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Vile1011

How to totally screw up gameplay

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In the spirit of the annoying doom wad cliches thread, I'm devoting this one to gameplay issues. What are some things a mapper should, and should not do in order to make a map fun to play? What makes a map exciting, and what makes it dull and tedious?

And now, my list:

- Nothing is more dull than a map in which every monster comes at you from the front (and I've seen TONS of such maps). Even if the map itself is linear, getting enemies to the side of the player will make gameplay more interesting.

- If you have a large room full of monsters, make sure the player can't just stand outside the door and pick them off one by one as they come through.

- If you're using chaingunners in hard to reach sniper spots, allow some "shadow" area where the player can be safe. Most early mappers don't realize how more damage a few chaingunners can do.

- Never ever ever make a trap that's impossible to avoid unless the player already knows about it. Also, never make a trap which depends on the player having a certain weapon already selected. Always allow the player time to switch weapons.

- Monster infighting is useful, but if the player can just leave the room and come back to a graveyard 3 minutes later, it sort of ruins the challenge.

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One thing that bugs me:

- Large arena with a cyberdemon/spider mastermind/archvile. (HOW many times has that been done? Too damn much.)

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People usually don't like maps that are full of one color. Like using only brown textures ;P

This totally screws up gameplay: Making a map that lags like Hell. How does Hell lag? When you enter the Hell and try to fire your handy pistol, you'll notice you don't even hit a still shit, because you'll have to dodge those fireballs that ups.. they already hit you... So hit the shit and die or take a bath in the lava.. all the same.. lagga bagga dagga... laggyness is a sock.

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Extremely Non-Linear Maps. I don't like wondering around for half an hour, going from random pointless room to random pointless room looking for the one particular room that might happen to have a key in it. It's just boring. That's the main reason I don't like games like Wolfenstein 3D, because essentially that's all you do. Now, I don't have a problem with non-linear maps, so long as it's not that bad.

Difficulty. I can't stand it when map authors decide that it would be a good idea to make a map so difficult, that you would either have to cheat in order to beat the map, or be some kind of god or something. Putting a million monsters in a room and expecting people to be able to beat it is not fun. It's stupid and annoying (cough, deus vult/hr/av/etc, cough)

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Ugh, tell me about it: I once had a shareware version of Wolf3D and I only finished it one because I always got lost and got pissed off over the lack of map.

D:<

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This will ruin the gameplay more than anything else: Take some random file from the Windows folder. Rename it to MEGACOOL.WAD and add some required lumps for the wad like MAP01, THINGS, SECTORS, ... you know the rest(if you don't just do your best ;)

When you got your wad done, just upload it for someone to review it in /newstuff :P

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This goes for most ZDoom maps:

* Unskippable cutscenes at the beginning of the map. I'd love to go play through Hell Factory, but I hate having to sit through that intro.
* Unclear solutions to confusing puzzles. Massmouth 2 suffered just a little for this, because I kept getting stuck trying to open the darn gates for the hovertruck to get through. And when I finally found the switch, I couldn't figure out how to get inside.
* Stealth monsters in open areas. There are too many potential places where the things could be hiding out.
* Lack of auto-save points. This goes along with the first point - if you're going to put a long cutscene, auto-save the player after they're finished. Also, add an auto-save before a large battle or after completion of a major puzzle. Sometimes people get too engrossed in their game to reach over and hit F6. (I know I do!)
* "Arena" battles with continuously spawning monsters that lock the player inside. Torment & Torture 2 and ZDCMP1 both have these, and not only does it break co-op to do that, but it also gets highly tedious, especially if there is little variety in monsters.
* If there is an arena battle, more than likely there's going to be a buttload of projectile monsters - but what kills arenas more than anything is placement of Cybs or Revenants. Arch-Viles should be declared off-limits in arena battles, especially if monsters are continuously spawning.
* Overcrowding. So what if computers are fast enough to handle five hundred monsters in a room? Even the BFG gets tedious for giant mobs like this.

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Jumping puzzles. Void was good except for that one spot with the little floating blocks.

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Starting off a map with about 8 imps in your face is a painful start for a map, especially if you only have your pistol and there are no other weapons, not even a berserk pack. And not only that it's just irritating, if not infuriating, to attempt to play, over and over again, through the beginning of a map because you keep getting slaughtered.

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AgentSpork said:

(..../av/....)


I personally found AV a bit too easy, but if you say so. And AV IS my all time favorite megawad. It has some really classic levels that I'll never forget in my life. But, I do agree with HR, thats just stupid. PEople need to make hard wads from smart monster placing, not a hoard of 'em.

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Probably maps that are beautifully textured and built, but lack any gameplay whatsoever, I mean, sure, the map is awesome, but...I didn't go below 90% health the entire map!

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The thing I really don't like is when I press a switch and I really can't imagine what happened, and then I am roaming through the empty map just to find an opened wall or something. Well even if I like map30 of Ethernal Doom it's a good example of that. For the first time I played it for 8.5 hours to complete it. And two times I had to open it in editor for a hint.

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Gusta said:

And two times I had to open it in editor for a hint.



That's the worst thing that can happen to a map. Another example for badly placed switches is Herian 2. Far too many of them open something that is not obvious.

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What pisses me off more than all of the above combined, is when someone releases a map with these problems in abundance, and people still fall on their knees praising it, because whoever released it is popular in the doom community, and the map has really good detail/etc.

Then someone who isn't as well-known releases a map and it's torn to pieces because of some minor problem. :/

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Similarly I don't like that certain megawads are simply above criticism although it must be obvious that they won't be liked by all. Do I need to mention Hell Revealed (1/2) and Alien Vendetta?

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Fredrik said:

Monsters that pop out of the floor.


Huhhuh... I think it's cool they sometimes pop out of the floor.. usually they just pop out of the wall... But to make the pop even more cooler, you could use some advanced port and pop them out of the ceiling!

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Graf Zahl said:

Do I need to mention Hell Revealed (1/2) and Alien Vendetta?


No, but you always manage it :)

The authors don't mind criticism of the maps, but the "they just threw in tons of monsters" crap is far away from the truth.

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Szymanski said:

the "they just threw in tons of monsters" crap is far away from the truth.

It's a bit like eating a really hot curry. If you're not used to such dishes, you'll have no idea if it's good or bad or what flavours it has - you'll only notice the heat. And possibly claim it is inedible and that anyone who likes it must be deranged.

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Traps/bottomless pits without an exit or a way to start over. Even the original Doom and Doom II levels are guilty of this, but I hate seeing it in modern maps because we've had 11 years to refine and improve upon the formula, gameplay, and map format itself to avoid something so silly and pointless.

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Fredrik said:

It can be done in vanilla Doom.


The monsters popping out of the ceiling? Tell me how, me wants to know!

Traps are fun to make, but it's not fun to get trapped in and fade. Just like making that noise, but when someone else does it... oooh.. how annoying it is!

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Vile1011 said:
- Never ever ever make a trap that's impossible to avoid unless the player already knows about it. Also, never make a trap which depends on the player having a certain weapon already selected. Always allow the player time to switch weapons.

What an "I only play them once" comment. This design restriction may apply on some easier wads or settings, but would probably ruin most challenging maps. It's not clear to what degree you consider these restrictions appropriate.

AgentSpork said:
Difficulty. I can't stand it when map authors decide that it would be a good idea to make a map so difficult, that you would either have to cheat in order to beat the map, or be some kind of god or something. Putting a million monsters in a room and expecting people to be able to beat it is not fun. It's stupid and annoying (cough, deus vult/hr/av/etc, cough)

Hey, they released a version of DOOM with skill settings the other day. Upgrade now, you'll love it!

I can assure you the authors of said maps weren't even remotely thinking about players who require linear weakly populated maps with simple layouts when they designed those sets. They though of players like themselves, who play maps throughly and for the challenge, sharing their playing as mappers share their designs.

The only map that I recall having a truly scary difficulty level was one by Erik, but even then the lower difficulty settings were playable, and the higher (at least on one of the two maps) a fitting challenge for superb players (not me!)

I still don't get some people here, at all. Some difficulty levels on some wads could well frustrate me personally, but if I see an action packed recording of one of those maps by a more skilled player, that alone, the merit and the awesome action, give the maps undoubtable value.

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myk said:

What an "I only play them once" comment. This design restriction may apply on some easier wads or settings, but would probably ruin most challenging maps. It's not clear to what degree you consider these restrictions appropriate.


Damn straight I only play them once, if they're designed like that! What fun are trial and error wads, where you get by not with any skill whatsoever, but just by memorizing all the traps?

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Yeah, I agree with Vile, I only play maps again to do four things:
+ Kill all monsters
+ Get all Items
+ Find all Secrets
+ Get a better time
NOT to find lousy traps that have no foreshadowing or practical purpose.

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it also depends on what one means by traps. i remember on kaiser 4 (IIRC) very close to the start you get boxed in a teeny tiny room with a revenant. i never played any further than that, though i probably could have found a bigger gun first if i'd revisited it (hell i will!). in my megawad all the "traps" like this are subvertible, but not obviously so. but on the other hand the "arena" battles purposfully lock you in until you have killed-all-monsters... but then again that's still not 100% true as they're either on timers or waiting for you to do something that a particularly large monster is basically sat on, and could be barged out of the way with enough cunning... now i agree the former is a pain in the butt but the latter is acceptable in my eyes, so long as the player is prepared. i.e. the arena is 95% of the map the other 5% being a chance to stock up (fragport) and not part of a larger map when you're low on health and ammo after a massive slugfest (map07 (okori) section of Decade)

i think, basically it'd be nice to have somewhere to hide when there are large numbers of monsters about, in a fairly linear map this would be an area you've just cleared. but of course it's possible we then edge into "stand outside room and shoot each monster one at a time as they come out" territory

gawd it's so complicated!

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Comiclez said:
+ Get a better time

I would say then that the second time you play it (to get a better time) you'd already know about the trap. Unless you agree with him on deleting a map where you die on the first try in a trap.

All maps are trial and error maps unless they are very easy or you're playing on a very low skill level, because even the standard DOOM maps are pretty deadly in Ultra-Violence if you don't know the maps beforehand.

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myk said:

I would say then that the second time you play it (to get a better time) you'd already know about the trap. Unless you agree with him on deleting a map where you die on the first try in a trap.

All maps are trial and error maps unless they are very easy or you're playing on a very low skill level, because even the standard DOOM maps are pretty deadly in Ultra-Violence if you don't know the maps beforehand.


A well designed map shouldn't depend on memorization of traps. Skill should be the only determining factor. If I die on a map, I want it to be because I wasn't fast enough to dodge that stupid revenant fireball, not because I didn't have prior knowledge of the trap before I came in.

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What skill? Skill varies greatly... so much that for one player a trap is an instant killer while easy for another.

Having knowledge of a map always makes it easier, and if you want your map to be played more than just once, you'll have to consider prior knowledge when designing it. So any trap that will be challenging the second time the player tries it, will probably have been quite lethal the first time.

On high skill settings there must be traps that need prior knowledge to survive, else the map will be too easy. That's one good reason to develop skill settings well. Not only because the skill of players varies wildly, but also because it will give the wad more value to each player: safer settings for initial casual play without having to resort to excessive saves and cheats, and rougher settings for continued play once the wad becomes familiar.

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