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The Stars of Styx - Something a bit more serious this time

Download link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/r18asifajfvigtg/AADbU_QxJ1l2E7ZjuobUHU3Ma/TheStarsOfStyx.zip

The story behind The Stars of Styx is as follows:
About a month back, I composed a new MIDI. This MIDI, together with the blue aesthetic of the Swim With The Whales levels by Ribbiks, inspired me to make a new Doom map. Eventually, I found myself composing 4 more MIDIs for the soundtrack of the wad and making a second map.

"There are legends about a place in Hell, across River Styx, where a cloud of stars can be gazed upon against a deep blue sky. This place is a very special one, as it is told that the Stars of Styx can resurrect a soul into life. No man has ever traversed into this place, and those who tried, they were stopped by the minions of Satan. But is it worth the task after all?"

Screenshots can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=707613229271290&set=pcb.10152164835722878&type=1&theater

The original soundtrack can be downloaded in high quality here: https://mfg38.bandcamp.com/album/the-stars-of-styx-ost

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walter confalonieri said:

mkay, but what source port?


ZDoom.

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MisriHalek said:

Couldn't download.
Is the link ok?


I'm 100% positive there's nothing wrong with the link. Maybe your internet refused to cooperate somehow.

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Played your maps. They were OK, nothing really wowed me, other than the music which was quite good and definitely the highlight of the wad. Here is some criticism which is meant to be constructive and helpful as opposed to antagonistic and off-putting (which is how I always worry I will come across when I write things like this).

I feel like these maps had a lot of potential for interesting gameplay scenarios that just didn't get used very well. Some examples from map 01: the imps+cacos ambush when you grab the megaarmour would be much more fun if you didn't really have that whole outside area to move around in; The fight with the Hell nobles for the red key would be harder if the walls were closer; the revenant horde behind the yellow key door is easily delt with just by stepping outside the door and spamming rockets. The difficulty on UV felt like how it should be on HNTR. I don't want to suggest that the only way to make a map fun is to make it hard, but I feel like a lot of new-ish mappers are afraid to put the player in any really serious danger, or overestimate the danger of certain scenarios (there was no need for any of those invulnerabilities), and as such the gameplay suffers.

I had more fun with Map 02 playing from pistol start, because the at least the first bit of the map requires you to play carefully as opposed to just showering everything with bullets and calling it a day.

Also, considering you said that they are ZDoom maps, I don't see any ZDoom features here. I think you could benefit from some: there are far too many encounters where the player can just run away easily, which could be easily stopped with ZDoom by requiring killing certain monsters to open doors or whatever. Or, make it Boom-compatible and you will probably get more response, at least here on Doomworld.

The visuals are fairly plain, there are some good moments and the caves look nice with the cracks in the floor but there's too many single-textured hallways or plain square designs. I did like the look of the monster teleport pads inlayed in the ground, and the last rooms of the second map were OK, could've been much improved with some dramatic lighting.

Again the music is really good and it's always nice to hear new compositions for maps.

Anyhow like I said before this is meant to be helpful, if you found it hurtful or you just disagree feel free to ignore me entirely :P I did have some fun with these maps, I just feel they didn't live up to their potential.

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plums said:

Played your maps. They were OK, nothing really wowed me, other than the music which was quite good and definitely the highlight of the wad. Here is some criticism which is meant to be constructive and helpful as opposed to antagonistic and off-putting (which is how I always worry I will come across when I write things like this).

I feel like these maps had a lot of potential for interesting gameplay scenarios that just didn't get used very well. Some examples from map 01: the imps+cacos ambush when you grab the megaarmour would be much more fun if you didn't really have that whole outside area to move around in; The fight with the Hell nobles for the red key would be harder if the walls were closer; the revenant horde behind the yellow key door is easily delt with just by stepping outside the door and spamming rockets. The difficulty on UV felt like how it should be on HNTR. I don't want to suggest that the only way to make a map fun is to make it hard, but I feel like a lot of new-ish mappers are afraid to put the player in any really serious danger, or overestimate the danger of certain scenarios (there was no need for any of those invulnerabilities), and as such the gameplay suffers.

I had more fun with Map 02 playing from pistol start, because the at least the first bit of the map requires you to play carefully as opposed to just showering everything with bullets and calling it a day.

Also, considering you said that they are ZDoom maps, I don't see any ZDoom features here. I think you could benefit from some: there are far too many encounters where the player can just run away easily, which could be easily stopped with ZDoom by requiring killing certain monsters to open doors or whatever. Or, make it Boom-compatible and you will probably get more response, at least here on Doomworld.

The visuals are fairly plain, there are some good moments and the caves look nice with the cracks in the floor but there's too many single-textured hallways or plain square designs. I did like the look of the monster teleport pads inlayed in the ground, and the last rooms of the second map were OK, could've been much improved with some dramatic lighting.

Again the music is really good and it's always nice to hear new compositions for maps.

Anyhow like I said before this is meant to be helpful, if you found it hurtful or you just disagree feel free to ignore me entirely :P I did have some fun with these maps, I just feel they didn't live up to their potential.


It wasn't hurtful at all. At least you gave legitimate feedback instead of just saying "WTF DEEZ MAPS SUX" (don't worry, I didn't misinterpret it like that).

As for more specific points, I know I didn't use too many ZDoom features, but I usually choose to map for it because it's basically been my port of choice since 2009. And even personally, I do feel that the full potential of my mapping was left unused. I did use more of it this time, though; this one is like the tenth wad or so that I've released publicly, and as opposed to my previous works, the map layouts in this wad are less agonizingly linear. Just take a look at Bleeding Skies or Stana Prkle by me if you don't believe me. :P

Lastly, I do agree with you that the music is definitely the strong point of the wad.

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hihi, here's an fda (recorded in zdoom 2.7.1): https://www.mediafire.com/?b9a7aiia6f04bwz

I agree with nearly all of plums' assessment, but here's some other misc commentary:

+ music interesting indeed
+ tele-pad/item-pad motifs, corner/diagonal support texturing, and random glowy things are definitely my cup of tea :)
- extremely dark (was playing in software graphics), was hard to find out where to go in some of the cave areas
- stringy hallway layout. I encourage you to experiment with layouts that twist around and revisit themselves, instead of mapping with the "hallway-->room-->hallway-->room" mindset.
- most of the combat took place in big flat arenas. Situations could be made more dangerous by reducing the space the player has to move, and encounters can be made more interesting by introducing more height variation, monsters attacking you from different angles, etc

Anyways, good luck on future stuffs :)

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I do like the music, definitely sets the mood. The map (I only played the first) is pretty boring though, to be frank. While the layout may not be "linear" in the sense that it's not a straight shot from A to B, because you have a bit of retracking steps and such, it's still linear in the sense of everything has to be done in a certain order. The room design is also pretty bland. Most of the design is room-hallway-room-hallway. While the curves and water details make it an upgrade on the "square room, 64 wide hallway, square room, 64 wide hallway" as seen in the early days of yore, gameplay-wise it's effectively the same. And the map does get a bit underwhelming, especially near the yellow key area - with the invuln sphere and big marble demon head coming down, I expected a Cyberdemon, not four lost souls, heh. Early fights are a bit lame too, waiting for monsters to teleport in slowly one at a time isn't fun, and the walking monsters can't move off the teleporters because of the height gap around them. (Also, probably should use hidden flags on the monster pens).

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it's a nice, plan map (MAP01)... btw fix the yellow skull key door (add the line effect on the doors!) and remove some revenants... that's the point i reached so far...

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MFG38 said:

I know I didn't use too many ZDoom features, but I usually choose to map for it because it's basically been my port of choice since 2009.


I think mapping for ZDoom is fine. But you're not using all the tools in your toolbox. (Don't take that to mean that you need to use all the ZDoom features available, please!)

I don't see a textfile with this download; what would you think about me playing around with the first map a little? No problem if the answer is 'no'. But I feel like there might be a really great map buried in there, it just needs to be chiseled out a little more.
edit: Just saw the text file embedded in the wad. Nevermind then :)

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