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No Story by Theprogram00

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No Story was one of the November Mapping Contest maps, the theme for this contest being the Companion Cube Challenge. After playing and getting extremely stuck in another one of the contest maps, I started playing this map and I was very pleased overall with how it looked ad played. The visual theme of the map is very similar to the standard Portal maps, however with a much more "simplified" look and feel to the rooms. The texture useage is what you would expect and everything appears easily executed.

There are 5 puzzle chambers in the map, all of which require use of the Companion Cube to be completed as was a part of the contest's requirements. The puzzles range from "easily recognized and difficult to achieve" to "completable through constant repetition" but may require several uses of the Quick Load key. For example, looking at the first puzzle for only a few moments is enough to realize what is necessary to complete the puzzle - freeing the Companion Cube from a glass tube it is sitting in by bouncing an energy ball on it. Because of the large size of this room and the optical illusion that constantly repeated textures creates, coupled with the slanted edges that the energy ball is to be bounced against being hard to see because of similar textures, it can be tedious to simply get the energy orb where you need it to be without it going only a few inches off course and hitting some sort of minor obstacle. The first time I played the map I was able to solve the puzzle without any major issues, but I did run into troubles getting it where I wanted in later plays.

In contrast, the second puzzle is by far my favorite in the map. There are a three "jail cells" with buttons in them, each button combination opening or closing a corresponding door. The player has to figure out which buttons open what doors that grant him access to the final button which opens the exit door. This is a perfect example of a puzzle that, while difficult, is still fun. It relies on critical thinking and puzzle solving, more than having the reflexes to make a perfect execution of a fling or a mid-air re-Portal, which can quickly get tedious.

The map continues with a few more short puzzles, including a romp with some turrets and using a Rocket Turret to break some glass, resulting in a neat but somewhat confusing BTS scene. The player has to break into a small observation room to continue forward with the map, but in the corner of the room is a chute continuing the player to more chambers, raising the question of why an Observation Room would be a natural part of the puzzle. The map finally ends with a farewell to our Companion Cube, and the expected elevator ride ending the map.

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Several of the puzzles are challenging while at the same time fun and enjoyable, and at no point I felt like I wanted to pull out my hair in frustration. The map is well lit and the texture useage is reminescant of Portal, giving it a familiar feel. The useage of indicator signs and strips, though sparse, was indeed useful.

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The first puzzle can be extremely difficult for no reason other than being unable to line up where the energy ball is going to come out at and can take way more time to complete than necessary. I also ran into a bug where all of the turrets would stop shooting at me and simply didn't work anymore, but it only happened once and I was unable to reproduce it. The general design of the map felt bland and lackluster, and the Observation Room's washed out white light made it almost impossible to see any detailing in there.

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Game play: Enjoyable and challenging without being tedious - 5/5
Design: Simple and a bit bland, though everything was easy to locate - 3/5
Puzzles: Very interesting new ideas, some executed better than others - 4/5

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Overall enjoyable map, looking forward to more by Theprogram00.

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Thanks for the positive review! I'm sure it didn't deserve as much as you gave it :D . Not sure if i will release another map, I don't think i'm quite cut out for it, but well.. you never know.

?But there?s no sense crying over every mistake.
You just keep on trying till you run out of cake!?
msleeper wrote:
There are 5 puzzle chambers in the map, all of which require use of the Companion Cube to be completed as was a part of the contest's requirements.

Err, actually

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Its not a bad map, but it needs some work to make it really require the cube in each puzzle. I definitely believe this map can be really great if theprogram00 is interested in making it so.

Okay, I hated the first room (tedious tedious tedious) but loved the rest, despite some occasional glitchiness. It should be made more clear that the whole map requires the cube, as it's quite easy to continue on without it. Other than that, pretty nice. Keep at it.

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Adair wrote:
Err, actually
Spoiler
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That may be, and I really do want to play through the map again to see if I can try to get around all of the puzzles, but in my first play through I wasn't necessarily trying to break the map and I felt like I had to use the cube.

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Please do not Private Message me for assistance. Post a thread if you have questions or concerns.
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