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Discussions of approved MM1 and MM1 HD custom mansions (Mac and Windows) >> Dominator >> Impressions

Message started by Psychotronic on 24.02.2007 at 14:09:27

Title: Impressions
Post by Psychotronic on 24.02.2007 at 14:09:27
The big thread is more of an introduction/teaser conversation, so I thought there should be a thread for reviews and impressions of Dominator, now that it's got its own section of the forums.

So. I just finished the mansion with like 71% secrets and 70 minutes or so on the clock. I'll just share my first impressions, and if I think of stuff later, I'll let you know.

First off: Holy cow, this must have been a lot of work. It's crazy! Everything is different! It often feels like a totally new game. It kept the "New Game!" pleasure centers in my brain activated the whole time I was playing, and that's a testament both to the novelty of the graphics and to the level design. It was a great idea to move the player down to the moon halfway through, because it mixes up the graphics right about the time when I was getting tired of the Dominator. And keeping so many of the droids a secret until you get to the moon is fantastic. Big thumbs up for the robot hand on the title screen.

I quite liked the music. There's some upper-register stuff that could conceivably start grating on my nerves if I had to listen to it endlessly, but it established a very nice light-hearted mood at the beginning that fits with the whimsical main character, and also contrasts nicely with the more sinister tunes later on.

I almost hate to criticize the graphics, because you obviously put so much time and love into them, but what the heck. I think there's mixed success, here, not because any of the new graphics are bad, but because they don't all really seem to go together. Some tiles have detailed photoshop textures, while others are very flat, and when the two different styles try to co-exist on the same screen, I feel a little uncomfortable. And then mix the 3D shaded droids with the 2D hand-drawn droids, and all the new sprites, and it starts to get hard to look at. I got used to it as I played, but the overall impression was cluttered and chaotic. I think the individual tiles would look good, but they need to exist in a world that suits them and doesn't clash.

I think it also has something to do with your habit of cramming every screen full of as many sprites as humanly possible, and using almost no areas of solid blocks. The rooms look flimsy and junky as a result, and the tiles don't feel substantial. It's an element of your level design style, and I don't think I'm going to convince you to change it, but I really think it hurts the overall aesthetic appeal.

But again, I really liked most of the individual elements. Each unique droid enemy is charming and menacing in a cute, Midnight-Mansion-in-space way, and I never had any trouble knowing when I was close enough to get killed by one (which is very, very important when you're switching out sprites). The AT-ATs on the moon are brilliant. Brilliant. Except they need their own sound. There's got to be an AT-AT-ish sound (or ED209 from Robocop -ish) available somewhere. Anyway, the backgrounds are awesome, to the point where I didn't even notice them at first, they looked so natural. And then I climbed down into a secret room under the Dominator where I could see the stars, and I just thought: wow. This is cool.

The biggest problem I had, which is the same problem I had in TOTOMBS, is that so many of the walls that look perfectly solid can be walked through. It makes for some decent puzzles, and it kept me alert, but I got so that I was constantly irritated at having to test every wall. I shouldn't have to test every wall, because Jack (excuse me - JAC) should be able to tell at a glance what is solid and what is not. There's a clog of insubstantial ropes here and there that cause similar problems. The game is simply more fun when I can tell right away what I can touch and what I can't, so I'm not jumping against walls inanely when I could be exploring and solving puzzles and jumping over droids.

Oh, and before I forget: PUT POLES IN LAYER FOUR! I could have easily flown off to the side and died about ninety times on my trip down to the moon.

But the level design overall was very good. There's a nice mixture of linear sections with more open-ended areas, and I really felt like I was exploring a huge space station a lot of the time. In fact, the level design was good enough so that I forgot about it for most of the time and just enjoyed the game, which is a very good place to be. I don't quite understand using multi-color keys to open multi-color doors, since that's not what they're for at all, but a lot of people are doing that these days and I don't know how to stop it from happening. I often accumulated keys when I had no idea what door they would go to, but I never found myself without a key that I needed for long, so that wasn't a problem either. Finished it on my first playthrough, which I would say puts the difficulty at a solid Easy/Normal. There's a couple of rooms that killed me pointlessly several times, but I didn't play with Debug Mode on, so I couldn't tell you the room numbers. I'm attaching the movie of my run, so with any luck, you can see them.

Despite the criticisms, I really enjoyed playing through the mansion. And again, I can appreciate the insane amount of work you put into it. I hope somebody uses the tile set to compose their own mansion, because it would be very nice to see JAC's world expanded even more.
http://www.actionsoft.com/forums/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?action=downloadfile;file=Dominator_Movie.zip (28 KB | )

Title: Re: Impressions
Post by joeb on 24.02.2007 at 15:51:57
Thank you for the excellent critique. It definitely was the kind of detailed description that can be used as a guideline for further projects. What's really interesting is how well it touches on just about everything I had questions on and possible solution to the weaknesses. It will only help to inspire us to continue on down this new road of Midnight Mansion.

Matt & Joe

Title: Re: Impressions
Post by Fisch68 on 24.02.2007 at 19:28:10
Matt & Joe

the only work I can think off right now is WOW!!!!!  :)

Very impressive, I never would have thought that a bit of change in graphics & sound can change this game so much. It must have
been a lot of work changing all the details...




Title: Re: Impressions
Post by Wingy on 24.02.2007 at 20:07:24
They didn't change everything, I noticed some blocks (Like the silver blocks, not the gold/silver but the brick) they were still the same!  ;)

Title: Re: Impressions
Post by Psychotronic on 25.02.2007 at 01:14:52
Oh. I should also mention that I got used to controlling JAC almost instantly. I might have jumped a little too late the first time I tried to avoid a blue former-snake droid, but I adjusted quickly. I think his center of gravity when he's walking is a little forward from Jack's, so I just instinctively started jumping a fraction of a somethingth earlier. I never had any issues with collision detection. The jet shoes thing really works well, too. The sound and the animation on JAC's jumps made it feel like a new game more than anything else, I think.

Title: Re: Impressions
Post by Toybox on 25.02.2007 at 01:42:38
Yes, it's quite funny that the change in graphics wasn't just a change in graphics, but also in playing feeling... Well done Matt & Joe!

BTW who made the music? One of them had some Jean Michel Jarre-y feel at some point  :D

Title: Re: Impressions
Post by joeb on 25.02.2007 at 03:30:46
Thanks guys!

Matt & I did the music. I was a 3rd seat allstate cornet player and played with a lot of bar bands on bass guitar and have always had a great love for music, just wasn't quite good (or lucky) enough to make a career out of it. Matt has started having general music classes in school so I've trying to teach him how to read music. First thing we did in detail was Stars & Stripes Forever and the next thing I knew he was picking loops out of Garageband and putting them together so I figured what the heck, lets do some music for Dominator. There is one theme in there that's based on an old TV show. I leave it to the couch potatoes out there to figure which one.

Matt & Joe

Title: Re: Impressions
Post by Wingy on 25.02.2007 at 03:35:59
My music that I made so far for Ted... doesn't look too good compared to yours...  :'( I need a pro!

Title: Re: Impressions
Post by joeb on 25.02.2007 at 04:03:08
Like with everything in life you only get better by keeping at it! Don't give up Wingy, you'll get there.

2 more things:

1. The general feedback I've gotten on Dominator is that it's easy/normal. Matt wants to put together a Star Destroyer episode which since we already have the graphics in place shouldn't take that long so look forward to the upcoming release of Executor.

2. While Matt is tied up laying out the super star destroyer I am starting graphics work on the female MM tentatively titled Search for Jack. I've pretty much finished the Jill character but I need opinions on the hair. Red or Brown?

Thanks all,

Joe B
jills.jpg (44 KB | )

Title: Re: Impressions
Post by brell on 26.02.2007 at 06:39:14
Got back home this evening, going to bed soon but tried Dominator first.  My first impression:  WOW!  As Psychotronic said, one must first get the jumping right but apart from that it seems to me a plain sailing.

Title: Re: Impressions
Post by Semi-Native on 06.03.2007 at 06:39:06
Wow! Awesome job, guys, that was incredible. I started it yesterday and just finished, but with only 57% secrets. But that's okay, I don't mind going through again to do better.

Thanks a lot for such a great experience.

[smiley=thumbsup.gif] [smiley=2vrolijk_08.gif] [smiley=grin.gif] [smiley=shocked.gif] [smiley=vrolijk_26.gif]

Title: Re: Impressions
Post by Missy on 31.08.2008 at 08:05:04

Psychotronic wrote on 24.02.2007 at 14:09:27:
I hope somebody uses the tile set to compose their own mansion, because it would be very nice to see JAC's world expanded even more.

Hi, I tried to play the above link for dominator movie, but it won't play.  
I downloaded it.
Put the file into the custom mansions folder
I clicked play movie
But a pop up appears telling me that it Dominator could not be found.  Pls make sure this mansion is inside the CM folder & try again.

Do you think that the link is damaged by the move to the new topic section that is under construction or am I doing something wrong?

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