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Steve D

Shotgun Symphony -- Ultimate Doom episode -- RC8 Beta

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Welcome to the Shotgun Symphony pre-release thread. It currently requires a Boom-compatible port because of a right-scrolling wall on E1M8. Download it here: http://www.mediafire.com/file/cmq9f6kraoa1rqo/SGNSYMRC8.wad

Shotgun Symphony replaces Episode 1 of Ultimate Doom. Though inspired by Romero's maps, it is primarily a homage to Fava Beans insofar as it features both E1 and E2 themes, which is how id wanted mappers to do it back in '94 and '95.

By comparison to Fava Beans, the maps in Shotgun Symphony are larger and much more violent. Every monster except the Spider Mastermind is used. Indeed, there's a Cyberdemon in E1M1. Please note, you are not supposed to kill the Cyberdemon in E1M1, it is part of the story. A separate story post is coming up soon, but for now, I can say that every map in Shotgun Symphony is connected. Each map ends at the start of the next map. Some maps share common areas, for example M1, M2 and M8 share a fairly large open area. From M1, you can see into M2 and M7. Another example is that as you approach the exit to M4, you can see a BFG on a column through a window. You cannot obtain that BFG in M4 because what you're looking at is actually a secret area in M5. So far, no one has found it. Hint – a good knowledge of E1M7 in Fava Beans will help. This type of connected design was pioneered at least as early as 1995 by Osiris. I was also influenced by the hub concept in Hexen.

These maps were extensively tested in 2014 and were found compatible with PrBoom –cl3. With luck, this hasn't changed. I have just completed zero-secret pistol start playthroughs of all the maps on HMP and UV. BTW, an HNTR tester would be much appreciated. The maps are optimized for UV-pistol but are almost as tough on HMP except that some of the really big battles are weaker. There will be occasional ammo stress on pistol start, usually at the start of a map, but you should never run out completely. Continuers will drown in ammo, and they will also get some extra goodies on M5. Each map also has 2 Medikits at the exit so you won't start the next map at super-low health. One warning: the end of E1M1 can get very tight on ammo. I added monsters to the end of that map because early testing resulted in a few players killing the Cyberdemon. The new monsters soak up enough ammo to make that very difficult on UV. However, if you fail to find any secrets on UV, you may end up pistoling Cacos.

While the maps are geared for fast-paced combat, they also have a strong exploratory element, with almost every map having numerous secret areas, often very large ones where you will have to battle for your prize. Many of the secrets are chained as well.

One more thing: This mapset was started in 1997, by which time I had already released about 10 maps in other projects or standalone. The first 3 SS maps were all complete by 1999, while M5 was almost complete. M4 and M6 were the least finished at that time. I was forced to stop the project owing to job demands and also because my editor, Hellmaker, could not run on MacOS X. I picked the project back up in 2012 when I began finishing the incomplete maps and started on the new maps, M7, 8 and 9.

Feel free to take a look and comment. I've added a lot of detail and have darkened and re-lit the maps since 2014. I'm not necessarily in love with all the detailing, so if you see something you think is awful, let me know. I'm currently working on putting together the documentation, and for map geeks, the final release will include all the old versions of the maps in their most advanced 1999 state.

And now for some screenshots;

E1M1 - This is the area shared by M1, M2 and M8


E1M2


E1M3


E1M3


E1M3


E1M3


E1M4


E1M4


E1M4


E1M5


E1M5


E1M5


E1M6


E1M6


E1M6


E1M7


E1M7


E1M7


E1M8


E1M8


E1M8


E1M9


E1M9


E1M9

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This is really good. I played the first four maps so far. Unfortunately I forgot the -record parameter for e1m1 and e1m2 -_-. FDAs for e1m3 and e1m4:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/y4lsb31asnnv6zh/sgnsymrc1_1314_rdwpa_fdas.zip

Next batches coming later, I guess eventually with casual demos for the first two maps.

Fun maps, I really like the trappiness and the sheer number of sergeants. Design is cool too. I prefer this to even No Sleep for the Dead, which I liked, due to the larger scale of the levels. e1m4 seems like a breather map in comparison to e1m1-e1m3, not necessarily in a bad way though. The spectacle of the big fight outdoors was quite something. Closest to death was in e1m1, ironically. Finding the chaingun secret in e1m2 was smooth sailing for the bigger encounters, but they seemed objectively meaner than most things in e1m4.

Important bug report: I got stuck in e1m3 in a water pit bisected by a bridge, because the teleporter tagged 10 doesn't go anywhere (the other one works apparently).

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Yay, more ep 1! Always preferred UD and Plutonia over the other two. Downloading now. Will post feedback as I go through the wad. :)

Thank you!

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Just beat the first map. Found all secrets. I actually killed the cyberdemon and I still had 90 bullets and 5 rockets left. If I had used the rl instead of shotgun on other mobs, I would've probably had some shells left, too ;)

EDIT: He's not the final boss or anything, is he? ;)

EDIT 2: Just beat e1m2. Spent ages trying to figure out the second rl secret and couldn't. I am talking about the one close to the chainsaw secret. No idea how to open that wall to get to the lift. Humped every wall in the area out there - still nothing. Enjoyed both keys encounters, good stuff.

EDIT 3: E1M3, one of the teleporters by the blue key door isn't working. The same goes for a teleporter in the secret area (also by the blue key door, the one with the backpack).

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Hmm, turns out I misremembered e1m2, thinking the only chaingun was secret.

http://www.mediafire.com/file/4f94a2oip56gid8/sgnsymrc1_1516_rdwpa_fdas.zip

In e1m1 I indeed ran out of ammo near the end in my first playthrough, having not read your comments in the OP before that. It was fun to maneuver around the cacos and pinkies to reach the exit with only a few shells to my name, and I was quite relieved the cyberdemon encounter was optional. I was also down to ~25% health at one point, and 36% or something before that (due to overly brash play in the first case).

e1m2 has an outdoor water secret that has a surprisingly small booty, for requiring you to go out there and all. This map is probably the most confusing layout-wise, because I keep forgetting where that mandatory path tucked away is, but I wouldn't want that to change -- it only gives the map more character. I remembered this map as being somewhat meaner than e1m4, but a replay suggests it isn't, really (notwithstanding the monsters having no part of my aggressive play early on :D). I guess the difference is the traps are more surprising. Or something.

e1m5 was cool. There was a moment where when I was backtracking, a baron accosted me below the lift. I expected something, but that still freaked me out. :D Apart from the big encounter at the end, and the atmospheric lead up (must take a lot of discipline as a mapper to build such a big area and then not stuff an encounter into it -- I think that is good restraint, here), this one seems less, idk, "special" than the rest, or maybe that's what I get for playing two-thirds of an episode over the course of a few hours. (Don't worry, though, I WILL replay this mapset in its final form when we eventually vote it in to the DWMC. :)). The blue armor secret before the final fight turned out to be useless because I already had 200% armor. Maybe some rockets, too, could go there.

e1m6 is quite a journey. The caco and lost soul fight goes on for quite some time, feels like psychological warfare. Then by the time all the low-tier monsters come out, and ammo is getting short, and then I have to deal with the last set of encounters, quite demanding stuff in terms of energy and focus, despite nothing being objectively more difficult than anything in the previous maps. Cool stuff, that.

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Just played the first two.

The combat in these rarely leaves first gear; the only moments that got the adrenaline going a bit were the light-switch healthpack trap in the first map, and the Zerk-pincer trap and the blue key pincer in map 02. I mean, come on, the traditional "chainsaw Pinkie slaughter" moment consisted of... one Pinkie and one Spectre?!?! Or, in E1M2, when you get the chaingun, and think "all right, time to gun down some trash", and you get... six imps leisurely loitering in the distance. Even the blue key battle politely shutters itself off once you punch through one of the pincers.

I don't feel like the Cacos in map 1 really work. Maybe if the swarm was big enough that you couldn't kill them all with available ammo, and you had to push forward through the trash mobs in front of you (and you got rid of the pinkies in the "in front of you" part of this equation), but right now, it's just a grind.

Check your pegging on the walls by your lifts in E1M2. So many bits of silver trim moving up and down on the walls.

Why is that one offset wall secret in E1M2 a shoot trigger instead of a use trigger?!?!

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Just a quick note to say thanks for the feedback! Many thanks to rdwpa and Firedust for finding that teleporter bug on M3. That teleporter -- actually, those two teleporters, counting the one behind the sneaky secret door -- have been there and working fine since '98. I fucked everything up yesterday after I fiddled with the archway over the bridge and merged some sectors. D'oh!

That problem has been fixed, but now I'm doing a full-secret playthrough of RC1 before I put RC2 up there. I'm about to start M6, so I should be done in a few hours.

@rdwpa -- my apologies for ruining your M3 FDA. I also would have enjoyed watching your first crack at the yellow key fight. Great comments on all the maps, too. I'll talk more about that after RC2 is up.

@Firedust -- there always has to be a wiseguy who kills the M1 Cyb. :D Congrats on finding all the secrets in that map, you have a great eye for the '90s tricks. Hell, finding that sneaky door in M3 is a very unusual accomplishment. Hardly anyone finds that.

@Capellan -- wow, thanks! If it has to be one or the other, pistol start is preferred, since continuous will probably cause you to say, "You really have no concern whatever about ammo balance, do you, Steve?" :D

@Cynical -- I'll deal with you later! :D Seriously, thanks for giving this a whirl, since I'm guessing that Knee Deep style mapsets aren't your go-to thing.

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Firedust said:

Just beat the first map. Found all secrets. I actually killed the cyberdemon and I still had 90 bullets and 5 rockets left. If I had used the rl instead of shotgun on other mobs, I would've probably had some shells left, too ;)

EDIT: He's not the final boss or anything, is he? ;)


I'll only say this -- I came up with something different for M8. Barons and special tags are involved. ;)

BTW, one reason I ask players to not kill the Cyb, aside from story reasons which will become obvious if you stick with it, is out of mercy for any speedrunners who might give this set a go. If you don't kill the Cyb, you can max the map with 99% kills and not have to slog it out shooting that sucker through the bars. I've done it a few times myself and it's not fun, though I admit that one time Cybie slipped a rocket through those bars and got me. A real LOL moment. ;D

I obviously can't play control freak and force players to leave Cybie alone, nor can I balance the ammo so perfectly that high-skilled players won't have enough ammo to do it without unfairly punishing casual players, like myself, for instance. I guess I'll just give up and leave things as they are, but with notes to leave Cybie alone and my official endorsement that you can max the map with 99% kills.

Firedust said:

EDIT 2: Just beat e1m2. Spent ages trying to figure out the second rl secret and couldn't. I am talking about the one close to the chainsaw secret. No idea how to open that wall to get to the lift.


That's some obtuse '90s IWAD kinda stuff. If you found the Chainsaw, jump through the window in that room. There's a switch outside that lowers the wall by the lift. There is a clue: if you look through the window behind the donut switch, you can see a teleporter. Otherwise, even the computer map wouldn't necessarily help you with this one. BTW, that RL used to be where the Computer Map was.

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e1m1 on HNTR

Found only one secret; the blue armor. Which I guess will be handy should I choose to continuous-play these as well as pistol start them :)

Speaking of secrets - a very large portion of the map seems to be gated off behind them. Which is not intrinsically a bad thing, mind you, but will reduce the amount of content the less observant player (i.e. me) will experience.

I'm not really a fan of the little cubby hole encounters opened by tags 2 and 3. They feel bitsy and disconnected from the main flow of the map. Also not keen on exit signs in areas that aren't the exit, I'd suggest dropping the sign before the teleport to the shared area.

Overall the action was alright but a bit 'plink plink' most of the time. I'd say that it'd be more fun on HNTR if you upped the monster ante a little (mostly extra troopers, but also an imp or two) and made a chaingun available in a non-secret location.


e1m2 on HNTR
Did much better on secrets this time (90%, and the one I missed was just sloppiness onb my part), which left me rather ridiculously stocked by the end of the map.

Better tempo to the action this time. HNTR doesn't have to mean a scarcity of monsters if the resources are available for the player to make use of.

I did feel like the direction to go wasn't always all that intuitive. The jump into nukage to grab a lift was pretty much a "well, there doesn't seem to be much else to do" guess. The leap from there to the central platform, however, I liked. Took me longer to twig to than it should have, but I liked it anyway :)

Yellow and blue key ambushes are good examples of how 'easy' doesn't have to mean 'dull'. Both are fun melees. Though if the rising floors in the latter (tag 19) are meant to inconvenience the player, they don't (at least, not on this difficulty).

The startan areas all felt a bit samey - I suggest making some of the rooms have significantly higher ceilings. You'll need to do something to account for startan not tiling well, I know, but it'd help make those areas 'pop' more.

I suggest moving the non-secret chaingun to where thing 94 (a stimpack) is. It could take a player a loooong time to reach if they clear everything else out before making the jump into nukage. That's what I did, and it would have been quite tedious if I hadn't found the secret chaingun.

Replace the secret chaingun with ammo or health.

Check your lower textures around the 'doorblu' strips.

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I am actually loving the secrets here. They feel the same as in the original game. It's also pretty cool how sometimes several of them are connected. Reminds me a lot of the secrets in e1m2 from KDITD. :)

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e1m3 on HNTR
40% secrets. Missed the secret exit but on checking it in DB2, I really should have spotted it.

As with m1, the main change I would make for HNTR would be to make a chaingun available earlier and amp up the monsters, mostly in the form of extra troopers (but maybe a few imps and possibly even a caco in one of the more open areas) in the various incidental fights. Maybe put the chaingun just beyond the red door in HNTR.

Edit to add: I'm enjoying the various little visual references to KDitD.

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Finished!

http://www.mediafire.com/file/k7hsn0yykya0k3n/sgnsymrc2_rest_rdwpa_demosandstuff.zip

Longest FDA: ~53 minutes for e1m7.

My first death was on e1m8 (blocked by a teleporting caco on the cyber bridge :O). I stopped the demo and then got it in the 2DA, but I'll upload a much faster casual max.

e1m9's FDA was recorded when I was tired from grinding maxruns for something else, so it is kind of dull, probably. I stumbled into the worst route, took damage sloppily, thought I'd run out of ammo if I killed everything, so spent some time doing stuff that isn't much fun to watch.

These maps are long enough that it's hard for me to gather all of my thoughts about them (how the hell does DotW do it?). I think the last secret in e1m8 might be better off as something else, perhaps a blue armor. The soulsphere will often be superfluous, with another soulsphere right after it. Or maybe that second soulsphere could be placed somewhere on the ground in the final arena, with some stimpacks or something in its place to patch the player up if they are in dire straits.

e1m7 was probably my favorite map in the set. The secret areas! I ended up grabbing a secret soulsphere with 175% health (because I found other soulsphere secrets), maybe the walkover line that triggers the nearby trap should be shortly ahead of the sphere, just so you avoid the weird situation where an amply stocked player might lose health from the encounter. Not a huge deal though.

I noticed the abundance of exit signs in earlier maps, which I found amusing. :D

The prevalent trend with the larger encounters is that the projectile monsters (usually cacos) aren't so much of a threat unless they can deny space (for example in the e1m3 YK fight). Although I suppose I'm saying this from the perspective of someone who is used to Doom II slaughter stuff.

The final fight in e1m8 is cool but it really feels somewhat small for some reason, like it would be a good final fight for any other level, but not for the very last one. Maybe the bounding wall could be ringed by, idk, a mountain range or something? The area does feel somewhat subdued architecturally. And I can't believe I'm going to say this to you of all people, but I think it might not have anywhere near enough cacos. :D Twice the amount, with some extra cells and rockets to boot, could be quite cool. Also with only two cybers prior to that fight (the way they warp away soon after the wall lowers is really cool, btw), it's relatively easy to just kill both with some BFG spam and not have to contend with them outside. Not sure what the solution to that is -- it takes some of the sting out of the last fight. Also I thought the tie-ins to earlier maps (I was wondering why the hell you put a single sergeant at the end of e1m7 like that!) were really clever.

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Nvm, I forgot that that particular soulsphere already had a trap right before it.

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e1m9 on HNTR
Like Military Base, a considerable step up from the standard maps in terms of difficulty. Hitscanners are a constant source of health drain, especially in the berserk/red key trap area. A player who stumbles into that area without armour, as I did, may have a rough time of it.

I note that there is a green armour in the red key area in HMP/UV but not HNTR - is this intentional? If so, I'd suggest a little bit more health in HNTR in this section. A couple of stimpacks in the central nukage perhaps.

You appear to have a major issue with co-op play in this map. If a player triggers the red bars to close (tag 13) and then dies without getting the red key, the other players will be permanently locked out of that part of the map. Simplest fix is making line 1522 a WR door open for the bars. A fancier solution would be to have a switch somewhere to open the bars, which is only accessible after linedef 634 has been triggered.

I also suggest that once you've got both keys, this should release some monsters into the exit wing - perhaps teleporting into sectors 18 and 416 - so that the trek to the exit is a bit livelier. It can be a bit of a case of 'empty map' right now.

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I thought I'd have time to comment yesterday, but that plan went south. ;D I'll try catching up today, starting with Adam's remarks, though I won't always quote this much, so I can keep the skyscrapers of text a little shorter.

Capellan said:

e1m1 on HNTR

Found only one secret; the blue armor. Which I guess will be handy should I choose to continuous-play these as well as pistol start them :)

Speaking of secrets - a very large portion of the map seems to be gated off behind them. Which is not intrinsically a bad thing, mind you, but will reduce the amount of content the less observant player (i.e. me) will experience.

I'm not really a fan of the little cubby hole encounters opened by tags 2 and 3. They feel bitsy and disconnected from the main flow of the map. Also not keen on exit signs in areas that aren't the exit, I'd suggest dropping the sign before the teleport to the shared area.

Overall the action was alright but a bit 'plink plink' most of the time. I'd say that it'd be more fun on HNTR if you upped the monster ante a little (mostly extra troopers, but also an imp or two) and made a chaingun available in a non-secret location.


Thanks for doing the HNTR test. I honestly don't believe I've ever played HNTR on these maps, and that's going all the way to '97. IMO, you saved M1, because I decided to play HNTR alongside you, and I thought M1 HNTR was pure shit. The opening was underpopulated and boring, while the final exit hallway actually had all the UV monsters. Yeah, I never set difficulty there. Those Dumbass Pills strike again! ;D At least the other areas were set, so you didn't have 3 Cacos flying in through the windows. Jeez.

I think what happened in the opening section is that I set the difficulty back in the day in my old haphazard fashion, which is to say, in a completely incompetent manner. No "Power of Threes" linear reduction back then, just click and pray. :D

I upped the monster count in the opening section, mostly with zombieboys as you suggested. I reduced monsters according to The Power of Threes in the exit hallways, and changed the outdoor Sergeants in the water towers into zombies to make them less dangerous. The whole thing is much more balanced now, and HNTR is probably harder than most M1s on UV as a result.

I didn't add a non-secret Chaingun since otherwise I'd have to make the secret Chaingun something else. That's an idea worth considering, though, for HNTR. The only worthwhile replacement I can think of is a Computer Map, because the Chaingun is part of a secret chain that includes the Backpack and Rocket Launcher. You can get the Chaingun without getting the other 2 -- and you can also get the other 2 without getting the Chaingun! ;) -- so that gives a Computer Map actual value. As for locking away large parts of the map, that's intentional. The goal is to create a sense of mystery so that those who are inclined to replay maps will have something to strive for. Casual players may be dissatisfied, but then again, if you play with zero secrets on the harder difficulties, the reward is tougher fights. We always have to balance the competing demands of action vs. exploration, and at some point, you have to make a call on what to emphasize. The call I made for this mapset was, "Variations on the theme of Toxin Refinery." ;)

The exit sign in front of the teleport is there because in the old version there was no way back to the start if you wanted to look for secrets. The sign thus served to alert you that if you want to explore, you better do it now. That's no longer necessary, because thanks to your commentaries in the DWMC, I realized that not having a way back is a Bad Thing. Still, it might be fun to keep that sign "Because '90s." ;D

Anyway, I played the revised M1 HNTR in both zero and full secret runs and was satisfied with the changes. I'm not uploading new RCs though until the end, so if you want to do continuous that will be the time.

On E1M2, I was much more satisfied with the action, as were you. Presumably, the lower difficulties in most of the map were set in the '90s as well, so maybe I just lucked out, but there was also a lot more revision to this map since 2014 and a lot of new enemies were added.

I took your advice and added a non-secret Chaingun just beyond Thing 94, right in front of the lift, for HNTR only. I replaced the secret Chaingun with a Medikit, again for HNTR only.

It's true about unintuitive progression, but that lift-platform-radsuit thing used to be a lot worse. Originally, instead of bars, I had a little UAC door, and the radsuit was out in front, so the natural thing was for players to jump down, grab the radsuit, and find out the door was locked. So if they go up the lift guarded by Sarge, then walk up the stairs to see the Chainsaw, then have that fight with the Imps, by the time they finally press the switch their suit is running out and they tank damage waiting for the lift to come down. Talk about a shitty design! :D The way it turned out, I guess I can say, "Puzzle element" and hope someone buys it. ;)

The Tag 19 rising floors are a kludge to cover up my poor planning for the shared area. M1 and M2 started out as maps for different projects, and looking through my old versions, it seems like it wasn't until late '98 or early '99 that I came up with the idea of an interconnected mapset. By then, the maps already existed, so I jury-rigged a connection between M1 and M2, which resulted in at least 3 continuity errors. If you look through the windows in M1, you'll see Support3 walls, which represent the floors in the risen position. This is just to cover up the reality that I didn't have room to complete the architecture. In the original version of M2, those rising floors also served to permanently cut the player off from going for the Chainsaw secret. You had no choice except to exit the map if you made the "mistake" of going into that area after grabbing the key. Once again, bad design, so I added all those floor-lowering switches.

I could make that area "perfect" by pulling walls, but consider the work involved. It would have to be done on M1, 2, 7 and 8. In order to account for the real size and placement of M2, the shared area would need to be lengthened very far to the right of where you teleport in, the exit hall would be greatly lengthened, the water area would get much larger, and so on. It can be done, but IMO isn't worth it. The illusion has been enough so far. Someone is going to figure it out and call me on it, and at that point it will go down as a design quirk. ;)

I'll look for areas to raise the ceiling in the star texture rooms. I didn't worry much about aligning star textures back in the '90s, or texture cut-offs, either. That led to a lot of misery in polishing these maps. ;D Star textures tile well enough vertically if your room is 128 units high. Going to 256 is straightforward. The real nightmare with star textures is horizontal alignment. They really want a 64-unit grid.

Summing up, congrats on finding so many secrets! I look forward to more of your comments.

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@Capellan

Well, you had new comments ready before I replied to your first batch. ;)

I'll take a look at that co-op issue on M9. I don't play co-op and am basically clueless about it, so I need all the help I can get.

Thanks for noting the missing Green Armor. It's not intentional, it's a mistake. My linear reduction approach only reduces the monster counts. Everything else stays the same unless someone playtests HNTR. ;) I was obviously setting monster difficulties and then added the armor without looking at the check-boxes.

You want even more monsters after the red key battle? You should see how many teleport in on HMP and UV. I put those in because Suitepee said the map petered out after you get the key. I'll consider your suggestion, but the map is pretty relentless on UV and the short breather can be viewed as a, "Finally, I can relax" moment. ;)

BTW, M9 is a map in the Amiga Demo Party style. I'm guessing it's the first one you've played. It's much easier than the original Amiga Demo Party or Heat Miser, but it keeps you occupied. ;)

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What a brilliant episode, really beautiful maps Steve. These levels are vast in size and look great and battle well too.

I remember playing the first few maps of this many years ago during the Team Insanity days and they were certainly impressive maps and the use of Brown1 and Startan3 was very nice. But seeing the revamps, my jaw hit the ground.

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Ok, finished this episode, had a blast!

Wasn't really difficult or tight on ammo for me (played on UV continuous)

One thing, you might wanna check all the secrets work as intended since there were quite a few I didn't manage to find.

Thanks for this awesome episode! Hope you shall release more in the future (and that they take you less time to make) :)

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SteveD said:

Thanks for noting the missing Green Armor. It's not intentional, it's a mistake.


You'll need to fix the box of shells on the other side of that area as well, then, as it is also absent in HNTR :)

SteveD said:

You want even more monsters after the red key battle?


I want more monsters after *both* keys, and teleporting in somewhere different :) Right now if you do the red key first, as I did, the entire second half of the map feels almost like an afterthought, gameplay-wise. There's nothing at all to challenge you.

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Capellan said:

I want more monsters after *both* keys, and teleporting in somewhere different :) Right now if you do the red key first, as I did, the entire second half of the map feels almost like an afterthought, gameplay-wise. There's nothing at all to challenge you.


You're right, Adam. I just watched rdwpa's M9 FDA and he also took the red key leg. I noted some serious flaws in my gameplay design, for example there needs to be a Rocket Launcher and Chaingun in the red key leg as well so it doesn't turn sloggy. I did the weapon design as if this was a typical linear map, but it's non-linear so the original plan doesn't work if players take advantage of the flowy layout.

And as you said, if you go the red key route first, you face the toughest battles and after that, the blue key leg is trivial. I saw it in rdwpa's FDA.

On the missing shellbox, that wasn't the only thing missing. All kinds of decorative Things were missing as well -- light sources and impaled corpses by the truckload simply weren't there. What a fucking disaster! :D Worst of all, this wasn't the result of some last-minute change, this was a screw-up from the very beginning. Smh.

From now on, I'll always do at least a walkthrough of HNTR before putting a mapset up.

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e1m4 on HNTR
The opening is easily the hairiest part of the map on HNTR. Maybe drop an extra set of shells in the middle of sector 6 on HNTR. Less pistol-whipping required then.

The outdoor trap on the triple rocket boxes is amusing carnage.

Missed a lot of secrets again - only got the 2 really obvious ones off sector 2. Looks like quite a lot of the level was hidden in the parts I didn't find. The stuff I did find was good fun though.

Other than an extra set of shells in the opening, the only thing I might suggest is that picking up the blue key should make release a few monsters into the opening room or the exit hall (sectors 7 or 219 etc), as it's once again a rather lonely walk to the exit (especially for anyone who happened to skip the optional courtyard stuff).

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RC7 is up and the OP has been updated; http://www.mediafire.com/file/svq43e5d887m6cq/SGNSYMRC7.wad

This version fixes the following problems revealed by Adam and rdwpa.

A Chaingun and Rocket Launcher have been added to the red key arena.

Missing Green Armor and Shellbox in red key arena on HNTR have been restored.

Numerous decorative Things that were missing on HNTR have been restored.

A walkover door-opening line has been added at the start of the Zerk room. This opens a door behind the red key bars which contains a switch to raise those bars. This is to prevent co-op players from getting stuck in case the first man into that room dies before they also enter the room.

There will be more changes to this map according to Adam's suggestion to repopulate areas after the key battles, but that will take more time. This version fixes the most glaring problems.

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RC8 is up, and the OP has been updated. http://www.mediafire.com/file/cmq9f6kraoa1rqo/SGNSYMRC8.wad

This version fixes a problem I noticed in rdwpa's FDA of E1M5. A lowering floor was left in the "down" position after I fiddled with some texture alignment. It didn't break the map because this floor goes down and up repeatedly, but it was really weird and could seriously change the gameplay flow.

I also plan to strengthen the end-map fight, but that will come later.

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@rdwpa - I finally get to your comments and FDAs. I apologize for taking so long, but big thanks for playing through so rapidly and making so many valuable comments.

BTW, I watched the SM 13 video. It was hilarious to see that Mastermind going back and forth on the conveyor. The gameplay looked absolutely savage, too. I may be brave enough to try that one someday. I'm definitely going to play your Ahhhh map and also finish Eden in the coming week or two.

On SS, I thought your M1 FDA was very fun to watch. You really attacked that map aggressively. The secrets are quite difficult to get in that one, and the signals might be obscure to modern players. You did, however, hit the panel that would have opened the way to a switch that starts the big secret chain for Backpack, Rocket Launcher and Chaingun, but you hit it obliquely and maybe didn't fully commit to pressing that wall, so it didn't open. I've seen that happen frequently with fast players, I'm guessing because you expect a trap? Your "mouse language" seemed to suggest that. ;) I saw nothing in your FDA that suggested a need for improving the map, so with Adam helping to tune HNTR, I'll mark this one as Satisfactory.

Your M2 FDA was another fun, aggressive blast, though there was one section that confused me. You were in front of the big lift that goes into the Zerk area, and all of a sudden you started running all over the map pressing computer panels and walls as if you were looking for a switch that lowers the lift. I was wondering, "Why not press the lift first?" Or maybe you saw that huge number of secrets and decided to look for them now. You found the secret Chaingun as a result of your exploration, so you were successful. I was a bit disappointed that the yellow key battle went so easy, but that was the fault of the Sergeants, because they seemed uncommonly shy about opening fire on you. I was thinking, "Man, my hitscanners are letting me down! How come they never do that when I play this fight?" Nonetheless, I saw no reason to fortify this fight, so unless you disagree, I'll leave it as is. You also found a lot of secrets in this map, including that little water area secret you mentioned. I put that in there because an impassable line at the window would have seemed weird, so I knew players would jump out and explore, and feel ripped off if there was nothing out there. So I added a few little goodies, nothing much, because the player had all they needed for the yellow key fight right in its area. Later, you handled the blue key fight very well, and everything went as well as I could hope for when dealing with a player of your skill, so apart from HNTR modifications, I'll consider this map satisfactory as well.

I really enjoyed your M3 demo. I was both proud and sad that you got skunked on secrets. They are very much in the vein of Toxin Refinery, by far the most influential map for me when it comes to these traditional adventures. It was really fun watching you at the yellow key fight. You took a route I never take because I know I'd get cornered where the floor drops down to the nukage. I did not expect a pelt from a player of your skill, but I'm happy you had a couple tense moments, or seemed to. ;) You also revealed flaws in the final 2 encounters near the exit. When I saw you hit the jets and go down the stairs, my first thought was that maybe I should throw in some teleporting Sergeants on the stairs, or even down in the lower room, perhaps turning the yellow door into Door Open, Stay, so they could march in regardless of what the player does. You also managed to defeat the exit trap by taking out the snipers and Cacos before setting off the Lost Souls and Sergeants. Great job crowd-controlling the Sergeants and lining them up for Chaingun slaughter. I'm a bit at a loss as to how to tighten this up, though the obvious solution is to change the Cacos into teleporting monsters so you can't kill them ahead of time, or leave the ones currently there and add teleporting Cacos. ;) So I guess this map is not quite satisfactory yet and needs some tuning towards the end.

I generally agree with your first impression of M4 as a breather map. I think that's because the 2014 tests resulted in more players being satisfied with that map as it was, while M1 thru M3 received more calls for improvement, M3 especially being cited as not having quite enough action. I noticed that the way things turned out, M1 thru M3 might actually have become the nastiest maps in the set, so I was kinda worried about that. With M4, there are certain problems. For example, anyone who finds the secret Soulsphere will go through IMO some of the map's better encounters, but they will also get the secret blueberry just before they get the free Soulsphere beyond the yellow door, which makes that pick-up pointless. Tbh, I think that pick-up is pointless anyway, since the encounters are much softer towards the end. I believe I put that blueberry there because of the gap space between the 2 sections, which wanted something in it. I figured a blueberry would be fun, and so it goes. I believe it needs to be changed, however, perhaps putting the Computer Map there so that players will go after the secret one if they missed it before, and have some decent fights. I guess I'm not heavily motivated to increase the combat intensity in the blue key area to match the soulsphere giveaway, since it would need a teleport trap to bring in the necessary firepower, and the player would see it coming a mile away, but they'd be down in the water when it opens up, which seems really awkward. Then again, I may throw one in there to see how it goes, perhaps trapping the blue key instead of the SS so the player is automatically cornered.

This completes Part 1 of my reply to rdwpa's comments and FDAs. More coming soon.

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SteveD said:

This completes Part 1 of my reply to rdwpa's comments and FDAs. More coming soon.


e1m1/e1m2 were casual playthroughs, because I was so excited to play that I messed up the -record parameter during my first playthrough. The e1m2 YK fight was more tense in the fpt because I thought the hitscanners were warping everywhere. The corner is a bit of a safe spot, I guess. Re secrets, sometimes I look for them, sometimes I don't, and iirc I didn't really try too much in e1m3, but I think they were probably the most obscure since I'll often stumble across at least one or two secrets without looking so hard. Either way, it's something to look forward to in a replay. The last encounter in e1m3 seemed fine to me, the area is too spacious for two cacos to be so threatening, and sergeants sniping through the windows would either not change much or (if they are legitimately threatening) might feel cheap. I liked it; I highly expected *something*, but it wasn't a letdown or trivial cheese, which are the real bad outcomes with predicted traps.

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