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MajorRawne

Nightmare in Spiderland: Alpha Playtesters Needed!

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Hi everyone, I need people to look at my Panophobia Project map. This has been an unending pain in the arse to complete. The entire first area, up to the Masterminds, is finished except for detailing.

I need any and all comments, every feedback comment will be gratefully received, even if you tell me it's a piece of abominable crud.

The map:
http://www.mediafire.com/?w3g7g123gt97k0a

The music:
http://www.mediafire.com/?o16loz310uor306

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I had a look around. It's clear that it's in what they call the 'sandbox' vein, albeit with some asterisks involved. It's hard to say anything too sweeping just by looking at what is essentially a fragment, but I guess a few particular comments spring to mind. The first, and simplest pertains to the automap: I think the preexisting text callouts on the map give the proceedings some welcome personality, but it seems awkward and counter-intuitive that they are initially visible on the map while initially pointing to 'nothing'--if you're going to take this tack, I think it would be best to just simply give the player a map pickup from the beginning, flagging lines hidden where necessary to prevent them from being able to see anything you'd rather save for a surprise. This would give the map a sort of 'adventure' feel, I'd warrant.

Generally speaking, I think the arachnatrons are deployed effectively, although I might suggest either placing more of them directly on their intended positions (perhaps flagged deaf where applicable) or introducing them to battles in a number of different ways (e.g. closets, teleports, fast-raise floors, etc.) over the course of the map--the insta-pop thing is fine and dandy when used sparingly or when there's a sort of cohesive in-map logic to it, but when it happens all over the place it can tend to wear a little thin and be somewhat deleterious to immersion. That said, this kind of wide open space with irregularly-placed cover is a good environment for them to do what they do best (read: act as high-pressure mobile turrets), particularly when they're arranged so that there's a persistent threat of being caught in a deadly crossfire, as in the opening area. This also goes well with the way you've placed the ammo/supplies in small amounts all throughout the terrain, encouraging the player to stay on the move and be aware of his/her surroundings, rather than simply finding a spot to camp/snipe.

The masterminds, though, I'm not as sure about. Theoretically they're dangerous in the same general types of situations as the 'trons, particularly when it's not really likely the player will be well-armed enough to simply kill them on first contact--for example, the masterminds in the blue key area or the one at the back of the 'ruins' area would be trivially easy to dispose of from long range if the player had a healthy stock of rockets or plasma--so that's another point in favor of the supply distribution style you've adopted. However, I think I see a potential problem in that the masterminds apparently always come in pairs, and are always directly placed: those appearing together in terrain like that around the blue key will infight with each other at the drop of a hat, trivializing them; those appearing together in terrain like the ruins area are far less likely to do this because there are so many fewer firing angles available, but are also far less effective at pressuring the player for the same reason. I might suggest using them singly more often, or if you wish to have more than one in an area, you might introduce them at different times--for example, you might have one placed in the blue key area at the outset, and then teleport in the other one (or more!) when the player actually takes the key. Again, I'm speaking more of the map as a whole, here--I don't reckon it's a big deal if there's a scenario or two where the spiders just tend to kill each other in the map, but for my part it's not something I'd want to see over and over again through the duration.

Perhaps the biggest issue I have is that, for a map that has so much open space and is so apparently willing to allow the player to visit areas in the order of his own choosing, it is surprisingly rigid and restricting in terms of how it must be navigated. In Doom, open spaces with constantly varying topography like this are prime real estate for tearing around every which way at top speed, but even in this small sample of the map (particularly in and around the starting area) there are a disproportionate number of one-way drops, which essentially makes the layout feel more like a circuit or even a rail-shooter than a free-play sandbox--far from ideal in a map of this type. This also indirectly poses an issue for players who like to kill everything (e.g. like me), in that while there seems to be just enough ammo to do so provided one is not wasteful, the process of not being wasteful will involve leaving bullet boxes and the like behind for later use. Thus, returning to get this ammo later will tend to involve tediously running the whole 'circuit' again, which will add a lot of dead air to the playtime and really impress upon the player that the map is not as freestyle as it may seem on the surface. To some extent this could probably be mitigated by having a backpack available early on (in fact, I heartily suggest that no matter what other changes you make to the map), but I think it would be best to open most of the map up and make it so that most points in an area can be reached by more or less traveling directly to them, with the caveat that it would seem natural and reasonable for some of the really important items to be more difficult/inconvenient to reach.

On a more general aesthetic note, visually it mostly seems reasonable enough to me, although it clearly needs more polish--there are a lot of texture misalignments (mostly concerning the tan rock texture that makes up most of the perimeters and boundaries between areas) and a few lighting anomalies. I also felt the ruins area was an eyesore, to be honest--you might consider using a different texture for the ruins themselves, like the small-brick tan masonry (think 'Inmost Dens') or something like that. One thing I do quite like, however, is the way attentive players can catch glimpses of other areas from points where they cannot be directly accessed, or glimpses of scenery outside of the actual playable space--stuff like that helps to give the setting a feeling of depth.

Good luck moving forward. I think that the Panophobia concept in general is an intriguing idea for a mapset, and I look forward to seeing how it turns out.

Edit: Oh yeah, the cell pickup closer to the head on a stick on the little green mound in the ruins area is effectively unreachable--needs to be closer to one of the edges.

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Holy crap, that was some of the best feedback I've had for anything! Thanks very much for your input.

I'm glad you like the deployment of monsters at the beginning. I didn't feel the pop-up was excessive, but can see why you did, so I will remove a couple of pop-ups and just have the Arachnos placed ready to fight.

I struggled with how to introduce the Masterminds so I went for a huge valley with two Masterminds for a kind of awe-inspiring effect.

I sometimes struggle with teleporter traps as they sometimes just don't seem to work, which is why the Masterminds are all placed normally. I will work at this because you're right, all they presently do is kill each other.

Some of the textures just don't seem to align properly, normally around corners, but I haven't even started trying to fix this yet.

The backpack was not given as it meant the player couldn't amass tons of ammo and make a sniper camp - he had to move around and look for supplies. I'll put a backpack in and see if this improves gameplay flow. Good idea on the computer map.

I will create better interconnectivity. This is an issue with my maps which tend to be large, open environments that end up leading the player down a single correct path; I struggled with this in Temple of Forgotten Gods which is my "fear of water" map. However the design of Spiderland is such that this will be a pain in the arse.

The original Spiderland map was so big it has now become three different maps, all for the Panophobia megawad: Welcome to Hell and Nightmare in Spiderland pts 1 & 2.

CURRENT MAP OUTLINE:

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Just wanted to say that that map is amazing, and quite humourous. Love the organic look of it. Is that from some sort of custom SLADE3 setup?

Also, a little tip. Maybe you don't need it. But, if you're going to put an Computer Map on your level, and you still want to keep a clean looking automap, then you're going to have to mark a lot of lines as 'hidden.' Although sometimes I think I'm the only one who appreciates a tidy automap, so maybe it isn't that important to most players.

Anyway, cheers!

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Thanks gents :)

Work is proceeding more easily than expected. The ruins look amazing now I switched to a brick texture instead of the black tech texture and it's quite easy to make little shortcuts from one area to its neighbour; a little bridge raising here, a wall opening there.

Spiderland part 2 takes a similar approach to the hand-written automap theme but the location names are more hellish.

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