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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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:14 am

You're right, I think I'm using an OPL DXA for D2, that might be messing with the playback. And you're right, I've spammed the levels with bots extensively, just so they feel more difficult, because I got complaints that they're not hard enough. I am certainly aware of the fact that emptiness does help build atmosphere - for that reason alone I insisted that Shroudeye's first secret level remain practically enemy-free. That said though - the first three levels I've made, as well as Phozon's fourth level, don't really have particular potential for tension building by withholding enemies IMO. I know of a couple spots where I could probably slightly decrease robot count, like one of the large cubic rooms in level 3. I probably got too caught up in trying to please Alex after all, without taking other considerations into account. I myself have also kinda become like those hardcore DOOM players, who only care about extreme difficulty to the detriment of the atmosphere - I still hugely prefer playing the original game to some of the ultra-hard WADs simply because it builds tension better. It does so so well in fact, that you can even become afraid of the two Barons of Hell in Episode 1, even though they're easily dispatched by anyone with some skill. Guess we'll need to find a balance between atmosphere and difficulty in this mission too, but
1) It's going to be hard for me, because I do require some difficulty
2) I think levels have to be built with that in mind in the first place, kinda like my level N'Tala Shadowy Corridors (it's definitely going to have empty sections, wouldn't have it any other way).

Tough call really. Maybe you could help by removing some of the bots you feel break tension?
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:39 am

Alter-Fox, I think it is a bit too harsh criticism although it has a lot of valid points for sure. First I agree that levels should have more atmosphere, but it is a BIG question how to achieve that; TEW and Vignettes uses thematic levels, AF has that superhuman, monumental level design, and unloads frightening amounts of top-tier bots (while still giving you the ways to beat them, and giving memorable big fights - tense and meaningful - that you NEVER imagine possible - instead of just filling the levels with robots), ONP relies on great texturing work and also geometry and bot placement that require you to develop complex strrategies to beat the level, also has a lot of interesting fights; EAF2 has that special geometry design and texturing, and insta-kill bots that turn the levels into a puzzle themselves, espoecially with limited weapons in the mission; Obsidian is also memorable for it's atmospheric texturing (and geometry of course) and custom robot set which is carefully introduced through the mission, and it's bosses, Lost Levels for it's advanced level geometry with D1/D2 reminiscences, custom bots, and great bot placement, with interesting fights.

There should be a sort of "central idea" behind the mission that should determine everything else and make it special; it is what makes a mission really great, and I still don't see it here based on first 4 levels. I don't think there is simple criteria of good robot placement, and yes I've looked mainly on the robot placement and difficulty aspect when testing it. I've made a note that sometimes random choice/mixing of the robots does not work well from aesthetical perspective. And yes I agree that ideally the level should be designed with robot placement in mind, because all those things work together, the main reason why many of DFW works (like Vignettes and Lost Levels) were so good. On the other hand I don't see any contradiction between making atmospheric and challenging levels.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:01 am

That's why you need to let me at 'em, Alex. :D I've tried very hard to do this in my levels and I think I could find some good spots. Your fine-tuning is something that should come after the pacing is already there. And the ability to create slight modifications to the design in order to accomodate these moments is something that's been on the table since day 1.
Since balancing for cold starts is a priority for you guys and always a good idea in general I'll start with levels 3 and 4 and work backwards. :)

And X, these are the first five levels in a much bigger mission -- you shouldn't be worrying overmuch about them being easy. If you want to create a five-level demo with a good difficulty curve the better option is probably to pick five levels out of different points in the First Strike and possibly Counterstrike portions of the mission instead of going consecutive. Would also probably give players a better sense of what the mission's going to be like.

We should certainly ask Sirius to have look once we've got some kind of pacing in the levels -- he's great at creating pacing and scary moments while keeping it relatively fair.

Oh, and Alex's point about levels needing to be built for this is a good one-- it's exactly why I think the "no population" rule is a bad idea, at least for the more experienced designers here.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:57 pm

We would never be able to create a sensible difficulty curve if we discarded the no population rule. The designers are welcome to put in placeholder bots in places they are insistent on populating, but so far everyone's either been populating the levels all the way, or putting in nothing at all. But there's nothing to worry about - that's what we have the beta testing phase for.

And the demo was pretty much Naphtha's idea, I'm indifferent towards the idea personally. Having the first five levels consecutively at least lets us work on the balancing and some minor aesthetic/geometrical upgrades right now, and we can use the same HOG as the basis for further level imports.

Oh, and I don't mind the levels being easy at all, it's Alex who talked me into that thing in the first place. It was his assumption that seasoned players will get bored with the mission if it's not hard enough right off the bat - which might be correct for some, but definitely not for all. I personally don't mind low difficulty as long as the level itself is fun to explore, pretty to look at and filled with tension. If you go back some pages in the thread you'll see the discussion that ensued.

And make sure you don't reduce the robot variety when cutting down on robot counts in the levels - I want all the types intact, just in smaller numbers if necessary.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:40 pm

Yes, I'll make sure to do that. I'll make a list before I remove anything. Does that include the three different bomber types on mercury? :P
I didn't mean final populations, but placeholder populations to show where high and low points are meant to be in the designer's vision, like I've been doing. Either letting designers know they have that option, or keeping a dialogue open between the person currently doing the populating and the person who built the structure, would help us to get level submissions that have those dynamic possibilities in the first place instead of being empty shells.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:04 pm

Alter-Fox wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:40 pm
Yes, I'll make sure to do that. I'll make a list before I remove anything. Does that include the three different bomber types on mercury? :P
Dunno, I kinda did that on purpose. I suppose those guys aren't that urgent to remove though, since none of them is an immediate threat.
I didn't mean final populations, but placeholder populations to show where high and low points are meant to be in the designer's vision, like I've been doing. Either letting designers know they have that option, or keeping a dialogue open between the person currently doing the populating and the person who built the structure, would help us to get level submissions that have those dynamic possibilities in the first place instead of being empty shells.
Guess you're right, I'll amend the OP with something.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:30 pm

Xfing wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:04 pm
Dunno, I kinda did that on purpose. I suppose those guys aren't that urgent to remove though, since none of them is an immediate threat.
Actually just planned on moving a few around, or possibly using smelters around the red key instead of pests.

In the meantime here's a quick look at 42, though keep in mind you can't see all of it from this angle. Probably won't upload it before I'm done reinvigorating at least 3 and 4 but the structure should be pretty much finished.
temple to life, the universe, and everything.jpg
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!!
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:56 am

Holy crap, looks like a veritable mishmash of textures! I really like it, we kinda need something like that.

Good thing there's also one more Zeta Aquilae slot open, I'd really like it to be something like Turnabout Bore in terms of texture variety, or perhaps even more varied.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:09 am

Yeah, it's kind of all held together by the Baloris textures but there's a lot more than that as well. And my vision for the robot population involves lots and lots of Puuma Spiders... basically I wanted it to be brown but not Quake 2. :D
The plan is for it to use the Descent.pig to give the D2 textures a little bit of a different flair. But that's a change I'll make right before I upload, so I can still test it in my preferred way. :P
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!!
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:19 am

Well if you've used any imported textures a late conversion may mess them up beyond recognition. Should be easy to fix them manually afterwards though. Most Baloris textures look really cool in descent.pig but like one or two have ugly blemishes on them, so make sure to re-examine the level afterwads.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:23 am

I'll give it a Rebirth playthrough once I'm sure the level's working and I've got the balance I'm looking for down. XL always seems slightly harder on Ace (I think the homing missiles are tougher to dodge) so I would rather test it there first.

BTW to save you some space I removed all the oggs from the DCA2 folder that aren't currently part of a completed level. I renamed the others so you can see exactly which level(s) they're there for and I'll re-upload what I took down when there's somewhere to actually put them in the mission.
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!!
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Superbobby » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:39 am

Here are a couple of screenshots from the Brimspark level I'm working on.

Image

Image
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:50 am

Alter-Fox wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:23 am
BTW to save you some space I removed all the oggs from the DCA2 folder that aren't currently part of a completed level. I renamed the others so you can see exactly which level(s) they're there for and I'll re-upload what I took down when there's somewhere to actually put them in the mission.
Thanks for that! I could free up a lot of space by hosting my D1 demos package elsewhere, but I have no idea where.
Superbobby wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:39 am
Here are a couple of screenshots from the Brimspark level I'm working on.
Hey, these do look pretty good alright!
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:33 pm

I like it Superboy. Reminds me of the fire boss level in Maximum. Looking forward to seeing what kind of flow you've got planned for the actual boss.

X, Planetdescent.net used to be the place but they've still gotta fix their hosting after it broke with some kind of forum update. I wonder if Descent Rangers or Dateilliste would let you put them on their site. Also do you have any idea why DLE is trying to set all the doors and walls in your levels to 50% transparent when I load them? Makes these levels very annoying to work with because I doubt if rebirth will render the walls properly if I leave them that way, and since I don't know the levels and all their secret doors by heart I'm likely to miss some.
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!!
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:42 pm

The transparency values don't really reflect anything in vanilla and Rebirth, as the engine didn't have transparency functionality. I'd imagine it's only an issue in XL, but again, I didn't really make this stuff with XL in mind. I think the editor just set one of my doors to 50% transparent once, and then I just rolled with it (it became some sort of precedent), I don't remember frankly
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:53 pm

The vanilla engine does have transparency capability -- just look at the "glass" walls in the boss room in the last level of TEW.
It wasn't used in the actual game levels but the capability is there, though very limited (it can render a texture or transparency on a wall but not both). Which is exactly why I'm worried -- I don't know how or when it works in the base engine or if opening up these levels in DLE is going to make your walls "invisible".

Even if it was XL only, this is hardly what you'd call "best practices". As a designer don't you want your levels to be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of how they choose to play? Why would you give XL players an advantage over Rebirth players?
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BEWARE RAZZADOON'S SNOUT!!
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:21 am

Obviously opening the level in DLE won't change anything, because I've worked on these levels in DLE since day one and made countless edits and re-saves :D What did you think I made them in, Miner?
Alter-Fox wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:53 pm
Even if it was XL only, this is hardly what you'd call "best practices". As a designer don't you want your levels to be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of how they choose to play? Why would you give XL players an advantage over Rebirth players?
Don't you mean the other way around? And it's because XL has some features that I'm not aware of, because I don't play XL, and yet I'd have to account for them when making the levels (like the colored lights mentioned before). Tried installing XL, but even on a powerful PC it loaded every single level for like 20 seconds, couldn't really stand it. The only XL thing I'd really love to have in Rebirth is the remaining robot counter, that'd definitely help with 100% runs a lot.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Shroudeye » Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:33 am

Hello Superbobby, for some reason I can't see your screenshots..?

Anyways, I'm happy to announce that my semester is ended, and I'm back to constructing Dementia. I've been planning the layout a bit in my free times, and I aim to finish it through this week or something.

Cheers!
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:16 am

Being able to see into secrets without having to look for them is a pretty big advantage I think. :P
If XL wants to take a ridiculous time to load you might have got lightmaps on... I'd seriously recommend playing with them off. Much faster loading and IMHO it looks a lot better too.

You remember that in Charon DLE on my end didn't want to let me set a certain cube-side combo in the reactor triggers but it worked fine when you did it? Who's to say what made that work differently with each of our setups? Probably just the difference between our two machines... Even if vanilla transparency doesn't work at all on your setup there's still a chance it could on mine, and then I'm screwing up all your maps just by touching them. I'd rather not do that. :D And since neither of us knows how vanilla transparency works, we don't know what we might accidentally do to cause it to work. Best to leave it alone.
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BEWARE RAZZADOON'S SNOUT!!
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:29 am

Yeah I tried that thing too. Still, there was something about XL that kept me from wanting to continue playing it.

Shroudeye, great to know you're back in business! I'm looking forward to your level, and I just hope it won't be the last one. As for seeing Superbobby's screenshots, I can see them just fine, so it must be something with your browser. Use the quote button and you'll see the links, then you can just enter them, if that's any help.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:48 am

Xfing wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:21 am
Don't you mean the other way around? And it's because XL has some features that I'm not aware of, because I don't play XL, and yet I'd have to account for them when making the levels (like the colored lights mentioned before)....
That's what I'm here for, if you'll let me give you these pointers. Even if you go so far as to say you don't want any player to play the mission in anything but Rebirth (which I know you'd never do, but bear with me) with a certain set of settings in D2X.ini and coloured weapon light turned off and whatever... it won't stop anyone from playing it however they'd like to. So all you can really do is be as accommodating as you have the knowledge and ability to be. You've got plenty of ability, and I can help you with the knowledge part.
If you really want to leave the accommodating to me, well first you'll find out that my schedule is unpredictable and only going to get more unpredictable over this year, but second don't go creating extra problems with transparency that I'll need to fix. This is a Descent campaign not a political one. :P
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:54 am

Yeah don't worry too much, that particular thing seemed off to me too, so I reduced the transparency of all such walls that I could find in one mine, and made sure there were none in subsequent ones. Sometimes I do overlook it though, as I just get caught up in thinking it's just DLE's display function that lets you see through walls for convenience. Yeah, no - the walls are fully opaque in DLE as well, unless you give them a transparency value.

Also, that thing from TEW you're describing wasn't transparency, it was the "wall cloaked" property.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:56 am

True, but the one setting is tied inextricably to the other in DLE. (I assume that D2X-XL's transparency must be an extension of the cloak property).
Take a look at the cloak level on level 3's walls if you're not sure about that.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by LightWolf » Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:31 pm

Unless the transparency shows up in XL, it shouldn't show up at all. In all two Rebirth versions I've used, nothing has showed up transparent saved for specifically tagged cloaked walls.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:26 pm

Yep, it's exactly as you say. That's probably why I never bothered fixing it. No idea why DLE sets the default transparency at 50% though, seems a bit counter-intuitive to me.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Alter-Fox » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:32 pm

It doesn't on my end, and never has in any version or on any pc. So I'm a bit worried.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:36 pm

Checked right now, it totally does for me. I'll check the ini file, something may be off there.

Nope, there isn't even an option for that. Now that's really weird.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Sirius » Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:22 pm

It depends what method you use to add walls. If you use the "add" button in the wall tool before doing anything else, it looks like it defaults to 50% transparency (though this is probably using some space in the structure that only D2X-XL actually looks at). If you use the menus or "add door" (etc) buttons, then it sets it differently.

I'm not sure why 50% transparency is used as the default. Or whether something relies on it being that value... I don't think so but it's hard to be sure.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:18 am

Sirius has added merge cubes functionality to the newest build of DLE - an amazing tool for cube efficiency, especially when you're building something with lots of square, unmodified cubes. I tried to apply it to the yellow area in The Cauldron, since cube efficiency there is like THE worst out of any level I know, but it's proven to be easier said than done. I tried to merge the 2nd and 3rd layers to the bottom into a single layer, which would economize up to 50 segments, but I've wound up with with too many segments with illegal geometry for comfort :(
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by LightWolf » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:44 am

Here's Coolyard:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CrMSzt ... sp=sharing

Small detailing upgrades along with a slight tweak to the fire escape.

The level will look noticably smaller on the automap, but that's due to the fact that I wound up "folding in" a chunk of the level. In reality only four standard cubes worth of volume were removed.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:06 pm

LightWolf wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:44 am
Here's Coolyard:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CrMSzt ... sp=sharing

Small detailing upgrades along with a slight tweak to the fire escape.

The level will look noticably smaller on the automap, but that's due to the fact that I wound up "folding in" a chunk of the level. In reality only four standard cubes worth of volume were removed.
Just played through it. The layout does look better, but there's still plenty of unresolved extra secret areas with no triggers to open them and such. Stop half-assing it and fix all those unopenable secret doors, they're driving me crazy : <
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by LightWolf » Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:06 pm

Unopenable secrets?
- The one in the spiral is opened by flying further down the spiral
- The one by the blue door is opened by flying into the main chamber

I can't think of any others...

Edit: The only door that cannot be opened legitimately is the start hatch, and it's never meant to. There are no secret doors that cannot be opened.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sun Jan 21, 2018 3:26 pm

Ok, to be fair I replayed the level once again and yeah, I did miss the one you mentioned. Hoever, there is still one I haven't figured out the way to open. It's the door in the ceiling right in front of the blue door. Nothing I try works. Any help?
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by LightWolf » Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:21 pm

Fly into the main chamber in the blue door. Rush back.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:02 pm

LightWolf wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:21 pm
Fly into the main chamber in the blue door. Rush back.
Oh, it does work after all! Nice. What does the switch do though? I don't get any message when popping it. I'd imagine it would remove the grated walls in the yellow key chamber, but it doesn't.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by LightWolf » Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:49 pm

This has to be my most updated level.
Update
You were right about the switch's intended function btw.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Superbobby » Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:50 pm

Just a quick update. I have most of the layout done for the Brimspark level. Here's a quick screenshot.

Image

I'm going to work on some scripting, fixing some textures, adding some matcens, etc for it this week, and hope to have it ready for a test flight by Saturday.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by LightWolf » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:14 pm

Personally (from experience) I think it could be a bit larger. Especially since it's on Brimspark.

While we're on the topic of size and Brimspark levels, IMO The Cauldron should be larger (if you can tone down the cube count in that one room :P). If that doesn't seem to be possible, then I'd recommend dropping a key as Cauldron seems a bit small for a 3-key level.
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Xfing » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:38 am

LightWolf wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:14 pm
Personally (from experience) I think it could be a bit larger. Especially since it's on Brimspark.

While we're on the topic of size and Brimspark levels, IMO The Cauldron should be larger (if you can tone down the cube count in that one room :P). If that doesn't seem to be possible, then I'd recommend dropping a key as Cauldron seems a bit small for a 3-key level.
Well it's not a big level, but it's also got a theme to it, and plenty of fighting when backtracking, which makes the level feel longer than it is. I don't think it can be compared to some of the smaller levels you've submitted, which were Maximum-sized at best (doesn't the name strike you as ironic, btw? :D)

I'd really love to cut down on the cube count, but it's much more complicated than it sounds. Maybe someone else could give it a shot too? The newest version of DLE should have segment merging functionality.

As for the level in the screenshot - it might appear small, but I believe it's deceptively so. Looks pretty spiffy in fact, and from the texturing it seems the design guidelines were followed to a T. Can't wait to actually fly through it and do some sightseeing.

The only issue I'm a bit worried about is making sure there are balanced door type choices throughout the mission. Designers who just drop by and submit a level without familiarizing themselves with the rest of the levels will choose a door type arbitrarily, which could lead to many repetitions. I'm afraid that's something we'll have to fix manually once we have all the levels, probably by committee :P
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Re: Descent 1 1/2

Post by Sirius » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:33 am

The built-in D2 levels largely weren't as big as I thought they were. They got a lot of space out of their cube count, but even so, the level in that screenshot might actually be comparable to level 9. I'm not totally sure since I can't see the whole level but nonetheless...

Xfing - roughly what level does the Phoenix Cannon show up? Was wondering if it's safe to assume players have it on hand by 27.
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