The Runes in the levels do not actually do anything, no. Originally they were put in the maps as per request by myself to facilitate a feature I was trying to push, Bonus Levels.
The gist would be something like Arcane Dimensions but more fine-grain, an overall progression of the save file by opening up little bonuses in the start map.
Unfortunately, many of the people I asked couldn't get their levels done, including myself. Turns out this is something you need a bit more organization for other than just "Hey can you no-notice make yet another map on top of your first one".
That being said, the idea is there for next year and I'm positive it'd be an awesome thing to have in such a large pack, and hopefully next year I'll be able to just pretty up my blockouts from this year and include them in the next.
To me, it's a good medium between a casual jam environment and a rigidly structured episode environment.
Just finished all levels on Nightmare skill level:
Violet Fluid (xj19_here): Good art direction, good palette, good idea and good (re)use of space. Gameplay is okay. 9/10
Expeditious Egyptian Extent (xj19_fairweather): Really good map. Good colors and good gameplay, neat. But maybe short. 9/10
Morituri Te Salutamus (xj19_beep): Good map idea, good execution. Good art direction and good secrets. If you push both upper buttons before finishing last wave, you'll deny yourself from christmas present, so it's 9/10.
Untitled (xj19_naitelveni): Simplistic yet strong map layout. Could've been very cool, but lags a lot, and I catch the Deja Vu from mapjamx(insomnia), so for me it's no more than 7/10
Coldwind Castle (xj19_maxx): Very good map theme and usage of all these space. Art is magnificent, also it's cool to just naturally rocketjump your way through with rocket launcher>megahealth>gold key>yellow armor>quad>exit, maybe even without half of the kills. When mappers do not create artificial fun restraints i.e. invisible walls and triggers that's cool. 9/10
Cave of the Selfless Martyr (xj19_jcr): You can stand in some certain position, so when deathguards start falling from above in the beginning one of them ends up on the ledge above the ladder, and doesn't come down. If you kill him, floor doesn't paint and the next phase does not activate, so you can softlock yourself there. Otherwise good map. Anyway, is there a way to grab the rune? Is there any point at collecting them? I thought there is some secret levels that you can access from the hub with rune/runes. Ah, nevermind. 8/10
Roba El Ehaliyeh (xj19_ionous): Didn't like this one because of 1)it's so etemenanki with its tight corridors and traps bullshit all over again, and I've collected about 3 journals (spiders, dogs, vorelings, souls and golem), 3 secrets and after that stuck without a clue where to go, so took the rope after about 1.5 hours of wandering. 7/10
Star Prison (xj19_pinchy): Good map theme, yet execution is poor. Nail ogres are difficult, and here and there you can occasionally kill yourself or restart from beginning because accidentally touched slipgate or because every platform slightly moves. And it's really short, so fun hadn't been had. 6/10
The Cold Emprace of the Grave (xj19_otp): Liked the very tight use/reuse of space and every brush, gameplay is meh. 7/10
O Terrorbaum (xj19_greenwood): This one is satisfying, simple slaughtermap with good amount of weapons and powerups, neat humor and neat soundtrack. 8/10
Sacrifice Unto Santa (xj19_nyoei): This map is kinda alike to previous one, also neat and satisfying with good amount of combat and enemies, but deserves one more point for being bigger in content and playtime. Also palette and art is good. 9/10
Silo Breakout (xj19_pinchy2): Map is good, maybe easy but good. Good platforming, good breakable floors and good colours/map layout. Probably simplistic and short, but I like it. 9/10
The Anti-Christmas (xj19_nolcoz): So this map is totally filled with puns and jokes regarding some streamer i don't know, but on it's own it's pretty neat. Progression is nonlinear, so you can gather many powerful weapons right at the beginning if know where to go and how to get there, usage of tricks and jumps is very rewarding. Also some probabilities for softlocking yourself, but not a big deal. Mixed bag of a map, really. Puns and map progression design do it for me, so it's 9/10.
Final Clauset (xj19_shades): That's one of the masocore maps, in which you need to kill everything with insufficient equipment, so after finishing it you don't really know if you like it or hate it. To complete it you gotta use a lot of infighting, ammo conservation and pure savescumming to catch lucky telefrag of one of the plasma minotaurs. Map layout is kinda unforgiving. Art direction is simplistic to the point of being poor, so for me it's overall 6/10
A Window to Europe (xj19_chedap): Art direction and map idea is just woah, also great space usage and attention to details. 9/10
Grim Ascent (xj19_qalten): This is another masocore map, so ammo and health conservation is crucial. But this one catches that perfect balance of hurting you enough to love it. When you got to kill golem with an axe to clear the elevator, and you actually make it! Just to face two golems on the upper floor, but you don't mind cause now you got the grenade launcher! Art direction is ok, final fight with stone knights is good. Overall 9/10
Trial of the Insane (xj19_glans): I feel like this is beginner's map with poor brushwork and non-ideal triggers and questionable map design decisions like space usage, traps and lack of secrets, but what's more important — it worked out for me! I just love arena slaughtermaps, so for me it's 8/10
Hub map is great, this circular stone & metal design is just gorgeous https://imgur.com/a/OOAxAEw
Overall xmasjam2019 is slightly worse than xmasjam2018, as you see from scores, all maps are pretty decent, but there is no real killer maps, capable to compare with, for example, Entering the City of Pale or Coal in your Socks! or NoQuarter from yesteryear (but then there was a lot of hit-and-misses too). Total 8/10. Not really average, just a strong all rounders without any real highs and lows.
ionous map might be bugged, I also appear to be stuck after killing approx 47 enemies, it feels like something didn't trigger
I also got stuck on Ionous' map. I literally wandered around aimlessly for about 25 minutes until someone on the Discord showed me this: https://i.imgur.com/oGjios7.png
I'm only assuming other people got stuck at the same point, but if they did then perhaps it could've been clearer.
On a recent stream I saw an event triggered early that broke progression.
The floor pictured in the image TinTin referenced is not a bug, just difficult progression. I wanted this map to feel like the player was an archeologist of sorts, unearthing long buried secrets. I know this is not to everyone’s tastes, so I added an exit for those that had no interest in more exploratory progression.
Or, Rather, An Early Exit
As a failsafe for players.
Ionous' Map Is A Gem!
Gameplay wery close to another map by autor - "Der Wanderer über dem Säuremeer" - one of my faworite map. Few mapper able to put so long and interesting gameplay time in such limited space
CV. ION01 does use the same 1024 ^3 constraint as my 19 entry.
Ionous Map Were The Best Of The Bunch.
I found it very entertaining. Took me a couple of playthroughs to beat it on skill 3 =) Found all secrets also, a blast.
I Played A Bit.
Violet Fluid by Heresy
This year's "vivid color extravaganza" entry is also apparently the first one as per the start map, nice to get it done so early. Very interesting to combine a gritty industrial map (kudos for such an eclectic texture combination, and for using Kell's Fury set as well) with the titular violet fog, usually associated with some arcane kinds of magic. Got a very unique, and somehow threatening, vibe overall.
I died a number of times, mostly because of my own stupidity rather than the actual difficulty. The map did plenty to constantly keep me on my toes, though, which is be no surprise with 117 monsters (skill 1).
A cool map overall. Hope to see a sequel where we get to traverse one of those huge pink pipes from the inside, and yes that is an euphemism.
I Played Some More.
Expeditious Egyptian Extent by Fairweather
How nice, an entry to the Egyptian retrojam that got displaced in time. Reminds me that I still have to finish that pack from 3 years ago :(
I'm aware you were short on time making this, so some rough edges and lack of polish are understandable - even despite them it's still a nice map, with a strong theme and a decent layout. Not as resourceful with reuse of space the way ionous' entries, or Shambler's entry from last year, would be - making every room very tall vertically contributed to this - but on the flipside, it's good to have a map that has breathing room and isn't catastrophically claustrophobic (like mine).
Good effort overall!
And Some More Yet.
Cave of the Selfless Martyr by JCR
The first very explicitly wintery (but not Christmassy) map in this pack so far. Festivities or lack thereof aside, though, this map comes with its own theme and small story of its own - which is a rarity, and a commendable effort considering the already strict limitations imposed.
I found the gameplay in this map to be on the tougher side personally, with the first arena fight definitely not being my cup of cocoa, but it was nothing that wasn't ultimately manageable. Reason I'm submitting two demos is because I wanted to experience both variations on the ending (I was too late into my first playthrough when I realised I missed a thing or two). Also because I might have been too harsh on your Halloween Jam 2 entry...
I have to give extra kudos on the setpiece with the "gilded one", and what an effective visual it was despite being around a handful of brushes and one entity. Gave me strong flashbacks to the "Yellow King" from True Detective S1.
XMAS Jam 2019 On Quake Grave!
When Barnak referred to a "tilted horizon" I just thought it was some miscommunication. But as it turns out, in Quakespasm Spiked the player camera will be tilted by 4 degrees. That's not the intent, and reloading a save fixes it. Bizarre.
Sacrifice Unto Santa
Mentioned the excellent Violet Fluid in my first post, but I also like Sacrifice Unto Santa a lot. It's beautiful, has a unique style, intricate vertical layout, lots of nice details and a perfectly tuned progression that goes from the serenity of the starting area to the mayhem of the ending battle. Brilliant.
Streamed the first floor of the jam, cool stuff so far!
Streamed the rest of the pack, cool stuff again this year, thanks for the good times everyone!
crazy level GG
Very cool maps; proper end-of-year treat like in the previous years. Thanks to everyone involved for organizing and participating!
Thanks everyone for the great maps. You'll find timecodes in the comments of the videos in my ChristmasJam 2019 Playlist
As for my map I will say, there were two exits though the "true ending" was not so obvious. Also, depending on the order in which you play the maps, if you already have an E4 rune in your inventory you cannot complete my map this way; the ending is triggered by collecting the rune at the bottom of the final lava pit. Sorry for the trouble but there was not supposed to be another E4 rune in the pack!
OK I'm REALLY late to the party on this one but I wanted to drop in with some love for Ionous' map that I just played. I got stuck for a while after the 3rd tome, like others apparently, but when I _did_ figure it out that was quite cool.
I guess along with "players don't look up" (which Quake vets are at least partially trained out of) you can add the truism "players don't look down". :-)
(That experience actually helped me in a later spot where looking down was again required for progression.)
The hunting-around-and-exploring feel was handled well IMO. It's good that it was in a small map so you could run around and examine everything pretty quickly. Also I don't underestimate the value of the initial tone-setting from the design of the opening area and a few bits of text.
Anyway, I don't blame anyone that got stuck/frustrated, but it ended up being a very satisfying map for me.
Hmm got a weird blocky blue-and-white skin for an ogre in Maxx's map. Using QSS on Linux. No errors in the console. Curious. I think this is a normal QS behavior for a bad skin reference but I didn't see anyone else mention that?
Thanks for the kind words. Glad that sticking with it paid off; the difficult paths of progression were intentional.