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[RELEASE] Fear Of The Dark

#1

A new wintery map made by me; takes place in a spoopy space research center filled with spoop, monsters and space-stuff. Also lots of snow.

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12

User is offline   slacker1 

#2

Yes!! Another horror map! I love these. Really good looking map and a great sense of atmosphere. It did get pretty hard for me at the end.

Spoiler

3

User is offline   Ninety-Six 

#3

Horror map? Yes please.
1

User is online   zykov eddy 

#4

Welp, that was a wild ride.

This map surprised me greatly, and I don't even know where to begin. At first, I thought this was gonna be a slow, atmospheric horror map, in the vein of Red series. I'm a big fan of this style, so I was very excited to play, but shortly after the starting area, gameplay turns into standard Duke 3D action. Finding keys, pressing switches, killing some common enemies here and there. There were some nasty encounters, particularly with Newbeasts and a couple of boss fights outside the base, but nothing groundbreaking. Maybe with an exception of the dark section that forces the player to use night vision, that was interesting and very welcome. Other than that, just classic, solid action. I've played so many usermaps by this point that, to me, this felt like going through the motions, but I'm sure others will enjoy these sections. I was also expecting some scary noises and maybe some attempts at in-game cutscenes (again, like in Red series), but it's just my expectations, based upon playing previous horror maps done by other mappers.

I was ready to accept the fact that this map has no twists... Until I found the yellow card and went deeper into the base. This was a revelation. A full-blown surreal horror area, which reminded me of Silent Hill series. This is what I expected from this map from the beginning, and I'm so happy that the map delivered. But, the biggest shock was when I encountered sections that are straight-up slaughter, just like in modern Doom scene. I don't remember seeing so many enemies in a Duke map, cramped into one area. It was tough, but with circle strafing, and save spamming, I managed to beat these sections. Even though I died a lot and was frustrated, the sole ambition of these traps deserves respect. And damn, Duke Nukem 3D sure could benefit from infighting mechanics...

All in all, the map started kinda slow and maybe a little bit boring for my tastes, but later shocked me with its twists and turns. I also have to mention, level design and texture work was stellar all the way through. Lots of cool uses of stock textures, especially the neon colors that glow in the dark. That was a very neat effect that I rarely see in usermaps. All in all, a very competent map that has something for everybody, with a shocking twist near the end.

This post has been edited by zykov eddy: 02 April 2024 - 11:09 AM

3

User is offline   Reaper_Man 

  • Once and Future King

#5

View Postzykov eddy, on 02 April 2024 - 09:22 AM, said:

And damn, Duke Nukem 3D sure could benefit from infighting mechanics...

It's an incredible, unbelievable pain in the ass to implement. We have "infighting" in AWOL and it was a decision we had to make on day one, because it requires enemies to be completely and totally written in such a way to support non-player targeting and movement.
0

User is offline   ck3D 

#6

There is no infighting mechanic in Duke 3D per se but it's good level design to consider each enemy's firepower/hit radius/splash damage/HP in relation to their placement around a map (including from one another), a lot of levels and episodes that have come out for the past decade I'd say really play with encouraging the player to dare fight like that utilizing friendly fire, Blast Radius does it a lot but before that Shaky Grounds and some of WG's maps also did it to a degree, and in recent times Aleks' Alexcity 2 Simpler Times insists on tricking the enemies into hurting each other with most every combo of them that you encounter. A lot about good enemy placement in Duke 3D I'd say comes down to watching that, as well as matching/splitting strengths/weaknesses to this or that weapon (e.g.. Newbeast + Commander is a solid common go-to for the latter is fragile to the shrinker and slow while the former immune to it and fast), in addition to fitting thematically obviously.

Congrats on release, it's great seeing a new map from you, I still have some fond memories of Null Moon. Downloaded it and will be playing shortly then shamelessly double post once I have.

This post has been edited by ck3D: 02 April 2024 - 01:20 PM

1

User is offline   ck3D 

#7

Pretty excellent map. My stats:

Posted Image

Fortes of the level to me were the variation in the settings, moods and pacing, the item/monster use and placement, and the poetry behind a lot of the locations. The lore also was a nice touch, complementing the traversal all the while remaining original and never gimmicky or intrusive.

In a way, this felt a lot like playing a user map from the late 00's/early 2010's in terms of style, with particularly fine execution - you put a lot of focus on individual set pieces, which then has the side effect of making the level feel like a succession of places instead of a collection (that is similar to how I've described I feel about levels like Nightshade Army before) but that's not necessarily a bad thing at all, just one choice out of many and here it's especially nice that the layout is smart and keeps looping back onto itself (at least for the first half of the level) which helps break the linearity for a while, in fact it does a bloody good job at it.

The level never spooked me, but there were some really cool uses of dark settings paired up with some interesting encounter set-ups, I especially liked the fight against the Enforcers on the pyramids of yellow fullbrights. Transparent Newbeasts and the attribution of specific palettes to specific conditions around the level also worked really well, I appreciated the effort in the consistency there, with the pal 17 being reserved to the drowned enemies and whatnot (I kept thinking, this map probably plays like crazy with the Blast Radius .cons since it seems to use a lot of similar palettes and even tropes for the enemies; Zero Zone also does the pal 17 for drowned enemies thing). It didn't feel like when people abuse colors on random monsters throughout the map at all, which is sweet. Also was funny playing this after writing that earlier post since friendly fire between enemies indeed is BIG in this map.

Combat was awesome, I absolutely loved the big fights peppered throughout, although frankly I actually struggled a bit more around the start before Duke was loaded on ammo. I got all kills but no secrets so never found the Shrinker/Expander nor the Devastator, probably handicapped me greatly against the Sentry Drones then Octabrains but wasn't a problem to work out at all. I LOVED that you considered the tripmines and ended up using them a lot. There were a few Commanders in close quarters I didn't like much but some of those I realized the purpose of actually was brillant only after the fact (for instance, the one that blocks the door out into the first melee is annoying... because it should and is supposed to be, so that was neat; now the later one in a lone office, not so much so). I also dug how the fights involved constant pushback and constant conquering and reconquering of the available terrain.

Which is the perfect transition into the elements I thought were a bit of a miss. I understand the fight for terrain aspect was the idea during the melees, but there only is so much space that's available in some of these cases. Worked well enough for the Octa fight (was tight but only so much), Commander fight easily could have used 25% larger of an arena minimum however as well as some more variations on height (e.g.. craters). In general I can tell you consider verticality but to me still feels a little underdeveloped, whenever it's there it's never really pushed and usually just a few ledges or roofs, tops. Would be interesting to see you design arenas that have more of a 3D look and function in the future, that being said personally I can be a fan of rougher scenarios and arcade type of sequences so I'm not debating your direction in the slightest, just recognizing where I think you possibly could take it. That kind of shows with the platforming around the level too that is almost non-existent (bar that one base lobby with the sprite floors that was quite fun and fresh) and sometimes misleading with jumps towards cliffs that are blocked then result in fall damage or chimneys that look like they should be reachable but aren't. I think terrain elevation should be approached for function first and only then form should follow ideally, otherwise you risk breaking some universal codes in the visual language.

All very minor complaints compared to how much fun I had with the map. Waves of enemy hordes were some cool individual challenges, maybe could have used more Steroids e.g.. hidden in barrels (I'm not huge into maps with empty barrels/trash cans if the mapper is going to use those specific sprites by the way, I think then at least a couple should positively hold stuff). Adventure was memorable, thanks for making/sharing.

Here's a photo album of screenshots I took of the places, little design bits and moments I liked when playing (so of course features spoilers): https://imgur.com/a/l8xSQah

(It also includes a softlock that's possible to achieve by riding the Octabrains when using jumping AI abuse mechanics; speaking of which, probably the best way of dealing with the Commanders that is, and that felt really satisfying to figure out as a strat against such hefty packs of those).

This post has been edited by ck3D: 02 April 2024 - 05:27 PM

3

#8

Danke for the comments; I might have gotten a teensy tiny bit insane with the final fights, since I wanted to make the gameplay as intense as the visuals of the hellish Otherworld-transition (which is indeed stolen from the Silent Hill-series). I liked ck3d's description "a succession of places instead of a collection" which is exactly how I would describe my levels too.


1

User is offline   quakis 

#9

I hope my thoughts come across cohesively and constructive, here's my review: https://taw.duke4.ne...ar-of-the-dark/
3

User is offline   ck3D 

#10

Mikko's review: https://msdn.duke4.n...arofthedark.php
0

User is offline   Aleks 

#11

View Postck3D, on 21 April 2024 - 04:14 AM, said:



With the map title being "Fear of the Dark", I'd consider it a success that Mikko mostly complained in his review about how much the darkness affects the gameplay negatively :P
0

User is offline   ck3D 

#12

View PostAleks, on 22 April 2024 - 02:13 AM, said:

With the map title being "Fear of the Dark", I'd consider it a success that Mikko mostly complained in his review about how much the darkness affects the gameplay negatively :P


It indeed is funny, but honestly I never had a problem with darkness in this map at all, if anything I thought it was just right and even in some of the more open parts quite bright. Am not too sure how much one's insistence on more or less appropriate playing conditions really has to do with the level (most any level) per se, to be frank. I too can't play in the sunlight or during the day at all with how I set up my place but then I just wait until the evening, or would move my stuff if I really had to; not sure if as a critic I'd dunk on someone else's film just because I consciously picked the cinema seat with the most bubble gum on it (although I might mention that as a side note). Unless it were a conscious choice by the author to only ever screen it in bubble gum riddled settings and thus an intrinsic part of the experience and product (e.g.. map never ever once considered visibility).

It's so ironic now though - in order to play Fear of the Dark, you need not to fear it in spite of what the review declares.

This post has been edited by ck3D: 22 April 2024 - 06:04 AM

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