View Full Version : DM-Haunted Valley - UT2k3 (Screenshots)

20th Jan 2004, 03:48 PM
Hey guys, just a little map I've been workin on. Going to use original music track, some original static meshes and some original textures. Looks like it's going to turn out pretty good. I like critisizim, so fire away. Also, I could use some beta testers at some point. :)





21st Jan 2004, 03:59 PM
Updated Screenshots:






24th Jan 2004, 03:40 AM
When you have the map in a fit state for testing post a download link here so that we can check it out and give you some solid feedback.

Off the bat, going purely from the screenshots, you'll need to fix either the distance fog (if you're using some) or work on blending the skybox better as the seam is all too clear. Perhaps it looks better in game, time will tell. Also, I'm not overly drawn by the small ponds of blood, when some nice water textures with some kick arse environment maps could severely notch up the eye candy.

You may also want to consider placing a bit more architecture in the level as the solitary building and open layout of the level looks rather bland at the moment. Think about having some structures that will allow you to place some large antiportals around the map to help optimise performance.

I'd also recommend significantly more variation in textures for layers in the terrain. The shots show only about two. I'd suggest a minimum of six different layers for your terrain.

I'll supply you with some more specific feedback when you supply a download link.

Hope this helps!

24th Jan 2004, 04:43 AM
First off I'd like to say thanks for the feedback :) I know how you feel about the blood pools, but they'll make more sense towards the final stages of the map, and in the end I might decide not to go so out there and replace them with water, but we'll see.

In a recent build I've actually changed the color of the distance fog so it actaully blends in with the background nicely and it's not as aweful as it is in these screenshots (more will be posted shortly, along with a link to download my latest build.)

More architecture is on the way, fret not, I just put the house together first so there wasn't a big blank spot on the map. Also, the screenshots aren't great at showing the texturing as there are like 6 or 7 layers. Probably hard to see I guess in the screenshots but in game it's more noticable. Near the end I'll probably re-do the layers, but for now they'll do.

I've been sending builds of the map out to various people that are testing it for me, so I'll go ahead and put up a link to my latest playable builds as they come. I've already added basic pathing, starts, and weapons/pick-ups throughout, just so it's something to play with and not just running around with nothing to do. So far I've haven't had any complaints with how it runs, and I'm hoping that continues throughout development

I should have that link up soon.

Thanks again :)

24th Jan 2004, 03:50 PM
Here's a link to the download

Download me! (http://www.neighborhoodgames.com/spec/downloads/DM-Haunted Valley.zip)

And here's a couple new screenshots, I know they are kinda dark, but it looks brighter in-game




29th Jan 2004, 03:55 AM
I've done a lot of work since my last post. A new build will be available to download, with an updated extended music track, plus some fixes on things and some additions. New screenshots will be posted soon when I have a couple other things I want done finished

29th Jan 2004, 04:36 PM
New screenshots. This time I took the time to go into photoshop and brighten them a bit to match what it looks more like in game. Also the download for the map has been updated with a longer cut music track and the latest build of the map which I'll re-post again here

Download Map Here (http://www.neighborhoodgames.com/spec/downloads/DM-Haunted Valley.zip)





1st Feb 2004, 10:47 PM
Sorry to have taken a little while to get back to you, spec_x.

First off, the good stuff. Kudos on a brilliantly optimised terrain. This map runs silky smooth with very little in the way of dips in fps on a wide range of systems all the way down to minimum spec, and this is a great accomplishment. I'm sure it helps having that large mound in the middle! ;) The custom static meshes for the lanterns are also nicely done, but some more on them shortly. The custom music track is great and works well with what you have done so far.

Now for some thoughts! :) I can see the type of theme you're going for, a kind of deserted and haunted place (hence the name!) where blood is still fresh, however, to be honest the blood pools still don't do it for me. They don't look that cool anyhow, and despite the bloodstains in the snow to support them, they don't quite convey a sense of doom, to me at least. Having seen them in-game, I still think custom enviroment maps would pull more eye candy without sacrificing your intended theme. The static meshes for the lanterns aren't convincing as light sources in their current form. The fact that you can see into the cone where there is nothing creating the light is the issue here. I would suggest placing a corona light inside the cone so that as players approach they at least see something shining.

Despite the level being brighter in-game than in the screenshots, I think it is still too dark. I'd suggest increasing the size of the moon in your skybox. As it is it seems a little small. It may be realistic in size, but that's for here on Earth, and we are playing Unreal so you have some license with things like that. I'd make the moon 2.5 to three times as big, and then you could increase the brightness of your sunlight actor giving the entire level greater brightness but in a believable fashion (because the moon is so much bigger).

The cabin. Yes. Perhaps you have plans to add further detail? I'm thinking that you would be better having the place boarded up, with some flickering lights inside but players unable to investigate further. It raises questions in the players' minds like "what's making that light in there?", adding to the mystery. Besides, the interior is very cramped and shouldn't become part of the play area. It looks bland inside now and adding detail is unlikely to help enough to make it worth the effort. Think about adding some glass windows that are frosted over to obscure vision into the interior. If you're game, you could even play with an alpha-channel texture to allow players to see shapes inside with being able to really make them out.

Continuing on the architectural note, whilst I see what you're trying with the broken walls, they really look rather tacked on and unconvincing. This also leads to the bain of many terrain based levels. Despite your efforts, I still feel that the level lacks a real personality. The existing architecture is just too insufficient to establish an identity or develop a theme. I think the level would benefit from a substantial increase in architecture of some form or another, because depite your efforts it still feels rather bland and without its own character. Those lanterns are a step in the right direction. Perhaps you could take their design style and attempt to apply it to more broken ruins that are more substantial than the token walls you currently have scattered about. You would also do well to attempt to vary lighting, texturing and/or mesh work throughout the level to enable players to differentiate between various areas. The entire level feels to consistent to enable players to navigate effectively.

These are just some thoughts, of course. You have a good beginning, but there is some work ahead if you want to lift it above the sea of similar levels.

2nd Feb 2004, 12:43 AM
You've touched base on a lot of things I've done with the recent build. I have in fact decided to lose the blood. Also, the random pieces of walls, etc were just there for me to establish me heading in the direction of adandoned ruins and they will be replaced with an actually layout that is more consistant and makes sense within the map, right now yes they look tacky and I am aware of that :) also, the moon has been changed as well. Originally I had it larger but I made it small to convery a different look but have since decided to go back to what I had originally planned. You touched on the house and I'm glad you did. I didn't plan on having it meant to go in. I just haven't done anything with it yet, as that's lower on my list of things I want to do. I still plan on doing a lot of work to this, and I'm glad that it's still running smooth as that's been a huge concern of mine. About the static meshes, it isn't quite finished as yes, I still need to add something that shows that hey, this would actually make light, and that will be fixed within the next couple builds. I'm sure you also may have noticed the lights by the house without sources, I'm still working on the mesh for that as well as a few other meshes I'll hopfully be able to stick in to further convey the "ruins" look. I encourage anyone else to also lend a few words on what they think :)

Thanks for everything and I hope to get some new shots and a new build up within the next week or so :)

2nd Feb 2004, 09:14 PM
Don't remove the blood, please: it gives the main part of its character to the map IMO. In the contrary, improve this part of your design: use some cubemap in the pools and redo the skybox like something we see in BR-IceField but rework the color of the clouds in Photoshop to make them bloody red, then use a xWeatherEffect to drop a thin rain of blood on your terrain. That'll be more than enough to get an unique and never-done-before theme... ;)

Remove the house: it's useless because there's nothing of interest in there and it's a flow killer because it's far too much narrow and a dead-end aswell. Also these sorts of buildings are complete clichés IMO, particularly for this kind of atmosphere. Add more ruins instead, maybe some menhir or dolmen things aswell, like relics of these ancient times where black magic was commonly accepted and feared... While I'm at it, use a custom mesh for the xWeaponBase, something which will fit better the theme (a rock with runes engraved on, a human or demon skull,... whatever else than these high-tech things)

Take a closer look to Antalus' layout to improve the flow of your map which is a bit simple: it mainly lacks of z-axis and doesn't allow players to go quickly from one side to the opposite in passing through the center... Don't hesitate to use lifts and bridges to allow quick access to different or higher areas of the map and it'll provide a more interesting gameplay IMO :)

2nd Feb 2004, 10:24 PM
decisions decisions :) I'll take what you said into consideration, but I still have a long ways to go until it's completed so who know's how it'll turn out in the end, only time will tell. I glad to see the fans of my blood pools are growing though, lol :)

2nd Feb 2004, 10:59 PM
I thought the blood pools were a great idea, but seeing the shots they don't look quite right.

3rd Feb 2004, 05:18 AM
alright, well, I've made a decision about the pools, and I'm keeping the blood. This time around however I made a cubemap for it, so they reflect the level and i think it looks much better. I'm also going to redo the layer of blood on the terrain as it looks overwelming and tacky. here's just a quick screenshot of one of the pools so you guys can tell me what you think, I'll also update the build so you can see it ingame, but be warned that a lot of stuff is missing from my last build as I'm totally redoing a lot of things. I'm also reworking the terrain a bit for more z-axis fighting (thanks Gui ;)) The house however is staying, because while it may be a little cliche, getting rid of it would defeat the purpose of the theme of the map, however, I am adding "ruins" look throughout the map that will help resolve some obvious lack of structure and character issues it plainly has. I also like your idea on the blood rain, however, we'll have to see how that goes, but I'm not sure it'd make sense along with that giant moon in the sky there, which I plan on keeping. Also, I like having my lightning/thunderstorm there without rain to go with it, but we'll see. I want to try and listen to what you guys have to say, but at the same time try not to lose sight of what direction I want to take the map. Besides, that's what new maps are for :)


3rd Feb 2004, 10:51 AM
Doesn't look too bad at all. How are the bots?

3rd Feb 2004, 03:54 PM
the bots play the map pretty well I think, but you'd have to play the map yourself and be your own judge about that I think

4th Feb 2004, 03:25 AM
Alrighty, new screenshot goodness. The two large areas are going to become setting for the ruins. Also obviously the terrain has been tweaked quite a bit, so much in fact that I had to re-do all the layers, good times. I took out all the pathing, player stars and weapons/items and I'm going to be moving them around a lot anyways. after I get some other stuff done I'll post a new build. Lemme know if they're too dark and I'll brighten them up a bit





4th Feb 2004, 01:51 PM
Gui's Mr. Lighting, you'll have to ask him.;) Anyway, it's Haunted, right? It does seem a little dark from the shots, but I'll have to try it to be sure. Let us know when you have the next build with new pathing/weapons/starts/layers, etc. and I'll DL and try that one.

4th Feb 2004, 05:38 PM
I should have a new build within the week, if time permits

5th Feb 2004, 05:02 AM
Alright, so here's a quick look at the possible look of the ruins. Just kinda tinkering around with it, let me know your guys' thoughts. Also, as I like the whole ruins thing, I might be getting rid of the house in favor of this, cause as it stands now, it's becoming more and more out of place. I'll miss my house :(


5th Feb 2004, 07:11 PM
Ok, new shots. The house is gone and being replaced by a tower and some other ruins. Also some color has been added to the clouds and lighting has been tweaked a bit. Lemme know what you guys think





5th Feb 2004, 07:35 PM
The pics look damn nice.

5th Feb 2004, 07:43 PM
It looks really better :)

Attempt to use less 'ponctual' clouds: they look weird, these things are supposed to be more diffuse usually but atm they're just put a bit in the middle of nowhere... Take a look to the clouds of the official skyboxes to get some examples

The map is really better-looking without the house but be carefull to not put too much ruins either: you need to find a balance. It seems you use a lot of big ruins, but keep in mind that small pieces here and there or in group are perfectly acceptable too

Some rocks could be welcome and would help to put more variety into the scene. Be careful with the textures misalignments also (the tower in the 3rd screen...) and with the orange lighting everywhere: something more yellowish and brighter when right under the lamps can add a cool effect

Keep up the good work :)

5th Feb 2004, 07:55 PM
yeah, none of the ruins textures are aligned yet, I'm just workin on the layout. Also, don't worry, the whole map isn't going to be ruins, just the couple open sections, the tower is also going to have a little bit of smaller ruins and not much more, no worries ;)

11th Feb 2004, 04:21 AM
Hey guys

I've been pretty busy with stuff lately, so not much to update, but I put together some new screenshots for you guys until I have time to put a new playable build together





12th Feb 2004, 01:06 PM
The ruins look a bit dark, and the blood pools aswell IMO: you may want to consider the usage of a texture closer to a white or a clear grey to allow it reflects better the lighting :) The orange lights look very pale and seem to lack of brightness, they stand out because of their color but not because of their intensity: something to consider to give more 'presence' to the overall scene IMO :) Personnally, for such 'cold' atmosphere I prefer using yellow local lights instead of orange ones: yellow is a colder color than orange IMO

Clouds are still far too much ponctual and definitely don't look real: don't take this in the wrong way but they look a bit like some drawings that kids do, where details like this are often too much simplistic to be convincing... :) I recommend you take a closer look to the terrain from BR-Icefield or even Bifrost (a cool skybox in this one btw... ;) ) to put more variety in your scene: retail packages present all sorts of snow-covered rocks which will probably fit well your theme

12th Feb 2004, 04:04 PM
lol, it's funny because those clouds are retail static meshes, that makes me laugh. Also, the lights aren't so pale in game, they just turn out that ways in the screenshots. Also, I'm not sure how bright you think blood is supposed to be ;-) but like I've said before, the screenshots always turn out weird and don't reflect what it really looks like in-game, but I'll see what I can do :)

12th Feb 2004, 04:25 PM
The fact that these clouds are retail meshes doesn't imply anything: look at a cloudy sky in a full moon night and you'll notice it doesn't look like the one in your map :)

As for the blood pools, they look dark purple in the first screen and don't seem to be blood, that's all :)

13th Feb 2004, 04:34 AM
I know, I wasn't trying to make an excuse for it :P

11th Mar 2004, 10:04 PM
Hey guys. Things have been hectic around here lately so that's why I haven't updated anything in a while. Anywho, here's my latest build for you guys to try out. I still have a lot to do, but it's getting there. Like all great things it's just gonna take some time.

Download Me! (http://www.speccore.net/Files/DM-Haunted Valley.zip)

13th Mar 2004, 10:40 AM
No problem for the delay: these sorts of things happen sometimes :)

Your map has nicely progressed IMO, particularly the skybox which now blends really well with the environment. The cubemaps work well too. Thought it doesn't seem there's any dead-end any more, overall connectivity may be improved: I think particularly about one bridge or two, and even maybe some lifts aswell... The difference in footsteps and movers sounds can enhance the gameplay in helping players find their opponents more easily

Some snow may be welcome at the top of the ruins: it makes sense that there's some up there too. The connection between the basis of the central tower and the terrain looks weird: it's very flat though some snow should pile up against the walls... ;)

13th Mar 2004, 11:32 PM
Yeah, I'm thinking about sticking a bridge over the large raised section on the left and attaching it to the middle. Hopfully I'll have some time soon to get back into getting things done :)

21st Mar 2004, 06:28 PM
does anyone else have anything to say? It's been so quiet :P

1st Apr 2004, 04:47 PM
Isn't anyone out there? :(

1st Apr 2004, 05:22 PM
Waiting for the version with the bridge... ;)

1st Apr 2004, 05:46 PM
lol, you're the only one that cares gui :)

1st Apr 2004, 05:52 PM
Well, I'm more or less the mapping guru in there, this explains that ;)

1st Apr 2004, 06:08 PM
There's gonna be a bridge? :D

1st Apr 2004, 06:12 PM
A broken up ruined bridge ;) I'm working on it as we speak, probably get a new build up in a little while. Also found a bsp error I need to fix and get some coronas in those light Static Mesh's ;)

1st Apr 2004, 08:03 PM
Alright, new build time! Wooo!!!

Download me you sillies!!! (http://www.speccore.net/Files/DM-Haunted Valley.zip)


*edit* By the way, I'll have to re-do the env map on the pool by the bridge later, didn't have time now, so if you notice it don't worry about it ;)

2nd Apr 2004, 06:38 AM
It flows better, but the huge hole into the bridge tends to kill this passage... Any possibility to make it less 'ruined'

Otherwise, maybe a more complex shape may be welcome because it looks really squarish, almost UT99-like...

2nd Apr 2004, 04:39 PM
I decided to make it a land bridge, check it out and see if you like it better that way. Just use the same link above for the new build

5th Apr 2004, 11:18 PM
Alright, new to this map.

First off, I echo the sentiment that the terrain is overall really nice. The map plays very smoothly.

Second off, well, let's get to what I think should be looked into since that's what you want to know anyway. :lol:

The pools of blood generally work and I like the reflections in them. But ugly things happen if you actually walk to the middle of them. In one of them, the surrounding area turns a bright, blood red (isn't this consistent with getting the minfogdistance and maxfogdistance mixed up?). In the other, there is no fogging at all and I see white snow beneath the surface. I'm not sure how you might want to go about fixing this. Maybe a water volume?

I think you should put some more extraneous details behind the mountains the form the border of the map. Look at how Antalus and Junkyard do it - just some kooky floating static meshes. Maybe some more mountains, or something industrial looking. Perhaps even take some of the Antalus rocks and retexture them with something cold and snowy and stack them in the distance. Heck, even a tree might do wonders. :D

I don't like the lightning. It doesn't seem like it has any context or reason for existing other than whiting out the screen every few seconds. I'd ditch that. Maybe a light snow instead?

Lastly, I think some parts of the terrain are unnecessarily rough. These are usually confined to the edges of the "high road," which seem quite jagged. You might want to consider a BlockingVolume or evening out the terrain there at these points.

Overall, though, it's definitely a nice little terrain map. I like it!

5th Apr 2004, 11:40 PM
The lightning had context when I had clouds, but since i got rid of those, I see your point ;) The water volumes are there with the pools, I just haven't done anything with them yet, that's why they're weird. Huzzah for someone new! Thanks! :)

6th Apr 2004, 09:07 PM
I was thinking about the clouds. I'm just not sure what to do about the sky. The clouds looked really phony when you had them, but the sky seems sparse and plain without them. I'd want to see use a star texture with some nice blue nebulas, to give the feeling of cold space. But, on the other hand, it doesn't really accentuate the red blood pools you've got going there. But, if you used a red sky, then it looks more like I'm in Hell than a tranquil snowy scene.

You have an inherit contradiction here. :)

6th Apr 2004, 09:24 PM
yeah, I know, lol, it keep coming back to those damn pools, I might just have to drop em, even though I really would rather not, lol

7th May 2004, 12:54 PM
Well sad news in two parts. I had to format my hard drive cause it had been a while. In doing so I forgot to upload my almost final version of the map that had a lot of improvements. Sadly I feel I've lost the motivation to really start up on it again, so this map is pretty much gonna stick in limbo. I am however going to be starting work on some stuff for UT2k4, so look for that :)

7th May 2004, 01:13 PM
NP, don't hesitate to open a new thread when you'll have something worth to be showed :)

7th May 2004, 04:03 PM
Bummer 'bout that. If you do start up onthis map again, you might try making the moon a pale-reddish color (Isn't there an atmospheric anomoly that causes this in the same way as the Harvest Moon phenomena?).

7th May 2004, 06:55 PM
My condolensces. I've lost maps in a similar fashion. My computer crashed and I thought it was my hard drive. After a reformat I discovered it was a bad stick of memory! :( I also lost the latest build of a level, complete with fixed BSP issues, extra movers and full pathing when the hard drive did actually go, so I can understand that demotivation! You all come back now, y'hear? :)