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Pandemonium

What makes a successful Megawad?

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I want to hear your guys thoughts on what makes a megawad successful- or worthy or it being played. Specifically referring to more Classic Doom

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I mean, good maps, pacing and resources? I don't think it's really a mystery tbh.

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Basically what xvertigox said, but keeping in mind that “is it fun” is the main question. You can make an enjoyable megawad using stock resources or using all-new stuff.

 

There’s a lot of old discussions on here about how to make maps that are engaging but still fair. My personal suggestion would be to avoid inescapable death traps, above pretty much all else.

 

Putting together all the advice in the below threads will result in a fun megawad! Lots of reading to be done but worth it for learning what (can) make a great map, so you can then string those great maps together into a megawad.

 

 

 

https://www.dfdoom.com/tips-for-making-an-engaging-doom-map/

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19 minutes ago, Graf Zahl said:

One important thing that is often overlooked:

 

Avoid filler maps to have all 32 map slots covered. I'd rather see a 10/20 map set with good quality than have it diluted with sub-par maps just to meet the quota.

 

 

Counterpoint: Requiem. :)

 

Possibly less so these days than in the past, but there is definitely a certain cachet to the full 32, for some people.

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1 hour ago, Graf Zahl said:

One important thing that is often overlooked:

 

Avoid filler maps to have all 32 map slots covered. I'd rather see a 10/20 map set with good quality than have it diluted with sub-par maps just to meet the quota.

 


I totally agree. Much prefer a 10-map WAD that's all killer and no filler instead of 32 maps with maybe 6 or 7 good ones...

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there's two things that make a successful megawad:

 

1) whether its authors like it

2) going hard on promotion, screenshots, adjacency to big community names

 

you can't point at all the big diverse projects through the ages and assemble a theory of good WAD practises cos they all contradict one another and have different goals and different presentation. all you can hope is that people play the thing enough to mention it down the road

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4 hours ago, Capellan said:

 

Counterpoint: Requiem. :)

 

Possibly less so these days than in the past, but there is definitely a certain cachet to the full 32, for some people.


I don't see how this is a counterpoint, rather a good example of why filler maps hurt your  product. Requiem just came at a time where the overall quality was a solid step up - and also just releasing a functional megawad made an impact in those days.  It also had lots of exceptionally well designed maps for its time - some that still hold up more than fine given the limitations of the exe. But it suffers from an obvious layer of fillers that (subjectively) do nothing to really push the experience in a good direction. There are too many megawads in the library nowadays to get away with something like this and still create something that will solidify itself through lasting replays and recommendations. Timing matters.
 

I don't buy the arguments of exposure and name value of the contributors; it certainly won't hurt to get your stuff pushed, but at the end I'd argue the community is small enough for good stuff to be noticed and recommended. It just has to be sufficiently good.
 

Take any of these instant classics from the later years; Valiant, Ancient Aliens, Eviternity, Back to Saturn X - these are highly successful releases because sufficient amount of talent and care went into them. It takes lots of time and effort and a genuine understanding of what you're doing. More than most people are willing to invest in the context of creating completely free content.
 

If you don't strive to make something exceptional, why would it get noticed and last in the vast ocean of 25+ years of user made content? 

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17 minutes ago, Andy Johnsen said:

I don't see how this is a counterpoint, rather a good example of why filler maps hurt your product. 

 

The metric is success, not quality.  In that regard, Requiem is most definitely a counterpoint.

 

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2 minutes ago, Capellan said:

 

The metric is success, not quality.  In that regard, Requiem is most definitely a counterpoint.

 


Sure, if you neglect that it was released in 1997 and that the parameters for success were completely different then. It's more a sidenote of what you could get away with then and still create a classic. :)

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2 minutes ago, Andy Johnsen said:

Sure, if you neglect that it was released in 1997 and that the parameters for success were completely different then. It's more a sidenote of what you could get away with then and still create a classic. :)

 

It's still getting plenty of (undeservedly, IMO) effusive reviews in the modern day.

 

My point is, do not underestimate the lizard brain satisfaction of "32 maps", and the very real likelihood that it increases the chance your WAD will get played at all.

 

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, Capellan said:

 

It's still getting plenty of (undeservedly, IMO) effusive reviews in the modern day.

 

My point is, do not underestimate the lizard brain satisfaction of "32 maps", and the very real likelihood that it increases the chance your WAD will get played at all.

 

 

Yeah, Requiem released today would no doubt still get played and recommended to a notable degree, but I assume we agree it would not reach nearly the same level of fame. The late 90' early 2k megawads that are still being played almost have "mandatory" status just through a historical context, and are generally viewed with rose tinted glasses. This is most often rather deserved in my opinion - they made an impact and pushed stuff forward at their respective time. There's also a simple purity to them that makes it less of an ordeal to chill through when there's the craving. Discrediting the building blocks for the quality raise we've seen through the years would be unfair.
 

I agree that megawads will get more face value just because of the format. I'm not so sure its enough to warrant being successful on its own no more given it is more easily achieved now, and we're all spoiled from the above mentioned ocean of user made content. :) 

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Posted (edited)

I usually enjoy megawads that have a strong sense of context, pacing and progression. (and, of course, the maps must be good and unique).

 

Context: Elements that unify the whole mapset, such as theme, color pallete, new enemies/weapons/textures, story, soundtrack style (and volume), anything that makes you feel you are playing a dedicated mapset instead of just maps randomly brought together. 

 

Pacing: It means that a map must smoothly play well with anothers in the set. Sometimes you'll need an easier map in the set, sometimes you'll need a different kind of map compared to the previous one (and next one), and, more importantly, the map needs to feel unique and an important piece of the whole set, or else people will feel they're playing some filler.

 

Progression: The megawad must have a sense of progression, or, in another words, build-up (or even multiple build-ups) through the levels. It needs to make the player feel they're going into something and making progress. This can be reach through thematic decisions (for example, techbase -> tech/hell -> hell, where the third theme is a lot more dramatic than the first), through difficulty scaling up (harder maps at the end) and resources scaling up (starting with weaker weapons and enemies and then scaling up slowly through the journey). Very important, though, is that this doesn't mean you'll always start with pistol maps with some Imps and then closing the journey with a slaughtermap, the difficult scale can be subtle, or you can already start with strong foes and weapons in the beginning and go slowly increasing the stakes without going slaughter, for example. It's actually very recommended to do this, since starting slow and going slaughter afterwards is a very common trend especially from '90 and '00 wads, and people doesn't enjoy that much anymore.

Edited by Deadwing

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Posted (edited)

It has to end with Icon of Sin on MAP30, or it doesn't count. MAP32 has to be as hard as "Go 2 It" was in the context of original Plutonia. Preferably there should be a missing yellow key in MAP31 rendering the level unbeatable without cheating (for which a patch should be released later), and there should be a red key in MAP02 that cannot be obtained without using the run button.

 

Stolen music tracks from Rise of the Triad and Duke Nukem 3D help a lot.

 

On a serious note - to be successful, it just has to be fun to enough people. To be considered good, I personally want a consistent theme.

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1 hour ago, dr_st said:

Stolen music tracks from Rise of the Triad and Duke Nukem 3D help a lot.

 

To me I prefer not to use the songs from these games. Even though they are good songs (esp the one from E1M1 of Duke Nukem 3D), some are just simply too overused (for example Gut Wrencher). I prefer original music. My new upcoming UD megawad will contain a complete original soundtrack.

 

Play Whispers of Satan. I may have been bored and uninspired making some of the maps, but you'll see the progression from base to hell. Also the original soundtrack plus easter egg-like secret levels. But in my new UD megawad, the secret levels will be just standard Doom maps, no Wolfenstein maps, etc.

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I like a progression between themes. No more than ~10 levels each. But it does not need to be any set 'standard' progression.

 

Later maps should on average be at least a little bigger and/or harder than earlier ones.

 

New music is preferred very strongly though not absolutely necessary especially if it is classic style (original music is usually alright with original style).

 

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.

 

So far in 2019 (since Dec 10) I can say Eviternity, SINERGY (minus some music), Lunar Catastrophe (minus music), and what has been done so far of Mass Extinction (minus music here in particular but it's WIP), meet good standards.

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A good megawad is successful for me when it proposes new gimmicks, whether in terms of aesthetics or gameplay in order to give the player a new experience.  Whether the wad is objectively "good" or "bad" doesn't matter to me, I like it when the mapper brings his own ideas and doesn't let himself be too influenced by the "official rules of good level design".

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The most essential thing in a good megawad in my opinion, are good maps that are fun to play, consistency is also a key factor, both in theme and quality, having a good bunch of maps followed by one that has a completely different theme from the previous ones makes it stand out, and sometimes it isn't for the best, and also having a great map followed by one that isn't on par with the quality of the ones before hurts the overall experience. With that in mind, there's a lot of factors that help making a great megawad, if it's creative with the maps and it's monster usage, if it has new custom stuff that makes up for a fun experience, if the music usage is good. If the sum of all its parts make for a better experience rather than playing it's map separated, then i think that's a good megawad

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Different people like different gameplay styles, but exclusive resources content is already huge part of success. (if you can make not only maps, but also art)

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Two ways a megawad can stand out to me is Attention and Replayability.

 

For attention, does the megawad hook me in and keep playing or do I just feel like I'm slogging through map after map trying to find the end? Does the story grip me? Is the gameplay fun or is it meant to be cartoony and silly? If a wad can't keep my attention I usually just trash it after a few maps.

 

Replayability. This one is hard to nail down for me but how do I feel about a megawad? Do I want to start a new game and maybe try a different approach? (whether the megawad allows for multiple classes or full-on gameplay changes like a demolition expert or a sniper). Do I want to go for all the secrets or find a hidden ending? (provided one is included).

 

I think nailing both of these are good ways to make a megawad be loved by more than just a handful of people.

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11 hours ago, Doomkid said:

My personal suggestion would be to avoid inescapable death traps, above pretty much all else.


*Starts sweating a lot*

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The no-filler policy is why my project takes decades to finish: each level is it's own custom work complete with custom resources for that level only.

 

I believe it took me on and off 2 years to complete a single map like Stargate.

 

The question I always ask myself when evaluating my own map: If I released this as a standalone, will it be successful?

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Doom Marine said:

The no-filler policy is why my project takes decades to finish: each level is it's own custom work complete with custom resources for that level only.

 

I believe it took me on and off 2 years to complete a single map like Stargate.

 

The question I always ask myself when evaluating my own map: If I released this as a standalone, will it be successful?

 

Depends, there are successful single-map releases and successful megawads, as there are many of both cases that people didn't care much.

 

IMO, if you want to release a successful wad, you'll need at least to advertise well when you create its thread. As for myself, the first thing I look (after checking source-port and who made it :P) is the screenshots. If you have plenty of spots that shows a good promise of your map, the chances of being a successful release is a lot greater.

Megawads tends to attract more people than shorter mapsets, though.

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The only needed quality for a good megawad is to have enjoyable maps that people will enjoy playing and replaying. Now, what is considered an enjoyable map is up to the opinion of the player, and opinions always differ, so there's no real answer to this question.

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5 hours ago, Deadwing said:

Megawads tends to attract more people than shorter mapsets, though. 

 

Sad but true, and the source of far too many projects which get diluted by maps that really shouldn't have made the final cut.

One noteworthy example is Community Chest 2 or 3, where in the end some random maps fom /idgames with suitable permissions were used to fill the gaps.

 

I wonder if anybody would remember Memento Mori if it hadn't been the first of its kind...

 

BTSX did it right - saying they only got 25 maps and end the game there.

 

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BTSX actually has more than 32 maps, though - they're just split into multiple "episodes" :)

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Pandemonium said:

I want to hear your guys thoughts on what makes a megawad successful- or worthy or it being played. Specifically referring to more Classic Doom

 

Get mappers Dragonfly or Eternal to make it.  Nothing else needed.  

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Spoiler
On 8/5/2019 at 1:52 AM, Doomkid said:

Putting together all the advice in the below threads will result in a fun megawad! Lots of reading to be done but worth it for learning what (can) make a great map, so you can then string those great maps together into a megawad.

 

 

 

https://www.dfdoom.com/tips-for-making-an-engaging-doom-map/

 

 

While some tips can be good, like please make sure you can exit the map, mappers should not let their vision of the wad they want be influenced by the school of good design™, you want to place a vile behind a fake wall? go for it!

 

Now about the topic, the most important part of making a wad successfull, that is, a wad that is played by many people, is marketing, a wad that is well presented, shows "profesional" work, many successfull wads were already successfull before the wad was even released, bonus success if someone involved with the cacowards worked in the wad.

Spoiler

Before this starts a shitstorm, this is a bit of a meme about this coincidence :)

 

On the second place we have the maps being good.

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Maps has to be good, well designed, more important it's fun, it doesn't have to be overdetailed, it doesn't have to be "Slaughterfest2019" , It needs to be immersive and fun, that's all.

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