[WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hubs 1-2 of 4

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[WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hubs 1-2 of 4

Postby alexsa2015sa » Fri May 15, 2020 4:04 am

Download v0.93 WIP hubs 1-2 (current latest)

29/03/2021 status: on hold. As in, sprites for new monsters on hold, and everything else because of it. Will probably update the fixed 1-2nd hubs instead at this rate.

The Red Keep is a campaign of planned four hubs long, with some story to go along with it. Currently only two hubs are complete and playable.

The first hub revolves around titular Red Keep. I have done some tweaks by now, but it is by no means complete job.
The second hub
Spoiler:


I considered making more of a exhaustive story to it, but in the end I went with "show don't tell".

With fall of Korax, the realm of Cronos is still in chaos, even if the evil hordes are in retreat. You have heard of a place called the Red Keep where the vile minions of late Korax seemingly gathered, and set out to settle the matter...

Featuring:
- early hubs that isn't the Seven portals/Shadow Woods once again. For now the campaign dumps you into Heresiarch's Seminary when finished but I obviously intend to change that once it's complete
- eye-searing "new" red brick which is a recolor but I think it works
- verticality, enough of it to hurt
- several variant monsters and some new monsters too
- non-linear walkthrough
- nice boss fights, so that you don't get too bored

Known issues:
- Not very long so far. First hub takes ~1 hour, second hub takes ~1-1.5 hours (you'll see why with multiple playthroughs). On the other hand, both arel 600+ monsters thick so I guess I'm scoring 10/minute somehow?..
- Reworked first level to be more open. If you've seen the initial version - is it different enough and is it in a good way?
- Some parts of level layouts are randomly generated. If I screwed up with softlocks or hardlocks (e.g. I kept discovering Sacrificial Tower has inaccessible zones) let me know.
- There is an abject lack of sprites used for a monster. Then again it's WIP and it's... good enough to convey its nature. On an entirely absolutely totally completely unrelated note, crouching isn't forbidden at all.
- Other monsters used in the maps who were tweaked with Zscript lack any lights, decals, brightmaps and other prettiness definied. Same reason here (besides "I don't know how I get it to look pretty yet" and "ettins need not damn prettiness")
- Boss of the second hub doesn't have a unique sprite. He does have a distinct behaviour so you'll not have much problem singling him out from crowd.
- I didn't make pretty screenshots for second hub. There are a couple of places which I suppose could work for that, but I was busy troubleshooting (why is that lava chunk floating?.. ah yes, because it shouldn't and no that isn't a lava bridge, but hey I memorised the idea of lava platforming - expect a puzzle involving that untidy concept later on).
- There might be too much junk scattered around. At the very least, you can expect to have a supply of flechettes and discs to fall back on. Second hub is full of mana - only cleric with anemic damage can run out of it, but then again I was quite stingly with healing items this time so it was easier to die as fighter or mage.
Download v0.93 WIP hubs 1-2 (current latest)
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Last edited by alexsa2015sa on Mon Mar 29, 2021 12:27 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: [WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hub 1

Postby whirledtsar » Fri May 15, 2020 7:28 pm

Good work. I played through the hub and it took almost 2 hours to beat. The new enemies are interesting & reasonably balanced. The little pig warrior guy is cute. The tweaked boss enemies are cool, but I ran out of mana on the last one and was only able to finish them off with savescumming and my last few discs of repulsion. So maybe extra mana should spawn in that arena. There was a bit too much usable health throughout the hub. This is especially true for the Cleric, because the Mystic Imbant Incants (did I spell that right?) give him 70 health.

I thought I'd taken many screenshots of various visual bugs, but unfortunately they weren't saved. But I remember that in Red Keep there's a stray gear texture in the sky , the portal isn't textured right, and the moon switch in the circular elevator is glitchy.
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Re: [WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hub 1

Postby alexsa2015sa » Sat May 16, 2020 3:45 am

fluffyshambler wrote:Good work. I played through the hub and it took almost 2 hours to beat. The new enemies are interesting & reasonably balanced. The little pig warrior guy is cute. The tweaked boss enemies are cool, but I ran out of mana on the last one and was only able to finish them off with savescumming and my last few discs of repulsion. So maybe extra mana should spawn in that arena. There was a bit too much usable health throughout the hub. This is especially true for the Cleric, because the Mystic Imbant Incants (did I spell that right?) give him 70 health.

I thought I'd taken many screenshots of various visual bugs, but unfortunately they weren't saved. But I remember that in Red Keep there's a stray gear texture in the sky , the portal isn't textured right, and the moon switch in the circular elevator is glitchy.


Glad you're enjoyed it, and thanks for reporting (even if with no screenshots it's miles better than "I think there is something wrong somewhere" which is my default state)

On portal: I don't want to assume, but if it is about the door, it's intended. If it's not, I've fixed the broken portal backside (there was a pillar which indeed had a wrong texture). If it's something else entirely, I'm at a loss so far.

A clarification: when you mean "useable health", do you mean quartz and urns or health in general? Because I'm kind of leery about hitting the point when non-cleric walkthrough becomes an actual unfun struggle for me as I run out of everything ;)
Also, just to be sure: was that a "hard" or "medium" playthrough? Because I've placed much, much more flasks on lower levels, often replacing vials. I probably should cut on this because I did that way too often for like every instance of flask placement.

I did away with two of urns (in first playtests, I ended the hub with 3,5,1 urns respectively for fighter/cleric/mage and I burned most flasks and vials as non-cleric; yes, I'm that bad at dodging), and removed some flasks but I actively struggle to recall where all the ambits are :) - I placed many of these on per-class basis.

As for cleric, I think the problem isn't ambits or even flasks or urns. It's all the serpent staff which cuts on healing accidental bruises you get (it also encourages getting bruised if you can't into melee). By default, it gives 20-25 per ettin if you avoid mace to the face and it's not like there is a shortage of acceptably docile ettins in the hub (15 ettins = 15 flasks, and have I said 640+?); even a single hit isn't a net loss if you melee fully. So I could, of course, cut on flasks for cleric entirely except emergency healing, which I'll consider for second half of hub when you get the staff. I'll probably add more mana for this class instead.

On the other hand since the second hub starts with wendigo level (even if I will lean on a melee wendigo variant) I prooobably should reconsider my idea of not giving any healing to cleric there. It's not like you can leech off wendigo (not because you can't but because it's a goddamn turret if fast)

On mana shortage: yeah, that one is a big letdown; while testing I didn't have a walkthrough when I ran out of mana at that moment (other places, sure, but not at the very end). Successfully (heh) reproducing the issue, I've added enough mana so you can kill them without x1.5 multiplier from difficulty, cleric and fighter both; cleric will take a bit of accurate fire of course - can't waste as much as I like to. Mage didn't get any mana, because he has the ambits and unlimited wand anyways.
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Re: [WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hub 1

Postby whirledtsar » Sat May 16, 2020 1:43 pm

I meant that the portal to Red Keep from Broken Portal (and vice-versa) is black where the animated portal texture should be. Speaking of portals, it's good to give the sector behind them 0 brightness, since the player actually can see it for a split second before the level changes.

It was a hard mode playthrough. The amount of vials is fine, I was referring to inventory health (urns, flasks, & incants for the cleric). If you want, in Ultimate Doom Builder you can use F3 to search for specific items.
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Re: [WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hub 1

Postby Manhs » Sun May 17, 2020 2:55 pm

How many hub is there gonna be? i wait for v1 but i dont know if it will be v1 of the first hub but there will be more later :)
Nice to see new stuff from you already ;)
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Re: [WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hub 1

Postby alexsa2015sa » Fri May 22, 2020 4:16 am

Manhs wrote:How many hub is there gonna be? i wait for v1 but i dont know if it will be v1 of the first hub but there will be more later :)
Nice to see new stuff from you already ;)


I plan to have 4 hubs total in this project.

Unless something extraordinary happens, it'll take about two-three months (so, August...) to get it to a playable state and I'll probably release 2nd and 3rd hubs as they get completed. The last fourth hub will be short-ish like the Red Keep, but not quite as much. I'll also probably take time to look for sprites to use for 3rd hub enemies, which if I don't find any suitable ones will add anything from 1 week to 1 month while I cobble together something that doesn't me want to puke. I am not exactly fast hand at spritework, even if I will likely use the same base for all sprites I foresee more scrapped ones than Violet Staff took (which I did for a mod which is in perpetual limbo since mapping is simpler).

I also plan to get back to KMDA for a final pass by end of this month, so that it has better flow. Sadly it is going to be a lot of boring but necessary work so I put it off for as long as I possibly can...
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Re: [WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hub 1

Postby Manhs » Fri May 22, 2020 7:46 am

I started to play it, i'm at 1h30 of game with the Cleric, difficulty 4/5, it's good but i was thinking, what about adding some realistic decorations?
Like some areas could have a water well, some parts who looks like "rooms" when you can place one in a place. Not sure if it's necessary with your style...
I'm not a good mapper, say that because i like when there is some atmosphere, like your previous Swamp map in "Korax must die again" ^^ a few houses and stuff here just to let the player "imagine" there could be people here.

I remember i had hard times with mana even with using a lot the mace in the sewer, Cleric Serpent Staff is not so powerful because you can absorb health yeah..maybe a little more mana? For now, the challenge is pretty well balanced, we have to not spam our magic stuff randomly.

EDIT: Just finished it
About the last area of the hub
Spoiler:


Maybe less corridors who are too tight? if you can make it a little larger in some areas also the maps with the trees is a bit boring to play, there is really a ton of trees everywhere...
I will play the other hub when it will be released :) It was very cool!

I was thinking, for the first map, since it's a starting map, what about making the caves less dark and complicate to explore? People who play the wad could be bored to start to play an expansion who has a complex cave as the first map, maybe?
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Re: [WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hub 1

Postby alexsa2015sa » Fri May 29, 2020 4:23 am

I did some progress with second hub, but one of the levels still doesn't even have a wireframe yet and the first hub is a patchwork of unfinished changes so no update this week. Or next week, come to think of that.

fluffyshambler wrote:I meant that the portal to Red Keep from Broken Portal (and vice-versa) is black where the animated portal texture should be. Speaking of portals, it's good to give the sector behind them 0 brightness, since the player actually can see it for a split second before the level changes.


...That's actually a funny story I forgot to tell.
The portal texture has actually always been there, I just... pitch blacked both sectors with brightness 0 as per industry standard. Then I decided I like it that way (as in, different from default portals) so didn't bother with separate back sector and front sector 3d floors :), but I see how it can confuse others despite presence of a silver frame. I'll get it fixed - I could instead remove the silver frame but I'll leave that style for 3rd hub.

Manhs wrote:it's good but i was thinking, what about adding some realistic decorations?


I've been annoyed with how I handled the inner towers, yes. They are pretty much all empty corridors, I will get back to it. I'll think what I can decorate the walls with too, but any ideas are welcome. On atmosphere, this hub is supposed to be in the wilderness so "people living" should apply pretty much only to keep itself.

I did add stuff to forest level, so it should be more intersting but it's still midpoint. Also the trees are supposed to be problematic, yes ;) I will see if expanding the most forested section doesn't break anything, so that trees can be more spaced out. I might move some goodies so they are hidden behind trees, too, currently it is all visible.

For hub level I've made the cave exploration more optional than it were... by expanding them some more :) There were 3 sapphire planets in the far sections of the caves requring full exploration, nevermind the exit being as difficult to locate as it is. Now there are 7 total sapphires, plus a few extras at easier difficulties, and an easy visible exit from caves you will be able use as starting point. The old entrance is still there and either way you can explore the area. The southern caverns also have more landmarks and lightning - candles, torches, twin torches, crates, that sort of thing. You can't get lost as easily anymore, I think. Northern section is still a convoluted mess but there's little point exploring them beyong gathering goodies, well that and Clerics learning there's a serpent staff they can't grab yet :)

On narrow spaces, the corrdiors inside walls will likely remain as claustrophobic as they are in currently posted version; probably the only "easy" way involves resizing entire levels and to retexture every door and switch is just icing. What is the problem in your opinion: the player having nowhere to dodge, or the monsters lining up in narrow spaces? The first is the intended effect, but if the result is the latter I'll have to figure out something to solve. I can easily expand the sewers maze, tho, since that one doesn't intersect with anything important I can't shuffle around.

Also, nearly forgot: I removed several ambits, flasks and the like here too. I intend the hub2 to be playable from mace start (if with a sharp difficulty spike because of that) but it is certainly easier with safety net. Incidentally, hub 2 is almost entirely interior levels so I went full blast on decorating rooms there.

The portal section at Red Keep is subject to rework anyways, and is why I can't update; I like this empty cliff not at all. There'll be a few more monsters and way to spend extra sapphire planets for mana.
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Re: [WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hub 1

Postby eharper256 » Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:24 am

I played Crusader with Walpurgis, until after I got the Fire Key (which I did after clearing the Red Castle itself). Then I got lost for awhile again in the caves, as when I was in the in the Chasm, it said it opened a temple in the Broken Portal, but it didn't seem to open anything additional I hadn't already seen from when it also did that in the Sewers, so what did I miss there?

The pigrats are able to leap up sheer cliffs by the way, which is funny to watch in the sewers when the water has gone down, but is it intentional?

Mana is a bit tight in some areas (on difficulty 3) but that's probably because I was wasting it mowing down Ettins with my Lightbringer (lol) and shot the Wyvern down as well. I felt there was quite alot of armour lying around as well; I was rarely below 8 AC.

I'd say the main problem with the caverns is that you cannot use the automap there reliably; as its vertically beneath, its just a confusing mess of hexagons. I did eventually discover that constantly going up does eventually get you out, so that's nice.
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Re: [WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hub 1

Postby alexsa2015sa » Fri Jun 19, 2020 3:57 am

First off, status report: the hub 2 got delayed for reasons. I've completed a draft for everything before pause and the boss is almost done, but three of five levels are one huge wireframe with puzzles done but not much of anything else really. I will probably make an actual update for hub 1 later this weekend, even if I plan to make much more changes to it later; some more decorating at minimum, but also hooks for later hubs as well (roughly the way Dark Crucible/Sacred Grove/Desolate Garden work though not quite as important)

eharper256 wrote:I played Crusader with Walpurgis, until after I got the Fire Key (which I did after clearing the Red Castle itself). Then I got lost for awhile again in the caves, as when I was in the in the Chasm, it said it opened a temple in the Broken Portal, but it didn't seem to open anything additional I hadn't already seen from when it also did that in the Sewers, so what did I miss there?

The pigrats are able to leap up sheer cliffs by the way, which is funny to watch in the sewers when the water has gone down, but is it intentional?

Mana is a bit tight in some areas (on difficulty 3) but that's probably because I was wasting it mowing down Ettins with my Lightbringer (lol) and shot the Wyvern down as well. I felt there was quite alot of armour lying around as well; I was rarely below 8 AC.

I'd say the main problem with the caverns is that you cannot use the automap there reliably; as its vertically beneath, its just a confusing mess of hexagons. I did eventually discover that constantly going up does eventually get you out, so that's nice.


Thank you for playing! Also, I probably should leave a comment on Valpurgis sometime but for it to not be pointless "all X is bad/all Y is good" will take me even more time than I've already wasted on other things so uh. Rain check?

I see the temple thing is confusing, so I did away with the second message. There isn't anything that opens from the second message, no; it's two different places which do the same.

Pigrats are meant to drop into narrow moat and climb back freely. Given they are melee attackers (...uh, if they don't put up a barrier that is) it'd be very difficult for them to do it properly if they can't scale sheer cliffs freely (well, for a given value of height). They also have adjusted falling routine because they tended to go splat inside red keep all the time because monsters always die to falling damage.

Mana tightness is an intended effect, yes. There's a lot of flechettes and radius blasts around, and if you lure them to right places ettins are pretty pretty flyers. *splat* And it's not like you cannot melee an ettin anyways; they aren't Wendigos. You don't want to melee these.

The caverns lacking landmarks is an obvious issue, yes. I did what I could to solve the issue but I guess I won't know until I actually post the update. I think there could be a couple more place illuminated
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Re: [WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hub 1

Postby eharper256 » Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:55 am

Ah good to know; I'll come out of there and stop looking around needlessly (lol).

Also with the caverns; another part of the issue is that if you use a torch, the light level becomes homogenised and very yellow (I didn't suffer too much as my gamma was sufficient to explore by without using many, but its something worth considering).
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Re: [WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hub 2

Postby alexsa2015sa » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:39 pm

It took me longer than I would have liked but I did finally make the second hub to playable state.

Download v0.92 WIP hubs 1-2 (current latest)

Second hub can be played from pistol start, is five levels long, same as the first one, and this time no secret levels. You can even get away with ignoring the biggest and longest level, but you're skipping chunk of goodies and several (possibly annoying) puzzles there and if you can win that boss fight not being a mage with infinite wand of cheating, I boggle at your skills.

First hub was updated with some of suggestions, but it's still WIP. I'll get back to prettifying it later, when spoilers. Also, for reasons, I don't believe my previous timeline of August works. I would consider it fast if I get this complete by the end of the year. Most of the time will be spent designing third hub, which will likely take me either a deep trawl through texture and sprite repositories, or a long, long bout of actually doing textures (nevermind sprites). Even if frankenHexening to the last, you cannot make something that the stock Hexen didn't try to.

For the record, third hub
Spoiler:


eharper256 wrote:Also with the caverns; another part of the issue is that if you use a torch, the light level becomes homogenised and very yellow (I didn't suffer too much as my gamma was sufficient to explore by without using many, but its something worth considering).


/S I hate to say it, but I've never thought people playing FPS see colors - I have long mastered the fine art of shooting everything which moves, all in mute grayscale. /S

But seriously, thanks for bringing up something I never would have considered at all. I mean, it's not like I would draw a cave texture for this purpose alone (who am I deceiving, I totally would if I get off my ass). There aren't much texture variants in stock Hexen which work for the purpose and I haven't seen one I considered useful for the purpose.
Last edited by alexsa2015sa on Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: [WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hubs 1-2 of 4

Postby whirledtsar » Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:34 pm

Cool. Is it possible to play hub 2 from a "pistol start" (no weapons)?

Regarding your forest hub plans, if you want textures there is a nice forest texture from Hexen's beta that can be found here. Also, I ripped an interesting tree texture from Hexen 2's beta that could work nicely as a forest background (if you convert the black pixels to transparency).
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Re: [WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hubs 1-2 of 4

Postby alexsa2015sa » Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:59 pm

fluffyshambler wrote:Cool. Is it possible to play hub 2 from a "pistol start" (no weapons)?

Regarding your forest hub plans, if you want textures there is a nice forest texture from Hexen's beta that can be found here. Also, I ripped an interesting tree texture from Hexen 2's beta that could work nicely as a forest background (if you convert the black pixels to transparency).


Did I accidentally'd this part of my post?... yes, yes I did. Pistol start is possible,yes. Overall I intend for all four hubs to be playable as "episodes", though obviously, it will be that much more difficult with hubs 3-4; e.g. without a ranged option some enemies will hurt, hurt a lot and you also don't get skipped weapon pieces easily.

Also, thanks for the links and for pointing out this texture. It's not quite ideal for what I have in mind but will do for general purposes.
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Re: [WIP] [Hexen] The Red Keep - hubs 1-2 of 4

Postby whirledtsar » Tue Jul 14, 2020 1:51 am

I started playing hub 2 as the fighter with a fresh start. I had to give myself the 2nd weapon with the console because it's insanely hard without it. And still pretty difficult until you get the 3rd weapon. In general, I think the new Bishop enemies are overused. Bishops are already a little annoying when spammed, but these guys constantly spawning in enemies gets tedious. Also, the Wendigo variants should be more visually distinct.

There are a couple things on the Necromancer map: https://imgur.com/a/l7HLIxB
1. You can get stuck in this area by jumping down without having the prerequisite keys
2. Mana in wall

Also, I was able to open a lot of other doors/objects with the horn key symbol despite not having it.
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