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Old April 25th, 2008, 11:35 PM   #1
EvilMike
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The Resurrection of Devan Shell (Ep5 is now uploaded!)

On April 25, 2005, I released the first episode of a project that would take until 2009 to finally finish. The beginnings of it actually go back to about 2002 or 2003, with an earlier level pack that I never managed to finish. Also, one of the levels in the fifth episode dates back as far as 1999. Suffice to say, this thing took me a while.

The Resurrection of Devan Shell is a high difficulty, plot driven series of episodes that are set a little over a hundred years after JJ2. I took a lot of liberties with the storyline, and added my own elements though, so it's pretty different. Also, it's a lot more "serious", though much of it is deliberately over the top.

Each episode is a different length, but all together the series has several hours of gameplay. I can't give an exact count as to how many levels there are, since many are revisits or cutscenes, but there are only a couple of other series that I can think of which rival this one in terms of size, and none of them have much of a storyline.

This thread serves as a place for discussion of these episodes, and also a place for me to post info and links to all of them in one convenient location.

---

UPDATE (2008 April 30): Episode 4 has been released. Thank you to everyone who contributed something, even if it was just ideas.

UPDATE (2009 June 6): Episode 5 is almost done and I'm looking for testers. See my post on the 3rd page of this thread for details. It should come out sometime this month, or next month if things are delayed. Overall it's a very big level pack, and I'm glad it's finally done with. I won't be doing any rereleases of old episodes like I did last year, but I am doing small updates to them, to fix a few problems.

UPDATE (2009 June 9): Episode 5 will come out on the 27th. Testing has begun. In the time between now and then, I'll be fixing bugs and also working on the new (and probably final) versions of the other 4 episodes. I've also rewritten the first few paragraphs of this thread, since they were getting a bit outdated. Oh, and screenshots.

UPDATE (2009 June 26): Episode 5 has been released. And a day early, depending on your time zone!

---

Episode One: The Invasion of Deserto

Synopsis: This episode takes place on the planet of Deserto. It has just come under attack, and you are a resident of it who has suddenly been caught in the middle of what is soon to become one of the biggest wars in history.

I started working on this years before it was released. The original intent was to make a large, non-linear level pack comprised of five main levels, each quite gigantic. You can still find threads I made back then in the JCS forum where I talked about the development of it.

That plan fell apart, but a number of levels remained. I took some of them, changed the story, made a few more levels to tie it all together, and released it. Because of the very long amount of time this was being made, episode one is the longest in the whole series. I decided that this story would be told in five parts.

I wasn't even able to use all of the levels I made, so some of it got used in the next episode.

Screenshots:


---

Episode Two: The Rebirth of Evil

Synopsis: After the events of the first episode, you leave the planet in search of answers. What you discover is that things are much, much worse than they initially seemed.

A few old levels made their way into this one, although for the most part the only thing that survived was the concept. The only one that survived in its entirety was Devan's Fleet. Deserto Orbital Base for example, the largest level I have ever made, was originally a completely different level with a similar feel. A few parts of the original level made their way into the finished version, but most of it was made specially for this episode. In any case, due to the large amount of pre-existing stuff I was able to draw on, episode two also is longer than the later ones.

People seem to think this is the best episode of the lot, and I can understand why. I put more work into the main level of this pack than I ever have put into any other level, and probably ever will.

Screenshots:


---

Episode Three: The Battle for Carrotus

Synopsis: You have finally arrived at Carrotus, bringing with you an urgent message: an enemy fleet is on its way to conquer the planet. To help fight them, you enlist with the Imperial Forces and are ordered series of missions sabotoging and destroying enemy ships.

This one came out over a year after the release of Episode Two. For a long time I didn't work on it at all. Then, when I decided to begin making it, I found out that the plan I created for this episode was completely unfeasable.

So I decided to swap the plans for episode four and episode three, with some story adjustments. And then I threw out the plan completely, and rewrote almost the whole thing.

The end result still worked out to be pretty good, despite the troubled development process. This episode is much more plot-heavy than the previous ones though, and the levels are not as huge either. Somewhere along the line my focus shifted from level design to storytelling. It might just be because I don't have as much time to make levels, though.

Screenshots:


---

Episode Four: The Resistance

Synopsis: You have been a prisoner of war for the last five months, held by the enemy occupying Carrotus. Suddenly, you are freed by members of the Carrotus resistance force, and are given an opportunity to continue fighting.

It's been about a year since my last release, but most of that time was spent simply thinking about what to do with the fourth episode, and carefully laying out plans. Overall the final product turned out to be quite close to the plans I originally made before the production of episode three, but there are a couple of key plot points that were added quite recently. The original plan also had this epsiode being rather non-linear, but I scrapped that idea due to it being impractical and not very fun to play.

Most of the levels were made in the last few months, except for the Forest Path level which is actually completed from a highly unfinished level that I started around 2003. There are more levels in this episode than the previous one, but they are also shorter on average.

This episode, like the previous one, is very plot-heavy. A lot of that is because of necessity: my plans for the fifth episode don't leave much room for storytelling, so I have to cram as much of the plot as possible into this one. It also didn't help that it turns out I really hate using the Carrotus tileset. Still, the quality here is on the same level as the previous ones.

Screenshots:


---

Episode Five: The Fortress of Ruin

Synopsis: The final confrontation with Devan Shell is near. You have traveled to the planet Nippius where it said that he is hiding, but something very strange is going on there. You're going to need to take a few detours, it seems...

It's the last episode, finally. I wanted to be done with this in April, but what's a few extra months?

This is by far the longest episode, and personally I feel it's the best one. I used almost all of the ideas I had, and unlike the previous episodes, refused to place any limits on myself when it came to plot or setting. Everything I wanted to get done is in here, and I'm glad I managed to do it.

This episode is much more gameplay-heavy than the previous ones, with the plot mostly being confined to scrolling text. It's structured around a massive "hub" level, which branches off to a bunch of different unique areas. Each area consists of a regular level, a "fortress" level, and a small boss level. The hub area also mirrors that format somewhat, just on a larger scale.

All of the levels are new, except for one, which was started way back in 1999, and abandoned for a very, very long time.

This is the final episode. There won't be any sequels continuing this storyline. Perhaps one day I'll make another level pack, but it will be a new story, set in the same "universe" with a different protagonist. Maybe a prequel. That's just speculation though. Maybe if JJ2+ ever adds new single player features. Other than that, I'm pretty much retiring taking an extended break from level making. I just don't see what else I can do from this point, other than repeat what I've already done. To be honest, I'm glad this is finished!

Screenshots:


---

And yeah, this thread is pretty much an advertisement. Still, you might as well get some use out of it, so if you have any questions or comments, this thread is for you. Plus I know a lot of people don't check the downloads page all that often, so it's good to point out when a major release has been made.

Last edited by EvilMike; June 26th, 2009 at 03:55 PM.. Reason: ep5 released
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Old April 26th, 2008, 06:07 PM   #2
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I have two good betatesters for ep4 now, but I could still use one or two more. If you want to test it then just ask. I really want to upload this soon and I would prefer to get a reasonable amount of feeback before doing that.

You don't even need to be a good level maker or anything. Being able to tell the difference between a good level and a bad level is enough, and practically anyone can do that.

At this point it looks like all of the tricky stuff is sorted out, so the type of testing needed now is the more general sort (this level is too hard, that level is too dark, etc). If you want to help out, just post here. The first few people to ask will probably get it. You could also try reaching me by private message or IRC query but I often forget to check those.
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Old April 26th, 2008, 06:55 PM   #3
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tight, i love the second shot . great work on this. I agree. you're not pro, but you're getting there man. just keep practicin and learn more about the art. still, very good work man. keep it up.
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Old April 26th, 2008, 08:28 PM   #4
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That second shot is great. I'm working on a single player campaign. I wish i was as good as you.
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Old April 26th, 2008, 08:53 PM   #5
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When I started that topic in the JCS forum about the "Levelset of the Decade", This storyline is what I had in mind.

This is so good, it should be a game in itself.
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Old April 26th, 2008, 08:56 PM   #6
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That second shot is great. I'm working on a single player campaign. I wish i was as good as you.
It's always great to hear when people are working on their own single player episodes. So much of the attention these days is paid to the multiplayer scene, and I think a lot of people really forget where this game has its roots.

Of course, it's also one of the hardest types of level to make, so that probably contributes to it as well. So many people start projects but never finish them, and as a matter of fact two of my favourite jj2 episodes ever are unfinished, those being Tomb Rabbit 2 by Kejero and TDI2 by Moonblaze. Both of these packs are very good on their own, but could have been so much more. It's an unfortunate fact that it's easy to start something, but hard to finish it. the unfinished Tomb Rabbit 2 especially contains some of the best jj2 level design I've ever seen (though a bit rough in a few places).

Of course, I just say that's a reason why even more people need to make SP levels. More effort means more stuff gets released, and that's always a good thing! I think that anybody who manages to release a full episode is truly skilled, even if it only gets an average rating.
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Old April 27th, 2008, 12:57 AM   #7
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I always knew the series title was going to be something along the lines of "Devan's Resurrection". Also, I'm extremely surprised that this series has been in the works for more than 3 years. It certainly doesn't feel that long. Anyway, I'll beta test if you want/need one more person.

As for more people in the SP scene, I totally agree. I like JJ2's SP more than JJ2's MP in some cases, simply because you can do more in SP. I remember people liking the Christmas packs I'd release, I might make a fully-fledged SP pack. Doubt it'll get finished, but oh well.
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Old April 27th, 2008, 01:57 AM   #8
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I always knew the series title was going to be something along the lines of "Devan's Resurrection". Also, I'm extremely surprised that this series has been in the works for more than 3 years. It certainly doesn't feel that long. Anyway, I'll beta test if you want/need one more person.
Yeah, the title was always going to be something like that, I just never decided which way to word it. I'm bad at naming things, so I prefer to go with the most literal approach possible.

To me it actually feels like this has been going on for a lot longer than three years, but that's probably because it sort of has. Out of curiosity, I found the thread where I posted about a very early, abortive version of the episode, and the date on it is September 2002, though it was obviously started even before that. I continued along with that plan, with a few adjustments, into 2003. Eventually it all fell apart, but the levels themselves were all mostly done so I recycled them into episodes 1 and 2.

So that means I've been working on this thing for like six years, and that's actually kind of scary. And it's also taken me that long to come up with a name for it.

Regarding testing, I've already been privately contacted by two people, but if any of that falls through or if it becomes apparent that more revision is needed, I'll keep you in mind.
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Old April 27th, 2008, 10:59 AM   #9
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I like how you mention that this is posted in the General JJ2 Talk board, and how people comment on that screenshot which had been posted in the JCS forum weeks ago already. Seems you were pretty right about far more people checking the General JJ2 board indeed
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Old April 27th, 2008, 02:27 PM   #10
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I'll offer to betatest for you, but I'm not exactly known for my good reviews. I'll put in some extra effort if that's what it takes, and it looks like a good levelpack. I'd be honoured to be in the credits.

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Old April 28th, 2008, 12:09 AM   #11
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I'd just like to point out that the CTF death pits used in the updated version do not work correctly with JJ2+. However, it means that death pits like the ones in MP levels can be used instead. (I've tested it)

And I'd be happy to betatest if you want. In the right frame of mind, I can give some strong opinions on things.

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Old April 28th, 2008, 01:14 AM   #12
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Interesting. It appears you're right about that. Strange it took until now for me to learn that.

For now I am going to consider that to be a problem with JJ2+ and not a problem with the levels. I will therefore leave the ctf base system in place. I will, however, also add support for JJ2+ style death pits. That way it should work regardless of which version you use.

I will release a small update soon to correct this problem. For now just type jjk if it happens.
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Old April 28th, 2008, 02:11 AM   #13
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Don't type jjk, it can give a memory error
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Old April 28th, 2008, 08:25 AM   #14
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I'd just like to point out that the CTF death pits used in the updated version do not work correctly with JJ2+.
Then don't use JJ2+ for single player. Simple enough I guess.
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Old April 28th, 2008, 08:30 AM   #15
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It's quite inconvenient if you need different exes for different game modes though. A cross-version solution would be better, but luckily Mike seems to have that covered.

Last edited by Stijn; April 28th, 2008 at 08:48 AM..
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Old April 28th, 2008, 08:48 AM   #16
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Then don't use JJ2+ for single player. Simple enough I guess.
What about hosting co-ops >[
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Old April 28th, 2008, 12:34 PM   #17
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I heart this episode series, I kind of always wanted to write an awesome, lenghty review but always lacked time or inspiration, but I really think I must get myself to do this. This thing really moves me, the story, the design, it's not your ordinary JJ2 levelpack and then again it is your ordinary JJ2 levelpack, because some fresh ideas aside, it doesn't, like, introduce a new technology or idea of making levels, but it's all done so smoothly and with good ideas that out of all levelpacks I ever played, The Rebirth of Evil was the one I replayed most times (4 or 5, I think).

We need more singleplayer packs/episodes indeed, especially as interesting as this. I'm not expecting a lot, just to have a good story and fun levels. I'm doing my part too and don't expect to do better than Mike does, but that's not the point. More emphasis on singleplayer plz!
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Old April 28th, 2008, 04:50 PM   #18
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I'm doing my part too and don't expect to do better than Mike does, but that's not the point.
Heh, from the few screenshots I've seen of Devil Dash, it looks like you are already doing a better job than me. It looks like you're making original tilesets for it, and that is enough to probably make you way better than I am at this. I have to use other people's tilesets, because I just don't have what it takes to make new ones. I only ever made one good tileset, and that was in 1999 and half of it was ripped from other tilesets. I'm looking forward to your episode more than probably any other one being made right now.
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Old April 28th, 2008, 10:57 PM   #19
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Devil Dash looks great. I don't think having the ability to make your own sets gives much of an advantage though. It's better in the aspect you could specialize the sets, for better execution of your concepts.
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Old April 29th, 2008, 08:00 AM   #20
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Simply put, devres has everything that people want in a SP pack, hence why it appeals to basically everyone, without fireworks like eyecandy in P4ul's method or custom tilesets. EM would have gone too OTT had he have custom tilesets for devres. Part of the series' novelty comes from giving old tilesets an unique atmosphere.
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Old April 29th, 2008, 08:44 AM   #21
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I really look foward to your upcoming release, Mike, although I can't beat it without cheating. I hope I can be of artistic help in your final episode as well.
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Old April 29th, 2008, 07:46 PM   #22
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Just an update, I have decided to not patch any of the episodes to work around that JJ2+ bug. I found a method, albeit a cumbersome one, that worked to eliminate the bug, but I am not sure if it is a good idea long-term. For one thing, the solution is a bit ugly and makes it take even longer to die, and also I prefer not to reupload stuff unless it is for something very important. There is also a chance that after JJ2+ fixes this problem, my method for working around it will just introduce a new bug (the level will be trying to kill you with both the ctf base method and the jj2+ method).

I have instead added a note to download descriptions of all episodes that they must be played with standard JJ2. This is not such a big deal, since you can just load Jazz2.exe instead of Jazz2+.exe. It also applies to a lot more levels than just mine. This warning will be for ep4 as well. This is perhaps a bit inconvenient for some people, but it is not my problem to fix.

On a lighter note, ep4 will be uploaded tomorrow.
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Old April 30th, 2008, 12:09 AM   #23
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Has the story changed enough in the updated other packs to warrant playing it again before EP4?
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Old April 30th, 2008, 01:40 AM   #24
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Has the story changed enough in the updated other packs to warrant playing it again before EP4?
The story has not changed in its important details. The rewrite was only done to make the dialogue better and clearer. It was also done to address minor continuity issues and such, and made a few small stylistic changes.



Also, I just uploaded episode 4. Enjoy.
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Old April 30th, 2008, 11:17 AM   #25
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my reaction when/after playing ep4:

wow.
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Old April 30th, 2008, 12:49 PM   #26
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darn I can't wait to get back to my university room to play it <3
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Old April 30th, 2008, 12:55 PM   #27
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Heh, that was shorter than I expected, but nonetheless quite fun indeed. Saw some very cool and fun stuff here and there. Cooba smells. This one was kinda short (for me)... ;[

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Old April 30th, 2008, 12:57 PM   #28
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Heh, that was shorter than I expected, but nonetheless quite fun indeed. Saw some very cool and fun stuff here and there. I want Ep5 to be biggerr.. This one was kinda short (for me)... ;[
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Episode five is untitled as of yet, and I don't want to reveal too much about it. I can say that the plans are laid out, and I want this one to be bigger than the last two. It would only be appropriate to go out with a bang
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Old April 30th, 2008, 03:29 PM   #29
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Old April 30th, 2008, 03:33 PM   #30
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Regarding testing, I've already been privately contacted by two people, but if any of that falls through or if it becomes apparent that more revision is needed, I'll keep you in mind.
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I'll offer to betatest for you
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Old April 30th, 2008, 03:37 PM   #31
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That post really didn't help.
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Old April 30th, 2008, 03:39 PM   #32
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I'm not sure how hard the concept of "If you were needed for betatesting you would have been contacted, so there is no use asking about it" is to grasp, and I don't think I can make it simpler.
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Old April 30th, 2008, 03:44 PM   #33
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That post really didn't help.
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Old April 30th, 2008, 03:45 PM   #34
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Oh no, I have been fooled!
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Old April 30th, 2008, 05:44 PM   #35
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Valco, you weren't so much denied as you were beaten by other people who asked first. I just forgot to reply to you.

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Heh, that was shorter than I expected, but nonetheless quite fun indeed. Saw some very cool and fun stuff here and there. Cooba smells. This one was kinda short (for me)... ;[
I agree with you actually. Each episode's length is largely dependent on the amount of time I spend working on it (I literally spent years on the first two), the amount of interesting stuff I can get out of the setting without stretching the plot too much (no space levels possible with this one, for example), and finally the amount of inspiration I have.

That last bit is pretty important. Using carrotus as the setting for ep4 was necessary for the storyline, but unfortunately it is not a setting I like to use very much. I really wanted to get it done, so I could focus on the next one. The end result wound up being a bit short, and a bit disappointing for me, but people seem to like it at least. Besides that, I tested the amount of gameplay time and it actually seems to be about equal to ep3.
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Old April 30th, 2008, 05:58 PM   #36
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Valco, you weren't so much denied as you were beaten by other people who asked first. I just forgot to reply to you.
That was the 'forgotten about' part. I guess I can leave this subject alone for now, and gather my patience to wait for the pack. In the meantime, I'm going to play all the updated packs and beat them on hard mode
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Old April 30th, 2008, 06:50 PM   #37
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That was the 'forgotten about' part. I guess I can leave this subject alone for now, and gather my patience to wait for the pack. In the meantime, I'm going to play all the updated packs and beat them on hard mode
ummmmmm

Try reading some of the posts in this thread. I already uploaded it.
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Old May 1st, 2008, 01:06 PM   #38
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Maybe it's just me, but I think one of the levels is broken.

Highlight block to show spoiler: In the Hell level, it is impossible to defeat Bilsy.
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Old May 1st, 2008, 01:23 PM   #39
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Maybe it's just me, but I think one of the levels is broken.

Highlight block to show spoiler: In the Hell level, it is impossible to defeat Bilsy.
HIGHLIGHT TO READ:
Highlight block to show spoiler: No it's not. I managed to beat him. The health meter didn't go down because there are more Bilsys down below trying to kill you and I think the health meter is being displayed for one of the others.

[Changed to spoiler tags - FQuist]
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Old May 1st, 2008, 03:16 PM   #40
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Well if this wasn't clear earlier, the shortness isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just I REALLY had a thing for your big levels and making levels a bit smaller because of the set is something I'd do xD. It was still very fun and had some quite original things, I was expecting a little more from the patrols, I suppose the journey to Nippius / the time at Nippius should experience some hardships? I'm looking forward to a bigger episode as suggested further up.

This post probably is pointless. I just like ranting on. :]
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