Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
SiFi270

When did the community's levels really begin to surpass id's?

Recommended Posts

It's well known that the original IWADs are not without their flaws, but needless to say, they were still leagues better than what others made when they first gained the means to make their own maps. Nowadays, the community is producing some incredible things, and a fair amount of it still stays within the limits the original engine had. So do you think there's a point in Doom history where the fans officially got better than id at making levels, and if so, when?

Share this post


Link to post

This seems like a difficult question to answer, given that, over time, the fanbase developed newer and stronger engines on which to run Doom, which allowed for a whole new array of possibilities, and even before then, people were hard at work developing level editors, thereby granting the ability to map with incredible precision.

That soap box exhausted now, I'd wager a stab at about maybe '96/'97 when they consistently exceeded ID.

Share this post


Link to post

It's hard to compare fan-made content to id content for a lot of reasons, but it's true that things like Final Doom and Memento Mori and other wads from their era generally feel like fans trying to imitate id and getting like 90% of the way there. Requiem can perhaps be seen as a turning point where the fan community began the long process of developing its own identity and dramatically increasing the quality of its output. Any line you draw is going to be arbitrary, but I'd suggest that Darkening 2 and Alien Vendetta were arguably the point where fans were starting to think like professional game designers and were roughly on Romero's level, and then Scythe 2 and Suspended in Dusk were among the first pwads to unquestionably surpass id quality.

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)

 

I don't really like comparing the two. id gave us a wonderful game (and sequel) and without those original levels, we never would've got the later amazing fan community projects. Plutonia is one of my all time favorite wads, and it goes without saying that Plutonia was heavily inspired by the original games and level design styles. Without the original games, we wouldn't have got what came after it from inspiration. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

Entirely subjective and impossible to answer in any objective way. But you could argue that the Final Doom WADs (specifically the completion of TNT: Evilution in November 1995) showed that fan-made levels had reached a level of quality at least rivaling the id levels; certainly that the guys at id thought so, at least. In my opinion it's not until about a year later (late 1996, 1997) that we see an assortment of really high quality projects appear with really strong thematic direction and consistency. It's this ability to deliver something beyond just "more Doom levels" that shows they've surpassed the template id laid down and taken the base game in new directions.

Share this post


Link to post

Pretty early I'd say. Tim Willits RAVEN series was 1995 and  was at least on a par with the average maps in Doom and Doom 2, at least from what I remember of them. They were amongst the first PWADs I came across (by virtue of a magazine coverdisc iirc) but I haven't played them since then. But certainly before the source port era. The ID map quality is quite varied anyway

Share this post


Link to post

The framing of the question's a little weird, since it's kinda hard to compare the work of a single dev team to an entire community. But if we're going by megaWADs only, I'd say pretty early, at around the late 90s/early 2000s. That's when stuff like Final Doom, Requiem, and Icarus came out, which had a very similar design philosophy, but with more detailed architecture and a heightened challenge. That's something I personally get a lot more enjoyment out of than Doom II. 

Share this post


Link to post

Memfis style response: actually, the community never surpassed id.

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)

Hard to say, I still think ID levels are still one of the best you still can play, although it is really hard to compare them, because nostalgia hits hard lol

 

Still, ID levels have the right amount of chaotic + consistent design that its really hard to mimic. Even stuff like DTWID series, which did some really good designs, but at same time failed to provide more unique and memorable landscapes. Anyway, it took a lot of time to the community to produce something comparable, IMO. I guess, for me, Plutonia would be the first example, but after it I think the oldest wad I've fully enjoyed was the first Scythe. I could be wrong, though, but when I've played it (around 2006) I greatly enjoyed it and it felt a lot superior to most stuff I tried testing. A lot of other older stuff (such as AV and Hell Revealed) didn't do much for me, I would prefer to play IWADs anyday.

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)

Coincidently I just happen to have read the old PC Zone review of Ultimate Doom from August 1995 and the writer was pretty scathing, stating there were thousands of maps made by modders, some of which were better than Ultimate Doom's new episode.

Edited by Vermil

Share this post


Link to post

If you frame it technologically, once Source Ports started gaining features seen in Heretic/Hexen and beyond. If framed by map design, that's impossible to determine due to it being completely subjective.

 

There are quite a few maps out there that lean on detailing and let gameplay suffer, while some others explore concepts not covered in the original maps. If anything, the community's efforts helped broaden the art, even when it hasn't "improved" on it, creating more opportunities to explore "what works and what doesn't."

 

I'd say though, at this point, we as a community of creators have at least pushed past the original confines of the engine itself, which is "surpassing id," in a way.

 

Share this post


Link to post

I agree with @fraggle and @MTrop, this question is impossible to definitively answer due to the absolute subjectivity of "better."

 

I do think we need to focus on map design, encounter design, etc. because if the folks at id had access to the features in the source ports, they would have undoubtedly used them. So, while you could definitely say that the community has surpassed id by having Doom levels with 3D floors, slopes, hub maps, etc., it seems like a disingenuous argument to me. I would argue that if the id team had those features in 1993-1994, they would've included them in Doom and Doom 2, so the community would not now be "surpassing" them by using those features.

 

2 hours ago, Deadwing said:

Hard to say, I still think ID levels are still one of the best you still can play, although it is really hard to compare them, because nostalgia hits hard lol

The ideal way to try to address the nostalgia issue would be to find a group that hasn't played (or hasn't played much) of the iwads and then have them work their way through Doom (including Episode 4), Doom 2, Final Doom, and then move on to the Top 100 wads from 1994 - 2003. That would provide some amount of nominally nostalgia-free insight into the progression of some of the best the community had to offer.

Share this post


Link to post
16 hours ago, SiFi270 said:

So do you think there's a point in Doom history where the fans officially got better than id at making levels, and if so, when?

This just occurred to me: has anyone ever asked the original id team (Romero, Petersen, Carmack (both or either), Hall, Willits, etc.) when they think their work was surpassed by the work of the community?

Share this post


Link to post
4 minutes ago, Pegleg said:

This just occurred to me: has anyone ever asked the original id team (Romero, Petersen, Carmack (both or either), Hall, Willits, etc.) when they think their work was surpassed by the work of the community?

 

I think they're "aware" of the modding scene by word of mouth, and have respect for it, but I would be surprised if any of them actually went through more than 1 or 2 pwads. I've only ever heard id devs mention wads by "that one where they add the [X], that was genius!" but never reference anything by name.

Share this post


Link to post
16 hours ago, SiFi270 said:

and a fair amount of it still stays within the limits the original engine had.

That part was kind of intended as a pre-emptive acknowledgement that source ports kind of make some comparisons unfair, but even without them there are things like BTSX and Epic 2. But I do find myself agreeing with both the people who say it was around 96 or 97 and the people who just don't think it's a fair question to ask. It was just something I had on my mind for a while.

Share this post


Link to post
16 hours ago, SiFi270 said:

do you think there's a point in Doom history where the fans officially got better than id at making levels, and if so, when?

I think that mappers have come up with some very creative visuals over the last 23 years. In terms of gameplay I'm of the opinion that very few maps are more fun than the original 2 campaigns but many come close. There wasn't one time or era where this happened though, there has always been a mix of enjoyable and crappy maps being released.

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)

Epic 2 was a true masterpiece, says the man who can't complete MAP29 without cheating.

It's more along the vein of (GL/PR)Boom, but it does hold very closely to the base engine, so it might qualify as subjectively superior to the IWADs.

Its extreme difficulty beginning in MAP27 excepted, I feel I should specify.

 

And source ports make comparisons more or less impossible, because (G)ZDoom has added so much by itself (though, itself an ultimate derivative of Boom) that a sufficiently developed mod for (G)ZDoom could qualify as a game in itself.

Share this post


Link to post

Doom sux by default; pwads are just attempts to make it sux less, so I'd say immediately.

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Doomkid said:

there has always been a mix of enjoyable and crappy maps being released.

Right, just like there is a spectrum of quality in the iwad levels, there is a spectrum of quality across releases from the community.

 

The advantage that the Doom iwad levels have is that there is a much smaller number of levels, so the comparison of iwad levels en masse vs. pwad levels en masse will probably always be slanted toward the iwad levels. Including Ultimate Doom, Doom 2, TNT: Evilution, and The Plutonia Experiment, you have 132 levels. In any given year, you have 10 times that many pwads.

 

Thus, the more accurate formulation may be, in what year/era did the top n% of community-generated content consistently surpass the top n% of iwad content?

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)

I would generally disagree that level quality is "completely subjective", as some posters say. Sure, there is a degree of subjectivity that goes into this, but there are objective factors as well.

 

I would agree that by 1997-98 mods became seriously interesting. Many megawads basically became playable projects that could be regarded as next doom versions. Whether they surpassed the original Doom levels or are simply on par is difficult to say because you don't necessarily view it this way, in most cases. Has the 7th album of a music band necessarily surpassed the first one? Well, that depends on what you measure.

 

One thing that I believe I can say with confidence is that the Doom modding community does not exist in a vacuum and evolves with the gaming industry. We have come up with a better understanding of gameplay rules, of what works and what doesn't, we have gained insights from our own experiments and from modern games which generally evolve and develop more sophisticated gameplay. Something that was taken for granted back in the day today is considered plain boring.

 

If we take Doom mods that go beyond the original engine, I would say that probably after 2000s some complete doom mods are way better than the original Doom. Valiant, for example, is an incredible game that basically stands on its own. Its been a while since I've been so excited to come home from work to play a game as I was with Valiant. The fluidity of its gameplay was unheard of in the 90s, I would argue.

 

Finally, I would like to thank the OP for a very nice question. I loved thinking about it and having a chance to share my thoughts here.

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Fonze said:

Doom sux by default

You bite your undead fish tongue! Doom is perfect in every way regardless if the levels are speed mapped by JoMero.

 

Anyway it got better when Team TNT started up.

Share this post


Link to post

Everyone who said "never" gets to play E4M4 in the afterlife for all eternity.

 

Depending on the severity of your case, you may or may not be visited by three ghosts who will try to rekindle your appreciation for pwads and thaw your icy, joyless heart.

Share this post


Link to post

This debate is very SP slanted. I think from a multiplayer perspective PWADs took the lead very early on

Share this post


Link to post
47 minutes ago, Grain of Salt said:

Everyone who said "never" gets to play E4M4 in the afterlife for all eternity.

 

Depending on the severity of your case, you may or may not be visited by three ghosts who will try to rekindle your appreciation for pwads and thaw your icy, joyless heart.

 

But, but McGee.

 

Then again, I play Episode 3 of Keen Commander every now and again. I mean, it's only three levels to win. So I can't really see that as unending torment.

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Grain of Salt said:

Everyone who said "never" gets to play E4M4 in the afterlife for all eternity.

 

Depending on the severity of your case, you may or may not be visited by three ghosts who will try to rekindle your appreciation for pwads and thaw your icy, joyless heart.

 

That's at least better than being stuck in Map 22: Habitat for an afterlife. 

Share this post


Link to post

Ages ago. No reason to hold the Iwad levels like they are of unreachable standards. "but they didn't have the tools\time fan mappers do!" doesn't change that.

Share this post


Link to post

Early 90s-Meh wads

Late 90s-Really good wads

2000s-Wads reaching good levels that shouldn't even be possible.

 

Just take wads like Epic 2 and Scythe 2 and remake them on unreal engine 4 to release them as new games,you will see that they will be praised as some of the best of not the best fps games of all time.

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Jon said:

This debate is very SP slanted. I think from a multiplayer perspective PWADs took the lead very early on

Definitely agree, despite how poorly some of the maps have aged, wads like dwango5 are still miles and miles ahead of the iwads in terms of fun factor during a deathmatch.

 

5 hours ago, Pegg said:

Ages ago. No reason to hold the Iwad levels like they are of unreachable standards. "but they didn't have the tools\time fan mappers do!" doesn't change that.

For me personally, it has nothing to do with that and everything to do with fun encounters that are challenging but manageable, interesting layouts that I enjoy exploring and generally ticking a lot of boxes on the 'good design' list. I won't act like they aren't surpassed/rivaled by some wads, but that list of wads isn't nearly as long for me as it seems to be for some people. There's like 4 wads out there (deathmatch wads aside) that I feel like replaying as often as I replay Doom2, which is usually at least once a year.

 

10 hours ago, Fonze said:

Doom sux by default; pwads are just attempts to make it sux less, so I'd say immediately.

I-Will-Find-You-And-I-Will-Kill-You-Liam

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×