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[RELEASE] Simpler Times  "Feel the summer vibe!"

User is offline   Aleks 

#1

Merry Christmas!

I am releasing my new map, which was designed during the last 2.5 years (and over 550 hours in total).

It's a city-themed level that is large and open, but the progression should be pretty straightforward. It should take you about 1-2 hours to pass on your first playthrough. Difficulty settings also impact the respawning monsters, so there is a huge difference between PoC, LR and CGS. The map goes pretty hard on the resource limits. Also uses new CON files, art (which is not really new...), sounds and music. The map requires a fairly new version of EDuke32 and comes with the recommended version r10454 included. Incompatible with any gameplay mods. The map was designed with Polymost in mind, so that is recommended.

Your mission is to visit the alien-controlled warehouse and retrieve their video evidence against Duke which they keep hidden there. There is also a side-quest for saving babes, there are a total of 9 captured babes around the map which you can save for an optional reward towards the end, but if any of the babes get killed (before or after being saved), you fail it. This side-quest will award you with one extra secret place (among other things), so if you are a completionist, watch out for the chicks!

Attached Image: duke0067.png Attached Image: duke0081.png Attached Image: duke0056.png Attached Image: duke0075.png

Download it here:
Attached File  SIMPLER_TIMES.ZIP (10.94MB)
Number of downloads: 230

Or at ModDB: Simpler Times at ModDB

Have fun!

This post has been edited by Aleks: 23 December 2023 - 12:01 AM

17

User is offline   brullov 

  • Senior Artist at TGK

#2

Let's go!
2

User is offline   ck3D 

#3

Congrats on release, happy to see that one out. It really is a pretty great level, base layout with the two sides of the river works super well for combat (and the incentive for enemy infighting/splash damage is neat), map has a lot for Duke to see and do with some nifty detail and rare tricks around every corner.

Mentioned that during beta testing but for some reason gives off Dogville vibes to me except on the scale of a 2023 release (side note but the original Dogville will turn twenty years old this next year if you can believe it), not just in terms of size but also of tech with all the sector tricks and modern EDuke embellishments everywhere. Otherwise both had fresh-looking architecture, tantalizing OOB sceneries and a progression that's full of surprises, including unique puzzles that compared to the more traditional tropes more or less feel like side quests (when they aren't).

Curious if/when anyone ever will coincidentally reproduce my amazing license plate tripmine-based victory, that felt so cool when it turned out to work.

This post has been edited by ck3D: 23 December 2023 - 05:47 AM

2

User is offline   Dr.Panico 

#4

Amazing map! Took me about 63 minutes (a couple of them trying to find out how to get to that babe in the bathroom).
I really loved the overall look and the open layout of the map as a whole, though I would've used less invisible walls (especially in the garage). Combat was fine and I digged the new enemies (I guess Blast Radius really did leave a mark in the community.).

Sadly, couldn't save all the babes; one because I couldn't reach it and another was killed by a fucking blue Battlelord. Also, some of the cocooned babes kept saying "Kill me" when I tried to save them. I didn't oblidge as I thought it was trick or something. Was I really supposed to shoot them or was there another way?

Oh, I loved the puzzle at the end. Though it missed one important ingredient...

Spoiler

3

User is offline   Aleks 

#5

 Dr.Panico, on 23 December 2023 - 08:54 AM, said:

Amazing map! Took me about 63 minutes (a couple of them trying to find out how to get to that babe in the bathroom).
I really loved the overall look and the open layout of the map as a whole, though I would've used less invisible walls (especially in the garage). Combat was fine and I digged the new enemies (I guess Blast Radius really did leave a mark in the community.).

Thanks! With the garage, I had to block the player from accidentally getting on the rooftop before blowing up the door, and if you mean the invisible walls around the car that gets lifted, well, that's because of the maskwalls/negatives used for the doors, so there's not much else I could do about them. I added the extra elevator from the beige building to allow for another way of getting up the rooftops once the garage has been "solved", as jumping on the car over and over again can be cumbersome :P

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Sadly, couldn't save all the babes; one because I couldn't reach it and another was killed by a fucking blue Battlelord. Also, some of the cocooned babes kept saying "Kill me" when I tried to save them. I didn't oblidge as I thought it was trick or something. Was I really supposed to shoot them or was there another way?

The switches you have to hit should work most of the time, but from certain angles you just press use on the babe and hear her regular speech - just gotta keep trying until they start dancing. This whole quest is not done through CON but through regular mapping. I assumed the killed babe was the one in the waterworks? Also yeah, the one in the gym is probably the most difficult to reach, but well, that's the whole point of secrets IMO ;)

Quote

Oh, I loved the puzzle at the end. Though it missed one important ingredient...

Spoiler


Glad you liked it :) This puzzle was done long time ago, before the guy you mentioned made his debut in the community :D


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User is offline   Danukem 

  • Duke Plus Developer

#6

Finished it! Holy cow that was a long level, but great! I'll be honest, it was too long for me and it took me hours (I'll come back to this point). I couldn't figure out how to get to the babe in the bathroom with the partially opened door (which might be the only one I missed but I'm not sure).

The main highlight for me was the architecture of the city and the fantastic views. The other elements were fine, too, including the progression, puzzles, action, etc. I did raise my eyebrows a little at the mandatory steroids jump and I had to go back for an extra bottle after accidentally falling off the target building on the wrong side. There were lots of great little details, but the one that stands out to me right now is the use of wall-aligned sprites to show light leaking through some windows.

Spoiler


I don't have very good locational memory so I have a tough time remembering where I saw keycard doors and other important spots. Nothing needed to complete the level was especially hidden or hard to find at all, but this didn't stop me from wandering around aimlessly for a lot of time I played. So given my limitation this level was not really to my taste -- I recognize it as a great level and had fun playing it and I enjoyed it aesthetically, but that fun and enjoyment was spread out over too long of a time.

I have a couple of questions: What was the source for all of the Duke lines that aren't in the base game? I heard many that I had not heard before.

And a more interesting question: What is your philosophy about making changes to the game? Are there certain rules you follow about what sorts of things you change and which you leave alone? The level does include new art, sounds, and code, but it still feels 99% like normal Duke 3D.
3

User is offline   Aleks 

#7

View PostDanukem, on 24 December 2023 - 02:09 AM, said:

Finished it! Holy cow that was a long level, but great! I'll be honest, it was too long for me and it took me hours (I'll come back to this point). I couldn't figure out how to get to the babe in the bathroom with the partially opened door (which might be the only one I missed but I'm not sure).

Thanks for playing and your comments, really appreciate it!

Hmmm, seems the babe in the bathroom is the one that people have the most difficult time getting to. Some beta-testers did manage it and I made the way to her a bit easier. I'd post a hint, but I suppose Radar will upload a 100% video in the next few days anyway.

Quote

The main highlight for me was the architecture of the city and the fantastic views. The other elements were fine, too, including the progression, puzzles, action, etc. I did raise my eyebrows a little at the mandatory steroids jump and I had to go back for an extra bottle after accidentally falling off the target building on the wrong side. There were lots of great little details, but the one that stands out to me right now is the use of wall-aligned sprites to show light leaking through some windows.

Thanks, I'm particularly happy about the inside of the crane (old building) and hotel lobby when it comes to the design. I've put a lot of steroids in the garage (and also in the gym, just in case) to make sure people won't get softlocked there in case they fall.

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Spoiler

Spoiler


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I don't have very good locational memory so I have a tough time remembering where I saw keycard doors and other important spots. Nothing needed to complete the level was especially hidden or hard to find at all, but this didn't stop me from wandering around aimlessly for a lot of time I played. So given my limitation this level was not really to my taste -- I recognize it as a great level and had fun playing it and I enjoyed it aesthetically, but that fun and enjoyment was spread out over too long of a time.

That's completely valid point and I gotta admit I sometimes do share the same sentiment, but glad you did manage to sit through until the end! I agree it's sometimes better to have shorter levels with clearer "pause here" breaks, which also don't require as much dedication from the player regarding remembering the progression. Last night I spent like 30 minutes in ck3D's most recent level looking for the red key doors for the same reason, but yeah - in this case I wanted to make a huge and open level so that's that :)

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I have a couple of questions: What was the source for all of the Duke lines that aren't in the base game? I heard many that I had not heard before.

They are from DN:MP, DNF and, in some cases, DN:TTK. In the manual, I provided the link to the archive that has them. Some of the DNF lines might feel particularly exotic as they're only spoken when flirting with the ladies in "My Digs" after unlocking them in multiplayer (and I find them particularly spot on in this case for being literally the most cheesy pick-up lines possible :D ).

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And a more interesting question: What is your philosophy about making changes to the game? Are there certain rules you follow about what sorts of things you change and which you leave alone? The level does include new art, sounds, and code, but it still feels 99% like normal Duke 3D.

I am glad this feels like "99% normal Duke 3D", because that's exactly the philosophy here. At first I didn't intend to add new art/code. The new art is 100% old art merged together, as tempting as it was, I didn't even add a right-angled triangle to help with shadows - they were first introduced to cull the number of sprites rendering at the same time and keep it under the limit, and then to also decrease the total number of sprites (I recon without them, the map would require about 20k sprites :D ). Had to include modified user.con and defs.con to add the new sounds, so then I figured out I could also do some very slight changes in the game.con, then got the idea to tinker with overlord code a bit and add monster variants that worked well in Der Zorn Gottes. Stuff like beachball and red flares were added very late, first one because after watching a beta video I thought it would be cool to have Duke be able to kick it around and the code is right there in Caribbean, second one to better mark the extra supplies during the final fight. Everything else, including the difficulty-based respawns and saving the babes, is done from the level editing part.

In another project, I wouldn't mind including more new art/code if it fits the purpose, of course.
3

User is offline   quakis 

#8

Congrats on releasing this! Gave the new version a spin, took me about an hour this time and only missed one secret, I like the changes and addition of beach balls fits the focus on interactivity.

Here's a review: https://taw.duke4.ne.../simpler-times/

This post has been edited by quakis: 24 December 2023 - 08:18 AM

4

User is offline   Dr.Panico 

#9

Quote

Hmmm, seems the babe in the bathroom is the one that people have the most difficult time getting to. Some beta-testers did manage it and I made the way to her a bit easier. I'd post a hint, but I suppose Radar will upload a 100% video in the next few days anyway.


About that babe: I've managed to find how to get to her in my second playthrough. Not going to reveal where's the entrance is to avoid spoiling stuff, but it's not too difficult. It's one of those secrets that makes you say "why didn't I think of that?"
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User is offline   Aleks 

#10

View Postquakis, on 24 December 2023 - 08:17 AM, said:

Congrats on releasing this! Gave the new version a spin, took me about an hour this time and only missed one secret, I like the changes and addition of beach balls fits the focus on interactivity.

Here's a review: https://taw.duke4.ne.../simpler-times/

Wow, that was fast - thanks a lot for the review! And reading it, I'm really happy with your impressions of the map (also in connection with the beta playthrough video from you), as it seems that the experience really "clicked" with you in the exact way I hoped it would work on people and this kind of "direction" is particularly difficult in a map of this size. In a few places the review seems like you were reading my mind :D

I think I know which secret you might have missed, don't think I've seen anyone from the testers finding it yet, but it just contains pipebombs. It might have been first (or one of the first 3 or so) secrets added in the map and not touched since, can be a bit dickish to get into too honestly. As for the overlord variants, it might be a good idea that I didn't think about myself :) Although I'm still quite happy how this fight turned out in the end and from your review (and playthrough - especially from your playthrough that I watched!) it seems it worked as intended for you either way.
2

User is offline   ck3D 

#11

View PostAleks, on 24 December 2023 - 05:42 AM, said:

I suppose Radar will upload a 100% video in the next few days anyway


No 2.5 years of secrets hiding is safe!



This post has been edited by ck3D: 25 December 2023 - 06:40 PM

5

User is offline   Danukem 

  • Duke Plus Developer

#12

I thought I remembered the cacooned babe rescued at 2:20 being one that said "kill me" and didn't allow a rescue? Or is that a product of my deteriorating brain.
1

User is offline   Aleks 

#13

View PostDanukem, on 25 December 2023 - 10:07 PM, said:

I thought I remembered the cacooned babe rescued at 2:20 being one that said "kill me" and didn't allow a rescue? Or is that a product of my deteriorating brain.

They're sometimes suicidal emo goth girls or cheerleaders who have had enough of their diet consisting solely of cotton wool swabs, so they might try to convince Duke on ending their sufferings, but Duke being Duke should still save them.
Spoiler

And Radar is impressive as hell, 34 minutes is way below what I was getting 100%'ing the map on CGS!

This post has been edited by Aleks: 26 December 2023 - 01:00 AM

3

User is offline   Danukem 

  • Duke Plus Developer

#14

Huh, I did press use on her at least a few times and it wasn't from exactly the same spot. I never would have guessed it was done via switch since the most straightforward way to handle that would have just been to add a few lines of code to the actor, so it didn't occur to me that my positioning was relevant.
1

User is offline   Merlijn 

#15

Congrats on the release! I played the final version and the small tweaks improved the map even more.

CK3D mentioned Dogville and I can definitely see where he's coming from, there's also a bit of Roch 6 in there. But the style is all your own, and carries the same strenghts as 'Der Zorn Gottes'.
The layout of the city itself is really well done, it's large but easy to navigate thanks to the canal in the middle and a realistic looking urban setting. It also helps that each building has its own distinct look, so getting lost is nearly impossible.

I played on Let's rock, found 10 secrets and managed to save all the babes. The 'saving babe' mechanic really reminds me of the early 00 user maps, in that it tries to implement a new feature without new CON codes. It's kinda janky but that also gives it a certain charm.

Spoiler

The fights are not too tough but still challenging, for me the hardest one was on the hotel roofs (due to limited movement and attacks from multiple sides). Progression is clear and takes you through the map in fun and interesting ways. I liked that the battlelord variants carried over this map, this added more variety to the combat.

While the combat and progression are both excellent, it's really the design that shines the most. There's so much to see here, both in the large areas and the small details.
I'll list some of my favorite details because they're so creative and deserve a shout out:

-the little drones with camera's
-the reflecting windshields on the cars
-the 'flickering' light effect inside the castle
-both interior and exterior of the castle
-the building with the reflecting window
-the hotel lobby
-the balloon stand
-using 'explosion' sprites to create trees
-the equipment inside the gym
-the boat (actually the whole sequence involving the boat)
-the church
-the jewelry store (glad you followed my advise here ;) )

And probably much more!

Quote

I never would have guessed it was done via switch since the most straightforward way to handle that would have just been to add a few lines of code to the actor, so it didn't occur to me that my positioning was relevant.


I was thinking about that, but I guess Aleks went with switches because they also have to activate different mechanics inside the map.

This post has been edited by Merlijn: 27 December 2023 - 01:28 PM

3

User is offline   Aleks 

#16

Thanks for the comments, Merlijn! Glad you mentioned the reflective window, I was kinda worried of how well it would work with this size of the map, but it seems to just go black when the distance is too large and render properly around the moment you cross the bridge. Also sometimes flickers fullbright green for some reason from certain angles, but oh well :D

View PostMerlijn, on 27 December 2023 - 01:24 PM, said:

Spoiler


Spoiler

1

User is offline   Merlijn 

#17

^

Given the fact that the possibility didn't even occur to me during beta testing (sorry about that!), I would indeed say it's not a big deal. ;)
2

#18

Passed the level.

I was really impressed by the use of sloped sprites in this map, quite inspiring, also the range of different details, I normally make a couple then copy past the shit out of them but you have made a tun of different beautiful meaningful details.

I also liked the logic and meaning of the gameplay... everything happened for a reason.

While it was vast and beautiful it was really those small details that I enjoyed the most.

I also enjoyed the ending... Great boss fight!

For me this might be one of my all time fave maps... prob one of the most well thought out levels I have played.

The multi story building with the elevator was clever and fun!

Attached thumbnail(s)

  • Attached Image: simplertimes.jpg

2

User is offline   Aleks 

#19

View PostWilliam Gee, on 29 December 2023 - 02:39 AM, said:

Passed the level.

I was really impressed by the use of sloped sprites in this map, quite inspiring, also the range of different details, I normally make a couple then copy past the shit out of them but you have made a tun of different beautiful meaningful details.

I also liked the logic and meaning of the gameplay... everything happened for a reason.

While it was vast and beautiful it was really those small details that I enjoyed the most.

I also enjoyed the ending... Great boss fight!

For me this might be one of my all time fave maps... prob one of the most well thought out levels I have played.

The multi story building with the elevator was clever and fun!

Wow thanks for all the comments, William, really appreciate it a lot! Posted Image

Devon (TLOD) is going to make a live stream of the map tomorrow on his channel, I'm planning to be there at least for the first hour or so - here's the link if anyone's interested!


This post has been edited by Aleks: 29 December 2023 - 04:07 AM

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User is offline   ck3D 

#20

MSDN review: https://msdn.duke4.n...implertimes.php
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User is offline   Aleks 

#21

I've dropped an article with inspirations for various architecture and stuff designed in Simpler Times on ModDB. This is basically the same stuff that can be found in the ReadMe PDF that comes with the map, but for people who don't download/play things, here's the link: https://www.moddb.co...er-times-design
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User is offline   Quacken 

#22

Hi! Here's my review of Simpler Times.

I'm very divided on this map. Simpler Times looks great visually and has some good teleporter traps, but it's too open, far too long and far too deficient of supplies. I don't know who started the craze of these huge open sandbox levels, but I'm getting really sick of them. Aleks does a pretty good job of guiding you through the map's attractions (except for the switch in the gym which is too dark and didn't need to be there), but it's just as easy to get distracted by all of the bullshit being flung at you from all directions. Duke 3D's bestiary is terrible for huge and open areas because they are all microscopic compared to Doom's monsters, the projectiles they fire are too fast to react to and aren't visually obvious enough, there's no infighting to rely on to clear the chaff, and often times Aleks likes to pull a TNT Evilution on you and throw several hitscanners on the other side of the street. Hitscanners... on a straightaway the size of E3L9, with no cover. And because of how the map is designed, every Pig Cop Jet you shoot down is basically guaranteed damage once the Pig Cop proper spawns.

At least there's still a good amount of fun to be had here despite the annoying map design. As per the usual, Aleks has some impeccable interiors. I like the gym the most, with the racks of dumbbells and the treadmills that you can adjust the speed of by pressing the switches. Sadly, this is another map where I found plenty of visual glitches. The floors in the Yellow Door funhouse had collision on their underside but not on the topside. The roof of the garage was nothing but BRONZE1, and I had to use Steroids to get past both of these areas. And this time I downloaded the version of eDuke32 that was provided within Simpler Times' download folder, so I don't know what the issue is here. It definitely doesn't look intentional also.

The teleport traps that do exist in this map are pretty good. I'm glad that Aleks brought back the Frostbitten and Suntanned Battlelords from Der Zorn Gottes (and notably not Blast Radius' Sunburnt Battlelord), because only fighting the regular Battlelords in the streets would have been awful. The fight outside the restaurant crashed my game once due to a sprite overflow, but if you found the secret RPG in the gym and also got all of the rockets you could before the restaurant (because you spent 20 minutes trying to find the switch that opened the bathrooms like I did), it's a cool little shootout that gets resolved quickly. I also like the flying monster ambush that happens once you come out the top of Floor 3 and have to climb towards Floor 5. I wish it was a little easier to get up each of the squares though. Lastly, the final fight is an interesting idea, but it's far too padded out. I was really running out of ammo at this point and even with all of the new ammo on the ground, it's not enough on its own to kill the five Overlords. There really could have just been three, or a way to top up your shells and Chaingun bullets.

I'm torn with Simpler Times. I did enjoy it, but clearing the streets is a huge bother that sapped most of my energy. It looks great, has a good MIDI and has some good coordinated fights, but the visual glitches (whatever may be the cause of that) forced me to move in unconventional and dangerous ways, and I think it's also far too long for its own good. Overall, this is quite a solid map that feels somewhat slapdash in places, and is partially an acquired taste.

8/10.
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