What is "wrong" with Downtown District?

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valps
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What is "wrong" with Downtown District?

Post by valps »

Isn't a surprise that Residential District is the favourite district from GTA2 for the most players, as we can see on the poll

viewtopic.php?t=633

But notice that Downtown has only one vote. Someone said it's too simple. So I decided to take a detailed look at this map, and in this post I will show what I found, and also discuss the question: "Why Downtown failed to attract the players compared with the other districts?"

My standpoint:

Before discussing the general characteristics of the map, it's worth mentioning that Downtown is a new-player-friendly map, since it is the stage 1.

The players who played Downtown a lot without doing the missions (and thereby prolonged they way to get the stage 2, Residential District) might have more nostalgia for Downtown than the other districts.

In Downtown Singleplayer we have (as far as I know)

- No Shotgun, Electrogun, Dual Pistols or Grenades;
- No "Life +1" or "Multiplier x1" powerups;
- No Electrofingers powerup;
- Railways aren't electrified (except the tunnel entrances);
- No Gold Mines shop;
- All gangs use pistols regardless of how hated you are.
- 2 tanks that locks itself if the player get out, being unable to reenter.

It's obviously a game design choice, since it fortify the feeling of progression when you come to Residential District. As to multiplayer, we only have the absence of Gold Mines shop in Downtown.

But now we will compare it between the other two Districts.



- Pavement variety

There's the miniatures from the districts maps. As we can see, both Residential and Industrial Districts clearly are splitted between at least 3 sections.
Districts maps
Districts maps
districts2.jpg (201.33 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
Regarding to pavement, we have:

Residential: Dark green pavement from north boroughs; yellow pavement from south boroughs; dirty and sand from the Redneck area; and The Village area for Zaibatsu.
Industrial: Blue pavement from the central boroughs; the yellow pavement from the Kristna area; the light-red pavement from the Russian Mafia area; and the grey sand from the Mad Island.

Downtown: Mostly the boring white pavement with some dark green or chess-floor areas, and the red pavement area and grass from Loonies area.

We see from far that Residential and Industrial Districts have delimited areas with their own essence. Only the Loonies Area have a distinct environment in Downtown District. The Zaibatsu and Yakuza areas basically differ only by the buildings textures.

Incidentally, the Loonies area is somewhat small compared to the Zaibatsu and Yakuza ones. Just the most different area, with distinct pavements and roads. This image illustrate it: the dark blue area for Yakuza, grey area for Zaibatsu and the red area for Loonies.
Gang areas
Gang areas
gang_areas.jpg (124.48 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
The variety of the pavement is important to a map design, since it gives the feeling of "the map is changing" when you drive too far away. The white tile is overused, while the dark green have few uses.


- Streets variety

In the entirety of Downtown District, we see only two street variants: grey and brown roads. The map has two large avennues, in which across each other in two points. It's the two large road squares that can be seen in the Downtown miniature map.

In the other hand, Industrial and Residential Districts have these variants:
Roads variants (Industrial and Residential)
Roads variants (Industrial and Residential)
roads2.jpg (154.89 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
Roads variety, alongside the pavement variety, helps the player to identify "where I am" or "in which part of the city I am". If you spawn in a random location of Downtown District, can you be able to find yourself in the map? Btw, the same problem happens in the blue-pavement area from Industrial District, since it's a large area with intricate roads.

Btw, Residential District have "The Mall", the Zaibatsu-Redneck bridge, the "Big Ben" tower in Arbo, some Hospitals and large avennues set in strategic positions among "generic buildings/boroughs" to remember (in the most part of the map) to player where he finds himself.


- Interesting vs Generic Locations

The most memorable areas/buildings from each district (from my standpoint) are:

Residential District: Army Base, Alma Mater Prison, Redneck Area, H2000 Company, The Redneck-Zaibatsu long bridge, The Mall
Industrial District: Army Base, Mad Island, Cop Stations, Gonad's parking lot, Factories at Russian Area, Zaibatsu's Power Core & Decon Labs, Vedic Temple
Downtown District: Avalon's train station and Cathedral (which is a classic respawn point); The Hidden Surprise area at northeast.

Of all locations mentioned, Downtown District have the less interesting locations. The Avalon's locations is (for me) mostly due to the nostalgia: of the Cathedral respawn, the hospital connected with stairs with the fire department, and the train station which joints the two separated railroads.
Avalon
Avalon
avalon.jpg (130.47 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
Also Downtown District have too much empty areas, like the University, Sunnyside (Loonies area) which one of them has a tank; and the backside of the building of Johnny Zoo exotic cars in Funabashi. Ukita (southwest Downtown) lacks of pavement variety, 95% being white tiles, specially that large pavement area.
Sunnyside 1
Sunnyside 1
empty_area6.jpg (94.37 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
Sunnyside 2
Sunnyside 2
empty_area7.jpg (137.3 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
Johnny Zoo exotic cars building
Johnny Zoo exotic cars building
yakuza_mission_building.jpg (69.04 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
Ukita 1
Ukita 1
ukita.jpg (103.99 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
Ukita 2
Ukita 2
ukita2.jpg (126.27 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
Only Downtown have the infamous giant monoblocks of fill-empty-places buildings, specially some in the University and the unnecessary wide police station in Flotsam. Some (large) dead-ends alleys to fill some places inside buildings aren't interesting. Hard access areas like some in University or empty areas like these below aren't attractive as well.
University buildings
University buildings
monoblock_buildings.jpg (156.33 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
Flotsam Police Station
Flotsam Police Station
police_station.jpg (113.99 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
Empty Area
Empty Area
empty_area1.jpg (80.77 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
Alley without weapons, only a slow car
Alley without weapons, only a slow car
empty_area2.jpg (92.99 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
Interesting building design, but a useless alley
Interesting building design, but a useless alley
empty_area3.jpg (114.73 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
Another generic area
Another generic area
empty_area5.jpg (100.71 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
A big dead end
A big dead end
loonies_empty_area.jpg (90.6 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
-----

But particularly for me, in Downtown memorable locations I add this building in Altamont, which have armor, health and machine-gun powerups respawning. I used to create a havoc in the city without worrying about death.
Perhaps the best place to make havoc in Downtown
Perhaps the best place to make havoc in Downtown
altamont_2.jpg (193.55 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
Also, these footbridges across the streets inspired me to create this map: viewtopic.php?t=1374
Footbridges across the streets
Footbridges across the streets
altamont_3.jpg (160.68 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
- Wil.sty vs Ste.sty and Wil.sty

I opened the DMA Map Editor and checked the box "Mark Unused Tiles". Excluding the animation tiles (like water, doors, outdoors etc.) and some in-mission-use tiles (damaged ground, wall etc.), we will get the leftover textures of each district:

Bil.sty in Bil.gmp: 39 tiles unused
Ste.sty in Ste.gmp: 68 tiles unused
Wil.sty in Wil.gmp: 114 tiles unused

Total tiles of .sty: 991 tiles

There is, 11.5% of the Wil.sty tiles are unused in Downtown District. Far more than Residential and Industrial Districts. This somewhat reduces the variety of the textures in Downtown.

Who created medium or large size maps using the bil.sty may realized that some textures of the Industrial District it's too intricate, like the dark blue roof tiles (which btw appears in Residential District as well, but with a dark green tone); several pavement tiles (light blue and light red pavements) which have connections with the gray sand tiles; textures that aren't intuitive per si like the chimney textures and the coal container, which you need to take a look in Industrial District to see how these textures are used, etc.

As to ste.sty, we have the intricate redneck floor, which combines the dark and light beige tiles and the grass; roof tiles with some "props" like air vents, skylights, gutters etc which gives more detail.

But wil.sty lacks of those complex tiles, and therefore becomes the most easy .sty to create maps. In the other hand, the bil.sty is the most difficulty to learn and to create a good map.


- Other problems in Downtown multiplayer map/script:

1. The spawn of Player 2 are three blocks away at north from the Zaibatsu building, causing the player to fall two blocks and lose some health in the very beginning of the game.
Misdisplacement of the P2 spawn
Misdisplacement of the P2 spawn
spawn_player2.jpg (82.61 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
2. A flamethrower in (121, 135) spawn 1 block below the ground, and therefore it becomes useless.
Misdisplacement of the flamethrower
Misdisplacement of the flamethrower
flamethrower_underground.jpg (130.29 KiB) Viewed 1044 times
3. As I said before, dead ends (specially the large ones) alleys aren't of interest in multiplayer games. Some of them takes a lot of time to get the weapons, even using cars. I suppose the players want to spend more time fighting each other than taking large alleys to get a weapon (or a slow car, or even nothing).

But after all, what unique things only Downtown have? (as far as I know)

1. In multiplayer, of all districts only Downtown enable cops with more than 1 head. Max heads is 4. But in no-police multiplayer games, it isn't matter.
2. It seems the only district to use the bollard in some stairs, preventing the player to use cars in these stairs.

So... it's my opinion about Downtown District and why this map isn't attractive as Residential and Industrial Districts are to multiplayer games (despite people to like more the fan-made maps nowadays).

(sorry for my bad english)
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JernejL
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Re: What is "wrong" with Downtown District?

Post by JernejL »

Level 1 is a confusing constant wrong-way trap with boring random buildings.
Level 2 navigates more easily due to the way it's built, visually you always know where you are and there's way less road traps.
Level 3 is more visually similar to level 2 in way you always know where you are, but it includes more navigation traps again.

There is another reason why level 2 is more popular - it has better vehicles.
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B-$hep
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Re: What is "wrong" with Downtown District?

Post by B-$hep »

Yeh, with custom made GTA2 we could have all three maps joined together.
And it would be one huge city.
There is lot of potential for coders for such game actually even if its so old.
Lots of fun stuff can be coded.

I wonder why they removed motocycles from GTA2. Poor handling / physics?
Always wear safety glasses while programming.
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JernejL
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Re: What is "wrong" with Downtown District?

Post by JernejL »

Since i had programmed motorbikes for TDC they take a lot of extra exotic logic.

- extra animations for each character model ( bike entering, sitting, falling off )
- extra handling for rendering (rendering sprites over when sitting, extra logic for proper compositing to get shadows working properly)
- extra physics and collision logic ( make player take damage, fall from bike, make AI properly drive them)

I think they just decided it's not as fun since gta1 bikes are basically kamikaze crotch rockets and if you want a bike in gta2 just look at how shitty schmidt drives, i think that physics engine in gta2 just isn't able to handle it properly.
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