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29/02/2016 - "The Sunspire" by Juan Pancho Eekels

Each week a single map is discussed here in detail.

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Subject: 29/02/2016 - "The Sunspire" by Juan Pancho Eekels

Post Posted: 29 Feb 2016, 13:08

Map Title: The Sunspire
Author: Juan Pancho Eekels
From: Unreal
Filename: TheSunspire.unr
Music Files: Spire.umx




Video Playthrough:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lL-X2cipq4

Sypnosis: The great rock tower of the Nali. Not anymore a place to seek peace.

Discuss!
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User avatar editor Dave
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Subject: Re: 29/02/2016 - "The Sunspire" by Juan Pancho Eekels

Post Posted: 29 Feb 2016, 20:12

The outside of the tower overwhelmed me, the inside, however, left me disappointed:
In my first playthrough, I found the inside too dark, too Pupae-infested, too winding and too repetetive in its design to distinguish the areas. This was like the only Nali structure that I found annoying. The ending on the top was so redeeming again. Especially the sounds really expanded the experience. The lift was a welcome surprise, too.

In my second playthrough, the positive features remained, but the former negatives were now why I began to like this level. It really has a nice, creepy atmosphere of its own.
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Subject: Re: 29/02/2016 - "The Sunspire" by Juan Pancho Eekels

Post Posted: 29 Feb 2016, 23:03

When I first played through this map, little me sucked with dark areas in video games, so I hated this level. Now its one of my favorites due to its atmosphere, how signifigant it is in the story in some ways, and just how fun this level is to play through. It helps that Na pali Haven is right after this. :B

"EDIT": Also is the tower really bulky or does this map use portal zones? I'm curious.
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Subject: Re: 29/02/2016 - "The Sunspire" by Juan Pancho Eekels

Post Posted: 29 Feb 2016, 23:31

Nightmare Kitteh wrote:"EDIT": Also is the tower really bulky or does this map use portal zones? I'm curious.


No tricks here, the Sunspire really is that big :)

More comments to follow!
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
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Subject: Re: 29/02/2016 - "The Sunspire" by Juan Pancho Eekels

Post Posted: 01 Mar 2016, 01:11

The interior occupies very few spaces of the whole thing.
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Subject: Re: 29/02/2016 - "The Sunspire" by Juan Pancho Eekels

Post Posted: 01 Mar 2016, 11:30

editor Dave wrote:The outside of the tower overwhelmed me, the inside, however, left me disappointed:
In my first playthrough, I found the inside too dark, too Pupae-infested, too winding and too repetetive in its design to distinguish the areas. This was like the only Nali structure that I found annoying. The ending on the top was so redeeming again. Especially the sounds really expanded the experience. The lift was a welcome surprise, too.

In my second playthrough, the positive features remained, but the former negatives were now why I began to like this level. It really has a nice, creepy atmosphere of its own.

Almost exactly my thoughts;
Sunspire didn't really compete for top spot in the Hurt and Heal session and I think it's precisely due to the points you mentioned especially : pupae infested and winding, and may I add a couple of unfair battle situations (one in a really dark place).
On my first play through I must have crashed my hard disk with saves after every corner. I agree however that subsequent playthroughs (and more experience) have positively softened my view on this map.
And: the walk to the Sunspire itself is one of the most memorable moments in Unreal.

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Subject: Re: 29/02/2016 - "The Sunspire" by Juan Pancho Eekels

Post Posted: 01 Mar 2016, 17:56

You'd say this is the "Unreal season one" ending map but it actually isn't, that was originally SkyTown/SkyBase. Well, in the current final version that would be The Sunspire because no one knew anyway there was a gigantic void between SkyBase and VeloraEnd.

The layout was completed extremely early actually and Opal was the music theme for a long time. And a Behemoth was supposed to drop from above in the first room instead of a Skaarj Gunner (latter makes more sense, the glass would instantly break the second a Behemoth would step on it).

This map is so great. Honestly the real hard part of it, for me the first time I played it, was figuring out how to end it. I was clueless and all of a sudden I decided to fly to the sky above the spire and suddenly "Loading".
Only in a later playthrough I found out how to call the skypod. Goddamned fuck.

It feels like, the Sunspire would have more rooms, possibly hidden stuff, than what's being explorable.
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Subject: Re: 29/02/2016 - "The Sunspire" by Juan Pancho Eekels

Post Posted: 02 Mar 2016, 17:16

It's harder to appreciate now, but this was a mammoth of an experience for someone playing shooters in the late 90s. I don't believe I can think of another game at the time that wouldn't have hit me with a loading screen at some point if the same scope was attempted.

You begin at what was (at the time) a fair distance away from the Tower, but when you arrive at the foot of the place you can go inside and keep playing. Not only that, you can reach the summit and look down. That was a big deal, especially for people like me whose first time through was quite daunting. Peering over the edge that first time and seeing how far I had traversed was something I didn't feel again until years later when I started playing open world games. Things like that are standard now I guess. But back then they simply didn't exist, which is why this level was special on that merit alone. Nowadays the reality of the level's size isn't quite as much of a sucker punch, but mappers in this community have done their best to replicate the same feeling. A number of community levels follow in the footsteps of Sunspire quite well.

The level itself is quite good. The hardest fight (or fights) are probably against those troopers that appear at the beginning. It's not so much a level about combat as it is the awe of exploration, and boy can you get lost. There's a particularly nasty part where you can find yourself in pitch darkness with pupae scuttling about. I dunno about you guys, but I actually used my flashlight and flares my first time through so I didn't have much on me besides my dispersion pistol to light those rooms up. I don't even know how I found the minigun.

It also has a great ending. You rise to the top of the spire only to realize its purpose is a staging area for the skylift. That was a really cool transition by the way, first time through. Really unique experience.
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Subject: Re: 29/02/2016 - "The Sunspire" by Juan Pancho Eekels

Post Posted: 02 Mar 2016, 23:08

One of my fav U1 maps also.

Been running an Assault version of it on one of my UT servers for years.
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Subject: Re: 29/02/2016 - "The Sunspire" by Juan Pancho Eekels

Post Posted: 03 Mar 2016, 14:05

One of the most unforgettable iconic maps in the game (and FPS in general), but the actual interior is lot of maze-like repetitive rooms and rooms and corridors with pest fighting, so I have some mixed feelings about it. I like the horror elements with the darkness and claustrophobia though, and that carries the inside somewhat. It's also kind of interesting how almost all of it is optional and you can head straight to the top when you know a good route.
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Subject: Re: 29/02/2016 - "The Sunspire" by Juan Pancho Eekels

Post Posted: 05 Mar 2016, 21:10

The hardest fight (or fights) are probably against those troopers that appear at the beginning.

You mean these two troopers on the way to the Sunspire or that one dropping from above? The former encounter was quite simple for me. I sniped the first trooper with ASMD from far, and sent the second one flying into the lava with a salvo from Eightball Gun. Pretty easy, but it gets harder in close quarters of the spire itself.
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Subject: Re: 29/02/2016 - "The Sunspire" by Juan Pancho Eekels

Post Posted: 06 Mar 2016, 01:20

For a long time I had a mixed relationship with the level. There is so much to like about it, but from a gameplay perspective it made many missteps. Much of the level is very dark, it is easy to get lost, and enemy placement feels very random.

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Subject: Re: 29/02/2016 - "The Sunspire" by Juan Pancho Eekels

Post Posted: 06 Mar 2016, 23:14

Mister_Prophet wrote:It's harder to appreciate now, but this was a mammoth of an experience for someone playing shooters in the late 90s. I don't believe I can think of another game at the time that wouldn't have hit me with a loading screen at some point if the same scope was attempted.

You begin at what was (at the time) a fair distance away from the Tower, but when you arrive at the foot of the place you can go inside and keep playing. Not only that, you can reach the summit and look down. That was a big deal, especially for people like me whose first time through was quite daunting. Peering over the edge that first time and seeing how far I had traversed was something I didn't feel again until years later when I started playing open world games. Things like that are standard now I guess. But back then they simply didn't exist, which is why this level was special on that merit alone. Nowadays the reality of the level's size isn't quite as much of a sucker punch, but mappers in this community have done their best to replicate the same feeling. A number of community levels follow in the footsteps of Sunspire quite well.

The level itself is quite good. The hardest fight (or fights) are probably against those troopers that appear at the beginning. It's not so much a level about combat as it is the awe of exploration, and boy can you get lost. There's a particularly nasty part where you can find yourself in pitch darkness with pupae scuttling about. I dunno about you guys, but I actually used my flashlight and flares my first time through so I didn't have much on me besides my dispersion pistol to light those rooms up. I don't even know how I found the minigun.

It also has a great ending. You rise to the top of the spire only to realize its purpose is a staging area for the skylift. That was a really cool transition by the way, first time through. Really unique experience.


Excellent commentary for The Sunspire, I think I don't have much to add :tup:
The level scores highly for conceptual grandness, as Hellscrag would say (the map is specifically mentioned here: legacy/ - look under "Level design").
I got a nasty fright from those pupae the first time round!
A standout level of Unreal.
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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