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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 1:59 am 
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Triceratops
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In an effort to improve my own levels, I'm curious what everyone's thoughts are on what they find enjoyable in both the retail and fan made levels. For me, the retail levels, and some user made levels make me want to branch out and explore every area. I like the JP lore. the scale of some levels, the JP lore, and the way weapons can be tucked away in an unassuming area makes me want to find everything out there. Richard Attenborough's voice acting really makes the retail levels shine and make it feel like a true JP experience.

I guess my question is what do you like to see/experience/solve in a trespasser level? what makes a level fun/good?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 12:05 pm 
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I like when levels feel cohesive and well thought out. Good art direction helps as well. I like how TrespasserGuy's Winter's Journey has two very distinct areas that supplement each other perfectly and tell a complete story with a clear beginning, a middle and an end.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 1:33 pm 
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Keep puzzles coherent: the player must be able to solve them with whatever he/she learns within the game. Provide clues, in other words.

Large empty spaces where you just walk and walk and walk and don't find anything (guns, keycards, clues to a puzzle, something new and original) are BORING, avoid them.

Avoid puzzles that require you to go from one end to the level to the other multiple times to pick things up and take them to the other end; keep puzzle-solving travel distances short.

Try to give the player multiple alternatives to go around an obstacle.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 7:22 pm 
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Personally, puzzles, exploration and voiceovers.
I personally don't care about fighting raptors or t-rexes, I just like the whole abandoned setting Trespasser has.

Like machf said, not big empty spaces. I think that is why the Ascent level, at least the 2/3 of the level is quite boring, there is NOTHING really to find or see.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:40 pm 
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All of the above. But I like fighting dinos for some action. Also performance is king, has to run smoothly. And eliminating glitches like floating objects. Good graphics can go a long way.

Neat locales are cool. New assets. Especially buildings.

I like to play any community map that I can beat without getting too frustrated. Making puzzles sort of "staring you in the face" or not to where you have to walk miles and miles in a bland Forrest to find a key card. I like to put roads and paths in my map to sort of guide the player. The thing I see being a problem with my future maps is I like linear game-play. Sort of story driven and walking a single path. As opposed to very opened up. I get bored on huge opened up maps... But most people on here seem to like the opposite.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2021 12:25 am 
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tatu wrote:
Personally, puzzles, exploration and voiceovers.
I personally don't care about fighting raptors or t-rexes, I just like the whole abandoned setting Trespasser has.

Like machf said, not big empty spaces. I think that is why the Ascent level, at least the 2/3 of the level is quite boring, there is NOTHING really to find or see.

Oh, yes, "big empty spaces" also implies lack of music/voiceover/ambient sound triggers at certain intervals... forgot to mention that.

And speaking of the Ascent levels, one thing to criticize in Ascent is the poison dart rifle at the start of the level, which you have no clue that you should keep all the way for use at the very end.

Also, there's a series of documents written by the original devs which include three titled "Asset creation guidelines", "Area creation how-to" and "Scene building checklist" which you should read...

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2021 2:08 am 
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I won't repeat what others have said but I would like to say that a level is enjoyable if it has a lot of easter eggs or very small details that add to the overall feel of the level.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2021 6:34 am 
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Teromen wrote:
And eliminating glitches like floating objects.


Oh yes, height-fixing is very important!! :) ;)

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 4:13 am 
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I feel like my levels are a bit too open and empty. When I edit terrain it's hard to judge the size of the area i'm creating and it always seems to end up too big. something to work on i guess.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 9:55 am 
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morningstarring wrote:
I feel like my levels are a bit too open and empty. When I edit terrain it's hard to judge the size of the area i'm creating and it always seems to end up too big. something to work on i guess.


I know that feeling. What you could do is to import temp buildings and other objects just to get an idea of the scale. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 12:12 pm 
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In other game engines I use a rectangle the size of a door or a rectangle the size of the player. Haven't done this in TresEd yet though.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 2:58 pm 
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A great question! A finer detail not often touched upon.

One aspect I've learned to like in levels, is large areas of potential exploring, but only forging a specific path on a given playthrough, to leave the rest mysterious and treat the environment more like I am navigating a real place. On foot, trying to stay away from dangerous animals, I don't go over ever nook and cranny. I use some intuition on where weapons might be, and don't over-stock on them.

I quite enjoy lore in levels. Only rarely to fan mods seem to have this in them. All it takes, at minium, is a few minutes in MS Paint with one of the clipboards, or the journal book in the first TC level, to add some written words by characters who once walked about in your new environment. They can create story, and imply story, and make the player wonder what else happened, or if more hints of the story are to be found. Sometimes this area bleeds into easter eggs, such the "Water Treatment Plant" references to Wayland Yutani.

Finally but not finitely... the terrain. Using terrain textures intelligently and taking the time to spend a bit creating organic-looking terrain, with interesting areas such as a house out on a cliff, can really change the game from okay to great. Plants help a lot but if everything is only flat or predictable, you may not feel so much emmersion. It can be a prime ingredient of gameplay ambience.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 8:41 am 
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It's definitely a neat idea to get a spread of what various folks are looking for in maps, since as the replies show, everyone looks for something a little different in Trespasser.

As for myself, I think I have a pretty wide number of things I enjoy seeing in maps. I definitely agree with the notion that maps that forgo wide, empty spaces in favor of a smaller overall size with a denser population of "points of interest" (which I consider really anything that isn't just terrain, from buildings to groups of dinosaurs to something as simple as a few crates with a gun on them) are generally more enjoyable. I think a good example of a map that adheres to this without being too linear would be Craters and its Evolved variant. Lots of little things you're doing at any given time, while still having multiple different sections branching off from a central area. Another thing that I think isn't utilized enough in Trespasser maps is "Zelda style" shortcuts that let you easily return from a path. Like, for example, you have a building on a cliff with a key you need. So, you go all the way up the path to get the key, and once you've done what you need to do to get it, there's a few little switchback ledges you can hop down but not up to return you to where you need to go. However, an alternative to that is simply having progress triggers that spawn new dinosaurs on the return path, like Drac did in Mountain Valley. That way, you're not just backtrack-walking with nothing to do or see.

Another thing I do appreciate a lot from Trespasser maps is seeing new stuff. And I don't just mean new weapons, dinosaur models/textures, or other custom assets, though all of these are always a welcome sight. But I mean in a more general sense, like new puzzles using familiar or new assets, new arrangements of even the retail assets to create new structures or terrain features; just kind of new ideas. It's a vague classifier to give, I know, but from the two maps of yours I've played I do think that you've got the spirit of this concept already apparent in your work. Another map example I'd use here is Rebel's Ruins level, which has some puzzle ideas that I hadn't seen before in a Tres map but were still pretty intuitive (once I spotted them XD) as well as introducing the crossbow into a full map (apologies if this was done elsewhere first, beyond the Crossbow Challenge). Or, on a non-puzzle note, Drac's Cursed Arena was another good new set of ideas that made it feel like more than just a map where you fight a bunch of dinosaurs in a small space.

On the topic of combat, I am one of the folks that does enjoy having a decent amount of combat in Tres maps. There just really isn't another game that has a similar feel to the actual tactility of wrangling a gun to try and line up a shot by one-armed wrestling the barrel in line with the target, or the chaos that ensues when a dinosaur closes in on you and all you have is a long rifle that keeps getting slapped aside. I do think the times when the combat feels weakest is when you've been handed too many guns and face dinosaurs in large open spaces, where it's a little too easy to line up shots before they're even a threat. I think the best way to counter this is simply having tighter spaces for more encounters. Stuff like raptors inside the larger interior spaces, or those tighter style of valleys akin to the one you start in in Industrial Jungle. Of course, this doesn't work for the larger dinosaurs like the big theropods, but I do think that the terrain of these encounters still plays a large role in determining whether they're tense or a minor obstacle. Like, I think a cave map with only a small number of encounters within tight confines, and only a few pistols and maybe a short smg to fit within those tight spaces could be a pretty interesting variation of combat-themed map. Or another where you have no guns for the initial section of a map, but instead only environmental damage traps like the spike pits in JPDS Plains to lure dinosaurs into until you can find a gun. I do think there's a fair bit of wiggle room with ways to make combat more interesting within Trespasser than just a straightforward "take gun, shoot dinosaur, repeat".

The final thing I'll mention (I didn't intend to be so long-winded) that I do enjoy in maps is trigger-based audio. I think many can agree that the voicework Richard Attenborough did for Trespasser is one of the most stand-out and memorable parts of the retail game. However, I've also appreciated when maps have included custom voice lines, whether from the JP films, other sources, or even self-recorded. Especially when they have a similar filtering to Hammond's lines that gives them that sort of "memory" feel. So I think it does add to a map to have some voiced lines mixed in here and there, whether as little referential easter eggs or just lines that contribute to the level's own lore, as Drac got into above. While the music was used fairly sparsely in the retail game, I also think that adding a track here and there can spice up a map as well. I certainly don't have a studio audio capture setup, but I'd be down to record some dialogue if anyone ever wanted to experiment with that. While using copyrighted music for a map can make it trickier for people to cover (I've run into a claim here and there with Tres maps, but nothing that got a video pulled) I think that even just pulling tracks from the breadth of other JP games can give you a good pool of tracks to use that shouldn't cause any trouble. Like, has anyone ever used any of the PS1 LW games' tracks in a map? The last bit of audio content I think could also be interesting to hear in a Trespasser map would be contextually triggered sound effects. Both to flesh out the events of the map, as well as perhaps give hints for puzzles or where to go next (like playing the distant clunk of a door unlocking outside after activating something inside a building). Or, picture this: as you're completing objectives around an area of the map, you trigger the distant roar or stomping footsteps of a large carnivore, with the sounds getting closer as you progress before the dinosaur is actually spawned in by completing the objective you need to leave that area of the map. That way, you can build up tension for an encounter that might feel somewhat mundane or short otherwise.

Anyhow, I have to stop myself there or I might just keep going endlessly! But hopefully there are at least a few interesting bits of of insight mingled in here for your consideration. I am curious as well to see what in particular other folks look for with Trespasser.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:04 pm 
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What happened to these?

machf wrote:
I see you included those three previous docs, too.
As for the other ones:
Area Creation How-To: has interesting guidelines which also apply to current fan-level design. Hey, it includes the object prefixes!
Asset Creation Guidelines: though it's intended to use with GUIapp and 3DS MAX with the scripts and/or plugins we don't have (yet?), it's still interesting and helpful.
GUIapp Knowledge Base: may be helpful to understand the various GUIapp options.
GUIapp Functionality Checklist: appears to be more sort of "how to be sure your level is working OK using GUIapp". So, it may be useful in level development, too.
Scene building checklist: some parts only apply to the devs and were definitely for internal use during the development of the game, but there are a few things that are related to overall level design too.
TRIGGERS - Temp 0705.doc: let me add the info from it to the T-Script Reference where needed... it appears to be an incomplete version, though.


Original post here:

https://www.trescomforum.org/viewtopic. ... 926#p99926

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Tres WIP: updated T-Script Reference and File Formats documents
Sound name listings for the Demo (build 117), Retail (build 116), Beta 103, Beta 99, Beta 97, Beta 96, Build 55, PC Gamer Alpha (build 32) and E3 1998 Alpha (build 22) TPA files


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:50 pm 
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There's nothing I really have to say here that hasn't been said by others yet, in particular these two by machf:
machf wrote:
Large empty spaces where you just walk and walk and walk and don't find anything (guns, keycards, clues to a puzzle, something new and original) are BORING, avoid them.

Avoid puzzles that require you to go from one end to the level to the other multiple times to pick things up and take them to the other end; keep puzzle-solving travel distances short.

These two points are what I consider some of the main detractors from enjoying a level in Trespasser (something that I have been responsible for doing in the past).
I personally look for a way to keep things interesting for the player, making sure they always have some clear objective and direction when progressing - often I'll try and place some sort of indicator, even if it's not completely clear, as to the next thing that needs to be done to progress. I also like to try and create sightlines between points of interest, so that when the player reaches an important location (say, a shack), they'll be able to see some indication of the next important location (say, a tower) in the distance and hopefully be drawn in that direction, sort of like the original Trespasser concept of following the power pylons to the Town. If there isn't a major building or structure planned for a while, you could out the terrain with a natural area, like a pond with a stegosaurus, or a grove of mushrooms, and so on. Wandering around aimlessly until you work out where to go and what to do gets tedious quickly.

Shadefyre wrote:
I do think the times when the combat feels weakest is when you've been handed too many guns and face dinosaurs in large open spaces, where it's a little too easy to line up shots before they're even a threat. I think the best way to counter this is simply having tighter spaces for more encounters. Stuff like raptors inside the larger interior spaces, or those tighter style of valleys akin to the one you start in in Industrial Jungle. Of course, this doesn't work for the larger dinosaurs like the big theropods, but I do think that the terrain of these encounters still plays a large role in determining whether they're tense or a minor obstacle.

This one is also something I consider to be utterly overlooked in the majority of Trespasser levels. In particular, I dislike it when a level has a ton of dinosaurs scattered about in big, open areas, as it makes them completely non-threatening since you can just pick them off from beyond the danger zone. Something we rarely see are "trap" triggers, where the player does something and then a dinosaur or two appears nearby and gives the player a very small amount of time to react, which realistically is something that ambush predators like JP's velociraptors would be trying to do...I think specifically of some of the Doom levels where you collect a keycard and then a nearby wall lowers, revealing a bunch of enemies very close to you.
I often get the feeling that the dinosaurs in Trespasser levels are a bit of a joke when they stand there staring at the player while you shoot at them until they drop.

Teromen wrote:
In other game engines I use a rectangle the size of a door or a rectangle the size of the player. Haven't done this in TresEd yet though.

I do this as well with TresEd on occasion, as well as when I'm creating buildings that have to be flush with with the terrain itself (like tunnels). It definitely helps with scale.

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