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01/04/2015 - "Holy Mausoleum of Exusia" by Inoxx, UBerserker and Erosion

Each week a single map is discussed here in detail.

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Subject: 01/04/2015 - "Holy Mausoleum of Exusia" by Inoxx, UBerserker and Erosion

Post Posted: 01 Apr 2015, 10:39

Map Title: Holy Mausoleum of Exusia
Author: Inoxx, UBerserker
From: G59
Filename: EXU2-G59-07-Exusia.unr
Music Files: Radiation Storm, Forged For Battle





Synopsis: A place of brightness. You see ghost-like entities guarding around but the Demons are down to conquer Exusia for their own needs.

Discuss!

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Subject: Re: 01/04/2015 - "Holy Mausoleum of Exusia" by Inoxx, UBerserker and Erosion

Post Posted: 01 Apr 2015, 10:39

Map Title: Holy Mausoleum of Exusia
Author: Inoxx, Erosion
From: G59
Filename: EXU2-G59-07-Exusia.unr
Music Files: Desert Wind





Synopsis: A place of nothingness. Set your foot wrong and you are dead.

!ssucsiD

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Subject: Re: 01/04/2015 - "Holy Mausoleum of Exusia" by Inoxx, UBerserker and Erosion

Post Posted: 01 Apr 2015, 12:22

AHA!!!
Hell yeah, bring it on! :D
My remarks still apply - well, even though I should really play the new version to comment on the little additions/modifications:-

A dream or a nightmare? You decide.

This map is the last place referred to by "The Scanner of Elohim" and major developments to the story are found here. I believe it could be a contendent for the title of "best map" of G59; however, I will first detail my experience before drawing conclusions.

It was really a relief to arrive inside this holy refuge after traversing the previous map: bright, holy light, shiny surfaces, "magical lens flares" suspended in the air, mystical fog and soundscape - the latter being a bit ominous, really... it makes for an entirely new theme that relies a lot on skycity textures; it does feel like a refuge, and it would be ideal if it were not for the fact that the Saints, like all the others, are our enemies.
That last point isn't really explained by the way, but I guess the Hell Survivor, as an anomaly in the Universe, is regarded with high suspicion to say the least, and anyway he doesn't understand what the heck is going on himself - so yeah. There'll be some more info about him later, though.
The Saint pawns are tough bastards, but it's pretty standard fare here, I wasn't expecting anything less; the Virtues are probably the most dangerous Saints around, although there's also the Pope Queen, which made me reload on my first encounter - I just didn't expect that outburst of holy orbs!
Naturally, even where there's supposedly a ray of hope, things are fucked up - Demons are breaking in, and there are some really nasty ambushes - I think that's what made the journey through the Saint refuge actually hard. But there's a bigger problem...
The Demons are trying to allow the Black Knight (Berith, the biggest champion of BaalBerith no less) entry to the sanctuary, and the Saints - in a desperate bid to forestall the inevitable - have locked the door of the Great Hall with a key which they then threw away in a corrupted area that they themselves created in order to expel the effects of the Void into another dimension. The thing is, the portals remain open and there's no way to close them. Good job on the first translator message found inside that parallel dimension - together with the sick lighting (when there's actually any light) and decaying textures with blood and Shadow creep and the scary-as-ever soundscape, it really prepares the player for an immersion into horror; I began this map with a rather confident feeling, but I started to dread the journey when I understood that I had to regularly plunge into that corrupted dimension in order to further my progress in the holy mausoleum.
And it is that progression mechanic that is the best idea of the Holy Mausoleum of Exusia: it makes the gaming experience really interesting, far beyond what the sanctuary could have achieved by itself. It makes this a truly scary experience which alternates with more traditional EXU2 phases of mayhem. Within the corrupted dimension, you'll be facing Shadows that are stronger than ever before, and in my case I tried to avoid fighting as much as possible - particularly since, given previous experience with the Shadow theme, it's hard to tell whether the waves of Shadows are infinite or not. To tell you the truth, I cannot remember defeating a single Shadow wave: whenever I triggered one the first time, I'd fight a bit but it always looked so desperate that eventually I'd reload (sometimes even before actually dying) and try to see whether I could get to my objective without triggering the ambush (the translocator would be used a lot for this), and failing that, I'd simply run for my life while making a few blasts with that awesome Hellgun. I can say that the unease was such that I completely forgot that the light from those candles could protect me, and I never used them that way (unlike in the previous map, where they were a godsend).
Red versions of the Big Shadow Skaarj gave me frights on more than one occasion; Shadow Mothers are also HOLY SHIT inducing the first time you encounter one, but then you realise that they're not that problematic. Although I freaked out and had to reload more often than not, I did manage to explore the entirety of the corrupted dimension and found the Soul Ritual Chamber with the horrible statue of the unnamed Shadow God (and the weapon)! :)
Did I not mention this yet? Holy Mausoleum of Exusia is a (truly brilliant) conversion of the beta map Nexus, and as such appeared brand new to me (and will appear so to most players). From a pure mapping perspective, everyone can agree that the current result is far more ambitious and unique compared to what the original vision was aiming to achieve.
Once you get that key (which also triggers a completely crazy ambush - after reloading I used a coward's tactic and left my XLoc beacon outside that area, so the moment I got the key I just translocated out of harm's way!), you can make your way towards the exit - where the Black Knight awaits. Funnily enough, it felt like it had been a while since the last boss fight. Berith is tough alright (and I like the new skin!), I had to reload several times and eventually, I defeated him by perching myself on one of those beams at the entrance and shooting flares (BioHazard Flares FTW) from afar (if I stayed on the ground, I always ended up slaughtered - the trouble is, after losing half his health, he goes into berserker mode! Even the Belphegor/Sloth Sin Pillar couldn't help me much - probably because I'm not used to moving and shooting around when moving so fast!). A hard fight (not very hard like Morax or Tonatiuh IMO).
On your way to the exit, you find the Book of Faith which puts you under the same blessing that every Saint is born with; this will have some significance in the following levels. By the time I reached the exit, I had spent over three hours in this map! Which makes this the longest G59 map of v2.03. (probably still true now)
BUT I wasn't done with it completely! I had noticed those six bright lights inside doorways at the beginning of the boss area, but after trying them out and finding that one of them teleported me back in the middle of the room, I had given up and had turned my attention toward the boss. But now that I had completed the level once, I went to read the tips thread ;) and so I found out that I had missed a couple of important things, and hence I loaded my last save from just after defeating the boss: first, those six bright lights are teleports which need to be activated one after the other - a puzzle-like sequence that, when completed, brings you back to the parallel dimension where you can solve a puzzle similar to the one in NOTHINGNESS - only bigger and harder, because the coordinates are in a completely different area. When I realised that, I had to take a portal back to the sanctuary (and when you're in the boss area, this whole sequence is the only way to go back to previous areas of the mausoleum) and explore every nook and cranny of the place until I realised I had missed the chamber with the upside-down crucifix! And sure enough, the message with the coordinates is found inside the shiny pool (or rather you activate it by dipping in the pool). I dutifully noted them down on a piece of paper (yeah I wasn't going to be lazy to the point of just relying entirely on the tips thread!) and before making my way back to the puzzle, I went to check all the areas of the sanctuary where there had been translator events in order to check out what they now said... and the changed messages are IMO really cool as they confirm a crucial point about the Hell Survivor (the endless cycle of life and death - and there are many corpses of the Hell Survivor in Exusia) in addition to revealing disturbing plot elements ("...you can't stop Morax."; "The end is in the Void.") but they can also be easily missed, which is a shame in a way (again, the tips thread told me about the change - the change is mentioned at the start of the level but frankly by the time I got to the end I had completely forgotten about it). Apparently, you change something on this run - never before had the Hell Survivor been able to go beyond the mausoleum. And you are blessed at the end of the level. Also, yeah, I completed the puzzle and got the MegaBlast Flare and the Frost Armor :D (these details may have changed now)

A fantastic experience overall.
Is it the best level in G59? I don't know, because all the other ones are consistently awesome as well. To each his own, I guess, but this map may get bonus points for originality. The switching between two radically different dimensions is great, and in case I forgot to mention this, it's not just Exusia itself which comes with a new theme, but the parallel dimension as well to an extent (new textures - I checked in the editor and it's the HourKraden package). I'd actually argue that this switching of themes is necessary to maintain the bar raised as high as it is, because the Exusia theme itself is nice but seems quite limited.
A very hard level, and if you count all the messing around I did to get the secrets after formally completing the map, then this level lasted for just about four hours!
Last edited by Sat42 on 02 Apr 2015, 15:32, edited 1 time in total.
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Subject: Re: 01/04/2015 - "Holy Mausoleum of Exusia" by Inoxx, UBerserker and Erosion

Post Posted: 01 Apr 2015, 19:11

UBerserker wrote:Music Files: Desert Wind


Is that the track from Fallout?
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Subject: Re: 01/04/2015 - "Holy Mausoleum of Exusia" by Inoxx, UBerserker and Erosion

Post Posted: 01 Apr 2015, 19:12

Yes, same as Radiation Storm for the holy part. Worked pretty well I must say.

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Subject: Re: 01/04/2015 - "Holy Mausoleum of Exusia" by Inoxx, UBerserker and Erosion

Post Posted: 01 Apr 2015, 22:38

For a list of things that were added in this version of the map, compared to the previous one:
► Show Spoiler



Anyway, this is the Map, with the "M" in CAPS. It's something that I'll never forget having done.

I want to give my thanks to two things:
  • Inoxx for having created Nexus. Inoxx's maps have been easily the best ones to convert for EXU2 (Cryox/EMD owns too) and Nexus worked PERFECTLY for this concept. However Inoxx's maps have been also the worst ones to work with due to them being unstable as shit (especially their U97 beta variants). Both Cryox and Nexus have scarred me violently with all kind of fuck-ups and it didn't help the fact that I wasn't good enough with the editor when I did this stuff - ambitions were beyond my skills but I managed to make it overall.
  • UED 2.0 for eventually granting my wishes. Finally I could make something that I always wanted to see in Unreal, ideas and concepts never seen anywhere. As the time passed, I became better with the editor and these maps became magically more stable. I'm totally impressed the map didn't explode after adding new geometry and changing some stuff there and there. Honestly, I could have made the second new area look much better than what it is now but currently it's enough. Didn't bother also decorating the rooms because I preferred the very clean look of all the areas: all bright and whitey.

Definitely the conversion I'm most proud of in G59 (and in general, mapping-wise) and I really enjoy playing this map every time.

Other comments I wrote in the G59 thread.
UBerserker wrote:lol no I'm not going to make NOTHINGNESS' puzzle any easier, just improving the look of those two blood hints

Oh my god Exusia
Where do I start
Actually, I'll really make it quick because there's too much to talk about this conversion which probably took almost a year to make it reach the current status.

The real first thing I did on this map was testing my vision of the Saint theme which was basically using the more stone-y looking SkyTown textures and the lighting being totally white. Atmosphere was a lot like the churches from the Castlevania PS2 titles which wasn't a bad thing per se.

Looked horrible because this engine really sucks with bright stuff so I never worked on this map afterwards.

During the period when I was playing Fallout New Vegas and exploring the new vaults, one day I made one fucked up nightmare where I was supposedly playing Fallout New Vegas and I was in one of those brown / rusted gold decayed, irradiated vaults but this one really looked horrible; there were flickering orange lights, intermittent loud screams, shadows of weird figures appearing on the walls and other weird ass things. It was really shocking.

And this is where the big base idea for the double theme started. I had to recreate that nightmare into this map as best as I could. If it shocked somebody like me, I'm 100% sure it could have worked on almost everybody else.

HourKraden proven the best set for the dark part, and those few super clear SkyTown textures were perfect for the Saint part; had to edit the latter to make them look yellow - the lighting is still white/blue.

Developing and testing this conversion took 7 months. Fixing all the geometry bugs took more than 3 months because I kept finding invisible brushes HOLY SHIT I KEPT FINDING THEM EVERYWHERE to the point that I was seriously seeing invisible brushes in real life too. It was an obsession.
Just like Cryox, Nexus was one of Inoxx' first maps and he was unskilled when it came to geometry stability (as he simply went for more complex architecture and layouts). It gave me horrible issues with leaking water zones.
Bad, bad days.

The Red Shadows are barely any stronger than the regular ones but I made them and their terrain all red just to show how "powerful" and "corrupted" they became in the dark world. Exusia|Dark is pretty much supposed to be the ultimate Shadow map of EXU2 - the most difficult without going into dumb territory.
NONE of the Shadow battles in this map have infinite waves but they're even longer on higher difficulties.
I'm pretty sure a first-timer throughout Exusia on Unreal difficulty will likely take 6 hours to complete.

EXU2's regular Saints always looked weak to me honestly, they were like unlit moving statues. I decided to make them look more like ethereal ghosts there: bigger size, translucent skins, white fog and layered effects inside their bodies. There wasn't much else I could do with Saints; there's an unused Saint nuke projectile in EXU.u but it's mega strong so I couldn't touch it.

Demons are what they are, The Black Knight Berith is a cool guy. The last great thing this map could offer was, after all the massive trouble and mindfuckery with both worlds, an aggressive 1vs1 boss battle in a dark holy hallway against a powerhouse BRUTE pawn. Takes a while to figure out how to kill him easily; thanksfully Waffnuffly has added a tag which blocks Hyper Grenades from exploding on enemy contact (bounces off instead), which I'm totally going to use on this boss in the next version so Hyper Grenade spam won't work that well anymore.

I'll actually stop here talking in detail about this map. Not feel like spoiling one thing that I might ever add planning to Exusia because this is the kind of map which pulls you in, you see all this random weird things and after it you just can't forget about.

If this map is the greatest sleeper hit of EXU2 I wouldn't really care honestly. The more you proceed into G59 the more you descend into a world of fucking unknown because you simply can't expect what's going to come afterwards.
I don't know how many Unreal SP maps employ a double theme thing but I'm glad that in the Unreal universe of modding and mapping, Exusia exists and it's playable.


This thread will be open until the week ends (like standard procedure), so there's something worth talking about instead of Mothership Basement.

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Subject: Re: 01/04/2015 - "Holy Mausoleum of Exusia" by Inoxx, UBerserker and Erosion

Post Posted: 02 Apr 2015, 11:38

I have a question:
who is Erosion? :P
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Subject: Re: 01/04/2015 - "Holy Mausoleum of Exusia" by Inoxx, UBerserker and Erosion

Post Posted: 02 Apr 2015, 12:00

The guy who made the Shadow-related conversions, you see him appearing on VOIDNESS/NOTHINGNESS/SHADOWNESS author credits as well.

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Subject: Re: 01/04/2015 - "Holy Mausoleum of Exusia" by Inoxx, UBerserker and Erosion

Post Posted: 02 Apr 2015, 23:33

I know this is an April Fools kind of thing but this map is seriously awesome for all the reasons Sat42 said.
Image

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Subject: Re: 01/04/2015 - "Holy Mausoleum of Exusia" by Inoxx, UBerserker and Erosion

Post Posted: 05 Apr 2015, 06:07

Where is the video from this map? :P

This map is hard as hell. :)
You're just expecting confusion.

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Subject: Re: 01/04/2015 - "Holy Mausoleum of Exusia" by Inoxx, UBerserker and Erosion

Post Posted: 05 Apr 2015, 15:33

Haha lol no video, April Fools' MOTWs don't get them :P

Other than that, that would mean MMAN trying to become super good at the EXU2's gamestyle in G59 in few days, which isn't a simple thing and this map is in no way easy to be done in one try. I'd love a vid too though.

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Subject: Re: 01/04/2015 - "Holy Mausoleum of Exusia" by Inoxx, UBerserker and Erosion

Post Posted: 06 Apr 2015, 12:48

Well, I'd have to play all of the newest version of EXU2 first before I got to the G59 mod. The shots make me interested in checking it out though.
Formerly Mman

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Subject: Re: 01/04/2015 - "Holy Mausoleum of Exusia" by Inoxx, UBerserker and Erosion

Post Posted: 06 Apr 2015, 13:46

I wouldn't really recommend rushing at all. Besides, when it comes to EXU2, I think it's way more effective starting from the beginning so you can get "drugged" with the early maps and see the weirdest stuff later on.

Anyway, time for this MOTW is running out, thank you all for appreciations and views!


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