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Forli

So what is "good gameplay" anyway?

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  This is something I've been wondering for some time, when asked what the most important thing is in a doom map, most people will say that it is for it to play well, but "playing well" seems like a difficult thing to define.

 

  It looks like most of the time, personal preference is used to decide how good the gameplay is in a map (for example some people might like dying to traps that they didn't see coming while others would hate that), and yet if I made a map that was all square rooms with some imps inside that would be considered bad in general, so there does seem to be such a thing as "good" and "bad" gameplay other than preference.

 

  So how do you judge how good the gameplay in a map is besides what you personally like? Is there such a thing as maps having gameplay that is objectively better or worse?

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They are opinions and not something objective. Even the most tightly designed game is going to get complaint about and called shit like "did the devs even play this garbage" by someone.

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Posted (edited)

"Objectively" is hard to say, I guess.

 

I believe there's some guidelines to create more interesting stuff (levels with consistency, not-boring monster placement and interesting layouts) and then what the "community" considers is good gameplay. Still, in the end what matters is what you think, I guess, although you might end liking stuff that the community will generally hate. (or the opposite - which is no problem at all) For myself, I like levels that challenge the player in interesting ways which aren't usual traps and force the player to use strategies other than circle-strafing or cover-shooting. Bonus points for non-linearity.

Edited by Deadwing

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Posted (edited)

no mandatory secrets, ample yet balanced supplies, difficult yet not unfair encounters (unfair being something that requires foreknowledge of the map or leaves your survival up to chance), consistency, use of environmental hazards and height variation, little downtime, few switch hunts, non repetitive or generic encounters, etc.

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Posted (edited)

A map which is fun to play.

 

The term of "fun" is really subjective , it can consists of searching well hidden secrets or kill thousand cyberdemons with a BFG for instance.

 

The "good gameplay" dépends firstly on what is the player looking for. Someone who doesn't like hard maps will probably not like hard maps with a good gameplay.

Edited by Roofi

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28 minutes ago, Forli said:

So how do you judge how good the gameplay in a map is besides what you personally like? Is there such a thing as maps having gameplay that is objectively better or worse?

 

I can't say if objectively true, but one thing that always annoys the fuck out of me is when maps force me into cornercamp mode because of hamfisted hitscanner use. All that does in my opinion is slowing the pace of the map to a crawl. Hitscans are cool to push people around, or pull them towads certain spots in a room, but if all the scanners do is pinning me down at a corner, then I consider that poor monster use. Same deal for when maps give me an SSG at most, and then put down trivial bullet sponges like 128mu hallway barons or any other sort of "poor firepower to high enemyHP albeit low-threat design". If a map makes me pistol past several trivial imps to eventually put a shotgunner in front of me so that I get my first actual weapon is something I find hard to stomach when it lasts for too long. So for me pace is important, anything trivial that gets in the way of pace severely, such as unnecessary ammo taxes, or too drawn out slow starts, is not my cup of tea.

 

Anything that allows players to stay in one spot and clear entire rooms from there is questionable. It makes combat feel one-directional and shallow as a result. There needs to be an incentive to actually move around the area, ammo and monster placement can help with avoiding this.

 

Dull combat design is annoying as well. If it's always stuff coming at me from one direction, I might as well play a corridor shooter. If a fight does nothing but keeping people busy, and does not require any sort of thought at all, it'd better be entertaining to watch, because otherwise it might as well not exist in the first place.

 

Progression throughout the map should work intuitive. That does not mean mandatory secrets or puzzles aren't okay for me personally, I actually like them, but when I press a switch and something at the other end of the map happens without any visual indication at all, then that's not helping much. Same deal for fights based around UDMF "kill triggers" which get slapped onto every last trivial enemy just because, that shit is atrocious. I have been searching for a switch in an almost cleared area far too many times by now, because the mapper thought it was smart to require everything to be killed before letting people move on. Those triggers are okay if there is a clear indication that it's an arena I'm in, stuff isn't spread out so much that eventually I find myself looking for enemies, and boring non-threats or trivial bullet sponges can be ignored. On the subject of kill triggers: I think in many cases proper testing and well measured timers are much superior to begin with, because it allows several areas to flow together eventually. Compartmentalization is not always a plus, at times it's nicer when things go hand in hand more.

 

I don't like extended stretches of shotgunning, eventually I wanna have something else to play with, such as a rocket launcher and maybe just a box of rockets to have something like a few "tactical nukes". Even if I don't really need them per se, in the case of "generic gameplay" just having the option can help a great deal. That said, weapon variety in "normal maps" is nice to have at times.

 

I am one of those weirdos who like platforming. It doesn't have to be balls-hard and precise down to a single pixel, but when it's there to sort of break up the shooting and dodging, or even goes along with it, then I think it has more than just a right to its existence.

 

I like a good blend of different aspects in maps that play for 10 minutes or more. It can either be just combat diversity, or setpieces which are connected by way of interesting exploration. For short maps I can enjoy the idea of sticking to one particular trope, or at least I find it much more tolerable if that's the case.

 

Pretty sure there is a lot more that I could think of that I do or don't like.... Don't feel like spending more time now though.

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Posted (edited)

Whatever Youtubers say it is at that moment.

 

I remember when good gameplay was D-pad for aim, L + R was for strafing. Somehow left analog for movement / strafing and right analog for aim was hated and considered bad gameplay.

 

I also remember when games with a lot of downtime were considered "bad gameplay," now it seems to be a staple of popular games. What's that? Crafting? Well I guess that's easier than playing the game. Hey whatever keeps you in this game for longer. What's that? Returning to your farm every day so you can do chores? Sounds like bad gameplay... hey now its good gameplay!

Edited by geo

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Good gameplay to me is "do something unexpected" (but no not crusher/instadeath traps).

 

Impeccably balanced gameplay is something different, because it has a homogenizing effect when 5000 maps play the same way and I can predict exactly what is going to happen.

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Each player can have different preferences about the gameplay. Moreover, Doom is very flexible game in that way - it's have own sub-genres in it. I'd better play Eternal Doom rather than Sunder.

P.S. Where animeavatar gang with their huge opinions on slaughter-wads? 😏

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, riderr3 said:


P.S. Where animeavatar gang with their huge opinions on slaughter-wads? 😏

Part of that gang is here already. What's the matter with slaughter maps? There's good ones, and there's dull and grindy ones, just like in any other subgenre of mapping.

Edited by Nine Inch Heels

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  • berserks
  • I'd say vorpal is kind of right, but originality (creativity?) by itself isn't enough. Proper balance is necessary for good gameplay, otherwise you'll be left wondering about missed opportunities and what if the map was done right. Still, if you just fill your rooms and hallways with, um, appropriate monsters, you'll get appropriate gameplay at best. Everyone will recognize that it's kind of fun to blast away those particular monsters in that particular setting with those particular weapons, because base Doom gameplay supports it, however merely adhering to good recipes and avoiding the bad ones alone will hardly get you into the history books. So... yeah, you need a hallmark fight, a flashy sequence or a cheeky section, and on top of that you need to keep the intermediate filler playing into the game's strong points.
  • no backpacks

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18 minutes ago, dew said:
  • if you just fill your rooms and hallways with, um, appropriate monsters, you'll get appropriate gameplay at best.

 

This is a good way of putting it. "Balance" will bring a bad/borderline map into the realm of quality fun (certainly won't make a map "bad"), but the experimental and surprising stuff is what makes memories and gets maps in favorites lists, for me at least. 

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To be honest, the procedure for me to judge is somewhat backwards. My body will "miracly" feel that I do/don't want to play this map. Then probably I'll find something to reason my feelings. However, since the subjectivity is different for everyone, I would say it's difficult to fit all the tastes. For example, somebody may think the mapper is mean if they don't put enough ammo while somebody may think this is fun because he/she likes planning tight resources.

 

I hope you don't mind I bring up 2 of your maps here from Pigeon Speedmapping Session 1. Since it's a speedmap, probably something is not intended. The video for my run is posted in the link.

 

Map13: I would say, I really like the structure of the map to give you feeling of a ruined castle or something. I don't really like the start because: 1. you are forced to switch around light weapons because of the hitscanners. If you also put a Shotgun and a Chaingun at the beginning, this will make the map smoother; 2. Although you're offered a Plasma Rifle, you don't have a lot of cells. Then the player needs to fight a handful of medium weight monsters (Revenants and Arachnotrons) in order to proceed. I would say more cells or something like 5~10 rockets would make the experience a lot better. The last room is a lot of fun on the other hand because I feel I have the tools to play around. The final challenge of Revenants fits my taste.

 

Map14: The underground part is sort of similar with last map. Although we have rockets, but I want to save some of them for the crusher part, so I ended up shotgunning some medium weight monsters in a wide open area where they post minimum threats. I would like to see a SSG in the underground part. Before this, there's a small room of few Revenants where players are forced to shotgun them. This is a fine challenge. Then, I'm fine with the crusher part. The final part is somewhat time consuming to deal with the enemies on high grounds, and the gravestones could block your shot (probably that's your intention though). I guess if you want to put enemies on high grounds, limit their movement space a little bit.

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All the technical aspects (considerate monster and item placement, contrasting heights and varying levels) make for good level design. Good gameplay however falls into the "game theory" category. More than how a level is constructed, is how reaching it's goals triggers the player's reward mechanism. Does it feel good to solve this puzzle which rewards me with a rocket launcher to kick even more baron ass? Hell yes. Did I  enjoy inciting infighting within that monstrous horde long enough to open a path and grab the yellow key? Hell yes.

 

If the player feels rewarded, it feels like good gameplay.

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There is no right answer. For instance, consider the following scenes:

 

SCENE 1

 

Person 1: What makes good gameplay?

Person 2: What do you find fun? If you find the level fun, chances are you will think it has good gameplay.

Person 1: But that answer is so subjective. What is fun? Different people find different things fun. How do I know if the level I make will be fun and thus have gameplay that is good?

Person 2: Exactly.

 

*END SCENE*

 

SCENE 2

 

Person A: Have you ever played the wad "Death Stalkers from the Deepest Pits of Hell"?

Person B: No.

Person A: It was awesome! One point I got a Berzerk pack and then 12 Barons teleported in and I had to circle around the Barons, periodically darting in and punching them and then retreating. That kind of gameplay dynamic is so fun.

Person B: I hate having to do that kind of stuff. That wad sounds like it has the worst gameplay imaginable. I would rather have 20 monsters that teleport in, infight, and then I pick off the scraps. Now that would be fun.

Person A: Actually, not really. The wad "Bloody Hell at the Recycling Plant" did that and I thought it sucked.

Person B: You probably think having to kill a cyberdemon with a pistol is fun, too.

Person A: I thought you said you never played "Death Stalkers from the Deepest Pits of Hell"? That's one of the big fights. Another one involves killing the Spiderdemon with the chainsaw.

Person B: *shaking head* I rest my case.

 

*END SCENE*

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8 hours ago, Forli said:

So how do you judge how good the gameplay in a map is besides what you personally like? Is there such a thing as maps having gameplay that is objectively better or worse?

 

Well like you said yourself, this involves a degree of personal preference. For me, in order for a map or megawad to be good it needs to successfully avoid the following mistakes which ruin the experience (it's much easier to name what should be avoided than the opposite so... ):

  • Resource scarcity is taken to the extreme.
  • Has poor enemy placement so that enemies are either very difficult or impossible to kill, come in considerable numbers in very cramped/tight spaces, and so on, thus being nothing more than a pain. Boring and very predictable enemy encounters could also fit here, or the map itself being unusually predictable.
  • Has confusing design. Sure, we all like exploration in larger maps and whatnot if it's done right, but losing yourself on the map extremely often due to its poor layout is zero fun.
  • Uses damaging floors, crushers, and any other kind of unavoidable obstacle excessively or purely to screw up the player's health.
  • It's unrewarding in the sense of not offering any sense of personal fulfillment once finished. This might actually not be a good example since it's very subjective and also difficult to put into words, but let me put it this way: Does it look and play interesting, yet ultimately there's plenty of mistakes and poor execution of various ideas? Or is it just a pain to even try to navigate it and kill enemies? Does it try something far too hard and is ultimately unsuccessful, or does it not try at all? Do the vast majority of people share the sentiment? Then there you have it.
  • Has very little effort put into it, resulting in various technical and gameplay issues.
  • Is very inconsistent in terms of quality (everything the word might encompass).
  • Is unbalanced on some, if not most or even all difficulty settings.
  • Has very little or no variety of anything (enemies, level heights, contrasts, colors, and so on).
  • Has nigh impossible to find secrets.
  • Completely fails to reach its set goal. For instance, it wants to be slaughter stuff and yet it misses all points which could possibly make it classify as such and does no justice to the concept.

If most or all of these points have been avoided then chances are, it's a good map or megawad.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Forli said:

  This is something I've been wondering for some time, when asked what the most important thing is in a doom map, most people will say that it is for it to play well, but "playing well" seems like a difficult thing to define.

 

  It looks like most of the time, personal preference is used to decide how good the gameplay is in a map (for example some people might like dying to traps that they didn't see coming while others would hate that), and yet if I made a map that was all square rooms with some imps inside that would be considered bad in general, so there does seem to be such a thing as "good" and "bad" gameplay other than preference.

 

  So how do you judge how good the gameplay in a map is besides what you personally like? Is there such a thing as maps having gameplay that is objectively better or worse?

Good gameplay is easy! Just use:

 

* Narrow catwalks over instant death floors

* 128 high box-shaped rooms full of nothing

* Poorly arranged pop music midis

* As many doors as possible

* Hundreds of chaingunners

* Archviles resurrecting archviles

* Lighting always 255 or 0

* Stealth monsters, lots of stealth monsters!

* Extreme resource starvation

* Cyberdemon tyson

* Ugly status bar graphics that are hard to read

* Also make the player really slow because it's realistic

 

Success!

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59 minutes ago, Grain of Salt said:

Good gameplay is ...

when you have only Arch-viles, Chaingunners and Revenants ;P

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Well, this is obviously going to vary from one person to the next based on preferences and what-not. For me, the things that make a map fun include any or all of the following:

  • Freewheeling macro-slaughter in which I can hold down the shoot button for at least 30 seconds straight
  • Non-linear level design (Scythe map 30 is a good example of this, as is BTSX map 7)
  • Freewheeling macro-slaughter in which I can hold down the shoot button for at least 45 seconds straight
  • Strategy-based encounters -- stuff that makes you think about movement patterns, use of cover, target prioritization, etc.
  • Freewheeling macro-slaughter in which I can hold down the shoot button for at least 60 seconds straight
  • Decent pacing... don't slow down gameplay to make me chaingun a baron to death. Chaingunning a baron might be fun if there's other stuff going on at the same time, but if it's just him and me, then it's not a challenge, just a killjoy.
  • Freewheeling macro-slaughter in which I can hold down the shoot button for at least 15 minutes straight
  • Arch-viles and cyberdemons -- place them early, and place them often!

I could probably think of other things too (y'know, such as freewheeling macro-slaughter), if I mulled it over enough.

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23 minutes ago, GarrettChan said:

when you have only Arch-viles, Chaingunners Cyberdemons and Revenants ;P

Fixed your typo. :-)

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Cyberdemons on narrow catwalks over pits of instant death floors with hordes of Archviles on nearby ledges.

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As said before, this is largely based on personal preference. Some of the things I think of regarding good gameplay are:

  • Multi-directional combat: It's more fun when you're pressured/shot at from several angles rather than mowing down dudes coming from a single hallway/teleporter.
  • Cheese-proofing: Making sure that encounters cannot be broken or completely neutered by either retreating, exploiting low/high ground, or simply not shooting to break teleport traps. Sunder is a great example of a wad with tons of such exploits that trivialize a lot of the fights/maps.
  • Interesting layouts with some degree of non-linearity, height variation, and inter-connectivity.
  • Environmental hazards, such as pain sectors or platforming to make navigation more interesting.

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Good gameplay for me is everything that can make me smile, enjoy myself, make me feel like replaying it someday, or at the end of the day feel excited that tomorrow or whenever, I'll be playing more of it. Bad gameplay, the opposite effect. Now objectively speaking, I can only think of "lazy" design, something that doesn't benefit any of the features in the game, like visually all textures misaligned, or a few pinkies behind a monster block lines, to name a few examples. Something that at first sight is clear that the mapper didn't care at all about what they were doing, or made something just to please others, that would be dumb, out of a specific context of course. 

 

The stuff I usually opt to play generally impacts positively, so, it's hard to speak about good or bad gameplay without being subjective. Everyone will judge differently, there won't be only one truth, about gameplay. 

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48 minutes ago, 42PercentHealth said:

when you have only Cacodemons (and/or Arch-viles), Chaingunners Cyberdemons and Revenants ;P

 

Fixed yours ;)

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On 4/12/2018 at 7:55 AM, Forli said:

 So what is "good gameplay" anyway?

If you poll 20 players on what "good gameplay" is, you'll likely get 20 answers that differ (at least somewhat). Here are some examples of how opinions can vary:

 

1. Easy-to-find secrets vs. difficult-to-find ones

2. Exploration of a map is required vs. creating a straight shot from start to finish

3. Continuous combat vs. pauses in combat

4. Linearity vs. non-linearity

5. Going out with guns constantly blazing vs. requiring player to employ strategy

6. Giving lots of ammo/health/armor against hordes of enemies vs. requiring the player to conserve goodies against more moderate resistance

7. Lots of arch-viles vs modest use of arch-viles

 

You get the idea. I need to go take care of dinner, otherwise I'd continue with the list of the aforementioned 20 varying opinions.

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A few things that make me hate a wad:

 

1 - Expecting me to kill hard enemies with the pistol (EG: Starting pistol VS A baron of hell)

2 - Making Secrets necessary

3 - Far too many enemies

4 - Lack of health or ammo or armour

5 - Making the easiest difficulty harder than default DooM's UV setting

6 - Horrible Music

7 - Eye-piercing graphics

8 - Ear-bleeding sound effects

9 - L O U D N O I S E S E V E R Y W H E R E !

10 - Trying to hide a confusing, awkward map layout with a ton of decorations to make it appear more fleshed out than it really is

11 - Terry Traps

12 - Not allowing me to freelook/jump/crouch

13 - Confusing Puzzles that waste far too much time either by being way too cryptic or needing expert reaction times

14 - Forcing me to only use 1-2 guns when I have multiple options

15 - And finally: Being WAY Too long in length!

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