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Message started by Freddy on 10.05.2022 at 22:27:29

Title: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 10.05.2022 at 22:27:29
BLOG (part 1)


2022 may 11th

Many many years ago I started playing Midnight Mansion. The pre-Intel period. In those days I was already active on the first boards and around that time I made my first steps with the mansion builder, which resulted in a project that I called Works in Progress. Several parts of it were used in my House of Wonders. A mansion that absolutely needs a serious renovation. What brings me to my first issue: I do not have access anymore to any of the MM-programs.
:'(

Together with brell I became administrator of the current boards (version YaBB 2.2) at the time of the release around Christmas 2006. I am not sure, but I think that it was earlier that year that I released my Midnight Mazes and Monsters. This custom mansion was a huge monster and because it was so big, no wonder that it also contained some good parts.
;)

In January 2010 I created my last mansion: The 7th Key. It was a small, quizzical mansion where Jack struggled with a backpack that wasn't large enough. It was also the period that my MM-life slowly faded away. I remember the start of HD and MM2 with its contest. But finally I did stop completely.

So what is going on right now, more than ten years after? Even without the possibility to play, fix or build mansions! That is the ...


MM1_HD_-_MM_M_001.png (112 KB | 85 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 12.05.2022 at 20:05:46
BLOG (part 2)


2022 May the 12th

Recently I was able to (re)watch a lot of MM-videos that I found on internet. Besides it gave me pleasant memories, it also made me think again about the ways of designing mansions.

To hear and see what a player is experiencing and thinking during play was extremely interesting. It made me wonder how the setup of a new mansion of mine should be. This issue is only theoretical, because I don’t have a working builder. The mansion is a virtual desire, but that doesn't need to stop me from giving it a name: Brave New World.

In this blog I like to share my thoughts about designing mansions and will add images to illustrate what I mean. Or just for fun like in my previous post.

Before even thinking of a single brick, door or ladder, I did something I never did before: dive into the roots of the game. And I found inspiration in three sources.

On the ActionSoft downloadpage I got this: Jack Malone explores mansions while avoiding traps, solving puzzles and discover secrets. The lists with the high scores taught me that there is a rang order for 1° the amount of money, 2° the used time and 3° the found secrets, but also that, first of all, Jack has to leave the mansion through the/an exit door! Last of all, Alex Diener (betatester for some of the original MM1’s), did put my attention on the importance of the thrill from playing on the edge of game over. His playing-behaviour increased once his Jack had two lives or less. And Alex also often saved saving points for later/never …
8-)

I must confess that I barely took care of that game-over-thrill. E.g. Midnight Mazes and Monsters started with a pretty large grey area where it was completely impossible to lose lives. In contrary, before Jack encountered the very first challenge he collected over $ 3.000 an could ‘start’ with 9 lives!

So here is my first conclusion for my hypothetical mansion. It must contain:
- an exit door;
- money;
- secrets;
- traps;
- puzzles;
- the thrill of game over.

If I should start building a first section right now, it would be a not complicated area on a normal level, only to documentate how the loss of Jack-lives is when betatesters are exploring it the very first time.
MM1_HD_-_HH_-_001__high_scores_.png (245 KB | 85 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 21.05.2022 at 17:54:32
BLOG (part 3)


2022 May the 21st

On our boards, and especially under General Custom Mansions Area, there is a lot of information about:
- the major importance of overall playability;
- avoiding Jack-stucks, half Jack-stucks and cheap deaths;
- taking care with the use of layer 6 etc.

Thanks, brell. I don't think I need to add something to that.
[smiley=dankk2.gif]

But there is more, so much more!

A good way of spreading rewards, especially the dollars since they generate Jack-lives. (To) empty rooms. The sometimes unpleasant speed of critters and platforms. Treasure areas. Map and sound hints!
8-)

With showing several examples I like to tell you about the different ways of designing starting rooms of mansions.

The image in part 1 of this blog is the starting room from my Midnight Mazes and Monsters. The idea was to raise doubt about first going left or right. That was wrong since the explication about the 'crumbs' only came several rooms later in one of the two directions. Besides that, if you choose the way to the crumbs first, then there is far to much backtracking to do.

It seems that in the HD-version coins give a glow, so I assume that the single hidden coin is hinted. Then that's okay. But in the not-HD-version the coin was completely invisible. Therefor I shouldn't do that anymore. The setup of this mansion is starting with a very easy area (where Jack can't lose any life). So now I have the feeling that the hidden coin (not-HD-version) isn't appropriate for that anymore.

Conclusion: without making any building mistake, the design of the first room was influenced by bad ideas.
:(

Next time I show examples coming from the original mansions.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 23.05.2022 at 02:45:31
BLOG (part 4)


2022 May the 22nd

The added images are from the first 3 rooms and one of the possible 4th-rooms from MM1 HD Knight Mansion hard.

Picture 1 shows the starting room which gives smooth play. The minor change that I should do is moving Jack’s start position to the right of the column, since the scorpion above his head is going left and very soon coming down. I prefer a start where I don’t need to bother about Jack’s life. For me it is a matter of acclimatization and ‘feeling’ the mansion.

In room 2 Jack encounters his first challenges. The easiest way is waiting till the scorpion disappears in the deep, leaving the blue bird as the only enemy to avoid.

On image 3 you see that it is forced to continue forward on the upper floor. There he had choice and climbed the vine to arrive in the room shown on picture 4.

This room exposes perfectly that Jack is really in a hard mansion! He has to think about getting the moneybag at the left and leaving in the upper right corner, while avoiding both birds.
MM1_-_HD_-_KMh_01.png (691 KB | 82 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 26.05.2022 at 17:57:23
BLOG (part 5)


2022 May the 26th


Freddy wrote on 21.05.2022 at 17:54:32:
But there is more, so much more!

A good way of spreading rewards, especially the dollars since they generate Jack-lives. (To) empty rooms. The sometimes unpleasant speed of critters and platforms. Treasure areas. Map and sound hints!

I absolutely need to add dark rooms and the number/spread of saving points to this list.

Now back to business: set-up of the starting room(s).

The most controversial start in the original mansions is, in my opinion, the one in Chateau de Medusa hard. I try to explain this with the included images that are stills from the video where Alex Diener’s Jack struggles through the first rooms of MM1 HD Chateau de Medusa hard.

Jack has to start in a flat room with only one moving skull spider at the right and the task to do a precise jump to the left (pic 1).

The video starts with Jack’s first attempt by walking to the left where he got stuck in a row of dark rooms. After a voluntary game over he started to the right where he soon found out that this way is a dead end street. With his nose against a grey door he had no other choice than turn around (pic 2).

Like in his first attempt he continued to the room at the left where is no other possibility than climbing the ladder down (pic3). Since he was there before, he now wasn’t taken by surprise and hesitated while hanging at the bottom of the ladder (pic 4). But like in all previous rooms, there was only one way to continue: falling into the deep (pic 5, 6 & 7).

Jack had a safe landing on the invisible vines; invisible because it’s a dark room. The silver coins show an odd arrow to the right, but he decided to turn to the left first. There he kicked without succes against a wall (pic 8).

The only way forward is to the right, while being careful and picking up the coins (pic 9 & 10). As soon as he entered the next room two things happened nearly together: he walked into a mess of coins and bumped against an invisible wall (pic 11 & 12). Just like with his previous attempt he couldn’t start jumping over the lava pits or doing anything else that was useful.

It is interesting to see the images from his way back to the left because all the silver coins are gone now (pic 13, 14 & 15). Especially the last image is weird because the room is completely black.

Because there is no way up in any of the dark rooms, the area to find the solution is somehow limited in size: the bottom row in four rooms. So, no panic!

At last Jack found a hidden sign with a clue to help him (pic 16).

Conclusions

The small area to the right of the starting room is a way back. Right of the closed grey door is a pressure button that should open that door (pic 2). Maybe it is only because it is a way back that these rooms are pretty easy for a hard mansion. But why a way back to the starting room? To do efforts to catch a few more coins or a shield during the fall (pic 4 & 5)? And then again the whole way back to the place where you want to continue with exploring the mansion? Maybe even more than once? Really?

There is nothing wrong with a 4-room-fall, but in a first attempt the odds are big that you get taken by suprise, fall down from the ladder and will miss some rewards. Besides that, the two money bags (pic 4 & 5) are out of reach due to gravity. That is distracting and therefore feels unfair.

The dark rooms! To avoid spoilers I will not give details, but I like to put your attention to the fact that Jack-from-the-video at first missed the sign and the second time only found it after a lot of kicking/jumping/climbing everywhere in the dark rooms. More important is that before he found the sign he hadn’t the slighest idea that there was a hint. In my opinion I think that the hint was okay because it is a hard mansion and the hint did not disappear.

However this was a wake-up call for me to be very careful with designing dark rooms and especially not to forget that coins ‘to show the way’ disappear when Jack picks them up. E.g. there are coins suggesting the presence of a ladder (pic 11 & 12). If Jack climbs that ladder, dies in the zapper beam and leaves the room to search for an other way forward, the player may forget that there was a ladder or where exactly that it was.
MM1_HD_-_CdM.png (783 KB | 77 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 05.06.2022 at 19:09:25
BLOG (part 6)


2022 June the 5th

Jack-from-the-videos also visited MM1 HD Spider Palace hard. In the starting room (pic 1) he saw that his only way out is the pole to the room below. But he also noticed that soon there will be a path to the left and one to the right.

Correction (pic 2)!
3 paths to the left and 3 to the right.
:)

I took note from the fact that this Jack chose for the most natural way of exploring: wait with using keys and first have a (brief) look in other rooms.
[smiley=thumbsup.gif]

In the next room (pic 3) he did find 2 saving points. Here Alex Diener said: “Oh, it’s a hub. Probably I use one save pedestal after the left red-door-sections and the other one after the right wing."

Further down Jack arrived in a room with 6 yellow doors and 2 levers to open the 2 closed grey doors. There Alex predicted the future. "Each red door will finally lead to 1 yellow and 1 red key. So Jack will be able to open all yellow and grey doors and will climb down the vine with a red key where he will find a new hub."

Conclusions

The set-up of MM1 HD Spider Palace hard is very very clean, in an almost clinical way. The design of these first 4 rooms is without any risk. And that is also the case for Jack, because there are no enemies, no puzzles and no traps. Easy (pic 2 & 3) and very easy (pic 1 & 4) stuff in a hard mansion.

Things to keep in mind are the moneybags and shields (pic 1 & 4) and the possibility of a secret (pic 4).

Next time I like to share my first ideas for the set-up of Brave New World.
MM1_HD_-_SP_h_A.png (553 KB | 80 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by brell on 16.06.2022 at 22:35:30
Dear Freddy,
nice to "see" you again.  Your blog is good and I think in the right category.
What type of Mac and system are you using to play/build?  I am using a VirtualBox machine where, unfortunately, MM lags a little which makes it harder to play.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 17.06.2022 at 03:39:18
Hi Brell
:)

Everything is very well, besides the fact that I don't have machinery to play and build. I would like to buy an older Mac with macosx 10.3, 10.4 or 10.5. If anyone should know from an online site please let me know.

After struggling through the original mansions again, the first thing I like to do is renovation works in my own mansions, based on my new ideas but with respect to the existing saving points, amount of secrets and money etc. And fixing mistakes, like a really horrible serial-half-Jack-stuck in Midnight Mazes and Monsters.
:o :-[

In part 7 of the blog I will give info about these ideas.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 04.07.2022 at 20:36:36
BLOG (part 7)


2022 July the 5th

First of all I have to remind the readers of my blog that Brave New World is not an existing or forthcoming mansion. It is just a collection of ideas about how a new mansion could be.

Refering to the original mansions the standard difficulties are easy, normal and hard. Because of the size of Midnight Mazes and Mansion I added very easy and very hard to them. And to be honest, I have the feeling that there also should be a difficulty degree like ‘quizzical’, probably best used in miniatures only.

But let's assume that there are only The Three Degrees.
;)

You may absolutely disagree with me, but for me, as a player, the most important element to decide if a room or a complete mansion is easy, hard or normal is the risk of losing Jack-lives. But as a designer I believe that I have to take care that (all) other elements are in balance with the previously chosen difficulty: the amount of money, the number of shields and safe pedestals, the puzzles (!!), the place of the lantern or the first backpack.

One single example of a mistake out of my own lab. In the very easy area of MM&M there was a rugsack-maze (see added pic): the maze where Jack could find his first backpack. While it was really impossible for Jack to die, the 3-room-puzzle wasn't easy at all. Room 1 had real and fake ladders, room 2 also ànd magic doors.
:-?

More complicated is the handling of secrets. It starts with the fact that, what's in a name, secrets should be secret. So a designer can't just use bricks with cracks for all secrets. On the other hand both Psychonitric and Alex mentioned me that at a certain point the fun is over when you don't have any clue, therefor get the feeling that you're playing blind and Jack has to kick, jump and duck everywhere.

I prefer not to get into details, because sooner or later I like to restore my own mansions. But saying some things more in general is of course possible.

The hint(s) for a secret may be:
- in an adjoining room;
- on the map;
- a sound (of a hidden falling moneybag, an eye ball, ...);
- the abrupt absence of music;
- in the name of the mansion.
8-)

And also: the lack of a 'normal' way out of an enclosed area.

Conclusions

Hints for secrets must be subtile. (Bricks-with-cracks feel only good in easy mansions.)
Take care that the hints are not too subtile.
:P

MM1_HD_-_MM_M_B.png (523 KB | 67 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 10.09.2022 at 22:15:28
BLOG (part 8)



2022 September the 10th

Bit by bit having the game again felt more and more important to be able to continue giving you interesting information and relevant images.

I will keep it short, because this post is not directly about designing. Previous weeks I was struggling with executing a plan to play the Midnight Mansion game on a virtual machine. Although I had a lot of help from my friend brell, without any success.

So finally I returned to my plan A: getting myself an older Mac with e.g. 'leopard' to run our game. This morning I had a promissing contact!
[smiley=lipsrsealed.gif]

I'll keep you informed.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 18.09.2022 at 18:46:53
BLOG (part 9)



2022 September the 18th

:)
I have my Midnight-Mansion-Only-Mac! That means that I could install Leopard and all MM applications.

Early this morning I enjoyed life with visiting the free parts of MM1, MM HD and MM2. And did send a mail to ActionSoft Support to receive a new registration code, because my former one seems to be out of use.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Semi-Native on 18.09.2022 at 20:38:22
Congratulations, Freddy! Good luck getting everything up and running.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 24.09.2022 at 19:24:08
BLOG (part 10)



2022 September the 24th

While I am waiting for my registration codes I like to share an image with you with the interesting question: does this room include a design mistake or only a possible playing mistake?
:-?

The room shown is number 17898 out of MM1 Falcon Manor hard. Jack may use the first sinking platform to the red key and jump to the moneybag on the yet not moving platform. There is no common way back! To continue the player needs to sacrifice a life by Jack jumping into the lava.

In the good old times, as a compromise, we called this situation a Half Jack Stuck.

However, with what I know now, designers have so many possibilities with this nice builder that I believe that there is no good reason to add this kind of 'problem' into any mansion. Imagine a 50 room mansion with a lot of Half Jack Stucks ...
:o
MM1_-FM_h_-_17898.png (77 KB | 55 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 25.09.2022 at 17:22:38
BLOG (part 11)



2022 September the 25th

I added a picture out of MM1 - Falcon Manor normal, somewhere between the save pedestals 1 and 2. In this area you see 3 poles. The middle one is the way to continue to the second save and further.

To arrive at that pole Jack may come either via the left pole or the right one. And that implicates that once Jack slipped down one of these poles, the other wing isn't visitable any more.

It makes this mansion rather unorthodox, especially for an original included mansion (not a custom one). Players in urge of a high score have to play this mansion more than once in both ways to figure out where most money is ...

In my opinion there are other and better ways of design to convince players to visit a mansion several times. One of those ways is even seen in the very same manor! One yellow  key, but two yellow doors. One door is for progress in the mansion, while the other one leads to treasure AND a yellow key to be able to continue through the other yellow door.
MM1_-_FM_n.png (54 KB | 58 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by brell on 28.09.2022 at 21:38:33
It is also impossible to visit all rooms in Nightmare Mansion in one go.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 29.09.2022 at 18:07:34
BLOG (part 12)



2022 September the 29th

Falcon Manor and Nightmare Mansion.
::)

MM1 got released with eight included mansions. In the following years some mansion bugs got detected and fixed. But, in contrary to the other six, the two mansions mentioned above were also important issues on the boards because players seemed unable to explore all rooms or to catch all keys/money/secrets during one single mansion visit.

For now, two things about that.

1. With what I remember from these two mansions is that there were severe differences between the easy, normal and hard versions. I had the feeling that the hard versions were much more polished than the others and therefor probably made first. I think that some things went wrong during the downgrading process for the easy and normal versions.

2. Without replaying the 2x3 mansions I have to take care with what I say because I haven't any idea about what things got fixed or changed since I left the 'scene'. And if there are differences between the included mansions in MM1 and MM1 HD.

Concerning MM1 HD Falcon Manor hard  I saw in a 2015-video from Alex Diener that in the left, red area it seemed possible to skip a red door. Afterwards the question raise if it was possible to skip the only blue door in the right section as well. The answer to that question is very important for being able to evaluate this mansion fairly.

About Nightmare Mansion I can recall that one of the top players from the early years (Psychotronic, I think), was very sure that everything was in reach. But about which version we were talking I really can't remember.

So, my hope is that I soon will be able to play again and give some clear answers at the appropriate board.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 30.09.2022 at 16:01:13
BLOG (part 13)



2022 September the 30th

Last night I was witness of a Jack-stuck in MM1 HD - Knight Mansion hard. But this post is not meant as the report of a designing mistake. It is an illustration of the risks while building complex rooms/areas.

On the left image Jack came from the left. Standing on the gold blocks he jumped down to the right. His only way to continue was by climbing the ladder to arrive in the room above (right image).

It seemed to be a dead end street where is only a lever that toggles the grey door below him. After returning down, even jumping into the deep didn't help. Jack reappeared on the ladder in the upper right corner of the room.
:(

Text completed on October the 2nd.

A player who is on the alert should think twice before doing a one way jump down. Since Jack came in from the room above the player could have known in advance that the only way of continuing was climbing up the ladder at the far right that most likely was leading to a forced way of return. And big troubles.

However. Although this is a hard mansion for experienced players, a lack of enough thinking ahead, may never lead to a Jack-stuck and forced aborting of the game.

Now, is the designer to blame? Of course not! The two shown rooms are part of a very large and complex area with gold/silver puzzles. Sometimes in combination with grey or other doors and 'annoying' spiders, birds and scorpions. Out of own experience I know the building of these things is, besides very fascinating, also exhausting.

Good beta testing AND (the possibility of) fixing seem the keywords to me.

Btw, an easy way to fix this Jack-stuck is just removing the upper four gold blocks from the column. Or all five, because that would make the jump back harder.
;D
MM1_HD_-_KM_h.PNG (1881 KB | 66 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 02.10.2022 at 16:52:34
BLOG (part 14)


2022 October the 2nd


Freddy wrote on 24.09.2022 at 19:24:08:
... I like to share an image with you with the interesting question: does this room include a design mistake or only a possible playing mistake?

... In the good old times, as a compromise, we called this situation a Half Jack Stuck.

However, with what I know now, designers have so many possibilities with this nice builder that I believe that there is no good reason to add this kind of 'problem' into any mansion. ...


I have the feeling that I need to clarify my point. With an added image of room 17899 out of MM1 - Falcon Manor normal.

If Jack runs to the right to pick up the $ 200 moneybag and the map, he will not be able to return to the left because all 20 skulls will be disappeared. As a player, I had never any problem with the fact that I needed to take care and jump to the right, so that enough skulls stayed there to be able to jump back.

But as a designer, and that is only my personal opinion, I should avoid that. Here, every 5th skull I should replace by a 1-tile grey sinking platform. 5th because it is the normal version; in the hard version I'll make it 6th.
:P
MM1_-_FM_n_-_17899.png (67 KB | 54 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 02.10.2022 at 17:39:56
BLOG (part 15)


2022 October the 2nd

I always found Nightmare Mansion the most intriguing one of the included mansions.


brell wrote on 28.09.2022 at 21:38:33:
It is also impossible to visit all rooms in Nightmare Mansion in one go.


Just a small introduction to explain ... the nightmare!
8-)

From left to right you see images from room 16302 in respectively the easy, normal and hard version.

In the Midnight Mansion game there is the possibility to get maps that are handy to check where you have been, to check what you probably missed, to figure out in which direction you want to continue or what to do first etc.

But taking and using maps is not obliged, only helpful. So, in the normal version you may leave the red door closed and in the hard version the purple one.

Remembering this mansion, it could be of major importance to get spare keys.
:-/

I do like to figure that out. And that is one of the many many reasons that I really want 'my game' back.
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Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 09.10.2022 at 22:13:16
BLOG (part 16)



2022 October the 9th

Jack Malone, who is becoming an addicted selfies-man, arrived at a place of interest (see pic). In room 18495 of MM1 HD - Falcon Manor easy he is standing between a pole down at the left and two red doors at the right. Since he has two red keys in his backpack the way to the right looks like the most obvious one, because there is $ 350 to pick up ànd an open way to at least one room at the right. Above that, the ladder is there to get back to the pole.

But what if Jack immediately slides down the pole with his two red keys? Surprisingly spared keys may do odd things with a mansion!!
:-/

I know that once down the pole there is a forced catch of a rainbow key and the possibility to save. Further down there is an inevitable fork with left a red door and right a blue door. Of course Jack should open the red door, saving his rainbow key for future use. But my Jack can't open this door, because there is an early exit since I still didn't receive my codes for both MM1 and MM2.
:( :'(
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Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 29.10.2022 at 23:56:23
BLOG (part 17)



2022 October the 29th

The included image shows the starting room of MM1 HD - Nightmare Mansion hard. Jack is standing aside a pole that looks like it is coming from the room above. I remember that previously this pole gave me the strong expectation that there wàs a room over there.

But that doesn't need to be. In contrary this kind of setup is maybe just perfect. After all Jack is only able to visit a mansion when there is a place where he may enter that mansion (coming from an outer world). The starting room is probably the most logical place to expose that.

In the shown room the two wooden platforms are permanently moving left and right with the same (and reasonable) speed. The upper platform has a longer distance to cover than the lower one. That means that the platforms are sometimes moving nearly together in the same direction, but sometimes not all.

So going down to the ladder deserves neatly work: 4 jumps to the different platforms and a last step to the bottom. Hard work in the hard version of this mansion.

Or is there an alternative way? How about relaxing, not hurrying, thinking and finally SPOILER ALERT *** using only the left sinking platform! ***


MM1_HD_-_NM_h_-_16099_a.png (767 KB | 49 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 30.10.2022 at 14:39:52
BLOG (part 18)



2022 October the 30th

The added picture is from the interesting room 16500 in the same mansion: MM1 HD - Nightmare Mansion hard.

The red door with the moneybag behind it did ring a very tall bell. In Jack's backpack are 3 wrong colored keys and in the large neighborhood isn't any red one.

To continue the game, I only had choice between two possibilities with a pole down (one way!). Once down, in contrary to what I thought, I could solve this puzzle. In a room there was an odd 'unfriendly' option: exchanging a shield or a life for a way back to that red door.

The room itself isn't only hard because of the red door and the small sinking platforms. Catching the left moneybag needs careful play. In that niche Jack can't duck or jump to avoid the upper blue bird. So it is a matter of timing and being fast enough.
MM1_HD_-_NM_h_-_16500.png (1121 KB | 50 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 31.10.2022 at 15:06:25
BLOG (part 19)



2022 October the 31st

See part 18 of the blog.


Freddy wrote on 30.10.2022 at 14:39:52:
... Once down, in contrary to what I thought, I could solve this puzzle. In a room there was an odd 'unfriendly' option: exchanging a shield or a life for a way back to that red door. ...


Well, well, well. How wrong was I. Not that I did lie, because my Jack really could fight his way back to that red door and open it. But afterwards there arouse new serious problems with opening colored doors. So yesterday this nightmare had no solution.

After new visits (plural!) I could 'finish' MM1 HD - Nightmare Mansion hard, what means that I arrived at a point where I need a code to proceed. See image of room 16894.

This, in my personal opinion, brilliant designed first part of the mansion is absolutely tough. What a masterclass! Especially concerning the use of (one way) poles with all their complications.
[smiley=tekst-toppie.gif]

So far, the mansion had a blue and a green area. Jack is standing right now at one of the two points where he is able to slide down a pole to the next red area.

A few important things.
1. I am pretty sure that I collected all money and found all secrets.
2. I 'saw' all rooms and visited all but one. The latter I only saw on the map.
3. Six doors I left unopened what resulted in four spare keys in the backpack. Indeed: there are more doors than keys in these first areas of the mansion!
:o

No wonder that players get in trouble. This mansion is a big invitation to revisit it.

Was my play perfect? I don't know. First of all, I know that there is an other pole where Jack can slide down to the next area and I don't have any clue if the choice between the two poles does matter. It may also be important that a purple door need to be opened to use that other pole.

Besides that I am not sure about one of the spared keys. After a closed colored door there is a room (the one I only saw on the map) with an other colored key (but absolutely sure no money). So an exchange before going to the red area may be important.

Do you understand that I am eager to figure this out?
MM1_HD_-_NM_h_-_16894.png (1095 KB | 47 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 04.11.2022 at 16:20:30
BLOG (part 20)



2022 November the 4th


Semi-Native wrote on 18.09.2022 at 20:38:22:
... Good luck getting everything up and running.


MM HD and MM2 are up and running!

[smiley=beer.gif]  [smiley=birthdays.gif] [smiley=vrolijk_26.gif]

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by brell on 04.11.2022 at 18:17:28
Congrats Freddy.  Remember, you can convert original MM1 custom mansions to MM2 custom mansions if you'd rather play them there than in the MM HD.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 04.11.2022 at 18:25:27
Thank you!

Does this converting also help me to do repairs in the MM2 builder? That would be very helpful.

And are there somewhere instructions for the converting?

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by brell on 04.11.2022 at 18:30:57

Freddy wrote on 04.11.2022 at 18:25:27:
Thank you!

Does this converting also help me to do repairs in the MM2 builder? That would be very helpful.

And are there somewhere instructions for the converting?



There are instructions in the MM2 documentation:

"If you want to convert mansions from Midnight Mansion 1 format to Midnight Mansion 2 format, first make a backup copy of your mansion, and then:

1) Start up Mansion Level Builder 2. When the "Open Mansion" dialog comes up, cancel it.
2) Drag the icon of the mansion you want to convert onto the Mansion Level Builder 2 icon.

You will be asked if you want to convert the mansion. When you convert it, its format will be permanently changed, and will no longer be able to be opened by the original game.

Note: you'll see lots of the same numbers appear in the dialog repeatedly. This doesn't mean the process is "stuck". This is normal. Conversion takes a while."

And, yes, after converting the mansion will be editable in the MM2 builder.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 04.11.2022 at 18:43:31
Wow!
[smiley=2vrolijk_08.gif]

My new MM-life is going to start.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by brell on 04.11.2022 at 18:44:39
Note that there a few (but easily solved) complications when you convert MM1 cm's to MM2 cm's.

http://www.actionsoft.com/forums/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1284917992

http://www.actionsoft.com/forums/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1660225676

There are propably more undiscovered.  I do not include strange items from MM2 suddenly appearing in the converted mansions.  They can even be funny and, anyway, can be eliminated in the builder.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 04.11.2022 at 18:58:15
Ladderjumps and lanterns. Very important issues!

Midnight Mazes and Monsters can't exist without the jumps. And I couldn't give lanterns before the very last room! Makes me think of changes.

A maze in the dark ...
;D :P

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by brell on 04.11.2022 at 19:02:12
One more thing:

You may recall that there is a tool called Rezycle that can be used to convert MM1 cm's to MM HD cm's.  This does not work for MM2 cm's as MM HD cannot play those.  Also, MM HD cm's cannot be converted to MM 2 cm's.

So the converting options are:

MM1 cm's to MM2 cm's via the MM2 level builder.  The new format will be editable in the builder.

MM1 cm's to MM HD cm's via the Rezycle app.  The new format is NOT editable.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 05.11.2022 at 17:00:35
BLOG (part 21)



2022 November the 5th

And off we are. We = Jack Malone and I.


brell wrote on 04.11.2022 at 18:30:57:
... Note: you'll see lots of the same numbers appear in the dialog repeatedly. This doesn't mean the process is "stuck". This is normal. Conversion takes a while. ...


When the mansion is MM&M, 'a while is' a euphemism. Felt like more than a half hour. But that this is possible in such an easy way!
8-)

I detected a never before noticed double problem in room 15906 of MM2 - Midnight Mazes and Monsters. I created this room before I introduced ladder jumps further down in the same mansion. That is why I never realized that here it was possible to continue with taking the moving platform upward.

First problem is that Jack may die by falling from the wooden platform, something that absolutely not was supposed to be possible in this very easy room. After a jump to the left on the conveyor belt arises the other issue: a half Jack-stuck with Jack reappearing in the upper right corner. Or when he is stubborn even to a real Jack-stuck.

So for the very first time I dived into the MM2-builder to do an easy fix: making the ladder just a little bit longer to avoid the ladder jump.

Design flaw solved!
:)
MM2_-_MM_M_-_15906.png (101 KB | 51 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 26.11.2022 at 21:02:13
BLOG (part 22)



2022 November the 26th

I am in 'deep' trouble because I don't know what to do first: play, restore MM&M, posting at my design-blog or start to do something with my Brave New World ideas. And for the time being I only have MM-time on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

This morning I started MM1 HD - Nightmare Mansion normal. It has a brilliant setup, but only for players who are interested in revisiting a mansion. Walking through all rooms, picking up all money and finding all secrets in one visit is nearly impossible.

Alex Diener did two recorded visits and was afterwards convinced that in 'room 2 with the two purple doors' one had to make a choice between a left and a right path. And that further in this mansion it often felt like a guessing game.

He is right that at several places one has to make a choice without having any clue. But for me this is the challenge for this type of mansion. So this morning it gave me several hours of fun to get my Jack into the very first room of the red section with, I assume, all money and secrets. And a spare purple key. See image.

The last word isn't said about Nightmare Mansion normal, because I still have to resume this suspended game in room 17094.


MM1_HD_-_NM_n_-_17094.png (1948 KB | 44 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Olle the Greatest on 05.12.2022 at 23:21:01
I'm amazed that there's still activity in this forum, even though it seems like a one-man-show with perhaps no readers... until now :D

Found an old MacOS 10.6.8 Server and plugged it into my TV at home to download the original MM (since not all the great MM:s are HD:s) and logged in just for fun, to find this blog.

Nice to see I'm not the only one still enjoying this outstandingly great game!

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by brell on 06.12.2022 at 16:33:08
Well, I have also been reading (and commenting a little) on Freddy's blog.
I am currently using VMWare Fusion to run MM. http://www.actionsoft.com/forums/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1659263236

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 09.12.2022 at 19:16:17
Hello 'everybody'!

The number of followers of this blog did increase with 50 %, from 2 to 3.
;D

Hi Olle, nice to see you back on the boards. Don't hesitate to add replies.

I wonder if Semi-Native already had time and interest to search and find her old mac, because sooner or later I will need some betatesters ...
:-X 8-)

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Semi-Native on 09.12.2022 at 19:39:29
Hi Freddy, brell and Olle, it's always good to see someone on here. I have my old Mac, but I haven't fired it up in a very long time. As far as I know, it's still working. I'll get around to it sometime.  8-)

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 11.12.2022 at 14:46:42
BLOG (part 23)



2022 December the 11th


Freddy wrote on 26.11.2022 at 21:02:13:
... The last word isn't said about Nightmare Mansion normal, because I still have to resume this suspended game in room 17094.


A few weekends ago I could finish MM1 HD - Nightmare Mansion normal with all secrets. But that is not the point. The question was: does the master puzzle with all those (one way) poles, doors and keys fit, so that it is possible to visit all rooms and find all money and secrets in one visit?

Well, it does. In the whole mansion I left six doors unopened and arrived at the exit gate: from three colours two doors each. At the finish of the mansion I noticed that I had four unused keys that correspondent with two of the three doorcolours.

My conclusion is that for the third colour it is absolutely necessary to keep two doors closed to be able to get everywhere. And that makes it a cool puzzle for players who don't mind to revisit a mansion as often as needed to solve the problem.

But when a player starts a mansion, he is not aware of this information, so I do understand that one may get frustrated during play and call it a day.

In MM1 HD - NMn I also found a good example to explain the importance of a good balance concerning the difficulty degree. After being very very busy on normal level in the previous 5 areas, Jack arrives in the final grey section of 12 consecutive rooms where he has nearly nothing to do. See the image. He even doesn't need to climb the ladders. I assume that the designer have had something in his mind, but it didn't work out for the players.

This grey area also exposes perfectly an issue that may be seen often, but not in this size, in the original mansions. I know that in the hard version of NM Jack has to do a lot of things in the very same rooms. But in the normal version it went wrong.
:(
Schermafbeelding_2022-12-11_om_08_19_51.png (959 KB | 36 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 11.12.2022 at 16:32:31
BLOG (part 24)



2022 December the 11th

Early this morning I started to download all not-HD custom mansions from brell, Semi-Native and Olle the Greatest.

That will give me endless exploring fun and, meanwhile, an idea about how those mansions look in MM2. Yes indeed, I did convert them all.

@ Olle: I don't know how to get the downloads for Octopus Mansion 1.5 and Octopus Mansion hard working. Can you help me?

The first thing I did notice with the converted mansions is that the lava did change into green. Acid I assume. I better play the MM2 hint house first to figure out what the differences are between lava, acid and water. And then see if I may change water into wine. I mean acid into lava.
;)

Anyway, when starting a new mansion from the empty lava room all lava will be orange.
Schermafbeelding_2022-12-11_om_10_21_33.png (188 KB | 34 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 11.12.2022 at 17:50:46
BLOG (part 25)



2022 December the 11th

The visit of the right path in the MM2 - Tutorial Mansion brings me to an other important design issue.

I always tried to deliver neat work while building and pretty soon I realized that the best/easiest/laziest way to do that is create framed rooms. When parts of the bottom floor or left and right walls are missing, weird things may happen.

Have a look at both added pictures from rooms in the mentioned tutorial.

On the first image you see a room where Jack fell into the gap at right. Because of the snow, not me!
;D

He felt to his death in the room that you see on the second image (screenshot later made from the map). Now, to start with, (far) to early the player gets a view of a room. In this case the knowledge of the saving point may influence the paths one is going to take.

But there are more important consequences. While falling you may catch money or shields or killing enemies. In rare situations you may 'fall' into a secret area! And most of all, sometimes Jack doesn't die because of hitting a pole or vine and later got stuck. So that is really something that a designer has to take care of when he decides to create unframed rooms.

For those who remember parts of MM&M, there were ... mazes in it and several had a lot of open rooms, things that I have to check during the restauration. works.
Afbeelding_1_003.png (181 KB | 40 )
Afbeelding_2_003.png (186 KB | 38 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 13.12.2022 at 21:17:08
BLOG (part 26)



2022 December the 13th

Today's post is a question.

In the shown room please completely ignore the long ladder at the right. Do as if it's not there at all. Now, assume that Jack comes in at the bottom right and has to leave in the bottom left corner.

Is anyone interested in testing this room based on the picture? What is your first impression? How would you handle it? What would you change? Oops, that's more than one question. Then please leave a reply.

Meanwhile I like to put your attention on the levers. From the time of MM1, I of course remember that there are several colours for the knots. But as well for the bottoms?!
:-/

The funny thing is that in the builder-lab the bottoms don't change, but once in the testing mode colours may change. Due to spoiler alert I can't tell why, but from the point of view from the designer it's important because players may be on the alert because of the exposed differences.
BNW_001.png (89 KB | 45 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by brell on 15.12.2022 at 19:30:50
Send it to me :-)

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Olle the Greatest on 16.12.2022 at 15:41:58
@Freddy I don't know if I can be of assistance, but if I can I will. Is there some kind of error or error message concerning the Octopus Mansions, or do they simply not open at all? It's been such a long time but the game is still the best game I know, and my kids love it even though there are so many choices nowadays. They like to watch me play, too, so it's a win-win for me (I know where the kids are, they behave, and I get to have all the fun :D )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Olle the Greatest on 16.12.2022 at 15:48:43
It looks like it's necessary to pull the levers in a specific order to avoid the animals, but since the levers are the same color (except the yellow one) I guess I'd die at least once trying them out...  I'd probably start with the leftmost, since it's not fair to have a lever that makes a scorpion fall on your head. But on the other hand, since that is the most obvious first choice, it probably opens the middle one with the snakes, making it hard to reach the key without dying. But the yellow one will probably open for the scorpion... which will fall down on the floor, so that's not too bad, so I'd change to that choice instead just before pulling. That's my answer... :)

Freddy wrote on 13.12.2022 at 21:17:08:
BLOG (part 26)



2022 December the 13th

Today's post is a question.

In the shown room please completely ignore the long ladder at the right. Do as if it's not there at all. Now, assume that Jack comes in at the bottom right and has to leave in the bottom left corner.

Is anyone interested in testing this room based on the picture? What is your first impression? How would you handle it? What would you change? Oops, that's more than one question. Then please leave a reply.

Meanwhile I like to put your attention on the levers. From the time of MM1, I of course remember that there are several colours for the knots. But as well for the bottoms?!
:-/

The funny thing is that in the builder-lab the bottoms don't change, but once in the testing mode colours may change. Due to spoiler alert I can't tell why, but from the point of view from the designer it's important because players may be on the alert because of the exposed differences.


Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 16.12.2022 at 19:53:28
BLOG (part 27)



2022 December the 16th

Today's post is an answer.
:)


Olle the Greatest wrote on 16.12.2022 at 15:48:43:
It looks like it's necessary to pull the levers in a specific order to avoid the animals, but since the levers are the same color (except the yellow one) I guess I'd die at least once trying them out...  I'd probably start with the leftmost, since it's not fair to have a lever that makes a scorpion fall on your head. But on the other hand, since that is the most obvious first choice, it probably opens the middle one with the snakes, making it hard to reach the key without dying. But the yellow one will probably open for the scorpion... which will fall down on the floor, so that's not too bad, so I'd change to that choice instead just before pulling. That's my answer... :)


Depending from the time of the day and my mood I should start a room like this one with trial and error or with thinking ...
;)

Well, as a player I expect that a designer delivers neat work that results in fair play. That is why I tried to avoid that this room is a guessing game.

The room has 6 levers, 1 conveyor belt and 5 trapdoors. The double trapdoor, indeed, gets opened with 1 lever. Before doing the ladder jump, be sure how to get back to earth!

Now there are two possibilities. You know why the lever bottoms have different colours. Or you don't. And that makes a difference. Now let's assume you don't. Just think that they are all red.

Since the way back to the bottom floor is at the right, the 4 most left levers can't be for the snakes, because otherwise Jack doesn't have a proper way out or a way further to the left and back.

Like you said, Olle, the left lever may not lead to a fast death due to the scorpion. So you can always start there. But how to continue?

SPOILER ALERT: Don't only think in playing order or order from left to right. Have a closer look at the position of all the trap doors and then of all the levers. To say something: why are the levers not on a row on the bottom floor?

Suggestion  [smiley=bath.gif]

In the old days we designed a mansion, searched for beta testers and finally asked to launch it as an approved custom mansion on the boards. Made for other players!

Nowadays Midnight Mansion is 'our' oldtimer game that we like to take care of, keep alive, honour. But we all are designers, beta testers, administrators and players at the same time. And we are few.

That is why I propose to do an open beta testing for MM2 - Brave New World. No bilateral sendings of mails with (parts of) a mansion anymore. Just a post in my blog with, as a start, an attachment of e.g. 10 rooms? And public debate over here with 'all members'?

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 05.01.2023 at 02:21:05
I like to change water into wine ...
;)

I mean lava into water. (So far I only found out how to change the sound, but why should I want to do that!) Is that possible? How?

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 11.03.2023 at 16:30:40
BLOG (part 28)



2023 March the 11th

Hello everybody!

I am interested in everyone's opinion about the shown green room. Assume that Jack is somewhere in the middle of a mansion and a previous area seems to be finished. He entered the room by climbing down the ladder.

How would you handle this room?

My Jack, who often does other things than I want him to, would definitely climb the ladder up again to the sleeping room and go to bed because he is exhausted from all previous efforts ...
8-)

What I am up to is this. As designer I am going to give information in the room to the right about which green door Jack has to open first. But if he slides down the pole first he will need to guess.

My important question is: do you consider using the pole first as a player or a designer mistake in a mansion on level 'normal'  :question
green_room.png (40 KB | 37 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by brell on 11.03.2023 at 22:21:30
You need to give a hint as to what to do first.  Like arrow of coins or something.
If the player does not take the hint it is his/hers fault.  But if the player does go down the pole first and then opens the wrong door it must not lead to any kind of Jack-stuck although Jack may miss some part of the mansion.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 22.03.2023 at 18:11:20
BLOG (part 29)



2023 March the 22nd

Hello everybody!

In the Hanging Gardens of Babylon it is raining in the first room. But when I know try to make it rain in a room that I am designing it doesn't work. The rain isn't visible in builder nor game. But in the game I could hear the sound of the rain. And after pressing M the rain is visible on that map!!?!

Is there anyone who has an explanation or is able to help me?

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 23.03.2023 at 16:21:53
There are lava-mansions and water-mansions. Is it possible that rain is only possible in water-mansions?

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by brell on 23.03.2023 at 18:46:58
Sry I don't know the answers to your questions.

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by Freddy on 09.10.2023 at 01:23:05
BLOG (part 30)



2023 October the 8th

I created a for MM2 converted version of the House of Wonders. Please have a look at the pics from the starting room in both versions. The statue changed into a half hidden tree ...

In my dreams I make proper versions for MM2 for all my own mansions. A lot to do ...

MM1_HD_-_HoW_16299.png (2088 KB | 26 )
MM2_-_HoW_16299.png (125 KB | 26 )

Title: Re: A nostalgic blog concerning designing mansions
Post by brell on 09.10.2023 at 16:03:15
Yes, I know this can happen.  Don't know why.  Sometimes it can be quite funny.

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