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Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour

User is online   ck3D 

#3361

View PostPikaCommando, on 21 November 2020 - 06:39 PM, said:

That's an interesting write-up! Could you provide screenshots to describe what you meant by the difference in the use of colorful textures? I'm particularly interested in the texturing styles but I'm not very familiar with the game, so I never noticed any differences.


Not the person you asked, but one they referenced so I guess I can share my take - the difference is especially obvious if you grew up with Duke 3D 1.3d and only then got Plutonium/Atomic a bit later. All the textures in 1.3d share similar tones and palettes, mostly plays on grey/brown/green; and then in the map editor itself, some regions of the levels were blatantly colored with full blue or red palettes as to better catch the attention of the player (since they oftentimes doubled up as important zones for progression), therefore also adding to the atmosphere of those regions with the brutal cold and warm tones, usually complemented with dynamic lighting effects (Cyclers, Random Lights, etc.), that contrasted with the more desolated vibe overall (but didn't kill the feeling of dread and urgency). A lot of them were also (surprisingly) high detail, but low res, thus limiting the fancy ways to use them that you could try and come up with.

In comparison, episode 4 textures are generally higher res, not necessarily as detailed and also arguably more generic (as if the devs expected the higher res and gimmicks to suffice for the job, which they probably did), and a lot of them were actually designed to be fully compatible with all 20 alternative palettes, meaning that they were a lot easier to alter the colors of (even just partially) and so inherently encouraging going funky with tones. In general, they seem to employ more tones per tile than the 1.3d textures and so look more clean cut and almost cartoonish, where 1.3d better resembled comic book art if that makes sense. Since they are so easy to tweak in-editor (but distract from the 1.3d vibe if you aren't good enough to not let them), beginner mappers tend to gravitate over a heavy use of them from what I've observed, but that's probably also due to how most players were introduced straight to Plutonium/Atomic and thus consider E4 as part of the base corpus with zero consideration of the differences and possible 'discrimination' - to them E4 is just as much Duke 3D as E1 E2 and E3 and that's in fact completely fine and rational. This degree of sophistication in Duke 3D level design approach is actually rather niche. No screenshots but just looking at 1.3d vs. E4 levels should be self-explanatory with all of that in mind now.

Late I know but I hope that answered your question!

This post has been edited by ck3D: 19 July 2021 - 11:51 AM

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#3362

Just a little amendment to ck3d's great analysis: episode 3's artistic look is also slightly different to episode 1 and 2, due to the weird tiles013.art tileset which gave those maps a distinct feel (not to mention Levelord's multiplayer leaning layouts).

One of my biggest interests in the late betas is how maps like Hotel Hell, LA Rumble, Flood Zone or Rabid Transit looked before getting lots of tiles013.art. As I said many times, Sweeney and especially Sewer looked like episode 1 maps, despite the registered monsters, as they only focused on the base corpus of tiles000-012.art files.

As for episode 4, XXX Stacy's middle part (between the blue and red key doors and not including the Unabomber secret) looks like an episode 3 leftover.

And Derelict of course is a map that returns to episode 1/2 look, despite using new art. Those new textures feel they belong to the base corpus.

When I was wrongly speculating if Golden Carnage might dates back to the classic days, I got the same impression I got with Derelict. Its new sky, textures, everything feel so old yellow 3DRealms logo era.

This post has been edited by The Watchtower: 21 July 2021 - 08:57 AM

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User is online   ck3D 

#3363

E1 vs. E3 city texture difference in style is real indeed, even with no concrete knowledge of the back story it's easy to feel like those tiles might have been thrown in later in development as a way to make E3 look different from E1 and the game feel less redundant in cosmetics overall. Generally the E3 building textures in particular feel easier to use than the ones from E1 because they have less detail and inner patterns that may make proper texture alignment a bit more complex, mostly to beginner mappers still in the process of grasping the possibilities there. Besides the creamy ones (which I love), they bear red and blue tints as well which again contrasts with that one major grey wall texture you could find most everywhere in E1. Even the episode names suggest that but as a result, E1 feels a lot more like (a 1996 video game interpretation of) legit night time L.A. in some ways, whereas E3 feels slightly more abstract (despite the occasional street sign and all) and more cartoonish, less bleak - but to a lesser degree than E4 does in regards to both E1 and E3 in my opinion.

I suspect that in Golden Carnage, the omnipresent grey wall textures and, in general, a smart balance of classic and new art really helped enhance the OG Duke 3D feel. Level probably wouldn't feel the same if you substituted that grey wall tile for something else out of, say, E4 even if similar-looking in theory.

About Derelict it's funny, the art used in that level never really conveyed an especially classic feel to me, it's a good (and ancient, I know) level but in terms of texture use I always got the opposite impression of typical E4. On the other hand, now, part of me would love to see it retextured with E1 art and all the rusty textures mappers later re-used in user levels such as Slick.

This post has been edited by ck3D: 21 July 2021 - 01:03 PM

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User is offline   Aleks 

#3364

It's funny how brain patterns seem to work differently with everyone here considering the "feel" of episodes/art style, despite us all playing the game for around 25 years. I guess it has to do with how we played the episodes, in what order, when we got the Atomic or if we tried user maps before that, but I perceive this E1/E3/E4 transitions completely different. Just to make it clear at the beginning - I first played shareware version, got to about E1L3 I suppose, before getting full version with 3 episodes. Then I played all 3 original episodes simultaneously, after finishing moved to many user maps, then got Kill-A-Ton, so played The Birth and DC at about same time (I only played Duke Caribbean many years later, so will just leave this one out of the equation).

Now E1 and E3 has basically 6-7 distinct city levels. I'm not counting here Raw Meat and Fahrenheit, as the first one is mostly focused on a single location with very little "open street" areas and 2nd one having a very strong sense of locations, but using much more specific textures and props and again focusing mostly on the interiors (even the warehouse place with all the boxes could be considered an interior really). Not sure about Flood Zone - it technically has everything a city level should really have, but the theme is also a bit too specific to count it into the equation, so let's leave it at 3 levels from each mapper:
  • Hollywood Holocaust, Red Light District and Freeway by Blum,
  • Bank Roll, LA Rumble and Hotel Hell by Levelord.

To me, the Levelord maps (especially Bank Roll and LA Rumble) always seemed like the referential Duke 3D cities. I've never given it much though, but now after doing a bit of analysis of the layouts of these 6 maps, I've came to the following conclusions: the layout of these maps, Bank Roll being the most obvious example, feels a lot more open than in case of Blum levels. This might be due to more emphasis on Dukematch in these maps, but Bank Roll basically loops back into itself after blowing the vault and LA Rumble makes perfect use of verticality, thus giving both these maps a lot more sense of grandeur. This might feel quite ironic, when we consider the heights of the maps - Hollywood Holocaust and Red Light District have these super tall buildings, but they really serve no practical purpose besides the lousy secret with turrets in HH and more epic demolition of the building in RLD. Of course this can be used for jetpack practice, but then it's not really that useful in Dukematch. LA Rumble makes perfect use of its verticality, both adding the platforming and the landmark East Town Towers screen, while Bank Roll and Hotel Hell are kept at quite low level. Freeway is another story - it seems not as tall as E1 maps, but then when you start analysing how the two buildings (marble one and creamy "high end windows" one are connected with eachother with the highway pass, it feels kind of abstract (especially if we also add the collapsed building magically disappearing into the marble one), besides of course showcasing SOS crazyness. The presence of sewers and interconnection through the secret apartment also makes this one more of a loop, but then dead ends at all sides of the streets feel kind of awkward here too. To conclude - despite both having a large parts of the street accessible, HH and RLD feel much more restricted, and the weird tallness of all the buildings there kinda does add to the abstract feeling of these maps. This goes also for Hotel Hell, which also is focused on a single central location, adding the streets as just another "corridor" really. After all these years, I'd say Bank Roll and LA Rumble are selling the "city" vibe the best I'd say (despite the fact I only recently found out that one of the buildings in LA Rumble is an abortion clinic).

As for the textures, I wouldn't say Tiles013.art adds something that is much different to the base game stuff. If we cut the Fahrenheit specific (red brick and firetruck) and the more generic props, we really have the marbles, the "high end" creamy window texture and the sloped building/black glass window thing, which is an elaboration of one of the earlier facade textures. In fact the marble textures without windows and the creamy panels without windows textures seem to be introduced for better options of seams between buildings, as the "grey vertical metal bar" and "metal panel" which are used to great extent in E1L1 and E1L2 seem kind of generic. Another thing is, a lot of the E1 building textures seem more resembling slums/projects (texture of the first building in HH where we drop from the roof, texture of the cinema building, texture with green balconies from the building we blow up in E1L2), while E3 tries to sell a more luxury, high-end kind of district with its more clean and polished types of textures (especially Bank Roll, which seems understandable for the heart of financial district I guess).

As for E4 - I agree with ck3D that they have mostly more colour variety, but I definitely wouldn't say they're more generic - in fact, they all seem to be a lot more specific (i.e. supermarket textures, destroyed building textures, Duke Burger textures and props, Babe Land distinct textures and props). This makes the levels feel more colorful most of the time, but not sure if really more cartoonish - I'd argue that Going Postal, Area 51 and Derelict are the 3 most "pseudorealistic" levels in the game, selling their locations with bigger attention to details and use of more "dedicated" textures (not starting on E2 or E4L10 here, because then we'd swim into totally different waters of realistic sci-fi stuff and how each concept sells for potential space conquest in the future). Analysing the texture sets of 3 original episodes and Atomic, while of course the difference can be seen, I'd argue there's a lot more generic textures in the original set - there are some I admit I barely notice or are that are vague enough that they can serve plenty of purposes, which of course is a good thing when mapping. All in all, there's always the basic rooster of the textures a mapper would use more often than the others perhaps only for trimming or seams - and I tend to really favour neither set here, if I were to pick say 50 textures and make a city map using only them, I'd gamble 30-35 would come from the default set and 15-20 from Atomic set. Also, fun fact, but #4366 (horizontal metal bar) is probably the most used decorative sprite in all my maps :P
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User is online   ck3D 

#3365

^ To clarify, by generic I didn't mean in purpose here (in fact like you said most E4 sprites in particular were intended as very specific in-context one-offs) but more so the graphical style, maybe exactly because thematically they had to be so unyielding in the first place. To me Atomic art is a clear disconnection from the tone established by 1.3d that was more abstract and impressionistic, one could call it (timid) progression towards photorealism as technology and its understanding got better - including of the game's own, which would also explain the increasing compatibility of the tiles with more and more of its palettes - but then you lose just as much in the suggestive department. It's kind of like growing up with the Super Mario Bros. trilogy on the NES and then suddenly it's 1992 and you get the 16-bit Mario All Stars with the revamped graphics that are technically and supposedly nicer, but insist on feeling off because while what's on screen is one possible way of reading the OG game, it's just that: one way out of the ??? ways you yourself used to read it; what the definition (in every sense of the term) makes more explicit, it also robs of an equal weight of its charm. A computer that rigidly looks like a computer will restrict itself to being a computer with the same amount of strength, whereas a tile that could either look like a computer or something else entirely instead allows for more imagination in the interpretation by both players and authors. Now Atomic art can still be tweaked in funny ways, but in general I always felt the raw originality of 1.3d art was dumbed down a fair bit there.

Again though, that's probably OG 1.3d player nitpicking. I can totally see and respect why to a different profile this wouldn't be exactly apparent seeing as we're talking mid-90's graphics in 2021, just like I wouldn't be surprised to hear from younger players that both NES and SNES Super Mario Bros. look equally abstract and dated.

This post has been edited by ck3D: 22 July 2021 - 01:31 PM

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User is offline   Aleks 

#3366

View Postck3D, on 22 July 2021 - 01:21 PM, said:

^ To clarify, by generic I didn't mean in purpose here (in fact like you said most E4 sprites in particular were intended as very specific in-context one-offs) but more so the graphical style, maybe exactly because thematically they had to be so unyielding in the first place. To me Atomic art is a clear disconnection from the tone established by 1.3d that was more abstract and impressionistic, one could call it (timid) progression towards photorealism as technology and its understanding got better - including of the game's own, which would also explain the increasing compatibility of the tiles with more and more of its palettes - but then you lose just as much in the suggestive department. It's kind of like growing up with the Super Mario Bros. trilogy on the NES and then suddenly it's 1992 and you get the 16-bit Mario All Stars with the revamped graphics that are technically and supposedly nicer, but insist on feeling off because while what's on screen is one possible way of reading the OG game, it's just that: one way out of the ??? ways you yourself used to read it; what the definition (in every sense of the term) makes more explicit, it also robs of an equal weight of its charm. A computer that rigidly looks like a computer will restrict itself to being a computer with the same amount of strength, whereas a tile that could either look like a computer or something else entirely instead allows for more imagination in the interpretation by both players and authors. Now Atomic art can still be tweaked in funny ways, but in general I always felt the raw originality of 1.3d art was dumbed down a fair bit there.

Again though, that's probably OG 1.3d player nitpicking. I can totally see and respect why to a different profile this wouldn't be exactly apparent seeing as we're talking mid-90's graphics in 2021, just like I wouldn't be surprised to hear from younger players that both NES and SNES Super Mario Bros. look equally abstract and dated.


Ah, with that I can agree to some point - but still there's a lot of potential in Atomic tiles, and as you mentioned, more palette compatibilities gives it also more creative ways of repurposing (I've seen the stuff you do with the blue alien ship texture from Area 51 :D ). It's also worth pointing out there's less tiles (if any) put randomly with an offset or made within weird dimensions that isn't a power of 2.

As for limiting the imagination/ways to interpret the environments by the player - that is indeed true, at least in the case of The Birth itself, where the textures are used very explicitly. It is also the reason I (and probably many other veteran Dukers) didn't like HRP - because the textures were explicitly the interpretations of the authors. There's so many original tiles that can be interpreted in a whole spectrum depending on a context that HRP was super limiting in the exact way you said.

Also, to get back on topic a bit - a lot of new art in Anniversary episode looked out of place the same way art in Nuclear Winter or many other older TC's looked off, as it had completely different general visual style, not really fitting into a Build game at all. Too many random details that would look blurry and too much relying on the details of a texture for geometry etc. is always off-putting for me and seems a bit lazy in many cases (like the newspaper shops in Moscow level).
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User is online   ck3D 

#3367

View PostAleks, on 22 July 2021 - 01:43 PM, said:

Ah, with that I can agree to some point - but still there's a lot of potential in Atomic tiles, and as you mentioned, more palette compatibilities gives it also more creative ways of repurposing (I've seen the stuff you do with the blue alien ship texture from Area 51 :D ). It's also worth pointing out there's less tiles (if any) put randomly with an offset or made within weird dimensions that isn't a power of 2.


Of course yeah, like I was saying, E4 tiles are useful nonetheless and have unique qualities and properties of their own. But that's the thing, they are different and because of that, abusing them may make your Duke 3D map feel less like Duke 3D in terms of identity, and more like a (no doubt good) map that could also belong to just about any other Build shooter. The visuals in 1.3d were just that strong of an introduction to the game, to some of the OG players. In a nutshell I'd say E4 art is more practical, when 1.3d art is more poetic.

I'm leaving E5 art out of the discussion on purpose because from what I've seen, graphically it's even more of a stretch from 1.3d than E4 (like I was also saying earlier), and so I share your sentiment there. Even the firefly (something out of beta material, ironically) doesn't feel like a legit Duke 3D enemy to me, because it's so different in style from the other enemies, E4 included; feels as bogus as when amateurs used to rip the proto-Octas straight from LameDuke and hack it into the released game, except in a commercial product. Now that's an example of art that would have actually needed an update.

This post has been edited by ck3D: 22 July 2021 - 05:02 PM

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#3368

I will reflect Aleks' post later as I have little time now, but I disagree on Bank Roll. That barely looks more city than Raw Meat and Fahrenheit. And this has been my biggest problem with E3 in general. Very few levels have urban grandness in it.

However LA Rumble is a masterpiece, we can all agree on it.
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User is online   ck3D 

#3369

To be honest, most of the E3 levels always felt on par with E1L1 and E1L2 in terms of urban vibe to me, Flood Zone in particular I think is really pretty sick. The underwater action is what makes it unpopular to some people (personally I never minded it because the balance with the scuba gears always worked for me), but past that technicality it's an impeccably constructed map with a rather complex traditional Build game-style layout, and most importantly it's super open and uses the vertical axis to an extent I'd say is comparable to L.A. Rumble (except broken in two halves and so it doesn't feel like it, maybe the horizontal scale compensates for that to a degree though). I'm not saying it has to be everyone's favorite or straight up compete with the raw efficiency of L.A. Rumble, but for what its theme is it's really not a bad map at all. Beating it only to then revisit the nooks and crannies, rooftops and holes in walls with the jetpack one last time for items and secrets before exiting the level always felt super rewarding to me.

I never minded and actually always kind of dug the layout of Fahrenheit, too. Plenty of good memories in there in Dukematch especially. Fire station is a bit of an eyesore with the bright red and some of the locations are a bit too disconnected from one another to my liking (and those weird dead-ends make no sense, probably the most contrived ones in the game) but the basic layout is pretty cool. Not as ambitious and theme-centric as most of the other base levels, though. In a sense, that almost makes it feel like an early user map, the basic principle is sweet and I think suffices to sell it as a city map (you do visit the aforementioned fire station and also the KTIT building, etc.), except it's maybe a tad underdeveloped and unpolished. Even before I got into mapping and could analyze flaws like misaligned textures and cramped spaces, it always felt a bit rough around the edges and sketchy as a commercial level (in comparison to the rest of the corpus). I understand it originally really was a Dukematch map and like I was saying it really works as such, but as part of a single player campaign it sort of feels like the level of personality crisis, constantly undecided in between several themes. If radio station and fire station had to be thematics, then they probably would have had more potential under the form of one bigger map for each individually (e.g.. Pigsty style). I don't mind the iteration we got at all, though so that's not a problem, if anything I think it's cool they didn't let those thematics become so important they would have dictated the flow of the gameplay. E3 is already pretty so long and so too many maps would have made it feel more redundant and saturated, dragging it out.

I do catch that claustrophobic 'entrapped' feel from Raw Meat too though and also from (final game version) Hotel Hell. Also despite the E3 texturing, Freeway manages to feel the closest to a E1 level to me, maybe because bright colors were used more sparingly regardless; it's like getting the best of both worlds and as such it's easily one of my top favorite levels in the game, if not the very top one. Would totally fit as a replacement for E1L3 if Duke didn't get captured and instead found a way out of E1L2 via the sewers.

Also never had Bank Roll spring to mind as one of the quintessential city levels, personally, in fact I regularly forget that map even exists. I do love the first outside part with those tall ledges but then you quickly just get inside buildings (the layout and puzzles are alright though).

This post has been edited by ck3D: 23 July 2021 - 02:13 PM

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User is offline   Aleks 

#3370

Ah, as far as Flood Zone is concerned, it's by far my favourite level of the original game and basically always has been - one that I've always admired both as a player and even more as a mapper. Wouldn't call it city map really due to technicalities, the theme is by far too original and not really something that has been done in many user maps, but it just works for everything (funny thing, but my sister who first introduced me to Duke, despite not being such a "game vetaran" like us, having replayed the game lately also instantly declared this was always her favourite level. We both also always loved Freeway too). It's also worth noting as being one of the more memorable levels, also precisely due to how original the theme is and how the level sells it. Also personally I think the verticality in Flood Zone works much better than in LA Rumble, which is due to how AI works - LA Rumble is an impressive level for the visuals, but I've never been too keen on having all these flying enemies descend too low there. In Flood Zone, the balance is perfect, and things like Battlelord encounters work very well with the height difference.

No problem with Fahrenheit here either, I think it's a cool map and besides some nasty sentry drone/turrets encounters, it's gameplay is always fun - love the finale with Battlelord and enforcers. Now Bank Roll, I think especially the bank entrance with these tall columns is super distinguished, as it might just be the most sophisticated piece of architecture the game recreates. It's probably also one of the more "inspiring" levels out there, with Arzca's Bank Roll 2000 and recent Michael Hunt's Bank Job being more or less faithful remakes, hell even the bank entrance in Alex City was subconciously based on this one.
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User is online   MrFlibble 

#3371

When I think of Flood Zone I always mentally go back to the early 2000s when I played registered Duke 1.3D properly for the first time. It's not only nostalgic, but also, for me, Flood Zone somehow manages to perfectly convey the feeling that you're in a real place, of which you can only explore a rather limited part for sure, but still there's a bigger world around, hinted at by the skybox and the like. Conversely, later E3 levels, including both Fahrenheit and LA Rumble, bring up memories of level sections which are essentially fairly narrow corridors or small rooms, even though decorated as streets.

I've always appreciated it in games when they can conjure this illusion of a bigger world behind the accessible parts of a level, although I cannot say for certain what exactly produces this effect. Sometimes, cool skyboxes alone can do a lot, I love the skies in ROTT for example, and in Will Rock too. But clearly the levels themselves, or possibly some other aspect of a game, contribute to this as well (or not).

Possibly, Flood Zone's layout is structured in such a way that the overall limits of where the player can go are not immediately obvious -- so even though you're not given at once a gigantic open space to play around in, the game keeps hinting that there's something else around the corner. While some of the other levels are essentially interconnected rooms, or a "hub" like street section from which you access various buildings.
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User is offline   Fox 

  • Fraka kaka kaka kaka-kow!

#3372

The levels are usually claustrophobic. In Flood Zone, they achieved this by placing the building amid rocks/destruction, instead of other buildings right next to others.
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#3373

I have always loved Flood Zone. It's not the urban styled map like LA Rumble or Freeway (or Sewer), but it uses verticality beautifully, and plays very well. I also love playing FZ and LAR together, because they complementing each other very well. They use completely different narratives, but the same mind behind them is clearly visible. I also like Raw Meat, despite its weird un-citiesque setting and multiplayer oriented layout. I think this is the type of map, where monster placement and flow is so well made, it makes me forget the design issues (which are not that bad, and has interesting interconnections and whatnot, just not perfect). The way pigcops return in the middle of the level gloriously after a long absence was a clever and intentional touch from the authors.

I echo ck3d's analysis of the v1.3D graphics vs the Birth tileset. I may be sensitive with tiles013.art as well, because I was only exposed to the demo and the first episode for a year at least, and when I got the retail version, episode 2 reminded me the style I used to play, episode 3 much less so (except Freeway), and episode 4 felt like a different game, except for Derelict. The funny thing I used to prefer Randy's dominant style over Blum's style as a kid, and found Blum's maps to be quite oppressive and dark. It took many years before I turned into a Blum fanboy, and prefer his Duke vision over anything else made for this game.

Btw. I'm not sure if the SMB comparison is correct. SMAS was a remake on a different engine, not an extension of the original NES game. I might be unpopular, but I'm glad SMAS happened, because Mario is a game that needs lots of vibrant colours, and after all SMW used the same style and succeeded very well. It's just those stupid things that hindered SMAS a little, like the ugly redesigned bonus rooms that removed all the darkness and intimidations of the original, and made them into a joke. However, unlike many, I love SMB3's SNES skies over the original (most notoriously 1-6, the half cave level), as it looked rather buggy with all the powerups used as decorations in the sky. But that's offtopic here.

This post has been edited by The Watchtower: 26 July 2021 - 12:07 AM

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User is offline   Aleks 

#3374

View PostThe Watchtower, on 26 July 2021 - 12:05 AM, said:

I also like Raw Meat, despite its weird un-citiesque setting and multiplayer oriented layout. I think this is the type of map, where monster placement and flow is so well made, it makes me forget the design issues (which are not that bad, and has interesting interconnections and whatnot, just not perfect). The way pigcops return in the middle of the level gloriously after a long absence was a clever and intentional touch from the authors.


Hah, that's a really cool take actually with the pig cops! I've never thought of it that way myself, as I played all the 3 episodes pretty much simultaneously as a kid, so the "return" didn't really occur to me that way, but indeed the way how they "flood out" of the karaoke bar in a large pack is a pretty cinematic moment in the level.

Another level that really has a perfect enemy placement IMO, which makes the whole thing more enjoyable than the layout alone would suggest, is Hotel Hell. The way you start on a ominously quiet street, only for the pig cops to spawn around and ambush you, but also point you towards the location of blue keycard is a great start, then there's some nicely placed battlelords and the enforcers once again guiding the way to the Stadium nukebutton. The layout is pretty narrow and claustrophobic by itself, even the street part is kinda short and more concerned on vertical axis than being open, and the first corridor in the hotel is a typical "narrow throat of death" in multiplayer, but works very well in single player.
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User is offline   Ninety-Six 

#3375

Hotel Hell is my personal favorite 3DR-made single level of all time for the reasons you outlined. Plus I think the design of the hotel itself is really neat and does a pretty alright job portraying one despite the limitations.

Also like 75% of the level blows up at some point. Good times.
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#3376

View PostAleks, on 27 July 2021 - 05:42 AM, said:

Hah, that's a really cool take actually with the pig cops! I've never thought of it that way myself, as I played all the 3 episodes pretty much simultaneously as a kid, so the "return" didn't really occur to me that way, but indeed the way how they "flood out" of the karaoke bar in a large pack is a pretty cinematic moment in the level.

Another level that really has a perfect enemy placement IMO, which makes the whole thing more enjoyable than the layout alone would suggest, is Hotel Hell. The way you start on a ominously quiet street, only for the pig cops to spawn around and ambush you, but also point you towards the location of blue keycard is a great start, then there's some nicely placed battlelords and the enforcers once again guiding the way to the Stadium nukebutton. The layout is pretty narrow and claustrophobic by itself, even the street part is kinda short and more concerned on vertical axis than being open, and the first corridor in the hotel is a typical "narrow throat of death" in multiplayer, but works very well in single player.


An unpopular opinion here, but I never liked Hotel Hell too much, and always thought it's overrated. Sure, the map has some merits: as Ninety-Six pointed out, there are some really cool explosions in it, the room-over-room usage is technically very impressive and along with Derelict, it's the only believable place that use it so excessively. Also the map had a history in multiplayer, along with Hollywood Holocaust it was the most played map in deathmatch, because of its interconnected layout.

However I have several problems with the level:

First is design-related. Neither the indoors, nor the outdoors look very good on this one. Indoors I mean this wants to be a hotel of sorts, but it barely reminds me of it really, it has only two poorly designed hotel rooms in the first floor, while the outdoors try to be using some urban atmosphere (unlike Raw Meat or Flood Zone, which have different narratives), but the streets are too enclosed and too blocky to my likings (particularly the one where the reconcars are found), also the level is way too bright for its intended style. Texturing is also quite questionable in many places, and ROR often cause bugs (which include some wrong enemy respawns as well).

But the second problem is the bigger problem: There are many nerfed levels in the game, but probably none of them were hindered as badly as this one layout and gameplay wise (probably Rabid Transit is the other contender). What do I mean with this? The level plays logically up to the yellow keycard which opens the staircase and the elevator to the first floor. But then the level completely lost the plot, in the first floor there are just random spawns, random encounters in random areas that are not even important in your progression, and you have to go back to the starting position to finish off the level. I'm speculating that there was a section originally around the enclosed street with an extra switch/keycard you had to activate/obtain around the opened room near the starting point, then go back, beat the commander and battlelord and finish off the level properly. According to TX there was a garage section in this level, and this might have been the place it was located. The final version is clearly unfinished, and there is no satisfaction to beat the level, because the battlelord fight was optional, and there was no progression, you are just returning to where you started.

EDIT: I also learnt that the beta version used a big mirror in front of the lobby with the first Battlelord. It would have been huge if they didn't remove that, because I think the Battlelord is not suitable to that location without any warnings prior to it. Also it would have made the level look much bigger).

This post has been edited by The Watchtower: 27 July 2021 - 11:43 PM

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#3377

Oh, and another thing about the hotel rooms: they have no windows (they are placed at the middle of the floor). It's a must to have windows in any room for human habitation, let alone rooms in a hotel.
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User is offline   Aleks 

#3378

View PostThe Watchtower, on 28 July 2021 - 03:43 AM, said:

Oh, and another thing about the hotel rooms: they have no windows (they are placed at the middle of the floor). It's a must to have windows in any room for human habitation, let alone rooms in a hotel.


Hahaha, yeah, that's something that always struck me as weird/funny. But then again, it's on the same level of "OK, it's just Duke" like street with dead ends on both sides (in fact that's my biggest beef with original maps), up-open doors in regular city buildings, the general abstract way of how some city locations are when you look a bit deeper into them (Freeway with how the overpass is really... buildings?) etc.

As for Hotel Hell, it's probably one of my top 3 favourite maps in E3 (along with Flood Zone and Bank Roll), but indeed it's mostly because of gameplay. I think I've discussed even with you here sometime how that ending always felt weird for me as well as a kid, up to the point I always treated Freeway as a regular level and the waterfall as intended normal ending - but then, you get it all and the level kinda teaches you how it works from the beginning - you can see the nukebutton through a crack from the starting position, so seeing the windows open there and enforcers spawning seems after all like a very logical tie up of the progression, just a bit more original and unvonventional than in most other maps. Especially considering that both previous keycards, which can be considered focal progression points, were preceded by swarms of monsters spawning around them.

TerminX has shared some beta screenshots from Hotel Hell, mostly from the lobby area with battlelords, on Discord just a week or 2 ago. It seemed the geometry was very similar, just the textures went through a couple of complete overhauls, but the lobby area always sold it for me - it looked a bit cartoony and simplified, but I suppose it worked. A mirror would indeed be a great addition, hinting the battlelords presence and as you said, making the whole thing looked bigger. I suppose they might have dropped the idea due to the fact it would almost immediately break with all the explosions and Battlelord's mortars, but still it's a pity.
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User is online   ck3D 

#3379

View PostThe Watchtower, on 28 July 2021 - 03:43 AM, said:

Oh, and another thing about the hotel rooms: they have no windows (they are placed at the middle of the floor). It's a must to have windows in any room for human habitation, let alone rooms in a hotel.


Rooms for human fornication (which I'm pretty sure is the purpose of that hotel, as implied by the 'hourly rates'), on the other hand...

This post has been edited by ck3D: 28 July 2021 - 10:42 AM

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#3380

View PostAleks, on 28 July 2021 - 09:12 AM, said:

Hahaha, yeah, that's something that always struck me as weird/funny. But then again, it's on the same level of "OK, it's just Duke" like street with dead ends on both sides (in fact that's my biggest beef with original maps), up-open doors in regular city buildings, the general abstract way of how some city locations are when you look a bit deeper into them (Freeway with how the overpass is really... buildings?) etc.

As for Hotel Hell, it's probably one of my top 3 favourite maps in E3 (along with Flood Zone and Bank Roll), but indeed it's mostly because of gameplay. I think I've discussed even with you here sometime how that ending always felt weird for me as well as a kid, up to the point I always treated Freeway as a regular level and the waterfall as intended normal ending - but then, you get it all and the level kinda teaches you how it works from the beginning - you can see the nukebutton through a crack from the starting position, so seeing the windows open there and enforcers spawning seems after all like a very logical tie up of the progression, just a bit more original and unvonventional than in most other maps. Especially considering that both previous keycards, which can be considered focal progression points, were preceded by swarms of monsters spawning around them.

TerminX has shared some beta screenshots from Hotel Hell, mostly from the lobby area with battlelords, on Discord just a week or 2 ago. It seemed the geometry was very similar, just the textures went through a couple of complete overhauls, but the lobby area always sold it for me - it looked a bit cartoony and simplified, but I suppose it worked. A mirror would indeed be a great addition, hinting the battlelords presence and as you said, making the whole thing looked bigger. I suppose they might have dropped the idea due to the fact it would almost immediately break with all the explosions and Battlelord's mortars, but still it's a pity.


I guess the retexturing purpose was because of the addition of tiles013 and its "medieval" textures which HH used excessively in the end. The original textures didn't look all that great though on those beta shots, despite my personal preference for them, it might be the lack of polish/shading at that time. However I remember an old magazine shot from the map in the streets and that looked absolutely gorgeous. Anyway, thanks for the reminder, I check the Discord now if I can find more TX jewels like these. :)

As for the level gimmicks, it has another weird unrealistic moment with that the pool is located on the first floor, something rarely appears in hotels as its very hard to utilize, and it even has an overlap with the ground floor's blue key corridor, I checked it now. These are the stuff that probably would never happened in Allen Blum's levels, because he was a technical mastermind, and wouldn't let something like this slip in his maps. That's why I always wondered if Richard was indeed the lead creator of Sewer, a map that has brilliant layered geometry with pitch-perfect matches of vertical connections. Something like that happens very frequently in Blum's maps (Derelict is very similar layout-wise, but also Spaceport, Fusion Station, and even Freeway to some extent), while Richard struggled with it quite often, although Flood Zone and LA Rumble did have some great 3D geometry in them, but they are still quite different and less technical.
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User is offline   Ninety-Six 

#3381

I dunno, I always found being able to stand on the roof of a skyscraper you can enter on the ground floor with walls that match up between both, and no water sector separating the halves is still pretty impressive. Just about every other building in the game is one where you can stand on the roof or go inside of, not both.
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#3382

View PostNinety-Six, on 28 July 2021 - 06:29 PM, said:

I dunno, I always found being able to stand on the roof of a skyscraper you can enter on the ground floor with walls that match up between both, and no water sector separating the halves is still pretty impressive. Just about every other building in the game is one where you can stand on the roof or go inside of, not both.


I'm not sure if I understand this.... what is that building you referred?
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User is offline   Ninety-Six 

#3383

View PostThe Watchtower, on 28 July 2021 - 11:00 PM, said:

I'm not sure if I understand this.... what is that building you referred?


The one adjacent to the abortion clinic in L.A. Rumble.
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#3384

View PostNinety-Six, on 29 July 2021 - 01:22 AM, said:

The one adjacent to the abortion clinic in L.A. Rumble.


I expected something else.... that one wasn't that technical, but visually very impressive and very fun to play through.
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