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 Post subject: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2016 6:40 pm 
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COMPLETE CATALOGUE OF D1 INSANE COLD 100% DEMOS

https://www.dropbox.com/s/1gccioorwns1r ... s.zip?dl=0

Recently I've started playing Descent the way it's meant to be played, that is cold starting every level and making sure to get every robot (matcens not necessarily), rescue every hostage and not die even once. Here's some general impressions on experiencing the game that way. As of writing this post, I've beaten up to level 9 inclusive.

I must say that playing Descent has never been so rewarding, even though I've been with the game for at least 15 years. I feel like I'm only now starting to do it how it's meant to be done, and deriving immense joy and satisfaction from improving at the game, overcoming my limits and proving to myself and to the designers of Descent that it's not beyond my difficulty, even though it's an extremely difficult game at times. Nintendo-hard one could say.

The skill improvement derived from this approach is really vast. Your aim will improve and dodging and fast movement will become second nature to you. Therefore I recommend this way of playing to any pilot who feels they're lacking, provided of course they've got the perseverance and can overcome frustration - of which there will be plenty. In my case though, it could only deter me for a few minutes at a time before I gleefully started another attempt at the level. Obviously, once you hit a wall, you'll spend a lot of time in the level that gives you trouble, which comes with the benefit of learning the level very intimately. You'll know it through and through. And once you've spent enough time inside a hard level, earlier ones will feel like a breeze. Level 6, as can be predicted, initially kicked my ass big time. But after finally managing to beat it without dying and moving on to 8 and 9, the experience I gained there made me so good that once I retried 6, I was able to beat it on my first try, and it didn't feel that difficult at all. Here's what I think about the harder levels I've conquered thus far. Skipping 1-5, as there's really not much to say about them. Easy peasy.

Level 6: While it does present a definite difficulty spike compared to all the levels before it, a lot of what makes this level hard does so only seemingly. It's a play of appearances meant to fool you into thinking this level is hard, while in fact most of its superficial difficulty can be overcome very easily with basic foreknowledge. A person running into this level blind is definitely going to die a lot, as the ambushes are dreadful compared to what came before. But most of the terrifying Class 1 Drillers can in fact be dispatched without them ever seeing you, and those few that can't can still be destroyed before they do much or even any damage. There are two parts of the level that remain uncomfortable and uncertain for me - the area with the blue key is an obvious one, with two Medium Hulks and little room to dodge their fire. Sometimes a run-inside-guns-blazing approach will let you jump and destroy them, sometimes waiting outside the door to their area for them to come to you is the better option, but alas, neither is reliable 100% of the time, because of how unpredictably they can move, or stay still on you when you fully expect them to roam. Another hard idea is the colored doors hub, with 1 driller lurking in the left branch, and 3 in the right one, with a Spider to mix things up. It's very difficult to avoid damage in that area. The areas beyond the colored doors themselves are very easy though - beyond the blue door everything comes to you and you can snipe it from a safe distance, though it's nice to have foreknowledge of how many robots exactly will be coming. You can also take care of the medium hulks through the grate. The "death trap" beyond the yellow door is easily handled, since you can just make a dash for the hidden area behind the red key and grab the cloak, while if you're low on health you can just take the cloak from the lava pit. The reactor room is easy, since you can leave the invulnerability for it, and even couple it with a cloak. So yeah - this level is definitely tricky, but it's not among the hardest in Descent at all, even though it might feel like it is initially.

Level 7: No roaming drillers makes this level a cinch, only weak enemies inhabit it for the most part. The hard part are the roaming medium hulks in the area beyond the optional blue door, but these can be sniped through the grate enclosing the tunnel you take from the mandatory blue door area to pick up the yellow key. You'll snipe at least one, and if not the other, it'll start trying to get where you are, which'll make him roam into the open and be easy pickings. This level has plenty of wide open areas which makes maneuvering easy, and never has robots attack you from more than one side - except of course those two lifter matcens, but they're not that bad, not to mention the robots drop lots of shield orbs. As for the boss - he was never very hard, and hardly feels like it has the 5000 HP that the HAM file of Descent 2 lists for it (maybe it has something to do with that nerf of the boss in patch 1.4a of Descent). But yeah, this level in general is definitely easier than 6.

Level 8: Significant spike in difficulty compared even to level 6, but this level can be learned through rote repetition quite nicely, and is predictable for the most part. Even still, I died in this level way more times than I did in 6 and 7 together. There are roaming drillers, but they can be destroyed pre-emptively much like in level 6. Once you get used to dealing with Advanced and Secondary lifters, you're halfway there. The initial hub is easily cleared, problems start with two areas in particular: the entire blue door area and the area with a tight energy center tunnel that leads to the room where the exit is, and to the secret door to the smart missile. These areas either contain lots of enemies outright, or in the latter's case, are very conducive to robots roaming and surprising you. I died a lot of times in this level to the lowliest of robots, simply because of how they can just spring on you when you least expect it. The upside to that is that when robots roam, you won't have to deal with them later, so yeah. The blue area can be cleared through luring given enough patience, and all three blue door entrances are viable spots for luring robots. The reactor room is a non-issue thanks to the invulnerability nearby.

Level 9: I had been struggling with this level for the past week easily, only to finally beat it today. Gosh, what a level! Definitely the hardest so far (at least from cold start), and I'm pretty sure I had to attempt it more times than even level 8 combined with all the previous ones. This level is basically the opposite of level 6 (kinda like number 9 is, eh?) - it doesn't appear hard at all, but it very much is, and you learn it very soon. Plenty of lowly class 1 drones and advanced lifters, no drillers present at all, only a single medium hulk that roams, which can be taken care of before that happens... how hard can this be? Well it is infernally hard, 's how it is! The tunnels are very narrow, so there's little room to dodge fire, but that's not even the biggest problem - that would be the fact that most of the level is one huge interconnected area not separated by any doors, so robots can and will follow you through the entirety of that area. If you're not super careful or lucky, you'll get sandwiched from both sides in a tunnel, which spells instant doom. There are only a few areas where you can find respite, and cloaking devices not only aren't 100% guaranteed to drop from the cloaked lifters, they actually encourage the robots to roam even more. I guess this level would be much easier for super patient folks, but the thing is, while you're patiently waiting for the robots to come to you, your concentration absolutely cannot lapse even for a second, your reflexes must be as sharp as ever if you're hoping to react in time. Due to this level's open nature, I've tested several routes and approaches - I've managed to beat this level only once, so I'm still not sure if the way I went was the best I could have gone. Or if I'm able to replicate this success, let alone reliably. But once the open area is cleared, the areas beyond the colored doors themselves aren't much to speak of, luckily. Still, easier said than done. This level should be easy, because it contains easy bots - but it defies this expectation completely, Takes a lot of skill and practice, but still, when I beat it, I couldn't help but feel "this should have been so obvious". Glad I'm done with this level, much longer and I'd probably have gone Insane. Ha ha. Still, I've grown to quite like and enjoy it, and I can't deny the sense of satisfaction beating it gave me.

Feel free to post your own impressions. I'll keep updating this thread with any subsequent levels I manage to beat, and I wouldn't like to double post :P

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2016 7:45 pm 
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I remember when I tried to play the game through on insane (without cold starts) 9 was the second-hardest level I reached; by a far margin to most of what came before and after.
Level 5 of Descent 2 is a worse version of the same because you have the ITSC bots, but I think it was balanced more fairly.

Wait till you get to level 19... that was the one that finally did me in cuz it's the same thing except with green platforms and red hulks instead of yellow drones. :o I would imagine the game gets a lot easier after 19 and 20 though.

And after you finish Descent you can try Obsidian...

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 5:18 am 
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Alter-Fox wrote:
I remember when I tried to play the game through on insane (without cold starts) 9 was the second-hardest level I reached; by a far margin to most of what came before and after.
Level 5 of Descent 2 is a worse version of the same because you have the ITSC bots, but I think it was balanced more fairly.

Wait till you get to level 19... that was the one that finally did me in cuz it's the same thing except with green platforms and red hulks instead of yellow drones. :o I would imagine the game gets a lot easier after 19 and 20 though.

And after you finish Descent you can try Obsidian...


I might do that, but D2 and Vertigo obviously come first :D

I really should be mapping rather than playing, though. Easier said than done, since this is just so much fun!

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 9:43 am 
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My experience was similar. Levels 1-5 were quite easy. Then level 6 was way more problematic for me, but still playable. When I reached level 8 things changed a lot. I remember I gave up there and get a break. After some time I came back to the challenge and did it. Then level 9. I don't really remember if it was harder then level 8 for me, but it was hard. Maybe experience from level 8 helped me, otherwise it would be harder for sure. Anyway these two levels made me better player for sure. Previous levels felt much more easy then.
Level 10 should be easier, but then comes 11. This one was harder then 8 and 9 for sure for me. I'm interested what will be your experience there.


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:47 pm 
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Level 10: Well, I just beat it, and it was on my 5th try. I wish I could say this level was hard, but it really wasn't. 9 eats it for dinner. Had I played it before conquering 8 and 9, it probably would have been much harder, but I've acquired some sort of tactical sense playing these levels (I think), and I can now come up with solutions to certain situations much more quickly, that's why this level was nothing special. Wide open spaces and great distances to enemies means even the abundance of Super Hulks was not a big problem, since most of them can be sniped before they fire a single missile. The Super Hulk and matcen area before the yellow door can be approached from below - the hulk can be smarted with one of the missiles you pick up in the hub below the regular exit (the other one goes for the spider lurking in that area) and finished with homing missiles, so as to give you leeway to take care of all the robots from that matcen. The hardest area in the level is definitely beyond the yellow door, especially the big spiderling trap, but that can be handled with reasonable ease thanks to the cloak and invulnerability in the entrance hub. All super hulks can be taken from a distance, and the one guarding the fuel center can be smarted. The red area is a non-issue if approached carefully, apart from that one single roaming driller. Overall the level was not that hard, though obviously, someone playing it for the first time and not aware of that spiderling trap will definitely die. I had only 4 shields left on exit (I went for the regular exit because it's harder to reach in time) since I got jumped by the Class 1 Drone in the yellow area's fuel center. The fact that this level has practically no shield boosts in it, maybe like literally two, just goes to show how easy it really is.

In terms of difficulty for the Martian mines it's definitely 9>8>10.

Now let's see how I'll do on the notorious, terrifying Secret Level 1. I made a save just before blowing up the reactor and reloaded it after successfully completing the level, just to kill myself in a side area so that I can complete the level with just the basic loadout, to make level S1 a cold start. If I succeed, it'll be on to level 11. Not looking forward to that one, haha.

S1: Meh, this is easy. Like, real easy. Try 1 - made it all the way up to grabbing the red key, decided I'd go back to the grate to the reactor room to thin out the opposition from there. Got hit by a stray Fusion blast. Try 2 - Got nabbed by a green platformer opposite the exit during the countdown. So close! (I have to kill these guys, since these are 100% runs). If I'm careful, this one should be done in under 5 tries too. I expected way more difficulty, it just goes to show once again how robot types alone don't make a hard level.

ΕDIT: So yeah, I made it on Try 4. I really thought this level would be harder, it was surprisingly easy. I'll always love its raw, industrial-y texturing though. A definite inspiration for my own texturing, and an ideal look for a Descent level, by far. On to level 11 now! I flew in quite recklessly with the loadout from the previous level and I made it quite far before dying, but starting cold is going to be another story altogether.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2016 4:11 pm 
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Level 11. My God, what a freaking level. Must have taken me well over a hundred tries, it's difficult to count.

Many aspects of this level can be practiced and improved upon, but sometimes luck is critical. You require at least one cloak, preferably two, to clear out the blue key area and the energy center with no hiccups. You have to work fast too, else the red hulk from the pit area will come up for you. I've done this level so many times that I've even discovered the optimal places to deal with the first roaming hulk from. This time I was both sloppy and lucky, since after miraculously succeeding to clear out the yellow key room (for the first time) with 4 smart missiles I had saved up, I completely missed the mega on the super hulk guarding the red door, I had to finish him off with my last smart missile and one homing. The reactor room was easy, though I did take two hits from the reactor itself. This level doesn't let up even until the very end, it's really a nightmare.

At first I had plateau'd, feeling that no matter how many more times I run the level, I can't improve. But after taking some hints from Calmarius' run - most notably doing the blue key area before the energy center, and not vice versa, I started seeing some improvement. I'm still no good at luring the Super Hulks from the yellow key room through the grate into my line of fire, but I can get some of those secondary lifters quite easily. I disagree with Calmarius' way of using a smart missile on the hulks from the energy center (though it definitely does help) - all you need is one homing and some Vulcan fire and the middle one goes down. It can be tricky to do due to him being covered by the other two, but it's possible, a cloak helps a huge deal. He needs to be within your line of sight when you fire the homer though, else it doesn't connect for some reason. The one on the left can be taken care of by two homing missiles fired from the safety of the corridor, and the third one just by storming in, Vulcan obviously works best.

After that I'd usually go to the hostage area to clean that out, first destroying the two drones and medium hulk, then taking care of the cloaked hulk (thankfully that one's always stationary), and finally taking care of the two drillers. Unfortunately the first of them has a tendency to roam, so sometimes he'll surprise you in the perpendicular corridor leading to the one it's stationed in. The second one is easy to snipe, though. After that I don't clear out the red-walled room yet, first I go to the pit and lure out and destroy as many of the mechs as I can. There are at least 4 drones, 1 spider, 1 advanced lifter and the super hulk. My preferred way of dealing with him is shooting at him from behind the corner of the energy center, it's a straight line of fire. After that, I fire a homing down the pit to take care of any remaining unlured drones, and I go in to activate the matcen. I take care of all seven spawned robots - it's important not to go into the small corridor behind the matcen, but do it from above - that way the final super hulk won't start roaming and will stay at the bottom, guarding the red key. After the matcen's clear, it's fairly easy to just go down and lay down suppressive laser fire which'll eventually get the hulk thanks to the lava.

Only after that do I recommend clearing out the yellow key room, and the adjoining one first. Once you're sure all the secondary lifters are gone, you can just fire smarts at the ledge with impunity and watch the super hulks die. The cloaked hulks are taken care of easily enough thanks to the abundance of space.

The yellow room is tricky, and that hulk guarding the red door is definitely the thing to save that Mega for. He can be quite a recluse sometimes though, and it's very easy to miss, in spite of the huge radius. The reactor room itself is easy, but caution should still be exercised, lest you get hit by reactor fire. Twice, in my case.

So yeah, this level is horribly hard. Not sure if harder than 9, because they are difficult for different reasons (I think). Took me about the same number of tries, and I think it'll take at least twice as many for me to be able to beat this level reliably. While I did enjoy the challenge, I'm glad it's over.

Level 12: And it's over already. That level is much like 6 - it looks hard at first glance, on the surface, but it took me like 5 tries to beat it without dying. The only real problems in this level is clearing out the three super hulks from the central chamber, and then the lurking plasma driller where the blue key is. All other situations can be handled easily, if only for how many invulnerabilities this level gives you.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 12:13 pm 
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Level 13: Tough! Borderline "very tough", I'd say. Definitely the hardest one so far except 11 and 9. This time the difficulty isn't frustrating, though, and the level is predictable, luckily. I think all those guys who say it's the hardest level in Descent, or even one of the hardest, are exaggerating slightly. But there are some problematic areas, the beginning can be tricky for example, since the left driller can jump you if you don't take care of him quickly enough. The level's filled with super hulks to the brim, but most of them can be taken out from a safe range - not all though, that's when cover comes into play. But the problem with this level is that it's hard all the way through, and never lets up - the red area is full of mechs, and if you're going for a full clear and extra life grab, it can be the single hardest area of the level. I managed to pull it, but only after saving the mega missile for the first super hulk. Once all three are gone, it's pretty easy to take care of the spiders while circling the reactor to dodge its fire. Overall while tough, this level was tons of fun.

EDIT: Level 14: Also hard, though not quite as hard as 13. Took me around two dozen tries. It obviously would have been easier with better knowledge of the level, but I managed to clear the yellow door and then the red door on a single try. The biggest problem are the superhulks on the hostage level near the red key, though with precise knowledge of their locations there's enough cloaks to go around. Overall this level has just the right kind of difficulty, and by that token it's very pleasurable to play through. Hardest one so far, except 13, 9 and 11, but I guess that's to be expected, the levels need to be getting tougher later in the mission for there to be an appropriate curve.

Level 15: Damn, I'm really torn. This level is quite hard in the beginning, but it can get really easy with practice. I had to attempt it like 20 times, but in my final attempts I started getting much further in the level than previously, and on the first attempt that I succeeded, I had 118 shields left. Not much is left to chance in this level, and whenever there's trouble with roaming hulks, you've got enough space to dodge their fire. Overall not a bad level to play through, even though mistakes can be fatal.

Level 16: Very hard, and unexpectedly so. A lot is left to chance in this level, so you've got good odds of being jumped by a Medium Hulk in a tight corridor. In my many attempts at this level, I've only made it to the red door twice before dying (not counting the successful run), so it can easily be said that there are difficulties every step of the way in this mine. But with a good smart missile economy and smart use of cloaking devices, even the red door area can be easily cleared of all robots. The invulnerability is a must for the reactor chamber of course. Thank goodness I've beaten this level, I was getting sick and tired of it already. All in all not a bad level to cold start though, since you do get a plasma canon pretty early on, and Fusion really gets to shine in this level too.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:20 pm 
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Level 17: Damn, this level was frustrating! That's what I'd call it. It can range from very hard to moderately hard, depending on your knowledge of it. In general it would be really easy if not for two parts: the 5 drillers in the central area and the whole blue door area. The drillers would be easy enough to take care of if you had 5 homing missiles while starting the level, but you won't have any. I only succeeded a few times to shoot them before I took any damage, and not on my successful run. They always recede when I shoot them with my lasers from behind a corner, and then jump me - I ended up with 18 shields after being done with them, luckily that was enough. Also, you need to take them as fast as you can, else they'll start roaming and surprise you later on Then came the blue door area - sure, it would be easy enough to just grab the yellow key and bail, but that would be too easy - I had to figure out a way to clear the whole area and only then leave. It seemed quite impossible at first, as luring out drillers (both varieties) took too much time and there's no way to recharge without setting off the matcens. So first you have to deplete the matcens 3 times. It's pretty much impossible to prevail against a whole spawn worth of medium hulks, so you need to cleverly leave the area when the final one is spawning so that you don't trigger another series. That way you can come back to just one or two hulks instead of seven (though Rebirth usually bugs out and spawns only like 5 per series, dunno why). Still, even once the matcens were a non-issue, there was the problem of the yellow key area proper. I did manage to clear it out after many, many tries by going in there cloaked, taking out all the drillers immediately and then focusing on the super hulks, and I was lucky enough not to be followed by the plasma drillers. The cloaked lifters luckily don't roam. But only then I realized there's an invulnerability hidden behind a second secret door in the heavy driller branch - this made the area pretty much a cakewalk on subsequent tries. Still, this is by far the trickiest part of the level, and the starting drillers come second. Funny, because other than that, there is nothing in the level that's even remotely hard, the yellow and red door areas are nothing special. Anyway, I can see this level being much easier with a full equipment start, as Fusion helps immensely with the matcens beyond the blue door, and the level doesn't have any Fusion in it (nor does it quad lasers). It's mostly a level where the Plasma Cannon gets to shine. Overall tough at the beginning, but becomes manageable with knowledge, unless you make a lot of mistakes. But it's discovering those thoughtful additions by the designers such as the invulnerability on your own is what makes good games so rewarding.

Level 18: Not that hard, though initially felt that way. Took me around a dozen attempts. Taking care of the platform robots in the initial mazelike room can be deceptively hard and care is required, as carelessness will be punished mercilessly. Luckily the matcens can serve as a nice health recharge. Tricky parts to that level are all the roaming medium hulks, especially the three in the yellow area, but patience if your ally - they can all be lured out and taken care of from a cozy spot. The blue area also contains a lot of drillers and medium hulks, it does require some practice. You also need to be frugal with your smarts if you don't plan on luring out the medium hulks guarding the red key, and the mega is best left for the lone super hulk in the red area. Overall quite a nice level in terms of theme and music (love the lab textures), but the design feels a bit lazy and quite rudimentary - it was probably one of the earlier levels made. Still liked it, as I didn't have to retry enough times to get frustrated.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 10:43 pm 
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Xfing wrote:
Level 11. My God, what a freaking level. Must have taken me well over a hundred tries, it's difficult to count.

The first time I beat L11 cold-start + insane + full-rescue + no-deaths it took me, probably, about 16 hours. There are only a couple levels that still challenge me and that's one of them. Congrats!

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 6:59 pm 
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vision wrote:
Xfing wrote:
Level 11. My God, what a freaking level. Must have taken me well over a hundred tries, it's difficult to count.

The first time I beat L11 cold-start + insane + full-rescue + no-deaths it took me, probably, about 16 hours. There are only a couple levels that still challenge me and that's one of them. Congrats!


Thanks! But level 19 is next, that is gonna take some doing :(

It would definitely be easier if I was doing "survive" runs like Calmarius, but I made it a point to fully clear out the mines. It is a bit tricky to say the least, but I've found the two circular areas let's say... manageable thus far. I still die, but I don't feel helpless at least. The maze beyond the yellow door is probably going to kick my ass a lot more times on its own.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:11 am 
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Xfing wrote:
Thanks! But level 19 is next, that is gonna take some doing :(

19, 11, and 9 are the only levels I still find challenging. Every shot has to be on the mark in 19. It's all about resource management.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:02 pm 
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vision wrote:
Xfing wrote:
Thanks! But level 19 is next, that is gonna take some doing :(

19, 11, and 9 are the only levels I still find challenging. Every shot has to be on the mark in 19. It's all about resource management.


Actually I find the resources to be plenty. The level does punish sloppy play though, so you have to be on the mark in that regard. A bit of patience to lure out both missile platformer pairs also helps immeasurably. I'll be recording a demo, so I'll put it up when I'm successful.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:41 am 
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Good job so far!
I'm very busy now, so I didn't respond, but I follow your thread and read your impressions. Would be great to see your demo, I'm curious how your runs look like:). Keep your work up! Also I hope I will find time to continue at my speedruns too in future..


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:24 am 
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An almost successful attempt, thwarted by a sudden jump from a plasma driller :P

I think it will be sufficient for you to know how I handle this level, I was literally like 3 robots away from clearing the mine too. This might feel a bit slow and cautious, but this level kinda forced this on me. I don't play like that when I feel I don't need to. Of course I'll try again and again until I finally succeed, but yeah, this level's pretty hard.

https://www.sendspace.com/file/6enxh2

EDIT: Aaaaand another almost successful try in the meantime, almost or literally right after the one in the demo. This time the one last plasma driller did me in. If I just had used plasma instead of those unaimable lasers, he'd be history and I'd be on to level 20. But right now I'm more confident than ever I can conquer this level.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:28 am 
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Level 19: Finally did it!

Well, this level is really hard, that goes without saying. But I still don't think it's as hard as 9 or 11. Or maybe I'm saying that because I've grown as a pilot since playing those levels, but frankly I think I've plateaued as far as my skill is concerned. Sure, I do manage to sometimes react fact enough against a medium hulk jumping me in a narrow corridor and kill it without taking any damage, but these occurrences are few and far between. Anyway, this level gives very little room for error and puts you in many situations where sturdy, fast-firing plasma drillers or missile platformers can jump you, and you're forced to fight them in close quarters. Needless to say, that's really difficult to pull off. Right off the bat, two things absolutely must happen if you hope to beat this level without dying: one of the cloaked lifters in the inner circle must drop a cloak (otherwise you'll need to go to the outer circle to get one, and two missile platformers lurk there - almost impossible) so that you're able to handle the blue key room. Once beyond the blue door, one missile platformer must not start roaming before you're done dispatching the two super hulks - he does tend to get you from behind when you're plasmaing the one opposite the axis adjoining the energy center. Once these two requirements are met, you've got some reprieve, and it's recommended to wait at the crossroads for the missile platformers to come out, and pick them off safely. Afterwards you've got free rein to explore the level and stock up on health by draining the matcens. Once this circle is cleared, it's good to go up to the upper circle and clean it and its adjoining chambers out. Sometimes the missile platformers and other robots come out all the way to the crossroads, so you can just pick them off from the blue door tunnel. Fusion does help a lot in clearing the upper level.
The area beyond the yellow door is very tough, since it has a super hulk, a medium hulk, two plasma drillers and two small hulks roaming. If you're patient enough, though, you can lure them all as far out as the entrance to the area, and take care of them. In the narrow and confusing tunnels even the small hulks can prove difficult to destroy without taking any damage at all, and your smart missiles should be saved for the super hulk when it shows up, for extra safety.
The reactor room itself is very tough, as it contains five plasma drillers and two super hulks, so some preliminary luring is definitely a good thing to do, sometimes you can even take one of the super hulks without ever flying into that room. You should also have 4 smart missiles by that point, and now's the time to use them. Once the coast is clear, go into the secret room and pick up another smart and a mega, those are invaluable in the situation you're in. After some careful sniping from behind corners, the coast should be clear. I managed to exit this level with 15 shields, even though shield boosts are relatively plenty and can be supplemented to a random degree by matcen robot drops. Most hp is lost, ironically enough, against small hulks and plasma drillers, simply because it's hard to dodge them in corridors that narrow, and in the case of plasma drillers, to dodge them from close quarters at all.
As far as the look of the level goes, it's definitely a greatly designed level. While the cube geometry is still very rudimentary, the layout itself is creative and elegant. I really enjoyed playing through this level, even though it was difficult. I overall like Uranian levels way more than I do the Saturnian ones.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:14 am 
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I think the blue door was as far as I got on my insane run -- the tunnel through there is perfectly shaped for homing missiles from the red hulks to follow you up through the door and be nigh-undodgeable.

So my two questions to you are -- 1. how do you dodge those there? And 2. do you take out the upper missile platforms before or after you get the blue key?
I think if I knew those I could attempt my insane run through the game again and maybe get farther.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:47 pm 
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Alter-Fox wrote:
I think the blue door was as far as I got on my insane run -- the tunnel through there is perfectly shaped for homing missiles from the red hulks to follow you up through the door and be nigh-undodgeable.

So my two questions to you are -- 1. how do you dodge those there? And 2. do you take out the upper missile platforms before or after you get the blue key?
I think if I knew those I could attempt my insane run through the game again and maybe get farther.


Open the demo, it's all in there.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 3:31 pm 
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Level 20: This level really isn't that hard, contrary to what many pilots may feel. The matcens in the initial room are easy enough to avoid activating and there are plenty ways to restock your health. It is pretty annoying though, if only for how chance-based it is. Sometimes you'll be able to get the blue key faster, sometimes it'll be hard. But it's even more apparent in the missile platformers' attacking patterns. They can be very eager to jump you on some tries, and take forever to do it on others. Taking out the 4 platformers is definitely a priority, but it isn't that hard from the little hub room at the start of the blue section. The fourth one might be tricky, so it's probably better to just pay him a visit instead of trying to lure him, though it can obviously go many types of wrong. The drones are annoying but easily enough dispatched thanks to all the experience of handling them from earlier levels, and the yellow and red areas are easy. The most challenging thing to do in this level is to clear the hulk matcens in the red area three times, which is very hard to do (though possible), and I wouldn't dare risk it. Actually, I would have beaten the level as early as on my 5th or 6th try (had all the standard robots in the mine destroyed and the first area's matcens farmed out), but I got tangled up fighting those medium hulks. Fusion helps, but you're still fighting an uphill battle there, being flanked from both sides and all. It really is better to skip those guys, since matcen-generated enemies don't count in 100% runs anyway, though for some extra challenge (and points) it might be worthwhile to try and destroy them. I would recommend having high shields when attempting it, though.
Of note is also the fact that this level doesn't give you any advanced missiles save for 1 smart. That's it. There are several good opportunities to use it, in my case it came in handy when dealing with the last super hulk. Overall not such a bad level at all, and it's pretty short.

Demo: https://www.sendspace.com/file/nb7xqp

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:23 pm 
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Level 21: Calmarius said this level was very easy, and it definitely wasn't that hard, but I did underestimate it and it did cost me many attempts. I had to re-watch the way he did this level, and turns out I had been missing a very important aspect - the matcens beyond the yellow door don't both activate at the same time, which one does activate is decided by which door you enter the room through. I thought I'd be set upon by drillers and defense robots simultaneously, so that part pretty much paralyzed me and I got owned every time by a medium hulk. But knowing how it really works was the ticket, and I breezed through the whole level on just my second try after rewatching Calmarius' video today. I also used his very clever trick for dealing with the matcens in the reactor room. Overall, all enemies have been destroyed and all matcens farmed out.

Demo: https://www.sendspace.com/file/svh5kk

Uranian mines from easiest to hardest in my experience: 20, 21, 18, 19.

Secret Level 2: Well, got it on my first try, obviously, but I avoided triggering the inner matcens. I did get all the hostages and all the goodies from the ending supervisor robots.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:49 pm 
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Level 22: I'm actually flabbergasted - a level I fully expected to be one of the hardest in the game and give me pause for several days at least - I hundred-percented around my 10th try. If you don't trigger the two central matcens, this level really isn't that bad, and it's really short too. I didn't need to consult Calmarius' run either. Of course draining out the two central matcens would make this level much trickier, especially since the level doesn't really give you that much ordnance. I was able to keep a leftover smart missile though, but that should be enough only for like 3 drillers. Anyway, I'm happy matcens don't count in 100% runs, because avoiding them really does make this level a cakewalk. No demo this time unfortunately (i realized I wasn't recording my successful run, but I rolled with it anyway), so you just have to take my word for it :P

Level 23: Fairly tough, definitely tougher than 22, even though it creates the illusion of having a rather relaxed pace. But the layout of the level makes it quite easy to deal with a lot of those admittedly lethal mechs in quite easy ways. Once you get your prox bomb use down for those pesky roaming drillers, this level offers no real difficulty until the yellow door. That section is indeed quite luck-dependent, just like Calmarius says, because it has as many as 4 roaming drillers. I was lucky enough to be cloaked and have them jump at me in rapid succession, so I could take care of them very quickly. The matcens themselves aren't very threatening because they only spawn melee robots, and a cloak helps a lot dealing with the red key guards. The red area I pulled off on my first try (the first time I got that far was on my successful run actually). No need to be frugal with ordnance in this level, except for smarts and megas - those are best saved for when you really couldn't do without them. There's plenty of shields to go around too, so if you're both good and lucky, you'll be able to exit this level with shields considerably higher than 100. I'm not that good, but I still pulled it off rather comfortably, if a bit time-inefficiently due to some poorly thought-out backtracking. Now it's on to Nereid, and that level makes me excited!
Demo: https://www.sendspace.com/file/w0tqfr

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:47 pm 
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Hi folks, been lurking for the last few months while trying this challenge myself (keyboard only, D1X-Rebirth). Just wanted to say cheers to Xfing, Marvin, Avder and the rest for taking the time to record and/or describe your experiences; they've been a great help and an entertaining read.

I was able to fairly reliably get to the matcen area in level 3 on Insane, then decided to wuss out a bit and am currently up to, well, must be my fifty-oddth attempt at level 9 on Ace, cold start, no deaths, 100%. I'm up to gripping the yellow key with around 20 shield, and then I keep getting clobbered by roaming bots on the way back out. I've played this game since it came out, now in my mid-thirties, but those surprise where-the-hell-did-he-come-from Medium Hulks are still able to scare the farts out of me.

I'll come back with some more opinions of my own, but for now bed beckons. Nice to see some recent activity on here!


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:26 am 
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I saw your level 19 run and I like it. Unfortunately demo of level 20 and 21 is no longer available :(, so now I saw just level 23. Btw I remember level 20 was really hard for me, when I was making my insane walkthrough runs and it wasn't even cold start. But I was less skilled back to day and also I cleared all matcens. The one at the end is quite a pain:). Did you already try level 24?

Hi Superbead, nice to see someone interested. Keep going and feel free to share:).


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 7:48 pm 
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Marvin wrote:
I saw your level 19 run and I like it. Unfortunately demo of level 20 and 21 is no longer available :(, so now I saw just level 23. Btw I remember level 20 was really hard for me, when I was making my insane walkthrough runs and it wasn't even cold start. But I was less skilled back to day and also I cleared all matcens. The one at the end is quite a pain:). Did you already try level 24?

Hi Superbead, nice to see someone interested. Keep going and feel free to share:).


I'm at level 24 now. I don't play much right now, since Path of Exile is kinda taking up most of my free time. But I've attempted this level several times thus far (maybe 10 or so) and it's been very hard in my experience. I need to get a feel for it, as it's quite large. Knowledge where robots are always helps immeasurably, but right now I keep bumping into Super Hulks without predicting they're going to be there, which ends my runs quite fast.

As for the demos, I'm keeping them on my drive, so here they both are again:
Level 20: https://www.sendspace.com/file/x8wsq7
Level 21: https://www.sendspace.com/file/hxz4ly

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:26 am 
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thx for reupload, just watched it.
I did some progress in level 21 speedrun - did it in 4:08. Under 4 min seems like doable goal.


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 3:16 am 
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Well, my current impressions with level 24:
https://www.sendspace.com/file/praeqg

Still struggling with it. Perhaps I should consider keeping up the run even after I die once, just to find out what lurks ahead, because I can't remember all that, and that kinda makes me die. It's a very big level.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 9:07 am 
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Or you could just ask me. My head is basically a map. :P

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 3:48 pm 
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Well, I just almost succeeded. Got offed by reactor fire just as I destroyed the last super hulk with a Mega.

This level should be a matter of time now, I've got the robot locations pretty much memorized by now. Gotta say that clearing out the rectangular inner circle with the fusion hulks first seems to help here, as it makes robots from the outer circles wander away from your entry point.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:10 am 
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Level 24: Finally, success! Took me anywhere from 50 to 70 tries, it's really hard to say. The level is very difficult and a lot is up to chance, much like with level 19. This time, however, you're not entirely dependent on luck and if you're good, you can succeed no matter what, only it's real tricky. The level gave me pause for a long time, but usually I only did one or two tries in one sitting, then started doing something else. Only recently did I decide that I freaking love playing through this level, since it's tons of fun - and success soon followed two near-successful attempts. There is no optimal route for this level due to its circular layout, you can decide to tackle it from both sides of the blue door area, both are equally good. No matter which open area you decide to clean out first, the robots you left behind are going to start roaming, so you better be on your guard. The outer circle does have some serious obstacles in it, but once those are gone, it's rather safe. The circle with the matcens is easy once there's nothing else roaming around to distract you, and the rectangular circle towards the middle of the level is real fun to clear out, though can be rather tricky if you don't have a strategy. Anyway, the abundance of plasma drillers makes sure your reflexes will be tested. A lot of this level can be taken piecemeal, but sometimes you have no choice but to fight hard. That said, it definitely is much easier if you just do what you need to do and skip what you can, like Calmarius has demonstrated.
All in all I gotta say I really enjoy playing this level. It's in my book the quintessence of Descent, really. Probably the best designed level in the game, awfully fun to play, great texturing, plenty of tough robots etc. Probably my favorite level of the game, or one of those at the very least.
Demo: https://www.sendspace.com/file/xt93ke

EDIT:
BTW, I've just recorded a demo of level 6 to compare the difficulty with that of my recently played levels. Yeah, it definitely wasn't even remotely as hard as level 24. I did it on my 4th attempt I think. I completely screwed up the deathtrap section, but it's all good since all I really needed was to survive.
Demo: https://www.sendspace.com/file/q6x8ta

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:19 am 
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I understand you perfectly, I told it a few times in past, level 24 is best of the game. First tries are frustrating, then it become more and more fun.


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:57 am 
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Yeah I've even noticed a bunch of similar designs to that level in Overload, so I suspect the devs agree.
It's not my favourite in Descent 1 but it's close. 14's up there too.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 2:24 am 
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Secret level 3 is up next. Damn, that one is going to be a handful.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:58 am 
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Yeah, level 24 was one of those big inspiration pieces... though I think I saw influences from it in enough other people's levels that I'm not sure I ever took the jump myself. Except for an early level that I lost at some point. (It was an early-98 level, not actually that good, so don't worry you didn't miss too much.)


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 3:44 pm 
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Several months ago, I too started to play D1 and D2 in no-save mode on insane (no coldstarts but without using missiles from prev levels), first I managed to do it with Vertigo (in D1 and D2 I was struggling with many levels, still had to use one or 2 save points per level); then I gained skills and did TEW, except level 25 where I had to save before boss, now returned to D1 and how easy it was after my experience with D2! Did all levels no-save in maybe 3 weeks. Of course struggled with levels 9,11 and 19 (maybe spent 4-5 hours on each), others were not hard once I figured out the strategy for them. Also tried a couple of cold starts, L9 and L11, yeah, they were harder than non cold start, but manageable since I had strategy for them already (had to change it a bit however). Probably will try some more (L 19,23,24,26, maybe 16, are some of my favorites)
Xfing, I am very interested how you will handle D2 counterstrike cold start 100% (or even non-cold start), to me many levels seem super hard (boss levels 12,16, 20 especially), for now I was unable to do it, hard fight from beginning to the end, each level takes maybe 40 min to complete, and bosses kill you 2 of 3 times (or more) even if you have good strategy... Even Calmarius only did survive runs on them... Frankly I just haven't got the time and patience for it (same with TEW level 25).
To me D1 seemed much easier than D2 (maybe because of the skills I got during playing D2 and especially TEW). But I had a lot of fun with D1, since you can use more agressive tactics than in D2, less luring, shooting from the corners etc + each level can be done in less than 20 mins. I wish you to finish the remaining levels of D1 faster and start D2, in my impression everything after level 20 in D1 becomes significantly easier. Yes later levels with more dangerous enemies have smaller margin for error, but still easier to complete if you know how to do it. Not as luck based as 11 and 19. Also in later levels you have plasma and often Fusion close to the beginning, so cold starting does not matter too much.


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:12 pm 
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I decided also to post my walkthrough of level 23 insane cold start no-save no death killing all robots (well all except 2 cloaked lifters in a secret area; I was too lazy to return and hunt them). Just in case if someone is interested. Probably someone will comment on my flying style? This was not very lucky run (big damage in yellow area + one stupid mistake).

https://www.sendspace.com/file/bf6mp0


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 11:43 am 
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AlexanderBorisov wrote:
To me D1 seemed much easier than D2...
I agree. I can cold start all of D1 on insane, but I can't get past level 21 in Counterstrike, even on Ace. Then again, D2 is full of shitty bots and novelty weapons, so I don't feel too bad about that.

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:32 am 
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vision wrote:
AlexanderBorisov wrote:
To me D1 seemed much easier than D2...
I agree. I can cold start all of D1 on insane, but I can't get past level 21 in Counterstrike, even on Ace. Then again, D2 is full of shitty bots and novelty weapons, so I don't feel too bad about that.


I remember that I did last levels in Descent 2 without saving and dying on insane, i.e 21-23, on 24 I saved before boss. On cold start L21,22 would be hell, you need gauss and omega to start the level... Although Calmarius did it. Probably I will try it myself later, too. What I hate most about D2 on insane no-save, are boss levels. You play for 30-40 mins than randomly die on the boss because it appears in wrong place or you cannot find it and run out of invulnerabilities and cloaks.Definitely for people that like mazo stuff... I also played Vertigo and TEW insane no save no deaths and did not had any problems with boss levels (except TEW 25). Did not tried any cold starts on them however. But in Vertigo some levels are definitely pain in the ass to cold start, for example you have to fight sniper NGs with red lasers, that's stupid (you die 9/10 times).


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:10 am 
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vision wrote:
AlexanderBorisov wrote:
To me D1 seemed much easier than D2...
I agree. I can cold start all of D1 on insane, but I can't get past level 21 in Counterstrike, even on Ace. Then again, D2 is full of shitty bots and novelty weapons, so I don't feel too bad about that.


Opposite for me, kinda. I've never managed to get past a certain point in D1 on insane but I finished D2 relatively easily on the same.

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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: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 1:29 pm 
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DBB Defender
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Alter-Fox wrote:
Opposite for me, kinda. I've never managed to get past a certain point in D1 on insane but I finished D2 relatively easily on the same.
Cold start? For real? I would love to see a demo of L21. I can't seem to find a reasonable path through that one (and I've forgotten what all the triggers do over the last 20 years, which is part of my problem for sure).

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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:37 pm 
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DBB Ace
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Joined: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:57 am
Posts: 104
vision wrote:
Alter-Fox wrote:
Opposite for me, kinda. I've never managed to get past a certain point in D1 on insane but I finished D2 relatively easily on the same.
Cold start? For real? I would love to see a demo of L21. I can't seem to find a reasonable path through that one (and I've forgotten what all the triggers do over the last 20 years, which is part of my problem for sure).

See this walkthrough,

I imagine how much tries and how much luck it required to record this, it is very hard level already with full weapons. Hopefully it is not so long...


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 Post subject: Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%
PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:49 pm 
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The Feline Menace
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Website: http://vertigofox.bandcamp.com
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Wasn't a cold start, that's why it's kinda. I still have a lot better to get at these games.

_________________
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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