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Ryath

Tower of Lies -- looking for playtesters!

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Tower of Lies is a single hell-themed map (for limit-removing ports) where you start in the bowels of hell and scale your way up a tower and to salvation -- you hope. It's a little experiment in making the player feel as though he's going up and up the floors of the tower without actually using 3D floors. It's all done with teleporters and visual tricks. Whether they're successful or not is debatable.

Since this is my first solo project, I was hoping for some feedback before I upload it to the archive. If anyone has time to give it a test-run, I'd really appreciate it!

http://www.mediafire.com/download/io6uktxgrmb02ob/lies.wad

EDIT: Whoops! I forgot to mention that I haven't picked out a midi yet, so right now it's just D_RUNNIN unfortunately. Might want to turn the music off altogether. If you have any suggestions for a track that would actually fit the level, let me know.

Here are some screenshots if you're curious:




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The screenshots all look awesome. Love the moodiness of the first shot especially. I want to playtest it bad but I'm on another computer and it doesn't play Doom so well.

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Design itself looks fantastic and atmospheric, you did a great job on that! But: D_RUNNIN and lack of automap were 2 major annoyances that ABSOLUTELY killed the map, so that it wasn't really enjoyable at all. I've tried to "unsee" them, but couldn't. As soon as I've noticed the map's heavy linearity, I've started considering it just cheap, sorry. Gameplay was slow-paced and got tedious for me. Specially it went downhill since the cacodemon swarm place, I didn't have enough ammo for powerful weapons so that I was condemned to snipe high-HP monsters with just a SG + CG. In the library room with mancubi, there were illusio pits with imps, but they never raised (I've played in Zandronum) and I could walk above the imp's heads. Your "raising lift" teleport ambushes are inefficient if the player stands on the teleport destination spot. The final room gave me BFG right in front of the exit, I'd have appreciated to get it sooner, because in the end I was so annoyed that I just wanted to exit and nothing else.

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scifista42 said:

But: D_RUNNIN and lack of automap were 2 major annoyances that ABSOLUTELY killed the map, so that it wasn't really enjoyable at all. I've tried to "unsee" them, but couldn't. As soon as I've noticed the map's heavy linearity, I've started considering it just cheap, sorry.

I totally understand these complaints, especially D_RUNNIN. That's why I'm looking for some help finding better music. The automap, though, is a side effect of the way the level's designed. If you had an automap, you'd see all the other floors as separate areas, and I felt it would break the illusion. Since it's linear, like you said, I assumed not having a map wouldn't be an issue.

Other than the linearity, was your main problem the lack of ammo? Did you run out during the caco fight or afterward? Do you think I should give the plasma gun earlier?

In the library room with mancubi, there were illusio pits with imps, but they never raised (I've played in Zandronum) and I could walk above the imp's heads.

That was me being dumb. I've uploaded a fixed version.

Your "raising lift" teleport ambushes are inefficient if the player stands on the teleport destination spot.

Yeah, that's been a major concern. Because of the way Doom handles tags, it didn't seem there was any way to have multiple teleport destinations on a single moving platform. (I could be wrong.) The first lift is a bit chancy, I admit, but I tried to handle the second one by swarming the player with demons immediately so he couldn't get to the teleport location and block it. I guess it didn't work?

Anyway, thanks for the feedback! It's a little more negative than I'd hoped, but very helpful.

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Ryathaen said:

If you had an automap, you'd see all the other floors as separate areas, and I felt it would break the illusion. Since it's linear, like you said, I assumed not having a map wouldn't be an issue.

Other than the linearity, was your main problem the lack of ammo? Did you run out during the caco fight or afterward? Do you think I should give the plasma gun earlier?

I tried to handle the second one by swarming the player with demons immediately so he couldn't get to the teleport location and block it. I guess it didn't work?

-It's frustrating when I can't see a map. I use a map a lot, not only to navigate efficiently, but also to get a sense of place and seek for places which I've possibly missed on my way. Games like Quake 1 or Wrack has always bugged me for not having a map, even on linear levels, that's for sure. If you moved the map's areas closer together, and only made their outer borders invisible on automap, it'd work alright too, IMO.

-Right after - also, I didn't feel comfortable chaingunning a dozen cacodemons. Yes, introduce powerful weapons earlier. Try to use high-HP monsters only as much as necessary to create a challenge. Otherwise better stick to low-HP ones. That's a general advice.

-It didn't, of course. Outmaneuvering monsters is trivial for every average player. The whole idea of a slow platform raising for a really long time isn't much good, either. IDK what to do about it.

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I'm not very far through it yet, but I do have to say that the lack of automap is reeaaallllly annoying. Even that catacombs-ey bit at the beginning is disorienting and kind of annoying without one. Also IDMUS07 was my friend here. :) "Shawn's Got the Shotgun" was actually a good track for a map of this sort. I love the look of the map so far. The very beginning area sets such a desolate tone, and the lack of monsters at the outset builds tension really well too.

So far as solving your automap problem goes, maybe you could put in Shown linedefs that spell out "FLOOR x" or something to break the illusion a bit less? Not that I'm far enough through to know whether the different level segments really each correspond to "a floor" but it's an idea. :P I guess playing a map without automap reminds me how dependent on it I can be for navigation sometimes.

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StupidBunny said:

So far as solving your automap problem goes, maybe you could put in Shown linedefs that spell out "FLOOR x" or something to break the illusion a bit less? Not that I'm far enough through to know whether the different level segments really each correspond to "a floor" but it's an idea. :P I guess playing a map without automap reminds me how dependent on it I can be for navigation sometimes.


This would be my suggestion as well - as long as each level looks like a "floor", it's fine, and you can even add "1st floor" "2nd floor" with linedefs if you like. Make outside far-away lines (if there's any outside the tower for a background or such) invisible if you like. I think this is what the last map of BSTX2 did, which also has a tower using teleporters.

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Just finished it up and found it really enjoyable. My favorite areas were the library and the final arena and the staircase leading up to it. My least favorite part was the first encounter with the revenants haha I was totally unable to deal with them for a while but that's probably just my own problem. I played most of the map with the first track from Heretic playing.

Generally, your aesthetics are pretty much perfect. Unfortunately, I never really got a sense of the size of the titular tower. It was usually just a big box. Not sure how I'd solve this, other than a start screen image. The gradual change in design and stuff to signify the ascent is good, but yeah, I never felt like I knew how big the tower was.

The encounter at the very end was tons of fun. I got trapped at one point and got taken down to 8% health but was still able to beat the cyberdemon and exit the map.

Not having an automap didn't bother me. I usually only use the automap when trying to hunt for secrets. It made sense to hide the automap to me so I don't really think it's much of a problem.

All in all this is very impressive for a first solo project. Changing the tune is all you really need to do before submitting it to idgames, in my opinion.

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Hey guys! I've made some quick changes and updated the link in the first post. Automap now works and the midi was changed to Shawn's Got the Shotgun like StupidBunny suggested. Even if it's just a temporary fix, it fits the atmosphere of the map and makes it feel a lot better to play.

I hope that improves first impressions somewhat. I'll look at making more involved changes when I have a bit more time.

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scifista42 said:

But: D_RUNNIN and lack of automap were 2 major annoyances that ABSOLUTELY killed the map, so that it wasn't really enjoyable at all.


Every now and then I feel like mentioning that what I hate most about mapping these days is the expectation that mappers must provide new music every time. That's asking a lot of people engaged in a no-pay hobby, given that, in my experience, you have to wade through hours of shit to find something decent. Adding insult to injury is that if you devote the time to finding a new music track, players almost never comment on it. ;D But man, they'll sometimes dog you if you don't.

Certainly, for playtesting, it's in a player's power to use IDMUS or load up their favorite music WAD. I've been using DoomMetalVol3 lately.

Rant mode off. ;)

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^I understand that feeling...ultimately it should just be about the map, and IDMUS is always an option. I think we're all just sick to death of hearing D_RUNNIN after playing a thousand maps that use it. ;)

So I've played through this whole thing now (the latest upload) and I enjoyed it a lot. It was long, but not overly so, and though it was linear I think it mostly kept things moving okay. Admittedly I was playing it on HNTR because the laptop I'm using has no mouse and the keyboard driver is such balls that Doomguy controls like an arthritic man with banana peels tied to his feet*, so I probably can't say much about the ammo balance except that it was fine on the easiest difficulty level. As I mentioned before, the architecture is the best part, and I liked the little tricks you used to try and illustrate the tower emerging through the Earth's crust, plus use of teleporters to bridge different segments (I actually may not have noticed if I weren't looking for it. Also, I must confess, after the catacombs I only needed the automap a couple of times.) Some spots, like the elevator fight and the stairway with the imps on it, were a little uninspired gameplaywise, though the battle at the end was pretty fun. I actually kept expecting the cyberdemon to teleport in after all his minions already had, which definitely kept me on my toes. It might actually heighten the tension to make it do that? All in all, it was a really cool map and I don't think there's much to change before you upload it to /idgames.


*also I suck at Doom

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I'll see if I can give this a play through on my day off, tomorrow. In the mean time, I highly suggest one of my favorite pieces, Mummy Rags. It's a very nice piece, made by Doom music veteran Mark Klem, and is extremely easy on the ears. You'll find it in a wad call MMMUS.WAD, though I'm not too sure where you can find it. Try here perhaps.

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StupidBunny said:

^I understand that feeling...ultimately it should just be about the map, and IDMUS is always an option. I think we're all just sick to death of hearing D_RUNNIN after playing a thousand maps that use it. ;)


All true, and I despise D_RUNNIN myself. ;D

I'll try to give this map a play if I can stay awake a little longer.

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Does anyone actually listen to D_RUNNIN when there is no custom music in a map? I always idmus or load one of my favorite music wads.

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Memfis said:

Does anyone actually listen to D_RUNNIN when there is no custom music in a map? I always idmus or load one of my favorite music wads.


if hell based i listen to map30.

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SteveD said:

expectation that mappers must provide new music every time.
Rant

There might be a slight misunderstanding: I didn't complain that the map was bad because of D_RUNNIN being there, as if that fact itself was a crime. I've complained that my impression was spoiled because D_RUNNIN didn't fit the map at all. I can bear D_RUNNIN in most generic techbase or city maps, sometimes even find it fitting and enjoyable (rarely, in Entryway remakes and similar). This atmospheric, fantastically shaped hellish map, though, was asking for an atmospheric music.

Well, I could have just used IDMUS, now I know.

By the way, I don't even like the new music choice (D_SHAWN) in the map, it's a similarly overplayed track and not matching the atmosphere well.

And one more thing, why are the various parts of the map so distant from each other? If they were closer, automap usage would be easier. The map would also benefit from it, because smaller coordinate values decrease the probability of BLOCKMAP imprecisions (flawed hitscan detection in PrBoom+ or lesser ports, etc.).

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You said it was one of 2 things that "ABSOLUTELY killed" the map, which is quite difficult to "misunderstand".

I really enjoyed this map. I don't know if the RL was moved since the first version or not, but I didn't need to CG tons of Cacos so I'm guessing that was sorted. Getting the backpack a bit earlier on would probably be helpful considering you can't go back and collect ammo. I left at least 3 boxes of shells in previous areas because I was at 49 or 50 shells. I used Berserk to take out a lot of Demons, maybe that's why I had surplus shells. On the final staircase, maybe because I stopped to kill the demons that spawned behind me, but the rockets that were then overwhelmed by Imps would have been useful for clearing out said Imps. Maybe your intention is to charge up there to get Rockets first and then deal with everything after. The final area was chaotic, and I was down to 7% health before getting the BFG. Ironically the Cyberdemon is probably the easiest part of the last area.

Overall a fantastic map and I enjoyed pretty much every encounter, including the Arch Viles. Makes me think someone needs to make a "Going Up" sequel to mouldy's "Going Down"!

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hey, welcome back.

played it on a sightread in GZDOOM, HMP with no HUD. managed to beat it in 23:14. I liked how there's different setpieces and all, with progressive difficulty up through the tower.

first setpiece, there's no enemies and no danger apart from lava pits. pretty ambient I guess. second setpiece is also ambient, getting a shotgun and fighting two revenants. pretty easy. third piece has me berserking a few close-range monsters which is easy. I'll admit to berserking the lost souls too, even though they're hard to hit. This particular area could probably use more monsters to it though. I really hate the next setpiece, even though it's easy, but then again, I just don't like it when it's cramped. The fifth area has much more combat and a chaingun, pretty fun too. I punched most of the enemies though.

next setup: the "Storm the Tower from the ground floor" scenario it looks like. probably my favorite section, although most of the time it wasn't troublesome. the cacodemons were a nice surprise though. next section has a hellknight, a few imps, a caco, two mancubi, and a single soul, in some setpiece type battle. it could actually use more. the next section of the tower has the double-archvile attack with several dead monsters ready for resurrecting. I didn't play this one properly, because I forgot I even had a rocket launcher, and ended up having a lot of enemies on my back, but I got through without either archie even hitting me though. the next section, I made this tough for me by not using the plasma gun until later, instead punching as many imps as I can. too much to handle so I killed the rest of them with the plasma gun. on the way up I sniped at a revenant from a small window, not sure if this is an error or not. although this part of the tower certainly trolls you with the design, so that's very clever.

this final setpiece...wow, that was tough and cool. a proper challenge too. the ascending block of enemies wasn't too difficult with the SSG and berserk, and the cyber teleports away. I was afraid that it was going to be one of those "cheapskate teleporting cyberdemon" types of battles that everyone else seems to do these days. thank fuck it's not that. he just disappeared while other monsters showed up. I didn't have too much strategy, other than getting the demons out of the way, and when the hellknights and cacos showed up, I used infighting to rid of most of them, plus the imps. I figured the cyber would come up eventually, he did do that once I lowered the BFG. I had a few hellknights remaining so I thought I'd continue infighting once all the turret monsters were defeated. and then kill the cyber with the plasma gun. I didn't use the BFG at all and IMO, unless it is to be "grabbed" I don't think it serves to be of any purpose in the map.

overall, this was great, the third setpiece with the berserk setup could use a few more meat, and the one area with the library also could use some stuff. I found no use for the BFG.

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scifista42 said:

There might be a slight misunderstanding:


Sorry to pick on your post to launch my rant, scifista, but it's something I like to bitch about every now and then. ;)

I also tend to agree that Shawn's Got The Shotgun isn't superbly suited for this map. In fact, I turned the volume down to 5 because it was annoying me so much. :D I'm still playing, but probably won't finish until tonight, so stay tuned.

BTW, scifista, though I enjoy reading your comments on new beta-maps, I'm personally itching for a new scifista map. I really liked the last one, but that was almost a year ago. When can I expect the next?

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SteveD said:

BTW, scifista, though I enjoy reading your comments on new beta-maps, I'm personally itching for a new scifista map. I really liked the last one, but that was almost a year ago. When can I expect the next?

Only crap, I'm worried. I enjoy mapping, but I'm not really an architect/designer talented kind of person. Also I tend to be constantly dissatisfied with any work I do and try to make it quality, and then I might quit or halt the work for some time, and I often don't finish it at all / in a reasonable time. I keep spontaneously returning to mapping for my own enjoyment, not really for a "carriere" in the mapping community, hence I don't feel an obligation to have new releases for the sake of it. ;)

But wait for 50 Shades of Graytall, DWMP 2014, "Just GZDoom" mapping project and eventually TNT:R and UDINO, there might be something from me.

Sorry for off-topic.

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paymentplan said:

Unfortunately, I never really got a sense of the size of the titular tower. It was usually just a big box. Not sure how I'd solve this, other than a start screen image.

Mm. That's a really good point. Not quite sure what I'll do about this.

StupidBunny said:

Some spots, like the elevator fight and the stairway with the imps on it, were a little uninspired gameplaywise

I'm working on making the fight on the stairs a little more interesting, and lowering the number of imps a tad.

Getsu Fune said:

overall, this was great, the third setpiece with the berserk setup could use a few more meat, and the one area with the library also could use some stuff. I found no use for the BFG.

Thanks for such a detailed review! In the berserk room, were you craving more enemies during that initial teleport ambush or in the caves after you exit? I'll definitely add a few more enemies to the library as well.

In response to the several people who've mentioned the final cyberdemon battle -- it's really not meant to be a challenge. The intent was that he's pretty harmless once his minions are all dead, and I expected players to just BFG him without much trouble and then proceed to the exit.

And rest assured, scifista, I won't submit the WAD to /idgames without a custom midi. Right now I'm considering Mark Klem's Simple Solutions (from STRAIN map06). It starts off slow and moody, but has a gradual build that I think suits the later parts of the level. What do you think?

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Ryathaen said:

Right now I'm considering Mark Klem's Simple Solutions (from STRAIN map06). [...] What do you think?

It would work. :)

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the initial teleport ambush is a far better place to put monsters in than the caves. it feels better punching enemies on a flat surface than close to an edge. plus lost souls are REALLY difficult to punch without taking a bad hit, I usually find it easier to chainsaw them instead of punch them (of course here I didn't have a chainsaw).

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Here's an FDA recorded in PrBoom+ with Boom compatibility on skill 3. The level looked nice, but I found the tower climbing element to be unconvincing. There were a lot of tight corridors and the architecture seemed very claustrophobic, rendering it difficult to maneuver in a fight. At the start of the level, there was a lot of slow walking around and there didn't seem to be much to do. I spent a lot of the map waiting for something to happen and it seemed as if nothing did; perhaps I should have played on skill 4.

The final fight at the top of the tower was intimidating but not particularly difficult. After running in circles for a about a minute, I had the entire platform of monsters fighting each other and I was left largely unopposed from that point onward.

Lastly, the linearity of the level hurt it considerably. While I understand that you were attempting to give the player a sense of climbing a massive tower, the level's linearity left no room for exploration and rendered most of the fights quite moot. Nonetheless, thanks for sharing and giving us an opportunity to play your map.

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Just played it in PRBoom+ on skill 3. Great map, I think everything I would say has been said in this thread already, but well:

I didn't really used the automap due to its extreme linearity. Some fights are orchestrated Deus Vault style, but with low monster count. Enjoyed most of them, but, personally, I'm a bit tired of getting a berserk pack and a bunch of demons. Others like the library fight were great. Resources were ok but I felt the bfg made the cyberdemon too easy, way easier then the fight before it. I would remove it or at least the cell packs around it, since player has previous knowledge of what's coming next.

I pointed mostly the low points of the map, but overall I enjoyed the experience, it was atmospheric, good-looking and had a great sense of progression.

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New version is up! I've added Simple Solutions as the soundtrack for the map. It's not a perfect fit, but it serves the atmosphere much better.

There's also a lot of minor changes to gameplay. Among the more noticeable is that I added an additional fight in the berserk room, more enemies to the library, and I tweaked the imp fight on the stairs (though I wasn't able to do as much with it as I hoped). I don't expect to change either of the elevator fights -- there's no real way in the Doom engine to prevent the player from blocking the teleport destination, so I'll just chalk that up as a reward for outsmarting the trap. Well... except that it means the archvile will be loose later to resurrect even more enemies.

I super appreciate all the feedback so far. Because of you guys, I've improved the map a ton. At least I hope so. Special thanks to BlueFeena for the FDA so I could see exactly how a player reacts at every step of the map.

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I really liked this map, I think the idea of the tower is very well executed and the difficulty ramps up nicely

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Am I the only one who found the ending anti-climatic? You can hear a cyberdemon when you enter the final arena, but he never shows up. And after you actually beat all those monsters in the arena, you are condemned to die in an inescapable lava pit...

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The cyberdemon should teleport back in when you run over the square of lava and grab the BFG, yeah. I'm not sure why he wouldn't. If you can get the bug to show up again, could you go see what he's up to in the holding room at the top of the map?

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