This is a test. Test! Consider yourself tested.

20/04/2024 - "Star Shoal Chronicles: Episode Infinity" by ebd

Each week a single map is discussed here in detail.

Moderators: Semfry, Sat42, Jigoku, UB_

User avatar Sat42
Skaarj Warlord Skaarj Warlord
Posts: 925
Joined: 14 Jul 2013, 16:42
Contact:

Subject: 20/04/2024 - "Star Shoal Chronicles: Episode Infinity" by ebd

Post Posted: 20 Apr 2024, 22:30

Map Title: Star Shoal Chronicles: Episode Infinity
Author: ebd
From: Star Shoal Chronicles: Episode Infinity
Filename: shoalBlackLabel_FineAged.unr




Video Playthrough:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj0Fs5zWFYQ

Alternative Video Playthrough (on "Unreal" difficulty using patch 227I):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aa3sMMtkpOg

Synopsis: As an ex-hobo from Wasteworld 7ad2, you really should be more grateful. Instead of living in the slums, you now have a nice, boring job aboard the Star Shoal, a venerable old vessel ferrying construction supplies to the outer frontier. It's true that the thrill of being in space will have certainly worn off after 1000 days or so stuck inside a glorified tin can, and between your cheapass boss, the drunkard who vomits everywhere, the lady who talks to herself and gives you the creeps, and the jerkwad who administrates the systems, you haven't exactly had stellar company. Worst of all, your secret steak stash is running low...
The ship is exceptionally close to a planet today, not that you're meant to stop by. You've been keeping up with your drills on emergency teleportation protocols just in case something does happen. You try not to let yourself get too hopeful though. You wonder if the teleporter even works...

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
Trustee Member Trustee Member
Posts: 2094
Joined: 12 Nov 2007, 02:43
Location: UK
Contact:

Subject: Re: 20/04/2024 - "Star Shoal Chronicles: Episode Infinity" by ebd

Post Posted: 21 Apr 2024, 15:29

As a small note, as Alcapowned mentioned in the thread there's a bug with the translator message visuals that pretty distracting so I didn't keep it on screen long.

The intro is a nice showcase of the Firetrucks features, and I'm not sure if there's anything else I missed (I didn't realise the gellar device was a minigame until after the playthrough). When you get down to the planet the merging of Firetrucks with more traditional gameplay is well executed, although one or two more options to use money later would be nice. Despite the small size there's a good feeling of exploration packed into the temple area. The way you have to backtrack the whole way around if you go off the pyramid (unless I missed something) in the boss fight felt a little odd, especially as extra items could easily be pointless if you've already beaten the boss, but the place isn't big enough for it to be much of an issue.

The difficulty handling is interesting because I played on Unreal first and there's a couple of unique enemies and an extra Titan boss, while normal has much fewer enemies and also no Dispersion Pistol; I'm not sure if there might be some unique stuff for other difficulties too. I feel it moves a little fast to fully explore some of the ideas it uses but it's a good showcase for the stuff Firetrucks can do in a more standard environment than the Weedrow sets.
Formerly Mman

User avatar Sat42
Skaarj Warlord Skaarj Warlord
Posts: 925
Joined: 14 Jul 2013, 16:42
Contact:

Subject: Re: 20/04/2024 - "Star Shoal Chronicles: Episode Infinity" by ebd

Post Posted: 21 Apr 2024, 19:32

Semfry wrote:As a small note, as Alcapowned mentioned in the thread there's a bug with the translator message visuals that pretty distracting so I didn't keep it on screen long.


That problem does not occur on 227I, where the latest version of the map is flawless.
I'm sure ebd will update the firetrucks package for 227J+ for this translator message bug (the archive now comes with separate firetrucks files for 227I and 227J+ users).

My comments will come later - travelling home tomorrow!
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 ebd
Trustee Member Trustee Member
Posts: 457
Joined: 05 Apr 2008, 19:08
Contact:

Subject: Re: 20/04/2024 - "Star Shoal Chronicles: Episode Infinity" by ebd

Post Posted: 21 Apr 2024, 21:00

On some renderers the translator issue looks less bad which is why it wasn't prioritized as a fix but it looks pretty awful in the video. If I had known it was that bad I'd have fixed it sooner. The root cause is the translator texture had its name changed in 227j+ so the HUD is trying to draw a texture that doesn't exist in 227j+

User avatar Sat42
Skaarj Warlord Skaarj Warlord
Posts: 925
Joined: 14 Jul 2013, 16:42
Contact:

Subject: Re: 20/04/2024 - "Star Shoal Chronicles: Episode Infinity" by ebd

Post Posted: 23 Apr 2024, 20:11

I just finished playing this map on the "Unreal" difficulty setting! :twisted:

I remember when Star Shoal Chronicles: Episode Infinity was first released - I was the first one to post public feedback for the whole thing! Well, except I'd only played on my default difficulty setting - Medium/Normal. That has finally been rectified...

The first version of the map suffered from a lack of polish, and even the "Black Label" edition had some issues. So I'm happy to say that the new Star Shoal Chronicles: Episode Infinity ~Black Label~ Fine Aged over 1000 Days! edition confirms that this is a great map - no ifs or buts!

Like, this is actually better than official Unreal/RTNP stuff: that's not so bold a statement in this day and age when the community has made many things better than the mother game, but I'm just stressing this here to make it clear how much I value the new things this map brought to our table. For SP, firetrucks is awesome, and this map is the perfect introduction for this toolkit. The playable intro is really good, with an unforgettable tongue-in-cheek atmosphere (also with that silly custom music track which turns out to be ideal!) and a number of cool interactions highlighting the possibilities provided by firetrucks - many remember the ability to cook a steak but the most involved is the "geller device" minigame (which opens the door to a whole new world of possible puzzle designs for Unreal!). On top of that, ebd gives us trashbag, an awesome collection of new assets for the game (from furniture and steaks to gold coins and treasure chests!). I also love the upgraded Universal Translator for how flexible it is!
Other new mechanics are introduced in the main portion of the level, notably the conversation system and even a basic economy with a currency system. Hell yeah!
Hence, there's actually a lot to unpack: the level is fairly restricted in scope but all the new assets (incl. some now trademark ebd creative use of Unreal stock assets - you won't believe how some of the stuff here was made, the build is occasionally brilliant!) and new gameplay mechanics really combine to make this feel like a rich experience. There's plenty of nice little touches (incl. a lovely visual indication of the current difficulty setting with "toy" models on display at the start), and good humour which successfully mingles with a narrative that eventually evolves into an actual action-adventure tale. You get some solid exploration and fighting here, not just a demo of new mechanics. Also, the use of Qtit's alternate pawns is an excellent choice.

And difficulty filtering is done particularly well indeed. I've now played on all 4 settings (those highlighted in the "Difficulty Selection Terminal" in-game), and let me tell you that for this level at least, I will now henceforth play only on the "Unreal" setting - it really adds to the experience! \o/

In conclusion: we get a good story (wait until you see that ending!), very good gameplay and a ton of personality.

Now, I haven't yet started using firetrucks myself - but I will! :o

What's that, ebd? There's still hope for Star Shoal Chronicles: Bullrush Nightmares? :D
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 AlCapowned
Skaarj Elder Skaarj Elder
Posts: 1188
Joined: 19 Dec 2009, 22:25

Subject: Re: 20/04/2024 - "Star Shoal Chronicles: Episode Infinity" by ebd

Post Posted: 26 Apr 2024, 13:59

Echoing my original comments, Star Shoal oozes charm. I like the interactivity and humor, but one of my favorite aspects of ebd’s maps is the creative use of existing meshes and textures to convincingly make new decorations. I found myself thinking, “That looks cool. Wait a minute - is that a squid?”

User avatar Mister_Prophet
Red Nemesis Leader Red Nemesis Leader
Posts: 3109
Joined: 11 Nov 2007, 23:30
Location: Lost in Oraghar

Subject: Re: 20/04/2024 - "Star Shoal Chronicles: Episode Infinity" by ebd

Post Posted: 27 Apr 2024, 04:31

I was a bit late to reply to last weeks MOTW given the discussion expired before I could comment (a forum glitch timed perfectly with my chance to log on, heh). For what it is worth, all I had to add to the excellent posts made by everyone else was maybe a snarky aside about Kew Brutes shooting titan boulders.

Anyway, Star Shoal. Fitting thing to follow last week with a really innovative, if brief, exhibition of ebd's Firetrucks interface. I reviewed this one during my post covid Unreal kick and the charm has not waned with the latest update!

Ebd has a touch for humor that leaves you with a warm smile. The Weedrow series (especially 2) has a similar vibe and though those packs were a collaboration I can't help but feel ebd's hands were guiding things behind the scenes like a stage director. It's very laid back, almost effortless. It comes at you in funny little pokes, borderline dad humor kind of stuff. And then when you play Star Shoal you see that it actually has charm and layers of detail. I said it in my review and I'll say it here; a great watercooler discussion level with many ways to approach, succeed, or goof. I was still noticing new stuff this time, or maybe things that I simply forgot.

It speaks to the longevity of Firetrucks (unfortunately named, how many of you reading have yet to play this stuff because it sounds silly? It's not!). I keep holding out that we'll get a different example project to use this asset in a more, campaign driven way. This might just be a reminder to me that perhaps I'll have to join forces with ebd someday to do just that.


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

Copyright © 2001-2024 UnrealSP.org

Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Limited