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40oz

Limitations breed innovation

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I've been on a 1994 wad binge lately. Something that has really been bringing a spark to my attention was that while usually you don't get a lot of pretty maps, the layouts for the maps are usually very good. Very sharp, non-linear map design. The monster placement is often pretty effective and there is usually a very well balanced amount of ammo and health.

Granted I'm talking about wads from the 'Best of 1994' category of the cacowards, but these wads usually make excellent use of lighting effects, and line actions such as teleport ambush traps, crushing ceilings, stairbuilding and such. I feel like the initial things that Doom was capable of are not utilized much at all in todays standards. New mappers are consistently being introduced to crazy source ports and mapping in "Doom in Hexen Format" and trying to learn 3d bridges, scripting, and portals and all that shit that was never in Doom so that they can attempt to create the new groundbreaking experience they always visualized.

Stop trying to change Doom.

I think what's really lacking these days are maps that play like our original Doom 1 experiences. And I'm not talking about atmosphere, I'm talking about difficulty progression, having a balanced/slightly abundant ammo and health placement, good traps, and utilization of vanilla doom line actions.

I'm very convinced that new mappers would be way better off if they were more familiar with doom's original behavior, instead of being introduced to crazy mods that completely rewrite the gameplay and design of doom. They should be creating things based on what Doom is capable of instead of trying to use things that are beyond what Doom was originally meant to do.

When maps are made in Vanilla or Boom format, your choices in line actions and sector effects are much more limited, leaving you to have to utilize what you have to make the things you want. Some things can't be made in Doom without portals and 3d floors and whatever. Get over it. Do some critical thinking and find a way around it to create something as close to it as possible. That's where the real rewards are.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that even though 1994 wads are known to be very lame looking, they fill in a hole that's been lacking over the last 5-10 years that really needs to be filled. I haven't lost hope in the Doom community, but what I'm saying needs to be said. I think all of those who have not yet created a good number of wads and are still getting familiar with mapping should really consider what is being said.

Learn to Doom. First find out what Doom is capable of and what makes Doom so great. Don't try to change what it is. EXPRESS WHAT IT IS. I'd much rather new mappers create lame underdetailed 1994-looking maps but focus on keeping the ammo levels high, putting health where it's needed, and creating good fights and traps instead of single maps that use 7000 textures, script sequences, and new decorate monsters.

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I think it's most healthy for aspiring level designers to design what is interesting them in creating maps in the first place, not on communal recommendations.

As for the vanilla vs. advanced features, that's a decade old debate.

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I personally hate anything more advanced than Boom-compitable, so I totally agree with op.

I will never (try to) make anything else than boom/limit-removing maps.

ps: but I wont make "totally old school" maps either. I just cant get my self to NOT detail it to a certain degree.

I still suck at making good gameplay, but I try to learn, and its my first priority

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As the author of a port that spans both worlds, I can see both sides. I have always had a very strong appreciation for the old-school methods, and at the same time, I like to find solutions that make it easier to do things that are different.

I think there has to be room for both.

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40oz just got my full respect. Well said.

The last time I remember myself shaking my head and laughing in amusement, but also in respect, was when I played SERENITY II and got caught in the coolest trap ever made in the history DooM! Ever! 1994 wads really have a certain charm about them that seemed to get lost in modern wads where you're supposed to swim while dodging rockets and run on bridges while getting an anime sound track drilled into your ears.

With regards to gameplay, I've also found myself getting more adrenaline playing the best 1994 wads than anything else. However I'm not going to underdetail my maps, but I've been taking tips with from the gameplay and general layouts from those maps.

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40oz said:

When maps are made in Vanilla or Boom format

Uh. You're already pushing the line. Vanilla or Boom. What's Boom? More features, that allow to do things that Doom cannot do, such as voodoo doll scripting for complex effects. If you start pushing it a bit, why not push it more? Like say, still Boom, but with maybe some sky transfers as well! Oh wait, that's MBF? Well, the major Boom-compatible ports are MBF compatible as well, aren't they. Maybe... Maybe some hi-res textures like in Hell Ground? It's still Boom! And so on.

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I all honestly I don't enjoy playing (G)Zdoom maps as much as maps that are in an different format like boom or limit removing. I mapped for Zdoom for a while, and never really liked to make maps for that port. I think I'm just too much of an old school doom fan or whatever. So far mapping for plain doom 2 format gives me all the fun and satisfaction I need.

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I agree on what 40oz is saying, I also prefer vanilla/boom compatible wads then anything else but with the exception of CTF and Skulltag's Invasion mode. Which reminds me I need to get back on my Doom ep2 vanilla project -_-;

DeathevokatioN said:

run on bridges while getting an anime sound track drilled into your ears.


lol your talking about the Anime Mansion map on Invasion Unleashed am I right?

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I also like the more traditional format (Doom in Doom format) because it feels familiar to me but I don't mind subtle or minor amounts of special FX in maps that don't spoil it with fancy glitter or gimmicks that highlight the architecture or gameplay in the maps.

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Tradereddy; you can build stairs with linedef actions a few different ways, just cause there's a catch-all stairbuilding action doesn't mean individually raising stairs in epically cool ways can't be better ;)

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Epic stairbuilding in Perdition's Gate:

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Sigh, this again...

I'm very convinced that new mappers would be way better off if they were more familiar with doom's original behavior, instead of being introduced to crazy mods that completely rewrite the gameplay and design of doom. They should be creating things based on what Doom is capable of instead of trying to use things that are beyond what Doom was originally meant to do.


Depends what they want to make...if they want to make so-called crazy mods, then 1994 mapping won't be much use as most of it's specials won't be used. General stuff like doors/lifts etc. yeah, but for advanced stairbuilding, 3D bridges, instant moving sectors etc. they'll just use the modern methods.

On the other hand, look at me...I started with vanilla mapping (inspired by many mid-90's Doom 1 maps) but was soon on my own mapping style and squeezing the engine and my creativity to do it. And I went through the ports, ditching the old methods in favour of the new until I got to where I am now with the fantasy world containing all kinds of complex stuff. I much prefer doing things the new way, simply because so much more can be achieved in terms of experience and the ideas I get can be so much more closely replicated.

So yeah, I ended up the same place they did...but by going through the vanilla channels like you're suggesting :P

When maps are made in Vanilla or Boom format, your choices in line actions and sector effects are much more limited, leaving you to have to utilize what you have to make the things you want. Some things can't be made in Doom without portals and 3d floors and whatever. Get over it. Do some critical thinking and find a way around it to create something as close to it as possible. That's where the real rewards are.



Creativity expresses itself in many ways...whether it's old-fashioned midtex bridges, voodoo scripting or complex 3D floor structures. The only difference is the limits that you set yourself (which includes GZDoom, there are still limits there), and it's succeeding within those limits that bring the real rewards.

Learn to Doom. First find out what Doom is capable of and what makes Doom so great. Don't try to change what it is. EXPRESS WHAT IT IS. I'd much rather new mappers create lame underdetailed 1994-looking maps but focus on keeping the ammo levels high, putting health where it's needed, and creating good fights and traps instead of single maps that use 7000 textures, script sequences, and new decorate monsters.


I found many Doom 1 episodes with lots of ammo etc. to be quite a borefest tbh...I much preferred it when ammo was tight and you had to berserk stuff rather than just holding down the fire shotgun key for x rooms on end.

Uh. You're already pushing the line. Vanilla or Boom. What's Boom? More features, that allow to do things that Doom cannot do, such as voodoo doll scripting for complex effects. If you start pushing it a bit, why not push it more? Like say, still Boom, but with maybe some sky transfers as well! Oh wait, that's MBF? Well, the major Boom-compatible ports are MBF compatible as well, aren't they. Maybe... Maybe some hi-res textures like in Hell Ground? It's still Boom! And so on.


Throw in a couple more (let's say deep water and coloured lights) and you're just a few printed messages away from ZDoom territory...wads like Dark 7 etc. that keep classic gameplay but throw in a bunch of features.

But in short, there's no right or wrong way to map...as long as you're happy with what you're doing.

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Gez said:

Uh. You're already pushing the line. Vanilla or Boom. What's Boom? More features, that allow to do things that Doom cannot do, such as voodoo doll scripting for complex effects. If you start pushing it a bit, why not push it more? Like say, still Boom, but with maybe some sky transfers as well! Oh wait, that's MBF? Well, the major Boom-compatible ports are MBF compatible as well, aren't they. Maybe... Maybe some hi-res textures like in Hell Ground? It's still Boom! And so on.


Alright I'll give you that. Boom still has it's limits though. Even though personally I try to avoid crazy boom stuff, especially wind and icy floors. I was hesitant to utilize Voodoo scripting in UAC Ultra, and I've never used in any other map I've made. I really wish Doom format supported sky transfers so you could have a change in scenery in short episodes though.

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I can see the best of both worlds. For instance, take a look at Deus Vult: Boom format, and my favorite PWAD (except perhaps for AV, if only because it lasts longer).

However, I cannot deny that zDoom is absolutely amazing. But it should only be a tool for more experienced mappers. I kept my crap learner's maps in Vanilla format, and deleted them almost immediately afterwards. For my in-limbo MAP# = #Sectors project, I toyed with the idea of making it Boom in order to maximize my innovation.

All of the classics, it seems, are Boom/Vanilla. Even the more modern classics, such as PL2, WoS, DVII... (except for a few extra features you get when playing with zDoom, such as better tunage).

There are a few features of zDoom that I love. Line horizons and non-bitchy bridges, for instance. Scripting is a very powerful tool, and as such can also be abused and misused. Off the top of my head, one nice script would be to check if a trampoline splatters your guts against a wall: the script checks your velocity; if your speed is too high and you clearly got shoved off of a pusher, you die. If your speed is normal, no damage is dealt. This sort of thing would probably be impossible to do in Boom/vanilla.

But I like looking up and down; I like my crosshairs, and I certainly like exhaust on my rockets.

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Mostly, the awesome features of ZDoom, like cool 6 sided skyboxes or taller skies, jumping & crouching, portal effects, etc., are all neat features that I'd like to see in all the good wads made since 1993. Basically, good vanilla layouts and gameplay with visual candy added on. The problem is, these effects haven't been around long, so the amount of good maps made with modern features isn't comparable to all the good vanilla maps made in the 16 years of Doom.

So I say, modders need to focus on making their project for vanilla and perfect the fun-factor, then convert to Hexen map format or whatever and add everything else on. Then you have two versions at release time, to please everyone. But that may be too much work, and isn't possible for super-different mods like Urban Brawl.

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A great number of us never started with Vanilla Doom, and perhaps weren't even born when it came out. Thus, we should not be expected to give a shit and would prefer to take advantage of the incredible enhancements offered by modern sourceports.

For example, how do you think my vcdag.wad would have worked in Vanilla Doom? It wouldn't. It wouldn't even have the Doo Dah Doo Doo dance playing in the background, which is vital to the atmosphere of the level.

And silent portals are the greatest thing to happen to DOOM since the invention of bridges. I don't want to go back to a time before silent portals, unless I'm playing the Darkening Episode 2.

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phi108 said:

So I say, modders need to focus on making their project for vanilla and perfect the fun-factor, then convert to Hexen map format or whatever and add everything else on. Then you have two versions at release time, to please everyone. But that may be too much work, and isn't possible for super-different mods like Urban Brawl.


If you're actually integrating sourceport features into your wad as more than "lol I can see an inaccessible square room through this random hole in the ceiling," trying to build your entire map first and tack them on later is likely going to look just like that: a bunch of crap tacked on that's totally unnecessary to the work.

I think the issue with starting out working with advanced sourceports is the hugely increased number of areas that a new mapper can get sidetracked in, and hugely increased possibilities to polish a really bad or unremarkable map with something like scripting, additive light effects, ripped Unreal skyboxes, etc.

The simpler a base you begin working with, the less room you have to bury your mistakes in flashiness, and the more chance that you'll more quickly learn from them.

I wouldn't recommend vanilla itself as a starting point, because the drawsegs and visplane limits add unnecessary hassle that has nothing to do with the process of learning to map. Limit-removing or, at most, Boom.

I would, however, consider "make a fully vanilla-compatible map that's as entertaining as your sourceport works" a great challenge to experienced mappers who find themselves relying heavily on sourceport feature use and could use some improvement in core areas like layout and monster/item placement.

And I don't mean "agonize over trying to push vanilla past its perceived limits," mind you. The simplicity enforced (or at least strongly suggested) by the limits is the point: The Doom.wad shareware episode is still fun and worth a gameplay/layout study even 16 years later; how do your designs hold up under similar constraints?

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Viewtiful-Chris said:

A great number of us never started with Vanilla Doom, and perhaps weren't even born when it came out. Thus, we should not be expected to give a shit and would prefer to take advantage of the incredible enhancements offered by modern sourceports.


That's one of the dumbest things I've ever read. Why? Everything goes back to vanilla. Saying you don't give a shit about it is, to me at least, the equivalent of saying that you don't give a shit about history in general.

I feel like you have to able to respect the original as well as understand it before you can really appreciate what it is today. That is true for Doom, that is true for music, film, politics... anything. Knowing where this game stands now is one thing, and I'm not saying it's a bad thing. Plenty of good (G)Zdoom (dop2, epic, etc.), legacy (phobia), and Boom (wos, uacultra, etc.), but if anyone asks me what my favorite format is, I'll answer in a heartbeat: vanilla... okay, limit-removing, but you get the picture.

That doesn't mean I'm knocking on newer engines... that'd be stupid, because there's plenty of good to go around.

Sorry if you feel like I'm going after you or something, but really... what the hell? Maybe I'm misunderstanding, or you were saying something that you didn't quite communicate properly. I dunno.

tl;dr: Not giving a shit about vanilla is kind of stupid.

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That sort of argument seems fallacious to me, you'll just chase "roots" back unto absurdity, looking at how W sprang from X sprang from Y sprang from Z sprang from...

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I'm not saying that you have to get a full-blown understanding of everything, though. What I'm trying to say is that a general, broad knowledge is a good thing to have. I typed all that a bit hastily, so I don't think I said what I meant quite clearly.

What I mean to say is that having at least a general understanding of the history of something, and not a "dig as far back as possible" kind of encyclopedic pursuit, makes everything that is relevant as of now that much more intriguing. It's just more... uh, fufilling? I can't quite think of the right word.

Being able to play a wad for ZDoom today is entertaining; playing that same wad while understanding what it took for it to be even possible is another entirely.

Then again, I'm a history major, sooo.... yeah, maybe I'm alone in that train of thought.

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I've been playing Doom since 1994, so I'm quite familiar with the history; but after pouring so many thousands of hours into Doom I often prefer to see the game's classic run-and-gun nature explored from different perspectives or given fresh new twists, especially since there are no run-and-gun shooters being made these days that don't have ridiculous cartoon guns like UT3 and Painkiller.

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esselfortium said:

And I don't mean "agonize over trying to push vanilla past its perceived limits," mind you. The simplicity enforced (or at least strongly suggested) by the limits is the point: The Doom.wad shareware episode is still fun and worth a gameplay/layout study even 16 years later; how do your designs hold up under similar constraints?



If you change the first sentence into "agonize over trying to use every feature your port offers" we have pretty much reached the root of the problem with modern port mapping. Far too many projects are too concerned to squeeze every mapping feature dry instead of making something that plays well.

Just looking over the ZDoom forums it's nearly impossible to find any project that just tries to be Doom with some advanced stuff. It's almost exclusively TCs, weapon mods and projects that far exceed the creators' capabilities. It looks like the features mostly attract the overambitious crowd that sets their limits too high. Not surprisingly, only few of these projects ever see the light of day and even fewer are actually good. And still fewer keep the spirit of Doom alive.

So my conclusion is that the more freedom a port offers the less likely the chance is that it's being used well. And that's a significant part of why my motivation to work on Doom is at the lowest point since I started 10 years ago.

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I have a huge respect for maps and mappers who can use advanced features to enhance the fundamental simplicity and atmosphere/gameplay that Vanilla doom is.

Coz no amount of special effects/slopes/particle fountains/scripted sequences can cover for fundamental design flaws in architecture/gameplay.

Just off the top of my head, Agent Spork's 'Ultimate Simplicity' is probably the best example of a wad that uses advanced features while still being really strong in the 'basics' of gameplay and level design. 'Thunderpeak' would be another obvious choice.

In terms of great 1994 wads, I would like to throw in "Cor_hell.wad'
and 'blside.wad' as two of my favorite classic wads. To me, these two epitomize what is great about custom levels. Every texture perfectly aligned? Hell no. Ripping intense gameplay? Hell yes...

Snakes said:

Being able to play a wad for ZDoom today is entertaining; playing that same wad while understanding what it took for it to be even possible is another entirely.

Then again, I'm a history major, sooo.... yeah, maybe I'm alone in that train of thought.


No you ain't alone here. I totally agree. Seeing where Doom has come from will make you a better mapper as well as a gamer.

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Kyka said:

'Thunderpeak' would be another obvious choice.



I think ZPack as a whole is a great learning example because the good maps in it are perfect showcases of how to do things right and the bad maps can serve as severe warnings of things not to do.

I only need to think of 'KDiZD Launch Base': Great map design that should have been one of the highlights but all got nuked to death by a ridiculous timer that was way too tight and would be one of the prime examples of bad ideas used in a map. It surely ranks as utter fail in its unmodified form in my book.

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I started making maps back in around '95-'96 or so (although most of them were for Heretic), and I remember having to scrap entire map sections because I was constantly hitting that visplane limit, or worse, that savegame boffer overrun error. I'm glad there are ports that remove those limits so I can make much larger maps.

Those new ZDoom features like slopes, transfer heights (I still don't know much about this one), decorate, and GZDoom things, I haven't bothered to look into until quite recently, and I have plenty of experience in making new and weird effects that are also still mostly compatible with vanilla. The latest thing I came up with was in Cacophony (1monster map 19). When you first enter the second building, you'll see several cacodemons descending from the skylight right above. Sure, this would have been easy with a few 3D floors or whatever, but it was a rather complicated procedure to get it to work in vanilla. Other fun things include those hanging cages, the soulsphere secret in that same area, and in Spookhouse, the moonlight in the library (yes, that's a well known technique, but still...) and the final Dismal Oubliette type elevator. All of these can be used in vanilla maps.

Of course all of this can't save a map if the gameplay sucks. You could have the best looking map of all time, but if it's not fun, it won't matter. This is why I liked the Gene Bird maps in the CC wads (well, most of them anyway). They may have that surreal, 1994 look to them, but I rather enjoyed them (Spirit HQ or whatever it's called, not so much).

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