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AlexMax

Making co-op legitimate?

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I have noticed that in various internet source ports, and even in the older days with networked co-op, that it seemed kind of...pointless.

Idealy, I think that co-op should warrent working as a team, working together to get things done, kind of like a 'squadren' mentality. What we usually see, especially in internet-capable source ports is instead of a 'team' of people, a bunch of seporate entaties who are oblivious of each other...except when they get in each others way. They generally try to 'speedrun' the map, by trying to be the FIRST to get to switch A, the FIRST to get to switch B, the FIRST to get the red key, the FIRST to get to the exit. If you die, you're essentially back at the begining of the map, with no weapons, no ammo and you simply take pot shots at the demons that everyone else is hitting with a plasma....unless you ALL die, in which case you're trying to pistol it to death, die, respawn, etc.

Doom's implimentation of co-op is a nice idea, but it's broken. My question to the Doomworld Forums is how YOU would 'fix' it to make it more fun instead of a grind described above.

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Doom's Cooperative is just fine; it's simply the same game, adding that certain crucial items (weapons and keys) remain, so that play isn't broken. The issue arises when a map is not tested for it, or you try to implement it in "public" servers. Playing Cooperative with random people doesn't work too well.

I've had fun playing Cooperative, but on private one-on-one connections, not on client-based popular servers. In public servers the admin is forced to disable frindly fire damage just in case an asshole pops in (who can still do annoying stuff even then), and that kills part of what cooperating is, you can't save, thus have to resort to "shoot till you die and respawn" games, and suddenly find yourself in some map, perhaps half finished by other players, where you randomly find people, often strangers, in a similar situation.

AlexMax said:
Idealy, I think that co-op should warrent working as a team, working together to get things done, kind of like a 'squadren' mentality.

That's up to the players. Also, it's hard to do it on the fly; playing Cooperative with a "look around" mentality is going to be pretty random. Naturally once you know the maps, you can coordinate a good Cooperative game

What we usually see, especially in internet-capable source ports is instead of a 'team' of people, a bunch of seporate entaties who are oblivious of each other...except when they get in each others way.

That's the fun of Cooperative; to manage to do things right in conjunction, which isn't always easy.

If you die, you're essentially back at the begining of the map, with no weapons, no ammo and you simply take pot shots at the demons that everyone else is hitting with a plasma....unless you ALL die, in which case you're trying to pistol it to death, die, respawn, etc.

I think the players should quit if someone dies, unless they're just testing around. But even if they don't, if there are weapons issues it means that the map wasn't tested for Cooperative, and it's a map design flaw. Its crucial to play on a map that's made with Cooperative in mind. The map can be goos for single-player, and that's fine, but if the author didn't consider Coop, and you run into situations where you can't get to good weapons or players get locked out (it can even happen that some door closes, someone dies, and progress is blocked, with no way to continue) then go find some other map to play on.

Also, you can't expect too many maps to be flawless in Cooperative, because it's not that easy to get together and test a map for such form of play; DeathMatch might also require many players, but you can play without concern or much though. On the other hand, cooperating requires attention and coordination.

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IRC + ZDoom works fine for me (I should say us), though after playing 3 man Hexen co-op I do find Doom co-op a bit lacking.

Playing co-op using ST or ZDaemon isn't very satisfying for me so I usually speedrun the maps. Sue me. Also, 'cooperating' with inexperienced players isn't very effective, so I usually just go and do things my way.

Disabling friendly fire IMO helps the gameplay more in the fun department than it detracts from the teamplay elements.

Quitting when someone dies sounds completely pointless to me. It's their problem to regain lost ground as fast as they can.

@AlexMax: There's nothing to fix. The end.

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Since writing out the origional post, I did do some thinking...

1. The reason that most people speedrun the maps is that they KNOW what's coming up. What if instead there was a random map generator such as SLIDGE or the new one in development over in Newdoom forums that generated a mapset every time the previous one was completed. I think the surprise of not knowing what was coming up would outweigh the fact that SLIDGE levels all start to look the same after a while. In fact, with a combination of GETWAD and a shell script, i bet you could wing this already.

You could have the server run SLIDGE, then run the game with the SLIDGE level, and put the level in a place where getwad can get the level. Every time the server restarts, (it could do this on schedule, like every hour or every 24 hours) it deletes the old SLIDGE levelset and generates a new one.

2. Permadeath. You only get one shot at the level, once you die, you're dead for the remainder of the level. If you all die, you lose the level and it proceeds to the next one reguardless. There should obviously be some sort of time limit on the map, like five minutes, to prevent campers and the like.

That's the fun of Cooperative; to manage to do things right in conjunction, which isn't always easy.


I was kind of botching my words there. What I meant to say is that usually the co-operative team is just a bunch of seporate entities that are oblivious to each other, instead of functioning like a team.

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Heh, are you seroius about playing SLIGE maps? At least go to /idgames and pick a map or a set at random (make sure it at least somewhat supports Coop, though.)

Cooperation is about preparation; but if you're going to know little about the maps, make sure the team has some standards to follow; like "when we enter a room you blow up everything on the left, I'll take care of what comes on from the right" and use something that speeds up communication, like a realtime talking app.

People run to the exit because communicating is slow, and also to show off how good they are (but hardly in a cooperative way.) Good cooperation of the real kind is about backing up your mate, helping with switches and devices, distracting monsters, or coordinating attacks to potentialize ammo.

One idea that I've thought about and kind of like, and that doesn't have to be an engine feature (although it could be implemented as such one way or another) is to demand that all the players be at the exit room to leave the map. It might slow down some maps, but in many cases it should encourage the team to coordinate.

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Being one of the "us" Belial was referring to (#DMClub ftw) I agree that IRC + ZDoom works fine. Actually, and decent network capable port and IRC is good, whatever port does the job for you.

Playing Co-Op in a server port like ST is highly unsatisfying because often you have to get a sense of where you are, whats going on, and where to get some guns (pistol rape sucks) when the game starts.

Otherwise, and I've talked about this on IRC to somebody, the point of Co-Op is not to act like a group of gang members huddling together hoping they don't get assaulted, and mass attacking when they do. Its about working, mostly, together to finish a map and, eventually a wad.

The specific rules for Co-Op, as defined in vanilla, having to do with respawn and everything else, are there, have been for 12 years, and don't need changing. If its not broke, don't fix it.

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AFAIK, there are only two games that have successfully mastered online coop. Sven Coop, and Brain Bread for Steam.

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Co-op over the Internet is best with a client like Google Talk, Jabber, Teamspeak, Skype, or Roger Wilco - because being able to use voice chat is almost critical to survival if you are disallowing respawns on anything.

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As a rule, a cooperative run will only be enjoyable when you do this with people you know. Preferably on LAN with everyone within talking / yelling / batting distance. Granted, it's possible you can find a good team on internet but your chances on that are not good.

Even then you have to choose the WAD on which to play with some care. Single-player missions often do no consider the fact that there might be more than 1 player active.

Some pitfalls & random musings:

Balance is off. It either gets too easy, or some players are chronically understocked. Usually you place additional monsters in multiplayer mode and some extra items to compensate, using the Skill setting not for setting the difficulty but for the number of expected players. Remember that you can distinguish between deathmatch mode and cooperative mode by using the new Boom flags on Things.

Deadlocks due to 1-time events. Remember that the level does not reset when one player dies, so do not incorperate 1-time events. Think doors that close behind the player, scripting, anything that gets executed just once. Also look into 'hopeless' situations, eg. lots of monsters being teleported to the starting area at a certain point in the game. If a player dies at any point in the game, he should be able to get back to that point without assistance.

Players will die. You may want to provide some ammo or weapon early on, to get players started again. Perhaps by opening a weapon cache nearby. Don't overdo this though. And players 2-4 do not really need to start at the same place as Mr.Green either, so creating an additional (safe) starting rooms for those players might be a nice idea. That way you can also tightly control the amount of extra weapons/ammo you can distribute.

Sometimes people create levels that require 2 or more people to work together to reach the exit. This is usually done by making 1 player open a door for the other player to go through in time before it closes again. Personally I'm not a great fan of that, but it can have its uses.

To build team spirit designers often throw lots of monsters at the players, forcing them to cooperate rather than wandering off alone. Often this results in total mayhem. Fun for some, but not my cup of tea :)

Nicer would be to use custom multiplayer monsters, which are too dangerous to tackle alone. A simple example would be to increase health and damage of monsters by, say, 3-fold. Although still possible to go 1-on-1 with them, you would need the help of your comrades to put a wave of them down before they overwhelm you. This also helps to build team spirit since you have to stick together to survive.

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Due to my friends lacking good a stable internet connection (including me) i just have one come over at a time and we play split-screen legacy co-op. We function as a two man team to get the level complete, holding a position until a respawned player catches up, one person taking care of enemies while another gets something like a switch flipped or a key, or just plain confusing those stupid cyberdemons with the one-two punch of two co-op doom marines. Its true, there are many problems with doom co-op, but they do not outnumber its good qualities, (I must say though, the thing i hate the most is two people to a corridor where a monster throws a fireball and one person strafes only to have the seconds person behind them hit square in the face.)

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AlexMax said:
I was kind of botching my words there. What I meant to say is that usually the co-operative team is just a bunch of seporate entities that are oblivious to each other, instead of functioning like a team.

The automap and F12 are helpful for diminishing this impression (I must admit I now feel I should use them more.)

A feature "advanced" engines could add is a small screen juxtaposed over the Player's view, on the upper right or upper left, showing the F12 info in addition to your normal view.

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Mordeth said:

Nicer would be to use custom multiplayer monsters, which are too dangerous to tackle alone. A simple example would be to increase health and damage of monsters by, say, 3-fold. Although still possible to go 1-on-1 with them, you would need the help of your comrades to put a wave of them down before they overwhelm you. This also helps to build team spirit since you have to stick together to survive.

I could think of a way to create "difficult" monsters without Dehack and all that crap. Make a door that crushes some dead monsters then spawn a few archviles in that general area and viola. Instant party!

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I've never played on-line co-op before, so this might seem like a basic question, but is it possible to have personal servers on programs like ZDaemon or Skulltag so that you and people you know can agree on a password that must be typed in for the purpose of keeping a bunch of random morons out of your game?

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ultdoomer said:
is it possible to have personal servers on programs like ZDaemon or Skulltag so that you and people you know can agree on a password that must be typed [...]?

No need for passwords, plus that would clutter the master server with inaccessible "private" servers. There is a command allowing you to hide the server from the master server, and you should be able to join your own server. But you can also use "standard" engines (ZDoom, PrBoom, etc.) unless your mates are relatively far away, where client/server engines make more sense with their client prediction.

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ultdoomer said:

I've never played on-line co-op before, so this might seem like a basic question, but is it possible to have personal servers on programs like ZDaemon or Skulltag so that you and people you know can agree on a password that must be typed in for the purpose of keeping a bunch of random morons out of your game?

Absolutely. You can do all that for sure in Skulltag.

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I think the problem is not that the game itself, but the people you play with in this case. Some peple just likes all the glory and dont work well in a team. Choose your friends better before you play Doom online with them :p. As for the "dying - start over with pistol" thing, you can always put on monster respawn or Weapon-Stay options. Also, have really hard wads, like Plutonia or Alien Vendetta forces people to fight as a team.

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Comiclez said:
Teamwork? Try some Toke testing maps.

Right click Ezxariarch's avatar and check the file name.

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