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23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Each week a single map is discussed here in detail.

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Subject: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 23 Feb 2015, 21:23

Map Title: Nali Mountain Fighters
Author: El Chicoverde, DavidM
From: Operation Na Pali
Filename: NP17Chico.unr
Music Files: Fifth.umx, Newmca16.umx, Spire.umx




Video Playthrough:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKKcXPQ-pYc

Synopsis: In a mountain pass, groups of Nali are fighting Skaarj. ONP Guy should watch his steps (Nali should too).

Discuss!

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Subject: Re: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 24 Feb 2015, 12:54

Ah, yes... Nali Mountain Fighters (Part 1) - another Chico jewel!

Let's start with the obvious: amazing build, some of the best natural terrain you'll see in this engine; lots of action and cutscenes.

I love it, but it's not the best - in particular, Nali Mountain Fighters (Part 2) is better overall, and I believe this is partly down to better calibration of scripted events. Some of the cutscenes in Part 1 are handled well - like the first one around that area with the waterfall, which blows shit up - but there are other instances (like around that chasm) where they cut the action in an unnecessary and even slightly detrimental way - you tend to be less "drawn in". The last big battle is probably the hardest and best within this level, and was an instance where an in-game scripted sequence coupled with a cutscene worked really well (I was clearly into the game then and quite tense). Something Hellscrag mentioned in his "ONP Map by Map Critique" which also plays a role is the slightly chaotic use of music - again better handled in Part 2.
Anyway, great stuff overall, average in terms of difficulty, and leads to even better stuff.
► Show Spoiler
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
Waffnuffly wrote:It's tarydium-doped smoothies. Drunk by the player, I mean. The player is tripping balls. The whole game actually takes place in a large city and the player thinks he's on an alien world.

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Subject: Re: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 24 Feb 2015, 17:07

This was a memorable part of the game for me. Co-oping with Nali troops was cool and one if things that made me realize that Unreal original was actually a wasted potential.

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Subject: Re: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 24 Feb 2015, 19:29

A standard Chico map - looks amazing, plays horribly.
The Nali allies do an awful job following you and fuck that wooden plank. Unreal wasn't made for this.

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Subject: Re: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 24 Feb 2015, 19:37

I remember this map mainly as one of ONP's cool environment traps, specifically for the terrain, the placement of ruins, how the player's path went through and along it. As a mapper at the time it was one of those levels where I just spent time walking around the game space, seeing how they set everything up. I'm curious as to how much of this was Chico and how much was David M. In a lot of instances I assume the dual authorship is merely in cases when David "touched up" levels, and being what I know of Chico's work I'd bet most, if not all of the physical world was laid down by Chicoverde.

I may not feel as keenly about the fighter Nali, but they are at least done much better than previous attempts when other people did it (myself included). This was a period when this stuff was happening, specifically when UsAaR33 was still actively coding for projects.

I'd have to watch a video to even remember an ounce of gameplay though, but as UB said there were some instances where tending to follower Nali was a real hassle and this might be one level where this was the case for me. It's telling to me that so many of my ONP experiences bleed together and I have a hard time pinpointing individual levels, unless in very specific cases.
Image

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Subject: Re: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 24 Feb 2015, 22:08

Proph:
"Made by Chico, outdoor lighting and overal fixing by DavidM"
- Taken from the official Operation Na Pali Website

I love Chico's segment from Operation Na Pali and this map is no exception. Great use of the Sunspire music here and the new texture set by Chico is really nice. The 2 Nali Mountain Fighters maps (though there were 3 originally - hence the strange transition between NMF 2 and the Volcano) have been a really big inspiration to Operation: Stealth Claw and the rest of my work on RTNP.

Old Pictures ALERT:



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SZ
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Image
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Subject: Re: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 24 Feb 2015, 23:12

Mister_Prophet wrote:I'd have to watch a video to even remember an ounce of gameplay though, but as UB said there were some instances where tending to follower Nali was a real hassle and this might be one level where this was the case for me. It's telling to me that so many of my ONP experiences bleed together and I have a hard time pinpointing individual levels, unless in very specific cases.


Yeah this is the map with that wooden thin plank where Nali allies fall off so quickly and die. Really bad to look at.
Most annoying are the cutscenes preceding almost every Skaarj fights, that break the action and confuse the players. The gameplay is about as fun as pushing a barrel from point A to point B for a km.

I really hate when games introduce every possible enemy with a cutscene where you can't do anything at all but just stand there and look.

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Subject: Re: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 25 Feb 2015, 03:15

There's a great organic feel to the terrain here that most other maps don't quite capture, and creative designs like the spiralling rock pillar in the bottom left shot. It also transitions to the castle theme well later, and makes lots of use of vertical space. The gameplay is definitely too interrupted by the cutscenes though, especially as the scripting seems to have a tendency to play up a little for me nowadays (it didn't seem to when I initially played ONP). It's the key Nali rebel map though, and it does generally do it's job of showing that mechanic off, at least when their AI doesn't leave you on your own.

There's something odd going on at the end of this level, as it seems the exit is further back than it should be, and the transition doesn't smoothly fit into the next map like with most other levels, there's actually a decent amount of geometry (though it's very empty) past where the exit is, which suggests that further.
Formerly Mman

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Subject: Re: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 25 Feb 2015, 18:26

UBerserker wrote:
Yeah this is the map with that wooden thin plank where Nali allies fall off so quickly and die. Really bad to look at.
Most annoying are the cutscenes preceding almost every Skaarj fights, that break the action and confuse the players. The gameplay is about as fun as pushing a barrel from point A to point B for a km.


I really hate when games introduce every possible enemy with a cutscene where you can't do anything at all but just stand there and look.



Oh man....okay, I remember the plank for sure. And cutscenes. Not to go all ranty and off topic... This might not be an appropriate enough discussion for a derail so I'll spoiler tag it:

► Show Spoiler


Otherwise, I'm more or less on the same boat as MMAN. Cool looking level, maybe playing it ain't as cool. What kills me is that I'm sure a lot of the cutscene stuff and follower woes in this level were late development additions to "enhance" the experience of the level, probably because the intention was that this was going to make it more epic. I also think a lot of level designers at the time naturally assumed that when UT2K3 came out we would all graduate to better things and SP would follow. ONP has a a sort of "last great old engine campaign" feel to it, and maybe some of this stuff was supposed to be icing on the cake.
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Subject: Re: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 25 Feb 2015, 20:07

Actually your spoiler gets at how in many ways, I feel that, outside of graphics and using the same mechanics, ONP is like an actually competent attempt at a high-profile Unreal sequel, with both the strengths and weaknesses of that style. It's more accessible in some ways that work (I don't mind the small tutorial for example), and the bigger focus on set-pieces sometimes succeeds and leads to some great moments, but it's also less challenging, more linear, and keeps trying to show you it's story (to the point of taking you out of play) despite it not being much good. In the context of how AAA games back then were designed it's along the lines of how I could imagine an actually somewhat faithful Unreal 2 being, but one that didn't quite get it as a whole (albeit with less random humour).
Formerly Mman

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Subject: Re: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 25 Feb 2015, 20:17

I understand the main complaints directed towards this level - because yes, some decisions were made here and they did not optimise gameplay - but unlike for some, these issues did not really spoil my enjoyment, rather they didn't maximise my appreciation of the level.

► Show Spoiler

I think Mister_Prophet makes a valid point about the mood that must have prevailed within the Unreal/UT scene back in 2002. I see the point in this sentence: "ONP has a sort of 'last great old engine campaign' feel to it, and maybe some of this stuff was supposed to be icing on the cake." Personally (while I have yet to play Project Zephon, Spatial Fear: Prologue v1.2, Unreal: Forgotten, Project Xenome: First Day, and Seven Bullets, and possibly other large campaigns yet to come), Operation: Na Pali remains my favourite campaign in Unreal/UT (although admittedly only just so, given the amount of goodness around here).
Gameplay is, strictly speaking, (usually) more streamlined in mods that stick to the Unreal formula - the one for which the mother game was made. But as long as there aren't any fatal issues (as is the case with ONP, Legacy, Nali Chronicles - as is NOT the case of Unreality, Final Worlds), I for one really enjoy those that venture into new territory (as in, territory not covered by the mother game).

Oh, and I agree with Semfry's latest post! (gonna have to get used to that new nickname, myself!)
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
Waffnuffly wrote:It's tarydium-doped smoothies. Drunk by the player, I mean. The player is tripping balls. The whole game actually takes place in a large city and the player thinks he's on an alien world.

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Subject: Re: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 25 Feb 2015, 20:55

As with many other MOTW topics, this one (and the video of course) make me wonder why I like some maps a lot, and others not quite as much. In the case of Nali Mountain Fighters, it just struck me that this actually looks like 3 maps put together, something I never felt when playing - the flow seemed natural but the video exposes some continuation flaws (which, I repeat, I never felt when playing). When playing, the cutscenes break the current tension, but create a new tension and expectation contrary to the video where the cutscenes just break the immersion. A clear example is shown with those infamous wooden planks which the Nali so succesfully avoid: the video shows what happens on first playthrough and thus emphasises the design error. Yet, when playing, after a first try part of the fun is getting the Nali to follow the player without killing themselves .. and it is possible. It never struck me as a problem, but felt like an added challenge within the game (even though it's pointless as the Nali aren't really good helpers).
Having now watched the video 3 times in a row I've finally discovered why this map sucks me into the game - it's the incredible use of the z-axis with natural structures (and come to think of it - chicoverde's maps in general make use of that). I can't really express what it does to me but the fights become less important to me in this type of map so the flaws (which others may find troubling) don't bother me as much and I kind of only remember the good parts - perhaps it's that thing I have mentioned a couple of times before - it's not how visually realistic the game is that matters, it's how one percieves the imitation of realism (and to cut my rant short: that's why I'm not interested in the newer games where the realism in forced upon the player leaving a lot less room for interpretation).

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Subject: Re: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 25 Feb 2015, 21:10

salsaSkaarj wrote:(...)The flow seemed natural but the video exposes some continuation flaws (which, I repeat, I never felt when playing). When playing, the cutscenes break the current tension, but create a new tension and expectation contrary to the video where the cutscenes just break the immersion. A clear example is shown with those infamous wooden planks which the Nali so succesfully avoid: the video shows what happens on first playthrough and thus emphasises the design error. Yet, when playing, after a first try part of the fun is getting the Nali to follow the player without killing themselves .. and it is possible. It never struck me as a problem, but felt like an added challenge within the game (even though it's pointless as the Nali aren't really good helpers).
Having now watched the video 3 times in a row I've finally discovered why this map sucks me into the game - it's the incredible use of the z-axis with natural structures (and come to think of it - chicoverde's maps in general make use of that). I can't really express what it does to me but the fights become less important to me in this type of map so the flaws (which others may find troubling) don't bother me as much and I kind of only remember the good parts - perhaps it's that thing I have mentioned a couple of times before - it's not how visually realistic the game is that matters, it's how one percieves the imitation of realism (...).


I agree with a lot of this, too! I experience playing this in much the same way as you do.

PS: Yeah lol, even on my first playthrough I had a couple of Nali allies successfully cross the suspended plank! At least one makes it each time (at least one always falls down to his death, too :P )
PPS: @SteadZ: you once mentioned a limit to the number of allies that can follow you to The Volcano: that number is 4, as I've just been playing through the entire Nali Mountain Fighters segment after which I had 5 Nali followers! but only 4 appeared in the next map :P
EDIT: watching the video earlier, I realised I had never found that last secret! Got it this time round :P
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
Waffnuffly wrote:It's tarydium-doped smoothies. Drunk by the player, I mean. The player is tripping balls. The whole game actually takes place in a large city and the player thinks he's on an alien world.

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Subject: Re: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 26 Feb 2015, 22:07

Are those Nali actually fighting?

I thought they usually just cowered, prayed, and disappeared.

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Subject: Re: 23/02/2015 - "Nali Mountain Fighters" by El Chicoverde, DavidM

Post Posted: 26 Feb 2015, 22:13

So you haven't played ONP, either!! :o
Yeah man, those Nali you see in the video actually fight with you against the Skaarj.

They're technically bots, not pawns.

You can have them follow you or keep a position. The mod also does this with some Mercenaries, who turn out to be your allies here.
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
Waffnuffly wrote:It's tarydium-doped smoothies. Drunk by the player, I mean. The player is tripping balls. The whole game actually takes place in a large city and the player thinks he's on an alien world.

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