change the theme occasionally, like LL level 9 which (at least big part of it) was themed around D1 robots like green platformers, red hulks, conc hulks and Vulcan drillers. It also had parts with LL usual mix of WASPs, sniper ng's and sidearms and one part with BPERs, Plasma drillers, ITSCs and fiddlers.
I'm against tweaking the robots' stats, unless you mean speed, reaction time etc, which D2 itself did. But not stuff like health, that's definitely staying vanilla.
I don't mean HP or damage per shot; the stats like speed, evasion, reaction time, fire rate only.
Oh don't you worry. Among these 52 levels, many are definitely going to be tough as a mofo. I can imagine liberal fusion hulk/red fatty jr/vulcan driller/super hulk/MAX/SPIKE spam in the final few, along with some nasty traps and stuff. We'll be fine :P
Fusion hulks or MAXs in snipe mode, maybe? :x
I also liked those SPIKEs that fire shaker bomblets in LL (especially snipe mode ones!), originals are too cheap, you always need to kill it from the corner like the Vulcan driller.
MAX that fire 2 mega missiles and a flash missile at you was a surprise, too. Deadly kind of. As if it was not bad enough :lol:

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:17 am
by Xfing
Theming particular areas of the level is a good idea for sure, I'll definitely take that into consideration. I also do fully realize that sometimes it reinforces the theme to use just one kind of robot from among two or three types that have identical functions. I gave an example of using small hulks in a Puuma Sphere level, rather than supplementing them with PIGs and such.

There are some robots I'd like to be mainstays though, namely the Class 1 Driller. That robot makes any Descent player feel right at home :D

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:09 am
by Phozon
Hadn't seen the ol descent level editor I used to use in aaaages so went to start making something.
Should I do another level for this?
How about Solar System 7? - how's this for an aesthetic:
Image

i'm thinking a gopher level, like the H2O mine of d1

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:38 am
by Xfing
Phozon wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:09 am
Hadn't seen the ol descent level editor I used to use in aaaages so went to start making something.
Should I do another level for this?
How about Solar System 7? - how's this for an aesthetic:
Image

i'm thinking a gopher level, like the H2O mine of d1
Sure, I loved your Mars level! If you want to make something, go right ahead. Not sure if level 7 particularly is a good idea for this sort of aesthetic though, since it's Saturn. You could take one of the post-pluto spots like Orcus or Quaoar though, we have no theme restriction on these, as they didn't appear in D1 anyway.

Also, I'm holding off on gophers until later as they're pretty sturdy, but you could spam mine-layer class 1 drones or PESTs or something. I think :D

Re: Descent 1 1/2

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:03 pm
by AlexanderBorisov
Xfing wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:17 am
Theming particular areas of the level is a good idea for sure, I'll definitely take that into consideration. I also do fully realize that sometimes it reinforces the theme to use just one kind of robot from among two or three types that have identical functions. I gave an example of using small hulks in a Puuma Sphere level, rather than supplementing them with PIGs and such.

There are some robots I'd like to be mainstays though, namely the Class 1 Driller. That robot makes any Descent player feel right at home :D
An interesting note, those Drillers seem less frightening in D2 for some reason... Not sure why, maybe difference in AI, they seemed to be more aggressive in D1, same goes for class 1 drones, small hulks and secondary lifters. However it would be cool if you could somehow re-create experience of, say, Level 9 of D1 with it's large interconnected area and deadly ambushes by roaming class 1 drones and other "weak" robots.