Cool Idea, Problematic Execution
Another unique experimental map, much appreciated. Unfortunately, the way it's done is very taxing on the player.
Construction and style are great as usual. A bit dark, but not too much so - although I did increase brightness a little. Shouldn't have used minlight. Combat was fine, not problem with all the items.
The problem is that this maps tries too many things at once, I think. Namely nonstandard movement (RJ), nonlinear secret/puzzle gameplay, and atmospheric style (gloomy light level) all at the same time, which turns into a fatal combination in this case.
The rocketjumping was fine for me. All jumps were managable even if I screwed up occasionally. The repawning items are nice (and essential). Though I can imagine that the rocketjumping may well be a showstopper for players with no multiplayer background. I guess it's just that we take for granted everyone knows how to do it much as things like shambler dancing etc.
The layout felt very confusing to me for some reason. Usually I enjoy nonlinear layouts that allow exploration and multiple routes, but in this map I ran around in circles most of the time. After a while I somewhat got an idea of the areas, but often still couldn't figure out how to get from A to B. What made it even more difficult were things like one-way gates and dead ends - and ultimately the need for puzzle-solving to progress (without having a clear notion of what or where the puzzles were). Felt a bit like a maze.
I think the biggest issue in this sense is the lack of signposting. I don't necessarily mean arrows everywhere, although it would've helped to have some dynamic arrows appear as needed. Visual (and logic) conections are what I'm talking about.
While it's kind of clear one has to find three buttons, none of them is visible before entering the actal room - maybe apart from the one submerged in slime, but even that is too removed from a proper sense of place and direction. So initially, if not most of the time, the player ends up running around thinking "what the hell am I supposed to do here" and "how do I get there". It's counter-intuitive compared to situations where a problem is presented (e.g. button behind bars) and the player has a clear (visual) goal, and possibly an idea of how to approach it. But in this map it often felt fairly random, because there's no clear connection between problem and solution. Sometimes it felt like I was merely stumbling upon the solution. Of course the large size of the map and the openness of the layout adds to the confusion if the player is clueless/without a tangible goal.
It's very hard for the player to make a connection between certain areas and actions. A couple of examples: I would have prefered to have more distinct styles for the different interactable objects. Like the gates that open permanently should look different from those that close again after a moment. Their centerprints aren't helpful, either - rather than "button-controlled", something like "Opened from the other side" would've better for the player's understanding.
The gate puzzle (which is very much digs style, I might add). I didn't even notice that one button opens two gates until someone mentioned "gate PUZZLE". I hadn't made a connection between the teleporter behind the second gate and the one in the locked room in the hub, both somewhat tucked away in a corner. The two teleporters could've been placed more prominently in the rooms and make to look similar, a distinct recognizable style, so the player can make the connection.
The Quad jump. While I sort of got this one quickly, it's another one of those unconnected things. A simple Quad logo (e.g. from the hud graphic) and might have been obvious. Or if there was another crosshair texture beneath the Quad damage pickup - although this may not be strong enough to reinforce the idea. Finding one's way from the Quad back to the slime room is difficult enough.
A trick boss fight is always a nice touch, but when finally reaching it, I was so worn out by the rest of the map that I couldn't be bothered to deal with him. I realized I had to lure him onto the crusher, but it seems like a real chore and also quite deadly, so I shot him for a while even though I kind of knew it was pointless, and eventually just noclipped to the exit. Sorry.
What's the reason that none of the secrets are marked with a secret trigger? Apart from the peculiar fact of being secrets in a secret map... I found a SNG but no idea how I opened the closet.
Bit of a shame there's nothing on top of the industrial area with pipes. I jumped up there several times.
, very painful to watch.
So, yay for a new digs map; good experimentation, but could have been less strennous with a few tweaks. Get more playtesters next time, especially for such a nonstandard level!