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hardcore_gamer

Is Doom 3's level design bad?

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Been studying Doom 3's level design for a while and while I always knew the game was less open compared to the original I am still shock at how much of the game consists of almost nothing but corridors. Like, at least 90% of the areas are either corridors or very small rooms. This makes me wonder.....is Doom 3's level design actually bad? I do think the level design is very visually pleasing but it would seem that there is basically zero variation in the design. Then again the fact that I only started thinking about this after I started studying the design suggests that perhaps this did not matter?

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No. Might not be great, but I wouldn't say bad. I mean there are some open areas and gimmicky sections. But The real problem is that there are so many redundancies in the game, especially in its fear factor. And a lot of the game is strolling through an area while listening to audio logs where the monster spawn once you activate some trigger. But hey, at least it has id gun play.

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Doom 3's levels work within Doom 3. You can't really apply classic Doom concepts of mapping to judge Doom 3's levels because the core game is too different. Also, the small rooms and hallways are in part a product of the engine, and its technical limitations at the time, and having more open areas with the same level of detailing and higher monster counts would have made it unplayable on 2004 PCs. The game was demanding enough at the time already.

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7 minutes ago, Spectre01 said:

Doom 3's levels work within Doom 3. You can't really apply classic Doom concepts of mapping to judge Doom 3's levels because the core game is too different. Also, the small rooms and hallways are in part a product of the engine, and its technical limitations at the time, and having more open areas with the same level of detailing and higher monster counts would have made it unplayable on 2004 PCs. The game was demanding enough at the time already.

 

Tbh this just highlights the weakness of Id Tech 4. Yes the lightning was awesome at the time and it still holds up to be honest, but it came at the expense of the levels looking almost entirely identical in terms of layout. Like, you are literally just going from corridor to corridor for almost the entire game. Even the hell levels are basically corridors. It means that there is almost zero variation to the combat as well.

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Quake 4 actually did some interesting stuff with the same engine. The indoor aesthetics resembled Doom 3 quite a bit but there were also some large and open outdoor locations and the combat had more variety.

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Posted (edited)

I personally feel that Doom 3's design is unbelievably straightforward, with very few maps giving you the option to pick a route (Alpha Sector 4 technically has this, but it's more of a "choose-a-route-and-then-stick-to-it" gimmick). Add on the fact that most levels are the same grey techbase, and after a while it becomes quite dull.

 

When it comes to the monsters, Imps are WAY too common and some monsters are used depressingly little (the Mancubus appears a whopping total of 10 times [in 2 levels] out of TWENTY SEVEN levels), so the gameplay becomes repetitive and boring. Once you get past Communications, the "scary" pacing gives way to more action, especially with the introduction of the Revenant, so the action picks up, but it's still nothing special. Ammo is literally everywhere, so you'll NEVER be in a situation where you'll be in need of it, which makes almost the entire game easy.

 

This is why I think the Hell level is the best; the somewhat limited ammo makes it interesting, and the monster usage is actually pretty good.

 

Also, some of the later levels are only tough because of bullshit gimmicks (Caverns Area 1 has the falling panels, for example, and Area 2's beginning is a very cramped room with an AV and 2 Hell Knights).

 

Overall, I'd say that Doom 3 has very mediocre design. Bad? Not entirely (I'd say RoE has bad design), but it's a massive disappointment.

 

Just my two cents.

Edited by Poncho1

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It's not bad but it's not great, which is exactly what the problem is.

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I think maybe they blew their load on tech base stuff, switched over to building Hell, and called it a day. Cause tech, and Hell were brilliant. I really missed the marble/temple stuff, cavey stuff, and the more abstract feel of the originals. Ironically, you have to try A LOT harder to make abstract look good as the render quality goes up :)

 

I mean, look at the massive detail in the first couple of levels: The intricate pipes and wires, grates and little nooks and crannies - it's amazing. I might be a rare breed, but I had fun just moving slowly, staring at everything...

 

I always assumed that the cramped style was done to keep the frame rate up, which is probably somewhat true. Also true is that they could have backed off the hyper-detail in places, trading it in for larger, more open sections. As mentioned above, Quake 4 did some of this.

 

I think they ran out of some metric: time, money, media space, maybe. But, it's always time and money.

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Doom3 is just very prone to giving a sense of monotony, and the level design certainly is instrumental there. It is a corridor and corner camp fest with the occasional jump scare. As soon as you have been past the jump scares once there isn't much left anymore besides perhaps some visual stuff, and even the vistas of Doom3 aren't so impressive to me that I feel like I need to go back and have a look at anything in particular. Seeing it once was good enough for me when it came out.

For my tastes it's way too much techbase, too little hell-ish stuff, and the entire game's design is much too "conservative" in my point of view. Levels in that game rarely offer interesting highlights, combat, exploration let alone "motor skills", and the few highlights that are there come across like good ideas that had their balls cut off in the name of broad appeal, if they ever had a pair to begin with. I get that broad appeal is important when there's money involved, for the record, but I think if the game was somewhere between what it ended up being and Doom'16, I'd be singing a very different tune right now.

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It's not as bad as much as it is bland tbh.

 

The levels of D3 feel generic and boring most of the time since you spend 90% of the game running from one corridor to another, or from a room to another room. The levels are otherwise well designed with great attention to detail and atmosphere plus immersion, but it's kinda going to waste due to the lack of variety.

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I think it's perfect. The pacing, lighting and overall atmosphere is more than one could ask for. The consistent theme only helps with the immersion from my experience. Its traps are very smart and can catch me off guard even when I know they're there. I don't find the "jump scares" cheap for there's always a build up for them (unless it's an Imp behind the door ready to jump on you. But I love the scare it gives me).

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Bad, no. Boring, at times. This is often why "video game level" and "real world environment" were totally different aesthetics. They tried to make a believable research facility so you get areas of boring design as a result with little of Doom's freedom to do whatever it wanted. Doom II's Earth levels don't resemble Earth locations at all but they were fun to play.

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It's a military research base, it's bound to have a lot of corridors and rooms, but there are some areas that stand out, like EnPro and the Delta reactor room with that giant spinning thing. I recently played through both Doom 3 and RoE again, and I think there's more variety and open spaces than people remember. There's the corridors from the start, with a few larger areas, but then there's the much larger garage areas, the views out the window, the Hell infestations, especially after you've been there, and the tram rides, like Monorail. And I find a lot of the time, especially in RoE, that it's not a simple "corridor connects rooms" aesthetic, but that there are a lot of small areas that are quite convoluted, and indicative of a sprawling functional facility. That's what they were mainly going for. I think the weakest parts of the design are a couple of the Alpha Labs, but that's just me.

 

At best, I would say that there's not enough Hell in the game. That level was positively filled with a sense of dread and fear, and you honestly never knew what to expect.

 

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I feel like the few times the game tries to change things up (besides the few outdoor areas) are undermined by having them themed in a techbase style similar to what the majority of the game uses, like the alpha labs bridge route leading to the vagary boss.

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Well, it's the same base, the same corporation, and the same building processes and even architects used throughout, so it would be the same.

 

I forgot to mention that the Ancient Martians also had their own designs, and a lot of that appears in RoE. I just like the parallels between the teleport designs of both species, and how similar they would be, but different. There's a real Ancient Egyptian feel to that Martian stuff as well, with writing all over the walls, much more than just labels and signs as in the very human UAC base.

 

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Bad? No.

 

Proof that "real world" doesn't always translate to fun gameplay? Yes.

 

It's a utilitarian design for a research facility with a minimal military presence attached, built on a desolate lifeless planet with no atmosphere so everything has to be contained. The UAC didn't pump much into aesthetics and even before the incident lighting is poor all over. There are few recreational facilities(that we see). The caves are bland, because they're caves, though you'd almost expect a planet that once had a civilization to have more signs of it. Hell is certainly boring and colorless compared to classic Doom, but it's hell, not happy fun time land, it's supposed to look depressing.

 

But going back to Doom & Doom 2, the levels rarely felt like they were designed to be what they were supposed to be and Doom 2 often wrote off nothing looking like Earth locations as the demons altering the surroundings. They were designed for gameplay above real world sense.

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I like Brink's levels the most, Prey's atmosphere, Quake war:Enemy Territory vehicles, Quake 4 monsters, Wolfenstein story, and Doom 3 ... just because it's Doom :3

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5 hours ago, UAC maintenance said:

I like Brink's levels the most, Prey's atmosphere, Quake war:Enemy Territory vehicles, Quake 4 monsters, Wolfenstein story, and Doom 3 ... just because it's Doom :3

 

Which Prey? The 2006 id Tech 4 classic, or that shitty remake from a few years ago?

 

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I love Prey 2017, but it's got nothing on the old Prey besides the name.

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On 10/2/2019 at 11:34 PM, Foebane72 said:

 

Which Prey? The 2006 id Tech 4 classic, or that shitty remake from a few years ago?

 

Prey 2006 although Prey 2017 architect reminds me a of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

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I personally like the level design, but it's supposed to be a doom game and slow movement with cramped hallways don't scream Doom in my opinion , still an amazing horror game though.

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Posted (edited)

The enemies and encounters in Doom 3 are designed to be in tight corridors. The pinkie encounter near the start of the game wouldn't be a highlight if the encounter there was actually not in corridors.

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Exactly, Unmaker, Doom 3 forces you to fight the monsters in confined corridors rather than run around them. That's what makes the game more tense, when even the weak zombies can corner you and slap you to death. Doom 1/2/2016 is fine and all that, but I'd rather shotgun the monsters at point blank range than running around them all the time.

 

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Even thou Doom 3 is a PC game it was created around the capabilities of the original Xbox and thus the limitations. The levels in Doom 3 Resurrection of Evil are a bit larger, has more enemies onscreen and has less closet monsters then Doom 3. Quake 4 was known to be on Xbox 360 and was much larger in comparison so was Prey 2006, Brink, Quake war:Enemy Territory and Wolfenstein 2009.

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Posted (edited)

I don't mind the levels as much as I do enemy placement. Oh look, another monster spawned behind you. Oh look, another monster closet. Oh look, all doors are locked, here comes an ambush! Apart from placing enemies in front of you, these are the ONLY three tricks the game uses for its entire run, and they get old very quickly.

 

EDIT:

Also, I don't recall many (not a single one, frankly) situations where the game comes up with interesting mixes of enemies. Two imps, two zombies, one cyberdemon, for example. Nope, it's almost always a couple of enemies of the same type. And only when you deal with them, another type spawns in. This makes the game feel like a chore, like going through the motions, because you don't need to react to various factors at once, you simply change your strategy to fit the current enemy, and it's always the same couple of types of strategy because the enemies don't come in variety packs.

Edited by Szuran

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I love doom3 and admire the artistry and craftsmanship of that game.  Just last night I was noclipping/showtris around hell admiring the the art, loyouts, models, animation, shader work, etc.  It's a delightful mix of "modern" tech with more old-school sensibilities.

To clarify, I regard Doom/DoomII (particularly the plutonia experiment) as the pinnacle of commercial doom games and FPSes in general.  Doom3 is a totally different animal and really the only link between the two is the name.  Doom3's combat isn't anything special, but it's something to do along the way and it fits in nicely - it's just the icing IMO.  The real star is the atmosphere and sense of place.  Doom3 is a virtual, high-production, halloween horror house.  Though the fear factor has long faded, it's still bubbling with atmosphere that I thoroughly enjoy every time I visit.

EDIT:  To answer your question, no, the level design isn't bad, it's actually very good for that type of game IMO.

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Doom 3's atmosphere, horror-wise, has been the one and only game in my whole history of gaming that literally went under the skin. That immersion factor was amazing. I played it from start to finish like 10 times back in the days. RoE completed the experience nicely with more enemies and a bit different kind of action. My computers weren't good enough to handle the Malevolent, so only when I played it again in 2015 after which I didn't touch Doom3 anymore, I was able to get a proper experience of the final boss with a new computer at the time.

 

For me the design was also an important part of the horror immersion, and my main sense has always been hearing, and the sound fx were a super-important part of the experience being so immersive. I didn't really care about it being just corridors and rooms, as my imagination filled in the rest. 

There was something about the weapons too, which boosted up the fear factor. Knowing the shotgun wasn't as powerful with a bit too much spread and you'd have to be so close in order it to work effectively was one. :)

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The game was designed to be a horror/thriller.  It was entirely intended to be scary, hence no splitscreen, tight spaces, DARK AF, etc...  I think the intent was to make it close and personal.

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1 hour ago, the_dude said:

The game was designed to be a horror/thriller.  It was entirely intended to be scary, hence no splitscreen, tight spaces, DARK AF, etc...  I think the intent was to make it close and personal.

 

Absolutely, also the stutter/disorientation effect when you get hit added to the overall atmosphere and somehow knowing that my weapons aren't very effective unless my aim is perfect made it also much more uncomfortable in general.

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