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Re: == Version 7.0 [10-31-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 08 Nov 2017, 00:42
by UBerserker
Yeah I finished on Unreal difficulty. Comments on certain maps:

Map 3
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Map 6
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Map 7
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Map 8
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Map 9
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Map 10
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Map 11
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Doom Arena is saved for last in this post.

Map 14
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Map 15
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Map 16
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Re: == Version 7.0 [10-31-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 08 Nov 2017, 06:14
by Buff Skeleton
Good thoughts on Map 12, which clearly was a controversial update (at least in your experience). Thanks for the writeup! I'm working on making it clearer what you have to do to beat the level.

The reason I only had messages refer to it as a "bioweapon" is because:

1) Canonically, no one knows what any of these creatures they're facing are actually called; names like Superb Charger and Demon Skaarj Lord are just gaming abstractions.
2) It's not a Superb Charger on Easy or Medium, but a Psycho / Ultra Charger (respectively), so lower skill levels aren't subjected to insta-death-on-contact if they make mistakes while trying to deal with the thing.

I agree with you that level design, for any game, should present clear, unwritten cues on what needs to be done to progress. Ideally, if someone doesn't want to read text, or is illiterate or doesn't speak the language, they should still be able to figure out how to proceed. Ideally.

Figuring out how to communicate the intended goal (drop the enemy into a dumpster) non-verbally is tricky, though. I do have some ideas, however!

I think one clue I might do for the bioweapon containment goal is barring access to the map proper until you get a key, and the key is found only in a specific dumpster right by the gate. As soon as you jump or translocate into it, the lid shuts, but not all the way since it has pipes sticking out. You're then able to translocate out of the dumpster. This would establish the idea that those dumpster lids can be closed and aren't just static decorations. From there, it's a bit more reasonable to expect a player to put two and two together and decide to lure the unkillable bioweapon into a dumpster where it will be stuck and unable to pursue you. Sound fair?

The secondary and tertiary goals are a bit trickier. Once you contain the bioweapon, the demon commander charged with destroying you arrives to do so personally since his original plan failed. You have to kill him in order for him to drop his keycard, which then allows you to open the shipping container with the Tachyon Driver. Once you get that, the third goal is to survive the ensuing onslaught and blast open the doors to exit the level.

Expressing this without any written cues is difficult, if not practically impossible. Ideas? I'm not even sure if it's clear to new players that the busted doors ARE the exit, and thus they have to find a way to get through them. Not unless they read the log next to it and figure that out.

If nothing else, I could have broadcast messages appear when you kill the commander telling you that the container is now accessible, and again when you get the 'Driver, saying that you should now be able to blast open the busted doors. Anyone who's played Unreal will know where the original level exit was, but in EXU, that's not a guaranteed progress path, so even veterans could be confused by that without some more guidance. And that still isn't a non-verbal means of establishing the goal, yet it may be the best I can do.

Having the commander drop a keycard you have to pick up seems like a bit of an unnecessarily messy solution as well, so instead I'll just have the shipping container sealed with a soul lock rather than a keycard (i.e. as long as the commander is alive, only he can open it, and thus killing him automatically unlocks the container). I'll add messaging by the container indicating as much.

Now, as for the gameplay...

I'm honestly surprised it gave you so much trouble given what you've put together in G59. The gameplay itself is fairly straightforward: fight in a large combat arena. The objectives may be somewhat complex, but the fighting is not.

Going outside the arena itself never seemed any more dangerous to me than staying inside. Also, there are armor crates -- did you not find those? They have an infinite supply of armor you can use and reuse as often as you like. And enemies have a decent chance of dropping armor, health, and ammo as well, plus the occasional flare. You can survive indefinitely if you are really good at using the environment to your advantage and staying on the move, which was the idea behind this map.

I'll give you that Shrapnel Mercs are pretty mean, but they are easy to kill and have a limited effective range. The fact that you run into so many of them in Telefire just means that you're getting further into the demons' strongholds, where the enemy selection is more optimized for the area they're defending. I never had a huge issue with them in Telefire since they were expected around every corner. They are also much weaker on Easy and Medium (firing fewer projectiles per shot).

Advanced Skaarj Assassins are definitely fuckers, but they are meant to be. They're tough, and they have fast-firing, hard-hitting projectiles. But they're distinct that way -- you always know when one is around because subtlety isn't their thing. They're big, have green eyes, and are mechanical Skaarj with white "blood" (think the fluid in the androids in Alien[s]), which is not a common combination in EXU. They're also very rare. I did make them a bit rarer, though.

I also see your point about Tachyon Chargers seeming like THEY could be the bioweapon in question, so I've made them extremely rare instead (and removed them on Easy and Medium). They're mainly meant to give you a small panic attack if you see one, which is exactly the kind of evil dickery that Unreal difficulty SHOULD be full of, no? If you play on Unreal, you're asking for the toughest resistance available. Expect the unexpected; the game will keep you on your toes.

As for the enemy presence being absolutely fucked, that's kind of the point. I do understand that it was probably pretty hectic dealing with all of them while also trying to figure out how to deal with a Superb Charger, but making you shit your pants is EXACTLY what EXU2 on Unreal should be doing! Had you known what to do with the Superb because of better level design clues (which I'm working on), dealing with the enemies probably wouldn't have seemed so overwhelming. Most of the enemies are pretty weak on their own, so unless you get mobbed, you don't have much to worry about. If you DO get mobbed, just go somewhere else and regroup. Enemies will end up spreading themselves thin just trying to find you, and you can go pick them off and drag the Superb to a dumpster.

That said, I DID reduce the spawn rates for the mechanical enemies that are present while the Superb is loose. Once you bin it, though, the enemy presence multiplies, as do the spawn rates, and none of it slows down from there. I'm not planning to make any adjustments to that, either -- when the biggest threat is secure, you have to focus back on the battle and getting the fuck out of there.

v7.1 should have some pretty sizable map improvements, but don't expect the actual combat to be a lot easier on Unreal difficulty. If you can't handle it, there's always Hard ;)

Re: == Version 7.0 [10-31-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 08 Nov 2017, 14:54
by UBerserker
I'm fairly sure it was those Advanced Assassins the only reason why going outside was prohibitive - it's like the Shrapnel Merc, there's that one creature type who has a massively better kill potential than anyone else around, the catch here being the monster in question having 5000 HP (that HP amount was the mid-to-late game G59 standard, when Clusterfucker/RFPC were to the point of becoming regular weapons) and appearing almost all the time. I wouldn't mind the rest of the level being untouched in terms of difficulty but those guys need to go or need a serious nerf. Skaarj Fiends are supposed to be strongest Skaarj Warrior ground units.

As for the bioweapon thing I wouldn't say the issue was the enemy being defined "bioweapon" exactly. The player will surely figure out it's a strong Charger due to the loud sound clue they hear after a while.
Now I didn't know you could face a different type of Charger in lower difficulties but at least I'm assuming only one pops up. I directly played Doom Arena on Unreal difficulty and I had no idea that a secondary Charger for purely player harass would appear alongside the main objective. This was a big source of confusion - you might want to have always only one Charger in every difficulty. For the record the Tachyon one somehow did a better job chasing me around compared to the SuperbCharger, another factor that led me to believe it was the true objective.

The first goal idea seems good enough. It's hard to imagine for a newbie that the dumpster lid is a mover, they'll think it's standard decoration considering all the metal/wooden stuff you find in the level.
For the second goal I'd say these three things
  1. The message about the keycard + weapon stash should be put in a more visible spot, maybe alongside the other one inside the arena. The current position is too random, hard to spot, and in a more dangerous area. I only spotted it very late in the level.
  2. A better clue about where the weapon stash is located - it's one of those red crates and I'm sure I saw more than one in the level (there are two in front of the arena entrance). Doubt it's necessary though since if you can climb the top of the arena, that would be likely important.
  3. When the Demon forces come, I'm assuming Seraphim would figure that out and at least alert you that a squad with their commander is coming, through on-screen message. By reading one of the Hellbooks the players should know they'd be looking for a commander who has a keycard. Maybe something should pinpoint the fact that defeating the commander would be a victory for the player and Seraphim I guess.

The third goal I never thought about it that could be an issue too. Like it's pretty weird that you need a weapon like the Tachyon to blast a bunch of wooden doors to begin with, and something like some sort of "HIT HERE" target reticle overlays on the objects is shoddy workaround. Oh, well, Seraphim could be useful again with another on-screen text message, saying something like "blast your way to the exit"

Re: == Version 7.0 [10-31-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 08 Nov 2017, 15:30
by Buff Skeleton
UBerserker wrote:Skaarj Fiends are supposed to be strongest Skaarj Warrior ground units.

You're referring specifically to this map, right, and not EXU as a whole? In which case yeah, that's true, except the Fiends here are special since they have vastly more HP than usual and come in a squad.

One-off Adv. Skaarj Assassins really are not that hard to deal with. Use cover, use flares, use shit canisters / lasers / successive Hell Gun blasts and they go down pretty quickly. You can also stun the shit out of them! The only thing available that kills Fiends quickly is the Tachyon Driver, and you don't get that until AFTER the captain is dead. The Fiend squad is also a bit more stun-resistant than usual.

The Assassins also only have one attack, whereas the Fiends have multiple different kinds that they will use with some randomization, but also based on combat conditions, making them more effective. Assassins are predictable, while Fiends aren't so much. Assassins rely on pure brute force, and you can easily outdo them at that game with the arsenal you have by that point.

You might want to have always only one Charger in every difficulty.

That's pretty much the route I took, except they can still appear on Hard or Unreal, just not as often as before. They were rare to begin with, though, so it's possible you would never even see a single one in a given playthrough. They are also quite killable, which is a distinct difference from the real objective. When you shoot the real one, you get the invincibility effects which are pretty obvious, and there is messaging telling you (multiple times now) that you can't kill it. Tachyon Chargers are chumps and go down easy against sustained Hell Gun fire, especially if they are on the arena floor and you're on the roof.

A better clue about where the weapon stash is located - it's one of those red crates and I'm sure I saw more than one in the level (there are two in front of the arena entrance).

Yeah, I realized that having multiple red shipping containers made the important one look less significant, so I made the sealed one the ONLY red one. It's also got more obvious hell glyphs all over the locked door now, and you can spot those a mile off once you're on the roof. Should make it pretty clear which crate is important.

When the Demon forces come, I'm assuming Seraphim would figure that out and at least alert you that a squad with their commander is coming, through on-screen message.

Good idea. They congratulate you on containing the charger once you get it in the dumpster, but don't warn you about retaliation. They could drop a hint about seeing dropships on radar heading toward you and that should be pretty clear. Even though the captain and his buddies spawn from a puff of smoke (so to speak) instead of via a landing craft (as does the bioweapon), that should help clarify what's happening.

Like it's pretty weird that you need a weapon like the Tachyon to blast a bunch of wooden doors to begin with

Hah, tell me about it. Trying to justify that in my head was difficult. The best explanation is the doors are enchanted in some way (like most structures in hell), which is the only real reason you can't just obliterate the entire arena with the arsenal you have on hand. It's not like wooden boxes and flimsy metal shipping containers hold up to high explosives in real life. I think I'll rewrite the log by those doors indicating that they aren't your usual wooden slabs, and they gave the engineers trying to excavate them a really hard time.

Re: == Version 7.0 [10-31-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 15 Nov 2017, 00:42
by UBerserker
So turns out the DemonSkaarjLord/DemonKrallElite/SkaarjFiend other attacks are difficulty-based. Had this SkaarjFiend subclass who could only shoot on Medium difficulty the typical pentagrams no matter what was his Skill property, making me think the AI decisions are fully attached to the in-game difficulty (even if the code calls Skills). Any quick way to force them to use other attacks on all difficulties or it's coding change time there too?

EDIT: ok what are the pawns that have multi-attacks, seems like there are more than just those

Re: == Version 7.0 [10-31-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 17 Nov 2017, 07:05
by Buff Skeleton
Skill is set by the GameInfo when the level first loads. Setting it in the defaults probably isn't working since it's most likely being reset right away. If you set the skill to 3.0 in UED, then load it up on Medium difficulty, do an EditActor Class=<pawnclass> and see what the Skill shows as right there ingame. It'll probably be 1.0 then.

So, to fix that, you'd need to force Skill to something else in PostBeginPlay(), which is called after the GameInfo does its thing. That would then enable all attacks on all difficulties. And yeah, you'd need a custom subclass for that.

Re: == Version 7.0 [10-31-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 22 Nov 2017, 13:15
by UBerserker
God damn I just noticed now the ASSSquad actor, seems quite way beyond Unreal's gameplay standards in terms of how advanced it is. Though from what I get this generally works on large areas and it's more suited for CA? None of the BI levels make use of it yet.

Re: == Version 7.0 [10-31-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 26 Nov 2017, 04:10
by Buff Skeleton
Back from holiday! I'll try to finish up v7.1 this week if at all possible. All I need to do at this point is finish up an auxiliary segment in Map 12 (Doom Arena) which is designed to better illustrate the gameplay mechanics required to advance the level, and that is already almost done.

Re: == Version 7.0 [10-31-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 27 Nov 2017, 15:13
by UBerserker
Request for v7.1: can you give all the BI Shadow pawns (Skaarj/Manta/Squid and I guess Sludge Crawler also counts?) an immunity against a unique shadow-related damage? It's for something I have planned, I want to avoid creating vanilla pawn subclasses for just adding this immunity.

Re: == Version 7.0 [10-31-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 27 Nov 2017, 23:50
by Buff Skeleton
Yeah I can do that. I'm probably going to need a dedicated damage type for them based on later plans for fleshing out that line.

Re: == Version 7.0 [10-31-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 04 Dec 2017, 05:57
by Buff Skeleton
Update: v7.1 is still coming very soon; I've just had a few minor setbacks with some changes to Map 12 that required rebuids, then subsequent BSP-error-busting, and I've found some issues with logs in other maps I've corrected (word choice, grammar, typos, etc).

I think I have Map 12 under control now and need to test it, then fix up the messaging in the maps that need it, and then it should be ready!

Re: == Version 7.0 [10-31-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 05 Dec 2017, 07:52
by Buff Skeleton
Patch is ready. Gonna just do some quick tests tomorrow to ensure I didn't break anything, then upload!

Re: == Version 7.1 [12-5-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 05 Dec 2017, 18:05
by Buff Skeleton
v7.1 is here! ... fMs18WcbB2

Full package upload is commencing, but you can get the patch right here, right now.

Re: == Version 7.1 [12-5-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 11 Dec 2017, 01:32
by Semfry
Overall the general issues I recall having in the ancient version are fixed (on Medium, which I'm pretty sure I played it on then too); I remember running into a lot of little things that added up to major flow issues when together, but all the little tweaks have added together to fix most of that. Overall I found the balance and design fine, so what issues I had are related to a few specific levels/segments (ignoring the issues I've already reported on Discord). I played 7.0 up to Realm of Corruption and was on 7.1 from that map.

My main frustrations were in the Doom House+Realm of Corruption (though it wasn't as bad there) levels. The constant Demon Slith splitting into Demon Pupae who are only reasonably killable in numbers at that point with the Shitgun (which is kind of slow due to needing to not risk self-damage and also tends to throw survivors into obnoxious positions), or flares. The enemies spawning in behind all the time exacerbates that, as you're getting picked away at by the trash spawning behind while you're trying to deal with the trash in front of you. I found it a slog of grinding through the hordes of meat that took longer to die than they should due to your somewhat clunky tools for dealing with them at that point. Realm of Corruption isn't as bad because it only applies to the starting area (plus there's that Firestorm Generator), but it's similar there. The fact that you got the Hellgun a couple of levels ago and then your cool new gun doesn't work on the main enemies it would be great on doesn't help.

On that note it feels like the Shadow levels could come a little earlier as with a few tweaks they could basically be a tailor-made Hellgun tutorial; with a miniboss or two and a message to hint at the damage stack they could show you everything. I mean the bridge level already kind of does this (as far as the AOE goes) but honestly the Shadow levels in their current form could probably replace it or something.

Gauntlet of Pain was a bit repetitive in structure with the endless wave fights but I think I'm okay with it as a one-off style shift. Despite my issues with it covered in discord Doom Arena was the most impressive remake to me, and is almost a new level in many ways.

Those are my basic thoughts after finishing it; I might have some more later.

Re: == Version 7.1 [12-5-2017] Discussion ==

Posted: 19 Dec 2017, 04:30
by jaypeezy
Good job with the new pawns/AI in v7! The Jolt Charger is a nice new addition, pretty powerful but still reasonably weak to certain attacks. However, a weird bug I've noticed in some DeathMatch SP games using this pawn (Monsterspawn, etc.) is that every now and then, when it kills other players, those kills go to the last player that either attacked it or were killed by it (I'm not sure which). I'll see if I can get a video of this happening some time this week.

This is a total shot in the dark but I wonder if it's due to a specific section of the code for the pawn in the TakeDamage() function. I tried looking for this line in the source code for other entities and it only appears here, and in some decorations - couldn't find it in other pawns:

Code: Select all

function TakeDamage( int Damage, Pawn instigatedBy, vector HitLocation, vector Momentum, name damageType)
   local rotator HitDirection;

   Super.TakeDamage( Damage, instigatedBy, HitLocation, Momentum, damageType );
   if( bPauseDamage || instigatedBy==Self )
   else if( DamageType=='Pulsed' )
      bSuperSplode = False;
      if( FRand() < 0.25 )
         Damage *= randrange(1.25, 1.5);
   else if( DamageType=='Jolted' )
      bSuperSplode = True;
      Damage *= 2;

   bPauseDamage = True;
   SetMTimer(0.05, False, 0);   // Helps prevent runaway loop chain reactions
   HitDirection = rotator(HitLocation - Location);
   MinimalSplurt( HitLocation + VRand() * 5, HitDirection );

   // is this it? causing latest victim to be instigator, claim kills of the joltcharger in DeathMatch
   if( instigatedBy!=None )
      Instigator = instigatedBy;
   // end suspected line
   JoltHealth -= Damage;
   if( JoltHealth<=0 )
      JoltHealth = StartingJoltHealth;
      JoltSplurt( HitLocation + VRand() * 10, HitDirection );