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20/04/2015 - "Infiltration of the Kran" by Myscha and Prophet

Each week a single map is discussed here in detail.

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Subject: 20/04/2015 - "Infiltration of the Kran" by Myscha and Prophet

Post Posted: 20 Apr 2015, 16:36

Map Title: Infiltration of the Kran
Author: Myscha and Prophet
From: 7 Bullets
Filename: Jones-02-Darkness.unr
Music Files: 7B-Dark1.umx, 7B-Jones.umx




Video Playthrough:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW35Q2cTbQ8

Synopsis: The ISV-Kran is dark, and the ship has undergone several renovations by the Skaarj. Can you find your way through and kill all the Skaarj?

Discuss!

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Subject: Re: 20/04/2015 - "Infiltration of the Kran" by Myscha and Prophet

Post Posted: 20 Apr 2015, 18:55

I did some weird stuff to the Kran in this one. Nobody called me out on it at the time. Like sneaking a fifth deck in there that had no business being there.

It's dated now, but I still like most of the trooper combat. I justify the heavy dose of shockrifle wielding troopers on the basis that the inventory you have and damage you can deal outstrips Prisoner 849. I think the last trooper battle kinda sucks at the end since it's a bit boring and you can gimp the hell out of the trooper hole by blasting each guy as he drops.

Also, people always seemed to groan about this one on the basis of where to go next.
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Subject: Re: 20/04/2015 - "Infiltration of the Kran" by Myscha and Prophet

Post Posted: 21 Apr 2015, 15:54

Some of those ambushes scared the heck outta me just watching the video. :lol:
I like how the new areas are interspersed with the old ones, and the idea that you're not the only one infiltrating this place. Some of the parkour was a bit of a pain, but it's easier when you know what you're doing.

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Subject: Re: 20/04/2015 - "Infiltration of the Kran" by Myscha and Prophet

Post Posted: 21 Apr 2015, 18:35

I love that style of redux, like the Vortex Rikers one in ONP.

I guess you took your inspiration from there, Mr. Prophet?
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Subject: Re: 20/04/2015 - "Infiltration of the Kran" by Myscha and Prophet

Post Posted: 21 Apr 2015, 19:02

Most of the fights are really simple as you can instantly headshot every enemy with the BP Ripper.

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Subject: Re: 20/04/2015 - "Infiltration of the Kran" by Myscha and Prophet

Post Posted: 21 Apr 2015, 19:18

Rarsonic wrote:I love that style of redux, like the Vortex Rikers one in ONP.

I guess you took your inspiration from there, Mr. Prophet?


I was never crazy about ONP's redux levels, so you are correct in the sense that I was inspired to do the opposite. I just felt the returns to Nyleve and and the Mines were really weak levels and didn't have the player do a whole lot that was interesting. My approach with redux kinda started with Xidia Gold and that skytown level I made. Just didn't want to try to rewow people with nostalgia, cus I couldn't. Rather, just wanted to give them a lot more to do and use their previous knowledge of the map against them.
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Subject: Re: 20/04/2015 - "Infiltration of the Kran" by Myscha and Prophet

Post Posted: 24 Apr 2015, 13:55

I forgot to post the commentary (I'll put my comment in another post):

---------------------------
[2] "Infiltrating the Kran"
---------------------------

* Mr.Prophet

First real map of the game and I had standards to keep up. Outpost Phoenix from Xidia, the second (3rd .unr) map was the biggest and hardest of that campaign. The people in the SP community who played Xidia and responded to me about it always mentioned how tough that map was. Not unfairly, though the save bug in Xidia Gold would make the map infamous for being rough as Rhino fucking. That was my first real SP map...ever. I was sure as shit going to make the same level number map in 7 Bullets similar in that unconventional clusterfuck of a map type way. I say unconventional because how many SP packs do you play that have the hardest level second in the map list and not suck?
Infiltrating the Kran is NOT the hardest map in 7 Bullets, in my opinion, but it is one of the more time consuming in the first run through (depending on the player's ability to pick up on things and their sense of direction). It is also the map that has the highest percentage of Skaarj related combat situations. It is ALSO the first map in 7 Bullets where the player gets a glimpse of the recurring Nemesis in the campaign...known later as "The Scarred One".
Like Outpost Phoenix from Xidia, this one has a lot of backtracking all through the old segments of ISV Kran Decks 2 and 3 as well as the new Skaarj Outpost sections I made using borrowed textures from Team Vortex. Like the first map, this one is set in darkness with the player relying on their flashlight. There are a few areas with lighting, however, and by the end of the map the player has activated some power generators for certain decks. There is one area I am particularly proud of, a segment set in a darkened set of connected hallways that lead to a power room, which has a panel that turns on the lights in the pre-mentioned hallways. These were the first new bits of mappage I made for 7 Bullets and thus appear in the very first released pimpage screenshot which is currently displayed on the Unrealsp.org upcoming map packs page. These hallways actually have a background story. They started out as left over parts of the Redux'd Outpost 3J in my revamped Skytown Redux map. I originally had them used in a segment of that pack where the player joined forces with a group of Nali Freedom fighters to take on a barrage of Skaarj warriors. That sequence never actually happened due to....well I'm lazy. It was actually these first hallways that kickstarted all the conceptual ideas for the basic story of 7 Bullets.
I used a lot of old and new techniques in this map. Old stuff was my whole bloody water effect I tried out in Xidia and some very Xidia-esque spook moments. One thing I'm pretty good at, and I say that without arrogance 'cause I'm very self-critical at just about everything else I do, is making people yell "WTF!" as a vent next to them blows open violently and a creature jumps out. I fucking love that. That unexpected split second scare. This happens a lot in map 2 and usually a Pupae that does it. I try to keep the player on their toes so it's important to make sure that the next spook moment is coming from a new direction the player is ignoring because they are checking similar spots that look suspicious. Pupae and vents have been done before... a lot, but I think I achieved some freshness here. There are times when people are gonna expect the same routine and then BAM, the decorative texture next to you actually is mover. Lighting is important with movers like this since the Unreal engine is usually pretty shitty with keeping the balance between normal brush and mover in a lit area. Even the smallest shadow or uneven line can give away a perfectly good ambush spot. I absolutely hate seeing that in maps, especially SP. You gotta be really careful when adding those trick movers.
I think I preserved the original tone of the Kran original while keeping a realistic texture of age and addition of new areas. The idea I was trying to convey is very Unreal-ish, where the Skaarj come upon deserted or captured locations and manipulate it with their own technology and purpose. The Kran in Unreal was relatively un-tainted. In that game the Kran had only been grounded for 3 months...and the story logs implied that the Human survivors held their ground for awhile before the Skaarj took over. In that case, the ship's main functions were active with recent signs of combat. But nothing that wasn't already human, aside from some pupae infestation and occupied Skaarj forces. Very fucking nice and clean. In 7 Bullets, this is 12 years later we're talking so there HAD to be significant changes. The Kran has gone from a grounded starship with salvaged interior structure...to a hybrid outpost that fused the existing human technology with alien additions and new areas that replaced old parts of the ship and rooted the starship into the ground. Plus, the outpost was hit by an EMP, a fairly original touch I thought. Usually in most Unreal SP campaigns and just about every map in Unreal and RTNP, you were entering a functional hotzone. Map2 of the Kran puts the player in the infiltrator's position on a disabled environment. I thought it was a nice touch, and whether or not people enjoy the map's gameplay I hope they at least like what I was trying to do.


* Darth Weasel:

Jesus this map confused the shit out of me. When playing the first beta i had to switch back to IRC a dozen times to ask where the fuck i was meant to go. I predict 80% of 7Bullets players that don't complete the game will quit on this map. I actually still don't know how to complete it without ASMD secondary fire jumping. I'm counting my fucking blessings i can get it done at all.


* Waffnuffly:

BWHAHAHAHA! I was with Darth on this until I saw that weird, blocky-looking ladder. Why Proph made blocky ladders that a brute could barely clutch is beyond me, but whatever. I was able to get up to the lift platform, so woot. \o/
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Subject: Re: 20/04/2015 - "Infiltration of the Kran" by Myscha and Prophet

Post Posted: 24 Apr 2015, 14:16

For a second level this was a pretty ballsy move, and I'm still not sure on what to think of it. While not necessarily the biggest it's by far the most complex to navigate and also has some trial and error type moments that make damage near unavoidable for a first time player (the fan lift is also a little unintuitive due to the fact the physics kick in the moment you enter the room rather than when you leave the platform). The atmosphere and style are really well done, and the new segments fit in well, though the darkness is part of what contributes to the complexity; it feels like a level that should come a little bit in after the player is already (hopefully) hooked rather than being the first main map, even if it's hard to think how that would work.

I didn't have too many problems but when my brother played it recently they got so lost I ended up having to just ghost them to the end part, and he got through the rest of the set with no issues. I can't help wondering if a few tweaks could have made the main path easier without compromising the atmosphere or overall layout at all, but I know that kind of thing's hard when you only have a small set of testers and not a bunch to throw at it. I admit this is more a game design thought experiment though; I know bigger games frequently go ridiculously overboard with handholding, to the point of removing anything remotely interesting, but I also know that even the smallest tweaks can help in some cases (like a prominent light at just the right spot), and I wonder if that would have been enough here.
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Subject: Re: 20/04/2015 - "Infiltration of the Kran" by Myscha and Prophet

Post Posted: 25 Apr 2015, 01:09

I actually had to go back and add things during testing precisely because people got lost (see Commentary). A big thing that helped was adding light sources in parts of dark rooms where you could find an exit. This seemed to help since people started to trust spots where lights were still working, and generally this is where they needed to go. I also added a cutscene or two in some spots to make sure the player knew that something significant had changed instead of leaving them with what was in the very early version (activation beeps). In retrospect, it may have been better to add white text messages for the screen to help pass concepts along (although we had a new HUD).

It was tough because the point was to force people to contend with getting lost and uncovering surprises. Based on team beta testing this may have been the most worked over level in the campaign. I never want people to hit the tilde key but I don't want to cheapen a level either. Even after making several compromises with the team, this one still stopped a lot of players from completing Seven Bullets. I think I'm rather fine with that though. Sometimes knowing that a level I made "beat" someone is better than knowing they breezed through it, strange to say.
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Subject: Re: 20/04/2015 - "Infiltration of the Kran" by Myscha and Prophet

Post Posted: 25 Apr 2015, 17:03

Every time I read something from the 7Bullets commentary I feel like I'd have wished to be part of a small group of experienced Unreal people behind an ambitious project like 7B itself.
Too bad I'm not experienced enough and only started to get into mapping so recently (just see my telephone rooms and compare them to Proph's ones).

I don't know, seems like you guys secretly had fun making 7Bullets beyond issues.


I really, REALLY love this map. There's something I find very cool when playing dark maps in Unreal; here it's done really well, feels like something is always going to happen and I'm afraid I'm going to die in the next second (but no, enemies die first, thanks BP Ripper).
Personally I got stuck in the next map and not this one. I think if anybody would get stuck in this map then it's due to that Bloodpack Skaarj group jumping out from the pipe - everything about that room (it's not even dark!) wasn't nice and was the only real shortcoming. The battle was just badly designed.

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Subject: Re: 20/04/2015 - "Infiltration of the Kran" by Myscha and Prophet

Post Posted: 25 Apr 2015, 19:31

To be honest UB, Team Red Nemesis was pretty informal during the time we made 7B and even more so during RD's peak dev years. Mostly it was a bunch of dudes on irc joking around and occassionally dropping out of the chat to test someone's current map build. Any illusion of cohesion is because I forced people to add to the commentary (a lot of that was taken right out of chat). We did have fun, can't deny that. But here's the thing; a team is just a bunch of people that work well together. We were all prety even in skill and this helps also.


In regards to the last battle room, that section was a bit of a compromise. After failed attempts to get a boss fight I settled on that (this well after I knew the stuff in The Rogue would be its own map). This might actually be a result of poor teamwork communication. The guys were so sick of playing this map that I had less feedback for the end :)
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Subject: Re: 20/04/2015 - "Infiltration of the Kran" by Myscha and Prophet

Post Posted: 25 Apr 2015, 23:34

Mister_Prophet wrote:To be honest UB, Team Red Nemesis was pretty informal during the time we made 7B and even more so during RD's peak dev years. Mostly it was a bunch of dudes on irc joking around and occassionally dropping out of the chat to test someone's current map build. Any illusion of cohesion is because I forced people to add to the commentary (a lot of that was taken right out of chat). We did have fun, can't deny that. But here's the thing; a team is just a bunch of people that work well together. We were all prety even in skill and this helps also.


Ok sounds like you definitely had fun then :) Darthweasel seemed also a cool dude.
Too bad days such as those feel like a mirage nowadays.


Thinking about the basement ISV Kran floor you've added (where that Skaarj room is located), this reminds me of how ISV Kran 3&2 was supposed to have its own basement floor below the corridors, next to the original exit of the map.

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Subject: Re: 20/04/2015 - "Infiltration of the Kran" by Myscha and Prophet

Post Posted: 27 Apr 2015, 13:50

Mister_Prophet wrote:I actually had to go back and add things during testing precisely because people got lost (see Commentary). A big thing that helped was adding light sources in parts of dark rooms where you could find an exit. This seemed to help since people started to trust spots where lights were still working, and generally this is where they needed to go. I also added a cutscene or two in some spots to make sure the player knew that something significant had changed instead of leaving them with what was in the very early version (activation beeps). In retrospect, it may have been better to add white text messages for the screen to help pass concepts along (although we had a new HUD).

It was tough because the point was to force people to contend with getting lost and uncovering surprises. Based on team beta testing this may have been the most worked over level in the campaign. I never want people to hit the tilde key but I don't want to cheapen a level either. Even after making several compromises with the team, this one still stopped a lot of players from completing Seven Bullets. I think I'm rather fine with that though. Sometimes knowing that a level I made "beat" someone is better than knowing they breezed through it, strange to say.


Interesting to hear the ways you did iterate on the map, and I understand taking a stand and deciding your map should be able to "beat" people; especially as it's something a lot of people seem so afraid of that they way overcompensate the other way.
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