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Aurelius

Ar Luminae: a vibrant UDMF behemoth - Final version out!

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@Turin Turambar Thanks for the feedback! Compared to Remnant the map is definitely much, much harder. That purple pit fight is definitely one of the harder ones early on, and it has a lot of things that need to be considered at the same time, and definitely needs to be tried a few times to survive through. I personally got butchered most of the time when I originally made that encounter, but later on when I returned to it months later when reworking stuff, it didn't feel as frustrating. The other encounter you described is brutally tight, but I think the mega you get mitigates the damage quite well, and once you get behind the revs you'll be much safer. Still though, I understand where you're coming from :)

 

Glad you're still enjoying it though! Progression can be a bit obscure at around the mark where you are - definitely something that is better communicated in the latter half of the map. 

 

@MFG38 Also thanks for the kind words! The influences you describe are both intentional and unintentional in the parts I worked, since I very much grew up on those kinds of games in the 90s. Same with adventure feel, definitely something that was an important part of the design from the start. Hope you'll enjoy the thing all the way through :)

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This is not to say there is too few armor/health packs, I have plenty on the 'open world' area, is that these arenas limit access to them they don't really count :P.

 

The zone with the Archviles that can be killed with the 'piston' was cool and very original, but please make it shorter by having 20% less Archviles, it got old before the fight ended.

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I too found some of the difficulty spikes a bit much on HMP, especially the early lava-filled section where there seems to be monsters everywhere (I quite often play WADs on HMP rather than UV, but rarely go lower than HMP), but have so far been finding it very enjoyable on HNTR.  

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guys, congratulations on the release, your level is Absolute madness in a good sense of the word!

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It's awesome visually, but... is there a chance you'd release a version without custom monsters, weapons and sounds?

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3 hours ago, Caleb13 said:

It's awesome visually, but... is there a chance you'd release a version without custom monsters, weapons and sounds?

The map is designed around Supercharge and many encounters take advantage of the custom monster and weapon dynamics, so unfortunately it's very unlikely a "vanilla" version of the map would ever become a thing - it'd be way too much work to do the necessary rebalancing. Happy to hear you enjoy the looks of it though!

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I finished the level. Ok, I 'finished' the level, because once I reached the final boss, and saw what I was supposed to do, and the time needed to even lower its hp a 15% with god mode on, I said, fuck this!

 

Very good level otherwise. A bit too ambitious, it would have been better if split in say, three levels. And some parts totally dip into slaughterfest style, I'm sorry to say :)

 

In HMP, it could have 1/3 of the health/armor found in the 'open world' area removed and put half of the removed items inside the hard closed arenas, and it would have made a better paced game (ie one where I don't have to retry a fight 20 times).

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First actual update is here! The link in the OP is also updated.

 

I made plenty of small changes all around based on feedback:

- Fixed the pink keycard problem on HNTR and ITYTD.

- Some fights were tweaked to have less grind (removing some excess duplicate monsters).

- Increased performance by adding some blocking geometry to a few areas and dividing the map into smaller sound zones.

- Added and moved around some resources.

- Made the hexagon fight have a difficulty dependent platform lowering speed.

 

Thank you everyone for the feedback and suggestions! Hopefully there aren't any elusive bugs waiting to rear their ugly heads when I finally upload this to the archive.

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I'm playing on Hurt Me Plenty. I'm only a little past the pink forcefield which needed two things to disable. The most hectic fight so far was the one at the bottom of the lavafalls, but that secret backpack I spotted was just too tempting to pass up. The eventual winning strategy was to rocket the Arch-Vile, Diablolist, and Demons (in that order) then I emptied my Chaingun into the Revenants until I was completely out of ammo, then the cleanup of the Hell Knights was a simple matter for the Rockets. I hit the 1/3 mystery blue switch and grabbed the secret blue armor on the way out. I think that puts me at 5 secrets, which seems okay for so early. Taking my first break at this point, because there are a lot of different possible ways to go now.

 

I appreciate the infinitely respawning rad suit near the start.

3 of 4 blue switches found.

 

EDIT: I found the secret cave with the tiny Baron. ... I beat the fight but I don't see any reward. Did I miss something, or is that secret just there to punish you with a fight and ammo wastage? (Thanks infinitely respawning rad suit for letting me get in there at all.)

Edited by Stabbey

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Thanks for the playthrough @Suitepee! I was able to squash some HNTR related bugs and tweak both the progression and resource availability for more consistency in a few places. Was very entertaining to follow your stream.

 

@Stabbey Sounds like good progress, hope you're enjoying the map :) 

 

About the tiny baron (some secret spoilers):

Spoiler

Without going too much into detail, the reward is the tiny baron itself, assuming you picked it up. If snoop around the map a bit, you might find what to do with it.

 

And since I'm posting here, I'll mention that a new version is close to being done. This will include some significant performance fixes for a few areas and tweaked balance for the HNTR difficulty. Also due to player feedback the boss health will now be cut in half for HNTR (and to 75% for HMP), as to mitigate the possible "navigational" frustration that the final fight might cause. Stay tuned!

Edited by Aurelius

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All 4 Blue Glyphs activated.

 

I got through the unpleasant raising purple liquid with Cyberdemon arena by finding a little cubby and blasting the Revenants. I successfully got back to the top without needing the Megasphere, although that turned out to be a forced pickup anyway. I let the Arch-Vile wail away on the Cyberdemon for quite a while.

 

I really liked the Double Damage fight after getting the Blue Skull key, lots of fun there, I tore through the Cyberdemon with the Chaingun really fast, then cleaned up everything else with rockets and Super Shotgun, getting all but one Hell Knight before it wore off.

 

Plasma Gun fight wasn't too tough, but the ones right after it were much trickier. I hit the switch to lower a set of red bars, and that's where I'm taking my second big break. Still at 6 secrets. There is one secret lift I can hear in the ship, but it seems to need access to an area I can't get to yet.

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@Stabbey It's actually a Quad Damage, hence the massive damage you can inflict with weapons like the minigun or the plasma rifle. Oh, and that megasphere wasn't intended as a forced pickup (everyone seemed to need it after the encounter :P) but I'll fix that for upcoming tweaked version. Glad you're enjoying the fights!

 

Plenty of secrets to be found in the map too. Some of them more secret than others :P

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I'm sure most people did need to grab that Megasphere during or after the encounter, it was mean with the tight quarters and the enemy composition. I use quicksaves - not that completing this level without saving is feasible, but still.

 

It's not a big deal, as there's also a Megaarmor and Soul Sphere unlocked at the same time. I think putting a slightly lower lip on the edge of the switch ledge at the top would be enough to solve that problem. You wouldn't be able to step onto that ledge until the pit reaches the top anyway.

Edited by Stabbey

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Recapping on the earlier comments about the annoyances with the new GZDoom update, I have had the screenshot key set to F12 for several years, which has survived successive updates until now, but installing GZDoom 4.5.0 changed the binding back to the default of "SysRq" and assigned F12 to some new feature, as I found this out the hard way when I went through a sizeable chunk of the map thinking that I had been taking screenshots by hitting F12, only to realise afterwards that it hadn't taken any because it was doing its own default instead.  This update does have a lot of positive features as well, but it's the first time I've encountered such Microsoft-style annoyances with default settings with any GZDoom update (the aforementioned menu scaling and screen size of 10, and defaulting to simple menus were others). Not the fault of this map of course.

 

I'll be very surprised if this map doesn't appear somewhere in the 2020 Cacowards despite the initial teething issues (which I think are inevitable in such a monstrosity of a map).  It already looked really good when it was part of the Mapwich 2 (I downloaded one of the test builds before it became a standalone map). It's a strong candidate for the best uses of OTEX that I've seen so far, and a good sense of progression through the map.  Also the new additions to the Supercharge roster of weapons are pretty satisfying.

Edited by ENEMY!!!

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A new version is out, labelled internally as version 1.3 but officially RC2!

 

Changelog:

  • HUD is now visible on all screen sizes.
  • OP is updated with new suggestion for increasing performance, which are also outlined below.
  • Significant performance improvements in a few of the most offensive areas, such as the four blue sigil area, entrance to the cave after acquiring the yellow skull key and the final fight. The teleport hub onboard the ship is unaltered, mainly because there's no mentionable combat in that area the lower framerate would hinder. This might be tweaked still, but should not affect gameplay in any major way.
  • In addition to optimized geometry, there are two new performance options in the SC Options menu.
    • The first one, labelled "Monster spawn significantly less gibs", practically removes all Supercharge gore actors and simplifies monster death animations to resemble more of a "vanilla" style. This makes a great improvement in frame rate consistency across the board, especially in encounters with high monster count.
    • The second one, labelled "Corpses fade during final boss fight", is self-explanatory. The performance impact is much less pronounced than the first mentioned option, but it might help make the final arena more readable further in the fight.
  • Difficulty descriptions in the OP have been updated to be a tad more informative.
  • HNTR has been extensively tinkered with and rebalanced, based on player feedback.
    • The final boss encounter has seen drastic changes on this difficulty, mainly by changing monster composition and cutting the boss HP by half. This is to ensure that players still need to figure out the right strategy, but removes the amount of repetition required. HMP sees the boss HP cut to 75%, but otherwise unchanged dynamics.
  • Encounters remain practically unchanged on UV and HMP. The hexagon platform room has been provided with some better communication for progression.
  • Various smaller changes, tweaks and bug fixes.

Huge thanks to @Nevanos for stress testing the map with the added performance options and providing general feedback. Another huge thanks in general to everyone for your feedback and playthroughs, they have been infinitely helpful!

 

If no major issues arise, I should be pushing this to the archive soon-ish. 

Edited by Aurelius

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Okay, I do not like this battle after the first Red Skull switch. The one with the hexagonal platforms. And I'm going into the battle starting at 200/200 with a lot of ammo, and a little bit of time left on a Rad Suit.

 

 

I tried running in circles and shooting the buttons to crush the Arch-Viles. That doesn't work since there are effectively infinite of them as far as I can tell. Then I tried ignoring them and shooting the Cyberdemon. Then the Arch-Viles killed me, because two of them will always have an angle on me at all times.

 

It's probably POSSIBLE for me to do after a bunch of reloads, but it's not FUN, and that just makes me want to stop playing.

 

 

On 11/11/2020 at 2:13 PM, Turin Turambar said:

My impressions so far are good , but the difficulty has some harsh spikes (playing on HMP), in the constrained arenas that you use sometimes, like this one:

 

uzATJru.jpg

 

Between the Mancobus, skellies, the columns, the mines of the Diabolist, the CD firing rockets...very little space to move. Other fights felt purely RNG-depedent, like one in a even smaller area where you have a group of skellies in front of you, and a group of knights and a CD in a column behind, as while you fire at one side the other may hit you from behind.

I think Remnant had a better adjusted difficulty.

 

The flow is ok-ish, in one place that I had to activate four switches to activate a teleporter I got stuck with one of them but after 3 minutes of wandering around I found it. I'm again stuck, this time in the big door that needs the yellow skull, I'm not sure where it is.edit : oh look, I found a door that I could open with the blue skull! I guess I have to go through this area...

 

That pit is certainly a pain, I solved it largely by finding a corner behind a Medikit platform I could use to kill Revenants. That was the biggest problem, after that getting to the surface made the fight simple.

 

That second fight with the skellies/knights/CD, I used the plasma gun on the skeletons, which was super-effective at cutting through them and that gave enough space, with the knights shielding you from the CD . I'm playing on HMP as well, so we have the same number of monsters there.

 

 

Edited by Stabbey : quote

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@Stabbey When you press the switch to activate the red skull key encounter, a platform starts to lower right in front of you. Playtesters did tend to turn away instantly and miss this cue, so in the latest version there's a more clear indication of what happens, and also when the platform in question has lowered and a way out is revealed. The idea behind the fight is to survive long enough for the escape route to appear. The platform lowering speed is dependent on the chosen difficulty.

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21 minutes ago, Aurelius said:

@Stabbey When you press the switch to activate the red skull key encounter, a platform starts to lower right in front of you. Playtesters did tend to turn away instantly and miss this cue, so in the latest version there's a more clear indication of what happens, and also when the platform in question has lowered and a way out is revealed. The idea behind the fight is to survive long enough for the escape route to appear. The platform lowering speed is dependent on the chosen difficulty.

 

I beat that fight by running around and using the pistol on the switches and instantly reloading the pistol after each switch hit. That made the fight actually really easy. The problem with it is that once you figure out the gimmick, having like 50 Arch-Viles does not make the fight any more interesting or more challenging, it merely makes the fight more tedious. Cut out like 60-80 percent of those Arch-Viles to make the fight shorter.

 

People generally assume you're supposed to kill monsters in Doom. They aren't going to notice the escape route, because by the time it appears they'll have already committed to shooting the crusher switches and will not notice anything else. It's tunnel vision. Not to mention you need to go back through the room on the jump pads, so you pretty much need to kill the enemies there anyway.

 

The fight past the yellow bars was surprisingly easy. I ignored the Megasphere and took no damage. The giant pile of Revenants killed me a couple times until I found the Stomper in the next room, although I did need to reload once there because I picked up the Quad and didn't realize that I was locked in, and wasted most of it - and you need all of it. After reloading to save the powerup until the door opened, that fight was fine.


The first Yellow Skull switch fight was tricky until I found the key - killing one of the Arch-Viles on the Imp pillars produces a very safe space. I don't think I'll need either of the Megaspheres in that room yet, and there's still the one from the Red Skull switch fight.  

 

(Found a tiny Cyberdemon doll, but since I'm only up to 7 secrets, I'm sure I missed a few - notably that soul sphere taunting me from the raised platform near the start.)

 

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@lakersforce As far as I understand it, rendering polygonal graphics is something modern GPUs can do much more efficiently compared to how GZDoom renders Doom, so it's not really a sensible comparison. Somebody can correct me on the details, but you could never achieve the same graphical fidelity as in modern games just by drawing lines and sectors. That would require more model based geometry.

 

Have you tried the performance options that were listed in the original post? Make sure you're using hardware accelerated rendering (Vulkan if possible, OpenGL otherwise), turn off dynamic lights and any unnecessary visual improvements like anti-aliasing and ambient occlusion. The opening area can also be very taxing, so play a bit further into the map when testing the aforementioned options.

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@lakersforce No problem! If you didn't already find it, there is also a performance option in SC Options menu called "Monsters spawn significantly less gibs". This should keep framerates during larger combat much more consistent.

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I entered the Yellow Skull door and cleared a lot of stuff that way. I got the Pink Keycard, the Railgun, and the secret on the ship which was taunting me... but the secret was not considered a secret for some reason, despite needing a very time-tight sequence of lift activations to access.

 

I'm past the 3 hour mark, and this map just goes on and on. Looks like I need the Green and Pink skulls to continue. The next obstacle in my path is an extremely annoying fight in lava, and even Quad Damage doesn't seem to be that helpful. I think I need to take out the imps first in order to get the room to move around.

 

Got the Green Keycard and BFG.

 

EDIT: I'm up to the stupid room with the poison gas spiral of death. Unless it's my imagination, the gas speeds up the farther you go until you die and there's nothing you can do at all. I hate that room. It sucks. I'm going to turn on IDDQD because that room is stupid.

 

EDIT 2: How the FUCK is anyone human supposed to beat that without cheating? And I had the BFG and 10 shots for it, too. No, I'm sorry, I was with you up to now - even the tiny circular room with the Spider and 100 Revenants with Archviles, and even the room after the circular gas room - but that room is complete and total horseshit. It is not even remotely fun in any way. If I was rating the WAD, I'd take off 1 Star/20% just for that room alone. Just awful.

 

And where are the "Green Auxilary Platforms" which were activated? This map is huge, and I cannot find those anywhere, and I looked. I have the pink skull, but I am out of places to go.

Edited by Stabbey

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I'm still trying to find the pink skull key required for the green/pink skull door. But so far I've wandered aimlessly trying to find it. Most of the stuff in the map is already dead and I've got 8 different keys. I'm kind of out of places to look for..

 

I will try to post my taughts on the map later, once I manage to finish this.. 

Edited by OniriA

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38 minutes ago, OniriA said:

I'm still trying to find the pink skull key required for the green/pink skull door. But so far I've wandered aimlessly trying to find it. Most of the stuff in the map is already dead and I've got 8 different keys. I'm kind of out of places to look for..

 

I will try to post my taughts on the map later, once I manage to finish this.. 

 

The path to that one starts from the Yellow Skull door. Hug the right until you get to a pit of water with a Cyberdemon on HMP and higher. kill it, leap across the ledges and clear out the caves past the dead Spider Mastermind. You'll need to reach the teleport back to the ship, then take the pink keycard and unlock the pink switch in the armory. Then return through the teleporter back to where you were, climb the pink platforms and hit the switch. That'll set you on the path.

 

Be warned, there's an infuriatingly difficult combat challenge that way later on.  Save before the poison room in a separate slot.

 

***

 

I have reached the end, but even after hitting both the red and blue switch, nothing happened, so this seems to be the end for me.

 

I found the green auxiliary platforms only by watching John Suitepee's stream. I have nothing except swear words to describe how terrible the fight after that point is in every single way. I would take 2 stars or 40% off the rating for that encounter. It's garbage and unfun, and forcing the player to stay and fight instead of letting them run away is bullshit.

Edited by Stabbey

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@Stabbey Sorry to hear you didn't like it, but thank you for playing nonetheless. Though for future reference feedback such as "complete and total horseshit" and "garbage and unfun" is in no way constructive, and helps neither me nor you make the experience better. Judging by the nature of your problems, HNTR would've been a better alternative. The map was advertised as very challenging, and if you expect to be able to run away from fights then you are playing the wrong type of map.

 

To answer some of your criticism, the final fight is communicated better in the latest version (you have to shoot the "thing" that appears from it's hiding place when you press the blue and red switches, and it makes its presence known much more clearly). The actual fight itself is nerfed somewhat on lower difficulties, but still requires solving the "puzzle" sequence to efficiently deal with the encounter. This is a combination of timing, choosing an efficient route and quickly dispatching high threat enemies. Whether or not you enjoy that type of fight is of course a different matter, but it is consistently beatable on all difficulties in under 7 minutes. 

 

The spiral gas room fight might seem impossible at first, but it boils down to quick reflexes and choosing the right weapon for the job. There's a lot of stuff going on at the same time, and it requires some getting used to.

 

Below is more comprehensive strategy that I use for the fight, plus a recording of 10 consecutive attempts on UV, out of which 9 were successful:

Spoiler

 

Now I'm assuming you're packing a moderate amount of ammo here. There should be enough to spare on all difficulties, with UV requiring a more keen eye spotting all the resources lying around. I won't be using either the BFG or the railgun here, of which the former could very well make the encounter much easier. There is also a secret Quad that can be employed at the start of this fight to some effect (which I won't be using here). I'm coming in with 100 health and a green armor. In the video I am broadly employing the strategy described below, but depending on the situation I make some changes to the approach. I am also not a top tier player by a long shot, so some of the runs can be quite messy.

 

I start out by using the Stomper to clear out some of the revs. This is not strictly necessary as the revs actually pose minimal threat during the fight, only providing you with a tail of rockets to keep you moving (which you already would be doing due to the poison gas cloud). I keep using the Stomper, but RL + SSG combo works pretty well too if you can time it well. The important part is to keep right behind the gas wave. The easiest thing to mess up is to panic trying to make a beeline towards the front of the wave when you notice you're falling behind, then getting stuck. You can catch up to the wave faster by moving closer to the centre, but it is very risky. Usually once the tortured souls appear, I switch to plasma. When the first PE wave appears, I dip into the alcove to the grab the megasphere, then proceed to continue when the wave comes back around. Here BFG could do some serious damage should you have it at that point. The PEs were to me the most problematic part, but the issue can be mitigated quite effectively by using either the minigun or the plasma rifle (they're fast enough to deal with the spawning lost souls fast enough to minimize getting blocked). Once stuff clears out it's safer to return to the RL and take out the rest. 

 

I'm in no way saying it's an easy fight, definitely one of harder ones in the map. On HMP the monster count is a third smaller, you most likely have much more ammo coming into the fight. On HNTR, an invul is provided.

 

In any case, thank you again for spending time on the map and hope you found at least some joy from other parts of it.

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48 minutes ago, Aurelius said:

@Stabbey Sorry to hear you didn't like it, but thank you for playing nonetheless. Though for future reference feedback such as "complete and total horseshit" and "garbage and unfun" is in no way constructive, and helps neither me nor you make the experience better. Judging by the nature of your problems, HNTR would've been a better alternative. The map was advertised as very challenging, and if you expect to be able to run away from fights then you are playing the wrong type of map.

 

To answer some of your criticism, the final fight is communicated better in the latest version (you have to shoot the "thing" that appears from it's hiding place when you press the blue and red switches, and it makes its presence known much more clearly). The actual fight itself is nerfed somewhat on lower difficulties, but still requires solving the "puzzle" sequence to efficiently deal with the encounter. This is a combination of timing, choosing an efficient route and quickly dispatching high threat enemies. Whether or not you enjoy that type of fight is of course a different matter, but it is consistently beatable on all difficulties in under 7 minutes. 

 

The spiral gas room fight might seem impossible at first, but it boils down to quick reflexes and choosing the right weapon for the job. There's a lot of stuff going on at the same time, and it requires some getting used to.

 

Below is more comprehensive strategy that I use for the fight, plus a recording of 10 consecutive attempts on UV, out of which 9 were successful:

  Reveal hidden contents

 

Now I'm assuming you're packing a moderate amount of ammo here. There should be enough to spare on all difficulties, with UV requiring a more keen eye spotting all the resources lying around. I won't be using either the BFG or the railgun here, of which the former could very well make the encounter much easier. There is also a secret Quad that can be employed at the start of this fight to some effect (which I won't be using here). I'm coming in with 100 health and a green armor. In the video I am broadly employing the strategy described below, but depending on the situation I make some changes to the approach. I am also not a top tier player by a long shot, so some of the runs can be quite messy.

 

I start out by using the Stomper to clear out some of the revs. This is not strictly necessary as the revs actually pose minimal threat during the fight, only providing you with a tail of rockets to keep you moving (which you already would be doing due to the poison gas cloud). I keep using the Stomper, but RL + SSG combo works pretty well too if you can time it well. The important part is to keep right behind the gas wave. The easiest thing to mess up is to panic trying to make a beeline towards the front of the wave when you notice you're falling behind, then getting stuck. You can catch up to the wave faster by moving closer to the centre, but it is very risky. Usually once the tortured souls appear, I switch to plasma. When the first PE wave appears, I dip into the alcove to the grab the megasphere, then proceed to continue when the wave comes back around. Here BFG could do some serious damage should you have it at that point. The PEs were to me the most problematic part, but the issue can be mitigated quite effectively by using either the minigun or the plasma rifle (they're fast enough to deal with the spawning lost souls fast enough to minimize getting blocked). Once stuff clears out it's safer to return to the RL and take out the rest. 

 

I'm in no way saying it's an easy fight, definitely one of harder ones in the map. On HMP the monster count is a third smaller, you most likely have much more ammo coming into the fight. On HNTR, an invul is provided.

 

In any case, thank you again for spending time on the map and hope you found at least some joy from other parts of it.

 

I was actually midway through typing up a more detailed post of constructive feedback when you replied. It starts below under "Final Thoughts". I am not going to apologize for the words I used, those are legitimate reactions, you have to be prepared for those when releasing a product into the wild. People have certainly criticized me, rightly, for a lot of things in my maps which they did not find fun. They were right to do so.

 

No, HNTR is NOT a better alternative. I had no problems with 90% of the fights in the map as they are, and watching John Suitrepee's stream showing off HNTR, a lot of those fights were really, really easy on HNTR. If I can handle 95% of the fights, the problem is not my choice of difficulty, but the difficulty of those remaining fights.

 

You cannot tell me with a straight face that the map up until that point has properly prepared you for fighting 300 Tormented Souls on narrow platforms, so the real problem is my difficulty choice. That's not true. There were tricky but fun fights before that point, there were tricky but fun fights after that point. The fights around the Crystal Key area were just fine, I took almost no damage from the first room, and I unleashed both Cyberdemons and the horde at once, and used the Railgun to nail both Cyberdemons at once, and took on the hordes, and got that on my second try. That was challenging and fun. There's a difference between challenging and unfair, and this map doesn't know when it is crossing that line in a few places.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

I have "finished" Ar Luminae, RC 1. (I was not going to start over once RC 2 came out.) I got 14 of 21 secrets and took over 4 and a half hours. A lot of effort went into this map, and I enjoyed about 95% of the combat in the map. Unfortunately, the remaining 5% completely ruins the experience.

 

It's been said before, but it needs to be said again: No matter how good the visuals in a map are, if the gameplay is bad, then the map is bad. By that standard, this map is bad. The author has fallen into the trap that because it's fine for them, it should be fine for everyone - forgetting that they know the map and can't forget what they know about the map. That's gotten me a few times as well. It's an easy blindspot to miss.

 

I played on HMP. That is described like this:

 

Quote

HMP irons out some of the UV edge and makes the experience more forgiving, while still providing a challenge that should be right at home for players accustomed to playing UV in less challenge oriented maps.

 

"Right at home for players accustomed to playing UV in less challenge-oriented maps". That fits me fairly well, I think. I'm not a fantastic Doom player, nowhere near the best or most experienced, but I like a challenge, and I usually find UV a good experience on many maps - but I do not play slaughter maps. I would not describe this as a slaughter map. Most of the combat is challenging because of its geography or enemy composition instead of throwing hundreds of enemies at you in every fight.

 

I can name only four fights in this map that I did not like, but those four fights made all the difference in the world from a positive review to a negative review.

 

1) Red Skull Switch / Hexagonal Platforms fight

Spoiler

This is the one with the gimmick of the Arch-Viles under crushers which you need to shoot the switches to crush them. The enemies are imps and one Cyberdemon on a platform, and your platforms keep dipping into and out of lava. The optimal solution is to race around and shoot the switches with the pistol, then reload the pistol immediately. Doing this makes the fight really, really easy. The problem is that there are far too many Archviles spawned.

 

It gets very tiresome and serves only to pad the fight out without increasing the challenge or making it interesting. It's boring and takes too long.

 

The author says the correct way is to do that until the column lowers and lets you escape. The author knows the map. Everyone else will not. The slowly-lowering column will be forgotten about because the player is concentrating on not messing up his aim and movement with the constant circular motion. Even if you do remember, if there are still Arch-Viles around, they can blast the player on the way across the jump pads, so killing them is still recommended. The player does not have intimate knowledge of the map and has no idea that they'll stop appearing if the player makes it across and hits the switch.

 

Suggestion: Cut out 80% of the Arch-Viles which spawn. The fight won't be any less challenging, because the only challenge is understanding the gimmick, and once you do, it is trivial. The rest is just tiresome.

 

 

2) Circular Poison Room

Spoiler

This is the one with the gimmick of a room full of rotating clouds of poison and you need to stay in the sweet spot until the timer expires. A megasphere is provided at the entrance of the room. The problem is that the room gets full of monsters who block you, or slow your movement and then you die from the poison. You cannot keep in the sweet spot.

 

I attempted using the BFG to clear the monsters, that was ineffective, I attempted just flat out running and ignoring the monsters, that was also ineffective. There are too many monsters, and a lot of them are fliers who are not affected by the poison clouds, but still like to fly lower and close to the player because that's what Doom AI does. Dying to poison because an enemy blocked you isn't fun. The poison is apparently 15 damage a hit at least. 15 damage a hit. 20 damage floor is frowned upon in many wads.

 

I only took a couple of attempts at this before I put on god mode.

 

The really bad idea was putting in a bunch of Pain Elementals. Pain Elementals are used to create time pressure for the player - they need to be dealt with or else fill up a room full of Lost Souls. This room already has time pressure in the form of the gas. That's actually more time pressure than the Pain Elementals can deliver. Filling the room full of Lost Souls is frustrating, not fun, because it increases the traffic and chances that you get body-blocked and die.

 

As an addendum, I also used God Mode when the Diabolists/Arch-Viles started resurrecting everything. There's too many enemies to take cover, and you can't see very well through the mounds of corpses. However, I might have been more willing to deal with that if the rest of the room wasn't such a pain.

 

Suggestion: Remove all the Pain Elementals from that room. All of them.

 

 

3) Highway of Torment

I cannot say enough bad things about how frustrating this fight was.

 

Spoiler

This is the one which starts with you running along the top of a highway of Tormented Souls to reach a column. That is already a lot of enemies for such a small fighting space, but the author then decides THAT'S NOT ENOUGH. So once you get there, a whole bunch of Hell Knights, some imps, a Diabolist, and a Cyberdemon spawn on that column. While you also have about THIRTY Tormented Souls right on your heels. You do not have anywhere close to enough BFG ammo for that nonsense.

 

The Cyberdemon kill is mandatory because it is blocking the way to a switch which opens up the path along some small columns above the void. When you hit the switch, the wall takes a few seconds before it STARTS to lower. This also spawns in an entire galaxy of inactive Tormented Souls all around the room.

 

Once the wall finally lowers, what's behind it? Another switch blocking the path. You need to hit it to proceed. The switch lowers, and activates the monsters. There are also monsters on the path. Once you reach the end of the path, through Imps, Hell Knights, Mancubi, and Revenants, you get to a platform. There's yet another barrier blocking the way, and another switch. There's a Cyberdemon there. Hitting the switch activates it, and spawns in two MORE Cyberdemons from nowhere, floating in the sky and shooting at you. The barrier lowers extremely slowly. You are FORCED to fight this insane horde.

 

This is a difficulty spike far, FAR beyond anything at all which has appeared in the WAD before. That's too many enemies to deal with. You don't have anywhere close to the BFG ammo to handle this many enemies, and you can't run either, because of all the barriers placed to force you to stay and wait. That's just shows an unacceptable lack of awareness of encounter design.

 

Suggestion: Remove all the barriers and just let players run for the exit if they want. Or better yet, completely delete this fight and put in something different instead. (I've done that sort of thing with my own maps when needed.) At the very minimum, the barrier at the end before the teleport needs to go, the Cyberdemon blocking the switch lowering the tall barrier needs to go, and there needs to be no delay before the tall barrier lowers.

 

 

4) The Final Fight

Somehow, the author managed to top himself on ridiculousness, and not in a good way. But let's start with the first problem: It is not clear how to actually start the fight. Yes, really.


 

Spoiler

 

You need to do a timed platforming puzzle with 3D floors to reach a red switch and a blue switch. You need to hit them both, but it's not clear what they do. It turns out that they open up the doors of a large scenery thing in the distance. You need to shoot the bright blob in the center to start the fight going. - with a projectile weapon (or Railgun), not hitscan, which doesn't work.

 

 

 

There are several problems with this.

  • There are two switches you need to press. Neither of them is actually facing the door.  The door is about 45 degrees away to the left of the red switch and quite a long way off. The blue switch is facing the complete opposite direction. You can hit the red/blue switches in any order. That makes it very easy to completely miss that they open the door. No, author, it is not obvious, you only think it is because you know the map. The player does not.
  • The problem with a map like this full of amazing visual things is that when 100% of the amazing visual things done before were only for aesthetics and visuals, there is no indication that this time it's for gameplay. At best the players might think that the thing is the artifact - I did.
  • The blob does not resemble either something Doom players traditionally shoot, nor does it resemble anything this WAD has trained players to shoot. Nothing indicates that the blob is something you should shoot at, nor are you prompted to do so.
  • You have to use a projectile weapon, not a hitscan (except for the Railgun), so even if you do shoot it, it might not work because you chose the wrong weapon.

Once you trigger the fight, the door closes and a couple hundred enemies spawn in to crowd the platforms. You must then repeat the entire sequence again - hitting 3 switches twice and scrambling around the platforms to get the boss door open again. Only this time, the platforms are full of angry enemies shooting at you and demanding your attention.

 

Once you get the boss door open, it stays open for about 5 seconds, then automatically closes. That's enough for maybe 3 Railgun shots on a small target, while you're standing still and everything is shooting at you. I hope you have crosshairs turned on. Then you need to do the whole thing over again, only now Cyberdemons spawn on the switch platforms. They were pink (weak) on HMP, I don't know if they're always pink.

 

Get the boss to half health - which takes a long time - and a cloud of White Cacodemons appear, which have never appeared before. I don't know how much damage they do, because I had turned on god mode and fly a long time ago.

 

The author claims that it only takes "four cycles" to kill the boss. The author, of course, knows the map intimately and has practiced this a lot of times. They have developed the muscle memory to do this. The author makes the mistake of assuming it will be just as easy for everyone else playing this for the first time. That's not true. The optimal strategy is to grab the Quad Damage and shoot the boss. The author claims you can do that 4-5 times.

 

On HMP, there is one quad damage on the map, at the very bottom, in an enclosed room which will be full of imps by that time. The boss door closes after 5 seconds of being open. So the strategy is to hit one of the red or blue switches, get to the bottom, through the horde of imps, get the quad, make your way up to the first set of switches to start the process of the timed ramp, through the hordes of enemies swarming. That is ludicrous, but you need to do it, because WITHOUT that quad, it takes a lot more shots and cycles. With Cyberdemons blocking the way each time.

 

I know what to do (open up the boss door). I know where I have to go. But there is a big difference between doing that when there are no enemies, and when the platforms are full. That affects your pathing and decision-making. I consistently fall off into the water and teleporter after hitting the second switch when trying to make it across to where the ramps are. It's not easy to focus under those conditions. It's not easy to remember where the invulnerability and soul spheres are in the thick of battle, and there is so much firepower coming at you that they're almost useless anyway. The author knows, they've done this a lot. I can do it on my own maps too. Expecting a new player to know that is not fair (and that goes for my maps as well).

 

Many times in my own maps, I've had ideas that I thought were good, or easy to understand, and they turned out to not work as I imagined once players got their hands on them. Where I thought the players had a point, I adjusted the map. I've sometimes completely removed sections, because I understand that maps should be fun for all kinds of players - not just for Nevanos.

 

Suggestions:

- Replace the use of Revenants with Hell Knights. Revenants are too annoying in this context. It's already difficult enough needing to stand almost still to target the boss without homing projectiles to deal with.

- After taking the first hit to trigger the fight, the door closes. It re-opens once both switches are hit again. The door stays open until the boss hits half health. Then the door closes and the Cyberdemons appear on the switch platforms, the white cacos spawn, and so-on. Repeating the switch sequence opens the doors and they stay open again. Maybe, if you really want, close the doors again once the boss hits like 10-15% health for one final push. Once the doors are open again, they stay open for good. This allows the players to feel like they're accomplishing something because they get to really deal some damage to the boss. The challenge is balancing staying alive and hurting the boss. It's still a challenge, but less annoying and repetitive.

- Maybe add some additional respawning powerups in addition to the one at the bottom, since enemies constantly respawn anyway.

 

Additional Issues and notes:

- Is the vending machine food a permanent upgrade to 300/300, or just a one-time thing. I assumed it was a one-time thing and saved it for later (and forgot about it).

 

- On the way to the green keycard teleport, there is a lava pit with a lift. You need to do some jumps to get to the green keycard teleport. There's a hovering platform, then a ledge, then a gap to the other side. The hovering platform is fine, but the gap there is annoying to navigate because of the momentum you have from the platform and change of direction you need to make. I don't see any gameplay value that gap adds. I'd just make a ledge there connecting the ledge to the cliff.

 

-Why so few teleports back to the ship once in the Yellow Skull area? There are many close together in the start, it feels inconsistent that there are so few later on. Once you unlock a way back to the ship, you can freely get supplies from the first area, so all the lack of teleports does is add tiring backtracking, first to the teleporter, then again from the Yellow Skull door to where you were.

 

- Why does it take so long to get back to the ship after the final boss and artifact? It's just more tiring backtracking. It's especially glaring because you can clearly see in front of you after getting the artifact a zone near the start, from which it would be a short jaunt to the ship. Instead you need to go a lot farther. This just pads out the length, and at this point players are likely tired and want to be done.

 

- Why is the exit above a death pit with spinny things which can knock you off? You've beaten the final boss. You've placed the artifact. The time for platform challenges is over. Looks cool, dying there is only annoying. I didn't die, but it's silly that you can.

 

- I suggest that if you're not making a slaughter map - which for the most part this isn't - that you try and expand your testing roster to people outside the slaughter/ultra-challenge community for a wider variety of feedback and viewpoints.

Edited by Stabbey

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2 hours ago, Stabbey said:

I was actually midway through typing up a more detailed post of constructive feedback when you replied. It starts below under "Final Thoughts". I am not going to apologize for the words I used, those are legitimate reactions, you have to be prepared for those when releasing a product into the wild. People have certainly criticized me, rightly, for a lot of things in my maps which they did not find fun. They were right to do so.

 

There is hardly any "legitimate reason" to use language like you did. I am fine with criticism, and thank you for your more thorough feedback, but calling something "shit" is just being toxic, and benefits nobody.

 

The first thing that needs be addressed that this map contains a lot of fights that you very likely won't be able to deal with on first try, even on HMP. Whether you find this something enjoyable or not is up to you, but practice is required to nail some of the harder fights. And yes, I have intimate knowledge of the map, but ultimately the knowledge required to beat those encounters you mention isn't related to some secret I know about the map, but is deducible by any player that put the time and effort into it.

 

The map has also been tested by people who do not focus on slaughter maps, and while for the most part only the playtesters during development are listed in the credits, there's still some who have played the map on lower difficulties that also don't play slaughter/challenge maps only. Granted, HMP is the least tested out of all, so your feedback is valuable, albeit needlessly antagonistic. I can definitely agree that the HMP description is maybe somewhat optimistic, and will make an appropriate edit to that.

 

2 hours ago, Stabbey said:

1) Red Skull Switch / Hexagonal Platforms fight

 

Again, as I said, what you are supposed to do in this fight is communicated much better in the latest version. Also, the number of AVs is irrelevant to the length of the encounter which is over in roughly 70 seconds on UV, and even less on lower difficulties. The fight was never trivial for any playtester even when they figured out the gimmick, so you are currently an outlier.

 

2 hours ago, Stabbey said:

2) Circular Poison Room

 

I don't really agree with the notion that environmental hazards are supposed to be used in Doom in a specific way, and deviating from that is somehow "bad design". I'm not going to talk strategy since I already provided one. Your concern for HMP is well placed though, and looking at it again on I could possibly drop the PE count slightly, or perhaps the Haedexebuses since they're the most bulky of the bunch. But the area does not get that crowded if you are constantly thinning the herd, and I still don't quite understand how you managed not to find use for 10 ammo for BFG in that fight.

 

Then again, if you say you tried a couple of times and then turned God mode on, that's probably more information that is necessary.

 

2 hours ago, Stabbey said:

3) Highway of Torment

 

The beginning of this fight I can agree might currently be too crowded for HMP, so I will make some tweaks to reduce the number of tortured souls, possibly remove the Diabolist. However the second part of the fight is very much doable. You are provided with two Quads and three cyberdemons to help you deal with the horde, in addition to radsuits that keep you safe from the tortured soul poison. Using the BFG here is beneficial in some circumstances, but not all. When using the Quad, rapid fire weapons against enemies like the tortured souls makes much more sense, and can dissipate the horde much quicker. You can move around the arena using the platforms to keep the enemies busy infighting, and chipping away at the cloud with your plasma / minigun.

 

2 hours ago, Stabbey said:

4) The Final Fight

It is not clear how to actually start the fight. Yes, really.

 

A legitimate concern, but this has been mended in the latest version as I have already mentioned.

 

2 hours ago, Stabbey said:

couple hundred enemies spawn in to crowd the platforms.

 

Not even close. If you want to give an accurate review, try to stay away from needless hyperbole. 

 

I understand why you might not consider this fight fun, because it's not immediately evident how you should accomplish it. You are right that I as the mapper know the strategy involved, but it is not due to any magical hidden information that makes the fight significantly easier and that only I could know. All the pieces are there for you to put together, and it is up to you whether or not you want to. I have had comments were people have reacted such as you have, but also reactions where people have called it one of the most fun fights they've played. Like you, I don't agree with the notion that a fight should require some really obscure knowledge to complete, but this fight is not one of those. Each piece of the "puzzle" is deducible if you put a little bit of effort into it. And while the cacocloud does provide an unpredictable element, on HMP and HNTR there is a simple strategy to dealing with it that is one of the oldest Doom "tricks" in the book - the invul. There is a lot of room to move around, plenty of powerups at your disposal, and once you nail the strategy and build that muscle memory, it will go very smoothly. If you don't like that sort of thing, then I can only say sorry.

 

I'll respond to a few of the additional points you bring up:

 

2 hours ago, Stabbey said:

Is the vending machine food a permanent upgrade to 300/300, or just a one-time thing. I assumed it was a one-time thing and saved it for later (and forgot about it).

 

It is a one-time thing, a super megasphere so to speak.

 

2 hours ago, Stabbey said:

Why so few teleports back to the ship once in the Yellow Skull area? There are many close together in the start, it feels inconsistent that there are so few later on. Once you unlock a way back to the ship, you can freely get supplies from the first area, so all the lack of teleports does is add tiring backtracking, first to the teleporter, then again from the Yellow Skull door to where you were.

 

There are two teleporters back to the ship before the yellow skull key, and then there are two teleports back after the yellow skull key. The latter area is larger, granted, but you have also less need to get back to the ship. I can look into adding a third one, but I don't see much benefit to that.

 

2 hours ago, Stabbey said:

Why does it take so long to get back to the ship after the final boss and artifact? It's just more tiring backtracking. It's especially glaring because you can clearly see in front of you after getting the artifact a zone near the start, from which it would be a short jaunt to the ship. Instead you need to go a lot farther. This just pads out the length, and at this point players are likely tired and want to be done.

 

There is literally a teleport right there if your turn left after returning back from the artifact area.

 

In any case, thank you for the in-depth review, sorry that you ended up not liking the experience. I will do some tweaks based on your feedback.

 

EDIT: Based on feedback by Stabbey, I made some minor tweaks to HMP enemy composition in two of the fights he discussed. The updated file is under the same download link. I also updated the difficulty descriptions to hopefully now much better communicate the challenging nature of this map.

 

Edited by Aurelius

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