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> Hand-Drawn Mordor Maps!, Doing this gave me a new appreciation of level design.
MythrilZenith
post Sep 29 2016, 05:48 PM
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So, some time ago, I was bored, and didn't have access to a computer. So I tried to drae out the maps of Mordor by memory. It was harder than I thought! So I got acreenshots of the maps from your site, then hand-drew the maps. (I'd attach them here but I don't know how).

As I put in the description, drawing out these maps by hand has given me a much greater appreciation for the level design of Mordor. What pits are "avoidable?" and how many block paths directly? How are rock walls used? Teleporter/rotator placement? What levels actually have chutes? How are fog rooms used? Why the heck are there pointless secret rooms on floors 1 and 2 that require teleporting into and out of?

I'll post some of my initial thoughts (having never actually visited half the dungeon, I've bottomed out at floor 13 but I haven't explored all of floors below 7), but would be greatly interested in hearing your insights and opinions on dungeon design!

(Some spoilers?)
Notable dungeon features:
- floor 1 is simple, mostly hallways, and most pits are avoidable. Right half of level loops together. Great "starter floor" for the dungeon - nothing too cruel, and traps you fall into once you usually won't fall in again.

- floor 2 loves square rooms and clusters of anti-magic. Pits still avoidable mostly. What's up with the long hall on the far right? Again not too cruel though.

- floor 3 has a clear hallway path, and traps or obstacles to the side of the pathways. "Secret entrances" of fog & pits through rock connect bottom-left to majority of map.

- floor 4 has a boxy "building" sub-map, and then a mashup of tiny rooms section. Many unavoidable pits down even "main" paths.

- floor 5 has no water! Extremely lengthy ground paths connect the winding level, but ethereal portal makes the level feel tiny. First real "maze" in bottom right.

- floor 6 has many distinct sub-sections: Minotaur spiral in bottom left, tiny room box in mid-left, fog maze in bottom center, lake in top center, 2x2 room chain on right, big square room with four cross-shaped rooms in top left corner. Pretty much every pit is either right next to a door or down a 1-wide hallway. A TON of rotators. Floor 6 just has a very interesting, perhaps cruel design in general. No chutes though.

- floor 7 is cut in half by a massive lake. Either side of the lake has a symmetrical room: 3x3 with central rotator, with all 4 cardinal directions having pits and then a door orientationally-left. Many "choices" in paths, parallel hallways and the like. And the weird room with rock "pillars" in the mid-leftish area? So weird that it even has random rotators. And each "boss" is at the end of a room chain. I like how the "mage" boss needs ethereal portal, the "theif" boss is past a pit, and the "warrior" boss is just at the end of many fighter rooms. Very thematic.

- floor 8 has long, long hallways connecting most everything. But face direction spaces are ever-present and annoying. If anything this whole floor is just an office building: long hallways with rooms everywhere. Oh, and a fog maze with force-directions in the bottom right corner. I made a note saying "this entire level feels like it was designed only to frustrate players who didn't use the map." The fact that it also has no stairs down is also annoying. Also, two chutes. Why.

- floor 9 feels weird to me, since it's just full of huge irregular rooms! Top-right has a chain of smaller rooms though. Also almost the entire middle of the map is solid rock, with the top-mid section having a chain of "secret rooms" in the middle of it. What's that for? If I were designing a d&d map that's where I'd put a treasure hoard. Or a boss. Or both. I can't find any information on it, though, and I haven't gotten through level 9 much. Anyone know if anything interesting is hidden in that rock?

- floor 10 is dominated by an open-walled maze in the center. It blends into a 2x2 room maze at the top, an irregular room block in the right, and 2x2 rooms into just a mess toward the bottom left. The room group to the bottom left corner that looks like a giant staircase, sectioned off by rock. The huge room chain up to the top left corner is also separated by rock. Also the giant lord chamber is cool in its symmetry.

- floor 11 is a freaking ocean! And soooo much rock too. The top shore is very "space efficient" with a lot of smaller rooms. Pit placement, extinguishers, rotators & teleporters are very cruel. And is that quicksand mixed with the water?

- floor 12 also has a ton of water. Bottom section is loaded with AM. MANY teleporters and chutes toward the left side. Maze-like room chain on the right side. Smattering of pits and face-directions throughout. This floor looks like a jerk.

- floor 13 has a few notable areas. Middle section is a rock-surrounded trap, no way in or out except a teleporter in the middle. Top-right is a big fog maze, also full of traps. Left side is open halls around 2x2 rooms. Bottom section are hallway and room chains. Only one stairwell down, placed right behind force-directions into a teleporter.

- floor 14 is the most clearly delineated into separate sections. Each corner is a building. Bottom-left's teleporter halls seem to be buried in quicksand. Central lake around a small building. Bottom hallway to a tp, right fog room with some small rooms, top as well is a huge fog room. Left has an odd 1-square room chain, leading to seemingly nothing. Does that have any purpose? Also, no stairs down. Gonna have to find the right teleporter then!

- floor 15 has a mix of every major room style we've seen. Top is a big lake, left is a winding hallway around several rooms. Center is a big square room with "pillars." Bottom-right is a mashup of irregular rooms. Top-right corner is another maze of tiny rooms. While not the most cruel level in design, it definitely takes parts from several other levels and tests your ability to navigate a dungeon.


So those were my thoughts & observations. For anyone wanting to understand Dejenol more for themselves, I HIGHLY recommend drawing the maps for yourself. It's pretty fun, too!


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Just an average nomad trying to figure out how Mordor really works.

I've also taken the liberty of recording some videos of Mordor: Depths of Dejenol!

Classics are classic, but never mistake nostalgia for superiority. When older is better, it's because it truly is, not just because our perception of it makes it so.
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kwizzlehazzizle
post Sep 30 2016, 02:36 PM
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Oh yeah, level 9 is definitely weird, but it's cool that the designer took a chance and tried something new. It's surprising how a map made only of lines and doors can have a certain character to it.

Btw, if you can't upload the images here, can you uplaod them to imgur or something?
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Nudibranch
post Oct 1 2016, 05:35 PM
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Good analysis. DA did a very good job of level design for Mordor, definitely. Every floor has a flavor and usually multiple points of interest. Stair placement is also worth commenting on: there's a fast path down to 7 before you have to start navigating long stretches of levels in order to keep marching downward. The teleport-stairs on 8 are an anxiety-provoking moment when you're first exploring the dungeon and don't know how to get to 9.

9 is Mordor's crappiest level. It has no particular theme and no points of interest. Whatever built that set of secret rooms in the rock has long since moved out.

Even 8, which I don't like much (in part because of Ninjas), at least has a laired level 11 Vampire for scary fun.

Monster placement is also an important part of level design, producing various themes. "Lakes" are always interesting because water-dwellers are good for XP gain, and make for easy navigation (unless the lake is hard to reach in the first place). But the Piranhas that show up on 11 make that lake a lot less fun. Yep, that's quicksand+water.

The western section of 13 - the "graveyard" - is very interesting for all its demons and undead. Good XP, easy to navigate, and you'll even find an occasional Dragon's Blood. The direction square next to the stairs is not as annoying as it looks since the usual path downward is via the 1-square room to the left of the stairs and you enter the direction square pointed right anyway.

The one square room chain on 14 has a dragon theme, culminating in Sun Dragons, and is fun to visit. Normally I don't like levels with sealed-off parts, but by then you have cheap Ethereal Portal and the corner sections are pretty navigable once you're in them. 14's greatest feature is how tough it is - Gargantuans, Lamurians, dragons, you've got your hands full. It's a great staging area for 15, which is even tougher.

15 is nicely navigable. With one Ethereal Portal to get out of the lower right, the level is easy to traverse as a giant loop, which is great for endgame grinding.

7's the best level. Multiple interesting (and rewarding) themed lairs, a great lake, and lots of variety while still being pretty navigable. I don't like the isolated Demonist lair, but you're right, it does fit a theme nicely.


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MythrilZenith
post Oct 3 2016, 02:58 PM
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Okay, hopefilly this works because I just uploaded to Imgur.
Hand Drawn Maps
Looks like to embed I need to do things differently, i'll figure that out when I'm on a computer and not a tablet.

Thanks for your insights on monster placement, nudi. Like I said before the deepest I've ever gotten to is the lake below the giant lord (barring one teleport that went horribly awry), and the deepest map I've totally filled out was 7 or 8, so it helps knowing things like there be dragons in the room chain on 14.


Oh, and something I forgot to mention in my OP: Level 15 has a weird square at 17x7y that has no doors, no rock, no effects, nothing. I marked it in red on my map. Is there anything there or was that just a random plot to confuse and trap people?

This post has been edited by MythrilZenith: Oct 3 2016, 03:02 PM


--------------------
Just an average nomad trying to figure out how Mordor really works.

I've also taken the liberty of recording some videos of Mordor: Depths of Dejenol!

Classics are classic, but never mistake nostalgia for superiority. When older is better, it's because it truly is, not just because our perception of it makes it so.
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Roland
post Oct 3 2016, 09:17 PM
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QUOTE (Nudibranch @ Oct 1 2016, 01:35 PM) *
Yep, that's quicksand+water.


Levitation sometimes fails over pits and chutes. Does it ever fail over water or quicksand? What would happen to a character that blunders into quicksand without levitation?

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MythrilZenith
post Oct 4 2016, 04:17 AM
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QUOTE (Roland @ Oct 3 2016, 10:17 PM) *
Levitation sometimes fails over pits and chutes. Does it ever fail over water or quicksand? What would happen to a character that blunders into quicksand without levitation?


I've not had it fail over QS or water personally, but at this rate I'm not counting out the possibility.
Quicksand works similar to water (from what I understand), but it steals items as well as hp. I've never been over QS without levitation, though. In fact, even with levitation I try to avoid QS most of the time anyway.


--------------------
Just an average nomad trying to figure out how Mordor really works.

I've also taken the liberty of recording some videos of Mordor: Depths of Dejenol!

Classics are classic, but never mistake nostalgia for superiority. When older is better, it's because it truly is, not just because our perception of it makes it so.
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Nudibranch
post Oct 4 2016, 04:55 AM
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Levitation never fails over quicksand or water.

Your "red room" is nothing special. I can't remember if it is counted as part of another unattached room or if it gets no spawns or if it's just an ordinary 1-square room. Mordor maps have their anomalies.


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