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Sneezy McGlassFace

Defaulting to Ultra Violence is terrible, and here's why

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Posted (edited)

I Am Death Incarnate

 

Some people just have too massive egos to play on a lower setting, other people like the pain (and others are both). If someone has to warp out of a map then yeah, they should try an easier setting. I also feel playing on easier modes grants a much higher chance of replaying the same WAD on the higher difficulties later.

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The idea that UV is the 'correct' difficulty is implied by many DoomTubers, and for me it was established as a norm apparently extant in the community by The Dean of Doom. I always used to play on HMP and always assumed maps were designed around that degree of difficulty, with UV as an extra challenge for weirdos.

 

As I result, I tend to default towards UV myself now, but not always. My time is limited, and I knew that Eviternity 2 would be a huge wad, so I decided to play it on HMP, and that feels more than challenging enough on top of navigating the big maps. (I am still not done with it because I got a new PC about 25 maps in and lost all my saves).

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, Perfect Bear said:

This leads to a worry that by playing a lower skill level, one "misses out" on content. Lowering the enemy count is a simple and perfectly functional way to make Doom easier, sure, but it also feels like some sacrifice is made at the expense of the player's fun.

Ah, right, that's an argument i forgot to include in the OP. Missing out on stuff. 

That's another baseless assumption about how the map is balanced.

Maybe the mapper balanced UV, and then removed some monsters to lower the difficulty. Granted, that's the most obvious way of doing it but many wads have nearly identical monster count across the difficulties. Changing the monster composition and resource availability is a more fun way to alter the overall challenge, while keeping the total numbers the same. 

By that logic, if HNTR has two extra monsters over UV, you are missing out by not playing HNTR

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Posted (edited)

For me, I play regular maps on UV and Slaughter/Challenge stuff on HMP. That's usually pretty comfortable for me. I like hard games though, and if something is of good enough quality it doesn't matter how hard it is I'll want to finish it. That said, I am 100% ok with dropping the difficulty if it's becoming too much for me.

 

 When I'm mapping though, I find I keep upping the difficulty so it's still challenging to me - someone who knows the map inside and out and has built up pretty strong muscle memory for the map. I then take a break, come back to the map later, get my ass thoroughly stomped, and rebalance HMP for sane people. HMP is always the difficulty I think my maps are most fun to play.

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My perspective as someone who plays on UV by default since my mid-teens (even on slaughter maps) and playtests maps has always been that a level has to be designed as UV and then tapered down for lower difficulties rather than starting with HMP and "made harder". Or at least that's the easiest path to take. That's why a lot of maps early in development will only have UV difficulty. The only difficulty that actively makes the game harder than intended is Nightmare, since it's just modifiers to monster behavior and damage. That and it famously being made as a joke after a single outlet said Doom was too easy according to all relevant devs, despite the fact there are some madlads in this community that actually play on it regularly and even made a whole Megawad around it (shoutout to NERF.wad).

 

The only time I'll ever really chose to tone it down is if the dev outright says HMP is the intended difficulty, though admittedly my ego often leads to me doing UV anyways... but in those instances I never hold the difficulty against the dev or levels themselves. It's just a hell I made for myself. And I'm content suffering for the sake of my ego, especially when it's made me a better player overall. But I've never understood griefing people for playing on HMP. 

 

In short, it's basically that joke in Ray Mohawk where UV was changed to "Seeking Validation" while HMP was "Playing For Fun". The design perspective is true, but we'd be lying to ourselves if we didn't just admit it's mostly an ego thing. Also, I feel like a bitch using multiple quicksaves on any other difficulty (even if only to save time). I know it's a mechanic built into Doom, but it still FEELS like I'm cheating.

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It doesnt help that Doom has a uneven number of difficulties - And apparently the community settled for the higher difficulty rather than, say, HMP.

 

Then again i play the way i want to play. I am no pro-Doomer, so i play at HMP and below. This is also surprisingly easy to do: It is directly in the menu!

 

If new kids are turned off by lowering the difficulty because the map author states they prefer it to be played on UV, then that's their choice; It is your choice to play it on any other difficulty setting.

 

I don't believe that's hard to grasp for anyone, unless we have to make the assumption that new Doomers are scared of making their own preferences.

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9 minutes ago, Sneezy McGlassFace said:

That's another baseless assumption about how the map is balanced.

Maybe the mapper balanced UV, and then removed some monsters to lower the difficulty. Granted, that's the most obvious way of doing it but many wads have nearly identical monster count across the difficulties.

I mean, I know I posted after you, but as said the easiest way to map is start on UV and work down rather than start easy and work up. Because a level designed on HMP made deliberately harder is more likely to be broken and require a ton of rebalancing rather than a level made for UV being toned down. Hence most maps really early on will often ONLY have UV mapped out. And if the monster comp or resources are changed, that's just a further sign that it was designed for a higher difficulty. If 3 shotgunners are replaced with a cyberdemon, monster count isn't really the issue I'm concerned with.

 

Again, I don't agree with MANDATING UV or griefing people playing on HMP just like I don't agree with griefing people struggling with any game made to be deliberately difficult, but building around UV first is genuinely just the nature of mapping.

 

That all said, it is again mostly an ego/hubris thing, and I've come to terms with that. Like, I did my first playthrough of Sunlust on UV purely because being told UV was only for "Doom Gods" in the readme made me feel patronized. "Easy mode is now selectable" sort of feel, even if that wasn't the intent. And yeah I was actively miserable at multiple points throughout it, but it was entirely my own fault and I accept that. lol.

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I guess I've always assumed mappers focus on UV and all lower skills were an afterthought. Which makes me avoid lower skills because I think they may not be tested well and probably suffer from flow issues. I don't know if this is accurate or not, but I realize this is my thinking process.

 

I do think it would be cool if the community refocused on HMP being the default, but 30 years of inertia means that would be a difficult, if not impossible, change.

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I hear you Sneezy, I get the feeling the "UV is the only real way to play" is a macho holdover from the 90s when people felt Doom was violent and satanic. It's true many mappers (myself included) balance for UV, so sometimes the encounters fall flat when the balance has been altered BUT that's also sort of the point,  you shouldn't need to "figure out" how to beat an encounter on HMP.

 

Personally, I've played and seen enough so that I don't feel like I'm missing anything on HMP or even HNTR. If I just want to check a WAD out I'm reaching for one of these two. Sometimes I'll find a level that on HNTR has 4 AVs in an encounter instead of 8 (UV) or 2 cybies instead of 3 or 4! On some WADs selecting HNTR isn't going to save you! If I really want to see a WAD and that's the case I'll play w IDDQD on, or even fuck it; no monsters walking sim.

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First I place monsters for all difficulties, then I play it on UV, and after that I place some more monsters that appear on UV and HMP in the remaining spaces, and after that - packing in even more for UV only. Thus I design my maps mostly around itytd. I play them on UV cuz I'm the author and it means it's already easy for me to pass my own maps cuz I'm aware of my thing placements

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Posted (edited)

I have always and am continuing to design for all 3 groups of difficulty levels, as the original games' intent:

I'm too young to die + Hey, not too rough

Hurt me plenty

Ultra-violence

 

I primarily design for HMP because *duh* and for the easier 2 I remove some monsters, and for UV I add more. In either case I sometimes switch which monsters are present so it's not always simply less/more. (That can change gameplay interestingly... you'd think a few alcoves of Cacodemons changed to Lost Souls for easier difficulties might be simply easier; but not so much, just different.)

 

"But that's not all!" ;-)

Lately I've been making more-than-monsters differences.  The easiest example is placing keys in different locations based on the skill setting.  Easy to grab by a door for easy modes, or all the way in the back of an arena for UV... maybe in different rooms.  The last level I recently completed took this idea farther: the red key is in an expected big set piece room on the easy difficulties, but on HMP and UV *there is no red key in the map*.  While you look around that room where an obvious pedestal only has a candle and not the expected red skull key, you'll notice behind the throne chair is a switch (I used a white, small dynamic light to draw the eye when you look back there).  The switch opens a rotating bookcase revealing a secret passage... which takes you to the other side of the locked red skull door.  Ergo, on easy modes you're given the obvious & expected key... on higher difficulties you need to look around a little and get rewarded for doing so (that switch setup is present on all difficulties).

 

Remember any Thing listed as an obstacle can also have difficulty settings so you can block or not block doors/corridors based on difficulty settings as you like.

Oh also I provide less health for UV and plenty for the easy modes.

 

They're difficulty settings, not "monster count" settings after all.

Edited by DiavoJinx

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One way I've tried to deal with this stuff as a mapper is to balance my maps for HMP first, and make it clear that I did so. That's where I come up with all my basic ideas for the fights, and try to make versions of them that are engaging and kinda tough but wouldn't frustrate me very much, so it's not like on HMP you'll just be playing a neutered version of UV (which is where I think the fear of "missing out" comes from). Then for UV I try coming up meaner versions of the original fights, which is a more fun mental exercise than doing the reverse imo. (I'll admit HNTR is still kind of an afterthought for me.)

 

I'm not saying it's a perfect formula for difficulty balancing, but this is probably a good way to treat it if you wanna contribute to UV no longer being treated as the "default" skill.

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You know, it is almost like picking hard mode is going to be the hard mode.

 

It is your fault if you go on UV first and then eat shit immediately, UV is there to kick your ass, it is hard mode, it's got more enemies because it is the challenge run. In the originals (mainly console ports) HMP is selected by default because it is default. Play the default setting first, the only person judging you is your bravado (and if someone else judges you then they're a loser).

 

Stood by it for years, always will do, play bloody normal.

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It seems to have been a thing since 1994. I am replaying old wads and have noticed many wads straight up try to get me to man up and play the real thing on UV. Which is hilarious because most of those maps are a cakewalk compared to Doom2 or even Doom 1.

 

I don't think you'll ever have an alternative to describing difficulties in your description of the maps. Unless you are going out of your way to code in dynamic difficulty to stop players from "ruining" the game for themselves AAA style.

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Just noticed something weird, mostly about myself but probably for others as well.


Quake? Medium.

Half Life? Medium.

Halo? Medium.

Prodeus? Medium.

Marathon? Medium.

Doom? Unless I know the map's going to kick my ass or the mapper states HMP or HNTR is intended for the first run, hard.

 

I think part of this comes about because Doom is in this not too fast, not too slow, just right speed for me. I wouldn't consider myself good at Doom even though I've been playing it for over 12 years at this point, but I recognize the patterns and how monsters move in given spaces to the point a lot of the moment-to-moment decisions are done in autopilot. I'm not saying the gameplay is slow and boring or anything (in fact I prefer this over stuff like Ultrakill or Doom Eternal), but I find myself entering a kind of flow state whenever I play Doom. The monsters are mostly slow, their projectiles aren't exactly fast, the few monsters that are slow serve to keep you moving - if you've ever played something like 10x10's map 04: Hey! This is Library, you might have felt the same way.

 

The threats are there and they will kill you, but they take their time getting to you and if you slip up in beating them back, they will ruin your day.

 

This might be more of a monster issue though. I feel that unlike Quake and Half Life, Doom's monsters are usually weaker, slower and less threatening overall by comparison. So how do you work around that without breaking out modding? You just use more of them. Maybe you toss a revenant behind the player to make them stay mobile, an archvile to keep them from just circlestrafing, etc.

 

In short: I wouldn't say enforcing UV is bad, but it becoming the norm over the years is definitely worth discussing. Is it a good thing? Is it bad? I think it's somewhere in-between and depends mostly on the mapper. I know I'll be paying a bit more attention to how I use the difficulty, and have noticed quite a few mappers already state "HMP is intended for first runs" in their projects.

 

Good thread, lots of opinions to read and use as food for thought.

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Posted (edited)

i think that your perspective of the difficulties that people play on is a bit skewed. i know plenty of people who default to lower skills; in fact, outside of the speedrunners who i speak to, most of the community members that i regularly talk to play on hmp or hntr. yes, those that map do still balance around uv, but even then they make sure to balance difficulties well due to the simple fact that they themselves play on hmp/hntr most of the time. mind you that that's not because playing on uv is expected, but moreso because balancing for uv first and foremost is just the easiest way to do things.

 

with that being said, there definitely is a sizable contingent of people - primarily newer members from what i've noticed - that exclusively play on uv and refuse to drop down to lower difficulties. whether that be due to the misconception that uv is "the way it's meant to be played", completionist brainrot, or good ol' fragile egos, it still leads down the same path of only playing on uv and only very begrudgingly dropping down to lower skill levels, because "oh well that isn't the TRUE way to play". that is, if they even do that. some people just call the wad shit and then stop playing altogether lol

 

it's a stupid mindset, and while it's thankfully not the dominant one, it's still fairly pervasive.

 

as to how to stop it...i think one of the biggest things to do is to counter the misconception that uv is the "intended experience". that's complete bullshit - i balance for uv first when it comes to my maps because i enjoy giving myself a challenge when it comes time to playtest, but that doesn't mean it's what should always be played. i put difficulty settings in for a reason, they're not there for decoration god dammit. if anything, to tell me that uv is THE way to play is straight up insulting when i'm putting in effort to balance my difficulty settings. not to mention that it's essentially telling people that playing anything other than uv is incorrect.

Edited by roadworx

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1 hour ago, Sneezy McGlassFace said:

Ah, right, that's an argument i forgot to include in the OP. Missing out on stuff. 

That's another baseless assumption about how the map is balanced.

Maybe the mapper balanced UV, and then removed some monsters to lower the difficulty. Granted, that's the most obvious way of doing it but many wads have nearly identical monster count across the difficulties. Changing the monster composition and resource availability is a more fun way to alter the overall challenge, while keeping the total numbers the same. 

By that logic, if HNTR has two extra monsters over UV, you are missing out by not playing HNTR

 

I actually disagree that this is a baseless assumption. It is based on how many mappers do in fact make it and on the fact that it's easier to work this way. If anything, your counter-argument is more baseless.

 

You say that "many wads have nearly identical monster counts". The word "many" is very vague here. How much is many? And what percentage of maps is balanced this way?

Then you say, "if HNTR" has two extra monsters on UV, you are missing out by not playin HNTR", implying that this is somehow ridiculous. But I would argue - yeah. If some mode has more content, you're missing out on it. And also that I don't think the situation you outline is frequent. Sounds like it almost never happens. And that the more likely scenario is that there are some extra monsters on UV.

I started playing on UV precisely because of this: it feels like UV is the intended difficulty, and also with the most content. Whereas other skill levels are just watered down versions. If you say that this assumption is baseless, I would need some evidence that a significant amount of maps aren't like that.

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Honestly its up to the mapper to control player expectations, many people balance with UV as the expectation and its become the norm, if youre a mapper and you want someone to experience it on a different difficulty, you can do what Ribbiks does and warn players that they should play with HMP in mind, or what Mouldy did and make a gameplus difficulty. People are going to default to UV and its not always "brainrot" or "ego" or a machismo attitude, sometimes its about wanting to experience all a wad has to offer, the assumption is its balanced around UV so if there is a set piece or challenge, they want to experience it fully. Im not telling mappers what to do, but if its common knowledge that UV is considered the default by players, then the onus is on mappers to manage those expectations. Ive never called a wad bad because it handed my ass to me, and I tend to play on UV. Either way i think its time we stop being mean towards the way people play, Ill always go for completionism and UV, some people will want to stride through a map on HMP, some people want to play with Project Russian Overkill Brutality Doom Randomizers. The flaw in your title is "X is terrible", no way is terrible, let people play how they want.

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I think it's all the fault of how easy the vanilla levels are relative to shooters that came even 3 years later

There are some people who recommend newer players start Knee-Deep or Hell on Earth on UV because anything lower could have legitimate risk of becoming a snooze quest when playing on HNTR or ITYTD (and that includes Civvie calling UV "the gentleman's difficulty")

But of course those are the bone-stock levels designed for people who were new to 3D spaces in games and had a hard time just piloting a Doomguy without falling into the nukage pit in e1m1, and today's maps and megawads rightfully assume far more familiarity with FPS literacy in it's audience: But that first impression of "just go for UV" is still extremely formative to those newer players and it sets a standard on how they should see difficulty in Doom

Also: Y'all cowards don't even -coop_spawns OR -solo-net

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, LouigiVerona said:

 

I started playing on UV precisely because of this: it feels like UV is the intended difficulty, and also with the most content. Whereas other skill levels are just watered down versions. If you say that this assumption is baseless, I would need some evidence that a significant amount of maps aren't like that.

how dare you want to experience a wad full flavored with every intended topping? People like you make me sick, wanting to experience everything a wad has to offer, brainrot i say!! brainrot!!

 

I was looking through Rush.wad in UDB recently and it seems like Archi's idea of balancing was just to have less monsters, removing archvilles and revenants fom certain encounters, replacing cyberdemons with mancubus and to me that just comes across as watering down the fights, removing flavour and dynamics from the fight that feel fundamental to its experience. Now this isnt always the case, everyone has said sunlust isnt watered down on HMP, but also Ribbiks and Danne tell you that, play it on HMP, because they know the default assumption is gonna be UV. Implementing difficulties in a way that doesnt feel like watering down a fight can be hard, maybe you make it more forgiving by changing enemy types and giving more recovery options, but at the end of the day when a mapper has a fight in mind, balancing the difficulties is going to have to compromise with that vision. Lots of mappers dont even implement difficulties, Sunder doesnt. Final point:

 

Maybe its nice to let a player feel like good about themselves, "I beat it on UV!" let them have that. No one should feel bad about playing on a lower difficulty, but letting people have that personal acolade of "I UV-Maxed it!" can sometimes make someone love ur map.

Edited by fruity lerlups

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Posted (edited)

I think it'd be best if mappers clearly specified in the thread or the text file what difficulty is the most intended one, at least for the first play. Of course some people won't read it and play on UV regardless, but there will always be people who don't follow instructions.

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4 minutes ago, Li'l devil said:

I think it'd be best if mappers clearly specified in the thread or the text file what difficulty is the most intended one, at least for the first play. Of course some people won't read it and play on UV regardless, but there will always be people who don't follow instructions.

 

Actually, it's a very good idea.

 

Also, I wonder if someone truly missed out on a wad because of a difficulty. I played Valiant on the normal difficulty, but these days I handle it just fine on UV.

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I tend to add a few extra goodies for lower difficulties, so actually it's the UV players who are missing out on that extra soulsphere and earlier rocket launcher :P

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8 minutes ago, magicsofa said:

I tend to add a few extra goodies for lower difficulties, so actually it's the UV players who are missing out on that extra soulsphere and earlier rocket launcher :P

 

Touche!

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I'm pretty interested in this conversion since the "defaulting to UV" mindset is something I've never agreed with, but...

 

2 minutes ago, Stabbey said:

Relax. This problem is completely unsolvable,  and obsessing about it is only going to drive you crazy. Stop.

 

I think the above statement pretty much sums up my thoughts about it.  Some people are only having fun if they play on UV.  For some other people, I imagine it's less about having fun and more about the challenge of completing a map on the highest skill level.  That can be fun for people too though.

 

 


Side tangent:

Spoiler

 

Having someone skip maps because it's outside their skill range on UV can definitely suck though.  It's a bit more bothersome for me when someone complains that something needs to made easier, or if the complaint is that something is poorly designed just because it's too hard for someone.  The latter is definitely something I've been guilty of in the past, and now I understand that some players can handle things that would completely whoop my ass.

 

Maybe the exception is when monster encounters are ultimately decided by RNG, and player skill only takes people so far.  As a basic example, a fight with an Archvile where your only means of survival is relying on putting him in his pain state.  I don't know if people really enjoy stuff like that, but that sort of design always feels bad to me.

 

 

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