Archive for the ‘ZE Project L’ Category

EDIT: This is a teaser post. NO DOWNLOAD LINKS YET. Wait some days!

ZE Castlevania by Luffaren

So… Luffaren‘s “Secret Project” has been finally revealed to the public and I can finally tell you its a ZE map for CS:S based on the Castlevania franchise of which he is a really big fan.

Luffaren started the project long time ago but he encountered many obstacles while working on it, including a full restart of the whole map to change the layout and improve the systems he employs for items, enemies and stages; debating if switching the whole project to CS:GO or not (he didn’t); getting a job that drastically reduced his free time (go figure); doing other maps in the meanwhile (Toaster, Frostdrake, Santassination); and a long etc…
Yesterday, after testing the map one last time with me he told me, all of a sudden and out of nowhere, that he was going to post in on Gamebanana but (sorry guys) I stopped him for doing so and told him to first test it online with people at least once because he was bound to find some big mistakes/errors that we didn’t encounter on our tests… So he did test it online and he did find some big things that need urgent fixes. But now the secret is out and the map should be ready for you all soon enough.

The idea of the map once it gets fully completed (if it ever does so, you know how these things are sometimes) is to include around 12 stages, but the current version that you guys will soon play only has 6 of them, so you won’t even be able to reach Dracula‘s castle (which is supposed to start on Stage 8).

The map includes many different special items and characters for humans (that right now are just placed at the beginning of the stages), NPC enemies (like skeletons and spiders), deadly traps, dynamic environments (like randomly placed destructible trees and houses), Bosses (duh) and some quite cool events. However, take in mind when judging the map that not only was it started many years ago when Luffaren was less experienced, but it suffered quite a big hit on the looks department because of its size (because of both time constrains and engine limitations) and the fact that some areas use dynamic decorations (like randomly placed breakable trees).

(Don’t be fooled by this video. This is by far the coolest looking part of the map).

I would also like to quick mention that its because of this map that Serpentis came to be. We were talking bosses for Castlevania when I decided to make a Medusa for Luffaren with a “Stone Gaze System” that I just had came up with in the spot while replacing Luffaren’s old Medusa model (that image should give you an idea of what to expect when encountering Luffaren-made enemies in ZE Castlevania).
However, we both liked the system and the boss so much that we decided to add some trap rooms and make a map to enter the “Treasure Hunter Map Contest” that Gamebanana was hosting at that time. And that is pretty much how MG Serpentis became a thing, with a boss I designed for Luffaren‘s map.
Also is worth noting that this is the reason why Medusa is a giant floating head (instead of the more normal depiction of a woman with a snake tail instead of legs), because I based it on the Castlevania and its infamous floating Medusa heads.

By the way, its very possible that even if the map gets completed at some point it won’t include Medusa or that if it does it will be a very different version. The one you guys know from Serpentis not only has been seen way too many times in the MiniGame map itself but its now present on two different ZE maps: ZE Mountain Escape by Syoudous and ZE Serpentis Temple by Nostar.

ZE FFVII Mako Reactor by Kaemon

Okay, first of all just a quick reminder that ZE FFVII Mako Reactor was originally made entirely by Hannibal following Maese Danielot instructions and I only started to help for V5 with some visuals and optimization. I know many of you blog viewers are fully aware of this, but I can’t believe how many people I encounter nowadays that think I’m the creator of the version they are currently playing (well, I guess its understandable when people in-game start asking me about V6).

With this said… ZE Mako Reactor V6 will now be mine not only because I’m the one doing it, but because I remade the whole map from scratch. Surprise! πŸ˜„
Here is a teaser video made by Tony Montana:

(I’m ashamed that I didn’t had a more advanced version for Tony to record, since map is still not fully done in this video and some areas are missing or not fully detailed).

For many of you (since I used lots of testers) this isn’t a surprise (not anymore anyway) but I tried my best to keep the fact that I was doing a fully remake (Square Enix totally stole that from me) a secret, usually just saying that I was fixing stuff and adding materia leveling back. But the real thing is that I started the map completely from scratch and every single brush and entity was completely remade, just using the old map as reference.

One of the key factors that “pushed” me to do a full remake this was the fact that the mako reactor itself was badly placed relatively to the city (very noticeable if you glitch the train and see how it goes into the reactor). I tried turning 90ΒΊ Hannibal‘s city just to notice how ugly and non-symetric Sephiroth‘s bridge area was when expanded upon, so I completely remade that bridge and area, and then I was like: “Fuck it! I will remake the whole thing!” and so I did. πŸ˜„

Take in mind however that even if I remade the map entirely I tried to keep the gameplay and zones as close to Hannibal‘s version as possible as to make it feel like is still the same map and so, for example, I didn’t replace the city with the area used in the original game.

So, how much did the map change for you, as a player? Not that much I hope. I tried to improve the gameplay without changing it, there are now better visuals (but probably worse FPS, sorry about that), Materia Leveling is back (just like on the original version), there are some new materias and I made the map overall sightly harder.
How did I make it harder you ask? Well, for starters Materia Leveling already makes it sightly harder as your progress since there is no guarantee anymore that you will have ++ materias on the hardest difficulties and, even if there are now more materias in the map, not only are there now way more materia spawns (making easier for some materias to remain unpicked) but one also gets randomly removed each round per each difficulty increase, so even if you may end up with the same amount of materias you will have to adapt to what you got that round instead of using the same old combo in the same old places. The bosses are also sightly harder, and the zombies get faster (and there are more mother zombies) as difficulty increases. On top of that the zombie speed no longer gets “bugged” after being affected by Ice or Gravity, zombies instead regain the correct speed value depending on the current difficulty, so no more buffing/nerfing (depended on server settings) zombies speed after being affected by those kind of materias.

Is worth mentioning that even if I said that I will release this month (and I will) the map is not fully done. As I type this I’m still working on things like the Skybox (that is not done at all), a couple areas that still are using dev_textures, some of the music are too short or don’t fit perfectly, I still have to make new animations for the bosses and I really should add extra details (decals and props) in many places… So a V6.1 is guaranteed to happen because V6 will just not be complete, but I feel like releasing it as it is will help motivate me to do the finishing touches and will also allow you guys to start enjoying the map while you report what problems you encounter (not only possible bugs and glitches, but also balance issues or changes that you didn’t like) so I can fix or change them back for future versions.

Also, and I’m kinda sorry for this, THERE IS NO NEW DIFFICULTY. I added back Easy (along with the classic FF7 music) and renamed Extreme 2 as Insane (will change it back if you guys complain a lot or doesn’t feel right) but there are no “new things” difficulty-wise. I may add something (no promises) in the future, but V6 is just a “new but still the same” version of good old Mako.

Lots of people helped me with this version, hopefully I don’t forget anyone when I mention them on the next post (along with the full changelog and a link to the map).

I was planning on typing this on Friday, but got lazy… Oh well. So far I’m doing my best to post once a week but I’m not typing these in advance or anything, maybe I need to start doing that and choose a day for the updates. Friday afternoon sounds good. Opinions?

As I briefly mentioned on the previous post while talking about Junon, today I wanted to talk a little about Luffaren and what he has been doing. He is still mapping (as many of you are aware) and still advancing with his Secret Project, but between his job, real life, and some slacking to spice it up… Well, its not done yet. πŸ˜›

So… What has been Luffaren doing all this time?

About Frostdrake Tower:

As many of you know, Luffaren recently did a new ZE Map for CS:GO (ZE Frostdrake Tower) and entered it on a Gamebanana contest where it won 3rd place. The map was relatively rushed, but doesn’t look half bad and it has been quite a big success in the ZE CS:GO Community.
I personally warned him against having such long rounds (takes over 20 minutes form start to end) and about people probably getting bored of being zombie for so long or the despair of losing 18 mins in and having nothing to show for it… But you know what? I was wrong, and I’m quite happy he followed his gut and kept the long rounds. The map is a nice challenge welcomed by most and its perfect for events.

There is no much else to say about ZE Frostdrake Tower. A new version may come in the future with a couple fixes, but is not currently panned as the map plays quite good on its current status and many servers are enjoying weekend events trying to beat it. At some point Luffaren thought about dividing the map in 2 or 3 stages, and maybe in the future he will go for it if servers are done with the tryharding and he wants the map to become better suited for a normal rotation, but as for now the map stays as it is. A nice breath of fresh air (see what I did there?) for the Zombie Escape world and an interesting new concept that I hope doesn’t get abused too much.

About Predator Ultimate:

Some people ask Luffaren by time to time about doing a new Predator Ultimate version with a couple fixes and improvements, and he thinks he will do it someday (and maybe do the CS:GO port at the same time) but right now is not currently on his plans as he is busy with other projects, including the secret one.

The good thing is that now he finally has a working .vmf (the map file) for Predator (as he apparently had lost the original one and decompiling was giving him some problems), so if the time comes and he feels like it, he is ready, but again, that shouldn’t be anytime soon. You all shall suffer the wrath of the Lagelevator God some more!

About the Secret Project:

Probably this is both the one you guys are more interested in and the one I have more to say about (in fact I will probably talk about it in its own post in the not-so-far-away future). There was nothing really to say about Predator or Frostdrake, but I thought it was worth mentioning their status.

As many of you are aware, Luffaren‘s Secret Project (I’m not allowed to reveal the real name) is an upcoming ZE map with lots of stages set in a progressive manner (like in Minas Tirith) and so far 6 of them are complete and playable. The final number is unknown even to him at this moment (as he gets ideas as he maps, or something that was going to be half a stage becomes one on its own, or an area that was going to be two stages works better as just one), but it may be something around 12 stages.
He has been working on the map for quite some time now (he even restarted it all over at one point) and recently asked my opinion about porting the project to GO before release. I personally suggested him to just keep working on Source (and that is what he is doing so far) and worry later about the port. Not only do I prefer Source myself, but I also think than the porting will probably be around as hard for 6 stages than for 12 (as the map is already in the “problematic area”), so he should just do the port when the map is done… Otherwise he will have to port AGAIN later from GO to Source or… leave Source without it… So yeah, in the end he is still working for it on Source πŸ™‚


Luffaren made custom props not only for the trees, but also for things like the cheap heavy rain seen in the screenshot.

So.. I have seen almost everything that has been done for the map and I’m starting to get impatient myself, so I suggested Luffaren to do something so we all can check and play the map sooner than expected, and so far looks like he will follow my advice: Release before its done.

And that is the current plan! He wants to finish the 7th Stage (that hasn’t been started yet) because of reasons, and then, after fixing/polishing/changing some things in the other stages, he will release before finishing the rest of the stages. This way people will be able to start playing, enjoying and finding bugs while the stream of complains and praises starts to flow (and those are usually great for a mapper’s moral!).
Then, when the next version comes, not only will it have fixed bugs and balance changes… It will include a new stage! Rinse and repeat until the map is done for good. Sounds like a good plan, right? And after I’m done with Mako I’m seriously thinking of following my own advice and doing exactly the same with Junon (releasing with just 1 stage) so I can just focus on finishing one at a time. Otherwise looks like I will never release any of it!

So that is it for today. Sorry that the post was a little late. Not sure what the next one will be about. I kinda want to talk about Enviolinador (I really want to play his upcoming map when is done!) or do a commentary on “Huge Maps“. I also have to talk about Hannibal and LMS, but I think that one will have to wait a little more. Until next week!

Ey, anybody surprised on this blog not updating more frequently? I didn’t think so! ^_^U

So… As mentioned on the last post I spent sometime in France. When I came back I just chilled out with IRL friends and slacked, then went to play some Dota and slack some more…
Finishing Serpentis should be around 2 days worth of work, but I have managed to not finish it yet… That must be some kind of new record. Anyway, right now I’m trying to get more “serious” (for what its worth) with mapping again. The current plan is finishing Serpentis and then going back to Junon at last. I have been feeling like mapping some Junon for a time now.

Hannibal is still doing some serious work on Last Man Standing when he cans and the map is progressing well. He has all 5 stages mapped and propped (he told me he has done over 500 props) and is now detailing and triggering them (right now he is working on stage 3 after finishing 1 and 2). I don’t know how much polishing/testing/detailing will be needed after the map is done; so still not date on when the map will come out.
Also, since I was slacking and not helping him at all, he got someone else to do his bidding; so now Zuff (not to confuse with Luff) is helping him a little with the map so its not so tedious for poor little Hannibal. So far he helped him with a Stage and Event system using those new fancy techniques that are way more clean and don’t require physics to work.

Luffaren on the other hand… he is now on the slacking team (even if he opened Hammer after I pasted him what I was going to post here). Problem is he now has a job, he spent sometime working on an Unity game with some IRL friends that got abandoned, and he is learning some coding when he has some free time. He says however that the map is not stopped and that we shouldn’t worry (which roughly translates in: “Worry! All hope is lost!”)
Man, between LMS, Junon and Luffaren‘s secret project we are getting ridiculous at how long we take to not release a map… on the other hand, you have Enviolinador.

Enviolinador, as many of you should have noticed, has released lots of maps lately, the guy is a mapping machine and doesn’t slack at all. His most recent map and version is ZE_Boredom_v418216 (LINK) which has big chances of being the final, stable, working and balanced version, so update your servers to it if you haven’t. The first stages are sightly easier (so hopefully no more 0-14) the lag in the end should be gone and some things have been fixed (like the boss delaying the “allowing zombies in” so it would stack with his next attack).
He is also about to release a new ZE_Taboo version with the contest winners on it, so stay tuned for v2. It will also include cvars (some admins may be familiar with them from his map ZE_Antartika) and an extreme mode (because Taboo wasn’t hard enough).

I also briefly talked with both Eddie and error17, which you may remember from ZE_Hypernova and ZE_Shadow_Moses respectively.
Eddie, believe it or not, is still working by time to time on a new Hypernova version that should add many things (I believe) and he keeps fighting the engine limits on faces/props.
error17, even if is now apparently following my self published How To Slack For Dummies rulebook, he assures me he still wants to release his map at some point. Will take long? Who knows? But here is a video of an early implementation of the Raven fight:

Anyway… That is it for today. Now I’m going to eat something and then will see if I go mapping some Serpentis.
I may stream it on Twitch or something (will give link if I do so, here and on the Steam Group) and see if I slack less that way.

Just a quick update, I have been in France for about 1 week, and I will probably stay here until the end of the month.
I don’t have Hammer, Steam or even time right now as I’m quite busy, but I will finish fixing Serpentis ASAP when I get back home as it was almost done.

As for what to expect of Serpentis update: both fixes and nerfs (also you have an almost complete list on the post below). It was fun for a couple of times but I didn’t intend that you needed a several hours lasting event to beat it every time; so when it becomes easier it should be doable in around the normal course map time (assuming you have enough skilled players that know what to do).
Also, when the final version is done and nothing else needs to be changed I will look into porting it to CS:GO.

On the rotting Zombie Escape hand, you will be pleased to know that both Hannibal and Luffaren were doing big progress with their respective ZE maps when I left.
Hannibal has done all the stages and was now transforming tons of pieces into props so the whole thing can compile before getting into triggering and playability; and Luffaren, even busy as he is working on making games from zero with Unity and whatnot, was still advancing a fair amount with his map.

And I don’t know about Enviolinador, but he may have released a couple of maps since I left πŸ˜›
Anyway, that is what is going on. Last Man Standing is getting done and Serpentis should be completely done (forever) within the next month; and after both Serpentis and LMS are done for, its Junon (slacking) time again.

So… More than 2 months without updating the blog… New record! πŸ™‚ Sorry for that… 😦

The first weeks I had no real news to share, then I got hired for working a couple of weeks, then I slacked a couple more playing Tabletop RPGs with friends and some computer games, then I got hired again for some days, then got sick for some others… And in the meantime I didn’t really had anything big to share because, not only was I not in contact with the other mappers but, big surprise, I have been slacking myself…

Thankfully Hannibal hasn’t been slacking, and he is right now mapping Last Man Standing as much as his free time allows and is doing some really nice progress. I’m supposed to be helping him, but haven’t done a lot so far… Let’s see if I can change that.
The map is looking good. I’m personally not a big fan of the setting he choose for it, but he is doing a great job so far and some of the areas look way cooler than what I expected.

For those of you that don’t know about LMS yet, its probably going to be Hannibal‘s last ZE map for CS:S.
The map right now is divided into 4 stages surrounding the final stage, and the things you do in those 4 stages will give you advantages on the final stand in Stage 5. Some details are not yet set in stone and may change if he sees fit, but right now you could lose 4 times in a row (1 in each stage) and still go to the final stage anyway. Then again, the chances of winning that final stage like that must be almost non existant, lacking the perks that you could have obtained in the previous stages.
The system is not fully decided yet, but right now we are thinking about some kind of vote-system at the start of the round to select what stage to do; even allowing to repeat a lost one (or a won one where you forgot to do something!) in order to try to get more bonuses for the final stage.
I will try to update the blog more frequently again and include some screenshots on the next post.

For Luffaren‘s Secret Project… Well, its advancing, or so I’m being told. Lately I haven’t seen/tested anything new, but then again what Luffaren was working on right now was a very very big area (it could easily be bigger than Minas Tirith on its own) that will include multiple stages on it; so it may be a while until it has the pieces put together for showing.
However, one of the reasons that he may have slacked a little (nothing compared to me, mind you) is that he has been fooling around with lots of things to make his own games. From Unity to Java and even basic programing… He even read and followed some pixel-art tutorials and started making his own assets for a game. I just hope he finishes his map before going head first into Indi Development.

As for Junon… Yeah, you guessed it right, slacking…
Sometimes you don’t “feel it“, and its very hard to force yourself to go into the Hammer Editor and start mapping but, quoting something I read somewhere: “You don’t wait to be inspired to write, yo write to get inspired!“, and thats as truth for writing as it is for mapping, so I will try to force myself a little more. Sure if I ever release Junon it will feel like a bad map after so much time in development… but the truth is that it doesn’t has so many hours behind (slacking and breaks surpass mapping time by a huge %).
But I believe many people are really waiting to see this map because like me, love both FF7 and how Mako Reactor plays on CS:S, even if it has its own flaws and some players got sick of overplaying it so much and nowadays everyone knows everything and the best places to use (or abuse?) all the materias and in the prefect order… πŸ˜„

I also started making my own Paranoid version (something I wanted to do since Hannibal butchered all the things I gave him for the first version, πŸ˜„) and a small map together with Enviolinador, but I will let those aside for a moment and focus on helping Hannibal with LMS and maybe mapping some Junon.

Also, a shout out to Joris Ceoen who just won 1st place on the Famous Landmarks Contest on Gamebanana with his DE_Himeji_Castle, and is now fully decided to finish his ZE Cathedral map for CS:S.
He is basically doing a revamp of his old Cathedral map for CS:GO, porting it to CS:S while improving on it in every aspect (FPS, Visuals, Gameplay…).

I would share what Enviolinador is up to right now as well, but the guy switches projects unexpectedly and sometimes releases in an eye blink; and lately he has been trying lots of different things and I’m not sure he even knows what he wants to focus on next, as he has learned lots of new fancy tricks in Hammer but is not entirely sure which ones to use and for what… Future will tell!

Well, thats all for today. And once again, sorry for not posting in such a long time. All comments are appreciated, but I’m pretty sure the blog views have been reduced by a lot with no new releases nor posts… Take care!

Slacking again…

Posted: May 13, 2013 by Kaemon in Kaemon's Rants, ZE FFVII Junon, ZE Project L

So… 1 Month since the last rant, and Junon got stuck in limbo, as I slacked again.

Sometimes its just hard to force yourself to work on a map when you don’t feel like it, and that is pretty much what happened. Sometimes you don’t even feel like playing ZE (I bet that happened to most of you at some point), and I even joined the servers a couple of times to leave after 5 minutes. Mind you, the fact that almost the same month ago, on the update that moved CS:S to VPK, the Source SDK for CS:S was broken also helped stopping the mood and the mapping.

My first work around was to map for HL2 while waiting for a fix; and I thought that maybe not being able to compile and test it on CS:S would help me mapping more and losing less time testing (and trust me, I lose a lot doing so), but the truth is that after the two first time doing so, I lost motivation.

Enviolinador told me about a work around today, but I didn’t feel like doing it at the time, but if later I feel like it, I may give it a try, or move all my textures and models to HL2 (so I can see the whole map correctly while working on Hl2) and start compiling and testing on HL2 if I really need to walk on the map by time to time.

On the good side, Luffaren‘s SDK didn’t break (in fact, it seems it broke for around half the people only) and he kept advancing on his secret ZE map. We tested it two days ago, and it was the first time I really wanted him to release it so we could play it already. So yeah, its looking good.

The special weapons and others were improved (they were really bland at first) with new sounds and particles, and I couldn’t resist spamming one of the weapons (pew pew pew!). Also, he added some of the music already, and it fits and sounds amazingly well. I asked him if we could share a video of us two fooling around with some of the items while the music was playing, but apparently the music would give away what the map is based upon (as he already mentioned the map is based on something) so we didn’t.

He is almost done with what I believe is the 3rd stage (out of 12-15), but every time it takes less time for him to progress as he gets more (and more polished) prefabs, triggers and logics that are later used equally amongst all the stages. At one point testing he spawned many trees, rocks and even water sources to spice up the stage; and it did look really good. He wants many pieces of the stages to spawn randomly to give the map more replay value and make it sightly different from round to round, forcing people to react to what they see that round (from statics like rocks and trees to traps and enemy NPCs are included in the mix) rather than memorizing when and where everything is and occurs.

I guess I could convince him to share some of the latest screenshots, will edit the post later (or include them in the next one) if he agrees and provides.

Wish me luck for getting in the mapping mood again >_<

Here we are once more.

For those of you that didn’t know (or remember), Luffaren, creator of Predator Ultimate and 60% guilty of that mess of a map that we call Serpentis (a map I will try to get into fixing after releasing Junon), has been working for a long time in a new ZE map.
So far he doesn’t want to reveal yet what it will be about (to avoid hype and to surprise people, I guess), but he is working hard on the map and spending lots of time in Hammer making it become a reality.

Luffaren is aiming for 15 stages; it could end being less or more than that… but so far he thinks that the map will have around 15 stages in total. Those stages will follow a progressive pattern, similar to Minas Tirith, where you start the next stage were you finished the previous one; so you can already figure out its going to be quite a journey. πŸ˜„

What our fellow mapper has done so far is pretty much the 2 first stages and all the systems that he will be using within the map. Now that all his systems are done (he put a lot of time and effort on those) he basically “only” needs to do the remaining stages and adapt the systems to them… But you may be asking yourself “What does he mean by systems?“. Well… What we refer as systems are basically all (or most) of the entities that will be within the map. Those include things like Human Items, Zombie Powerups, Environmental Traps, Dynamic Objects, Boss Engines, etc…
Luffaren is not only attempting to make a huge map with lots of things (those 15 stages will probably have 15 different bosses) but he is also trying to make the map as dynamic as possible. For example: he won’t be adding static trees, but instead he will dynamically spawn trees that he made himself. Those will spawn in a pseudo-random fashion (they won’t be always in the same places) and they can be cut down or burn down, depending of what special items you use on them.
All this also goes for many other things, including environmental traps that can not only hurt humans and zombies… but also hostile NPCs that will be present as part of the map.

This “forest” was spawned out of nowhere. The “real map” doesn’t has any trees (nor traps) in there.

The same way that the trees in a forest can change places, same goes for many things… Traps, hold positions, NPCs… Luffaren is really trying to make the map as dynamic and changing as possible to make it feel sightly different between plays in an attempt to make people take longer to get “bored” of it.

And, forgetting about the “dynamic” part of the entities; the way he made them, all prepared to move and spawn were (and when) needed, allowed Luffa to dodge the famous and devious entity limitations of the Source engine, which is also a big reason why he had to make those “systems”. They include also (for example) all that is needed for the bosses: the moving and targeting system, the HP Bars, their different attacks, being able to Critical-Hit them with head shots, etc… Everything made in a really cheap and reusable way, so all bosses pretty much end sharing most of their entities as a common template.

And about the stages… If you are really worried about them being too much (not everyone wants to extend a map for 3 hours); we are thinking about possible methods/ways to use save points; allowing servers to save some progress between playthrough; like every 5 stages (for example). So, if this was the case, after beating Stage 5-9, it would get saved so next time the map would start directly on stage 5 instead of 1… Then again, this is just an example of the many possibilities we are looking for to avoid the need to extend for hours to complete the map.

I personally saw and played the 2 first stages, and even if they still need some polishing, they are looking good… But mostly because both of them have “special events” that are like nothing seen before on ZE; and those “events” have nothing to do which each other… And Luffaren will try to add even more unique events in the rest of the stages. I’m not sure how the map will play as a Zombie Escape map, but so far it sure its looking as a hell of an adventure.
(If we don’t mind the ugly home-made models for bosses and NPCs, XD)