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StormCatcher.77

Infraworld - Coma Moonlight

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Gorgeous map, StormCatcher! As always I am completely blown away of your ability to create these grand spaces, and the use of advanced features feels like a natural step forward from Hatehammer. This was a much more condensed map as the previous entries I've played (since it was never meant as an individual thing), which I didn't mind at all. It still took me an hour to get through ;P

 

I absolutely love the theme of vertical ascent, climbing higher and higher onto this imposing yet almost ethereal structure. The mix of purple lights with the marble and the medieval is a great combination, with some rooms having a sort of purple Magnolia vibe to them (visually speaking). I was fully in the Quake mindset while traversing this map with all the jumping and ascending, so you definitely succeeded in that aspect. The rune keys, jump pads and other progression elements were amazing, and the effects related to them even more so. I am a huge fan of small details like how the pedestals reacted when you placed the rune keys on top of them. It was subtle, but so damn cool.

 

The map felt to me just like the exploration map I'd come to expect from you, and you delivered something I was thoroughly happy to lose an hour into. The progression itself was unique due to the vertical nature of it, and I am not quite sure if I'd characterize it as linear or non-linear; I do remember having choices in terms of what paths to take, but they always seemed to converge onto a single objective and ultimately wrap around in a satisfying way. In terms of your average player, the progression can be somewhat obscure at times, accentuated by the prominent use of verticality that makes the map much harder to navigate than your run of the mill "flat" Doom map. Sometimes you might find a new path below you instead of up, forcing you to keep track of the areas you've visited in all three spatial dimensions. There were multiple nooks and crannies to stumble onto while wandering around the outskirts of the tower, which I thoroughly enjoyed exploring. I have to mention that not having many shortcuts can make it a tedious climb back up to where you were if you fall (or drop) down, especially if navigation is not your strong suit. This might be a criticism you'll get, but I personally did not mind the exploration heavy approach, and was quite delighted to just wander around, just looking for (and at) stuff. And with all that said about the obscurity of progression, what you accomplished really well was using these unique yet easily identifiable progression elements (like activateable jump pads) which do a lot of hard work in terms of guiding the players attention.

 

Gameplay-wise it relies a lot on warp-ins, and mostly it seems like areas were designed more with architecture and visual aesthetic in mind, instead of housing some specific kind of a combat loop. It worked well most of the time, and since exploration is (at least to me) the main focus of the map, the combat felt sufficiently straightforward to not take away from that. I felt it was significantly easier than Dehydration and Hatehammer, and while there are some nice tighter encounters later on, overall I felt like it could have a bit more teeth. Still, I did enjoy the combat, and the verticality did a lot to make the encounters feel more interesting.

 

A few issues I noted:

Spoiler

- I couldn't seem to get your map running initially, because it always kept loading the RR MAP01. I had to manually delete it from RR so that yours would load instead. Maybe that's just me, but drag 'n drop didn't work for me.

 

- The sector portals sometimes made the sky turn pitch black when viewed from certain angles. I had these issues with Ar Luminae, and they're really hard (sometimes impossible) to pinpoint and fix, especially given the complexity of the map.

 

- By using the rocks to the right and going around the corner, you can make a relatively tough jump to get behind the SSG room.

Screenshot_Doom_20210502_112559.png

 

And you can see the wall is untextured on that side, causing some visual glitches.

 

Screenshot_Doom_20210502_112052.png

 

Using player block lines or just making some obstacle there could prevent player from doing this.

 

- These midtextures should probably be impassable.

Screenshot_Doom_20210502_113720.png

 

- The "pit" back to the starting area seems to have this visual glitches when viewed from below, possible having to do with portals?

Screenshot_Doom_20210502_120840.png

 

Overall it was a great adventure, thoroughly enjoyed it, and as always looking forward to more StormCatcher stuff!

 

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@Aurelius Wow, I am very glad for your attention. And thank you very much for such a detailed positive review!

The best part is knowing that the map can bring a positive experience, and that I still managed to convey the verticality of Quake. Most of all, I was afraid that players would getting lost and waste time or misunderstood map mechanics, but it seems that this is not a problem, at least for an experienced player.  And I'm just glad that everything works as it should...
 

Speaking of teleports, returning  player to a place nearby from falling, then ... it was difficult to set them up and it is not ideal everywhere. I was hoping that on a large map, players would prefer loading from save rather than walking back. 
 

You are absolutely right about architecture and gameplay. I know almost nothing about rules of good gameplay and am used to creating it at the very end of development, fitting it into ready-made rooms. So it was this time. Here I made no attempts to come up with the geometry of the map for a specific combat scenario, gameplay is born in development flow. The battles were additionally simplified, because on my old configuration (AMD Athlon II X2 \ Gigabyte HD 7770) there were serious problems with frame rate and I deliberately wanted to save players from unnecessary headache.
 

Looking at the shots, I immediately noticed that the sky is from a completely different map. And this is weird... At startup, I just use the shortcut with the parameter -file maps\*.* +skill 3 +map map01. In the "maps" folder there are RR_RC1.pk3 and RR_RC2_ComaMoonlight.pk3 and everything works as intended.
 

I completely forgot about these flickering portal-related artifacts, but alas, I don't know how to fix them.
As for the rest, I will prepare an update tomorrow.
 

Edited by StormCatcher.77

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For those who wonder what's the song of the map, it's Moonlight by Darkhalo. (I know this because I helped the fella to put the song after testing the map).

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It was quite a nice playthrough! I liked the verticality and the fluidity of how you went from place to place. The only issue I seemed to note was in this hallway, the square grates in front of the lights are not impassible, so you can kinda phase through them, just an oopsie.

 

Screenshot_Doom_20210506_150311.png.722f274bff6b4c2894b92f1bd828ff7e.png

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And first update is ready! Most importantly, the map now does not require additioal resources to work.
There is no need to download a huge build anymore. Everything you need is collected in one 4 mb file.
Same link to download. Also in the near days, map will appear on \idgames and ModDB.

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Gave this a spin yesterday, and I can only echo what @Aurelius said - it's a damn fine map. It's not very often you see a Doom map with verticality explored to this great an extent, and that alone made it feel refreshing. I really liked the thing you had going with the jump pads and the buttons that activate them - they served the vertical nature of the whole thing wonderfully, and seeing the buttons from afar and figuring out how to get to them was always a fun time. Speaking of which (sort of), I also have to admire how the map always felt like it loops back around itself in a sense, with the paths seemingly branching out from the middle. And of course, the visuals are nothing short of gorgeous. General gameplay on HNTR wasn't too difficult but still provided a few thrills.

 

I really have no complaints when it comes to the general structure of the map - the only issues I ran into were the visual glitches that Aurelius already mentioned. Also happy to report that the map maintained a largely playable framerate for most of its duration on my laptop.

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Having just finished up Refracted Reality, I just had to play this next. Echoing others' sentiments, very vertically well made level with surprisingly easy combat. Can definitely be a bit confusing where to go, but I got a good idea, find glowing pads, find rune keys, use bouncy pads (gotta say that they are a bit iffy at times to use. I think there were a few mods that allowed you to change your momentum when using bounce pads, but can't remember their names, might be worth looking into though since these pads don't allow you to change momentum mid-jump). Things certainly startled me in a number of ways, a few enemies teleport right in front of me at rude times, but most were demons and weren't that tough. I don't mind it being easy at all. An easy map that looks great is better than a hard map that looks great!

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Here's a playthrough of this map (recorded and uploaded prior to your update):

 

 

 

I absolutely love this map. It's so impressive from a technical standpoint, but showcasing "how cool I can make it look" doesn't get in the way of (or come at the expense of) fun gameplay. I did think it was on the easier side, but it never came anywhere close to dull. There's so much fantastic interconnectedness which makes exploring the map a great experience, and that's before we even start talking about the verticality. It's great how fights could "flow over" into other areas, or maybe rather that there isn't always a clear delineation between areas which makes the combat this nice blend of incidental + arenas.

 

This really reminds me of AMID EVIL for some reason and how the scope of some of the maps in that game could just blow you away. Climbing the tower and taking a second to look out at the expanse is kind of breath taking. From a gameplay perspective, there's also something to be said about how effectively the progression is signposted despite its more open and atypical (for Doom) layout. I mean, I did get lost a few times, but not in that classic Doom "okay I hit the switch, now what?" way. I particularly like how a soulsphere is used to get players to realize the presence of a jump pad that has the dual function of allowing you to retrieve the powerup, but also is necessary to get to the next area.

 

I know this has been a bit rambley, but I can't understate how much I enjoyed this map, and it's a shame this hasn't gotten more attention (at least in the form of comments). 

Edited by LVENdead

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I can’t hide that I’m insanely happy with this feedback! Another positive video in my collection. Very grateful to you, @LVENdead And thanks to everyone too! I will only mention again that the gameplay was deliberately simplified in order to make life easier for players with weak PCs. 

In addition I want to show an early map prototype (at the end of May 2020) that has returned from oblivion yesterday. I accidentally deleted all backups, but the archives of old correspondence helped out ... It was a turning point when I started deleting / moving locations in order to cope with the critically low frame rate. If the map remained in its original layout, it gave the player at least another 30 minutes of gameplay... and alot of platforming...  so maybe after that changes it only got better.

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Spoiler

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Edited by StormCatcher.77

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7 hours ago, StormCatcher.77 said:

I can’t hide that I’m insanely happy with this feedback! Another positive video in my collection. Very grateful to you, @LVENdead And thanks to everyone too! I will only mantion again that the gameplay was deliberately simplified in order to make life easier for players with weak PCs. 

In addition I want to show an early map prototype (at the end of May 2020) that has returned from oblivion yesterday. I accidentally deleted all backups, but the archives of old correspondence helped out ... It was a turning point when I started deleting / moving locations in order to cope with the critically low frame rate. If the map remained in its original layout, it gave the player at least another 30 minutes of gameplay... and alot of platforming...  so maybe after that changes it only got better.

0001.jpg.ef1b2569e46c222722a7d61eb2ab3fb1.jpg

  Hide contents

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0003.jpg.ddbbc2cd2797723750fb327da281e3b0.jpg



 


Once again, I really like the look of this. Continue.

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What a triumph this level is, StormCatcher. Thank you so much for making stuff like this and giving it to the community. Here's a video of a playthrough with a load of stream of consciousness thoughts, a couple of bug reports and -sad to say- me getting a little bit confused about progression on the third layer. But it's all good, in fact it's quite amazing what you've pulled off! Cheers.
 

 

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I remember drooling over screenshots of this map as you would post them during development, and I’m thrilled to have finally gotten the chance to explore it firsthand. I’ve just played it the one time so far, and it took about 50 minutes, with 100% kills, 88% items, and 4/7 secrets.

 

Whether it was the compact and intricate use of vertical space, and surprisingly straight-forward progression, or the temperate pace of combat and heavy focus on exploration, this is one of those rare UDMF / gzdoom levels that seems genuinely more interested in just creating an incredible “sense of place”, and it was an absolute pleasure to journey through. The way the entire temple is structured is quite ambitious (and more than a little inspiring), matched perfectly by the purples, greys, and blacks, and that gorgeous sky looming in every direction. The extra attention to detail with dynamic lights, crumbling brick walls and pathways, and the distinct layers of the temple materials, were a treat. This was clearly a singular “vision”, and hats off to you for bringing it to life.

 

I really enjoyed the pacing, both in terms of combat and overall progression. The quiet drip of monsters in that opening crawl through the lower cavern was nice, making the chainsaw a practical choice for saving ammo (despite ammo quickly turning into a non-issue for the rest of the level), and giving me a chance to soak in the surroundings. The fact that the map never actually escalates into any serious, ball-busting arenas or cruel traps, came as a huge breath of fresh air, and the environment is precarious enough to turn a generally banal troop of enemies into an exciting encounter. This is the kind of thing you do well, but combining it with the incredible use of 3D space and verticality here was excellent.

 

Turning the simple feat of “ascending” the temple into the primary source of progression, trading keys/locked doors for activated jump pads/lifts, was a fun bit of variety – but, the addition of exploration and hidden routes were the real gem for me. Snooping and leaping about, finding rocky ledges and hidden supplies, secret powerups, bonus fights, and unexpected access points to various sections of the main building, was such a rewarding experience. Even just for the chance to glimpse your gorgeous mapping on display from a random perch, it always put a huge smile on my face. I managed to get lost a few times early on, when I’d accidentally fall into the void and teleport somewhere (and not always somewhere I’d been yet), but it never took me very long to get my bearings again. Considering just how impressively compact the level actually is, creating sound blocking zones must’ve been a tremendous nightmare for you, haha.

 

Other than running into far more shotgun shells than I actually needed, and not being overly crazy about the choice of music, there was little for me to nitpick here. I didn’t run into any bugs or major visual issues, apart from the main section of the map “popping” in and out of view off in the distant sky of the starting/exit area, though I’m not sure there’s anything to be done about that. The sound effect that gets played when HUD messages appear on screen might be worth swapping out, for something that fits the atmosphere a bit better, but that’s far from being necessary.

 

I’m at that point now where I know that I’m pretty much guaranteed a great time with a Stormcatcher map. You’re incredibly talented. Thanks for this adventure!

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@Jacek Bourne I just drew it myself, it's pretty simple. It seemed to me that this would make the job easier, but now it doesn't seem to me that it is ... I have not seen anyone else use placeholders like this. It's quite stressful to start texturing without seeing the final visual range of the map in your head. But in this case, in the end it turned out with dignity ...

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19 minutes ago, StormCatcher.77 said:

@Jacek Bourne I just drew it myself, it's pretty simple. It seemed to me that this would make the job easier, but now it doesn't seem to me that it is ... I have not seen anyone else use placeholders like this. It's quite stressful to start texturing without seeing the final visual range of the map in your head. But in this case, in the end it turned out with dignity ...

It seems as if it would be great for concept testing maps unless you would rather use doom2 textures.

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The new update is ready:

- added a jumppad at the end, which allows you not to go back through the whole map if you missed last rune
- fixed broken light on torches
- overall map brightness is increased
- fixed graphical artifacts with polyobject at top and wells
- now falling into a big hole in the lower tier of map center is guaranteed to teleport player to surface
- fixed missing textures and misaligments
- added sound of rune pick up

The map has also recently been spotted by Jimmy on his stream.
Most of the fixes are based on his feedback:
https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1023756467

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Not to say what you should do or anything, Storm, but a small mapset with more maps like this...that'd be somethin to see for sure man. This was a masterpiece.

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The automap of this level looks like a CAD diagram made by an absolute madman. One hour+ in, back at the start, not sure where to go, but still somehow loving it. Great map with a wonderful atmosphere.

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