Re: New Descent 3 singleplayer level: Omens

For record keeping I am archiving this feedback here from 'I SLIDE':

Although to my surprise he has never played any other custom D3 missions, hasn't played Overload, and I think he's probably not played much of D1/D2 either. Still, it was very constructive feedback - albeit a little biased given the lack of experience with comparable custom missions, Overload or D3 modding in general:
Hi, I've played 1 hour in the level and haven't finished it yet (I'm on security level 2). I'll give you my thoughts so far and I'll try to be exhaustive, but first I'd like to say that I'm conscious of the amount of work given to release such a level, and I'm glad that people like you exist to give such time and energy and try to extand the Descent 3 experience.

There's a lot of details I'd like to talk about, but let's address the biggest issue first. From this hour of play, I can say that the level design is flawed. The evironment is really dark, the light sources don't light up anything, everything is grey or black and before not knowing where I should go I don't even know where to look at. I don't know if that's normal, maybe the map just lacks an ambient lighting. But under those circonstances it was really hard to go through the level, I had to use the headlight all the time, it was really difficult to understand what could be interacted with (doors espescially, levers and items too, and destroyable pipes/generators). I noticed there's a halo effect at some point (levers in cargo bay, when the door's open, red otherwise), but it's not effective to convey the information. Also most light bulbs are purely cosmetic, so why should I pay attention wether the high velocity tube ones are green or red ?...

Or maybe that's an intended effect ? indeed, all robots shine in the dark, the flare device was rebuild, so maybe being lost in the dark is part of the level design ? If so, you'd still need to make the doors more visible and boost the headlight a lot. Or maybe such idea should be reserved to a certain room in the level rather than the full piece.

Please understand that this problem is detrimental to the gameplay, and that you should fix it. Of course Descent 3 was built around the idea that maps are mazes and a lot is done to confuse the player, but not in this unfair way. Not being able to tell a door appart from a wall is a terrible mistake. Fixing this shouldn't be hard, just increase lignthing a bit, leave the important areas of a level really highlighten, or with a color that stands out from the grey-ish walls. Make it bold. Everytime that the player must be conveyed an information it has to be efficient. "Where can I go ?", "what did this lever do ?", "what objective am I supposed to focus on ?"...

This being said, there's a couple of other things I could rent about (because I'm a very difficult person).

- The doors take too long to open. For big hangar doors it's ok, but for all the others it's really annoying, especially when there's a lot of rooms and nothing interesting in it most of the time.
-the music is really good but it doesn't suit the level atmosphere. It sounds a bit like lv17 soundtrack, which is a very fast-paced level, while Omens is a really big level with a lot of exploration, stopping by to read the logs (and careful observation trying to distingish things on screen) so obviously it goes slower, and that affects the mood
- All enemies die in flames. So they die slowly. And without a funny instant explosion.
-All enemies are still blocks. This would take a lot of work but most Descent 3 robots are animated
- the forcefield original red texture is too small for your huge forcefields, the texture's repetitive pattern is visible
- weapon textures don't look nice imo (pickable item, icons in HUD)

Now for the glitches:

- the picture displayed in the briefing, at the intelligence page has a brightness problem, you can only see white stains as light halos and the background is too dark (or transparent ?) to see anything
- I can't select a ship at the end of the briefing screen
- in the first cutscene, my ship is tilted
- in the HUD, the name of original weapons are on display, instead of the new ones
- the first robots encountered move r e a l l y s l o w
- weapons' particle effect glitch when shot towards a door (the alpha is broken and a black square appears)
- cargobay 4 door can only be opened by hitting it with the ship, instead of shooting at it
- "error missing string" is displayed everytime creepers are pickep up
- at the very bottom of security level 2 area some textures look glitched, like the "shananigans" cheatcode

About the weapons: I can't compare damage if I shoot unseen enemies, so I'll only talk about the weapons behavior
- I like the driller, but it just doesn't push the enemies like a vauss would do
- the reflex is really fun to use, the bouncing projectiles are a nice mechanic
- missile pods and creepers are fun but I think they should be a primary weapon, due to their high fire rate
- hunter being shot two by two is really nice, in fact I hate how it goes side by side in original Descent 3

What I really liked about Omens so far: -
surprise effect of some enemy placement, Mark-II (so big !), the room with 50 robots...
- the matcen light effect is really nice when a robot spawns
- the new flare looks nice, and it still works for keeping doors open
- the "find the logs" storytelling, very dead space / system shock like
- the new PyroGX
- all the efforts put into making Omens

so yeah, don't throw it, it definitely has the potential for being a great Descent 3 level, but I think it still needs a couple of tweaks. (lighting and readability)

I continued my playthough and got to the forcefields shield the core reactor. I realised I had "fast headlight" enabled, so that made the game looked even darker, my bad. It's slightly better now, my point on readability is still relevent !

I can raise new compliments now, the levels flows well once you know where to go, it's just exploration that is very difficult. The red forcefields maze is a very nice section. Some parts of the map are really interesting (curved section leading to the reactor, or the corridor to escape the maze, with a turret on each step)... Also I like how the explosive napalm/frag barrels are placed closely to some enemies
My response:
Thanks for your extensive feedback. Unfortunately nearly everything you brought up is not something I am going to address, as this project was a very painful one to work on and some things are just out of my 'time' budget. There just isn't enough interest in D3 to warrant the amount of work that went into this, but I may go back and adjust the lighting level. I don't believe the level is as dark as you seem to imply, I haven't had this feedback from anyone else. You could disable the fog, that might help, as this was an intended atmosphere. Please take a look at the screenshots here: <- Is this how dark it is for you? IF so, that is the intended look. If not, then maybe something else is amiss with different setups. This level was made for newer machines, not ideally suited to the older setups. This is mainly because I have no older machines :(

** No idea about the doors, they are new doors and thus look different from what you are used to seeing. I did the best I could with what limited resources I had at my disposal. The opening speed thing is simply because of the size (in testing, they looked stupid when opening faster). If you look closely, even the grey doors are twice the size of normal D3 doors. This is because even the smallest robots are very big compared with D3. The Triton is twice the size of a Thresher. This is the intended door size, speed and design. Are they ugly? Perhaps, but making door textures is a lot of work and doing everything yourself in a project like this was a mammoth task. Oh, and the fat doors in Level 2 Security are extremely slow by design. I figured this would irritate some people (especially speedrunners) BUT I went with this by choice, because level 2 security is a special research bunker etc etc. The level is not built for speedrunners, but I maintain it is still better suited than some of the original D3 levels which have long scripted sequences, unskippable cutscenes, etc. I am sure you can find a way to work around the doors... after all, they stay open for much longer than regular D3 doors. Also, try using the blue flare on them. They will stay open for MUCH Longer ;)

** The music is the only one that Jerry Berlongieri could provide. I agree that it doesn't fit the level that well, but it grew on me, and so I went with it. Really, I'm not going to complain about getting new music for free from the original D3 composer. This is the only music I could get, and I think you'll gradually appreciate the music the more you play the level. Yes, perhaps some of the quiet areas could use quieter music, but there was no such music available.

** Enemies die in flames as intended. I didn't want them to be wibble-wobble like the D3 bots, and I dislike instant explosions. That's purely an aesthetic choice, and that is my choice to make and the one I will stick with. Animations are too much work to implement, besides they are based on OVERLOAD, which for the most part do not have any animations. It is a lot of work modding D3, animations are extremely time consuming and extremely buggy. Changing the original D3 assets is some of the most headache-inducing modding I've ever done in my life.

** The HUD icons are ugly mainly because the techniques used for creating them are somewhat obscure. I agree they aren't pretty, but that's because they are simply pictures of the weapon models. Unfortunately I don't have the time to curate the weapon icons like the original D3 designers. The only recommendation I can make is not to fly in cockpit view ;)

** Weapon alpha effect is a glitch in D3. Not my department.

** Cargobay 4 cannot be opened with weapons. Working as intended (sorry...)

** Missing string error is a D3 problem due to the ammo amounts in the custom weapons. (It says this in the readme)

** Weapon names can be changed with a custom string, but this doesn't work in a custom mission, it can only work for the entire of D3 or not at all. In my Hyperspace levels (Basewars Redux and Silent Fury) there are custom hud names because it's much more of a total conversion - but you still have to move the string file yourself.

** The driller has very little kickback by design, since the bots are very fat and bulky (again, a design choice). This is pretty much as it works in OVERLOAD. This is all intended, since OMENS is kind of set in a pre-D3 era, before the faster and more sophisticated robots appear. I suppose you could say that is a story telling choice.

** Ships cannot be selected in D3 single missions. Not a glitch. Ships can only be selected after the first level in a campaign. D3 designers made it that way for some reason. Did you play other custom missions before.. ?

Apart from the lighting issue, pretty much none of those can be addressed. I will look into re-doing the lighting with a brighter pass through, BUT, only if I can confirm with other players the level is indeed too dark. Based on what I've played (on 3 different modern computer) it doesn't seem all that dark to me. Again, please check the screenshots. I'm not entirely sure if this is an issue or simply because of the classic Descent divide (D1/D2 <-> D3 fans..) of which Omens attempts to appeal to some respects.

Thankyou for your very prompt feedback!
I Slide:
compared to those screenshots my game looks a bit darker indeed. My gamma setting, on top of my screen brightness, may be low, but it works well with the usual D3 levels. But the problem isn't the darkness itself, it's just not being able to quickly "read' the level. For instance earlier today I quit the level at the reactor core forcefield ground, because I couldn't find the way to make the last pilone vulnerable. I made a lot of turns in the area, and it's only now that I stumble across the levers on the side walls, totally concealed in the greyness.

The slow doors and slow to die ennemies are just my speedrunner's fixation I guess, I don't like the way to be blocked too much. I did not play any other custom mission before, and I haven't played Overload yet, so I can't tell...

Once again I totally understand and support the effort of making such an extension to the game, and I wish the best for your next projects.
To be honest I don't agree about the level readability, though that might be designer bias, but I can remember several parts of the original Descent 3 levels that have much more confusing puzzles (and in some cases unclear objectives) than anything Omens has. Is that just me? I tried to keep the puzzles as simplistic as possible. Perhaps the darkness he experienced contributed to that? Again, not sure if the lighting is an issue at this point. I've installed D3 on 3 different machines, default setup, and it's bright enough even at the lowest setting.

If any other feedback comes along that isn't included in a forum post on the other sites, I will drop it here :)

Edit: Based on feedback I've received it would seem the level is too dark. I think this is likely due to my monitors being exceedingly bright, so it didn't seem all that dark to me. I will be increasing the ambient brightness and making a few other small tweaks.
The Expanse. Watch it!

Re: New Descent 3 singleplayer level: Omens

Patched version is available now. The following fixes have been made:

* Fixed a fatal crash which occured on older pre-GOG installations
* Fixed a missing texture glitch in the research bunkers
* Fixed a missing Creeper slot on the Magnum in Co-Op
* Increased ambient brightness throughout the level by about 50%
* Increased the speed of most robots by about 20%
* Added more impact force to the Driller
* Made some slight adjustments to door opening times (except for bunkers)
* Increased the pulsing brightness of usable levers, removed light for unusable ones
* Reduced the average death delay for all robots (except Tritons and Bosses)
* Reduced fog density in some specific areas
* Fixed a glitch that caused the Mark II to disappear from Cargobay 4
* Increased the brightness of overhead door lights
The Expanse. Watch it!
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