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Mappers: What is your approach to balancing gameplay?

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Now, obviously there is no one "right" answer to this, but what are some methods and techniques you mappers have developed that have helped you streamline your approach to creating and balancing gameplay?

 

Alternatively what are some approaches that seem like they should work well but don't pan out in practice when you've tried them?

 

Do you move from UV to ITYTD or vice versa? Do you place weapons and items first then enemies or vice versa? Do design enemy encounters around the architecture or vice versa?

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One of the things I do to make my maps feel more special is limiting the amount of hallways and square rooms, not only does it increase your creativity, often amount of times it comes out really fun to play

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One of the ways I approach balancing gameplay is by limiting the health, and placing a few enemies, then test it and see how difficult it is for me, then change my strategy for the fight, and then I place a few health pickups, and then test it again to see if it's different in terms of difficulty.

If it's too easy, I change a health pickup to a lighter (less health) variant, or remove a health pickup entirely, then add a turret (hitscan, mancubus, or revenant) to attack the player.

If it's too hard, I add a weak health pickup, and change a few monsters to a weaker monster, and maybe give the player a better weapon.

If it's moderate, I add a few monsters to either; limit your movement, force you to focus on it, force you to retreat/keep a distance (making the hitscan weapons less accurate or useful, and maybe open a trap), or to chip away your health.

After that, I retest the area, and if the changes don't do much, I undo what changes were made, and focus on balancing a different part of the fight.

Usually, I repeat the steps until I'm satisfied with the changes.

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I always build the room first before I add monsters unless my mind comes up with a scene that I think looks good. I usually tend to make it really difficult by adding high tier monsters and then try to widdle it down to a replacement encounter that is almost just as good yet a bit less difficult.

 

I always end up making a really difficult encounter first because they're usually very engaging and fun. Like a small room with revenants or a room with Archviles or having monsters shoot at you through windows. Especially as a way to remove you from standing in a certain spot.

 

I also don't add very much health and other items because I don't like when they look like they're placed so conveniently unless it's a boss room or a very self aware and fun map like Barrels O' Fun. Afterward I'll add more health items based on the difficulty.

 

Symmetry is something I try not to do a lot because It really makes your map look more interesting. I'll have triangular rooms with angled sides and lowered floor and cracks for monsters to shoot you from.

 

Traps are my favorite thing in this game and the open door, lower wall, and all environment moving tags are probably my favorite thing in Doom. I have a habit of putting death at every corner, so you'll walk over a linedef that opens the main door as well as open some monster closets somewhere behind you, you grab the key from that main room and when you backtrack to the blue room there'll be some guests waiting. Oh, and if you manage to pickup a mega armor on your way to the main door, it'll trigger the doors behind the monster closets to make bigger monster closets.

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I'm a little weird - I tend to almost completely design my geometry / architecture, and then I add in gameplay elements. I often have no idea of the encounters I wish to have, until I ultimately make them - usually as a consequence of my own geometry. I then play through my map over and over, taking different routes if possible, keeping a tally of the amount of ammo I have at the end of the map, and adding/subtracting when necessary. I never think out 'monster placement' ahead of time, while initially designing the map - the monster placement kinda just ends up fitting whatever geometry I've created already, and I'll rarely change existing geometry to accommodate fights - usually the other way around... I've tried to think up fights ahead of time, and then create a map around that, but I always find that this ends up feeling a bit stilted.

 

I find multiplayer mapping allows for a bit more freedom - as you don't have to take the time to consider how your monsters will interact w/ your level... If I'm mapping for multiplayer, I always know ahead of time where I want weapons to be placed, I often 'plan ahead' a little bit more when mapping for deathmatch, than normal singleplayer.

 

I'm still fairly new to the mapping game - there's always more to learn, maybe as I progress more as mapper I'll plan things out better - but until then, I like to fly by the seat of my pants.

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Playtest the shit out of your level with some friends who have no idea of Doom for maximum Idiot proof, for easy and medium.

Then just play on hard with monster placement that challenges yourself.

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With my limited experience I try to make UV so that it's a challenge for me when I don't get all the secrets (but only the most obvious one which border on not being a secret at all). In that way I try to minimize the advantage I obviously have knowing all the nooks and crannies in my map. If it's a small challenge for me, it'll be somewhat bigger challenge for someone as skilled as me. I put in a little more ammo and health that I would need to complete the level.

 

As for the lower difficulties, I just reduce the size of hordes, replace some of the chaingunners with shotgunners etc. I also might put in a couple of more stimpaks or replace some of the stimpaks with medikits. Although I must admit that I concentrate on making UV the intended experience. Ideally one would rethink the encounters with more care, and possible relocate keys to easier spots.

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I'm a weirdass when balacing difficulties, what I usually do for easy/medium is to play with keyboard only, because Im not used with those controls and suck, so if I find it too hard, i'll do a couple of changes in order for the map to be beatable. And for UV I just challenge myself.

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