Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent II

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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby Hawkins » Thu May 17, 2012 9:03 am

System 1: Groupa
System 2: Water
System 3: Fire
System 4: Ice
System 5: Alien 1
System 6: Alien 2

(I think the order of aliens is correct) So, system 5 is alien, a rather colorful alien theme, but alien on the most part. The true variety holds exclusively in zeta aquilae as you said. No favourite though, as each system comprises a chapter in the story that would suffer, if placed at a different order.
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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby Alter-Fox » Thu May 17, 2012 12:01 pm

KakHome wrote:P.S. System 7 Tycho Brahe doesn't count in ranking since it's really just the boss level of System 6 (I'm actually not sure why Parallax did this, though I guess it is probably related to trying to enhance the game's climax and ending).


If you want to get really technical Puuma Sphere is the only planet in the game where you can see a moon during the exit sequences. Making me wonder what that moon really is...

Anyhow, you've probably figured this out but

#1 Ice -- it's my habitat, my home and native land
hehe
#2 Water -- generally because I'm better at building water-themed levels than any other.

#3 Desert

And for the other 3 I really don't care that much.
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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby Pumo » Fri May 18, 2012 4:22 am

System 5 (Baloris Prime) is considered, as Alter said, Desert theme.

Now, lemme see which on is my favorite and least favorite theme.
Will make a list in order of preference:

1.- Water (Definitely the best one for me :D )
2.- Fire
3.- Alien1/Desert
4.- Ice
5.- Alien2
6.- Groupa (The least favorite for me :P)

However, I would like to make clear that even if they are ordered from the best to the worse, I like a LOT all of the first 5 themes on the list and I consider all of those pretty good, leaving the 6th one (Groupa) out of 'like-a-lot' group with quite a margin.

I can really consider it the worse of all D2 themes, as I feel it is quite behind in terms of 'nice-ness', precisely 'cause it's not well defined.
Not that I don't like it at all or I hate it, but it feels too bland to me.
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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby Sapphire Wolf » Fri May 18, 2012 4:30 am

Lets see here...(1 being the fave and 6 being the least fave)
1. Water
2. Alien 1/Desert
3. Alien 2 (the green walls kinda reminds me of foliage or an inner-jungle cavern, maybe because of rock327 (just my 2 cents)
4. Ice
5. Fire
6. Groupa
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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby Sirius » Fri May 18, 2012 7:03 am

I found groupa the most challenging to make levels in, because it's more difficult to interpret exactly what it is. The others are much more straightforward (water a little less so than the others except for the obvious water, though). But at the same time, it is clearly the least memorable - despite that 2/3/4 seemed to be among D2's best levels.
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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby Ben K » Fri May 18, 2012 8:15 am

I actually like Zeta Aquilae for its variability. But all things considered D2's rock textures are mostly very un-rocklike so I'm not that fond of any of them.
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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby Alter-Fox » Fri May 18, 2012 11:28 am

Yeah, sometimes it's cool to build outside a theme. Vertigo did that a lot (or reinterpreted themes, like turning Alien2 into a sewer-cathedral with giant lizard-faces... AWESOME). I always figured groupA was a catchall for "everything else", or else meant to be more like D1.
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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby Alter-Fox » Fri May 18, 2012 9:48 pm

KakHome wrote:With Baloris though, how do you justify lava in a desert? Also I think Alien2 is considered omega/green(house).


I have raged about that before, yet the game's writers say it was a desert. Maybe the lava comes from another aspect of the planet. It's not that it's unjustified, more that it has nothing to do with it being a desert.
It's not as much lava as brimspark in any case.
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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby Alter-Fox » Fri May 18, 2012 10:14 pm

Well Parallax did seem to fall into the "deserts are hot" misconception (even though the surface of Baloris looks pretty cold).
A mildly volcanic desert wouldn't be unheard of. Who knows, maybe the mines were built in the volcanic regions because that's the best place to get minerals at lowest cost; and that's actually true, as long as you're not using people as your miners -- the volcanic activity causes a lot of minerals from deeper down to be moved closer to the surface -- the mines would theoretically be self-replenishing, to a point.

On the other hand if the levels past Limefrost Spiral are actually not mines, maybe the robots built them there because the lava would be a natural defense against invaders going in on foot. And it doesn't hurt flying robots.

Or, maybe we're just reading way too much into some artistic license and we should stop :P.
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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby Alter-Fox » Fri May 18, 2012 10:43 pm

The big orange robot doesn't have a name but we call it the Red Fatty Junior. I like that name because it makes me think of a hamburger -- plus the colour/shape of it looks kind of like a hamburger bun. Of course, any restaurant that calls their burgers "fatties" doesn't is too dumb to live. Who likes to eat fat instead of meat?

Robots were matched to planets mostly by their colour schemes I think. Wikipedia has an interesting section of their article on Descent talking about the different ways robots were "themed" to their systems (right down to weapon fire apparently). And of course Vertigo loosened the restrictions somewhat.

Personally the bigger wonder for me is why they dropped the Seeker bots entirely after limefrost spiral when they would have fit perfectly into Baloris Prime. Especially because of how, on the higher difficulties, they're even more evil than D1's Drillers.
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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby Alter-Fox » Fri May 18, 2012 11:31 pm

To answer your post in reverse (just to mix things up):

I think the Red Fatty Junior is somewhere between high and extreme -- he's definitely not as bad as the Boarshed or the fusion hulk even though those Mercury missiles can be devastating on higher difficulty levels.

Seeker is that dude who shoots unrealistic amounts of mercury missiles all at the same time.

I already implied a theory that Tycho Brahe is actually the "moon" of Puuma Sphere that you see in the exit sequences, so it may not be that far to the secret level. Hell, we don't even know if those teleporters are affected by range. Of course the moon will look different close-up.

Descent II is not set in our solar system. It's set in the Zeta Aquilae system -- a real star system which actually has two suns. In fact all the systems in the Descent series are based on real stars. I think it's more likely than the game being set on seven star systems each of which happen to have only one planet, especially when the intro movie only mentions Zeta Aquilae.

I don't think the robots have "habitats" or "seek out" places. It's more likely the PTMC puts certain robots in certain places because that's where they are most cost-effective (considering PTMC :P).

I'm pretty sure the surface of Baloris Prime is foggy -- though I guess if it's in a volcanic area smoke would make sense too. The fact that the fog is so close to the ground would only mean that the temperature regularly fluctuates from just above freezing to just below freezing. I see fog just like that in the morning after the temperature drops really fast during the night. It makes for pretty bizzare bus rides to school and work.

I already mentioned the fallacy that deserts are always hot -- you seem to be falling into it a little bit too though. Some deserts are never hot at all. Two of the bigger deserts in the world (not the biggest though) are also the polar ice caps. There is very little snowfall there -- but of course the snow that does fall doesn't melt. (Or it shouldn't -- too bad we're changing that). Technically it's also an ironic desert, because it's made of fresh water. You might freeze to death, but you won't die of thirst.
Lack of precipitation is the only thing that actually defines a desert. Temperature, soil composition, soil existence... is all irrelevant.
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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby Alter-Fox » Sat May 19, 2012 12:03 am

It's not that big a stretch to say that Zeta Aquilae is the name of a star system and also the name of one of the planets in that system... Kind of like how the capital cities of some provinces/states or countries have the same name as that province or country.

The green missile platform does get a briefing if you actually read the briefing for the laser platform in level 16. The whole point of that briefing is that they're the same robot, colour-coded-for-your-convenience. Due to engine limitations D1's briefings could only show one robot at a time, and for some reason they chose to show the white version (though if you look at the strategy guide, they apparently actually had it show the green one for part of the game testing cycle). Story wise, both versions are the class 2 platform robot. The level editor gives the white one the "class 1" name but that's more likely just to differentiate them for level builders (or because story wasn't that important at the time).

Incidentally, I think the surface of Baloris Prime looks more like the pink-textured Saturn levels in D1 than Mars. And actual mars is far more orangy than any planet in Descent except maybe Mercury -- but you've seen the lander/rover photos.
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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby Ben K » Fri May 25, 2012 4:31 am

There's no reason you can't get volcanoes in a desert environment. It doesn't tend to happen on Earth because volcanic activity tends to act against desertification for various reasons, but you still get some in close proximity (Atacama Desert is right next to an active volcanic region for example).

You won't see pools of exposed lava in mines anywhere though, because pressure differences will cause the whole mine to flood with magma. Near the surface you could get lava rivers running through mines and collecting in pools in places, but you wouldn't tend to mine in those locations because the rock is too unstable and there's nothing of use to be found there anyway.
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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby Woodpecker » Fri May 25, 2012 3:05 pm

I can't really rank my favourite systems because I haven't completed either First Strike or Counterstrike. However, I love the Limefrost Spiral, not because of its theme but because of the name. :) Some of the levels have strange names too, such as the Robby Mine. I assume it was designed by someone called Rob, but even so! At least "The Well" makes perfect sense because it's a water level.
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Re: Rank your favorite and least favorite systems in Descent

Postby NaphthaTurisas » Sun May 27, 2012 4:36 am

My rankings:

1. Limefrost Spiral - I'm a sucker for ice levels in Descent missions, and this is no exception. Maybe I like it more here than anywhere else just because it's not as slippy-slidey as ice levels tend to be in other games, but I've always had a thing for colder level designs on an atmospheric level.

2. Baloris Prime - I really liked the more vibrant textures introduced for Descent 2, and I think those were more noticeable here than anywhere else in the game. Some of my favorites showed up here, like rock312 in the perimeter of Level 20.

3. Quartzon - The water theme was extremely memorable when I was younger, and is pretty fun to work with in level design. These levels also introduced some of the most fun-to-fight robots in the game (namely the Fox Attack Bot and the Seeker), which made for some pretty good fights even in the overly-long Level 7.

4. Puuma Sphere - This one always read as a deep jungle that would be a cool hunting environment, which was only enhanced by the difficult robots introduced. The excessive green never really bothered me much; it just worked really well because of how varied the tones and shades were, and there was plenty of white and black to balance things out. My biggest gripe would be the lack of variety with the robots. Plenty of different robots vanished after Limefrost Spiral or Baloris Prime, leaving only a handful for most of the Puuma Sphere levels save for a few brief cameos by "outside" robots. The textures are great, but the levels definitely feel emptier without as many different kinds of robots.

5. Brimspark - I had a lot of trouble separating the theme from the levels for this one, but that's really the only reason why this isn't in last place. All four of the Brimspark levels were way too big and time-consuming (except maybe Level 9), but the fiery theme was done pretty well and with just enough variety to break up huge chunks of nothing but red. I have to admit the Martian levels in Descent 1 could've used a little more color variety... There was just too much midtone red in those three levels (especially Level 10) where some more orange or brown wouldn't have been a bad choice.

6. Zeta Aquilae - Not really that bad, per se, but sort of dragged down by how difficult it is to figure out just what the theme is. Even now, the levels seem too much like something you would see in Descent 1, which may be why they seem so bland from a thematic standpoint. The levels themselves aren't too bad, but again, because I was trying to separate the level designs from the texture palettes and robot lineups, I had to rank this one as last.

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