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purist

Visions of Hell E2 beta

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I've finished MAP07 - MAP11 of my Visions of Hell vanilla Plutonia megawad and am looking for some feedback at this point before moving onto E3. I'm particularly hoping to weed out critical errors such as places to get stuck, impossible 100% kills/secrets or vanilla crashes.

The aim with this is an old school feel with fast paced run 'n' gun gameplay.

Screens:







I have also included E1 levels, which have had bugs fixed since the last time I made them available.

This should run in Chocolate Doom and any other port using Plutonia as an IWAD. You'll need to use the .deh patch for things to work right and I have included this both as a separate file and as a lump in the WAD. Retro Doom didn't run the .deh file when I tested it but that might just be my configuration.

On some levels there is not much difference between HMP and UV. I plan on making E2 maps more challenging in UV but the E2 maps have been designed around HMP so far.

Download: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2le06gd51wiaigi/voh.zip?dl=0

Additional credits go to Obsidian for help with the DeHacked file and Dew for thorough playtesting notes to work from in E1.

Lastly, if anyone would like to do some art for this please PM me :-)

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Dayum, I am caught not expecting this release! How cool!

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Here are some fdas for maps 01-11
http://www.mediafire.com/download/qyrwvkvu60tev1r/voh-mouldy-fda.zip
Some may not be very interesting to watch as I play suicidally and die over and over quite a lot. I didn't manage to finish hardly any of them, but if I at least died within view of the exit I counted that as some kind of victory.

These are hard aren't they? Real bastards, they certainly are faithful to the plutonia level of difficulty and then some. There are some really clever ideas in these maps, especially the monsters. Really ingenious and evil situations and layouts. Definitely not very forgiving, I'll have to come back to it with some save abuse. Very interesting set of maps.

I didn't find any bugs, although there was a pillar in one map which had a scrolling SK_LEFT or SK_RIGHT texture which looks a bit bad because it has a bit of SW1SKULL texture on one edge so it doesn't tile. I can't remember which map it was, but you'll probably see me staring at it in the demo.

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I've recorded FDAs for MAP07-08 in Chocolate Doom 2.0, but I forgot to load the .deh too - maybe that's why I've encountered blocking hanging corpses in the dark caves in MAP08.

I liked the spaciousness and casual feel of the maps, enjoyed! :)

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MAP09-11 FDAs, this time with the .deh properly loaded. MAP09 crashed near the end, with this error message:

IOperm_InstallDriver: OpenSCManager failed (5).
Demo voh09fda.lmp recorded
Anyway, your mapping style is sympathetic to me. There's lot of non-linearity and freedom given to the player, fun from movement as well as challenge, and nice environments. All great stuff, keep up the good work.

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dew said:

Dayum, I am caught not expecting this release! How cool!


I'm also pleasantly surprised by this as I remember playing through the first version. It seems I only got up to the 5th map last time, so I'll start from Map 6 now. (UV continuous in Zandronum)

Map 6: Without at least a Green Armor, the section with the Pain Elementals, Chaingunners and the AV attacker seems a little unfair as there's also no indication as to which one you should go through first (to get the SoulSphere and MegaArmor), so you could easily end up there.

Map 7: If you're playing from the previous map, I'm not sure how you're supposed to really complete the start of this one. There is minimal health (with you coming in <10hp) and you don't get much considering how many hitscan enemies appear. Is your intention for people to run around until they can jump on the first teleporter to the Berserk pack? That seems to be the only meaningful health as even the 10/25s are fraught with danger to actually get. The ending didn't do anything particularly for me as I'm not overly keen on scenarios where you need to be on damaging floor for a period of time without a radiation suit, although it is low damage and you can wipe out the first wave of enemies quite quickly.

Map 8: Enjoyable map overall. I did get a little bit lost after getting both keys. In the blue key room, considering that you need to realise how to activate one lift and time hitting the switch behind the blue key so you can get up the lift it activates, a little bit of health in the secret felt disappointing. Some RL ammo would have been more welcome. I can see a nice UV-Max strategy here by letting all the enemies in the red key area bunch up by one of the ledges so you can RL them to death effectively.

Map 9: Holy difficult start Batman! After obtaining the Soul Sphere secret, it would be nice if the ledges here could be lowered from this side. You have to run all the way back round and while obviously not a major problem, it would be convenient. At the "exit" you can kill all the former humans easily if you shoot them before you drop down as the rest don't wake up. I'm not sure if I missed something, but if you don't exit right away and instead take the path up to the several Chaingunners, there doesn't seem to be anything really worth going up there for? You get 100 Cells, but that's it really. Did I miss something? I found 4 of the 5 secrets, and couldn't find a way to open the door with the barrels in front.

Map 10: The Revenant on the platform near the start is really annoying as it seems to want to fire a homing missile every 2 seconds. It may be possible to SR50 over here which seems to skip a chunk of the map. I made the jump but I know Zandronum has a lot better air control than PRBoom.

Map 11: The fight after one of the teleporters with the 4 invisible AVs is incredibly chaotic. I don't know if I was just lucky, but I was able to dispatch all of them without being blasted by any of the AVs. After seeing the images of the green Cacodemons in a previous level, I had wondered if they were just for decoration but I was pleased to see they're actual enemies, with a more dangerous attack. I'm not sure about the dual Cyberdemon section. I don't know if I missed something out (still had about 30 enemies left when I finished the map) but I seemed to be lacking serious firepower to deal with them. I had about 190 Cells and 25 Rockets by this point, but with no BFG the fight drained all that and a chunk of my Shells.

I see you've already got names in mind for the subsequent maps. Overall these play really well. I know Valiant also has some work with custom enemies (I'm yet to play it) but the custom enemies you've used so far work really well. (Are there any more planned?) At times I was very low on ammo, but a stash of decent ammo was only around the corner. The maps for the most part are pretty challenging, and really only the start of Map 7 seemed duly unfair to me, the rest I could live with. Great stuff and I look forward to E3!

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Hey, I completely missed E1 when you released it, so here's a bunch of FDAs on maps 01 to 06 : here
I don't recommend watching, unless you wanna see someone chainsawing Lost Souls or dying like an idiot.

Great stuff, that's certainly a wad to remember. I wasn't familiar with your style, it's a pleasant surprise. :)
Visuals are clean and effective.
Gameplay-wise, yeah it's pretty hard. Many cruel gimmicks, and tons of lava to ruin a weakened player's day.
Map06 seems nasty, but I'll retry with saves.

Good luck with your megawad !

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I'm going to play this later on today and drop by to give some feedback. Screenies looks great by the way.

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degree23 said:

Map 11: The fight after one of the teleporters with the 4 invisible AVs is incredibly chaotic. I don't know if I was just lucky, but I was able to dispatch all of them without being blasted by any of the AVs.


I was under the impression that the invisible archviles dont actually blast the player, just resurrect stuff.. at least thats what I figured because non of them blasted me on that bit either...

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Now you mention it, I think you're right. I thought I had taken AV blasts from invisible AVs before, but now that I've gone back to the scenarios where I remember it happening, there was always a visible AV present. That clears that up!

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Thanks for the comments and demos guys. I've watched Mouldy's and will eventually watch them all. I'm also noting feedback so keep that coming :-) To answer the questions here:

Difficulty in UV is aimed at unforgiving. I mentioned in the previous E1 thread that I have designed normal play at HMP and UV is for an extra challenge when you know your way around the level. I probably should have mentioned it again but last time everyone played UV anyway and didn't seem to have a lot of trouble.

Scifista, I've never seen that error messag before - could it be something on your end? Can anyone shed light on this??

Degree23, the idea of MAP07 is the player can either keep weapons but have low health or pistol start with 100%. Both are possible but in UV the secrets make a big difference. The last part in MAP09 is mainly just to let you back up to find any secrets you missed before sinking down.

There's at least one more custom enemy and if I can persuade Obsidian, maybe a couple more on top. I've purposely not used a baron yet so there are some free frames. The spectral vile has no attack. I have been thinking of giving him a melee just cos he looks silly getting in your face and not attacking but we'll see.

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purist said:

Degree23, the idea of MAP07 is the player can either keep weapons but have low health or pistol start with 100%.


I had figured that was the case and I know the WAD is aimed to be challenging, but it's the hitscan that is the problem. Having gone through it a few times, mostly unsuccessful, it really feels like it's up to chance whether you make it through to a sufficient supply of health. Randomness like this seems more frustrating than challenging to me. It wasn't the only place I died in the WAD though. However in all other cases I felt like I just needed to play a bit better/smarter to deal with the challenge, but here it feels like I just need to get lucky.

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It can be done reliably on HMP without secrets or UV if you know where the secrets are. Maybe it is too much to expect players to learn the map before playing the highest difficulty (genuinely, I'm not being catty here). I could force a death exit in UV if that would be preferable.

I've watched the rest of the FDA's - not found any critical bugs yet, which is a bonus - just a few things to smooth out.

I'll keep this up here for about a month for any more feedback coming my way and then I'll get working on E3.

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I despise death exits so that would never be my solution to anything. :D

I don't even really mind needing to learn a map before playing it to be honest. My dislike for it comes from the fact that you are so low on health and you encounter enough hitscan before reaching meaningful health that it really feels like it's down to luck whether you make it through or not as opposed to player skill, especially with Lost Souls flying around. (Hanging way back and sniping everything with single CG shots isn't how you intended the map to be played I'm guessing) Even an early stimpack would help, as you'd be on something like 25/10 after picking up all the +1 health/armor at the start, which is hardly enough to go in guns blazing, but enough that a stray hit doesn't kill you.

Those are just my thoughts from playing, but of course everyone has their own thoughts! No doubt you'll get feedback from others soon and I may be in the minority.

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There seems to be a problem with the music not playing in zdoom. No idea why, it works in prboom+ and zandronum...

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I'll think of something to balance it out degree23. MAP11 ends in a death exit if you can't get to the alternative exit I'm afraid.

Mouldy, I've probably broken something in MAPINFO. The music is just reordered IWAD tracks. Thing is, a couple of weeks ago music stopped working in all my ports for all WADs. Something to do with a Win7 update I expect but I don't know how to fix it. So I'm not able to test music until this is fixed.

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Purist, the problem is that when you redefine map definitions via MAPINFO or ZMAPINFO, then all former traits of the maps will be forgotten, including default music etc. The wad only contains ZMAPINFO and not MAPINFO, which means that older Zandronum won't read it at all - but mouldy, Zandronum 2.0 reads ZMAPINFO just the same way as ZDoom, as it seems, and the music doesn't play either.

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Thanks Scifista, I've redefined ZMAPINFO and the music works properly in GZDoom now. Still nothing in the other ports but that's the case with any PWAD (or even IWAD) on my laptop since the problem I mentioned earlier occurred. Hopefully, it will be fine for everyone with properly working ports in the next release.

I don't know if there's no interest or if the note in the first post just passed people by but if someone would like to do some graphics for this I'm looking for replacements for the following:

TITLEPIC
STBAR etc
M_DOOM
M_SKULL1/2
INTERPIC

If you're interested PM me and I'll be more specific about what I'm looking for.

Although I'm happy to stick with jumbled stock music for levels it would also be cool to have custom title, inter and read music if any musicians would like a go.

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here's some fdas (UV pistol-starts): https://www.mediafire.com/?trc41i5da03m3n5

was pretty enjoyable to playthrough. my biggest criticism is that the architecture (on the average) is really big.. like.. comically oversized at times (see: the entirety of map08) such that most of the monsters are never really threatening. I played rather sloppily and only died once near the end of the last map, so I found it rather easy overall. I'm guessing the large-scale design is to encourage the player the run around a bit wilder, but that's not really the way I go about playing long maps that I'm unfamiliar with. that said, my level of caution and thoroughness (I tended to find a decent number of secrets per map) probably contributed to my perceived lack of difficulty while recording those ^^.

misc thoughts on each map:

07: simple enough. decent use of 666 tags. boat was cute.
08: probably my least favorite by a good margin. windy, oversized, never once really felt in danger. The final fight was a nice setup, if I were making it I'd probably cut the hallway sizes in half :p
09: my favorite in the set. nice and punchy. decently compact, enemy placement is sufficiently threatening most of the time. Looks like it was designed with speed-running in mind. (y)
10: interestingly quirky progression. the routing through the map felt pretty creative.
11: I liked the western half of the map, neat island set-piecey thing. eastern side was more of a non-event. didn't really live long enough through the cybs to figure out how I was supposed to kill them.

I have mixed feelings on the new enemies:

- invisible imp: blegh. I never liked invisible monsters. chalk this disapproval up to personal preference.
- invisible AV: I actually like how you've been using this guy, for the most part. Does a pretty good job at turret guarding (aka forcing you to take fire from multiple directions until you have enough ammo or whatever to clean up the reviving enemy stack), and the imp + 4AV fight in the last map was pretty neat. The fact that it's invisible though seems largely superfluous...
- desaturated red caco: really clashes with the rest of the doom aesthetic tbh. not diggin it.
- freaky green caco: rather ugly. but silly enough that it could come across as some sort of 90s-tribute whimsy, I guess.
- brown demon: I like how these look actually :D
- green demon: not bad visually, though I think their speed is a bit awkward. Past a certain move-speed doom enemies sort of look like they just clip around, like they're "running" sprites cannot reasonably explain how fast they're moving. Eh.

Personal preference aside I think overall the maps are pretty good. Plenty of creativity throughout, lotsa neat and elaborate secrets/interconnectivity, and I still love those AV evil-eyes. gl with e3.

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Ribbiks said:

mixed feelings on the new enemies

A lot of those traits are given by DEHACKED restrictions. To make monster variations without consuming too much DEHACKED states, you must take advantage of the FUZZY flag or a very specialized recolor system for certain predefined colors. And if you just want to increase monster's speed without adding new states with shorter duration for the sake of smoother animation, then they will have to move jerkily.

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Agreed about everything being "comically oversized", I was FDAing Map08 and I could just run, run, run around for minutes without having to fight and that felt really stupid.

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Thanks for the FDAs and feedback Ribbicks. You managed to make my levels look trivially easy just like in the first six :-)

In your feedback you've nailed some of my own reservations about this episode so I'll add my thoughts to yours:

Comically Oversized

There were comments about the first episode having too much space and this is a critisism I have clearly failed to address in the second episode. It's not a concious design decision, probably just a trait that comes from my aversion of cramped or locked-in areas. I'll try to improve this in E2 where practical and aim to tighten things up in the new ones.

Lack of difficulty

This will obviously vary from player to player. Most previous commenters have said they found the levels challenging. UV is very much a rough first draft in this early beta. I'm hoping some dialogue with dew will balance things out better in this difficulty.

MAP08/11

These are my least favourite levels in E2 and I could be persuaded to replace them. Both feel like failed experiments but there are elements in both that I am happy with.

MAP08 was meant to be an adventure style map with a lot of monster roaming - Refueling Base was my main inspiration. In the end it feels too compartmentalised and manages to both make it easy for the player to leave battle areas and difficult for enemies to follow.

MAP11 is three ideas joined together by a hub area. It doesn't feel like a cohesive whole to me. The balance between the side areas being optional but important is not right. I've realised also that I haven't provided additional ammo in UV to take care of the extra cyb so there is only enough if you complete both side areas and use ammo saving techniques.

Monsters

Scifista is right about the limitatons. I don't mind the spectral fuzz in the way I've used it but I agree the pallete toggle isn't great. I have tried the grey recolour, which I prefer to green but still haven't settled on anything yet. I've not found great use for the new demon and caco monsters yet so it might need their behaviour tweaked some more.

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I recorded an fda a few days ago but never posted it, here
I was on map 3, but my prboom started making weird, preemptive crashing noises so I exitted out. I like this mapset so far and try to get around to playing further sometime.

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Cool to see an FDA with continuous play as the others are all pistol starts. Cheers, NoisyVelvet - I'm glad you enjoyed yourself.

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