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CrystalHawk_Doom

Are Secrets Really Necessary

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2 hours ago, Azuris said:

The Secrets makes the Game way more Fun, puzzling around how to get to a certain Spot is just Fun, they are adding to the replayability and make the Game easier on harder Difficulties.

 

 

Replayability is definitely part of it, agreed.

 

It's also fun just to feel clever lol.

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2 hours ago, ReaperAA said:

Unless we are talking about something like Maximum Doom where many of the levels have mandatory secrets.

 

Bit of a tangent, but are necessary secrets generally frowned upon as bad level design and do they put people off even when the secret would be marked and not found only by wall-humping?  This question is pertinent to me right now as i'm making a level and i have really strong desire to make such one...

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From my perspective it's reasonably forgiveable if they are fairly well signposted and its not abused, but otherwise, I would say it would lessen the appeal of the map as far as audience goes by a lot. 

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49 minutes ago, Doom OG said:

 

Bring him to the Inquisition! :) jk

 

Nah, throw him in Heretic where IDDT doesnt work ;)

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36 minutes ago, hybridial said:

From my perspective it's reasonably forgiveable if they are fairly well signposted and its not abused, but otherwise, I would say it would lessen the appeal of the map as far as audience goes by a lot. 

 

Thank you.  Am gonna think long and hard about it, how i could circumvent my original idea so the necessary part isn't in a large secret area.

Edited by dei_eldren

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I like figuring out how to reach secret areas. Good secrets are tricky to figure out, but not too convoluted or obscure -- there is a difficult balance to strike, because it needs to be puzzling enough to make you feel clever for solving it; but not so arcane that you just give up and go for the exit without bothering to reach the secret or just look it up with a cheat/editor/wiki walkthrough instead of using your brains. And the cutoff point is not the same for everyone, obviously!

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A map should contain some secrets but also should be beatable without finding any of the secrets.

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And I personally never enjoyed secret hunting. There are things in these games I'm honestly glad modern games killed off, but I don't have a problem if others enjoyed these.

 

Secrets and secret hunting is something I have always found off-putting. They did play an integral part of the experience in these games, and had a place, but I rarely if ever find myself looking for them, at most I merely stumble upon them, and if I don't, well, not my loss.

 

I also think they needlessly complicate balancing as they make hitting the right spot quite difficult - they have to be meaningful enough to avoid "just existing", but also not to the extent a map is obnoxious unless you go for them. Sadly I've run into a few maps like this in my journey, and they were not enjoyable at all.

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6 hours ago, Doomkid said:

People may call me a heretic for this, but I usually play with IDDT on, and a more graphical automap. Even with IDDT I struggle to find many secrets.. I don’t cheat in Wolf3D since secrets are much easier to find on a single plane consisting only of squares, but as easy as it is to be ultra-obscure with the secrets in Doom mapping, I don’t feel bad about giving myself an actually decent map.

 

It's an interesting point with Wolf3D secrets. Most of them aren't clever at all, but it's not that hard to find them because you always know exactly what to do. The ones visible from outside got stuck in my head for a long time, and were so tantalizing precisely because I knew exactly how to reach them, with only one crucial detail missing - which wall to push. And Wolf3D had no teleporters or remote triggers either, so I knew the entrance had to make some spatial sense.

 

Maybe the key to fun secrets is a clear and limited set of ways to access them. Rise of the Wool Ball has fun secrets, since you just have to look for cracks in walls, and there's no teleports there either. That's a pretty simplistic way to go about it, but you could make more puzzley secrets that still follow consistent rules.

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42 minutes ago, seed said:

I also think they needlessly complicate balancing as they make hitting the right spot quite difficult - they have to be meaningful enough to avoid "just existing", but also not to the extent a map is obnoxious unless you go for them.

Very astutely thought and expressed. I think this is a downside of secrets that isn't considered enough. I have no idea if there is, but if there is any correlation between better players also finding more secrets, the difficulty range within a skill level widens massively on a map with lots of bonus items.

 

For all that, I think there is a large enough population of players to warrant inclusion, despite the harm they do to balance. How do you feel about secrets that open up larger areas? It means some players miss out on content, but on the other hand balance is more manageable whilst still making avid secret hunters feel rewarded.

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1 hour ago, dei_eldren said:

Bit of a tangent, but are necessary secrets generally frowned upon as bad level design and do they put people off even when the secret would be marked and not found only by wall-humping?  This question is pertinent to me right now as i'm making a level and i have really strong desire to make such one...

 

This isn't a universal rule of course, but generally speaking, forcing players to find secrets to progress is not a great idea, especially if there is no hint given to the player about what they have to do. It would result in a frustrating experience for those players are not good at secret hunting.

 

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Yeah, finding secrets in the average Doom map can be cool. I've always felt like secret-hunting is always a gamble with how long it takes though - sometimes it is just best to leave them behind if you aren't finding any.

 

But when Ribbiks maps come into question it is a completely different story.

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10 hours ago, N1ck said:

Never necessary but always appreciated.

 

Edit: Unless it's the Nine Inch Nails secret from E4M1, in that case fuck right off.

Hey Civvie! I didn't know you had a Doomworld account.

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A level without secrets  runs the risk of being too linear( and relies heavily on level design and combat encounters too make the level intresting). Putting secrets in a map encourages the player to deviate from the given path, and encourages curiosity: "What does that do...? How can I get there? I wonder If I....etc.(basic and well known stuff, but worth noting

 

Secrets, In my opinion< should NEVER be made mandatory( an exception being if the player is destined to come across that area, like in scythe and momento mori) to progress or overcome a combat encounter, like in Doom and Heretic

Speaking of Heretics:

8 hours ago, Doomkid said:

People may call me a heretic for this, but I usually play with IDDT on, and a more graphical automap. Even with IDDT I struggle to find many secrets.. I don’t cheat in Wolf3D since secrets are much easier to find on a single plane consisting only of squares, but as easy as it is to be ultra-obscure with the secrets in Doom mapping, I don’t feel bad about giving myself an actually decent map.

*Dusk cultist voiceHERETIC! 

  

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I’ve never dedicated serious time to finding all the secrets in Doom, which is kinda nice in a way because it means after all these years I still have tons of little things that I haven’t seen (or in some cases big things: it wasn’t so long ago I finally figured out how to get to the secret building in MAP19.)  Unfortunately secrets are also probably the parts of my own maps I put the least thought and effort into, and I really would like for them to have good interesting secrets that aren’t simply “lol open the wall that’s green instead of brown”.

 

I also think secrets shouldn’t be mandatory as such, but you can certainly make the level a lot harder without finding any of them, say, by squirreling a large percentage of the map’s health and ammo away in them. Of course it should still be possible without the secrets, but maybe only just barely ;)

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1 hour ago, holaareola said:

How do you feel about secrets that open up larger areas? It means some players miss out on content, but on the other hand balance is more manageable whilst still making avid secret hunters feel rewarded.

 

I actually like this, especially if the said areas are unique one way or another, or fairly difficult to beat.

 

Some wads have already done this, and it worked quite well IMO. Rewarding for those looking for some extra work, but not so much for those who would not fare well if those were mandatory.

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You may say I'm a drea- wait what ?

You may say I need to die, but I like putting secrets easy to find but still obscure to find the first time, that are on the verge of being mandatory for a fight in UV.
Like hiding a berzerk in a fight where you will need health on UV. Well, if you know its there... you can play the fight and take some punishement... or load a lotta saves.
If you're playing on UV and didn't figure the secrets out because you are too busy dying... well if after 15 attemps you didn't trust me enough to put some help somewhere I can't do much for you. Actually I can but I want the fight to stay challenging in some way and still possible to beat without the help of secrets (always). In that case, if the player finds it after the fight : nice ! You don't have 1hp anymore, and you'll do better next time. It adds some replay value, now the guy isn't going to say : never this fight again ever. He might just say : I wonder how I'd manage this encounter knowing that there is a berzerk here... and they may come to play the map for fun later on, now that they know that the fight wasn't so difficult after all. But : very important, the secret must never be mandatory. the fight must be able to be beaten without it, always.

I'm also the guy that put secret tag on an armour that is absolutly not secret but I know that if I don't, people are going to whine about it at some point, so here you go.

You can burn me alive now =)

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9 hours ago, Maximum Matt said:

just some random area you walk into while exploring that gives you a "YOU FOUND A SECRET!!!!!" award

Scythe MAP01, anyone?

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3 hours ago, ReaperAA said:

 

This isn't a universal rule of course, but generally speaking, forcing players to find secrets to progress is not a great idea, especially if there is no hint given to the player about what they have to do. It would result in a frustrating experience for those players are not good at secret hunting.

 

 

Thanks, well noted.  And i think what you say is correct, too, in the end.

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When I play a put quite a low effort into finding secrets unless I am desperate for supplies or there is a blatant tease.

 

When I map I feel like I need to put a minimum of 3 secrets on a level, preferably 6 - 8 and feel bad about myself if there is more than one basic secret door or there arent clever and varied ways to access each one. I also often work out the secret and then cant decide what to put in it and whether the reward is either disappointingly measly for the effort taken to find or ruins the balance of the map by being too overpowered.

 

Funny how differently you can look at things depending on whether you are the player or mapper.

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Back in the day I was tried to be ultimate completionist. If not count glitched onces probably got 100% on every map in Ultimate Doom, Doom II, Plutonia & Evilition, same strategy was for some other games, including Heretic, Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold (100% here is way harder then in Doom), Duke Nukem 3D.

 

Nowadays, while playing PWAD's, do not care much about. Sometimes I can get > 50% in total, 100% - rare, in small and not too complex WAD's. What comes along the way - I collect. Some secrets might be challenging/interesting to think about and find, some may be too annoying / hard to or useless in total to spend time on them.

 

Also. Especially if make a choice to play one more interesting PWAD or spent instead of it time to find 100% secrets in each/current. What would you pick? I'm making a bet on first.

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I like secrets, they reward exploration and helps keeping players focused in the layout of the map. I enjoy secrets that are more than just an item, though. Secrets can have some additional fighting and unexplored areas (or just known areas that were unreachable before). Also, I prefer that they are fairly easy to find, to entice the exploration aspect, while criptic secrets I usually tend to ignore.

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On 1/21/2021 at 9:25 AM, holaareola said:

Very astutely thought and expressed. I think this is a downside of secrets that isn't considered enough. I have no idea if there is, but if there is any correlation between better players also finding more secrets, the difficulty range within a skill level widens massively on a map with lots of bonus items.

  

For all that, I think there is a large enough population of players to warrant inclusion, despite the harm they do to balance. How do you feel about secrets that open up larger areas? It means some players miss out on content, but on the other hand balance is more manageable whilst still making avid secret hunters feel rewarded.

 

There can be a discussion about whether secrets that alter balance significantly are truly "harming" it. But putting that aside, secrets (useful, powerful, well placed, not-superfluous, freebie ones with no strings like difficult fights attached... just to clear out the "gotchas") don't always affect balance much, in the sense of making maps easier. Instead, they might provide another option that isn't necessarily better, but is fun to mix in.  

 

For example, in a run 'n' gun map with ample rockets scattered around, you might never run out if you stick to using the rocket launcher against important threats. A secret cache might give you the option of using rockets on lone imps just to amuse yourself.

 

In a map with ample health, you might find it difficult, even with sloppy play, to exhaust literally every stimpack or medkit that exists. (And if you do, running out of armor might be your bigger issue.) So the practical effect of a cluster of secret medkits might be the choice to avoid a protracted search for health you've left lying around.

 

A secret cyber telefrag might have the subtext "maxes are optional, so you can always run away from this awkward perched cyberdemon instead of tediously killing it, but if you do want a max, or to replay the map, I've got you." 

In one extreme case, I played a map with a plasma rifle and cells available early on. It also had a secret no-strings-attached BFG. Normally that sounds like a death sentence to balance, but it did not feel overpowered because there was a trade-off -- the spaces were well shaped to fire streams of plasma from safe distance at groups of monsters, and the plasma rifle was also well suited to the scattered incidental hitscanners that were common. The BFG, though more powerful, would require you to get closer to dangerous threats, and misplaced tracers might have you soaking up chaingunner damage or being forced to cover your mistake with a wasteful extra shot. 

 

Basically, a mapper who is in tune with their map, and knows what the mainline balance requires of the player, can design for secrets to be useful and appealing but not dominant.

 

In practice, it is the rare map that uses this approach with all of its secrets, because again, it's debatable that simply making things easier is bad. But the existence of this type of secret shows that (free) secrets are far from innately anti-balancing. 

Edited by rd.

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secrets make a map more interesting to play and more rewarding. should not be required though.

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Lack of secrets is why modern singleplayer shooters generally suck.

 

id has made a mistake of showing a discovered secrets percentage count though. Perfectionists hate it and falsely believe that they hate the secrets themselves.

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I've gone back and forth on this question over the years.

 

When I first started mapping in 1996, I gave very little thought to secrets. My Realm of Chaos maps were a good example, since they had few secrets and mostly they were just pushwalls with small closets containing goodies. But then I replayed KDiTD and became a born-again secret lover. The best secrets, IMO, were the teased secrets, items you could see, and that you wanted, but you had to figure out how to get them. From that point on, it can be said that my traditional maps, as opposed to my "hardcore slaughtery" ones, were all basically Variations On A Theme From Toxin Refinery, which I'd say is the single most influential map I've ever played.

 

Over time, I began to see secret-hunting as one of the most fun aspects of playing Doom, and I began to create larger and larger secret areas, and these areas contained larger and larger fights for the secret item. IOW, the secret areas became bonus content. In some of my maps, secret areas contain up to a third of the total area -- and a corresponding third of the monsters. One thing I hoped for is that if a player reached the exit and only had 75% Kills and less than 50% secrets, they'd be encouraged to replay the map to see what they missed. Whether that works or not I can't say. In general, I never expect a player to play any of my maps more than once, even with the "replay bait" of large, unexplored areas. After all, there is a tremendous amount of high-quality maps out there, and most players will want to go on to another map rather than re-explore one they've completed. I do, however, expect that a subset of players will replay a map to try finding those secrets. That's just the nature of the community. We all have different preferences.

 

I do sometimes worry about whether big secret areas with huge fights -- sometimes the best fight in my maps is in a secret area -- is actually a drawback rather than a plus. For example, if a map is already big and takes about 30 minutes to finish, finding all the biggest secret areas with the hardest fights can make the map 45 minutes or longer. Also, in one case, I did a map called Abandoned Port for TNT:Revilution. The trick of the map is that the port is in a big secret area. It has piers, barges, cranes, and valuable items, like a Soulsphere and a Blue Armor. It also has a secret-within-a-secret, aka a super-secret, in the form of a hard-to-find Plasma Gun. The secret port is undoubtedly the architectural and visual highlight of the map. It also has some of the nastiest combat. And . . . it's tricky to find. I watched playthroughs of the map and the players who found that area generally liked it, whereas those who didn't find it often thought the map was meh. Because of that, I thought, "Maybe it was a mistake to make that port a secret." ;D Live and learn, right?

 

That said, I think the die is cast for me. Traditional maps will continue to feature extensive secret areas that function as bonus content for exploration-oriented players. Hardcore slaughtery maps will have fewer and smaller secrets because their focus is on fast action rather than exploration. I'll just try to make certain that the coolest part of a map is right in the open, rather than at the end of a chained secret. ;D

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A very good map will have between 4-9 secrets, with at least one of them being difficult but highly rewarding (think BFG9000 usually, but this can be other things like secret telefrag or perhaps another weapon that'll completely turn the tide on a map that isn't made to use it). As for most of the other secrets in most maps, it really helps to spread out secrets between ammo and health/powerups though. Think back to Wolfenstein and how it had a neat combination of secrets that had both ammo/health and those that offered only health and only ammo (E2M9 for instance) or just treasure. Doom secrets often have the same kind of employ, with one giving you soul sphere/berserk pack/other health pickups while another will give good weapons/the backpack/ammo caches. Also balance where they are in a map, shouldn't have to say much more there.

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