ze_chandrila - Devlog


May 22, 2017
I'd figure I would start to write up a devlog of ze_chandrila, my thoughts during development as keeping a thread open for suggestions for the map.


What is ze_chandrila?
ze_chandrila is a zombie escape map (duh!) , a recreation of a specific level from the game Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy developed by Raven Software and published by LucasArts. During the mission your objective as Jaden Korr (the protagonist in the game) is to seal the tomb of the Third Barsen'thor due to the tomb being infiltrated by the Disciples of Ragnos, to stop them from siphoning force energy from the tomb.

That's it really.

What is the goal of the map?
As I've stated above the goal is to seal the tomb, get from point A to point B and complete your assignment.
That's the gameplay goal

The actual goal/s for me, the mapper, is/are quite different:

The goal for me is to recreate the level from JK:A as it is in the game, visually and atmospherically. I do not wish to alter anything of the baselayout, as it has occured to me (through playtesting on the server) that the base layout is fine as it is for a ze map.

Another goal is to take what is given, and build upon that. To use the layout as I see fit, an example of this is the following; in the ze map there is a puzzle room where you have to rotate pillars to align in a correct way to proceed the map. In the original game however, it's different. There are no pillars to turn, the only puzzle that exists in that room is that you have to use force push on the door to open. After you've killed the NPC's of course.

Thanks to Moltard, that room is now a puzzle. That room is also well placed since it's at the end of the first half of the map. People suggested that I use the other doors in the room as entrances for other stages and while I liked the idea of using different routes to get to the end goal. I didn't want to change the end goal since it would stray too far away from the goal of the level which this is based upon.

So I decided to take the best of both worlds, use the doors as entrances to alternative routes to the end goal. Using a simple logic_case and pickrandom for this. Similar to what FreeZe did for ze_potc. I got the three doors, now it's time to use them.

So, in the end. You there will be three routes picked at random, all convening at the same spot. The goal is to seal the tomb, nothing else.

The map is not supposed to be hardcore, there I said it. It will never feature a plethora of special items and Two steps from hell music. That is not what the map is supposed to be, the ultimate goal for the map itself (not the gameplay goal) is to be a map you can load up during low population hours and have a fun time, as well as during high-pop hours and it'll be equally challenging and fun.

The core idea of how I will achieve this is by following a simple dramatugical curve:

Drama kids, shit's crazy yo.

Will there be another stage?
yes, there will be. Reaching it however will be a bit unorthodox. Remember, the immediate goal is to seal the tomb. The ultimate goal however is what I need suggestions for:

With that said:
What would you like to see from the second stage?


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Update #1

Way 2 was recently finished, the version seen in the video above is not the most recent one. Nevermind that the recording is scuffed, honestly I could not care less about recording it properly at 10pm.

Way 2 Recollection:
Where way 1 (the one that has already been tested) is a mix of both jumping and running (and the crazy fast bhopping). Way 2 is it's more calculating brother. It's more jump heavy than it's fine mix counterpart. And while way 1 was more open and has more stuff going on in the background, way 2 is more claustrophobic.

Thematically, this way should not even exist. It's not in the original game, so this is one of my additions. It takes place is a more desolate place of the tomb, in fact, it's collapsing. In the video, there's a cave in. That effect is 100% faked if it was not obvious. There's no good way to simulate a cave collapsing in source with any cheap methods, and I dont want to spend time figuring out how to make it look good with physboxes.

So I faked it, it's all smoke and mirrors. All I do is trigger a env_shake and a sound of collapsing rocks, and as you pass around the corner you see a func_detail collapse with some smoke. The effect works, for the most part. But most importantly it's cheap to render. If it's not obvious performance is one of the pillars when making this map. My goal is for the average player to reach at least 50 frames per second with 64 active players. It's not an easy feat. But if there's a will there's a way.

I personally reach 120 fps with 64 players on the map, one area in particular is the villain in this case. And that is the spawn, which will be reworked for the next available version.

Way 3 (p)reproduction
While way 1 is the balanced brother and way 2 is the more calculated brother. Way 3 is the ADHD adrenaline fueled jackass. This way will have one goal, get to the end as fast as you can. Fail even once and you are dead, there is no room for error. Unfortunately I dont have anything to show yet (I do not wish to show people _dev textures).

In a way, I tried to recapture the verticality aspect of way 1 in way 2. Now it's time for way 3 to steal it's brothers speed.

The spawn retardation
In the first playtested version the spawn was a clusterfuck, half the team got wiped before the teleport. In the current version it's more balanced, instead of zombies having 4 seconds and a smaller area to infect humans, they have now 2 seconds and a larger area to infect in.

This caused a problem, since I added a smaller room next to the spawn area with one entrance. If humans enter that area and defend it, there is no way for zombies to enter.

Enter, the solution for balance;

Has anyone played Republic Commando? If you haven't you're missing out.
In the intro to the first mission in that game you approach the battlefield in a LAAT. As always, when you are a main character and there is another helicopter/plane/gunship in the background of an intro, the one in the background get's shot down.

How would I replicate that? Well, I'll take inspiration from ze_Jurassic_park_story. But instead of the players spawning in cages like a bunch of raptors. You'll spawn in a gunship headed to your location. Ofc, there's gonna be multiple gunships, 8 in fact. So you'll have 8 spawns in each, 4 ct's and 4 t's.

This means that I will also have to recreate the whole spawn. While the old system teleported you right into the action down a shaft. The new one will have a small build up, it's not a new stage. It's just an extension of the first one. You'll spawn outside the tomb (which is on an island). Waves crashing against the rocks, stormy weather. Much like ze_serpentis_temple has a superb atmospheric intro (seriously, it's fucking amazing), this one will too.

Enter, stage 2
Stage two will feature will be more of what you are used to. Corridors, holds, a bossfight and a final escape back to your gunships. If you ask of me to add lasers I will go nuclear on your ass (fuck lasers).

Reaching it however, is not by a win. I will keep this secret, but if you have read the #mapping channel you might have gotten a hint of how you will reach it. Using this new system Moltard made for me (big round of applause!), I will make sure that this map can have a stage 2, while still keeping the classic ZE feel we all grew up with (at least us over the age of 20).

It's a bait and switch. Deal with it.

Update #2 - The !ah update:

Not much has happened since the last update, but enough has been updated that I feel that I need to write an update. As a way for me to keep this organized and not lose my mind.

Way 2 Reconstruction:

Way 2 has been updated slightly, it's now not as fast and takes a longer time to complete. It also requires a bit more accurate jumps, it's been properly clipped so there a no skips.

In my private playtests I noticed that the thing was that way 2 was too easy to complete. By making some the jumps longer I can trim more people. Another thing is that there is also just the one teleport during the whole thing, if you fall down you die. Simple as that.

The Spawn
The spawn has now been updated, while not everything is there yet (the boxes disguised as gunships) there's still enough substance to make it interesting. The new area gives the map a bit more atmosphere by being the only outside area in the map, even though it's quite short. I expect this new area to be completed by tomorrow evening, it should add a minimum of 2 minutes of playtime to stage 1.

You can expect rain, thunderbolts and lightning (very very frightening) in the spawn area, and a small glimpse of the boss in stage 2 (he'll only be around for .1 seconds, he got other stuff to do).

The boss:
"He is a wound in the Force, more presence than flesh, and in his wake life dies… sacrificing itself to his hunger."

Honestly, I think I can make you shit your pants with this one.
He should, provide a healthy yet fair challenge to you. This coupled with the stuff you have to do to even reach stage 2 should make this a tough ordeal.

You know what makes the difference between a good boss and a bad one?


Currently the rain splashes on the ground is not a seamless effect, there's a small edge on the props, moving it closer to the ground will solve this issue.
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Update #3 - Oh my god what the fuck is happening

When it comes to more content to the map not much has been added. The map doesn't allow me to continue working on it, whenever I add something new a brush becomes corrupt and I have to identify which and replace it.

Fucking shit.

However there are still some things I want to cover in this update to the devlog.

The spawn conundrum
What makes a good spawn? Spawns are more than where you just spawn it's the intro to your map. In the first public version of Chandrila I just had a room, it later turned into a 1 minute walk and small hold. While none of these followed my original plan of culling a part of the players from the start they worked good enough.

A spawn is more than just a spawn, it's critical to grab the players attention within 30 seconds as to not lose their attention. It's a simple rhetoric trick. Give them an objective and they will follow. It's not enough to just say their objective you also have to show it. The current spawn in the public version gave a bit more of an introduction to the level. But not as much as I wanted, I wanted the players to feel a certain atmosphere. The only maps that I can think of that give this sense of atmosphere is ze_serpentis_temple and ze_infiltration, why?

Because they set up the objective as a huge structure in front of you while playing eerie music. It should be logical that I'd do the same.
And that's what I did, while I want to show you what the new spawn looks like I still have to find those nasty corrupting brushes and cull them.

Way 3
Way 3 is on it's way. It's not ready to be shown yet (it's still in just a blockout phase), I can however show you the soundtrack that it will have:

I think that this particular piece of music will give the players a sense of stress and haste that the other paths wont. I will edit the track to cut out the slower parts so it'll turn into a constant rise of orchestal swelling.

Here's my thinking:
Way 1: is a mix of both running and acrobatics (??), thus why I gave it the Rancor Pit score from ROTJ. It's both bombastic and stressing.
Way 2: is not as fast as it's brother and focuses more on acrobatics (??) and that's why I gave it the Asteroid Field from ESB, it's bombastic rather than stressing.
Way 3: will be the fastest one and focuses a lot on running and bhopping, thus why I gave it Hyperspace also from ESB, it's more stressing than anything else. It gives a sense of speed (hence the name Hyperspace).

Stage 2

As I've said before, there will be a stage 2 but the way you reach it will be rather unorthodox. You will be required to win stage 1 three times in a row. If you expected a linear progression then you're out of your mind. I'm not in the queue of having Chandrila be played for 14 minutes, you're gonna have to commit to clear the map.

The map is winnable three times in a row, at least in theory. You'll just have to get used to it. As I've mentioned before; it's a bait and switch. Deal with it.

The gameplay of stage 2 however should be more like the modern ze community is more used to. You got your running, your defense, your boss and your escape and pay-off. The details of this will currently be kept secret because I'll have to do a lot of RnD on how to mape the boss and escape to feel good
If the boss and escape doesn't feel good then there's no pay-off, and if there's no pay-off then I have failed as a level designer.

Why does updates comes much slower now?
The reason to why I haven't spend much time developing the map currently I because.. I spend a lot of time at work, currently we are nearing release of our product and I'm at the office from 09.00 to 00.00 most days. Whenever I get home I dont want to spend doing the exact same shit (within variation) as I do at work.
Euch. No wonder I consume vodka like it's water.

Anyway, that's it for this update. There's nothing to show, just words and what-not.
Update #4 - The return of instant-action

Now, what was the biggest difference to the map before a015? it was just a spawn room and a teleport to the level, it added 20 seconds to the 5ish minute gameplay of the map.

After a015? it had a small intro sequence which added 1,5 minutes to the duration of the round. Something that needs to be trimmed in order to keep the rounds short. Because.. most likely you're going to play the first stage plenty of times before you're allowed to continue to stage 2. In fact, you need to win stage 1 three times in a row to reach it. So dropping an into sequence and bringing it back to instant action is what I'm going to do.

It's better for the map if I spend more time defining the actual playable area rather than a slow buildup to the map. If you're dropped instantly into the action you get a tense feeling. I want the map to rip you into it, the slow intro sequence didn't allow for ripping. It was more of a gentle tug.

So, what is removed?

The new spawn are is purged, sad tho. Since it looked quite nice (and had a nice soundtrack). It allowed me a build up. But.. there's a certain thing called kill your babies in professional game-dev circles. Even if you spend hours and hours on something, if it's not fun. Kill it.

So what will I do instead of the build up?
Surprise surprise.. I'll add a third stage. And it's gonna make you wet.

That's about it for this update, nothing new on stage 2 or the boss. I want to finish stage 1 before I start building that (also because I''m gonna need to animate the most badass villian to ever exist).
Update #5 - Cunts

How's it going?


A new challenger approaches!

T-junc limit is fucking this up for me. Even though I have spent time making sure that barely any func_details touch the damn world geometry it doesn't let me through.

I will probably off myself before I start fixing it piece by piece. Propper is an option yes, should probably investigate that before I seek salvation in a 9mm to the temple. Otherwise I'll just have to use -notjunc and live with the shimmering. And too be honest, I dont even notice a difference.

So what does this mean?
Nothing really, I can live with -notjunc until it proves to be a bigger issue. I'll just have to build the second stage differently.
Yeah it's back to two stages now, but I have an evil masterplan to make the map much harder that what it really it.

Introducing: Fuck you, I'm taking control from you.

Again, I've mentioned it before, you'll have to win the first stage three times in a row to get to the second stage. Luckily for you, I'm altering the deal (pray I dont alter it any further):

On the normal difficulty (henceforth referred to as Jedi Knight/JK ), you'll play the first stage and then move on to the second stage like you normally would. You then get to the harder difficulty (henceforth referred to as Jedi Master/JM). Here is when you need to beat the first stage three times** to get to stage 2 (or to get a chance stage 2, it's up for debate). Although Stage 2 is quite different this time around. There's a second boss and you'll be playing an escort mission.

**Each way on stage 1 is only picked once this time around

You're gonna have to escort the players with human items on this stage (three in fact). If they all die you lose. Only one need to survive however.
Beware that the second boss will focus players with items (though not as a regular boss, you'll see).

This is how I make the map much harder, instead of bumping up numbers and removing some boxes at holds I'll force you to play as a team. I'm
taking control from you as a player but giving you control as a team. How will that work out? No fucking idea..

Way 3
I dont want to show anything but it's reminescent of PS2 era platformers in terms of gameplay. Shouldn't be too hard, it's perfectly timed with the other ways as well.

The hardest enemy is never what you expect
Are you serious?

Is this:

The hardest area on the map?
This is the area where the biggest trim happens each round. People are too fucking dense to jump up from the railing instead of the platform to reach the top of the door. Are you fucking serious? It's a fucking wonder some of you are allowed in traffic. Do you wear a helmet when you sit in the couch watching Grey's Anatomy or what?

I swear some of the players are absolute planks.

--rant over

But dont worry!

I added boxes for you amobae.

So when can we expect this?
No clue, you can expect a new version of the map (b01) before years end. This will only include the finished first stage and after some fixes (if issues arise) will be a stable version of the map. Which will be ready to go on rotation.

That's.. pretty much it.
People are too fucking dense to jump up from the railing instead of the platform to reach the top of the door. Are you fucking serious? It's a fucking wonder some of you are allowed in traffic. Do you wear a helmet when you sit in the couch watching Grey's Anatomy or what?