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30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

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User avatar Sat42
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Subject: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 30 Mar 2024, 20:03

Map Title: Prisoned
Author: David "DavidM" Münnich
From: Operation Na Pali
Filename: NP02DavidM




Video Playthrough:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyqUqkEIPAw

Synopsis: Crew member 046, a somewhat rebellious marine onboard the Vortex Rikers Mark II, has been selected for a very special mission: the infiltration of hostile Na Pali territory in order to find 3 surviving crew members of the original Vortex Rikers who may have valuable intel. Electromagnetic interference from massive tarydium deposits on the planet prevent the Vortex Rikers Mk. II from getting closer in order to pinpoint the exact location of the survivors' distress signal, so Operation Na Pali (ONP) sees N° 046 (ONP Guy) beamed to the surface in the approximate target area. However, things aren't going exactly smoothly and ONP Guy is immediately captured by the Skaarj...

Discuss!
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.

User avatar Semfry
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Subject: Re: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 30 Mar 2024, 22:39

I guess my comments from when this map was up before still work, at least to start:

This map provides a good intro to ONP as a whole, and it introduces a lot of the new elements such as the amount of scripting, new effects, and ONP guy himself. The "stealth" aspect is handled well and kept from being frustrating (although on Unreal mode the first fights against Enforcer Troopers are some of the most deadly in the pack). It looks great and introduces some elements that come up later (like the Pupae hives). While not one of my favourites it's one of the most consistent all-round maps in ONP.
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Subject: Re: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 31 Mar 2024, 05:25

Added a new video; I initially updated it to use a better video elsewhere rather than my ancient video, but I've now done a new video. In the process I also found a mod to fix the massive weapons in higher resolutions: https://github.com/alexstrout/foxWSFix-UT99 (and apparently the next UT469 patch will provide a native solution).

Replaying it again, the level does a good job introducing a lot of the new stuff in ONP without overwhelming you, like the code panels and various cutscenes. It also foreshadows a surprising amount of ONP's lore concepts, like the friendly Mercenaries, Rebel and Evil Nali and the initial monologue at least establishes a general goal right away. On that note I don't think ONP does anything special with Brutes later, so I wonder if the enhanced Brute experiments here were a plot/gameplay concept that got dropped later. I like the way it all links up in little ways towards the end, along with the seeming twist that you are actually on the Mothership (or another one anyway), that is nicely sprung on you at the end too. ONP guy is also fully pushed to make an impression here with his quips on almost everything, from what I recall he's more subdued in most of the later levels so they do tone things down a little after this intro.
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Subject: Re: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 31 Mar 2024, 08:33

I like to think that the Brute experiments were just another example of Skaarj Empire's readiness to tweak the DNA of their victims until a desired goal is met. Kinda like the Kett exaltation research that was on a different stage in case of every race.
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Subject: Re: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 31 Mar 2024, 11:58

Bye bye baby! :D

This map is a great introduction to ONP, it's kind of a recreation of the first map from Unreal except that you start in an alien ship instead of a human one. It's really amazing how much David Münnich has improved his skills since he started making levels in UE1, compare this map to something like MercShip, TrapShip or TrapTemple and you can really see how much he has changed, David Münnich definitely has one of the most impressive mapping evolutions in Unreal history.

I really like the reflective effect in one of the water zones and the many scripted sequences this map has, there's a lot of attempts at jumpscares but I think the most effective one is when ONP guy shouts at the mercenary to wait for him, R.I.P. headphone users :lol: .

This map uses music very well, David really likes using section 2 of Crater.umx in his maps :wink: , the translator messages are good giving you some lore like the message that reveals that ONP takes place 1 year after the original Unreal and the message about the experiments that the Skaarj are conducting on the Brutes which pays off later in the campaign. Also pretty cool seeing the level geometry from Mothership Basement which implies that you are in the same mothership or the Skaarj are lazy at constructing their motherships by repeating the same design :lol: . Also the level has some light actors out of bounds, oops....

My only two complains with this map is that it has no secrets and I wish that the level wasn't soo linear, but as the first map I think it's a much more enjoyable level than Vortex Rikers because of the gameplay.
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Subject: Re: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 31 Mar 2024, 18:26

Semfry wrote:Added a new video [...] In the process I also found a mod to fix the massive weapons in higher resolutions: https://github.com/alexstrout/foxWSFix-UT99 (and apparently the next UT469 patch will provide a native solution).


Thank you for the new video, I'm glad you were able to fix the aspect ratio issue on ultra-wide resolutions! And it's pleasing to see ONP's HUD fare so well in this day and age, I love it!

I just replayed Prisoned myself and yeah, what a great start to the campaign this is 8)

In fact I first rewatched the flyby map, replayed the tutorial, and rewatched the intro and I was reminded of first time impressions, how it all felt like a fully-fledged new game, between the better graphics, new gameplay elements (like how locked doors need to be opened by entering the right code in a keypad: I thought it was smartly implemented, particularly the way the code is randomised on each playthrough, so you have to go and find it every time) and a proper tutorial to introduce them, and tons of cinematics and scripted sequences. The more cinematic-driven approach - not always successful but done particularly well in this first map - necessitated some voice acting and at the end of the day it mostly works when it matters (during the main story moments, such as during the intro and outro cutscenes and here in the first level of the campaign where, as Semfry said, the initial monologue establishes a general goal right away), even if we also remember those other moments of the campaign when the script is poor and ONP Guy blurts out something inane (the audio mixing/quality is occasionally also an issue; the voice actor himself is usually fine). It all seems so distant nowadays but you have to remember that ONP literally made it into some official video game articles at the time.

Aspide wrote:[...] there's a lot of attempts at jumpscares [...]


Indeed and landing in the Pupae chamber without a weapon is particularly unnerving as, on a first playthrough, you really feel like at any moment the little buggers will turn aggressive!
The really good use of sound tends to be taken for granted now but it also contributes strongly to building a serious atmosphere.

Semfry wrote:On that note I don't think ONP does anything special with Brutes later, so I wonder if the enhanced Brute experiments here were a plot/gameplay concept that got dropped later.


As Aspide said:

Aspide wrote:[...] the message about the experiments that the Skaarj are conducting on the Brutes which pays off later in the campaign.


It's brief but ONP does bring back this point later during a cool moment. There's a LOT of cool moments to remember in this campaign which we will revisit in due time ;)

Delacroix wrote:I like to think that the Brute experiments were just another example of Skaarj Empire's readiness to tweak the DNA of their victims until a desired goal is met. [...]


It's funny that you all mention this particular bit of lore because I too really like it along with the (eventually more impactful) storyline on Nali being fitted with "psychosis implants" and it feels like a natural extension on what was first introduced in Unreal's MotherShip Lab. ONP would have benefited from being more focused on the overarching narrative throughout its massive campaign, but in many ways it feels like a proper successor to the mother game (also helped by this first level's partial reduxes of Demon Crater and MotherShip Basement, as already mentioned).

Aspide wrote:[...] as a first map I think it's a much more enjoyable level than Vortex Rikers because of the gameplay.


Agreed :)
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.

Masterkent
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Subject: Re: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 02 Apr 2024, 23:00

The Troopers with Enforcers are very hard to beat on the Extreme difficulty which is otherwise comfortable for me to play this campaign with (the Unreal difficulty seems too easy at most ONP locations).

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Subject: Re: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 03 Apr 2024, 16:26

Masterkent wrote:The Troopers with Enforcers are very hard to beat on the Extreme difficulty which is otherwise comfortable for me to play this campaign with (the Unreal difficulty seems too easy at most ONP locations).


Wow, we have different skill levels for sure :lol: (FYI: next time I play this, it will be on the Hard difficulty setting which is plenty for me!) I deduce from this that ONP was ported from UT to Unreal along with Botpack, which is why you mention the patch 227 Extreme difficulty level which is above the original max Unreal difficulty?

On that note: it's true that if there's any real lasting criticism of ONP, it would be that it's generally a bit too easy for Unreal veterans, I've seen others saying as much over the years (like Mr Prophet). In this way, I guess playing ONP under 227 allows to bring back some challenge for hardcore players with access to higher difficulty settings than originally available.
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.

Masterkent
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Subject: Re: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 04 Apr 2024, 00:48

This map reveals how disbalanced those advanced difficulty levels are when handling enemies with hitscan weaps. I think, I could beat the rest of ONP on Nightmare (with classic balance) or Ultra-Unreal (with modified balance), but my chances to finish the first map would be nearly zero ))

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Subject: Re: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 04 Apr 2024, 03:31

Semfry really nailed it with his comment so I don't have much to add, other than if you are a community mapper making a campaign of considerable (or even moderate) scope and you intend to include a set of new features to improve on Unreal's, there's probably no finer "first map" to study than Prisoned.

Everything ONP brings to the table is here and it's in the first level. Sure some gameplay elements don't pop up until later levels, but for a first level introducing new mechanics this is the right way to do it. David was smart here and in no small part the approach is less modder minded and more how one might have gone about presenting a retail product.

Scoff at the voice acting if it pleases you and say what you want about the overall difficulty of the campaign as it is classed with other community packs (I remember finding it easy once, but I'm not as skilled as I used to be, heh). ONP is approachable! Anyone can play Unreal for the first time tomorrow and when they decide to try community offerings there is a reason why ONP will likely be the first recommended choice after RTNP. Anyone can jump into ONP. David loved this game and he took all the right notes.

Masterkent
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Subject: Re: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 04 Apr 2024, 23:40


User avatar Sat42
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Subject: Re: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 05 Apr 2024, 00:32

Masterkent wrote:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Mnk7Ev4L4A


I hadn't realised this on my first playthrough (no one would the first time round!) but after playing this, I came here to read an old MOTW thread for Prisoned, and I remember someone mentioning that the friendly tag for the last encounter with the Mercenary was accidentally omitted :P
However I have no idea what that visual bug at the end of your video is as I've never seen it before: I suppose it's because you (purposefully) screwed up the scripted sequence?

Mister_Prophet wrote:Semfry really nailed it with his comment so I don't have much to add, other than if you are a community mapper making a campaign [...] and you intend to include a set of new features to improve on Unreal's, there's probably no finer "first map" to study than Prisoned.

[...]

ONP is approachable! Anyone can play Unreal for the first time tomorrow and when they decide to try community offerings there is a reason why ONP will likely be the first recommended choice after RTNP. Anyone can jump into ONP. David loved this game and he took all the right notes.


Excellent points, indeed that's part of why I felt like ONP was akin to a new fully-fledged game, it went about presenting itself the way a retail product would.
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.

Masterkent
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Subject: Re: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 05 Apr 2024, 22:58

Sat42 wrote:and I remember someone mentioning that the friendly tag for the last encounter with the Mercenary was accidentally omitted :P

Friendly ONP mercs are implemented via a separate class. Making a regular merc friendly would probably badly interfere with the alarm state.

Sat42 wrote:However I have no idea what that visual bug at the end of your video is as I've never seen it before: I suppose it's because you (purposefully) screwed up the scripted sequence?

You can notice the hanging gibs even without killing that merc if you're fast enough (on low difficulty levels like Medium, this is doable, because monsters run slower).

Interestingly, there is a ThrowStuff actor that probably was supposed to push the gibs, but it's unused due to mismatching tags ('mercisnowdead2' vs 'mercisnowdead').

I think, that scripted sequence is worth fixing. Those fake gibs should be removed and the merc should be gibbed by a special trigger instead:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpxs2gbk6gQ
Last edited by Masterkent on 05 Apr 2024, 23:54, edited 1 time in total.

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Subject: Re: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 05 Apr 2024, 23:35

Masterkent wrote:Friendly ONP mercs are implemented via a separate class. Making a regular merc friendly would probably badly interfere with the alarm state.


Ah, thanks for clarifying, I was speaking from a vague memory, never did actually look into how it was done!

Masterkent wrote:You can notice the hanging gibs even without killing that merc if you're fast enough (on low difficulty levels like Normal, this is doable, because monsters run slower).

Interestingly, there is a ThrowStuff actor that probably was supposed to push the gibs, but it's unused due to mismatching tags ('mercisnowdead2' vs 'mercisnowdead').

I think, that scripted sequence is worth fixing. Those fake gibs should be removed and the merc should be gibbed by a special trigger instead:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpxs2gbk6gQ


Seems like a neat idea but in that case one could also replace the actual Merc with the friendly class counterpart for consistency. What special trigger did you use as a replacement? I could then implement this fix in my copy 8)
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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Subject: Re: 30/03/2024 - "Prisoned" by David "DavidM" Münnich

Post Posted: 06 Apr 2024, 00:28

I've found that ONP with 255 difficulty (for all the monster spawns) in UT hits the sweet spot for a challenge, the only problem is that the ship segments are impossible because of the speed increase.

This is a great intro level. ONP guy has grown on me over the years and I still get a kick out of some of his lines, including his reaction to the merc's death.

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