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DOM-Ramses 
Map Info


 
File Namedom-ramses.zip
AuthorThunderstrike
GametypeUT Domination
Date Added07-05-2004
File Version1.00
File Size6.4 mb
Player Count8-16
Map DescriptionNone
Review Rating6.5
User Rating7
Overall Rating6.5


 
Review


ReviewerIronblaydeAwe Score: 2.5/3
Date07-09-2004Build Score: 2.0/3
Review SchemaCast Score: 2.0/3
User Point: 0
Overall Score: 6.5/10

AWE: 2.5

It's a rare and wonderful day when a new UT99 Domination map comes out. It's long been one of my favorite game types, so I'm always excited to see people still working on it, especially given its relative unpopularity compared to deathmatch and CTF. This particular map represents a great deal of work indeed; if the map's description is to be believed, the author has been toiling on DOM-Ramses on and off for about two and a half years. With that amount of time invested in it, it had better be good. And it is.

Egyptian maps normally don't appeal to me aesthetically. To a great extent, this is because it seems that of all the workhorse themes that mappers utilize, this one's maps tend to exhibit perhaps the least degree of deviation from the status quo. It's always pyramids and obelisks everywhere with the same old textures, or the same meshes in the case of UT2004. Not so in this case. The author got his hands on some very nice custom textures for this map, and put them to excellent use. More than anything else, this sets the map apart from the myriad other Egyptian maps out there. It's a refreshingly different take on a familiar theme, and that's always worth a few points in my book. Also, the texture alignment is excellent. I caught a few slips here and there, but really, in a map with almost fourteen thousand world polys, mistakes will happen. I wish more UT mappers would make the effort that Thunderstrike obviously has in this area.

Architecturally, the map is something of a mixed bag, but it comes out mostly on the good side. Much of it is dominated by rectangular rooms connected with rectangular corridors, which can get boring quickly, but quite often, it actually works pretty well. Huge pillars might obscure the corners of a room, breaking up its regular shape somewhat; or tastefully done segments of trim and other decoration might do a sufficient job of making an area look interesting. Since the map is more of a farrago of independent rooms than a single, tightly interconnected unit, some parts of the map look noticeably better or worse than others. The aptly named Hall of Pillars is not particularly interesting, for example. Nor do I care much for the Restful Oasis, another boxy room whose walls are conspicuously plain, and whose pillars support a number of beams that don't really look like they belong there. The awesome Ascension to Heaven makes up for both of them though, a triangular room whose spiraling walkway is reinforced by a series of multipartite pillars and draped in vines, with nice little alcoves at every corner. The author also wins a cookie for not having any pyramids springing up out of the floor anywhere.

The lighting in this map is definitely better than in most UT maps that are being released these days. The author has avoided the all too common problems of using inappropriate colors, setting lights to be horribly under- or oversaturated (though the purple hue that dominates the Hall of Pillars is pushing it a little), and setting radii unrealistically high. Dynamic lights are used in a number of places – though not overused – to create a nice shimmering effect in the many places of the map that have standing water. And the author has used high shadow detail in all the right places as well. The main problem in this area is that the use of ambient lighting is often too obvious. Ambient lighting can be useful as an underscore for the standard lighting in a map, raising the overall brightness of a room so that its shadows don't get too dark. But where large areas exist that sourced lighting doesn't touch at all, ambient light produces that ugly, washed out look that appears so unnatural. This is especially apparent in the so-called Hall of Shadows, which is a passing odd name for a room that has almost no sourced light except around its perimeter. You can't have shadows without light!

I was a little torn on how to score this section. Some of the map's problems are significant, particularly that zone lighting, but I'll give the author the benefit of the doubt, since my overall impression of the map is definitely a good one. Whatever its issues, this is still an unusually attractive map.

BUILD: 2.0

Brush alignment mistakes and BSP errors are few and far between in this map, and even when they do appear, they tend to be very minor. The author did an excellent job managing the BSP here, especially considering its daunting complexity – more than two thousand brushes went into the making of this beast. There are some strange spots, though. For example, the brushes used for the railings in the Horus Hall area look like they've suffered an unfortunate encounter with Ken Shamrock. Some of the polygons on those brushes are actually nonplanar, which is a Bad Thing. Also, you can climb outside the map in the Hall of Pillars, into a box above the ceiling set with fake backdrop surfaces on all sides, so it looks like you're running around in the sky. You can rain flak and rockets down on one of the control points from up there without having to worry about getting hit. That should have been sealed off a little better.

I also must take issue with the map's movers. There are two lifts leading up to sniper perches in one of the control point rooms, and two sets of double doors in a corridor approaching another. The lifts aren't so bad; my only problem with them is that they're too slow. I can understand the fact that they take three seconds to move between keyframes, since they cover a great distance, but four seconds is too long to stay open, in my opinion. I got impatient waiting to ride them down to ground level. As I said, though, that's not such a big concern. The doors are more problematic. Each set has two triggers that will open it, one on each side of the doorway. The issue here is that the doors use the TriggerOpenTimed state, meaning that once triggered, the doors open, wait for a specified interval, then close. This is where the problem comes in. Suppose two bots are running towards the doors, one several steps behind the other. The first bot triggers the doors as he approaches, and they open to admit him. The second bot enters the trigger's collision region while the doors are still open, thus the trigger doesn't fire its event again; in other words, the interval for which the doors are scheduled to stay open is not extended. The first bot passes through the doors, but they close before the second bot can get through. The second bot, thinking that he's correctly opened the doors, doesn't understand why his path is now barred; he doesn't understand that he actually has to run backwards and reactivate the trigger in order to pass the doorway. Thus he stands motionless until someone else comes and opens the door, or he gets orders to go someplace else. This may sound very hypothetical, but I saw it happen numerous times during testing. This is one reason why doors generally use the TriggerControl state instead, in which the doors will stay open as long as someone remains in the trigger's collision region. That state would have been a more appropriate choice.

Unfortunately, doors aren't the only thing the bots have trouble with. Making good use of the translocator is essential if you want to navigate this map effectively, and the bots simply don't do it. There are not many translocator paths defined, and several of those that are included are faulty. For example, in the Hall of Pillars, the bots won't use the translocator path because it doesn't have a LiftExit on one end. While observing the bots play this map, I saw them using inefficient paths time and time again simply because they can't employ their translocators correctly. It's not just a matter of a couple of seconds, either. In some places, the inclusion of translocator paths could have reduced travel time along certain routes by thirty seconds or more. Also, there's a very long enclosed passage in the map with water running through it, and bots tend to get tripped up in there. There are several landings along the way that hold pickups, and of course the greedy bots have to have them all, but they often have trouble getting out of the water. I was watching this with verbose mode on, and saw that quite frequently, bots would fail to get out of the water and then not have any move target at all, so they'd just sit there floating, only to make another failed attempt in a few seconds. A bot who enters that passage will likely be out of the game for two minutes or more, and that's not acceptable.

The author has done a fine job with sound in this map. There's a custom background track included, which, if a little strange in places, still suits the map well. More importantly, the map is blanketed with fitting ambient sounds – more than three hundred of them! Flames crackle, winds blow, pools whisper, waterfalls roar, and the Restful Oasis, uh... makes those weird swampy sounds. Very nice work here.

CAST: 2.0

First of all, this is a monster of a map, easily the biggest Domination map I've played. I like exploring large maps as much as anyone else, but Domination isn't as well suited to such expansive layouts as other game types. While the control points shouldn't be so close together that one person can dominate the map, they also shouldn't be so far apart that it takes an unreasonable amount of time to get from one to the other if you need to do so in a hurry, and that's what happens here. Looking at the map from overhead, you can see that it covers a vast area, and there's a good deal of empty space (well, technically it's solid space, but whatever) between its rooms and corridors. It reminds me of a bad case of urban sprawl. I can't help but think that with a little reworking of the layout, the author could have had just as much floor space as he does now, but packed closer together and with a greater degree of connectivity, so that the map would be more accessible. The map has some size issues, albeit lesser ones, on the other end of the spectrum as well: there are quite a few corridors that are far too narrow and thus become deathtraps, and some places where the ceiling is so low that you can't jump without hitting your head.

There are four control points, and while that's already one more than is usual, in truth the map is big enough to handle five, maybe even six. I wouldn't have actually added that many, mind you – a six-point Domination map would be nuts – but some of the paths between the existing points could use shortening. For example, in the Hall of Pillars is an opening to an underwater passage with some Health Vials in it to lure the unwary. If you go down there, you'll find yourself being pushed along by the current through an interminable passage that has no exits along its length. The current prevents you from getting back to the start, even with a translocator, so you're left with no choice but to go all the way through. You get a Redeemer in the bargain, but it's really not worth the trouble. The spiraling Ascension to Heaven area is another example; it sits in the middle of a path between two control points that's so long that by the time you finally get to where you're going, you may be eligible to receive Social Security. When you need to get to another control point quickly in this map, you're almost better off committing tactical suicide and hoping to respawn in a more convenient location. On a related note, the author's recommended player count, 8-16, is in my opinion too low. You'll be bored to tears trying to play this map with eight players; before long you'll be killing yourself just to have something to shoot at. I'd say that 15-24 is closer to the mark.

Having the translocator is absolutely necessary when you play this map. Aside from the fact that you can use it to move across level ground more quickly, there are numerous multi-tiered constructs in the map where a translocator will save you a ton of time. Again, the Ascension to Heaven comes to mind. In fact, in that room, there's a pit in the center filled with water, and if you fall in, you won't be able to extricate yourself without a translocator.

Aside from its problematic size, the map plays decently. Weapons and ammo are placed evenly throughout the map, in good locations. The only strange thing there is that there's a WarheadAmmo pickup next to the Redeemer. It doesn't give you anything; it just produces a message on your screen that says "You picked up some ammo." Strange. The four control points, named for the decorative floor panels on which they perch, offer different tactical situations, and none are frustratingly difficult or boringly easy to hold. The Falcon point is vulnerable to long-range fire from either of two sides, and is bordered closely on the other sides by elevated platforms. One of these holds the Bio-Rifle, and the other holds the Flak Cannon – nasty weapons to have trained on you from above. The labyrinthine Hall of Pillars has the Falcon point at its center, and is a great site for sneaky, close-range duels. A three-tiered arena encloses the Ankh point, found in the center of its lowest level, and the Scarab point sits in a vast, open chamber with sniper nests nestled among the pillars high overhead. There are quite a few dead ends in the maze of hallways, though, used as spawn rooms, that are easy to get stuck in if you're not certain of where you're going.

FINAL SCORE: 6.5

Gods, I do go on sometimes. In summary, this is a good map that could have been better. The weak botplay really hurts, since I'll be damned if I can ever find a DOM server with sixteen or more people on it. The passages linking the control points are rather too protracted as well. You can get around that to some extent with your translocator, but the bots aren't going to keep up. Still, any Domination player should have this. A DOM map with this much work put into it is, as I said earlier, a rare and wonderful thing.










 
Map Comments


Ironblayde
07-09-2004 01:42 PM EDT
 
A bloody huge DOM map, with an equally huge readme file. ;) Initial impressions: nice visuals and solid construction, but parts of it sprawl too far or lack connectivity. Choose the wrong route and it could be a long time before you get where you're headed. Definitely worth a look, especially considering how few DOM maps are out there. More detailed comments (possibly in the form of a review if Thunderstrike wants one) to follow once I've had more time to play with it.

EDIT: I certainly wasn't kidding about those "detailed comments." :) My apologies for the length; there was a lot that needed to be said.

XepptizZ
07-05-2004 02:35 PM EDT
Rating: 6.5 
Very Impressive archi, equal good texturing, the lighting could be improved a bit. It's a truely gigantic map. But it's way to maze like. I believe it has 4 very big and very cool halls, especially the triangle shaped spiraling stairs thing. Good sounding to with the reverb, and it just has enough amb. sounds.

Some very bad things were the dead-end corridors and the too low ceillings, you know, the jump 'n bump effect. Plus a DOM-Map should always be fast and furious. All of the other gametypes can use big maps, but not DOM.

cobra6
07-05-2004 02:19 PM EDT
Rating: 9 
Simply the best DOM- map at there. Great care whas taking on this map, Ya very big a bit confusing at first but, after a game or two, you learn it. Good light's and texture, if it whould not being for small bot problem, I whould gave it a 10 that map owne!. Super job TS.

Frieza
07-09-2004 03:42 PM EDT
Rating: 6 
It's a cool map. A VERY long review indeed! Though, that can only be a good thing :)

GRed (V)èg@
07-09-2004 06:10 PM EDT
 
looks random hall room hall room and some of them need to be taller everything is blocky and flat other than that it has a nice spiral corridor which has some crazy but good looking archy 5th picture in the review

[Dark-JaXx]
07-11-2004 09:36 AM EDT
Rating: 7.5 
bloody...

Yes..this is cause Unreal Tournament always be alive.
Cause the refreshing ideas of a few mappers are revenging the limits of creativity..
I must admit, that the spiral (path) that goes above, is really impressive. Some places are often a bit annoying, but keep the gameplay clean...good point.
7.5 would be suitable for the new idea's of the map

Lord_Hamlet
07-11-2004 09:50 AM EDT
Rating: 1.5 
wtf, this map got a 6.5? lol
Build score 0.5
Cast score 0.5
awe score 0.5
No gameplay, no z-axis, only a lot of boxes and corridors...

SaMBoY
07-12-2004 06:18 AM EDT
Rating: 6.5 
this is a bit big for my liking, maybe if it was a bit smaller it would be better.. good placement but too many places to go, and stuff... 6.5 :)

Manticore
07-16-2004 06:19 AM EDT
Rating: 5.5 
Although the map has impressive scale and architectural elements that make the most of its size it's too big for truly captivating DOM, in my opinion.

Thunderstrike
07-22-2004 07:08 AM EDT
 
Firstly, thank you Ironblayde for a typically thorough and on-the-money review. I love that I'm still learning so many things, like that extra LiftExit for the translocator path. I had bots translocating elsewhere without it, but it makes a lot of sense, as well as the TriggerControl setting for the doors! For the uber brightness, I blame my ailing monitor. One day the whole map looked rather dark (especially the now eroneously entitled "Hall of Shadows", and whilst I knew in the back of my mind the zone lighting setting was too high, I could only go by my monitor. Anyway, bad workman blaming his tools! :) Thanks again, IB! Better next time, honest!

Howitzer Lykaon
07-22-2004 12:21 PM EDT
Rating: 10 
I'm giving it a 10 because chances are that there are very few Domination maps that are this good. I loved it. And it has inspired me.

Shao
08-04-2004 08:17 PM EDT
 
I can't rate it because my dl link isn't working :(

Ntwarr
08-21-2004 07:07 PM EDT
Rating: 6.5 
People who hasn't posted any maps can't write comments
I like to try some of thier maps first

ThaKillaTwinz
08-22-2004 10:58 PM EDT
Rating: 8 
I downloaded this one a month or so ago and finally played a game in it friday. I am totally feeling the custom egyptian textures. And finally an egyptian map that doesn't use that ugly day skybox (with the exception of 1on1 rajan). Two years of build time was enough to get me to download. As far as gameplay is concerned, i spent alot of time searching for control points, and sometimes you spawn in the ascention to heaven and it takes forever to get to the top. But the whole map looks cool so it's all good.

-mad.dogz-
06-20-2005 11:43 PM EDT
Rating: 8.5 
I like how this map plays. 4 control points. I play with 11 bots and 3 teams. One problem is the bots ignore the Falcon too often. The stream with all the goodies works for me. One more thing to say. Make more!!



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