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JPL

Pre-release feedback request - Bioshock Arcadia "demake"

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Hi folks. I'm working on something a little wacky - a Doom2 "demake" of a level from Bioshock - and I'd love to hear some feedback from some of the Doom masters here.

The level is still a ways from being release-ready. All the gameplay is in at what I'd say is a solid first pass, but any feedback people have on the balance, pacing etc is most welcome. Please play on "Hurt Me Plenty"; any difficulty tuning I've done thus far has been slapdash.

Architecture and detail wise, the level is a little less than half-done - the Tea Garden, Tree Farm and Waterfall Grotto areas are mostly complete, whereas other areas are very rough and awaiting love. Hopefully it will be clear when you've reached the sections with non-final geometry. For the portions that are done, again I'd appreciate any feedback.

Download link:

http://vectorpoem.com/files/arc.wad.zip

Notes:

- Aside from the custom sky, I've committed to not creating any new art assets - if I started doing that, this map would take me many more months.
- The level crashes vanilla doom2.exe with engine limit errors, but I'm trying to keep it within the scope of "limit-removing port", so no ACS tricks, crazy scripting, slopes, etc.
- Likewise, I'm trying to keep a certain fidelity level with the detail, so no gratuitous hyperdetailing. If the level looks a little retro, that's partly the whole reason I'm doing this.
- I've tried to strike a balance between faithfulness to the original and allowance for the huge level design differences between Doom and Bioshock. I wouldn't be surprised if some people say the level is a bit cramped - this is part of that compromise between making it look like the level it's based on, versus what's ideal for gameplay.
- Similarly, there are a few places where the level's layout and secrets diverge from the original Bioshock map. Call this artistic license. I was the original map's author and in many cases I'm mixing in elements from its earlier development.
- If you happen to like this map, please keep word of it within this post until I've finished and officially released it.

Screenshots:

Tree Farm


Tea Garden


Arcadia Glens (main hall)


Ocean tunnel outside Langford's labs


Waterfall Grotto


Langford's office


Park entrance


Thanks in advance for any critique!

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I haven't played Bioshock myself but I like the style of the screen shots. Why are there so many red skull keys at the Waterfall Grotto?

JPL said:
- The level crashes vanilla doom2.exe with engine limit errors, but I'm trying to keep it within the scope of "limit-removing port", so no ACS tricks, crazy scripting, slopes, etc.

You might know this, but you can use PrBoom+ with compatibility level 2 to test, in addition to any other source ports of interest, as with that setting it behaves just like vanilla but with removed limits. Many ports took code from Boom and will, through testing, lead you to glitches that are crippling in vanilla (limit removing) behavior. Also, the Doom+ mentioned and available on the PrBoom+ page is a patch for (DOS) vanilla that raises the limits, most likely being able to run your level.

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Pretty cool, I could definitely feel where each part of the map was structured off of, and that got easier the farther in I got. However a big part of any map is the music, ambient or otherwise, so I'd suggest finding something bioshocky to replace D_RUNNIN, or even have some of the other members with midi experience compose something for you.

Also, although the architecture roughly follows bioshock's and the texturing is probably the best you can expect of vanilla doom 2, there are some obvious misalignments and at least one door that needs a lower unpegged in the mostly finished areas, I think it's around where the big daddy on the pier-like bridges is. Another aesthetic thing is to put more things in the level; although I get the feeling most of bioshock is kind of abandoned and free run, this map feels like there was nothing there to begin with.

Gameplay, I tried this on UV and I had no problems, in fact I had plenty of health, especially with the multiple megaspheres for just 2 arch-viles and a cyberdemon, all of which I had the bfg for. The early parts are a little ammo lite though, consider putting some extra shells every so often in the first bit or switching some imps for sergeants.

Also the map felt very empty of enemies, which I can understand coming off bioshocks rather small-scale engagements, but doom guy can give a bit more of a beating while dodging things a lot easier. Doubling the imps and zombie numbers would make it more interesting, and parts like the blue key trap could be much more monster heavy. You've got a ton of real estate, use it.

A last bit on gameplay, remove the bfg on UV if you're fine with the current monster count. There is a trick with it that can kill cyberdemons in a little over 2 shots, and besides bfging lone cyberdemons isn't all that fun or interesting. 1shotting lone arch-viles isn't all that hard either. And another thing about the blue key trap is that the arch-vile is facing the wrong way and is probably deaf, making it very easy to bypass, tag block sound on the lines making the wall instead.

Finally be careful of things like this where the monster is in the wall. Also the blue key bars need to close MUCH faster, just reacting to them falling I got under the middle ones. Next in the bar above the wine cellars make sure to raise the ceiling so this wall isn't cut off by sky. You did it right earlier in the level I think you just hadn't gotten to that point in your second sweep. Another thing, when making closets monsters teleport in from make sure the lines of the sector are tagged hidden, it'll stop them from showing up on the map (which you really have to use in this map).

Well I think that's enough bashing of the bioshock designer's attempt at doom mapping ;P

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ArmouredBlood said:
(feedback!)
[/B]


Daamn. This is all great stuff, very helpful - thank you!

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While I don't have time right now to test the map, I can write a song for it if you want. Running From Evil doesn't look fitting for a darker themed map.

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What a remarkable and strange level... I loved it :) Yes, there are misaligned textures, but the architecture is cleverly designed and very different from what we usually see. I don't know anything about Bioshock so all I can do is judge the level for what it is and it definitely needs to be praised for the intuitive design and strange environment! It is fitting backdrop for any good Doom level. This just needs to be tweaked a bit and you'll have a winner. Anything else? Well, personally I wouldn't shift floor textures/flats quite so often. And if so, I'd make small ledges/height differences to make the transition a little more smooth looking. And one last thing: Some places the light differences originate from actual lights or torches. And sometimes there are lighter areas illuminated by... by nothing. There probably is an idea behind it and I just need to understand it ;) Anyway, again, I loved it and I look forward to seeing the finished version.

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Not a bad map. I'll admit as great I found Bioshock's setting to be, I'm always nervous when I hear someone's taken inspiration directly from another game and so on.

Still, I quite like what I see so far. Detailing seems to be working well as is your current texture theme. I was going to mention some of the later HOM's etc, but I now realise those later areas aren't finished yet so you're no doubt aware.

As Armoured Blood mentioned, two imps are stuck: Thing #301 and #302 need moving.

There's also a whole heap of unclosed sectors, but you're likely already in the process of fixing those :)

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Bioshock is awesome. This map is awesome. Ur awesome. I'm awesome by association.

Seriously tho, this map was actually really really good. Very easy to recognise which part of Bioshock it was from. but still felt like a good dooming experience in its own right. The sense of space and design was just wonderful. In terms of criticism, I don't really have anything to add that hasn't already been mentioned. Just making sure to take care of the small things throughout the level. That's about it.

Neat stuff here. :D

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(Sigh) And I'm beaten to another idea.

Those screenies look very nice, though. I'll try to playtest it today or tomorrow. But to ask Myk's question again, what's with all of the skull keys?

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Abyssalstudios1 said:

(Sigh) And I'm beaten to another idea.

Those screenies look very nice, though. I'll try to playtest it today or tomorrow. But to ask Myk's question again, what's with all of the skull keys?


Probably so you don't miss them, and the fact that bioshock has quite a few "collect this many of these 2-4 items to progress" so maybe it's a jab at the people who required it in story ;P

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A good idea for sure, but as has been mentioned I think there are way too few monsters. Unfortunately I don't think I played through nearly the entire level. When I was playing I came across the exit door, over which a bars with a blue key started descending. I was able to get to the door with a strafe run before the bars came down and exit the level without ever finding the blue key, or any weapon greater than an SSG.

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Shaikoten said:

A good idea for sure, but as has been mentioned I think there are way too few monsters. Unfortunately I don't think I played through nearly the entire level. When I was playing I came across the exit door, over which a bars with a blue key started descending. I was able to get to the door with a strafe run before the bars came down and exit the level without ever finding the blue key, or any weapon greater than an SSG.


Oh yeah. I actually forgot to mention this. I walked into that room, watched those blue bars descending, and I thought, "man, I could so have made it past those bars, had I not been half asleep."

Good thing someone remembered.

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myk said:

Why are there so many red skull keys at the Waterfall Grotto?


In the original map, it's a rosebush there, and you have to retrieve one before Langford will let you into the labs. A bunch of red skulls are the closest I could get. Although I do like the interpretation of it being a comment on the number of "collect X of Y" subquests in the original map :)

New version up, with more space decorated, several (but not all) of the bugs noted here fixed, and a few enemy adjustments. If I were you though, I'd wait a bit until I've had time to do a big "beef up overall enemy numbers" pass and upload that version.

Currently experimenting with tech base texture/detail themes in the labs. Does anyone have some good WAD(s) to recommend that suggest the sort of rustic, low-tech but not quite steampunk thing I've got going? Doom's tech stuff is fairly future-computery, and I'd rather have it feel more primitive.

I'll post here when I've done the big enemy pass, that's what I'll be most curious to hear peoples' thoughts on. In the meantime, if you really really care, you can get the very latest from my subversion repo.

I'm leaving on a business trip soon, so no idea how much progress the map will make in the next few weeks. I hope to have it finished in time for Bioshock 2's release next month though.

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It looks nothing like Arcadia.

Of course, the lighting usage and color contrasts are still very, very nice. I like how instead of directly following Bioshock's architectural styles (not like they'd be easy to recreate on the Doom engine), you just pursue the general feeling of the Arcadia level. I like the blueish skybox and the generous helping of GREEN in your textures, though. Will check it out.

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Bugs 'n' stuff ...

1. Sectors 52, 53, 49 flicker, but where is the light source ?

2. There are some areas where two grass textures meet, but not realistically.

3. Wrong lower texture on line 7271.

4. Lines 555, 557, 2186 and 2177 not lower unpegged.

5. Wrong texture for lines 7591 and 7594.

6. Try to find a water texture for the lower of line 1234.

7. The change of ceiling flats from sector 408 to 2062 looks odd.

8. The keen at sector 2319 - what was its purpose, as there are no sectors tagged 666. If you must keep it I suggest making a small sector where keen is, but with a lower ceiling height than sector 2319 - then the noose will not hang in mid air when the keen is killed.

9. Glowing sectors 2365, 2364 and 2332 don't make sense.

10. Missing lower texture on line 11119.

11. Change the floor flat for sectors 2612 and 2601 to FLAT20.

12. Check Y alignment for lines 10916, 10939, 10863 and 10949. Should be -72.

13. Raise the floor height of sector 2122 so that the player can see the switch.

14. Instead of the actions on lines 11424 etc, it would have been better to have them on lines 11366 etc. so the player can clearly see Baphomet before exiting.

15. In gzdoom\zdoom, sectors 2673, 2674 etc. don't change light level, but do with Risen3D and GlBoom+, albeit sectors 2671 and 2676 do not.

16. A monster teleports to sector 56 with no way out.

17. Sectors 1631, 2384 etc. would have looked better with FLAT5_2 as the floor.

18. Upper and lower unpeg lines 2044, 2043, 2042, 2161, 2163 and 2164.

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Hawkwind, thanks! How would I go about finding a specific sector or line #? I'm using the Slade editor, and it doesn't seem to have a "jump to line/sector #" feature, so I'm stuck just mousing over each one of the 1000s in the map... there's gotta be a better way right?

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If you don't mind trying Doom Builder 2, under Find and Replace Mode you can search by "Linedef Index", "Sector Index", etc., among other things.

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Hawkwind, thanks for the bug list. I've fixed pretty much all of those now.

3. There are some areas where two grass textures meet, but not realistically.


Not sure what you mean... examples?

6. Try to find a water texture for the lower of line 1234.


Sadly I couldn't find one in vanilla Doom2. There are falling liquid textures for slime and blood, but not water.

13. Raise the floor height of sector 2122 so that the player can see the switch.


Wow, you found one of my invisible debug switches! Removed.

14. Instead of the actions on lines 11424 etc, it would have been better to have them on lines 11366 etc. so the player can clearly see Baphomet before exiting.


Still not sure what I'm going to do with this. I wanted some sort of surprise at the end, but just turning on the lights on a previously en-darkened icon of sin doesn't seem very cool. So I might wall that off and leave it for secret hunters to find.

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3. There are some areas where two grass textures meet, but not realistically.

Sector 19 and 1671 is an example. The demarcation line 57 looks unrealistic. Put some curves in.

6. Try to find a water texture for the lower of line 1234.

You could modify SFALL1-4 by changing its colour to blue and its name to WFALL1-4 adding it to pnames\texture1 , or "borrow" one from another pwad.

... I could never get my head around slade ...

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Anyone have any feedback on the balance or pacing? I've made a number of small fixes and refinements, and done work tuning the various difficulty levels. Probably getting close a release.

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JPL said:

Anyone have any feedback on the balance or pacing? I've made a number of small fixes and refinements, and done work tuning the various difficulty levels. Probably getting close a release.


It's pretty well balanced. There's some stuff that happens with zdoom vs. prboom though:
-zdoom, with dynamic lighting the torches in front of the houdini cave are obvious
-prboom, those same torches bleed through the floor at certain angles
-prboom, running off a ledge on the right edge to the blue key did not set the bars off, try making that line diagonal vs. straight vertical/horizontal. Could also be not long enough. Putting a pickup just beyond the line can usually cause a player to head for the pickup while still deciding what to do about the door, then the bars close while they're still going 'hmm'.
-the soul sphere secret lift for the cliff face before the yellow key door to the marketplace wasn't working for me in prboom. Not sure what was up.

that's about all I can think of right now.

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It was pretty awesome. I thought there was a lot of cell ammo, though. I've never played bioshock before so keep that in mind... but as a Doom map it kicked ass

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Thanks all. ArmouredBlood, I'm pretty sure I was able to fix all those things in the latest version. I've trimmed back some of the health and cell ammo as well; Hard is still too easy kinda.

I fixed the one secret (back entrance into Waterfall Grotto) not triggering. Are there any areas that people feel SHOULD be secrets but aren't? I know the level too well to know what's hard to find and not.

This latest version also has some creepy new music by PRIMEVAL!

The last thing I might add would be two demos. What's the recommended way of doing these in modern times? Is there a specific port / mode that will produce reasonably widely-compatible demos?

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Listening to the music on FMOD... some of the instruments don't come in at some points, takes away from the atmosphere. And for some reason it won't play when I have SB Live selected. Maybe it's something on my end. Oh well, I'm adding more to the song anyway, maybe it'll fix by then.

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JPL said:

Thanks all. ArmouredBlood, I'm pretty sure I was able to fix all those things in the latest version. I've trimmed back some of the health and cell ammo as well; Hard is still too easy kinda.

I fixed the one secret (back entrance into Waterfall Grotto) not triggering. Are there any areas that people feel SHOULD be secrets but aren't? I know the level too well to know what's hard to find and not.

This latest version also has some creepy new music by PRIMEVAL!

The last thing I might add would be two demos. What's the recommended way of doing these in modern times? Is there a specific port / mode that will produce reasonably widely-compatible demos?


PrBoom would be the best choice.

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Okay, getting pretty close to a release now. Latest version adds two PrBoom compatible demos, a blue-tinted version of SFALL1-3 for proper waterfalls, and a few small fixes. Once I get the final version of the music from Primeval, I'll release it publicly.

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TNT or Plutonia has a waterfall texture that you can borrow.

Ive been playing Bioshock 1 for the last week nonstop, and I was just thinking the other night about the possibilities of an underwater city level set in Doom and how it would be pulled off. Pretty cool to see this.

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Having never played Bioshock more than the Xbox demo, I really liked the atmosphere in this wad. The sky looks a little stupid, but other than that I really enjoyed it. I also kind of liked it not being crammed with monsters

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