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Duke Map/Mod of the Month Club - June 2021  "Let's hope it will last!"

User is offline   Merlijn 

#31

High Treason, I quite enjoyed your video even if I don't agree with your opinion on the Roch series. Perhaps you'll like the later maps more, the first Roch is the least refined of the bunch.
BTW the steriods are there to traverse the city faster, for 1999 standards it was a huge level so I get why he included them.

Played through Roch 4 and Roch 5 yesterday.

Roch 4

This was the first one I played and it just floored me back in the day. Seeing this type of design done in the build engine was just stunning and it still leaves a mark on city themed DN3D levels.
Anyway, the map aged like a fine French wine, I pretty much echo the sentiments of Aleks and jkas789 so it doesn't need repeating.

One fun trivia from the txt.file: the chateau is based on the same castle as castle Moulinsart from the Tintin comics.
If you compare them you can clearly see the resemblance:
Spoiler


The keycard hunt could have been annoying or too repetitive but honestly it plays really smoothly. Also, the first thing you should do when entering the television studio is blowing up the crack at the right side.
This causes a chain of explosions that will take out the liztroops in the public. Fun little set piece :D

Overall Pascal hit a home run with this map, and it still remains a highlight in the series. Found all secrets, gameplay wise it's pretty easy except for the battlelord ambush at the end.

Roch 5

I imagine Pascal must have felt some pressure, trying to follow up such a well received classic. And IMO it shows a bit, for me this is one of the weaker entries.
So I'm going to break away a bit from the constant praise and name some of my grievances with this map:

-First of all, the attempts at new effects feel more gimmicky this time around. The weird effect on the dump truck is just that.. weird. Not sure what the point of it is. Then there's the elevator that starts playing the Duke theme and doesn't stop..
It's one of those 'why, Pascal, WHY?' moments. He even included a viewscreen to instruct you how to get rid of it. I mean, in that case it's better to just remove the effect all together.
-the enemies get different pallete values for.. reasons. It doesn't represent anything, if it tied in to the environment it would have been cool but now it just feels random.
-the progression in the red keycard building is a bit too convoluted IMO. A bit too much back and forth just to unlock a single room. Felt that this could have been smoothed out.
-Last, and I'll admit that this is nitpicking, but this one doesn't tie in as well to its previous part as we're used to. Roch 2 and Roch 3 are pretty well connected through unreachable scenery, but here the castle of Roch 4 just vanished in thin air. Also the big appartment building would have been visible from Roch 4, seeing how it towers high above everything else. Again, it's nitpicking and Pascal had to work with the old limits so there's only so much he could do.

Having said all that, the design of the map is still great. Like I said earlier, here's where the series moves away from the 'small town/countryside' theme and becomes more urban rather than suburban.
It really sets the tone for the next entries. The secrets in this one are really cool (especially the little market) and the art gallery is a highlight.
I also like the more industrial parts, some really creative design choises. Just look at this:
Attached Image: duke0213.png

The industrial site also had one of my favorite fights, once you enter the place the doors open and alien reinforcements pour in from outside. Cool little panic moment.
The battle with the battlelords on the rooftop was pretty fun as well.

Overall it's still a great map, but one of the lesser entries. Says something about the overall quality!

This post has been edited by Merlijn: 12 June 2021 - 01:38 AM

4

#32

For someone who was eager to get on this, I sure am late. I'm using Eduke, I forget the exact version, some year old nightly.

Roch 1
There's something disquieting about this level. I think the choice of music, the relative level of detail and being mostly empty of people make it feel that way.

Out of curiosity is there something to the glass balls and the pins? Because I tried to match up the colored pins with the colored balls and nothing happened.

This level feels a bit too generous with the big monsters or at least places them badly. That tank, just hanging out in the back was practically a spittake. The dudes in the garage were similar. Which I guess ties into the lackluster enemy placement in the corridors. Only so many times you can do the hallway gag before it becomes boring.

I kept finding myself missing switches. The first time it was just an accident after restarting, missing the first switch in the supermarket. But then the switch in the restaurant was in a very unusual place, which I didn't notice for a while. Then there was the switch in the bar. I would not have found that without FistMarine's walkthrough. So much for the readme's claim of not being hard to finish.

That said, I didn't find it all bad, the outside areas, minus the endless drones and the tank, were pretty sweet. I didn't mind looking at it for all 44 minutes I spent running around. The carnival was my personal favorite, probably because its not a horror-themed one for once. That underground parking lot, I understand why High Treason hates the map so much if that's his defining memory of it. Dunno if this is just me and my version of Eduke, but the walls leading down glitch if you hug them, and you move very fast. IIRC from messing around with mapmaking, you can end up killing yourself this way if its long enough.

I also found the restaurant to be pretty cool when I wasn't trying to find the switch, probably the best interior outside of the supermarket. The movie theater and the bar are a bit awkward, even outside of switch placement, and the rest aren't really that big.

Gotta echo the harshness the level has towards health early on, whereas later you're practically guaranteed not to die because of how much there is. Perhaps a few of those steroid drops should have been medikits...
4

User is online   Aleks 

#33

Good to see more people posting in this thread! Don't worry, Morpheus Kitami, the next maps in the series are more refined, both design- and combat-wise ;)

Was going to revive this thread anyway, so played Roch 7. This one comes with its own music. It took me 35 minutes, found all 3 secrets (which were all quite near to eachother). Gotta say it's once again one of the better installments in the series (also gotta agree with Merlijn about Roch 5 being a bit of a letdown, comparing to the other maps from Pascal).
  • This time, Pascal experiments with more open and non-linear gameplay - we get to visit 4 locations guarded by different blue key doors, but we can visit them in any order we want to. This is all pretty clearly explained at the beginning of the map as well.
  • These locations are an office, hotel (mostly its restaurant), electronics shop in a mall and perhaps the most memorable one - a concert venue (gotta love that blue ceiling!). We also get to visit an abandoned building still in an early development stage and the garage where Roch 6 ended. The street is filled with other interesting sights though, including a monumental "arc the triumph" (mentioned by ck3D earlier) and a fancy installation in front of what probably seems to be a museum or an art gallery. The street is also quite busy with a total of 9 cars (7 visible on the image).
Attached Image: duke0057.png Attached Image: duke0058.png Attached Image: duke0053.png
  • The combat can be a bit rough at the beginning, before clearing of the streets. One thing I wasn't too fond about here were monsters respawning behind the player while reaching basically each door within the map. There's been also a lot of sniping troopers and enforcers on the rooftops and balconies which were quite easy to miss before you notice your health depleting. Other than that, there's some really damn good encounters, including a battle with two battlelords on the streets and a nice sequence of sentry drones spawning when the hotel room windows open (why these have to be damn sentry drones and not troopers and octabrains though?).
  • Despite this being essentially an open-world button hunt, there's still many neat interconnections, sequences or unusual ideas to find your way around - I particularly liked collapsing the higher floor of the hotel in order to proceed:

Attached Image: duke0055.png
  • Architecture and design of the city is damn fine as always, in this case I'm particularly fond about all the trimming and creative use of colorful textures for building without it looking out of place. Also all the details are pretty wonderful, including the heavy use of parallaxed sky/floor with maskwalls to create "floating sectors" (which is used e.g. for drums and the opening windows).
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  • This time, the altering ad banner, which by now should be considered a tradition within this series, is gradually changing from left to right for Moger Roore and Duke ads, then blinking into the woman one:
Attached Image: duke0062.png
  • You aren't suppose to be here? Seems like Pascal forgot to change the ugly texture #0 from a sector which can be spotted by player. The other screen shows a small easter egg - I've noticed there is something written, but had to noclip to check it out.
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3

User is offline   FistMarine 

#34

Roch 5

Continuing from where Roch 4 ended (as is the case with every map so far, except the secret map), you end up on an alley and have to clear some more aliens that stand on your way. Also make sure you clear those aliens that are guarding that weird truck. As others mentioned so far, jumping and standing on it will result in some vibrations or some laggy movement, I don't know what was supposed to actually do and how different it feels in EDuke32 (since I'm playing the maps in DOSBox) but all I noticed is some troopers seemed to disappear and I can only see their shadows in here, I guess they spawned in flying animation and this caused them to disappear altogether. Well it was only two troopers, I managed to kill all remaining monsters in the level after that and didn't have any missing enemies at end.

Anyway, I will say some highlights and try to be shorter than previous times since I don't feel like writing too much this time (and certainly not a walkthrough) and it has already been said by most people:

1) When you approach the window at beginning, it opens and a commander shows up, to give a bit of an ambush feeling. That room contains a few slimers in cages (I guess they were supposed to represent dogs or what?) and toilets that you can use to piss and then drink water to restore health, which will come very handy later.
2) Many monsters are now colored and give a somewhat fresh/unique look for the map.
3) There are several RPG pickups in the level. I honestly wish I could trade one of those RPG pickups with a Shrinker pickup early on, since it was the only weapon I didn't find until near end.
4) When that pillar explodes in middle (I stayed far away when it did thankfully, I can imagine some players probably stayed close and took explosion damage), I noticed it contained an atomic health inside and went to collect it with the 20 or so damage I received from touching that deadly toxic acid.
5) There is indeed that elevator with Duke3D theme playing continuously but since I played in DOSBox, I could stop by just pressing ESC (when I went to save my game) as that monitor tells you the hint. Too bad for those who use EDuke32, you can't turn it off that way since the sound/music is preserved.
6) There is an interesting ambush near end with THREE mini battlelords that spawn on a roof and you must take them out.
7) The garage seemed to glitch after pressing the switch, when it closed before making it, it couldn't be opened anymore (at least I couldn't making it open again, maybe it opens when pushed from a certain direction?) and I had to load my most recent save until I made it since I had saved a second just after I pressed the switch that opens garage door (once again another behavior that could differ from DOS executable to EDuke32, as may have been the case with that secret in Roch 3) but then I had to kill that pig cop tank with taking minimal cover of opening garage from inside, taking cover outside and then clearing those few remaining monsters that were inside. I killed the tank with the self-destruct button and I took most enemies anyway but it sucked not having the Shrinker, so I used Freezer against the commander and I still took a rocket to the face, meaning I lost my extra health I had at that point just because of that weird glitch with the garage where I could have avoided at least some of the damage I took as of lately.

But after I managed to get the yellow card, then the garage opened just fine after that. I wonder if the garage is supposed to initially act this way to prevent you from simply going outside once entered inside, as if you are forced to fight the enemies that way? That could be one of the reasons.

At end of level, you fight several colorful protectors that guard the exit, you are also provided multiple steroids pickups throughout the level (as well as one spawned right in front of door) just in case they shrink you (it didn't happen to me thankfully), however I just carefully picked them off from meters away with some of my weapons and they spread out in some directions, I don't know if any of them managed to hide/stuck in one of the buildings but I had an enemy missing initially and when I explored the level for the remaining secrets, I found a trooper inside one of the secrets, so then it showed I got all kills. I know the enemy kill count is glitchy even in Duke3D but still, I wish you could kill all enemies regardless of whether you get enemies missed at end or not. I'm still not sure what was with those two inaccessible troopers that only their shadows appear on that weird glitchy truck.

I initially found 2/6 secrets (the ones in the market with unused Organic turret enemy and balcony with freezethrower, that are connected to each other), then I went with mapster to find the rest. As has been the case with every level so far, since I have to get everything this time around. It took me nearly an hour to finish the map and it wasn't very difficult but I have to agree that it hasn't been as impressive as some earlier ones, for example Roch 4 was really unique when compared to the rest of the series.

Roch 6

Continuing from where Roch 5 ended, you have to infiltrate out of the building and fight several aliens along the way. There are once again many Mini Battlelords you have to be wary of. Alongside the usual aliens of course. And occasional sentry drones and turrets hidden around corners.

At beginning you have to collect a couple pistols and kill a few slimers, a sentry drone (that blew up around the corner, so I saved precious health, armor and ammo). There is a water fountain that gives you the safety feeling that you can go back to if you need any health. Don't worry, health is plentiful in this map.

Funnily enough, I managed to kill the first mini battlelord with just my kick. No seriously, take a look at that screenshot! I just positioned myself so he doesn't hit me, while I can reach him with my left foot.
Here is a small hint: The quick kick has slightly longer range but is slower and can be used with any weapon, while the normal kick has shorter range and slows you down while walking but is also faster when attacking. And yeah in 1.3D you could use both at same time but Roch maps are Atomic only and most people are using source ports anyway, thus it's unlikely to see 1.3D for a long time, until a very old map/mod gets selected for the next month's club.
You have to navigate through various cramped spaces and you will eventually get outside, then you have to take out other nasties! Also admire the limousine that looks better designed than the one from Roch 4.

The pool fight was also interesting (and probably the highlight of the map) but I also kinda rushed a bit by pressing the switch earlier (before I cleaned the pool) which spawned a mini battlelord inside! I took some damage but my health still stayed at 100 after that, well I lost any extra health I had at that time. And if that wasn't enough, after grabbing the red card, when I resurfaced, two sentries just blew up in my face. Well at least it wasn't fatal, just 30+ damage.

At end, after cleaning all alien bastards, there was a sneaky turret around the corner. You can just rush to the exit but it can catch you off guard by watching that secrets monitor. Kinda what happened to me, took some damage because I was looking at monitor but then I finished map, then I went for the missing secrets as I only found 1/5 secrets initially (yeah I kinda suck at finding secrets), the one I found was where I shot a switch that unlocked a bathroom.

Also, it took me almost an hour to do the map and I managed to find the rest secrets (with help of Mapster, obviously) just 9 seconds before an hour passed. The first map was only so far that took me more than an hour to complete, I think. Will have to look at my earlier posts to confirm, though now I'm in a hurry and will read at a later time, since I'm also behind with a map and I predict that Aleks will finish Roch 8 before I even start Roch 7. :P

Overall, another fun entry in the legendary Roch series. I don't think there was a map I hated, the secret map was a bit short and underwhelming (and also the only map where I died so far, even if it was a single time though) but the rest were all good. Ah yes, it's true the first Roch map may have aged the worst (thus is the lowest quality compared to all other Roch maps) but the rest maps have been really fun so far, even though there are many cramped spaces that drag the combat down, which are probably the worst offender about the maps. That and those times you can somehow softlock yourself, not sure if vanilla bug or what?

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5

User is offline   Merlijn 

#35

Aleks you probably saw it already, but this topic made it to the front page. :)

Played Roch 6, I don't have much to add to what Aleks had to say except that I completely agree.
The map is a highlight of the series and a big improvement over Roch 5. It keeps a similar aesthetic but applies it in a much better way.

The whole area looks very cohesive and there's a lot more room to move around after the cramped streets of the last level. The overpass is of course fantastic, I also quite like the textures used on the street.
The way you circle around the central area before entering it is brilliant and feels like a mini adventure. Going through several buildings, a sewer, the maintenance areas of the pool and what not.

One peculiar thing about the yellow keycard building is that you can enter it early through a secret place. This spawns a battlelord in the streets that would have spawned towards the end of the map otherwise. Since he spwans very close to the point where you emerge into the streets, this actually made for a pretty intense battle (not to mention there's 2 other battlelords outside, although in my case they went back to sleep again). I wonder if this is intentional, it must be since it would be a pretty big oversight. But it does change the dynamic of the map quite a bit.

The EDF building is clearly inspired by half-life and again Pascal does a great job with the tech-base theme.
The other highlight is of course the swimming pool. The battle in the pool itself gets pretty hectic and is one of the more challenging ones in the series.
I had fun, but who knew pig cop tanks could be so dangerous if you put them in a pool? :D

So yeah, nothing else to say. This map is fantastic. So far, the pattern is that the even numbered roch maps are the superior ones while the uneven ones are.. well... a bit more uneven. :P
Let's see if Roch 7 breaks the trend. It used to be one of my favorites but the last time I played it I was less enthousiastic.

(also: I played Roch secret1 too but I don't like how it's basically a copy-paste job so there's not much to say about it. Although the beach theme is cool)
4

User is online   Aleks 

#36

Finished Roch 8, thus effectively closing up the series. For the finale, I went with Urban Jungle track. The map took me 35 minutes and I found all 3 secrets, which seemed to be a bit more unique/creative this time around - although one of them took me like 10 minutes to locate the damn hidden switch, I knew it must have been somewhere around - felt satisfying in the end! It's one of the highest ranking maps on MSDN etc., but is it really the best of the series? Let's find out below!
  • The map picks up where Roch 7 ended and ends in the same place, after taking us on a journey through another part of the city. What used to be the streets seen in the previous map has been destroyed by a crash landing of giant alien ship!
  • Again we have an open hunt for buttons located beyond blue key doors, there's 5 total of them and we can visit them in any order we want to. This time, we will navigate through a souvenir shop, another EDF facility, office building (seemingly for some designers/engineers), a museum undergoing renovation and an apartment building. At the end, we will of course be exploring the alien ship - which is Pascal's only take on something else than city (with limited hi-tech base stuff), and done in quite a unique and creative way! There's also quite a monumental Media building, unfortunately we cannot access it.

Attached Image: duke0069.png Attached Image: duke0063.png Attached Image: duke0066.png
  • Some of the locations here look more basic/simpler detailed, it seems Pascal puts larger emphasis on sector-based details, trimming and shading instead of spriteworks. On the other hand, we still have quite cramped rooms like the office with all the blocked chairs around. Gotta compliment the "diagonal" texture used for stairs railing on first screen here:

Attached Image: duke0070.png Attached Image: duke0064.png Attached Image: duke0065.png
  • At the beginning, we are pitted against 2 Battlelords with no guns to handle them, but there's plenty of atomic healths around. After clearing out the streets, we can get an RPG and deal with the bad guys. The combat wasn't too challenging, once again, after the initial wipe-out part. Also, there's really lots of shotgun shells around!
  • We will get to re-visit Duke's mansion from Roch 4 - it seems like someone hit it with a shrinker... Gotta love using these pal 15 keycard icons for windows!

Attached Image: duke0067.png
  • This time, our little banner switches panel-by-pannel in a chessplate pattern like this:

Attached Image: duke0068.png
  • And finally, the magnificient alien ship's interior! Gotta love the use of textures (look at the grating at the floor on 2nd screen) and clever use of pal 7.

Attached Image: duke0071.png Attached Image: duke0072.png

My personal rating of the Roch maps, from least to most favourite:

9) Roch 1
8) Roch Secret 1
7) Roch 5
6) Roch 2
5) Roch 3
3-4) Roch 7 & Roch 8
2) Roch 6
1) Roch 4

Can't decide between 7 and 8. Also had a hard time with 4 and 6, especially right after playing 6, but in the end 4 feels stronger.

In the following days, I will be playing 2 more maps which don't belong to the series or aren't created by Pascal, but seem to be quite directly inspired by it: Roch Island by MRCK, van Oostrum brothers and Taivo Maripuu and Dogville 2012 by Taivo Maripuu. I haven't played these maps before (although I did play the infamous first version of Dogville from around 2004, which stirred some controversy back in the day and might have even been one of the reasons why there is no Roch 9...). Will do a write-up of these maps as well, probably not as detailed as for Roch though.
5

#37

Very little to say about this one, really;



Generally a huge improvement over the first map, on account of fixing many of its flaws. That said, I've already forgotten most of it. Certainly not a bad map, far from it, but I still feel there's a way to go before i stop considering it overrated.
Whilst I hate to bring my own stuff into this again, that's unfortunately the only reliable perspective I have on building levels, so: I hope that this one was to Pascal's Roch what Riverside was to my shenanigans; where he's just about learned how to make all of the individual pieces work, but hasn't entirely figured out the best way to glue them together quite yet. At that rate, he'll start reaching full potential in another map or two... until whichever one was the gameshow map turns up, as I remember that one being gash and thought it was Roch 2.
4

User is offline   Merlijn 

#38

Quote

In the following days, I will be playing 2 more maps which don't belong to the series or aren't created by Pascal, but seem to be quite directly inspired by it: Roch Island by MRCK, van Oostrum brothers and Taivo Maripuu and Dogville 2012 by Taivo Maripuu.


It will be interesting to see what your thoughts are on Roch Island. I don't really like the map anymore, to be perfectly honest.
The map progression can be pretty obscure and confusing at times and my part doesn't really fit that well with the rest of the map. At least we sneaked in a funny Duke Burger theme song. :D

Anyway, on with the show:

Roch 7


For some reason my opinion keeps shifting on this map. When it was released I thought it was the best thing ever, then I replayed it a year ago and was somewhat disappointed. The map felt a lot smaller and less impressive than in my memories. But.. I must say I had a very enjoyable playthrough this time around. So to answer my own question: yes this map breaks the trend. Roch 7 is up there with the great ones.

I like the main street area a lot, like Roch 6 it's pretty wide and gives you plenty of room to run and dodge during the bigger fights. This is the first time we see a whole collection of cars in the streets and they come quite in handy as cover during some of the skirmishes with the pig cops. In this map we really reached a down town area, it just screams 'French city' to me. Of course, the added monuments help a lot and a lot of flavour to the scenery. :)

If I may compare, this looks a lot better than the Paris map from World Tour, and it's done without new textures. It probably helps that this author is actually French and didn't have to work with a tight deadline, but still.
I thought it was worth pointing out.

The general gameplay idea was pretty innovative at the time and well realized. You need to visit 4 locations and can do so in any order you like. It flows really well. My only small issue with it is that 1 side mission clearly stands out above the rest, and that's the concert hall. This is the only one that feels like it's own mini adventure, while the other 3 are over rather quickly. Still, I think it's very impressive what Pascal managed to pull off with just the old limits. You can tell he had to cut some corners, some objects are made of sprites to save up on walls, there's fewer secret areas etc. It's also somewhat telling that
Spoiler


But it's not like the other 3 buildings aren't well designed, each room has top notch design and has tons of fun little details and easter eggs. I quite liked the dining room of the hotel, again it just screams 'France' to me.
Loved details like this:
Attached Image: duke0220.png Attached Image: duke0219.png

Now the concert hall with the instruments, how can I not love that? Probably the best attempt at a small/medium sized venue in Duke (for now... ;) )

In terms of combat I thought this map was easier than the last one, there's nothing too crazy going on in this one. Again the concert hall stands out, I though it had the best progression and the best battles.
Also have to note that Pascal does love the shotgun maybe a bit too much, there's ammo for it everywhere. But on the other hand, I did run out of ammo for the chaingun at one point.

Last thing before this post gets too damn long. As a mapper I really appreciate the effort Pascal put in this building to make it look 3D (a clever combination of SOS trickery and spriteworks):
Attached Image: duke0216.png

This post has been edited by Merlijn: 18 June 2021 - 12:37 PM

4

User is online   ck3D 

#39

View PostMerlijn, on 18 June 2021 - 12:35 PM, said:

It will be interesting to see what your thoughts are on Roch Island. I don't really like the map anymore, to be perfectly honest.
The map progression can be pretty obscure and confusing at times and my part doesn't really fit that well with the rest of the map. At least we sneaked in a funny Duke Burger theme song. :D


I'm looking forward to that too actually, been a while since I last even thought of that map before Aleks brought it up. I also have some mixed memories of it, but I think that's because we released it without boosting the visibility, default fog just doesn't work in a map of that scale and general level of brightness, the construction itself isn't bad but just that detail makes the ensemble look super ugly. A lot of the mapping was experimental but to be honest I still like it, it's rooted in early 2000's trends all the way up to the chin and if I'm not mistaken it was a rather early limit-breaking map we tackled soon after JonoF redefined that, so the art of open world maps was still to be established (if you don't count Billy Boy who had always grasped the general idea, even earlier than that, although that would usually mean empty rooms).

About your part I still love it, Maarten and Taivo did a great job too, but you guys' stuff reminds me of a proto-Clear the Coast in retrospect and the action towards the end was so memorable it just popped back into my mind even though I probably haven't touched the map in over a decade. Really nothing to be ashamed of. My own stuff I built in a style I'm completely over now (besides certain aspects in terms of scale), but I can still appreciate the level as a whole for what it is, it may not be the most practical and it's definitely not the most traditional but as a one-off adventure it's still pretty epic/ambitious, and so not such a bad way to kill an hour, I can still respect that aspect at least.

The Duke Burger theme song still pops up in my head sometime every other month or so. #thanksIhateit

This post has been edited by ck3D: 18 June 2021 - 05:45 PM

1

User is offline   Merlijn 

#40

Yeah it's a shame we didn't remove the black fog. You're right that at the time it was the largest map yet, IIRC we even included a custom skybox. We'll see what Aleks has to say haha.

View Postck3D, on 18 June 2021 - 05:44 PM, said:

About your part I still love it, Maarten and Taivo did a great job too, but you guys' stuff reminds me of a proto-Clear the Coast in retrospect and the action towards the end was so memorable it just popped back into my mind even though I probably haven't touched the map in over a decade. Really nothing to be ashamed of.


Now that you mention it, it does feel like a prelude to clear the coast. I didn't mean that the part itself was bad, rather that it looks quite different in terms of aesthetics.

Quote

The Duke Burger theme song still pops up in my head sometime every other month or so. #thanksIhateit


Come eat a. Delicious. Duke Nukem burgeeeer :D
1

User is online   ck3D 

#41

^ To be honest I like looking at Roch Island as a patchwork of styles and touches as opposed to one big coherent piece (maybe that's why it doesn't bother me so much), that was pre-Mapster32 and so people needed to put more effort into crafting stuff and everyone's contribution actually meant something, I knew it was super exciting with every map update to see what everyone had added to this or that corner. I especially remember getting the map back from Taivo blew me away in particular, the outdoor and indoor architecture of his real-life inspired building was incredible to me at the time; and then again after I got it back after you guys had designed your beach and crammed in so many nooks and crannies and intense action on a scale bigger than what was in the map previously, felt like the level had spontaneously doubled in size basically overnight (been so long, time is a blur). I remember Geoffrey giving us shit about urban planning at the time because we had those little houses next to giant ass skyscrapers and he was right, but I kind of like how because of the improvisation you never know what the map is going to throw at you next. Gives the level a very uneasy vibe (also with all the crazy colors everywhere), which I'm sure is part of what sometimes overwhelms the player. But at the end of the day, every piece does fit in, just in what feels like an over-the-top chaotic context. Honestly with 240 of visibility and a huge facelift in cosmetics (as well as an ending that doesn't break the fourth wall maybe, and some minor layout retouching), would it come out today it wouldn't exactly be a terrible map, could still see it scoring a 90 on MSDN with the black fog issue fixed.

Da na na na na, da na na na na. Come eat!

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User is offline   Ninety-Six 

#42

Straight honest, I prefer Roch Island to the Roch series proper. As far as gameplay goes, I find RI to be a lot better balanced but also not afraid to go hectic and make things spicy. The wide open spaces in many of the areas really take advantage of that space to have much bigger battles that don't feel too cramped. Sometimes progression is a little unclear, yes, mostly in regards to that hotel, but otherwise it's fine enough.

The actual Roch maps though, while I don't hate them like HT seems to, I always found the gameplay to be a bit...meh. It's never outright bad, and I never really feel overwhelmed, but it can be a slog sometimes. The non-linearity of the later maps is neat and brings some variety, though it always kinda bothered me that a lot of it never really built to something. Roch 7 just kinda ends, and while Roch 8 does have you exploring the alien ship, it soon sends you back out into the street to end right where you started, so it feels a wee bit anticlimactic (especially since not a lot actually happens in the ship).

Something that Pascal starts doing a lot of in the later maps, 7 and 8 in particular, is throw in really beefy enemies in smaller spaces. I understand the limitations of vanilla being a thing, but at the same time, it does get repetitive. Even in more open areas, like 7's big street, he just kinda celebrates every blue key grab with more battlelords. It's a bit sloggy. Even if you play it as an episode and have more of the heavier weapons to further speed up the combat, it still kinda feels like you're just standing still holding the fire button.

I mean the ammo ratio is still balanced even from pistol start which is nice. It's just never...particularly engaging. The bigger battles just never afford you the room to bounce around the arena which is when the whole agile movement of the game shines. You're mostly just kinda stuck in cramped quarters sometimes using the tried-and-true strafe around a corner strategy, or just kinda taking fire until you get to a less exposed (and more cramped) position.

That's actually something I've always kinda noticed about maps that try to go for a more realistic style. The higher the bar slides towards realism, usually the more cramped the level ends up feeling. Roch encapsulates this, with the more open maps being near the start of the sequence but the more detailed and cramped ones near the end.

I'm mostly focusing on the combat side of the gameplay since that's my bread and butter for these games. RI genuinely feels like the kind of map Pascal wanted to have made in terms of the way the enemies are laid out. I'd say enemy opposition is roughly equal to what we see in the later entries, but again the much more open nature of the map really helps make the combat come alive. It may not be as visually cohesive, but as what's basically a CBP you just sorta have to accept that. They're more for maintaining a visual theme than a visual consistency. And in that aspect I think RI looks fine, fog or not.


Also, seeing as the Roch series never saw a proper conclusion, I tend to play them as an episode starting with RI (but then ending with it too because of the way the true finale is set up), and even include Tavio's Dogville and City Full of Alien Scum. Sort of a "what if" episode, in my mind.

Spoiler



EDIT: "Agile" was in caps by accident. I'm sorry. It makes me sound like a dick.

This post has been edited by Ninety-Six: 19 June 2021 - 05:06 AM

3

User is online   ck3D 

#43

^ That was a great post, you described exactly everything I like and dislike about Roch Island. It's a very messy map with some confusing or unnecessary aspects in design (all the invisible walls also come to mind, probably a straight inheritance from not realizing we actually had more walls than ever used to dealing with this time and thus could have actually linked together both beaches, for instance), but the scale is what makes it fun and funnily enough that aspect isn't dissimilar to how I build today at all. Honestly I think people commonly underestimate how Dogville probably was just a scapegoat for Pascal to leave a community and an activity he had gotten bored of; the original version of the map was indeed a bit much (by original version, I don't mean the pre-2012 version one that's still out there, there was another first one that didn't stay up for long and much more obviously recycled Roch designs), but in the real world a sensible person doesn't react like that unless they have other issues or preoccupations, I think the increasing experimentation in the Roch series itself sort of indirectly denotes how Pascal's ideas really outgrew Duke 3D early on (possibly also coming with its share of boredom), I'd say around the time of Roch 3/4 after he had gotten basic Build technique down, and then eventually his vision evolved past the scope of the game.

I also think High Treason's criticism and observations are very valid (all the while not necessarily negating the strengths of the maps either). At the end of the day, I feel like his form over function statements only correlate with exactly what you're saying. Personally, his tone and wit has me cracking up so far. But for real, imagine Roch 7/8 just built on a WG City kind of scale, why not with a real life-sized Arc de Triomphe you could have explored and climbed instead of a random decorative barrier - that would have rocked.

Damn I had completely forgotten that the song told you you sucked when you would smash it, and as soon as you mentioned that the sound clip went off in a head of mine that thought for certain it had long erased it from its memory. The cosmos appreciated those sound clips so much, it reserved a special place for them it seems.

This post has been edited by ck3D: 19 June 2021 - 05:34 AM

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User is offline   Ninety-Six 

#44

View Postck3D, on 19 June 2021 - 05:24 AM, said:

^ That was a great post, you described exactly everything I like and dislike about Roch Island. It's a very messy map with some confusing or unnecessary aspects in design but the scale is what makes it fun and funnily enough that aspect isn't dissimilar to how I build today at all.


I don't think it's really all that messy, personally, but maybe it's just because of my strong bias towards gameplay over visuals, since in that regard RI excels minus one or two confusing sections. There isn't that many of them, though.


Oh, and if anyone is curious about my music selection:
Spoiler

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User is offline   Merlijn 

#45

View PostNinety-Six, on 19 June 2021 - 04:38 AM, said:

Straight honest, I prefer Roch Island to the Roch series proper. As far as gameplay goes, I find RI to be a lot better balanced but also not afraid to go hectic and make things spicy. The wide open spaces in many of the areas really take advantage of that space to have much bigger battles that don't feel too cramped. Sometimes progression is a little unclear, yes, mostly in regards to that hotel, but otherwise it's fine enough.


I guess we can consider this a hot take. ;) But I get it from your perspective, you do seem to favor the more challenging maps with a higher enemy count (judged on your posts at least) and Roch Island certainly delivers on that front! The discussion made me go back to the map and I feel like I was a bit too harsh on it. The sheer size is still quite impressive! It is a lot larger than any of the Roch maps, and features much larger fights too. I do think everone involved did a great job, especially Tiavo made some truly sweet locations. It's just that the final product is a bit.. much. As for my own part, I think Maarten and I were trying something new and improved on that type of design/gameplay with Clear the coast.

PS: the Duke burger song actually plays inside the restaurant. Imagine working there and having to endure the song the whole day! :D

This post has been edited by Merlijn: 19 June 2021 - 09:16 AM

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User is offline   Ninety-Six 

#46

View PostMerlijn, on 19 June 2021 - 09:14 AM, said:

I guess we can consider this a hot take. ;) But I get it from your perspective, you do seem to favor the more challenging maps with a higher enemy count (judged on your posts at least) and Roch Island certainly delivers on that front!


Yeah, more or less. That said, I'm fine with lower enemy counts too if they're arranged in a good way like in a lot of the vanilla levels. I won't deny I certainly have a preference for the bigger horde fights; that would be just a lie. But at the end of the day, high difficulty or not, high monster count or not, it's all about the flow of the combat for me. I love it when I have the chance to cut loose, but I also enjoy any combat scenario where I sorta have to think around what I'm doing, or alternatively can rely on twitch reflexes to save me.

In fairness, Roch 6 kinda gets there with the Battlelord(s) constantly gunning you while you move between buildings. I don't think the payoff is worth it though, since there's just kinda enemies there in the streets and it leads to the Roch 7 problem of holding down fire until the bad peoples fall down.


Again, Roch combat isn't bad combat. I've seen bad combat, plenty of times. It's fair and balanced and I would take it over a hot mess any day of the week. It's just meh combat overall for me, even for the difficulty level it's going for. It's basically the main reason I'm not as in love with the series as most of the Duke community is.

Using RI as a comparison again, it's not just the enemy counts. It's the way they're arranged and the arenas around them are built for the encounters. As I said, minus the two finales, there's not much in RI that's particularly harder than later Roch levels. It's just they play a lot smoother thanks to the greatly increased real estate on a per-arena level. There's more room to run around, you have to think a lot more about line of sight to the enemies, tankier enemies can pursue you or you can outrun them... there's just a lot more options in RI combat-wise, for both the player and the enemies.


But RI is comparable to the kind of enemy opposition alone seen in Roch. However the geometry of the Roch maps is a lot more reminiscent of E4 maps in terms of basic layout (but obviously not even close when it comes to texturing and detail). A great example of more confined spaces still having good combat would be Derelict. Derelict is densely packed with so much SOS shenanigans. But despite the crampness of the space (it is the hull of a ship; they're kinda famous for being tight), the enemy number per-fight and enemy types per fight are worked in to play to the advantages and disadvantages of the space you encounter them in.

Now sure, Derelict is the penultimate level and is quite difficult, so I'm maybe not doing myself any favors. So I'll also throw out Pigsty as another good example of more cramped quarters but still good gunplay. It's a tighter level, so it's filled with pigs and takes full advantage of the strafe-and-shoot playstyle. Postal and Area 51 are also good demonstrations of this. Again, E4 is a good showcase of what cramped combat that works looks like. I understand it's not up to everyone's liking, which is fine.

For some user maps that I think get close-quarters combat right, I'll also throw in Cherenkov Station or the ADG Episode (or actually just about anything Alejandro makes, come to think of it). None of them are particularly difficult, but the enemy encounters are tailored for the more cramped spaces in comparison to the wider open areas of RI and such.

To put it all to a point, I just sorta think that Roch wants the combat of Roch Island but thrown into the geometry of a vanilla level, and that mismatch is why I find it meh overall, and consequently why I like RI more. But again, I don't hate it by any stretch. It just doesn't engage me at all, and since I'm into these shooters for the combat, that's a bit of a problem. But again, it's fine. I don't want to give the impression that I think the combat is garbage, because I don't. It's just kinda dull for me, is all.

View PostMerlijn, on 19 June 2021 - 09:14 AM, said:

As for my own part, I think Maarten and I were trying something new and improved on that type of design/gameplay with Clear the coast.


I didn't realize until this very discussion that RI actually predates CtC, but I suppose it makes sense. I'm not actually 100% sure which part is your guys', but I have a pretty good guess and yeah I can see how it was further advanced in CtC. Always kinda reminded me of CtC anyway, just with less explosions.

Incidentally I enjoyed the combat in CtC, but that's a dissection for when that has its turn in this map club (or when Red as a whole does as it follows on from it).

View PostMerlijn, on 19 June 2021 - 09:14 AM, said:

PS: the Duke burger song actually plays inside the restaurant. Imagine working there and having to endure the song the whole day! :D


in my head that's the exact reason why it tells the person who shot it they suck. It's because it happens so often.

This post has been edited by Ninety-Six: 19 June 2021 - 09:48 AM

1

User is online   Aleks 

#47

Still haven't played Roch Island, but I like the discussion that started around it over here! I wanna throw in my 5 cents on some other hot takes around here, especially raised by Ninety-Six - especially about E4 levels... I mean, Derelict is great design-wise and all, but in terms of combat I think it might be one of the most annoying levels in the game, due to cramped SOS areas and how enemy AI works in Duke. I don't mean it's too difficult or too easy, it's just a level which I kinda enjoy for the design, but hate for combat. Thunders and RPV's, invisible troopers/turrets when going on the ship, a lot of one-sided maskwalls, flying enemies in tight vertical rooms - definitely not my cup of tea. Same goes for Pigsty, it's always felt like a "meh" level for me, despite pretty cool theme. The final battle is ridiculous as you can cheap it out through the doors. Going Postal, on the other hand, is great combat-wise, same goes for Area 51 (especially the initial open area with the bus) and The Queen's brown/green sections.

Roch might be a series most concerned about aesthetics, but besides few more cramped areas here and there (Roch 2, Roch 3 and Roch 5 mostly, really), I think it's much closer to original levels than most people remember. There's some more challenging battles, but I think the pacing and dynamics of the levels is just perfect to let the player enjoy their trip and eye-candies within each level rather than keeping them on their toes all the time. As for Alejandro's levels, having replayed some of them last year, they seem a lot "simpler" in terms of combat most of the time, relying on shotgun action even more than Roch (there's some more interesting battles though, like the ending of Another Timeless Night).

The approach implemented by Merlijn and Maarten (i.e. Clear the Coast, Shaky Grounds, Wudrichem War) or MRCK (Poison Heart and Siebenpolis mostly I think), so going with larger scale and larger battles, feels completely different than what we see in Roch series due to the different scale/openness, but then in the end of the day, it's still Duke's enemy AI which only allows you for so much, while of course being fun and enjoyable as well.
0

User is offline   Forge 

  • Speaker of the Outhouse

#48

Dogville is the best roch map
2

User is offline   Ninety-Six 

#49

View PostAleks, on 19 June 2021 - 10:14 AM, said:

but I think the pacing and dynamics of the levels is just perfect to let the player enjoy their trip and eye-candies within each level rather than keeping them on their toes all the time.


Well like I said, it's not really about the difficulty or intensity. It's more about there just being a lot of enemies that all really just end up being dealt with the same way. A lot of tanky enemies, at that. I wouldn't have as big an issue with it if the combat was more like ADG's maps. Yes they're simple, but barring one or two hiccups they have impeccable flow and are able to keep you going and change things up every now and then, often with a pattern of somewhat bigger fights in bigger spaces, and quicker fights in smaller spaces. Roch maps, meanwhile, are a lot more densely packed but the lack of space slows the pace of the combat to a crawl. Again, it's like having the enemy count of Roch Island smushed into the space of a vanilla level.

This post has been edited by Ninety-Six: 19 June 2021 - 10:34 AM

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User is online   ck3D 

#50

Some thoughts,

- As a level designer, comments such as Ninety-Six's are a true goldmine, I think there's something to be said about gameplay 'tangibility' - aesthetics are one thing (and an important one if you're going to try and set a tone), and one thing the mapper has more direct control over since Build is WYSIWYG in that aspect, which means every need for fine adjustment in those regards can instantly be spotted and retouched on the spot, this includes most visuals but also ambient sounds and most everything sensory. On the other hand, gameplay of a map is more abstract of a concept to establish and predict (especially taking all the potential player psychology profiles into account), and so something that requires particular forethought and planning. Recently, on Doomworld I think, I ran into the post of someone saying they felt like Doom maps compromised aesthetics around gameplay whereas Duke maps compromised gameplay around aesthetics; while that's not absolutely true, that's still a valid observation of trends maps such as Roch introduced where the focus would be on good-looking environments first and then progression as an afterthought (notable exceptions within the Roch series itself there would be Roch 4 and 6). I feel like at the end of the day, it's all a matter of depth of reading, some will bet most everything on looks to impress when some others will also consider or at least prioritize different dimensions of the experience, and think function before form e.g.. design their spaces around the thought of maneuverability (which is why ridiculously big spaces are so fun, one can only go so fast whilst driving around a tight maze), encounter/event types, basic gameplay functionalities and flow, which interestingly enough one can only simulate in-editor so much. That's not raw WYSIWYG execution and so harder to keep in check as an author until you spend the required time and mental energy to basically imagine yourself living inside the map. And if you strip this form of soul off a level altogether, all is left is basically a tech demo.

- Bigger spaces actually only complement the typically shitty Duke 3D enemy AI or so I find. Just forget about all design and instead mentally picture the enemies as big black squares that move kind of fast on every possible axis in a box, the bigger the box the less choppy and the more predictable their movement will be because they won't be rebounding against the walls nearly as much.

- It's true we never really revealed who did what on Roch Island I don't think. IIRC Maarten made the library at the start, then the city block with the central building comprising a backyard, the 3D Realms Studios building and the tall tower with a crashed car is mine. Then Taivo built the whole street that borders and extends down opposite to the second beach, with the more realistic buildings, the little house and the platforming on signs to get a key. Then the first beach with the hotel is also mine (the inside of the house you enter through the bathtub was scavenged from an abandoned Anarchy City 1 remake map), then everything from the Duke Burger onwards is Maarten then Merlijn. Hardcore version of the ending recycling some of the previous sections was also mine, although that was mostly retouching everyone's work.

- Because of the 'reaction' I always imagined that, somewhere in that Duke Burger, the employees were specifically hired not just to flip burgers but also to play and broadcast the song live on loop.

- It's very possible (and has been down countless times) to make big scale levels that look good and work well within the old limits. Not that anyone really argued otherwise, but I felt like we could use the reminder.

- Doubling down on Forge's comment: sometimes overly obvious inspirations aside, fundamentally, Taivo was always a more imaginative mapper than (at least post Roch 6-) Pascal. I'm sure that's actually part of what Pascal really hated about Dogville, too - that the dude took his ideas but reorganized them into a better map with more soul. Another reason why taming your ego is important, ethics are one thing but denying the way generations naturally work, picking up on teachings from the former, is a bit insane. I also think it's a bit funny how we're still talking about this event like it was the community's World War where suddenly we lost Roch 9, when Dogville and City Full of Alien Scum are out there and I'm sure just as top notch (minus the lack of ambient sounds in the latter).

This post has been edited by ck3D: 19 June 2021 - 12:00 PM

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User is offline   Ninety-Six 

#51

Having played Dogville (the 2012 version at least) as recently as the rest of Roch (again I typically play them together), I can say that I kind of agree with Forge. I found myself liking it quite a bit more than its immediate predecessors. While it used the same free-roaming blue key gimmick, it actually feels like it builds to something (especially since, again at least in in the 2012 version, getting the blue keys is only the halfway point). It's also a bit roomier which allows for some of the heavier combat sequences to feel more at home.

Again, I want to state that I don't only like open-field arena design. I think cramped quarters are perfectly fine... just not fine for a lot of the heavier enemies to pack themselves into. DV isn't perfect in this regard, and also sometimes even has the opposite problem, but I did find myself more engaged in the combat than I was since Roch Island.
0

User is online   Aleks 

#52

View Postck3D, on 19 June 2021 - 11:33 AM, said:

- Bigger spaces actually only complement the typically shitty Duke 3D enemy AI or so I find. Just forget about all design and instead mentally picture the enemies as big black squares that move kind of fast on every possible axis in a box, the bigger the box the less choppy and the more predictable their movement will be because they won't be rebounding against the walls nearly as much.


I have to disagree on this one actually, probably for the very same reason to stated. Personally I find it much more difficult to design an interesting encounter in a larger space (preferably an open one) than tight one due to unpredictability/stubbornness of some of the enemies, resulting in having to adjust a lot of things so they're actually balanced and properly aggressive without either being annoying/overpowered/unfair or passive sitting ducks. For example, a pig cop would sometimes shoot you across large distance, and sometimes just try to approach you for a point blank shot in an open, large room, giving you more than enough time to kill him with slow and well placed shotgun shots. Then again, monsters getting actually stuck on spritework/decorations is another thing :)

Personally I believe the combat within more cramped/tight indoor areas should rely more on player reflexes (which doesn't necessarily mean a commander/ducking pig cop behind every corner, sentry drone behind every opened door and new beast on top of every elevator), whereas open spaces allow for more crazy battles that rely more on player's agility/navigation/prioritizing skills. On the other hand, a single Battlelord in an open space with not much room to cover seems more fair than throwing 5 enforcers at a player in a similar environment and having them rely only on shotgun/chaingun. Hell, a non-stayput battlelord in a more tight room is something I really enjoyed in a bunch of Roch maps as it was far more challenging and unpredictable than the usual long distance shooting.

But then I know it's all based on player's feelings - as an example, I'll use my Piggish Prison, which people seemed to either love or hate (i.e. ck3D complimenting the use of pig cops vs. Mikko hating it). In that case I actually tried to almost kind of scientifically balance out the fights to be just as spicy as I would mostly enjoy them. I felt the similar equilibrium for me was found within some fights around Shaky Grounds, Poison Heart or Naked Dash, where it just clicked as it should.

I can somehow see where Ninety-Six' critics of Roch maps combat comes from, but again, I think that part is kept quite classic/conservative, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but then it isn't as innovative as other aspects, at least most of the time. But then there's a lot of maps which seem to threat combat more as an afterthought to design as well and if the aesthetics, design, layout, puzzles and other aspects are top-notch, I'd totally buy it (e.g. Fallout Freeze, which is a great map, but has somehow generic/conservative type of gameplay, far more than Roch maps).

As for Dogville, I really do have to check the 2012 version. Having played the original (or maybe modified - I dunno, the file has been sitting on my disc since 2004 or 2005) not long ago, I thought it's a cool map of its own and would be much more praised had there not been all the Roch maps before, but seeing the striking resemblance, it felt like - don't mean to sound rude or anything here - kinda clumsier version of Roch maps. It had all the similar designs, the open, "non-linear" blue keycard puzzles, but the texturing and detailing felt somehow a lot less planned/thought of. Again, don't want to sound like a suck-up to Pascal here, but ever since Roch 4 or so, his maps seemed like everything is on its place, with just perfect texture choices or layout. Even playing them now after all these years, I did collect my jaw from the floor a couple of times at how creative some of the designs are.

Another thing I'd like to add here is, the overwhelming popularity of the series back in the day, with all the fan pages and stuff. While we're all here seasoned Duke veterans, you still gotta remember that there's more casual gamers/fans out there who must have been playing these maps, so accessibility is another issue. Therefore, playing it safe with the combat without going too creative might have been actually a calculated approach to making something that everyone can enjoy.
2

User is offline   quakis 

#53

Bit on the slow side, didn't have much to say, resulting in a chunk of padding I ended up gutting out of the review to focus more on what I wanted to talk about. I've played a little ahead (up to ROCH4) and fear I might end up repeating many points for ROCH3 I've already made here.

Updated review for ROCH2: https://taw.duke4.ne.../duke3d/roch-2/

Minor note: Current review count for 2021 is sitting at 5, on par with 2016's for the previous highest count. It's been nice getting some updates on TAW again after many periods of hiatus.

This post has been edited by quakis: 19 June 2021 - 03:11 PM

3

User is online   ck3D 

#54

View PostAleks, on 19 June 2021 - 02:56 PM, said:

I have to disagree on this one actually, probably for the very same reason to stated. Personally I find it much more difficult to design an interesting encounter in a larger space (preferably an open one) than tight one due to unpredictability/stubbornness of some of the enemies, resulting in having to adjust a lot of things so they're actually balanced and properly aggressive without either being annoying/overpowered/unfair or passive sitting ducks. For example, a pig cop would sometimes shoot you across large distance, and sometimes just try to approach you for a point blank shot in an open, large room, giving you more than enough time to kill him with slow and well placed shotgun shots. Then again, monsters getting actually stuck on spritework/decorations is another thing :)


That's when the issue becomes a monster choice and placement issue though. For instance, Pigcops shouldn't really be placed long distance (same goes for Enforcers) because those are hitscan (or pseudo hitscan, not certain how much the shotgun exactly qualifies there technically) enemies whose fire covers any distance instantly with little human chance of dodging, resulting in an unfair type of disadvantage on the player's end (unless a situation where you'd specifically want that to happen, but I don't think that's the wisest kind of difficulty). Turret/sniper spots (official or de facto) should be reserved for projectile enemies I think (in fact that's the whole danger aspect of the Battlelord, it brutally switches in between both modes), including Troopers - and the other way around is also true where projectile enemies/weapons kind of suck indoors, the blast radius (no pun intended?) of the explosions is so wide, rooms ideally should be at least wide enough to accommodate them with some space to spare to be considered fair (again, unless a specific plan, at least having to do away with a projectile enemy in tight corridors can be exciting and a fun way for the player to exert reflexes like you said, but it has to be done right and the design of the arena optimized for the scene). Because the monsters typically behave like shit, though, sometimes a good plan on paper will turn out like crap no matter which option you explore, but in this case it's often better to scrap the idea altogether than stick to something that only semi-works (e.g.. market in Poison Heart should have been turned into something else entirely).

tl;dr I guess at the end of the day, no matter the design style and flavor of the moment within the level, something poorly planned around the mechanical 'rules' of the game just won't work and so that includes both unfairly designed encounters in narrow passage ways and big scale stuff with hitscanners and zero room for cover (but that's downright bad design). Personally, I used to go purely by feel a lot more than that, placing hitscan and projectile enemies all the while aware of their specificities but other than that at random, and in the end that would only result in this or that section of my levels being rather artificial spikes in difficulty.

About mini-Battlelords, honestly I never really got using stayput ones unless to prevent them from reaching sectors where they would fail their purpose (turret-style) or glitch out, I get that their melee power is gone compared to the real thing chasing you but direct contact with them is still synonymous with a quick death in most cases and so the pressure remains important whenever they're allowed to chase you. Mini bosses that are static for no reason and you can just shoot from a distance are always unnecessary and an absolute yawn unless something else is going on around the scenery that's more exciting. Most oftentimes, they convey the funny feeling that the map author themselves was really scared of the monster for some reason.

For the Pigcops in Piggish Prison, I really liked the coherence that the repetition of the enemy brought, and fighting them (at least on Let's Rock) was never a problem to me in general but at least the beta had a couple of mean ones I remember really not liking and reporting, for instance the one on top of the bed that you couldn't really shoot was one completely misplaced use of the enemy, although the situation looked cool (and the set-up with the other beds for cover looked fun in theory, too, but only performed so well with auto aim at the time practically).

View Postquakis, on 19 June 2021 - 03:00 PM, said:

Bit on the slow side, didn't have much to say, resulting in a chunk of padding I ended up gutting out of the review to focus more on what I wanted to talk about. I've played a little ahead (up to ROCH4) and fear I might end up repeating many points for ROCH3 I've already made here.

Updated review for ROCH2: https://taw.duke4.ne.../duke3d/roch-2/

Minor note: Current review count for 2021 is sitting at 5, on par with 2016's for the previous highest count. It's been nice getting some updates on TAW again after many periods of hiatus.


Congrats on activity picking up again, such websites are important (and take work, I know), I check TAW a few times a few just in case of a random update. Your writing is only getting better with time, too; I hope you keep going. Roch 3 is a personal favorite, so I'm especially looking forward to your impressions on that one (and to High Treason's, and also then to High Treason's on Roch 4 which is the game show one and promises some hot takes).

Reading your review is making me think, I believe just how in-depth we're now allowing ourselves to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of something as classic as the Roch maps (that used to be held as absolute standards by so many, they were popularly untouchable for over a decade) might indirectly signify that we've really entered a new era in this community's history (as if the Van Oostrum's recent works and many more releases from the past year or two weren't enough of a call).

This post has been edited by ck3D: 19 June 2021 - 05:43 PM

3

#55

cool idea
0

User is online   Aleks 

#56

Played Roch Island, so I can properly address the discussion on it now :D It's a great map, but besides some locations, it felt very distant from Roch series IMO, both aesthetically and gameplay/pacing-wise.

For starters, it was quite easy telling for me who made which part even not reading/forgetting what ck3D explained in previous post. Especially Merlijn's/Maarten's part towards the end was very recognizable. In fact this map was particularly interesting to see people's individual styles kind of evolving/growing from there, knowing their previous and later works. For example, the MRCK's hotel at the beach looked super cool and detailed (shit like towels and even that rusty toilet flush in the bathroom which was barely noticable were such fine things I appreciate as hell!), but was also unbearably cramped making it hard to get around even with barely any monsters around - but then some other buildings/streets which I believe were his (also cars?) looked more like recent, spaciously-aware MRCK. Also I believe Taivo worked most of the Roch-like outdoor architecture, i.e. building facades and stuff and that green lobby of a high-rise building - which was probably my favourite location in the map, both in terms of design and the fight which went there with commanders and enforcers. Stylistically it reminded me a bit of the photos I used as inspiration for the final lobby area in Submachine as well, the same modern type. I believe this is one of the buildings he based upon a real life one? It's kinda too bad it wasn't more exposed really, I only noticed the awesome tall window after exploring a bit and looking around in awe.

I can also understand Merlijn saying their part looks different aesthetically, as it really looks like what evolved to then become Clear the Coast, but also I can see a lot of similarities with Shaky Grounds and Maarten's new map series. Especially in terms of how the encounters are presented, it's probably safe to say that climbing some structure and having a whole fleet of flying enemies appear and attack you, making you dance around the projectiles over a relatively small piece of land, a trademark of their gameplay style :D Also the alien infestation was quite characteristic there. Nevertheless, it was one of the funnier parts for me.

The "Die Hards" ending was also quite crazy, although I knew it already from Yelldown Hellride (I think it worked a bit better with Overlord there). Not sure if it was planned, but the green bloodpools of dead pal 6 liztroops etc. apparently acted like slime and hurted upon walking on them! I liked the experience being over the top, although the atomic healths and devastators everywhere rendered it not really that challenging (I admit I did die once - by falling into one of the pits in the street while backing from a fight and shooting RPG at the same moment right in the wall in front of me :D ). Some Battlelords there felt a bit weird too (the 2 ones on the collapsed building that wouldn't wake up unless actively engaged and the annoying bastard on 3DR building in between all the spritework structures).

The patchwork of styles indeed was something I noticed more than Roch inspiration, especially considering all of the 4 authors have (or had) something in common that's quite distant from clean Pascal's aesthetics (e.g. braver use of more intensive palettes, locations that don't certainly look like straight from Ikea catalogue with more signs of weariness etc) and in this way I kinda considered the map more of a tribute/homage of their own rather than direct successor to Roch series (Taivo probably was closest with his buildings, at least if the buildings I think about were made by him - but in a lot sweetier way than with original Dogville). The 2 buildings that really reminded me of Roch the most was the library where we started and the green lobby I mentioned earlier. Also I gotta say that the central supermarket building with first yellow key really looks more like MRCK's later works (post-drunk Duke trilogy at least) with its scale, structure and how platforming was introduced on it (also loved the triple chimneys visible from the street level).

Now for some critique. First of all, the blocked walls were kinda annoying, especially on the first beach - maybe even adding a short railing would work better there. I will get a bit later to why I found it quite annoying. Also some of the trimming seemed to be quite inviting for exploring and platorming, only to meet with a blocked wall right when I thought I was about to find a secret - but that's more of a personal nitpicking in this case. Some locations did feel a little cramped (red key house and of course the hotel mentioned earlier). However, the biggest drawback in this map for me was the obscurity of progression at the beginning, which totally dragged the pacing of the map. It literally took me about 15 minutes just walking around the town and double checking every door with yellow key in my pocket to see where it would fit. I found 3 secrets in the meantime and in the end had to rely on YouTube video only to see it has to be used to open up a beach in some barely distinguishable crack. Not sure if this was added as an afterthough or was just the result of CBP style of the map, but that beach looked kind of out of place with the rest of the map (also it was quite weird you wouldn't see the other side of skyscrapers from the beach :P ). After clearing the beach, I was stuck again and once again had to check YouTube to find out I gotta dive in a barely marked sewer hole (this is where the blocked walls were most frustrating, as I was checking them all along with buildings to see if I can fit somewhere else there). It's quite a shame, especially considering there was a viewscreen hint for the card on the rooftop itself, so one could be also added for the keylock and maybe also some better marking of the sewer. Strangely enough, I had no problem with the puzzle at the hotel, seeing shrinker and small hole in a wall I know what I have to do, just took me a while to notice the transparent crack for the bathroom wall to blow (actually I didn't notice it - at first I was trying to throw pipebombs through the small hole, but upon detonation the crack revealed to me), but I liked this part (also due to how well designed the hotel interior was).

As for visibility, I can see why MRCK kept regretting they didn't bump it up, as it indeed looked a bit striking with clear sky and buildings going black quite fast, especially in such a scale. Out of curiosity I just checked the original Roch maps and noticed they're all in full visibility 240 (even Roch 1!), now wonder how much success the series owns to this one simple trick that barely anyone knew or paid attention to back in the day - but it makes quite hilariously enormous impact on the overall visual impression of the map!
3

User is offline   FistMarine 

#57

I finished the maps last Thursday and Friday, sorry for taking so long to write the reviews. Since I don't want to repeat myself as Aleks and others have already pointed out, I will only mention the most important things about both maps, conclusion and talking about Roch Island since I actually finished it a few weeks ago in JFDuke3D and have to point out some things about it.

Roch 7

Interestingly, this map (and Roch 8) start you inside a small dark sector placed far away from the map, before teleporting to actual map. I'm not exactly sure why but I find this interesting to point out.

Here is the map where you are given a blue card before entering any of the buildings that require the blue card to enter, adding a bit of non-linearity and making you choose which building you want to visit next. It's a bit similar to Roch 4 in that aspect but the execution was similarly done in Roch 8, you will see soon.

Found all 3 secrets this time around, slight help from Mapster but they were much easier to find and only 3 (as with secret map). There was that secret where you had to push the box that I didn't feel risking to get squished, so I checked it AFTER I finished the map normally but thankfully you don't get squished, I had the impression that thanks to that fast door closing behind you, you get "stuck" in a cramped place but thankfully that wasn't the case.

The map took me a lot of time to complete and I honestly don't know if it took me one or two hours, due to vanilla clock resetting after 59:59. I remember having to wander around for a while until I found I missed that switch inside the fridge, no idea how I forgot to activate it but that was annoying, since I wasn't far away from completing the map. I doubt it took me more than 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete the map in total, so I'm counting as that time in stats below.

Roch 8

Wow, what a finale! You start under attack from aliens already (including Mini Battlelords on top of spaceship) and have to run and gather enough supplies while also avoiding various monsters. And after making your way through each building (most of which require the blue card that is spawned in one location and at every location visited) until you eventually get inside the alien spaceship and get the yellow card that allows you to exit! Too bad Roch 9 wasn't made, I'm very curious how it would have been. Maybe a map with a boss fight to conclude the episode/series. Oh well...

As for the map, at beginning I kinda wish I had armor to reduce the damage I took from attacks until I eventually found armor in one of buildings. And no the pig cops didn't drop armor UNTIL after I already got armor, though their used armors were still appreciated as extra armor, just wish I would have gotten earlier. Most people don't realize how useful the armor is in many games and helps to reduce damage instead of not having any armor and taking full damage from enemy attacks that makes you fragile. At one point I got down to 50 health thanks to a pig tank so I was looking for health and didn't want to use medkit, so I ended up picking an atomic health around the spaceship and THEN I noticed some large medkits. I really thought that tank got out of museum but it didn't, stayed there inside. Also like that pressing on doors marked with access card icon makes the blue card spawn, sometimes it spawns above your head, quite funny.

I liked some locations and the fact that you can get inside the spaceship. I remember this part being quite tough years ago (maybe because of those fast sliding doors that can squish you?) but this time around it wasn't hard at all and I carefully walked through those doors in order to avoid getting squished. One of protectors managed to get squished, though.

Found all 3 secrets as in previous map, with a bit of help from mapster (as Aleks said, that switch below desk was hardest to find, don't think would have found it without help of mapster). I know there was also the other secret that required to shoot an exploding barrel through a small door opening inside the museum entrance. I initially tried throwing a pipebomb through but that didn't work. Just shoot with pistol at that barrel and take cover! Strangely, I didn't find the Freezethrower until after I finished the map! It was inside fridge which I didn't even open it until after I was done with the map, just so I can have all weapons like in every level so far! Sucks that I couldn't make use of all that ammo I collected, would have been nice to use it inside the spaceship! At least I managed to shrink the Mini Battlelord (from inside ship) with the angle from one of the screenshots, so that the shrink ray affects him and saves me health and ammo for other weapons.

Also once again it took me over an hour to finish. Man, I'm so slow sometimes!

The way I had set up the folders (ROCH folder containing Roch 1-4 and secret map, while ROCH8 folder containing Roch 5-8 maps) meant I had Roch 4 music playing in the first half and Roch 7 music playing in the second half. There is also a demo included with Roch 8 that I haven't watched yet, mostly because I started the maps with command line parameters (which started the map directly), so I can also choose skill 3 that way, considering in Atomic Edition at least, the skill level is set to 2 when starting user maps from SETUP.EXE.

I honestly wish Roch series were finished, it's too bad Pascal left the scene just before the episode got completed, I imagine Roch 9 would have been even better and I pretty much agree with Aleks' rankings of Roch maps. I also think Dogville was a good map on its own and clearly Roch influenced at times (though I remember the gimmick with pressing on dogs close to monitor and it would spawn a card, it was a cool idea) and the 2012 version is even better, as far as I remember from playing it in past, it was much longer than original version.

We will see how things will go in next days when I get to play the maps. I only want to ask if the Dogville I downloaded a while back from Dukeworld (which is dated 11/08/2004 20:18) is the original version or was there an older/initial version before the controversy occurred? I wasn't in the community back then (the earliest I read about that controversy was in 2010 or so when I lurked around some Duke forums and found a Dogville thread on amc web forums and was surprised) and I don't know if that version is still available, I'm just curious.

Overall stats for the Roch series:

(ROCH1-4 + SC1)

Deaths: 1
Kills: 620
Secrets: 37
Time: 03:56:27

(ROCH5-8)

Deaths: 0
Kills: 650
Secrets: 17
Time: 04:26:03

Total Deaths: 1 (Roch Secret 1)
Total Kills: 1270
Total Secrets: 54
Total Time: 08:22:30

The reasons why I have been so slow are:
-Haven't played the maps in years, although they were familiar to me and remembered most of their locations
-Playing the game in DOSBox results in default keyboard only controls and slower reflexes overall, compared to my usual faster-paced playing in source ports with modern controls + mouselook, such as EDuke32, RedNukem, Megaton, World Tour, etc
-Hunting for remaining secrets results in an additional 10-15 minutes or so, depending on the amount of secrets found/missed and if I looked at mapster and know their exact location

Roch Series conclusions: Great maps, especially when they came out. Some maps show their age (especially the first map) but the maps are still worth playing nowadays! Not so much using DOSBox (as it was my experience this time, as I never played the maps in DOS Atomic 1.5 before) but perhaps the Addon Compilation version (that is compiled into an episode, with few fixes) in EDuke32, for the best experience.

Bonus Level:

Roch Island

The tribute to Roch series. A fairly large map that can take you up to TWO hours to complete! It is also very action packed. I unfortunately don't have time to make a walkthrough, so I will let others write a walkthrough and the highlights of the map (Aleks already did that in meantime while I'm editing and finalizing the message). I finished it a few weeks ago as I happened to have it installed at that time.

I will say that I highly enjoyed this map due to its open ended nature but I also have two major issues that felt they could have been fixed before:
First, there is no jetpack in this map at all! I even searched with Mapster and there was none, unless it's supposed to spawn somewhere from something. One of the secrets early required a jetpack to reach it as it was too high for Duke to reach it (the one with the hidden bathroom and an enforcer inside), unless I wasn't supposed to break the fire hydrant and jump on it? The way I reached it was luring a trooper and jumping on its head, which was a bit tricky to do. Then I could reach the secret. I don't know, I feel a jetpack somewhere in a secret area would have been very useful to navigate the map due to high verticality. (Note added that I got a confirmation from Aleks in last PM that you were supposed to reach that secret by jumping on fire hydrant, I just happened to break it before I thought about using it and regretted it but then I saved anyway since I was using multiple slots and eventually I lured a trooper to reach it, at least that way I'm not using cheats)

Second, there were a couple of monsters that were missed at end of level, despite visiting everything and finding every secret. I don't know if they spawned outside the map or whatever. Besides searching in Mapster for anything hidden, in-game I only searched with cheats DNKROZ & DNCLIP (after I finished the map without cheats, obviously) and I was only able to see two mini battlelords that never noticed me in last area on rooftops and I couldn't get them notice me at all (due to lack of jetpack in normal gameplay), plus shooting with rockets at them results in wasted ammo, as they won't react at all until they see you for first time.

The Battlelord boss isn't too bad since you are given a shit-ton of ammo (RPG/Devastator pickups) and atomic health. It's more about surviving that horde you fight when you enter last part of the level, before cleaning the mess and fighting Battlelord that doesn't notice you immediately. This last part of map (and parts of some ck3D/MRCK's older maps) are slightly modified and featured in the last boss level of Metropolitan Mayhem. I think I may remember few missing monsters in that map as well or I was able to get all kills? I don't remember well (though I remember other boss map had a problem with the missing enemies) and I still don't know where I could have missed those 6 enemies, other than those Mini Battlelords on buildings.

I will be doing Dogville (original version) in JFDuke3D and Dogville (2012) in EDuke32 in following days, as bonus content for the month. I might even add City Full of Alien Scum in the mix, as suggested by Ninety-Six. Then I'm curious what will be chosen for next month. On Doomworld megawad club, voting begins on 25th and people are allowed to vote up to 3 choices, then the one with most votes gets chosen, while in the event of a tie between 2 or more choices, one gets randomly chosen.

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This post has been edited by FistMarine: 21 June 2021 - 06:15 AM

3

User is offline   Merlijn 

#58

I love the discussions that have spawned here, lots of interesting comments!

I also finished the series and played Roch 8

Very little to add to what the others said, although I must point out that Pascals spritework gets pretty damn intricate in this map.
It still impresses to this day, even though we've seen even more intricate spriteworks recently (Submachine from Aleks for example). Here are my personal favorites:
Attached Image: duke0227.png Attached Image: duke0226.pngAttached Image: duke0224.png

Then there's this building, which is one of my favorites of the entire series:
Attached Image: duke0225.png

This map follows the same formula as Roch 7, but manages to spice things up with the crash landed alien spaceship.
It's a very cool way to start the level and connect both parts. I think Pascal threw in a bit too many atomic healths, once you know what happens it's easy to leave the place with 200 health.
But still it's a great way to kick things off. In terms of the design, the construction site inside the museum stands out and of course the alien spaceship itself.
It's one of the most unique takes on an alien ship ever seen in DN3D, aided by the strange manupalition of ambient sounds (very cool effect). As a sidenote I love Mikko's review where he states he almost started licking the screen during the alien parts. :D For some reason that always stuck with me.

The only place I didn't care for was the EDF base, it didn't look quite as good as the one in Roch 6.
Combat is also very similar to the last map, the beginning is the hardest but once you gathered enough supplies and weapons it becomes quite easy to manage.
And again Pascal wants to make sure you are loaded with shotgun shells (although it's not as unbalanced as Roch 7).

I wish there was a larger battle inside the space ship, especially since we never got a Roch 9 it would have been a solid climax for the series. Instead you get teleported back to the street to fight one last battlelords.
It's a shame we never got the final map.

CONCLUSION
My ranking would be very similar to Aleks. Top 2 are easily Roch 4 and Roch 6 with Roch 8 and Roch 7 tied for 3rd place. And Roch 2 would be 4th due to the reasons I cited.

I think overall the series has stood the test of time. I do agree with Ninety-six somewhat about the combat, it's mostly just good but not great. There's a couple of cool fights, like the swimming pool in Roch 6 or the ambush at the industrial site in Roch 5, but overall there's not much that will stick in your mind in terms of alien opposition. Now that may sound negative, but I think Aleks also made a good point. The somewhat conservative combat does keep the series accessible for more casual players and may explain why the series is so popular in the first place (besides the great design). A lot of early 2000 maps were either really short tech-base maps that kinda neglected combat or maps with extremely hard and frustrating puzzles (for reference, look up the Borg Nukem review from Icarus lives and you'll get the idea).

The fact that the Roch series looked good, still offered 20-30 minutes of gameplay per map and didn't feature annoying puzzles (except maybe Roch 1) all contributed to its success IMO.
Sure, the series isn't flawless and several have pointed out those flaws already. But overall I really enjoyed revisiting the entire series.

Now one more thing;

Quote

Interestingly, this map (and Roch 8) start you inside a small dark sector placed far away from the map, before teleporting to actual map. I'm not exactly sure why but I find this interesting to point out.


That's because Pascal moved those maps outside the grid, to prevent people from 'stealing' his design. CK3D suggested earlier that Pascal only used Dogville as an excuse to leave the mapping community, but I don't think that's true. He really was pissed that people were copying his ideas even before Dogville came along. That map must have been the final straw. He wasn't alone either, I know Maarten Pinxten had similar feelings towards a lot of Alejandro maps. I guess mappers were a lot more petty and competitive back then. Pascal probably would have been angry at me as well, if I didn't credit him for some ideas like similar looking 3D chairs.

Speaking of Maarten Pinxten, that would also be an interesting candidate for this topic. He was another prolific author from that time, but it seems his work has been mostly forgotten about.

This post has been edited by Merlijn: 21 June 2021 - 10:07 AM

2

User is offline   quakis 

#59

View PostMerlijn, on 21 June 2021 - 07:42 AM, said:

Speaking of Maarten Pinxten, that would also be an interesting candidate for this topic. He was another profilic author from that time, but it seems his work has been mostly forgotten about.

I'd like to nominate Pinxten too for similar reasons, but also a good excuse as any to finally review his work after I (eventually) finish getting through Roch. Already revisited his levels maybe over a year ago, along with tons of other classics and stuff I missed intending to do some write ups. They've also released some Doom levels for those interested.
0

User is online   Aleks 

#60

I think Maarten Pinxten's maps would be a great idea for next month, actually. To be honest, I don't think I ever got to playing them, even though they must have been sitting on my various disks for about 20 last years :P Would be a good motivation to try them out.

Also ck3D suggested Taivo's maps (mainly Dark Place series, but there's plenty of others), so we might have to vote.

As for moving the map outside of the grid and "Dogville scandal", I agree with Merlijn. IIRC, there was even a rumour (?) of Pascal contacting Ken Silverman to move his map outside of the bounds. Personally, I can't really understand this kind of behaviour, as it's always a compliment when someone is inspired from your work (as long as it's not straightforward copypasting/modifying someone's maps of course).
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