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Touchdown

Gossip | Update #12 on page3

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Been following this for some time. Looks fantastic so far!

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Gossip Update #9
---------------------------------------


MAP07 soars
Good news everyone! MAP07 is almost completed. Woah, woah... wait a sec. Wasn't my estimate that I'd finish the general construction by May at the earliest? Well, it seems even I can be too pessimistic sometimes. I've been pretty much on a mapping sugar-high this month, doing 2-3 times the expected amount. A great deal of progress has been made and I'm getting close to wrapping it up.


There were some hickups along the way. A certain location in particular gave me a bit of trouble. I was skeptical about it but decided to push through. After about 3h it was almost ready and... I didn't like it. No idea why. Objectively it looked really cool but it was giving me the wrong vibe. So the next day I started from scratch. After another 1-2h I had most of a new version finished. It was better but still not good enough. Something was off. Then I restarted that place again and this time it clicked. Guess I'm just really picky. There are those situations where a location looks completely fine, yet I don't like it for some reason and in those cases I have to keep redoing it until I get it right.


I also made an area using a certain technique which I haven't really utilized in that way before... And you know those moments when you get a cool idea except it's a pain to do? So you're desperately pushing through while screaming "why am I doing this to myself?!" But you know that in the end the result is gonna be better. That was one of those situations. I don't want to spoil it because it's the only instance in the project where I do something like that. Bottom line is it was a pain to make but I'm happy with how it has turned out.


Roughly 20,5k lines were added to MAP07 in February bringing the total linedef count to 40k (fun fact: this month I added more lines to MAP07 than what the level had prior to February). As of right now I'm working on the last bit in the main area. That leaves the final detailing of that place that I've been putting off + the finale. I will definitely be done with MAP07 this month. Maybe even with gameplay if things go well.


This brings me to an important announcement:


GOSSIP WILL COME OUT IN 2024!


Barring some unxpected event outside of my control I really don't see how this project can slip any further at this point. After wrapping up MAP07 I'll spend some time re-balancing and fine-tuning all the levels, then playtesting, soundtrack and we're done. Seriously, there are no excuses on my end anymore. It will happen this year. Unless I die or end up in a coma.


Now, obviously this is very good. However it kind of caught me by surprise. I really did not expect to blitz through MAP07 as quickly as I did. Up until recently I thought I still had a lot of time for all the other aspects like the soundtrack. But it seems that's no longer the case. And that means I need to bring up a topic that I thought was still ways off, except it's not anymore.


Playtesting
I'll be truthful: I don't really know many people in the DOOM community. Or, you know, anywhere else. So I think I have to send this message into the ether. If you're interested in providing some feedback, catching bugs, exploits and such feel free to let me know via a private message.


The playtesting is still a few months away. I don't know how long it'll take me to polish up the gameplay across all of the maps and I'm not comfortable sending out any builds until I'm more or less happy with everything on my end.


Since I've never done this before I have no idea how to handle it. Not sure if I should look for someone specific, how many people I need... or hell, how many people would be interested in helping out. So for now if you're one of them, just let me know. I'll figure out the details closer to the testing period.


Now back to some less exciting stuff.


MAP02 Revision version 5928 Overhaul number 918245322 aka make the pain stop
Since I wanted to do a lore update on MAP02, The Capricious, I went to take a few screenshots and what do you know? There are still things I'm not satisfied with in that one. :/ I said before that this is the map that could probably use a complete rework which I'm really trying to avoid. The main reason is that I don't want to delay the mapset for another year. The second reason is that really in terms of structure and progression everything is fine. It's just that some areas still look kinda bad. So I'm taking a similiar approach as I demonstrated earlier with MAP04 - essentially I'm reworking some rooms from the ground up. There's no point demolishing the whole level and starting over because I wouldn't change the overall design anyway, it's just a visual overhaul. So far I have remade a couple of areas and yeah, it looks good. Here are some examples:


HyvmwqQ.png
Left: old
Right: new
This is the area from the lore update. As you can see it was this weird, boring as hell fork. And those pointlessly convoluted steps, oh my. A good example of a place where it made more sense to just delete everything and make something different. There are a few other places that I will rebuild because there's just not point polishing up something that is fundamentally bad. It's kind of embarrasing to show it but I think now you understand why I have to redo some of this stuff.


tNwafhd.png
Left: old
Right: new
This is a gate in one of the rooms - don't mind the surroundings, I'm currently rebuilding this area. The old design was really stupid - it looked boring but was surprisingly overcomplicated (it's actually way more complicated than what you can visually see). A complete mess and hard to control. The new version is much cleaner, the details and texturing actually make sense. It's simpler AND it looks better.


There's one more thing in MAP02 that's causing me some pain - the lighting. Back when I made that map I was essentially only using the light differences of 16. Later on I switched to 8 to have a more subtle lighting and nicer gradients however I have never fixed it in MAP02. It's not really a huge undertaking but there are some areas that are ridiculously bright so I have to tone them down a bit.


Finally, MAP02 will receive at least one more new area. While this is not the shortest level in the set I actually ended up with way more spare lines than in any other map (MAP07 already has more lines even though I haven't even finished the main construction). So why not extend it a bit? Not like I'll have another opportunity at releasing this thing.


Soundtrack
[hides shamefully in the corner]


No progress in February. :/ I got way too overzealous with making as much progress on MAP07 as possible. You know, it'll be really freaking funny if I end up having to delay the release in order to finish the music... Seriously though, I think psychologically it's important for me to get MAP07 to the finishing line. Once I have all of the maps constructed it'll be a nice milestone in the development. After that I'll feel better about jumping between different things during the final stages.


Okay... full disclosure and a bit of a spoiler... There will actually be MAP08. However MAP08 will be just the classic "it's over" level so that you don't transition to Tricks and Traps after beating MAP07. So it shouldn't take more than a few days to create.


Either way I think at this point I can promise one thing: this is it. This is the final push. No more breaks or putting things off. It's full steam ahead until this thing is finished. Now obviously I cannot say how much longer it's gonna take but I am grinding away every day and I have no intention of slowing down now. There is a freight train at the end of the tunnel. I mean light.


Current plan is this:


1. Finish MAP07.
2. Finish the overhaul of MAP02.
3. Rework/rebalance gameplay across all levels.
4. Do the playtesting.
...and work on music in the meantime.


The best case scenario for March is finishing MAP07, along with the gameplay. As soon as that is done I'll get back to MAP02 and wrap things up there. All of this ideally should be done before May though I silently hope it won't take me 2 more months to get those goals out of the way. Rebalancing will take time. Not sure how long. I'd guess a couple of weeks at best. Maybe I can get the final playtesting started in June? Who knows.


So I guess that's it for now. Back to the grindstone.

 

On 2/26/2024 at 6:32 PM, Ribbiks said:

popping in to say I've been following this for awhile and am really looking forward to its eventual release!

 

Damn, the pressure to make the gameplay not suck has risen significantly just now. 0_0

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Good luck for the final mile! Really looking forward to this one. Love the design of the room with the green poison.

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This looks really cool. GOod luck getting it all done. 

 

And for the record, I like both the old and the new areas that you replaced them with. imho a good sign. :)

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Posted (edited)

Gossip Update #10
---------------------------------------


MAP07 is finished
As predicted MAP07 is now fully functional and playable, though only on UV for the time being. I think it came out really nicely. Not to brag or anything but honestly this level exceeded my expectations. You see, last year was really painful for me. What it meant for the project was that I had a massive mapper's block, barely inching my way forward - if at all. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to come up with anything interesting. Thankfully I've managed to brute-force my way out of it. I think it's gonna be a great final level all things considered.


I have changed my approach to the gameplay balance a little bit on this one. In every previous level I'd always make things too hard with the intention of toning them down later because I've always been paranoid about people cheesing the fights. This time I did the opposite - I made MAP07 too easy with the intention of making it more difficult later. Well, it's not a walk in the park but it's pretty chill right now. I might turn it up eventually but first I need to find the right balance for UV across all maps.


There are many things I could say but that would all be spoilers. I did a couple of... weird things in this level. At this stage of development I feel kind of like a convict released from prison - I do completely random things and I find joy in all of them, regardless of how nonsensical they are. I think this is a good example:


wWZVvCg.png


You're probably wondering what the hell is this. This my friends is probably the most complex boom mechanism I made. What does it do? Well, I cannot tell you because it would spoil things but let's just say I've spent a whole day figuring it out, it has like 300 tags and... it's completely pointless. Seriously, it's just a little bonus that's not important at all. And most people probably won't even realize there's a complex mechanism there in the first place. And to top it all of: it's all for a tiny room where nothing interesting happens. So why did I do that? It's simple: why not?


The map sits at 57k linedefs, which is funny because that means it has more lines that MAP03, MAP04 and MAP06. And here I thought it would be a smaller level. It took me 17 days to make the gameplay for it. Hard to say how long the total construction took. I came back to it in early January and worked on it almost every day. I'm not counting last year because I barely did anything back then. So probably around 3ish months from start to finish.

 

Difficulty
The best case scenario for Gossip is for the difficulty to be kind of like in Half-Life series. HL feels exciting and fun but the challenge is often smoke and mirrors. Even when things are ramping up it's still very managable. My original plan was to have HMP as the default "challenging but fun" / "immersion first" difficulty with UV being far more sadistic for people who like difficult maps. The obvious problem is that 99% of people default to UV anyway so they'd only judge it based on that. Then I decided to cave in and make UV the default setting because I cannot force the entire community to change. I wanted it to be "challenging but fun" FOR ME - for my skill level. However right now I'm thinking that I'm gonna turn it down even more.


At the end of the day I want people who play Gossip to have fun. If you want to hone your skills there are plenty of psychotically difficult levels out there. However I don't want to make it too easy because that would take away from the excitement and thrill. Again, the smoke and mirrors Half-Life style of balance is what I want but I don't know if I can achieve that.


For now I'm gonna keep throwing stuff at the wall and see what sticks.


Unforseen changes
There's been a little change to the project though it's pretty insignificant in a grand scheme of things. Basically I decided to move the finale to MAP08. I did this because I didn't want to hold back on MAP07 AND I certainly didn't want to downscale my plans for the final fight. Trying to cram everything into a 65k linedef limit was risky so I played it safe and separated the two. In practice nothing is changing - except I can go crazy with the finale now because it's on a new map slot.


Just to clarify: MAP08 will NOT be a full map. I'm not making another big level. It's literally what was supposed to be at the end of MAP07 - the final confrontation. In retrospect I think I actually like it this way. MAP07 will be the last "normal" level and serve as the buildup to the final battle and transitioning to MAP08 should make the ending more pronounced and dramatic.


So, as of right now Gossip will have 9 maps - 7 normal levels, the finale and the "closure map" that will serve as the ending and won't have any gameplay.


Plans for April
The overhaul of MAP02 is progressing. I think it's gonna take at least one more week as I keep discovering things I want to change.

 

After that is done I'll begin the "rebalancing phase". I will go in sequence, from MAP01 to MAP06 and basically finalize EVERYTHING, except the difficulty levels. This might go in all sorts of ways. I cannot predict whatsoever how long it's gonna take. A couple of months, no doubt. All the behind-the-scenes / progression-related mechanisms are complete and I don't think anything's gonna change on that front - theoretically it's just rebalancing the encounters and setpieces. But let's be real, it'll be a grind. There are six big levels to go through with dozens of encounters. Some of those will be remade from scratch. I won't even try to make any predictions. I'll just keep working and it's gonna take as long as necessary.


Haven't done anything with the soundtrack yet. I think I'll wrap up the overhaul of MAP02 and then split my time between rebalancing and composing.

 

I will also continue introducing the remaining levels for what it's worth.


I'm taking a slightly more relaxed approach for the rest of the development. I'm still working on Gossip every day but I also scrape away some time for playing other games which I haven't done since December. I'm a bit afraid of burning myself out so Imma slowly work on my to-play backlog in the meantime.


Playtesting

The search for playtesters continues. If anyone's interested or maybe know somebody else who might be interested in catching bugs and providing feedback then let me know.

 

---------------------------------------

 

I think that's about it. The grind continues. Things are looking good for a 2024 release.

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27 minutes ago, Touchdown said:

My original plan was to have HMP as the default "challenging but fun" / "immersion first" difficulty with UV being far more sadistic for people who like difficult maps. The obvious problem is that 99% of people default to UV anyway so they'd only judge it based on that. Then I decided to cave in and make UV the default setting because I cannot force the entire community to change. I wanted it to be "challenging but fun" FOR ME - for my skill level. However right now I'm thinking that I'm gonna turn it down even more.

 

Why not use HNTR or solo net for sadistic difficulty?

 

Alternatively, you could change the difficulty names. Replace UV with something to your liking and then just push everything down the line. HMP would be renamed UV. HNTR would be renamed HMP and ITYTD would be renamed HNTR. This is something I'm doing with my own WIP wad and to fix the problems you are having.

 

Also, I'm interested in playtesting your maps though I may take a while to get back to you because I have a lot going on at the moment.

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On 4/1/2024 at 10:05 AM, Jacek Bourne said:

Why not use HNTR or solo net for sadistic difficulty?

 

Alternatively, you could change the difficulty names. Replace UV with something to your liking and then just push everything down the line. HMP would be renamed UV. HNTR would be renamed HMP and ITYTD would be renamed HNTR. This is something I'm doing with my own WIP wad and to fix the problems you are having.

 

Also, I'm interested in playtesting your maps though I may take a while to get back to you because I have a lot going on at the moment.

 

Actually I did have a few ideas of "hiding" the hardcore difficulty setting. :) Not sure if I should spoil then just in case I end up using one of them. However at this point I think I'm not gonna bother with it and the reasons for this are:


1. While I still enjoy challanging myself every now and then right now I'm far more interested in crafting the kind of experience where fun comes first. Now don't get me wrong. When I say that UV in Gossip won't be super hardcore that doesn't mean it's gonna be easy. I do have a fair amount of UV-Maxing under my belt so my standards for what's "casual" are not exactly that low. But I certainly want it to be beatable on the first attempt and not forcing the player to figure out a specific solution that needs to be executed flawlessly.


2. At this point I want to minimize doing things that would prolong the development for no good reason. I think achieving the kind of gameplay that I want is already a big enough goal. Trying to add a difficulty tailored for hardcore players would require way, WAY more time and playtesting that I'm willing to do. I'd rather leave this kind of stuff to slaughter experts who have a better grasp on how to balance that kind of gameplay.


On the subject of playtesting, well, welcome aboard. :) I'll PM you when the time comes for that. It's still months away but I didn't want to wait with looking for testers until the last minute.

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Gossip Update #11
---------------------------------------


Forever lost in the sewer level
How many times have I said that I'm done overhauling MAP02? I've lost count. Anyway, I'm done overhauling MAP02. For now. I mean, seriously, I will probably do it like five more times before Gossip comes out but I don't care at this point.


My prediction was that I'd spend up to one week of April on the overhaul and then move on. However on the 2nd as I was working on one of the areas I accidentally noticed something in another part. So I tried to fix it but then I noticed another thing. And another. And another. And suddenly the scope of the overhaul has spiraled out of control again. However the straw that broke the camels back was when I've spent about 1,5h fixing a really old area only to look at it... and realize it was garbage. No amount of makeup would make this corpse look any better. I got so angry that I just straight up deleted this area. And... about 3 or 4 other ones as well. Screw it, I'm rebuilding it.


As a result I've spent over half of April doing nothing but redoing parts of MAP02. I'm not gonna say it's over because it probably isn't. However I am VERY pleased with the results. The new locations that replaced the old ones are waaay better. I'm happy to report that this level is not longer the weakest link as all the ancient stuff has been remade from scratch.


A lot of the older locations looked like they were made by a kid who has just learned how to use DOOM Builder. The new versions on the other hand feel like the creation of an angsty teenager going through a raging puberty. Unfortunately I will not reach proper maturity as a mapper before this project is finished... But I guess I'm fine with being an edgy teenager at heart. I mean, come on - we need more angst and edginess these days.


Oh by the way - if anyone's reading this and thinking that I keep complaining about stuff that I'm working on... Some of the things like having to completely rebuild certain locations is frustrating indeed. But it's a good kind of frustration - at the end of the day the final result is better and that's what matters. I'd rather spend an extra week or two and make significant improvements than try to convince myself that things are "good enough".


I was thinking of showing you comparison shots again but I don't really want to spoil any more things. So instead I'm gonna show you the OLD versions that no longer exist! All of the pictures below showcase areas that have been deleted and completely remade from scratch. I'll leave it up to your imagination what the new versions look like.


LT9aDO6.png

FkYlkEH.png

[old areas that have been remade from scratch in the current version]

 


The rebalancing/rework phase has officially begun!
With MAP02 out of the way I was FINALLY able to begin the gameplay rebalancing phase. This is super significant. At this point EVERYTHING is constructed (except the MAP08 finale but that's on hold for now) and I'm ready to start finalizing the gameplay across all levels. This is pretty much the final phase before the playtesting. And obviously the playtesting is the last thing to do before the release (not really but close enough).


As a reminder: while all of the levels have gameplay and progression already in place many parts are essentially "first-pass", especially setpieces. In other words they work but they're not properly balanced. Also - because I've been rebuilding a lot of things from scratch - many areas do not work anymore and I have to redo the progression mechanisms for them. So basically that's gonna be the goal for the next few months - to finalize the gameplay on all levels and prepare them for playtesting. For now I'm only doing UV because I want to get feedback on that before I start messing with other difficulty settings.


There is no deadline for that phase. Levels vary greatly in the amount of stuff that needs to be tweaked or reworked. It'll take as long as it needs. The good news is that once that is done we'll be DANGEROUSLY close to release. Freaking finally.


Since I have finished MAP01 already and MAP07 won't see many changes that means I have 5 levels to tweak. If I were to make a prediction and assume it'd take ~2 weeks to wrap up a single map... that'd still take 2-3 months. 0_0 So as of right now my guess is that the playtesting will begin around August, unless I somehow manage to get things done quicker than that. Still on track for 2024 release but damn...


Anyway, I thought I might give you a more comprehensive overview of the current situation. This is all rather hazy but that's the best I can do for now.


REBALANCING PHASE OVERVIEW
========================================


MAP01
status: DONE!
estimated amount of work: N/A
notes: I've managed to finish it in April. This level is officially ready to go and as complete as it can be at this point. Might add a secret or two if I feel fancy.


MAP02
status: in progress
estimated amount of work: SIGNIFICANT
notes: Due to the number of locations that needed to be rebuild a lot of the gameplay will have to be redone as well. Many old mechanisms have to be replaced with more robust ones.


MAP03
status: waiting...
estimated amount of work: MODERATE
notes: Despite its size I HOPE this one won't take forever to tweak. I'm mainly looking at setpieces here as some of them need to be redone (or at the very least tweaked). As before, some old mechanisms will be replaced. The more traditional, exploration-based sections will most likely stay as they are, barring some minor tweaks.


MAP04
status: waiting...
estimated amount of work: MODERATE
notes: I don't expect many changes to the main portions of this level but one of the big fights and the entire underground compound are back in square one because I had to rebuild them. General tweaks, optimizations of the mechanisms and teleporters. Maybe adding a little nasty surprise, if I have lines to spare? This is definitely gonna be one of the quickest maps to finalize.


MAP05
status: waiting...
estimated amount of work: SOMEBODY KILL ME PLEASE
notes: Oh boy. I am NOT looking forward to this one. This is the longest level in Gossip and the sheer amount of locations makes me dread trying to fine-tune it. But that's not the biggest issue. I'm 99% certain that the entire finale of this map will be redone from scratch because it sucks and the temp gameplay is just not fun. Some of the final bits will need to be updated. This level is problematic because it's literally right on the 65k linedef limit meaning that I can't go too far with the improvements or I'm straight up gonna run out of lines. The concept for this one was too big of an idea for a single map and I'll have to be really careful with it or I'm gonna have to start cutting or down-scaling stuff. Ugh. Oh, did I mention this map takes over 2h to beat? That's gonna be fun to test... Don't get me wrong, I think this one is really nice in terms of gameplay. It's just freakishly long.


MAP06
status: waiting...
estimated amount of work: MINIMAL
notes: This is one of the newest levels so I don't forsee many changes, other than the general balance tweaks. I know there's one big area that will probably need to be reworked because the gameplay is kinda sketchy there. Maybe I can come up with something better. Some minor visual improvements are incoming in several locations. Certain bits will be significantly nerfed because they're not fun. All in all this map shouldn't take an exorbitant amount of time to wrap up.


MAP07
status: DONE (I guess?)
estimated amount of work: MOST LIKELY NONE
notes: Since this one is the newest I think it'll stay as it is for the testing phase. Maybe I'm gonna tweak something here and there but nothing major.


MAP08 [the finale]
status: waiting...
estimated amount of work: SIGNIFICANT
notes: The final confrontation. I haven't started this one yet but I'll build it once I get closer to finishing other levels. It shouldn't take an insane amount of time since this is just the final fight but - unlike other maps - it doesn't even exist yet.


MAP09 [the closure]
status: N/A
estimated amount of work: MINIMAL
notes: A short "you have won" / "it's over" map with no gameplay. Not started yet but it'll be a quick one. This will not be a part of the testing phase at all since there will be nothing to test.


========================================


And there you have it. Still lots of work left to be done but also not really that much when you think about it. Still months away from testing but at least we're on the straight path towards it now. Getting there but it's not over yet. You get the idea.


Soundtrack
At this point the development will slow down as I'm splitting my time between rebalancing and composing. Yup, I'm finally back to working on the soundtrack. I would say I have almost too much fun with it. Right now it's hard to estimate the amount of progress because I'm basically just starting a bunch of small sections as experiments. Whatever comes to my mind. I'll pick the best ones and turn them into full tracks later.


The music in Gossip won't be in your face. I want it to be distinct but not overpowering. So... obviously the first thing I made this month was a high-octane melt-your-face wall-of-sound banger. I'm not sure if I'm even gonna use it for the project but if I do then it'll be the final-fight music as it wouldn't fit anywhere else - you don't really want high intensity music playing non stop for 1,5h. But yeah, that's another benefit of separating the last battle from MAP07 - I can make an action-packed music track for it!

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Gossip Update #12
---------------------------------------


I don't feel like writing a detailed update this time so I'll just give you the essentials.


1. For reasons I won't talk about I can't be bothered to work on Gossip right now (or do anything else, for that matter). As a result I have removed the "coming 2024" from the title. It may still happen but I can already tell where this is going.


2. MAP02 is finished. 4 more levels to go.


3. Some work has been done on MAP03. I've updated the background mechanisms and monster teleporters + tweaked some of the early sections but that's about it.


4. No progress on the soundtrack.


5. If I don't have anything to say next month then you can start worrying about the project. I won't cancel or abandon it but if I can't get back to it this month then it'll most likely suffer an extended delay (again).

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