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Hexen meta-discussion

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I'm finally wrapping up my DM megawad so I'm choosing my next project. I think it'd be fun to do a Hexen hub with some limit-removing elements (though admittedly I'm not familiar with the limits). It was definitely my favorite FPS back then that wasn't Doom. Anyone have any input on their experience with Hexen mapping, or what they want to see in a Hexen map?

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As far as the original games are concerned, Hexen is my favourite Doom-engine game. It's got a lot of warts but it still holds up IMO.

The first thing that comes to mind is that Hexen isn't really designed to be a hard game. You can certainly make it harder than the original levels, but any time I've seen someone try to make a really hard Hexen map or maps it turns out either extremely tedious due to constant monster fighting, or it's just unsuccessful because with the 4th weapon, an Icon of the Defender, and some Kraters of might, the player can get through almost any single encounter.

The second thing is that "puzzles" or switch-hunts as they tend to be are OK if you add some direction. The second and third hubs of Hexen are pretty good for this, while the first is quite bad and puts a lot of people off the game completely. Actual puzzles that require some thought are cool too, as long as they're not too hard or completely optional.

This is all assuming you're trying to make a game in the style of the original levels, more or less.

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Is this DM or SP?

Anyway, it would be neat if these optional puzzles gave you early access to weapons, or for easier puzzles, just a bunch of those purple health vials.

I too loved HeXen. Recently finished it in co-op and it was a hoot! Wouldn't mind going through something like it again with some friends.

EDIT: guh, phone made a mess of my post. Damned auto-correct...

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I too am quite fond of the original Hexen (let us not speak of Hexen II....), and have always wished there would've been more user-made hubs available. It's not a game that lends itself well to single-map format, although that's the route the majority of PWADs available for it take. There are some nice user-made hubs (most recent one I remember was Matt Tropiano's 'Scourge of Viscerus'), and apart from the piss-poor final map, I felt that the commercial expansion 'Deathkings of the Dark Citadel' was quite well-done from a map/hub design standpoint, as well.

The thing with Hexen, I think, is that due to its relatively limited armory and bestiary, it's difficult to achieve the variety and detail in combat encounters that one can in, for example, a game like Doom II. In Doom, you might be able to load a player up with the entire armory in the start room and still make a fun ride out of the map, since there are so many different ways you can use architecture in conjunction with the many different highly idiosyncratic patterns of monster behavior that the game offers, but in Hexen that's probably a recipe for a sloggy 'janitor' map.

No, in Hexen, I think what you've got to lean on is a very detailed feeling of progression and exploration, rather than on fast and furious combat at every turn (although if you can cook some of that up I certainly wouldn't complain). Choosing when to introduce a new weapon, a type of enemy, or a consumable inventory item is a very serious matter in this case....a lot of the original Hexen maps have the same problem Heretic did (albeit to a lesser degree), where there's such a glut of inventory items that it's hard to find relevant uses for many of them, which eventually results in your having such a backstock that it's hard to keep track of it mentally, making you even less likely to make use of them. Something I'd like to see a Hexen hub(set) do is place items in such a limited quantity and in such a way that I would really come to value them and the benefits they afford, thereby taking advantage of some of the depth the game has that the original maps don't often capitalize on.

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I think HeXen is a great game, like everyone else.


Something that I have wondered about is replacing the artefacts system.

For instance, each spell is acquired and used like a weapon (i.e there's a 'spellbook pickup' of some sort that grants you the 'Quartz Flask spell', another the 'Mystic Urn spell' etc). They could all take ammo from a new shared 'ammo type' (or maybe even take blue and/or green mana) that them either recharges slowly, but automatically or is replenished by 'ammo pickups', that potentially could come from defeated bad guys.

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I think the artifacts could be better-placed with regards class-types. For example, I abuse the shit out of flechettes the most with Cleric, more so than Fighter or Mage -- but need to heal the least with Cleric compared to the damage-sponge that is the Fighter.

I mentioned discs of repulsion; I literally only get use out of these things as Fighter, versus hordes of centaurs - to give me a bit of breathing space.

I'd like to see this kind of thinking. Though, it may take some real hardcore testing/balancing.

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Vermil said:

Something that I have wondered about is replacing the artefacts system.

For instance, each spell is acquired and used like a weapon (i.e there's a 'spellbook pickup' of some sort that grants you the 'Quartz Flask spell', another the 'Mystic Urn spell' etc). They could all take ammo from a new shared 'ammo type' (or maybe even take blue and/or green mana) that them either recharges slowly, but automatically or is replenished by 'ammo pickups', that potentially could come from defeated bad guys.


This is an interesting idea in the general sense, but would change the game a fair bit. I think most people agree that Hexen has flaws, but few seem to agree on how to fix those flaws. Personally I prefer to see levels that just deal with Hexen as it is, rather than try to fix its problems, because as flawed as it is it's certainly playable.

As for that specific implementation, I'm not too fond of auto-recharging anything unless there's a penalty for waiting besides boredom, and Heretic 2 did the "all defensive items on one mana" thing to its detriment IMHO. But I don't mean to be too hard on you, I know you're just throwing some ideas out there.

Jayextee said:

I think the artifacts could be better-placed with regards class-types. For example, I abuse the shit out of flechettes the most with Cleric, more so than Fighter or Mage -- but need to heal the least with Cleric compared to the damage-sponge that is the Fighter.

I mentioned discs of repulsion; I literally only get use out of these things as Fighter, versus hordes of centaurs - to give me a bit of breathing space.


I use flechettes quite a lot with the fighter, since they serve as a ranged attack. The mage, not so much, though they're OK for dealing with centaurs. Discs of repulsion are pretty situational, there are times when I won't use them for a while only to spam the heck out of them later on, like in cramped corners, or ledges where you can push enemies off. They also make the Cleric boss super super easy :p

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In regards to the artifacts, I would suggest that you reserve them for secrets, or at least tricky 'optional' areas, and that each artifact is placed near (before) the 'encounter' it is intended on being used for. This creates a dynamic where A The player gets the artifact and uses it during the encounter, B The player gets the artifact but is skilled or lucky and does not need it to beat the encounter, C The player misses the artifact and struggles through the encounter, D The player misses the artifact but is skilled or lucky and passes the encounter regardless.

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I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Hexen, though I don't play it that often anymore (especially compared to Doom). For me, the fun in Hexen was the exploration, the puzzles, etc. Combat is not that good - each character only has 4 weapons, and mana could be very limiting in some areas. When I think of the combat in Hexen, I usually think of killing a horde of 10 ettins one at a time by sitting back and punching or hitting them ineffectually with that horrible Mace of Contrition. (I'm convinced that's why they gave the Cleric the best - BY FAR - flechette).

My personal way of "fixing" Hexen would be to make the weapons do more damage and/or add more of them, but that's somewhat complex for wanting to make a mapset. Nothing wrong with just making a base Hexen mapset (there's definitely not enough of them), I would just say be careful not to overload it with enemies.

let us not speak of Hexen II....


What's wrong with Hexen II??? Though maybe I'm just a sucker for the setting(s)...

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Magnusblitz said:

What's wrong with Hexen II???

I frequently hear from H1 fans that H2 is bad. Although most of the nitpicks are rather far-fetched. The engine is very different, maybe that's the reason.

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both hexens are pretty cool, but I can see why fans of one wouldn't necessarily like the other that much.

The only thing I really don't like about Hexen 2 is that Thysis becomes "Egypt" in the name of puzzle items. That's just appallingly lazy. Pull yourself together, Hexen 2.

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There are a lot of things I don't like about Hexen II, and I guess a couple of things that I do.

As far as the things I don't like much, the way the engine fits the gameplay is definitely one of them. A lot of the weapons (especially those of the assassin and the guy that had the 'ice mace') feel plastic and ineffectual, movement has a strange 'floaty' feel to it, etc. There are golems in the game, and as one would expect, they're big, slow, and lumbering, with a distinctly artificial impression to their movements; their main asset is that they have a lot of HP and so take a while to kill. Problem is, that pretty much applies to the majority of other enemies as well, to a greater or lesser degree. As in most other QII engine games, it's rare to face more than 2-3 enemies at once, and what we tend to see in Hexen II over and over again is the same small handful of enemies in the same two-three configurations repeated ad nauseam, with the only real variations occurring between the early hubs (archers in Blackmarsh vs. werecats in Mezaera vs. mummies in Thysis). Apart from the addition of the rare medusae and the completely passive fallen angels, the last two hubs, which incidentally feature the most combat, are basically just Blackmarsh all over again.....so it's a whole game full of sloggery. I mean, Hexen itself has its slow/repetitive parts in this regard as well, but it also has a lot less of it, and more variety in the bestiary and in battles in general.

Of course, combat's not all there is to Hexen by a longshot, since it's a game that's focused heavily on progression/exploration. Hexen II is as well, but it doesn't do this nearly as well as the original. Apart from a couple of very obtuse puzzles, progression in Hexen II is really just a matter of picking forks in the road in the most expeditious order possible. Most tasks in it have to be accomplished in a specific order before you can move on to the next, and accomplishing most tasks is basically a matter of slogging your way to the end of one path so you can pick up a key or MacGuffin to go use at the end of the other fork, which in turn opens up another fork. I can certainly see how some might prefer this somewhat tidier, more binary sort of exploration, but for my part I kinda like the more open, bewildering, and somewhat disorganized and freeform sort of exploration one sees in the first game.

Yet another issue for me is that I find Hexen II quite a bit less aesthetically compelling. Most of its areas are fashioned after somewhat stereotypical images of ancient real-world societies, and it's generally well-lit and clean, with a lot of fairly representationalist architecture. Many of the enemies are fairly innocuous-seeming tropes from popular fantasy and mythology, as well. All well and good for folks that like it, but I find the sort of crumbling, desolate, and somewhat more abstract dark fantasy setting (with its more stylized enemy designs) of the original game to be more compelling.

I could keep going, but you're probably all bored of my prattling at this point. Just for some balance, as to the two things that I DO like, they are:

1. Skull/Shadow Wizards. Apart from being an awesome enemy in general (cool-looking, formidable, interesting behavior pattern, etc.), I always liked the way these dudes would sometimes get a wild hair up their asses and decide to come visit you while you were miles away from their default location. Unpredictability is good!
2. The Thysis hub. Basically, all of the complaints I made about the exploratory aspect of the game in general apply less to this hub than to the others. It's far more complex and puzzle-oriented than any of the others, and while it is very stereotypically ancient Egyptian in theme, I'm actually kind of a sucker for that theme and so don't mind so much. This was by far the peak of the game, for me.

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HeXen II is a lot of fun, but the 'feel' is very different from HeXen. HeXen has really glorious, meaty melee combat, and the sprite art is so satisfying. HeXen II is a good looking game, and I love the destructible environments, but melee is a bit less satisfying (especially versus spiders... fuckers...).

To be clear, HeXen has a very minor 'stickiness' to the combat (kind of like when using Doom's chainsaw, but less so) to makes it feel, I dunno, more down and dirty and visceral, if that makes any sense.

P.S. also sheep adds at least one point to HeXen II's score, imo.
P.P.S. also also, the sounds in HeXen are amazing.

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Vermil said:

Something that I have wondered about is replacing the artefacts system.

For instance, each spell is acquired and used like a weapon (i.e there's a 'spellbook pickup' of some sort that grants you the 'Quartz Flask spell', another the 'Mystic Urn spell' etc). They could all take ammo from a new shared 'ammo type' (or maybe even take blue and/or green mana) that them either recharges slowly, but automatically or is replenished by 'ammo pickups', that potentially could come from defeated bad guys.

Eh, I wouldn't be a fan of this at all, if you mean that you'd have to switch away to another weapon, select the correct spellbook "page", and "fire" it. This would severely slow down the gameplay, since you're not able to do any sorts of attacks during this timeframe, hence less fun to be had IMO. The ability to do more actions at once (in this case, select and utilize inventory while still in combat) allows for much more fast-paced and varied gameplay.

As for Hexen 2, literally the only thing I know about it is sheep catapults. As such, I'm sure I've already had the best part of the game spoiled. D;

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All fascinating stuff that I will take into consideration. I'm not primarily interested in adding to the game or using non-Vanilla features - nor do I really feel like doing a canon story. I was only thinking back to PWADs with great outdoor areas and semi-realistic detailed architecture, and wanted to take a stab at those kind of environments. The choice of Hexen came from that rather than the other way around.

Is anyone currently on a Hexen project?

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schwerpunk said:

HeXen II is a lot of fun, but the 'feel' is very different from HeXen. HeXen has really glorious, meaty melee combat, and the sprite art is so satisfying. HeXen II is a good looking game, and I love the destructible environments, but melee is a bit less satisfying (especially versus spiders... fuckers...).


UGH SPIDERS. This is the big thing that I don't like in Hexen II: a lot of the enemies just aren't that fun to fight. Especially considering how mana-starved a lot of the characters are.

Anyhow I have several ideas for Hexen projects but I haven't really done anything serious on them since I'm still pretty green to mapping, and want to get a little better at it first.

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Bucket said:

All fascinating stuff that I will take into consideration. I'm not primarily interested in adding to the game or using non-Vanilla features - nor do I really feel like doing a canon story. I was only thinking back to PWADs with great outdoor areas and semi-realistic detailed architecture, and wanted to take a stab at those kind of environments. The choice of Hexen came from that rather than the other way around.

Is anyone currently on a Hexen project?


Yes, Kristus is working on Curse 2 and it's pretty much the answer to this thread. It's a pity I'm probably the only person other than Kristus himself that can play it right now muahahaha

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Hexen can be fun once you get into it. however, getting stuck in it is very easy and off-putting, especially considering that the first hub is even worse than the second and third, which are generally more open and straight-forward. the combat's also nothing to praise, either, though that is fine considering its more puzzle-oriented nature. i was about to play it to the end, but i got stuck at a later hub (the one after Heresiarch's Seminary, i believe. the metal-ish outpost filled with a lot of spinning, tall sectors), which again put me off from the game.

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I adore Hexen and I think something that no-one mentioned is that certain parts of the game were really quite frightening - Test of Steel early on has those screams and rusty pully noises which transform a fairly melee soaked level into something a little more scary. The speed of the lifts and those steps illuminated by the sequential flashing lights are also a little eerie. plus you're always aware of those initially inaccessible central portions since you can see totally ill-fitting textures from some angles. The cave level in the following hub surprises you with those bat effects the first time you enter. The final hub has ghosts repeatedly rising out of graves and moaning terribly. and just in general the scripted nature of some of the traps can make you feel a little victimized, especially as they tend to play loud foreboding clanks or steam-press sounds in unison.

basically, more important than what I'd like to see in Hexen is what I'd like to hear, which is the excellent sound set used in a terrifying manner!

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Khorus said:

Yes, Kristus is working on Curse 2 and it's pretty much the answer to this thread. It's a pity I'm probably the only person other than Kristus himself that can play it right now muahahaha

How's that project going btw? :) I keep having daydreams about how awesome that mapset is going to be.

Oh and on topic, I fucking love Hexen and would love to try my hand at mapping for it one day.

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Jayextee said:

Yeah, if we could have less discs of repulsion that'd be great. :P

The correct approach is not less discs of repulsion, it is more bottomless pits where monsters go splat.

Especially, you know, monsters of the "I'm holding a shield up so I'm invincible, hahaha" variety.

Any map that lets me play snooker with centaurs will get an automatic 5/5 from myself.

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There was me thinking that I'm one of the few people who enjoyed Hexen. I would LOVE to be able to make a great hub map set for it but it requires a lot of talent which is something I lack. It is a shame that it lacks user made content (same thing with Strife) so I rather hope that some more content becomes available to Hexen. I am still eagerly awaiting C.O.T.D.L and Edge of Chaos (Doom 3 stand alone Hexen mod).

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They really need to bring the Hexen IP back, the lone warrior style gameplay could probably be revived and done a lot better now.

I don't think I really like the idea that the unofficial Hexen 3 is going back to the basic classes from the first game.

Springy said:

(Doom 3 stand alone Hexen mod).


Huh, last I checked it wasn't standalone.

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Edge of Chaos, the Duke Nukem Forever of mods. I hope they get it done sometime though. And yes they had planned to make it stand-alone ever since the Doom 3 source code was released.

Gez said:

The correct approach is not less discs of repulsion, it is more bottomless pits where monsters go splat.

Especially, you know, monsters of the "I'm holding a shield up so I'm invincible, hahaha" variety.

Any map that lets me play snooker with centaurs will get an automatic 5/5 from myself.


What a lot of people don't realize I think is that throwing a monster into another using a disc of repulsion counts as the thrown monster attacking the other, usually provoking infighting. How is that ever a bad thing?

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Hexen had awesome ambience... possibly its strongest point. So you will have to have loads of ambiance everywhere. And the combat does not need to be super hard, as also already mentioned.

Hardest thing to do would be to balance the same maps for three different character classes.

The biggest problem with Hexen was the huge difference in difficulty between regular gameplay and boss encounters, so that might be something
to keep in mind.

ShadesMaster said:

Some Heretic / HeXen lore for you, based on my code-named 'H3' project:

[image]


You sir, have my attention.

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