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DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Each week a single map is discussed here in detail.

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Subject: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 08 May 2017, 23:42

Main project leader: David Münnich

Strange World
Author: David Münnich
Released in: January 1st, 2000
Platform: Unreal
Review Score: 61%
DOWNLOAD: http://unrealarchives.com/strange-world/





Synopsis: Strange World follows the events of a human survivor trying to escape Na Pali, making it through lands conquered by Skaarj or Mecenaries who are fighting against each other.
Strange World, becoming one of the staples of Unreal's classic SP releases, is David Münnich's first mappack and his first most "serious" work made for Unreal. It's renown for popularizing the rivality between Skaarj and Mercenaries, for the day/night lighting transitions, for custom weapons such as the Railgun and turrets, and for the presence of a Sky Island themed level.


Operation Na Pali
Author: Team Vortex
Released in: June 9th, 2002
Platform: Unreal Tournament
Review Score: 83%
DOWNLOAD: http://unrealarchives.com/operation-na-pali/ (1.3 is the last version)





Synopsis: Operation Na Pali sees the infamous "ONP Guy" in a goofy adventure on Na Pali where he has to recover survivors from the crashed Vortex Rikers, years later after the original game.
Operation Na Pali is so far still the largest Unreal custom mappack ever released, clocking in at 36 maps, including cutscenes and a playable credits level. It's also one of the few mappacks to include voice acting and an enhanced single player gametype featuring a new HUD, an infinite Dispersion Pistol, dynamic footstep sounds, an ally system, ability to break boxes on contact, vehicles, unlockables and more. Saw few patch releases, with 1.3 being the last, adding ally versions of Krall for custom mappers.
The first mappack to obtain a 10/10 score on UnrealSP.org until the re-review, Operation Na Pali has been criticized for its immersion-breaking voice acting, generic story and a good chunk of maps being slight revisions of DavidM's old ones, including two levels borrowed from Xidia. Regardless, hardly any pack, if none at all, has managed to claim the same amount of effort put into the making of ONP.
ONP's custom gametype saw hardly any use outside of the mappack itself - only jazzy's Project Xenome took advantage of it as far as known releases go.

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Subject: Re: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 09 May 2017, 09:14

I really should play Strange World again. It's been a long time.

ONP really has grown on me over the years. I simply removed all the voice acting from my own copy, and the experience is much better in general.
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Subject: Re: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 09 May 2017, 14:38

Maaan... Operation: Na Pali. Those were the days! I played this one hell of a campaign for the first time in summer of 2006. I remember being amazed at the mapping work that Team Vortex pulled off, the use of UT weaponry in an SP addon. And I didn't mind voice acting back then, but now I gotta admit it's odd. I'm not against voice acting at all if the character has established backstory (think of 7B's Jones), acts like a grown man and the acting itself of acceptable quality (which sadly isn't the case when it comes to Cray and Spencer of Xidia: Escape). But ONP Guy is an idiot who happened to be trapped in the crapsack world of planet Na Pali. I can be okay with cheesy stuff, but this is too cheesy even for me. I mean - how could anyone act like a total dumbass when surrounded by Skaarj and other dangerous things? And wasn't he voiced by eVOLVE by the way? Some of ONP Guy's lines are clearly in broken English, so the fact that a native speaker saying them would be even more jarring.

When maps come into mind - I most fondly remember the sheer size of maps and lighting in them. It vastly surpasses anything I've seen in original Unreal or other SP addons. The very last portion of the game counts as my favourite SP maps, I love the Skaarj airship and Team Vortex's take on the sky island theme - the skybox is especially breathtaking! I also liked the idea behind flying stages, though WipeOut has proven to be infuriating for me. And there are also these Skaarj facilities built from cinder blocks, which look more human-made than anything built by an alien race. These really looked out-of-place.

I loved the custom music Toxeen composed (using samples from the original soundtrack), with my favourite being "Intruder Alert", but he should compose more tracks instead of forcing Team to use U1/UT songs. Though I gotta admit they put vanilla music to a good use - hearing "Neve's Crossing" play when reaching the valley in Gore Mine Crossing was certainly awesome. A major letdown is that "Ressurection" plays only for a short time during one level, and the track itself is looped by the very end. And speaking of "Intruder Alert" mentioned earlier - how the heck the "action section" plays in the game? I couldn't replicate this in XMPlay or Modplug Tracker. Is it a Galaxy subsystem glitch or what?

Another letdown is the mappack's finale. Just fight a bunch of Skaarj Warriors (Lords, perhaps) and get into another escape pod? At first time I expected something different from the original game, but got ultimately disappointed. But I must give these guys a credit for... playable credits! Seriously, that was the first time I've ever seen playable credits in a game. Bonus points for being assembled by different members of Team Vortex - the dancing Mercenary, Super Mario part, freakin' PONG by UsAaR33... and the lazy room, duh.

Damn, I' feeling like I'm gonna play through it once again :D
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Subject: Re: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 09 May 2017, 16:32

ONP guy wasn't voiced by eVOLVE (he voiced Draco I believe?)
The character had another voice early in ONP development that most people thought it was "better"
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Subject: Re: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 10 May 2017, 11:45

Ah yes, I looked it up on UnrealSP wiki, he was voiced by Chrome indeed.
Doo dee doo, doo da doo, la doo dee doo.

Im jsut teh Gooby dont minde meh, k?

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Subject: Re: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 10 May 2017, 17:54

Honestly looking back at all these projects with a massive amount of maps that eventually died or have never been released, ONP really cemented itself as a milestone. I know there were a crapload of talented people working on it and in an era where UT1 was still very hot. I will still never get over the terrible aspects of it (never took itself seriously, bipolar gameplay, annoying flow-breaking cutscenes, re-used filler maps) but some of the levels like Prisoners, the Na Pali Mountain fighter one with all the white ruins, Wipeout, the Vortex Rikers conversion and the ending section all set on Sky Islands, truly were worth playing and still now. All the new songs were also amazing.
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Subject: Re: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 13 May 2017, 13:18

So real talk - has anybody here played the "beta" ONP that had the different voice acting? Is that one even found online anywhere?
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Subject: Re: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 18 May 2017, 00:02

"Oh, sh1t, the bomb! RUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!"
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Subject: Re: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 18 May 2017, 15:57

Hellscrag wrote:"Oh, sh1t, the bomb! RUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!"


"Gaah, oh no, it looks like he's been dead for 2 weeks... or maybe 5 years"

I don't know even what was the fun part of that. Pretty sure the 2 weeks thing is not referring to the UT Epic Games demo meme since UT2k4 happened way after ONP was released.
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Subject: Re: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 19 May 2017, 09:35

Need to replay ONP... I remember the water on map 4 looked cool,never seen it like that before. And yeah I got a few cringes from the voice acting, but still thought it was better than some of Capcom's games... Megaman 8, X7 and Resident Evil come to mind :D

Also, no mention of Bob yet? Thought that was a clever puzzle map.
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Subject: Re: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 21 May 2017, 07:54

UBerserker wrote:So real talk - has anybody here played the "beta" ONP that had the different voice acting? Is that one even found online anywhere?


Interesting question. I don't think any beta versions of ONP were ever leaked, were they?
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Subject: Re: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 21 May 2017, 12:43

Lightning Hunter wrote:
UBerserker wrote:So real talk - has anybody here played the "beta" ONP that had the different voice acting? Is that one even found online anywhere?


Interesting question. I don't think any beta versions of ONP were ever leaked, were they?


I believe it was some sort of early demo.
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Subject: Re: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 21 May 2017, 14:18

The ONP Demo can now be found here: ONP 1337 Demo d00d!!!

ONP was a complete game changer for me stylistically - it made me go "ooh darn my maps look absolutely atrocious compared to what's actually possible in Unreal" and now I take 2 years to make 1 map...

Anyway, speaking of older versions I have a bunch of pictures that I scavenged from archives of either older versions of maps, or maps that didn't even make the release.

► Show Spoiler


Map related trivia:

-Akuma (who made the "l33t palm") was at one point working on a map in place of Thra Fortress - however no-one (not even DavidM!) knew what it was "all about".

-Atje has said in an interview with a Dutch magazine that he protested against DavidM's use of the Fire Temple, but DM insisted on using it - somewhat like the inclusion of Rostivelt lake etc.

-Atje wasn't the original mapper of the Sky Island maps - a mapper named "Some" was meant to be making these along with a "Bluff styled" map.

-Hyperion released an early and completely different (pre-demo) version of his map on the Team Vortex website. Unfortunately it has disappeared completely.

.......
SZ
.......
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Subject: Re: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 23 May 2017, 11:39

SteadZ wrote:The ONP Demo can now be found here: ONP 1337 Demo d00d!!!


Yo man thanks for this, I'll check it this weekend.


I'm amazed Chico had the time to make a completely new version of his Fortress map considering he just made a different one beforehand, which looked about as amazing. I wonder if he's working in a gaming company now.
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Subject: Re: DavidM's best: "Strange World" and "Operation Na Pali"

Post Posted: 26 May 2017, 01:31

Strange World is still one of the best earlier Unreal releases. It's style is slightly incoherent as some parts are mostly designed to be a series of cool gimmicks, but it does it well enough that it doesn't matter much. Many of those moment are also memorable, like the day-night transition in map 1, the crashing escape pods, and the mine carts. It's also important in that it essentially canonised the Skaarj vs Mercenary conflict that Unreal itself only hinted at, and didn't really happen in map sets prior to this one. I remember I used to have some problems running it as it didn't work with UT and I remember it also not working with certain Unreal 1 versions (I might be remembering that wrong though), luckily that isn't a problem now between UT compatibility fixes and 227.

Even with it's issues (most of which are covered earlier here) ONP remains one of the best and most ambitious Unreal releases, with only a tiny selection of sets even coming close, and for every uninspired feeling map there's a great one too (and those good ones are generally longer and more involved so take up more playtime anyway).

From what I recall the demo levels don't differ much in overall structure, but I guess it's interesting to see some earlier versions of moments with a visual style more along the lines of the original Unreal.

Edit:
UBerserker wrote:"Gaah, oh no, it looks like he's been dead for 2 weeks... or maybe 5 years"

I don't know even what was the fun part of that. Pretty sure the 2 weeks thing is not referring to the UT Epic Games demo meme since UT2k4 happened way after ONP was released.


I think that line is just an attempt to be mysterious from someone who doesn't know English very well, but ONP is so all over the place tonally it's kind of hard to tell.
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