|Not so eternally bored after all|
|Posted By: Steve Levinson||Date: 8/12/04 12:06 p.m.|
Well, I've finished Mark 1 of Eternal and can now comment more fully on the overall start of the scenario. Things definitely did get better after that first post, and I can comment more on some of the positives and negatives of the scenario so far. On the positive side, I think that the story is very well done and I especially like the terminals and the way that they integrate hints of backstory - jut enough to get the player really intrigued. It's a shame that one of the most interesting of all is on Moontanning, where you really don't have the time to read it if you are to succeed at your mission. There are some really inovative ideas in this scenario and I like the way success or failure has real consequences. What is missing, as in most scenarios, is the ability for the player to make true choices. Forrest, as you develop subsequent chapters, I would urge you to give the player the opportunity to choose which master to follow. At least until Marathon Nonlinear and possibly Rubicon X come out, this would be fairly unique. There is something similar in Ben Potter's Fell, but I think you could provide the player with a much more tormenting choice.
We've already talked about textures and this is truly the last thing that needs to be addressed. I would again reiterate my opinion that the textures are just to clean and monotonous This is largely a matter of taste, I know, and the addition of scenery objects will help considerably, but I would strongly recommend altering the "texture" of the textures when you have a chance so that there is a true appearance of the Marathon being made from a variety of different materials, as would undoubtedly be the case. The most significant grievance I have with the textures is with the terminals, PB's, rechargers and switches. If nothing else, these should not have a roughened appearance. When was the last time you saw an electronic device made from stone or concrete? These should all have a metallic or plastic appearance.
I now have some specific suggestions and comments, level by level:
0) The manual: Don't you know that people don't read manuals? There is too much good introductory stuff and backstory here to be left to be read. I would strongly consider making an intro level along the lines of those in Trojan and Rubicon, or maybe even EMR. This could be extremely simple, but it would convey the information now in the manual and you would insure that it would be read.
1) Deja Vu All Over Again: I dunno - It's an OK level, but it doesn't really feel like the Marathon. It seems a bit contrived, although monster placement is fairly good and there is a lot to do. The problem is that the player never really understands what they're doing or where they need to go and they invariably end up going in circles. The long dark corridors are good and consistent with the Marathon we know, but that drop-away wall that opens to the large, dark open area just doesn't seem to fit. Overall, we're talking about a few minor revisions to make this one great.
2) Boiler Room: This is probably the weakest of the levels, although the monster placement is excellent and the gameplay is overall very good. The most significant problem is that the level is somewhat monotonous - there need to be more interesting variations along the way and places to explore. Also, the search for the chip is, well, a chore. The player shouldn't be expected to look in 8 pools of water to find it. Finally, you are aware of the bug that leads to a trap without escape - this needs to be fixed.
3) Stark Raven Mad - this is a very interesting Pfhor level with some cool textures that strike a nice balance between the M2 and Infinity variations. There is room for improvement as has been discussed, but I can live with these. Because the player will almost certainly die multiple times before surviving, I would suggest a PB near the exit point from level 2. One key thing I would like to mention is that the Pfhor don't like symetry. This has even been noted in another 3rd party scenario - I think it was Scott N's Escape 2, but don't hold me to that. The bottom line is that every Pfhor vessel we have encountered in Bungie's trilogy are asymetric. Your ship is absolutely symetric. I'm not suggesting ripping out major sections, but making selected alterations to give the ship a more asymetric appearance would make it much more Pfhor-like. BTW, I like the Jugger bay. Oh, there is a set of two switches that must be toggled to gain access to the area with the enforcer ambush - one of the doors is untextured, so if you flip the wrong switch first, the view is disconcerting. As you know, the enforcers do not kill the player, but if this is fixed, you'll need to tone that ambush down a bit to make it survivable on TC.
4) G3 Moontanning: I think you have my comments already, but the layout is a bit simplistic. I suppose it has to be in order to make it playable in 3 minutes, what, 14 seconds? On the other hand, there isn't much else to explore - I would consider adding a few more rooms with interesting Marathon-related artifacts. The big issues I have with this level are the time limit and the fact that the timer doesn't stop when the wires are smashed. I believe you will be correcting the latter, but I would still like to make a plea for the former. There is barely enough - barely enough - time to succeed in the mission goals on Normal. The time isn't close to sufficient on TC. You cannot release a scenario that isn't playable on all levels of difficulty, so this needs to be fixed. I'm not sure if it's possible to alter the timer with the level of difficulty, but there are a number of things you could do to make it more challenging on Normal, but to increase the time available (might I suggest 5 or 6 minutes) and have it beatable on TC. This is a vacuum level, after all, so it shouldn't be too hard to up the difficulty level. One thing - the player can effectively skip flipping one of the initial switches - is this acceptable?
5) Un-wired: This level along with level 6 is what led to my first post. To sum it up in one word - tedious. There are some very nice features to be sure, but the level progression is uneven and the randomness of the triggers to enter new areas is just plain lame. Put this on the shelf and come back to it if you must, but you'll lose players if you leave it as is.
6) Core Done Blew: This is actually a very good level except for one thing - the regenerating monsters make it virtually unplayable on TC. You really need to cut the monster regeneration rate by about 90% - the constant need to kill and kill again makes this level tedious on any difficulty level, and there's no escaping the monsters on TC. My suggestion is to cut the regeneration level by a factor of 10 and add new, nonregenerating monsters elsewhere throughout the level to level out the difficulty across all settings.
7) Inti Omega: This is a really cool level - very nicely done. I especially like the ending terminal. Again, I would suggest making the extravision powerups invisible so that the player won't have a clue as to why things are as they are.
8) I Can't Believe It's Not Total Carnage: Well, for me, it is. I've already posted my suggestions directly to Adam. This is by far the strongest map in the scenario. Fix Moontanning so that the player can arrive with, preferably, 2X shields and it's highly playable. My advice is to twist Adam's arm and get him to contribute more levels once he returns from Italy.
9) Can't TOTZ This: Well, on the plus side, unlike level 6, this one can be beaten on TC, but it's extremely difficult. Ulike level 6 where you can theoretically outrun the monsters, there is no option for this here - the narrow passages, particularly around the only PB and shield recharger, virtually insure that the player will be spending a lot of time fighting major fighters and troopers. This once again makes gameplay a bit monotonous. Also, the level overall is rather small and not well developed. I think that the player should have much more to do here and should spend a lot less time fighting the Pfhor. Again, I strongly recommend cutting your monster regeneration rate by at least a factore of 10. That central pillar in the core room does help to shield the player from the enemies, but it's possible to fall in to the center, into an area that is untextured, creating a very weird effect. To repeat, cut the monster regeneration rate and add more places to explore and things to do (not necessarily flipping switches, however) and this will be a much better level.
10) Where Giants Have Fallen: I'll wait to comment on this once I see how it integrates into Chapter 2.
I have a couple of additional thoughts. Firstly, if you want to make this seem more like the Marathon, have the player visit areas that are vaguely familiar. You can either incorporate some portions of levels from M1A1 into one of your maps or you could even include one of the original levels, but modified to fit your story. Of course, you would need permission of the author to do this, but I'm sure you'll get it. What would really be cool is to visit a part of the Marathon that everyone would recognize, but to visit it either long before the time of our last experiecne, when it's filled with bobs and free of Pfhor, or much later than when last seen, when it's covered with Pfhor blood and guts. A third option is to have familiar portions of the Marathon visible from the windows of your levels. I think that these measures would really help to tie your story into Bungie's Maraverse.
Finally, your AI cores are very interesting. You have circular rooms with wires, not unlike what we see on the Pfhor vessels, and we have data nodes that are vaguely similar to Thoth's Jjaro nodes. Marathon data constructs shoud appear to be primitive compared to either the Pfhor or Jjaor constructs - not sure if I would modify what you've done, but it's a thought.
Good luck with everything, Forrest. Again, I'll be happy to beta test as work progresses.
|Not so eternally bored after all||Steve Levinson||8/12/04 12:06 p.m.|
|Re: Not so eternally bored after all||Yossarian||8/12/04 12:38 p.m.|
|Re: Not so eternally bored after all||Mr. Cactus||8/12/04 8:06 p.m.|
|Re: Not so eternally bored after all||Forrest of B.org||8/12/04 9:13 p.m.|
|Re: Not so eternally bored after all||D-M.A.||8/13/04 5:50 a.m.|
|Re: Not so eternally bored after all||Steve Levinson||8/13/04 7:18 a.m.|
|Re: Not so eternally bored after all||Forrest of B.org||8/13/04 11:46 a.m.|
|Re: Not so eternally bored after all||Steve Levinson||8/13/04 12:13 p.m.|
|Re: Not so eternally bored after all||Forrest of B.org||8/13/04 12:49 p.m.|
|Re: Not so eternally bored after all||Steve Levinson||8/13/04 1:29 p.m.|
|Re: Not so eternally bored after all||Ben A. Potter||8/13/04 2:02 p.m.|
|Re: Not so eternally bored after all||Forrest of B.org||8/13/04 4:26 p.m.|
|Re: Not so eternally bored after all||Blayne||8/13/04 2:01 p.m.|
|Re: Not so eternally bored after all||Forrest of B.org||8/13/04 4:30 p.m.|
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