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26/03/2018 - "Skaarj Tower" by Drew

Each week a single map is discussed here in detail.

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Subject: 26/03/2018 - "Skaarj Tower" by Drew

Post Posted: 26 Mar 2018, 21:12

Map Title: Skaarj Tower
Author: Drew
From: Skaarj Tower - Shadow and Fire
Filename: SkaarjTowerF.unr
Music Files: Eversmoke.umx, Journey.umx, Mountain.umx, Watcher.umx




Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50lbLKs6keE
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiOtLUOlGF4
Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hxIYY0jIU0
Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z8tAeSuRZY
Part 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7erwDVH9bU

Synopsis: Skaarj Tower - Shadow and Fire.

UBerserker
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Subject: Re: 26/03/2018 - "Skaarj Tower" by Drew

Post Posted: 26 Mar 2018, 23:57

Yes I wrote that as the synopsis because that's all there's to say.
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Subject: Re: 26/03/2018 - "Skaarj Tower" by Drew

Post Posted: 29 Mar 2018, 01:29

My old comments (start is referring to the playthrough):

I added teleporters because I think it makes the level flow so much better, and it's just as well considering it took fourty-two minutes even with that.

That this level manages to have hundreds of snipers and still feel fair is quite unique, although it's mainly because the level gives out such vast amounts of armour (including infinite powershields with the ghost secret) that it's extremely easy to recover from any set-backs.

The main cave is incredibly grand but the overall structure has some big issues for gameplay, like the design that forces you to backtrack huge distances and the extremely long and featureless corridors between each area. I'm sure the level could have been restructured a little to fix that and improve the flow immensely as well as very likely giving a boost to conceptual grandness.

While some texture choices don't work so well, the level does a good job varying the visuals of each separate part while still making them feel like part of a cohesive whole, and each area gives off a distinct mood.


It was a while ago but I don't think my feelings have changed to much; one of the most grand and ambitious Unreal maps ever made, but the corridor backtracking harms the structure, and it feels like it could have quite easily been an even better level with some relatively small changes.
Formerly Mman

UBerserker
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Subject: Re: 26/03/2018 - "Skaarj Tower" by Drew

Post Posted: 31 Mar 2018, 21:57

Another dead MOTW :p

This is another good map. Looking at the editor, it actually doesn't occupy much of the geometry void.
Loved wasting afternoons playing Skaarj Tower levels; this map is INFINITELY BETTER than Skaarj Castle because it doesn't have that annoying shitty maze. I'm not sure why Drew felt attached making unnecessarily long tunnels, that is one actual bad way to extend the longevity of your map.

I remember the sounds being hugely annoying near the waterfall, as well as the trigger to activate the boss fight at the end being absolutely weird. Seems like you had to cross a certain spot and he'd begin roaming around.

Once again, has aged overall quite well except the texturing and probably the gameplay. For a map suited for coop, you find more items then enemies, therefore it isn't really fun.
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Subject: Re: 26/03/2018 - "Skaarj Tower" by Drew

Post Posted: 01 Apr 2018, 20:49

Man Skaarj Tower definitely rates as high as you can get in terms of conceptual grandness (just like the last MOTW - I see a pattern).
I still remember spending four and a half HOURS in there, and for your info that's about as long as my playthrough of Skaarj Castle (4h15min).

It's a 2-map campaign, but it's NOT a short campaign and it's overall fantastic - so any of you unfamiliar with Skaarj Tower - Shadow and Fire should hop right to it.
But the fact it's so long and quite hard means I am not in a hurry to replay it.

UBerserker wrote:Yes I wrote that as the synopsis because that's all there's to say.


LOL, actually it's funny you should point to the bare-bones story here - I remember the story being minimal in-game, but you may recall that the synopsis in the Readme was far less bare-bones than the vast majority of SP map releases. I thought the story idea was pretty original and it was pretty awesome something like that could get such an epic treatment... in an old school way (it's all in the journey, no cinematics and details are left to your imagination).
In-game, I also remember the Nali ghost and a potentially intriguing Translator Message or two but unfortunately it never got developed - EXCEPT for a quick, one-off reference at the start of Skaarj Tower - The Fall of Seethe!

UBerserker wrote:this map is INFINITELY BETTER than Skaarj Castle


No.

Sorry but I have to express my disagreement here :P
For me both maps are awesome, and really the maze never was much of a problem for me - and while objectively the build in Skaarj Tower is a bit better (mostly lighting) than in Skaarj Castle, I actually prefer the latter ever so slightly because the environment is more to my taste (open sky and mountainous setting FTW - and I loved the moment I emerged on top of the ridge, one of the best views I experienced with this engine and that's despite the limitation of the "edge of the map") and the moment you finally make it to the castle is one of the most satisfying moments I've experienced in Unreal SP (and the boss fight was better than in Skaarj Tower - the boss here actually made me jump in fright and killed me on my first attempt!).

But going back to Skaarj Tower: it does the "subterranean civilisation" theme better than any other SP map for Unreal/UT that I know of, the main cavern is awe-inspiring and while it could use more lore, it made me question why I spent so much time playing The Elder Scrolls: Chapter 2 - Daggerfall which really could do with better underground visuals given the amount of fucking TIME one spends in the latter's inane dungeons.
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Subject: Re: 26/03/2018 - "Skaarj Tower" by Drew

Post Posted: 02 Apr 2018, 10:07

Ah... and it's almost too late again :p Well, this time I didn't really feel like playing the map again because of its long playtime with no real reward: the visuals and the gameplay were pretty bland imo. I do, however, acknowledge Skaarj Tower as a genius concept that could've been awesome in a more experienced mapper's hand or if it was made later, when PCs were stronger. Actually, I have never played the Castle, as I was so relieved to have finished the Tower, I was shocked that something similar awaited me another time (yeah, when I was young, I only wanted brainless action and leet visuals)! I'm a fan of mazes, though, so maybe I should tackle it some time. :D

Also, the Tower map could be the first one to have walkable ladders (with invisible stairs). When I first realized how clever that was, I was in awe!

This map made me hate the Bluff music, because it was playing over and over. Now that I look at the videos, I wonder if I had missed a trigger as the music shouldn't have played as long as I remember it to be...
The Unforchers will come again soon...

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Subject: Re: 26/03/2018 - "Skaarj Tower" by Drew

Post Posted: 02 Apr 2018, 12:56

editor Dave wrote:Actually, I have never played the Castle [...] I'm a fan of mazes, though, so maybe I should tackle it some time. :D


Do have it on your "to play" list - it's worth it! :)

editor Dave wrote:Also, the Tower map could be the first one to have walkable ladders (with invisible stairs). When I first realized how clever that was, I was in awe!


Hah! I had forgotten about that (and didn't sit down to watch the videos in the OP) but yeah it's cool - though I first encountered that kind of ladder in... Iphigenia!
Nali: Magic or Telekinesis
Waffnuffly wrote:It's tarydium-doped smoothies. Drunk by the player, I mean. The player is tripping balls. The whole game actually takes place in a large city and the player thinks he's on an alien world.


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