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MattFright

Do you prefer huge non-linear maps or smaller ones?

So? Bigger map or multiple smaller ones?  

92 members have voted

  1. 1. So? Bigger map or multiple smaller ones?

    • A single huge map
    • Multiple smaller maps


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Posted (edited)

I've been working on a huge UMDF map with a focus on branching paths and non-linearity for months now, and as much as i'll probably not change directions, it has made me wonder whether it'd be worth it for people to play a huge map with tons and tons of replayability, or if they'd rather just play something less experimental divided onto more maps at the cost of that larger replayability and gameplay variety.

 

I'm not even talking about any map specifically, just asking this: If you were to be presented the perfect non-linear map, would you rather it be a huge map or multiple smaller ones?

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I think the original reason I got so hooked into Scythe was that the beginning had some of the shortest levels possible, and my monkey brain feels that the intermission screen is satisfying. So short maps equals more intermission screen.

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Posted (edited)

I don't have a single answer to this because it really depends on the mood I'm in, but usually my favorite maps are the sprawling, epic ones, and always have been.  I love the feeling of plumbing the depths of an enormous map, watching the environment change as you move through the map, exploring all the hidden bits and such, feeling the slow burn and slow build up to the end and then the catharsis in finally finishing the map after so long.  It's a special feeling that a series of smaller maps don't deliver.  I can see why they'd suck on a saveless playthrough but I'm no longer big on enforcing that on myself.  There's a ton of great small maps out there but the ones that stay with me the longest personally are the massive ones.

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I tend to always prefer non-linear maps, but it becomes a definite problem when they are large, so its very challenging to do a large non-linear map. One of the biggest problems with large non-linear maps is that the players forget where the key doors are. For the most part you really have to lead the player along with enemy spawns or loop points. Basically lead the player along in a linear way, and active arachnotrons are great for that. Or, like in Doom 64, use colored lighting cues to lead players along. I have seen Quake mappers put arrows everywhere before (since Quake doesnt have automap), but that kind of takes away from immersion in some map styles.

So since large non-linear maps present such a big challenge. It's often a better route to do a set of smaller non-linear maps; with very experienced mappers included.

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, MattFright said:

it has made me wonder whether it'd be worth it for people to play a huge map with tons and tons of replayability, or if they'd rather just play something less experimental divided onto more maps at the cost of that larger replayability and gameplay variety.

This is an odd predicament for me - the reason I tend to prefer smaller maps is because there tends to be more gameplay (and visual) variety when you have multiple maps as opposed to just one huge sprawler. If I get to hear a new MIDI every 10 minutes and be placed in multiple different maps all which want me to approach them differently, I'm in Doom heaven.

 

Not to mention, like ZeMystic, monkey brain get rush out of seeing that intermission screen and it makes me feel like I'm definitively making progress on the journey.

 

Ultimately, I like any Doom map that isn't a stinker. HellRun from 1996 and Remnant from 2019 are two prime examples of sprawler maps from disparate eras and schools of design that kept me thoroughly engaged the whole way through, so clearly it's not a big turnoff or anything. I just like it when I get that "new midi + new visual theme + intermission screen" dopamine release every so often. Bonus points for a new sky texture!

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8 minutes ago, rd. said:

Also not that you implied it, but it is worth just saying that large and non-linear maps are not more impressive by mere virtue of being large and non-linear. I don't think anyone experienced falls for that, even if they suspiciously seem to like a lot of large and non-linear maps. ;) 

 

Yeah this is a caveat I forgot to mention, it's easy for a vast sprawling map to be really soul-crushingly dull if it's not done right.  Like I love RRWARD02 but even I acknowledge that it gets really wandery in its middle third.

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i absolutely love smaller maps

they are quick compact usually have a fun gimmick and because of their size its easier to create cool set pieces on it

i just dont get the appeal of big maps like anagnorisys its cool and all and it has loads of gameplay but the music the main gimmick and the texture work gets way too boring to me even though i know it is a good map

anagnorisys almost made me give up on eviternity and them dehydration almost made me give up too

though i will say large maps are the best maps for coop and other mp modes

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13 minutes ago, rd. said:

A hub setup ....

As I was reading the various posts I kept thinking: Hub-based maps fulfill both objectives - smaller maps connected in a large whole, where the player can return to maps previously visited. Then @rd. took the words out of my mouth/thoughts out of my head.

 

As a matter of fact (not to derail the thread or anything), I'm currently working on a 5-map hub that loops around on itself. So, not only can the player return to maps visited earlier, s/he ends up progressing to one of the earlier maps for the game's conclusion. The 5 maps are intended to be part of a single "place". My hope is that this gives the impression of one massive area comprised of bite-sized chunks.

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As long as they aren't confusing, I can play long maps, though I certanly prefer the smaller ones

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7 minutes ago, ReX said:

Hub-based maps fulfill both objectives - smaller maps connected in a large whole, where the player can return to maps previously visited.

Sadly it's impossible to see all these connected maps on automap simultaneously, so i'd prefer them as one big map.

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3 minutes ago, ax34 said:

..... impossible to see all these connected maps on automap simultaneously

Yes, this is a downside of such a setup.

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40 minutes ago, Doomkid said:

This is an odd predicament for me - the reason I tend to prefer smaller maps is because there tends to be more gameplay (and visual) variety when you have multiple maps as opposed to just one huge sprawler.

 

39 minutes ago, rd. said:

Re this bit of your post: "it has made me wonder whether it'd be worth it for people to play a huge map with tons and tons of replayability, or if they'd rather just play something less experimental divided onto more maps at the cost of that larger replayability and gameplay variety." 

 

A lot of assumptions packed into this that might not hold in reality. A huge map is not necessarily very replayable, a mapset is not necessarily less experimental (even purely in form or structure), and smaller maps are not necessarily worse at replayability and gameplay variety. (Some of my most replayed things are relatively small maps.) (I am assuming by gameplay variety you mean "variety of possible experiences in the same thing" rather than "styles/types of different gameplay, ideas and concepts, etc." -- because mapsets are arguably more naturally suited to that latter thing, for aforementioned reasons.)

 

Reason i believe larger maps can have higher replay value is the amount of possible variables you can put in that affect the whole experience, whereas with a mapset has to both account for pistol starts and continuous play, so you can't really curate an experience for all where your earlier decisions affect the rest of your playthrough (preferably in a fun way, of course). In a larger map you could have a huge arena that's completely optional very early on in a map that grants you a rocket launcher or a super shotgun, but it's not necessary. You may want to take a big challenge in early in a map, or later on, or simply handicap yourself if you find it more fun to do it that way and ignore that path altogether. Alternatively, a map could have a lot of interconnectivity, so your resources (ammo, health, power-ups, etc) are mostly always available, but get exhausted throughout your journey through the map, giving some variety through long term effects from your mistakes, exploration priority and resource management.

 

I'm not saying that small maps can't have a lot of variety and experimentation (it'd be insane for me to assume that's the case), it's more that a larger map for being connected purposefully would add a lot more to it than the example @rd. gave. Sure, you could connect Entryway to the Underhalls... but what would that really add? Would a teleporter in the Underhalls take you to the Entryway? Would a secret be triggered in the Underhalls that can't be triggered earlier in Entryway? Would it even be fun to run through?

tl;dr: I don't think you can really compare the intentional and connected decisions of a map made *for* that kind of longer gameplay to a bunch of maps duct taped together. If you could, people would never make larger maps or they would just be like smaller maps but not as easy to pick up and play.

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I like small linear maps, or multiple maps of varying sizes. I know DOOM is the last game I should be playing for this, but I like story and worldbuilding. Doom had you going through the moon base, then the other moon base in hell, then hell, then hell but harder. Doom 2 had you travel through the earth and hell to get a starport working for humanity to escape. 2016 and Eternal had beautiful sights and huge maps in terms of visuals but tiny(in comparison to the areas you can see but not go in) in terms of actual playable area. 

 

One single map is like... hey you're here. You can fight, then you can go. There's not really much of a story, which is good if you're in it just for the gameplay but I'm not.

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Pompeji said:

One single map is like... hey you're here. You can fight, then you can go. There's not really much of a story, which is good if you're in it just for the gameplay but I'm not.

 

I'm not sure this has to be true.  Most of my favorite large maps are ones where the map kind of evolves and builds and opens up from start to finish, bringing the player from a modest start to some spectacular setpiece.  Some of the Equinox maps, for example, are like this, as are some of TNT's more divisive maps like MAP20 and MAP21.  It does kind of call for a semi-linear progression that moves the player between discrete areas but for a certain gameplay style that can be really fun, and definitely can have a sort of narrative weight when done right.

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Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, MattFright said:

Reason i believe larger maps can have higher replay value is the amount of possible variables you can put in that affect the whole experience, whereas with a mapset has to both account for pistol starts and continuous play, so you can't really curate an experience for all where your earlier decisions affect the rest of your playthrough (preferably in a fun way, of course). In a larger map you could have a huge arena that's completely optional very early on in a map that grants you a rocket launcher or a super shotgun, but it's not necessary. You may want to take a big challenge in early in a map, or later on, or simply handicap yourself if you find it more fun to do it that way and ignore that path altogether. Alternatively, a map could have a lot of interconnectivity, so your resources (ammo, health, power-ups, etc) are mostly always available, but get exhausted throughout your journey through the map, giving some variety through long term effects from your mistakes, exploration priority and resource management.


Right all of those things are common "big non-linear map" tropes that help add replay value, but I was just responding to what you said in the text I quoted. And it's sort of a misconception (which the text I quoted seemed to be in line with) that "big and nonlinear" things are innately more replayable, and that short linear maps are low on replay value, when it can be a lot more complicated than that for a lot of the audience. 

 

32 minutes ago, MattFright said:

I'm not saying that small maps can't have a lot of variety and experimentation (it'd be insane for me to assume that's the case), it's more that a larger map for being connected purposefully would add a lot more to it than the example @rd. gave. Sure, you could connect Entryway to the Underhalls... but what would that really add? Would a teleporter in the Underhalls take you to the Entryway? Would a secret be triggered in the Underhalls that can't be triggered earlier in Entryway? Would it even be fun to run through?

 tl;dr: I don't think you can really compare the intentional and connected decisions of a map made *for* that kind of longer gameplay to a bunch of maps duct taped together. If you could, people would never make larger maps or they would just be like smaller maps but not as easy to pick up and play.


I know that and I was not using a stitched-together Doom 2 as a representative example of "big long map." For a representative example of a big long map, I used Miasma.

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1 minute ago, rd. said:


Right all of those things are common "big non-linear map" tropes that help add replay value, but I was just responding to what you said in the text I quoted. And it's sort of a misconception (which the text I quoted seemed to be in line with) that "big and nonlinear" things are innately more replayable, and that short linear maps are low on replay value, when it can be a lot more complicated than that for a lot of the audience. 


I know that and I was not using a stitched-together Doom 2 as a representative example of "big long map." For a representative example of a big long map, I used Miasma.

 

Ah okay, my brain got a bit entangled admittedly and got a few things confused, my bad.

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I prefer to play and make smaller maps these days for various reasons and it doesn't matter if they're linear or not. A good linear map is one that you don't notice how linear it is. I read some interesting level design stuff years ago somewhere about linear layouts but I have no idea where that was...

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20 minutes ago, Doom_Dude said:

I prefer to play and make smaller maps these days for various reasons and it doesn't matter if they're linear or not. A good linear map is one that you don't notice how linear it is. I read some interesting level design stuff years ago somewhere about linear layouts but I have no idea where that was...

now this is really interesting.

is there an example of this kind of design?

I think i feel it while playing Fragport and Doom 2: Reloaded, but probably i may be wrong.

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Both have merit. There is less possibility for flow problems with a more linear approach, but a well done non-linear map with architecture distinct enough that the player is not forced to check the automap all the time because they cannot remember which brown room with nukage in a channel by the side is the one that has the key door they want can be a very satisfying and engaging experience.

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4 minutes ago, P41R47 said:

now this is really interesting.

is there an example of this kind of design?

I think i feel it while playing Fragport and Doom 2: Reloaded, but probably i may be wrong.

 

I wish I had some examples of actual maps. I really do need to play more. Some elements I can think of..

 

  • Choice of paths that lead to the same place / objective.
  • Areas that allow some exploring that eventually leads onward...
  • Areas that aren't more of the same.
  • Adjacent areas that make the level seem bigger / more open than it is.
  • Placement of scenery / objects that lead the player on. Oh look at that up ahead! I want to get closer to that....

 

I'm no expert and probably should experiment more with the concept. Hopefully somebody can think of some good examples of interesting linear maps.

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Posted (edited)

So I guess that makes me the minority as I prefer 1-2 hour maps that are non -linear. I enjoy exploration, scrounging for health and ammo, and a puzzle element to progression and also a 'back to the wall' survival element. Most small maps feel too simple and boring to me. I like sprawling, detailed architecture that gives a sense of immersion. 

But I'll still play a small map, sure ;)

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I really enjoy bite-sized maps, the pacing and resulting satisfaction from finishing a map works well for me. For general maps it's not that I prefer linear maps it's that I 100%, fully and totally, hate the feeling of being lost and not knowing how to progress. That is the worst fucking feeling when it comes to Doom.

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15 minutes ago, xvertigox said:

..... the feeling of being lost and not knowing how to progress. That is the worst fucking feeling when it comes to Doom.

Then IDCLIP (or IDSPISPOPD, depending on your variety of poison) is for you ..... [:wink:]

 

But staying on topic, "huge non-linear maps" can actually be fun if they are designed properly. [Conversely, they can evoke intense dislike if haphazardly designed. As an example, switch-hunting would be anathema to most people that are averse to feeling lost in a map.] @Murdoch pointed out another important element to help the player navigate: create a "map with architecture distinct enough that the player is not forced to check the automap ...."

 

For some players, the downside of large, non-linear maps is that once the ravening hordes have been thinned the action tends to peter out as the player progresses. This, too, can be overcome with strategic and periodic teleporting of enemies to keep the map interesting.

 

For my part, I like large, non-linear maps just as much as I like short, linear ones. So, tl;dr: Yes.

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i usually tend to stick to shorter, more linear maps cuz my sense of direction is absolutely awful. yet, for some reason, i always feel drawn to big non-linear maps. so idk tbh

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It really depends on my Mood and how much Time i have.

It is good that there is both out there

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