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Shadow Warrior: Deadly Kiss restoration project  "No, the project is not dead."

#301

View PostMetHy, on 24 September 2020 - 11:18 PM, said:

If you ask me the only real offenders are level 8: Zilla's Villa and level 9: Monastery. Pretty much everything about those two levels scream of a pre-DN3D era of FPS level design, and if my memory from the betas is correct, at least Monastery is indeed a very old map.

Hara-Kiri Harbor and Raider of the Lost Wang, despite having uninspired key use (get a key to open a room with a key in it and repeat) still manage to feel very much like true Build era maps thanks, among other things, to their stronger thematic cohesion, the way they're anchored deeper into realistic design cues, and their more awe-some use of effects.

Every other level in the game is great if you ask me, but my favourite must be Water Torture and the impressive feeling of 3D and grandeur that emanates from it despite only being a few corridors and a few rooms big.


It's kinda interesting when we talk about Duke levels, the older ones seem like the fan favourites. You know, the ones originate in LameDuke or in one of the 1995 betas (episode 1, most of episode 2, Freeway, Derelict etc.)

SW seems like the opposite, the older ones are the biggest offenders, and the later Duke-style levels like Bath House, Floating Fortress or Water Torture are the favourites.

The biggest difference however is the level designers. SW didn't have the talent of Allen Blum. I think the guy would have made that game legendary. Keith Schuler was good, in fact very good. The levels above are all by him, also the last two maps in the demo episode are mostly by him. He is no perfect however, he kinda lacked some of the grandeur vision of Blum (just look at the cheap Unfriendly Skies level, would you buy a ticket on such an "airport"), and he was more of a follower, than a leader. If you think about it, his best levels are inspired by Blum's work on Duke, while levels which needed new ideas failed (Auto Maul for example). I think he is pretty much equal to Levelord in talent.

And then, we have Stephen Cole. I'm sorry, but the guy was not good. He made a good work with Zilla's Construction and Hara-Kiri Harbor, but most of his maps were, as oasiz said, cheap "pagoda techbases" with lots of cramped, uninteresting rooms, and a terrible keycard placement with random rooms dragging the gameplay unnecessarily.

Wanton's leveldesign is inconsistent because too many people worked on it. I always said the more people involved, the less satisfying the result will be. I like for example Matt Harris' maps (and I particularly like the first secret level, Redwood Forest, it came with some real surprises), but Cho Yan Wong or Tyler Larsen for example were meh. The airplane map got a job for Charlie Wiederhold, and it was amazing back then, but it didn't age well due to its annoying gameplay and its worn out novelty.

This post has been edited by The Watchtower: 29 October 2020 - 12:58 PM

0

User is online   Phredreeke 

#302

...no love for Crista Forest's Fishing Village?
2

#303

View PostPhredreeke, on 29 October 2020 - 04:35 PM, said:

...no love for Crista Forest's Fishing Village?


I said it many times it's my favourite map in Twin Dragon. Certainly one that is more memorable than the others on the pack.
0

User is offline   MetHy 

#304

View PostThe Watchtower, on 29 October 2020 - 12:55 PM, said:

It's kinda interesting when we talk about Duke levels, the older ones seem like the fan favourites. You know, the ones originate in LameDuke or in one of the 1995 betas (episode 1, most of episode 2, Freeway, Derelict etc.)

SW seems like the opposite, the older ones are the biggest offenders, and the later Duke-style levels like Bath House, Floating Fortress or Water Torture are the favourites.

The biggest difference however is the level designers. SW didn't have the talent of Allen Blum. I think the guy would have made that game legendary. Keith Schuler was good, in fact very good. The levels above are all by him, also the last two maps in the demo episode are mostly by him. He is no perfect however, he kinda lacked some of the grandeur vision of Blum (just look at the cheap Unfriendly Skies level, would you buy a ticket on such an "airport"), and he was more of a follower, than a leader. If you think about it, his best levels are inspired by Blum's work on Duke, while levels which needed new ideas failed (Auto Maul for example). I think he is pretty much equal to Levelord in talent.

And then, we have Stephen Cole. I'm sorry, but the guy was not good. He made a good work with Zilla's Construction and Hara-Kiri Harbor, but most of his maps were, as oasiz said, cheap "pagoda techbases" with lots of cramped, uninteresting rooms, and a terrible keycard placement with random rooms dragging the gameplay unnecessarily.

Wanton's leveldesign is inconsistent because too many people worked on it. I always said the more people involved, the less satisfying the result will be. I like for example Matt Harris' maps (and I particularly like the first secret level, Redwood Forest, it came with some real surprises), but Cho Yan Wong or Tyler Larsen for example were meh. The airplane map got a job for Charlie Wiederhold, and it was amazing back then, but it didn't age well due to its annoying gameplay and its worn out novelty.



This discussion should probably be cut and pasted in "Shadow Warrior Corner".

I think Keith Schuler is great. It is true that none of his maps have the "awe" factor and scale of some of Blum's levels or even The Abyss, but honestly that's not a problem with KS, that's a problem with Shadow Warrior as a whole.

Apart maybe from Floating Fortress, none of the maps do, and the lack of meaninful outdoor area is a common issue throughout the entire game. I'd even say this about Sumo Sky Palace, the player only truly realizes he's on a floating rock when going down that ladder leading below, I think the place lacks an outdoor area to start the map with that truly shows what the place is (and I don't think the small outdoor court with the first key does that either).
Then you have maps like Zilla's Villa and Monastery which alternate between indoor/outdoor areas but the outdoor areas are super confusing. Are they outdoor courts inside the place or are they outside the place? It doesn't help that they all have the same height as the indoor places around and uses the same wall textures, so they just feel like another room instead of proper outdoor places that could help set the place both in theme and in scale.
Also, Zilla's Villa has that amazing outdoor place at the end but it's an unreachable place, from my point of view the player should have started there instead, let him see the entire villa with his eyes including the rooftop he'll get to access later on.
Then you have Raider of the Lost Wang, it does start with an outdoor area but it's kind of a clusterfuck. The temple has what looks like a main entrance in the middle but it doesn't lead anywhere, plus the entire front is hidden by rocks and more rocks so you don't get any good view at it, then you have 2 side entrances but they're half natural looking so you never know where the nature stops and where the temple starts.

So in short, the lack of awe-some scale and view is a common problem in almost the entire game and I don't think it's right to blame KS for it especially since Bath House is one of the few maps that do manage to give a proper sense of scale with its starting outdoor area.
It is also worth noting that some of the levels had better plans in that regard when looking at the beta versions, for instance Sumo Sky Palace had a much bigger outdoor area at some point that really helped get a sense of the scale of the place, and so did Airport, that you mentionned.
Airport used to make a lot more "sense" realisticly speaking in the beta versions; but all this stuff got cut, probably to wrap up the game in time. Airport became more like a 2nd version of Seppuku Station in many ways, including not caring that the layout made sense; but instead making sure everything flows and interconnects properly with height level variations for dynamism; and honestly, it's probably a better Build level for that than what it would have become had they kept the realistic layout of the beta version. That layout made more sense realisticly speaking but it doesn't seem as practical for gameplay in my opinion.
One thing I don't understand though is why they cut the cockpit of the crashed plane, I don't think there is anything wrong with it and it could have been perfectly functional except for the fact that you couldn't see the outdoor from the cockpit itself.

Anyway - my point wanted to be that I think KS is awesome. I could be wrong but with the information we got but from the betas and everything I think he's one of the level designers that tried the most to experiment with things like ROR and effects. I think it shows that he used to be a programmer and the fact that he is the one that wrote the official mapping FAQs is probably a testatement to all that.
I think a lot of the flaws in level design may be attributed to the "cut and wrap up" phase; and despite nitpicking a lot about Cole's levels, I do think Cole was a good designer and had plenty of his moments as well.

This post has been edited by MetHy: 30 October 2020 - 12:40 AM

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