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Playtest/feedback request: a map for NOVA3

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Updated for some of the feedback given so far! Here's the latest version (version 2)

It's MAP28, and you'll have to include the NOVA texture pack now, unlike previous versions. Please discuss in the NOVA3 thread here. This thread can be closed.

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rdwpa said:

You posted a map for feedback without saying:

1) What texture pack it requires (nobody who isn't following the Nova thread will know what to do).

2) What map it plays back on, since it's not MAP01 (no one will actually be able to play it without either opening it up themselves in an editor or, god forbid, idcleving to every level, all the way up to 28 . . .).

I attempted to make the wad work by itself, without using the texture pack, by including the textures that I used in the wad. I did indeed forget to mention which map is it was (MAP28). Edited OP.

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Hi! This is going to be a long post because I have a lot of things to discuss. Generally you want to keep playtesting inside of the main thread—I know it's kinda dead right now but feedback will come in once the alpha/beta starts coming together. There's nothing wrong with making your own thread for the map per se, it's usually just better to keep development of a map tied to the actual project.

Anyway, let's start with two good things I noticed:

- You're not an incompetent mapper! This may not sound like a compliment, but it's always wonderful to play a map by a newbie and think "these things could be improved" rather than "this is unsalvageable". You display here a good sense of atmosphere, a decent texture use, a natural progression to the map (cave->base->final battle), and a comfortable use of monsters. Which leads to the next point...

- You have an eye for encounter design. The cavern lift battle, the red key battle, and the final battle all have excellent monster composition and placement. The way the AV denies room in the cavern lift and the use of the mastermind in the final fight are superb, and I look forward to seeing what nasty battles you devise in the future.

And now, onto the list of grievances:

- The most detrimental factor is that I missed the SSG in my playthrough, meaning I had a really hard time. When designing maps you should make it so it's basically impossible for the player to miss such crucial pick-ups, by either forcing them through that area or providing a copy of it deeper into the map. What makes this especially bad is that since the cave is so dark and monsters are everywhere, it's real easy to overlook an area where the weapons are—I only found the rocket launcher because I was searching for the blue key. Including the weapons at the top of the cavern lift is probably the best solution, though I wouldn't mind multiple paths into the weapon caves either (there really should be a second way to get to the blue key anyway)

- Whyyyyy would you not provide any health for the red key fight?! I blew the health beforehand on thanks to the chaingunners hiding in the corners, and had to do the entire thing on 14% health. That was nooooot fun, especially when I pushed into the darkness and was desperately looking for just one medikit. Even if you didn't want to provide the player with bandages beforehand, at least giving them some health to patch up their wounds after the fight would've been appreciated. And I'd recommend providing the player with a green armor before it too.

- The yellow key ambush is a bunch of bull. 4 revenants in one hallway? What is the player supposed to do, just backpedal to the first room and hold them off? My experience of this was admittedly skewed as there was no way I could do it with 2 rockets, 0 cell, and just the shotgun (I IDDQD'd through it), but you should still try and account for all player states when they activate traps like this (for instance, you should generally try and play your maps with different strategies/loadouts, just to make sure there isn't one optimal way through each encounter).

- The cavern needs a little more distinction to it IMO. What I mean by that is that you should have little things for the player to look at, or streams of water running in and out of the caves. If you want the player to notice a path more, putting markers/pillars by it helps, or even something small like a torch can draw your sight to it. The blue key in particular should have something interesting next to it, as it's kinda just mindlessly chilling on the floor. I think the inside of the base is pretty good (though predominately silver), and I have no problem with your outdoor sections (perhaps you could try and play around with shadowing here).

- And now, for a list of little fixes/changes/tweaks, using this picture as a guide:

Red Circle: Absolutely no need for these two pinkies to be here—get rid of them and a single shotgun shell beforehand. If you're trying to get the player to make some noise, just spread the imps on the left side out a little more to cover the cavern width so the player can't slip by.

Orange Circle: It's a minor thing, but you should join these blue bars so they raise at the same time. You should also raise the brightness of the surrounding sector by 16 and change the flat used for the ceiling.

Yellow Circle: Come on, chaingunners in the dark? It's rude to place them in that spot in the first place, but if you're adamant on keeping them, at least allow the player to see what's about to kill them. Also the lift doesn't need block monster lines, as it stops the PEs and cacos from chasing the player (just make the AV deaf instead, or have him warp onto the lift when it starts to descend. Furthermore, I'm not really keen on having the player jump across to pick up the backpack and wait for the lift again... there should be a faster way to get them to the top, like a teleport)

Green Circle: This baron is the worst part of the map. What is the player expected to do in such a tight space? It's doable with the SSG but I fear the timing is waaaay too tight; make him a Hell Knight on UV/HMP.

Black Circle: The texture on the walls of this area doesn't really repeat that well. This is a good instance where inset detail can really help. If you do something like this, the wall repeats nicely and you can have the inset sector at 255 brightness & Light Glows (+1 sec) for some nice detail to an otherwise monotone area. Also, I'd change the step texture in the middle of the area too.

Purple Circle: Get rid of this baron—he does nothing but eat ammo (the two HKs beforehand aren't much better either, I'd delete them too). Also in the red key fight, I'd delete the baron that warps in to block your retreat and just raise the step up by 16, so the player has to make a strafe-jump from the red key platform to get back out.

Blue Circle: Another minor thing, but I'd highly recommend changing the bars blocking the key switch here, as they blend in too well with the textures behind them. making them DOORRED and DOORYEL is probably the easiest way to convey to the player their significance.

White Circle: Put some block monster lines behind the mastermind so it's not easy for the player to slip by her. If you want to give her more space to walk around, just extend out the chokepoint a little more.

It may seem like it's a lot of issues, but I wouldn't have written any of this if I didn't think the map showed promise. The more you work on mapping, the more natural these little fixes will come to you.

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Playing this, I kept flashing on the movie 'Total Recall' (the original, not the remake), where you're running around under the surface of Mars. Good design, good atmosphere, good secrets, good map! I'll leave gameplay notes to other, more qualified individuals. Two things.

Sector tag 12, the door to the HK closet. You need a DR or SR switch inside the closet. You can get stuck in there.

Finishing the map on the moon's surface was very cool. But, like in 'Total Recall', an airless surface should cause damage everywhere unless you have Rad Suits handy. That might be too much, considering the scale and length of the fighting. Unless your plan was to have the Player just run around and survive long enough for the exit to become available rather than actually kill everything.

Very nice work!

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dobu gabu maru said:

Hi! This is going to be a long post [...]

Wow, thanks for the thorough review! I'm encouraged by the things you liked, and have a lot of great leads for improvements. It's pretty funny to me that I didn't think to add multiples of the weapons, because it's obviously really bad if you miss any of them, and they are indeed tucked away. Whoops.

The yellow key fight was my biggest concern, because it does seem pretty cheap. You can open the walls behind the demons into a loop for room to fight and some health, which I was hoping the player would find in their desperation, but that's pretty silly. At the veeery least I'll make the walls switches so that it's not a secret. My other justification was that if the player did the red key first and got the plasma rifle, the 4 revs would be pretty trivial, but I don't even know if there'd be enough cells for that. It will definitely get some redesigning.

I gotta defend the green circle baron just a little. Assuming the player has a SSG (they definitely will in the next version!), it's pretty easy to kill him before running out of space, and I was also hoping the player might retreat down the elevator and run into the demon ambush and berserk pack. And in that case they'd also get punished for not cleaning up cacos from the cave fight. That was my thinking at least. I dunno.

But yeah thanks again for the great review! I'll be making most of the recommended changes.

EffinghamHuffnagel said:

Sector tag 12, the door to the HK closet. You need a DR or SR switch inside the closet. You can get stuck in there.

Finishing the map on the moon's surface was very cool. But, like in 'Total Recall', an airless surface should cause damage everywhere unless you have Rad Suits handy. That might be too much, considering the scale and length of the fighting. Unless your plan was to have the Player just run around and survive long enough for the exit to become available rather than actually kill everything.

Ah, whoops. I think I meant for that to stay open, but I like putting a switch on the inside even better. Thanks!

I did consider having the outdoors cause pain, but I thought it would be too annoying on top of everything else. I guess if there are plenty of rad suits it might be interesting.

I figured that doomguy's outfit might as well be pressurized, so it makes some sense that he's fine outside.

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Caverns were too dark/indistinct, enemies too resilient given the ammo and weapons provided, ambushes often left too little room for manoeuvre and overall monster placement seemed haphazard and excessive.

Thing placement and cavern section aside I actually think the map looks brilliant, very reminiscent of the underground base section of Half-Life. Fluid sense of progression and I especially loved the bunk rooms and transition to outside.

Clearly lots of potential but even in its current state I'm sure will appeal to some.

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Posted a new version in the original post with many of the recommended gameplay improvements. Didn't work on much cosmetic stuff yet, except the easy stuff and stuff to make areas of the cavern more distinct.

The worst baron is still there. :D

Notable changes include:

- A sneaky, rewarding way to find the blue key.
- More distinction and powerups in caverns.
- Less chaingunners and more health for the red key fight. Different blocking and secret stuff.
- Yellow key loop isn't a secret anymore.
- Misc ammo/health/enemy shuffling.

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