Descent 1 1/2

The place to promote and link to Descent levels - both multiplayer and singleplayer - D1, D2 and D3.

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Naphtha
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Naphtha » Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:15 am

To be honest, Xfing, I'm sick of trying to humor someone who still acts like he didn't even read the guidelines for your project.

Between my own set's development and spending time applying for a new job, I haven't had a whole lot of time for this admittedly. I think I'm going to free up Secret Level 1 for the time being so I can try to regain my bearings with Ganymede Outpost.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Shroudeye » Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:08 pm

Good luck Naphtha!
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:14 pm

No probsies Naphtha. I'm unemployed right now too, so I feel your pain. I'm taking a more passive approach though, having sent out the CVs and all. Guess I gotta be patient :(

Thanks for all your updates! I should probably get to populating level 3, which I might get to tomorrow afternoon.

BTW - when it comes to secret level teleporters, I'm thinking of having 4 in each section of the mission, 2 taking you to each of the secret levels. In Solar System the final one is on Sedna, only accessible after the reactor's been blown. I think we should balance this type of teleporters with ones available without having to initiate the mine's self-destruct sequence too.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Phozon » Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:30 am

Alright, I can feel myself slowing down on this, so,, does anyone wanna take a look, any advice what sort of rooms to add next? a collab maybe?
https://www.mediafire.com/file/6oqbe9xc ... Quaoar.rar
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Kaizerwolf » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:10 am

You guys have inspired me. Tholin is nearing completion, I've saved myself about 200 cubes for reactor room and secrets. This level should be pretty neat I think, I've kept the D1 feel of having areas that have nothing to do with keys, and I think it's turning out pretty well. I'm hoping to have a bit of a sprawling secret as well. It may be a bit ambitious for how D1 itself was, but I'll let you guys decide! I'll have it up in the next week or so.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:51 am

Kaizerwolf wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:10 am
You guys have inspired me. Tholin is nearing completion, I've saved myself about 200 cubes for reactor room and secrets. This level should be pretty neat I think, I've kept the D1 feel of having areas that have nothing to do with keys, and I think it's turning out pretty well. I'm hoping to have a bit of a sprawling secret as well. It may be a bit ambitious for how D1 itself was, but I'll let you guys decide! I'll have it up in the next week or so.
Don't worry about stuff being "too ambitious for D1". I don't think that would take away from the feel at all.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:05 am

Phozon wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:30 am
Alright, I can feel myself slowing down on this, so,, does anyone wanna take a look, any advice what sort of rooms to add next? a collab maybe?
https://www.mediafire.com/file/6oqbe9xc ... Quaoar.rar
Checked out the level. Really like it! The feel is D1-ish, but still quite modern. I have no advice to give you regarding future geometry. Both compact and sprawling will work. I'm picking up slight D1L7 architectural vibes here though, so it would probably be good to follow through on that. I also like how this level is nothing like your Mars level, showing that you can be quite versatile. What I'm not that fond of though is your overuse of the yellow tape texture, especially for door borders. Minimize the usage of this texture and replace it with standard doorlights, keeping it only for some particular doors, like the two doors around the rim that lead inward. I don't have a lot of level building inspiration at the moment, but maybe someone else could lend a hand.

BTW the MSN file was messy, I had to remake it from DLE, else D1 wouldn't read the mission, since it contains the wrong level name. Also, not sure if you can do that, but not making the level in D2 right off the bat is going to cost me some work later on making the conversion.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Shroudeye » Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:29 pm

Well, speaking of completed levels, I've managed to get a bit of free time today, and completed the first iteration of Kuiper Belt Espionage Facility. The level is mostly empty, there is only a few powerups and two matcens. The puzzles, however, are all set.

However, I've got two problems at this moment: The first is a problem with Dropbox, I can't seem to upload my level set in there. I'll post a google drive link here instead, at least for now. You can grab the level from here:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=18aM9g ... Tdsfs8ogDU

The second problem is about the *.pig file. This is actually my first time using a custom *.pig, so I might set something wrong: I've made a separate Rebirth installation for this project, and overridden the Descent.pig in that particular installation... So the level only plays in that particular installation. Did I done this correctly?

Anyways, let me know what do you think!
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:06 pm

Shroudeye wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:29 pm
Well, speaking of completed levels, I've managed to get a bit of free time today, and completed the first iteration of Kuiper Belt Espionage Facility. The level is mostly empty, there is only a few powerups and two matcens. The puzzles, however, are all set.

However, I've got two problems at this moment: The first is a problem with Dropbox, I can't seem to upload my level set in there. I'll post a google drive link here instead, at least for now. You can grab the level from here:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=18aM9g ... Tdsfs8ogDU
I'll take a look. I think I gave you editing rights, so you should be able to upload stuff. Just checked and it shows your name, so you should be good. Creating folders should be within your rights.
The second problem is about the *.pig file. This is actually my first time using a custom *.pig, so I might set something wrong: I've made a separate Rebirth installation for this project, and overridden the Descent.pig in that particular installation... So the level only plays in that particular installation. Did I done this correctly?
Nope, you put this descent.pig in your D2 installation, it's not supposed to replace D1's descent.pig. It needs to be called descent.pig in order to work, that's the caveat Pumo warned us about since day one. Just put this file in your D2x-Rebirth folder along with descent.256 and everything should work nice. Checking out the level, I'll write in a moment.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:07 pm

Well, turns out you did it right! The palette is descent.pig alright, so despite your reservations it looks like everything was set up correctly. Though that might be because the level has descent.pig set as its palette in DLE and it's working off my own files - make sure to double-check if your own files are all in order.

As for the level - I'm loving it to bits. Fantastic geometry, brilliant texturing, powerful atmosphere, engaging puzzles. You even used the template POG, to great effect too. The geometry has just the right amount of adventurous for a secret level and works perfectly with the texturing. No D2 or Vertigo style texturing could bring out quite as much out of this layout as these tastefully picked D1 textures do. As for the puzzles - they're great. A balance of old-school D1 doors automatically opening and secret doors openable from one side only with D2-style forcefield puzzles and switch hunting. Overall not too easy, but not painfully hard either. After beating the Sedna boss the player will be rewarded by a nice breather with some beautiful sightseeing and a fun mental exercise solving the puzzle of the mine and collecting unearthly amounts of ordnance to be abused in the Zeta Aquilae levels.

In fact, I have to say the emptiness of this mine adds to the ambience, so I think the only enemies in it will be cloaked lifters here and there. The lack of resistance really doesn't bother this mine, since it's so eventful even without them. I think too strong resistance would actually needlessly take focus away from the fun exploration factor, not to mention that those cache-type levels are not supposed to be hard anyway. But still, this is probably the most beautifully textured D1-style level I've seen in a long, long time, with architecture to match. If this is what Sedna's portal will take the player to, it'll definitely be well worth discovering. Oh yeah!

My recommendations:
- I asked you for no keys and you did that, but in a half-measure sort of way, since you kept the colored doors protecting the reactor. I would suggest removing the color-coded flags from them and just replacing them with "door locked", and changing up the borders from doorlights to colored tape, just like the one that surrounds the switches that open these very doors - for consistency's sake.
- In that chamber with all those matcens - if you want to confound and scare the player, you should set all the cube types to "robot maker" in the editor, since right now all it takes is to bring up the Automap and the player will know which matcens are real and which are just decoys. Setting all the matcen-like cubes to "robot maker" will mark them all appear purple in the Automap, so the deception will be impossible to see through for a first-time player. You don't need to program triggers for these additional matcens of course. Though since two switches actually activate the currently working matcen pair, perhaps you could make one of them trigger another pair instead?

Make these very minor fixes and try to upload the level to Dropbox. I really see no reason why you wouldn't be able to. I'll mark the level as done after I catch some sleep. Further remarks:

- You really have a knack for conveying atmosphere. I'd love to have some regular levels from you by all means, but could I interest you in making Secret level 6: Dementia? It's meant to be the last secret level in the game - I only have a very vague vision for what it should be like, and you should be able to easily deliver. All I know is I want it to have a lot of the black, obsidian texture (other textures at your discretion), but with the overarching goal of feeling very dark, somber, foreboding and evoking loneliness. Flickering lights here and there wouldn't hurt either. And that's it - the rest would be up to you. You in? :D

- Alter-Fox - since this level basically set the standards of quality for secret levels, I don't think Litter Jungle really is in the right place right now, particularly since it was never intended to be a secret level in the first place, and is one of your earlier designs. Mind if we freed up the spot and let the level be its own thing?
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:26 pm

Yeah go ahead. If it's still got a spot in the mission maybe we can put it on Orcus, or change up the textures and make it the saturn map.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Shroudeye » Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:07 am

I'm glad that you liked it Xfing! The puzzle needed some balancing, but I'm glad it worked into something fun. I'll put your recommendations in effect right away. Thanks for the feedback!

And as for the Secret level 6: Dementia, I am in. I've taken note of your post above for its concept, but please fill me in if there is more you want to add. Also, please note that I'll only be able to start focusing on it the next week (I got exams this weekend), if it is allright for you.

Just for clarification, I'm sending my palette down below. When you say the "Obsidian" texture, I'm guessing you mean the marked texture at the top right corner of the palette?

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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:40 am

Yeah, don't worry about speed, we're not in a race here, take care of your exams first and foremost. That's the texture I meant alright. I call it obsidian, but it's technically called rock 356. As for my concept for Dementia, it's really hard to say, as I only have a notion of the atmosphere of the level, not of the geometry. Long tunnels would be cool, though I can't even decide whether I'd prefer straight or winding. Straight hexagonal tubes kinda like the metro in D3 level 4 wouldn't feel too bad, with nooks and crannies here and there containing secrets. Minimal lighting suggesting a broken light infrastructure. And since it's very late in the game, it would be nice to have something otherworldly looking in it. Bizarre geometry with alien-like, striking texturing, probably with the help of moving textures and flickering lights. This level would primarily be about the atmosphere of desolation, but also an alien, dreamlike mystery.

BTW please send me the new version of the secret level, since I still don't see it up on Dropbox. Might as well put it up myself.

As for Litter Jungle, not sure where to put it. I remember quite liking the Neptunian version of it, but it's still comparatively basic. I would be for shelving it altogether right now tbh. It potentially could work as the Orcus mine after a texturing overhaul, but I think I'd rather have something altogether new in that spot.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Phozon » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:51 am

Xfing wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:05 am
Phozon wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:30 am
Alright, I can feel myself slowing down on this, so,, does anyone wanna take a look, any advice what sort of rooms to add next? a collab maybe?
https://www.mediafire.com/file/6oqbe9xc ... Quaoar.rar
BTW the MSN file was messy, I had to remake it from DLE, else D1 wouldn't read the mission, since it contains the wrong level name.
thanks for some advice! And oh yeah I realised this, forgot about it when sharing. I'll be able to convert to a d2 level afterwards by creating a new project with correct names and pasting it all in i suppose -(items + robots not that important)
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:11 am

Yeah, just make sure to manually pick every texture during the conversion to prevent overlap - for example D2 sets many D1 decorative textures to their baseline texture, since they're absent from the second game. Otherwise you'd forget where you placed the decorative textures (if any). BTW when converting monitors you're quite safe to follow the editor's suggestions, since the template POGs happen to turn the monitors back into the D1 variants with surprising accuracy (some manual tweaks afterwards might be needed though).

BTW after flying through some of the levels again, I decided to retire LW's level 31. Definitely one of if not THE weakest level in the pack as of right now, it would take too much work to bring it up to par. The spot is open again for anyone who'd like to make them a nice, tight, dangerous Puuma Sphere level :D
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Shroudeye » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:38 am

Okay, I've modified the level, following your feedback. The matcen area is more dangerous, with 6 matcens (But there is only one trigger that activates ALL of them, which you can avoid if you are careful. Hint: think about a particular Descent 1 Neptune level...)

The doors no longer require keys. I marked them with stripes as well as with door lights.

I also did a few minor changes to the "running" puzzle: you still get to run it, from start to end, but there are a few switches along the way that will carve another, alternate way.

Lastly, I added a little more decals in the level, and fixed some texture errors I noticed.

The dropbox upload was successful this time, so here is the link to the latest version:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/h09xrmsqcxzb ... 748_a?dl=0

Enjoy this new tes-I mean mine :)
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:50 am

Ok, I'll rename the folder to "Level S2" for convenient ordering and check it out right away :D
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:04 am

I think you actually overdid it this time :(

All six matcens activating all at the same time is definitely overkill, I'd much rather have three switches activating a pair each, and one switch deactivating the forcefield. More confusing and less predictable, but also less troublesome to deal with. Also do away with the movement trigger that activates them all when you enter the shaft again - that's entirely unneeded. As for decals - nice to have more of them, but I'd swap out the "alpha" and "beta" decals for something else, since they were basically meant for Earth's moon only. Plenty more to choose from. And as for the reactor doors, go full tape, that'd look better IMO. The doorlights still suggest the doors are color-coded, which they aren't.

Also, I think I liked the previous idea of the forcefield at the top of the long shaft deactivating on its own when you get close, rather than making it dependent on the monitor in the area beyond the secret blue door. That way that secret was skippable and missable, and now you've made it mandatory in order to progress. In other words, previously someone would probably miss that secret, and now they're forced to look hard for it, since they're trapped if they don't find it anyway.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Shroudeye » Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:21 am

Xfing wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:04 am
All six matcens activating all at the same time is definitely overkill, I'd much rather have three switches activating a pair each, and one switch deactivating the forcefield. More confusing and less predictable, but allso less troublesome to deal with. Also do away with the movement trigger that activates them all when you enter the shaft again - that's entirely unneeded.
Yeah, I agree. While I wanted to present a major threat, I guess that is a little too much, I'll tone it down. But I'm kind of like the idea of presenting a danger if the player is taking the short way down... So for now, I'll simply make the top trigger activate only 2 matcens, which should be more manageable?
Xfing wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:04 am
...Also, I think I liked the previous idea of the forcefield at the top of the long shaft deactivating on its own when you get close, rather than making it dependent on the monitor in the area beyond the secret blue door. That way that secret was skippable and missable, and now you've made it mandatory in order to progress. In other words, previously someone would probably miss that secret, and now they're forced to look hard for it, since they're trapped if they don't find it anyway.
I also thought of this as I was having lunch. So, I'll revert back, but I'm planning on keeping the forcefield disabled after that - if the players can also solve the switch puzzle, they can carve an alternate way that runs all the track, so the forcefield there won't stop them anymore. I like to keep that feeling of "peeling a security system layer by layer"... That is, of course, depending on the feedback.

I'll rework the decals as well as the door stripes, no problem. I chose Alpha and Beta to just name the tunnels, but they aren't too necessary. I'll be back.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:51 am

I think all six is fine, but it would maybe be best to make it one-shot. That's because it's still best to retreat back up for tactical reasons to take care of the robots, and if the trigger is perpetual, the player will be in a situation that could lead to rapidly depleting their energy without any means to recharge. I also had this idea that in every matcen pair, one would spawn exclusively cloaked lifters and another - mine laying gophers. These robots don't present a direct, immediate threat, but make life miserable for the player if ignored or taken lightly. Also, 3 matcens worth of gophers means 21 gophers (bar matcen glitches which often happen in Rebirth) roaming the level, laying mines. The lifters would be easy enough to deal with, but the gophers would be a long, arduous kind of deal. I'd really be fine with a solution like that, since this level is in and of itself meant to be a reward for the player, so the risk of dying in it should be minimal.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Shroudeye » Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:01 am

Okay, I've updated the map.

I've removed the lower matcen trigger as there is a trap in the main room already. Besides, players can disable one trigger while all the matcens are running by flying through them. The upper matcen trigger is enough, and it triggers only once.
Matcens spawn cloaked lifters and minelaying gophers.

The forcefield gate is back, but I preferred to keep it open afterwards. For now.

The colored doors now only has stripes. I've simply replaced Alpha and Beta with PTMC logos instead.

Check the dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/h09xrmsqcxzb ... 748_a?dl=0
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:10 pm

Something is screwy with the starting point, it starts right at the entry to the matcen chamber, get it fixed :D Though that let me see how the matcens work. Not sure what you meant in your previous post, but they seem to work just like I asked - one switch, one pair and no trigger at all from above.


From my end, I've done level 3, it's now playable along with 1 and 2 and downloadable from the Main HOG directory. It's a short level like the two before it, but a bit more eventful I'd say. Still no matcens though, those will be making a debut in level 4. Play it and tell me whether more gear or robots is needed.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:21 pm

How the heck do you get matcens to spawn minelaying bots anyway? Is an hxm necessary?

I'll try and get you the songs for the dxa tonight X, so you can go over them and make sure they fit.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Shroudeye » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:26 pm

*FACEPALM*

Yeah, I though I forgot something!! Fixed it, I just left the player in the test position :D

As for spawning minelayers, I edited the gophers in the editor. Just place one bot somewhere in the level, then set its AI (From the AI tab to the right) to "drop bombs". Then set your matcens to spawn them.

As for the *.hxm and other stuff, I simply extracted all the needed files from one of the missions, renamed them to kuiper.*** and imported them to the hog.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:46 pm

Shroudeye wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:26 pm
*FACEPALM*

Yeah, I though I forgot something!! Fixed it, I just left the player in the test position :D

As for spawning minelayers, I edited the gophers in the editor. Just place one bot somewhere in the level, then set its AI (From the AI tab to the right) to "drop bombs". Then set your matcens to spawn them.

As for the *.hxm and other stuff, I simply extracted all the needed files from one of the missions, renamed them to kuiper.*** and imported them to the hog.
A HXM is a file that holds modified robot data for the particular level. The tab on the right affects every single robot of its kind when you make changes in it, thereby creating a HXM file for the level. No harm done of course. I'll check the level out right away, should be fine now though. Mind giving me some feedback on level 3? :)
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:56 pm

When I get to populating the level, I'll be removing those nasty-ass drillers and cloaked hulk from the opened compartment, instead I'll fill it with laser boosts and quads. Caught me off guard, that one sure did, haha :D
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Shroudeye » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:47 pm

Let's meet in the mid ground and place in a few PTMC Defense Prototypes? They drop quads, y'know :).

I'll play the set and return with my feedback.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:07 pm

Shroudeye wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:47 pm
Let's meet in the mid ground and place in a few PTMC Defense Prototypes? They drop quads, y'know :).

I'll play the set and return with my feedback.
Well I know what you mean, but like I said, I'd much rather have the secret levels be practically harmless. Solving puzzles and gorging yourself on powerups is fun in and of itself, you know :D Let this level be a breather for the player after the heavy fighting on Sedna, or a restocking point if the earlier portal to the level is taken instead. Defense prototypes aren't very dangerous for sure, so like 2 could maybe be fine, both dropping a quad, but a row of laser powerups would look prettier :D
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Shroudeye » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:19 pm

Well alright, I got no problems there. The matcens puzzle should provide enough danger for the rest of the level.

So I guess I'm moving on to Dementia map... I've got a few ideas about it already ;) Cheers!
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:48 am

As for level 3 - my personal impression is that as things are right now, it's actually easier than level 2. That's gotta be because the level is much more spacious, so melee robots can't jump you quite as effectively. I did try to counterbalance it by adding 3 sniper mode ITDs in the red area, but the level could still use a bit more difficulty I think. That's why I'm asking you to test it and give me some suggestions :D
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:02 pm

I tested it (not cold-start however). About the geometry and texturing, I love it! Dark atmosphere, Vertigo-like large rooms, this is what I like! Sliding bridge near the blue key-awesome!!! don't know how you made it with descent engine... Maybe could look even better if the WHOLE bridge had moving texture, but it can get a bit psychedelic then... Nice and not-hard to find secrets. Mine laying robots are not dangerous but add up to the atmosphere.

About the difficulty and robot placement. Yes it is a bit too easy for the 3-rd level. Because of large spaces, you can shoot at most robots from the distance making them less dangerous. And melee robots here are nearly harmless. Difficult spots are - the beginning, where I spent some time for finding the move that lets you avoid fire (circling in the starting cell does not work often); 2 ITDs at the blue key; some Canaries placed behind the corners. The cloaked lifters can surprise But I managed to make it through on my second run (after finished the experiments with the starting fight; that one time I was killed by a cloaked driller). In fact it is not easy to make this level more difficult without adding new robot types (which you probably don't like). But I think, you can place some grey conc hulks in the open spaces (you could also add ITD/ITSC but it will make coldstart extremely painful, because you won't be able to hit them in the open space with lasers, remember Vertigo L1?). MAybe some cloaked grey hulks, too? And I think you can add diamond claws here, they will at least pose some threat with their energy pulse. Making red key area harder (by adding ITDs) is a good idea, as it is too easy, not sure about snipe mode, need to test. The reactor area is kind of easy, too.

My biggest concern is cold-starting, I ran out of energy reaching the energy center near the blue key even with L3 lasers (I tried to not use Vulcan and more than 3 conc). And I am not sure you will be able to reach the other energy center w/o running out of energy, either... And of course on cold start you need vulcan to deal with ITDs and probably with some of the Canaries, too. And Vulcan is far away also. Probably I will try it on cold-start later and give some more impressions on it.

I still think that wrt to difficulty, you should make D1 part harder than D1 FS (because for one who finished D1 and D2, they need a reason, difficulty-wise, to play the new mission). And D2 part harder than D2 CS. I don't mean that you should make everything harder than FS L11 and 19/ CS L21, but make it harder on average. With at least some levels harder than hard ones in D1/D2/Vertigo. As in DooM wads, most of the new ones (like Ancient Aliens, Valiant, Plutonia Experiment, Sunlust) are much harder than official campaign; and introduce dangerous monsters much faster, although keeping the smooth or relatively smooth difficulty progression. This is because they are intended for seasoned players who did their way through official WADs. Although IMO Vertigo was easier than CS on average (and it does not have dificult bosses like in D2), but it had new robots, and new level design style, which made it interesting to play after D1/D2 even without being too hard.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:52 pm

I'm uploading a zip file with the five level songs for the demo's DXA along with a text file that has the music credits, and which needs to be in the download somewhere. I admit I'm not entirely sure how to setup a DXA -- I'll look into it unless you get around to it first! :D In the meantime at least you've got the songs to test and make sure they're up to par.

The "descent" "briefing" and "credits" oggs are from the Playstation soundtrack, cause I know they need to exist in the DXA and I haven't got anything for them just yet.
Also gonna be uploading Charon as soon as these are done. The only thing I haven't gotten around to doing there is changing the PIG to descent.pig -- I was still having a few problems with crashes while switching PIGs during level construction so it's still Alien2 until I get that sorted out.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Shroudeye » Wed Nov 22, 2017 1:35 pm

What sort of crashes, Fox?
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:04 pm

AlexanderBorisov wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:02 pm
I tested it (not cold-start however). About the geometry and texturing, I love it! Dark atmosphere, Vertigo-like large rooms, this is what I like! Sliding bridge near the blue key-awesome!!! don't know how you made it with descent engine... Maybe could look even better if the WHOLE bridge had moving texture, but it can get a bit psychedelic then... Nice and not-hard to find secrets. Mine laying robots are not dangerous but add up to the atmosphere.
That conveyor belt was very easy to make, you just have to use that one texture that can be coupled with any other texture to make it move. It's been used in Vertigo and many community campaigns over the years, it can create some really nice aesthetic effects. The texture in question is misc099. Turns out misc100 works the same way too :D
About the difficulty and robot placement. Yes it is a bit too easy for the 3-rd level. Because of large spaces, you can shoot at most robots from the distance making them less dangerous. And melee robots here are nearly harmless. Difficult spots are - the beginning, where I spent some time for finding the move that lets you avoid fire (circling in the starting cell does not work often); 2 ITDs at the blue key; some Canaries placed behind the corners.
There's a cloak secret right in the middle of the floor of the chamber with the conveyor belt. That cloak makes getting the blue key a cakewalk, so I might throw another Medium Hulk in there too. Canaries are surprisingly difficult, since they fire real fast. They're pretty much identical to BPERs in that regard I think. Maybe I'll replace that one compact lifter that opens up after you get the blue key with a Canary, and another one with a Medium Hulk. That'll definitely add some spiff to the level's difficulty, which I think should be enough to make it harder than level 2. I don't want to overdo it of course, since it's still really early in the mission. Since you're a seasoned player who's completed many campaigns on Insane without dying, you're a bit biased towards wanting a challenge, but keep in mind there are people who still play and enjoy the original games and find them adequately challenging at that.
The cloaked lifters can surprise But I managed to make it through on my second run (after finished the experiments with the starting fight; that one time I was killed by a cloaked driller). In fact it is not easy to make this level more difficult without adding new robot types (which you probably don't like). But I think, you can place some grey conc hulks in the open spaces (you could also add ITD/ITSC but it will make coldstart extremely painful, because you won't be able to hit them in the open space with lasers, remember Vertigo L1?).
The cold start is enough as it is, taking care of those 3 drones may be quite bothersome. You yourself said it was so for you, right? :D I never found it that hard, since if you fire immediately after spawning in the level, you'll get the middle one before it gets to do anything, and then you'll only have 2 to deal with.
Maybe some cloaked grey hulks, too? And I think you can add diamond claws here, they will at least pose some threat with their energy pulse. Making red key area harder (by adding ITDs) is a good idea, as it is too easy, not sure about snipe mode, need to test.
And here you go again, got used to Smelter IIs being placed in the first level like in the Lost Levels and expecting a challenge right away. Look, with 54 levels we NEED to start out easy to give ourselves room to make things harder later on :D That said, I agree about the red key area, it's kinda easy, gotta figure out a way to make it a bit harder. Replacing two of the Fervids with Canaries should definitely do the trick though, they're easily underestimated. As for Diamond Claws, I'd really like to introduce them, but they'll be coming in level 5 (since the boss there spawns them anyway, so why the hell not?). Mars is up next, and that has its own type of Lifter, and I think it would be silly to introduce the Diamonds before the Advanced Lifters.
The reactor area is kind of easy, too.
I actually found that after I added the snipe mode ITDs it's gotten quite hard. Might swap out that stationary Smelter for another Medium Hulk though, that way it'll be a bit tougher, and punishing for pilots who are not cautious.
My biggest concern is cold-starting, I ran out of energy reaching the energy center near the blue key even with L3 lasers (I tried to not use Vulcan and more than 3 conc). And I am not sure you will be able to reach the other energy center w/o running out of energy, either... And of course on cold start you need vulcan to deal with ITDs and probably with some of the Canaries, too. And Vulcan is far away also. Probably I will try it on cold-start later and give some more impressions on it.
Cold-starting is the only way I've been testing this level so far. Managed a deathless run only once (I think), but getting to an energy center has never been that much of a problem. The thing is, you can't spread yourself thin and need to decide immediately to clear a path towards one of the energy centers, that way you'll easily have enough energy to spare. Clearing out part of the robots on the way to the blue key and then coming back to the area with the hostages is no good, that way you'll definitely run out. That's part of the strategic factor of this level.
I still think that wrt to difficulty, you should make D1 part harder than D1 FS (because for one who finished D1 and D2, they need a reason, difficulty-wise, to play the new mission). And D2 part harder than D2 CS. I don't mean that you should make everything harder than FS L11 and 19/ CS L21, but make it harder on average. With at least some levels harder than hard ones in D1/D2/Vertigo. As in DooM wads, most of the new ones (like Ancient Aliens, Valiant, Plutonia Experiment, Sunlust) are much harder than official campaign; and introduce dangerous monsters much faster, although keeping the smooth or relatively smooth difficulty progression. This is because they are intended for seasoned players who did their way through official WADs. Although IMO Vertigo was easier than CS on average (and it does not have dificult bosses like in D2), but it had new robots, and new level design style, which made it interesting to play after D1/D2 even without being too hard.
There are several things I have to say in regards to this. Firstly, due to the new shot-leading robot AI, it's not hard at all to make stuff harder than FS. Pretty much everything is harder than FS when played in D2, even FS itself :P Secondly, it's not like this mission is meant to have three difficulty climaxes and then dial down for a while. The early Zeta Aquilae levels will not be as easy as they were in CS, since it's already 1/3rd into the game, and every subsequent level is -on average- going to be harder than the previous, no matter what planetary system it's in. With that in mind, we can't go crazy on the difficulty in the Solar System portion, since it wasn't even meant to mirror the original Descent's difficulty in the first place. Again, we have the number of the levels to consider. Thirdly - Doom is not an entirely valid comparison IMO, since the original Doom on Ultra Violence is a much easier game than Descent is on Insane, so it's only natural that people make the new WADs harder. However, you also have to notice that Doom The Way id Did was a huge success, and its difficulty is equivalent to the original game's - which teaches us an important lesson - people don't only play these kinds of games for the difficulty, they also play them for the nostalgia, the atmosphere, the immersion.
Alter-Fox wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:52 pm
I'm uploading a zip file with the five level songs for the demo's DXA along with a text file that has the music credits, and which needs to be in the download somewhere. I admit I'm not entirely sure how to setup a DXA -- I'll look into it unless you get around to it first! :D In the meantime at least you've got the songs to test and make sure they're up to par.
AFAIK you just make a DXA by creating a ZIP package with the same name as the HOG it's supposed to work with, then change the package's extension to DXA and donezo :D
The "descent" "briefing" and "credits" oggs are from the Playstation soundtrack, cause I know they need to exist in the DXA and I haven't got anything for them just yet.
Also gonna be uploading Charon as soon as these are done. The only thing I haven't gotten around to doing there is changing the PIG to descent.pig -- I was still having a few problems with crashes while switching PIGs during level construction so it's still Alien2 until I get that sorted out.
Yeah, I don't think I'll be making briefings for the 5-level demo (or should I say "teaser"), but if the files need to be there, then so be it, doesn't bother me :D

As for switching PIGs during development - don't do that at all if it can be helped, that completely screws up any POG files you may have inside (and I'm expecting there to be a POG since it's a Sol level after all!!!)
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:18 pm

Shroudeye - When I switch PIGs on a level that has more than one cube DLE sometimes crashes. It happens much more often when I set the custom "descent.pig".
And yeah Xfing, the reason I had it on Alien2 was that of the three I tried when DLE was cooperating, anyway, it didn't screw up the POG. Good enough for a temporary fix while the level waits to get its final PIG. :P

As for the DXA, though I seem to recall that specifically not working, it can't hurt to give it a shot. Maybe my memory's wrong.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:46 pm

Maybe try updating your DLE? I haven't had such problems in a long while now.

Another word in regards to the difficulty: playing D2 now on Insane I couldn't help but notice that Descent 2 gets the robot difficulty spectrum down much better than Descent 1 did - in D1 you've got easy robots and you've got hard robots, there's not much of a gray area there, so balancing level difficulty is basically trying to strike a proportion between the hard and easy mechs. D2 on the other hand, gives you a lot of "medium" difficulty robots, such as Smelter II, Canary, E-bandit, BPER etc, while also introducing some that are even harder than the most dreadful ones from D1, such as the Boarshead, MAX or SPIKE. That gives the designer more control over the difficutly without having to resort to the toughest mechs. If you examine D1L6, you'll see that it has plenty of the most dangerous mechs in the entire game in it, and it's only level 6. I'd like to go another route, easing the player into the mission with the easy robots first, then the medium ones, and finally the hard ones in increasing proportions, to finally cap it off with the top tier mechanical nightmares. Of course that's not to say low-tier enemies will stop appearing altogether later on, but that makes for a much smoother difficutly curve early on and doesn't have to rely on "jump scare deaths", for lack of a better term, like the ones Level 6 had quite a few of. We can leave those for later in the game to delay the frustration a little bit :D

Oh, and I want to stress one more time that weaponry will be even more restricted, usually unlocked bit by bit after every boss, with the most useful and powerful stuff the last to be brought in. You'll have to wait a long, long time before there are any Megas or Gauss cannons available. In fact, I don't plan the armament for the entire Solar System section to go beyond Plasma and Smarts. Compared to D2 where you get the Helix in level 2 and Gauss in level 3, that's definitely going to necessitate a somewhat different approach to choosing the robot ensemble :)

EDIT: Alex, I've upped the difficulty a bit, try again, cold start. You should be happy now I think (and I'm even afraid I overdid ti a bit, lol)

EDIT 2: Nah, I didn't overdo it. I was able to finish the level from cold start just now, and I'm quite happy with its difficulty, personally. On another note, I've noticed a slight problem: every now and then the HXM for level 3 disappears from the HOG. It's meant to prevent the cloaked lifters from dropping cloaks - I know this might be against what I said earlier about altering robots' natural drops, but cloaking devices are not weapons, they're temporary tactical helpers and I'd rather that they weren't so ubiquitous (notice how sparsely Counterstrike seems to use cloaked diamond claws for that very reason?). Anyway, I found that every couple edits, I have to replace the HXM. Right now it seems intact, so I hope I don't have to edit the level again :P
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Wed Nov 22, 2017 3:16 pm

Xfing, I agree with most things you've said.
The problem with the start is that I saved it in the beginning, losing half a second, so I was unable to kill the middle drone before it starts firing... About the difficulty thing, agree I am a bit biased, but i'd say that I still consider Smelter2 s in the first level a bit too evil :twisted: I think level will get much better with the changes you propose, will also test it on cold start to make sure that I can get to the energy center (at least one of two) and Vulcan. In fact I just ignored the cloak and was not super economic with energy, maybe it is not that hard.
Anyway this level is a pleasure to play even without regard to the difficulty factor. That's good. Because there are many levels on DMDB that tell you "the most difficult level.. you will wet your pants" in the description, but in fact boring to play despite their difficulty (which often manifests only in a couple of spots).
About "jump scare deaths", I am also not a big fan of them. A few well designed traps here or there is a good thing, but the difficulty should not rely on them. But I think D1 L6 had more subtle difficulty factor, you had to eliminate the dangerous robots before they start to roam, at which point it gets extremely hard to avoid damage. This means, plan you way well and be fast, almost speedrun-style in the beginning. I don't remember all of them, but at least conc hulk at the blue key, one near the energy center, and four drillers in the colored door hub. Vulcan drillers behind the corners which you need to kill with homing missiles are not the best way to introduce difficulty, I agree D2 was much better with it.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Wed Nov 22, 2017 3:30 pm

AlexanderBorisov wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 3:16 pm
Xfing, I agree with most things you've said.
The problem with the start is that I saved it in the beginning, losing half a second, so I was unable to kill the middle drone before it starts firing...
I replaced the middle drone with a Smelter now. Just make sure to open fire immediately :D
About the difficulty thing, agree I am a bit biased, but i'd say that I still consider Smelter2 s in the first level a bit too evil :twisted: I think level will get much better with the changes you propose, will also test it on cold start to make sure that I can get to the energy center (at least one of two) and Vulcan. In fact I just ignored the cloak and was not super economic with energy, maybe it is not that hard.
Anyway this level is a pleasure to play even without regard to the difficulty factor. That's good. Because there are many levels on DMDB that tell you "the most difficult level.. you will wet your pants" in the description, but in fact boring to play despite their difficulty (which often manifests only in a couple of spots).
I think so too. If the level itself isn't fun to be in, no kind of difficulty will make it fun to play - case in point, most of LightWolf's rejected levels. He spams top tier mechs like there was no tomorrow :lol:
About "jump scare deaths", I am also not a big fan of them. A few well designed traps here or there is a good thing, but the difficulty should not rely on them. But I think D1 L6 had more subtle difficulty factor, you had to eliminate the dangerous robots before they start to roam, at which point it gets extremely hard to avoid damage. This means, plan you way well and be fast, almost speedrun-style in the beginning. I don't remember all of them, but at least conc hulk at the blue key, one near the energy center, and four drillers in the colored door hub. Vulcan drillers behind the corners which you need to kill with homing missiles are not the best way to introduce difficulty, I agree D2 was much better with it.
D1L6 is fun to play for that very reason - some robots you have to eliminate before they start to roam, like the driller and medium hulk near the quad. But for some others I'd say it's acutally better to wait until they start roaming. With the two medium hulks near the blue key you never know whether it's too early or just right, so I prefer to play it safe, I guess :/
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:21 pm

I did it on cold start no death no save (failed around 5-6 attempts), think it is difficult enough now for level 3. Smelter in the beginning is a good idea to scare the player a bit. The Canaries in traps and around the red key definitely add up to the difficulty,. A good reaction test for me, I forgot about some of the traps already... ★■◆● up a bit around the blue key also, did not expected smelters there (and didn't took the cloak). In general I was running on less than 50 shields after the blue key, maybe you could replace some secret energy powerups near the blue key and on return (under the floor of Canary cell if I remember correctly) with additional shields. I chose to run for the Vulcan and energy center near the hostage area first; arrived there with energy level close to zero, however. Mainly because of the spawn baby spiders that always evaded my laser fire. And I still did not used the cloaking device. If I did I'd probably have much more shields in the end...
Not sure about using a lot of D2/Vertigo bots like Smelter and Canary if you want to keep D1 aesthetics; they definitely make the gameplay more interesting however. It is for that reason I suggested medium hulks and not Canaries/smelters. But mission aesthetics is you domain, I like both ways.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:33 pm

Ran the level again, managed to do it the second time in a row - must be because I'm the maker, so I start the level with full knowledge of its contents :D Anyway, there is only one cloaking device in the level, in that secret in the middle of the conveyor belt room. It's guarded by a smelter too though, but Vulcan helps immensely. Once you have the cloak, the blue key room is a trifle. Seemingly impossible or very hard situations with hidden cloaks and invulnerabilities to expediate them are a very Parallax thing to do, from what I've noticed from FS and CS.

As for aesthetics - I'm leaving that to the textures mostly. In terms of robots, I'm an equal opportunity employer :D
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