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04/05/2024 - "The lava pump" by Yrex

Each week a single map is discussed here in detail.

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User avatar Sat42
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Subject: 04/05/2024 - "The lava pump" by Yrex

Post Posted: 04 May 2024, 20:43

Map Title: The lava pump
Author: Yrex
From: The lava pump
Filename: 2016lava16.unr




Video Playthrough:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB6sQbqooOo

Additional Video Playthrough:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR3MI7hvshw


Synopsis: Welcome to the factory - get ready to be factorized…

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 Aspide
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Subject: Re: 04/05/2024 - "The lava pump" by Yrex

Post Posted: 06 May 2024, 13:18

YES!!!, finally a MOTW that I can comment because the previous ones I didn't have in my collection. This level is pretty unique and it's basically puzzle after puzzle, it uses the 227 features pretty well (especially the new dynamic zones for the water and lava), I detected some Static Meshes and Emitters as well. The biggest issue I have with this map is that I cannot complete the area where you have to dodge some lasers and then shoot at the core to open a door next to you, I have no idea how in the video it seems to seamless. I always end up cheating in order to continue with the map. :P

This level is great if you want to have a more complex adventure where you have to use your imagination to figure out what to do next, this level as well as many levels made by Yrex are best experienced without previous knowledge to allow the puzzles to enhance the experience, however one problem that this level has is that the level focuses too much on the puzzles to the point that the whole point and shoot aspect of Unreal gets forgotten, I wish that there was more of a balance between puzzles and fighting monsters.

Another side effect of Yrex approach of level design is that there aren't any secrets at all, so the level ends up being nothing but a very linear set of puzzles without too much fighting or exploring and I think this is quite a shame because if Yrex made a level with all those things balanced then that level would be a masterpiece, so far I see this level as Yrex just showing off some pretty cool ideas for puzzles and nothing more. The music is pretty cool though, I wonder if Yrex made the songs or they were reused from other games.

Also the level has plenty of MyLevel actors which show Yrex's skills as a coder 8)
Somewhere in Nevada...

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Subject: Re: 04/05/2024 - "The lava pump" by Yrex

Post Posted: 06 May 2024, 20:52

A mostly well-executed puzzle level, with a lot of interesting use of 227 features and creativity. The puzzles are mostly clear despite how different they all are, and the layout links around in some nice ways, and while the architecture is simple there's nice sense of surreality to it that stands out. The upbeat music conveys that action is the focus despite the slower pace the puzzles create though. I actually wonder what I would have felt with the music if I hadn't read the review first because I played Base Jumpers back on the Amiga and I'm not sure how familiar it would have felt if I didn't already know one of the tracks came from it.

The starting puzzle is one of the weaker ones because it's hard to tell what specific object will float on the lava (also I'm not sure you can get out of the secret behind the pipes without a DP jump?). The floating ledge with the intermittent falling slime was also something I kind of worked out by accident the first time as I thought I had to turn it off somehow at first. Shooting the generator is also one of the most awkward moments because of how the earthquake knocks you around between multiple deathtraps, although in the playthrough I got lucky and did it the first try. Those were the only problem moments though, although the ending feels like it just kind of happens with no climax; the shield Krall are the toughest combat moment, given they start invincible (though you can also lure some into the lava before activating the bridge to get them out the way) and also have massively buffed projectiles that do splash damage.
Formerly Mman

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Subject: Re: 04/05/2024 - "The lava pump" by Yrex

Post Posted: 08 May 2024, 14:00

Interesting to hear your experiences, guys!

First of all: @Semfry yes you cannot get out of the secret behind the pipes without a DP jump (and to my shame, it's only now after all these years that, through watching your playthrough, I realise that you can do a DP jump! :oops: ) actually I missed this secret on my 2 full playthroughs (the first time was way back when it was released, and I started writing the review after my recent 2nd playthrough - and during the writing process I sometimes used cheats to quickly check things in specific areas), in fact I only noticed this secret after submitting the review, so it's good to see there's no bug with it as I actually thought it led to an unwinnable state!

@Aspide: the answer to your question about the music is in the review :wink: and also touched upon in Semfry's post now.
Semfry is a true OG for having played Base Jumpers on the Amiga! :D honestly the action track (so the second one of the level) works for a while (as it begins with an ambush, immediately followed by a hair-raising laser challenge, and more fighting thereafter) but I agree it goes on for too long (should've stopped after the last scripted fighting sequence).

@Semfry: also lol at that part of the video with the last scripted fighting sequence, you really tried to take advantage of that laser to kill the Skaarj but they mostly handled the hazard just fine :P (I mean, they did presumably set that up themselves so..!)

@Aspide: very interesting to hear you never could complete this level without cheating! I hope the video makes it clear what you have to do (to others reading this: the section in question can be seen in the bottom-right screenshot). When reviewing this I tried to carefully weigh the pros and cons of this sort of game design and I think this is one example where it's a combination of "learn by dying" (which I genuinely think is OK if used very sparingly and smartly - it can then be a way of enhancing tension) and unorthodox design for most of the audience playing Unreal/UT.

Which leads to my last point: as stated in my review, I don't actually see puzzles here, but can see how an FPS-focused player may refer to some of the obstacles here as “puzzles”. So it's unsurprising to read you guys refer to this as a "puzzle level". The map does feature puzzle-like progression in the sense that it's not always straightforward. However, at the risk of sounding pedantic, this is really about exploration/switch hunting and movement/traversal challenges (or platforming). You literally never have to think beyond putting one and one together (that's a deliberate play on the "put two and two together" expression, not a mistake): one door, one switch (can take the form of a destructible object). OK sometimes you need to press 2 switches, but my point is: you never have to figure out a combination. You just go looking for those switches. And the fact that you have to shoot some switches is forced on you. Knowledge of destructible objects? Forced on you from the beginning. The laser sequences are purely movement based challenges (with switches as your goal to open the way out). Just keep your eyes peeled. An example of an actual puzzle in an FPS would be the one with the deadly pool of coolant in Half-Life: Blue Shift (now you actually have to put 2 and 2 together!).

@Semfry: I did realise you can lure some of the Krall into the lava before activating the bridge, but I never noticed that they became vulnerable after blowing up that auxiliary tank, I just saw it disabled the force field and always assumed the Krall remained invincible so I always ran that segment as fast as I could instead of fighting!

EDIT: one more thing I learned from this playthrough video lol - you can destroy the turrets! I always just avoided the area marked by the (very telling) red circle... (it's not like I've never encountered destructible turrets, either - e.g. there are some in Strange World - I guess I was just primed after the invincible Krall!)
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.

yrex
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Subject: Re: 04/05/2024 - "The lava pump" by Yrex

Post Posted: 09 May 2024, 18:03

If you're wondering about the influence, originally I played lots of 3D platformers while my experience with FPSes was limited to a few games like UT with 0 bots in an unknown language (English).
I hadn't played Unreal, and especially the classic FPSes, until much later.
When I got Unreal (in Anthology), its editor was kinda buggy, while UT wanted to enforce its own gametypes.
Eventually, I discovered 227, which seemed like the best platform.
Interesting that you mentioned Zora's Episodes because it was one of my influences.


I cannot complete the area where you have to dodge some lasers and then shoot at the core to open a door next to you, I have no idea how in the video it seems to seamless.

► Show Spoiler
e-mail: ampoyrex at wp dot pl

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Subject: Re: 04/05/2024 - "The lava pump" by Yrex

Post Posted: 09 May 2024, 18:18

Sat42 wrote:@Semfry: also lol at that part of the video with the last scripted fighting sequence, you really tried to take advantage of that laser to kill the Skaarj but they mostly handled the hazard just fine :P [size=85](I mean, they did presumably set that up themselves so..!)


When I first played in Unreal difficulty I had no problem getting them with the laser, then in this playthrough on Medium they just wouldn't get caught lol.
Formerly Mman

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Subject: Re: 04/05/2024 - "The lava pump" by Yrex

Post Posted: 09 May 2024, 19:16

:)

It's cool to have you here, Yrex, thanks for providing a bit of background info!
And we will eventually have a few maps from Zora's Episodes for MOTW :wink:
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: 04/05/2024 - "The lava pump" by Yrex

Post Posted: 09 May 2024, 19:51

Definitely not yrex's finest work (not sure how much this predates the other stuff of his I've played) in my opinion, but is a taste of what is to come with his work on Steele Dawn, PSX and The Descent.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in this map is the lighting imo, so many places with extreme darkness that I needed to crank the brightness up to full - and doesn't help that the layout is a little labyrinthine in places.

Also I found health to be a real issue in the case of combat, only came across one health pack in the whole level! Needless to say there was a lot of saving in this level, I ended up finishing on 6 hp :lol:

Overall though this is an early (I think) example of what I think of as the signature yrex style - and he really does that well. While the geometry may be basic, it does what it needs to and doesn't come across as box-room inexperience or laziness but rather deliberate design choices with a retro vibe.
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Subject: Re: 04/05/2024 - "The lava pump" by Yrex

Post Posted: 11 May 2024, 07:39

I like the non-standard progression through most of the level, although I found the combat rather punishing and it wasn't always clear where to go. For various reasons my play through had to be recorded into multiple clips and I'll have to edit it before uploading it, which I don't really have time to do before the thread closes. Overall interesting map and I really enjoy seeing different takes on a non-traditional unreal gameplay.

EDIT: ebd's playthrough:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR3MI7hvshw


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