Enemy Within impression

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karx11erx
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Postby karx11erx » Tue Aug 19, 2008 3:20 pm

Level 2: Great structure, but you can easily get stuck at some ledge or geometry detail when trying to dodge fire. Too little Vulcan ammo, the Vulcan eats it like mad! The green Diamond Claw replacements could drop a few more shield orbs. Pretty dark with D2X-XL and lightmaps, the level could use a few more lights, e.g. at the top inside that pillar you reach after you have passed that long winding tube with the river.
Last edited by karx11erx on Wed Aug 20, 2008 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby karx11erx » Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:05 pm

Level 3: Wonderful idea! I love this one. A few fast firing bots around narrow corners make it challenging, but not too difficult.

Level 4: Boring box structure, sorry. There's just no way to make something even remotely look like an outdoor area the way it has been tried here. The texturing is so garish it makes my eyes hurt. I found the entrance area too dark, at least with D2X-XL and light maps: You get attacked and hardly see where its coming from (you have a headlight though at that stage of the mission, so what). No big challenge due to wide open spaces giving a lot of room for dodging and evading attacks. Could probably use a few more bots there.

Edit:

Some areas look better, e.g. the ring shaped long hallway. Still, the texturing is questionable. The entire level has a natural rock/rust theme, and then there's these techy grates with black&yellow stripes slapped on some rock textures. They just don't fit the level's theme. If I'd have to guess I'd judge that DarkFlameWolf has built this level just from these grates.

Edit 2:

The later parts of the level look better, the reactor area is awesome, and the connected rusty vertical steel tubes are also great. Difficulty rises too.

Pretty mixed bag, the level. I would like to see those boxy early areas have more detail/irregular structure, and better texturing. This way the level is neither fish nor fowl. Smaller faces would also be good - currently lightmaps look horrible in these areas.

What I'd do for the grates is to align them so that the colored stripes run vertically and not diagonally. Instead of the grate, put some metal beam texture (metl136 seems suitable) on the marble in the big ring shaped area and align them perpendicular to the longer face edge to make them look like they're supporting the wall.

Edit 3:

One minor thing in level 1 is that stretched fan. I have changed the level structure in my local copy to achieve a round fan and could provide it for feedback. The area behind the fan also has a bluish texture glued on a lava texture to make it emit light. Problem is that with D2X-XL, it will emit red light. It would be better to use the blue goal texture as base texture.

I also wouldn't know why the mission's name has to be "Descent: The Enemy Within" and not just "The Enemy Within". D2X-XL will remember the name of the last mission loaded and automatically offer it when you want to start a new game, but only if the name isn't too long - which it is here. D2X-XL's smart level search using the mission's first letters doesn't work very well with this either because there's a bunch of missions starting with "Descent: ". You guess who made most of them. :P Finally, if it hadn't been in the mission title people would have certainly believed that it was for Unreal or DOOM, right? :lolol:
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Lighting problems in level 7

Postby karx11erx » Thu Aug 21, 2008 7:56 am

Sirius reports he has problems lighting level 7 with custom brightness for the water. Well, here's the level after I have lit it (faint light blue for the water):

Image
Last edited by karx11erx on Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:36 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Sirius » Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:18 am

It's not difficult, it's just it doesn't work without D2X-XL's lightmap-related files. Default values don't work for special effects like glowy water.

Ideally I want to take those lights out as well, actually. They distract from the realisation that it is, in fact, the water casting light there. I guess I'll alter it a little more in ~24 hours when I have some spare time...

P.S. Yes, having to type in "descent: t" before the right mission finally turns up in my list of well over 100 (and I don't have that many!) missions is more than a little annoying sometimes. Thankfully D2 remembering the last mission you played saves some effort. When I was testing my last level I never had to type in more than about three letters ("ant") before getting the right one, because it didn't have a really big shared word with missions that users always had!

Ah well. Minor things.
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Postby karx11erx » Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:22 am

Sirius wrote:It's not difficult, it's just it doesn't work without D2X-XL's lightmap-related files. Default values don't work for special effects like glowy water.


That's not true. Looks like you tried to slap the water on some base texture and then make it a light source. That however has the undesired side of effect of producing a corona for the water which looks like thick fog. You can assign a brightness value to every texture with DLE-XP, even base (primary) ones, and once you have had DLE-XP compute the level's lighting, it will look alright in all Descent 2 versions, as the light values are stored in the level data. That will also work with lightmaps - the above picture has been taken with lightmaps being used.
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Postby karx11erx » Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:32 am

Ok, I have removed the lights from the tunnels and assigned a stronger blue (medium blue RGB value) to the water. First pic has 5% brightness for all water, second has 10%. I think the 2nd looks pretty cool.

Image

Image

Just make sure to assign color values to all lights in the level once you have given some to one of them, or they will all be white and override D2X-XL's default light colors. Chose color index 1 for white lights, not 255 (click on the small white box to the left in the first row of the light color selection box).
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Postby Sirius » Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:40 am

Uhm... the third picture was taken with the water as the primary texture, just with the brightness wound up to 15% (from 0% of course) and the light colour set to a fairly strong blue. I actually took the picture with coronas turned off, so that wouldn't be the cause of the effect.

You say the light values are stored in the level data - but doesn't OpenGL-style lighting ignore those? I know if standard lighting is used and coloured lighting is off it'll look the same as other versions, but I'm not sure how many people are still using that. I have noticed that adjusting the brightness of a texture will affect how DLE-XP lights the level - something which I used to get the effects in the first picture (taken with rebirth, but vanilla D2 would look similar) - but I was fairly sure OpenGL-style lighting needs .lgt and .clr files to allow the level designer to control how it lights a level.

I was confusing the above a little with lightmaps, since I'm not too clear on what the difference is, though.

P.S. Yes, that last picture you posted does look really nice.
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Postby karx11erx » Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:51 am

No, it doesn't. D2X-XL reads the lgt (brightness) and clr (color) tables from the hog file and uses these for per vertex and per pixel lighting as well as for the lightmaps.

I don't really understand what you confused with lightmaps and how you confused it. :)

I have taken another look at level 4 (Through Broken Skies), and the lighting looks horribly broken with lightmaps here. The reason is that to light the big pseudo outdoor areas, the bright empty texture has been slapped on top of the "sky" textures. With DLE-XP, you can do better. Give a brightness of 20% to 25% to the sky and of 5% to the walls. I had to replace the texture on a few floors as they used the same texture that was a (light emitting) wall in the "outdoor" areas (exported the wall texture and overloaded another texture with it to keep the texturing identical to the original while getting rid of the light casting floor).

It should generally be made clear to level designers that with DLE-XP usage of the empty texture as "auxiliary" light source is undesirable and unnecessary. As you can adjust every texture's brightness with DLE-XP, you have way better control over what automatic lighting does with your level, so that path should be taken.

Edit:

The more I look at level 4, the more I dislike it. It's a sloppy job, particularly the huge boxy areas. Textures aren't well aligned there. That part looks like the author had run out of ideas, or had a mediocre idea. These areas should be completely ripped out and replaced by something better. Could still be huge caves, but please make them look like something worth looking at. The way it is this is just poor level design.

Edit 2:

I wonder who made it. The level even looks like 2 persons built it: A pretty skilled one, and a novice, so different are the areas in it.
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Postby Sirius » Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:38 am

OK, time to get to work now that I can... quite a few things to fix it seems. Since it looks like it's on my plate I'll probably take a look at the cockpit graphics and give you a better bug report if it seems broken.

Other than that, lighting... robots... HXMs... yep might be a few hours.
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Postby karx11erx » Fri Aug 22, 2008 8:02 am

Found out that Darkhorse has built that level ... :horror: :omg: :think:

He had been shooting for crystal caves. Well, there had been enough cubes left to make something resemble crystal caves at least somewhat ... some uneven, edgy surfaces, some spikes ... but probably not enough time. Not in my life would I have guessed DH had built this level, compared to his other (outstanding) stuff.

I had interpreted the boxy areas as outdoor ice cliffs. So I tried to rebuild them into something more canyon like. Since I didn't understand he was going for crystals, I changed the texturing to some rock/sand theme. I also replaced a few irregular rock areas with steel/concrete basins, picking up the theme of the steel tubes later in the level. Well, he might even like the canyon structure (looks more like caves), and with DLE-XP redoing the texturing is a matter of a few minutes.

DH wrote on DBB.net that I probably wouldn't like (m)any of his levels. Actually that is not true. Thee three I know he made (2, 15, and Into The Deep if I am right) are awesome.

Oh yeah, btw. TEW zipped: 4.5 MB, TEW rar'd: 2.5 MB. Go figure.

Edit:

Here are two screenshots of level 4 (1st pic: original, 2nd pic: changed by me)

Image

Image
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Postby Sirius » Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:47 am

RAR is way better. I just use ZIP to avoid the "hey I can't open this file WTF is this???" complaints.

Level 4 will probably be substantially re-built.

As for the issue of this thread vs. the DBB, I probably don't need to say this, but I don't see that going down well with the people over there. A lot of them are here anyway, and they're welcome to post here (I'm reading, and I'll forward things on if necessary) - but forcing others to use this thread will just cause a bunch of people to say "no way am I registering on Diedel's board", and that's a headache I don't really need...

Level 7 is looking awesome now though. Really happy with how the coloured lighting affects the environment. Robots are a little bit like dark silhouettes... but oh well, they're visible enough.

Ohh. And before I forget. You know the "haze" in my screenshots? I had the brightness wound up too high, probably from back before I got this monitor (which was a really long time ago). I definitely don't need it there now - it looks fine at half...
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Postby karx11erx » Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:15 am

Well, maybe DH has some better ideas .., or he simply cannot live with someone fiddling with his works, regardless of the quality of the result ... I don't know. Too bad, I had thought my changes would go well with his intentions for the level. Anyway, looking forward to what he will come up with. I am sure now that his ambition has been instigated, it will be something noteworthy. :)

Sirius wrote:As for the issue of this thread vs. the DBB, I probably don't need to say this, but I don't see that going down well with the people over there. A lot of them are here anyway, and they're welcome to post here (I'm reading, and I'll forward things on if necessary) - but forcing others to use this thread will just cause a bunch of people to say "no way am I registering on Diedel's board", and that's a headache I don't really need...

Wow.

I'd say it would just be an act of being constructive, and so far I cannot see anybody having posted in the TEW threads on dbb.net who would have to fear something here. I have enough level building skills and technical knowledge (given I am the co-author of DLE-XP) to be able to provide valuable input. Apparently I am the only one having seen the weaknesses in Through Broken Skies (or having bothered to mention them). I am the only one who can help with issues like properly applying lighting in cases like Brightwater Canyon. Apparently I am the only one being able to show lighting tips and tricks (there's a whole section about that in my DLE-XP area on http://www.descent2.de, but it looks like too few people have read it). I have an eye for general quality, not just for issues like geometry, texturing or robot placement problems.

It is interesting that you are saying this though.

I can still say from looking back that most of the people resenting me on dbb.net have taken sides and started to attack me w/o ever having had a confict with me before, be it because they didn't like my opinions or because I had a conflict with some of their friends. Usually I wasn't granted on dbb.net what had been demanded from me: Respect and understanding for others. I have far and wide let this issue come to rest after having my own forum, and I can say that I am a constructive and neither a resentful nor unfair person. I cannot say this about many people from dbb.net.

Here's my conclusion (and I hope who it concerns reads it). I am fed up with people freeloading on my work while despising me, so I require those it concerns to immediately remove D2X-XL and the D2X-XL specific data (i.e. d2x-xl.hog) as well as DLE-XP from their systems. There are still D2X, D2X-Rebirth, DMB2 and DEVIL so satisfy their Descent 2 related needs.
Last edited by karx11erx on Sat Aug 23, 2008 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Sirius » Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:32 pm

Yeah but I don't need to explain to you that there is a lot of mindless "ohh Diedel we don't like him" sentiment on the DBB. If you're really lucky you might get Bubbalou to do something like that - I haven't talked to him about it and don't really want to but I really doubt his attitude has undergone any huge shift after what I've been hearing. (Haven't had a lot of comments from him in the thread anyway, though.)

Many of the other people are wildcards, but I just ... don't trust things not to turn to crap. A huge fight isn't something I want to even indirectly instigate.

P.S. Before I forget, the alterations DH is making are actually pretty substantial from my understanding - they differ quite markedly from the existing structure and the alterations you proposed. I appreciate the effort you put into them, but in the end I guess an artist does what he likes. :x
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Postby karx11erx » Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:29 pm

Sure, it's his level after all, and I think we can expect something remarkable from him. Actually I didn't even like the level with my changes to it. They may make it better, but do they make it good, good enough compared to the other stuff in TEW I have seen so far? I don't think so. So let's hope DH's creative juices are flowing excessively again. :)

Nobody would or could force anybody to register and post here anyway, and as already said: I haven't seen anyone having big problems with me posting in dbb.net's TEW threads so far anyway. It would just make life easier for all.
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Postby karx11erx » Fri Aug 22, 2008 5:24 pm

I need something from you guys and gals. I have noticed that sometimes bots (particularly the charging ones, it seems) get stuck on obstacles and don't move until they get destroyed. I want to improve the AI so that the bots get away from such obstacles, so if you encounter such situations, please make a savegame and send it to my e-mail address before destroying the robot.

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