Life Force. New version. Now with Heretic support!

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Life Force. New version. Now with Heretic support!

Postby Nate » Wed Apr 11, 2018 1:42 pm



So, just about 8 years ago, you all might remember the second Mutator Contest, where people created gameplay mods without any external graphics or sounds, just scripting.

I never submitted a contest entry, but I did work on a mod during that time which I never released. I never really felt it was worthy of release. Well, I still don't, but what the hell, here it is anyway!

The mod is called Life Force. Instead of weapons and ammo... you have a staff. You can fire magical attacks that drain your health (a.k.a. Life Force) but you also regain health from your fallen enemies.

Spoiler: Screenshots!


Spoiler: Heretic Version Screenshots!


I've released version 2.0, plus a heretic version! See this post for all the gory details.

Life Force 2.0: Mod | Readme
Life Force for Heretic: Mod | Readme

Old version: Mod | Readme

Some completely unimportant background

So I half-heartedly started this thing some time during the contest, and worked on and off on it for a couple weeks, then put it aside, then came by and touched it up and tweaked it here and there over the years.

Originally it just used the 'hand' sprite, and used offsets to give it an appropriate 'hurl' animation. It mainly just let you cast several different types of fireball, but over time I gave it more varied attacks, until I had 8 different weapons/spells (not counting the fist) that I was reasonably satisfied with.

Then, I got the bright idea to do something with the altfire attack. Originally I just paired up the different weapons, so whichever attack you had selected, altfire would fire an adjacent one. Then I had an even better idea... have the altfire attack be whichever attack you had selected previously. That way you can select pretty much any arbitrary combination.

Recently I got the idea to try copying and pasting some textures together to create an appropriate 'staff' sprite. (See if you can guess which ones without opening up the textures lump.) It's far from perfect (it looks more like it's held upright, rather than held out, due to the lack of texture), but I'm fairly happy with how it turned out, given the limitations inherent in a mutator script.

Well, that's where it stands now. To be honest it still feels rather overpowered to me. I'm not entirely sure whether that's because it *is*
massively overpowered, or if it juts seems that way because I've used it so much I've figured out how to exploit it to the Nth degree.

I'm still not sure if it's good, or just garbage, but I've had fun playing it, so maybe it's worth a look.
Last edited by Nate on Tue May 01, 2018 4:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Life Force. My crappy Mutator project, only 8 years late

Postby MrToots » Wed Apr 11, 2018 5:10 pm

This is actually a pretty neat concept, couldn't get the bfg to work but i might be doing something wrong
but other than some weapons taking way too much health it's pretty fun, good job
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Re: Life Force. My crappy Mutator project, only 8 years late

Postby Hipnotic Rogue » Wed Apr 11, 2018 5:38 pm

I'd love to see a Heretic version of this. It looks like fun. :)
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Re: Life Force. My crappy Mutator project, only 8 years late

Postby Machine-Reaper » Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:58 pm

its not bad at all, makes the game feel more arcade like.
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Re: Life Force. My crappy Mutator project, only 8 years late

Postby Whoah » Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:09 am

This is really cool! A heretic version using heretic's resources and shit would be really damn cool
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Re: Life Force. My crappy Mutator project, only 8 years late

Postby Nate » Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:25 am

MrToots wrote:This is actually a pretty neat concept, couldn't get the bfg to work but i might be doing something wrong

What did the BFG do when you tried to use it? If you just got hurt, you didn't have enough health to use it. (You need 100 per shot)

MrToots wrote:but other than some weapons taking way too much health it's pretty fun, good job

Thanks. Interesting that you feel that some weapons use too much health, while I find that they seem too easy. I'm considering adding another difficulty level (between UV and Nightmare) that's the same as UV but uses more health. Maybe I need to go the other way.

Whoah wrote:This is really cool! A heretic version using heretic's resources and shit would be really damn cool


Hipnotic Rogue wrote:I'd love to see a Heretic version of this. It looks like fun. :)


The thought has occurred to me. It would certainly fit the magic theme better. (And Heretic's resources would probably be more suited to it as well). I might play around with it and see what I can come up with. I know WildWeasel made a Heretic version of Style Mod, so this should be possible as well.
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Re: Life Force. My crappy Mutator project, only 8 years late

Postby MrToots » Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:58 pm

Nate wrote:What did the BFG do when you tried to use it? If you just got hurt, you didn't have enough health to use it. (You need 100 per shot)

I ended up figuring it out, It's good on crowds but in a fight against a cyberdemon you better have a couple megaspheres nearby if you wanna get out alive(But I suck at this game so it could just be me :P)

Nate wrote:Thanks. Interesting that you feel that some weapons use too much health, while I find that they seem too easy. I'm considering adding another difficulty level (between UV and Nightmare) that's the same as UV but uses more health. Maybe I need to go the other way.

Hey, I'm not gonna tell you how to run your mod, you wanna make a difficulty that makes it harder go ahead, hell the standard difficulty in my mod is UV to help me get better at the game, This is just very different and I need to play according to it's rules and if that means holding off on the heavy weapons til absolutely necessary instead of spamming archvile fire, then so be it

I guess if i could request one feature just from my experience on the first level of doom 2, some way to get out of reach orbs, like the imp behind bars which is all loss no gain, maybe some kind of magnet or vacuum that attracts them from a short radius, not too large of an area but it could be helpful

other than that I can't wait to see if you have any other plans for this and again, congrats on creating something actually unique
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Re: Life Force. My crappy Mutator project, only 8 years late

Postby Nate » Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:39 pm

MrToots wrote:Hey, I'm not gonna tell you how to run your mod, you wanna make a difficulty that makes it harder go ahead, hell the standard difficulty in my mod is UV to help me get better at the game, This is just very different and I need to play according to it's rules and if that means holding off on the heavy weapons til absolutely necessary instead of spamming archvile fire, then so be it


No worries, I didn't take it that way. I'm just thinking out loud. (Or at least, as loudly as one can on a text-based forum.) I'll probably wait and see if I get any more feedback before making a change there.

There's definitely an element of learning-to-use-it-effectively to it. When I first made the mod, I found it really difficult to get through just the first few levels of Doom II. Now that I have a better feel for how it works, I can damn near breeze through it. I've noticed there's effective ways to use attacks and ineffective ways to use attacks, and part of the experience is figuring those things out.

MrToots wrote:I guess if i could request one feature just from my experience on the first level of doom 2, some way to get out of reach orbs, like the imp behind bars which is all loss no gain, maybe some kind of magnet or vacuum that attracts them from a short radius, not too large of an area but it could be helpful


That's an interesting idea actually. I wonder how difficult that would be to implement in decorate and/or ACS...
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Re: Life Force. My crappy Mutator project, only 8 years late

Postby dljosef » Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:11 pm

Ok, I'm only gonna sum up what I thought of each weapon.

1. The Fireball spell's perfect accuracy's perfect for those ledge chaingunners.
1b. Never really used the plasma hose too much.
2. Big fireball, I'd use for those big enemies like revenants perched up top.
3. Triple Big Fireball's really useful, even for one-on-one cyberdemon fights. And I especially love that it can pretty much one-shot revenants if all three fireballs hit. Pretty much my go-to spell for the heavy-hitters, especially the archviles.
4. The Sparklight skill I only really used for those enemies below ledges. Only rampage-worthy if I don't have the devastator spell early-game.
5. Hardly feels like there was a time I used the fireburner spell...except for the rare occasions of rocket-jumping.
6. Lightning hits a lot of enemies...but holy crap does it chugs the framerate every time I use it for sniping groups.
7. The decimator I spam when I get the rampage powerup for wiping out as many groups as I can. I found it best used against spider masterminds, and powerful enemy groups and cyberdemons to a lesser extent.

The mod doesn't quite work well with monster replacement mods I found...though it Colorful Hell does still supply the occasional rampage powerups that drop from some of the higher tier enemies.
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Re: Life Force. My crappy Mutator project, only 8 years late

Postby MrToots » Sat Apr 21, 2018 12:51 pm

not sure how aplicable this is or if it's even doable, but about that vacuum idea
I was looking through the Brutal Friends mod and notice there is a A_JumpIfInTargetInventory
maybe if you make the orbs a seeker with lookallaround and do a check for a specific custominventory item, you can give yourself that item with a custom bind that tells the orb to seek you while the item is in your inventory and with a simple loop and enter and respawn script to take the item away just incase you have the item when you switch levels
also no clip so it can go through walls
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Re: Life Force. My crappy Mutator project, only 8 years late

Postby Nate » Sat Apr 21, 2018 2:25 pm

MrToots wrote:not sure how aplicable this is or if it's even doable, but about that vacuum idea
I was looking through the Brutal Friends mod and notice there is a A_JumpIfInTargetInventory
maybe if you make the orbs a seeker with lookallaround and do a check for a specific custominventory item, you can give yourself that item with a custom bind that tells the orb to seek you while the item is in your inventory and with a simple loop and enter and respawn script to take the item away just incase you have the item when you switch levels
also no clip so it can go through walls


I'm fairly sure there's a less 'hacky' way of doing it. There's already an A_CheckProximity jump that will check if a particular class of actor is nearby, so I could just have the player class use that, and yank in anything close enough.

I've been working on a Heretic version of Life Force, so I haven't touched the Doom version since I posted it. I've been using it to prototype a couple tweaks that I might eventually backport to the Doom version, so I'll try this idea out on there and see how it works.

dljosef wrote:Ok, I'm only gonna sum up what I thought of each weapon.


Your experiences are fairly similar to mine. The beam spell in particular (I'm guessing that's what you mean by the Fireball spell? Unless I'm an idiot and uploaded an old version where it still was an actual fireball) I changed from a fireball into a beam specifically because the mod had no hitscan weapon at all until you got the lightning bolt, and I wanted something good for distance-sniping earlier in the game. It almost seems overpowered, considering how effectively it can stun-lock enemies. But it does damage rather slowly, so if you try to use it against more than one monster... you're gonna have a bad time.

The fireburner I've found to be useful against larger enemies, where the lightning isn't as effective. Sparklight is sometimes useful for smaller clusters when you don't have the later spells available. (Or shooting around a corner, as you alluded to.) Never thought about using the triple-fireball against something like a cyberdemon, but I can kinda see that now that you mention it. Decimator is definitely the go-to for rampage if you've got it, but with a big enough group of big enough enemies, sometimes it's worth spending hp on it without the rampage.

I never really noticed framerate lag using the lightning, but maybe I'm just using a faster system. Hell, this thing can almost run nuts.wad at a playable speed.

And yeah, it probably won't work very well with most monster replacements, since I had to redefine the vanilla monsters to have the appropriate drops/effects. I don't know if there's any more generic way to do it.
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Re: Life Force. My crappy Mutator project, only 8 years late

Postby Nate » Tue May 01, 2018 4:02 pm

New version, and Heretic support! See the original post for links.

So, I've been tinkering a bit since I released this a few weeks ago, and made a few changes. Here is Version 2.0. The bump to 2.0 isn't so much because I've added any major new features, but because the codebase has been cleaned up a bit, during the process of porting it over to Heretic. In fact, most of the codebase of this version has been backported from the Heretic version wholesale, and rewritten for Doom.

There's a lot more 'generic' code; in this version I've used things like "####" sprites (to aid in subclassing and code copying), custom sounds defined in sndinfo, common sprite names across versions (so they can be changed by editing textures.txt), etc. This makes the code a bit more amenable to porting it to a new game.

Some of the changes in V2.0:


  • Soul globes dropped by mobs are now attracted to the nearest player within a short distance. This way you can get the health from killed monsters through walls or on ledges.
  • Difficulty levels up to UV give you about 50% more LF than they did before, so if you thought the old version was too hard, see if this is more to your liking.
  • I've added two new difficulties between UV and Nightmare. They're the same monster spawns as UV, but life force drops have been adjusted. The new "Iron Caster" difficulty is now equivalent to the original version's UV, while in "Wizard of Steel" (a) mobs only drop about 75% as much life force as before, and (b) mob drops disappear after about 20 seconds. If you find yourself leaving behind spamloads of extra soul globes, try this setting.
  • Sergeants and chaingunners now only have a roughly 1 in 10 chance of dropping a weapon. Less pickup spam, and most of the time you get magnettable health from them instead.

Heretic Version

So, when I was building the original Life Force mutator, the thought occurred to me that having a magic-based mod in Doom seemed to be a rather odd pairing. (But certainly not a new one; see Omega for example.) A magic-based mod for Heretic, on the other hand, would be a perfect fit. A couple responses to my Life Force thread showed that other people felt the same way. So I went and made a Heretic version.

Interestingly, despite the fact that Heretic's resources fit the theme better, it was actually slightly harder to find appropriate graphics and sounds to build off of. Although Heretic has a better supply of magic-themed bits, overall it seems to actually be graphically less 'rich' than Doom II. Browsing through the various categories of graphics (projectiles, decorations, items) I kept finding myself saying "Didn't Doom have more to choose from here? Or at least more generic items that were easier to hammer into the appropriate shape?"

There's also the fact that the Heretic weapon sprites (the HUD graphics, not the pickups) display much less of the weapon on screen compared to Doom. Witness the BFG sprite in Doom, which is so huge, half of it is never even seen ingame. Heretic goes the other extreme. The tip of the weapon you see ingame is just about all that exists in the wad, so there's less to work with for mutator graphics.

Life Force for Heretic plays similarly to Life Force for Doom. (Or, as similarly as could be expected given the different set of mobs.) A few differences:

  • Both fireball attacks (regular and spread) exist as before. However, since Heretic has one less weapon pickup tham Doom (due to not having an equivalent of the SSG), they have been combined into one pickup. The first time you pick up the Fireball skill, you get the single fireball attack. When you pick up a second one, it upgrades it to give you the spread attack.
  • The lightning attack is now a 'continuous' attack (if you hold down fire, it sends a constant stream, instead of discrete pulses). It otherwise does the same damage for the same cost. This is how I originally wanted it to work, and the only reason I didn't do it that way in the original was for lack of a suitable sound effect. Hell, the 'boss brain spit' sound effect was a stretch as it was.
  • There's no more Rampage pickup. Instead, the Tome of Power artifact provides the power to cast attacks without cost. Except for the lack of health drain, the weapons are unchanged with the Tome powerup (except the original staff, which is powered up as normal.)

What's next?

The obvious question you might have at this point is, how about Hexen? Well, the answer is, I'm already working on it. The new codebase is quite a bit more amenable to porting to a new game, so expect it to happen in the not-too-distant future.
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Re: Life Force. New version. Now with Heretic support!

Postby Cyanide » Sat May 19, 2018 2:34 pm

This is a cool concept! :) I'm making a compat patch for Shades of Doom as I'm writing this. The new generic code makes it a lot easier.
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Re: Life Force. New version. Now with Heretic support!

Postby MaxRideWizardLord » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:55 pm

Finally a mod that we all dream of! Just need to be as versatile and rich as AEoD and as powerful and intense as Russian Overkill and it's will be an all time favorite classic forever!

Doubt that will ever happen, but oh well, one can dream. :P Thanks for creating it anyway.
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