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Vordakk

Dark Deity's Bastion - UPDATE: Level released, now on /idgames!

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Hey guys,

It has been a few months since I uploaded Heretic - Call of the Apostate, and it seems I've developed an itch to start mapping again. My aim is to do another map that would have fit in with the COTA maps but a bit larger in scope, to offset the fact that it will be a single map. I've now completed the level and am actively seeking playtesters.

The following are some screenshots, but some areas may have been changed since these were taken.

http://imageshack.us/f/833/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/27/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/685/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/594/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/851/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/11/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/820/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/29/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/546/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/99/screenshotheretic201108.png/

UPDATE: Level Released! http://www.doomworld.com/idgames/?id=16593



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This is great news, and those screenshots look awesome. :)

I have a huge Heretic map in the works, myself. Although I've been getting an urge to convert it to Doom to go along with my megawad, like how AV Map25 did.

To be honest, there actually wasn't anything I disliked about your previous Heretic episode, it just felt perfect to me. From the gameplay, to the architecture, and I'm really looking forward to what you come up with in this one.

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I've not played through your wad yet. It's mostly due to me not having been home for most of the summer. But a few things that I recall as standing out and I wish would get some attention is the following.

A small thing to do really is that you had lava traps that you could not escape. Even though you could survive in them due to there being safe ground down there. Anyway, I'm not a fan of inescapable traps since I am one of those who will jump down holes just to find out if there's anything hidden down there.

The general layout of the maps were rather linear. Not a big deal either, but certainly something you should take into consideration. Try and build scenarios that allow the player to engage them in several different ways.

Other than that, I really enjoyed that you were making a wad that was aiming to compliment Heretic, rather than redefine it.

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@Deathevokation: Looking forward to playing your wad! Keep us informed about when you release it.

@Kristus: The inescapable traps were something that I was always on the fence about. For one thing, both ID and Raven made use of them (not that that justifies it at all). The second thing is that it seems kind of weak to always have a teleporter whenever there's dangerous liquids in a pit. The knowledge that you can escape renders the pit essentially non-threatening. But your point is well taken, especially in cases you mentioned where there was safe ground to stand on. I also jump into pits as well to search for secrets, but I always quicksave beforehand. Still though, minimizing or eliminating the inescapable traps, or at least coming up with a better way to construct them is something that I should work on.

And you are also correct about the linearity. I feel as though linear maps come naturally to new mappers, and only after mapping for a while can a person begin to create successful maps that are even somewhat non-linear. At least that's my excuse for having too many linear maps :) For this map I'm trying to incorporate more non-linear elements, and hopefully the player will at least FEEL as though he can go about things in a number of different ways, a bit like DOOM E1M4.

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Now that I think of it, I agree with Kristus' suggestions and complaints, with the inescapable pit. One thing that keeps pits dangerous is that the whole time your in them, your taking damage. And about the linearity, Kristus talked about different ways of tackling each scenario, this can be as easy as spreading the weapons out, or placing an optional teleport which takes you to a strategic position behind a horde of monsters.

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Vordakk said:

The inescapable traps were something that I was always on the fence about. For one thing, both ID and Raven made use of them (not that that justifies it at all). The second thing is that it seems kind of weak to always have a teleporter whenever there's dangerous liquids in a pit. The knowledge that you can escape renders the pit essentially non-threatening.

Yes, there's a few cases where they do have inescapable traps. Though I think people as a whole should steer clear from including such in their maps.

There's plenty of ways to make a trap escapable and still dangerous/costly to enter. Making the escape teleport be placed in a spot that force you to make a trek through lava for instance is one way of doing that, so even if you can escape a firepit. You are pretty much bound to take damage from it. Something that can affect your progress in the map. I don't play using quick saves. Even though I've been playing your set of maps in succession keeping weapons and resources from previous maps. I don't save during the map's being played.

Here's a tip for making less linear maps. I use this myself a lot when I work on maps. When I plan an area, I try and think of as many ways as possible to make it through said area. Then I build it with these ways in mind. I can't claim I am a great success at doing this. But I try. ;)

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@Kristus: Thanks for the tips, man. I'm going to bear all of this in mind as I finish the level layout sketches. Cheers!

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Small update: I decided to darken things up a bit outdoors, simply because it makes everything more ominous and sinister. A being called the Dark Deity wouldn't have a fortress in broad daylight, would he?

Also, I changed the name of the level to Dark Deity's Bastion. It's more concise and fits better in the map screen :)

And Kristus, I took your advice and was able to implement non-linearity in the level without screwing everything up. Also, you won't be trapped in any inescapable pits :)

Here's some more screenshots which show how the level looks with the new outdoor brightness levels. After clicking on a link, if you click the picture itself you can enlarge it.

http://imageshack.us/f/833/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/27/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/685/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/594/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/851/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/11/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/820/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/29/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/546/screenshotheretic201108.png/
http://imageshack.us/f/99/screenshotheretic201108.png/

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This looks fantastic! :) I really liked Apostate and it looks like you're striving to make this map even better than those. Do you have an estimate release point at this time? I do NOT want to imply rushing, in fact maps are always best if you take your time at getting everything right, but I just want to know what the schedule's looking like.

BTW I will raise one criticism that has not already been raised - none of your wads have skill settings. I'd recommend taking the time to implement them here.

Overall I think it's looking like this map may be to COTA as Teleportation Lab 13 (minus the added hell section twist in that map) was to Phobos Massacre - just one level, instead of a whole episode, but even better quality. :) I look forward to this very much! :)

(To explain the analogy in the last paragraph: Phobos Massacre was a d*mn solid Doom I episode, but Teleportation Test Lab 13 was an even better map IMO, and COTA is a d*mn solid Heretic episode but this map looks like it may top it. Keep up the good work!)

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Thank you MegaDoomer! I totally see your analogy, and it's true that I do tend to spend more time on a level when it's a one-off instead of a part of a larger levelset. And you never know, there might be a surprise or two in this level as well (like in TTL13).

As for a release date, I'd say the level's about 53% done right at this moment. I work on it a little bit every day, but I'm very slow as a level builder. At my current rate, it could be done by mid-September.

You do raise a good point about my habit of not implementing difficulty levels. I wonder if there's a thread or tutorial somewhere which discusses the do's and don'ts of difficulty levels. Of course I could just open up Plutonia or Heretic in an editor and base it on that. Maybe, maybe...

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Vordakk said:

Thank you MegaDoomer! I totally see your analogy, and it's true that I do tend to spend more time on a level when it's a one-off instead of a part of a larger levelset. And you never know, there might be a surprise or two in this level as well (like in TTL13).

As for a release date, I'd say the level's about 53% done right at this moment. I work on it a little bit every day, but I'm very slow as a level builder. At my current rate, it could be done by mid-September.

You do raise a good point about my habit of not implementing difficulty levels. I wonder if there's a thread or tutorial somewhere which discusses the do's and don'ts of difficulty levels. Of course I could just open up Plutonia or Heretic in an editor and base it on that. Maybe, maybe...


You're welcome for the kind words, I fully feel you deserve them! :) And a TTL13-esque twist would make things even better, assuming it's done well. Mid-Sep sounds like a reasonable time for release as it'll give you plenty of time to work on it and try to get it as good as possible. Difficulty setting may not be that important, but I'd start at least giving some thought into including them, even if there's only slight differences between difficulties which would easily be understandable given it would be your first attempt at any type of difficulty implementation.

I'm also glad you agree with my view on the episode versus single map analogy. :) It makes sense, because if there's just one map you want to do all you can to make it stand out on its own - while nine merely good-very good maps is well within the sufficiency range for a full episode. Don't get me wrong, your Doom I and Heretic episodes are definitely well worth playing as well IMO. :)

ps I thought TTL13 was a map that would fit right into PhobMass, except with the added surprise and it just seemed to have a slight uptick overall with quality. I hope this relates to COTA in the same way! (Although, COTA has been received even better than PhobMass was, which makes topping things all the more difficulty, but I know there's still room to do just that.)

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Hey guys, I have beta #4 of Dark Deity's Bastion available, but I need some people to playtest it. Any input is welcome. That means comments on architecture, gameplay, difficulty, item placement...whatever. I could use some external feedback.

If anyone's interested, I've provided a link to the zip below. Remember to read the text file. Enjoy!

EDIT: Level released, /idgames link to follow.

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Sorry for the double-post, but I have made some fixes/additions to the level, bringing it to beta #2, but I still need more playtesters if you have the time. Also I have posted a couple of videos which show small portions of the level in action. See first post for videos and to download beta #2. Thanks.

EDIT: Level released.

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Totally Awesome map, one thing I found wrong was after you get the yellow key. The monster closet with the Disciple Of D'Sparils, two are stuck in corners on torches and unable to move.

Edit*

This was in Skulltag. In GZDoom the Disciple Of D'Sparils were not stuck.

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skaman86 said:

This was in Skulltag. In GZDoom the Disciple Of D'Sparils were not stuck.


Interesting. I've never used Skulltag, but you raise a great point. I should playtest the level with Skulltag as well. I'll be sure to fix that before the next release. Thanks for the catch and for your kind words.

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Just played (most of the way) through and I was having a great time until I got stuck. I'm not sure if I'm just an idiot or something went wrong. I was playing on Smite-Meister with the latest version of GZDoom. Here's some stuff to note:

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i204/UltimateCarl/Doom%20WADs/bast1.png
This Yellow Key trap isn't as effective as it could be, since the "window" here is too short for the Disciples to fit through and they aren't smart enough to go around, so you have a fairly safe little hidey-hole to shoot them from.

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i204/UltimateCarl/Doom%20WADs/bast2.png
Monsters can't cross that "doorway". Is that intentional? It makes this bridge pretty easy to deal with and makes it pretty simple to corral some infighting.

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i204/UltimateCarl/Doom%20WADs/bast3.png
Ducking back into this little alcove makes the Green Key Lich ambush trivial.

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i204/UltimateCarl/Doom%20WADs/bast4.png
This middle torch is a little bastard. I got stuck on it multiple times, both going up and down. Cost me a few hits.

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i204/UltimateCarl/Doom%20WADs/bast5.png
This is an... Odd secret. You can get to it by just falling down. Doesn't seem to secret to me!

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i204/UltimateCarl/Doom%20WADs/bast6.png
In contrast, THIS area seems like a secret, but I'm pretty sure I had to flip the switch in here to progress...

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i204/UltimateCarl/Doom%20WADs/bast7.png
And here's where I got stuck. I got teleported into this area so I couldn't backtrack, but when I got down to these crushers, I saw what looked like a door that wouldn't open by pressing it or anything else in the area or by shooting, or by zooming around as quickly as possible for hidden linedefs. So, I was trapped in the "hell" area before this room, or this room. I ran around looking for switches, teleports, or passageways I missed for a good 10 minutes so I think it was bugged.

General Stuff:
- It's disappointing as I was really enjoying the map. I was at I think 5/6 secrets and around 250-ish/380-ish kills so it's clear this was almost the end
- The challenge is present but not overwhelming, well-paced!
- Time Bombs are everywhere! I guess it's just my personal playstyle, but you might as well not put anything there at all since I never ever use Time Bombs, and I'm not sure anyone else does either. If nothing else, tone them down a lot. I can't imagine anyone using that many (assuming they use them at all).
- The secrets are all kind of obvious, but to be honest I prefer obvious over "shoot this random linedef with no distinguishing features at all", so it's fine in my opinion. Although secrets-within-secrets are a bit tacky IMO.
- Hiding Fire Gargoyles in very dark little cages is a bit cheap. Brighten the cages up a bit so the player at least has a chance of noticing them before they burn our ass!
- Wow. A bit overkill on the Sabreclaws, don't you think? The number of enemies encourages a player to Gauntlet 'em, too, which gets a bit old with their huge numbers.
- I'm not sure if the music is from elsewhere in Heretic or taken from somewhere. It's atmospheric and nice for the first few minutes... And then gets really repetitive really quickly.

Like I said, though, I was really enjoying it! Looking forward to a final version. :D

EDIT: DERP removing image tags, those are way too big.

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Hi ultimatecarl,

To start with, thanks for playing! You've brought up a large number of good points, so I'm going to try to respond to each one as briefly as possible so as not to be long-winded.

1. You raise a good point about the yellow key trap. I had assumed that most people would not figure out that they could hide in that little area and take potshots at the disciples, but I obviously underestimated you and probably many other Heretic players. I will probably address this problem first.EDIT: Fixed by raising ceiling height.

2. The "block monster" line you mentioned next was intentional. There are those lines all throughout that corridor to keep the weredragons in one spot, so that when the player is in the courtyard they will keep attacking him and not run off around the corner. But your point is well-taken; this may be a design flaw that could ruin some of the challenge. I will fix it.EDIT: Fixed. This area is much cooler now BTW.

3. Good call about the alcove in the green key area. Don't know if you realized it but there are 2 distinct routes to get the green key. I was trying to incorporate non-linearity. That "alcove" is part of one of the routes. But again, you are correct that it trivializes the fight and I will fix it.EDIT: Fixed by widening alcove.

4. Sorry about that torch. I may or may not adjust that because I kinda like it. :)EDIT: Fixed torch by moving it back out of the way.

5. I think the secret you mentioned is by far the easiest of the levels secret areas. I sort of like it that way. The player doesn't have to fall down there, but if he does he gets 3 time bombs. Small rewards for an easy secret, I know, but nevertheless it gives less-skilled players a sense of accomplishment (i.e. "at least I got 1 out of 6"). The again, if you are at 5/6, I might not be as slick as I thought with secret areas :(

6. The next area obviously isn't secret, and you do need to visit that room to progress as you said, but I see your point.

7. Ok, let me address your last point about getting stuck. This is very important. To progress here, most people will need to consult the text file, which contains hints about how to defeat the puzzle. The larger issue that you raise is, "Will most people read the text file or will they simply jump right in and get stuck here and get pissed and give up?" If the answer is the latter, I may need to use a script or something to deliver an in-game message to the player. I had hoped that people would fall back on the text file, with its hints, if they got stuck, but it looks like I am being proven wrong. Oh well, can't fault them for it, I myself tend to gloss over text files sometimes too.EDIT: Fixed, learned ACS and implemented special golden switches which run scripts with HUDMESSAGE.

Thanks again for doing this, and let me know how things turn out after you figure out the puzzles. Later.

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"I may need to use a script or something to deliver an in-game message to the player." I believe this will be the best solution. I'll need to play through a bit more before I can come back to you with more feedback. :)

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Well I feel stupid now. :P I remember reading the part about being stuck and checking the readme for hints when I first downloaded it, but I wanted to avoid spoilers then completely forgot about it. That's a tricky puzzle! I'm finishing up the map now.

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Phew, finished. Most of the map I was collecting tons of items but didn't really think it was gonna be necessary to use them, then the last two fights hit me completely by surprise! I had an incredibly hard time with the last fight, but that was mostly my fault because I misjudged the number of enemies remaining and thought that the second-to-last fight was the last one and used ALL of my items (except two Quartz Flasks) during it.

I think the end of the map could do with a teensy bit more ammo for the stronger weapons... I had to kill the last two D'Sparils almost entirely with the crossbow (and that's considering that of the map's 380-ish enemies, I probably caused at least 100 of them to kill each other)! A few more things:

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i204/UltimateCarl/Doom%20WADs/bast8.png
THIS area seems like it needs a secret. I didn't even notice it was THERE until I was scouring the map again for items to prepare for the final fight.

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i204/UltimateCarl/Doom%20WADs/bast9.png
Why is this linedef hidden?

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i204/UltimateCarl/Doom%20WADs/bast10.png
This map secret is bizarrely timed. A map is least helpful when you get it right at the end of a level, though I suppose it could help you find any secrets you missed to prepare for the final fight. Unfortunately I'd already found all of the secrets, so it wasn't helpful. :P Maybe put something else in there so it doesn't feel like a cruel joke?

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i204/UltimateCarl/Doom%20WADs/bast11.png
Phew. 40 of those claw orbs I found AFTER the fight was over. I think I was on 4 arrows and about 110 wand crystals and as you can tell, my inventory is empty. 100% kills, 100% secrets, 100% items. Worth it! :D

I'll have to ditto on the in-game message. Without any hints it's really hard to even fathom that crusher switch's existence, and I don't think any vanilla Heretic maps have any invisible psuedo-3D bridges so that one's a real crapshoot too. Figure out a way to hint this stuff to the player better and you've got a real winner on your hands! I never played Call of the Apostate but I'm sure as hell gonna dig it up now.

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Thanks for playing the rest so quickly, ultimatecarl! I'll respond a bit to the points you've made.

1. You are correct about needing more ammo for the final fight. I'll take care of that.EDIT: Fixed by adding more ammo, also a bit more health.

2. It's very observant of you to notice that hidden linedef. There's another one like it in the "Morph Ovum" secret area. I did this because those lines(and ONLY those lines) would show up if the player pressed himself against those secret areas, even though the door linedefs were marked "secret". I eventually got mad and just marked them as hidden. I don't think it hurts anything so I'll probably leave them that way.

3. Your take on the map scroll secret is probably totally accurate. I don't know what I was thinking other than, as you said, to clue the player in on any secrets that he might have missed. But yeah, the allmap at the end of the level was a crap idea, no doubt about it. I'll fix that.EDIT: Fixed, changed Map Scroll to a Mystic Urn and put Map Scroll in an earlier secret area.

4. I'm going to find some tutorials and teach myself how to do in-game messages in ZDoom, and will include these in the puzzle areas to help the player. It can't be that tough to figure out.EDIT: Fixed, learned ACS and implemented special golden switches which run scripts with HUDMESSAGE.

Well I can't thank you enough for playtesting and providing some great constructive criticism! And if you like Heretic levels that are reminiscent of the original episodes, you might enjoy Call of the Apostate.

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