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What makes a level fun?

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Whatever the person playing a map thinks is fun.


Like, seriously, what manner of answer do you expect to get out this? Everybody likes different things, and at the end of the day things some people like are something somebody else hates. So what's the payoff here? Do you want people to tell you what to put in your maps so they get played?

Build what you think is fun first, and then see what manner of feedback comes in later.


I couldn't even tell you what makes a map not fun. Even though lots of folks will probably agree that sluggish gameplay, excessive grinds and lack of diversity are not positive traits for a map, somewhere out there is the one guy who likes that sort of neverending repetitive stuff...

Edited by Nine Inch Heels

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Yeah, it's very subjective. Pretty much all the things that even a majority would agree on are usually self-evident, such as "the map is not broken."


I like a lot of different things but one I'll mention is decisions. I like for the layout to force me to choose either left or right / up or down / path A or path B or path C, etc. I like for the encounters to force me to choose whether to shoot the former humans first because they're hitscan or go for the pain elemental, etc. I like a fight to be diverse enough that I actually struggle for a moment in deciding which weapon to use. I like when the situation has me actually considering staying in the damaging floor. Decisions. Give me some harmless choices (left or right path) and also sometimes make me strategize on the fly.


So I guess the extreme converse of that would be a one-path rail-linear map of hell knights spaced way too far apart where you're given super shotgun and chaingun.


Here's a thread from a few months ago.

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entertaining gameplay (I know it's subjective),

imaginative use of texture packs,

new weapons and monsters,

a certain amount of puzzle solving,

attention to detailing.


Some people like smallish maps, others large and sprawling maps, so medium sized maps should appeal to most.

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23 hours ago, some guy who made a wad said:

lots of archviles!


5 hours ago, carter1027 said:

...oh no


That gave me an idea for a Hunted Megawad. :D

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After you finish a map, ignore it for about 4 months and then replay it. Having a fresh perspective will help you decide what's working and what isn't.

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Levels that are literally impossible if you shoot your weapon in either of the first 2 rooms, causing... like, 30 chaingunners to spawn in the next room with absolutely no way of being able to kill any of them without being annhilated in 2 seconds. Did I mention that same room is also filled with revenants, mancubi and hell knights? ...Plus an archvile?


I sure do love pistol starting Hell Revealed on ultra-violence hahahahahahaahahaahhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa



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These are some of aspects that I have heard people enjoy about maps:

  • Non-slaughter
  • Slaughter
  • Grindy slaughter
  • Non-grindy slaughter
  • Ammo starvation
  • Health starvation
  • Maps with adequate amounts of health and ammo
  • Lots of revenants
  • Lots of hitscanners
  • Lots of archviles
  • Not a lot of revenants
  • Not a lot of hitscanners
  • Not a lot of archviles
  • Maps balanced for pistol starts
  • Maps balanced for continuous play
  • Puzzle maps
  • Maps without puzzles
  • Lots of detailing
  • Efficient use of lines (i.e., less detailing)
  • Mandatory platforming
  • No platforming
  • Lots of pain sectors
  • Few, if any, pain sectors

I could go on, but I think you get the point. What makes a map fun is entirely dependent on the person playing it. I personally don't enjoy slaughter, ammo starvation, platforming, or Tyson gameplay, but there are plenty of people that do.


You aren't going to make a map that is universally loved. There will be some aspect of it that someone will object to. In fact, if you go to idgames and look at the rating for Alien Vendetta, it is over 4 stars with 619 votes. The vast majority of them are 4 or 5 stars, but there are 0, 1, and 2 star ratings with comments such as "I tried to find something I liked about this, but couldn't." Sunlust and Suspended in Dusk, for example, both also have the occasional low rating ("this is boring/repetitive/etc.") despite very high overall ratings.


Like NIH said, focus on making things that you enjoy. If you like to play the type of map you're making, chances are good that the map itself will be better than if you did an analysis and determined that most people like X, Y, and Z, despite that fact that you detest them.


In other words, if what you like is slaughter with mandatory SR50 platforming on pain sectors, then make that map. If you love health starvation maps full of hitscanners, make that map. If you love difficult puzzle maps with few enemies, then make that map. If you think the iwad levels are too detailed, then make that map.


By the way, all of this, of course, assumes you're making a standalone map or mapset and not contributing to a community project or other collaborative project. If you're part of a project, follow the rules of the project and work within them. But if you're not bound by some set of rules, then make what you like.


That is what makes a map fun.

Edited by Pegleg : "you're" not "your" -- it only took me 6 weeks to notice that.

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On 9/12/2019 at 8:08 PM, some guy who made a wad said:

lots of archviles!




Serious answer: Fun is incredibly subjective because what one person might find fun another person will not. Some people like slaughter maps. Others like maps with lots of puzzles. Others just want to run and gun. You're never going to please everyone, so as others have said, make something that you enjoy.

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Alternative to posing this question to the community, you could play maps you enjoy -- or, play through maps currently being nominated for a Cacoward -- and make notes of areas / sequences / encounters that you found to be very fun or memorable. Then, go through your list, look at each area you noted and try to dissect how it was made and why you found it fun or memorable. Did it stick out to you because it was so unexpected? Or, perhaps it involved some monster(s) being used in an unconventional way? Perhaps the lighting and geometry added an extra depth of tension, elevating the whole scenario? Before long, I think you'll start to get a fairly hefty list of interesting (or fun) ideas rolling around on paper (and in your head), and a more internalized view on why certain things just seem to "work" over others.

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I like maps that have variety in texture use, not totally dark, being able to see and move around, and a variety in height and monsters.

I like monster in-fighting and I like areas that are crazy busy with a few periods where you can rest and revitalize.

My favorite commercial maps were E1M6, E1M7, E1M9, E4M2, MAP02, MAP03, MAP04, and MAP29.


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I understand that this is very subjective. However, I personally really enjoy a variety of maps. I really like slaughter-ish maps where you blast through tons of demons. But at the same time, I also find more slow-paced open maps that really encourage exploration fun as well. 


There are main 2 features of maps that I really enjoy and find fun:

-Challenging maps that aren't just a power fantasy.

-Maps that are very responsive/reactive. That is to say maps that react and transform a lot as you explore and interact with them (i.e level geometry changing and moving around alot, that sort of stuff).


That being said, you may not find any of this fun, it really just depends on the individual playing the map.

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