UTR - The first Review

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UTR - The first Review

Post by Revelation » Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:45 am

Good morning everyone! ;)

In order to disrupt all those "ZOMFG looks awesome!!!111" comments a little, here's my deeper insight into this mappack. As you can probably imagine, at first I didn't expect to see too much interesting stuff here... I still had the first UT99.org mappack in mind.^^
However, this one really surprised me in more than one way, so much by way of introduction.
As for the start, I will comment the thing that I'm going to refer to several times later:


The "UT3099" Pickup System:
So, what do we have here? First of all, it's not a completely new system, in fact, most of it is not new, at least for those who played all parts of the UT series. "UT3099" is more like a mix of the pickups from these three generations of UT, with a decent focus on UT3.
On first sight, the entire code is written in a very nice and advisable way, so it's easy to find your way around in the scripts. Also the models are done well, I especially like those jumping Vials. :P
What I don't like though are the skins of the "old" armor models... Those yellow things look more like T-Shirts created by a fashion designer on ecstasy, than like iron combat gear. And by the way, I would have rather liked to see more "own" ideas concerning the pickups in general.
Anyway, the balancing, or let's say, the effect on gameplay, is good over all. In my opinion, the Berserk is a little overpowered, but that's the fault of the mappers who used it in "way too small" maps.
Another bad thing is that "UT3099" isn't fully compatible with other custom weapon mutators, especially Berserk doesn't work with those. Yes, I am aware that it's impossible to solve this problem, as Berserk requires special weapons which are exclusively coded to work with it. But still, even an unsolvable problem is a problem.
One more point should be mentioned about the Pickup System, and that's the huge documentation included within the ZIP-file. I don't know if any mappers plan to use "UT3099" in the future, but if they do, the tutorial is already there. ;)
Now it's a little difficult to rate the System, as criteria for rating maps don't work here. But since we have a lot of good working content, let down by only minor problems in balancing and visuals, I think 75% sounds fair.


So, now let's go on with the maps...

CTF-UTR-Attempt:
attempt.jpg
Huh, now this map is an "attempt"... To do what exactly? It's not more than two rooms housing the flags, two further rooms where the players start, and two corridors to connect the red and blue "bases"... Yeah, this can be seen as an attempt to get used to the editor, but I'm pretty sure that this wasn't the authors intention. However, although some hardcore (InstaGib?) gamers might like this one, it's simply not enough for an entire map.
And that's not only for the layout, the visuals are quite similar. While architecture is nice at least, the lighting is just damn boring... There are exactly 45 (FOURTY-FIVE!) light actors and a ridiculously bright zone-lighting for the whole map, so it's no wonder that everything looks the same. By the way, the best parts of the map are the outdoor areas, thanks to a creative use of "phantom shadows". But sadly, you can't even enter these areas.
Well, I should mention that bots do their job here... Which is quite obvious in a map without any z-axis and exactly two possible routes.
All in all, it's really no more than an attempt, and the attempt failed. I'll sum it up to 35%, most of it comes from the acceptable architecture.


CTF-UTR-Dargrok:
dargrok.jpg
This one is the exact opposite of Attempt: It's gigantic! Not only big, but so huge that you could spend most of the time running around even in a 16-player-game. The problem is, I simply wasn't able to play this map with 15 bots... Although my machine is fast enough to run Arken (you remember?) fluently, here I had framerates like in 1999. :/
But even if you have a killer-PC capable of handling this map, you won't have to much fun probably... The layout is really weird: First, huge outdoor areas, where enemy snipers from around ten different positions can blow your head off before you walked only half of the way. And then, indoor corridors which are so damn tight that you get stuck every two steps. Not my cup of tea, seriously...
The visuals are strange but all in all quite good. The castles have an "oldschool" style like the one you know from original Unreal, they are just "a little" bigger. Some nice elements can also be found in the interiors, my well-known favorite: RTC forever! :D
Lighting is somehow so-so... The outdoor theme is impressive, mostly because I wonder how Dave managed not to make the editor crash when using these big light-radii. Inside the towers however it's much too colorful for my taste. Orange torches, red/blue lamps, green slime, purple teleporters... Holy shit.
In the end, I mostly miss both a coherent style and gameplay. Being huge alone doesn't make a good map, so this one is no more than average, or in numbers, 50%.


CTF-UTR-Otherworld:
otherworld.jpg
Oh no, not another Face-Remake... Ok, honestly, Otherworld is a bit more than that. The layout is similar but not exactly the same, as there are platforms on both sides of the main area, accessible by jumppads in best "w00t" tradition. Plus, the flags are not on the ground floors of the towers like in Face, but on the second floor. Unfortunately, they can only be reached be using lifts... BAD gameplay-killer!
The central area and the mentioned platforms are even, so once again, there is no real z-Axis fighting... Like in Face. The difference is that there are many palms, wall pieces and big amounts of grass, so at least you have appropriate cover on your way between the bases.
The visuals remind me of Attempt though... Outdoor architecture is good (except for the chunky rocks on which the entire scenery is based), I like the look of these towers. But again, the indoor parts are just flat and boring. And, even worse, also this map's lighting is FAR too simple... Guys, would using moderate amounts of radial lights be too much to ask?! Here we have 66 (!!) lights in a map of 10000² UUs magnitude, and on the side platforms, there is exactly NOT A SINGLE LIGHT ACTOR!... Come on, are you kidding me?
So once again, we have a CTF map that might be good for hardcore gamers or Face-fans, but seen as a whole, it's not enough in different ways. There is a fact (the blue base has "land mines" while the red base doesn't) that makes me think this map isn't finished, but as it's part of the pack, I will rate it as I see it, which means 40%.


CTF-UTR-Rawash:
rawash.jpg
And again... Two flag-rooms, two spawn-rooms, two corridors (and a third corridor in the center, wow). Seriously, what's so damn difficult about building a decent CTF-layout?
At least, the layout is a little more exciting than in Attempt, as first, there is z-axis in the flag-bases, and second, the trap in the center is a really cool thing. Beyond that, the map has not much to offer gameplay-wise, but on the other hand, the visuals are done very well. Good architecture, good decorations, and - hell yeah - good lighting! Only the spider webs would have looked much better if they were not set to "Unlit".
And there's a pretty nasty logic error: Why are those sun rays (good method of building them by the way) pointing in two different directions?! If no one told you before: The sun is "pretty" far away, so its rays should be "pretty" parallel. :P
Another "bonus point" for the fact that bots know how to use the trap... Sounds like this should be obvious, but I've seen many maps where it was forgotten.
After all, we have another small, "arena-like" CTF map here, but this one can convince with nice visuals and some good ideas. I'll give 65%, being quite sad that the map is so much let down by the layout, because other than that, it could have easily reached a higher score.

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Re: UTR - The first Review

Post by Revelation » Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:45 am

DM-UTR-Abicio][:
abicio.jpg
23 light actors. Zone brightness 64. Full stop. No further comment about the lighting, I've given it up right now.
The architecture and texturing, especially for the big terrain and those pipe-constructions, are very good... You won't recognize that, because all looks flat and grey, but they are good (believe me or not). Just some soft "fade"-textures between the rock- and snow-parts would have been nice. Also the small house looks ok, though constructions like that badly influence the map's flow.
Speaking of the flow... The map is 95% terrain, but still, there's some z-axis fighting, so it plays better than I suspected on first sight. Not as good as a (conventional) multi-layer DM-map, but still ok. Again, the bots do what they are meant to do, which isn't really a big challenge.
A bottom line, hmmm... How about: Can we have Abicio]I[ please? This time with lighting, like many many more (and different!) lamps, torches, soft light and shadows cast from the rising moon, and so on... Except for that, the map would be a nice build, but in it's current state, it's 50% and nothing more.


DM-UTR-Epitaph][:
epitaph.jpg
I've never seen a map made by this author, but if I had to guess, I'd say that he most likely is used to mapping for Tactical Shooters like TO or CS. Because that's what the map looks like: Nice visuals (in most places), a very realistic theme, but gameplay-wise absolutely unsuitable for a brute Action Shooter like UT. It's way to tight in the interiors, way too flat outside the building, and above all, it has nothing you'd call a classical layout. So, this map was once again far away from my idea of "good gameplay". And, as a personal note from an (ex-)mapper: The brushwork is a crime against humanity!
However, as I said before, the visuals are really good here. The style is certainly not everyone's taste, but it's executed in a very decent way. And what I simply have to add now: The map shows a realistic daylight (!) setting with Zone brightness not being higher than 10. That's how it works!
The rating follows the criteria from Rawash: Good visuals, bad gameplay. But since it's clearly worse than in Rawash, it sums up to only 50% once again.


DM-UTR-Kamah:
kamah.jpg
The problems of this truly impressive map could be pointed out in one sentence: First, it has the wrong prefix, second, it uses the wrong engine.
Starting with the prefix, Kamah is a DM map. And that's a really bad choice, "SP" or "AS" would have fit the style much better, followed by "no prefix at all" (just showcase). This map will certainly never be played online due to its performance, so all you can do is playing against bots. And when you do that, you can either go into the jungle, where the bots will badly kick your ass, since they can see through all the deco meshes. Or, you can stay inside the buildings, where you will find a "normal" and balanced DM gameplay. So your best choice for winning is to ignore all that makes Kamah to what it is, and that's why the DM prefix was such a bad idea.
Another gameplay problem: There are two Damage Amplifiers (WTF?) so close to each other that you can pick up both within 10 seconds... And the duration of the new "UT3099" Amplifiers adds!!
As for the graphics, they are really astonishing on first sight. Terrain and (Brush-)trees are not the big deal here, but lighting and above all the huge amount of decoration make that top-notch atmosphere. And here's the second problem: Why UEngine1?! Even though the map displays the probably best forest setting in UT history, it's still only UE1, and you see that on every corner of the map. So in the end, a map that was obviously meant to demonstrate what the old engine can do, is now also demonstrating what it can not do. Of course I won't rate the map down only because it could have been done better by using the CryEngine. What I do say is that I would have never built a map like this, as I knew that the style can be done "very good", but not "somehow close to perfect".
However, the map is here, so I need to rate it... Since it's a brilliant showcase object with only a few gameplay flaws, and a visual limit just given by the engine, I think 80% are about right. Great job here!


DM-UTR-Morbias4:
morbias.jpg
Why "4"? More like "Morbis40023.7.03.b.SpecialExtrendedVersion", if we had counted all previous remakes of this map... Anyway, this one is at least a fairly different version, with some pyramid/tower/whatever in the center and an extra room added to the lower level. Unfortunately, this new stuff doesn't really bring a new aspect to the boooooring Morbias-gameplay. In fact, all it does is to split the arena-fight into two separate regions, one around the Redeemer, the other around the Berserk pickup. By the way, Berserk in a map full of Rocket Launchers?! Seriously... This is UT, not Painkiller. (No, this is also not Sparta! :D)
The visuals are nice, I just don't really get the point of that Egypt-thing surrounded by an otherwise fully industrial map... We could file this under "artistic freedom", but I still don't like the combination.
And another thing: When you're mapping hexagonally, rotate the brushes around the room's center! That way, you could have avoided the unequal spaces between the upper bracings. Noone will notice? I did!^^
The bottom line looks like some times before: Quite good visuals, so-so gameplay... Again, some hardcore gamers might like it, but - thanks to God - I'm not one of those. In short words, both the score of 65%, and the reasons for that score, are equal to Rawash.


DM-UTR-Nadaus:
nadaus.jpg
Compared to Kamah and Morbias4, this map is virtually unspectacular. No wilderness, no scattered Egypt-stuff, just an ordinary three-layer Deathmatch map with ramps, bridges and some small deco-terrain. And that's all it takes to form the the best map of this collection!
From the 12 Multiplayer-map, Nadaus has the best and fastest gameplay by far, thanks to exactly that good layout and connectivity which I missed so badly in most of the other maps. Completed by nicely done bot-pathing and a pretty decent item-placement, Nadaus is probably the only of these 12 maps that will still be played in more than a few weeks. One thing I didn't really like though was the Shock Rifle and Damage Amplifier being so close to each other... You know, the "overkill combo"...
Visuals are also literally "cool", reminding me heavily of Derdak's Oceanic. Architecture is rock-solid, lighting is also quite good, only the red lights are a little too colorful for my taste. Another thing about the visuals that could be done better would be the texture alignment on some ramps... Just a question, you ever heard about "poly texscale UV/VU"?
Anyway... As I said, for me Nadaus is the best map in this pack, and that simply because it's "just a map" which does not desperately try to be something special. All in all it's 85%, and could even be 90 with only some more work in texturing.
Last edited by Revelation on Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: UTR - The first Review

Post by Revelation » Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:53 am

DM-UTR-Ravage:
ravage.jpg
Another more or less "conventional" DM map, but this time only with two (perhaps two and a half) layers. Since I had seen a beta version of Ravage before, I already knew it pretty well when the pack was released. First of all, it was nice to see that FroDo implemented most of my suggestions in a good way. The lighting is now much better than it was before, but still, some more contrasts wouldn't have been wrong. And, some of the coronas are yet quite annoying when you try to fight a bot running around 2000 UUs away... Architecture is done well over all, though one could get the idea that the author likes MisterRioes' maps a little too much.^^
The gameplay is also fine, except for that loooong corridor leading to the armor pickup... I never liked spots similar to that, and I never will. Furthermore, bots seem to be completely unable to go that way, at least I never saw one getting to the armor on "Masterful" difficulty...
But besides that, Ravage has a good flow, which of course could even be much better with a third layer. However, the general connectivity is very good, same goes for the item-placement, so I had some fun testing that one.
I'll give this map 70%, and note that just some more precision work could have easily increased the score a little.


DM-UTR-Ryigiar-III:
ryigiar.jpg
Huh, I wouldn't have expected to see that map here... After all, it's like one and a half years old. But still, it has quite a nice layout, although there are too many of these tiny shafts for my taste. That "new" area with the Damage Amplifier is done well, but it's in a bad position since the armor pickup is only a few steps next to it.
Besides, the general connectivity to the upper floor could be better in different spots.
The map's architecture is done well, though you'll notice that it doesn't quite represent the author's current skills. For example, there are some missing trims, impure texture-alignments and so on... Nothing too serious, but still visible. And what I never really liked about this map was the lighting. It's far too glaring, with too many different colors and no really continuous theme. In some places, even light "greenings" can be found.
It's a positive aspect however that there's a lot of eye-candy, like nice support-constructions, broken floor-pieces, plants, or that crane above the map.
All in all this map is somehow "average"... Not bad for sure, but with to many small flaws to be great either. Once again, I think 65% fit nicely.


DM-UTR-Sacrimossa:
sacrimossa.jpg
Here's another map of which I could lay my hands on a beta version quite a while ago, though in this case, I was definitely not supposed to do so. :D
But to be honest outright, I never really liked that one... First of all, there's once again that simple arena-layout. The map is absolutely symmetric about two axes (!), even including the item-placement. Everything is arranged in two circles around the center, making the gameplay about as "interesting" as in Morbias, except that there are more different weapons here. And while Morbias has a Redeemer in the middle, Sacrimossa has an Amplifier, which by the way is located in exactly the same pyramid-thing we already know from Morbias4.
Concerning the visuals, at first I have to say that the architecture is very good in gerenal. There are huge amounts of details and decorations which of course come with a high but still acceptable polycount. The only thing about geometry I don't like so much is the "wall" surrounding the entire map. This would have surely looked much cooler if different parts of it also had different extents. In its current state, the map looks like someone chopped it off at a certain height. But that's just a minor problem, and other than that, the architecture is really good and above all "refreshing".
However, the lighting... Simply translated from that German dictum, we could sum it up as "eye cancer". Seriously, this map is so damn bright and completely lacking of contrasts, you will have a really hard time enjoying its nice architecture.
So once again, a good geometry alone is not enough to make up for the rest. I'd say it's 50% in total, so please, if you plan to do another map using this interesting style: First, think of a "Nadaus-like" layout, and second, make the lighting "a little" less violent...


SP-UTR-Unforchers:
unforchers.jpg
One question first: Where the fuck does this insane file size come from?! Unforchers consists of two maps with a total size of 124 MB (!!), including some "MyLevel'd" custom content, but not that much of it. Plus, the episode isn't too long, so if the maps where like 40 MB in total, I'd rather understand it... In fact, I wouldn't care for that size too much, but in a SinglePlayer map it's truely annoying, as Quick Saving and Loading takes forever on an 80 MB map... And you'll need to do this often here!
Besides the fact, the overall gameplay is very decent. I won't tell too much about it, but in short words, you have to both solve different Tomb-Raider-like puzzles, and fight fully Unreal-like enemies as well. Speaking of the enemies though, there's one very unfair and frustrating scene with a giant, invincible Behemoth, lots of traps, and "jump-or-die" elements all at the same time. It literally took me for aeons to manage this part of the campaign, so I'd strongly advise to do major changes here for the next version (which will definitely come as I heard).
The visuals and atmosphere are mostly done well, too. Just like in Dargrok, architecture is really huge in many places, but sadly, also the performance suffers from that in the same way. The maps' lighting is quite so-so... In most spots it's somewhere between "ok-ish" and "very nice", but there are also some areas where the author's preference for a way too colorful lighting becomes evident. The best (or should I say "worst"?) example would be the big central hall of the first map that could be tellingly described as "Disneyland on dope".
Another quite annoying visual "bug" is the "disappearing movers" thing that occurs here, like ins so many giant maps. Sometimes it only causes strange effects, but in other cases, just the mover you need to jump on next becomes invisible...
Now it's hard to rate this map, as the fun you'll have here heavily depends on how much that bugs and unbalanced scenes bother you. But I think 60% should do, while at the same time I note that this score can be easily improved, if some more bug-fixing and balancing work is done for the next version of Unforchers.


A bottom line:
When I sum up the ratings, I get an overall score of exactly 60%. This looks like the pack would be "average" in total, but that's not entirely true.
First of all, I'd absolutely recommend the download, given of course that those 370 MB don't take too long for your connection. Now one could mention that this pack is a clear improvement over the inglorious first UT99.org mappack, but that's way too obvious. And it's not a fair comparison either, as none of the former contributors took part this time... I wonder why. :D
Anyway, albeit that "history", this pack is worth to be downloaded just for playing Nadaus and Ravage, looking at Kamah, and trying UT3099.
At the same time of course, this is the pack's main problem: There are only three out of 13 maps that could be described as "above average", and only one of them is really "great". Nearly all of the other ten maps have one flaw in common, and that's their gameplay. With this fact back in mind, and since I already heard rumors about an upcoming third UT99.org mappack, I would give the advice to focus more on exactly that gameplay than on insane styles next time. Now we all know that you can handle the UnrealEd (huh, looking at the list of mappers, we actually knew this before), so the next pack should contain more playable maps and less showcase objects. After all, Nadaus is the best proof that you don't have to reinvent the wheel to make a good map.


Cheers!
Last edited by Revelation on Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: UTR - The first Review

Post by Creavion » Fri Jun 12, 2009 12:59 pm

Well, first of all, I am more than surprised - let me say in a very positive way - from your actions here, independent from your opinion, just from you intentions. Very nice from you (I mean this seriously btw). The only thing I did read so far was that with Berserk.
I did not notice any "overpowered" problems with that powerup so far.
In fact the Udamage is much more powerful in my opinion (triple damage in contrast to the other UT titles). I already toyed with the idea that it would not be the worst idea if the Udamage damage multiply would be lowered to double damage. It would be also possible that the weapons would be tweaked in their damage (although I think this is very difficult and not be mastered as like in UT3).

edit: Healthvials are "modelled" by me btw, so thank you, glad to hear you liked them.

Armor items: Wanted a similiar effect as like in UT3. We were pretty satisfied with the result.
Before: Body Armor > darker green, Thighpads grey and so on. Now they look as they belong together.
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Re: UTR - The first Review

Post by Revelation » Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:34 pm

All done now. ;)

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Re: UTR - The first Review

Post by Creavion » Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:41 pm

For my part, sounds mostly fair. Uff, maybe I have time to change a little bit the Sacrimossa lighting for the patchpack. I have to see.
And another thing: When you're mapping hexagonally, rotate the brushes around the room's center! That way, you could have avoided the unequal spaces between the upper bracings. Noone will notice? I did!^^
Can you show me those places with some shots or so? Morbias will be changed slightly for a patch so those "bugs" can be fixed btw.
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Re: UTR - The first Review

Post by Revelation » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:02 pm

spaces.jpg

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Re: UTR - The first Review

Post by Creavion » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:05 pm

Uhm well.. honestly this is supposed to be as it is. I actually thought I have made somewhere else stupid mistakes

BTW: Can you suggest me something for lighting improvements of Sacrimossa? I would be very grateful.

BTW: To answer your question.. a bonuspack-patch combo is planned

patched maps: Sacrimossa, Morbias 4, daves sp
xpickups will be also patched in some ways (depends what is possible)

and hopefully 3 news maps will be added to make the download worth.. at least a little bit.
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Re: UTR - The first Review

Post by editor Dave » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:06 pm

Thanks for your long and detailed review! I think everyone got your intention why you wrote this review.
@Dargrok: I made exactly that what I wanted: A simple CTF layout with lots of opportunities for snipers. That's everyone's personal taste of liking it or not. And one note: Arken runs less fluently than Dargrok on my PC. That's strange...
@Unforchers: What is the problem about the lighting? I mean I used exactly two different colours in the big hall (and some insifignicant blue lighting)...
I must admit, I'm a fan of alternation and you see that in different ways: in lighting and in the structures (look at the torches, I built for every room or hallway a new one, with one exception).
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Re: UTR - The first Review

Post by Slave » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:24 pm

Nice review. Made me see the maps by other viewpoints and not only by Malcom's eyes. :roll:

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Re: UTR - The first Review

Post by Revelation » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:25 pm

Uhm well.. honestly this is supposed to be as it is.
You plan to build an overall round arena, and make exactly one part of it not round? Ok... Doesn't change its strange look however.
BTW: Can you suggest me something for lighting improvements of Sacrimossa? I would be very grateful.
Dead serious? Select one light -> Rightclick -> Select all -> Press "Delete" -> Rebuild. Then make a "night" or "dawn" setting.
I think everyone got your intention why you wrote this review.
Huh? Actually, the only intention for writing this was too much spare time...
That's everyone's personal taste of liking it or not.
Or, like the good old Nalicity Review schema stated: Opinions are like assholes - Everyone has one, and all of them stink. :wink:
What is the problem about the lighting? I mean I used exactly two different colours in the big hall
On my shot, there are at least five colors... Purple, orange, blue, red, green. Yeah yeah, some of them are no light colors but textures, but the colors are there anyway.

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Re: UTR - The first Review

Post by Creavion » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:36 pm

Slave wrote:Nice review. Made me see the maps by other viewpoints and not only by Malcom's eyes. :roll:
Honestly I heared not much "OMFG, is that leet" comments. On beyondunreal I mostly read post from an angry Leo about daves sp and so. unrealplayground is a graveyard and unrealsp.org users mostly liked my Kamah because of the fact it is a jungle themed map.

@Sacrimossa Lighting:
In this case I think uhm I will select night and will add more torches in the map.
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Re: UTR - The first Review

Post by Slave » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:41 pm

Honestly I heared not much "OMFG, is that leet" comments. On beyondunreal I mostly read post from an angry Leo about daves sp and so.
I just tried to be ironic... :noidea
I think everyone got your intention why you wrote this review.
Huh? Actually, the only intention for writing this was too much spare time...
Well, I think that when someone says your opinion, the intentions is to change something. To better or no. :? If it was just spending of time, the comments don't need to be considered...Right? :P
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dynaphase
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Joined: Sat Aug 16, 2008 8:42 pm
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Re: UTR - The first Review

Post by dynaphase » Sun Jun 14, 2009 3:27 am

here i am! Comming ! 99% downloaded :]

going to check out all of those maps... great screenshots n reviews so now going to play all of them!!! :p

Its a FREE weekend, finally :p

Nadaus looks promising ! :]

br
Dyna
UT forever

dynaphase
Average
Posts: 75
Joined: Sat Aug 16, 2008 8:42 pm
Personal rank: since99

Re: UTR - The first Review

Post by dynaphase » Sun Jun 14, 2009 3:32 am

uhmmm almost to forgot, Feralidragon, and all others THANK YOU A LOT for those new things, pickups, flagbases n so on!

Going to build one map with those thingies asap :p

br
Dyna
UT forever

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