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Project Xenome : Interloper

For discussion and promotion of Unreal Engine single-player campaigns, mapping projects and total conversions.

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User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 14 Aug 2017, 12:24

Preki wrote:...
Second, more serious remark is about that open-pit mine with big-ass excavator. After smashing a container into a shack and powering up the generator, I couldn't find a way up to the tower! Eventually I saved my game and performed a rocket jump in the cave leading to the area because after half an hour of running around I had enough.
...

That one had me stumped for a long time and I eventually asked for help. It turned out I had actually found the correct path but not the correct method of reaching that path.
hint:
► Show Spoiler

User avatar Preki
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 14 Aug 2017, 19:22

I didn't even think about it, thanks anyway.

As of now I was ambushed by a luminous Skaarj warrior and some Nali rescued me. After walking out of the village I saw the most beautiful skybox in any custom map:
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Still I wonder what are Nali doing on this planet? Honestly I don't buy the idea of Nali living on other planet than their native world. It looked odd in Xidia: Escape. Unless it is explained somehow in later levels or will be in the next episode of Xenome.
Doo dee doo, doo da doo, la doo dee doo.

Im jsut teh Gooby dont minde meh, k?

User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 15 Aug 2017, 04:24

Jesus christ that fight at the end of the first map in Interloper was absolutely awful. Having to fight off swarms of Skaarj Assassins with nothing but two idiot human bots and a turret with next to no ammo and hardly any armor or cover was not the best idea, especially after such a low-key map with mostly just animals for resistance until then. I suggest reducing the spawn rate of the Skaarj for this one, because even on Hard it was basically unplayable compared to every other fight experienced thus far in First Day.

There are also some really annoying jumping puzzles in the first map, made worse by sharp angled geometry that has a habit of punting you out into the slime as soon as you run up next to it (engine fuckery). You can probably reduce the effect by surrounding the sharp edge with tall, narrow BlockAll actors though.

Beyond that, it looks and especially sounds great! I am definitely liking the continuation overall so far, just got to the second map. The atmosphere here is excellent. Really reminds me of Ravenholm from HL2, which was one of my favorite parts of the game.

[Edit] God damn this map is wonderful. I love the atmosphere so, so much. Abandoned industrial stuff is always a thing I've enjoyed, especially after STALKER. The only thing I'd suggest is to reduce the zone light indoors especially and make the map a whole lot darker. It would really help drive the horror vibe.

[Edit2] Finished the second map! Easily my favorite of the series so far. The interconnectedness of the level design is excellent, right out of HL2's best maps. Not to mention a BUCKET WHEEL EXCAVATOR! Amazing work on that thing. Getting to operate it, even in a limited form, was just icing on the cake.

The last mega fight in that area was also interesting, since it encouraged stealth but didn't outright beat you over the head with it, which I liked. I rushed in and died a few times trying to deal with everyone at once, thinking I had to activate some sequence to kill them or escape, but then realized I could just draw them back in small groups to the drainage pipe and kill them from there. It also took me far too long to figure out you had to shoot that pipe to bend the board upwards :lol:
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User avatar UBerserker
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 15 Aug 2017, 13:31

You guys who's still in the early Interloper part are just going to have a lot of fun in the Skaarj section
It's like a glorified Zephon's last map except it's six+ levels long. It's literally the Unreal player's dream.

I don't really remember the first Interloper map to be hard, everything that's after it is way harder. Fighting hordes of Skaarj is the name of the game and everything becomes slightly easier once you figure out how powerful the BioRifle/PulseGun/Ripper are. That said remember you can tell human bots to stay in a certain spot.

Last two maps is where things go a bit over the top difficulty-wise but nothing too frustrating or anything.

Some of the secret areas are really hard to find, few of them require at least shock-jumping and there's a super secret one which requires rocket jumping. However if you find them, power to you.

There's one secret in the last level related to a Shield Belt that seems impossible to get though but that laser area is extremely vague already by itself.
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User avatar jazz
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 16 Aug 2017, 00:03

Buff Skeleton wrote:Jesus christ that fight at the end of the first map in Interloper was absolutely awful. Having to fight off swarms of Skaarj Assassins with nothing but two idiot human bots and a turret with next to no ammo and hardly any armor or cover was not the best idea,


Thx for the feedback.
When taken in context of this pack being a continuation of 'first day' it should make sense. The player has just wasted a Skaarj teleporter with hordes of Skaarj and a couple of bots for support. This is really no different from the end of the level in which the name 'Ambush' suggests. You also have a 50 cal, keg of health, body armour and four health packs to keep you going.

UBerserker wrote:Some of the secret areas are really hard to find, few of them require at least shock-jumping and there's a super secret one which requires rocket jumping. However if you find them, power to you.


I would agree they are hard to find unless you stumble upon them. The hardest of all is in 'Cobalt'.
'On thin ice' is another where it'll stretch your brain thinking of how to get to the goodies. I wonder who will figure that one?

UBerserker wrote:There's one secret in the last level related to a Shield Belt that seems impossible to get though but that laser area is extremely vague already by itself.


This is a tricky one. One of the translator messages in the bottom of that room does mention a 3 to 4 second delay in the beam emitters timing. The shield belt, although possible, is very difficult to get without the emitters getting you. When play testing I managed it once! In that respect you can either keep trying or you can move on.

Hell! You guys seem to have nailed the pack without too much bother, barring a few hiccups. I pulled out the stops to provide everyone with a good few brain-teasers.... I'll have to come up with something truly diabolical for no.3. :twisted:

Whats the point of making things easy.
We have but one world
But we all live in different ones

User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 16 Aug 2017, 01:13

jazz wrote:Thx for the feedback.
When taken in context of this pack being a continuation of 'first day' it should make sense. The player has just wasted a Skaarj teleporter with hordes of Skaarj and a couple of bots for support. This is really no different from the end of the level in which the name 'Ambush' suggests. You also have a 50 cal, keg of health, body armour and four health packs to keep you going.


Eh I'm not saying the fight is thematically out of place or anything like that. I understand this is a direct continuation after a major escalation in the previous couple of maps in First Day. I'm saying the arena is not designed for the volume of enemies you face with the weapons you have, regardless of when it occurs in the gameplay timeline. UT weapons cannot kill that many Skaarj fast enough to not get you completely overwhelmed unless you nail every single one of your shots, which is really hard. Every other fight previously was either in a larger area, had better cover, more provisions, or a combination thereof.

The .50 cal is nice, but it has so much less ammo than you'd need to make it actually useful. At first, I thought the gun was the main gameplay set piece for the fight, and you were meant to stick to it and just hose everyone the fuck down, which would be fun and a reasonable mechanic to use in a small area with loads of enemies. Having a few hundred rounds in it would have been enough to cover probably the entire fight, and it still wouldn't have been easy. But it wouldn't have been unreasonable at all. I think it has, what, 50 rounds right now? Enough to kill MAYBE five or six Skaarj if you are really good at scoring headshots from a turreted weapon which hides your crosshair?

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate a challenge. This one just I think wasn't well thought-out for how tight of an arena it is and for how many Skaarj you get (at once, and over time). It becomes less of an endurance fight and more of hoping the RNG gods are on your side, especially with the friendly bots often being more of a liability than an asset. It's also nearly impossible to get the keg during the combat sequence without taking damage, so unless you notice it right away, it's not going to help you much (or it might make things even worse).

Another thing about the health packs: since they are placed close together, you have to be careful you don't grab both of them by accident if you don't need all 40 points of HP right then and there. So you can accidentally screw yourself later on if you wind up grabbing two at once when you had 79 health. If they are more spread out, you can choose which ones you get more easily (and not have to be careful, and can thus dedicate your attention to the fight). I think it's fine to clump ammo together, since the worst thing that can happen when you grab too much ammo is you wasted some potential shots, but grabbing health prematurely can really cost you in a protracted battle, especially when it's generally scarce.

Consider also that some players may enter the combat environment without full health or armor, and thus stock up immediately on what's in the arena rather than use it during the fight. People can get careless and make little mistakes that add up, and given the rest of the map is so low-key, it's easy to get careless and take damage from tentacles or slime pits or what have you, to the point where by the time you face real opposition you are actually seriously in need of replenishment.

I'm certainly not trying to be an asshole, just pointing out the (very few) things I am not as big a fan of so far. Everything else has been top notch, and most of the battles in First Day were quite well balanced, to the point where you could get through them in a few attempts at most. This one I tried at least 10 times before I gave up and god moded it, so it seems unbalanced.
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User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 16 Aug 2017, 02:00

Got through the third map, was good. Had some nice brawls with Skaarj on the surface, and in the lower area with the turbines.

Now I'm into the ruins, and the first thing I noticed was the lit torches and wondered "now just who the hell is keeping torches lit in bloody RUINS?" and lo and behold, the translator message right after answers it perfectly :lol: I take it you anticipated that line of thinking :P
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User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 16 Aug 2017, 13:22

Preki wrote:I didn't even think about it, thanks anyway.

As of now I was ambushed by a luminous Skaarj warrior and some Nali rescued me. After walking out of the village I saw the most beautiful skybox in any custom map:
Image

Same here. I probably stayed 10 minutes or more watching that skybox from different angles.

User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 16 Aug 2017, 13:40

UBerserker wrote:... That said remember you can tell human bots to stay in a certain spot.

So far (still waiting to finish Core) I have only 2 negative points (negative in the sense that my playing pleasure was temporarily reduced).
1. The human helpers are worthless; In First Day I could really make good use of them but in Interloper they died before I even realised that they were there. (I guess on second playthrough I'll be able to manage them more efficiently).
2. It's been mentioned before: the fight with the horde of Skaarj where a turret is supposed to be a help. Actually (as stated earlier), it's a pain to aim with and it runs out of ammo just about when you think you've gotten the hang of it.
Apart from that: the variety in the areas, the ambushes, the scenery, the puzzles, etc provide mucho mucho gaming pleasure (actually also makes me want to play First Day again)

User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 16 Aug 2017, 18:21

Holy fucking shit these Skaarj maps are INCREDIBLE. Solid gameplay too, unlike Zephon, which I thought was kind of meh in terms of playability enjoyment. I never thought I'd find myself enjoying the UT arsenal in SP this much, but here we are.

I finished Nested Interest last night (lol I love the title), and so badly wanted to finish the pack, but had to get to bed. Tonight I will definitely power through since I figure I have one or two maps left by now.

Also really liking the story mystery. Having two planets you switch between is pretty cool, and trying to figure out why Nali are there is interesting. It makes me wonder if the tropical planet you begin on is actually Na Pali, and the sister planet is the moon seen in Unreal, but turned into an icy world with a ring formed around it after some kind of cataclysmic event (or terraforming efforts). Also interesting to see a Skaarj installation that was dormant, then woken up by human meddling. And I almost, ALMOST felt bad for the Skaarj for a bit when there was mention of the current brood of eggs being basically the last of their kin in this corner of the universe.

Great pack, definitely deserving of the high praise it's getting. The only truly weak point is the quality of the writing, and the Nali priest subplot with supernatural-ish stuff was underdeveloped (at least so far; I realize we still have a whole third part ahead of us and I still have more maps to play in the second arc).

Also, good use of Doom 3 textures :) They stood out to me, though, especially the ones where you can clearly see the UAC logo :o
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User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 17 Aug 2017, 07:53

FINISHED.

More detailed thoughts later. That was awesome. Eagerly looking forward to the third and final chapter.
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User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 17 Aug 2017, 12:16

OK, finished \o/
My last savegame was in map 21 (Nested). Basically from there on I basically played without any means of saving (difficulty setting = Medium) and finished each map seperately in 1 go (and I'm quite proud of it 8) ).At the beginning of each next map I did summon a shield and some extra ammo just to give me a decent chance of surviving the first encounters.
Basically it's doable on Medium (I'm still rusty so regular players should be able to handle it) but I play really slow and carefully and from what I remember of First Day, the jump to difficulty Hard scares me a bit (certainly without a save option). In this respect the gameplay balance doesn't seem to need much tweaking in order to give every player a challenge which suits his level (to be confirmed on my next plathrough).

There are so many positive things I could mention about Interloper but I'll focus on the slightly negative things.
At the end , there another spelling error: Sabastian instead of Sebastian.
And in the last map, in the core area itself, the player has to move from the central structure to the outer wall area and jump onto a pipe. Unfortunately it's easy to slide of the pipe and get stuck between the wall and the pipe (I had to ghost to get back on the pipe).
And that's about it.

UBerserker wrote:...
I'll mention first the few bad things I encountered in the mappack:
  • At some point in the campaign it becomes extremely vague where you have to go. This is because there's that really dark and hidden vent shaft you have to find and go through. The last level sees a sudden and heavy return of the puzzle feel that characterized the first Xenome and goes a bit too far, I was completely clueless at first how to proceed through that room with the blue beam (you had to figure out where to jump and you had to do it quick before the blue beam would be back on) and how to destroy the generator shield in the final area of the game (I knew that I had to destroy the crystals but the crystals in question looked like lamps).
  • The final boss is fought in a very awkward location. This is mostly due to the fact that there's no real safe legit way to go back down, you have to jump on certain ledges and get yourself hurt as a result. And the boss will likely won't follow you because sadly his AI always historically sucked.
  • The cardboard explosion in the ending looks really bad. I think the yellow flash was good enough, maybe add a redeemer explosion (it's in a skybox so it'll probably look big) to give the idea that it was an actual boom.


I disagree with UB on his first item: Yes sometimes it's a bit vague (and in Cobalt I actually gave up - but in hindsight I gave up too early). It's probably a personal preference but I found all those puzzles on how to get from A to B very satisfying and nothing really impossible to find). Xenome is the only mappack (to my knowledge) to make such extended use of these puzzles and (to me) it characterises the gameplay (in a positive way).
Also, those crystals looked like perfect crystals to me, not at all like lamps :shock:
I agree with UB on that final Bossfight. I was very lucky when he appeared and managed to jump down the lift several times thus avoiding unneccesary close encounters (and any ledges - I would never think to try that). On the other hand, it's a legit way to tackle the Warlord on my terms and not his 8)
And yeah, the nuclear mushroom is unworthy of Xenome. It's a real pity that this is the last thing one sees in Interloper: visually it's so damn impressive (that Core area from top to bottom = amazing) that it's a shame to put a dent in that impression.

My next Interloper session will be after I reinstall UT so that I can save and really play without any "cheats", and it will be on Hard. (and I'll keep detailed records and send them to jazzyB directly).

Now need to catch up on sleep.

User avatar UBerserker
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 17 Aug 2017, 12:18

Finished it again lol, with First Day combined it took 12 hours in total. 1000 dead Skaarj - outside of EXU I don't remember one mappack with such Skaarj slaughterfest.
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User avatar Semfry
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 19 Aug 2017, 15:29

I didn't mention that defense fight in the first map because it didn't give me too much trouble (at least once I realised it was time based and I didn't have to kill everything), but I definitely think the turret (assuming it's not hard-coded or something) could do with some more ammo; as it is it almost feels like a trap as you seem to run out just when things pick up, and then you're likely surrounded by Skaarj in a corner.
Formerly Mman

User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 23 Aug 2017, 23:35

Restarted Interloper this evening: unfortunately forgot to change difficulty settings so it's on Medium again (brain malfunction :shy: ) .

This time, near the end of the first map, I positioned my "helpers" about halfway the first hallway and told them to wait there; went for the turret, emptied it killing 4 or 5 Skaarj and concentrated on staying near the lift, putting the Skaarj between me and my helpers and hardly any opportunity for the Skaarj to get behind me nor behind my helpers (memories from First Day started to come back). By the time my helpers were dead they had really shown that they can be used efficiently - so I take back my words (from an earlier post) that they are worthless: they need a bit of practice (just as I do :wink: ). I was able to retreat safely in the first hallway and pick off the rest of the Skaarj easily without using much heavy ammo. Before taking the lift there was health and ammo left to pick up + the big health pack.
Conclusion: On Medium this fight is reasonably doable and remembering the change from Medium to Hard in First Day, it should still be acceptable with some practice: I wonder about Unreal difficulty though. I fear mere mortals will only prove their mortality in that section. My stance of difficulty (taking my skill-level into consideration) is that Easy should be a stiff walk, Medium a serious workout, Hard a very strenuous exercise and Unreal really constantly on the verge of collapse.

@UB, you played on Unreal, was that including the 115% speed + another of your favorite enhancements?

Then Cobalt : damn, I didn't realise it on first playthrough but this map has the most incredibly good use of spinners. Never overwhelming but usually unexpected and a bit unpredictable. That bolt shooting UT weapon (with a straight laser as secondary fire mode) finally has some good use. It's a pity those spinners aren't counted as kills (they're not mentioned as a category) 'cause I must have killed around 50 or more in total before getting to the Big Momma.
Speaking about big Momma (and sister), I started with full health and reasonably equiped and got out alive but barely breathing and having used up most of my heavy ammo. Then I remembered having seen some goodies which I couldn't seem to reach so I restarted a savegame just before the Momma and found a way to get the goodies + previous experience helped me in my weapon choice for situations and this time that fight ended with yours truly in perfect (well almost) health and ammo to spare. My verdict: on Medium 100% acceptable, certainly if the player finds the goodies, and I expect it to be survivable on Hard but again on Unreal I doubt I can live to tell the tale.
BTW I found all secrets in the first 2 maps.

That concludes almost 3 hours of playing today (a pleasurable 3 hours). Yeah I know, I'll never beat that goal time for Interloper.

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