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How to make maps difficult but fair.

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3 hours ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

Okay... so... How do people put WADs like valiant or ancient aliens in the "hard" category..? I will never understand this. SunLust on HMP also isn't exactly hard by today's standards. When you're talking about hard, you're looking at least at SunLust on UV, followed or accompanied by a good number of slaughtermaps out there, like Breathless and entropy.

 

Valiant, and other maps along the same line are at most "intermediate".

I absolute terms, I am aware that Valiant/Eviternity/Ancient Aliens are of middling difficulty, or even on the easier side (especially in a world where wads like Italo Doom and Chillax exist). However, for more casual / less experienced Doomers (like myself) their UV offers a significant challenge, especially saveless. Personally, I intend to keep improving until I can beat Sunlust and its contemporaries on UV, but I'm not sure getting to that stage is an inevitable step in every Doomer's 'life-cycle', as it were. Difficulty is tricky that way, with both objective and subjective elements to it.

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3 hours ago, N1ck said:

In that case, here's the map I've been working on for a few hours. Not very far yet, just a few rooms, but just so you can judge where it is so far. It should be vanilla compatible but I haven't tested it in anything besides GZDoom yet. https://www.mediafire.com/file/ha33occbsisomtg/Test_map.wad/file

 

Here's my playthrough in PrBoom+:

 

This isn't my first playthrough, but by some fluke, I didn't take damage in my first playthrough either. I tried to imitate that unrecorded run somewhat here, as I deliberately missed the shotgun shell secret that would have made killing the remaining monsters a little quicker. Anyway, this is still easy, and I prefer the gameplay style of your other map. I think this would be more compelling with better weaponry (maybe replace the shotgun at the start with berserk) and tougher monsters (revenants, or maybe an archvile).

 

If you're aiming for something that is challenging without a large monster count, here's a good example. Also check out the CHORD series by Malcolm Sailor.

 

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10 hours ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

 

What people perceive as "hard" is one question... Which kinds of objective metrics make something hard are not a matter of opinion, they're facts.

 

SunLust is objectively harder than Valiant when both are played on UV. Dimensions is objectively harder than the vast majority of challenge maps out there. Alien vendatta is objectively harder than OG doom2...

 

None of this is rocket science, and even somebody who can beat most, or even all of SunLust's maps without dying will tell you that yes, SunLust is objectively harder than valiant.

 

Of course, I meant subjective as in perception of one player. More objective 'hard' is a statistical thing, among many many players IMO.

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The biggest problem I find with death pits is when they are used inconsistently or poorly signaled. Sunder (hey it's that wad again) is a good example of very consistent death pits. It's all death pits :D You learn very quickly that if you fall, you're dead pretty much every single time and will treat openings in the geometry with the appropriate level of respect. But a map set that has a death pit that looks the same as the previous 20 pain sector pits that you could escape? A map that has all death pits except for a couple of secrets that you can only find by trial and error dying in said pits? Poor management of player expectations and will lead to frustration.
You can have a mix in set ups such as the map boundary is a death zone and elements within the play space are not, or signal death areas with a certain colour texture. Sky box floors are a good indication of a death zone, and will be an easily learnable trope for your players (Bastion does this).

Yes some map sets will subvert expectations and mess with the player around what kills them and what doesn't, and some can even do this well, but if you do go down this path then be prepared to alienate players and appeal to a niche audience. This is not in and of itself a bad thing, just be prepared for the inevitable feedback.

 

Thank you for coming to my TED talk

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8 minutes ago, Bridgeburner56 said:

 

The biggest problem I find with death pits is when they are used inconsistently or poorly signaled. Sunder (hey it's that wad again) is a good example of very consistent death pits. It's all death pits :D You learn very quickly that if you fall, you're dead pretty much every single time and will treat openings in the geometry with the appropriate level of respect. But a map set that has a death pit that looks the same as the previous 20 pain sector pits that you could escape? A map that has all death pits except for a couple of secrets that you can only find by trial and error dying in said pits? Poor management of player expectations and will lead to frustration.
You can have a mix in set ups such as the map boundary is a death zone and elements within the play space are not, or signal death areas with a certain colour texture. Sky box floors are a good indication of a death zone, and will be an easily learnable trope for your players (Bastion does this).

Yes some map sets will subvert expectations and mess with the player around what kills them and what doesn't, and some can even do this well, but if you do go down this path then be prepared to alienate players and appeal to a niche audience. This is not in and of itself a bad thing, just be prepared for the inevitable feedback.

 

Thank you for coming to my TED talk


This is what I’m trying to figure out in my current map project...I have a couple of pits that are supposed to be “bottomless” death pits where the player will die instantly on falling in, but the trick is differentiating them from the other, not bottomless pits that will merely inconvenience the player but allow some means of escape.  Because it’s definitely annoying to be playing a map for the first time, get near the end and then get killed by a blind drop that you thought was just another annoying nukage pit.

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Make lava instant death amd make nukage just damaging. Force the player to run through nukage in the first map.

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Just played your test map, the main problem im seeing is there is only 1 threat at a time. 1 shotgun guy, then a few former humans, then an imp. what would make the start of this map more difficult, and more importantly more interesting would be to start the player in a room with the shotgun guy, former humans, and imp all in the same room (probably with their back turned to the player). This way the player could choose to prioritize the shotgun guy first to get rid of the biggest threat and get a better weapon. If you want an easy way to make a map more difficult, you can also go plutonia style and replace your enemies with chaingunners, revenants, and archviles. I would focus on making interesting fights over just difficult ones. having a fun map is more important than a difficult one.

 Specific to your test map, the demons can't climb the steps.

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On 12/15/2020 at 5:30 PM, VGA said:

Or you can have a big elevator that the player takes and enemies spawn in there, no retreating! The player has to survive until the elevator reaches the top/bottom. Oh but look, there are more enemies there, I hope you cleared the elevator of enemies already or you're fully surrounded!

Remember to put at least two spawn points inside the elevator, or else...

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