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Erik

Megawad difficulty?

WHat kind of difficulty progression do you want in a megawad?  

80 members have voted

  1. 1. WHat kind of difficulty progression do you want in a megawad?

    • Mostly easy all the way (doom.wad)
      2
    • Easy at first then gradually harder all the way (scythe.wad)
      38
    • Medium most of the time, then hard at the end (scythe2.wad)
      16
    • Pretty hard at first then gradually even harder and harder (av.wad)
      15
    • Medium, but mostly pretty low health and not too many monsters (darken2.wad)
      5
    • Other, please specify.
      4


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I have gotten very differing results from betatesters of my maps and I woul like to know what the general feeling about some of these issues are.

More specifically, what kind of difficulty progression do you prefer?

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I enjoy it when maps go all over the place. Keeps me interested and guessing. Having a slaughterfest in the in the middle of some comfortable maps can break the pace nicely for example.

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As long as the difficulty doesn't rely on low health/ammo (and as long as it is actually difficult on UV), anything is fine with me.

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I voted medium most of the time and then hard at the end because I like a good well rounded challenge in each map, and I love when the ending maps are brutal. That makes the ending feel like an ending.

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I know I'm likely in the minority, but I'd like to see each map as difficult as possible.

Part of the fun for me, when it comes to playing wads like av.wad, hr/hr2.wad (as well as Scythe 2's later maps), was finding that simply walking straight into certain rooms without planning my attack route, would likely get me killed.

That, and the satisfaction of having beaten a particulary difficult map.

Still though, my dream wad would be eaxt.wad the megawad, and given the reaction I heard the author had to that, there's probably not too many who like their Doom maps as hard as I do.

With that in mind, it would probably be wise to keep the difficulty curve similar to Scythe 2 - people would already know what to expect in that regard. Maybe slightly harder than Scythe2?

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kristus said:

I voted other.
There are 3 distinct skill levels in Doom. Use them.


But everyone (almost) still plays on UV until they get totally raped. At this point they are about as likely quitting altogether as they are stepping down in difficulty (or trying to play better).

I personally prefer living in the reality as opposed to doing something in an idealized way.

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Well. I'm well aware of people playing on UV regardless. But if you actually care about what other people think is nice. Then you will have to cater to different tastes because there are several of them as your poll shows. And just use the UV mode for the one that you think most people would enjoy.

You can't please everyone, that's the reality. But my way will give you the best odds.

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I voted for option #2 because I suck, to be honest. But if you end up making it a hard one I'll just play on HMP or whatever :)

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I`d like difficulty of Scythe X to be medium most of the time, with final map of each episode being pretty hard instead one hard episode at the end of megawad.
If speaking generally, not referring to episode system, i like when it starts medium and stays medium without getting much harder.

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I'd say a progression from easy to difficult, with 5-7 easy/lower medium maps, 5-10 medium maps and the rest hard/brutally hard. The progression shouldn't be completely straight, with a few "easier than the previous" maps in the middle (short episodes would work fine with this).

However I'd differentiate between actual difficulty and different map types, ie. not all slaughter maps are actually hard, some of them are rather easy, while slower maps can also be brutally hard with proper item and monster placement, etc.

Also, not everyone actually plays UV. Although many people do when they shouldn't, there still are people smart enough to try an easier level...

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I get the impression Scythe and Scythe 2 aren't that different. Yes, Scythe is easy at the start and you can quite tell how much harder it is at the end, but while Scythe 2 is harder at the start, it's also much harder than Scythe at the end. And what it doesn't do with plain difficulty, it makes up with longer levels more likely to bring you down at one point or another.

I wouldn't go for something like Darkening 2. It's not bad, but meatier action like in AV and the Scythes is more fun and more friendly to a variety of possibilities, from running through with tricks to murdering everything in the level. Less ammo and health generally shifts game balance to a more uniform plan, as you can't choose to ignore stuff as easily.

I think the increasing difficulty is a good staple of the Scythes, I'd keep it. Alien Vendetta, on the other hand, with its more uniform difficulty, turns out to be very max oriented. I like it, too, but is that what "Scythe" is about?

You should keep the general "Scythe" scheme, but put more attention to skill levels. Start orienting any testers that complain about the difficulty in later levels to test the lower difficulties, so that these are finely tuned, and listen more to the tougher players for UV.

In the text file, note clearly that difficulty increases with the episodes as in the other Scythe releases, and highlight that people should try lower difficulty settings if they found the other releases to be frustrating near the end, instead of telling them to "save often".

Overall, an increasing difficulty somewhere between Scythe and Scythe 2 should be optimal, in my opinion. This should also impact the size of the levels. Don't include anything as big as Scythe2 Map30. Aside from its brutality, it kills Doom+ and it raped our Skulltag server, making it impossible for more than one client to join, and lagging that one, at that.

Assuming you more or less followed this plan, and considering that the two Scythes exist, it should be easy to note on the text file something like "this is somewhat between the two previous WADs of the series in difficulty with a bit more attention on providing tested and balanced difficulty settings" or something like that, allowing users to choose a suitable skill level from the idea.

kristus said:
And just use the UV mode for the one that you think most people would enjoy.

That seems more suitable for skill 3, leaving 2 for those who are relatively bad but still competent (total neophytes can practice some more or use skill 1.) Else the fewer but better players won't have a skill level they find appropriate.

As an aside, the "5 level episode" system already allows you to permit a reasonably high difficulty, since the player only needs to keep it up for less than half a dozen levels. Often, I find Scythe 2 rather brutal as it progresses, but, with that system in mind, and considering I've chosen to try UV, which should not be taken for granted, I'm in no position to complain for the most part... on the contrary.

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Yes, but Erik's argument was that most people chose UV regardless. As it was a reason for him to not bother with the other modes as much. So if he's more concerned with catering to the common man. He should make the one they are most likely to pick the mode for them. I wouldn't really do this myself. But I don't care about the common man.

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I think the problem is that there's too big a jump from skill 4 to 5. Fast monsters is a challenge, but respawning monsters is insane. NM is basically only for Doom gods and speedrunners. In Hexen the skill levels are much more balanced - skill 5 is still quite hard, but not too hard(hell, even I can muddle through). Although I guess you could just use -fastmonsters... Although people might just not bother :(

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Actually, NM is just an additive, as it forces "speed" playing. Maxing, a usual task in playing, is impossible. You've for fast mode too, but that's not really that much harder, just deadlier, and once you put a plan together you can generally sort it out if UV is playable. Skilled players always require a "normal" mode, so expecting them to play -fast or NM just to give UV to less skilled players doesn't work.

And true, kristus, although what Erik argues has a lot to do with WAD documentation being uninformative. Players not knowing what's to expect of a WAD may become frustrated. Continuing that habit just to "meet realities" just makes shitty WADs and playing habits. Popular releases like the Scythes can start to change that and can certainly do something for themselves.

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Krispavera said:

I voted medium most of the time and then hard at the end because I like a good well rounded challenge in each map, and I love when the ending maps are brutal. That makes the ending feel like an ending.


I go with kristus. I had a run of Scythe 2 in Coop with friends, and all loved it, until map 23. From then they left the server one after another.
And everybody, including myself hated the turbo plasma marine. That bastard came out of nowhere, and instantly killed the whole team.

So use the skill levels, and tell the people about that in the textfile. This way you can make it beatable for beginners, and please the masochists on UV.

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I think the difficulty in Scythe 2 was just about right. Reasonably challenging all the way through, and then pretty brutal as you approached the ending.

But if I had one issue with Scythe 2, it was not the difficulty itself, but the fact that the gameplay style changed quite radically. The difficulty was fine for UV, the complete change in gameplay style was not. From AV-style UV gameplay for the first 23, 24 levels, it changed pretty suddenly to massive slaughter/survival gameplay almost in the space of one level. The transition was brutal.

This was my only real issue with the levels. From level 25 onwards, I finished a completely different megawad from the one that I started. It's not that the later levels were bad, they were fine levels, the whole megawad is one of my favorites, but this one thing really stood out to me.

I admit that HR and HR2, and Kama Sutra pretty much do this transition to a greater or lesser degree, but they are widely known to be slaughtermaps, so you pretty much know what you are getting from the start.

If I had to hold up an ideal difficulty on UV, it would be AV, though you could probably afford to go a little tougher on the later levels. It is, after all, Ultra Violence. All the maps are challenging, the later ones more challenging, but mostly it doesn't fall into the hole of having to become mass slaughterfests for the last 10 levels.

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As for slaughter fests, my opinion is that they could be greatly toned down for the lower difficulties, with a combination of weaker monsters or just fewer ones, and retained for the higher... where will the awesome gggmork, Anima Zero or Belial action go without these? Much of the difficulty increase comes from there. Lower skill settings could benefit from a less steep increase in difficulty than UV.

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myk said:

As for slaughter fests, my opinion is that they could be greatly toned down for the lower difficulties, with a combination of weaker monsters or just fewer ones, and retained for the higher... where will the awesome gggmork, Anima Zero or Belial action go without these? Much of the difficulty increase comes from there. Lower skill settings could benefit from a less steep increase in difficulty than UV.

Slaughter fest difficulty is rarely about things such as monster count, but it's mostly an issue of layout and where the monsters, ammo and health are actually placed. If you have 100 or 1000 hell knights or revenants sniping you from one platform it makes very little difference to the difficulty, because running away from the missiles is the same no matter what. Only when the monsters are placed so that they can physically corner you the monster count becomes a factor of difficulty in slaughter maps, and such occasions aren't that common.

Of course, even if the monsters are on the same sector as you are their numbers may matter little if there's enough space to evade them: Given enough ammo there's no difference in fighting 10 or 50 cybers in the (otherwise empty) first room of NUTS.wad.

myk said:

Less ammo and health generally shifts game balance to a more uniform plan, as you can't choose to ignore stuff as easily.

Assuming you meant you can't ignore monsters as easily in low ammo and low health maps, I'd disagree. It's those maps in particular where ignoring monsters becomes a valuable tactic, as it's a great way to save ammo on monsters that wouldn't be outright deadly. Not to mention that in such maps infighting and tysoning become much more valuable...compared to pure BFG or rocket fests, low ammo maps tend to be much more varied.

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I think it's better that you keep your maps medium to easy if the maps are long, and short ones really fucking hard.

Things that make me quit is when i get all 3 keys and die while the exit is in visual distance. It's way too much effort to try and get all those keys again. Especially because I don't save, I just play until I die then start the map over from a pistol start. If the map is long to play on -nomonsters, then keep away from archviles, cyberdemons, and revenant platoons. For these reasons, I loved Alien Vendetta up to about the MAP double digit range. From there the maps were getting way too long and progressively more difficult.

If your map is short and you can get to the exit playing casually in less than a minute and a half, spam monsters everywhere.

I'd like to use Motornerve as an example, however it's not released yet. The maps are heavily MAP07 Dead Simple style, each with less than 125 monsters. I'm pretty sure people will agree with me when I say Dead Simple is arguably very hard, though takes less than a minute and a half to complete. All the Motornerve maps take less than a minute to get to the exit on -nomonsters. There's lots of hard monsters everywhere, and the player will most often die within the starting few rooms. That way when the player plays the map again, hardly any progress is lost.

I think it's best to torture the player in the starting few rooms with bullshit ambushes and traps, then get easily predictable and steady throughout the remainder of the map. You should still use progressively bigger monsters, granted better firearms and ammunition are provided.

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Jodwin said:
Slaughter fest difficulty is rarely about things such as monster count, but it's mostly an issue of layout and where the monsters, ammo and health are actually placed.

It's a factor, as a greater number may make things easier if its contribution to infighting is greater than the threat it provides due to number of attacks, resistance due to numbers and coordination between different types of attacks aimed at the player. I'm having existing Scythe levels in mind when stating that. Take Map28 of Scythe 2. Compared to its UV setting, depopulate that map somewhat, and make many of those monsters weaker, and it's easier even without changing the general strategic location of monsters. Like, using revenants instead of most afrits and hell knights instead of most mancubi would make things less deadly. You could also turn the map into less of a slaughter fest by removing most of the opposition in the open areas and leaving stuff on ledges and strategic places. It would be easier because you wouldn't have to worry about wiping, avoiding or weakening the central open areas much while trying to access the ledge areas to progress, in addition to perhaps by placing a somewhat weaker opposition on those ledges. What you'd reduce and how much would depend on whether it's skill 2 or 3. Maybe 3 could be an easier blastfest (than 4) and 2 a more "traditional" placement that is a bit easier yet.

Only when the monsters are placed so that they can physically corner you the monster count becomes a factor of difficulty in slaughter maps, and such occasions aren't that common.

Rather, placement is always a factor.

Given enough ammo there's no difference in fighting 10 or 50 cybers in the (otherwise empty) first room of NUTS.wad.

The mere fact that you need more time to bring them all down means there's some difference in difficulty, however minor, especially considering uniform monsters that don't infight. Sure, if you really want to make a difference in difficulty, make arrangements to the maps so some or all can be placed in more threatening positions.

Difficulty is something like "numbers x placement / infighting", where placement is a factor that increases by placing monsters in nasty locations or by making it harder to get to items, and infighting increases with open areas and population.

Assuming you meant you can't ignore monsters as easily in low ammo and low health maps, I'd disagree. It's those maps in particular where ignoring monsters becomes a valuable tactic, as it's a great way to save ammo on monsters that wouldn't be outright deadly.

Assuming a map with less ammo, less health and less monsters, you can't rely as much on infighting and inflicting mass damage and will rely more necessarily on particular existing items because they are scarce. Every medikit counts, whereas in a blastfest some redundancy exists due to the fact that each fight is an explosion, and each section is more volatile. If you need to pick up most health items or ammo, the route can become less dynamic.

Not to mention that in such maps infighting and tysoning become much more valuable...compared to pure BFG or rocket fests, low ammo maps tend to be much more varied.

Sort of; those are useful tactics but aside from the aforementioned decreased infighting opportunities, tysoning can be a risk when health is scarce. Those are best used in something between a blastfest and a map with tight item placement. To a point, Darkening 2 fits there, but there are better examples.

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I know how to make easy maps, hard maps and medium difficulty maps with 1 monster and with 1000 monsters. That's not the issue in this poll, the issue is the general preference among players. Looks like the sloping scale difficulty is winning so far.

Of course there will then also be an intra-episode progression with steeper slope than the inter-episode progression and also individual map variance (map06 will probably be easier than map05 for example).

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Erik said:
I know how to make easy maps, hard maps and medium difficulty maps with 1 monster and with 1000 monsters.

Yeah, that's evident from your maps and part of that was just sidetalk with Jodwin to make sure we were talking about the same thing, though my point was "avoid looking for a single answer in UV" and "perhaps it doesn't have to play the same way in all 3 skills."

For example, easy could use a more traditional monster placement without huge hordes, medium could do something like Scythe yet a bit more lax on the slaughter fests and hard something approximating Scythe 2.

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Considering my favourite wads are AV and Scythe 2, that's exactly where i stand. These two wads helped me develop whatever skill i have today by forcing me to practice the maps until i got them right. I prefer wads that offer a challenge even after you're done with them. Scythe 1 didn't really have that for me i've beaten it twice, while on the other hand i've played through scythe 2 multiple times now. I can plow through the first 24 maps in scythe 1 under 45 minutes, while map 30 on the other hand took me almost an hour to get through the first time i played it.

I totally agree with what kristus is saying. It's the players own stupidity if they can't judge their skill level and continue torturing themselves by playing on a skill level they're not meant to play. The only thing that changes between the two modes is monster placement after all.

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Call me masochistic, but I usually like maps that are hard at first, but then get harder as they go on, especially towards and right at the end.

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myk said:

Take Map28 of Scythe 2...

Well, as long as we're simply talking about downsizing the hordes instead of changing monsters to drastically different kinds, that's a poor example of a map. Pretty much the only fight in Scythe 2's map28 that could be made drastically easier simply by removing some monsters would be the very last fight, as in the other fights the monster placement is, IMHO, rather easy. Sure if you want to replace afrits with easier monsters and so on, that's a different story, but monster counts alone are more of an intimidation factor for less experienced players in maps like that one.



More on topic, I'd add to my previous post that while I like really hard maps the most and would prefer the easier maps to be there just for progression and for being "breather maps", there still should be some kind of "progression" throughout a whole megawad even after reaching the hard part. Whether the progression would be simply in pure difficulty, or a combination of difficulty and gameplay style doesn't really matter, as long as it doesn't feel like the wad has stalled. Whilst it was a good wad, that's exactly what Plutonia 2 felt like to me: After a while it just didn't progress anywhere and there was nothing to look forward to.

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Jodwin said:
Sure if you want to replace afrits with easier monsters and so on, that's a different story, but monster counts alone are more of an intimidation factor for less experienced players in maps like that one.

Can't say I agree, being throttled in there by swarms of fireballs coming from different sides, especially those trailing missiles. Had there been less monsters and an easier way to advance without exposing myself, it would have mattered less. If anything, it increases the task of clearing your way, especially if you're maxing or something like that, exposing you for more time to more attacks. Even if you're just running the mass guarantees more chances of being blocked or nailed by something.

If the number of monsters has no effect, try placing only one of each type in each general location, where applicable, and tell me the difficulty hasn't changed... or go a step farther and use only one of each type in the two rooms of Nuts as applicable :p

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I almost always play maps as individual pistol-start units with little regard to the megawad as a whole in terms of overall difficulty progression or whatever.

Difficulty can mean achieving the goal of exiting the map at all (with or without max kills), or doing it as fast as possible. The latter is usually as hard as the player can handle. For example 1024clau map3 isn't 'hard', but beating skepticist's 1:19 uvmax is damn hard (for me). And of course difficulty is relative to varying player skill.

I guess it makes most sense to design levels however YOU want. Trying to mold it to fit with the desires of the greatest majority is more about gaining recognition than doing something you want to do? Doom2.wad was commercial so makes sense for them to appeal to a large audience by implementing difficulty settings. Now, people seem to want to appeal to the largest majority to get 'praise' like 'cacowards' (which AFAIK is just an individual (or small group?)'s opinion of which wads are 'best', no more valuable than any other individual's opinion aside from the irrelevant factor that those reviews are popular with their own website.)

I tend to like complexity/chaos/challenge where the fastest route is not obvious/hard to figure out (I don't mean because of some tricky glides or vile/rocket jumps (though dew loves that stuff :)), but just because of the general nonlinear layout, like: should I start an infighting chain reaction here first or trigger these warpers first or get that ssg first etc. And if there's random monster types (and thus infightable) all around, sight-blocking walls/confinement help them not mass infight and also help you not be able to round them up in an easily killable circle (I assume like nuts, but too much slow down to try). Also I tend to like maps that aren't too long or short. The former requires non-risky/safe playing if you expect to complete it in a reasonable number of attempts (but that's a demo-recording point of view.. one could make a 4 hour super difficult map, but have saved games an intended part of the gameplay or something). I don't know, there's no 'rule' and interesting designs can vary. Some speedrunners seem to like shorter 'easier' levels (still difficult with the additional goals of speed & perfection) with more obvious linear routes where they perfect everything.

One thing, for me, I've played hr maps 11/13/26/etc a lot.. but hardly played maps 1-10 at all since they're just 'normal' typical levels, not 'difficult'/slaughtermaps. Even though it would still be hard to do maps 1-10 as fast as possible, I guess the 'harder' ones interest me more/more replay value/strategy. But that's just me.

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Easy at first then gradually harder all the way WITH difficulty settings enabled. That is, levels should start as 'easy' by the standards of the difficulty setting chosen, escalating slowly until the later levels are 'hard' by the standards of the setting.

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I say make the maps murderous on UV, and normal (Easy/Medium/Hard) on HMP, then scale typically for the other difficulties. Then only true Doom Masters will play on UV and the whiners will just get creamed.

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