The Sunday N

The Sunday N
by Alex Kurcharski, featuring Tanner Rogalsky and Matt Blaylock

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View feedback on this issue.

As (I hope) you've heard, this will be the last edition of The Sunday N done by me. If anyone else wants to pick it up, contact maestro to see if you can get something organised, but don't take this as a guarantee. I've had fun doing it, but it had started to become a chore, and following a great ethic of Dave's, when something becomes a chore that you have the choice to stop, don't do it any more. So I'll bow out here with forty-one issues. I'm definitely pleased with that amount. Also, expect a release of a userlevels file of all maps that have made it in here at some point soon, from AMLT. The boy had the good idea, and I, the other boy, gave it the A-OK.

I bid you adieu.

The Daily Rundown
September 2nd to September 25th

September 4th

Heh. Interesting how well this map's title foreshadowed my predicament.

September 6th

This map is as undefinable as existentialism.

September 7th


September 8th

And this one was deceptive. New Lucidium, anyone?

Strange effect but a cool one.

September 10th

Very very groovy race.

September 12th

I'd like to see /him/ in my dream last night.

September 16th

My favourite part of my most favourite series of the last few months.

September 18th

Definitely a quality map for Sir George.

September 21st

Haha. Fantastic!

September 22nd

I just love mines and launchpads. I really do.

September 23rd

Great great great innovation here. Unique as fuck.

September 25th

Not overrated at all.

Meh. Something good may as well come of him.

Maps of the Week


The Songs I Listened To, As I Wrote This

John Williams - The Princess Appears, from the 1997 album Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope Soundtrack
John Williams - The Land of the Sand People, from the 1997 album Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope Soundtrack
John Williams - The Return Home, from the 1997 album Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope Soundtrack
John Williams - Inner City, from the 1997 album Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope Soundtrack
John Williams - Cantina Band, from the 1997 album Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope Soundtrack
John Williams - Mouse Robot and Blasting Off, from the 1997 album Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope Soundtrack
John Williams - Rescue of the Princess, from the 1997 album Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope Soundtrack
John Williams - The Walls Converge, from the 1997 album Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope Soundtrack

Artist Commentary of the Third Kind

I have two for you this time. First up, community veteran tktktk!

Pluish – I consider this to be my first decent map. It was, as the name implies, inspired by maximo’s classic map, plue. I distinctly remember being entirely frustrated with my relatively poor mapmaking skills at the time. For my next attempt, I decided to use the basic style and concept of plue as a starting point. I copied the general style – the rockets, gold designs, and 45-degree tiles – but made the gameplay itself much lengthier and more difficult.

Like plue, the map has a good flow and is very open to different routes. I spent a long time tweaking the tileset to maximize these traits. Although maximo’s was far superior to mine, this map was an important step for me in becoming the mapmaker I am today.

Framework – In my opinion, my second good map. The theme of NC6 was Metanet style, but in retrospect this doesn’t seem very much like a Metanet map at all. Although this map did win NedCon 6, that’s not really what makes it special to me. My intention in making it was to go for something epic, and part of the way through development I came up with the idea of using all nine enemy types. This aspect of the map is cool and makes for a lot of diverse gameplay challenges, but the thing that stands out about this map most is the incredible flow throughout it.

After designing the tileset and putting in the bounce blocks, I was amazed at how easy it was to move around. Everything in the map fits together in such a way that the player can move about easily in almost any direction. Not only is the map not limited to a single route to follow, but no particular method of completion presents itself over another. There are a number of equally viable options immediately open to the player from the very beginning.

Simple Challenge #13 –
My goal in creating the Simple Challenge series was to focus on testing the limits of the player’s ability without having to deal with the restrictions of a regular map. I think this particular iteration represents really well what the series is all about: illustrating a single challenging gameplay concept in the most basic way possible.

The tiles are set up so that the player must walljump almost perfectly in order to gain enough momentum to reach the goal. What I really like about it is that it’s virtually uncheatable without requiring any other mines or objects to block alternate routes. The only other plausible option would involve a very tricky reverse corner jump, which would take longer and be much harder to do than the actual challenge itself anyway.

Misconception –
I remember the first time I played Lucidium’s map Deceptive, wondering what could possibly be so difficult about a map with no enemies. Not only was I proven very wrong, but that was the map that really gave me a love for no-enemy puzzlers.

When I decided to make one of my own, I came up with the idea of using one shape throughout the map. I used rounded tiles, in keeping with the style of Deceptive, and the final result was a shape that could be used in a lot of different ways. I tried to use every section of the shape for some purpose at some point in the map, whether to help or hinder. My favorite part of the map is the right uppermost switch, which requires a running start and a jump off one of the rounded tiles, because unlike some of the other jumps the solution does not immediately present itself.

Shrapnel –
Race maps are often too convoluted for my tastes; a lot of them have so many elements that the flow is broken somewhere along the line and aesthetics are practically nonexistent. As a result, in making my own I decided to focus on flow while keeping things as simple as possible.

I found that using only a few small fragments of tile was a good way of doing that. It provides the player with challenge while adding to the minimalist theme. The gold is there not so much to provide extra challenge as to make the intended route more clear to the player. I decided not to block off other ways of completing the map because it would require a lot of mines that would detract from the effect I was going for, and because the intended route is still the most efficient one for all-gold.

Revel –
I chose this map because I think it best represents the good qualities of my old mini-challenges style. The map is broken up into several individual sections, with a switch or some gold as the incentive for each. Unlike some of my other maps in this style (Structure, for example), I feel the challenges are very well integrated and feel like a whole rather than a bunch of disconnected, incoherent parts that happened to be thrown together.

The floorguard and thwump sections are a good example of why this map works well. If the player holds left from the beginnning, the thwump is triggered automatically, giving them just enough time to swing around for that extra gold before beating the thwump back into its corridor. The oneways in the upper right are also pretty interesting. The player is constantly tempted by the gold above each, yet the laser drone has a strong tendency to fire at the most unfortunate moments. This forces players to plan their jumps carefully so that the laser fires above or below their intended route.

Stratevasion –
From Legacy’s Expanse map pack. This map actually started out as part of another Expanse map of mine, Cavern District. However, upon playtesting it, the consensus among the other team members was that the original map was too long and disjointed, so this part was broken off and fleshed out into its own map.

This map’s name is a portmanteau of the words “strategy” and “evasion”, and the map requires plenty of both. Although the gameplay is rather different, this map was inspired by the left portion of LV’s map Convention, which is one of my all-time favorite map segments. The three-drone setup not only provides the desired amount of difficulty, but also feels more organic, as opposed to the structure and symmetry of an even number of drones. I also like that the underground tube running the length of the map gives players a bit more freedom in how they complete it.

Fantasy Check –
With my Minimalist Series I wanted to illustrate the huge variety of maps that could be made in N by limiting myself to only mines and gold as objects. I think Fantasy Check is a really good representation of that.

The tileset was done using all of the different tile types to create a whimsical sort of structure. It’s hard to describe the feeling I get from this map; it’s a very surreal experience. The lower part of the hanging section gives the sense that the player is hanging precariously, sort of moving in and out between danger and safety. The bottom portion is really unique in a minimalist sort of way, and although it doesn’t look like it, there are several ways to complete it. In naming this map I thought about the phrase “reality check”, and decided that the gameplay suggested exactly the opposite – a break from reality to delve into a fantasy world.

Rawkstar Central – T
his is one of my favorites from the Legacy Origins map pack. I started out with this one messing around with the design of the circles and continued building from there. The drones are set up on two simple paths that make it surprisingly difficult to collect the gold they’re protecting. What I like about the gauss on the left is that it the player can hide from it in the little crevices naturally created by the gaps in the tile circles.

The section where the player climbs to trigger the trapdoors was inspired by a similar part in stepself’s map Conflux. The climb and the trapdoors themselves are, in my opinion, what really make the map shine. The trapdoor on the left is meant for those who only want to complete the map, while the one on the right is intended for more experienced players who are going for some or all of the gold. By allowing the choice between them, the map becomes more accessible to different styles of play.

Brambles and Shambles –
The final map of the Legacy Origins pack, and a tough one at that. There was some debate among the team over whether the map was too difficult and frustrating. At one point the gauss turret at the top was going to be removed, but instead we opted to make it the final level of the pack without watering down the challenge of the map.

I really love the aesthetics of this map. It’s done once again with only one shape, and the pointiness of the tiles gives it a thorny sort of look, while the emptiness of the upper two thirds of the map gives it kind of a desolate feel. The gameplay itself is a blend of jumping puzzles that originate from the tileset and mines and timing-oriented action sequences that created by the drones and gauss. It all comes together to make a really great, immersive experience and a memorable end to the pack.

And Artist Commentaire the Second, George!

The enemy below - This was one of the first maps that I really enjoyed making. I remember seeing one random level appear on the main screen in N: 21-3 Evac. Upon seeing it, I went and mapped. This is the result - I think this was the first 'good' map I ever made, with an episodic quality to it.

Impulsive - One day upon impulse, I opened up Ned, and I created this. It was a somewhat krusch inspired. The difficulty balance of the map was just perfect, making it accessible to players of all skill levels.

He was ten. - Honestly speaking, I'm still not completely satisfied with this. KA might be, but I'm not. It's still a great map nonetheless.

Precarious Movement - Random names, FTW! I was delightfully shocked to see how much attention it received. It was really my own take on Jeffkillian's Desperado: three rockets, one gauss. One of my favourite rocket dodgers of all time.

Travail - <3 Demonz's tiles.

Interregnum - Sendy inspired thwumps and tiles, Palemoon inspired gold. It worked perfectly. It's one of the few thwump oriented maps I've made.

Tiempo - This is definitely my favourite MNNM League entry ever. I love this one to death.

Foul Dissonance - Truth be told, at that point in time, I didn't if I should continue making maps or not. I had run out of ideas, totally blanked out. I lost the motivation to map, until I came up with this. Not having made a proper puzzle map in a century, I set out and gave it my all with this map. It took quite a bit of tweaking before I was happy with it. Timing and precision are oh-so-important factors for success. It also happens to be the only map where I've used an edited launch pad.

Quark Parry - The lasers are there to make sure you scale the walls with care, and the floor guards and gauss make sure you don't stay too still. It's one of my more difficult maps, but I find it very rewarding every single time I reach the exit. You should, too.

Le Olde Style - As the title suggests, I reverted back to my old 'rocket dodging' map style. By now I was a much more experienced making than when I had my first twenty. The whole map was a slush of some of my favourite mapping techniques, all blended into one healthy smoothee.

Although a relatively late addition, I thought this was a cool idea. Thanks for helping it to succeed, everyone who commentated.

Random Rates

Again, a late addition, and I'm sorry it didn't last any longer. Maybe SlappyMcGee would like to migrate it to the forums or something? Anyway, hope you guys have fun reading this last one, by Kashkin!

woot mountan by funman

I don't quite know what to make of this map. The description reads: "show you the middle but know more :D rate :)". Which nonsensical, until you realised he's posted a demo of the "mittile," which demonstrates his method of getting to the door switch. At any rate, there are, needless to say, a lot of mines in or on woot mountan. The "oneways-amongst-mines" idea is vaguely interesting, though not well executed. Maybe it's my prejudice against mine jumpers, maybe it's the map; either way, it didn't seem fun.

The woot:
- It's themed! I like a good theme. Rock-climbingish, with decent mine placement.
- It's possible.

The rest:
- Frustrating factor of 5.
- Gold placement isn't terribly inspired.
- The switch is useless.
- That *%&$ing mine above the exit.

tower o' power by megapwner

There is no power, and that is barely a tower. More importantly, there is no fun. There's also that switch in the sky... Ugh. Thought may have gone into this map, but I just don't get the desired intent. I finished it on my first attempt, and thought "Now what?". I did again, slightly faster, and felt no satisfaction. It's awkward and stupid.
- ... it's minimalistic? I got nothing.

Power down:
- Livens's glitch.
- Boring.
- Annoying
- Pointless.
- Next map already.

Take Your Time by LexusGT

Oh, I've got plenty of time? Then I won't mind waiting for the freakin' map to load. So. Many. Mines. And those sections are useless! Worse than useless! That's a bad start. The game play is tedious, the enemies inconsequential, and it's essentially the same thing four times. Can I have a good map already?

Worth your time:
- It's pretty.

Not worth your time:
- It's pretty crap.
- And the load-time sucks.

Saving Point by XChaosX

... and the Random Rates Fates give me half a map. It's not a bad half, admittedly, but it's still only half a map.... that looks a little like a penis. I've seen most of these elements before in a race. Interestingly, the flow wasn't immediately obvious to me, but I -liked- that in this map. The bounce-back at the end is cool. Someone should check out the finished version (assuming it exists).

Saving graces:
- Flowy! But not in a exceedingly linear way.
- Successful use of jump pads.

Points to be improved:
- Well, a finish might be nice.
- Moving away from the testicular theme (read: ovals).
- Mines that you might actually hit.

Contemplate by Kablizzy

Woo! Blizzy map. Thank you, Oh God of Random Maps. The sparse/scattered/Concentrate theme is nice. Though, gold makes it look more cluttered than LV's original. I don't think it's generally as successful as LV's, even aside from the fact that it's a tribute map. Maybe it's the drone paths, or perhaps the switch placement. Still, trib4almaniac's demo demonstra- illustrates how gracefully such an awkward map can be traversed.

Well fuck, now I’m stuck, as far as “clever” pros and cons titles go.

Quantum plate!
- You may bask in the glory of some Kablizzy-LittleViking love.
- Plausible difficulty.
- Enjoyable pacing.
- A sense of accomplishment upon completion.

Cunt template:
- Borderline “whacking”. Did you find yourself asking the question, “Is this expertly constructed, or thrown together?” Especially with the gold.
- The drone paths. They don’t seem to have the finesse of LV’s.

For the last time, farewell.