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Wraith777

Level Progress Diagrams – your new tool for map classification (linear/nonlinear)

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Wow, this is fantastic.  Nice work, it must've taken some effort to assemble all of those charts.

 

Perchance, did you get the idea from Boss Keys?  The analysis reminds me a heck of a lot of that series.

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4 hours ago, AlexMax said:

Perchance, did you get the idea from Boss Keys?  The analysis reminds me a heck of a lot of that series.

 

Actually no, but the scientific approach to such analysis is similar anyway for anything)

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This is great stuff! I've found that often when approaching a map, I myself will draw what basically amounts to your simplified diagrams here to plan.

Although we differ a little bit on the classification re: linear/non-linear (and it's not a bad thing). Personally, I only class a map (or even general game level, this stuff isn't DOOM-specific, and can be applied elsewhere in game design) as 'non-linear' per se if it isn't in fact a 'multi-linear' fork where paths don't cross or intersect (I've made a couple maps do this).

Again, nice work here. Not a stupid idea at all IMO.

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Thank you very much for this - I think it's going to make me analyse my own levels some more. I've recently been making collector style maps; it would seem. Noticing that E1M1 has an entirely secret-only alternate path is something I should do in a map or two of mine. It's an often overlooked concept, despite it being in what is arguably the most iconic Doom map of all time!

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Posted (edited)

Cool :D

 

I've kinda been doing something like this for my next mapset, since I want to each map to feel more unique, but my classification is much more basic haha It has been working so far, though.

 

I've been classifying my levels as:

- indoor (classic doom I style),

- city/village style (doom 2 eII)

- courtyard/hub (one big central area)

- outdoor (a set of open areas connected to each other)

- boss arena (shorter level with one central arena with a very difficult fight).

 

Then, for linearity, I go:

- adventure (you barely revisit old areas)

- linear (the level interconnects with itself, but it's always one path)

- guided non-linearity (one or two main branches, but mostly the experience for the player will be the same regardless the path)

- key hunt (the collector one)

- basic non-linear (aka you can go anywhere, the experience changes according with the path)

- star-model non-linearity (from a central point you can go to several peripheral areas, which are also connected with each-other - similar to non-linear, but with always this structure)

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11 hours ago, Jayextee said:

Although we differ a little bit on the classification re: linear/non-linear (and it's not a bad thing). Personally, I only class a map (or even general game level, this stuff isn't DOOM-specific, and can be applied elsewhere in game design) as 'non-linear' per se if it isn't in fact a 'multi-linear' fork where paths don't cross or intersect (I've made a couple maps do this).

I'm having similar thoughts about 'collector' type: on one hand, technically it counts as nonlinear, because you can perform actions in any order to proceed further on the same map. On other hand, strictly collector-type map simply falls apart and may count as multiple separate levels. That's why there are actually no pure collector levels in original games: this is simply a bad designer choice. The only exception is E2M6, but it still has a clearly formed beginning and later a large 'hub' for paths to 3 keys. It's just that oversimplified LPD doesn't show those details and it becomes a typical collector type.

Don't forget that there is a possibility to build a collector without crosses or intersections, for example a player can see and shoot enemies from a window/ledge/fence that belong to parallel path, or can activate some triggers that influence gameplay on other branches.

 

10 hours ago, Dragonfly said:

Thank you very much for this - I think it's going to make me analyse my own levels some more. I've recently been making collector style maps; it would seem. Noticing that E1M1 has an entirely secret-only alternate path is something I should do in a map or two of mine. It's an often overlooked concept, despite it being in what is arguably the most iconic Doom map of all time!

Yes, it's actually a good idea for a basic self analysis. I've tried to make it for Alpha Accident, it's just that maps are so much complicated there regarding exactly nonlinearity (which was one of the main purposes of this wad). It shows that I really like key optional/interdependent grid/sandbox collectors :)

By the way, E1M6 is indeed a true indoor sandbox

5ae8c9709e503_AALPdiagrams.PNG.0a6b69d277d64214c165099a943396c2.PNG

Still, this may be AA's problem: sometimes you need a straight and defined gameplay, to see a clear picture of level, which can be provided by linear map. But here every next map throws player into a grid or even a sandbox, and this can get tiresome for a lot of people. That's why levels in Episodes 2 and 3 should be more diverse in terms of level progress: even if there are no strict linear maps (which i actually don't like to build), there should be more fork maps and at least a few generally linear maps.

 

9 hours ago, Deadwing said:

I've kinda been doing something like this for my next mapset, since I want to each map to feel more unique, but my classification is much more basic haha It has been working so far, though.

In general, I classify levels by multiple basic criteria, which are considerably interconnected:
1) appearance (indoor/outdoor)

2) style (techbase/city/antic/horror/hell/nature/alien etc and their combinations or aggregates)

3) architecture (orthogonal/classic/amorphous)

4) layout (centralized/distributed)

5) realism (realistic/pseudo-realistic/abstract)

6) gameplay type (adventure/classic/slaughter)

7) level progress (linear/nonlinear)

8) size

9) length

10) difficulty

Well, those last three are purely subjective and may be thrown away most of the times)

 

Regarding players backtrack: I think it should to be shown on detailed(full) LPDs (because it just disappears after LPD is simplified, which is done for all maps shown in by me here)

 

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Posted (edited)

Interesting dissection. This got me thinking about discussions we used to have in different studios & fora around the time of the first-person shooter taking off commerically, in the wake of Doom. A recurring theme was do's and do-not's. Interconnectivity was early on noted as something desirable that made a level's progression potentially more interesting than linear "rail-shooter" action, straight corridor-shooting or cheesy mazes. As a product of these discussions I some time during the late 90's drew the following sketch to illustrate a type of playflow one might aim for in the maps we were making at the time. Often technical limitations then would prevent one from achieveing as much interconnectivity as one might like, and I don't think I ever needed to show to anyone this to explain how to map, most mappers working then already had a pretty good idea of where they wanted to take things, but I drew it out after-the-fact as the result of some discussion or other. Don't know exactly how relative this sketch is to your map-type breakdown, or where it would fit in, but the subject made me think of it, so here it is:

 

- "key events" could be anything that makes a previously uinavailable area available, be it a key, raise/lower switch or ability upgrade.

- "locks" would be the location blocking access to the next area

 

mapman.jpg.0e3629fe905322ce858d7ada0d19ec57.jpg

 

...that's my meager contribution to an interesting debate anyway. =)

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So which of these do I carve into a fencepost to warn the other hobos in the area that the man in the house there has a mean dog?

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Posted (edited)

This is such an interesting point of view by classifying all maps by a diagram. Hell, this should be a sort of model to follow...

Edited by leodoom85 : doh

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I thought that most of the Doom maps let you go where you want in order to get to the exit. And the "corridor to the exit" is formed by yourself.

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27 minutes ago, Gordon Grand said:

I thought that most of the Doom maps let you go where you want in order to get to the exit. And the "corridor to the exit" is formed by yourself.

To a degree. There is never a situation on any map where Doom will stop you from going down a particular path and will tell you to return to the battlefield or something like that. You can wander around levels as much as you want, that is true. In E2M1, you can go through the left door or the right door to get to the red key and you can wander around outside as much as you want (at least until you reach the wall). But once you have the red key, there's essentially only 1 way to go. In Map01, you can go into blue room with the zombiemen if you want or you can go outside through the secret door if you want, but not doing either of them doesn't affect your overall path to the exit. You still have to walk down the hall and to the exit door, thus making it linear (overall). E1M1 is linear, too, prior to v. 1.9.

 

So, this diagramming essentially boils down the overall structure of the map to reflect the overall things you have to do.

 

Consider this example, suppose you have a starting room that leads a corridor with six doors. The corridor also ends at another small room with an exit switch. There are windows next to six doors looking out into other playable areas. The playable areas on the other side of each door cover an area equal to one of the larger iwad levels and they're all interconnected through corridors, teleporters, etc. However, you don't have to visit any of them to exit the level. According to the logic laid out in the OP, such a level would be linear. But you would still be free to wander around and explore, it just wouldn't have an essential effect on the progression of the level.

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2 minutes ago, Pegleg said:

To a degree. There is never a situation on any map where Doom will stop you from going down a particular path and will tell you to return to the battlefield or something like that. You can wander around levels as much as you want, that is true. In E2M1, you can go through the left door or the right door to get to the red key and you can wander around outside as much as you want (at least until you reach the wall). But once you have the red key, there's essentially only 1 way to go. In Map01, you can go into blue room with the zombiemen if you want or you can go outside through the secret door if you want, but not doing either of them doesn't affect your overall path to the exit. You still have to walk down the hall and to the exit door, thus making it linear (overall). E1M1 is linear, too, prior to v. 1.9.

 

So, this diagramming essentially boils down the overall structure of the map to reflect the overall things you have to do.

 

Consider this example, suppose you have a starting room that leads a corridor with six doors. The corridor also ends at another small room with an exit switch. There are windows next to six doors looking out into other playable areas. The playable areas on the other side of each door cover an area equal to one of the larger iwad levels and they're all interconnected through corridors, teleporters, etc. However, you don't have to visit any of them to exit the level. According to the logic laid out in the OP, such a level would be linear. But you would still be free to wander around and explore, it just wouldn't have an essential effect on the progression of the level.

I still I have a "non-linear" feeling in Doom maps. They are different from COD maps, which are really "corridor-like".

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15 minutes ago, Gordon Grand said:

I still I have a "non-linear" feeling in Doom maps. They are different from COD maps, which are really "corridor-like".

I agree with you completely, Doom maps are very different from COD (or a lot of other shooters) maps, which basically do force you to go a particular way, regardless of the actual detail and scenery. Doom allows you to explore.

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19 hours ago, Soundblock said:

Don't know exactly how relative this sketch is to your map-type breakdown, or where it would fit in, but the subject made me think of it, so here it is:

 

- "key events" could be anything that makes a previously unavailable area available, be it a key, raise/lower switch or ability upgrade.

- "locks" would be the location blocking access to the next area

 

Same thing here, I just forgot to mention that key points are divided into key and locked areas (colors red-yellow-blue are conditional here and can be applied to switch-door pairs also), you can see both on all LPD's I've shown here.

 

 

6 hours ago, Gordon Grand said:

I still I have a "non-linear" feeling in Doom maps. They are different from COD maps, which are really "corridor-like".

 

And that's exactly what was intended to be shown here also: linear maps in DooM are not equal to those found in plenty of guide rail shooters. E2M1, E2M3 or E2M7 provide so much freedom for exploration that players actually loose any care about their overall linearity. A ride with plenty of good options is a good linearity, and the one with good alternatives - a good nonlinearity.

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Very fascinating! You've put many hours into this, obviously. Which brings me to another interesting point. Automatic level generators like Oblige perform an internal version of this type of data, out of necessity. All generated maps must be complete-able, so you must be able to, say, find the red key outside of the red room, for example.

 

Furthermore, the smart bot engines, like AutoDoom, use A* pathfinding, and floodfill algorithms to understand Doom map navigation, and "i before e, except after c" rules.

 

What I'm getting at is, maybe, it just might be possible to combine these technologies with your level classification and chart-making capabilities, to create a system that could generate LPD's auto-magically, which would thrill me to death. It's an incredibly descriptive level classification method that fits in a small space, can be drawn beautifully, and requires no words (except for chart labels). Doom engines might even be able to draw them like they draw the automap.

 

@Wraith777Do you think it could be possible? How difficult was it to determine the proper classification for the IWAD's maps? How long did it take? And, do you think an exact criteria could be defined for each decision that goes into the making of the final chart? Is some of it subjective and based a bit on educated opinion, or can it be made into an exact science? (Sorry for all the questions...it's an awesome topic!)

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Huh. I interpreted nonlinear maps as having multiple pathways, some you would have to traverse, others you wouldn't, to reach the exit.

Conversely, I thought of E1M1, for example, as being linear, given there are only two ways to go, and one through a secret, no less, to the same endgoal. No branches, just two different hallways.

 

This changed my thought process, because I really like nonlinear maps.

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On 5/4/2018 at 5:34 AM, kb1 said:

@Wraith777Do you think it could be possible? How difficult was it to determine the proper classification for the IWAD's maps? How long did it take? And, do you think an exact criteria could be defined for each decision that goes into the making of the final chart? Is some of it subjective and based a bit on educated opinion, or can it be made into an exact science? (Sorry for all the questions...it's an awesome topic!) 

 

I don't exactly know how level generator algorithms work, but they could indeed include some external data in form of LPDs.

Big problem was to determine general criteria of classification regarding nonlinearity. The whole idea was to develop classification not only for IWAD maps, you can classify any map this way.

This idea came to me pretty long ago (5-6 years) and lied on shelf until.. now.
Actually, main criteria of creating LPD's ARE defined and all of them are objective, see examples further.


Main criteria is: linear levels don't include alternate paths (no more than 1 path from one key point to another on LPD), may/may not include optional paths (dead ends on LPD).

LPD's are created in 4 steps:
1) A Wireframe is created based on actual map layout. It depicts main (green), alternative (purple) and optional (light blue) paths
2) Wireframe is simplified into linear form, but it still depicts backtrack. More simple form doesn't include optional areas

3) Backtrack form is transformed into linearized form, which depicts level progression in one-way form.

4) Based on two previous forms pictographic form is made that gives short characteristic of level progression. This form also includes backtrack

 

Let's see this process for all level types

Linear
Backtrack form clearly shows that E2M7 is a linear level: west part of it remains optional until player gets yellow key and even after this there's no reason for him to come that way only to get back to same computer hall. Minus all optional areas and you get a straight line. Form4 is based on Form2 and shows a structure that may be called 'pseudo-fork'.1525757213_e2m7LPDs.PNG.1f6e4e3454869ca4722bd9cf65e4a8fa.PNG
 

Fork

E1M1 is simply a fork, form3 and 4 look very similar, only difference is that Form4 shows alternate path as a secret one-way path

1178065702_e1m1LPDs.PNG.4f6896bf2993e75d42a8d26db414358b.PNG


Collector

E3M6 has pretty complex layout, but after simplification and minus small alternatives and all options it becomes simply 3-key collector (Form4)
Form3 shows that in total there are 6 combinations of key collection sequences.

42850103_e2m6LPDs.PNG.4b2298386b09e19a7107b643c00a8c29.PNG

 

Grid

E4M5 Form3 itself looks like a grid, that's why whole level class is called that way. Form4 shows a key optional grid with forked access

e4m5.PNG.77ac5ddba91e2fe92be259be7ed06505.PNG

 

Sandbox

Actually, looking at Forms2 and Form3 of map12 it's impossible to tell difference between sandbox and greed, but the point is that there is infinite number of those one-way paths down from ramps outside of buildings, they are just not shown here (big open spaces with obstacles within them are typical for sandbox, no matter if it's indoor or outdoor). Also, in the end we have a giant collector: 5 switches need to be operated in any order. This clearly shows that quantity of collecting combinations obey the factorial function: 5! = 5*4*3*2*1 = 120 combinations
Form4 may be drawn as sandbox 2-key collector with 5-key collector in the end.

map12.PNG.727fe8e662c90d55dde99f9da1b2c241.PNG

 

Overall, you can do it for any map. It may be even used to.. make a psychological portrait of mapper based on LPD's of all his maps (like Rorschach test) :)

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