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 Post subject: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:37 am 
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DBB Ace
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This is inspired by a video DarkFlameWolf did a few years back stating his top five Descent (II) single-player missions.

Simple question and no poll here - what are your favorite single player missions of all time for Descent (II)? They can be for either game and any engine (so XL missions are fair game here). I'm looking for anywhere from three to five favorites, but you can list more or less if you want.

As for myself, so far I've played and finished the following missions: Phobos Encounter, Lost Levels, Entropy Experiment, Encounter at Farpoint 2, and Descent Vignettes. My favorite so far is Vignettes with second and third going to Phobos Encounter and Lost Levels (not sure what order; I might place Lost Levels second because it's much bigger, but I also find it unfair to give one mission preference over another solely due to its size).


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:44 pm 
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All of DFW's missions. I also like Obsidian and Enemy Vignette.

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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:09 pm 
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Is TEW considered a DFW mission when you make that reference?

For single player do you think Obsidian is better than AF even though Obsidian is dated relative to their current style?


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:39 am 
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TEW is a part of the DFW missions.

As to whether Obsidian is better depends on what you are referring to. I'd say that they are on par geometrically - while AF is much more complex, each one is of high quality within its detail level. If that makes sense, which it probably doesn't. If you're talking story, I vote AF. If you're talking difficulty, Obsidian all the way.

As for which to play first, I'd recommend Obsidian - unless you want a challenge like nothing you've ever seen before ;)
You may even want to consider installing the Lost Levels weapons mod when you do AF.

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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:50 am 
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Do you think Obsidian still stands as a high quality mission in both aesthetic and gameplay despite the authors saying it's dated relative to their current style and standards?

As fit more recent work from the authors, not sure Darkhorse did anything past his TEW levels. Sirius did Anthology though. Did you play that mission?


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:46 pm 
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Yes I did - It's really good if you have a block of time.

And Obsidian is definitely still a quality mission.

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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:58 pm 
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Does Anthology have to be completed in one sitting? I don't see why it would, there's even a version of it that is 3 levels.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:14 pm 
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It doesn't have to be done in one sitting, however memorizing the "D2" section (and some of the "D1" section) is easier that way. If you're going to split the level up, I'd recommend tackling each section in one sitting. Unless you are rather good at memorizing levels.

The most time will easily go to the "D2" section. It took me forever to find the third switch.

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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:15 am 
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Regarding aesthetics - a lot of that is personal preference, and things that are "dated" can still be enjoyable, e.g. a lot of 80s music does actually have good fundamentals under all those synths and gated reverb :)

It's accurate to say that the way I designed levels for Obsidian is not the way I would typically design them today (special effort excluded of course), but that's mainly because it's very reminiscent of the Luke Schneider style, which got copied by a few too many people in those days. It's not an inherently bad style.

Post-TEW - Darkhorse has a few anarchy levels but probably the bulk of the work I've seen has been in Plutonian Shores. There was a D2X-XL project he was working on, but dropped it due to lack of time I think - the material from that got donated to Pumo Mines if I recall correctly.
I think Anthology actually came out a year before Enemy Within did. I only have a handful of single-player levels since, though - there were a couple of boss levels for Descent Vignettes, and a lot of nothing after that except for level 28 of Plutonian Shores, and presumably something for D1.5 that maybe I can work on now that my DLE controls project is mostly done :)


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:19 pm 
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DBB Ace
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As for me, I enjoyed most the missions which I was able to do on Insane difficulty without save scumming.
Those are (except for stock campaigns in D1 and D2) - Vertigo, Obsidian, TEW, Vignettes is also good although I only did 5 levels. Also can add AF, but this definitely requires a bit of save-scumming on Insane (because of the bosses and level length, mostly + there are occasional nasty traps that cannot be avoided). Probably Orion Nebula (although it is short and not so well balanced, level geometry is very good). Most of the other custom missions seem very unbalanced on high difficulty levels. Also I liked atmosphere, distinctive style, music and level design of those I mentioned, so other missions looked bleak compared to them. If you ask me to choose one best, i'd say TEW. Especially for it's custom robot design and thematic levels.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:30 pm 
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You should really do The Lost Levels if you haven't already, based on what I see in your preferences.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 5:16 pm 
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Regarding D2 Lost Levels, I tried and just don't know how to handle smelter 2 robots and modified ITD in first level on Insane with red lasers. Don't think it is possible. However D1 Lost levels is much more balanced, at least I did first 2 levels on Insane without saves. 3-rd again has issues with reaching energy center (protected with grey missile hulks and you don't have adequate weapons to handle them on Insane; I managed to get past with a bit of save-scumming however). About L4, still don't know how to reach the energy center w/o running out of energy, it is beyond the yellow door and you are sure to run out of energy many times. I am still puzzled why such thing happens in otherwise very well designed level.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:11 pm 
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@AlexanderBorisov

The author either did not consider Insane, or expects you to just give up a life or two. You could also try packing yourself up with Vulcan and using missiles whenever possible. Taking a long time to reach energy centers is not considered a design flaw in and of itself. Level 13 (or Level 17 of D2 Lost Levels) is even more brutal with energy.

As for Smelter II - wasn't it abound in Vertigo, yet you managed it there?


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 9:35 pm 
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Yeah but it showed up in a spot where you already had weapons like plasma and homing missiles, and decent amounts of vulcan ammo.
Was also relatively rare in Vertigo.

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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:20 am 
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In Vertigo I considered Smelter2 amongst the most dangerous enemies, because it always manages to hit you from the back with it's phoenix cannon no matter how you dodge frontal shots, projectiles are fast, also damage per hit was high (on Insane). So I mostly eliminated them with guided missiles, or out of range, or with gauss. And yes, in Vertigo you have plenty of weapons when it appears. Lost levels don't have missiles and strong weapons to deal with them. About energy centers - probably on Hotshot you can fly past the robots without taking much damage and reach it, of course on Ace and Insane you will be killed. Spending life or two won't do if you are doing complete run (not cold start) - you will run out of lives. But it is interesting how (D1 or D2, and on what difficulty) do you play Lost Levels? Because the levels themselves are very good and it is sad that I ran into those energy and robot balance issues on higher difficulties/


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:32 am 
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I play Hotshot cold start no save unless either I'm on my last life or there is a particularly hard encounter that I'm engaged in.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:53 am 
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I play it however I feel like at the moment. Usually ace, sometimes hotshot or insane depending on the set's difficulty.
For LL I prefer to have the weapon mod off, and sometimes I even go so far as removing the custom/vertigo bot hxms from the HOG file altogether. These both make the mission much much harder especially from level 12 on.

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BEWARE RAZZADOON'S SNOUT!!
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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:30 am 
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DBB Ace
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Do you play D1 or D2 version of LL? How do you remove weapon mods from LL anyway? And I don't see how removing Vertigo bots should make it harder... BTW "Make it even harder" seems like a good joke. Its first levels seem harder on Ace than most of Obsidian and TEW on Insane. Someone did D2 LL on ace or insane? Maybe I am doing it "wrong way"? I recorded my run through levels 1, 2 on ace, wonder where someone could repeat it on Insane :
https://www.sendspace.com/filegroup/OEp ... MfK4UbeXdA


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:58 am 
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Removing the vertigo bots makes it easier. As for disabling weapons, the method depends on which engine you use. If using DOS, simply don't install them.

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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 12:49 pm 
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Nothing is *supposed* to be tougher than TEW on Insane. (MAYBE Enemy Vignette.)

I've never done LL above Hotshot. I recall a tough start but then it didn't become as hard as I had expected. At the time I was playing with Rebirth and both new enemies and weapons.

The constant homages to original levels in the designs are less frequent after Level 6 BTW.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 1:16 pm 
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I use rebirth. Funny thing is, I did not installed the weapon mod (at least I don't see data/d2-orig.ham that should be created by installation script, however I have the explosive spreadfire, new vulcan and dual concussions (only in LL of course), how is it possible?


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 1:48 pm 
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Rebirth supports putting a modded descent2.ham directly into the .HOG file.

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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:12 am 
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@AlexanderBorisov I left you a private message regarding Lost Levels.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 11:28 am 
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@AlexanderBorisov Just notifying I sent a reply; thanks for the message.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:38 am 
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AlexanderBorisov wrote:
BTW "Make it even harder" seems like a good joke. Its first levels seem harder on Ace than most of Obsidian and TEW on Insane.

Gets worse... later on there are Canaries with something akin to Frag Missiles, and they're used in things like door traps. Blech.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 4:44 am 
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L5-8 were not bad, did it on Ace without saves and deaths (as with 1-4), most of the times shields were high. L9 : those canaries are little devils, but you have the homing plasma against them. Still thinking, Is it worth doing L9 no-save no-death, because it is too long even without those nasty robots. BTW do you think this mission can be played on Insane without major save-scumming? Or i'd better forget it?


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:15 am 
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@AlexanderBorisov

I have no idea if LL can be done on Insane without save-scum. When you say canaries, are you talking about the WASP? With the weapons mod they're actually Nega Missiles, which are Mercury Missiles that give off deadly shards on impact.

I'm working on a message for all other items BTW.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:28 am 
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DBB Ace
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Yes those are WASPs. About Insane for LL, if someone can do it, it would be Sirius, so I am asking him.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:56 am 
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If you know it well enough it might be possible - though I haven't tried. The traps at least are always in the same position, which might make it possible to develop countermeasures.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:35 pm 
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In first two levels problem is not the traps, but that that there are a lot of fast robots that you cannot hit with lasers (they dodge everything) + smelter2 robots, that are also very fast and have strong weapon. And vulcan (if you manage to get it!) is slower than in D2, so also problematic to hit those smelters and ITD's with it. You can try first level on Insane, it is very short but shows the problem.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:09 pm 
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@AlexanderBorisov The first two levels give me a harder time as well. My best bet is Vulcan with all those 'light' robots at least until I find the Missile Launcher in a secret on Level 2. Gets easier for me past that, but I'm only playing Hotshot so AI is less. Phoenix is a pretty high power weapon for any robot to have so early in a mission.

Also just notifying I did send another message.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 7:13 pm 
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Completely forgot I made a D1 version of Lost Levels....do I even have it on my HD anymore? :|


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 8:49 pm 
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LightWolf wrote:
Removing the vertigo bots makes it easier.

Not after you get to the part that would introduce SPIKE it doesn't. Have you ever seen the green heavy drillers in D2 missions? There's a reason parallax didn't actually put them in the base game...
And that's who SPIKE really is. Those levels aren't built to let you dodge that many homing missiles.

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The eyes of the plush lobster stared deep into my soul. I touched it, made as if to pick it up, and then I was a panther.
BEWARE RAZZADOON'S SNOUT!!
...

Also beware my original music, at http://soundcloud.com/snowfoxden and http://vertigofox.bandcamp.com


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:56 am 
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DBB Ace
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I don't see a big difference in terms of threat between a homing missile green driller and a Spike (I played through the whole LL on Insane, with weapon mods off, without saves in each level apart from L4,16 and last bosses). Both will kill you instantly if you are not careful. Especially if one is in snipe mode like in later LL levels. Still homing missiles are easier to dodge and have smaller blast radius. In most cases, however, those robots can be killed before they fire at you (stun them with the flash missile, or kill with missiles or just shoot before they react). I think, this is the right way to go.


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 Post subject: Re: Top three to five custom missions
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 12:46 pm 
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The green homing robot is really tough for me, it will fire four at once even on Hotshot. And it has an energy pulse. Very hard when I do no Gauss runs. It's even worse than a Boarshead. Only the MAX that appears in LL without the weapons mod is worse.


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