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Author Topic: Reviews and Submissions  (Read 88147 times)

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Puritan

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #285 on: December 31, 2020, 04:28:51 PM »

Artem Brullov has released a new map/mod, Fallout Freeze: https://forums.duke4.net/topic/11527-release-fallout-freeze/

It's definitely worth checking out! Great map with lots of creative ideas and top-notch design. I'm planning to write a review later on today if it's OK.


That would have been nice, Aleks  ;)
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Aleks

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #286 on: December 31, 2020, 04:44:53 PM »

Also I've consulted Artem and he asked to link to his mod on itch.io: https://brullov-studios.itch.io/fallout-freeze instead of uploading it on the side, so he can keep better track of download statistics (and also it asks for donation, which is of course not mandatory), so if you could, it probably would be better to just link the download from there. Also he said there's gonna be a patch on it someday, so easier to keep track of the current version.
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Aleks

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #287 on: December 31, 2020, 11:42:35 PM »

Here's my review of Fallout Freeze. Happy New Year, guys!

Artem Brullov, Ukraine-based artist, has been active in Duke’s modding community for quite a while, but also notorious for releasing mostly just screenshots of small (and beautiful!) Mapster vignette’s rather than actual playable levels. This map/mod seems to be his first serious effort and despite the relatively short development time, it has been polished to the slightest detail.

In this Christmas special for 2021, Artem takes us on a journey through an exceptionally well-designed mall full of Christmas decorations, yet currently closed (perhaps due to alien occupation). It continues the long tradition of Christmas Duke releases, being a worthy successor to such classics like Kevin Cools’ Christmas 2001 & 2002, Taivo Maripuu’s Just Another Christmas or more recently – MRCK’s Poison Heart.

From the very beginning it is obvious where the Author excels the most – design is simply stunning, with creative use of textures (some of which are new, but incorporated in such a good fashion that they don’t clash with Duke’s regular tileset, rather expanding on it and the vanilla feeling of the level) and top-notch spriteworks. Even the ceilings, which often are neglected by mappers, are a true work of art in this department (especially ceilings inside the mall, with intricate structures for lamps or clever use of sloped sprites for roof windows). Some other particularly cool spriteworks can be found in a forklift design, tiny shelfs that are present just everywhere across the mall and creative chairs and tables at the bowling alley. The layout of the mall with its impeccable design makes this one of the best shopping centres ever recreated in Mapster. Also some True Room Over Room was thrown in to emphasize on the two-storey arrangement of the mall, but rather than making them an easy gimmick, which a lot of people would feel tempted to, here it feels so seamless and natural that it might even go unnoticed, except for its actual purpose and functionality.

If the visuals of the map consist almost exclusively of eye-candy, same meticulous care has been put to the sounds and ambience. All the decorative doors and lockers make a clicking noise when you try to push them like in modern FPS games (unfortunately the same can be said about cash registers, which can be a bit disorientating for the players looking for secrets) and there are constant walking sounds dependable on the type of surface Duke steps on (which is appreciated, although might get annoying after playing for a longer while). The music is a Christmas jingle mix of City Streets, a classic that all Duke fans will immediately recognize. It goes very well with the Christmas mood, which can be felt particularly strong in this map. New graphics used for seasonal decorations scattered around the mall, falling snow outside (especially in a really cool and sadly unreachable area with impressive sprite-made high voltage truss poles) help to emphasize on it as well.

The player arena is mostly open to exploration, with a few very creative and interesting puzzles to solve along the way. A bunch of new CON effects has been thrown in, particularly for a code-secured lock and working jackpot machines. They’re mostly minor stuff and welcome additions rather than radical gamechangers here. Another thing that deserves to be mentioned is very creative approach to secret places. Particularly one of them, hiding an atomic health and a personal message from the author, is worth noting due to innovative and super-creative puzzles required to access it. When it comes to Mapster technicality, effects and sequencing, there’s some quite complex elevators, working crane/lift that moves boxes and a very unusual way of opening one of the secrets. Nothing that really stands out, but every effect used is working well and clean.

Combat offers you your standard Duke experience with mostly decent enemy placement. Chances are you won’t encounter any memorable battles here, also some enemies will stray in confusion and get stuck in the corners due to the complex layout and amount of spriteworks in the map. There is more than enough ammo to suit everyone, but for the bigger part of the map, you will most likely just rely on good old-fashioned shotgun action. Heavy use of stayput enemies results in some particularly easy encounters, but this might also be a conscious decision due to Duke’s bad guys rather little will of cooperation with the mapper for creating interesting firefights. Despite relying heavily on sprite constructions (which Duke will sometimes randomly climb upon touching), the map doesn’t feel cramped at any moment and shouldn’t restrict player’s movement.

The level can be finished in about 15-20 minutes, but most players will probably spend a lot more time in it, just wandering around and staring at the design (and sometimes also due to poor visibility, which makes navigation through the mall difficult at times). Even if the general concept behind the map was making it dark and moody, and the high-contrast shadows are present wherever you’d expect them, a bump in visibility would probably improve the map as a whole – but that is just a slight nit-picking in what is otherwise a complete and fulfilling piece of mapping art.

Conclusion: You don’t want to miss this one, as it has some of the best design and most creative puzzles you’ll ever encounter. This is a perfect gift for Christmas made with passion and respect to the original game, but not restricting the Author’s own creativity and ideas at any point. Although the map is completely free to play, Artem made an option to donate him for the massive amount of work put behind this map. It is something rarely found or even talked within the Duke community, but if you liked the level, support the Author – he really deserves it for this little masterpiece!

Score: 95/100
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ck3D

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #288 on: March 03, 2021, 08:00:29 AM »

Puritan, I have yet to play it but that JABA map you just posted looks really cool: http://www.scent-88.com/reviews/J/jaba/jaba.php

If you ever find more from the same author or more levels released out of Japan in general, I'd be quite interested in seeing them pop up.

Been enjoying the latest uploads and frequent updates as always despite running out of time to play Duke lately. Thanks again for your work!

Also, review of Fallout Freeze never went up?
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Puritan

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #289 on: March 03, 2021, 09:19:03 AM »

Puritan, I have yet to play it but that JABA map you just posted looks really cool: http://www.scent-88.com/reviews/J/jaba/jaba.php

If you ever find more from the same author or more levels released out of Japan in general, I'd be quite interested in seeing them pop up.

Been enjoying the latest uploads and frequent updates as always despite running out of time to play Duke lately. Thanks again for your work!

Also, review of Fallout Freeze never went up?


Thank you very much, monsieur !
JABA is actually very well done for it's time with nice architecture.
I think it was an active mapping community in Japan back in the days but the authors rarely popped up on western web sites.
Very few spoke English so they kept the releases within Japanese forums.

I decided not to host Fallout due to some monetizing / copyright issues.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2021, 09:23:03 AM by Puritan »
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Aleks

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #290 on: April 24, 2021, 02:15:34 PM »

Played JABA few weeks ago, it had interesting design despite some issues typical for early user maps period (like inconsistent scale and some water sectors squishing you after submerging).

Anyway, new William Gee level: https://forums.duke4.net/topic/11631-new-release-wgsp1map-23april2021/

It's a cool The Abyss inspired map in a twisted reality that heavily reminded me of "Stranger Things" stuff for some reason.
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Aleks

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #291 on: May 02, 2021, 11:48:26 AM »

And well, I just released Submachine: https://forums.duke4.net/topic/11638-release-submachine/ :)

Once again, thanks for beta-testing, Puritan!
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Merlijn

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #292 on: May 16, 2021, 12:29:53 PM »

Hi there. Here's a review for Submachine:

Aleks recently returned with his release of the Back in Business episode, now he's back with another old revived project. Submachine has been in development for over 12 years. It probably means the map was collecting dust for several years before the author decided to finish it, but hey '12 years in the making' sounds a lot cooler! Despite this long development cycle, the map feels very cohesive and well put together.

Now unto the map itself - just like Back in Business it features insanely intricate design, a great eye for detail and several innovative effects. Some of them will make you scratch your head, wondering how the hell the author managed to pull this off in a 25-year old engine. It improves on BiB by not being too cramped, there are still some claustrophobic areas but this time around it doesn't hinder the gameplay.
The map takes place in an underground research and mining facility which, of course, has been taken over by aliens. This could have made for a generic looking map, but luckily that's not the case. Aleks managed to create a large variety of environments, from research labs to mining sites to ominous caves with glowing chrystals. The whole place looks and feels believable, with cool little details everywhere and even some well placed bits of humor. The design will remind you of old classics from Bob Averill and Alejandro Glavic, but also makes use of modern Eduke features like expanded limits and sloped sprites (this means you need a recent version of Eduke to run this).

When it comes to gameplay, the map isn't your typical run and gun affair. Of course the enemy forces are present and there are several well placed fights and respawns, but you'll need to use your head a bit more than usual. The map may feel a bit overwhelming at first due to its intricate layout and several mini missions. But if you take your time, carefully read the viewscreens and take a good look at your surroundings you should be okay. There's nothing unfair here, buttons and rooms are well defined and the viewscreens do provide you with useful information. There's also a mini game involving getting a red key. I won't spoil it, but it's a well made puzzle that you'll either love or hate.
Mastering the map feels rewarding and it even has a secret side quest for you to conquer. The level ends with a boss fight on ground level. While the arena itself looks great, the boss isn't all that difficult to take care of. Just keep your distance and press that fire button (of course completing the side mission may also help!).

Overall this is a fantastic piece of mapping that you should check out. Don't be too intimidated by the intricacies and have fun!

Rating: 98
« Last Edit: May 16, 2021, 01:27:10 PM by Merlijn »
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Puritan

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #293 on: May 16, 2021, 01:49:39 PM »

Excellent, sire!
The review is added.
Thank you very much  :)
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Aleks

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #294 on: May 17, 2021, 10:43:17 AM »

Thanks guys!

BTW, since my last post, WG released two more maps:
https://forums.duke4.net/topic/11639-new-release-wgsp2map-4may2021/
https://forums.duke4.net/topic/11648-new-release-wgsp3map-11may2021/

and is planning to close on his small 4-levels "The Abyss" themed episode this week!

Also Michael Hunt released his 3rd map (of what is going to be a 5 maps episode): https://forums.duke4.net/topic/11620-michael-hunt-in-progress-map-series/

I might do a review of Michael's episode when it's done in few months when I'll have some extra time, would also do one for WG but not sure if I'll find the time, but it's certainly worth the effort!
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ck3D

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #295 on: June 27, 2021, 11:53:08 PM »

Maarten just released his new epic: https://forums.duke4.net/topic/11712-release-another-attack-part-2-weissensee/

I will contribute with a review of it soon. Very inspiring level.

Also, William Gee has repackaged his entire career into one .grp: https://forums.duke4.net/topic/11711-wg-mega-pack/

And there's a new Michael Hunt map: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2528311462
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ck3D

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #296 on: June 30, 2021, 05:11:42 AM »

Here is my review of Maarten's Weissensee as well as a few screenshots to save you some time.

Another Attack (Part 2): Weissensee

Less than a year after his former hit Woudrichem War, longtime renowned Duke 3D user mapper from the Netherlands Maarten van Oostrum strikes again with what's already the second installment in his work-in-progress episode: Another Attack.

Not to be confused with his brother Merlijn Van Oostrum's (Red, Shaky Grounds), which relies on the same principle of cleverly reinterpreting and repurposing the original Duke 3D textures but in a fashion that always looked a bit more meticulous, Maarten's style has always instead been about rougher shapes and bigger patches of lands, with less emphasis on micromanagement than on composing coherent ensembles of landscapes of elements seemingly thrown in there Jason Pollock-style. (That being said, over the past two decades, it has been rather interesting witnessing each brother get closer and closer to the other's dimension with every new map). While this aspect was already the backbone of some classic levels by Maarten, including the Alien Planet X-64 2 series or his shared piece with Merlijn Clear The Coast, it really was exploited to its fullest recently with Woudrichem War, an open world-type of city level recreating Dutch urban aesthetics Maarten happens to be especially familiar with. This new level, Weissensee, is a direct continuation to Woudrichem War, picking up exactly where that one left off.

Given the enhanced focus on terrain work, it is only logical to expect from both Woudrichem War and Weissensee a huge reliance on platforming, which turns out to be true in both cases. In this level too, the player is required to look not just around but most oftentimes up, spot their next objective (usually a keycard out there in plain sight) and then figure out the right way to get there. But if Woudrichem essentially consisted in one big, mostly unlinear playground based on this concept, things take a slightly different turn here by breaking down the gameplay area into four subsections: a camping site, a cave and a mini golf site on one side of a river (where part of Woudrichem still stands in the background), and then, on the other side, part of the eponymous city of Weissensee itself (although located in Austria in real-life; so, rather far away from Woudrichem). The basic challenge remains similar, except the newfound punctuation in the action helps push a more tangible feeling of progression onto the player and thus makes the gradual conquest of each segment especially rewarding. The map isn't exactly linear either; there is one part where you can explore about and choose to retrieve two different keys in whichever order. This style of minimalistic sequencing also allows for smoother narration in the general storytelling of the map, with the player remaining mostly free to roam around, shoot some well-placed monsters and stare at beautiful Build environments all the while being dictated a basic direction and rhythm.

This is where the poetry of the map speaks up. The environments you will get to traverse are stunning, from detailed landscapes comprising ancient towers, a bridge and a church to a surreal blue cave, and some other places that will take you way up, where you can finally dominate the landscape (again). Just clearing the first half of the map and finally getting to cross the river is a simple achievement that, with such proper presentation, feels nothing short of majestic. Bits of lore are being dropped here and there, but never pushed onto the player and thus mostly consolidate the action as opposed to distracting from it (like it often can in Duke maps). Each location has its own distinct identity, with the ultimate one being the largest and a (refreshingly) brutally honest switch hunt - perhaps one of the most rewarding ones Duke 3D has ever known given the visuals resulting from its completion - as, eventually, everything comes tied together by universal elements such as that moving bus or boat in the backgrounds.

When it comes to gameplay, more generally, there is nothing to fault. Perhaps the average player might scratch their head a bit looking for a way to get to the red key, but that's only if they are lacking observation skills or basic knowledge of Duke 3D physics. Generally speaking, the map is way more than fair (maybe a lot less forgiving on Come Get Some than on Let's Rock), and the enemy placement is perfectly orchestrated around all the existing terrain work - usually relying on well-timed respawns - in a way that both optimally complement each other, resulting in nothing but peak Duke 3D action.

Weissensee is a beautiful level with soul, that looks marvelous and plays really well. Maybe some of the texture and sprite tweaks here and there (such as the flipped over security screens) persist at looking a bit out of place, and since Maarten's style naturally results in terrain so rich in nooks and crannies, it's tempting to imagine him exploiting that trait even further by hiding more of the non-essential items in all those little caches (something he is already doing to a noticeable extent, though). But there is no question that Weissensee is an instant classic, on par if not wiser than Woudrichem War, and so you should play it - which should take you about an hour - and then, once done, rub your hands together in excitement at the thought of the upcoming sequels.

Score: 98






« Last Edit: June 30, 2021, 05:30:47 PM by ck3D »
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Puritan

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #297 on: June 30, 2021, 08:50:12 PM »

Wow, Maarten seems to be quite productive. Those two maps require tons of work   :o


A very fun and good looking map it is.
Thank you very much for an excellent review, ck3D !
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Maarten

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #298 on: July 03, 2021, 12:39:31 PM »

Wow, Maarten seems to be quite productive. Those two maps require tons of work   :o

Lockdown & inspiration is the answer   ;D Especially back in January/February we had a very heavy Lockdown,  so I had lots of time!

Btw hi, great to see this site and forum is still alive & kicking!!

@ck3d thanks again for the big, praising but also honest review. :)
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Aleks

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Re: Reviews and Submissions
« Reply #299 on: July 19, 2021, 10:02:31 PM »

Yet another WG map has been released: WG Fang! https://forums.duke4.net/topic/11745-new-release-wgfang/

Also Vitaliy Bondarenko has released his older maps: https://forums.duke4.net/topic/11747-release-dnvs-forgotten-maps-mods/
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