Ok guys, seeing as the project is slowly picking up momentum, I'm going to put the concept and guidelines forth again in this post so that everything is nice and clear.
The project is a mission pack, but at the same time, a slight mod. I'll give you an overview, then describe technical aspects and finally the design policy.Overview
So basically, with this level pack we're aiming to create an adventure spanning all three games, Descent 1, Counterstrike and Vertigo. However, with one little twist: a slightly bigger emphasis on the D1 content that was cut from the D2 game. So, the mission will have briefings similar to Descent 1 (so a tad less extensive and closer to D1's than in other fan projects) and the portion taking place in the Solar System will make use exclusively of Descent 1 textures and mechanics and contain only weaponry introduced in Descent 1 (there is so far one exception, but it's justifiable). Also, I would like the Descent 1 feel not to get entirely lost once the Solar System levels have been cleared - it would be nice if every third mission or so taking place afterwards had slight D1 touches to it
, such as perhaps the D1 doorlights or the D1 hostage cell wall texture, or simply some random D1-exclusive texture that didn't make it to the Descent 2.PIG files. Other than that, it is encouraged to also make occasional use of D1-introduced textures which are also readily present in D2's PIG files
, yet weren't used in Counterstrike. D2 Vertigo was clearly an attempt by Parallax to remedy that and give their older textures some much-needed justice. TechnicalitiesA.
Since the Solar System's portion of the mission is supposed to be as faithful to Descent 1 as possible in terms of gameplay, I have slightly altered the weapon balance - more particularly, restored the nerfs to the D1 primary weapons which were done in D2 in an apparent effort to balance the weapons with the new ones. So:
- The laser cannon's damage was restored to 10, 11, 12, 13 per bolt, like it was in Descent 1. That means a full Quad Laser 4 blast will do 52 damage like it did in Descent, rather than 45 like it does in Descent 2. This also means a further strengthening of the Super Laser, which will start appearing only after the Solar System levels. It will now do 14 and 15 damage per bolt on level 5 and 6, respectively (while it does only 12 and 12,5 (12 on insane) in regular Descent 2) and has had its projectile speed increased by the same increments of 5 as in the case of the regular Laser. So the projectile speed of the Super Laser bolts will now be 140/145, rather than an unimproved 135/135.
- The Spreadfire cannon's usefulness has been greatly improved, mirroring the original game - with damage increased from 9 to 10 and projectile speed increased from 130 to 200. (Not entirely sure if the damage had been nerfed in D2, but the projectile speed certainly was).
- The Fusion Cannon has had its power restored from 30 to 60, like in the first game. The Fusion will appear very late in the game because of its renewed usefulness and is likely the most powerful weapon again. B.
Other than that, I have slightly altered the bosses in the new .HAM file the game will make use of, giving them improved strength and surprising capabilities to keep things interesting. These changes won't be covered here to avoid spoiling the fun for players.C.
The "Unofficial Unauthorized D2 Sound Patch" I made recently will be integrated into the files for this mission by default. It restores all the sounds for the D1 doors and robots and most sounds for the D1 bosses except one due to technical impossibility (actually the lack of that particular sound shouldn't even be noticeable), in order to make for a most complete and fulfilling D1 experience. D.
An entirely new .PIG palette file was made by Pumo, one which is based on the palette from D1, yet designed for use in D2 levels. When applied to the Solar System portion of levels, it will make them completely visually indistinguishable from as if they were played in actual D1. This resource, like the sound patch, has the added benefit of helping other designers and players as well.Design policy
Keep in mind that this is not "Descent the way Parallax did" in the strictest sense of the word. We aim to restore the nostalgia and feeling of the original mission, but we don't need to impose any stringent restrictions on ourselves to that end.A. Layout and TexturesOverall:
Try to make the levels naturalistic rather than concept-based, just like it was done in D1, D2 and Vertigo. There were of course several maps based on a concept or possessing a considerable degree of axial symmetry, so we can have several maps like that. Just don't overdo it. I'm especially cautioning you against maps such as "Pinwheel" of "The Enemy Within" - it's the epitome of "concept based" and while a very good map in its own right, this is the opposite of what we're aiming for here.
Also, we should keep the most basic, rudimentary level design conventions that Parallax practically never broke: one kind of door per level (not counting the entry and exit hatches or grated doors), default cube door size, appropriate door textures for hostage prisons etc. Stuff like a several-times-larger-than-usual hatch door in "The Sunspire" of "The Enemy Within" is too wild and risque, so it's a no-no. We're keeping conservative on that kind of stuff with this one
Since all the door sounds are restored, you are encouraged to use the D1 doors after the Solar System too, in addition to the newer doors. The Solar System levels should keep with only the D1 doors, though.
As for the D1-exclusive textures - by this I mean those which were present in Descent.PIG but didn't make it to the D2 PIGs for some reason. I have exported all those textures and created variants suitable for use even with palettes with different "transparent" colors - they can be downloaded here. I have also created a set of .POG files, one for each of the six palettes (plus a seventh one for Pumo's D1 palette!), in which I have reintroduced some of the most important D1-exclusive textures, most notably the monitors.The package containing all seven files can be downloaded here.
You can obviously also further modify the base .POG by adding more D1-exclusives or removing the existing ones as you deem fit, but starting with a template like the ones provided will greatly reduce your work if going for a level heavy on D1 flavors.
The texures I'm especially interested in seeing more are: the classic D1 doorlight, the hostage prison walls (4 kinds), the white lab wall doodads, the two green brick walls (lighter and darker) along with the green brick wall hidden door, the light gray smooth wall that was used a lot in the Moon levels of First Strike, the cobblestone floor etc etc. As you will notice, there is plenty of textures that didn't make their way out of D1 which could either seriously affect a level's feel in favor of D1 or simply complement the level's theme well. The Solar System:
Textures which first appeared in D1 only (that includes exclusives, but obviously not only them). Also, no level mechanics introduced in D2 such as opening walls, switches etc. You don't need to restrict yourself with the geometry to match the comparative sloppiness of the Parallax levels, though. It can be cleaner, smarter and more elaborate if you have an idea how to do it. However, if you feel that you're unable to achieve the D1 feel with just textures and feel that cruder and sloppier geometry will do the job better, go ahead.Counterstrike:
If you played Counterstrike, you pretty much have an idea. Don't stray too far from the formula as far as the geometry is concerned, but you can also go wild as long as the level fits strictly into the theme. As for textures - while there shouldn't be theme-mixing (that is reserved for Vertigo), you are encouraged to use a little bit more of D1 textures which weren't used by Parallax, as long as they fit the theme. For example, the Brimspark levels of Counterstrike didn't really use a lot of the plain, red wall texture of D1's Mars levels. It fits perfectly, though, so you go ahead and use it in addition to the regular roster. Throw in some D1-exclusives too, every now and then. Vertigo:
Free for all like the actual Vertigo, you're the least limited here. Just keep the most basic conventions outlined above. You are obviously also encouraged to throw in D1-exclusive textures once in a while. B. Stuff Inside the MineYou don't need to worry about putting in any robots or weaponry into your levels
, just make a working layout. This will be taken care of once all the levels are completed, by me and hopefully with the help and insight from the most seasoned mappers such as Darkflamewolf or Sirius. Here's what guidelines we'll be following, though:Weaponry and Accessories:
Weapons will be introduced gradually. Initially, as long as we can make it work, the break points will be the bosses - in the Solar System there are three bosses and we can easily make it so that more new weapons are introduced after each one. This will, naturally, be less feasible and more pointless later into the mission when less weapons are left. The strongest weapons should be introduced by the Vertigo portion, so 2/3 into the set (sparsely at first, obviously). There shouldn't be any afterburners nor converters in The Solar System portion of the mission, though headlights and full maps are fine. Until the last boss of the Solar System, the player will also be stuck with Quad 4 Lasers, Vulcan, Spread and Plasma for primaries and Concussion, Homing, Proxbomb and Smart for secondaries. After that, in the first Counterstrike missions, we'll start introducing flash, guided and mercury missiles as well as - carefully - the now mighty super laser cannon. Megas will soon follow, as will smart mines. We will take our time with introducing Gauss, Helix, Phoenix and Omega, but they will be introduced according to their strength and usefulness, so I think you can expect Phoenix and Omega before Gauss and Helix. The mightiest weapons, the Fusion and Earthshakers, will be held off until the Vertigo levels.Robots:
All robots from First Strike, Counterstrike and Vertigo will be used, hopefully in ways that complement each other, and with an around equal distribution. Contrary to restrictions in other categories, The Solar System will also make use of Counterstrike and Vertigo robots.
We'll try to go for a lack of noticeable population advantage for any single game's roster of robots - obviously, there will be a bit less Vertigo robots, but there's a smaller number of them to choose from, so that's only natural, as trying to keep them perfectly equal in number to bots from D1 and D2 would stifle robot diversity.We will create threat categories
made up of individual robots and robot combinations - overall as well as in certain circumstances - for example a Fusion Hulk or Super Hulk at the end of a long corridor is harmless, but one springing on you from a trap point-blank is nothing short of lethal - still the threat rating of both these robots is very high overall. We will move within those threat categories when populating a level.
The difficulty of the mission will be increasing smoothly and steadily, with several nasty difficulty spikes (as well as "breathers") throughout, like in D1. The only exception to the "threat category" rule will be that robots which drop weapons upon death will obviously have to be pushed back until after the weapon is regularly available in the levels - so for example the Bulk Destroyer, who carries Gauss, will have to be introduced quite late in the game, likewise the Ice Spindle who carries Helix. On the other hand, for example the Fox bot, who drops Spreadfire, is easily eligible for use within the Solar System, as the weapon it carries doesn't violate any introduction timing.
Also, we will try to bring more D1-like threat moments to the mission, which D2 and Vertigo lacked considerably. While D2 was difficult, it was in most cases "death of a thousand cuts". Also, robots from D2 had more propensity to wander around, so it was hard to remember really dangerous places in the mine. D1, on the other hand, had cut-out-and-dried places which you knew you had to avoid and approaching them made your pulse pound. We'll try to recreate that memorability, that feel of "Oh HELL no, it's THAT death trap of a room again!" a bit more than Descent 2 did.That is all, Material Defender. Prepare for Descent! Current level listing for the mission. 18 levels + 2 secret ones for each game.
Secondary mappers are not credited in this list - levels by multiple people are only marked as such if their input is a comparable part of the whole.Chapter I: The Solar System
01: Solar System 1: Lunar Titanium Mine Xfing: Layout CompletedMIDI Song: Descent 1 Opening
02: Solar System 2: Venus SO2 Mine Xfing: Layout CompletedMIDI Song: Descent 1 Level 3
03: Solar System 3: Mercury Construction Hub Xfing: Layout CompletedMIDI Song: Descent 1 Level 6
04: Solar System 4: Mars Covert Operations Phozon: Layout CompletedMIDI Song: Descent 1 Level 10
05: Solar System 5: Ceres Military Perimeter (Boss: Red Fatty) Xfing/Naphtha: Layout CompletedMIDI Song: Descent 1 Level 18
06: Solar System 6: Ganymede Outpost
07: Solar System 7: Enceladus H2O Mine
08: Solar System 8: Umbriel Tholin Research
09: Solar System 9: Proteus Cyanide Mine AlterFox: Layout Completed
10: Solar System 10: Charon Orbital Research
11: Solar System 11: Orcus Ammonia Mine
12: Solar System 12: Quaoar Alcane Mine
13: Solar System 13: Varuna Military Base LightWolf: Layout Completed (Boss: Quartzon) Texture theme to be updated: D1L14 Tan Rock + GreenMIDI Song: Descent 1 Level 2
14: Solar System 14: Ixion Centralization homeyduh: Layout CompletedMIDI Song: Descent 1 Level 7
15: Solar System 15: Haumea Collisional Research Lab homeyduh: Layout CompletedMIDI Song: Descent 1 Level 1
16: Solar System 16: Makemake Mining Shaft Xfing: Layout Completed
17: Solar System 17: Eris Military Base Xfing: Layout CompletedMIDI Song: Descent 1 Level 12
18: Solar System 18: Sedna Lost Station (Boss: Baloris Prime) Xfing: Layout CompletedMIDI Song: Descent 1 Level 11
Secret Level 1: Asteroid Weapons Research Taken by Naphtha
Secret Level 2: Kuiper Belt Espionage FacilityChapter 2: The Six Extrasolar Systems
19: Zeta Aquilae 1: Circularis Naphtha: Layout CompletedMIDI Song: Descent 2 Level 1
20: Zeta Aquilae 2: Coolyard Station Lightwolf: Layout Completed
21: Quartzon 1: Quartzon Aqua Distillata Factory
22: Zeta Aquilae 3: Military Hub
23: Quartzon 2: Falls Of Truth Naphtha: Layout Completed (Boss: Vertigo 1)
24: Brimspark 1: The Grandcrisp Oven Naphtha: Layout Completed
25: Quartzon 3: Planetary Life Research Alter-Fox: Layout Completed
26: Brimspark 2: The Cauldron Taken by Xfing
27: Limefrost Spiral 1: Glacierspire Taken by Sirius
28: Brimspark 3: Metamorphic Rock Excavation (Boss: Brimspark)
29: Limefrost Spiral 2: Salt Distillation Facility Kaizerwolf: Layout Completed
30: Baloris Prime 1: Ktsch'k W'eng II AlterFox: Layout Completed
31: Puuma Sphere 1: Wing N'drsaedt Lightwolf: Layout Completed
32: Puuma Sphere 2: S'tlo Sigma (Boss: D1 Boss 1)
33: Baloris Prime 2: Ku'thaaz G'herb-ilk Station Xfing: Completed
34: Baloris Prime 3: L'aeev Installation AlterFox: Layout Completed
35: Puuma Sphere 3: R'eeie AlterFox: Layout Completed
36: Limefrost Spiral 3: Frosted Minerals Abyss (Boss: Limefrost) Alter-Fox: Layout Completed
Secret Level 3: Quartzon Planetary Vault Taken by Naphtha
Secret Level 4: Fata Morgana TunnelsChapter 3: Beta Ceti
37: Beta Ceti 1: Zandura II
38: Beta Ceti 2: Virus Research Lab 665 Kaizerwolf: Layout CompletedMIDI Song: Descent 1 Level 2
39: Beta Ceti 3: ??? (Boss: Tycho Brahe)
40: Beta Ceti 4: PTMC Remote Tracking Station
41: Beta Ceti 5: Sheltem Mech Factory Kaizerwolf: Layout Completed
42: Beta Ceti 6: ???
43: Beta Ceti 7: ???
44: Beta Ceti 8: Dacol Futyl Tunnels Lightwolf: Layout Completed
45: Beta Ceti 9: ???
46: Beta Ceti 10: ???
47: Beta Ceti 11: N'Tala Shadowy Corridors (Boss: D1 Boss 2) Xfing: Layout CompletedMIDI Song: Descent 2 Briefing
48: Beta Ceti 12: ??? Taken by Kaizerwolf
49: Beta Ceti 13: Beta Ceti Weapons Research Lightwolf: Layout Completed
50: Beta Ceti 14: ???
51: Beta Ceti 15: ???
52: Beta Ceti 16: ???
53: Beta Ceti 17: Beta Ceti Military BaseMIDI Song: Descent 2 Opening
54: Beta Ceti 18: Doomsday Warstation (Boss: Vertigo 2) Suggested theme: Monocolor Gray + MetalMIDI Song: Descent 1 Level 22
Secret Level 5: Katatonia
Secret Level 6: Dementia
The Beta Ceti levels have their names intentionally left blank. As the most adventurous levels and being "everything goes" in terms of theme and design, I feel that maybe in these cases it would be best to let the designer come up with their own name for the level. Unorthodox names and ones containing references to pop culture will be appreciated.