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ideas on making maps hard without slaughtering

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* refrain the amount of monsters, a few dozens in a battlefield and low hunders in a map would be reasonable.

* despite that, monsters are placed in a way such that is literally impossible to wipe out quickly and secure yourself. for example, cybies in tall caged turrets that can bombard the whole place while you can't get point-blank bfg shots.

* limited supplies although not starving. bfg and rockets are available, but only enough to get you through a few most difficult times, for the rest you would have to fall back to slow weapons like ssg and chaingun, and even berserk fist. supercharges and blue armors are rare, instead medkits and green armors that can only keep you alive for a few seconds are everywhere.

* no safe place like corners and corridors for defence, you can only hide from archvile fire a few seconds, and you are under attack from everywhere and from start to the end without breathing room.

* monster infighting is important, but difficult to provoke due to placing design.

* malicious designs. for example, a few archviles released into a field with dozens of corpses while you are busy at other side of the map.

* if you are in a hurry to run somewhere, you way is often blocked by monsters and you don't have enough to blast it out quick.

* and many inconvenient situations that prevent you from wiping out monsters quickly.

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A disproportionate number of the mappers I think of as well versed in this stuff also either specialize or at least dabble in slaughtermaps. :P 


Here is an (incomplete) starter-kit list of stuff worth thinking about.


- Space restriction in all of its guises is a very important concept to grok. Crampedness is one of those -- tighter spaces are just a lot easier to work with if you want to use fewer monsters. Knowledge of area denial, hard and soft, dynamic and static, is essential; that way you can leverage similar ideas in larger spaces. Get creative with it: 'area denial' comes in so many more forms than 'a bunch of damaging floor' or 'static turret vile controlling such-and-such terrain'. 


- (Conflicting) (movement) demands. "E.g. (in a simple form) the ideal response to these monsters is X, but then those monsters do Y and interfere with that preventing you from auto-piloting X." Very useful concept at all scopes, but especially important if you want to get the most out of your monster count. Demands in general offer a good framework for thinking about combat. 


- Playspace shape. Similar to some of the above. The exact shape of an area is often just as important as its scale in influencing how monsters behave, how the player must act.


- Platforming and other 'movement tests'. In their purest form, they use 0 monsters! How is that for efficiency! You can also give them a monster component and sometimes get a lot of mileage out of a handful of monsters. Furthermore, a lot of proper fights end up being implicit movement tests. 


- Resource placement. You mentioned resource restriction and this is in a similar family. You have the option of placing resources deliberately to create interesting demands or objectives or options within an encounter. ('Interesting' is a key word there -- you can put everything in inconvenient places but doing so naively will just be annoying.) 


- Understand the nuances of all the elements. RL and BFG are high-DPS weapons and providing enough ammo to use them regularly might on first blush might conflict with using fewer monsters, but they have weaknesses and associated skill demands. Know those and you can be more flexible. Also, a lot of monsters have tactical exploits associated with them. Monsters have traditional roles and usages, and those are good to know, but relying on those exclusively can get old; you need to be creative enough to invent uses, and interactions and behaviors, tailored to your encounters.


- On some other stuff you mentioned ->


Inconvenient monsters: monsters that can't be killed or that you are strongly incentivized not to kill are definitely a tool in the kit, but you usually want to transition the map into a state of affairs where getting rid of them doesn't suck, after they have outlived their primarily use. That cage cyb you mentioned? Telefrag or crush it, have the layout take the player up for closer shots, or have it teleport -- if 'plasma-ing it from miles away' is uninteresting, which it sounds like it easily might be.


Infighting: misunderstood by many as nothing more than 'making things easier'. Smart staging of infighting creates behavior the player has to react to well. E.g. I played a setup recently where a handful of mid-tiers roam in the middle and there are many imps on cages in the side. They inevitably infight and create the attentional challenge of observing the mid-tiers and avoiding their wayward attacks; some element of being aware of who is mad at who. 


Malicious designs? That idea you gave, just let me react to it skillfully and not have it be a waste of time.


"if you are in a hurry to run somewhere, you way is often blocked by monsters and you don't have enough to blast it out quick." Don't overdo this. If the most common roles your monsters play is 'blocking stuff' you can easily end up with a grind that just punishes aggression. Better to just use lock-ins and be skillful about deploying them, lampshading them, throwing varied types so that they aren't 'oh hey a door closed behind me for the 10th time in the map.' 

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20 hours ago, termrork said:

map such that arch-vile jumps and rocket jumps are needed : )

To termork:  I am pretty sure something like that already exists, and it is also a bit evil!



Anyway, what about "reality" maps? That means, no Plasma or BFG, few health, lots of hitscans and hidden, and playing it in UV fast. Basically, like it was real (but with demons as well).

I feel like I just described some TNT maps... but yeah, I believe these to be nice challenges.


And if you want to be really evil, a map that needs speedrunning in some places, like Scythe map 28.

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