Birds fly. Sun shines. And brother? Brutes shoot people.

The Last Fortress - FINAL Released!

The archive for the 8th Anniversary Speedmapping Contest entries and discussion.

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User avatar Legendslayer222
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Post Posted: 04 Aug 2009, 11:36

Yay! Time to go & play it.

*Spoilers ahead*

Weird, this is the smallest download so far (except for the 6-hour sppedmaps), I though it would be huge.

Hehehe, I like the artillery canno--

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Ok, when they use the cannon I don't like it.

Haha, Titan is just beating up the Skaarj!

Lost, going round in circles, hey another cannon--

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This is a hard map......

Great fun though, starting like it's the last map in a big pack with some most of the weapons at your disposal, then leaping into the most bloodshed orientated map ever!!

User avatar UBerserker
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Post Posted: 04 Aug 2009, 11:47

God guys you suck. Aside finding the right road, this map has become another cakewalk :shy: But the gameplay is perfect, and so the design of this map. Bye bye Ortican!
There are too many SK-6 rockets and ammo.
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User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Post Posted: 04 Aug 2009, 12:36

UBerserker wrote:God guys you suck.
...


Hey, coming from you I take that as a compliment 8)
Seriously, the map is hard, but only if you rush into things. The path is relatively straightforward if you use your eyes and read the occasional messages properly.
The enemies on and around the bridge are not easy but I killed most using only the DP, there's enough cover around. The snipers are taken care of with the EightBall, just advance slowly and look at the windows.
Once inside the courtyard things become more difficult but that's when the sniperrifle comes in handy - not only to kill but to look far ahead (and up).

As mentioned before - the boss was frigging hard to me but considering the amount of ammo (rockets) and shield, it's still feasible (although still so difficult it puts a blemish on gameplay - thanks Waff for taking this into account).


Mind you, I played on Medium - Unreal will be for when I finish all the other maps in the contest.

User avatar UBerserker
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Post Posted: 04 Aug 2009, 13:30

Magnificent. Wonderful. Absolutely superb.

For a work like this done in six weeks, I'm finally IMPRESSED. For real, this time. Especially for this behemoth that's better than all the "single" maps reviewed at USP (this includes the STR and the Ortican-ASMDtroopers-butstillawesomethough thing). And even better than 50% of the small campaigns out there.

Anyway, let's go here. No, it's not perfect, but it is very close. Coming from you, I'd expect something awesome, but this totally blown me out.
I don't think it's useful saying how much cool is there, like nuking groups of Skaarj, fighting groups of Skaarj without nukes yet making it without problems, good sniping-blade battles, going through all the castle, etc... ok ok you got it.
Since the staircase problem has been already covered... yeah, climbing them is pretty hard. There's one chain and I had to think how to jump on the nearby ledge. Also, the last rope (leading to the two Skaarj Lords) has the wooden cylinder-thing which is very annoying: you have to jump otherwise those Skaarj will kill you in their ways.

Oh yeah, there's also a section which I haven't visited. It's all dark (regarding this: the map is a bit dark and I had to increase the brightness) and it is behind an iron fence, near the beginning of the fortress' courtyard. Am I supposed to go here? There's some stuff like a message and a Nali Healing Fruit.

Oh yeah, the Stone Titans. Aside being satisfying if you kill them (yay for DP spamming!), they are a borefest and pose no threat. Time wasters at best. No, I don't want any health increase, but... they could have done something else, like partecipating in a scripted sequence.
I think this is engine-related, but the first Titan left a pool of blood when he died (which never happens) and some seconds after, pop. Disappeared, weird.

Didn't have any problem with the ambushes, except the one with the wooden bridge. Those Skaarj Gunners with the SK6 over the tower behind you are real nuisance. You're forced to kill them, otherwise you can't do anything. Actually, all the Skaarj with the SK6 are nuisances (like the one over the first Skaarj-ified tower.
Also, the Skaarj behind the windows in the first section of the game are typical cowards, and I am not even able to kill them (I never managed to kill them, actually). Same for some other Skaarj Warriors that remained over the walls and never did anything. I WANT TO KILL THEM ALL, EFF.

The SK6Behemoths were freaking awesome. I chuckled at the explosions of the rockets. Rough stuff. Other ambushes were nuked. Yeah, there are also a lot of SK6 rockets. They are really useful for the Skaarj groups, saving some time against the Titans, but most of all, the retarded & cool final boss. I went up here with 19 rockets. They should be decreased a little.
Decreased like the health of the boss. That's the only thing which makes him a decent threat. Otherwise, he's lost. He's really easy to hit when he's inside the tower, as he get stuck for a while, shooting single rockets (easily avoidable if you're outside) and laughing/pointing. Time for missile spam. Predictable also when you're out of the tower - mortar time.
Then I ended him with all the blades I had and with some Flak shells. But how the match was ended was totally fucking amazing x10. He's still tame though, so much that the health decrease wouldn't be needed. The problem is that if a player is in short of ammo, he'll have a tough time really. Depends on you, but a health decrease would be nice.

The ending was totally win, and even the story. Basically, this very polished map greatly excels at every freaking category. You got me now.
Now it is time... to see the rest.
Last edited by UBerserker on 05 Aug 2009, 14:36, edited 1 time in total.
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User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Post Posted: 04 Aug 2009, 14:16

jackrabbit wrote:I don't agree with how the gameplay was executed within the map itself (...) I do understand that you were under pressure from guys like UBerserker to make your contest map to the level of EXU standards. I think this is where the map is fundamentally flawed (trying to make a classic 'Unreal' themed map under EXU standards).

I'm gonna have to disagree here. The only pressure I was under was the time limit, not trying to please anyone. By "EXU standards" I only meant standards of gameplay balance, not style. The design choices I made were my own and very, very deliberate. I didn't want to make a huge, geometrically-rich map that would take a lot of my time to build only for it to be playable in under an hour without much resistance. I wanted replay value and challenge. I wanted every little area to be playable, not just explorable. Some maps are exploration maps; some are combat maps. To say that this map is flawed by design just because you don't like the choices I made is a bit of an unfair statement, don't you think? How would you have done it differently? There's very little potential to make an all-outdoor map like this an exploration map. It's an entirely different setting than, say, Harobed or Dusk Falls. There IS some exploration, but that's mostly just there to resupply the player for further engagements.

This map is a lot like Demon Crater in that, relative to its size, it's jam-packed with combat. The only even remotely EXU-like shit in this map is the SK-6, and I didn't make that for the sake of being overpowered (tried my best to balance it in line with the other guns even), I made it because the Biorifle would have been absolutely terrible in a map like this (especially with tons of enemies). And I wanted something new and different. Can we please just stop referencing this map to EXU? EXU is definitely not the only kind of stuff I can make; I'm not a one-trick pony here. It's just what I spend most of my time on. TLF and EXU are completely different ballgames. Anyway,

UB: glad you liked it. I think I will indeed remove some of the SK-6 ammo from near the end and middle of the map to make it more of a rarity on Unreal, forcing you to be more careful with the ammo. And I'm working on tweaking the final boss so he doesn't take so long to kill on Unreal and Hard. On Medium he was just right, but then again I was blazing through that for testing purposes and left about half of the health available in the map behind.

Also, that dark area near the grain silos is just a place you can explore if you need supplies. There's a couple of ways to get there.

User avatar jackrabbit
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Post Posted: 04 Aug 2009, 19:18

I still have yet to replay your map (I'm leaving for 3 day vacation in 1 hour so I won't be able to play it again until the weekend). Feelings for the map could indeed change for me.......

and yes, what I said about the map being built under EXU standards was assumption and not fact. I was only making an educated guess of what was creating that rough "gameplay vs. geometry" I did speak of. It could have simply been time constraints and nothing else. I can't argue that because I can't read minds!

User avatar Jblade
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Post Posted: 04 Aug 2009, 19:59

Awesome stuff! My unreal skills have dropped alot so I had difficulty in this map even on Medium, but that's nobody's fault but myself. I'm glad I didn't spoil the ending:
Having the Ion Cannon seamlessly interact with the skybox was amazing. Definitly beats out the meteorite crashing in ONP. I loved the story idea of the scientist putting loads of backdoors both physically and technically into the work for his badass Nali friend to use.

The cannon was insanely cool; getting killed by it was a pain since it's near enough unavoidable but since you get to use it back it's makes it all better. I DID have problems finding the chains and stuff though, but I'm just echoing what's already been said. I read the WIP topic and you were definitly struggling tooth and nail against the engine so it's even more of a respectable map because of that.

User avatar Semfry
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Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009, 01:57

I made Uberserker's image a link since it spoils the twist.

Finally did the rest. I had to replay it too due to going over my save accidentally.

The overall scale and theme is very ambitious and pulled off well, the "location twist" was also done very well.

My earlier issues still hold throughout the map, also, at the third (at least on normal) Stonetitan on the battlements if you jump off to the right on the bit approaching it you can get stuck between a castle wall and the slope of the mountains on the edge of the level. I'm still not too sure on those window Skaarj even hearing they're supposed to be tough, I find it sort of odd to have one of the first enemy types you encounter be one of the most dangerous (and only be present at the start and not later).

I found the wooden bridge crossing was kind of frustrating; with how huge the fortress is finding SK-6 Skaarj is like finding a needle in a haystack. I think a way to help (the warning shot is welcome, but I don't think it's quite enough) would be to modify the SK-6 so that it smokes or glows or something a bit after firing, so you can identify enemies after they've shot. It would also have the bonus of adding more feedback on the "reload" to the player (as opposed to it just not functioning for a few seconds).

The start area until the central part of the fortress is by far the most frenetic part of the map, which leads onto my biggest issue of it almost feeling like two maps in one, and not necessarily in the best way; it turns from a big combat map into a slower-paced climbing map, and it pretty much remains that way (not that the combat is exactly rare even then, but it never matches the starting parts). The almost polar-opposite styles felt kind of jarring to me, although I'm not sure what could be changed outside of bumping up the combat in the latter sections of the map, maybe with some clever use of spawns (and providing the equipment to compensate of course). Admittedly maybe higher difficulty settings change that up a bit.

I think the chains in general are a bit hard to see even in well-lit areas; maybe there should also be some visual element to each one like a mark on the floor/wall or something so that the Player soon catches on that that means a climbable object is near. By extension, since the ladder mechanics are new maybe there could be a subtle "tutorial" for them, like move the start of the level back slightly and make the player climb up a rope to get up a wall. Although I guess the bit where you have to fall in the water sort of counts as that too. I wonder if the ambient light could be bumped up a bit too (although highlights would work fine too), I have no brightness problems on other levels, but I had difficulty seeing ladder objects in the shade even when I was specifically looking for them.

Any other issues I had have already been covered and are apparently being worked on already.

The end was really awe-inspiring and managed to provide a very climatic feel, and, as I said before the approach to combat works well and feels quite original. The SK-6 is also fun to use. I like the level a lot but I think the gameplay feels a little "beta" to me right now, but I guess that's natural for a level this big being released in six weeks.

User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009, 02:14

I see your point about the gameplay. I was planning to have a lot more combat on the upper parts of the map, but just didn't have time for some of the more ambitious stuff. I wanted Skaarj dropships to dump out squads of troopers or hover in midair, firing at you with their turrets and the Skaarj inside, but I never built a dropship due to time limits. I also planned more Skaarj coming out of the doors (spawning near them) but didn't really fully execute that... yet! I probably won't end up having dropships, but I will have more enemy spawns and patrols on the fortress proper.

Though there's a reason a lot of resistance is right at the start; it's the most defensible part of the whole fortress. You can't beat a huge moat full of windows and sniper nests. Everything else in the map is harder to defend, from the Skaarj perspective, so it makes sense that they'd have tons of resistance down there. I think what I'll do is lower the OddsOfAppearing on some of the snipers (especially in areas where you are really vulnerable, like on the rope after the destroyed bridge) and then add more of the TOUGHER enemies near the end, like more beefed-up Skaarj Lords and Assassins, and more spawns.

Still a lot of work and testing to do. I'm really glad everyone liked the end; I almost chickened out due to time; I could have done something much, much less interesting (even without a proper boss fight). Thankfully Scrag was generous to add 7 hours to the deadline! None, and I mean NONE of the cool stuff in the tower would have been there without that extension. The only stuff I had was the cannon and the obelisk and the floor. Not even those lights were there.

User avatar Semfry
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Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009, 02:31

Waffnuffly wrote:...then add more of the TOUGHER enemies near the end, like more beefed-up Skaarj Lords and Assassins, and more spawns.


I didn't think of that; increasing quality-as opposed to quantity-of enemies as you progress probably is the best approach considering the the later areas are more confined and not so suited for horde combat.

User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009, 02:32

That and there are probably some lesser Skaarj leaders hanging around up there guarding their master. I should make some new skins for a few of them.

User avatar Semfry
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Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009, 02:45

Something I forgot to mention is that I really liked the use of Brutes; considering how underused they are it was nice to see them actually pose some threat for once and be a noteworthy enemy.

User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009, 03:42

That's mostly because I massively upgraded their rockets :P I actually decreased some of their health to make up for that (and make them less tedious to kill).

And for the hard-to-see SK6 guys, I think to combat this I will make the smoke trails from the rockets more dense and last longer so you have a clearer line of where the projectile came from.

User avatar GTD-Carthage
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Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009, 07:01

This was one real good run. :o As usual from most others, I'd probably complain about the difficulty of finding the path at the first part. (I read the way through here. :P )

I could recognize the ion cannon sounds FX too. :tup: ;)

I haven't played anything this grand in a long time. :D

User avatar UBerserker
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Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009, 14:53

Removed the pic. I don't want direct links to my Photoofads account.

I completely disagree about the gameplay being a beta; it's an absurd statement. I would say something like that when you don't test serious balance issues, or when you have an absence of dynamic gameplay or just doesn't offer some kind variety (i.e. Scripted sequences). Or just poorly developed gameplay ideas (Enslaved's last sections, Unreality, Bots in 7B, few parts of Zephon).
The only thing I'd call "beta" (or simply, ignored in comparison to the rest) in this map is the chain climbing.

But yeah, instead of those SK-6 Skaarj, I'd want enchanted pawns that doesn't shoot insta-kill blasts; just as you said, Waff. Few but stronger enemies. I was also disappointed with the iron bridge - I thought I would fight some cool enemy, but the Camping-lover Behemoth simply didn't make it.
Also, it's hard to realize that there are Skaarj behind those windows at the beginning. I only knew they were there due to some info in this thread. Should be a message/something that would warn the player about them (unless I missed it).

With fixing some other bugs that you may find for the compilation release, I think the map is free of any flaws. It was already almost perfectly polished anyway.
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