Time flies nowadays!

Posted: June 28, 2015 by Kaemon in Kaemon's Rants, ZE FFVII Mako Reactor

Man, I can’t believe its already been a month since both the last post and the date I was supposed to release Mako V6! Sorry >_<

It’s taking longer than expected (as you guys can see) but its looking good. Apparently I greatly miss judged how fast I can map and how much still needed to be done within the map.

But have no fear! Everything is going smoothly and I’m still advancing, if not at a good rate, at an acceptable one.
I don’t know when the map will be ready, but within 2 weeks I will have a vacation week (from 13 to 19 of July) so maybe I can use that to place the finishing touches.

We did have a closed beta test the other day along with a dozen guys and I believe everyone liked it. There were more errors than expected, but most have been fixed already. I guess someday this week we will give it another go. Sorry for not doing open tests, but I really want the map to be as polished and complete as possible when it gets to the main public.

One curiosity: lately I have “played” (solo test mostly) V6 way more than V5.3 to the point where sometimes I look for materias in spawns that don’t exist in V5.3. XD

And, as a token of good will, here is a screenshot of an unfinished skybox!

MakoV6 - Beta Unfinished Skybox

The Shinra Headquarters in the middle of the city are still missing. Meteor may also look different.

Is not a great screen (as I kinda rushed the whole post and just grabbed the only one I had) and the skybox is not fully redone yet (truth is, Hannibal never left me enough time to finish V5.3 skybox and thats why you can so clearly see the color-change between the in-game reactor and the skybox one) but that should give you an idea.
Also, that is kinda the size I want for Meteor to have during Extreme 2, but even if it looks great (at least I believe it does) in that screenshot, it looks really weird (is a particle issue) and pixelated from the playable area.

Anyway… Off to sleep. Let’s see if I don’t get home too tired the next 5 days.

I’m working on it!

Posted: June 1, 2015 by Kaemon in Kaemon's Rants, ZE FFVII Mako Reactor

So yeah… Still not done. Getting really close. Sorry for the delays!
Less posting = more mapping!

Shin-Ra ElectricPower Company

Shin-Ra ElectricPower Company

So, as previously stated, I want to release Mako V6 this very month: May. I’m still working hard (along with some really helpful friends) on making it possible, and it may still happen, but its also possible that I may end needing some more time to polish and test the fixes and changes if I want the release version to be as good as possible…

So, what do you guys prefer? Release in May no matter-what even if something is missing or not as tested as I would want? Or give me some extra time to test and polish if needed? Whatever you answer I will still be working on it as much as possible and if I’m “lucky” everything could be done and ready for May anyway… Still, just wanted to give you a head ups in case I may need a couple extra weeks and it gets delayed. Sorry in advance if that happens.

I was also thinking about the possibility of changing the leveling system (that as stated in previous posts is being added back). Right now it works like the original one from Hannibal that was present in the earlier versions. When you pick a materia from its spawn position you level up and the next materia you grab will be +, and the next one ++.
My “problem” with this system is that feels too easy/fast to level up materias. I know there are just so many materias and it may take a while for EVERYONE to get ++ on a big populated server (50+ players), but since most of the time the materias are being picked by the same fast/pro guys, I think those will get ++ “too fast” for my personal taste… And I don’t like how someone could get both lucky and greedy and have a ++ materia on the very first run if he happens to grab 3 materias in the same round…
Also, I ‘m not to fond of how the default and + materias get under-used and in the end feels like every materia MUST be a Materia++. Also not having ++ versions so easily available should bring back some difficulty and randomness to the rounds as you can’t just always use X materia in X spot for maximum effectiveness because you got a lower version that is not as good there.

So far I think I will leave as it is for the first release and see how it plays. But some of my thoughts (in case you want to let me know your opinions about them) where the following systems:

1 – When you grab a materia, instead of winning +1 Level, you gain +1/3 of a level or similar. This is like the current system but takes longer to gain the levels.

2 – When you reach a certain area (like for example the Reactor, the Core and the Final Bunker) you gain +1/5 (or similar) of a level. This way there is a reward for reaching the Core or winning the map, and everyone, not just the fastest materia-grabbers, gains some levels. Being able to level up for reaching certain areas makes it so you can keep leveling the materias even if you don’t beat the stage, unlike what happens with Minas Tirith. or other similar maps when you are screwed if you didn’t get enough people of X level before X stage.

3 – Spawn, in a similar way that materia does, “XP Areas” that give you the XP. This increases the “points of interest” in the map (areas not in the main path that you want to check, visit or diverge to) and allows me to have less “XP Areas” than Materia ones if I feel people level them up too fast. (Like having only 4 “XP Areas” vs the current 8 Materia Spawns).

4 – Spawn “Materia Leveling Areas” (similar to point 3) but those will level the Materia itself instead of the player, on a round basis. So basically, all materias all rounds are the default lowest level, no matter who picks it, and THEN, if you bring it to one of those areas it would level up for that round. This also increases the points of interest in the map, gives something interesting to look for to those who already have a Materia and gives a nice dynamic of choosing if you want (for example) two Materia++ or four Materia+.

5 – Having players level up materias individually instead of globally. So if you pick Ice 3 times you have Ice++, but if then you pick Fire for the first time is just Fire. This method however may be a little too messy to make (or adapt) with our current Materia System.

Right now I’m mostly thinking about the possibility of doing some kind of combo between 1 and 2, granting XP for both picking up materias (2 XP) and reaching certain areas (1 XP Elevator, 1 XP Core, 2 XP Bunker) and requiring you to get 10 XP Total to gain a Materia Level. But I’m still unsure… Maybe is changing too much for the sake of it and it would just be better to leave it as it used to be? I honestly just want to give a better experience overall and I think giving the Default Materia and Materia+ some screen-time and presence beyond “Nub doesn’t have ++” is a good thing. Any opinions about the whole thing?

Map is looking and advacing at a good rate. It’s just that between work and the fact that I get home tired many days of the week I can’t devote that much time to mapping outside of the weekends.
Also, the City Area seems to have worse FPS right now. Not sure if this will be an issue.

Brace yourselves… Maps are comming!

Posted: May 11, 2015 by Kaemon in Kaemon's Rants, News

First of all let me tell you, in case you missed it, that the previous post to this one was Hannibal‘s farewell to ZE mapping. He may come back someday, I guess, but I don’t think that can happen until we are at least working with the HL3 engine.
Hannibal made some of the greatest maps (and I think I may type a whole post in the future dedicated to him) including my two big favorites: Paranoid and Mako Reactor. As with everything, there all kind of tastes and preferences and some people didn’t like his maps and style, but since most people LOVED them and they would come in play (and be extended!) so often, the people hating them got to hate them even more! So I guess he would be both the most loved and hated mapper for ZE Source :-P

As many of you know he also inspired many of the “new generation” mappers that are now, as him, pushing the engine to its limits, and without Hannibal‘s starting the chain reaction we probably wouldn’t have maps like Luffaren‘s Predator Ultimate, Slayerdragon‘s Westersand or Syoduous‘ weird version of Mountain Escape (those 3 are easily in my Top10 favorite ZE maps).
And I’m no exception. I loved some of his maps so much (the previously mentioned Paranoid and Mako Reactor) that I wanted to make my own versions of them (Junon and a Paranoid of my own). Now… I have been known for a while to slack more than I map, and Junon, even if not completely dead, has been stopped for a while; but my Paranoid version could see the light of the day sooner than expected (more info about this on a future post) and I’m now working on fixing Mako Reactor up to a shiny new V6 and so far looks like I will be able to fulfill my release for May… So wait for it!

But I’m not the only busy bee around here… There are many mappers doing maps still for ZE Source!

Luffaren‘s secret project is coming along pretty well and I personally cannot wait for its “early release” (before all stages are complete). I still think he should release as it is (with 6 stages) instead of waiting for the 7th to be done (his current plan).

Then you have guys like Slayerdragon (well known creator of FFXII maps Westersand and Paranima) that is not working on one, not even two, but who knows how many maps at once! I don’t know about all his projects, but he showed me the two most advanced ones: The first one looks quite good… And then the second one looks amazing, is based on a franchise I love and can’t wait for the release!
From what I have been told he has a “Kaemon” of his own, and apparently the delay on him releasing those maps (that are really close to completion) is that his working thrall, Noctali (or whatever nickname he goes by nowadays), is following into my slacking steps. I believe he called me his “Slack Senpai“.

There are many others, but I can’t really keep up with every single mapper.
I also may be forgetting to mention some that I do know about and then are those that I’m not sure if I’m allowed to mention (I always try to ask for permission before mentioning something in the blog and sometimes mappers aren’t online, the slacky bastards!).
But trust me, just the two maps coming from Slayerdragon should be enough to pump you up!

Then of course, you also have the mappers that have completely switched to CS:GO (and I believe at some point most of us will have to) like Enviolinador, still working as hard as ever on new maps (I can’t believe that guy’s mapping rate!). He now has sightly stopped his current ZE project to work on a small side map for a new zombie gamemode that is yet to be released to the public and some IRL stuff, but I can’t wait for his new CS:GO ZE map to be released! It’s looking great and I will probably help him out with one of the areas. Definitely a map worth keeping one eye on.

An End, Once and For All

Posted: April 26, 2015 by Hannibal[SPA] (Rafuron) in Uncategorized

Hi all! Hannibal here,
It has been a long time since I wrote anything in this blog. Actually, I cannot remember the last time I actually posted something of value. I wouldn’t like to be of those that suddenly disappear and doesn’t say a word so here I am!

It has been almost three years of living in a foreign country (Ireland). I really enjoyed the time I was here, but I’m finally coming back to Spain in order to improve my life and having a big change. The experience in that country has been awesome and I will miss every single moment; it’s always hard to leave behind all those things you have enjoyed for a long time. I always enjoyed mapping and since I first left Spain on 2011 because the Erasmus, I tried hard not to lose contact and keep mapping. Apart from the parties, football, trips,etc. one of those good experiences I had in Ireland was mapping in CS: it has been always something I really enjoyed no matter how far I was from my home.

The first year in Ireland I spent a lot of time playing CS:S (ZM/ZE), following the status of my current maps and designing or imagining how LMS would be.  I didn’t have too much time on the first months, so the only I could while I was walking through the streets and when resting at home was thinking about how LMS would be by drawing, writing notes and imagining in my head how the scenes would be: I spent hours and nights about thinking in the scenes and gameplay at the same time I was playing music in my head; everyday while returning from work I was thinking in the story while listening music with the headphones; I probably wrote more than 20 pages of ideas and etc,… After a year, I started getting crazy: progress was slow and I had a ton of things to do. I couldn’t finish it without help, so I asked for Kaemon (you cannot believe how hard I tried! I wrote a kind of contract to pay him for the help and you wouldn’t believe the quantity I offered). To be honest, not even with him was possible to make what I was thinking; I needed a whole team, but, at the same time, I wanted to be the only author of my last map. It was extremely hard to fit mapping in the Irish lifestyle: after 8h of being in an office, I was too tired to stay another 4h (as I used in the past) mapping, so sometimes I just mapped 3h or 4h per week which made the process extremely slow. I was getting on my nerves because it was the first time ever I was working and I saw I couldn’t have time for my hobby.

Time passed and after months and years CS:S was bleeding out. CS:GO was growing up and players were leaving CS:S, and especially the ZE. I have seen servers of 50 slots where I couldn’t join because it was full be with barely 6 or 7 ppl (sometimes empty). Even though, I wanted to release this map; I didn’t care of the quantity of players. I can remember telling Kaemon: “I don’t care if the map fails, I just want to finish it because it’s my dream map”. At the 2nd year I actually was getting annoyed with the map. I couldn’t see the end of it. I touched all limits many times including the round time in ALL the stages. It was too much for a single person. Source SDK was not enough for creating this kind of map (Source SDK it’s like an editor of 10 years ago or more). Every single time I wasn’t mapping I was thinking: “I have to finish the map… I cannot believe I cannot finish it… it was supposed to be my hobby”. It went extreme and some days I wanted so hard to see a feature completed I didn’t sleep until 6am (I remember saying ‘Good morning’ to Kaemon sometimes in Skype). In the end of the development, I was really tired. I enjoyed it, but it was getting actually harmful for my health and my mind. I had enough to worry about in my job so all this together was mind blowing.

And then I had the map completed, but there was the last part of it: testing, fixing bugs,… In the end, I finally could see if people would accept it or not. I tried luck with changing completely the way a ZE map needed to be played, and I thought that would be innovative, but I was wrong. In the end, the map wasn’t as I expected: the size was too big, the detail was to low (because the limits), the gameplay wasn’t as I wanted (some kind of maps simply doesn’t work online), etc… I spent an additional three months fixing and testing but it wasn’t enough. I could improve the gameplay but I finally gave up. I crossed the line and it turned out that mapping wasn’t fun for me anymore. I didn’t want to know about the map anymore. When I made a stable version, I felt the thing finished, not as I wanted, but it finished so I was happy with it. From that point, I felt free again so I stopped mapping. I have to admit that not only mapping but playing ZE wasn’t as fun as it was before : ( (I never thought I would say that!).

Working in IT (computer software development) and mapping it’s a bad combination since your can spent probably 14+ h per day, from Monday to Friday in front of a screen, and that’s, obviously, not good for you.

Because all this, I decided quitting mapping in Counter Strike with no return point. I don’t want to say the word, but I have to: I’m done with Counter Strike mapping forever!

So, thank you all. For the ones who are still playing and those who are not, and for those who have been visiting the blog. Thanks for playing my maps and Counter Strike Zombie Mod in general. Those years have been amazing and unforgettable (at least the ones before LMS!). Thanks for the great support, hours of testing, donations, comments, videos, etc… I will miss all the community, mappers, admins and players. That was a part of my life I will never forget.

Just a bit of nostalgia. I can remember the day I placed a block in the Hammer editor and saved the file as Mines_Of_Moria.vmf, probably eight years ago; I can remember the day we first played it, which was basically the first map I saw to be extended up to 5 times, then the people forced a vote to change the map, and vote it back again; the funny stair scene and the Gandalf sacrifices; the games we had in Mount Doom, with the ring bearer screwing the game or the last run being so intense; I can remember the epic escapes in Helms Deep where 8 humans needed to run through 40 zombies; I can remember those games in Paranoid, were twenty people with items like a car, a flying cat or a turtle thrower fight against the Balrog, the Gargantua (or Titan) and the Pyramid head while everything was flying away; I remember the many tempests we had in Mako reactor Extreme mode end (probably, one of the most epic moments I have had playing CS:S), and how the people sent me hundreds of demos and videos for the contests; and finally, the huge plays and epic wins of Minas Tirith, with Gandalf lighting the black room or the White Knight facing the Balrog while the meteors… Obviously, I cannot forget all this, and again, I thank all you are reading this and the ones who will not. For making me so happy : )

And, I have to specially thank Kaemon for all the support, games, jokes, tests, map helps, skype calls, critics, opinions, keeping the blog alive by writing amazing posts… Without of him, I wouldn’t have continued mapping the way I did. Kaemon is one of the bests persons I have met and I won’t lose contact with him after this : ) Without him, I could probably have stopped with Helms Deep. So thanks my friend, for all these years. I never laugh that much playing/testing in CS:S

Special mentions also for the next people:

  • Lourdes, my girlfriend, for all these years supporting me! I had hard times with LMS but she always encouraged me.
  • Maese Danielot, for giving me good ideas and being the director and indirect maker of Mako Reactor map (I followed his guidelines for the creation of that map)
  • Metro, for being so close the lasts times and helping me on testing. Also for encouraging me!
  • Zacade, for your awesome support and help in many cases, thanks!
  • Lunatxz, for helping me on map testing and being so good admin. The savior of Paranoid map (map not compiling and helped spotting the issue; he spent and uploaded probably more than 80 versions)
  • Kaesar, for giving me such good animations for LMS!
  • Zan, for being so good and being a good supported, thanks mate.
  • Luffaren, for being such a good mapper, I learnt things from you : )
  • Cmer, when the golden age of ZE, the admin who ruled Supreme Elite, he was always available for updating/changing the map to one of mines at any moment! Thanks!
  • Salem, for being an awesome master admin of the early years of i3D. You uploaded Mines of Moria, my first map ever, and you also were good to me : )
  • Freeze, for doing such good maps and be so good person. One of the bests moments of ZE.
  • Serious Samurai, for being so good player and mapper, I envy you and your Helms Deep at L4D!
  • Tony Montana, you are an awesome admin and player. When spectating, me and Danielot were always watching you, what a show!
  • Riperzz, so nice supporter, I can remember how good times we had in Steam Gamers.
  • Unreal, thanks for testing so many of my maps and telling me the issues, great supporter!
  • Patrao, very good admin, player and tester. I really enjoyed your help : )
  • S-Low, thank for providing me the Nazgul model! I also grabbed many other models from your posts, you are one of the reasons we can see many models in CS:S
  • Punisher, I never saw a guy playing like you in my maps, was impressive! Good supporter.
  • Masak not Soldier, great player and supported, reported a good number of issues also.
  • Sandfly, no words for this lovely admin, he left CS:S a long time ago, one of the nicests persons I have seen in the games.
  • Eastsider and Westsider: awesome skilled players, the most of the times I joined I could see one of you playing.
  • Maverick, Aksarak, Jester, Ventura, Crispis, Killerspain, Sephiroth, Kado: before mapping I was a CS:S player, we always played together using Teamspeak; one of the funniest years of my life.

I want also thank all the communities for supporting me, releasing my maps and giving me back feedback. The most of them are probably gone, but they will be always and forever, part of the CS:S ZM/ZE history.

  • i3D
  • SteamGamers
  • STFU
  • iCANNT
  • Supreme Elite
  • Syndicate Gamers
  • Plaguefest
  • CTA
  • Geclan

Im sure there are many other players to thank and communities for never forgetting. To be honest, I had a list of all the people I wanted to thank (+100 names) if that day would come, but it’s on a HDD far away from where I’m, indeed, I wanted to make a summary video and include that list, but I’m afraid this will not happen. I’m sorry for those I missed. I may have forgotten the name, but will never forgot their remembers : )

So, what’s next? I’m growing/getting older, but that doesn’t mean I had lost the taste for videogames. In fact, to be honest, I cannot wait for coming back to Spain a build a good game station for playing Killing Floor 2 and Grand Theft Auto V and keep playing as always. I also play CS:GO so I will give ZE/ZM a chance also.

I suppose Kaemon has it’s on plans, but I’m no one to tell them. I will keep in contact with him, and who knows what happens in the future : )

About Last Man Standing, I’m giving away all the Source files. If a good mapper wants to “resurrect” or “save” this map, please, let me know and send me an email to rafuron@gmail.com. If I get no notice, I will probably release everything (post it probably in Gamebanana) and let ayone to get anything from that map, or make any version, under WTFPL license (do what the fuck you want to public). I had plans to port it to CS:GO or make ZM maps from that map (there are 5 stages, and you can basically extract up to 4 zm maps from each one…)

Again, thank you all for everything! Never forget.

Thanks, you can always find me in Steam. The show must go on!

Rafuron, Hannibal [SPA]

First of all, let me inform you that the guys at Rules of _p released last week a new map pack with 40 new map ports from Source to GO. As far as I know all of them are new to CS:GO, enjoy!
I just learned about this right now (before pressing the “post button”) so I just added it quickly in front of the already written post. You can download them from HERE or HERE, or just look for the the links bellow their POST.

As I mentioned at the end of the previous post, its about time I give myself an ultimatum concerning the release of Mako V6. Maybe with a release date I get more serious about it (we did release Serpentis after all!).

At first I started working on V6 quite fast (and furious!) and the map was advancing at an unbelievably fast pace; so much that I was hoping to be done withing a couple of months; but then I got busy IRL and had some problems and the whole thing slowed down. When that happened I really tried to get it ready for April’s Fool in the hopes of fooling people into thinking it was an April’s fool when in fact it was the actual release, but it wasn’t ready in time as I ended up not mapping for some weeks.

However now I’m back to work and V6 is advancing just fine again. I would love to be able to narrow down the release date more, but there is still work to be done… Whatever the case I will be releasing in May (knowing me probably midnight of the 31th) even if its not completely done, and keep working on the finishing touches afterwards while people test what has changed. Releasing without it being 100% complete shouldn’t be a big deal since I assumed from the very beginning that a couple extra versions (V6.1 and V6.2) were going to be needed anyway, at the very least, no matter what, as we always end breaking something while doing changes and fixes. (BTW, even if V6 doesn’t have a new difficulty, V6.1 or V6.2 may).

As for Hannibal… Its not set in stone I guess, but is not looking good for Last Man Standing. He went on a break and traveled during his holidays and what not. At first he wanted to go back to LMS after the break was done and leave the map fixed and playable, but I briefly talked to him the other day and doesn’t seem up for the task anymore. He hasn’t regularly played ZE for years and looks like its time for him to completely move on… I guess he can still change his mind, specially if I happened to volunteer helping him, something he wanted me to do from the very beginning, but is not looking good…

Worst case scenario (him not working on LMS anymore) he already mentioned that he would leave the assets (textures, models, notes and .vmf) to anyone willing to fix the map. So at least there is that. Sorry for the bad news.

Next weekend… not sure, there are many things I want to post about. However, if Hannibal is really giving up, he mentioned he wanted to do a “Goodbye Post“, I just don’t know when he would type or post it.

Two new Makos, none from us!

Posted: April 14, 2015 by Kaemon in Kaemon's Rants, News

So, I have been quite busy and tired lately. Worked a little on the map, but way less than I wanted or expected. My holidays are over and I get back home from work quite tired these first days. I wasn’t going to post anything either today, but I felt like I should (I’m already breaking the one-post-per-week schedule that I tried to impose myself) so I forced myself to type this short rant.

Anyway… Just wanted to let you guys know that there are two new “Mako versions” going around, and none is from neither Hannibal nor myself.

The first one goes by ZE_FFVII_Mako_Reactor_V6test16 and is, obviously, for ZE. Just to be clear: it has nothing to do with my version, is not mine released nor leaked, its changes probably won’t be on mine, is just something from another mapper entirely.
From what I know the author is a russian guy that I believe goes by the nickname Betnik and that made it for their own server and to have fun. It has some nice additions and details (and quite some cool lightning in some areas) but I didn’t play it enough to really judge, as I’m not sure about what gameplay changes he did in total (apart from some obvious ones). If you are a Mako fan its worth checking out at the very least I guess.

The second one, made by Tony Montana, is called bhop_FFVII_Mako_Reactor_V2 and as the name indicates was made for bhop servers. Just don’t expect anything completely different as is pretty much just the good old map you all know edited to work in bhop servers.
Take in mind however that bhop is not really required but just a tool to grab the materias (thats the map’s objective) faster; so if your server doesn’t have timers for people to beat, it may make little sense to you.

Sorry for not posting anything this weekend. I will give myself an ultimatum for Mako Reactor V6 and let you guys know about it on this weekend’s post!