I made it to the Yaksha Kingdom and wow, I gotta say, I'm really
impressed. The visuals (and sound) in some of these maps is incredible. Stunning stuff, really creative and clever use of existing and remixed assets!
Since I'm rusty on not just G59 but EXU in general, I've been playing on Hard, and generally it feels pretty well-balanced. There are times when I feel like I could use more ammo or armor, but I can usually make it to another pickup point before I'm totally desperate.
So, for the maps:Limbo
The new Limbo map is good, and I like the new additions and simplified combat. I also like the new armor type introduced, the Demonlord Vest, as a more medium armor variant. Those come in handy!
One thing I didn't like though was the removal of the boss bar from the Gatekeeper. That made it hard to tell how much health the boss had left, and having it respawn twice just seemed kinda pointless and a bit of a tease when you thought you'd kicked its ass, lol. Unreal AI + my ancient Ultrabag code + that level environment doesn't make for a great boss fight IMO, especially since you spend most of the time hiding behind a cliff unloading all your ammo and flares into three big bullet sponges. If you try to take it head-on, it'll fuck you up so badly you'll compromise your ability to deal with later threats, so hiding is pretty much the only viable strategy there.
I also got near-instantly obliterated by that Skaarj hanging out by the well on my first run; it just does way too much damage if you don't stun it straight away. A regular Fiend might be better there?Hyper Boundary Gate
As usual, Hyper Boundary Gate continues to be one of the most fun EXU levels out there, and probably the best possible FPS sewer map!
I think the Morax fight has some issues though, mainly just the way it's a fight you pretty much have to hide from and use flares to end it as fast as possible, or you'll end up losing all your armor and probably get killed. But I liked the fakeout this time, as I wasn't expecting it.
The problem with Morax is seen with some other enemies in G59: some enemies are just a bit too
When I think of an enemy, I consider these three traits:
> Fast: Closes distance quickly and can't easily be escaped from on foot
> Deadly: Can kill you in seconds if you don't take cover
> Tough: Takes an immense amount of ordnance to bring down
...and pick two
I might also consider adding "Ranged: Can attack from beyond melee distance" and pick three of the four, but I think the basic three concepts get the job done for the most part.
In G59, especially with bosses, a lot of enemies seem to emphasize all three, which isn't inherently a problem for bosses -- but it does mean that you don't have many ways to deal with them. Like with Morax, if he was slower or less deadly, you'd have more options than just circle strafing around a pillar unloading flares. Anyway, just something to think about.The Ancient Scapes
This map is really cool these days. I like the texture upgrades you gave to the sun-themed glyphs instead of the usual hell stuff. You've really gone all-out with the colorizing of existing textures and making new ones, and it shows. Level themes are very strong now, and they were already pretty good, even in early versions.
The dispensers are a welcome sight this time around, though I noticed they're all upside down
The only downside of this map is the treasure hunt sequence. It doesn't add anything to the game, and the reward isn't really worth it: a single Megablast Flare. If it was a special weapon or something that might be nice, but it's really meh for just a lot of time spent wandering around, essentially.Manitou
Pretty much as I expected, except I seemed to get lost more this time around. There are a lot of hallways that look very similar; might want to add some more unique lighting choices in some areas, like different-colored glowing glyphs in some areas but not others, etc. I did really enjoy the increased emphasis on storytelling this time around too with all the extra drained enemies and the black stuff near their bodies.
Otherwise, map is fine, though I miss the original mega demon fights that happened in those square rooms with pools of water. What happened to those? There are some other areas that I felt like I missed this time around, but I'm not sure if they were removed or I just didn't go to those areas.
Another issue I had was with the Hyper Nuclear Slith. Are... you meant to kill those? I dumped so much ammo into them and they kept shooting to the point where I eventually died just from splash damage from missed shots hitting the wall behind me, and I never killed even one of them. I ended up just stun blasting the shit out of one and swimming past it, only to run into another seemingly-unkillable enemy. For that one, I just swam past it and into the portal and that was that. Are you supposed to actually fight those guys? Maybe I missed something that was supposed to de-power at least the Slith. Might be worth revising that area to make it clearer you need to do something before you take them on if that's the case, and if not, they could definitely use a mechanic like that.Serve the Void
I especially like what you did with Foundry. I didn't even realize that was
Foundry at first since the intro had changed so much, and the introduction of the Void incursion was done really
well. Reversing the direction helped with keeping it disorienting in the dark, too, and the new texture job looks decent (when you can see it).
Also, seeing Nagomi well-lit at the end really helped drive home how fucked everything was once you came back later on and saw it subsumed by the Void. Massive improvement over the original implementation of these two maps, with much better environmental storytelling.
I wouldn't mind a little more combat in the day-lit Nagomi segment, though; it's pretty empty right now. That could be intentional and serve the atmosphere, so it's up to you if you think it would be worth adding some more stuff to shoot.Mausoleum of Elohim
The Mausoleum is still one of the most impressive maps thematically I've ever seen in the engine, even if it isn't always one of the best looking. The light and dark contrast is really cool and still really unsettling when you first switch gears. Clever upgrade to the Berith boss fight, too, with the lock-in traps. You should be quite proud of this map.
One thing I'd say, though, is that I think the original music choice (Desert Wind) was way, way better for atmosphere in the dark section. What's in there now isn't bad, but it doesn't really do much to amplify the horror aspect like Desert Wind does.
I also got stuck for a bit in the dark section since I had forgotten the layout. In the room with the Jrath statue lit up by a flickering searchlight, you need to go into a narrow hallway in the lower right; I missed this like six times in a row, haha. It might be worth adding some additional light near that doorway (even on the other side) so you're more likely to spot it when looking around in that room.Magatsu
The Magatsu city map is probably my favorite so far for its atmosphere and visuals, especially the sky. Great music selection for both the ambient and combat segments. The only significant issue with this one is that it's so big, it takes ages to walk around when you want to find something you left behind. Activateable teleporters would be very welcome if you can fit them in somehow, or even some weird alien demon tech super-kickers that launch you across the map (which would be a lot more entertaining).
Also, for Hard, it felt a bit too easy -- you could probably double the number of enemies and it would still be fine, or even add respawning patrols that come back a couple of times after death. I didn't run into major trouble until those Warlords showed up with the stun blaster things; those guys are truly nasty. If it weren't for the Saint gun (which is pretty great btw, aside from the lack of impact sound on the primary fire), particularly the alt blast, I'd be utterly fucked when they arrive in hordes and quickly close distance.
I do like the new types of enemies here, though -- especially the leaping Skaarj that can jump like 50 miles in the air, lmfao. Those really caught me off guard at first, and it was hilarious to look up at the creepy red star and see some somersaulting Skaarj up there too.
One suggestion for the big Skaarj that shoot those arc projectiles: give the projectiles a glow overlay like the heavy pentagrams in EXU or even the dispersion pistol lasers in Unreal (though those are built into the mesh). That way, they're more visible when coming directly at you. The arcs are only really visible from the side, so they look wonky when aimed more directly, and harder to see. Just giving them a bit of a glow would mostly solve that.Ruins
This one was all-you as well, wasn't it? I didn't recognize any of it! Largely a good level, too.
The biggest problem I had was with the very beginning -- I couldn't figure out how to get past the guardian without being seen, so I eventually just God-moded it. I came back later and killed it, and the surprise you get for that is a nice touch. It's just seemingly impossible to pass that thing at the start, especially since it can still see you in the dark despite what the message at the start implies.
For some reason I really liked the brute boss fight, even though it was really kinda basic and easy (like the others, except for the Slith's dick-move regen which took me a few tries to overcome and lots of Piddledoper stun blasting; I didn't notice the crushers until after the fight was over). The purple smoke around it looked cool and made it feel really unique, especially with the weird projectiles it uses.
Aaaand that's pretty much where I left off, in Yaksha, dealing with really heavy resistance in a quite awesome map so far. I love how expansive the layout is now, too. I can recognize -- just barely -- some of the RTNP castle origins here, but it feels totally new otherwise. Good stuff. Just wish the fog didn't obliterate my performance so badly in the open areas, because it looks so
good. The skybox has some really cool stuff in it too, though I think you could make it a lot better using 3D skyboxes for most of the other structures.
Looking forward to seeing how this all wraps up. Should be done in a few more days at this rate.
Also, just a quick check: have you ever seen this happen? https://i.imgur.com/A5LolCp.jpg
Somehow, all EXU shieldbelts were applying the team texture to the weapon and
the player. What's weirder is I've never seen this happen in my main UT install, but it happened in the fresh one I made for G59 -- until I copied over my user.ini from the main install. After that, it persisted in saves where it had already kicked in, but it stopped after that. WTF?
So is this something anyone else has seen before, or is it some weird quirk that only shows up when the right combination of settings are enabled? My cloned G59 install came from a stock UT install which didn't have any real config work done on it, so it may be some obscure renderer setting or user preference that causes it, something I'd long since turned off (or on) in my main install, and updating my G59 install's settings made it stop afterwards. Did my best to isolate the possible culprits, but nothing I tried made it repeat on demand. SO WEIRD.
If you do see it applying to a weapon instead of just the player model, it's definitely a bug, so lemme know!
(BTW, I tried loading the latest code to see if it was somehow something I'd changed [and it wasn't], and I had no trouble loading existing saves with it. So you hopefully won't have to make any major changes once V8 drops!)