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Let's Play: The Cassandra Calamity
Mexx10, The Cassandra Calamity is an idbase styled 2 map mission released by Mexx on 10/12/1997.

This was Mexx's final Q1 release, with 9 previous single player releases, a DM map, and a couple PainKeep maps. After this, he went on to work on the Quake2 unofficial mission pack Zaero, and released 1 Quake3 DM/CTF level. I do not know if he is still involved in level design these days or not.

Quaddicted Map Page

Please rate the map on Quaddicted, comment, and discuss!
Haven't Played For A Few Years 
I remember thinking the first map was so-so, but the second map has a fairly unique take on the idbase theme, crossing it over with metal in a nice dark way. 
and abyss of pandemonium. I'm more curious about if he gained employment into the industry and worked on any games. can't find much sign of him online though. 
...did I get through this a decade or so ago?? It's pretty fucking tough if you're careless.

Good maps. The design quality is pretty crude by today's standards but the layouts, progression, and cool modifications are really good. The lift scene pretty much makes it a classic. 
I gave this one a run today. Fair warning, two mood-altering substances were involved: a rather strong IPA and the qbism Super8 engine.

Yep it was tougher than I was expecting. I managed to soldier through on skill 3 by really hoovering all the available pickups. In the end I liked the level of difficulty although it took a bit to become appropriately zen about all the hitscan damage I kept soaking.

I'm not a huge fan of base maps as they tend to be on the bland side -- I guess the available textures and enemies steer them in that direction. This map did a good job of dodging that though.

I appreciated the custom textures and generally darker texturing for more of an "underground supervillain's lair" thing (although some of that may be the Super8 talking).

The new enemies... it was probably better than not having them, but in particular the bullet-spongy superenforcers weren't much fun until I got the LG. (And then the "fun" was mainly just revenge.) I liked their grenade dodging though!

I did wonder if a couple of the Quoth enemies evolved from this map/mod? Or were inspired by it?

One other random thing I noticed were some nice very-up-close encounters, particularly the one-on-one meetings with enforcers in the tunnels with neck-deep water. Quake combat is so much about keeping your distance that a little forced facetime feels unusually tense, even though the encounters themselves were easy. 
The thing I remembered most distinctly about this map going in was the early trap involving a fake weapon. Lots more of it came back as I was playing though.

Visually this one was good for an early map, the lighting was suitably moody in places, everything was a bit cramped - presumably to keep r_speeds sensible for a P133 computer. The metal map was a more interesting combination of textures, and I thought it worked well. The extra bits like the rotating brushes and forcefields were more exciting in their day but still well executed, and the "clean" skins for the enforcer and grunt was a nice detail.

I'm mixed on the combat here. On the whole the fights are fair and engaging, but there were bits that annoyed me. There were 3 or 4 different kinds of enforcer, and I couldn't tell the lower orders apart. Sometimes they'd die in two shots, sometimes they'd still be alive, it disrupted the usual rhythms. The SWAT enforcers were actually ok as the top tier enemy, more fast moving bullet sponges than anything else. Not too exciting but fine so long as you found the secret weapons. I felt the map was missing a climax - I found a gold key, shot a computer and walked into a teleporter unopposed. 
...that's why some of them stayed upright after a rocket to the head. Must do a 'notarget' run through to check out these alternate skins. 
Counting You Shells 
Usually I deal with enforcers with a single shotgun, followed by a double shotgun. If all the pellets connect that's 80 damage which exactly kills one. In this map I think they're bumped to 100 most of the time, where two double-shots take them out. I'm sure there are some that survive even that... 
...there's no skin difference (except for the cyborg enforcer - isn't that redundant?). Every enemy is a new enemy and one can't rely on the usual statistics to get into a rythym. Is this a good or a bad thing? 
Counting Your Shells 
It's interesting that you mention this because it is one of the main reasons that I stopped playing Quake: knowing exactly how many shells kill each monster meant that only stupidly multi-monster battles were any form of challenge. I was no expert player but I only ever died through my own mistakes e.g. falling into lava, or walking onto a vore ball.

So I say that keeping the player guessing about the enemy's true health value is good for Quake. Now it may need to be balanced, (say) +/- 20% for example, but introducing a bit of the unknown (at random) would perhaps make it more interesting. I am of course ignoring the stuck-in-the-mud mindset of a lot of players.

You can do it with skins but the player soon works it out, so it is not really effective. 
Did That 
In RMQ and everyone bitched and moaned :( 
I was no expert player but I only ever died through my own mistakes e.g. falling into lava, or walking onto a vore ball.

This is incredibly bizarre to me! Why on earth would you want it any other way? This is what makes quake fantastic to me: if you know what you are doing, you should never die and if you do, it's because of a personal failure, not the game forcing a failure on you. 
If the game cannot force a failure on me, at least until I have 'mastered' a particularly difficult encounter, then it is simply no challenge, and that is why I liked Quake for so long but eventually chose to give up.

Conversely, if the game is so difficult (for me) that I cannot beat it, then I will also eventually give up because I will get bored. Strangely, the original Quake is just such an example: I never really finished it properly because I never worked out for myself how to complete the finale - I only ever did it because I read how to do it but I had actually given up on it before then. (Then I discovered the mapping community and went back to play all of the new maps, and even tinkered with mapping myself, hence enjoying it for as long as I did.)

But I have to say, when I read through some of the posts here it always strikes me that a lot of people who 'play' Quake are not really playing it at all: there are numerous examples of "had to play on God mode" or "had to no clip". Er, no you didn't, you chose to because the game beat you. Perhaps architecture watching has become the raison d'etre, which is why I think some unannounced variability could be good.

But of course, I don't play Quake anymore so it is probably quite wrong of me to make suggestions like this. I'll back out quietly. 
If the game cannot force a failure on me, at least until I have 'mastered' a particularly difficult encounter

To be clear, 'forcing a failure' in my above post means the player has no way of knowing or defeating something.
If all the monsters look the same but have different behaviour, the player has absolutely no way of knowing what they are facing. There is no way to master this, because there is nothing to learn. The game (or in this case, the mapper as the monsters are placed) decided you 'lost' the sub-game of determining the monster type and decided on how to handle the monster based on it's type, you had no chance of 'winning' this sub-game because there was never a way to win to begin with.

This makes for a very low skill cap because the player is forever simply reacting to situations because there is no way to take initiative and plan.

But of course, I don't play Quake anymore so it is probably quite wrong of me to make suggestions like this. I'll back out quietly.
I hardly play these days either so we're in the same boat. ;) 
I like not being able to learn a level. It feels more organic and challenging. I come from a tabletop background so like my random in there. It does not mean a grunt with 2000 hp and a RL, just a bit of variety thrown in.

The last experiment, which failed due to the sign on problems discussed a while back, was having checkpoints that forced a quick save and randomised enemies in the upcoming area. So if you died, the enemies would have been placed differently, according to mapper defined locations. 
that's a different topic though. randomizing enemies doesn't stop a player from recognizing what's there and dealing with it.

this isn't the same as not telegraphing at all what kind of monster you are looking at.

I'd actually say that doing some level reorg during a load is pretty cool. 
Fair Enough 
But health variance came from the same idea. No longer was a vore grenade, duck, wait x, grenade, duck, etc... Sometimes you'd need an extra grenade, or one less. Both cases kept you on your toes as a player.

I agree that monsters having attacks without a visual identifier is bad though. Then you are lying to the player, and missing the chance to have some cool looking new enemy included. Hopefully with a few other sub mechanics thrown in the mix as well. 
If Its +/-20% 
and its random, than its really not the mapper forcing it is it? You might actually get an easier fight than a hard one. 
You might actually get an easier fight than a hard one.
Then you are being rewarded for nothing.
It probably wouldn't be that helpful anyway, because players would probably end up wasting a shot or two anyway, because they aren't expecting the monster to die so fast.
In any case, the +/- hp thing was a different topic. I was mainly addressing identical looking monsters with different health/abilities presented here. 
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