Justice - SP
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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by satchmo on Wed Jan 19th at 9:35pm 2005


I am at work right now so I cannot upload any screenshots. As soon as I get back home, I'll upload the screens.

Please comments on the gameplay. There are many possibilities in the map, so I want to ensure that there is no flaw in the game design. Thanks in advance.

[addsig]




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by Junkyard God on Wed Jan 19th at 10:23pm 2005


hey, could you please post some screenshots? i can host em for oyu if you want.

i'm realy curions about a sp map ^^

[addsig]




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by DrGlass on Thu Jan 20th at 9:17am 2005


I just played through it, and I have to say it is a great start!

Here are a few bugs I found.

The turret in the confrence room shoots at you throught the glass when you first escape.

I had some proplems with troops spawning infront of me in some areas, I'd say that you should have a drop ship bring them in or somthing.

If you go to the roof you can not only jump around up there but there is too much AR1 ammo and you can see the repeling troops just kinda hanging there off the side of the building.

It is way too dark, work on the lighting. There should be more light filling the rooms from the sun alone.

Toss some auto save spots in there. Place them after helth packs so you know the player is gonna have some good hp and before big groups of bad guys.

mix up the combine, there is only the one type.

The ant gaurds can run into one side of the prison and they kill everyone. Then you can kill the ant lions by stanging on the roof or onto of that generator.

The few zombies seem out of place.

Add some more detail to the map, and work on VIS blocking. The fps seemed to suffer a bit but I think you could make that map run very smooth.

Then the good.

Love the layout, its not just one room after another, I really felt like I had a choice of how to attack each area.

The fire fights were fun and intence, even though the AI got stuck up and was some times easy to kill, I got a rush and had fun gunning around.

I understood my mission and was able to follow through.
Bravo'




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by satchmo on Thu Jan 20th at 5:04pm 2005


Thanks, DrGlass, for playtesting it.

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The turret in the confrence room shoots at you throught the glass when you first escape.


Actually, I've made the ceiling glass bulletproof. Even though the turret below is firing, the player doesn't get hurt by it. This is fair to the player because there is no good way to disable the turret from that location, but it gives the alert player a heads up about the turret when he/she reaches the conference room.

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I had some proplems with troops spawning infront of me in some areas, I'd say that you should have a drop ship bring them in or somthing.


Really? I'd like to know exactly where you encountered this problem. I took great pain at preventing this from happening.

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If you go to the roof you can not only jump around up there but there is too much AR1 ammo...


That's intentional. I was always running out of ammo at first before I placed the huge box of ammo there. Even with the ammo boost, I occasionally find myself running low on AR1 ammo. Maybe I'm just a bad aim. I plan to leave the ammo there though.

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It is way too dark, work on the lighting.


I guess this is a matter of personal taste. Someone else did comment on this issue previously, and I did add quite a few lights in the map since. I want to keep certain rooms dark on purpose to hide the Combines. This way, all you can see is their little blue eyes glowing in the dark and perhaps an arch of red light when they lob a grenade at you. Too much light can reveal their positions too easily and take the fun out of sniping at them in the shadow.

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Toss some auto save spots in there. Place them after helth packs so you know the player is gonna have some good hp and before big groups of bad guys.


I'll look into this. But I am afraid to add auto_save triggers because it might save over a game that the player has from the commercial game. They'll be really pissed off at me if that happens and they lose their place in the game.

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mix up the combine, there is only the one type.


This can be easily done.

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The ant gaurds can run into one side of the prison and they kill everyone. Then you can kill the ant lions by stanging on the roof or onto of that generator.


This is actually part of the gameplay by design. That's why I provided a rocket launcher and some ammos. And if you're good (apparently you are), you can set up the antlion guards against the Combines to save you some trouble.

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The few zombies seem out of place.


Yeah, I know it's strange to have zombies in the basement of a courthouse. Most courthouses I've been to aren't haunted. But then again, it's the world of Half-Life, and strange things happen there.

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Add some more detail to the map, and work on VIS blocking. The fps seemed to suffer a bit but I think you could make that map run very smooth.


I've tried hard on this task, but it's very challenging to block VIS with the Source engine. It usually insists on rendering almost everything in the vicinity. I've tried func_areaportal_window and hint brushes, but without much improvement in frame rates.

Actually, the most taxing aspect of the map are the models. I have many occluders set up in the map already, but some of them cannot be blocked (otherwise they look very strange when they disappear right in front of your eyes). I've also set up max_dist on most of them, so they won't be rendered when they're out of sight.

When I run through the map on my slow machine, it actually has decent frame rates at most places. The frame rates are about the same as the official SP maps from Valve, so I assume they're acceptable for most people playing HL2.

Thanks again for all the suggestions.
[addsig]




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by Atrocity on Thu Jan 20th at 5:13pm 2005


wow long post lol, well I just looked at the pics judging from picture number 1 the skybox looks kind of odd to me, either too close or something, might want to mess with that. [addsig]



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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by DrGlass on Thu Jan 20th at 6:38pm 2005


About the lighting. The dark is really cool, but there needs to be a little ambent light. I could be the brightness on our moniters. I found myself useing the flashlight quite a bit.

I'd look into having the ant lions run away when they are getting shot from above. Its very strange to just sit ontop of that generator out back and just shoot the hell out of the ant lion as it just stands there. Of course I dont know how you could do this...

Your right about the VIS blocking, I have a hard time with it too.

Over all it was veryfun and I'll write you a full review if you release the full map.




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by Campaignjunkie on Fri Jan 21st at 12:06am 2005


The overall flow was good. I like how you could see the conference room through the window at the very beginning. Nice bit of nonlinearity too, being able to run around on the rooftops or go through the windows.

But... You really have to work on details and framerate. Too many windows opened to the courtyard, causing FPS to plummet, and the brushwork/layout was pretty messy. Lots of rooms were the bare minimum as well. It felt pretty unpolished.

With the gameplay, you have the right idea, with lots of opportunities for Combine soldiers to retreat and such. But now you have to develop it further and get more complex with room layout. And as I said before, I liked how you could see the conference room at the beginning - but I had no idea that was the conference room. You need to provide the player with more clues about navigation.

While suited for gameplay, the map layout made no sense. Try to design it around how a real jail/whatever would be designed. This serves two purposes: Gives the player a frame of reference for better planning and strategy, and increases "immersion" manyfold.

It's a good start though, looking forward to more.
[addsig]




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by Cyantist on Fri Jan 21st at 1:43am 2005


Yes! The conf roomm skylights should look more like skylights should and one should be able to see something in the conf room (an insignia of some sort?) that will make the conf room identifiable when you get there later (preferably before you enter.. the same insignia on the door of the room perhaps?).

It's way too dark. Ambient lighting can be done tastefully without making things too much brighter. The key is to be able to feel your way around without the flashlight, and I think it's possible to add lighting that won't compromise the soldiers hidden in the dark.

The auto saves should not save over other auto saves.. I don't have the definitive answer here, but auto-saves should work fine and create a new file without a problem.

It's too bad the antlion guards or whatever they're called don't always run away when they're getting shot from someplace they can't reach. Or at least get enraged.

The few zombies feel out of place not because it's a courthouse, but because there are only a few.. it doesn't seem like they belong in the map at all since the rest of the map is populated by combine and a couple beasts. If there are zombies there, why aren't there more zombies? Well it's ok, I think, but I wanted to clear up why DrGlass said they're out of place, if possible.

It's very possible to do better vis blocking, and I think you can set the distance at which models disappear so when you're out of a room it doesn't have to render the models for instance.

That addresses points DrGlass made. Campaignjunkie said some things I'll reiterate, too.

There's some great gameplay, but almost too much non-linearity. It's not obvious what the next step is. You can jump down into the courtyard and make for the gate, which of course won't open. Once you cut the power in the basement you can head to the conference room, but I have no idea why going to the conference room unlocks the main gate (it ought to be obvious). It'd be better, I think, if the player was kept from jumping down into the courtyard, if there were more objectives and they were spelled out / stated somehow or just felt natural.

While there were jail cells at the top, not much more in the way of functional designations for rooms or parts of the building. The force fields were odd since you could go around.. Maybe there should be another force field to confine you to the space inbetween the halves of the building (where there's already one large force field).

This map felt like an alpha version: there ought to be more layout work done, the windows didn't make sense to me.. felt like arbitrary holes in the wall rather than windows, more texture work, obviously a lot more detail. Staircases were too narrow or the railings too think. Perhaps the rocket launcher should have been hidden better. The buggy was unneccessary, though some might find it fun. But features of the map should have a function, and there should be more of a direct and creative challenge in accomplishing objectives I think. It's nice to have options in how you play, but the game (the map..) should guide you into the next step.

I'd prefer it if you were making a real jail break: alarm sound (if not too annoying), spotlights perhaps. Or if the place is in chaos due to zombies and antlion guards then there should be more chaos, more fighting between beasts and combine, things going on in general. Maybe people in other cells could take part in the story. Perhaps you'd have to let a man out and guide him to a door panel that he has to be manning in order for you to get thru a security door.

The beginning was difficult! In HL2 sp when you only have a crowbar the first guards you run into that you must kill are pre-occupied and thus they are easy to take, and to take their weapon. I wish there was something similar at the beginning of this map. Did I miss something? Would the turrets attack the guards if I set them up right? A real player with a crowbar may be enough to take down a soldier with a shotgun, but it's perhaps not as easy as it should be to get started. I also think it's too easy to wander the wrong way at game start (die easy). Guess it doesn't matter since you'll learn fast..

Lastly the prison gate shouldn't simply make the screen go dark. It should stop the game and show a message or something. And if you make it to the gate before you've done what you need to do to unlock it, a message about what's necessary might really help.

What I find most important are just a whole lot more details and finishings.

There's lots that's good about this map, too. It was fun to explore and challenging when I was surprised. I liked the conception of the building and the senario. The basic mapping work was done well. The reason there's so much to suggest for improving the map is because I hope you turn this good map into a professional one! It takes a lot of attention to detail, but this map has all the right potential. Thx
for sharing and keep it up!




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by Vash on Fri Jan 21st at 1:55am 2005


I liked it, but nothing made sense. I start the map by escaping through an open window? Why not just leave the door open if its this easy to esacpe. I kill all enemies above ground only to go into the basement and find...Zombies? Then outside I find two antlion beasts. The map is a good start, but nothing in it makes sense. The gravity gun is sitting in a tiny room, just lying idley as if it were a piece of trash. Put it behind something fancy
[addsig]




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by satchmo on Fri Jan 21st at 4:50am 2005


Wow, thanks for the out-pouring of suggestions. I am very grateful for all your ideas. Now, I'll address them one by one...

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I had no idea that was the conference room. You need to provide the player with more clues about navigation


How about adding "the conference room directly below" in the game_text at the start of the map?

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Ambient lighting can be done tastefully without making things too much brighter


I will experiment with light_environment. But in fact, the current ambient light setting is already the result of multiple fine-tuning attempts. I don't want to make it unnaturally bright so it loses the sunset ambience.

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The auto saves should not save over other auto saves...


I thought the engine is set to save only two auto_saves. The older saved game gets bumped out and deleted. That's how it works in the official Valve single player levels (at any one time there will only be two auto_saved games--the most recent two). So I am afraid to accidentally overwrite people's saved spots if I trigger them.

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set the distance at which models disappear so when you're out of a room it doesn't have to render the models for instance.


I've already done that with almost all the models. It was quite a painstaking process--to maximize performance without having the player notice that things around them tend to appear and disappear.

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if there were more objectives and they were spelled out / stated


I didn't want to over do it. If the objectives are too direct, then the maps would feel like a guided tour through the courthouse. The player loses a sense of free will and just feels like an automaton following orders.

Like in the real world, you have to think on your toes and manage to escape without having all the informations.

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Maybe there should be another force field to confine you to the space in between the halves of the building


I thought of that also, but decided against it. It would also take out some of the fun and free will factor from the map. I want to have the antlion guard in the courtyard chase the player back into the building instead of just having a force field blocking the path.

There are also other places where I put an excessive amount of Combines to force the player to go one route or the other. I want to have the player go through most of the map and semi-direct the player's navigation without making the player feel that he/she has no choice but to go this and that way.

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It's nice to have options in how you play, but the game (the map..) should guide you into the next step


If there are real options (and sometimes there are), then it's not feasible to guide the player's movement. Which option would I guide the player? I already accomplish this subtly by forming specific patrol distribution around the map so there often is one easier way to get from point A to point B.

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The beginning was difficult!


I agree. I wanted to have the first prison guard to just have a handgun, but that isn't one of the weapon options. Perhaps there is a way around it?

In addition, there is a trick to bash the guard's head open without getting hurt. It's not easy, but it's definitely feasible. You have to stand right next to the doorway with the crowbar extended into the door frame and lure the guard to the door. Then with your body partially protected by the wall, you can quickly and effectively split his skull with the crowbar without him having a chance to fire back at you.

And if you manage not to get killed by the shotgun blasts, there are plenty of healthkits inside the prison to get you well again before facing the next squad of Combines.

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if you make it to the gate before you've done what you need to do to unlock it, a message about what's necessary might really help


I thought the locked sound from the keypad is sufficient clue that it's locked...

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What I find most important are just a whole lot more details and finishings.


I agree, but with the framerate already suffering at places, I cannot afford to add a whole lot to the map without degrading performance further. I've tried a lot of ways to improve performance (hint brushes, areaportals, occluders, you name it), but I don't think there is an easy way to drastically boost performance without some major reconstruction of the map.

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I hope you turn this good map into a professional one!


I would like to also, but in reality, I don't have the time anymore. My wedding is fast approaching, and I am getting busier each day with the planning process. So I will probably just polish up this current map the best I could without spending another month on it.

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Why not just leave the door open if its this easy to esacpe?


I tried to think of another escape strategy, but I can't easily come up with one. I agree it's strange to have the window completely open like that, but it would be even more strange to have a key or weapon inside the jail cell.

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The gravity gun is sitting in a tiny room, just lying idley as if it were a piece of trash. Put it behind something fancy


This can be quickly remedied. I'll put it on a table with other interesting contraptions.
[addsig]




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by Campaignjunkie on Fri Jan 21st at 6:04am 2005


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How about adding "the conference room directly below" in the game_text at the start of the map?


That's another thing: I suggest against using game_text's. Who would be sending these messages to the player? The mapper? Plus, it has about as much subtlety as a nuclear missile. That's where the "design" comes into level design - you have to be gently guiding the player, have them think this is all their own "independent and unique" playstyle.

Basically, make them jump through the hoops, but don't let them know there were hoops in the first place.

For example: The player will probably figure out to escape the jail cell. I suggest removing the sentry guns outside (their placement doesn't really make sense either). Anyway, the player will look through the window and maybe see Gman there or something, putting a key on the table. Now the player has an objective: to see what Gman put there in the conference room, and it was done without the need of a game_text.
[addsig]




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by Fjorn on Fri Jan 21st at 8:47am 2005


I think the ones with handguns were civil protection, not combine...

I kept catching of architexture... also alot of the stairwells were barely big enough... not to mention a definate lack of glass anywhere but in the conf room and those two on the ground floor...

Also, the 2 antlions are too easy to take out, walk outside to trigger them, then go into the building and let the combine finish them off...


and those sentries right outside the window are useless.... not to mention they take off around 20-50 health, then you run into the combine with the shotty....
[addsig]




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by DrGlass on Fri Jan 21st at 2:12pm 2005


I ran out the window picked on of them up and used it as a shield to run over to the other one so I could knock them both down.




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by satchmo on Fri Jan 21st at 4:35pm 2005


? quoting DrGlass
I ran out the window picked on of them up and used it as a shield to run over to the other one so I could knock them both down.

Wow, that's an ingenious approach. I typically just knock down the one closest to me and then sprint/bunny hop to the other one to knock it down. It usually only take 20-30 health from me if I run fast enough.

But DrGlass's way is better. I plan to leave the turrets there.

[addsig]




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by satchmo on Fri Jan 21st at 4:43pm 2005


? quote:
the player will look through the window and maybe see Gman there or something, putting a key on the table.

That's a great suggestion. I'll work on the scripted sequence to see what I can do.

[addsig]




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by satchmo on Mon Jan 24th at 9:32am 2005


After carefully considering every suggestion from the playtesters, I've made quite a few modifications since the beta. There are still a few things I would like to have done with the map, but due to performance limitations, I have to exclude them from the final release.

I did not incorporate all the ideas from the feedbacks, because I have to implement the best features into one cohesive gaming experience. I did fix a few bugs that were present in the beta.

Any comment is welcome, but I probably will not modify the map any further. Thank you.
[addsig]




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by martinloki on Mon Jan 24th at 6:47pm 2005


I hope this isnt too late.

First, I really love the ability to take all the alternate routes through the map. And the very begining, with the turrets was fun. (I used the turret shield techniqe too, but it was fun to have to pause and think for a second.

Now the down side, the bugs/oddities I found. In the order i found them.

The prisoner in the cell registered that he was a squad member, but I could not find a way to free him.

The guard outside the window after you grab the gravity gun seems to get to his position magically. I ran in for a brief second, grabed the gun and got out in time to watch the second guard exiting the hall. (It took me three reloads to confirm that there really was no way he could have come from anywhere but the spawn void.)

Next I found 2 more soldiers that appear suddenly from the spawn void. In the hall leading to the second building, on the right hand side, they spawned in front of me twice. (actually one in front and one behind) I had dodged outside into the stair landing to avoid some fire and when i returned and tried to forge on, one spawned right in my path and the other right behind me.

On the roof, if you take the stairs up and then go straight through the door, in the bottom right cornor where the roof and fence meet, there is an oddly textured brush, either that, or something is clipping through.

Also in the fenced in area, you can reach the medkit through the bars. I don't know if that is intentional or not.

For some insane reason I decided that the basement was the next place i should go. The zombies waited until i was more than half way down the ladder before reacting to me. Before that they were just standing there. I may have been able to take them out. I'll have to try later.

About this time I realized that just about all the shadows are blue. Is this normal? (I was in the bathroom, playing with the can when I noticed this.)

I also realized that the rails on the speed-zombie's generator are not solid. You may want to put a no draw brush there so they seem solid to the player.

I also discovered that the antguard (big one) was able to ignore the force shields. (that was an unplesant revelation since I was assuming that it couldn't get through.) Should it be able to do that?

Once back inside I found four odd floating red lights over the doorway leading out of the lecture hall. (I just realized that these were most likely the manhacks waiting for their cue.) very bizzare scene.

Trying to leave the building I was surprised to find the repellers. I retreated to find manhacks. One of each was messed up. One of the manhacks made no noise. (maybe that was an odd bug for me this one time) And the right hand combine got stuck on the lip of the fountian.

Those were all the problems I found in my one play through. I really liked the non-linearity, and the challange level and look forward to playing the final bug-free(er) version.

Also, good luck with the wedding. I know the time leading up can be extremely hectic. Take care, and thanks for a fun single player level.




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by satchmo on Mon Jan 24th at 8:51pm 2005


No, martinloki, it's not too late. I got the mapping fever last night and this morning, and I've been fixing little things here and there for the past eight hours! So I appreciate your suggestions.

The prisoner "squad member following" bug has been fixed already. That has been bothering me also, and I squashed that message yesterday.

And I did carefully choreograph the spawning of the guards. The latest release of the map should hide this "magically spawning" guard issue better. True, the gurad does spawn with a trigger when the gravity gun is taken, but I planned it so it's not so obvious. I had the gurad patrol into the player's position so it looks like he's coming to investigate the source of gun fire in the prison.

? quote:
Next I found 2 more soldiers that appear suddenly from the spawn void. In the hall leading to the second building, on the right hand side, they spawned in front of me twice. (actually one in front and one behind) I had dodged outside into the stair landing to avoid some fire and when i returned and tried to forge on, one spawned right in my path and the other right behind me.

Hmm, I am not exactly sure of the location of those guards you're describing. I playtested it many times, but I've never had that happen to me. Then again, I have a preconceived notion of where the triggers and guards are, so I am inherently biased.

Would it be possible to describe them in detail for me (i.e. what types of weapon they're carrying, an even more detailed description of their spawn location)?

The odd shaped brushes you're talking about in the tower (next to the fence) are left there intentionally. They're byproducts of the adjacent roof, but since they actually look kinda cool next to the fence, I decided not to fix them and leave them there.

The healthkit reachable through the fence is intentional. It actually serves as a hint that the player should try to hop over the short slanted wall to get to the large box of SMG1 ammo hidden there.

All the shadows casted by the models are blue in this map. This is consistent for every machine playtested. I am not sure what causes this, but it's possible that it's a consequence of the bluish ambient light I set. Since it's not a major cosmetic blemish, I left it be. I really wanted to have a bluish ambient light.

There are no more zombies in the basement. No one felt zombies are appropriate in this setting, so I took them out in the latest version of the map.

The force fields only block the player's movement. It's the same way in Valve's official single player maps (remember in the beginning, after you get out of the train station and you're wandering around in the city plaza?). If the fields block NPC's as well, then the gameplay would suffer.

I don't know why sometimes the manhacks made no noise. It has happened to me also, but not consistently. I really don't have any idea how to fix this problem.

And the Combine next to the fountain? I left it like that intentionally, so he'll stay put and keep lobbing grenades at the player as you try to come out of the buliding. When you finally kill him, he usually has some interesting posture hanging at the edge of the fountain. I like this ragdoll effect.

Thanks for all the ideas. I'll keep updating until it's as bug-free as I can get it.
[addsig]




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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by martinloki on Tue Jan 25th at 10:53am 2005


Thanks for the fast reply.

2 guards:

One spawns in each corner of the indent in the hallway. I think they are both armed with smgs. (I'm pretty sure the one behind me had a smg. The one in front of me didn't get a chance to fire, or if he did I didn't notice.) If that doesn't clear it up you can try my directions below. I was a bit detailed since I wasn't sure what caused them to spawn. It may have been me ducking out of the hall to hide for a second, or maybe I killed a specific guard.

This should get you to the 2 remaining guards:

From the gravity gun, take out the two guards that came after you.

Go into the hall they came from.

Go a bit past the doorway on the left, realize that there is a guard shooting at you and fall back, retreating out of the doorway you just passed. (you should now be just outside on the platform with the stairs leading up.)

Realize that you still have enough rounds to take him out and head back in.

Stick all the way on the right side of the hallway, but don't go down the stairs to where he is.

Take him out. Take out any others that come along.

This is the best description I can give you right now. (at work) If it doesn't help let me know, and I can try to get a screenshot, or something.

Side Note:

BTW, I was just wondering, since you removed the zombies from the basement, have you thought about placing a turret or two down there? Afterall, it is unlikely that they would leave a hole that big in their perimiter and everyone knows that guarding a basement is a boring job.





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Re: Justice - SP
Posted by satchmo on Tue Jan 25th at 6:04pm 2005


Thanks for the detailed description. I spent all day yesterday trying to figure out which two guards you're referring to, and I finally realized they're the ones in the corridor connecting the prison and the big hall with the statue.

I know understand how you can trigger them to spawn when they're not suppose to do so. Their trigger is actually located half-way on the stairs leading to the tower (the platform where you find two secondary SMG ammo). But under certain circumstances, they'll be awaken. For example, I believe a fire fight in close proximity to them will trigger the spawn.

I will work on this problem, probably solving the issue by moving their spawn location to somewhere more isolated so nothing disturbs them too much.

And having turrets in the basement is a good idea. I am going to add them to see how that affects the gameplay.

Thanks again for the input.
[addsig]





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