The Different Flavours Of MonsterHunt

From what I can gather, there are several versions of the MH mutator around:

  • Stock MonsterHunt. Affectionately known as “MonsterHunt 1”. The last version was 504, so it may by listed as “MonsterHunt504” in some places.
  • MonsterHunt2. MH2Gold or MH2Package.  This was developed in the light of limited features in the original MonsterHunt504 package, but appears to contains some flaws (see here and here at the forums).
  • UTJMH. This seems to be a fork of the MH2 code, and exists in various versions, such as versions 21,28 and 29 and UTJMH403.

Originally the driver for MH2 was MH-LongCorridor-2006 which involved navigating through waves and waves of respawning monsters requiring several hits to take down; with little or no health, the mortality rate was high. With no checkpoints throughout the entire map, being killed meant restarting right from the very beginning.

Flicking the game to InstaGib reduced the mortality rate, providing a one-shot-kill so removed competition for ammo packs, but also removes health packs, megakegs, armour, shield belts – there is no way of recovering from injury, and with no checkpoints the restart-from-beginning aspect still holds.  Great for Invasion when you know you’ll respawn at the end of a wave (providing at least one of you gets through it) but not wonderful when players either need to hold their ground until respawners catch up, or find their masses thinned out enough that everyone ends up back at the beginning.

MH2 provides a number of settings that helped this map, in particular:

  • HealthRegenPerKill – “The life obtained when an enemy is beaten is specified” – in other words, what health benefit would a play be awarded for a kill. I originally set this to 1 but then raised it to 10 to try and balance it against the injuries inflicted by monsters.
  • DefaultHealth – “It is an initial life“. I set players to 150, rather than 100 to at least give them a bit of a fighting chance from the beginning.
  • MaxHealth & MaxRegenHealth – I added an upper limit of 200 to prevent players from becoming near-invincible, and also discouraged players from stealing kills that could have health benefits for their injured teammates.  It doesn’t stop players from spawnkilling monsters to prevent teammates gaining health – kickvote can take care of that for selfish idiots.

Other features which MH2 brought:

AmpSpawnTime, DeemerSpawnTime, HealthAwardTime – these were settings to randomly award Damage Amp, redeemers and health.  I tried disabling them by setting them to 0 but this made them continuously be awarded. -1 also had the same effect. In the end I jacked the number up so high that the game would finish before any awards were made.

bUseMonsterHUD – for [UTJMH29.UTJMHbase].  According to the ReadME for UTJMH, “Monster’s HP is displayed” meaning a floating score appears about their head.  In one map this revealed the large titan wasn’t affected by rockets and only by switching to other weapons did the 6-digit health levels begin to drop. Nonetheless, in low-light conditions it discloses monster positions, giving the player an unfair advantage, so I tried to disable it by flicking it to false – but it appeared to have no effect.

However, this setting in [MonsterHunt2v1.KHMBase] provides an Invasion-style radar, which is useful.  Setting it to false disabled the radar but left the the floating monster hitpoint values.

MonsterSkill – this is set to 7, with no documentation at all about the values.  I originally assumed the levels matched bot skill which are 0-7 (rather than 1-8) range, but altering it made no difference.  This would have been useful because some maps (like the excellent MH-SkaarjTower) feel like they’re set on Masterful when played locally: Skaarj Troopers dance around and deliver rocket death frequently; Skaarj Snipers are pretty accurate and fast – taking you out from a distance before you even get a chance to spot them.  When playing online, however, it seemed far too easy: troopers stood around and rotated slowly to receive a faceful of flackball, snipers allowed themselves to be pushed back by continuous shock fire until plunging to their death.  I couldn’t work out what level to set it to, and it seems others have also experiencing this value being meaningless.

Design Better MH Maps!

I like the purity of original MonsterHunt504, old-style weapons and no other interference, no changes from stock gameplay that require players to adjust their strategy in the light of new features.

So why bother with a different mod?  As originally stated, the design of some maps lend themselves to iMH quite well, with the HealthRegenPerKill setting forcing players to “kill or be killed” – the only way they could regain health and survive was to fight back, rather than cower and die.  I like those that are designed to reward player progress with improved weapons, keeping health and ammo initially at a premium, so MH2 settings (or iGib) may defeat this intention – it’s not a panacea.

What’s the answer?  How about designing the map with baseline UT99 in mind and finding that sweet-spot between challenging and achievable, or at least providing some configurable setting to alter difficulty?

After all, the point of the game is enjoyment.  Poorly-designed maps that don’t offer player enjoyment quickly become unplayed maps – meaning the map author’s efforts were sadly all for naught.

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