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fraggle
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This is a question that I've wondered about for a while now. It seems to me that Freedoom's levels ought to pose a similar level of difficulty to the original games. Fan-made levels are made by fans - who are used to a higher level of difficulty than casual players are. Levels like those in Plutonia or Hell Revealed are great, but I think we ought to be aiming the bar a bit lower for Freedoom. Sometimes it seems like Freedoom's levels are perhaps a bit too challenging.

To try to answer the question I put together a simple script. This examines each level and counts the total hitpoints of all the monsters in the levels. This is the output for the original game:

code:
doom.wad: E1M1 160 200 900 0.050126 0.032936 0.118861 E1M2 520 1140 2380 0.099810 0.118404 0.166348 E1M3 1450 3090 6140 0.250560 0.272670 0.376429 E1M4 940 2360 4730 0.317383 0.446186 0.631399 E1M5 1020 4790 7700 0.167031 0.427171 0.467617 E1M6 2330 6770 11840 0.304448 0.428214 0.539327 E1M7 1330 3590 6160 0.289118 0.385508 0.487200 E1M8 3680 4580 6680 1.080510 0.731495 0.743040 E1M9 2050 4930 7720 0.814061 1.030712 1.123864 E2M1 830 2860 4440 0.501329 1.049530 1.129719 E2M2 3950 6590 9270 0.629795 0.572523 0.567499 E2M3 2710 5670 9660 0.943212 0.884347 1.149286 E2M4 4680 9720 14190 0.732775 0.817259 0.832705 E2M5 5780 10660 16240 1.225085 1.328382 1.408431 E2M6 4830 10950 18190 0.854928 1.026623 1.188684 E2M7 6990 9630 12580 1.480631 1.074861 0.976857 E2M8 4000 4400 6000 1.096203 0.633589 0.602845 E2M9 8000 8000 8000 4.233163 2.230749 1.551831 E3M1 570 1570 3030 0.398445 0.677928 0.910041 E3M2 5750 8020 10100 1.212108 0.934186 0.867537 E3M3 2330 6350 8970 0.415433 0.621931 0.624504 E3M4 3860 13000 21540 0.525382 0.918114 1.089821 E3M5 4720 9690 16050 0.737837 0.799569 0.919702 E3M6 5920 10710 17340 1.103062 1.053240 1.160065 E3M7 3250 7320 8360 0.816337 1.074754 0.962174 E3M8 3800 4800 4800 7.356357 4.867364 3.407155 E3M9 15690 16690 18150 2.876935 1.676395 1.304205 E4M1 5830 8180 8690 3.228915 2.396332 2.298978 E4M2 10920 19770 28380 1.793645 1.772479 1.771463 E4M3 5990 9690 16170 0.616341 0.555545 0.646581 E4M4 2080 4150 6340 0.502746 0.563328 0.602549 E4M5 3360 5870 7870 0.928587 0.815604 0.696539 E4M6 7440 16200 20500 0.847045 1.053341 0.952872 E4M7 7870 8870 15050 1.850702 1.044834 0.911939 E4M8 7590 13500 22000 0.949752 0.889879 1.009197 E4M9 4990 6890 11040 1.325619 0.965374 1.039401 doom2.wad: MAP01 220 660 1220 0.165150 0.260999 0.335739 MAP02 1350 2270 3200 0.590737 0.524836 0.513275 MAP03 1770 3410 4650 0.535825 0.544227 0.516030 MAP04 1120 2000 3070 0.706197 0.666296 0.709554 MAP05 2920 5510 8580 0.826783 0.733981 0.828145 MAP06 3810 8400 12450 0.761263 0.919773 0.951988 MAP07 3200 6400 10200 0.478051 0.503373 0.558623 MAP08 27610 33170 40550 5.755393 3.640099 3.098803 MAP09 3530 13080 25470 0.621326 1.093550 1.476542 MAP10 7190 14720 27780 0.929801 0.977859 1.281750 MAP11 2410 12790 17530 0.355749 0.996451 0.948559 MAP12 5680 15800 23420 1.047885 1.401238 1.444021 MAP13 5530 16330 21270 0.718204 1.083276 0.982953 MAP14 2660 5280 5960 0.881390 0.911601 0.807654 MAP15 9860 19010 21560 1.132662 1.154282 0.907832 MAP16 3690 18710 31620 0.621333 1.612418 1.895513 MAP17 8740 14980 19850 0.886978 0.802996 0.738424 MAP18 8430 16430 25240 1.054631 1.084647 1.157500 MAP19 8030 18550 24530 1.208158 1.341120 1.226446 MAP20 16290 20940 24350 2.339495 1.588364 1.296132 MAP21 2160 7380 13150 0.501821 0.906647 1.119820 MAP22 1640 3860 5930 0.748066 0.749264 0.798460 MAP23 6010 17520 23850 1.080857 1.661725 1.540919 MAP24 7270 15920 23110 0.850631 0.960802 0.969165 MAP25 3960 8450 10230 0.841837 0.854264 0.726336 MAP26 8300 17140 22710 1.243543 1.402960 1.340013 MAP27 9410 25550 38100 0.946197 1.281975 1.330002 MAP28 10060 24710 33720 1.410948 1.655163 1.570148 MAP29 10660 21370 25130 1.619283 1.693238 1.366490 MAP30 10000 10000 10300 0.941570 0.496915 0.355506 MAP31 2350 4700 9550 0.609554 0.644204 0.907998 MAP32 4400 4900 5800 1.321099 0.776587 0.638359


Some explanation:
  • The first three columns are the raw hit points of the monsters - the total hit points for "easy", "medium" and "hard" skill levels.
  • The second three columns are more complicated: it's a ratio of the monster hitpoints to the amount of available ammo and health. The idea is that availability of more health and ammo makes things easier. Around 1.0 is an "average" level - less than 1.0 means an easier level (abundant health/ammo for the number of monsters you face). Greater than 1.0 means a more difficulty level (shortage of health/ammo for the number of monsters you face).

You can see that the challenge gradually ramps up gradually at the start of each episode, and in the first level of Doom 2. It's particularly apparent with E1, where the first couple of levels are very easy, and it gradually ramps up to ~0.4, with the final level (E1M8) providing a tough final challenge. There's a similar ramp up in the first levels of Doom 2.

Here's the same analysis for Freedoom:

code:
doom.wad E1M1 340 520 820 0.187439 0.150944 0.179669 E1M2 2600 4000 5260 2.261106 1.829801 1.677029 E1M3 1410 1410 1410 1.714077 0.904768 0.628325 E1M4 4270 5680 7880 1.304932 0.911687 0.878243 E1M5 10500 10650 10910 1.311294 0.700651 0.516772 E1M6 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E1M7 7080 11640 16470 1.864826 1.611311 1.547630 E1M8 6620 6770 6770 4.075351 2.201354 1.527706 E1M9 14090 16930 20060 1.691192 1.068495 0.874872 E2M1 1400 4000 5340 0.831354 1.254674 1.162365 E2M2 11330 11710 11710 3.035027 1.654018 1.149899 E2M3 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E2M4 11590 15840 19240 2.417585 1.892417 1.560148 E2M5 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E2M6 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E2M7 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E2M8 22330 22330 21330 4.067929 2.137439 1.652720 E2M9 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E3M1 2090 2630 2630 1.632302 1.200826 0.869951 E3M2 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E3M3 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E3M4 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E3M5 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E3M6 17390 18240 18330 3.372194 1.856848 1.303205 E3M7 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E3M8 8360 9300 11240 3.548688 1.681736 0.978625 E3M9 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E4M1 5740 6740 7740 4.663633 2.875059 2.305630 E4M2 2080 2080 2080 1.954887 1.026613 0.716727 E4M3 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E4M4 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E4M5 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E4M6 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E4M7 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E4M8 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 E4M9 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 doom2.wad MAP01 340 520 820 0.187439 0.150944 0.179669 MAP02 3050 4010 4340 0.729435 0.504227 0.380532 MAP03 2500 4190 6940 0.577677 0.510030 0.583138 MAP04 5270 8350 13030 1.271227 1.018074 1.104837 MAP05 4280 6410 10140 0.493829 0.389570 0.432413 MAP06 7870 11920 16210 1.205569 0.962518 0.910280 MAP07 5000 10600 15100 1.289617 1.438396 1.427815 MAP08 6450 6450 6450 5.218447 2.758768 1.912811 MAP09 6600 9350 12640 0.595971 0.542063 0.641952 MAP10 480 600 4900 0.552741 0.321292 1.219160 MAP11 20050 24180 24890 2.209279 1.401742 1.017297 MAP12 22050 33890 45840 1.786328 1.809095 1.937385 MAP13 11850 20820 26990 0.851961 0.776225 0.803341 MAP14 2480 5360 11370 0.969159 1.232617 1.653506 MAP15 12340 18770 26160 1.551631 1.424473 1.284476 MAP16 60880 66260 72170 17.052648 9.491436 6.749793 MAP17 4870 9410 13360 1.496601 1.505410 1.505064 MAP18 12200 16180 16980 2.893903 2.109680 1.478231 MAP19 4110 5190 7370 0.850256 0.567379 0.549177 MAP20 17580 18530 19530 2.506273 1.390379 1.020728 MAP21 8060 14300 24320 0.846621 0.792958 0.936418 MAP22 16650 18690 22710 4.076526 2.401446 2.021200 MAP23 22620 34420 49980 1.100766 1.122971 1.008711 MAP24 11330 11710 11710 3.035027 1.654018 1.149899 MAP25 23230 36430 38820 2.599085 2.251437 1.671049 MAP26 10420 19910 29190 1.927673 1.586761 1.543425 MAP27 83710 87110 92410 3.237516 1.777161 1.310140 MAP28 13480 19820 35560 0.879205 0.718223 0.979355 MAP29 17290 26330 36030 1.667689 1.409757 1.739803 MAP30 32400 33640 41350 1.268837 0.693673 0.628857 MAP31 29100 28200 30600 1.160320 0.590056 0.447353 MAP32 0 0 0 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000


Freedoom 1 isn't complete, but you can see that there's very little in terms of ramp-up. In terms of hitpoints, you have to fight through twice as much raw meat in Freedoom's E1M1 compared to Doom's. The following E1 levels are way tougher - the main thing being that there are far more monsters.

Freedoom 2 is similar - MAP01 is a good start, but after that the difficulty suddenly jumps up without any kind of ramp-up. There are a few levels that seem incredibly challenging - examples are MAP16 and MAP27. In general the difficulty ratios seem to regularly exceed 2.0 or reach 3.0, while in the original games they rarely pass 1.5.

I think we ought to spend some time looking at this issue and seeing if we can address it. Rearranging levels to give a better ramp-up might help, but I think we ought to be looking at modifying the levels just to cut back on the number of monsters.

Old Post 10-23-12 20:27 #
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Phml
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The overall trend between Doom and Freedoom is incontestable, but it's interesting to see how it breaks down on specific levels.

The highest scoring, "most difficult" level in Doom2.wad is MAP08 - yet it is actually one of the easiest levels. MAP02 scores low even though it is fairly brutal. E4M6 scores average despite being very difficult. The ridiculously easy E3M8 has the highest score of both IWADS.

...And I'm going to give Freedoom Map16 a go now.

Edit: well, that was actually on the easy side. Health didn't drop below 100 even once. Enjoyable nonetheless. I think I can see why it scored so high - there's a fair number of high-tier monsters. The thing is, they're placed in ways they'll infight each other, and always right in front of you. There's also 7-8 optional cacos shooting at you behind an impassable line. Without finding any secret I ended up out of ammo with 5 monsters left to kill outside of the path to the exit (cacos flying around or chaingunners on balconies, likely), and the level starts with you fighting 6-7 imps with the pistol, maybe that lack of ammo played a role inflating its score too.

Edit 2: hold on, something's fishy here. 72170 HP on Hard, with 101 monsters? That'd be on average 700 hp per monster, and only AVs, barons, masterminds and cybies go over that. I'm not even sure there's any of these monsters in this level.

Ok, opening it up in DB2 I think I get it... There's four Romero heads outside of the map, triggering when you walk over the exit.

Last edited by Phml on 10-23-12 at 21:54

Old Post 10-23-12 21:32 #
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fraggle
Filled with the code of Doom


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Phml said:
The overall trend between Doom and Freedoom is incontestable, but it's interesting to see how it breaks down on specific levels.

The highest scoring, "most difficult" level in Doom2.wad is MAP08 - yet it is actually one of the easiest levels. MAP02 scores low even though it is fairly brutal. E4M6 scores average despite being very difficult. The ridiculously easy E3M8 has the highest score of both IWADS.

Yeah, I'm not saying that it's anything other than a crude measurement, but it's better than not measuring it at all, and I do think that there is a general issue that needs to be addressed.

I also found the MAP08 example to be an interesting one. Of course the reason it scores highly is the fact that you're up against a number of Mancubuses and Arachnotrons which normally would pose a significant threat. It's really more of a tactical level than other levels are.

I think it raises a significant point though - hopefully this data is helpful, but we ought to use it as a general guide for identifying levels that need looking at, rather than a proscriptive "levels must not exceed X hitpoints and must have Y amount of ammo/health". Ultimately difficulty is subjective, rather than something that can be precisely objectively measured.

Old Post 10-23-12 21:55 #
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wesleyjohnson
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I share the interest in not having FreeDoom get excessively hard, but have the same problem with the numbers. By those numbers I would have to add a few thousand HP of monsters to Map09 and Map13. Hard on Map09 would have to double from 12640 to approximate the 25470 of the original. One problem is that a highly tuned level can tolerate more or less monsters, depending on how it is tuned to make it easier or harder to kill the monsters that are there. There is one opportunity in Map09 where you can mow down 20 monsters with a chaingun.

Then there is Map31 where getting past 8 (12 whatever) revenants at once, in a confined area, is near impossible, because of differences in user controls.

On the other hand, insufficient ammo for the monsters that are present is mostly universally fatal. Excess ammo does not work the same way because you cannot take it with you.

Last edited by wesleyjohnson on 10-24-12 at 01:50

Old Post 10-24-12 01:43 #
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fraggle
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I don't really want to get too bogged down on the minutia of the calculations - as I've said, they're not intended to be a precise or exact measurement by any means. I'm just trying to get a rough estimate of the difficulty of the levels. Think of it as the 1,000 km view. I'm more interested in discussing whether others also agree that this is a problem that should be addressed, and I hope that these estimates might provide a rough guide in deciding what ought to be done, if anything.

Old Post 10-24-12 02:45 #
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Catoptromancy
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Skill 2 and 3 definitely need work. I know very little has been done to address those skills.

I tested -skill 4 by making sure I could beat all the maps in less than 12 tries. Pistol start and no/very few secrets. Not the best method, but I felt it worked. 12 tries tuned to one person's skill. I carefully added/removed ammo, powerups, monsters and such until I felt the skill was fairly balanced. The best and most polished maps I did not touch and were relatively well balanced to being with.

Remember when Doom came out. There were basically no other first person shooters. The skill had to be a certain level for the time. By now probably all video game players are familiar with first person shooters and know a few strategies for playing as well as familiar with the controls.

I think Freedoom's -skill 4 should be harder than the original, a good challenge. -skill 3 should suit almost everyone. -skill 2 should be even easier than id's iwad. Skill 4 right now is mostly fine tuned, probably needs a few small adjustments.

Skills 2 and 3 need massive play testing and adjusting. I feel I would be terrible at it. Skills 2 and 3 should not just involve tagging the same items. I like skill balancing by adding weapons, moving keys, changing types of monsters entirely.


wesleyjohnson said:
Then there is Map31 where getting past 8 (12 whatever) revenants at once, in a confined area, is near impossible, because of differences in user controls.


Controls do not matter! That area is pure strategy. I have a demo where I literally do not turn. I face same direction the entire time to kill them. Though I can only shoot once for every lap, since I was not able to aim. I used keyboard only for this demo even though all my turning is strictly controlled by the mouse.
Besides there is that super shotgun hole you can hide in with all the ammo.
http://www.doomworld.com/vb/showthr...9470#post889470

Old Post 10-24-12 03:16 #
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wesleyjohnson
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I support the idea of limiting Freedoom's difficulty. This is in accordance with the mission to be a replacement for copyrighted Doom, and a starting place for PWAD and enhancements. It should stay with being a basic first wad with limited difficulty. There are plenty of difficult PWAD to add-on, but limited possibilities in the other direction.

Any statement made about "all" of ANY group is really a statement by the viewer about their self-view, and expresses the limits of their vision.
There are some people who grew up with video games, and some that did not. I cannot find any reason to favor one group over another.

I do not think the "hard" level should be the playground of the Doom elite, nor should it favor any particular playing style. It should be within reach of the average player, with some effort to advance to the next difficulty level (for some this may be considerable effort over months). It should be possible to advance to the "hard" level even for players who play entirely differently than the level author does, with different mouse settings, and a different port. The "hard" level should never look like it was made only for some elitist group. There are plenty of difficult PWAD that the Doom elite can use, which are made just for the purpose.

(The previous is about the chart and about the "hard" level in general, not specifically about Map31. I am ignoring the defense of Map31 in the interest of keeping this thread on topic (for once).)

My previous point was that level layout is a multiplier of level difficulty. We could also measure several other things that strongly affect difficulty.

1. Number of traps.

2. Number and severity of Death Traps, where more than 4 monsters attack, rated by distance, number of monsters, and how much cover there is for the player.
Such as ( <number_monsters> * <surrounded> / <cover> / <distance> )
Where <cover> is:
none in small room = 0.1
none in large room = 0.5
niche or one object as cover = 1
multiple objects as cover that can be moved between = 2
escape hallway = 3
A hallway or cover does not count if the player cannot get to it, or if it is on the other side of the monsters.
Where <surrounded> is:
All monsters to one side = 1
Monsters along one wall = 1.5
More monsters than cover allows hiding = 2
Monsters everywhere in room = 3
The strength of the monsters does not seem to matter as much as the number of weapons firing and number of missiles incoming.
Revenant: x2 because of the homing missiles
Mancubus: x2 because of multiple missiles and difficulty in ducking

3. Number of critical points, which are unavoidable points in the play of the level, where the player has no choice of play style, and they could die.
4. Some reference player's opinion of level difficulty on a scale of 1 to 10.

Last edited by wesleyjohnson on 10-25-12 at 21:52

Old Post 10-25-12 20:58 #
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Catoptromancy
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Skill 4 I think should be hard. It IS the hardest skill. Skill 2 and 3 should be much easier and as of right now, are not tested or balanced at all.

When I start playing a new different game say, Freeciv and Wesnoth. I am usually terrible at the hardest skill level. I play a lower skill level. I do not just pick the hardest skill and quit when I get beaten constantly. I like the games, so I pick a skill level I can play on.

Also I really hope all games do not make the hardest skill level "within reach of the average player." This negates the need for a hard skill to begin with. This would make most games incredibly boring with low replay value. What does someone do when they get better?

Imagine a skill list,
-Very easy
-Easy
-Less than Average
-Average
-Nightmare?

I loved beating a game in medium skill and then going back and beating it in a harder skill.

For Freedoom control issue, I make sure nothing needs sr-50 or other tricks. I have adjust quite a few things to take care of this. All jumps over gaps can be made running straight forward. No switch is too far away if timed.

Last edited by Catoptromancy on 10-26-12 at 01:41

Old Post 10-26-12 01:31 #
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Jon
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I think the baseline difficulty should be a bit harder than Doom, since the audience, even casual gamers, are more experienced with first person shooters now than they were in 1993. I agree that consistency and some kind of sensible up-ramp is a good idea. How skill levels are used is also relevant.

Old Post 10-26-12 09:54 #
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hex11
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I wonder how many of the modern FPS games are as hard as Doom II played on HMP. Even some of the early maps are no joke for someone who never played them before and doesn't know the map intimately and the best tactics for dealing with each monster. And the later maps can become downright brutal for a n00b.

Old Post 10-26-12 21:24 #
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Dragonsbrethren
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hex11 said:
I wonder how many of the modern FPS games are as hard as Doom II played on HMP. Even some of the early maps are no joke for someone who never played them before and doesn't know the map intimately and the best tactics for dealing with each monster. And the later maps can become downright brutal for a n00b.

It's actually kind of interesting, I suspect a modern FPS fan who's never played Doom before will actually do better than a Doom player who's never played a modern FPS before. (Modern in this case referring to mechanics like regenerating health/shields and an abundance of hitscan enemies.) Modern FPS encounters are heavily based around the use of cover, which works equally well in Doom, with the exception that Doom's monsters never take cover themselves (eliminating the waiting game aspect). On the other hand, a player who tries to run in gunning in one of those games is just going to have a string of embarrassing deaths because, even with health regen, you just can't tank damage in those games.

I think Freedoom's balance should be on par with Doom 2, for each difficulty. I don't consider myself bad at the game and I still struggle with pistol starting some of the iwad maps on UV. Anything tougher will be off putting for anyone not familiar with Doom.

Old Post 10-26-12 22:58 #
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Cire
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Looking at fraggle's hitpoint list, I notice that some Freedoom maps have the same amount of hitpoints for all skill levels, and E2M8 even has less hitpoints for hard than easy and medium.

Old Post 10-26-12 23:14 #
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Catoptromancy
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Its up to vote I guess. But -skill 4 has been massively play tested and adjusted by me. Lower skills have had little play testing and not much feedback.

Still think we should focus more on the lower skills since they are seriously out of balance.

Old Post 10-27-12 03:26 #
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wesleyjohnson
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That difficulty chart is ridiculous, not representative at all of what I said. I said that "hard" level should be reachable by an average player after having practiced for several months, and that it should not take more than several months practice (don't matter what level they use to practice) to advance from a lower level.

And what they do after they beat "hard" is discover id games repository, where there is no shortage of harder levels, or other kinds of levels.

What I find unreasonable is to expect a player who is done at a medium level to have to go find a medium level PWAD because the "hard" level on FreeDoom was only fit for hardened elite players. I reject expecting them to practice on some few rare medium difficulty PWAD so they can come back and play some FreeDoom "hard" difficulty level that was made too elitist.

Old Post 10-27-12 23:23 #
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Catoptromancy
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wesleyjohnson said:
made too elitist.


I do not think a majority of the mappers considered they were making elitist maps. All my edits were to make a very few maps easier, except for MAP31 which had no monsters to being with.

Old Post 10-28-12 04:05 #
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Phml
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the "hard" level on FreeDoom was only fit for hardened elite players.


I haven't checked them all, but every Freedoom level I've played (map01 to 07 a few months ago and map16 the other day) are very easy on UV by modern Doom standards - and I don't mean "speedrunner" or "slaughter enthusiast" here, even your average ZDoom map focusing on atmosphere and detail tends to be more difficult.

Now, how do I compare to other gamers? Let's see: when I play online, I play public games - which is the bottom of the ladder. In these public games, I'm generally a punching bag for kids young enough to be my own; or, if co-op, struggling to keep up with them - definitely not a case of playing below my category. The only way you could possibly think I'm an "hardened elite player" is if you compared me to someone who doesn't play video games.

Inclusiveness is nice, but if you set the bar absurdly low it doesn't make sense anymore. Perhaps you can balance skill 4 for Facebook moms, but do you think these are the people likely to want to play, and insist on playing on the hardest difficulty right away, a free clone of a first-person shooter released two decades ago? More importantly, what of the lower skill levels? Should skill 3 be balanced for people with physical handicaps? Should skill 2 be catering for blind people with both hands amputated?

Months of practice without having ever touched a computer before should let you beat Hell Revealed on UV, with saves. Practicing for months is enough to learn an entire new job or language. No average person, much less average player, should have this much trouble beating a video game; if they do, they have issues stretching beyond video games.

I'm tempted to make the time to attempt a blind playthrough (well, blind save for the maps already mentioned, obviously) of FreeDoom on UV, so I could actually have an informed opinion on the actual thing... No doubt I will die some, but I'm willing to bet the difficulty will come from being lost more often than it will from fighting monsters.

Edit: here's Map01 to 11. Using 0.8 beta 1 (from the link in sticky) for convenience.

Started playing on gamma level 2, but quickly had to raise to level 4 - and eventually used IDBEHOLDL on Map09. People, if I can see the dust on my screen, your map is too dark, period (or it could be too unengaging, because in action-packed maps you're too focused on playing to notice anything else; obviously, as the player it's easier for me to fix brightness than to fix gameplay...).

I quit one death into playing Map12, as going through the start I remember having played it before and that it wasn't enjoyable. While most maps up to that point were decent, the few that are bad are bad enough I don't have enough patience to play this more than one episode at a time.

Now, I'm pretty sure I was wrong and didn't play Map01 to 07 all the way, mostly because if I had powered through the ode to mapping mistakes that is Map05 before, I would have remembered it.

This map has it all. First, it forces you to jump down right away to damaging slime, with two paths, infinitelytall demons ready to chomp at you, and no indication which one is the correct one. On the left path, solid rock, with the exact same texture as every other rock, turning out to be a fake wall, in this realistic earth-looking map.
On the right path, the toxic poo (which is just wrong, btw) goes on for a while in cramped corridors, and the only radiation suits are hidden in small alcoves on the sides, also protected by imps. All the while there's a bunch of demons and imps shooting at you, just incase you got too comfy sitting in corrosive manure.

Pick up blue key, open "secret" wall leading to... Cramped corridor low enough compared to where you're at monsters can take potshots at you while you can hardly do anything.

Moving on to yellow key area. Random unescapable pit near the key, yay. At least it's damaging so you can die and not stay stuck forever. Also in this room, a demon placed in a corner it can't get out of.

Next, going into a room with a switch lowering a pillar holding a red key to supposedly show you it lowered access to the red key somewhere else. Here's the thing... You can hardly see the red key in this room unless you stand at a particular spot, squint up and are familiar with the key graphics, and you have absolutely no indication that key is also somewhere else, it's behind what was previously a solid slimefall.

Oh, oh, oh, I forgot the best part. If you don't find secrets, you have so little ammo you end up not only using your peashooter, but actually fisting stuff. Without a berserk pack.

I littered the map with doomguy corpses in my playthrough. Some people might conclude it is too hard, but that's not it. It's hard in all the wrong ways, difficulty through nonsensical level design, awkward flow, poor balance and engine limitations. It's a flawed map at its core, and little could save it, other than a nuke from space and a rebuild from scratch.

...Looking at it in DB2, I'm guessing this *is* a newbie map, due to linking monster teleports to the map rather than using merged sectors; other hints would be a cheesy secret with the Doom logo spelled out in geometry, and a big red pentagram in the YK room. Sorry to whoever made this to be so aggressive about your first map, but it is that bad.

Other than this map, it was for the most part okay, sometimes a cakewalk, sometimes a few challenging situations. What's perhaps more problematic is some of these tough parts seemed to result from poor mapping rather than smart design, and as a result there's definitely spikes of difficulty all over the place, with certain maps being snoozefests played on autopilot until a particular trap almost kills you (or put you in a very bad spot) instantly.

Edit 2: ok, I'll eat my words, Map12 is definitely too hard. I could probably beat it if I spent ages non-berserk punching hell knights, but eh. It feels like a SSG map with nothing but the SG. I bet there's a SSG in a secret near the start. I hope. Otherwise, this is jokewad material.

Again, the problem isn't difficulty as much as dumb difficulty. It isn't hard to make something difficult, put the player start in a 192x192 unescapable damaging pit with a cyberdemon in front of him. Boom. Hard. Freedoom Map12 is that kind of hard, pitting you in extremely cramped environments against PEs, HKs, revs, cacos and mancs with merely the chaingun and shotgun, and not enough ammo.

No excuses though. You're right when you worry about "elitist difficulty", wesleyjohnson, this map is exactly it. I'll shut up now.

Last edited by Phml on 10-28-12 at 17:30

Old Post 10-28-12 14:02 #
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Catoptromancy
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I agree MAP12 is too hard. Mapper abandoned it and only placed monsters with no ammo.

Maybe someone can fix it up.

Old Post 10-28-12 20:07 #
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hex11
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I think baseline difficulty is skill 3, not 4. I never play on UV, but then again I"m also keyboard-only player and don't use save games. So you could say I have some handicaps.

I think one of the problems is a lot of players want to always use skill 4 no matter what, and if it's too hard for them they won't try a lower skill and instead just declare the map too hard. But I also think the lower skills should actually be manageable for an average doomer on skill 3, and a n00b on skill 1 (it may take a few tries, but they should be able to get through without too much frustration).

IMO, UV is a skill for people who already mastered the map on skill 3 and are ready for something harder. It should't be almost impossible (that's what skill 5 is for) and it shouldn't be the "default" skill for people who never played that map before. Making it the default waters it down and removes the possibility of additional challenge (I mean reasonable challenge, not NIghtmare crazyiness...)

Old Post 10-28-12 21:12 #
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Really there are worse problems with a lot of the maps than the balance. Some of them are so ugly and offputting in design that I cannot bear to play them. I know its been hard to get people to map for the project but, I feel like I could generate a random playlist of D!ZONE wads and end up with something more enjoyable.

Old Post 10-29-12 07:28 #
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fraggle
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Quasar said:
Really there are worse problems with a lot of the maps than the balance. Some of them are so ugly and offputting in design that I cannot bear to play them. I know its been hard to get people to map for the project but, I feel like I could generate a random playlist of D!ZONE wads and end up with something more enjoyable.
Seems a bit harsh. Some of the levels are pretty decent IMO, though there's definitely quite a mix of quality in there. There's definitely a lack of progression or consistency to the levels: it does very much feel like a random collection of levels that has been thrown together (which for the most part is exactly what it is).

Probably my least favorite level is MAP30 - aside from the ugly design, I have a pet hatred for boss levels that make you fight through a significant number of other monsters first to reach the boss (I also dislike Doom's E4M8 for the same reason).

Old Post 10-29-12 14:44 #
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fraggle said:
Seems a bit harsh. Some of the levels are pretty decent IMO, though there's definitely quite a mix.

Probably my least favorite level is MAP30 - aside from the ugly design, I have a pet hatred for boss levels that make you fight through a significant number of other monsters first to reach the boss (I also dislike Doom's E4M8 for the same reason).


Well, I agree. Some of them are great. The first map is the best example; it feels like a DOOM map. But then there are a few others that feel like "My First Map" and have amateur issues. I feel like it'd be better to have a "NOT FINISHED" map with an exit switch than a few of those type.

I don't mean to be derisive though. And improving the skill balance will help, even the worst of maps in any project could benefit from that.

Old Post 10-29-12 14:54 #
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fraggle
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I think perhaps the difficulty levels thing is potentially a symptom of a larger problem with Freedoom. It's been my opinion for a while now that the project has hit a wall due to a lack of any overarching creative or artistic direction. The project has been put together from the bottom up (fill as many of these slots as possible and we'll make some vague effort to put things together in a way that makes sense) rather than the top down. It's an approach that works for projects like Wikipedia, where there isn't much dependency between resources, but perhaps it isn't the best approach for something like this.

Compare how Freedoom has been organized with other recent MegaWAD projects, eg. DTWID or KDIZD, which have been far more successful, both in attracting contributors and delivering high quality final products. The difference is that they've had a set creative vision from the start of the project of what they wanted to do and how they wanted to carry things out. It's not really surprising that level authors would rather work on something interesting and exciting like that rather than Freedoom, which essentially has no direction.

It would be nice if we could do some kind of similar project for Freedoom, but I get the feeling it would be a lot of effort to do so. Probably it would be best run as a separate project ("Remake Freedoom") to cut as many ties as possible with how Freedoom is currently run. It would need the right people on board to do it, with complete artistic freedom to do things however they want. I know that I'm not the right person to run such a project, and I'm not convinced any of the regular Freedoom contributors are, either.

Old Post 10-29-12 15:07 #
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Catoptromancy
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Basically a TC that is BSD licensed.

I still say there should be a vanilla megawad project that also happens to be BSD licensed. Or just persuade people to release more single maps under BSD license.

Old Post 10-29-12 23:07 #
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hex11
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BSD is nice and all, but isn't the standard "Authors MAY use this level as a base to build additional levels." text enough? A lot of people already use that, but not many know what BSD is.

Old Post 10-30-12 00:17 #
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Catoptromancy
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hex11 said:
standard text enough?


Nope. Cant do this with a non-license general text.
http://doomsday.generalarcade.com/

Old Post 10-30-12 01:29 #
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Why? The text I quoted doesn't require giving any proper credit (although that would be the honorable thing to do).

Old Post 10-30-12 02:02 #
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hex11 said:
BSD is nice and all, but isn't the standard "Authors MAY use this level as a base to build additional levels." text enough? A lot of people already use that, but not many know what BSD is.
I actually contacted the FSF about a year ago to ask whether certain combinations of the standard WAD licensing template might be considered free software. Their response was that some of the wording is ambiguous in its meaning and as such can't be considered free.

Old Post 10-30-12 02:06 #
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hex11
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Did they point out exactly what is ambiguous, and how to correct it? So that the PWAD text template can be revised (what's the point of having some text that doesn't actually work like it's supposed to...)

Old Post 10-30-12 02:21 #
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fraggle
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Here's my exchange with them:


I wrote:

I am part of an online community of people interested in the classic
"Doom" series of games, the source code to which is available under
the GPL. The Doom community has amassed a large collection of add-on
levels and other modifications and a good percentage of them are
released with the following text attached:

Authors MAY use the contents of this file as a base for modification or
reuse. Permissions have been obtained from original authors for any of
their resources modified or included in this file.

You MAY distribute this file, provided you include this text file, with no
modifications. You may distribute this file in any electronic format (BBS,
Diskette, CD, etc) as long as you include this file intact. I have
received permission from the original authors of any modified or included
content in this file to allow further distribution.

I'm curious as to whether this constitutes a valid free software
license. As far as I can tell, it satisfies freedoms 0, 2 and 3;
freedom 1 doesn't really apply because the files don't have any source
code.

Any insight you might have into this would be interesting.




licensing@fsf.org replied:

Only the copyright holder/s can provide you with the necessary
permissions to further distribute the work and to the best of my reading
this "license" merely states that the "permissions have been obtained"
from someone else.

Moreover the language isn't clear. For instance, permission had
supposedly been received from the original authors of "modified or
included" content. What is "included" content and how does it differ
from the original work? Another volunteer here also pointed out that the
license doesn't explicitly say that modified versions may be
redistributed. In short, the language used is riddled with uncertainty.

My recommendation is that the copyright holders of the works in question
put the works under some widely used and understood free software
license such as the Apache license v2 (for a non-protective, permissive
license) or the GNU GPL (for a protective, copyleft license).

--
I am not a lawyer, the above is not legal advice




I wrote:

Hi,

Thanks for the reply and for taking the time to look at my question.
I think I should provide some clarification and explanation.

The permission text I quoted in my original email is attached to Doom
WAD files, which typically contain add-on levels for the game made by
fans. They may also contain other material (graphics, textures, sound
effects, MIDI music tracks, etc), but there are many files that are
just "bare level" WADs that merely contain a level and nothing else.

As you might imagine, there is a culture of reuse among level authors.
For example, an author might see a texture that they like in another
author's WAD and reuse it in their own WAD. They might also use
resources that they found on websites (eg. graphics or sound effects).
Most authors pay little attention to copyright law; the majority are
most likely ignorant of it. Similar issues can also apply to free
software sometimes, but with Doom WADs it's much more pronounced.

Although resources like textures or sound effects are often reused,
it's extremely rare for the actual levels to be reused. So if you have
a "bare level" WAD (as described above), you can be pretty certain
that the entire file is an original work by that one author. You can
also take a WAD file and strip it down to just the bare levels to get
the same effect.

When WAD files are distributed, they have a text file attached to
them, and that text file is created from a template, so the text files
are always in roughly the same format. The template includes a
template permission notice, as follows:

(begin quote)

* Copyright / Permissions *

Authors (MAY/may NOT) use the contents of this file as a base for
modification or reuse. Permissions have been obtained from original
authors for any of their resources modified or included in this file.

(delete one of these two paragraphs:)

You MAY not distribute this file in any format.

You MAY distribute this file, provided you include this text file, with
no modifications. You may distribute this file in any electronic
format (BBS, Diskette, CD, etc) as long as you include this file
intact. I have received permission from the original authors of any
modified or included content in this file to allow further distribution.

(end quote)

The author chooses the particular permissions that they wish to grant
for their file and edits the template down to that appropriately. As
you noticed, the template includes the "permissions have been
obtained..." part; I think this is here primarily to encourage the
authors to make sure that they have acquired the necessary permissions
for any resources they might be reusing (to avoid the kind of issues I
previously described). The presence of that statement in the text file
gives anyone who might want to redistribute the WAD (webmasters etc.)
some degree of confidence that the file is legal.

Some of the permutations of the above license template are obviously
non-free. For example, if the author says that modified versions are
not permitted, that clearly fails freedom 3 of the Free Software
criteria. My question is specifically directed at the permutation in
my original email which I believe *might* qualify. This is assuming
that the permissions text was attached to a file that didn't contain
copyrighted material (such as a "bare level" WAD, or one where any
other resources were also freely licensed).

Your advice about using a free software license is a sensible one;
however, the reason I'm asking is that there is a large number of
existing add-on Doom levels (the /idgames archive contains over 15,000
files). A good portion of these are likely to have the permissions
text I quoted in my original email attached to them, so if that
qualifies as Free Software then it would be possible to put together a
collection of free levels for distribution with free operating
systems.





licensing@fsf.org replied:

As much as I'd love for those resources to become available to the free
software community, unfortunately, I can't see that text as ever being
OK'd as a free software license (frankly, I'm not even sure it would
stand as a copyright license of any sort).

One option which is still open is to try and contact the copyright
holders who are available and get them to provide the community with
copies of their respective works under a real free software license; a
few levels/resources may be better than none.

Old Post 10-30-12 03:27 #
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Catoptromancy
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Maybe an update to UPTEMPL.TXT. Instead of just "wording" those can easily be rewritten under CC, GPL or BSD licenses with a quick summary.

Though of course this wont affect all those previous wads. But if included in UPTEMPL.TXT new wad makers can choose a real license to release their wads under.

Example of what I used for a license:
code:
* Copyright / Permissions * Do whatever you want, give me credit. Freedoom Modified BSD licensed.


In the future I plan on just copy and pasting the whole license after my summary.

Last edited by Catoptromancy on 10-30-12 at 03:55

Old Post 10-30-12 03:48 #
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