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Kwisior

How much do aesthetics matter to you in Doom? [Poll]

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207 members have voted

  1. 1. How much do aesthetics matter to you?



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To the minister of Chile I am overthrowing you for your disrespect towards FIREBLU, you are unfit for this house, BE GONE!

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8 hours ago, Scypek2 said:

Aesthetics and detail are two extremely different things. 20 linedefs and two custom textures, or even default textures used in an unusual way, is enough to make something way more detailed than another super-detailed limit removing techbase.


Yes this is super duper important and something that gets lost in this often reductive discussion

 

I do think aesthetics matter. I enjoy a map that’s balanced well and has creative gameplay but I’m sure as shit going to enjoy the same map a lot better if it’s not an unsightly, flatly lit snoozefest to look at. But that’s just the thing: the divide between a good looking map and an ugly one is not defined by lots of added sectors providing trim and inlay and Doomcute and smooth gradient lighting into everything; at least not necessarily. Some of my favorite maps, not only in terms of gameplay but also visual feel and atmosphere and character, are actually extremely simple in their design, and achieve what they do not with tons of details but with the best possible use of textures, space, height, and lighting within a limited sector count.

 

It’s also kind of weird to say that aesthetics and gameplay are two totally unrelated things that don’t impact each other in any way. It’s a valuable skill to be able to turn a conceptually interesting but emotionally arid combat scenario into a meaningful encounter with weight and mood and a sense of place with only a few texture and lighting changes. Doom always had good aesthetics, after all, simple though they were, and they served to make the combat and level progression an immersive and involving experience.

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I voted fair amount cuz end of the day gameplay should matter more, but only slightly.  To repeat what others said gameplay and detail play a important role together to bring the vibe of a map to life.  

 

Maps I've made usually have aesthetics first but that's because I like making cool looking a stuff and filling it with monsters later, it's always easier for me to Map that way.  Of course edits happen if gameplay suffers when testing etc.  

 

I think it's also easy to over detail stuff.  Sometimes there's so many line defs and different textures in maps that it's hard to look at after a while.  

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A great example of why an aesthetic matters that hasn’t been mentioned is for deathmatch. You can often remember specific areas and levels in general for their aesthetic, and a great deathmatch level incorporates it into how the level flows. Without the aesthetic, the gameplay may work fine, but it won’t be as memorable of a level either. 

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I voted "A lot" and I'll be completely honest why...

 

With the amount of maps that get released for Doom II these days and the amount of time I actually care to commit to playing them, I get very picky-choosy. If a WAD doesn't look "good" to me (as in... it's clear that the author didn't even attempt to use textures competently, build interesting looking spaces, tried to establish some kind of atmosphere and cohesion, put some effort into their lighting, etc. etc.), I'm simply not going to download it. If someone can't be bothered to put effort into this stuff, I have trouble believing they devoted any serious amount of time or effort into building/refining their gameplay, fine-tuning the feel of it, or thoroughly testing it. Of course there's exceptions to this, but I'm not downloading something just to find out whether or not it's the exception.

 

Aesthetics matter a great deal for all the reasons covered in this thread, but, they also happen to be the deciding factor when it comes to downloading something (for most people), unless you're a veteran mapper getting downloads by name recognition, or you're lucky enough to have reviewers like Biodegradable wander through. When you post a map, you post screenshots. It's the thing designed to sell people on your WAD. If you've got nothing nice to show in your screenshots, well... 

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True love resides within everything from a default STARTAN box to a 1000 hour magnum opus.

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Whenever I went to the games section of any electronics or toystore as a kid, what do you think was the first thing I looked at?

If a cover looked cool the first thing I would do (and my only reference at the time to decide if a game was cool enough to buy)

was to look at the pictures on the back. Usually these were around 3 to 4 pictures max.

 

Games varied around 70 up to 100 bucks at the time, so it was a big deal and a big decision to buy a game. I had to be absolutely convinced from those few pics to trust my feelings enough that the game would be worth my time. 

 

I don't really play alot of wads by other people nowadays because I'm very fond of the ones I grew up with and spend my teens in that I have attachments to, next to the fact that too much of the same themes and styles are copied and recycled over and over again it seems. However, occasionally when I do decide to check upon a wad then that same principle from my childhood as described in the first paragraph applies.

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4 hours ago, Lila Feuer said:

To the minister of Chile I am overthrowing you for your disrespect towards FIREBLU, you are unfit for this house, BE GONE!

AGUANTE EL FIREBLU1 VIEJA NO IMPORTA NA'

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For me aesthetics is largely dictated by harmonious texturing, lighting and whether or not the chosen sky texture ties it all together to create a setting and mood. That's pretty easy to do, and flexible, as some maps can work with multiple different skies or even textures. Architecture does come under that, too, but as a way to bridge the gap between aesthetics and gameplay. 

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Even a lack of aesthetics is a kind of aesthetics, and contributes to an aesthetic sensibility, and communicates something about the creator and their intent.  It's subjective, and has to be interpreted by the observer, so the observer contributes to the aesthetic experience they are having in a meaningful way.

 

 It's possible to disengage from the visuals and not really care about them at all, but its also possible to read into the visuals of someone who didn't spend any real effort on them - something is revealed in both examples, although in the former it speaks about the observer and the latter about the creator.

 

I'll parrot Baja Blasts's post above, where the only real wrong answer is to appeal to "objective" aesthetics.  You cant have an experience without a subjective point of view.  You can have broad inter-subjective agreement, and that is good enough a bunch of the time, but that's as close to objective aesthetic analysis as you can get

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13 hours ago, baja blast rd. said:

Aesthetics are part of gameplay. Examples: lighting and design can be used to emphasize progression, to convey more specific intent (example: cybs that have to be telefragged might all intentionally use a specific type of structure). 

 

Gameplay is part of aesthetics. Examples: emphasizing a cheery vibe might be done through silly, amusing combat; monster use might tie into the 'story' of the unfolding experience; and worldbuilding moves like 'imps are a species that dwells in cliffs' aren't unheard of. 

 

Aesthetics are not just 'pretty visuals'. Examples: atmosphere, story/narrative (both overall and "local", like what a specific feature 'is' in the map), emotional impact, craftsmanship.

 

Even with pretty visuals specifically are not just or even primarily 'detail level'. Examples: There is plenty of gorgeous minimalism, and there can be uncompelling hyperdetail (I say uncompelling rather than 'ugly' because stylistic ugliness can be aesthetically good!). 

 

Even with detailing specifically, the quantity of it is like the least important part of it. Even in high-detail maps specifically, good ones are good because they have good details, not just lots of them.

 

The "hurgurrgurr, I don't care about visuals, I only care about gameplay; doesn't matter how detailed it is if it isn't fun" takes that sometimes pop up phrased in that sort of self-righteous tone are annoying, because the authors of them sometimes position themselves as having an objective opinion about whether something is Fun or not. I've found plenty of aesthetic masterpieces super fun! Also those posts tend to commit blunders like conflating 'detailing level' and 'aesthetic value'. Thankfully none of those posts here yet. 

 

With that out of the way, my answer is Yes. 


Glad I'm not the only one to see form and function as being complementary in an Escherian kind of way. Thinking of them as strict binaries with clear boundaries can lead to pretty uninspiring design (not always ofc). Much more interesting for creative purposes is to look at them as being in a symbiotic relationship.

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Aesthetics are my first criteria to decide whether to play a level.
 

If I do not like what I see all the best gameplay in the world does not matter. Of course this is not a clear linear scale. Some 1994 levels may look bland by today's standards but they still present something that's worth looking at, but if I see some blandly textured rooms with nothing visually interesting to focus on I'm out right away.

 

Of course even the most beautiful level in the world needs to provide some interesting gameplay. I have seen maps with absolutely incredible design but when being played they end up confusing mazes without any sense of direction or just dull uninspired gameplay.

 

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I'd say aesthetics are fairly important. It's the reason that Central Processing, Administration Center and Mount Pain are my least favorite levels in Final Doom. But there are other things, like the flow of a level, how easy it is to navigate and how they play. So I can usually forgive a level if it has those three things going for it but poor aesthetics.

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A good map with bad aesethetics is inherently less valuable than one with good aesthetics, because to play a game you have to, well, look at it. It's like a bad album cover- you're less likely to think highly of the art.

 

Would you rather listen to this:

Spoiler

8121875

Or this?

Spoiler

30961de242ade418d0af358d95c0d7ca.png?ex=

 

Presentation matters greatly.

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19 minutes ago, Ludi said:

Would you rather listen to this:

  Reveal hidden contents

8121875

Or this?

  Reveal hidden contents

Idk man that second cover is hilarious. I'll give it a try.

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One thing I learned from my many years of playing Freedoom is as long gameplay is still Doom and there is a functional set graphics and sounds, I don't really care that much about how Doom looks like. So I do care more about function than aesthetics.

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44 minutes ago, Kwisior said:

Idk man that second cover is hilarious. I'll give it a try.

 

That's the good one, duh!

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3 hours ago, Ludi said:

A good map with bad aesethetics is inherently less valuable than one with good aesthetics, because to play a game you have to, well, look at it. It's like a bad album cover- you're less likely to think highly of the art.

 

Presentation matters greatly.

Really depends. There's a ton of old Memphis tapes that have covers that just look painfully goofy now, but the internet-based revival of that kind of music took those covers and either opted to emulate them or make them even more absurd, maximalist, intense, or what have you.

 

Some old Memphis tape covers:

Spoiler

466533966726359647045

 

6672605

 

And then some modern ones:

Spoiler

747750566881805879215

 

4168772

 

Personally, when I see a tape in this style, I'm a lot more likely to give it a try because it's upfront in paying a tribute to its roots, although it may or may not actually deliver on those roots, or might be more of a satire piece in the end. Context matters, I guess. More than one of the screenshots I used to preview I CANT GIVE YOU ANY THING were just hordes of revenants inside of monocolor box rooms (which is something many people would consider a low effort/shitpost/troll screenshot), but they seem to have worked pretty well.

Edited by Maribo : less confusing phrasing

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On 10/4/2023 at 2:41 PM, BeachThunder said:

B...but Thomas Was Alone has great visuals. It might just be a bunch of quadrilaterals doing quadrilateral things, but it still has a really strong sense of style.

 

For Doom WADs specifically, I don't really have a super high threshold; I mainly just don't wanna play Yet Another Generic Startan Base Featuring D_RUNNIN.

 

If a map looks nice and/or has a great soundtrack, then it's an added bonus.

 

Exactly. My avatar and name is based on a similarly "blocky" game, VVVVVV. It has just pixel and limited art, but it looks beautiful, has lots of soul and a clearly defined style. Thomas was alone is similarly great looking, or 140, another blocky platformer, is also a stylish visual feat. Sometimes games with limited art age better, because they never want to overdo their technology.

 

IMHO visuals are very important in Doom, as important as gameplay, but people should respect the game's limitations more. As there are no slopes, and the palette is not made for vibrant city lights (not to mention other things like the lack of true 3D), the best thing to do is to slightly enhance the classic style instead of reinvent it. That's why I don't like mods with new palettes, weird graphics, and over-the-top Unreal like settings, somehow they don't correlate well with the game's mechanics.

 

BTW I don't like panoramic photos as teasers from upcoming maps. Player's view is much more important, and often those "supergreat" panoramic visuals has a much weaker impact from player view. Also the lack of slopes made those photos weird sometimes.

Edited by Captain Viridian

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19 minutes ago, Maribo said:

Really depends. There's a ton of old Memphis tapes that have covers that just look painfully goofy now, but the internet-based revival of that kind of music took those covers and either opted to emulate them or make them even more absurd, maximalist, intense, or what have you.

 

Some old Memphis tape covers:

  Reveal hidden contents

466533966726359647045

 

6672605

 

And then some modern ones:

  Hide contents

747750566881805879215

 

4168772

 

Personally, when I see a tape in this style, I'm a lot more likely to give it a try because it's upfront in paying a tribute to its roots, although it may or may not actually deliver on those roots, or might be more of a satire piece in the end. Context matters, I guess. More than one of the screenshots I used to preview I CANT GIVE YOU ANY THING were just hordes of revenants inside of monocolor box rooms (which is something many people would consider a low effort/shitpost/troll screenshot), but they seem to have worked pretty well.

 

The Lil Ugly Mane love is so based. Don't forget Savage Mode II!

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I prefer maps with better graphics, although gameplay is more important. Even though Freedoom E1M1's gameplay in the current release version is very similar to the current development version, the development version has much better aesthetics in my opinion. Because of this, I enjoy the development version more than the release. Something with good gameplay and bad graphics is better than something with bad gameplay and good graphics.

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Ultimately, I suppose it depends a lot on what the map is trying to achieve.

 

I put "a little" because I do, if nothing else, expect the map to not be a complete eyesore. I can't really describe what makes a map a complete eyesore to me, just that I know it when I see it. TBH, a few Doom 2 levels lean so hard into looking like abstract doom engine nonsense that they kind of breach this threshold to me.

 

Outside of that, I think that good aesthetics can add a lot to a mapset and help create a rich atmosphere or make the world seem more believable. If you're heavily prioritizing immersion or trying to create a really striking visual style, then yeah it's important to make sure your environmental design can cash that check. Just remember that no matter what you're working on, your visuals won't matter if your gameplay is trash.

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Visuals and Gameplay are the only thing a wad can deliver, Gameplay is much much more important than visuals cause it doesn't matter how good something looks if i'm not having fun.

But visuals are important and are pretty much the only reason i would download a wad other than layout, But i'm not much of a map fan, i tend to use the same ones and play through them with different gameplay mods

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25 minutes ago, Guff dotD said:

How about playing a wad with a 1-color palette? (would just be the PLAYPAL lump filled with black) 

Would the 'gameplay be more important' then? (/s)

How about a WAD where you blink when you take damage or pick anything up: blink.zip

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15 minutes ago, Maribo said:

How about a WAD where you blink when you take damage or pick anything up: blink.zip


"You can go to sleep when you DIE."

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