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traversd

Computer Map (Where&When to place)

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As the topic suggests what do players prefer in relation to the placement of a computer map power-up?

Well hidden early in the map to be an advantage?

A gimme pickup towards the end to help get all secrets?

Not to be used at all? Something else?

Small maps don't always call for it, but should larger maps always have one?

Yes, I'm working on a map and have just found myself asking the question should I relocate or remove the computer map I put in.

;o)

Travers

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traversd said:

A gimme pickup towards the end to help get all secrets?

I don't really use computer maps myself, but that right there is a really bad idea. It would effectively mean that people who want to find secrets by themselves couldn't use the automap after getting the computer map, since it would spoil the secrets.

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Merely knowing the location of a secret doesn't necessarily mean that you know how to get there -- for example, it's pretty easy to see the soulsphere in E1M3, but it took me FOREVER to figure out what action lowered the lift and opened the panel. Still, as a designer, I tend to shy away from adding them to my maps -- if it appears at all, it's usually in a (late) secret itself.

As a player, though, I certainly don't mind picking them up; if the author doesn't mind me having it, I don't see why I can't use it.

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traversd said:
Well hidden early in the map to be an advantage?

This is a good option, or you could also place it later but before a relatively complex area of the level. In E1M6 it's in a maze-like area and might help a confused player in there.

A gimme pickup towards the end to help get all secrets?

This seems like a waste compared to the previous option. I'd rather leave later secrets for other items unless the very end of the level has some complexity that benefits from the computer map.

Small maps don't always call for it, but should larger maps always have one?

No, but the more complex or confusing they are, the more sense it makes.

Essentially, it serves two purposes. It may offer some help during the initial exploration. After that, it's the power-up that becomes most useless, but it remains an excuse for a secret area which can be useful in speed running. In that sense, it's nice because it doesn't offer benefits. When doing all kills and secrets, the player sometimes gets too powerful from getting all the goodies. If one of those doesn't really add to his arsenal or defense, that is minimized without making the secret look pointless.

I don't think it should be hidden too well, but intelligently. If you hide it too obscurely, most players will miss it the only time it's fully useful. Hints may help here, or you could make it viewable yet inaccessible like the one in E1M7. You can barely see it on that ledge, and some might even miss it the first time around. That one even has two ways to access it; by running from the rising pillar over the gap or by finding the switch that raises the connection to the bridge border.

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Personal preference. One could argue not to nerf the level and make the powerup at least *slightly* hard to find, but if you want to stick it in the entry room then go for it :P

I remember one PWAD author who included an automap powerup in a secret off the exit room of almost every map he ever made. That was convenient, as I'd looked for secrets all though the level and it was nice to see how to get to the ones which frustrated me. I would have just opened the maps in an editor anyway.

Keep in mind you can also set lines to "Hidden" which means they never appear on the map, even after the player has picked up the automap powerup, so you can selectively hide secrets or other areas if you so desire.

I usually only use the map for areas where I get lost, or when hunting for secrets, and sometimes when authors make interesting looking constructions. All the things you suggested are logical placements, you understand game balance well so I'm sure whatever you do will be fine.

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I place computer maps always in an hard to find secret area. Its probably one of those powerups along with the blur sphere that I rarely use though. For me it also depends on the complexity and size of the map if I decide to use one.

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Like others have been saying, if you create an area in the map that you believe could become quite comfusing to the player, it would be nice to have a secret nearby containing an automap. Don't stick in an automap for the sake of having an automap.

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