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Kinetic

Has the Skill Floor Raised?

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And other related questions such as "has the skill floor increased/decreased at the same rate as the skill ceiling?", "what specific events/factors have caused the skill floor to increase/decrease/stay the same", "do people generally struggle with Hell Revealed on UV as much as people did back at its release (or a decade ago)" and "did decino raise the skill floor singlehandedly?"

 

That last question is a joke.

 

By skill floor, I mean the general skill floor of the classic doom community at large, not a specific subsect of it such as the speedrunning community here (which has definitely raised its skill floor and ceiling). I'm sure the skill floor has raised since the game's release, so I guess the other example questions I listed are more interesting to discuss. This thread is mostly to discuss everything related to the general skill floor, including but not limited to skill required for notable releases over time, normalization of certain techniques (sr40, sr50, BFG tactics, etc..), and how the skill floor has influenced mapping (or how mapping has influenced the skill floor).

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I think the skill floor has raised considerably in general, not just the DOOM community, since 1993. If not due to the popularity of the FPS genre in general (which definitely helps) but because arrow keys and no strafing is most-definitely not the default for most players, and a mouse/keyboard setup for high performance is very common.

I'm going to argue that new DOOMers are definitely playing at a high level from the start than those in 1993 did.

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I remember when HR and AV were still the staples for people to get past, nowadays they feel like every other modern wad combatwise, just with less 'choreographed dance sequence with explosions' setpieces.

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Relative to 1993, definitely.

Relative to even the late 1990s let alone the 00s, I don't think so.  Any individual player will of course have to get gud at some point, just like there's a first time for everyone learning to write a bicycle, and also there will always be difficulty outliers that aren't intended to be played by anyone remotely close to the median player.  But I think that the difficulty curve for, if you will, "mainstream" Doom maps has been mostly flat since at least the time of AV/DV etc.—at least, compared to the transformation that happened over the course of the mid-90s.

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If you look at just mainstream releases, particularly megawads, then I don't think so. Styles have changed and certain kinds of hardness have become more or less popular, but there's no clear trend in either peak or average difficulty increasing that much. Scythe 2 is 2 decades old and the hardest maps in it are tougher than the hardest maps in most modern megawads. Sunlust is nearly a decade old and still has the exact same reputation as it did on release. If I load up any new megawad I feel like I know in advance what the hardest episode's difficulty is going to be like, and I'm not falling behind in expected skill by not playing the game very actively.

 

When it comes to challenge mapping things did go to the moon but that's because there's a critical mass of skilled players and mappers who have a supply and demand economy running for pushing gameplay boundaries right now. If half of them went inactive then I think things would calm down and there wouldn't be many notable new challenge wads for a while.

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I definitely believe the skill floor has raised, mostly due to the fact that skills applicable to doom overlap with skills that people build up from other games. For example, playing competetive shooters on the PC help to train your aim, and while doom is generous with it's autoaim, being confident and accurate with your mouse movements is definitely going to help at all levels of play. Id also say this is true for multitasking in doom, moving whilst shooting, dodging, ect.

Also, while im not basing this off much, Id say that knowledge of how the game works has improved overtime too, readiness of good and reliable information that can also help to make a player better.

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Better monitors, better computer mice, better source ports, more FPS experience, better tools, more videos to learn from hence faster learning curve, tricks and movement explained the way they actually are. Yeah, people are way better at playing, and spending more time than ever before. The skill ceiling has not grown that much, but has a bit, too.

 

Some additional skills that are now present that were not really present in the past, so these increase the ceiling a bit:

1. Performing glides faster

2. Finding setups for tricks that are not feasible to 'eyeball'

3. Reaction times and the overall computer equipment has lowered the response times quite a bit, thus allowing gameplay to be a bit tighter.

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There are still a lot of shitty players out there. There are just more and even easier ways of showing game play (youtube, demos, streaming) and bad players tend not to showcase themselves. Maybe the floor is a little higher but there is also less seeing the bads as they quickly move on to other games.

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I don't know about the skill floor - maybe it's actually gone down -- but the "skill stairs" are certainly better. Someone can climb up off the floor and approach the ceiling thousands of times faster. When I was a kid I didn't have a clue how to do shit in Doom and nobody was sharing info in any obvious way that I could find. (There were chatrooms and forums but I didn't know where they were.)

 

Nowadays, you want to improve at Doom, hell, there are dozens and dozens of great players making videos all the time and chatting about what they're thinking while playing, they record and collect their funny failures so you know that even the ultimate players are still human, you can google "how get good Doom 2" and get pointed to threads here organizing WADs by difficulty, there's a wiki where every single subtlety known to players is documented and explained.

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