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suntank

Skull Hunter. The 1st level

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Skull Hunters By SunTanK (Austin Morgan) V0.12

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jblqzs6lpqifm4o/SkullHunter.wad?dl=0

-This Level DOES NOT require jumping. However, it's recommended
that you play it in Brutal Doom, or at least ZDoom Which you can get here:

http://www.moddb.com/mods/brutal-doom/downloads

http://www.osnanet.de/c.oelckers/gzdoom/download.html

http://zdoom.org/Download

"Skull Hunter: Travel to Alien worlds in search of ancient Skull artifacts lost in time. Find the Skull Artifacts among the ruins and return them to your ship. Player's start with a plasma rifle and plenty of ammo and must acquire more hardware from dead explorers and secret hidden rooms. Contains tons and tons of enemies and is balanced for all difficulties."

This is the first level of the Skull Hunters Map Pack. More levels are planned and will be included in the wad as they come available. Also, the level still uses the same music as before. Haven't gotten around to changing it yet. sorry

Updates since version V0.11
-Reworked weapons and ammo. Now uses a more traditional doom pacing of weapon acquirement.
-Added more varieties of enemies and traps. I balanced the level with different enemies to achieve new kinds of challenges, Still experimenting.
-Added TONS of secrets, Leave a comment if you manage to find them all.
-Opened up sections of the level and improved the lighting
-Fixed the Door issues for Coop. Now coop should work entirely.
My goal is to create a full map pack of levels that push Doom game play concepts in directions that I have never seen done before. Hopefully I can overcome certain limitations of the doom engine to accomplish this.

Yes, I am a professional game developer, but this is just something I do in my free time. If you want to check out my other projects, go to VariaGamesLLC.com

Here are some screenshots below


https://www.dropbox.com/s/wk48sonvuvt69zp/shot1.png?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/qjlaj76uojuq5px/shot2.png?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/7ujvioms3npcbso/shot3.png?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/8dx5gb08t5nn2x3/shot4.png?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/oylvv7qre9u0tz7/shot5.png?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ugoascdf2tgkb2l/shot6.png?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/7cm93tzq6yngdl5/shot7.png?dl=0

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Wow, this looks like quite a hefty map: I died not long in, but so far it looks pretty cool. You might want to change the music though.

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Hello, and welcome to the forums. I've played your level without Brutal Doom, and I have mixed feelings about it. But first:

suntank said:

Best Played in Brutal Doom.

Please, no. Don't do this. Brutal Doom is just a mod. Many people like to play Doom with it, but many people don't. They prefer other gameplay mods (these are numerous today) or playing the game in a classic unmodded form (majority of people on these forums, including myself). You should take these players into account.

Well, your level apparently requires jumping. That means that a ZDoom-based source port should be used to play it (ZDoom, GZDoom, Zandronum). That's alright, you should just inform the players about it. It's not so common to see maps that require jumping.

The map's shapes of "architecture" look good or even impressive at times, quite professional. (By the way, I've visited your website linked in your user profile, so that I know you are a professional :)) Colour theme and overall thematical + gameplay consistency were pretty great too.

However, there were negative sides as well. For example texture alignment looked downright ugly at some places (tech or marble details), even though the architecture itself was more than alright. Another thing was the default MAP01 music track. It's really over-listened nowadays. You could have improved the map's atmosphere 100-times if you grabbed a random MIDI from the internet and put it in the wad. But the worst problem was with the gameplay. See:

suntank said:

It's using an inverse difficulty approach where you start with a more powerful weapon; Plasma rifle, and face more enemies in volume. Ammo for the plasma rifle will then become more scarce or exclusively in secrets in later levels while other weaker weapons are slowly introduced causing the game to become more difficult in a different way.

This is an interesting and unusual approach, but I'm not sure about its positive impact on gameplay. The weapon seems overpowered for the weaklings I encountered on my way. In addition, plasma balls move slowly, so that I've eventually found it rather boring. There was practically no challenge, which is bad. It has only changed when I've completely ran out of ammo at the Blue Skull key - and that was just unfair and I had to run away from the monsters = not really fun.

Also, the map strongly limits player's freedom, and that's pretty pretty bad. I'm talking about two things: The map's heavily linear progression, and restricted player's arsenal. This way, you're practically dictating him how to play. I distinctly felt so when playing. In the world of Doom wads, such a thing is being viewed badly. That's why I believe your map could have been better if the weapon + monster progression was more standard and accustomized to create actual challenge, through variation of monsters placed to efficiently pose a threat. Everyone can dodge fireballs when he's provided at least a bit of space to maneuver, or a cover to hide behind. Challenge can be achieved via attacks of multiple monsters from multiple directions and heights at the same time, for example. And making the gameplay at least somewhat challenging is preferable, rather than just a "shooting gallery". (Once again, I haven't seen how the map would play with Brutal Doom as you'd intended it.)

Don't restrict player's freedom. Nonlinear progression and varied weapon + ammo supply should help it. Also, efficient challenge. Remember that. Other than that, you already have the best capabilities to do mapping well. Good luck! :)

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scifista42 said:

Hello, and welcome to the forums. I've played your level without Brutal Doom, and I have mixed feelings about it. But first:
Please, no. Don't do this. Brutal Doom is just a mod. Many people like to play Doom with it, but many people don't. They prefer other gameplay mods (these are numerous today) or playing the game in a classic unmodded form (majority of people on these forums, including myself). You should take these players into account.


yeah but. I mean if he wants as many people as possible to play the map then yeah. but... if someone designs a map for one mod intentionally, I don't think it's really warranted to tell them to not do so. granted most people that "design for" brutal doom are often new mappers but nonetheless I still think we should encourage people to design for whatever they want, or at least not discourage them from doing so

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Wow thanks for playing and taking the time to write that incredible reply! About the jumping, Jumping is not required and I usually do not jump at all during play tests specifically to make sure it would work in vanilla doom 2. I should have mentioned that in the description. That being said, it was more of a suggestion to use brutal doom as I have found it to be a lot of fun and visually appealing. The brutal doom plasma feels much better than vanilla as it is a bit faster

I completely agree about the music. I hate listening to that song and it really kills the mood. It will certainly change in future iterations.

While i agree that it is important to appeal to the crowd your game is intended for, I tend to approach game design from the stand point of anyone could theoretically pick this up and play it from any skill level and at least have fun with it. After all this is just level one, the difficulty and variety will really smooth out over multiple levels. I would love to try a more open world, less linear approach for level two!

I deliberately quit placing ammo in the level after the skull so the player could only run and would feel their survival instincts kick in. That change of pace may be too sudden and intense for some players, or too unexpected causing the wrong reaction. But at least they will have an idea of what to expect in later levels.

Thanks for the critique.

Austin

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Knowing the previous version of your level, I think that you've misplaced Player1 start. Now there are two of them, one of them is a voodoo doll in the spaceship, but the player actually starts in a canyon on the way to the exit.

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Well, that was rather weird. Apparently there's misplaced p1 start which still sorta works. I had to run and dodge until I found shotgun. Ammo is pretty low but I didn't do scouting. Detailing in "mountain" parts in kinda low but it's not that noticeable since I just ran ignoring good half of the monsters. There is no real incentive to fight them plus I was saving ammo. Quite a few Y misaligned textures and at least two HOMs behind lowering floors. Didn't like Archvile encounter as I had no time to hide and he plain fried me. Also, could not reach exit (most likely because of start misplacement). Overall I liked it (despite skipping most of the fights) because canyons like this are my soft spot and there were quite a few cool things.

P.S. Maybe if player start was in the other place I wouldn't ran past everything in the beginning.
P.P.S. I didn't use BD.
P.P.P.S. 11 minutes isn't lengthy at all.

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Oops, okay I fixed that now. it was a testing start position and I forgot to clear it.

SHOULD work now!

I updated the original message to include all of the updates since they merged my topics into one. so the link at the top is updated

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The map was fun to play,and well designed but doesnt't work with Vanilla DOOM ...
Gave me this error when i tried to Play it with DOS DoomII :

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DMGUYDZ64 said:

The map was fun to play,and well designed but doesnt't work with Vanilla DOOM ...
Gave me this error when i tried to Play it with DOS DoomII :



Yeah I wouldn't think so. As I mentioned, It at least requires ZDoom. Plays the Best in Brutal Doom.

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The map haven't changed in regards of texturing and linear progression, I've talked about it before. Dividing a path into 2 branches and then merging them again soon after, that doesn't count as non-linearity at all.

Regarding new weapon progression, it seems okay, but I find a lot of weaknesses in the way how you distribute and balance ammo. You tend to clutter it to certain places (multiple shellboxes etc.), then long long nothing. Consistent distribution in smaller pickups would be better. Also, ammo should be balanced well-enough without a need to discover every secret, in order to be able to kill all monsters in the map.

You said that you've "improved" monster variety, but the fact is that you've only added many Pain Elementals. Two of them will attack the player from distance right at the start when he only has a shotgun, and keep in mind that they're rather annoying to combat. To me, the monster cast seemed very samey, as it was before.

I've noticed HOMs in the soulsphere secret. Many pinky demons towards the exit were stuck (playing regularly without BD). Also, there were quite many monsters on high ledges towards the end, and ammo was relatively scarce at that point, so I just skipped the monsters (not really motivated to fight them) and thus I consider them redundant. The final pinky horde was another disgusting "Fuck you." moment when there was no motivation to not escape them ASAP instead of fighting them, therefore they could have been better omited.

I liked the way how secrets were hidden and hinted. I've found 8/10 of them.

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suntank said:

As I mentioned, It at least requires ZDoom. Plays the Best in Brutal Doom.


Appears to run mostly fine in vanilla after some trivial fixes (using Doom.wad texture names on exactly 2 lines?), though there are a lot of VPOs and much of the map will drawseg overflow. Should run perfectly fine in Strawberry or in doom2p. I would also avoid playing the map in Brutal Doom if I were you.

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scifista42 said:

The map haven't changed in regards of texturing and linear progression, I've talked about it before. Dividing a path into 2 branches and then merging them again soon after, that doesn't count as non-linearity at all.

Regarding new weapon progression, it seems okay, but I find a lot of weaknesses in the way how you distribute and balance ammo. You tend to clutter it to certain places (multiple shellboxes etc.), then long long nothing. Consistent distribution in smaller pickups would be better. Also, ammo should be balanced well-enough without a need to discover every secret, in order to be able to kill all monsters in the map.

You said that you've "improved" monster variety, but the fact is that you've only added many Pain Elementals. Two of them will attack the player from distance right at the start when he only has a shotgun, and keep in mind that they're rather annoying to combat. To me, the monster cast seemed very samey, as it was before.

I've noticed HOMs in the soulsphere secret. Many pinky demons towards the exit were stuck (playing regularly without BD). Also, there were quite many monsters on high ledges towards the end, and ammo was relatively scarce at that point, so I just skipped the monsters (not really motivated to fight them) and thus I consider them redundant. The final pinky horde was another disgusting "Fuck you." moment when there was no motivation to not escape them ASAP instead of fighting them, therefore they could have been better omited.

I liked the way how secrets were hidden and hinted. I've found 8/10 of them.


Glad to see you enjoy the secrets! now...

While I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, I must correct a few facts here: #1 I never said I had plans to reduce linear game play and lets not forget that every doom level ever is always going to be "get from Start to Exit". #2 I added more than pain Elementals, there are also Cacodemons and an arch-vile. There aren't too many other monster types to choose from, and I don't feel like soldiers would be fitting to a canyon\ruins setting. #3 The Final Flight is supposed to feel just like that, a final FLIGHT.The whole purpose of games is (arguably) to create a feeling, specifically the feeling the developer wanted you to feel at the exact time you felt it. You aren't supposed to kill them. Even if you wanted to, I see no reason to not force the player to find 100% of the secrets if they are so OCD they must get 100% on the kills.

Back to opinions, I believe it would ruin the feeling of isolation If i added more ammo everywhere. The dead bodies are from previous explorers who died and dropped everything. Ammo spread out randomly wouldn't really make sense, and I'm airing on the side of semi-realism. It just feels right. Also, secrets are a large part of the game play in this level and were mean't to be. This whole level was built around the idea of exploration and discovery, that was the whole point after all.

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suntank said:

Back to opinions, I believe it would ruin the feeling of isolation If i added more ammo everywhere. The dead bodies are from previous explorers who died and dropped everything. Ammo spread out randomly wouldn't really make sense, and I'm airing on the side of semi-realism. It just feels right. Also, secrets are a large part of the game play in this level and were mean't to be. This whole level was built around the idea of exploration and discovery, that was the whole point after all.


Sometimes you just have to forego realism for gameplay; if you're foregoing gameplay for any reason, you're probably wrong. That isn't to say you can't have a sense of realism and great gameplay, but gameplay should always, always, always take priority number one.

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suntank said:

...

Alright, I get it. It's not like if I dictated you how you must change the map to become up to my likings. I simply tell you how I felt about it, so that you can take feedback into account. Your post-explanation cannot change how I actually felt about the map, anyway. The map's not bad at all if you describe it from the point of view you did, but everyone is always going to see and rate it from his own point of view ("Do I like semirealism? Do I like focus on gameplay? Do I mind this odd kind of balance? Yes, it's up to me, I don't care what the author liked."). That's it. Again, I just pointed out what I've noticed, not saying "it's all wrong" at all.

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scifista42 said:

Alright, I get it. It's not like if I dictated you how you must change the map to become up to my likings. I simply tell you how I felt about it, so that you can take feedback into account. Your post-explanation cannot change how I actually felt about the map, anyway. The map's not bad at all if you describe it from the point of view you did, but everyone is always going to see and rate it from his own point of view ("Do I like semirealism? Do I like focus on gameplay? Do I mind this odd kind of balance? Yes, it's up to me, I don't care what the author liked."). That's it. Again, I just pointed out what I've noticed, not saying "it's all wrong" at all.


you made several statements that were non-factual so I corrected you. Then I proceeded to also voice my own opinion which is my right to do ,as is yours.

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Fisk said:

Sometimes you just have to forego realism for gameplay; if you're foregoing gameplay for any reason, you're probably wrong. That isn't to say you can't have a sense of realism and great gameplay, but gameplay should always, always, always take priority number one.


I agree entirely. Thankfully that is what was accomplished here, in my opinion.

I've played the level several thousand times and cannot think of how changing ammo placement would help the game play in anyway.

And yes I've tried it, but it degrades the quality of the secrets which are a large part of the game play. Exploration is the focus here. If certain people don't like exploration, that's okay, there are plenty of other wads\maps\levels out there that are more "Doom" like

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I had a go at this on a whim, used zdoom but not BD, I don't think it would have made a massive difference though given that the the gameplay pretty much forces you to avoid fighting. On my first run I did just that, ran away from nearly every fight and missed loads of stuff, but i figured that was the general theme of the map anyway. Going through a second time I found the berserk which made the pinky traps a lot more manageable, and eventually discovered the chaingun. This meant less running from stuff, but you still reach a point where you aren't given a choice in the matter due to weight of enemies/lack of ammo. This might annoy some people, i've tried pressuring people to run away from fights in my maps, and some people will just stand there and fight until they die over and over and get pissed off. I guess its unintuitive to run into unknown areas when stuff is chasing behind you.

But anyway, the 2nd go round i found a lot more secrets which really helps things, I still didn't find the rocket launcher - maybe there would be enough ammo just about to kill everything with that, though that would just be a grind for the sake of it with all those hellknights just sitting up there on a shelf. Again some people hate having to leave monsters behind. There are a lot of misaligned textures, HOMs and a few unpegged doorframes here and there, but its not a bad map at all. I like the spaceship start and end.

Here's HOMs in one of the secret areas

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mouldy said:

I had a go at this on a whim, used zdoom but not BD, I don't think it would have made a massive difference though given that the the gameplay pretty much forces you to avoid fighting. On my first run I did just that, ran away from nearly every fight and missed loads of stuff, but i figured that was the general theme of the map anyway. Going through a second time I found the berserk which made the pinky traps a lot more manageable, and eventually discovered the chaingun. This meant less running from stuff, but you still reach a point where you aren't given a choice in the matter due to weight of enemies/lack of ammo. This might annoy some people, i've tried pressuring people to run away from fights in my maps, and some people will just stand there and fight until they die over and over and get pissed off. I guess its unintuitive to run into unknown areas when stuff is chasing behind you.

But anyway, the 2nd go round i found a lot more secrets which really helps things, I still didn't find the rocket launcher - maybe there would be enough ammo just about to kill everything with that, though that would just be a grind for the sake of it with all those hellknights just sitting up there on a shelf. Again some people hate having to leave monsters behind. There are a lot of misaligned textures, HOMs and a few unpegged doorframes here and there, but its not a bad map at all. I like the spaceship start and end.

Here's HOMs in one of the secret areas


Thanks for playing! I will try to debug the HOM, I actually don't see it at all, I just see sky.

In a recent interview I watched with John Romero, he talked about how they removed score from the game specifically so you weren't encouraged to simply kill everything and find all the gold like in wolfenstein. While they did add a kills percentage, that was meant to be for the players who like to grind. I've gotten 100% on the kills and secrets while playing the game, and I may be wrong, but I feel like that's part of the grind. I understand that it may annoy some people. Who knows, map02 may cater more towards those that like getting 100% kills without 100% secrets.

I will eventually work on the textures, it's just an extremely tedious process and a horrible limitation of the doom engine to not properly align them automatically like a lot of modern engines would. Then again, nowadays you mostly work in models and parts. meh

Thanks for the critique! I will certainly try to make adjustments!

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