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01/06/2024 - "Escape from Vegra" by Yrex, w/ parts by C. Forest & N. Parde

Each week a single map is discussed here in detail.

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User avatar Sat42
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Subject: 01/06/2024 - "Escape from Vegra" by Yrex, w/ parts by C. Forest & N. Parde

Post Posted: 01 Jun 2024, 21:33

Map Title: Escape from Vegra
Author: Yrex (including redux of "DM-Flux" by Crista Forest and bits by Nick Parde), directed by Delacroix
From: Steele Dawn
Filename: SD1_Vegra_V2.unr




Video Playthroughs:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KELWEzcW4k8

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

Synopsis: Year 2167.
The Serenites, a faction of humans settled on Io (a Jovian moon), have recently befriended a group of spacefaring Nali who travelled to the Solar System, and together, over the span of a few short years, reached a state of relative prosperity in an otherwise harsh environment.
But that peaceful existence is now shattered by a full-scale invasion of the Ionian colony: the Vesspine Confederation, an old enemy of the Serenites infamous for its terrorist methods, has allied itself with the Skaarj! The Serenites once had to flee the Vesspines, and the group of Nali in this sector themselves had to flee the Skaarj, but this time there's no running away... The situation may seem desperate, but one Brandon Steele, harnessing his hatred of the Vesspines, is now about to change the very destiny of his people - if he can first escape the besieged city of Vegra, that is.

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 Delacroix
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Subject: Re: 01/06/2024 - "Escape from Vegra" by Yrex, w/ parts by C. Forest & N. Parde

Post Posted: 01 Jun 2024, 21:45

Save for the cinematic introduction that comes before it, this is the first map of the Steele Dawn campaign proper. We never really recovered it - aside from the guestrooms of the seedy hotel that were done by the original author Nick Parde, we had just the description to go off of.

IMO Yrex really nailed the theme of the futuristic metropolis of Vegra City under a terrorist attack. I think it should be clear that this level tosses the player in straight into high-stakes action, as the protagonist is in pure survival mode, having no other option but to implement his people's pacifism by completely pacifying the opposition at gunpoint.

The city offers not just security measures meant to protect crucial tech in case of a crisis (all of which Brandon has to navigate, including a short timed puzzle) but regular hallmarks of a populated area: we have a bar, a worker hotel, a gunshop, a subway station and (this part done by Crista Forest earlier as a DM level) a factory.

In a way, this level has a "book ends" style of design, with the early start being by a Level Infinity member, likewise with the ending area, and the entire meat of the level being done by Yrex in a truly fantastic fashion IMO.

As the director, my personal favorite is the ending portion of the level, involving the introduction of the first of two main antagonists and ramping up the already high stakes with the player ending the level intending to rescue the abducted civilians on top of getting back at the ruthless Vesspine leader.

As the rest of the pack will show, however, fate is about to throw Brandon a major curve ball...
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yrex
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Subject: Re: 01/06/2024 - "Escape from Vegra" by Yrex, w/ parts by C. Forest & N. Parde

Post Posted: 03 Jun 2024, 19:11

I have mixed feelings about this mod. On one hand it turned out very decent (minus a few jarring moments) and is probably my biggest work. On the other hand it's not really done in my "style" (both artistic- and workflow-wise), so I don't entirely identify with it.
e-mail: ampoyrex at wp dot pl

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Subject: Re: 01/06/2024 - "Escape from Vegra" by Yrex, w/ parts by C. Forest & N. Parde

Post Posted: 03 Jun 2024, 22:17

A good intro map; the city is probably my favourite view in the set, and the seemingly odd use of DecayedS manages to work well and be convincing, and stuff like getting to look over the city from the tower further adds to the sense of space despite the playable area being relatively small. As well as some extra details like the disco/bar from the intro cutscene with the well-executed music transition. It also handles a big theme change to the "water plant" type area well via the underground tunnels.

The enemies being mostly bots works with how relatively weak they are in this set, and it shows off the new weapons well, with the particle gun being extremely strong for both utility and damage. Though the Shotgun works better against the Skaarj enemies later as the thin human hitboxes tend to avoid a lot of bullets unless you're literally melee range. Having played Yrex's earlier release as well as the Descent entry I guess the laser dodging is kind of a signature. This first level has quite a bit quipping from the main character, but it becomes much rarer after this map outside of overt story cutscenes so I guess it works to establish some character before laying off a bit later. The couple of things I don't quite like flow-wise are that the elevator up the tower can result in some awkward waiting if you miss it at all, and the Superhealth pipe near the end feels a little deceptive since the pit behind it dumps you back a bit, and the correct route for progression is a little masked in comparison, although you don't go back much if you mess up.
Formerly Mman

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Subject: Re: 01/06/2024 - "Escape from Vegra" by Yrex, w/ parts by C. Forest & N. Parde

Post Posted: 04 Jun 2024, 02:55

This map is a pretty good introduction to Steele Dawn, Yrex did an amazing job with the city and the skybox is beautiful (I think SteadZ made it). This map introduces the characters as well as the main conflict in the story, I wished that the city was more populated with other humans and Nali. The choice of music is nice, with music from Unreal, RTNP and UT99. Also special mention to Yrex's music that plays at the start, all of Yrex's music tracks originally only played if you have Unreal 227 or UT 469 because the songs were ogg/mp3 tracks, thankfully they were ported to umx properly in version 2.0 . Now everyone can enjoy Yrex's awesome tracks :D .

Also something I never noticed until I opened the level in the editor is that the map has multiple skyboxes, there's even one skybox that was never used :) .

Thanks to Yrex and myself Coop has proper checkpoints and if you are playing in Coop the story of the campaign is slightly different. However I wished that the campaign had more Coop filtering, I blame myself for not doing more with that idea. Also something I noticed is that the HUD of SD doesn't show the map info when the map starts, again I blame myself for not fixing that :/ . However with all that said and done Yrex did an amazing job with all the coding in this map.

Steele Dawn has plenty of secrets and most of them can be found with the Impact Hammer, this level is no exception. You can even skip the majority of the level using that weapon, players really should play SD and get creative with the Impact Hammer, every level has an Impact Hammer secret :wink: . (Hint: this map has a secret powershield, amplifier and a secret message).

The voice acting is decent, Brandon has some good lines, especially the line after you defeat Taylor, and speaking of Taylor this is the first time to meet him, strange that Taylor has the same mask as Wraith from UT99.
Somewhere in Nevada...

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Subject: Re: 01/06/2024 - "Escape from Vegra" by Yrex, w/ parts by C. Forest & N. Parde

Post Posted: 05 Jun 2024, 20:15

I do not wish to parrot what some others have said so I will speak to things that jumped out to me, as both a tester and an old Unreal vet that is always happy to see new things.

I know a few of the SD maps are fragmented, as is the case here; DM maps spliced with original unfinished chunks of the original mission pack and interspersed with new sections (admirable work by Yrex on these latter efforts). I can relate to the difficulty of undertaking such feats given a similar conglomerate approach was done in the past on my own old projects. Even levels with two authorships can be tricky, but to have new work made to mortar older .unr salvage and then go the extra mile to make it all seem cohesive? This ain't no easy thing and Steele Dawn doesn't always get it right (I'm thinking more of the map later in the campaign that has the player pass inexplicably through DM-Tundra. I know I've played at least two SP works now that have used DM-Tundra, at least. Is there an inside joke I don't know about?).

This map does, however, get it right. It was refreshing as heck to open the campaign the first time and play through a Jovian spaceport city. Ever since I watched the Unreal Tournament opening cinematic for the first time I always longed for a big sprawling urban zone like that to feature in a SP campaign. While it hasn't quite happened yet to such a scale as I always wished for, this might be the closest I've seen. A great deal of foresight was done to give the city layers so it feels bigger. If nothing else Steele Dawn has an impressionable starter level.

Also, extra kudos for black smoke!

User avatar Delacroix
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Subject: Re: 01/06/2024 - "Escape from Vegra" by Yrex, w/ parts by C. Forest & N. Parde

Post Posted: 06 Jun 2024, 14:05

Tundra was included in Map 02 because it was the Crista Forest's unique retexture and it honestly just felt right in my opinion.

The most fragmented maps were indeed SD1 (the map spoken in this topic) and SD2.

SD6 was recovered in pieces but it was pretty clear how to assemble them and thus, it's one cohesive whole by one author.
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Subject: Re: 01/06/2024 - "Escape from Vegra" by Yrex, w/ parts by C. Forest & N. Parde

Post Posted: 08 Jun 2024, 09:39

I don't really know the history of Steele Dawn's development but I gather that it's a mix of old and new. Very ambitious, new weapons, voice acting, even if the delivery isn't professional. As for this map, it gets the theme across of being a spaceship city plaza thing. I got lost a few times but there wasn't any super painful combat or anything.

► Show Spoiler


Video is still rendering. It should finish in another hour maybe so I'll edit this post in the morning to link to it.

Edit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saSfteORCNw
Last edited by ebd on 08 Jun 2024, 18:56, edited 1 time in total.

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Subject: Re: 01/06/2024 - "Escape from Vegra" by Yrex, w/ parts by C. Forest & N. Parde

Post Posted: 08 Jun 2024, 17:06

It's a strong start to the campaign for sure, though I feel it falls short of greatness.

I agree with Semfry that the city combined with the skybox provides the best view in Steele Dawn, and share Mister_Prophet's yearning for an SP level set in a sprawling urban zone akin to UT's intro cinematic - and yes, Escape from Vegra does scratch that itch to an extent.
It's quite a challenging level and I certainly had to reload a couple of times: I am really impressed with how Semfry dealt with the laser traps :o also the first time round I got a bit too cocky vs the Vesspine leader! The sequence with the sudden incoming train in the subway is well balanced, a nasty surprise that nonetheless gives you time to react :)
I do think however that the first half of the level suffers from two things: the starting areas in the hotel are a bit too simple in terms of build and really give off the impression of something older than Unreal, while the custom track - silly in that old school video game way :) - plays for too long (just for the hotel would have been fine) and doesn't really mesh with the atmosphere of desperation that a city under attack should inspire... the atmosphere improved after the music stopped.

So the second half definitely feels like the best part for me. It's still very solid overall, up there with the better Unreal maps IMO.

The voice acting has a certain charm to it as well even if a bit too quiet at times - the best of the voice acting comes later though!

EDIT: just saw ebd's edited post with that "blind" playthrough - interesting to see how we all might occasionally struggle in different ways :) by the way I'd never heard this line by Captain Taylor before: "you are a BITCH, and a WHORE! and this gun hates you too" :lol:
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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