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The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Each week a single map is discussed here in detail.

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User avatar Mister_Prophet
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 03 Apr 2017, 20:02

Oh BFNP, yes yes. We should talk about it here I suppose.

When BFNP was shelved and absorbed into Residual Decay's dev cycle (which means, I took upon myself a bunch of files and then had the extraordinary task and responsibility of retrieving a collection of levels and files from another ambitious project and doing that project justice when integrating said content into my own) the story was still on the "5 planets" story line. This will be complicated to explain, so I'll do my best to break it down since there's no way to explain the state of BFNP without also informing you to what RD was going through at the time.

Okay, so, yeah.

At this stage of development the original story and campaign plan was still unchanged. Originally, Residual Decay was to take place immediately after Seven Bullets and was entirely inside Jones's head. Okay. Take that in. Breathe.

The story was that during the events on Na Pali there was another being aware of the happenings occurring in Seven Bullets in much the same way the Scarred One was pursuing Jones. A formless, telepathic being that was very much a parasitic organism of ancient origin longed for a companion (host) that could not only take them beyond the stars but also provide a worthy form. An intro scene would have Jones dying in the rubble of the Dead Scorpion's base near the remains the Scarred One when the being (referred to as The Voice during development) would speak to the player and presumably meld with Jones.

What followed would have been a campaign very influenced by Silent Hill 4 and Jacob's Ladder. You were essentially going to be trapped on a dream version of the Ice Raven which would act as a HUB for Jones to access bizarre portals through time and space. Five planets were to be accessed at different timelines, including an Incident era Xidia and a Na Pali from the future.

The problem I had then was that I had BFNP content that had to fit this storyline for what RD was doing.

To be honest, I had the most trouble with the maps. Hellscrag made a fantastic Nali township that was originally set in a winter climate, and I asked him to remove the icy/snowy atmosphere. He did, and it still looked great. I was going to convert it into a sort of passive, non-violent level originally where the player can visit the town, make barters, speak to the locals. That sort of thing. The project had a backtracking system in the plan as early as then. This level would be revisited later during a "plot thickens" sequence where it would be besieged by Skaarj and the denizens either slaughtered or in hiding.

The biggest problem I had with Mike's level was gameplay. When I received it the node count was already pretty significant and I basically had a level, fully decked out and richly detailed but not a shred of gameplay planning or addition yet placed within. I had a similar problem attempting to help Mike with Above The Clouds years prior. Again, fantastic level work, extreme node levels set into the bedrock by default, little room for gameplay. Or at the least the level of gameplay I was accustomed to incorporating.

The second level I wanted to use was a dark level set inside a sort of coastal, water logged area with a ruin set in the center atop an island and an ancient pier along the border. You've seen screenshots of parts of this level I'm sure. The idea was cool and I had wanted Jones to access the ruin via swimming. The problem with this level was that it was designed with distance fog in mind, so it would also need distance fog to maintain the scope. Also, the mapper (think this might have been Waffnuffly) did not add borders to the water limit (I requested walls or slopes but they were never made, and I never had the time to make them). In general it was another map made without a sense of gameplay, much like Hellscrag. I need to emphasize how difficult it is to inherit another mapper's work with significant content made yet done so with little freedom to add gameplay.

There were other level fragments that would have been merged into whole levels, including a neat stormy desert theme that jived very well with the theme of what would have been the fifth planet. There were also very good terrain fragments.

The main things that haven been incorporated into RD is the story elements from BFNP. My own contributions that got the most traction were the Skaarj faction concepts, which will be preserved. I also really want to save the EAR since its reasons for being made are still sound (basically, a more Unreal-esque Minigun replacement that doesn't stunlock pawns).

For the levels it's difficult. I actually embarked on a plan to "remake" some of the levels, like the cursed island, so make them fit the style of gameplay I need from the inception, something that really needs to be thought of early on in the planning phase. I'd like to preserve at least a few of the really good ones. For Hellsrag's town level, listen...it's fantastic. Mike enjoys making towns and is very good at them. If he wants to give it a fair shake it is probably better for him to attempt it, since I found myself removing a lot of it to get gameplay elements in there.
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 03 Apr 2017, 20:37

The map I gave you was The Cursed Land, barely even half-way complete and yet it was like a few hundred nodes shy of the node limit. lmao, looking back at this map today, it was designed with some absolutely atrocious technical practices, since I had no real concept of the node limit or detail budgeting back then. Shit this was, what, back in 2004?!

The architecture and detail certainly looked nice, but the map was overdetailed to the point of absurdity in terms of technical cleanliness, and with a really awful habit of intersecting brushes that didn't need to be because I thought, for some reason, that doing so was better for the map. lol. Yeah, this level was basically unusable without a total rebuild from scratch.
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 03 Apr 2017, 21:52

Think I will extend this special thread for some more. The truth is that I haven't really planned anything new yet because this thread has been going good enough and would be a shame to end it now. Plus I've been kinda sick.

Anyway

Mister_Prophet wrote:Oh BFNP, yes yes. We should talk about it here I suppose.

When BFNP was shelved and absorbed into Residual Decay's dev cycle (which means, I took upon myself a bunch of files and then had the extraordinary task and responsibility of retrieving a collection of levels and files from another ambitious project and doing that project justice when integrating said content into my own) the story was still on the "5 planets" story line. This will be complicated to explain, so I'll do my best to break it down since there's no way to explain the state of BFNP without also informing you to what RD was going through at the time.

Okay, so, yeah.

At this stage of development the original story and campaign plan was still unchanged. Originally, Residual Decay was to take place immediately after Seven Bullets and was entirely inside Jones's head. Okay. Take that in. Breathe.

The story was that during the events on Na Pali there was another being aware of the happenings occurring in Seven Bullets in much the same way the Scarred One was pursuing Jones. A formless, telepathic being that was very much a parasitic organism of ancient origin longed for a companion (host) that could not only take them beyond the stars but also provide a worthy form. An intro scene would have Jones dying in the rubble of the Dead Scorpion's base near the remains the Scarred One when the being (referred to as The Voice during development) would speak to the player and presumably meld with Jones.

What followed would have been a campaign very influenced by Silent Hill 4 and Jacob's Ladder. You were essentially going to be trapped on a dream version of the Ice Raven which would act as a HUB for Jones to access bizarre portals through time and space. Five planets were to be accessed at different timelines, including an Incident era Xidia and a Na Pali from the future.


The SH4 thing is what I had in my head when I read of the weird stuff that was going on inside the ship as mentioned in the original RD premise - some sort of horror-style crash bandicoot warp room to five different worlds. I suppose this also counts for those levels that you made some people like me test (I actually forgot if it was one map or three, I just remember the ship) because I clearly remember some weird stuff like an ancient-themed passage located right out of nowhere in a large area of the ship - and that made me wonder if I was actually playing RD.

Honestly though, if the BFNP maps would be released under RD in a very different form, I wouldn't mind a separate release of them like how they were intended to be originally.
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User avatar Hellscrag
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 04 Apr 2017, 00:30

Mister_Prophet wrote:The second level I wanted to use was a dark level set inside a sort of coastal, water logged area with a ruin set in the center atop an island and an ancient pier along the border. You've seen screenshots of parts of this level I'm sure. The idea was cool and I had wanted Jones to access the ruin via swimming. The problem with this level was that it was designed with distance fog in mind, so it would also need distance fog to maintain the scope. Also, the mapper (think this might have been Waffnuffly) did not add borders to the water limit (I requested walls or slopes but they were never made, and I never had the time to make them). In general it was another map made without a sense of gameplay, much like Hellscrag. I need to emphasize how difficult it is to inherit another mapper's work with significant content made yet done so with little freedom to add gameplay.


I think the map you're referring to here is my coastal fortress map, although I can see why you might think of it as being in Waff's style in comparison to The Last Fortress. Really, my two levels were the only BfNP levels that were close to being complete, with the possible exception of fashahhh's icy vale.

To put some of these comments into some kind of context, the icy town was intended to be the first map of BfNP and was designed entirely as an idyllic exploration map. You would have stocked up on gear and seen the Nali families of the town (men, women and children) going about their daily business. In the third map you would have returned home from an errand to find the town utterly destroyed, thus providing the player character with his motivation to begin his quest (aided, apparently, by the ghost of his dead Nali housemate).

The coastal fortress did have a gameplay sequence planned but it was not yet implemented. Possibly the combat would have been fairly trad / static compared to what I would attempt now in a post-VVV project. It wouldn't take an awful lot of work to finish the map off, but I might have to back off from some of the node-busting detail a little and find a way to manage without the distance fog.

I also made an unlit partial temple interior that was pretty awesome.

Honestly, I would be glad for what I generally consider to be my best mapping work (and has been frustratingly locked away for years) to see some kind of release. If there would be any interest in seeing my two maps get some kind of standalone release then maybe I will see what I can do. I can't promise that it would happen too soon though!
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 04 Apr 2017, 20:37

Hellscrag wrote:Honestly, I would be glad for what I generally consider to be my best mapping work (and has been frustratingly locked away for years) to see some kind of release. If there would be any interest in seeing my two maps get some kind of standalone release then maybe I will see what I can do. I can't promise that it would happen too soon though!

I do not think that anyone would be opposed to that! A kind of alternative take of what would be in Residual Decay would be certainly interesting. Also, being different in setting, it would be definitely way more interesting than the case of Hourances double package that appeared in Xidia and ONP, for example.

I am so relieved that I am not the only one who always struggles with the node count. It is funny to read about these kind of development issues, having experienced them all by myself as well.

@Prophet: If I understood correctly, you abandoned the mindtrip-through-5-worlds-theme? What does replace it - a "real" experience with a continuous path, like its predecessors?
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User avatar Mister_Prophet
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 04 Apr 2017, 22:46

editor Dave wrote:
Hellscrag wrote:
@Prophet: If I understood correctly, you abandoned the mindtrip-through-5-worlds-theme? What does replace it - a "real" experience with a continuous path, like its predecessors?


I went through a few transitions. Ultimately I felt the original idea was 1) too much, just way too much for Unreal Engine 1 and 2) the more content that was made for it became almost awkward, since there is something disappointing about a saga of levels with action sequences and richly detailed locales that "doesn't really happen."

So the followup idea that replaced it had Jones traveling to these worlds in a style very similar to Unreal 2, though through actual portals. (this part of the story was fixed on inter-dimensional travel).

With the story change we dropped a few concepts, but we replaced those concepts with new things that would have made for even more work. We needed new pawns, dozens of new weapon models (Jones would be a more tactical shooter protagonist, with limited weapon slots, grenades, melee options, and a collision detection system. This is also when I introduced the imprinter system, which would have been a synthetic attachment to Jones's hand that would have been used in various combat situations as well as puzzle solving...but this was also dropped. This was besides the other things we were announcing publicly, like post processing effects, HUB-travels systems, that stuff.

Ultimately, the more people dropped off the project and the more content just didn't get made I began to draw back to the point where enough years went by and I just decided that I generally dislike the state of shooters and longed or something closer to what Unreal was. Unreal just being Unreal became more and more alluring than the stuff I was trying to do.
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 05 Apr 2017, 01:49

UBerserker wrote:
The SH4 thing is what I had in my head when I read of the weird stuff that was going on inside the ship as mentioned in the original RD premise - some sort of horror-style crash bandicoot warp room to five different worlds. I suppose this also counts for those levels that you made some people like me test (I actually forgot if it was one map or three, I just remember the ship) because I clearly remember some weird stuff like an ancient-themed passage located right out of nowhere in a large area of the ship - and that made me wonder if I was actually playing RD.


The level (or levels, depending on who was that lucky) that were handed around to certain members of the forum and also through USP chat would be an early version of Savage Land's first map (or second), started in late 2013-early 2014 if I recall. Definitely "new" material and unrelated to any previous RD mappage (the map in question, the ship/ruin HUB was made in 2006). What you saw was an early version of a ship hull torn open from a crash landing, wedging a Terran vessel into an ancient Na Pali city.

UBerserker wrote:Honestly though, if the BFNP maps would be released under RD in a very different form, I wouldn't mind a separate release of them like how they were intended to be originally.


This seems more and more likely a reasonable thing as years continue, since much that I could use would need to be remade or updated heavily. If the original authors want to come together and salvage a pack from what Hellscrag has in storage, I'd be as excited to see it as anyone.
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 06 Apr 2017, 22:51

Mister_Prophet wrote: If the original authors want to come together and salvage a pack from what Hellscrag has in storage, I'd be as excited to see it as anyone.


Me too but, well :(
We're still in an era without Firestorm and TCO released - where at least one should be released the state it is now because one ending map seems to never get finished after several years, feels like waiting for nothing at all.
RD at least really didn't go anywhere so that's perfectly excusable.

Also yeah Unreal being Unreal is the best of the best; since there's so few of it now might as well focus as much as possible to the game's original core. We always miss it.


EDIT: 72000th post of the forum.
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 07 Apr 2017, 18:52

I bet, even if you say you want to establish more of the Unreal feeling, it will still feel fresh because of your own take on level design!
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 09 Apr 2017, 00:57

I wouldn't say Residual Decay hasn't gone anywhere. Quite the opposite actually, I learned a great deal about the core of what made Unreal the game it was in the years making levels for the game, as well as a heck of a whole lot about my own tastes on the shooter genre.

I guess I feel comfortable with the decisions I've made, like scaling back on the ambition and things, simply because I know I've made my contributions already. I've made DM levels for UT, made my contributions to SP, and even though my latest projects have been delayed I managed to find ways to "help" the community otherwise. I don't feel as if the games I like age the way they do for other people and I suppose I don't think of things in terms of time limits and anxieties like that. That might frustrate some folks, I guess. But I've always tried to encourage others who like Unreal and stick around these forums to stop waiting for others to make for them and to do what I did and just teach myself to be creative with the tools at my disposal.

I'd like to say I've tried to help other SP projects along, in my own way. Really thought I was pushing Firestorm with all those story logs I wrote for the project and the testing I did, but ego is a part of the equation folks. The same way the course of RD is closest to my chest and ultimately my choice, the same is true for the guys helming the other projects in development limbo.
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 09 Apr 2017, 12:13

Yo, the next monthly thread will be ready for April 11th
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 09 Apr 2017, 12:38

I'll be posting something later today (will edit this post if no one else posts first), just wanted to say that this is a fantastic thread, great to read you all, I love this community, and of course things Unreal-related continue on my side too, alongside many other things :)

EDIT: got caught up with real life stuff - I'll post on the evening of the 10th, so before the 11th kicks in with the new thread.
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 10 Apr 2017, 13:37

Definetly a good read here. Great thread!

I remember one of the first custom UT maps was Prophets DM-AbsoluteZero, and while now I can see how it could've been improved, all the way I was rocking to that umx tune and looking around the whole map going"woah that's a pretty cool trap there" "what is that guy doing outside? I never seen him before". That map inspired me to start learning mapping. (This was around 2011 I believe).
7 bullets blew me pretty much the same way that DM map did (I tried it in 2013). Great stuff all around!
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 10 Apr 2017, 15:43

Yay, new faces on this thread. \o/
Mister_Prophet wrote:I'd like to say I've tried to help other SP projects along, in my own way. Really thought I was pushing Firestorm with all those story logs I wrote for the project and the testing I did, but ego is a part of the equation folks. The same way the course of RD is closest to my chest and ultimately my choice, the same is true for the guys helming the other projects in development limbo.

I did not know you were involved in Firestorm with the "lyrical" content, interesting. I know first hand how imaginative your way of writing is when you spiced up the written elements of Unforchers, that was pretty awesome! I also have to agree with the ego part: I too want the final iteration of Unforchers to be the best I am capable of and somehow time just passes by so fast. :lol:
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Subject: Re: The Jones Saga: "Xidia Gold, Na Pali Haven Redux, 7 Bullets, Residual Decay"

Post Posted: 10 Apr 2017, 17:10

UnrealGecko wrote: Definetly a good read here. Great thread!

I remember one of the first custom UT maps was Prophets DM-AbsoluteZero, and while now I can see how it could've been improved, all the way I was rocking to that umx tune and looking around the whole map going"woah that's a pretty cool trap there" "what is that guy doing outside? I never seen him before". That map inspired me to start learning mapping. (This was around 2011 I believe).
7 bullets blew me pretty much the same way that DM map did (I tried it in 2013). Great stuff all around!


Wow, that is going back! All I remember about that map is that I found a cool music track, had just discovered the 2d shape editor, and was enamored with the UTtech packages. Maybe my 2nd map for UT? Or third? don't recall. I know one of the first three was an arena map styled like Morbias.
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