What if John Romero and Sandy Petersen made an Archvile boss map?
Feedback gratefully received as always :-)
*Updated 1st October 2012*
Made some minor changes today as I still wasn't satisfied with the arachnatron ledge. This will be the final version unless changes are required to get it into the final project.
Changelog for 1st September 2012 update.
These fixes were based on suggestions by Essel, zodiac and Hellbent.
Any changes to the central area have had to be mainly texture rather than sector based as I'm riding the VPO limit pretty close.
I've had an idea for one last area at the end the level but I've not put it in yet as I quite like the way the current exit works and don't want to change it unless it's a dealbreaker because I would have to rebuild it.
Hellbent mentioned it's not 'anomalous' enough. I've added a few more bits but I think marble/vines/zimmer in a Starport is fairly anomalous and the secrets give extra clues as to the Hellish subversion of the UAC base.
Any further thoughts on improving this map would be welcome.
Thanks zodiac, some good feedback here.
I'll need to rebuild some sectors in the HK secret to fix that glitch I think. I went a bit crazy adding secrets and started running out of things to put in them. I'll try moving stuff about as you suggest as they seem like sensible solutions.
First AV fight
I feel like I'm getting gradually closer to nailing this fight. The crooked path has already gotten wider than my initial concept but I'll widen it still as I want to minimise the odds of the player falling off.
I don't want to mess with UV placement too much as the map needs to be harder than the preceding 10 but I will look playtest the variations you suggested and keep what works.
The coloured torches are supposed to guide the player but a bolder reference point wouldn't hurt. I have to be careful in that central area as I'm on a VPO knife-edge.
I prefer the audacity of those red lamps too but the texture revisions from this update have been to try and strengthen the Romero side of the collaboration. I'm trying to imprint a stronger identity on this hybrid.
Some more things for me to condsider then. I might as well attempt some DM things in the next version while I'm at it.
I'm loving the update here, the secrets really give it a Unholy Cathedral vibe. This fixes all the major issues, with the plasma really turning around the archvile fights. I really love how a few new areas open to keep revisits interesting when you come back with the right keys.
Still, I've got a new round of comments:
+ In the Hell Knight secret, there's a wrong sector id on the southern beam causing a visual glitch (stand at very bottom, look north through arch).
+ Both health kits are missing from the Blue Armor secret within a secret in Easy. If this was intentional and you don't think the player needs both, leave one - the player deserves something for a secret!
+ The pathway is a great way to show the archvile up closer and fight in close, but if it was wider it would be more useful in that regard. I'm thinking particularly for those playing in Easy/Medium. Even a first-time player will back away when they're on fire, but they'll usually fall of the platform and get blasted anyways.
+ I'd still make at least one of the sides physically jut out more, probably the entry to the blue door semicircle. The archvile pathway above makes the red key route clear, but if you're on the other side of the map it's still disorienting. Worse, by being prominent, it leads the player initially to go off that side, leading to a locked red key door. Refer to the original Map11, where the 'right' path is initially more prominent than the rest.
+ I rather miss the red lighting outdoors. I thought it seemed paticularly Petersen-like, if a bit garish. The start area is fine with the grille-lights.
+I'm still not sold on the powerups in some of the added areas.
+ That said, I loved the MegaArmor secret. In terms of atmosphere this was the single best change in the update.
+ I'd tone down the enemies in lower difficulties, massively so in Easy. Across all levels Romero and Petersen tend to keep a ratio of 30/65/100% of total monsters in Easy/Medium/Hard. McGee kept his own standard of 50/75/100.
Big update uploaded today. Various changes including:
Fun map, but to me it really doesn't feel quite like Petersen, more of a blend of styles.
+ The wide open spaces definitely do feel like something Petersen would do, and add an interesting dynamic to the level. I think this echoes Unholy Cathedral in a good way, a faint nod to the continuity.
+ The indentations for lights and general light level (128-ish throughout) feels much more like McGee style.
+ The angular but not truly curved architecture and the use of mixed encounters feel like Romero, especially the Arachnotron at the end to spice up the Archvile and the Mancubus earlier on. The monster count also feels more like Romero.
I do like how it sets the tone for the coming industrial levels with its difficulty and pacing. I'd advise brightening some areas and lowering the lighting detail, which would make the map seem more like a Romero-Petersen collaboration. Given that Petersen-McGee made the original Map07 as this form of handoff between two mappers, it would fit our general theme.
Specific gameplay thoughts:
+ I don't think the archvile reveal works as an introduction. It's too far away to do much unless you blast rockets at it, and even then it's not visibly obvious, coming from behind and afar. It also ends up ressurrecting revenants, which is not a fun combo for a first encounter. The Romero intro was in-your face both to make a point and to make it easier to cause pain with an SSG or duck around the corner. The enemies were weak so that you'd see it res without ending up with a super-hard fight until you could gauge it.
+ I did really like the archvile at the ending, the encounter put pressure on the player since retreating left it with a veritable sea of corpses to start working on.
+ Lowering the spiders just a little would let them more easily snipe players in the slime or central island
+ For a Petersen map you'd need to have more secrets. Even Map01 had a bundle! Sure, his boss maps didn't have them, but this is a lot more involved than his ExM8s or Map30.
+ For Map 11 I think this was a bit hard. I would consider less Cacodemons, more demons and imps, and slightly more shotgun ammo. You might also shrink the slime area, which would make it easier to see/engage the first archvile and make the level feel tighter. Turning the switch to face the archvile and replacing the revenants with imps would also keep the 'intro' feel. If it seems too easy then, the revenants could be put in the final room instead of an arachnotron. Do that and the player gets to fight knowing the archvile's abilities and full up on ammo/gear. For easier difficulties, I'd assume that archvile gets removed, and revenants are a more fitting 'hellish' enemy for the level end in this case.