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[RELEASE] Shaky Grounds pt3: Epicenter

User is offline   Merlijn 

#1

Hi there,

here's Shaky Grounds part 3: Epicenter! (and here are links to part 1 and part 2, in case you haven't played them yet).
It continues right where the last part left off. Skill settings, as always, are present.

You finally know why Froyd Eenakee is after you and the human race, and you know there's a very big ticking clock looming above your head.
Luckily, in his arrogance he was stupid enough to let you go. You made your way out of the alien hive back on the streets, so there's no time to loose.

Try to reach 'The Kompleks', descent into the epicenter of the quake and find the doomsday device before it strikes again!


Attached Image: SG3ep1.png Attached Image: SG3ep2.png Attached Image: SG3ep3.png Attached Image: SG3ep4.png Attached Image: SG3ep5.png


Additional credits to Maarten for mixing/producing the soundtrack and Jblade35 for providing bookem03.voc
Have fun!

Attached File(s)


25

#2

Epic.
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User is online   Ninety-Six 

#3

Oh hell yes. I've been waiting for this!

I will definitely be playing this (alongside replaying the first two entries again) later tonight.

Congrats on the release! Another Oostrum map is always a good time.
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User is offline   Aleks 

#4

That's great news! I've just finished playing the first part for the first time, planning to complete part 2 tomorrow and part 3 on Saturday - it's just too much awesomeness for a single day... I will try to write a massive review of the whole thing when I finish - for now I'm too busy collecting my jaw from the floor after the epic first part.
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User is online   Dr.Panico 

#5

So i've just finished it. I gotta be frank with you...


Spoiler

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User is offline   gerolf 

  • Honored Donor

#6

I have just downloaded all three parts, and will edit this post with my thoughts once I've finished playing!
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User is offline   ck3D 

#7

View PostDr.Panico, on 27 August 2020 - 11:13 AM, said:

I dare to say it's better than Red 5.


What's crazy to keep in mind though is how Red 5 conformed to the OG limits of the Build engine - so everything it achieved, it did it with a quarter of the resources this new map (and most new maps) use. I can't believe it's been 15 years since Red 5 came out, and actually until now I had completely forgotten that I also beta-tested it back then, which blows my mind.

Now Merlijn already knows what I think of this new offering and it's too early for spoilers still, but what I can say is it's an excellent Duke map. I also want to play all three maps in a row now, and probably will when I can find the time - sounds like one healthy marathon.

This post has been edited by ck3D: 28 August 2020 - 07:35 AM

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User is offline   Merlijn 

#8

Man, keeping Red5 under the OG limits was a pain in the ass haha. I still remember the struggle. XD

Thanks for your comments Dr.Panico! Glad you liked it so much.
As for becoming a professional, I don't know.. My only credentials are build engine related. :)

@Aleks (and the others): that's ok, take your time haha. Playing all 3 maps in one go might be a bit overwhelming.

This post has been edited by Merlijn: 28 August 2020 - 12:43 PM

1

#9

Played it again, nice track!
Seemed a bit more challenging this time than the beta test. (y) Love it specially the ending! Amazing architecture and landscapes!
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User is offline   Aleks 

#10

First I'd like to point out how criminally too little attention this thread is getting – these are one of the best user maps series I have ever played, up on the top at the same level as Roch and… well… Red series. I highly recommend it to everyone. Each level took me a good 50 minutes to finish, but I never intended to speed run – no point for that when there's so much eye-candy and neat stuff to see!

So, here's the review of the whole series from me – while they're still fresh for me. I have put the review of each level into spoiler in case too much plot is explained within these reviews – this is especially important with the newest level of course, as it's still fresh of the Mapster.

Part 1:
Spoiler

Part 2:
Spoiler

Part 3:

Spoiler


BTW, hello, William Gee! Didn't know you're still around Duke community, what a nice surprise! :)

This post has been edited by Aleks: 29 August 2020 - 11:20 AM

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User is offline   ck3D 

#11

View PostAleks, on 29 August 2020 - 11:18 AM, said:

BTW, hello, William Gee! Didn't know you're still around Duke community, what a nice surprise! :)




https://forums.duke4...throne-trailer/

This post has been edited by ck3D: 29 August 2020 - 12:06 PM

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User is offline   Aleks 

#12

View Postck3D, on 29 August 2020 - 12:05 PM, said:



Hahaha, yeah, just downloaded the mod earlier today, that trailer looks incredible (especially the flying ship part)! Few weeks ago I actually found some old beta of first WG Realms from around 2005 on my old computer :) Now that's quite some progress since then...
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User is offline   gerolf 

  • Honored Donor

#13

I really enjoyed this trilogy. I really hope you plan to add maybe 1-3 more maps to this series. I like the use of earthquake effects and the level design is amazing. Many have said it reminds them of some of the Roch levels, and I can see where that is coming from. Very expansive maps that seem to get more hectic as you progress through the series. The continuation between maps definitely gives this a feeling that it is an episode of its own, and if you decided to combine them as an episode once you’ve completed this series, I think it would be very effective. I would say my ranking would be 3, 1, and 2. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the second map, I just preferred this one and the very first one the most. I’ll definitely replay through these quite often, because I think I could get a better score the second time around and find some of the secrets I missed.
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User is offline   Merlijn 

#14

Quote

The new sound didn't play for me at first, I had to manually change its file type from .ogg to .voc, but then it worked fine.


Thanks for flagging this, I screwed up by adding the wrong file to the zip :)
I've attached a ZIP with the correct voc.file in it, could a mod update the original post with it?

Attached File(s)


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User is offline   Maarten 

#15

Just played the final product (have seen this from the start haha) - it's probably my favorite of the 3 maps yet. Love the balance of action/adventure and the fact you can still surprise everyone with just the original build engine (save for the fact we've better systems + engine limits now).
I think this your best design work as well, every building looks great!

Recroding & mixing the music was fun and really fits the map.

Go play this map peeps!!
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#16

Remember that Red 5 even runs on DOS. It is a user map for Duke Nukem 3D in the "purest" sense. Most maps nowadays are bound to EDuke32's extended limits. Kind of like how a McLaren F1 is one of the fastest cars in the world with only 600 horsepower and a naturally aspirated engine. But turboed or supercharged muscle cars with 700+ hp don't get anywhere close. Kind of like that.

This post has been edited by Data Hivemind Thot Entity: 30 August 2020 - 08:12 PM

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User is online   Sanek 

#17

Congrats on the release, Merlijn! ;)
I'll play this when I'll have time, which is not the case right now.

I would play this map a lot sooner if I'd be a beta-tester like the previous times but I didn't ask to be one so ummmmm :)
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User is offline   NightFright 

  • The Truth is in here

#18

Just played all three maps and must say: Boy, what a ride. These are hands down some of the best user maps released during the last few years. Visually spectacular, with pleasing gameplay and custom music that gives you goosebumps. Not gonna lie, the finale of "Epicenter" left me with my jaw dropping to the floor. At first I couldn't even realize what I was looking at until I took a few steps back and looked at the scene in its entirety. I was just like: "No way he pulled this off, no f'ing way!" It's as close as we may ever get having an "Inception" moment in Build, ladies and gentlemen!

No idea how you want to top this off in the last map, but man... if that's not a job well done, I dunno. Hats off!

This post has been edited by NightFright: 31 August 2020 - 05:21 AM

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User is offline   Paul B 

#19

Hi Merlijn,

I'll try to make this short. I'm not too sure how I feel about this last map... you left very little room for improvement. Good job!

This post has been edited by Paul B: 31 August 2020 - 05:36 AM

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User is online   Ninety-Six 

#20

I'm going to put most of this in spoilers since most of my opinions relate to....stuff.

Spoiler


On the topic of music, the song, or at least a part of it, sounded really familiar and I admit it sorta drove me nuts the whole time trying to figure it out.
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User is offline   Merlijn 

#21

Thanks all, for your comments! ;) I really appreciate the fact that some of you guys decided to play the whole series again. As I've said before, it's 1 story/mission split into different chapters.

@Gerolf:

Quote

The continuation between maps definitely gives this a feeling that it is an episode of its own, and if you decided to combine them as an episode once you’ve completed this series, I think it would be very effective.

That's essentially the plan. The next release will not be just SG4, but the whole series as an episode (which will include the 3 released maps, SG4 and a boss map).

@Aleks: thanks for your detailed review of each part! You may be on to something with Tea Rex, it's suspicious to say the least. :)
As for the RPV's in map 3, they sometimes get stuck when there's an enemy below them. It's not the design or the spritework, as far as I can tell.
Spoiler


@Sanek: I switch between beta testers from time to time, please don't take it personally.

@Ninety-six

Quote

On the topic of music, the song, or at least a part of it, sounded really familiar and I admit it sorta drove me nuts the whole time trying to figure it out.

The piano part may remind you of Tubular bells (the creepy piano motif that's also used in The exorcist).

Spoiler

2

User is online   Sanek 

#22

View PostMerlijn, on 31 August 2020 - 12:22 PM, said:


@Sanek: I switch between beta testers from time to time, please don't take it personally.



Ahh don't worry. Who do you think I am, Sanek circa 2008? :)

Just checked out - it's been 3 years since the release of the previous map already, gddamn.
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#23

This map really blew me away. Especially some of these shots with perspective correct rendering:

Spoiler

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User is offline   ck3D 

#24

mrline got Mikko'd: https://msdn.duke4.n...otepicenter.php
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User is online   max_nukem 

#25

Merlijn,
amazing map with unique architecture, thanks!
1

#26

I just played through the three maps and was pleasantly surprised; real quality work!

Just a heads-up for anyone playing on GNU/Linux or any other unix-like OS - the filename for the music track needs to match the same case as the map filename. I didn't bother changing the filename to match on my playthrough and didn't have the music track for Part 3 playing; the other releasese were just fine.

bookem03.ogg played, though.
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User is offline   slacker1 

#27

View Postcomorbidity, on 02 September 2020 - 09:35 AM, said:

I just played through the three maps and was pleasantly surprised; real quality work!

Just a heads-up for anyone playing on GNU/Linux or any other unix-like OS - the filename for the music track needs to match the same case as the map filename. I didn't bother changing the filename to match on my playthrough and didn't have the music track for Part 3 playing; the other releasese were just fine.

bookem03.ogg played, though.


Yeah. Had to do the same here on Ubuntu. I started the level and heard the regular dethtoll.mid and figured something was up. I went back and changed the file name and it worked fine.

I really enjoyed the map! I ended up getting crushed at one point because I was too preoccupied watching the city through the window. :) I also thought how the map concludes was done really well. (Won't spoil anything).
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User is offline   Merlijn 

#28

Thanks again for your comments! I didn't know the Ogg was case sensitive on some systems, thanks guys for pointing that out. That will definitely be fixed in the final release.

I'm glad Mikko liked the map as well and gave it 98 points! :)
Perhaps it's a bit strange to say, but getting a stamp of approval from Mikko still feels like an accomplishment lol.

As for the lack of big shadows in the first outdoor section, I tried to compensate for that with some really dramatic lightning and shadows in the indoor sections.
Spoiler


Quote

Just checked out - it's been 3 years since the release of the previous map already, gddamn.


Yes, I was also shocked when I realized that! Time sure does fly.
Although I've made several contributions to Alien Armageddon in the mean time, it's not like I was doing nothing. ;)
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User is offline   Aleks 

#29

View PostMerlijn, on 03 September 2020 - 09:02 AM, said:

I'm glad Mikko liked the map as well and gave it 98 points! :)
Perhaps it's a bit strange to say, but getting a stamp of approval from Mikko still feels like an accomplishment lol.


Well deserved score, and as for the 2nd part - it seems understandable as MSDN has been consistent in its reviews for like 20 years already and most of the rating are quite justified and reflect the quality of the maps. Personally I've been always using it as some sort of "benchmark" for Duke levels.
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User is offline   ck3D 

#30

Here's my review for CGS, should be up here http://www.scent-88....aky3/shaky3.php soon:

"Very rare are Duke 3D user maps so chockfull of surprises that the mere act of writing a simple review risks instantly slipping into spoiler category. And Shaky Grounds Pt. 3: Epicenter just so happens to be one of those (urban-themed) pieces that tells its own story - or its own chapter of the story more specifically here - as written by longtime Build engine narration legend from the Netherlands, Merlijn Van Oostrum.

The author not only lives up to his legacy here with more stellar design, clever texture applications and good taste as far as general visuals, but also pushes it even further in terms of gameplay flow - navigation is made clear from the beginning to the end of the level, ensuring you'll never get stuck despite the existence of a constructed plot, but also dotted with moments of build up then release. It's hard to think of any map since Red 4 and Red 5 (not coincidentally also by Merlijn) with such a progressive sense of immersion - here your whole ride will be punctuated by atmospheric moments of tension and bouts of all possible kinds of action, including some particularly ambitious explosive surprises (jack-in-the-box style - except your brain will be the box).

Just like the previous installments in the series, Shaky Grounds Pt. 3: Epicenter is a magnificently-crafted city map but also and most importantly, one of the evolutive kind that's only too rarely seen. Here you can literally expect the urban landscape to move around you as you go, and lots of thinking and technical effort has been put into the implementation of a ridiculous amount of effects to make sure your time in this map will feel so coherent and live, with some surreal props thrown in for good measure; for brief moments you won't be sure on which side of the screen you belong: 'here you go weird' as a certain saying goes, but only the best kind of.

If around the time of its release, Duke 3D was popularly regarded as a more interactive Doom, then the whole Shaky Grounds series so far can similarly be viewed as a more dynamic Roch. If ever needed, with that map set, Merlijn reminds us all that pseudo-realistic, complex (or Kompleks?) environments don't have to be static, and discourage authors from using terrain effects that originally made a lot of the strength of the Build engine - if anything, they may in fact make for just as many opportunities to push them, thereby inviting the exploration of new dimensions in Duke 3D mapping as opposed to repeating old tropes. Each and every installment is a piece of art and instant classic.

Score: 98"

This post has been edited by ck3D: 04 September 2020 - 01:17 AM

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