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inventor200

IDEA: Textures and Standards for Better Map Navigation

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Posted (edited)

Hi!

 

INTRODUCTION

So, this is an idea I've been kicking around with a friend lately. I'm in kind of a really low point in my life right now, so it's really hard to push through enough things and have enough energy left over for Doom modding. I've actually done a LOT of modding for GZDoom for maybe a decade in total, but have struggled to complete a project, mostly because making art assets specifically is really difficult for me to do well.

 

I feel like this idea has a lot of potential, but I don't want it to vanish just because I'm struggling so much to conquer my inner demons and get through trying times. Someone else needs to hear this. There seems to be a LOT of skilled artists and mappers, so maybe--if this interests enough people--a free-to-use resource wad could be started from this.

 

This idea started when I watched this video. A quick summary of it is an analysis of what the Doom textures symbolize and communicate to the player, such as what counts as a door, what counts as a lift, when you should press "use" on something or not, when you need a keycard, etc.

 

The next message in the video was that the textures used in Doom are rather inconsistent in what they communicate. A door that once was used exclusively to mark the start of a level, for example, is eventually used later as a normal door. Hell-themed lifts that use that vertical-lined METAL texture are sometimes just decoration, but if they're 64 units or 128 units wide, then they're a lift, and you can press "use" on it. Also, he pointed out a problem with how barred barriers are used: sometime you need a switch to lower them, sometimes you press "use", and it's basically a coin flip to figure it out. More importantly: if you try to press "use" on bars, and miss the linedef that handles this, then it fails, and the player will likely conclude that a switch is required, and go hunting fruitlessly for it.

 

A lot of these inconsistencies result in confusion and frustration in the player, but more importantly it constrains the map maker quite a lot. Complex and interesting puzzles and level layouts get completely trashed because the player cannot possibly have enough confidence in the map maker, when they're working with inconsistent mechanics. Maps, therefore, have to be smaller, more condensed, and simpler, all to account for failures in communication between a map-maker's hints and a player's discovery and planning abilities.

 

There's an argument to be made that if a map gets too large, then the extra content can be offloaded to a following map. I agree for the most part, but have you ever played a Doom map before that has a LOT of obstacles, each one supporting and calling back to other obstacles that you've conquered before, and the map ends in a massive victory lap into the exit, which shows off the 24+ small switch-and-key puzzles that you've chained together to get there? This is a lot more satisfying and rewarding than forcefully slamming the door behind the player as they go into the next map, where all their previous accomplishments are said to be wrapped up and concluded, and the player now has a clean slate (with exception of collected health, armor, weapons, ammo, etc).

 

Additionally, have you ever wanted to implement side-objectives and bonus rooms, which challenge the player to go off the beaten path for a worthwhile reward? Do you think you could successfully put this in a map without a player thinking it's actually part of the main level progression? Have you ever run around in circles on a map, endlessly looking for the next switch or door for progression, and 30% of your search is spent scouring what are supposed to be bonus side-areas, because maybe that's actually part of the main level path? How would you know the difference?

 

Doom could use a few more textures and flats to better-communicate these hints, as well a few small tweaks to mapping standards to improve consistency of mechanics.

 

IMPLEMENTATION

So, here's my idea: Instead of creating a bunch of new door/switch textures, we can instead design a set of border textures and signs to place beside doors, switches, bars, etc to communicate to the player more clearly what role different parts in a level serve. These new hints will allow players to flex their problem solving skills, and plan their moves in much larger and complicated environments. If anyone wants to try their hand at creating the necessary textures, or organizing a community effort, then here are my ideas:

 

Distant Switches

Normally, switches should always be kept close to the element that they effect; usually in the same room or visible through a window. This limitation is considered wisdom because keycards are normally intended to unite two distant elements together. Additionally, "switch hunts" are extremely tedious within the current paradigm, and there isn't usually much in the game to allow the player to outline the map and its objectives with distant switches in mind. However, there are only three keys in the base game, and all three are considered required for progression. This leaves us with no convenient way to clue the player into unlocking distant bonus rooms that they can discover earlier in the level. So, my first idea is to create a set of color-coded switches to act as an extension of keycards:

  • Green switches, indicated by an diamond-shaped green icon on either side of the switch, and its corresponding door(s).
  • Orange switches, indicated by an upside-down orange triangle icon on either side of the switch, and its corresponding door(s).
  • Remote bonus switches, indicated by an alternating-yellow-black keycard border (a keycard border being the colored dashes we usually see on either side of a keyed door)

 

Green and orange switches have simple shaped icons for the benefit of the colorblind players in our community, as distinguishing green and orange from red and yellow can sometimes pose a difficulty.

 

The idea of remote bonus switches is to present a locked door with yellow-black dashes on either side for the player to see, and think "Oh! There's fun extra stuff back here! I need to remember this for later when I find the switch that opens this!"

These will always be optional only, and should never contain primary level progression. This is so we, as map makers, can boost the difficulty of these areas, and allow the player the confident choice to skip these rooms when they are low on health and ammo, unless they really feel like testing their skill to potentially get the health and ammo back. The player could better-utilize their abilities in risk assessment, and strive for harder challenges if they think they can afford to.

 

It's also worth pointing out that we see distant switches in TNT and Plutonia quite a bit, but these usually require you have a keycard first. Green, orange, and bonus distant switches are not intended to make these older distant switches obsolete, but instead present more options for both the map maker and player. Final-Doom-style distant switches require a 3-step puzzle (locating the door, the key, and the switch), and they're always required. Green/orange switches will not require a key, making them a 2-step puzzle (locating the door, then the switch). Additionally, a really important (and underutilized) niche can now be filled in with bonus switches.

 

New Door Icons

Similarly to the distant switch signs, doors will also have some new icons posted on either side. Doors entirely devoid of icons are considered "standard", and open with the "use" button.

  • Dark gray or black keycard borders will indicate that the door opens with a nearby switch or trigger of some kind. The player should not have to travel far to locate it, or the switch should be visible through a window when standing beside the door. This is a tentative idea, as this is easily-deducible by attempting to open a standard door, and concluding that it is switch-operated when the "use" button fails.
  • Icon signs and key borders for the distant switches from the above section (obviously, but repeated here for organization).
  • An "offline" icon, marking the door as decorative. A lot of map maker will never need to use this, if their designs are leaning more towards traditional game environments. However, for those who like to model realistic spaces to crush demons in, this icon can fill out a space for worldbuilding and make it feel more lived-in, but the player won't bother trying to open these doors, and they will also understand that a switch found later will never open them. There's nothing stopping these doors from being an outlet for a secret, which is discovered and entered elsewhere, though...
  • Entrance sign, which will be the opposite of the established exit sign. My tentative idea is a an underscore symbol with a downward arrow pointing into it. There's probably something better, though. This sign will allow map makers to use any door texture, teleport pad flat, or any room design at all, and still announce to the player that they have found their way back to the start of the level, allowing the player to then reorient themselves and begin planning their next move from a root location. This used to be a silver door in the first Doom game, but that started getting used as a normal door later on.
  • Bonus area indicator (if the dark gray keycard border is not used for marking a switch door, then it could work well for this, too). This will signify to the player that they have found a bonus area, away from the main progression of the map, and that they need only press "use" to open it (if the indicator is around a door). This is to differentiate it from the distant bonus switch, and also allow an open doorway to bear this indicator as well. Basically, this bonus area is immediately accessible, and does not require a distant switch to open. (Much like the first bullet point, it's also possible that the player can simply try every bonus area door they see, and if it doesn't open, then the player can conclude that a distant bonus switch must be found)
  • A tripwire icon, which signifies that the door will only open when the player crosses some walk trigger. The player will see this icon, and remember to check back now and then to see if it has opened yet, and will also remember that no switch will be what causes it to open. This could also be a way to compel the player to revisit an area often, which a map maker can utilize for quite a few things, such as turning a room into a sort of hub for a level.
  • Emergency hazard exit icon, which causes the player to make a note of where that lift/door is, in case they fall into the nukage/lava below. Seeing this icon will also tell the player that there's no reason to jump into the nukage/lava to test the door/lift for level progression. The map maker and player can both be in agreement that it can be safely skipped, as long as they don't fall in. (Could be a sneaky place for secrets, though...)
  • Multi-stage switch indicators could be a standardized series of lights beside a barrier. As you hit each switch to fully clear the barrier, a tiny sector inside the indicator will lower (or open) to change its visual state to "another switch has been pressed". Seeing this, the player understands that they are now looking for a specific number of switches to get through. One of these indicator lights can also be placed beside each switch as well, signalling to the player that they found one of the stages. Knee-Deep in ZDoom has something like this, but they also utilize ACS to indicate progress to the player, or use camera screens. I primarily map for GZDoom, but we also need something that works in vanilla Doom.

 

New Door Textures

We could also add a few new door textures with a unique appearance, which will signify a few edge cases:

  • Secret door backface: The secret will obviously still be hidden on the outside, but I've had it happen more than once where the secret door closed behind me, and just looked like another secret wall from inside as well, causing me to press every wall to get back into the main level again. It might be nice to have a door texture dedicated to being put on the inner face of a secret door, marking the way out of the secret area. It could look really jank, like the UAC put some simple scaffolding up to hold the secret wall in place. The reason why we would use this instead of another door texture, is that we already remembered that we entered a secret room, so seeing a normal door texture on the way out might not mentally connect to "this was a secret door", and make it harder to find the way out of larger secret areas. This might sound unlikely, but it could definitely happen, and this would also give map makers the option of creating larger secret areas.
  • Telegraphed monster closet: Most monster closets should ideally look like part of the wall, and take a player by surprise. However, what if we want to instill some dread into the player? We could have a unique door texture that is only used for monster closets. A player walks in, sees one of those, and is now imagining all kinds of evil that could be behind this barrier. They now eye every pickup and keycard with paranoia, as something is about to unleash something hostile on them at any moment.

 

New Teleporter Pad Flats

More than once, the chaotic symbology of a teleporter pad has thrown me off. Walking onto a teleporter pad can represent a costly endeavor, as the entire space around you could completely change. You also have no way of knowing if you can come back or not, which presents the same problem as level exits: you need to know if you should save items you found for later, or stock up on them now. Then, you finally are ready, and walk onto the teleporter pad and...nothing happens. This was decorative, or is a landing zone for a future monster. It would have been great to know this ahead of time. I feel like the silver teleporter flat might be better for marking specific use cases, but I have a few category ideas first:

  • Two-way teleporter (we usually use the red flats for these, and should probably continue to do so)
  • One-way teleporter entrance/start (I feel like the silver star flat would be better for this, but there could also be a new dedicated flat)
  • One-way teleporter exit/destination (if we use a new flat for the entrance, then the silver star flat could be used here, otherwise a new flat would be good)
  • Monster destination only: A new flat marking something that a player can't use, but will telegraph a future invasion of monsters through this teleporter later. Like the monster closet texture, this would be a fun way to make the player a little paranoid. This was used extremely well in Knee-Deep in ZDoom E1M4, where it was established that mini-bosses would teleport into the map on specific teleporter pads. It only took me two of these encounters before I caught on, and then every time I remembered the room I was in had one of these pads caused me to be full of cautious dread. That was a really effective and exhilarating experience, and it would be excellent to leverage this more in the future.
  • Dedicated level exit teleporter (much like how we have a dedicated exit door texture). This could be redundant, though, if a map maker is good about placing an exit sign well ahead of the walk exit trigger (allow the player to reach and collect any goodies they might have missed before committing to ending the level).

 

Bars

Bars should never open with the "use" button, and should always require a switch (to prevent confusion when "use" button misses the bar). Therefore, a "switch-required" indicator (which we have established for doors) should be placed on either side to differentiate it from decorative bars. This also causes the player to mark these bars in memory, and look for a way through. Additionally, a map maker could put the opening switch right beside it, creating a door that can be shot through as well. The Vile Flesh wad does this a lot, which has saved me a lot of hassle with bars, which can always serve as a critical and unique feature in any map.

 

Lift Textures

Lifts, for the most part, are fine, but there is a clear problem with how we use textures to indicate their presence to the player. The Vile Flesh wad handles this really well by requiring all lifts (as far as I can remember) to be switch-operated only, in order to completely remove this confusion. However, (especially for Hell-themed maps) map makers could really use a set of extra textures that are uniquely used for the sides of lifts operated with the "use" button, like the techbase's PLAT texture. After all, lift-heavy maps would get a little tedious to make if we all pushed for Vile Flesh's standard, and had switches for every single lift in every map.

 

Gunfire Switch Icon

These are really rare in maps, and maybe that's because players never suspect a switch to be shootable. Map makers and players are missing out on a whole genre of discovery, challenge, and solution processes here, because it's so hard to consistently communicate to the player that a switch is intended to be shot. I believe in one of the Final Doom wads, switches with the stone faces on them are usually reserve for gunfire triggers. However, in most cases we almost never see these used, which then reinforces their rarity because players are never thinking to shoot a switch found across the room; they simply suspect there's a way to travel over to it, but they'll never find it. We should have a strictly-dedicated icon beside a gunfire switch (or a whole new exclusive switch texture) which specifically telegraphs a gunfire trigger. There are a lot of really cool puzzles and challenges that could be designed, if only we could earn a player's trust to identify these when they appear.

 

CONCLUSION

There's an argument to be made about hand-holding, sure, but we also have to admit to ourselves that it happens quite often that we spend 10 minutes at a time scouring a level for progression, because a switch hunt wasn't communicated well. At that point, I feel like we can easily tell the difference between hand-holding and providing the player with tools to plan around and solve the level on their own, all within incredible new environments and challenging layouts, without running the risk of becoming infuriating. Best of all, this would support vanilla Doom map makers, and not just benefit those of us mapping on GZDoom, who can simply write hints on-screen for the player, or add extra keys into the game.

 

I would love to hear what everyone thinks of these ideas. If anyone wants to coordinate, help get textures made, and/or iron out these ideas, then I would greatly appreciate it. I think we as a community could all benefit from this.

 

It might seem like overkill for smaller maps (and maybe even medium-large maps), but I'm excited to see how this game could be pushed for size! I know that a lot of player navigation in Knee-Deep in ZDoom was at a reasonable difficulty only because of the extra keycards, on-screen reminders, and camera-screen switches, but these kinds of maps should be possible for those outside of ZDoom, too.

 

I'm really sorry that I'm not more active here, but being active in social spaces (even online ones) is really hard for me, especially right now. Otherwise, I would be trying to actively organize a group for this. I've enabled notifications for this thread, and will check in as often as I can to respond. I plan to check back at least every day for the next week or so, but I'm sorry that I don't post more often. I do read a lot of what you all write here, though!

 

If anyone does anything with these ideas, I do not want/need credit; I just want to get the ball rolling, if anyone is interested. I would be ecstatic if these enter Doom map-making convention for at least one map or even a whole wad. Ideally, if these get approved/refined by enough community members, we will have a standard to use for really complex maps, creating a whole new level of challenge for a player's planning abilities, and (more importantly) allowing the player an environment to successfully plan for!

 

One more thing: If anyone has submitted an idea similar to this, or has already achieved this, please link me to them; I wanna check that out!

 

Cheers!

 

EDIT: I would like to clarify that I had intended this idea to be more used in a community map wad, or a one-off project. I do not want to ask that this be enforced on all wads, as that would infringe on the artistic freedom of map-makers, and such enforcement would not benefit Doom mapping culture at all. This would just be a resource for anyone who wanted to use it, because they personally felt it would help them for organizing larger maps. Any mention of "universal" was intended to describe a resource open for anyone to use, so that they would not have to reinvent it themselves, and could have something to use as a common reference.

Edited by inventor200 : Possible misunderstanding of intent

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6 hours ago, inventor200 said:

Maps, therefore, have to be smaller, more condensed, and simpler, all to account for failures in communication between a map-maker's hints and a player's discovery and planning abilities.

 

If not following these design conventions is what's keeping the community from making *even more* fuck-off huge maps, then we should strive to do the exact opposite of this as much as possible.

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First of all, sorry to hear you’ve been going through rough times. Clearly you’ve put a lot of energy and thought into this, and honestly it seems pretty well intentioned, so I’ll try to unpack all of this as politely and constructively as I can.

 

Basically... I can’t see this happening, and that’s the long and the short of it. I don’t mean to say that a project couldn’t be organized with the intent of creating a set of textures specifically designed to act as “universal” indicators for various actions (doors, lifts, switches, teleports, etc.), but I think it’s a huge stretch of the imagination to think it would ever become ubiquitous.

 

  • There’s no way to enforce the use of it (not that we’d want to enforce it, but I’ll touch on that later).

Even if this kind of “visual language” texture pack did exist, it would be overlooked or disregarded by a huge number of mappers (from new mappers who don’t know that it exists, to mappers who forget that it exists, to seasoned mappers who reject the idea for any number of personal reasons). And this is before the reality of having to deal with the fact that, in the case that it did exist and did get used often, you are absolutely guaranteed to have people using it “incorrectly”, as far as it’s intended use (whether accidentally, by choice of design, or straight up trolling).

 

Things that the community have created explicitly to help mappers/modders, such as the New to posting maps? Read this first thread that has been pinned in Wads and Mods for several years now, still seem to get overlooked or disregarded to this day – and that post literally exists just to help people present their releases/announcements more effectively. My point is, even if something exists with the best interests of mappers/modders in mind, it takes them a long time to become pervasive (if they even manage to).

 

 

  • There’s no practical way of covering all of your bases.

Even if you (and by “you”, I mean anyone) created a set that matched the visual style of vanilla doom resources, and they were either “neutral” looking enough to work in any kind of environment (techbase, hell, earth, abstract, etc.), or you went the extra mile to create various versions of each one that matched the different environments – as soon as someone began working on a wad exclusively featuring other resources (Gothic, OTEX, UAC Ultra, Ogro, AA, Hexen, outright custom stuff, etc.), if this “visual language” pack didn’t suit that style, you can almost guarantee it wouldn’t be getting used. And, creating a texture pack of universal “action” indicators that covered every conceivable use-case (with regards to various texture packs) would be an outrageously tall order for any texture artist.

 

 

  • Trying to enforce anything on a broad scale when it comes to doom mapping is almost never a good idea. This would be a great idea for, say, a community project or a solo project, if the aim was to establish a rock solid form of visual communication with the player – but, generally speaking it’s a bit antithetical to the spirit of doom mapping, which by most standards is... make whatever you want, and have fun.

 

Contrary to popular belief, not all mappers are interested in treating doom mapping like a technical skill that requires practice, and perfection, with strict adherence to methods aimed at achieving the most effective results. It’s nice having those kinds of mappers around, because they produce some unbelievably gorgeous work (and still seem to have fun doing it), but, it’s equally wonderful having mappers around who just love to open their editors and bang out a quick doom level over the weekend, because it seemed like an enjoyable idea. And, members from both of those camps will invariably have reasons for not adhering to any kind of universal texture pack.

 

This also leads me to something that David mentions near the beginning of that video you linked (an awesome video, by the way).

 

In the real world, the aim of good interface design is to let a user achieve a goal with the minimal hassle possible. However, within Doom things work very differently. You don’t want the interface that the player explores in the game world to objectively be a good one, because having a perfect interface where everything works as planned would take away the difficulty and surprise of the game. In real world interfaces if you put a single button next to a door, you’re probably signaling that pressing that button opens the door. In Doom, equally, the button could open the rest of the room except the door, and cause you to be eaten alive by demons. Setups like these are an example of increasing the difficulty of the ‘intuit’ step to catch the player off-guard, and keep them interested with unexpected results. In the same way, if a player has identified their next goal but is thwarted by a reasonable number of unexpected obstacles (in clever ways) while they’re attempting to act on it, they’ll generally enjoy themselves more. Increasing the difficulty of the ‘intuit’ and ‘act’ steps, is generally what makes a level more exciting and challenging.

 

Not only would a hypothetically ubiquitous “visual language” pack conflict with this observation (and a great observation, in my opinion), but it could also lead to robbing players of the joy of discovering and learning things on their own, in a new wad. In fact, you give a perfect example of this, referencing teleport pad markers:

 

Quote

This was used extremely well in Knee-Deep in ZDoom E1M4, where it was established that mini-bosses would teleport into the map on specific teleporter pads. It only took me two of these encounters before I caught on, and then every time I remembered the room I was in had one of these pads caused me to be full of cautious dread. That was a really effective and exhilarating experience, and it would be excellent to leverage this more in the future.

 

If KDiZD had been using a “universal” pack of action indicator textures, you would have genuinely been robbed of that fantastic experience of discovering those teleport markers, gradually learning how they’re used, and then being full of cautious dread in future encounters as a direct result of having made that connection on your own. I’ve had similarly great experiences learning things in wads, from the shoot switches in Sigil or Valiant, to the barrel blocking mechanic in Bury My Heart Knee-Deep, or the sound blocking “silent” squares in 1KL2’s secret map Ephemeral.

 

And, this is really the crux of the whole thing.

 

When it comes to visual communication with the player, this is, and always will be, squarely the responsibility of the mapper – it will never be dependent on available resources, community expectations or demands, or anything else. If a mapper wishes to have crystal clear, effective communication with their players, the onus is on them to establish that in whatever ways they can. The community is full of absolutely brilliant examples of this being done well, and in cases where it isn’t done well, it’s a matter of player feedback, and the mapper’s willingness to edit the level accordingly (or learn the lesson for future maps, if it’s something they genuinely want to improve on).

 

That said, inconsistent visual communication is not an automatic deal-breaker for any wad, either. Scythe 2 is full of blocking “bars” that are interacted with in all kinds of different ways; some of them are opened with switches, some of them open with nearby walkable lindefs, some of them are opened by directly “using” them, and hell, some of them are literally key doors with no greater indication than a correspondingly colored light on the wall next to them, haha. And, despite this, Scythe 2 is still widely considered one of the best megawads of all time, inconsistent bar interactivity be damned.

 

If I could give you any advice, and I guess what I’d consider the “best case scenario” here, try experimenting with this idea. Like I said, it’s a great idea, but it’s scope should probably be a bit more practical. You could try experimenting with a small solo project, or a community project (though, I’d read this gem of an article first, if that was something you wanted to pursue), and just try implementing this idea in it.

 

Additionally, with the incredible wealth of available textures in this community, you could very easily try creating your own set of universal “action indicators” by editing/splicing certain textures together in fun, interesting ways, even if they’re just “mock-ups”. But, if you pulled resources together from a wide variety of sources (vanilla, Gothic, OTEX, etc.), and spliced them together in creative ways, you may even wind up with a pack that genuinely works in most use-cases, regardless of what resources the mapper is using.

 

And, who knows, maybe some decent “prototypes” could inspire someone to create wholly original versions. And, maybe if this concept is implemented well in one project, and then another, and then another, over time... perhaps it could continue to just grow and expand. Anything is possible, in this community!

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I think RJD covered it pretty well, these may be great ideas to adhere to for a specific project, a set of levels, a TC or a new game entirely.

However, expecting or even suggesting that an entire community of independently-minded level designers and texture artists to agree on following a single interpretation of design language is kind of short-sighted and a bit restrictive.

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Posted (edited)

As a rule of thumb, I never tell anybody explicitly how to make anything anymore out of fear of constraining their capacity to experiment and come up with new things, since that dynamic is how a community evolves. Any talk of "standardization" can only serve to eliminate this evolution, and thus create boring or predictable output that only gets more boring and predictable over time, and starving a player of potential catharsis, or even those small moments where they feel like they've "figured out" an author's plan and subverting it.

 

To echo RJD's sentiment, what you are proposing isn't bad per se, but to seek to apply it at a community-wide scale, even without creating actual, tangible, demonstrative examples via your own work, is misguided at worst and foolhardy at best.

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Posted (edited)

I'm going to echo what's been covered already. Standardization is a double-edged sword, and in a community where people's maps are often elevated by developing their own type of language (SIGIL does this, for example), I'm worried that the whole idea in and of itself is going to cause more problems than it solves in the long run... I can live with getting lost a few times a year when that's what it takes to have access to astounding and unique maps and concepts. The prospect that new mappers would need to learn all these norms (in addition to learning how to make maps) in order to participate in anything sets up a barrier for new talent so much so that I would consider your idea a genuine threat to the long-term health and growth of the community at large. Standards are fine for community projects, where people can decide whether or not to participate, but for an entire community it's most likely a bad idea that also doesn't seem feasible to even realize in the first place (for which I actually happen to be glad)...

 

Despite the fact that you put a lot of time and effort into this: Hard disagree on the standardization of maps and textures on such a scale...

EDIT: After giving it some more thought, I think what you propose is kind of like a solution in search of a problem...

Edited by Nine Inch Heels

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After reading the responses, I feel everyone is right.

 

When I wrote this, I was thinking more of a 10-map-long community pack that would use this, as well as maybe one or two other independent single-map wads. Enforcing this on all wads and map makers would be both impractical and hostile against mapping culture itself. I apologize for poor wording there, and should have realized that error during the second draft.

 

I actually first decided to post this because I am working on a 10-map standalone game in GZDoom, and I wanted to use a system like this to better-support optional bonus rooms and complex secrets. I don't know if this project will ever see the light of day, so that was my motivation to at least post the texture system here.

 

2 hours ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

After giving it some more thought, I think what you propose is kind of like a solution in search of a problem...

 

Yeah, after giving it some more thought, I think you're right, honestly. More on that below:

 

8 hours ago, RonnieJamesDiner said:

Not only would a hypothetically ubiquitous “visual language” pack conflict with this observation (and a great observation, in my opinion), but it could also lead to robbing players of the joy of discovering and learning things on their own, in a new wad.

 

8 hours ago, RonnieJamesDiner said:

If KDiZD had been using a “universal” pack of action indicator textures, you would have genuinely been robbed of that fantastic experience of discovering those teleport markers, gradually learning how they’re used, and then being full of cautious dread in future encounters as a direct result of having made that connection on your own. I’ve had similarly great experiences learning things in wads, from the shoot switches in Sigil or Valiant, to the barrel blocking mechanic in Bury My Heart Knee-Deep, or the sound blocking “silent” squares in 1KL2’s secret map Ephemeral.

 

Thank you for your well-written post and insight.

 

I agree; this sort of effect is definitely something that would work best in a single project and stay in a single project, to avoid getting a sort of spoiler or hand-holding effect.

 

I appreciate everyone who has replied so far; everyone makes a lot of great points. It seems like this is something better-contained within the project I'm currently working on, so if this makes it to a release state, I'll be sure to make a post about it. It'll be quite a while, though, if it ever happens.

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You know what, I really like the ideas here. Better mapper-player communication possibilities sure would be neat. If somebody would actually make a resource pack I'd use it.  I do understand that others are skeptical but it's better to have the option and perhaps not use it, than not having the option at all. The vanilla textures are cool and all but missing some important things. I think we don't need a million near-identical switches, we need switches that imply different actions. Same with doors, same with teleporter pads. I'm 100% with you on that. 

If such a resource pack was created, it would hardly be forcing everyone to use it exclusively. They seems like an outlandish conclusion to me. If some people wants to sign-post certain things, more power to them, if some don't,  they don't have to. Seems really simple. 

One thing that concerns me is explaining what the things mean. It needs to be very obvious and intuitive, and not too much at a time. Sigil used the evil eye sprite to be shot and made very deliberate design choices to teach that concept. Teaching a player this many new concepts, I don't know. It could easily be less helpful and more confusing. So I'd only use some of these. 

 

Also, on the topic of communication, there are many things that could be standardized with regards to linedef specials. For example, opening a secret part of a wall would not use the open door special but floor lower. So you'll never get locked in the secret area, and not know how to get out. Same way, the way doors open can imply different things. You can use lift lower special on door, making it sink into the floor instead of raising in the ceiling. That could mean the door is for bonus area or something. Things like this are texture-independent. And can be used in any theme and would work with vanilla environment as well. 

 

PS: stay strong, fam :)

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