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Mk7_Centipede

The philosophy of level design

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Here i am, surrounded by architects and coders and gamers and musicians. And i want to talk about narrative in DOOM games.

 

...I am going to discuss very personal stuff not suitable for children in this post so fyi dont continue if that bothers you...

 

My theory is that video games can relay emotional experience just as well as a movie. But I am in the doom camp- I am not overly invested in actors and monologues and whatnot. I am perfectly fine with the setting and content of a level to convey emotional experience of whatnot. Like, think of the end of Inception- How do you tell if he is awake or dreaming? I think questions of those sorts are fairly pertinent to the hell/reality motif present in doom. Look at FEAR, right? You walk down a hallway and the door is locked so you turn around and a ghost jumps out! Like, that is emotional experience.

 

So, in one dream, you meander through the springtime and solve some puzzles to reach a church- and you walk down the aisle and past the pews- and then enemies ambush you. Its a metaphor, right? Maybe the whole thing collapses and you have to find some specials keys and hit switches to bring it back to the surface. Meaning to your actions.

 

But I got this other dream sequence, right? and you walk down the row of cells that are full of prosoners. and its dim, but there is a light comeing from an open cell down the row. there is a trail of blod leading to that cell it seems. so when you get to it and go inside you find blood plastered all across the walls. gibs and thats about it. no items. and when you leave, all the cell doors are opened and all the prisoners are dead. blood is everywhere.  The idea is in an abuse of power- the character you are playing as didn't turn the other cheek. for whatever reason, the doomguy or whoever sought vengence against someone that had been arrested. And really against all criminals. Your character is a far cry from an enforcer of the law.

 

Does that come across? Ive been told its a bit vague, but there is a second part. So in the finally you have landed in dimension X. Everything is not what it seems and fragments of imagination and memory mesh together. Houses on floating islands and stuff. Maybe you plugged into cyberspace like in Ghost In The Shell. Whatever the reason.

 

It would be obvious, right? You get to the mainframe at the end of one stage and the following stage takes place in an astral crystal floating island place and tron guys show up, right? I feel like story is easy with really distinct imagery.

 

So you are on this floating island and there is this house and then there is this trail of blood and you follow it through the house to this room and its dark there and you go in the room and it looks as if the walls were ripped right away because they are torn and the most perfect night sky remains.  all is calm and quite.

 

Of course then you engage an endgame boss of the sorts. Icon of Sin I would think. Rising out of the abyss to meet you.

 

But the point was emotional experience. In the proson, the walls are covered in blood. In your house, they are stars and the nights sky. I wanted to make a distinction, right? I wanted to insinuate that you murdered a guy. But I also wanted to insinuate that what happened to whoever was upstairs was a degree more than murder.

 

I wanted to insinuate that someone had violated and killed your characters partner.

 

I wanted to discuss my theories of art and meaning a bit with everyone before I made the endeavor to craft. There are a few areas I find of particular interest. mainly, whether the blood on the wall and the stars on the wall is a significant and relevant difference? and also whether green fields can obviously express a fantasy landscape within the confines of an otherwise rather dark and bloody afair? and I guess at the most basic point is that do you identify with your character or project onto your player?

 

thanks :)

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57 minutes ago, Mk7_Centipede said:

I wanted to insinuate that someone had violated and killed your characters partner.

 

Why? To what end? It seems like you want to use illustrative metaphors to convey a message (blood on the wall, night sky in the house), but what is that message? That every person that hates criminals is a victim of a crime? That those that feel anger and vengeance are likely to be extrapolating their own misery onto others?

 

We need to go deeper Mk7_Centipede. The totem is still spinning. SEND ME DEEPER!

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Even the most clever use of symbolism barely registers on my care-o-meter. It's a flourish to be added to a larger whole, but if the whole relies completely on people going "Ah HAH! I see the metaphor, the gun is my cock!" then it's garbo fit only to be sent into the ocean.

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5 hours ago, Mk7_Centipede said:

I wanted to insinuate that someone had violated and killed your characters partner.

 

Kill off a female character just to hype up the manpain, what could go wrong there

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1 hour ago, MTrop said:

Okay so where do I put the Barons of Hell

outside by the giant mushrooms by the gumdrop forest

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7 hours ago, Mk7_Centipede said:

I wanted to discuss my theories of art and meaning a bit with everyone before I made the endeavor to craft. 

 

The only thing I'll say here is this: if you want to craft something, just jump in and start getting your hands dirty. You can sit around all day asking others their thoughts, but really the best way to figure out if something works or not is to jump in there and start building shit. 

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I would recommend avoiding drama when introducing narrative into the Doom setting. This is, after all, a game in which you gratuitously blow away demons from Mars. You're much better off using humour and B-movie schlock horror. Melodrama might work, but you would probably be better off using a different format such as HalfLife2 or even visual novels.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Curunir said:

Take your meds on a regular basis, OP, please.

In his other thread, in a post around the same time as this one, he admitted to being high. So no need to take his meds, just lay off whatever he's on.

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11 hours ago, Mk7_Centipede said:

My theory is that video games can relay emotional experience just as well as a movie. But I am in the doom camp- I am not overly invested in actors and monologues and whatnot. I am perfectly fine with the setting and content of a level to convey emotional experience of whatnot. Like, think of the end of Inception- How do you tell if he is awake or dreaming? I think questions of those sorts are fairly pertinent to the hell/reality motif present in doom. Look at FEAR, right? You walk down a hallway and the door is locked so you turn around and a ghost jumps out! Like, that is emotional experience.

 

So, in one dream, you meander through the springtime and solve some puzzles to reach a church- and you walk down the aisle and past the pews- and then enemies ambush you. Its a metaphor, right? Maybe the whole thing collapses and you have to find some specials keys and hit switches to bring it back to the surface. Meaning to your actions.

 

But I got this other dream sequence, right? and you walk down the row of cells that are full of prosoners. and its dim, but there is a light comeing from an open cell down the row. there is a trail of blod leading to that cell it seems. so when you get to it and go inside you find blood plastered all across the walls. gibs and thats about it. no items. and when you leave, all the cell doors are opened and all the prisoners are dead. blood is everywhere.  The idea is in an abuse of power- the character you are playing as didn't turn the other cheek. for whatever reason, the doomguy or whoever sought vengence against someone that had been arrested. And really against all criminals. Your character is a far cry from an enforcer of the law.

 

Does that come across? Ive been told its a bit vague, but there is a second part. So in the finally you have landed in dimension X. Everything is not what it seems and fragments of imagination and memory mesh together. Houses on floating islands and stuff. Maybe you plugged into cyberspace like in Ghost In The Shell. Whatever the reason.

 

It would be obvious, right? You get to the mainframe at the end of one stage and the following stage takes place in an astral crystal floating island place and tron guys show up, right? I feel like story is easy with really distinct imagery.

 

So you are on this floating island and there is this house and then there is this trail of blood and you follow it through the house to this room and its dark there and you go in the room and it looks as if the walls were ripped right away because they are torn and the most perfect night sky remains.  all is calm and quite.

 

Of course then you engage an endgame boss of the sorts. Icon of Sin I would think. Rising out of the abyss to meet you.

 

But the point was emotional experience. In the proson, the walls are covered in blood. In your house, they are stars and the nights sky. I wanted to make a distinction, right? I wanted to insinuate that you murdered a guy. But I also wanted to insinuate that what happened to whoever was upstairs was a degree more than murder.

 

I wanted to insinuate that someone had violated and killed your characters partner.

 

I wanted to discuss my theories of art and meaning a bit with everyone before I made the endeavor to craft. There are a few areas I find of particular interest. mainly, whether the blood on the wall and the stars on the wall is a significant and relevant difference? and also whether green fields can obviously express a fantasy landscape within the confines of an otherwise rather dark and bloody afair? and I guess at the most basic point is that do you identify with your character or project onto your player?

 

thanks :)

Personally, I agree with @Grain of Salt. I would leave out the violation and murder of your character's partner angle. That level of specificity is rather unnecessary.

 

Otherwise, everything you described can be done, particularly in modern ports. You'll need new textures, new skies, new music, intermission text screens to advance the plot, new scripting, and environmental effects. But everything you've described is possible within the context of Doom as a TC. So, go do it. Or assemble a group of people to help you do it.

 

By the way, your post isn't about level design. It's about immersion within a game environment and how to get across a particular feeling to the player within the context of the story. You're not talking about level design. You're talking about abstract game design.

 

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10 hours ago, MTrop said:

Okay so where do I put the Barons of Hell

 

8 hours ago, dobu gabu maru said:

In prison, where they belong

I'm sure you mean narrow hallways. ;-)

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9 hours ago, Grain of Salt said:

 

Kill off a female character just to hype up the manpain, what could go wrong there

 

Did you just assume the partner's gender

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8 minutes ago, Magnusblitz said:

 

Did you just assume the partner's gender

 

4 minutes ago, Aquila Chrysaetos said:

Could be a him. Or even an other! That sounds exciting!

I had the same thought regarding gender reading Grain of Salt's post. However, if you read the OP, the story is essentially "you murdered a guy who violated and murdered your partner." The way I read "you murdered a guy" is the assumption that you, a man, murdered the man who broke into your house and raped and murdered your female partner (wife/girlfriend/significant other).

 

However, the vagueness does allow for some wiggle room, perhaps intentionally.

 

Regardless, I don't think it's a necessary detail to include, whatever the gender of the parties involved.

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Seriously, the thread name should be changed. It's very misleading.

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Thank you guys.  This really is personal to me.  This is very hard for me.

 

I plan on doing these maps. my real question was whether the repeating instance of blood on the walls and later stars conveyed emotional information. My question, if not obvious, was whether the metaphyisical stuff I valued would be worthy. My feeling is yes, and I am grateful.

 

Im always going to be late but itll be worth it. see ya slayers around.

 

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As a fan of pretentious art I'd love to see this tried.
Doom is just a difficult medium to convey any kind of story or symbolism. To get anything that really resonates would be difficult. Something as subtle as repeated blood and stars might not come across simply because Doom is typically filled blood. Maybe something more like repeated environments one without blood one with blood or that sort of thing.

I wish you luck.

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I was wondering about that blood, since I usually play with Smooth Doom which adds quite a lot of blood to the walls during a typical fight. So, if you want the player to see a specific kind of blood splatter on the wall, you might have to "highlight" it, be it by lighting, position, etc.

 

Other than that, I really like basic stories and / or a deeper meaning in games, especially Doom, since its engine is not really made for such things. Seeing how people develop around this is just interesting and usually gets more than just a chuckle out of me. Best examples might be the "Mr. Friendly" mod or that Baron of Hell weapon mod, where you play as the baron of hell. These seemingly minor changes to the gameplay have a big impact on the overall feel of the game and force players to think a little bit different about their actions and / or the game world. Thus, I think there is still room to explore more interesting things, but I am not sure if a "somebody killed my wife" storyline is powerful enough.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/20/2018 at 12:51 AM, Mk7_Centipede said:

Thank you guys.  This really is personal to me.  This is very hard for me.

 

I plan on doing these maps. my real question was whether the repeating instance of blood on the walls and later stars conveyed emotional information. My question, if not obvious, was whether the metaphyisical stuff I valued would be worthy. My feeling is yes, and I am grateful.

 

Im always going to be late but itll be worth it. see ya slayers around.

 

Ok, here's my best interpretation, and thoughts on the matter:

 

Yes, it's relevant to try to present the player with a deeper meaning of the environment and current situation of the story and feelings that you are trying to present.

 

But, here's the problem: Doom really isn't the best medium to be telling such stories. The "resolution" is just not there. The ability to convey a deep message is lost to the Doom player. Doom is a game where the player expects to kill shit and get to the exit. Whatever the walls look like makes a difference, but I can't honestly say that it conveys much of an emotional response from me, other than "Damn, this level looks sharp!", or even "It resembles a real place.". But, never "Doomguy's partner got murdered...boo hoo", or "This place is peaceful."

 

Maybe I'm desensitized from literally thousands of wads, but, when I start up a Doom wad, I'm just looking for stuff to shoot, you know? I don't think I would give those experiences you described a second thought, no matter how well they were constructed.

 

Having said that, if you were to first present some type of back story, and if experiencing those feelings somehow had some effect on the gameplay of the wad, you might be able to invoke some level of emotional experience, as far as necessary to enjoy the gameplay. For example, I thought the Foreverhood demo did a pretty good job at setting a somewhat-emotional scene, by its inclusion of dialog boxes, and its adherence to a strict imagery. But, again, if it moves, I'm going to kill it, unless doing so impedes my ability to kill other moving stuff.

 

I do welcome attempts to create such an atmosphere. I just want to suggest that they will only go so far in telling a story, and creating an emotional response. And, I kind of like that about Doom - I don't have to become emotionally invested - I can just have fun.

Edited by kb1

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Posted (edited)

I am a bit puzzled by this thread, so I re-read the OP's post, and I'm curious: What exactly are you going to do with the replies you get?

You seem to be asking if it's "worth it" to spend your time embellishing your levels with scenes designed to evoke emotion.

 

Are you trying to determine if you should try to do this? If the overwhelming answer you get from this thread is "No", will you not try anyway? First of all, your question is not answerable, without seeing your product. "Does this scene evoke emotion?" Don't know until I see it.

 

But the most useful answer to you is this: Yes, it is possible to build scenes that will move some people, some more than others. By all means, give it your best shot. It will most likely affect everyone differently, but, if done tastefully (whatever that means), and if you "respect the science" of your style in a way that the whole map is cohesive, it has the possibility of affecting the player as much as a Doom wad can. I can't be more specific than that.

 

Is that helpful, and does it answer your question?

Edited by kb1

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On 6/28/2018 at 10:51 PM, Mk7_Centipede said:

I wanted to insinuate that someone had violated and killed your characters partner.

... What?! Why?!

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