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Reaper978

Doom2.wad is a bit... odd, isn't it?

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I just played "The Factory" and "Downtown"... it's not the first time I played them, but I was struck this time by how strange they are. It's rather uncanny how they created these levels on "earth" using weird, gritty "wood" and "building" textures, almost like they were trying to avoid making levels that look like real-world locations. Instead, they just look like horrid nightmare worlds with strange remnants of buildings and streets, populated by demons. The city streets are white rocks. There is a crusher and a plasma rifle at one of the "corners" of the city. No cars or human corpses either. Hmmm. Hell is an oddly decorated place.

What's with this factory, anyway? There is a room with "lifts" that slowly go up and down for no apparent reason, and there are cacodemons riding on them. And here are some strange wooden hallways with mancubi.

There is a sort of explanation in the first text interlude when it says the demons are bringing their own world with them. The levels are cool in their own way, as odd and quirky as they are. What do you think?

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there is little to no rational in Doom's level design. I map on what ends up looking cool and what makes for good gameplay, I imagine the original iD guys probably did the same.

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Also consider the hardware constraints back in the day. It wasn't as easy to make an epic cityscape back then, when 386s just had the power to run Doom as is.

Although I think Duke3d did a good job in the city areas. The BUILD engine was superior for that sort of stuff, methinks.

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I personally believe that if the textures and names of those levels were changed, they would be a lot more enjoyable. They tried to make it psudo-real, and it failed. As playable levels, though, they're great.

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Something closer to a realistic city could definitely been achieved under the hardware constraints, just with better layout and textures, but realism simply wasn't a concern for the level designers, which is fine. Doom 2 achieves what it achieves... whatever that is.

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I think Downtown and The Factory do in fact give the idea of what they're named after. Had they not been named like that we could have reached the conclusion that they stand for something like their names, such as city streets with tall buildings and an industrial area with machinery. This can't be said of various other levels, like many of the DOOM levels or various others in DOOM II.

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That's a good point. I guess the name "Downtown" helps you to imagine a city when playing the level, just as the name "Mars" helps you to envision the cosmic grandeur of that planet when listening to the Holst symphony. I've realized before that I get a bit bothered by the departures from reality that modern games take (How can a health pack instantly heal a bullet wound? Seriously?) while those same tropes when used in Doom don't bother me in the slightest - that's just what Doom is. Doom isn't meant to be taken literally, but is evocative. Doom is music.

I wouldn't actually compare Doom to The Planets but at least it's a catchy tune.

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I've no idea what The Inmost Dens is supposed to be and Tenements doesn't look like tenements at all.

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Yeah, it's weird. But to be fair, Doom 1 was much the same way, it just doesn't stick out as much because we have less of an idea of what a military base in space is supposed to look like. It's sci-fi "realism", where nothing really serves any realistic purpose but it looks neat. Applied to familiar settings like a city, it doesn't really work as well.

In e1, there's the all-too-common complaints about Hangar not resembling a hangar, of course, as well as the fact that to the UAC builders, "Computer Station" actually meant "open walkways over exposed nuclear waste" I guess.

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esselfortium said:

In e1, there's the all-too-common complaints about Hangar not resembling a hangar, of course, as well as the fact that to the UAC builders, "Computer Station" actually meant "open walkways over exposed nuclear waste" I guess.


On the other hand, the largest computer bank on Phobos is in the Nuclear Plant. (Granted, in a half-secret part that nobody needs to explore to finish the level.)

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I've always loved what they did with Downtown and The Factory etc in Doom2. What they did with Duke3d. Not so much. I'm reluctant to use the word "Genius" but in this case I think I might allow myself to go that far.

I think the level design of Doom2 is a lot more skilled than any of that you get in Duke3d.
Kind of bums me out when everyone constantly berate it.

EDIT: as most of you know this was a conscious decision they made and IMO it worked out amazingly with the technology. I am constantly working over in my mind how I would be able to make something similar with modern 3d engines, and have it work to equal or better effect.

Unfortunately. I'm kind of drawing blanks so far. With all the details possible today, you have to work hard to make it low detail without making it look "undetailed", or like you simply couldn't make it the way everyone else is.

The Doom engine is lending itself very well to the abstract.

On top of that I myself have a hard time working without details. I try to think and work differently, but I keep coming back to them.

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About the white rocks, I figured that was intended to be rubble, which is quite fitting because ground zero environments, such as that of the World Trade Center, left behind a ton of grayish-white ash. And apparently a lot of parts of the buildings appear to be missing roofs, and other parts. The only part about the factory I like is fighting the arachnatrons on the rooftop. Aside from that I really hate that map.

I thought Downtown was the greatest level when i was a lad and played it the first time. I later grew to hate it, but I'm starting to like it once again the more I use my imagination. I just kinda wish the interior of many of the buildings resembled more of an earthly setting. A lot of them have teleporters and demon heads and marble brick on the walls, which could be just a reference to the area being "subverted by their presence" but it could at least somewhat remind me of home. I don't know what sandy had in mind when he was making most of the buildings. It seemed like he was just creating generic rooms and traps and not actually any office buildings or anything.

However I would like to comment about how some of the doom maps don't have weapons available near the start, which makes it very irritating when played from a pistol start. The demos playing Circle of Death and Abandoned Mines make Doom 2 look great because the player gets shotguns so early. But I can't imagine a demo of Downtown or Monster Condo making Doom 2 look very interesting at all, unless it shows the player knowing where all the secret areas are, which is kinda lame because the demo's appear to look like the player is not entirely familiar with doom at all.

I think it would be pretty fun to make a wad based on what you'd expect Doom 2 to be given its subtitle and TITLEPIC, you'd think the first few maps would be an earthly UAC base, a majority of the maps taking place in a residential district, imps and chaingun guys on top of houses. Then arriving in the heart of the inner city around map20, demons and arachnatrons roaming the streets, lost souls cacodemons swarming out of the windows, buildings crumbling revealing cybies and revenants, until arriving at a giant crater revealing a pit leading to hell. That's kinda how I pictured it anyway. Doom 2 doesn't really connect as a whole to any kind of a journey. Just a bunch of regular old maps named like they would be on earth.

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JohnnyRancid said:

unless it shows the player knowing where all the secret areas are, which is kinda lame because the demos appear to look like the player is not entirely familiar with doom at all.

And also because secrets are not supposed to be given away by demos. They're secrets, after all; even if sometimes the map makers didn't get it (MAP07 secret, anyone?).

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Kind of bums me out when everyone constantly berate it.

I don't mean it that way, like I said earlier I think the designs are cool and interesting in their own way. I know exactly what you mean about how these abstract stages are something like works of art. I like abstract, disparate style, I was just curious what others thought.

EDIT: as most of you know this was a conscious decision they made and IMO it worked out amazingly with the technology. I am constantly working over in my mind how I would be able to make something similar with modern 3d engines, and have it work to equal or better effect.

I think it would come down to your interpretation of Doom's visual style and how you could bring it to modern technology. I think if you took Doom's textures and extended them to higher resolutions and details, while making sure to maintain the "Doom style" you could create an even stronger doom atmosphere without actually changing the style to something different. Perhaps the monsters could remain 2d but with enhancements like more viewing angles, higher resolutions, more varied animations for particular tasks, etc. To retain the 2.5D illusion, maybe the player could be prevented from looking all the way up and down with mouselook.

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Reaper978 said:

Perhaps the monsters could remain 2d but with enhancements like more viewing angles, higher resolutions, more varied animations for particular tasks, etc.


That's just setting about to make it more complicated than needed. To do what you're saying you're going to have to create the models and their animations anyway, and then rip these models into sprites instead of using them directly. All modern engines are able to manage 3D models and all modern computers are powerful enough to run them. Besides, one of the most annoying parts of 3D ports of Doom is handling sprite clipping correctly, it is actually simpler with a model. There's no reason to bother with that headache if you're making a new game.

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I think MAP13 does a nice job of creating a city environment.

The city part of MAP15, though, looks like some kid having fun with the map editor.

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I always liked MAP15...the interior designs of the buildings may be kind of disjointed and silly but I enjoy playing the map anyway. MAP13 is better as a map, though. Of course, in my opinion neither holds a candle to Plutonia MAP29, which is easily the best city map in any of the IWADs.

IN terms of realism in Doom II maps, I would say that MAP26 does the best job of looking like what it's supposed to be (an abandoned mine) while still being fun to play and, all in all, a pretty cool-looking map. The only maps in Doom II I didn't like were some of the gimmicky ones, especially MAP08, which get old fast and don't feel like either real or imaginary places, but just stupid levels. Also, MAP21 is one of the ugliest maps in all the Doom episodes, and looks like one of those maps people build in 15 minutes using totally random texturing. And it isn't fun to play either.

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StupidBunny said:

Also, MAP21 is one of the ugliest maps in all the Doom episodes, and looks like one of those maps people build in 15 minutes using totally random texturing. And it isn't fun to play either.

Yeah. Nice intro to hell that was.

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I really tend to like the open and abstract levels the most. To me Doom always felt like an infested fun house that would try and kill you 1/4 as much as all the demons.

I'm always a little disappointed when I play a wad that is cramped and too realistic/recognisable. As Creaphis mentioned, health packs and other things fit the engine while they seem out of place in others and I find the inverse holds true. Going beyond the engine/aesthetic with fancy lighting, 3D models or shoe horning realism can tamper with the players suspension of disbelief...

Well, except for TVR! I feel that even though it was overly realistic/recognisable it wasn't cramped and it looked great while being loads of fun! Maybe that is the distinction, real or abstract doesn't matter if the majority of focus is on fun. Maybe abstract levels lend themselves to creativity and creativity lends itself to fun.

Yeah, I like Doom and Doom II a lot and tend to enjoy similar maps more.

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What the hell is MAP26 doing in the last tier of levels? It really looks like Earth, not demons' domain. Same for MAP27; it's a CONDO. As for MAP12, I find it pretty realistic. Don't its buildings look like depots? Even the use of bricks is fitting. In MAP17, I'm guessing the tenements are the very Romero-like secret passages connecting the areas.

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According to Masters of Doom, the original direction for Doom's level design was going to be a more 'realistic' one. Pretty much what Duke3D ending up doing, presumably.

Romero wanted a look which was more abstract and, more importantly, more fitting to doing the fast pace of the engine justice at the time. So, that's where the direction ending up going. Seeing as this philosophy worked so well, it explains why the aforementioned D2 levels bear no resemblance at all to urban landscapes.

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Doom2 doesn't really have a theme. The idea is, basically, kill stuff EDN.

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printz said:
What the hell is MAP26 doing in the last tier of levels? It really looks like Earth, not demons' domain.

It doesn't look more like Earth than most other levels in the episode. Being a mine, it does seem to imply that the denizens of hell work (unless they import zombies to do all the digging, heh).

Some people have suggested that "hell" is a warped reality in planet Earth's bowels, although that is not made explicit anywhere in the story. It mentions hell and "the other side" in the texts after levels 20 and 30, so there's no particular reason to believe it's part of Earth somehow.

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What's interesting is how the Doom guy loses all of his stuff from Episode 4 to Doom 2. And i'd say The Underhalls is the only level that actually looks like something, sewers!

esselfortium said:

In e1, there's the all-too-common complaints about Hangar not resembling a hangar, of course, as well as the fact that to the UAC builders, "Computer Station" actually meant "open walkways over exposed nuclear waste" I guess.


The UAC don't believe in Life Insurance.

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GhostlyDeath said:

What's interesting is how the Doom guy loses all of his stuff from Episode 4 to Doom 2.

And from Episode 1 to 2, and from 2 to 3, and from 3 to 4...

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GhostlyDeath said:

And i'd say The Underhalls is the only level that actually looks like something, sewers!

Rather the Waste Tunnels. The Underhalls look too clean but the Waste Tunnels (whose meaning is similar) are better as sewers.

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Gez said:

That's just setting about to make it more complicated than needed. To do what you're saying you're going to have to create the models and their animations anyway, and then rip these models into sprites instead of using them directly. All modern engines are able to manage 3D models and all modern computers are powerful enough to run them. Besides, one of the most annoying parts of 3D ports of Doom is handling sprite clipping correctly, it is actually simpler with a model. There's no reason to bother with that headache if you're making a new game.

But the problem arises from trying to retain the original doom feel. It probably could be done with 3D models, but they always turn out looking and feeling very different from the original doom rather than as an extension or enhancement to doom.

An artist could draw the frames by hand, it doesn't have to be 3d models ripped to sprites. A shit load of work I'm sure, but the result could be really remarkable.

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A skilled, professional modeler would create faithful 3D models in much less time than it would take him or her to create faithful hi-res sprites.

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I'll take your word for it, since I am (clearly) no authority with this.

Further, I wish someone would do what you just stated. I'm wondering what id is doing with Doom 4. I wasn't terribly thrilled about Doom 3, though it was alright. The underwhelming sound effects really ruffled my feathers.

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