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Juza

In your opinion: What makes a wad 'replayable'?

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For you, what makes a wad worth giving a second playthrough? What makes a fun map have more replay value than another fun map? I'm looking for opinions with thought put into them, not "it's fun so I play it again". 

 

For me, I see a wad's replay value in more than just being fun. It's a dynamic monster placement/movement, allowing them to take different paths, perhaps surprise the player every playthrough. Of course, that could also apply to the player - a secret that opens up a new path different from the main route; monsters that teleport to previous areas as you advance through the map... Countless.

 

What aspects other than fun makes a wad worth replaying? I'm not looking for answers.

Edited by Juza

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For anything to be worth playing more than once the key factors are gameplay and/or exploration. Visuals you can look at once, or maybe twice, but then you've "seen it". However, if a map has interesting gameplay, or/and perhaps a good chunk of non-linear design, that makes you wonder "what if I did things differently here or there?", then you have something that gives you a reason to play it again and experiment with the map. If you go down the rabbit hole of challenge/slaughter maps, it's all about "Can I beat the map saveless?" and if so "Can I optimize my route?", both things being tied to gameplay, for that matter.

Naturally there's other stuff too, like how "satisfying" maps are to play. Looking at "semi spammy" sets like valiant for example, you do get the occasional blood ridden powertrip without having to worry about your health total at all times, and that's just what I need when I want a quick romp through some packs of monsters while not getting stressed too much. By the same token, if you want something more laid back, you can always opt for slower paced maps that don't constantly push you forward, nothing wrong with that either.

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1. Non-linearity. If a map has only a single route from start to finish, it's not likely to be much interest in the second journey through it.

2. Interesting architecture and/or custom textures. Seeing vanilla Doom textures the thousandth time is not very exciting.

3. Mod compatibility. If a wad doesn't replace weapons and monsters, it can be replayed with different ones, provided by mods.

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Depends.

 

In max runs, for good times or otherwise 'performance'-minded, I favor consistency; uncontrollable variability in map and monster behavior tends to be a detriment. Short or mid-length maps are favored to grand epics. Straightforward, linear, all become pluses. Tight and tidy is preferable to baggy and loose. Also give me skill tests. I'll repeat a map a bunch if it lets me practice something I enjoy doing.

In purely casual play, intuitively, multiple routes or ways to play. Doesn't have to be 'non-linear', as long as my options (e.g. running past stuff and setting multiple groups into one frenzy) allow me to enforce that. Some amount of content being optional is a plus for longer maps. Off-kilter stuff that people do less frequently: multiple exits in one map (outside of traditional regular-secret couplets), vastly different HNTR/HMP/UV, mechanics that work differently, pistol start choice 'class systems', and so on [there's so much more cool stuff that people don't do, will give ideas in exchange for maps :)]. When I use maps as tools for practice (multiple save slots, drill fights), I like good fights that I can practice essentially on loop (duh). 

 

But stuff like that is obvious. Perhaps less obvious: I'll play a map on loop if: midi, visuals, atmosphere, basic movement (am I bumping into stuff awkwardly and constantly stopping to wait for lifts or whatever, or can I just SR40 through big chunks while in a flow state; are there fun jumps and platforming parts :O), are all up there. There are random maps I load up in -nomonsters just to run through. (Also everything in each can belong to the other. lol as if there would be such an easy dichotomy. :D) 

Edited by rdwpa

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59 minutes ago, Alfonzo said:

Contrast that era with the one we're in now where any niche taste can be satisfied by a basically unending stream of high quality levels, and where many members are level designers first and players of content second; I think it would make sense for WADs to be played twice with far less frequency

Here's one thing I remember being discussed a while ago on discord, that I was reminded of instantly after reading this: Maps have become (a lot more) "disposable", in my point of view... Unless you're in a niche wrt gameplay fetishes (in which case you either have to cook your own meals, or replay somebody else's maps a bit more often), you can basically go through maps and just consume them like a cheap meal, rather than enjoying them in detail, and if your "meal" doesn't taste like you would have wanted, you just move on to the next best thing without looking back. If for example a WAD is "too hard" or "unfair", people just move on, by the same token if something doesn't captivate players within the first 3-4 maps of a "normal set", chances are people will discard it quickly as well.

 

All things considered, I am under the impression people are pretty quick to pass verdicts on smaller mapsets or even megawads these days, and discard them without any hesitation whatsoever. Cynical's somewhat recent tear-jerking over how shit faster projectiles are, is indicative of a situation where the community output has become high enough that "tossing WADs away" instead of "dealing with it" is an easy choice to make these days, because you're not gonna run out of new stuff to play anyway, plus you have your beloved "classics" you can always fall back on (something I do as well, for that matter, largely because my interests are relatively niche overall).

 

A side effect of "consuming WADs" like cheap meals is that players seem to think of them in slightly generalized and broad terms, rather than diving into nuances. "File reviews" that don't even manage to sport more than three lines of text are a symptom of this I reckon, and to that you can add the so-called "feedback" new mappers are given alongside the general lack of interest towards new mapper's endeavours as a whole.


As for people who are spending more time mapping than playing the game, I have mixed feelings about "dedicated mappers", though I'm more positive about them overall. Sure it's nice to have a steady flow of maps coming in - new palettes, new textures, new MIDIs and all that - but on the other hand I have experienced first hand that maps made by somebody who plays the game a lot are different in terms of what chords are being struck, and it's not just challenge/slaughter stuff I'm talking about here, but your "broad appeal" types of maps well. I haven't given this a lot of thought yet, so I can only offer a "low resolution" point of view on this, and maybe it's just my mind playing tricks on me in the first place...

Edited by Nine Inch Heels

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Memorability. Be it through gameplay i found to be highly enjoyable, through an atmosphere or setting that captured my imagination, and occasionally via novel conceptual ideas (which commonly combine the previous two points). Perhaps quite a simple ideology on the face of it, but for maps to actually achieve those goals is the tricky part.

 

Gameplay is highly subjective so if you are searching for the magic formula with this thread you won't find it, but i personally enjoy fairly fast paced and well thought out combat where monsters are used to their situational strengths to enhance whatever the mapper's goal was for the map environment (oppressive, all out attack, etc).

 

Atmosphere is a tough one to describe... perhaps a blend of aesthetics and commonly musical choices, alongside combat. Atmosphere is important for me because it dictates whether or not i will enjoy simply being in the map space, sometimes to the point where i can forgive suspect gameplay (Sunder's The Cage is probably a good example).

 

Conceptual novelties appeal to me more as a mapper than a player, i think, but i still appreciate them whenever they crop up to an extent. However their longevity is heavily tied to the previous aspects i have mentioned.

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1 hour ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

...

"Dealing with it" does not sound like a fun way to play Doom wads. The purpose of playing wads is to have fun, not to "dive into nuance" and "deal with" gameplay that's not suited to your tastes.

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That question is kind of hard because all of the answers (of each one's opinions) are really complete.

I'm not really into playing different kind of WADs (I used to but not nowadays) but I enjoy and appreciate pieces of work with really good effort put into making it.

 

Also, depends on what level of editing is, like a megawad, total conversion, some kind of remake, or just a map pack.

 

Speaking in general, I'd say that the main element of the attractiveness of a WAD is what new elements does it brings for you and how good are they placed into a WAD knowing that the original product is Doom. For example, a WAD with unicorns as new monsters actually brings something new to the game but stays far away from a Doom game so it's just some goofball WAD edition of the game. I'm not trying to say that good WADs must necessarily contain only Doom related content, but in the context of an usual Doom WAD breaking the atmosphere in that way kinda makes me consider the quality of the WAD itself. Sure there can be fun WADs with the sole purpose of entertaining but I personally wouldn't replay that WAD as much, just once for the fun.

 

Any atmosphere that the WAD intends to bring into the game must be connected with all the different types of elements possible and mantain a same good level of quality (fairly balanced monsters/weapons, good quality sprites/textures, good music, etc).

 

Maps are really really important if the WAD doesn't add any new elements. For example, you can play Brutal Doom on any WAD and any map, even the original ones, and it's still fun because of the total gameplay change is enough for making it an amazing WAD, and that's the main objective of Brutal Doom. For maps I'd say that the main important tips to remember are mainly John Romero's tips for mapping. Being strict with texture alignment, trying to change textures from room to room so it's not always the same boring textures. Trying to think of smart and imaginative elements to add in every room, to make it feel that everything has a purpose and taking care of the aesthetic impression that gives to the player. Many routes. Add secret areas that are fun to find. Arranging elements to help stimulate the player to use it's explorer's intuition (for example, put a window where you can see a Soulsphere or something but can't reach it directly so the player must see the path that leads to it and imagine where can it come from). Add dynamic elements for making your map not boring like elevators, stairs, platforms. Add switches to make puzzles, open new areas, etc. Make windows and skylights so the player can know there's something outside and make him think how he can go there (even if he can't). Change the brightnesses of areas so it's not always at the same level (dark areas are really helpful to reach the atmosphere that the WAD intends to).

 

If you wanna add story, avoid inserting non-skippable cinematics or forced cameras and long dialogues or texts trying to explain the situation of the game. If you can add story elements and keep it fast-paced that'd be great.

 

And yeah, new elements are always stimuli for the players. New monsters and new weapons are really cool, but like I said (wrote) before, must be kept balanced. It's not that fun to use a nuke launcher and kill every monster in sight aswell as using 30 slow-fire shots to kill one monster. For monsters balance can be more easily handed and fixed because if you have a weak monster you can spawn a lot of them (not the ideal but I guess it works) and if you have an overpowered monster you can put him in as a boss or something.

 

And surprise the player! Not everything has to be exactly as it's always been!

Some years ago I created really quickly a "monster" (rather say enemy) which it's final results actually satisfied me as a "monster" (most probably as a boss, that was kind of the intention).

I used the Phobos' skin for Doomguy's (like the one on the old skin .pk3 for Skulltag) and made him have a lot of health, move really really fast and shoot quick/long waves of red plasma projectiles. It was overpowered for a monster but I think it's cool as a boss. I'd be cool to implement an interesting story of that Phobos guy betraying the UAC or something and making him a (final (maybe)) boss revealing it to the player as a total surprise for him.

 

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7 minutes ago, whirledtsar said:

"Dealing with it" does not sound like a fun way to play Doom wads. The purpose of playing wads is to have fun, not to "dive into nuance" and "deal with" gameplay that's not suited to your tastes.

By dealing with it I mean changes like projectile speeds or custom monsters/weapons, rather than forcing yourself to play past your degree of expertise. And what you think is fun or not is by no means any more objective than my take on the situation is. So, what purpose playing WADs serves isn't up for debate to begin with. What's up for debate, however, is why people don't play WADs several times, and my take on nuances was to examplify that a sense for finer points is already lost on most people, because there is no need to revisit even higher quality maps anymore, which counts even for maps people liked playing and isn't limited to maps people didn't like playing.

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it's discouraging to think that your stuff is generally gonna receive a blind playthrough with no revisit, if that, doubly so if you make the sort of WAD-iceberg that a first-timer collides with and then gives up on. unless you're gonna go real heavy on the community hype and bring in lots of guests you might just wanna make stuff that suits you and you alone so that the disappearance of your hard work within a week doesn't sting so bad. it's no-one's fault, just a type of burnout in a community where competition is unneeded

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Fun

 

More seriously , I think a wad is replayable when it can be played various ways : with modes , on nm..

 

Aesthetics don't make a wad replayable but the gameplay does.

 

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For me an interesting branching and/or non-linear layout is key; especially if it has numerous secrets that are clever/difficult.   The combat should be mostly constant with the occasional quiet spots to throw the player's sense of mastery off.    Some light repopulating of areas is fine by me.    Atmosphere is important, though an ugly well-paced map is still fun whereas a visual masterpiece with no gameplay will only get played once by me.  

 

I've played Diopatra every year since I discovered the level in '96; what this level has for me that holds my interest is the following:

                   nostalgia--this was the map where I realized that Doom wasn't 3D.   I mean sure I had read that Doom was only 2.5D in the various gaming magazines at the time; but it wasn't until I went through the eastern (?) river passage and up the stairs multiple times on one play-through that I finally figured it out.   Strangely enough that opened up mapping ideas in my head.

                atmosphere--I love the light level in this map coupled with the REDROCK textures.  It works perfectly and I feel like I'm playing         D & D carefully working my way through caverns (so its atmosphere recreates even more nostalgia--an earlier sense of nostalgia).

                puzzles/secrets/sense of exploration--this map has all three in spades and to this day I'm not sure if I've found all the secrets in a single playthrough (I lose track as I explore and just enjoy the experience)   NOTE:   This map's ending is weak, but I forgive that 

 

Another map I've played multiple times is Hellrun, in fact I keep playing this level trying to one-shot it; that's my primary reason for repeatedly playing this one.   It's a very densely packed map with complicated connectivity and multiple paths.   The secrets are interesting and parts of the map are super atmospheric (sewers and western-most area plus the lava areas) but the map is satisfyingly hard for me; when I lose I feel like it's a case of my luck running out and not the map's fault, so I keep coming back for more.   I really like how you can reuse certain parts of the map and can even reuse parts of the map to your disadvantage (ie, ammo/health starvation). 

 

Another one is Castle of Evil for the same reasons--multiple paths, numerous secrets, atmospheric areas in a densely packed map with complicated connectivity.   I finally managed to one-shot this one and the satisfaction that brought me was sublime.   It took over 45 minutes to beat this map during my finally successful one-shot after hours (closer to two years) of failures.  The satisfaction of finally beating this map in a single playthrough was one of my greatest Doom moments honestly,

Edited by joepallai : wasn't done typing

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14 hours ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

By dealing with it I mean changes like projectile speeds or custom monsters/weapons, rather than forcing yourself to play past your degree of expertise. And what you think is fun or not is by no means any more objective than my take on the situation is. So, what purpose playing WADs serves isn't up for debate to begin with. What's up for debate, however, is why people don't play WADs several times, and my take on nuances was to examplify that a sense for finer points is already lost on most people, because there is no need to revisit even higher quality maps anymore, which counts even for maps people liked playing and isn't limited to maps people didn't like playing.

Okay, I had thought by "toss away" you meant stop playing in the first place.

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For me, a wad is replayable if the gameplay is engaging and challenging without entering frustration territory, if the maps are memorable and more-or-less atmospheric, and while they may or may not encourage or require (extensive) exploration, if they're mostly straightforward then they're replayable (and enjoyable) in my book. The lenght is also important as if it's way too long before I even enter the second half of it I already just want to be done with it and finally move on.

 

Most of the time I end up playing/streaming something blind, review it, and then I move on to the next thing. After I've seen it once, I've "seen it", and as I'm kind of a purist when it comes to Doom at the very least, there's basically no chance I'm going to revisit it with mods at any point. The way the wad ships is the way I'm going to play it.

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I have been going through phmlSPD semi-recently and I would replay most maps twice because once you have seen it all, you realize there was a funnier way to complete it than you did initially. WADs that have a bit of a puzzle solving side to them can have this effect in general with me I think, which includes things like Jim Flynn's maps if we are going by the literal interpretation, as replaying these knowing how the navigation flows is very entertaining.

 

Knowing good uvmax routes made breezing through IWADs repeatedly much more pleasurable as well, which taught me that "learning" a PWAD by doing multiple playthroughs was worth it. I mean, do you even imagine a world where you don't shoot a rocket right after you grab the red key on E1M9? I know I don't. I'd replay this map just for these few precious seconds.

 

Like @Nine Inch Heels above, I do have to mention power trips. skillsaw's and Darkwave's output (in SoD for the later) as you run through armies unpunished is very satisfying. And the ASMR of multiple targets popping like popcorn as you pump in the rockets, or the *boom click click* as 3/4 imps fall on the ground might have addicting properties. It's not unlike a bullet hell shooter with good production values, where you have ranks of "popcorn enemies" at the start, and weaving through tight patterns with a small hitbox is fun, and makes you coming back even if the difficulty is overwhelming later on.

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Everything Romero ever makes. And I really think the take-away here is not screwing with player too much. Following general game design to make the experience enjoyable for the player. After playing several player created wads the overall attitude tends to be "let's make this the most hardcore experience ever" And while my ego forces me to play them on UV for the sake of it, it's not really the sort of experience that makes me leave with a nice feeling inside that "I'll want to play that again!" Playing through megawads and general modding community content makes me feel like a PTSD war veteran that never wants to go back to it. Romero's E1m8B was really a masterpiece and it's the sort of content I go play back because he simply knows how to make interesting and fun levels that aren't slaughterwass spammed to the brim with a thousand arch-viles and pain elementals with barely any ammo for the player. Oh, and that cyberdemon needs to be telefragged in a trapeze puzzle! 

 

Disclaimer: This is not me making a generalized statement of all the wads/pk3 as a whole. It's just the sort of experience I've come across again and again playing wads.

Edited by SamuelNMEvander

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