The starting location of the MOD is called "The Temple of Swords" and was designed to be a gentle introduction to the main storyline while giving the player plenty of time to learn the new game play mechanics. Due to my desire to release a demo early for last Christmas, the starting level was changed to include a stealth training area and a bunch of new portals linking the various maps together.
All of these last minute changes created a mess, with the training and portals not accessible from the beginning of the map and the layout lacking focus, the map was not giving the right impression.
A new start map called "Baramous Keep" has been created to allow the player quick (via portals) access to other maps, a direct path (at the beginning) to the stealth training area and as always there is a little surprise for any stealth player who like to explore and find keys to locked doors!
The original start location "The Temple of Swords" has been changed, the training area has been replaced with a dark cavernous chamber, the west chapel now leads to a church interior and the east library now holds a ton more books. These changes to the map will create more unique locations and hopefully prevent the player from getting so lost.
The original Quake monsters were designed for combat only and lacked a lot of extra detail. This MOD requires enemies to have greater immersion in their environment when not fighting and that means plenty of extra animations. Combine this with new (feet, armour and vocal) sounds, extra combat code and the ITS enemies take longer to produce. The plan is to spread out the release of new enemies over time and lightly sprinkle them throughout the existing maps when they are finished.
To bridge the health/damage gap between the Death Guard and the Death Knight there are going to be two new enemies with different attacks and an unique visual styles. The first up is the Crossbow Knight who can swiftly deliver fiery bolts at the player while strafing from side to side and can absorb more damage due to tougher (chain) armour. The crossbow knight is perfect at being a menace at range and a good compliment to any large group of enemies.
The second additions to the death squad is the Fury Knight armed with two large curved swords, plenty of mobility (light chain armour) and several unique range attacks. The Fury Knight has less health than standard knights, but makes up for it with faster movement and plenty of aggressive leap attacks towards the player. The final blow are several magic attacks that encourage the player to keep moving and deal with these agile knights quickly or suffer the consequences.
All armies need formidable captains and ruthless lieutenants and the new Death Sergeant aims to fill that role. Standing tall in demon infused plate armour the blue flail knights are tough opponents with high stamina, ferocious combat prowess and a new magically range attack that will force players to run for cover or learn to dance with fire. Often found in large groups of enemies they will need to be dealt with quickly before they overpower the player with a swarm of fire and steel.
The final addition to this next release will be the zombie knights which according to lore are the results of lost souls becoming servants to the dark magics. Partly dressed in fragments of their previous armour the zombie knight will swing wildly with their sword while running at an unnatural pace towards the nearest living player. Not really a threat by themselves but when mixed in with larger groups can become a problems with their relentless resistance to weapon fire.
The previous system would constantly generate new particle entities when required and the relentless creation process was becoming an unnecessary burden on the engine. The ideal solution was to create a pool of particles that could be allocated as when and needed and recycled when finished. This had the added benefit (for slower system) of being able to limit how many particles are active at once and allow for each map to be fine tuned for what is required.
Several new enemies and player abilities required new particle effects (explosions) and the existing sprite based (large dots) were not suitable for this so close to the player. The new system has been designed to use sprites or models and offers better visuals for players with more powerful systems. This can be controlled via a new console command and allows the model particles to be scaled easily (different frames) and have a better selection of skins.
The current stealth system is very rough around the edges and can be very unforgiving to new players who are not familiar with how things work. The state of enemies (passive, suspicious and angry) is shown via the stealth eye above their head, but very little feedback (only sound clues) is given to the player when stealth is broken and the player should be looking for cover.
The first step towards improving this system is the introduction of the Shadow Axe with multiple skins to show what state (disabled, charging, enabled) the stealth system is in. This is tied together with new sounds that highlight the different stages while the start and finish states are accented by particles effects from the blade to remind the player stealth is enabled or disabled.
The existing stealth training area has been moved to the beginning of the new start map and is now isolated from the rest of the map so nothing can interfere with the learning of the stealth systems. The training enemies have additional helpers (circles drawn on the floor around them) to show what angle is safe for back stabs and these helpers can be enabled for the rest of the game if the player chooses.
A large amount of new environmental sounds have been added to the enemies like the scraping of feet, the rustle of leather cloth and the movement of loose metal armour plates. Theses additional clues can give the player a better understanding of where the enemies are and create a better sound scape of each new location when sneaking around in stealth mode.
There are more changes to the MOD but these are the main ones which will make the largest impact to the way the MOD will be played. As more map locations are completed I will post more screenshots to show progress and as always all feedback is welcome, just let me know what you think in the comments.