dobu gabu maru
IMO the gray marble status bar looks fine to me. I think the brown letters should be white but other than that I like it.
So after two hours (40 minutes in game time) and countless deaths, I got some feedback for 7th Circle. Incoming wall.
First off, excellent job on the map. If this was the club I could just gush over all the detail, brilliant texturing work, and absolutely wonderful layout. Love the ins and outs of this map, and the library section is probably my favorite thing I've experienced in NOVA so far; it's just really smartly designed and it shows. Great map.
Gameplay-wise, I have a lot of mixed feelings. I was able to finish it so it's definitely doable with anyone that plays with saves, but there were some extremely rough spots were I felt like I was optimizing luck more than anything. I like the concept of really pushing the player to scavenge for more munitions, as this map is relentless when it comes to piling baddies on top of them. One problem that this can cause is that'll it force them into a corner where they mercilessly bang their head against a brick wall when there is always an easier solution.
So right near the onset I triggered the lava denizens and then teleported away, hoping their infighting would wreak some havoc upon each other. I ran over to the cavern area and carved my way through there, struggling to reach my way to the rocket launcher. However I could not piece together the simple solution to obtaining it, and wound up wiping out a large amount of the horde with the SSG and chaingun, running painfully low on ammo. Frustrated and without a moment to think or look around, I ran back to the starting area to be faced with the startling revelation that not only one, but two archviles had been undoing the infighting I caused. By fortune I had one trapped next to some nearby bars and could pelt him harmlessly, but the other one was down in the lava surrounded by three entire waves of angry baddies.
Since there is NO cover down in the lava, and I was unaware that the library was actually the safest place to run to, I threw a dozen lives away trying to coax him out and kill him with just my SSG (I was at 24% health, meaning any damage is lethal damage). After many failed attempts I tried to stir up some infighting to whittle his health down and get some potshots off, but his horde proved too numerous again. Finally I had the great idea to use the nearby lava hole as makeshift cover, but he attacked far too fast for me to make any good use of it. This point was probably the most aggravating in the map for me as I was unable to subdue him without the rocket launcher. I returned back to the cavern area to find out how to get my hands on it when, SURPRISE, obtaining the blue key lowered the gate at the far end and flooded the cavern with hell's nobles, putting about four of them in that thin walkway needed to access the RL (which I still didn't consider using to actually obtain it). Low on ammo I died a couple more times just strafing around everyone and checking to see if there was some hidden teleport I missed, and eventually decided "aw fuck it" as I ran into the library on my last legs.
While it was an uphill battle, I enjoyed most of the library's fights, since it locked me in there and forced me to deal with each wave of baddies. I slowly got myself back up to a decent standing after punching a host of enemies, and enjoyed my time in there. My luck turned around about the time you introduced the invul, since the nearby megasphere and blessing that is the plasma gun allowed me to more or less coast through the rest of the map compared to what horrors I had faced before. I still died often of course, but I no longer had to play as flawlessly as I had been doing for the past twenty minutes. I cleared out the nasty AV that was bugging me before, found the RL, and proceeded into the final battle.
The arena it takes place in is very fitting and ominous for the last battle of this brutal map, but I found it somewhat easy, both with and without picking up the BFG (didn't find the red key until looking for it after). The very last trap of the map, the AV horde, is a questionable decision in my opinion, as there is an extremely thin line of difficulty they can cross depending on how many walk out of the doorway (and when you're not equipped with the BFG--otherwise it's just hold n' shoot).
So with all of that exposition, I'll throw out some ideas that come from my playthrough:
First off, that rocket launcher definitely needs to be easier to apprehend. While it's a "DUH OF COURSE" moment after you walk along the wall to obtain it, seeing it out of reach as scores of hell's worst close in on you can really break a player's spirit, especially since the map is tight on ammo and health as it is. Placing it around where the green armor in that section is, or at the top of the steps near the rev gate is a better idea IMO, since it requires more or less the same effort to achieve it (and can give the player a boost of confidence they need). I think readjusting it is especially important because not many new players will actually think to run through the lava and go into the library first, which can relieve a lot of their pain since the placed is stacked to high-hell with cell once you complete it.
Next I'm unsure about any AVs in the lava. While I understand the intention of providing a nearly endless horde of monsters to dance around until you thin them out, I feel like their purpose is much more masterfully handled elsewhere in the map, as their presence in the lava pretty much pushes the player from ever wanting to go near their until they have a better arsenal. That, and in a map with limited ammo they can cause a massive headache as the player sinks a nearby floating caco just to have him reemerge from the depths. I don't know how this battle will work without them (as the infighting might take care of a lot of baddies), but I can't stress how much I was annoyed by that little bugger and his "if I see you, you're dead" magic. Perhaps offering some rocks as cover in the lava might really quell my hatred of him (you have a pillar at the far end that can be used as cover, but the AV could easily smite me before I even reached it).
Next, and this is a bit funny after complaining about how hard this is, but I'm not exactly sure you need the invul there in the library fight. I did use it but more or less wasted it trying to push through the monsters and kill the AV. It seemed doable to me if there were a few less baddies to surround the player... one of the most sublime things about the library is how twisted and interconnected the entire area is, and I felt like I could've used some more of my smarts to handle the fight, rather than blowing away the prime opposers and then more or less just hanging out in the main hall for when the other two showed up.
Red key battle was kind of neat, but I went into it with a pretty big arsenal so I didn't get the full effect. IMO, the very bottom floor in that place (where the health packs are sitting on) should be lava to encourage the player to move more. Also maybe so simpacks could be up behind the bars with the ammo, as I liked to fight in that place but had nothing to heal my wounds (unless you want the player to move out).
In the place with the berserk pack, I had monsters flooding the exit elevator which was kind of annoying when I was trying to run back, but I'm not sure what there is to do about that. Also, I suggest making the right elevator (the one that leads to the second cyber switch) an SR near a wall, as fighting the AV through the windows can get obnoxious when you run for cover and just wind up going back downstairs again.
For the final battle, you need to remove most of the ammo given from the key sections, particularly the EIGHT HUNDRED CELL you give with the BFG. There's helping the player out and then just letting them completely dominate the fight. Leave them with like 200 cell up there at most (unsure about the red key side, but I had more than enough ammo to 100% the whole map without it). I also think that you should remove some AVs from the exit room as, like I said, they can be an unholy hell to deal with the first time if too many leak out (without the BFG). Two of them zipping away to the sides of the arena are a good idea, I do like that. If need be, you could put block monster lines in front of the door and just warp three of them out, leaving two or three left in the corridor to stop the player from escaping. Also, the final room needs like 2-3 medikits for consecutive players to patch up.
Lastly, I think you should include a berserk pack on the library side of the map in case anyone runs out of ammo there (not too deep into it either).
Now for some misc stuff. Misaligned texture. Another misaligned texture. Switch texture in final room doesn't line up, I'd recommend just putting a METAL tex on its sides. I couldn't figure out how these bars open. I'm kind of excited to replay this map once we do our final playtests, just to see how my knowledge will assist me the second time around.