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 Post subject: Impressions on Obsidian campaign on insane no-death no-save.
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 2:42 pm 
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DBB Ace
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Well at last I finished this. Heard a lot about difficulty of Obsidian, and decided to play it no-save no-death on insane difficulty.
It appeared not that difficult. Only case when I decided to save is before L14 boss, I tried to practice it, and only managed to kill it after 30-40 attempts (1.5 hours). So I thought replaying the whole level no save 30 times would be shitty (well it is difficult enough without the boss).
Here is a demo of the last level - (recorded in rebirth 0.58.1)
https://www.sendspace.com/file/hx5pgm
for ones interested in the gameplay. I explored the whole level but did not entered the secret level (because I collected shakers from it earlier in the campaign) + skipped two secret areas. BTW level design has a bug, if you enter the secret level after destroying the boss(es), and return, you skip the power core and end the campaign, probably secret exit should be disabled when bosses die.

General impressions on the campaign. Pros :
1) Very good level design. Interesting puzzles (although at times a bit annoying) + varying objective make it interesting to play. Very few stupid insta-kill traps (like powerful robots in tight spaces where you cannot dodge), Good robot placement, inspires you to think how to minimize damage and use all your weaponry. In this campaign I used plasma, phoenix and smart mines much more, than in everything else.
2) Not overwhelming difficulty, each level can be done in < 10 attempts after initial learning by parts, if you do it right and don't make stupid mistakes. Of course those homing flash missile robots can give you a hard time, need to learn dodging homing stuff.
3) No overly large and frustrating levels.
4) Robot design : bosses are very cool + some robots are nice too, especially the X-Wing with homing flash missiles.
5) Well designed bosses except L14. Not easy to kill, but doable if you know how to do it.
Cons :
1) Very small robots, often hard to see. Random and hard to memorize robot sounds.
2) Robot models are too simplistic at times (gauss robot, mercury missile robot).
3) Overuse of gauss cannon in the campaign (most time you cannot hit those small evasive robots with everything except gauss).
4) Well this L14 boss!!! A spoon of shit in the honey, paraphrazing the Russian saying. You need 7 shakers in the ass to kill it, with 2 invuln and cloaks.
Remember TEW L25 boss? It needed 5 and was hard enough. This one needs seven and is flying like crazy at times + arena contains many places where you cannot hit it from the back. Took me around 30-40 attempts to kill, so I sticked with this "save before boss" run for this level. Should have reduced health (<5000 instead of 6500), or different arena design.
5) For some reason many robots seemed a bit slow on Insane (reaction time, fire rate) compared to stock campaign. Maybe like on Ace.

I don't comment on the music because I play insane no-save with music disabled for obvious reasons. I remember L1 music was great, will listen it later.
Anyway big thanks to Sirius, Darkhorse and other creators of this great level set!!!
Could someone recommend me more good D2 campaigns, comparable with TEW, Obsidian, Vertigo that could be done on Insane no-save? Maybe smth for D1 too, D1 has some charm of its own, too...


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on Obsidian campaign on insane no-death no-save.
PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 6:38 pm 
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The Feline Menace
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Never had a problem with the level 14 boss, but then I never fought it on insane.
I don't think it's possible to do anything other than open doors when a boss or reactor dies. Disabling the secret exit in map 15 probably couldn't be done without converting the whole mission to the D2X-XL format.

I think I still remember at least one of the songs from Obsidian... level 7? They were pretty good but they suffered a lot from the midi format.

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BEWARE RAZZADOON'S SNOUT!!
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Also beware my original music, at http://soundcloud.com/snowfoxden and http://vertigofox.bandcamp.com


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on Obsidian campaign on insane no-death no-save.
PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 10:46 am 
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DBB Master
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Joined: Fri May 28, 1999 2:01 am
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Agreed on all the robot issues. They were often too small, and suffered a bit from Polytron limitations - that was why they were so simple. When working on Apocalyptic Factor a couple years later, we (actually on recollection it might have been just me for that one?) built far fewer custom robots - only the bosses I think - but most of them were built using TrueSpace + COB2PM which allowed a lot more complexity. The first two bosses were the only Polytron designs there.

I don't remember what went wrong with level 14. We wouldn't have released the set if it weren't beatable, and I think most of the rest of the Ellusion Design crew played through it as well... but I do wonder whether we paid enough attention to the difficulty curve there. Not a lot of people have a good feel for how difficult something should be on Insane, since if it's painful on any level set, your measuring stick is probably going to be whether you can beat it with save-scumming, which is tolerant of some pretty annoying setups.

Regardless, I have since played Obsidian in co-op on higher difficulty settings, and the level 14 boss is ALWAYS where it becomes a mess. It requires careful planning to go smoothly; there is usually at least one player who doesn't do that and just goes Leeroy; and then people start racking up deaths by the dozens. After that scene, level 15 is pretty anti-climactic.

On how it would be fixed, I'd say both; if I recall correctly it's got shakers, so the arena needs more space. And it needs reduced HP on top of that. 4-5 shakers to kill would be plenty.

Edit: Anyway, despite all the above issues, I still have a bit of nostalgia for some of the Obsidian stuff. I don't really build levels in quite the same way anymore, but there is a sort of early-career charm to it :) And it was one of the first big (10+ levels) missions that was actually good.


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on Obsidian campaign on insane no-death no-save.
PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 11:57 am 
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DBB Ace
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Joined: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:57 am
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Well I rank Obsidian campaign next to Vertigo and TEW (although TEW is much more mature of course), I played many other custom campaigns but did not found anything close in quality to those three, nearly all of them have level design issues (too simple, tunnel shooter style, or overly symmetric), and robot placement+balance issues on insane difficulty. Especially liked the Icicle levels (although they took most time). I was amazed how smoothly Obsidian was going without saves on insane, bosses too, except that L14. Yes, I believe even cutting his health to 5 shaker hits would make him ok, 4 would be maybe too easy. At first I even thought "someone really took a lot of care about how all difficult situations could be handled on Insane without taking big damage, not using saves".
Edit : forgot to tell, that AF is on the same scale as three mentioned campaigns, although it has less custom robots and seems too difficult to play as I do usually (insane no death no save).
BTW had anyone tried AF no saves no death on Insane, or it is simply not intended for it?


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on Obsidian campaign on insane no-death no-save.
PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 10:01 pm 
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DBB Master
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Website: http://www.povterminal.net/
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AF was actually intentionally harder since the original plan was for a co-op oriented set - when you have people working together some of the nastier traps aren't quite so nasty. That was why all the levels have multiple start doors. The briefing was the one concession to single-player, though we (mostly my fault) got a little carried away with it.


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on Obsidian campaign on insane no-death no-save.
PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 5:09 am 
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DBB Admiral
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Sirius wrote:
AF was actually intentionally harder since the original plan was for a co-op oriented set - when you have people working together some of the nastier traps aren't quite so nasty. That was why all the levels have multiple start doors. The briefing was the one concession to single-player, though we (mostly my fault) got a little carried away with it.


Actually the briefings added a lot to the experience so don't knock yourself too much over it :D

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on Obsidian campaign on insane no-death no-save.
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 1:30 pm 
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DBB Ace
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Joined: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:57 am
Posts: 27
Xfing wrote:
Sirius wrote:
AF was actually intentionally harder since the original plan was for a co-op oriented set - when you have people working together some of the nastier traps aren't quite so nasty. That was why all the levels have multiple start doors. The briefing was the one concession to single-player, though we (mostly my fault) got a little carried away with it.


Actually the briefings added a lot to the experience so don't knock yourself too much over it :D

I am with you on that, Xfing, I started replaying AF campaign and this time read all the briefings, well it is a great sci-fi story by itself! And the way how it blends with the level design, is fantastic. This is what I would like to see in new Descent we are all waiting for - it should have meaningful story and mines should represent real mines (or real installations, or anything real), and not to be a random set of cubes and tunnels. Well I think it is not easy with Descent 1,2 cube engine limitation and limited set of textures, but Obsidian and AF were good attempts in this direction. I remember a DOS game called Wing Commander (space combat simulator), that was so great just because of the story and how it blended with the missions.


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