Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Operation Eisenfaust: Origins Level 7

Level 7 was the first boss level I made for this mod. Boss level are always somewhat of a different beast compared to regular levels, as you have to reserve some space for where the boss battle takes place. In that regard, there are usually two approaches: 1. A regular level with a boss area in it somewhere or 2. the level starts in the boss area. There can be variations on this theme, but these are the usual approaches.

I used to love creating boss levels. Ever since I encountered Hans Grosse on level 9 of the original Wolf3D, I had a soft spot for them. They were big and challenging, and they really stood out amongst the rest of the enemies. And at the time of creating Eisenfaust Origins, I still enjoyed making boss levels. But nowadays, unless there is some interesting coding variation to the boss or the weapons, I feel like there is relatively little space for innovation in a boss level. This is because most of the bosses have the same weapons, and as such often require the same tactic to be defeated. For most Wolf3D mods, this means that there is a large boss area with ammo and health in side rooms, while the 'main' boss room contains walls where you can hide behind and dodge the attacking boss. This is repetitive and overdone. However, without coding features there is little else that can be done with it. Sure, there is the 'enemies hiding behind locked doors'-trick, where the room containing the boss has locked doors on the side where non-deaf enemies hide, which are alerted when you fire your gun, but that trick gets old fairly quickly as well. That is why coding features are the key to making boss levels interesting again. Just take a look at the inventive way AReyeP uses firewalls and god/berserk artifacts to take on bosses in End of Destiny. This way of using new coding features against a boss adds a new tactical element to a mod, and in my eyes is the way to go in order to make boss levels interesting again.

Level 7 was based on an old scrapped map I did for Sonder. Very little remained of it: only the first area and the boss area remained intact. Based on my previous comments, you might think that I don't like this level. In truth, I do like this level... except the boss area. Like most of the bosses with rockets in this mod, the guy helps the player out immensily by constantly hurting himself with his own rockets. As such, the boss really isn't a challenge. You let him come out, hide behind the tree and blast him with the chaingun while he shoots his rockets against the tree. And it's not the only boss to whom this happens to. In retrospect, this is an element that really hampers the mod, and it's something we should have been more critical of when we beta-tested it.

Overall though, I do enjoy the level. I like the little area with all the SS, and it's one of the first levels where you could take multiple routes. I'm also quite happy with the red brick area, I especially loved using the directional sprites, giving the player the feeling as if they're creeping underneath walls into secret areas. And finally, I do enjoy that machinegunner at the end of the first red brick area. That guy is sneaky.

All in all, the level is fine. It just happens that I review it in a period where most conventional boss battles bore me, and this is one of them unfortunately. The fact that his own rockets hurt him, doesn't help.

You can download Operation: Eisenfaust Origins HERE.

You can watch Balames' playthrough of level 7 below;

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