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Actionsoft's latest game, Midnight Mansion 2: The Haunted Hills,  includes 28 mansions. The 8 Built-in mansions have 3 difficulties along with 4 extra custom mansions. We don't have that many other custom MM2 mansions yet. Design your own custom mansion! Info below.  You can find out more about the game here.

The original Midnight Mansion game contains over 150 mansions. The 8 included mansions which have 3 difficulty levels each, and about 115 approved custom mansions which you can download here and also several freely uploaded mansions. To know the difference between these three types of mansions, click here.

Are you a creative person and thinking of designing a mansion yourself? Or want to know about how to upload it? Click here and we'll show you! You'll find guidelines for betatesters here.

News:
Midnight Mansion 2: The Haunted Hills version 1.0.2b has been released. This fixes a bug in Jasperlone Mountains Hard. Simply re-download the game, bring over your custom mansions folder from the old version and play on. All your saves and high scores will not be changed.

Midnight Mansion HD (MM1) is now available at the Mac App Store and at the Actionsoft website. A Windows version is now available.

Here is a list of downloadable MM1 HD ready custom mansions, which also work in the Windows version of the game.

The MM2 custom mansion Hanging Gardens of Babylon by Freddy/SandyBean/Josephine/brell was updated on 19. Nov 2023 to add a fourth section. Available here


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Re: The Sins of the Mansion Builders (Read 15075 times)
Freddy
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Re: The Sins of the Mansion Builders
03.02.2007 at 07:03:29
 
My previous post was ... talking as a designer. Now I am a player.

I don't know if other players recognize themselves in these. Too often I forget to have a look at my map(s). The best example to explain what I mean is probably Semi-Native's
Sky Boxes
. When I played that mansion the first time I didn't like it. Till I was aware that almost all my Jack-deaths only had to do with forgetting to look at my maps. When I played it again I really liked it. Simple conclusion: maps are NO garniture. They are there ... to use. And if you don't, they only one to blame is ...
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Psychotronic
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Re: The Sins of the Mansion Builders
Reply #1 - 03.02.2007 at 11:13:15
 
ryos wrote on 03.02.2007 at 05:58:55:
Quote:
All right. Now I have to take exception...


Oops!  Embarrassed See, this is why I didn't want to name names. I must admit that I've not made it far enough in the Observatory to actually walk along the bottom of that room, and if I've gotten the map never noticed. My apologies.

Ok, the example isn't perfect, but the point stands!  Lips Sealed


Oh, sorry. I forgot to use smilies, so it looked like I was all upset. No no no no no. I love discussions like this, and your experience with that particular secret is valid. I just figured I'd point out that there was more going on there than you might have noticed. There's not that many ways to reward a player in Midnight Mansion, and I wanted to have a couple of secrets that were extra-hard to find without a hint, so I threw in a couple of maps here and there that reveal those secrets. That way, people who were stopping to read their map once in a while would get a little extra reward, and I could hand out a map instead of a bag of money once in a while. You're still totally right that the invisible platform isn't hidden correctly.

And I 100% agree with you on pretty much everything in your first post. I'm not a fan of hidden keys that are required to continue in a mansion (ironic, considering the crap I pulled in ACO). I think it's possible to do it well, and Freddy's Midnight Mazes & Monsters is incredibly careful to make the hidden material into a puzzle, rather than a frustration; but I had a tough time maintaining interest in Foggy Forest Mansion because I didn't quite have faith that the required keys were nearby. After about the third time that I missed a hidden key and went back ten rooms checking every nook and cranny trying to find it, I just gave up.

But a lot of people really, really enjoyed FFM, so I think I just am attracted to a slightly different type of level design than some. There's mansions that let you explore a relatively open space, discovering rewards here and there as you poke around; and there's mansions that present you with a series of challenges more or less in a row, requiring you to solve a puzzle or find a hidden object at each step of the way before you can continue. I usually enjoy the former style, and most of the recent mansions have been of the second style, so I haven't been playing very many custom mansions all the way through lately. But there's obviously a demand for linear mansions. Matt and Joe, back on the old boards, made mostly very straightforward mansions, and someone described them as "relaxing", because you didn't have to worry about getting lost or missing required items while you explored. One of the great things about this game is how it allows for these different styles of design and play.
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Psychotronic
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Re: The Sins of the Mansion Builders
Reply #2 - 04.02.2007 at 02:57:16
 
Darn it, I scared everyone off again.   Sad
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aquaMat
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Re: The Sins of the Mansion Builders
Reply #3 - 04.02.2007 at 04:28:31
 
Psychotronic wrote on 03.02.2007 at 11:13:15:
Darn it, I scared everyone off again.  Angry


No you didn't..... !!   Smiley

Psychotronic wrote on 03.02.2007 at 11:13:15:
And I 100% agree with you on pretty much everything in your first post. I'm not a fan of hidden keys that are required to continue in a mansion (ironic, considering the crap I pulled in ACO). I think it's possible to do it well, and Freddy's Midnight Mazes & Monsters is incredibly careful to make the hidden material into a puzzle, rather than a frustration; but I had a tough time maintaining interest in Foggy Forest Mansion because I didn't quite have faith that the required keys were nearby. After about the third time that I missed a hidden key and went back ten rooms checking every nook and cranny trying to find it, I just gave up.


It's really interesting, how different players have completely different impressions (+ tastes).  For me it's almost exactly the other way round:  I had problems manintaining interest in M M & M (but that's probably mostly due to its sheer endless size), whereas I never had a dull minute in FFM.

But as you say, that is one of the great things in MM.... it can suit so many styles !!

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VernJensen
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Re: The Sins of the Mansion Builders
Reply #4 - 08.02.2007 at 03:38:30
 
ryos wrote on 02.02.2007 at 11:45:38:
Sin #1: Opposing Timing
Sometimes, two timed events are mutually exclusive. When it becomes possible to avoid dying by the one, you must of necessity die by the other. Take as an example a room with a horizontal zapper beam and a red bird. In order to get to the exit, you must jump down through the path of the zapper while it's off. But, the timing of the zapper and bird are such that when the zapper turns off, the bird is heading back across the room. You can't wait that out; you have to kill the bird before proceeding.

This is, IMHO, the most common and deadly sin, partly because there are so many varied ways to commit it, some of them subtle.

Sin #2: Death By Timing/No Control
The cardinal example here is requiring Jack to ride a moving platform across zapper beams. Of course, the platform and beams are not in sync, and since Jack can't pause to wait for the beam to turn off, nor is the platform long enough for him to run back, he gets zapped. Every. Time.


EXCELLENT commentary, especially sins #1 and #2. Heh, maybe we can get a whole 10 Commandments of Mansionites.

This is also a GREAT time to start discussing mansion design, because I will be holding a Mansion Design Contest with $50 - $300 prizes this summer for the expansion pack, and I want good mansions!

Similar "sins" were discussed in the old forums, and I think I posted a bunch of my own sins, but those forums got lost, and I don't remember what i posted, so I'll just mention a couple of things off the top of my head:

1) Cheap deaths. All rooms should have a "safety area" where you enter the room that is a size of at LEAST 4 tiles, preferably 6 tiles or more. You should have plenty of time to see danger and react upon entering a new room, before dying.

Similarly, cheap deaths ALSO include traps. Things llike, you pull a lever and, Oops, Wrong Choice, You're Dead!!! Guess you'd better not pull that lever next time you play! I'm not a fan of that kind of stuff.


Well, I don't have any other "major sins" off the top of my head, but let me give a couple of "tips" that aren't sins if you don't do them, but WILL make your mansion more fun if you do:

1) Giving the player keys before they even find the doors they go to. That ruins the whole point! When the player sees a door that he doesn't have the key to yet, it's WAY more fun. You've just given the player a GOAL: find the key for that door! The key should be far enough away that it's a good challenge to get it, but not so far that the player forgets where the dooor is, or it feels like lots of work/backtracking to get back to it?

2) Don't make rooms that impede exploration. I like mansions that make it easy to "explore". It's fun to see what's on the other side of the hill. Cathedral Towers is a good example of what I *don't* ike so much in this regard. Each room is like a separate obstacle course in its own right. Eachh room is a puzzle or challenge. I don't think this should be the case. Let players move quickly/easily through *most* rooms, with occasional puzzle/hard roooms containing keys or other items the player needs. But if most rooms are easy to get through quickly, the player can explore, and that's far more fun, at least to me.

2.5) Speaking of that,, don't require lots of backtracking! LLike, you have to go backwards throuugh 20 rooms to get to a door at the start of the mansion. To do this, I like to have mansions divided into "regions". Each region is self-contained: all the keys in that area open doors in that area, and once you commplete the "goal" in that area (finding a certain key you need for the next section, or opening a certain gray door) you can get to the next section, and you in NO CIRCUMSTANCES shall ever be required to return to the previous section. In fact, you might not even be able to return to it. Great examples of the "region" design are Falcon Manor and Spider Palace.

3) Try to not make your mansions too "boxy"/square/rectangular in design of the bricks. I think the rectangle tool is a bit of a curse in this case, because it's very easy to do mansions that are very rectangular. But I like unique designes. Like Spider Palace when you go through the bottom-right red door at the start. This section also has a great use of keys/doors.

4) Use those invisible gray "moving platform blockers" to make your moving platforms stop where the pllayer expects them to stop. (i.e. one going up and down should stop when it reaches the ledge Jack will get off on, instead of continuing up until it hits the ceiling.)

5) Try to design the timing of many rooms so an experienced pllayer familiar with the room can be daring and "run" through it... the timing of the zapper beams, moving platforms, etc. are such that a fast and daring player can go through it quickly.

6) Give hints about your secrets, so players don't randomly jump against every wall they come to.

Well, there's a ton more I could give, but I've got to go. I could probably dig up some old tips if someone pesters me.

-Vern
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Re: The Sins of the Mansion Builders
Reply #5 - 08.02.2007 at 03:58:53
 
Psychotronic wrote on 03.02.2007 at 11:13:15:
but I had a tough time maintaining interest in Foggy Forest Mansion because I didn't quite have faith that the required keys were nearby. After about the third time that I missed a hidden key and went back ten rooms checking every nook and cranny trying to find it, I just gave up.


[/Begin Rant]

OH! This brings up an EXCELLENT point. This is a concept demonstrated by the truly *great* games, such as some of the Metroid and Zelda games: if you are going to put the player in a situation where they encounter something new, and won't know how to solve it, LIMIT THEM to a SMALL area of rooms until they figure it out.

Examples:

- Metroid II for GameBoy. There was this one room you go into, and it's completely empty. And you're like, huh? What is this for? And you leave. But you're llimited to a small area, and eventually realize there must be somethign to that empty room, because you've sure as heck checked everything else. So you jump up on top of this thing mounted on the right-hand wall and roll into a ball, and find that there are fake bricks there that you would only find in that spot if you were a ball. And that leads to a whole new giant section to explore. BUT: if the player hadn't been limited to a small area (inclluding the empty room), many wouldn't think to check this room out thoroughly, and backtracked a lot, and gotten very frustrated.

- Another example is Zelda for GameBoy. I don't remember specific examples, but I know that if it gave you a new puzzle you had to solve, often you'd get stuck in the current room until you solved the puzzle. Otherwise, many players wouldn't even realize there's a puzzle too solve in that room.

How this applies to Midnnight Mansion: if you're playing a trick on players, like hiding keys where they typically wouldn't llook for them or see them, then LIMIT THEM to a small area of rooms that they can't get out of until they find those keys. That way, they won't backtrack huge areas of the mansion, searching every nook and cranny, as Psychotronic did, attempting to find those keys, but searching in the wrong place. That can be SO frustrating, and is so easily avoided with good design.

[/End Rant]
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Re: The Sins of the Mansion Builders
Reply #6 - 08.02.2007 at 04:45:05
 
OK. From one of the chief sinners in Mansion design:

#1. On the whole I agree with the cheap death sin BUT often times I just run out of room or I need those extra 2 or 3 tiles. In that case I've tried to put a "stopper" in the way. A brick that needs to be jumped over or a door that opens because the first brick into the room is a switch for that door.

#2. Guilty. Matt loves to make rooms chock full of stuff so I often find myself yanking on the reins. Sometimes I just say what the heck. But I am guilty of single room or small group of rooms puzzles. My problem is consistency. I've gotten 2 different comments from MM players;
A. I like to be able to stop and figure a room out rather than just running thru it.
B. Vern's comment, you should be able to run all the way thru without stopping.
I've tried to combine the 2. When you take the time to look at a room or play it a couple of times it may become apparent that if you walk to point A. duck for a count of 2 and run like the dickens to the ladder and up and out you never die. Very tough to design but pretty spiffy when you can get it right.

#3. With the exception of our first mansion or two I think Matt and I have very un-rectangular mansions

#4 Yes. But very cool if you get the timing right so the platforms use each other instead of needing the blocks. Not a master of this yet but we are trying.

#5. See #2

#6. I agree

Other points.

#7. Backtracking is OK to a certain degree. For myself I often find myself when faced with multiple paths out of a room taking the shortest one. I enjoy the feeling of "AHA, I have a green door so there's got to be a green key. Now which path did I need to take to find it" Goes to the exploration point Vern brought up. But don't make me have to go thru 5 other rooms each with 4 different ways out . That sort of design is confusing to me. Which is why I guess most of our M&J mansions are of the straightforward type.

#8. If you do like to have massive backtrack paths at least have a shortcut back to the furthest point where you needed to start backtracking. We had something like that in the Mall where after transversing a "department" you could slide down a pole and start on another department 2 rooms away.

#9. I'll probably get flak on this one but sometimes the unexpected can be fun. Unexpected as in you see no way to continue except to take a path that looks like it's certain death but when you do the floor falls away and you're in a room underneath. I'm trying to implement that in Dominator to see what sort of feedback I get. I like to think of it as "leap of faith".

#10. I KNOW I'll get flak on this one and want to state up front this is a personal preference and residual conditioned response from having a 7 year old. I really don't like big mansions. For me the limit is around 250 rooms. Yes I understand that some folks like the challenge of lots of rooms but I prefer to enjoy 2 hour adventures that don't have me wondering what I should or shouldn't have done. I guess it's the sort of pseudo "instant gratification" thing where I really need to complete the task and get the rush of "YEAH, I beat it". Then I can go back and work on getting a higher score, take less time, etc.


For Vern: Are you planning on a time frame i.e. mansion will be done by ????. no custom graphics, must contain certain elements, etc.

later all

joeb
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Re: The Sins of the Mansion Builders
Reply #7 - 08.02.2007 at 14:41:58
 
I really want to congratulate ryos (again) for starting this topic. On the previous boards I started something like these, but it never worked. Now it does!! Smiley

Before giving a thorough reply, I want to say already now that, while I generally agree with all sins, there are almost always well founded exceptions with good (and bad) examples of (custom) mansions.

And may I add SIN # 11 ?
Making mansions that, due to forks can't be visited completely. I know Falcon Manor had changed, so I can't tell anything yet about the new version. But I really didn't like that "error" in the previous version. Although it is such a nice mansion, with that superb gray-door-puzzle-with-coloured-knobs. It was, to quote its designer Dafalcon, probably too difficult for the easy version.

An other one? Sin # 12
I am pretty sure that there were included mansions with keys and/or doors that stayed unused, although finishing with 100 % secrets. Feels odd.
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Re: The Sins of the Mansion Builders
Reply #8 - 08.02.2007 at 19:17:02
 
I agree with most things Vern said, especially his points about backtracking and hidden keys etc. having to be in the vicinity.
I also agree fully with the "rectangular" issue.... that's why my rooms always have that "open look", even though -as Freddy once pointed out to me- that always harbours possible "dangers" !

BUT:  I do NOT think, that ALL moving platforms should be limited by that invisible grey block. I have often used it as an added feature or challenge that some platforms went up to the ceiling and others didn't. You could make it into an interesting challenge, where players needed to get off the platform in time, or don't get on the platform on its way up, only on its way down etc.

Unfortunately, Vern has changed the bit, where players died when they hit the ceiling while on a platform. I understand why he did it...but unfortunately now, all my (and other designer's) challenges that used platforms going to the ceiling are now pointlless !!

Therefore I strongly plead for a re-introduction of that feature. The reason for its removal (the game-bug, where a game crashed when a platform hit the ceiling, but there was no ceiling built into the room) hadn't been solved with its removal anyway.... and once this issue is solved, I would really welcome if players would die again, when a platform reaches a  ceiling .... so our challenges will be working again.  (As far as I remember, even some of the original mansions used this feature as a challenge ?!)
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Re: The Sins of the Mansion Builders
Reply #9 - 08.02.2007 at 20:32:17
 
I never understood it as a "challenge", but more as an inconvenience, maybe because it doesn't look like Jack should be dying if hitting the ceiling (thus entering into the category unexpected / cheap death?) Embarrassed You can replace this by fixing some zapper beams on the ceiling  Smiley

OK, let's add my tuppence now on the architect sins / tip list.
  • Timing/no control: This would be similar to sin #1, except you have to be sure you are not missing something. I know that several zapper beam challenges looked to me pretty random and cheap until my other half pointed out how to get through them unscathed. And I would include Psychotronic's world-famous Thunderstorm in the list of systematically beatable ones, even though I still find it quite tough (I never passed it).
  • Invisible critters: A monster which you cannot see isn't necessarily one you cannot detect... For instance, if you play with sound and sufficiently low music, you can usually hear them moving. Or (Wingy's snake trick - hiding them behind columns): if there are several times a (more or less) visible snake behind a column just before one completely hidden, this could count as a warning. Or a giant spider attracted by a hidden bird.
  • Mansions should be completely visitable: I would find it a matter of taste, as would be the fact that you can go back to any previous point from anywhere in the mansion.
  • Very, very difficult bits should always be optional (like the Thunderstorm, unlike that room in Volcanis).
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