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What makes a successful Megawad?

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Posted (edited)
On 8/5/2019 at 6:55 AM, FrancisT18 said:

Gameplay should be prioritized over, or in addition to, aesthetics. Though if gameplay is at least 'okay' (not simply boring) then good aestherics can affect worthwhileness. Still okay aesthetic + great gameplay > great aesthetic + okay gameplay.

The most extreme example of this I know is Hellcore 2.0. The maps are probably the best looking realistic maps I've ever played, but damn do they play awful. They are consistent in that sense though. If the gameplay were even barely decent, I think this would be talked about way more. Hellbound is a less extreme example, with very good looking levels but unenjoyable (but not unacceptable) gameplay.


Anyway, I think a good megawad needs two major things: some sort of linking, and pacing. The first can be a large variety of stuff (similar map styles, thematic/difficulty progression, idea repeated, etc.), but it's what ultimately makes a megawad feel like a megawad rather than 32 random maps. Pacing is the other big one, to make sure that playing it feels smooth with respect to itself. The MAP25-28 stretch of Alien Vendetta is infamous because even though they are good maps on their own, the placing of them all feels like a slog in the mapset. Compare this to Hell Revealed, where between the hardest and longest levels MAP24 and MAP26, there is the short and easy MAP25, and similarily with the big and tough MAP18 followed by the quick and easy MAP19.

Look also at something like Sunder; even though the maps are generally long, there is pacing; MAP01-MAP06 are relatively small, with MAP06 being extremely hard, then MAP07 being massive but quick, then MAP08 being big and fast-paced, then MAP09 being slower-paced, etc. That's what I mean by with respect to itself.


Anyway, just my two cents.

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Posted (edited)

when I started playing Doom again in 2009 the idea of megaWADs was exciting. Full, brand-new campaigns was the sort of stuff I would have easily paid money for. There was and still is a certain mystique about a full, 32-level replacement. it isn’t my measure of success, though.


today i am quite different from some six years ago. I am mostly happy to simply be playing the breadth of user content and would like to think that I am less critical as far as how I think any doom WAD should play. I want to see passion, whether it is the sheer joy in exercising creativity or the agony of painstaking craftsmanship. If it is a mega wad from a single author then I want to see their DNA underlying the work. The architecture, the fights, the progression, etc. If it’s a collection a la CCHEST then I look forward to seeing a variety of presentations. If there is a theme like 50shades then I want to see how each individual tackled the restriction. Or how a group project did or did not unify its vision. I want to see what people are making and even the story of how it came to be

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Posted (edited)

Personally I feel like megawads today only work sometimes, like Eviternity for example. They have to be cohesive in some way, and the gameplay / level design needs to be both exciting and well thought out / balanced. Requiem is a great example of lopsided quality, since the first 15 or so maps are great, instant classics. Sadly, at least from my point of view, the rest of the wad is a mixed bag. Megawads need something extra, but also can't be too much at the same time. It's like creating a symphony...each part can be great on its own but the overall needs to connect it and if it isn't 100%, it at least needs to be well designed or clever enough to make up for any inconsistencies or not-as-great maps (Alien Vendetta is a good example of a fun megawad that is contestant nearly all the way, as well as Eviternity, Memento Mori 1, Hell Revealed from what I remember, Kama Sutra, and so on).


Just to add, I really don't like the last 5-10 maps of almost all megawads since they tend to be kinda boring hell themed, open maps that are either too hard or just don't stand out enough. I tend to think that any map that takes more than 15-20 minuets is too long unless it's somewhat straightforward or linear in some way (personal gripe tbh). I also hate Icon of Sin so pretty much all Map30's are instant skips for me. Sometimes it's just better to not force 32 maps when a project could be 11-20 and be amazing. It really depends on the megawad, like how Scythe and Scythe 2 (or Alien Vendetta vs Eviternity) differ but also come with memorable, cool maps and tend to be fun nearly all the way to the end.

Edited by XenoNemisis

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