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11/05/2024 - "Sanctum of O'Shatza" by Mike "Hellscrag" Wilberforce

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Subject: 11/05/2024 - "Sanctum of O'Shatza" by Mike "Hellscrag" Wilberforce

Post Posted: 11 May 2024, 20:45

Map Title: Sanctum of O'Shatza
Author: Mike "Hellscrag" Wilberforce
From: Tashara's Cove
Filename: Tashara2.unr




Video Playthrough:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFG4NoKzZ5A

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

Synopsis: A refugee from the crashed Terran vessel ISV-Kran, you happened upon a small Nali village nestled in a coastal valley. A Nali saved your life and now, in return, you help their community by ridding the village of the Skaarj occupation. Your endeavour seems guided by some mystical power which takes you to the Sanctum of O'Shatza, the guardian god.

Discuss!
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Subject: Re: 11/05/2024 - "Sanctum of O'Shatza" by Mike "Hellscrag" Wilberforce

Post Posted: 12 May 2024, 15:12

A fine Chizra tribute that gives a feeling of going deeper into a temple well, and the way it all ends up at that overview of the village is a nice way to give the feeling of this place being part of the cove despite the level split. The way it bypasses the backtracking in the second half is also a nice surprise while being subtly hinted at through some bars near the start. The combat is pretty simple but the part with the Gunner at the door is probably the nastiest fight in the mod (for the relatively low bar that is) given you can potentially alert them while swimming and are stuck in a confined area either way.

I do feel "Chizra tribute" is a bit of a problem I have with this map though; the main cove village is a pretty iconic mod view that feels classic but has a style of it's own. This is probably the most substantial map in the set in content but doesn't really move beyond being a Chizra-style map thematically.
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Subject: Re: 11/05/2024 - "Sanctum of O'Shatza" by Mike "Hellscrag" Wilberforce

Post Posted: 12 May 2024, 20:36

A very classic ancient.utx map with a fairly straightforward gameplay and competent visuals. In hindsight, superspeed 436 was a very bad platform to try and play this on so I will probably play it again to get a recording that is not ridiculous [EDIT: ebd's video playthrough now added to OP]. I have the same sentiments as Semfry about some of the fights being really rough in confined spaces or on narrow walkways.

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Subject: Re: 11/05/2024 - "Sanctum of O'Shatza" by Mike "Hellscrag" Wilberforce

Post Posted: 13 May 2024, 12:16

Great level with a good atmosphere and level design, this level is based on Chizra but I also see some elements from Ceremonial Chambers. This map is linear but the level design loops around to make the location more enjoyable to play and there are some secret pickups if you explore enough, however I wish there was a secret armor in the map but Tashara's Cove is soo easy that maybe the level doesn't need another armor.

This map doesn't have any technical problems as far as I know, this might be the only level I know that uses the RockSlide actor, most people use the ExplodingWall actor to spawn debris. I'm glad that Hellscrag made sure that the books can't be moved, there's plenty of SP maps that have books that can be moved and it's very annoying when they have translator messages in them, because the book moves but the message trigger doesn't lol :P . However after investigating I found one book that Hellscrag forgot to fix, the book next to the switch that opens the gate from map 1.

I love the connectivity between the levels, the best part is the area where you open the gate from map 1 where the Trooper is, I always end up killing the trooper which in a way breaks continuity since that trooper is suppose to die in map 3, fun fact: you can actually kill that trooper in map 1 as well (by getting his attention by shooting at the area near him the trooper will start moving and then he will open the gate and you can kill him and get the rifle early on), that trooper might be the unluckiest Skaarj in Unreal history :D . Also this map has a Stukka from UT99, a decoration that is bug by default because it is invisible (DrawType is set to Sprite).

Also this map has a hidden Baby Cow, good luck on finding it \o/ .
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Subject: Re: 11/05/2024 - "Sanctum of O'Shatza" by Mike "Hellscrag" Wilberforce

Post Posted: 14 May 2024, 16:57

Oh, hey, I made this!

"O'Shatza"... what was I THINKING?!?
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Subject: Re: 11/05/2024 - "Sanctum of O'Shatza" by Mike "Hellscrag" Wilberforce

Post Posted: 14 May 2024, 21:39

Hellscrag wrote:Oh, hey, I made this!

"O'Shatza"... what was I THINKING?!?


Haha look who came to say hello! feels good to know you still drop by from time to time, Hellscrag :D

And about the name: first time round (even as a native English speaker) I actually thought nothing of it beyond "sounds exotic" so I think it's fine :P (I have also always travelled a lot and seen a huge variety of names...)

The map itself is the best of the set but it's true that its most defining feature is the view over Tashara's Cove itself (fittingly enough for this short campaign). I like the "Little Chizra" qualifier used by Mister Prophet in his review: indeed, a classical tribute to that style of temple... with the more restrained scale and easy gameplay limiting its memorability (we were recently asked by a newcomer on the Discord server if there had been any custom maps which made good use of the Chizra theme specifically, and this one was not mentioned).

@Aspide: it's clear you love the map and have analysed it inside out :) I recall how Tashara's Cove was a major influence for A Friend In Need... and though I played through Sanctum of O'Shatza a second time just recently, I didn't find any Baby Cow :o so it may still hold a bit of mystery even after all this time!
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: 11/05/2024 - "Sanctum of O'Shatza" by Mike "Hellscrag" Wilberforce

Post Posted: 14 May 2024, 23:23

In all seriousness, I'm still fond of this pack; IMO it's my second best solo SP work after Vacillations. The Landing, while released later, suffers from a rushed build and is undermined by its perpetually unfinished status.

The SP pack I was working on back in 2013 or so would have blown all my others out of the water, benefiting from all the advances in my abilities that occurred during the endless development of the unreleased Battle for Na Pali. But, since I stopped main work on it in 2013, I only managed one brief return, during which I added two rather disappointing rooms.

I never announced it at the time because it was meant to be a completely surprise release. Out of a planned seven maps, I built two and started on a third; the concepts were great, and dynamic gameplay with scripted events was my focus. I was going to use a few BfNP assets, including some of the music. The design intent was broad brush and 'conceptual grandness' over fussy detail, which worked well for the first two outdoor maps but I struggled with it once I went indoors for the third.

As to Sanctum of O'Shatza...

You're right to point out that it's a total Chizra tribute; I was always in thrall to that most watery and earthy of temples. Proph really did capture it best when he characterised the map as "Little Chizra". But, of course, I didn't have the skill at the time to make it big, bold and memorable. Don't forget that Tashara1 was my very first work in UnrealEd (before which I'd only ever made Quake maps). Tashara2 came along fairly soon after that, although I think I dabbled a bit with basic UT DM maps in between.

But O'Shatza... in colloquial British English, "Shat" can be used as the past tense of the verb "Sh*t". Add the randomly Irish-sounding O' and it all gets very peculiar.
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Subject: Re: 11/05/2024 - "Sanctum of O'Shatza" by Mike "Hellscrag" Wilberforce

Post Posted: 14 May 2024, 23:51

To be fair, I read the "shat" like "shut", reading both A's the same, so it took you pointing this out for me to see an issue. Could've slipped under the radar!
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Subject: Re: 11/05/2024 - "Sanctum of O'Shatza" by Mike "Hellscrag" Wilberforce

Post Posted: 15 May 2024, 00:47

ividyon wrote:To be fair, I read the "shat" like "shut", reading both A's the same, so it took you pointing this out for me to see an issue. Could've slipped under the radar!


Exactly :D it took an old MOTW thread about this one for me to realise as well!

Hellscrag wrote:In all seriousness, I'm still fond of this pack; IMO it's my second best solo SP work after Vacillations. The Landing, while released later, suffers from a rushed build and is undermined by its perpetually unfinished status. [...] As to Sanctum of O'Shatza... [...] of course, I didn't have the skill at the time to make it big, bold and memorable. Don't forget that Tashara1 was my very first work in UnrealEd. [...]


Easy to agree, I've said before that Vacillations of a Victorian Vagrant is your best released work - let's not forget Triskaden Station, your second best released SP map but I realise that's part of the wider Déjà Vu team effort :)

Hellscrag wrote:The SP pack I was working on back in 2013 or so would have blown all my others out of the water, benefiting from all the advances in my abilities that occurred during the endless development of the unreleased Battle for Na Pali. But, since I stopped main work on it in 2013, I only managed one brief return, during which I added two rather disappointing rooms.

I never announced it at the time because it was meant to be a completely surprise release. Out of a planned seven maps, I built two and started on a third; the concepts were great, and dynamic gameplay with scripted events was my focus. I was going to use a few BfNP assets, including some of the music. The design intent was broad brush and 'conceptual grandness' over fussy detail, which worked well for the first two outdoor maps but I struggled with it once I went indoors for the third.


I remember you eventually mentioned working on something sometime after 2013 but a planned 7 maps is way more ambitious than you were letting on! maybe one day you can release the first 2 if they are mostly finished... :)
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: 11/05/2024 - "Sanctum of O'Shatza" by Mike "Hellscrag" Wilberforce

Post Posted: 16 May 2024, 17:37

Tashara's Cove is a neat little side-story to Unreal, putting us in the pants of an Inuit corporate soldier, a crewman of the Kran vessel... and with its Unrealesque-level (even if a tad streamlined in terms of ease of progression) architecture, it gets the job done. In today's terms I see it as a fan-made DLC in the spirit of Return to Na Pali's Velora segment: explore the area at daytime, spend a night at a temple, explore more of the outside at nighttime. The temple itself, this week's motw, gets the job done and marries action with exploration in good-enough of a way to keep the player engaged.

O'Shatza being the warrior protector deity is also a neat addition to the mythos.

I personally love TC.
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Subject: Re: 11/05/2024 - "Sanctum of O'Shatza" by Mike "Hellscrag" Wilberforce

Post Posted: 17 May 2024, 04:12

Fun fact. As discussed on Discord, my review for Tashara's Cove was the first review I did for the site when the new schema was put into play (pretty sure). As such, my review score at the time reflected more scrutiny than maybe I intended as we were trying to drift away from the generally simple, positive scoring of the old guard (remember lots of old maps held a pretty safe "8" range in spite of what the meat of the reviews suggested). If I was writing it today the opinions I put forth are largely the same, though in hindsight I may have targeted closer to 60% or better. There aren't many instances where I would say this, but I really like Mike's maps and I have replayed this short venture many times since that review was written. My fondness has only increased with age.

I get from Mike's comments that he doesn't feel as if he achieved particularity with this one. I disagree on general principle. Little Chizra or no, the map is solid. Something else I will say is that Hellscrag always had devout respect for the vibes of Unreal. Everything he did for the game always seemed to me to boost the image of Na Pali, all his maps. He never tried to force a stamp on something or upend something the main game established. You see this as early as Tashara's Cove, you see it in this level, and you see it in the last levels he ever showed us. I'm talking about consistency. You look at a lot of mapper's legacies and it can be a bit uncommon to see this kind of discipline.

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Subject: Re: 11/05/2024 - "Sanctum of O'Shatza" by Mike "Hellscrag" Wilberforce

Post Posted: 18 May 2024, 11:19

fashahhh and the Sanctum of "Oh Shit!"

I was hoping to keep up with map of the week as I haven't played many of them before but finally had a bit of free time this morning to catch up on a couple.

I played through the whole map pack for continuity rather than just playing O'Shatza (love the name!) isolated and must say it took me right back to 98'.

Where this map is fairly basic in architecture it more than gives off the vibes of the original game which I think gets a bit lost in some newer maps. I too killed the Skaarj Gunner twice (poor sod) :lol:. Maybe should have been a blocking actor or something where you view him but I think it adds to the charm. I really liked being able to see the other map which is a nice touch.

Where I thought the build was good old classic Unreal with some surprises from enemy placements I was expecting some traps which never really happened. Plus some of the messages alluded to challenges that were inevitably just pushing a lever (the purest of heart message comes to mind).

I Liked how this looped back to the start marking the passage of time to the next map. I thought the first golden door was the end so wasn't prepared when there was an IceSkaarj behind it instead of a loading screen.


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