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Silhou3tte

Making combat fun and dynamic

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So, I’ve been wondering:what makes combat challenging ,yet fair, as well as fun in so many Maps and how can I make my maps have good combat?. Any advice is  much appreciated.

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4 minutes ago, Biodegradable said:

I recommend studying the works of @Chainie, @Pegleg and @Phobus as they're the first mappers that come to mind when I think about fun, dynamic combat that's challenging but fair.

Right thank you for the suggestions. I’ll have a look at their work.

14 minutes ago, Noiser said:

Make sure that monsters are attacking from multiple directions and height variances. A lot of time I see people just putting monsters in front of you, which is a bit boring. Making the player use his spatial awareness and taking advantage of each monster ability is what make combat really fun imo.

 I’ve tried using height variation to force the player to move carefully, though I’m just worried I’m using the wrong monsters to simulate a challenge. I don’t want to create an artificial challenge through enemy placement. Thank you for the advice, though

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On 12/8/2020 at 6:36 AM, Silhou3tte said:

Right thank you for the suggestions. I’ll have a look at their work.

 I’ve tried using height variation to force the player to move carefully, though I’m just worried I’m using the wrong monsters to simulate a challenge. I don’t want to create an artificial challenge through enemy placement. Thank you for the advice, though

Have a look at this post by Linguica, I think it can help you to find the right monster placement.

I'm not the most prolific mapper, but here's my two cents: The advantage of using height variations is that the player can have more (or less) options on combat. For example: the player can sneak behind projectiles if the monster is above you or be in danger if he stay on the same level as them. Monsters attacking from multiple directions also help avoid peak-a-boo spots on your map, so you can make the player go forward instead of hiding behind walls. As long as you are not using a bunch of arch-viles or cyberdemons, don't be afraid of putting some monsters behind you, attacking from the left and from right at the same time, up close and far away, etc. If it's a very dangerous enemy, make sure the player can see or hear them clearly enough before going wild, but don't forget you can also make good ambushes with them. Giving enough space so the player can run freely avoiding projectiles also helps. You can find some brilliant monster placements like that on Valiant.

Edited by Noiser

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42 minutes ago, Noiser said:

Have a look at this post by Linguica, I think it can help you to find the right monster placement.

I'm not a very prolific mapper, but here's my two cents: The advantage of using height variations is that the player can have more (or less) options on combat. For example, It can get more easy to sneak behind projectiles if the monster is above you or put the player on danger if he stay on the same level as them. Making them appear from multiple sides also helps to avoid peak-a-boo spots on your map, so you can make the player go forward instead of hiding behind walls. As long as you are not using a bunch of arch-viles or cyberdemons, don't be afraid of putting some monsters behind you, attacking from the left and from right at the same time, up close and far away, etc. If it's a very dangerous enemy, make sure the player can see or hear them clearly enough before going wild, but don't forget you can also make good ambushes with them. Giving enough space so the player can run freely avoiding projectiles also helps. You can find some brilliant monster placements like that on Valiant.

I just read Linguica’s post and it is immensely helpful in working out which monster is best. Again, thank you for the help and tips!

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Try to give the player choices. For example, an open arena could benefit from some tunnels that connect around the outside. This gives the player and monsters more than one path to take. The player can try to use the tunnel as a bottleneck, but at the risk of getting stuck. Monsters that can follow the player through the map can help to build tension and pressure, encouraging the player to move around without full guarantee of safety. On the other hand, turrets (or monsters in cages/ledges they can't escape from) can be great for covering specific entrances. Again, try not to make it so that one specific strategy is always the right one. If you want dynamic fights, you want the player to be thinking stuff like "I can hang back and pick off that turret monster from a distance, but I'll have limited ammo. If I run past, I can see extra resources but at the risk of waking up more enemies."

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1 hour ago, magicsofa said:

Try to give the player choices. For example, an open arena could benefit from some tunnels that connect around the outside. This gives the player and monsters more than one path to take. The player can try to use the tunnel as a bottleneck, but at the risk of getting stuck. Monsters that can follow the player through the map can help to build tension and pressure, encouraging the player to move around without full guarantee of safety. On the other hand, turrets (or monsters in cages/ledges they can't escape from) can be great for covering specific entrances. Again, try not to make it so that one specific strategy is always the right one. If you want dynamic fights, you want the player to be thinking stuff like "I can hang back and pick off that turret monster from a distance, but I'll have limited ammo. If I run past, I can see extra resources but at the risk of waking up more enemies."

Using monsters like turrets sounds interesting. Thank you for the idea.

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Players will usually fall naturally into simple movement patterns like circles, U's, zigzags or just staying in the same bit of cover to beat fights, so if you spend time moving around in your map geometry and playtesting fights repeatedly (way more than seems necessary, to get an idea of RNG variance in the fight), you quickly get an idea of what the player will be trying to do and can use it to add predicaments to the fight. For example a player might want to just easily kill a group of monsters by circling, but when they start moving around they realise half the room is being watched by a perched archvile, so now they have to figure out how to deal with that first. Or maybe a player just wants to camp behind a pillar to deal with some projectile enemies, but if a closet with hell knights also just opened behind them, they now have to move and make decisions about how to get their space back under control. Basically you want to add enough overlapping problems in the fight to stop the player from turning their brain off and doing simple repeat movements to win them, which to me is the hallmark of dull combat. Resource placement works similarly, the player will always have to get some health and ammo eventually assuming they aren't being given everything for free, so you can use it as bait to make the player take risks and use more thoughtful movement to stay alive.

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28 minutes ago, BoxY said:

Players will usually fall naturally into simple movement patterns like circles, U's, zigzags or just staying in the same bit of cover to beat fights, so if you spend time moving around in your map geometry and playtesting fights repeatedly (way more than seems necessary, to get an idea of RNG variance in the fight), you quickly get an idea of what the player will be trying to do and can use it to add predicaments to the fight. For example a player might want to just easily kill a group of monsters by circling, but when they start moving around they realise half the room is being watched by a perched archvile, so now they have to figure out how to deal with that first. Or maybe a player just wants to camp behind a pillar to deal with some projectile enemies, but if a closet with hell knights also just opened behind them, they now have to move and make decisions about how to get their space back under control. Basically you want to add enough overlapping problems in the fight to stop the player from turning their brain off and doing simple repeat movements to win them, which to me is the hallmark of dull combat. Resource placement works similarly, the player will always have to get some health and ammo eventually assuming they aren't being given everything for free, so you can use it as bait to make the player take risks and use more thoughtful movement to stay alive.

Encourage risk-reward and use monster placement to create problems for the player to solve. Got it.

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One thing that the wads with the combat I enjoy the most (Return to Hadron, Antaresian Reliquary, Valiant etc...) all have one thing in common: they punish the player for standing still or thinking defensively, allow enemies to freely roam the map and encourage constant movement.

 

For example, in Return to Hadron the majority of the maps are large, highly interconnected and open, allowing you and your enemies to move around the battlefield in a dynamic fashion, meaning that you cannot simply camp a doorway or pick off enemies one by one from a distance. Situational awareness is the key here, with opportunism being rewarded and excessive caution punished. This keeps the player in a constant state of motion whilst also giving them a lot of freedom to approach the battle as they see fit.

 

As a result, battles in RtH can last for as long as half and hour without ever feeling like a grind, and each map offers immense replay value since the encounters always unfold differently each time. All this is achieved using only Doom 1 monsters and weapons.

 

Since RtH is achieves all that it does within the confines of limit-removing Doom 1, it think it serves as an excellent example to new mappers, since there are simply fewer variables at play. I certainly found it very informative in my own mapping. Of course, this assumes that you enjoy the style of combat the wad presents, but I find it hard to imagine why one wouldn't.

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I find fast-paced combat fun, so to encourage that I make sure a lot of enemies are light and easy to kill (relative to the weapons the player has), and try to make sure they've got a good range of ways to attack the player. Zombies have their hit-scan attacks, which encourage movement to cover, whilst Demons, Lost Souls and Revenants tend to fill space and keep the player moving (the latter with their homing missiles). You can then use high-priority targets like Arch-Viles and Pain Elementals to encourage the player to rush in with a heavier weapon and kill the enemy that will cause the biggest headaches. Flying enemies tend to end up coming from strange angles and over/under obstacles, so they're best used in wider areas with plenty of freedom of movement.

 

The best way to make combat interesting is to design an interesting space for it to happen in, though. A single flat, square room with nothing in it is a functional room, but offers no height variation or interesting angles of attack. Even a web of flat square rooms linked by open corridors, with some enemies flagged to ambush the player and others alerted by sound will immediately allow for a wider range of experiences for the player, thus making it more interesting and more fun.

 

 

The other thing I like is to not control the experience too tightly. You can always tell when combat feels closely choreographed or scripted, and I don't like it much, to be honest. Sure, you can pick specific actions, lines or other triggers (and timing) to drop the enemies into the fray, or open up an additional route for the player, but the enemies behaviour is governed by the RNG and you can lean into that. Let them mix it up in an open space, or trickle around a range of corridors. Sure, keep some enemies up out of the way on ledges or as turrets, so that the player can't just funnel all of the opposition into a bottleneck, but make sure there's plenty going on. Obviously most of my points have been for bigger fights and arenas, but the same ideas can apply to incidental combat and even corridor crawling. Killing three Imps on the way between rooms doesn't necessarily mean they're all just evenly spaced out in front of you. One could be on a ledge, and another could be behind a window, or lurking in a shadowy corner you pass and don't necessarily spot the first time. The more interesting your environment, the more possibilities you unlock both for you as the guy placing the enemies in the first place, and the player to fight them.

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26 minutes ago, Omniarch said:

One thing that the wads with the combat I enjoy the most (Return to Hadron, Antaresian Reliquary, Valiant etc...) all have one thing in common: they punish the player for standing still or thinking defensively, allow enemies to freely roam the map and encourage constant movement.

 

For example, in Return to Hadron the majority of the maps are large, highly interconnected and open, allowing you and your enemies to move around the battlefield in a dynamic fashion, meaning that you cannot simply camp a doorway or pick off enemies one by one from a distance. Situational awareness is the key here, with opportunism being rewarded and excessive caution punished. This keeps the player in a constant state of motion whilst also giving them a lot of freedom to approach the battle as they see fit.

 

As a result, battles in RtH can last for as long as half and hour without ever feeling like a grind, and each map offers immense replay value since the encounters always unfold differently each time. All this is achieved using only Doom 1 monsters and weapons.

 

Since RtH is achieves all that it does within the confines of limit-removing Doom 1, it think it serves as an excellent example to new mappers, since there are simply fewer variables at play. I certainly found it very informative in my own mapping. Of course, this assumes that you enjoy the style of combat the wad presents, but I find it hard to imagine why one wouldn't.

I’ll have a look at Return to Hadron( I love doom 1 megawads, anyway) and how enemies are used.

11 minutes ago, Phobus said:

I find fast-paced combat fun, so to encourage that I make sure a lot of enemies are light and easy to kill (relative to the weapons the player has), and try to make sure they've got a good range of ways to attack the player. Zombies have their hit-scan attacks, which encourage movement to cover, whilst Demons, Lost Souls and Revenants tend to fill space and keep the player moving (the latter with their homing missiles). You can then use high-priority targets like Arch-Viles and Pain Elementals to encourage the player to rush in with a heavier weapon and kill the enemy that will cause the biggest headaches. Flying enemies tend to end up coming from strange angles and over/under obstacles, so they're best used in wider areas with plenty of freedom of movement.

 

The best way to make combat interesting is to design an interesting space for it to happen in, though. A single flat, square room with nothing in it is a functional room, but offers no height variation or interesting angles of attack. Even a web of flat square rooms linked by open corridors, with some enemies flagged to ambush the player and others alerted by sound will immediately allow for a wider range of experiences for the player, thus making it more interesting and more fun.

 

 

The other thing I like is to not control the experience too tightly. You can always tell when combat feels closely choreographed or scripted, and I don't like it much, to be honest. Sure, you can pick specific actions, lines or other triggers (and timing) to drop the enemies into the fray, or open up an additional route for the player, but the enemies behaviour is governed by the RNG and you can lean into that. Let them mix it up in an open space, or trickle around a range of corridors. Sure, keep some enemies up out of the way on ledges or as turrets, so that the player can't just funnel all of the opposition into a bottleneck, but make sure there's plenty going on. Obviously most of my points have been for bigger fights and arenas, but the same ideas can apply to incidental combat and even corridor crawling. Killing three Imps on the way between rooms doesn't necessarily mean they're all just evenly spaced out in front of you. One could be on a ledge, and another could be behind a window, or lurking in a shadowy corner you pass and don't necessarily spot the first time. The more interesting your environment, the more possibilities you unlock both for you as the guy placing the enemies in the first place, and the player to fight them.

Honestly, I thoroughly agree with this. I want the player to enter a “flow state”, and add as much detailing as possible to give more life to the environment in my map.

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I'll just one liitle thing, as the answers you seek lay in the posts above this one for a very large majority, if not all, of them.

If an encounter seems too easy at some point, and if the player has a SSG, consider replacing some ground projectile monsters like hell knights by revenants. It will instantly raise the difficulty by forcing the player to move quicker, and to be more daring overall. Don't ever think that fun equals challenging, or that challenging equal lots of ennemies. Pistol a cacodemons is not fun, SSG a mancubus is fun. Fighting a Arch-vile in an open area is not fun, fighting them in dark and tight corridor is a bit more fun.

Study the monsters and look at what makes them challenging, and what makes them a complete joke. You'll see, idea will spring by themselves as your discover what you can do with Doom and Doom 2 ennemy roster.

You can also throw spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks.
It's not a bad idea to make some short maps to test out a encounter or a room configuration, and drw conclusion :
"This was very hard, but doable, lets use this encounter again later ; this was easy with only specters and hitscanners, but the room gave a eerie felling that I like, lets make a map out of it, and lets add a wandering arch-vile that randomly ressurcet some monsters... lets make so that its a maze... and that the maze changes form as you progress through it."

Idea are litterally just coming out of nowhere here. If you play a lot, ideas will come, test them, see what was fun, then add it the way you want, and thus make it your sauce. (By that I mean your own idea and your own personnal touch)

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Silhou3tte,

 

My suggestion is to take Nine Inch Heels advice. You can bend over backwards to please one audience, only to lose a completely different one. You can't please everybody. So, you might as well please yourself first and foremost. Yes, that sounds dirty (hurr hurr), but I believe it's the only way to truly feel accomplished.

 

Respectfully,

 

-alLAN95th

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

Chiming in here to say a couple things...

 

"Fun" is very subjective thing; as are "fair" and "dynamic".

 

 

So, "fun"...

 

For some, fun is beating a fight that has been engineered to hell and back in order to be as lethal, tight, and tricky as possible - for others, fun is having a lot of weapons to choose from and mowing down hordes of fodder enemies quickly. For some other people, beating lengthy consistency checks that utilize hundreds of monsters is fun. There are those, who consider punching a cyberdemon to death with berserked fist fun...

I suppose you get the idea: Fun is subject to the eye of the beholder...

 

Therefore, my advice is to not concern yourself with what other people think is "fun", and create something that you like to spend time with in the first place. Once you got something that you think works the way you want it to, you can pass it around to get input from people and figure out ways to improve the "behaviour" of your fights - including but not limited to polishing off a few rough edges, and perhaps also messing around with the timing of multi-staged set-piece fights and the like...

 

 

Let's talk about fair...

If I had a dime for every instance someoe thought to themselves that something I made is "unfair", I might not be rich by any means, but a new pair of handcrafted Italian high heels might be in the cards. Some people argue that any fight they can't beat on their first attempt -- due to the fight requiring pre-knowledge -- is "unfair". I, personally, don't agree with that attitude, because the main characteristics that make a fight "fair" in my book are consistent behaviour and learnability. Sure enough, when you're mapping and the goal is to cater to the upper echelon of skilled doomers, you may end up with fights in which highly unfavourable RNG might be able to kill players, even if they did just about everything right, but if the fight behaves very much the same each time players give it a try, and assuming they can find a good strategy to beat it - I'd say it's fair game.

 

Consider that fights don't exist in a vacuum...
Players might be willing to forgive a slightly rough fight if it fits the theme of the map as a whole, or if everything that leads up to said fight is enjoyable to play. In the end, even if a fight you thought was fun and fair rubs a few people the wrong way, it doesn't mean that the rest of the map is going to be viewed under the same lens. Some people can forgive these slightly rougher goings, others may not. Regardless, the best idea to make sure that something you create is going to be enjoyable for an assumed target audience is to build what you enjoy in the first place, and then seeing which kind of feedback actually helps you improve the very thing you wanted to accomplish - but more on that later...

 

 

What even is "dynamic"?

Does it mean players need to run around a bunch? Does it mean a fight has multiple timed phases? Does it perhaps mean it's an uphill fight that gets harder as it goes on, or is it maybe a fight with several "sub-objectives" which change the "tone" of combat as the player makes progress? We don't know, because you didn't specify much of anything, and you didn't provide any examples either...

"Map so and so from the WAD such and such has this dynamic fight - how do I make something like that?" would've helped a great deal, but, alas...

 

 

I made a thing and now I got feedback...

Here's your "bonus round"...

Suppose you made a map and uploaded here - now people may or may not bite, and depending on how they feel that day, they might just feel inspired to provide "feedback"... Some people liked the map, some hated it, a lot of mixed-bag-reactions - a normal day on the internet, really... What's next?
 

Some people need to learn this the hard way, but I think you're better off wrapping your head around this before your first batch of feedback arrives: Most of the feedback you might get isn't necessarily worth a lot. You may think that any feedback is valuable in its own right -- which I am not denying -- but the most valuable feedback comes from people who seem to understand the ideas you've had - those who are willing to discuss your ideas with you, rather than telling you why your ideas are bad... That's why feedback I'd consider to be "good" is not only hard to come by, but it can also be very hard to give, and believe me when I say that I've been on the receiving and the giving end of this - it's actually not easy at all...

So learn to separate wheat from chaff when it comes to feedback, because it'll help you to not take things to heart any more than is absolutely necessary...

The main intention of this thread was to gain feedback or tips on how  more experienced mappers handle combat, making their fights fun, fair and dynamic( apologies for not clarifying what dynamic means, I’m talking about fights that can be approached in a variety of ways). While these are entirely subjective, I want to add what I think makes combat in a level good and what other mappers do to make their combat memorable.   Your advice is welcome though, on how I receive feedback, so thank you very much.

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13 minutes ago, alLAN95th said:

Silhou3tte,

 

My suggestion is to take Nine Inch Heels advice. You can bend over backwards to please one audience, only to lose a completely different one. You can't please everybody. So, you might as well please yourself first and foremost. Yes, that sounds dirty (hurr hurr), but I believe it's the only way to truly feel accomplished.

 

Respectfully,

 

-alLAN95th

 

 

Noted, though I understand that you cannot please everybody in how you map out your fights, the thread’s purpose was one of curiosity, to see how others make combat interesting. I’d rather have combat that appeals to one taste than combat that is just plain repetitive

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31 minutes ago, Silhou3tte said:

The main intention of this thread was to gain feedback or tips on how  more experienced mappers handle combat, making their fights fun, fair and dynamic( apologies for not clarifying what dynamic means, I’m talking about fights that can be approached in a variety of ways). While these are entirely subjective, I want to add what I think makes combat in a level good and what other mappers do to make their combat memorable.

The core problem is that any combat idea you may have might also require a very specific approach. Advice along the lines of "more height variation" and "threats from multiple directions" are all fine as a general "this will make fights feel more varied" rule of thumb, but -- depending on what you are looking to create -- it might just be advice that does not work for the very thing you want to create.

 

Height differences on the "floor level" can make everything look more dynamic, but you may find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place, because these height differences can influence player movement a lot -- in particular downhill -- and sometimes even monsters can have problems traversing the terrain - which, by the way also counts for perched monsters.

 

The most memorable fights out there are typically set-piece fights of some sort - the kind of "this is this map's best/hardest/biggest fight" deals. As it stands, these set-pieces are usually "carefully engineered" in order to drive home some very specific tropes - tropes which may directly conflict with any "general purpose advice" you can expect to get.

 

Take a look at this map here, for example: https://doomwiki.org/wiki/MAP17:_Naraka_(MAYhem_2019)

 

When you play it, you will notice that the map uses different height levels to make it look more varied in many places, but when you put it under a more analytic lens, you will also come to realize that the height variation we employed in this map isn't really much of a factor, as it's mostly used to make sure that certain groups of monsters don't start to fight with one another. As such, the height differences are mostly for mechanical reasons, rather than "raising this to here in the builder will somehow make this play and feel better" kinds of concepts. It's entirely utilitarian, as the vast majority of the combat here is played on pretty "level" ground anyway - which is necessary for things to work the way they do.

 

Situations like this are the reason why I'm always sceptical of "all purpose advice"...

 

There is also an argument to be made that gameplay, or rather playability, might very well get in the way of detailing. Curves and slopes, as well as "micro-detailing" and all that fancy stuff might look nice, but it can also induce problems like elastic collisions. IMO, this is another strong argument to favour the utility of the geometry over inflating the linedef-count of your maps. That's not to say that making movement "difficult" isn't fair game, but it stands to reason that incorporating said "geometrical hostility" is best done deliberately, rather than letting it become an emergent property where you don't want it to happen.

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1 hour ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

Some people argue that any fight they can't beat on their first attempt -- due to the fight requiring pre-knowledge -- is "unfair". I, personally, don't agree with that attitude, because the main characteristics that make a fight "fair" in my book are consistent behaviour and learnability.

 

Except that is exactly how I would define an "unfair" fight - requiring prior knowledge of the same fight. And, surprise, for the same reason you just stated: it doesn't test your player's skill and acquired knowledge. If you design a trap which can only be survived if you act exactly right on the exact moment this trap is triggered instead of it being survivable upon *discovery* of the trap's result and *then* acting upon the new threat, you have per definition made that trap unfair.  Because what exactly are you testing your player on?

 

If you design a corridor-long crusher inside a corridor and the player can only survive it if he was already straferunning at the time of it being triggered, then it's going to kill any player that was walking at the time. No matter the skill that hapless player may have had, he will not be able to outrun that crushing ceiling if he wasn't already straferunning at the time. So he has to know about the trap beforehand. And that's not testing skill. Thus unfair.

 

The same scenario becomes immediately different if you provide clues to the player. A previous encounter with the same visual warning signs, but less severe consequences. Your death corridor has the same visual markings. So now the same unfair scenario becomes fair: your player should have paid attention and learned from his previous encounter.

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3 minutes ago, Mordeth said:

Except that is exactly how I would define an "unfair" fight - requiring prior knowledge of the same fight. And, surprise, for the same reason you just stated: it doesn't test your player's skill and acquired knowledge. If you design a trap which can only be survived if you act exactly right on the exact moment this trap is triggered instead of it being survivable upon *discovery* of the trap's result and *then* acting upon the new threat, you have per definition made that trap unfair.  Because what exactly are you testing your player on?

I differentiate between traps and set-piece fights, and while I'm not a fan of "lethal gotchas", there is nothing wrong with making fights in ways that require players to learn and understand them. You may find that's "evil", but it's a necessary evil if you are aiming to create a map that stays challenging even if you know it like the back of your hand. Besides, there is nothing that doesn't get easier with pre-knowledge and practice, including but not limited to fights people can beat first try. The difference between you and me is where we draw the lines for what's acceptable - never mind that one player may beat something first try which someone else struggles with even if they see it coming. So, where do you even start with your "baseline expectations"?

 

Whatever happened to "save regularly" by the way?

 

By your logic, just about any boss in the dark souls franchise would be "unfair" based solely on the metric that players need to learn patterns - which is by no means an unreasonable expectation to have, if the supposed target audience is down for that, and, as we see, the dark souls franchise can pride itself with a pretty devoted crowd of fans.

 

If you can fire up a map, and beat everything first try, then what have you actually learned? The only thing you found out is that you were good enough to beat it - which means you didn't necessarily get better at the game by transitive property. Either something is easy enough to be beatable "cold", or it's hard enough to stay difficult even after you learned what's happening - which often comes at the expense of "cold wins". One of the two is likely to make you a better player - which is what some people want - and the other is there for a more relaxing time - which is also what some people want. In fact, sometimes I prefer one over the other depending on what I'm up for that day...

 

There is no objective case to be made in favour of - or against - prior knowledge... It's all a matter of perspective, but one thing I'm not going to leave uncommented is the idea of this crusher corridor, because that's A) not a fight and B) there is barely anything to learn. Clues are fine and all, but even if you had a timed fight with a progress bar that shows you when what will spawn in - who's to say that makes it beatable from a cold start, and how many clues do you think you can cram into a complex encounter with multiple stages to begin with? Anyway, the crusher trap example is way too reductionistic for the purpose of a nuanced discussion is what I'm saying...

 

In my opinion it is perfectly fine to test the player's ability and willingness to learn how a fight needs to be played, but as I said, some folks would rather play something they can plow through from a "cold start"...

 

Disagreements like this also do a good job of proving the point I made previously - which is that people should create what they think is fun, instead of trying to somehow cater to somebody else's personal preference, no matter how thoroughly rationalized it might seem...

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Make the player have to think about what's going on. If there's revenants around, give them a bit of cover for the missiles. Maybe add some hit scanners so the player can get more ammo for the chaingun and shotgun. Not only will they provide as ammo, but it'll make the player prioritize them first. If you add a mancubus, make sure the area you have to fight in takes into account its firing pattern. Keep doing this with every enemy, keeping into account their weaknesses, strengths, and patterns. Also try to let the player use all kinds of weapons. Easy way to do this is with monster variety. A group of imps will most likely be taken care of with the super shotgun while a mancubus or archvile will probably take a rocket launcher. Just keep playtesting your map until you feel like each fight is difficult, but not unfair.

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31 minutes ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

I differentiate between traps and set-piece fights,

 

I picked a crusher as a "fight" example to demonstrate it's about game mechanics and design. Picking an combat example with actual monsters inevitably draws in the 'git gud' attitudes which completely detract from the actual point I was trying to make here. This is about design.

 

You keep coming back to the same argument: being that there is nothing wrong with killing the player so he knows better next time. I argue there's nothing wrong with killing the player if he ought to have known better that time.

 

There's no "right" side here. People have preferences either way. Hell, people have different preferences on different days.

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This is the divisive argument we all know as the two prominent main branches of Doom gameplay.

-People that like puzzle like encounters where the skill could make a difference.

-And people that prefer to sort the encounter with and open mind, adapting to the environment and using the aknowledge they have.

 

I wrote those two sentences ambiguosly on purpose.

Why? Because every player look at their own way to beat the encounter as the ''right way''.

 

And there is no right way, it all comes to what the developer had in mind.

 

And this come back to the very beggining of the history of Doom mapping.

But limit ourselves to the official releases:

TNT and Plutonia.

 

TNT was developed with a higher difficult than Doom 2 on mind, and for that reason, diverse situations where designed to made the maps challenging but still beatable on the first try.

Plutonia on the other hand, went for a challenge way above, and punishing the player for bad moves, but as the maps where all pretty short, it could be looked as an arcade game where try and repeat take us to the next level always. Even encouraging pistol starting.

 

Two different designing schools.

Both right.

 

I will assume we all played Contra from NES.

Remember the first time? the enemies move around shooting from different angles, there was some turrents, enemies hiding underwater or in the background but there was always some visual cue that help us to know that a menace was near.

If we lose, thats because we weren't much aware of our surrounding or made a bad choice.

Later we found that there is a pattern of movement on everything we see on screen, making the game easier the more we go deeper into it.

Progressive learning.

 

And we all know the level of memorizing KAIZO style of games need.

Maximum challenge from the get go.

 

It all come to the player.
Those who seek to play and entertain themselves.

And those who seek to challenge and test themselves.

 

As a developer one needs to ask itself, ''what i want to offer?''.

Whatver you do, there is always people who will like it and people who will hate it.

Simple as that.

 

And here is where developer has to separate itself as from the player that lays inside.

Making something you found fun its not always fun for everyone.

 

I think that the main concern of developeing is to make something that could entertaing the most number of people out there.

Thats why difficult setting are so important.

 

Thats why a lot of megawad out there are legendary by now:

Alien Vendetta, Kama Sutra, Valiant, Struggle, REKKR, etc.

 

Just examples of carefull designing and thinking on all kind of players.

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16 hours ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

Advice along the lines of "more height variation" and "threats from multiple directions" are all fine as a general "this will make fights feel more varied" rule of thumb, but -- depending on what you are looking to create -- it might just be advice that does not work for the very thing you want to create.

It's always nice to read your points of view, and I really agree with you here. Still, my intention was not to make an all purpose advice though, but to answer to OP's question about what I understand as a "dynamic" combat, which I see exactly as you said: a general way of making fights feel more varied (and also approachable by different ways). But this is very subjective indeed. I think these ideas always have some potential to make the combat a bit more engaging - which is not necessarily better or the ideal effect for a specific set-piece, but still effective to achieve a particular type of fight. That's just me catering to my own idea of "fun" though.

Edited by Noiser

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4 hours ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

it's a necessary evil if you are aiming to create a map that stays challenging even if you know it like the back of your hand


A fair point, but out of context. The OP is aiming for fun and dynamic, not soul crushing and disrespectful of your time.

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5 minutes ago, magicsofa said:


A fair point, but out of context. The OP is aiming for fun and dynamic, not soul crushing and disrespectful of your time.

 

7 hours ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

So, "fun"...

 

For some, fun is beating a fight that has been engineered to hell and back in order to be as lethal, tight, and tricky as possible - for others, fun is having a lot of weapons to choose from and mowing down hordes of fodder enemies quickly. For some other people, beating lengthy consistency checks that utilize hundreds of monsters is fun. There are those, who consider punching a cyberdemon to death with berserked fist fun...

I suppose you get the idea: Fun is subject to the eye of the beholder...

 

Therefore, my advice is to not concern yourself with what other people think is "fun", and create something that you like to spend time with in the first place.

 

You're welcome...

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On 12/8/2020 at 3:47 AM, Silhou3tte said:

So, I’ve been wondering:what makes combat challenging ,yet fair, as well as fun in so many Maps and how can I make my maps have good combat?. Any advice is  much appreciated.

 

Just discovered this thread and found it interesting.  So my two cents....

 

Making combat fun, for me, involves applying pressure to the player until they nearly bite off more than they can chew and still somehow find the means to survive and beat back the odds.   This involves providing adequate space and cover for multiple sets of enemies that activate at different times; preferably while the first set of monsters is still active.   In my view it is only unfair if there isn't enough resources, cover or space; and it doesn't necessarily have to be available to the player immediately, they might have to run for their life and come back later.

 

I prefer to have the player start combat with enemies from 3 directions, then as they move they open themselves up to a new attack from the 4th direction as they become visible to the monsters; for example, high up on a ledge from behind but deaf so that they don't activate until in the monster's sightline.   Staging the monsters is key and requires a mixture of deaf/non-deaf monsters spaced out in small groups that engage the player at different times or in different attack forms.  Variety is all-important here; you don't want your mixtures of monsters to be all of one type, throw in a couple of small nuisance monsters with your hordes; or have a rev/imp/spectre party set facing the party while a pack of imps attack from the left and a mancubus/caco team on a ledge attacks from the right.   Force the player to make tactical choices and give them the tools to do it.   The use of hazards comes into play here, as does forcing the player to choose sub-optimal weapons against mixed hordes.

 

Also, I find it critical that a small percentage of your enemies are given free range over large sections of the map; so that even players well versed in the map (primarily you as lead tester) never become too bored with the combat situations, because of the few random encounters throughout the map. 

 

Finally you need to occasionally give the player a free "gift" in the form of a helpless gib-able monster standing too close to a barrel (of course if that's tied in to a monster teleporter closet via sound propagation that's even better).

 

 

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