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valkiriforce

What would you consider a "good" megawad?

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I'm not looking for recommendations - rather, I'm curious as to what people would consider a good-quality megawad experience. For me personally I love the replayability of maps that are short or moderate in length with plenty of memorable landmark locations or set pieces. I also greatly enjoy the variety behind classics like Memento Mori and Alien Vendetta, as I feel that breaking up the pace with either techbase, brick, earth, marble or hell-themed maps is a nice way of rewarding the player after each map since you don't always know what to expect next, and even though there may be various themes and locations they might still have some coherence with new textures and music as well as episode skies that help tie it together in some way.

 

I also like a good challenge that doesn't rely too heavily on a huge amount of monsters, but clever placement of traps and enemies that would otherwise have been less threatening (things like imps or demons suddenly appearing in closed spaces). That's not to say I don't like maps that have huge mobs of tough monsters roaming around - it really depends on the execution of the map and how it's handled since I've played maps with similar ideas that were either fun or not so interesting. The same could be said about bigger maps, since I like the adventurous affairs in Alien Vendetta's later episode maps like Nemesis and Misri Halek closing out episodes 1 and 2.

 

Another positive quality in maps I enjoy are the ones that don't shy away from giving the player enough weapons and ammo to deal with the map's enemies, since I don't like having to save certain weapons too much just to be sure I have enough to handle the map's monsters. I prefer focusing on a given challenge or encounter with enemies than to go through any map feeling too scrappy about ammunition, though this is usually not an issue.

 

While not essential I do feel that unique textures and music help to give any wad more personality, and it helps any set of levels to stand out much more in hindsight. Playing a lot of the classics for the first time I didn't feel there were many maps that were forgettable, since you had various settings, textures, themes and map authors that were bringing the best of all of these together into one experience. I've likened it before to a mountain hike from MAP01 to MAP32, since I don't really see it as 32 solitary maps as I do one whole experience, and I do typically play continuously with saves when going through a megawad, since I do see it as a long journey. I like being able to take it at about five or more maps depending on the length of the maps and how the episodes are arranged. That's also the fun I have with megawads like Scythe, since you can play plenty of maps and cover lots of ground in just 30-40 minutes time, compared to playing just one or two maps in the same amount of time if there are too many large maps close to one another. But again, it's a really broad subject and it all depends on the experience since I also enjoy wads like Eternal Doom and Hellbound (although I much prefer the latter in a cooperative setting, since it's fun to have other people running around with you trying to solve the map).

 

Well, trying not to be too long-winded about this, but it's something I was curious enough to discuss and see what other people's preferences look like when it comes to megawads.

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Personally, I think there is and should be a difference. I noticed, that I enjoyed the kinds of MegaWADs the most, that have a sense of "progression". Starting with small and easy maps and building slowly up from there. If the first map is already a 20 minute behemoth, I am already kind of giving up, because later maps will be only worse and / or the whole MegaWAD will take me months to complete.

 

Other than that a decent MegaWAD should - of course - feature a custom Titlescreen at least. :D

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As for myself, I enjoy megawads with a strong sense of progression, context and which is composed mostly by shorter maps bar few exceptions.

 

For progression, it needs to have some evolution from the ideas presented in the early maps. A very basic sense of progression is techbase -> hell, but anything will work, as long as the later episodes feels like an evolution of the early ones (ex: moon in valiant and heaven on eviternity). This also applies to gameplay. It doesn't need to start with weaker enemies and then introducing each one later on, but it can present some more robust and more difficult setpieces and encounters. It needs somewhat to tell a 'story' with a climax even if the mapset itself doesn't have a story hehe

 

Context means, imo, that the whole mapset needs to feel integrated, with some design ideas being followed through the whole mapset, or you'll feel like just playing some collections of maps. One-man megawads definitely helps giving a strong sense of context, even though it's quite challenging for the mapper to have different and equally strong ideas. It's also important, for me, that the soundtrack follows a certain 'style' and its volumes are balanced (or at least not have midi's that are a lot louder than the others)

 

At last, I enjoy shorter maps because 32 maps are a lot and I think some hours are more than enough for a megawad experience (bar very few exceptions). Sometimes an epic map in the middle does a big difference though, especially to add variations and some pacing.

Edited by Deadwing

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I consider that a good megawad should have fun gameplay, music, visuals and replayability, the type that makes you remember a lot of that mapset.

Say like "Hey, that's a good megawad and I play it often because I liked it a lot, it's fun and even can be recommended with mods or something like that".

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I want at least 15 total maps (some being DM arenas) but more importantly I want a fancy box set with custom music. 

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6 minutes ago, rdwpa said:

I want a fancy box set with custom music. 

  

Lunar: TSSS on ps1 came with an art book printed on vinyl pages, two OST cd's, and a cd with a video about the making of the game/recording VA.

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One that's varied. When it comes to megawads I'd like its maps to have a lot of variety in terms of length, visuals, flow and encounters. Being repetetive is the worst possible thing.

 

Eviternity comes to my mind first when I think about variety, since every episode so strongly contrasts each other, and makes the maps very memorable (And probably because I played it like yesterday).

 

Megawads are long by definition, so it's not good if many maps take ages to beat. After I beat a long map, I like to have a break in a way of a shorter and more linear level. Again referencing Eviternity - going from a gargantuant map32 to a compact map16 was fucking perfect for me. Going from map19 to map20 is a different story though.

 

This way of thinking is probably the reason why I didn't enjoy Struggle nearly as much - most levels were either long or complex layout-wise. Or both. It wasn't easy to binge-play this wad, so I'd have probably given up halfway through, had I not been playing it on co-op with someone else. The visual style also wasn't varied enough for me, so that's another reason.

 

If I take a look at something like Stardate, I feel like it would be insufferable as a megawad for the reasons described above. Keeping it to a length of an episode was a very good decision on Ribbiks' part.

This is also probably why I'm so worried about The Age of Hell. Bridgeburner likes to make grandiose stuff a lot, but if he'll do it with every map in the wad, I'm not gonna have a great time. Also because it's all gonna be one colour.

 

So basically I think that a good megawad is one in which all levels can be considered great not only on their own, but judging by how well they work in relation to maps before and after it.

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My favourite megawads tell a cohesive story through environmental cues and gameplay progression. Intermission text and offline story files need not apply. I’m fine with, and enjoy, random map collections organized into a single wad file, but they often may as well be single releases no matter how much they stick to the project themes. This is particularly the case with community projects. 

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for me, good megawads have a balance of different kinds of maps, different settings, different approaches, difficulty level and size (not necessarily linearly either, i don't like it when stuff just Gets Harder Every Level) but still feel cohesive as an overall experience. i think balancing all of those elements together is really fucking hard to do for 32+ maps and tbh happens very rarely, which is also why i think megawads are a bit overrated/overblown as a format and invite lots of bloat/repetition. also a lot of megawads are very uncreative about their progression, (like the techbase -> city -> hell thing bores me every time) and starting easy-moderate and then getting slaughtery towards the end. too much of the same thing can be really boring and cause a lot of megawads to kinda just blend together in memory. but i think it's hard for a lot of people to break out of those ingrained cycles, esp in community projects, given how hard it is to make 32 quality maps that compliment each other well. but that's another thread.

Edited by ella guro

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My own "rules" of what makes a megawad enjoyable to me.

 

Rule zero: It should be done by few (3 at most) people to avoid map collection feel.

Rule one: Custom stuff is fine, but it should be original, not something ripped from other games, and should blend with the vanilla textures/sounds/actors.

Rule two: No modifications with the existing assets, including monsters and weapons. The new stuff should be new stuff, not hacked vanilla stuff.

Rule three: No slaughterfests or annoying monster usage, ie. overflow of Revenants/Chaingunners.

Rule four: Maps should be easy to navigate with no confusing mazes, no major backtracks, no dominance in switch hunting. When you push a switch, you should know what it opens for example.

Rule five: There should be a progression. Every level should be different and memorable in its own way. That's why a smaller mapset is more to my style than a 32 map megawad, that can get tedious pretty fast.

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Each map must be good, or at least okay, individually. Stinkers drag the entire mapset down.

The maps must feel like a cohesive whole rather than a random collection, yet feature enough variety that it feels like a journey.

Giant maps should be relatively rare, since you have a lot of maps. Perhaps two or three, tops, each marking the end of an episode so they are spread out. Most maps should be rather short so the whole thing doesn't feel like a slog.

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Has a setting too encompassing for a single level, intensifies tangibly across maps and rounds off nicely at the end with some nice surprises/theme unravelling along the way.

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I'm not too hung up on the term or anything like that.  I just want to play some maps and have a good time.  If the gameplay is on point, I'm happy.  If the midis are attention getting, I'm happy.  If the visuals are pleasing, that's bonus points.

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In any sort of game I play, I enjoy a well balanced progression in terms of difficulty. I always expect the later parts of the game to be more intense and demanding than the earlier parts, and this goes for megawads as well. The visuals, audio and level theming are secondary for me, but they are important as well assuming the gameplay is on point. Ancient Aliens is an example for me of a megawad that gets it right--it's a fairly smooth ramp-up of difficulty over the course of the game, culminating in what's effectively a massive slaughter fight at the end, which I enjoy. The distinct visual style and the tunes complement the level progression nicely and add positively to the overall feel.

 

On the flip side, there are wads I've played that look and sound fantastic, but don't scratch my challenge itch and the maps feel much too similar from start to finish. One wad I finished last week was Whispers of Satan. It was clearly well made as it looks and sounds great, but there was little challenge for me and what I was doing at the end of it felt like what I was doing at the beginning of it--the sense of gameplay and difficulty progression was non-existent. It's not to say it's a bad wad or that I wouldn't recommend it to certain players, but it definitely was not for me.

 

Some wads like Alien Vendetta are better efforts at a smooth difficulty progression for me, but fall off the rails here and there. For instance, Map 20 is a pretty noticeable bump in the road for me, but the difficulty progression gets back on track with the next few maps (culminating in notable ones like Dark Dome), only to stumble again with a pretty easy (not to mention tedious) map right before the end of the game.

 

I could just be picky, but what I do know is that wads that check all the gameplay progression boxes are the ones that end up being the most memorable to me. And don't get me wrong, I don't mind "easy" at certain points in a wad, particularly on the early side of things. I just expect it to at least try to test me as it progresses (more so the farther in I get). My favorites do, whereas the others do not.

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In a few words, if the megawad has fun and engaging combat which emphasizes tactical thinking as opposed to mindlessly blowing up shit just for the sake of it then it's good in my book. If the levels are gorgeous or simply have a thick atmosphere then that's even better, but being eye-candy will not save them if the actual gameplay sucks, same if the navigation is horrible. If it makes me run in every corner of the map without any sense of direction I'm going to can the whole thing.

 

Moreover, considering that they're megawads they should also have a coherent theme, or explore more in a cohesive manner if they want to, having a bunch of maps or episodes that don't connect with each other only shows that the author is incapable of building a story.

Edited by Agent6

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i want high concept stuff and piles of gimmicks so the set doesn't get bogged down by level after level of technically-excellent but repetitive as hell Doom 2 stuff

 

if one level expects me to play corridors n cupboards Doom the next one should make me ride like a huge elevator or grab radsuits or solve puzzles. switch yr gimmicks up

 

also helps if the levels slowly vary in visual style - i don't mean like episodes and acts like scythe or sunlust but more like the same author just finding new ways to express themselves with the architecture and decorations rather than just the wallpaper changing. so many mappers have a pervasive formula (and im sure i'm one of them) and it's a matter of finding ways to keep yr work fresh

 

basically I think consistency is junk ok

 

neis.wad ok alt.wad ok

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I want my megawads to feel like an adventure. If a mapset just consists of maps that play like a number of setpieces strung together and nothing beyond that, then I probs won't play it.

Also, I love long maps.

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, yakfak said:

i want high concept stuff and piles of gimmicks so the set doesn't get bogged down by level after level of technically-excellent but repetitive as hell Doom 2 stuff

 

if one level expects me to play corridors n cupboards Doom the next one should make me ride like a huge elevator or grab radsuits or solve puzzles. switch yr gimmicks up

 

also helps if the levels slowly vary in visual style - i don't mean like episodes and acts like scythe or sunlust but more like the same author just finding new ways to express themselves with the architecture and decorations rather than just the wallpaper changing. so many mappers have a pervasive formula (and im sure i'm one of them) and it's a matter of finding ways to keep yr work fresh

 

i think you get at something here that i've been thinking about a lot - how a lot of mappers make maps that look different from each other in terms of texturing (and maybe lighting) but the structure/layout/gameplay approach is basically the same throughout. so it seems on the surface like variety, but what's underneath is kind of functionally the same. particularly i tend to see this as a trend of like abstract combat-oriented spaces lately, but this is a trend that goes back way before that. that's the thing about having a style. in itself, that's not a terrible thing. but in the context of 32 maps when you're demanding a lot of time from players, that can get old really fast. you start to feel like these maps were all on a very similar track through a certain style and it kinda kills your excitement about something new or unexpected happening.

 

a game like vanilla Doom 2 might be inconsistent as hell but that variety kind of helps keep you engaged over a longer period of time. people who have played a lot of megawads in their lives are cynical. i say mix it up as much as you can if you're attempting a megawad. do the unexpected and try and surprise people. explore any different territory that comes to mind and go further than you thought you would and go out of your comfort zone. don't always try to make "classically good" maps that follow a certain form - i mean, id certainly didn't. at least i know that's what i'm always really happy to see when it does happen.

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I like loosely thematic megawads, where it's okay to have an oddball map; hell, I even prefer it if I know I'm going to be knocking the whole thing out over a weekend. It gets old seeing the same theme for 5 - 10 maps, then switching to the next theme; rinse, repeat.   It's kind of why I prefer the older megawads--they were just happy to have good mid-sized maps with a small amount of new textures and new music.   (well that and I'm nostalgic.)

 

I prefer medium difficulty with spots (or even occasional maps) that are harder or even easier than the rest.    

 

I like being able to burn through 4 - 5 maps continuously then have a map that won't crash the save game buffer overflow so I can save, before continuing on.    (granted this is now an obsolete desire due to ports, but the original desire was ingrained in me under vanilla constraints).  

 

 

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a good megawad is a good megawad

 

it's good if it's good

 

be good, y'all

 

shit it's new years

 

alcohol

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