I would like to divide today’s rant into the three topics listed in the title. Sorry in advance for the long rant and lack of images. I really need to “learn” to do these things shorter and in a way that takes me less time.

  • ZE Halloween House B4:

First of all, a quick mention to the fact that this map, created by Enviolinador and myself for the Gamebanana Halloween Contest, won 1st place. So that’s something to celebrate.

When we decided to make a map together for the contest we discussed many possibilities about what to make, and we finally settled with something we had already attempted to do in the past: a rat-style zombie escape map that included a whole house instead of just a room.

Our original plan was to include all the rooms within the house (they are all mapped but remain empty and are not present in the compiled version as to reduce file size). These rooms would included the garage and the attic and we even wanted to add some garden and rooftop action; however due to the same reason that pushed us to finish the map (the contest’s dead line) we couldn’t finish them in time, as we rushed the whole thing in pretty much 2 weeks (and gameplay being done in pretty much the last 2 days with barely any testing).

So after the contest, we kept testing and joining servers that were trying to play it and we updated it several times accordingly, giving us what will be, for the time being, the final version: ZE_Halloween_House_b4.

DOWNLOAD from Sendspace: LINK

The map may not be perfect, and some may find the ending a little disappointing (specially when compared with some of the interesting and unexpected events within the map). However as of B4 I’m glad to say that the map is fully playable and beatable, even if it seems to be way harder than your average map.
The map consist of a single stage with a pretty linear path that takes around 10 minutes to complete. Along the way you face different holds and obstacles, some of which are quite unique. I personally think that the “trick” to beat the map is just to preserve as many humans as possible every time you move to the next area of the map. This, obviously, is common sense, but you REALLY need the numbers on your side for some of the hard holds within the map and if by the time you reach the ouija you don’t have at a 2:1 Human:Zombie ratio you may already be in trouble. So many times I have seen a 1:1 ratio or worse by the time people reached the table.

As of now, as far as I know, the map has not be beaten on a server (legally and with active zombies, that’s it). You guys let me know if you beat it and what are your thoughts about the whole experience.

Enviolinador wants to add, relatively “soon” some extra minutes of gameplay along with a more fitting ending, but as for now the map will stay on B4.
In the long term, someday in the future, neither of us would mind adding  more rooms and improve the map and make it grow, and we even discussed other possibilities like doing a “Christmas Version“, but none of that will happen anytime soon, and knowing how we mappers are, maybe never, so just enjoy B4 for what it is and don’t expect more updates anytime soon. Enjoy!

  • ZE FFVII Mako Reactor V6: Close Beta Test Sunday at 20:00 CET.

So first of all letting you guys know that the map didn’t progress too much on the past weeks. First I was busy making Halloween House for the contest, and later I kept playing it so I could spot its flaws and fix them, and that took longer than expected (around 2 weeks of playing and tweaking) but at least is now fully functional.

So now I’m back at mapping Mako V6full-time” (when I’m actually mapping).
I can’t believe how many times I have underestimated how much was left to do… When I think I really wanted to push for a release in April >_<

Anyway, I really want to test the map again with a B05 version, even if the map hasn’t changed that much since B04. In part to get myself into the mood of mapping it again, but also because last test was kinda rushed and just invited the Beta Testers that happened to be online at the exact moment I decided to test… So this time I decided to plan it in advance so more of the designed testers can make it and so we can check if everything works fine when trying to play the map normally (rather than just checking it).

Saddly for many of you, this test will still be considered “Close-Beta”, so I will only invite the people I have labeled as “Beta Testers” (most of them know who they are). But I hope for it to be the last or previous to last of these close-test before release, so the ending is getting close… Cross fingers?

Anyway, the test will happen (if everything goes according to plan) this Sunday at 20:00 (8 PM) CET on Noctali‘s server. Not sure how long it will last, but should be at least a couple of hours.

  • My hard drive is dying!

So not long ago my computer started to suffer some random freezes by time to time and wasn’t sure what was causing them, but after checking the symptoms, talking to some people and some warning messages from the computer itself it seems to be a hard drive.

So far is not too serious and I can keep using my computer with no big problems most of the time. The most notables issue is small and not too frequent freezes, but they had become really annoying while working on CS:GO SDK for doing Halloween House and it takes me several long minutes to join a CS:GO server (and then I’m just zombie meat for several minutes until the long random freezes decide to stop).

However, the freezes are way shorter and less frequent when mapping for CS:S and playing CS:S itself (is almost unnoticeable when playing) so hopefully I will be able to finish Mako V6 before I’m forced to change my hard drive as it would be a real pain in the ass for me to have to set again all the tools I need, like 3DS Max, Propper and simple things like textures, models and audio files..

But don’t worry too much, as I already made security copies of the latest Junon and Mako files just in case! And yes, even if Junon hasn’t advanced an inch for over a year its something I would still want to come back to sometime after I’m done with Mako V6.


ZE Halloween House – RELEASED!

Posted: November 1, 2015 by Kaemon in Map Update, ZE Hallowen House

As mentioned the other day, Enviolinador and myself were working on a map for a Gamebanana Contest. The only rule of the contest was that the maps had to be Halloween-Themed; and since yesterday was the deadline, we had to release it no matter what. So here I present you, ZE Hallowen House! (Only for CS:GO).

The entrance to the house, with the customary Halloween decorative pumpkins.

The entrance to the house, with the customary Halloween decorative pumpkins.


Just like that other time I did another map for a contest (MG Serpentis Temple along with Luffaren) we rushed most of the map on the last week, and we worked non-stop the past couple days to have it completed and working… We ended up exhausted and we just barely made it to the deadline. But I think it was worth it!

Some minutes after releasing it, the guys at GFL were kind enough to upload and play it and it was a blast of fun (at least for us mappers) to watch people playing it for the first time. Some issues with the map that were hard or impossible to check on singleplayer (specially when you don’t have time because you are still compiling minutes before the deadline ends) were spotted, and we may release a more playable version maybe as soon as tonight, but the map worked pretty well.

The main issues that are forcing us to do a quick fix are: players being able to skip 2 holds by going through an area that should kill everyone (but some manage to survive) and some client crashes. We are not sure what the cause of the crashes is, but the error line is: “CUtILinkedList overflow! (exahusted index range)“. Googling it however doesn’t seem to help a lot, since there are too many different answers and even promises of Valve fixing it since as early as 2009.

I hope we keep improving this map in the future, adding more rooms, more paths, polishing and improving it; specially if people seem to like the idea. I also suggested Enviolinador we could switch some Halloween decorations with Christmas ones and release again in a couple of months… But we make no promises.

By the way, even if I still prefer CS:S myself, I won’t be porting it anytime soon. I hope to do so in the future after many versions, when the map has become bigger and its on a more polished status. I don’t feel like porting every time we add something or work on two versions at the same time.

Anyway… Enjoy the map! (or wait for the “quick fix” version).

Sorry once more for not posting more often. But I have been mapping! Promise!

So, recently I have noticed (and I’m sure many of you as well) and increasing number of people yelling others to “shoot the shoulders” when facing Bahamut on Mako Reactor for CS:S… And you know what? The have a point. This wave of shoulder-shooters pretty much started after I shared with some Steam contacts a couple of screenshots showcasing what was a new discovery to me: Bahamut‘s physical body (the one taking the hits) is very different from the visual one… I was working on Mako Reactor V6 when I decided I wanted to improve Bahamut‘s animations, and as soon as I started working with the model I noticed this weird physics build:

The visuals are in blue, the physics in red. As you can see, most of the body can't even be hit.

The visuals are in blue, the physics in red.
As you can see, most of the body can’t even be hit.

Notice how the “shoulders” is not really the most accurate description of where you should shoot, as your real target should be the biggest hitboxes that are located sightly outwards from the shoulders, in front of the small wings. Those hitboxes, before the physics got broken on him, used to belong to the bigger wings.

After seeing the weird physics, what happened became obvious to me: when working with the model for the first time, so long time ago, a less experienced Hannibal scaled the model up on 3D Studio Max (instead of using a “$scale” line on the .qc file) and forgot to scale the physical mesh when he did so. Still attached to the same bones they always were, the smaller (relatively) physic parts had to spread out and lots of “holes” appeared, making most of the bullets just fly through the model. This has been the case since the very first version of Mako Reactor.

This however explains a couple things that I couldn’t figure out why happened the way they did:

– The DPS Metter not working properly, not even in single-player.
– The so called “Missing Bullets” as the number of players increases, which I always assumed was a limit on how many bullets the engine can count per second.
– Why it was initially so hard to balance Bahamut‘s HP (it seemed too easy to kill one round and the next they couldn’t kill it with everyone shooting?).
– Why every time I was asked about Bahamut‘s HP values by others mappers doing bosses they reported that was way too low (as Bahamut‘s 150 hits per player is more like 450 when you take into account the shoot-able area).

So far I fixed this issue for Mako V6 by just using a big box on top of him (like the Red Combine Dropship already does), which is better for both FPS and Lag, but now you won’t see bullet sparks on impact. Maybe I may look into giving him a proper physical body AFTER the V6 release, but won’t bother with it before.

And talking about V6 release… I still don’t know when it will be done, but we tested V6_B04 the other day and was looking really good and not to have too many things broken or left to do. I’m even thinking about releasing the first version before finishing the new animations for Bahamut and include them later in the V6.1, a version I’m sure will be needed as something always escapes the tests.

That said… I’m not working much on Mako this week as Enviolinador convinced me to do a map with him for Gamebanana‘s Halloween Contest. Apparently, just like the time I did the same with Luffaren (resulting on MG Serpentis Temple) we are pretty much rushing most of the map this last week, so it won’t be as complete/polished as we would like, but at least it will be playable and its release can’t be delayed. This time is a ZE map and will be released only for CS:GO at first. If we continue polishing and building on top of it afterwards (like happened with Serpentis) and the map becomes really good, I will look into porting it into Source (which I still prefer myself).

So that is pretty much it. Sorry for the lack of news, but Mako is looking good (honest!), and its definitely happening sometime soon (will release, 100% guaranteed).

By the way, you can check Bahamut‘s physics yourself in-game with the command “vcollide_wireframe 1“, however it requires “sv_cheats 1” so you won’t be able to use it while playing on a normal ZE server along other people. Also, this issue is only exclusive to the CS:S versions as the CS:GO one uses different entities on top of the model to read the bullet hits.

First of all let me start saying that I’m always amazed at how poorly I estimate both how much is left to be done and how long it will take for me to do it.. But I haven’t been slacking and we are getting there! We will definitely close-beta test V6_B03 sometime this week.

So what did I do lately? Well, first of all I added back (from scratch) all the music back into the map. Its the same music (no new songs, sorry) with sightly better quality and using a new system to implement it into the map. Basically, it now eats up just a single entity (an ambient_generic) instead of one per song. The way to do this is to use a list within a mapname_level_sounds file that includes all the music; this way its gets precached (loaded and ready to use) when the map runs, otherwise, since there are no entities using the songs, they wouldn’t load.
Worth mentioning too that I looked for all the song names (as some didn’t have any) and double checked that they matched, as Hannibal’s music list included in V5.3 is outdated and doesn’t list all of the songs. I also added back the music that got removed when the easy difficulty disappeared.
Even with help this took me a little longer than it should since I never felt like “starting all the work right now“, but now its done and that is a big step forward towards the map completion. Also, it was one of those things that you can’t really keep going back to fix and needed to be done properly from the beginning, so a lot of thought was used before even start doing it, including thinking about possible new music. But I’m not a music-guy and the songs that Maese Danielot gave to me when I suggested it, felt really weird and out of place for the map.

The music list for Mako Reactor V6.

The music list for Mako Reactor V6.

Secondly I ran into a new engine limit (to me, that’s it) that I never encountered before: MAX_MAP_TEXINFO.
So I had to check exactly what that was in order to fix the problem, and its pretty simple to understand once you know that it exist.
The limit is 12288 (quite an odd number for Source) and they are basically lines of info about textures, including things like scale, alignment, rotation, etc… So, if you have 10 walls that are all at the same scale (0.25, 0.25), same alinement (X=0, Y=0) and with the same rotation () the all would tell the engine to that they are sharing and using “texinfo number 1“. But if now you make a new wall with a different value anywhere, it would create a new texinfo. I’m not sure if Lightmap Scale affects it (I assume it doesn’t as its basically used to create a new independent texture for the shadows) but having it aligned to Face or World certainly does!
So this is a good reason to align at X=0 Y=0 your textures when you don’t care and to not forget toggling back off the Scaling Texture Lock after having to use it. Granted, I mostly reached this limit because of the quantity of shift-textured pipes around the map (that pretty much require a texinfo per face) but its always good to share this kind of knowledge. (Another solution that I will have to use is turning some of these complexly textured pipes into props).

And lastly, I’m checking ways to increase the overall map difficulty without it relaying on Bahamut nor Sephiroth, but mostly on increasing the amount of Human vs Zombie that takes place along the map. So far my current plans include increasing the zombie speed depending on the difficulty (from 100% to 125%) similarly to how they have extra life on extreme, removing some materia as difficulty increases (random one, but never Heal nor Ultima) and increasing the duration of some holds (probably also increasing them as difficulty increases).
The speed thing is already implemented (and they gain the correct speed accordingly to the difficulty after being frozen or pulled by gravity) and I’m pretty sure I will go ahead with the materia reducing (also forcing people to improvise, since they won’t always have the materia they are used to use in some area) but I’m not 100% sure about the hold time yet…
Thing is, right now, you can barely finish the map within the normal 9 minute time limit (as V6 is sightly longer than V5.3), so I’m thinking about relaying on the same plugin Harry Potter and Westersand take advantage of to increase the round time to probably 10, maybe 11 minutes. If I do this, not only would the players be allowed to “mess a little” (like forgetting to press the first hold button for 15 seconds and not being punished with not having enough time to beat the map) but I could increase the duration of some holds as difficulty increases. Any thoughts on this? I personally would have preferred not having to relay on this kind of plugin, but right now seems like the “best” solution (specially if I want to increase the time of some holds).

Anyway… That’s whats up. And now I go back to work!

Ey there everyone, it’s a me, Kaemon. I’m still alive, I came back and I’m really sorry for the long hiatus.

When I first announced the date I wanted to release Mako V6 I really meant it and I thought it would be done by then, but I overestimated how much work was still left and how fast I work myself… The problem is that then I took a “break” and I haven’t worked on it for 2 months, going back to mapping as of today.

If you want to know exactly what happened… Well, many small things piled up on top of my usual slackness. My sister (which I don’t see most years) visited, I was working on a quite physically tiring job (and temperatures of 30-40º didn’t help), most friends get holidays around these dates (and it’s summer!) so I got some IRL socializing going on, Path of Exile released Act IV (and the fact that my Hardcore Templar refused to die didn’t help to stop playing) and I also experienced that complete lack of interest in CS:S/ZE we all suffer from time to time.
But now I’m done with those things and I’m back to working on Mako V6.

I’m really sorry for having you all waiting this long and I don’t really know how to apologize about it. I just hope you guys like the final product.
Just afraid to inform you that, as mentioned earlier and unlike what some may have thought, I wasn’t working on the map while I was gone. But I’m getting right back into it right now!

Not sure right now when it will be done, but will try to make it relatively fast. We already did a close beta test before I left and worked quite well. Planning on doing a new one after fixing/adding a couple of things this week. Still a close-test as I would prefer that when the map gets exposed to most people is on a more polished and finished status.

See you soon and, again, sorry for the long wait!

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