Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Operation Eisenfaust: Origins Level 15, 16 & 17

Level 15, Cold Feet, is another level that utilizes the train theme. However, it isn't as dominant as it was in some of the previous levels. While you start out on a rail road, the rest of the level is really a combination of mutant work spaces and locker rooms. In the original version of the game, i.e. Sonder, the locker rooms were meant to be the sleeping areas where the prisoners were resting/hiding/stacked up together in inhumanly small spaces. This is quite the change, going from that to lockers containing weapons, and as such I think this level took a bit of a hit in terms of atmosphere. It is a lot less dark and depressing. Whether that's good or bad depends on the player, but I would say that locker rooms don't really get a reaction out of the player, they just are lockers and that is that. This is in contrast with the original barracks, which make the player empathize even more with the suffering of the prisoners.

That said, I do think the allegory of mutants - prisoners does work. It is both a reference and a subversion of the original Wolf3D, where the mutants were your enemies. This prequel to episode 2 of the original shows you the experiments on these (poor) creatures, and perhaps it even makes you feel empathy for them. It works both as an allegory and as a prequel to Wolf3D. So while there is the disappointment that we didn't get to share our original vision, I think something quite different and interesting came out of it. Something that is perhaps slightly less on the nose.

The final thing that I want to mention about this level is its size. It's big, and one of the things I tended to do with the maps for this mod is to almost entirely fill up the 64x64 grid. It was 8 years ago when I started working on this mod. I was a lot younger at the time, in my teens, and with that comes the mindset that everything needs to be bigger. You tend to think more in terms of quantity than quality. Everything is less balanced because you want the maps to be as big and full as possible. I think that youthful naivety sometimes shows in my maps, at least for me.

Speaking of levels that had their atmospheres changed completely because of the translation from Sonder to Eisenfaust Origins, I will now discuss level 16: Blood Check. In the original version of the mod, this was a crematorium. The change from crematorium to mutant experiment area is perhaps slightly less big than the change from barracks to locker rooms, but it does change the feel of the level completely. The crematorium had brown bricks, ovens, burned bodies and corpses lying around, which in this version have been replaced by brown steel and mutilated mutants. While this is still horrible, it is easier for the player to detach themselves from mutilated mutants than from mutilated, burned prisoners. Again, whether this extra shock, this darkness, is a pro or con to the game remains to be seen, but it does mean that the level has turned out differently than intended.

One distracting element of this level is the music. It is the theme from Basic Instinct, and I really don't think it fits the level. While at the time I didn't care much about the music that went with the levels, as I assumed the player didn't as well, I do care about the music much more now, and this is a total mismatch. While most of the music has been borrowed from various sources, I think most of them fit quite well. Of course, it helps that I'm not always familiar with the original sources where the music comes from. I can imagine it being distracting for someone that is familiar with it. But this track sticks out like a sore thumb to me, and it would have been even worse had it played under the original version of the level.

I have talked about how, during development, we used to have a coding feature that allowed us to have two different types of shading: one for inside, i.e. under a ceiling, and one for outside. An earlier version of this level featured this coding feature quite obviously: inside it was dark, outside it was very foggy (you couldn't see far). This was an interesting dynamic, and it's unfortunate that it got lost.

As for the boss, I wanted to portray him as a coward; hence I made the decision that he wouldn't leave his office, he would only shoot from there. It's a change of pace from all the other bosses, and I imagine it must also be nice to fight a boss who doesn't blow himself up with his own rockets.

Level 17 is a level I don't have much to say about. Its title, Brain Freeze, is probably a pun courtesy of Doomjedi, as I'm fairly certain I didn't name the map that way originally. Apart from that, it's a fine level. Somewhat shorter than the others, but because of that it feels like a nice breather inbetween somewhat more intense levels. It's almost a remix level in a way, as a couple of areas were taken from discarded levels: the library part with the officers, the open area with the (soup) mutants (originally a square full of prisoners) and the beginning area were all taken from discarded levels. It's a nice, calm level that allows the player to take a breath before Dean's level 18 ramps up the action once again!

You can download Operation: Eisenfaust Origins HERE.

You can watch Balames' playthrough of level 15 below;


And Balames' playthrough of level 16 can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDnNzli6c38

And finally, Balames' playthrough of level 17 can be found here;

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