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New Q1SP: Grendel's Keep By Distrans
Distrans writes: The Travail prequel level Grendel's Keep is finally ready. Some old screen shots are here. Special thanks to negke for riding me until its release. This level is dedicated to Droog_Andrey.


Special note: requires the Travail mission pack to play.
Great Map! 
I was particularly impressed with the secrets -- even if I only got 4/8 -- and how the teleporters "opened up" to allow for easier backtracking. Good layout, well-balanced difficulty -- on normal, at least -- and a nice mix of textures help this map shine.

Great job! 
Awesome! Thank You Distrans! 
Dude is starting to rise up to my top 5, definitely.
This map is a nice big hunk of Distrans goodness, with all the hallmarks of his style - great secrets, wierd but great texturing, a very clean build, and several distinct "themes" kind of smashed together, in a good way.
Everything Generic said - I never felt like I was going to die, so I would have liked a slight increase in difficulty on hard, but that's probably just me.

Secrets were great, and I'm looking forward to replaying until I can discover the few I missed!

Negke - I'm glad that you rode Distrans til release, even though I'm not sure what that means exactly. 
Great Map, Good To See It Released Finally 
Drew: I actually complained about it being too hard in places on skill 2. So either distrans toned it down again or you are teh 1337.

Atmosphere > difficulty. 
Non-"broken" zip here:
You will probably be able to extract the other fine but to me it seems that the header is broken.

Loved the map. More later. 
Qt_pre02: Shadow Of The Distrans' Riders. 
A new QSP offering! And from Distrans, no less!!!

Great architecture, awesomest(!) blend o' textures.

Good fights, tried out only skill 3, died 2 times in the last room, 6/8 secrets (at least one found in a non Kosher way). The level is a little underpopulated, and this is probably a good thing, lots of atmosphere here (Negke: agreed). Sure, it's not hard as it could, but, given the kind of heat Dis received upon Ruined Nation, I wouldn't complain about it. This is a great offering!

SPAWNS!!! So nice to be greeted by them!
Why don't they get more love?

Juggernaut: not really threatening, you're able to bomb him well before he even gets near... A flock of red enforcers would have been a little more innerving.

Fantastic backwards connectivity, apart from not being able to get back up after final fight to search remaining 2 secrets (useless, I know, but I always like to grind monsters first and then complete the secrets count).

Awesome effort, Dis, Thank you!
Come back soon with some other stuff this awesome!!! 
Edit Function Would Be Most Useful. 
But, I did a 2nd run through, found all secrets the intended way and a coupla unmarked ones(neat!).

One thing I did not mention in the previous post is the optimum health/armor balance in here.

Gorgeous scenery. 
The raisins of Quake. 
... again released a pure jewel.

We want more ! We want more ! 
I Take It Back 
I replayed it today and I think it actually benefits from not getting too heavy until later on in the level.

I withdraw my previous statement. 
Cool map.

Layout feels pretty Kona-like in parts.

Difficulty is well balanced, until after the silver key where too many of these blue enforcers show up in cramped spaces.

I didn't finish it, because around that part I started dying too often and got frustrated.

I think the blue and red enforcers suck, quite simply - sadly, this reminds me of the crappy Quoth enforcers (and the difficulty that comes with those) in Ruined Nation. One of the problems with those is that they have ridiculous HP - the red guys are super hard to kill, which feels crappy. Are they made of explosion-resistant titanium or something? Meh.

Well. I got lost after the button that opens all these security panels - I ran around looking for them. Did not find where I was supposed to go until I had pretty much gotten lost, which contributed to my frustration.

Basically, unreasonably hard monsters + getting lost = frustration = I Quit.

Otherwise, this was cool .

Thanks distrans. 
Nice To See It Released 
I helped test and that was over quite a long period of time. Distrans takes his time with his maps and it shows in the quality.

I liked the classic Quake vibe even with newer textures. The exploration and winding layout was fun along with the Zerstor gore. I had enough practice that I could record it start to end without dying on Hard but that's because I had practice and knew where all the secrets are. While I don't know the mechanics of the Red Guys, I believe you need to keep mhammering on them or they regenerate but I could be wrong. I fought them aggressively but was more cautious with spawns. 
5 Or So Grenades In The Face. 
And they goes down. 
playable map :) Likes: The sound of the new enforcers and their interesting attack, the atmospheric generator domes and plasma details, water environs, map interconnectivity, and finale. Nice to see that mech boss again (tweaked?), though he didn't put up much of a fight - stuck on the incline against the GL. 
The build quality kicks ass. I liked the textures and architecture a lot. Fights were also very good on hard skill. The end room was too hard with too many monsters attacking at once. I died twice on hard. Can't say much about secrets because I didn't find many.
Distrans is one of my favourite mappers and this map confirms it to me more strongly.

Here are my demos: 
Good Work 
I enjoyed it a lot. The build has a classic feeling, it's composed and evocative.

The gameplay was smooth, I had a run in normal, great fun and not at all easy.

Thanks to the not too hard gameplay, well placed entities, great architecture, I got really immersed in the atmosphere. 
2nd Run Demo 
I got lost big time! Maybe you'll find it interesting anyway. 
Getting Back Up 
the silent, if you don't jump through the final port you can descend on the lift and jump back down, then you find a teleporter open next to GK switch, this goes back in to level. 
Yeah, Thanks... 
...I noticed that after I posted. And forgot to rectify... 
Go Play This Map, You Lazy Wankflaps 
Rectify Your Wankflaps. 
I agree

This map deserves to be played, and demos should be recorded, and where is Distrans? 
Distrans Is... 
... on quakeOne now... As far as I understood, he had some "respect" issue with people here after Ruined Nation map... and decided to move to a less "puristic" area.... though... ask him for further details ;) 
An observation is that quite some "recent" (2 years or so?) custom maps don't give the player clear enough instructions where to go at certain points.

Tronyn's Roman map with the platform from the water that isn't clearly identified, this map which says "all security panels have opened" and thus creates the impression that you should backtrack somehow, which is misleading, and also Than's Plumbers map where some people managed to get lost in the flooded area.

Not knowing where to go is a source of frustration for me. Obviously total linearity ala Quake 4 is a bit boring, but it should always be clear where you're supposed to go, at least where the main route is.

One way to do this are cameras that show you where a door opened, or where you're supposed to go next. Basically upon triggering it, the player's view goes to the camera entity, which shows the way, then back again. Needs a custom progs.dat of course. 
i've always found cameras and cutscenes as a copout.
this map could have easily avoided the routing problem after unlocking the security barriers simply by not having the doorway in that room open.
if the door had not even been there, the player would have been forced to back track up the lift and would have run into the opened security barrier there. 
It Depends 
How you think about them. Sure its a personal opinion thing, but I just see a camera as a nice replacement for 'a door has opened'.

Clever use of them can hint stuff to the player as well. 
All Of The Above 
Depending on if you even include messages of course... 
Still like the cheesy 'oh, I'm playing a game' thing. 
I just see a camera as a nice replacement for 'a door has opened'.

Still it points to a weakness in the design of the gate/button puzzle if a player can't tell that the button opened the gate. There are a lot of ways to do this without a cutscene or a text message, such as:

- place the button so the players can see the gate open from their vantage point as they press the button.

- keys and locked doors -- these are nice if you can't put the button and gate near each other -- players know what a key does so that when they get one, they know what sort of gate is now accessible. "I got the silver key, now i know i can open a silver door." Works best if they already found the silver door.

- train players that buttons of type X open gates of type Y -- this requires that X and Y have a consistent visual design and function in a consistent way. This is a more general version of the key/door thing -- they pushed the button and they know which distant gate was opened (because they learned the pattern already.) Also works best if they already found the gate.

- place fresh gameplay behind the opened gate -- either new monsters or uncollected items. They function in two ways: 1. players naturally move towards and engage monsters / collect items, 2. the fact these monsters/items haven't been dealt with yet is a clue that the area is a new, unexplored part of the level. A good example of this is in e3m5 (and Antediluvian): each wind tunnel in the main hub room has an ammo/health box in it, so that when you return to the hub, you can be sure you haven't travelled through the newly opened tunnel yet since the item is still there. 
Follow The Enemy Road 
Forgot To Mention Last Time 
my thoughts on the map are here

it's a great map with only a couple of problems, thanks for the map :) 
i like the cutscene method. mexx8 was the first map i remember using it that way.

the point about it being a weakness in puzzle design is valid, but much of the time with door & button scenarios it barely consitutes a 'puzzle'; more just a way of spreading out the game-path, not necessarily requiring a great deal of thought/logic from the player 
..thoughts on the map to follow when i've played it. which i will. at some point. 
Cool Map. 
In almost all areas. Just a bit dark tho. Like everything else. 
Played It Earlier 
think it could have used some more ambient sounds. it definitely put atmosphere before gameplay (not that the gameplay was bad) and that atmosphere would probably be enhanced by some subtle eerie sounds to go with the dark shadows and visceral features

the bit with the biosuit & the blood - i had to turn fullbright on just to see the tunnel! was swimming around thinking i had to get up the pipe somehow. better visual clues down there would have been nice

there was a turning up to the SKD i kept missing too (probably just me being a spanner) - resulted in me backtracking to an earlier point where i inadvertently met that tank-commander style boss thing from below and could twat it with grenades without being hit back

played on normal, managed to stay alive and only really got in the red when a spawn exploded in my face. end battle was tense but over pretty quickly. balance just about spot on throughout

nice work! no epic by any means but well worth a blast :) 
Travail soundtrack
Quake soundtrack 
Ambient Sounds != Music 
This map feels warm and snug for me.

You say you get lost. But why do you hurry? Enjoy this place, it is friendly, don't you see? You know, sometimes I turn "notarget" and just become a wayfarer.

BTW, is it possible to reach the "Very Skilled!" secret without grenade/rocketjumping? 
Yes. It Is Possible. 
And, I completely agree with what you say. 
Thanks One And All... 
...some fine encouragement and some good learnings to be had here.

I should've curtained off the walkway to the SK door and just had a few windows for player orientation when they came back around. (The SK button would be very redundant then.)

The alternate routes should've been open the whole time and high level weapons or power ups used to reward exploration. Monster placement and patrolling could have made approach from either direction challenging.

I need to trust myself that I've made each area distinct enough that if I have a couple of alternate routes people will recognise they've been somewhere before when they double back.

I need to worry less about speed runners.

The variation in lighting is problematic these days due to wide variation in cards. That I only got one neg, may mean I got pretty close to the right balance for the greatest number of cards. Sorry rj. As far as ambients are concerned, they were in - then out - then back in - and finally I stripped it back to what I thought was just above the minimum required....this was a conscious ambience building decision. Silence can be creepy too.

necros and I could probably have a discussion about particles and never agree, but I do agree that the Travail coders should've been encouraged to give an extra clue to damage (like necros' flying bits suggestion). I don't see the mod being developed on from here, and apart from a cracker of an idea for a map by negke, I don't think any one is planning any more maps, so changes like necros suggested will probably never happen.

There's no need to make guesses about why I stopped coming here JPL, it just stopped being fun. Things seem to have changed a fair bit since then, and no doubt I'll drop in after next release to get some more honest, useful and valuable feedback.

See you in the soup! 
Nah Nothing's Changed :) 
but glad to have you back dis.

Still havent played this, main comp is still dead unfortunately. But downloaded and ready to go. Hopefully this weekend.

Any more in the works? 
The variation in lighting is problematic these days due to wide variation in cards.

True that�s a huge problem, graphic cards and lots of different clients don�t help in hour work!

But never the less, this map is pure art, excellent game play and the combination of the textures are small and effective!

Played several times but didn�t record a demo... :| but I will when my kids let me be at computer for some pleasure moments of Quake that is rare :(

Glad to see you back Distrans u rock! 
"our" :( 
Once Again... screens 
There were screens but they were so dark they crashed ppl's monitors, so were taken down.

Did I say this was a cool map? I liked it. Very Zer style which is a good thing. Good exploration, good combat, I didn't get too lost. Teles opening up were useful. I got some secrets, they were fun. Didn't manage to get a quad run tho. New monsters were used well not overused, which was nice. Nice to have base monsters and a healthy smattering of proper monsters, suited the map and kept it fun. The big red thing, fuck knows how you kill that, I just ignored it, but that was quite cool because it gave backtracking and exploring some tension. I think that scenario could be explored....a bit like a roving hazard. I died once at the end because I was struggling to see monsters, I think the end was fairly fair though. It was quite dark as was the rest of the map. Did I mention it was a bit too dark? 
The map looks much much better than on those screens! Thanks god that skybox was dropped.

I really love it. The part where the juggernaut slowly stalks you was just great. The darkness was a huge part of the atmosphere for me. 
There's no need to make guesses about why I stopped coming here JPL, it just stopped being fun

Sorry if I misunderstood what you sent me over email a couple of months ago regarding the fact you "abandonned" this place, but I felt you a little bit disappointed after the Ruined Nation release, and about the comment made at this time...

Anyway, it is good to see you are still onto the Quake scene, and it would be ashame if you decide one day to quit definitely.

As I said: I want more map like yours !! 
the Ruined Nation release, and about the comment made at this time...

i went back to the thread just to remind myself what was actually said

god speedy was a cock 
lighting was spot (haha) on for me. just the right level to see clearly but not remove atmospheric shadows. 
> 1. players naturally move towards and engage monsters / collect items,

not really, as I pointed out before this isn't true for all players. You cannot rely on this. It's amateur psychology really.

I tend to not immediately shoot when I see an enemy - I usually wait if anything else happens, and there might be other enemies around that I didn't kill earlier.

You're assuming a "must kill them all" mindset here, which not all players have. Especially if a map is mostly about the atmosphere and the monster isn't an immediate threat.

Also, Quake monsters wander after you, so if you don't kill something immediately it might already be out of the doorway it was supposed to act as a signpost for.

Items, yeah, I tend to pick up megahealths etc. much more than I tend to kill enemies on sight. Keys are probably the strongest signposts you can use, pents maybe too. With Quads, again I tend to not pick them up immediately.

I didn't press the big red button in Willem's one map, for example, because there didn't seem to be a need and I decided to explore a little further before using it. Hence, I missed the super shotgun in that map. You can't really blame this behaviour on the player - the player is not a lab rat who behaves in predictable ways. This is really proven over and over again when new games are released and players always do unexpected stuff.

Spawning a grunt in a doorway isn't really a sign post. A red button all alone by itself is more suspicious than anything, hence certain players might NOT press it. It could mean anything, or nothing. Items are a much better way to signal the player. I recommend health, keys, armor, weapons and powerups. These things are player magnets. Monsters aren't always.

Switches likely work to draw the player in that direction, too. Players will usually inspect switches. Pressing them is another matter - I usually only press buttons immediately if I think I know what they do, for example if I was told "find 2 buttons", but if encountered all by themselves, they can just as well belong to a trap.

I will press a button if I run out of things to do, as well, because that usually means I should press it.

In short, you shouldn't speculate on the player always killing everything on sight, especially not in horde maps. The "enemy trail" tactic has to be done really well in order to work, you can't just put an enforcer in some obscure passage and assume the player will move towards it. What if it's killed from a distance, the player might never investigate closer. 
I just found the (nehahra ?) embryo graphic in the plasma. Cool. 
Solid Map 
definitely too dark in fitzquake, but fine in aguire's glquake.

Very clean build style and texturing, no wow moments, but extremely professionally put together on the whole. Thematically consistent with Travail too.

Gameplay was a little too easy on normal and didnt feature anything out of the ordinary or surprising.

The fleshy section at the end was cool. 
I just tried to finish it in Nightmare and the last fight is way too hard for me. Since the movement speed is slower in the liquid the voreballs always catch up and kill me. 
That's pretty fair yeah. Follow the enemy road tends to work when the enemies are trapped where they are - a seemingly inaccessible ledge for example. Even if the player has sniped the enemies they will remember that ledge.

Also depends on how open the map is. If a horde rushes the player from a corridor then they'll defend themselves. Then wonder 'what else is in that corridor' or in other words 'what's my reward for killing those twenty grunts?'

Agree that a pickup of some kind is unequivocal though.

Damn. Still need to play this. Sorry Distrans. 
Fucking Hell 
Excellent map. I had to jockey my gamma settings a bit, but I played in a bright area on a laptop.

I did get a bit lost, but not for a layout thing - the underwater tunnel I couldn't find because the meat texture is good at blending when used for those intestine type tunnels.

I remember mailing CZG about it when I first played Insomnia and couldn't get out of the start room :P

I'd forgotten ow good Travail is. 
definitely too dark in fitzquake, but fine in aguire's glquake.

i found the brightness just right, which surprised me considering i have a CRT monitor. was it too dark even with fitzquake's brightness all the way up? 
generally speaking I dont tweak brightness for individual maps. I have it set, after a lot of testing, at what is an optimum level for my screen and light conditions.

Every now and then, there is a map that doesnt look right in those settings. That is when I go to aglquake which on the same settings is a little brighter (but admittedly more washed out too).

For this map, it was definitely playable in fitz, it wasnt that dark, but for my setup, it looked nicer in aglquake.

But yes, I could have mucked around with gamma settings in fitz if I wanted to. 
First Quake Experience In A While 
and a good one. Got very very lost after the "all security barriers are open" thing somehow.

On skill 1, the spawns got me a couple of times and the end seemed a little easy. But overall, a very nice map. 
OT: Fuh Online Error 
hi, srry for OT, but what is the "couldnt find skin base.bcx" mssg about? appears when trying to join online game using fuhquake v0.31, thanks. I belive we both (me and the friend) have got identical quake installations 
Been Catching Up With Some Older Releases 
I think I have played this before, but couldn't remember. Normal skill demo: 
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