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Herculine

Aesthetics versus Fun

Visuals versus Action  

33 members have voted

  1. 1. Visuals versus Action

    • Visuals
      4
    • Action
      29


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I'm currently replaying through a series of levels simply entitled TAB by the author Michael Cortorno (or Contorno, depending upon which of the over 30 files you look at).

http://www.filefront.com/10454348/TAB.zip/

These maps get a lot of flak in reviews because of their lack of texture alignment, among other visual flaws. Yet I'm playing through them again because not only do I think the levels are fun and challenging, but in my opinion they are designed well. Each level is uniquely different from the others in its design and challenge, in my opinion rivaling the famous Master Levels. Okay, I have no idea what the TAB stands for, but the fact that so many diverse maps all came from a single author impresses me. Sure, I can see all the misaligned and mismatched textures, but as I'm playing through the maps I tend not to notice that so much because I'm enjoying the maps themselves.

So why are visual aesthetics so important to us? I've played a lot of maps that were visually stunning with custom textures, elaborately detailed architecture and perfectly aligned textures as far as the Doomguy can see, yet they left me with a meh feeling in regard to the gameplay. Conversely, some of the best and toughest maps I've played were made of nothing more than MARBLE1 or SHAWN2. So, in my opinion, looks are not nearly as important as gameplay.

What do you think? Which is more important: eye candy or action?

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I personally go for the eye candy first when I look at screencaps of a WAD. If it looks good (nice graphics, good lighting, creative use of textures, etc.), I feel more inclinded to play it. Although, some WADs with stunning have been pretty bland in terms of game play.

There are WADs I've played with so-so graphics and good game play. But, in the end, if the visuals are flawed, I'm kind of left with a bad taste in my mouth at the end, so to speak. Then again, I feel just as disappointed if a WAD boasts great visuals but lousy, uninspired game play.

So, really, for me, it's a combination of both that matters when I actually play WADs. All of my favorites have great or innovative game play plus stunning visuals, and, in some cases, a chilling atmosphere (i.e. "Unloved," "The Ultimate Torment and Torture," "Nightomb," "UAC Ultra," "Mapgame," etc.)

In the end, though, it's up the player what he/she likes.

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SlayeR said:

Where's the 'both' option? For me they are equally important (though aesthetics != detail)


Well, that's kinda the point. Of course we all want to have our cake and eat it too. In a perfect world every map would be visually stunning and have us clutching the mouse with white knuckles muttering: "Just one more missile... please, let me find just one more missile..." But alas, our world is not perfect. This poll is just an effort to gauge what is the majority in this community. Should I wrack my brain trying to create the most deviously designed map ever... or should I spend the next four years on it, drawing elaborate details around every window and doorway?

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As much as I respect the artistic vision and hard work of many elite mappers, boy would I like to put up a giant spot light on this post of yours and have it plastered on huge 400'x800' billboards to be forever burned into the consciousnesses of mappers everywhere.

Now I don't really want to put down Whispers of Satan, but I'm really struggling to get through it, not because it's hard, but because for all its aesthetic creativity and originality, it has the most repetitive and unoriginal gameplay, with the exception of a very cool crate area on map05 (I'm on map12). So it's very pertinent to your post. The only reason I'm pushing through on WoS is because supposedly it gets better after map12. But, yeah, to answer your question in a nutshell, GAMEPLAY OVER TEXTURE ALIGNMENT FOR ALL ETERNITY! I dunno, I grew up on misaligned textures, it just doesn't bother me that much and can give a map a certain mid-90s charm. For me it's like, what do you like more, a town with some rustic character and winding roads, or one that has a manicured look gleaming with new polished houses and storefronts and is on a grid? Now don't get me wrong, if a map has poor texture alignments and plays as bad as many high-end polished projects, than you can absolutely forget about it. At least a good looking map that plays bad has some redemptive quality. But with so much trending to prioritize looks over gameplay, I always feel the need to voice my opinion on this matter when the opportunity arises. :D

Herculine said:

Well, that's kinda the point. Of course we all want to have our cake and eat it too. In a perfect world every map would be visually stunning and have us clutching the mouse with white knuckles muttering: "Just one more missile... please, let me find just one more missile..." But alas, our world is not perfect. This poll is just an effort to gauge what is the majority in this community. Should I wrack my brain trying to create the most deviously designed map ever... or should I spend the next four years on it, drawing elaborate details around every window and doorway?


I sure like the way you articulate the problem, Herculine. You should wrack your brain trying to create the most deviously designed map ever ffs! Man, I should stop bitching and start leading by example. Damn, you've lit a fire under my ass, boy.

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Herculine said:

Well, that's kinda the point. Of course we all want to have our cake and eat it too. In a perfect world every map would be visually stunning and have us clutching the mouse with white knuckles muttering: "Just one more missile... please, let me find just one more missile..." But alas, our world is not perfect. This poll is just an effort to gauge what is the majority in this community. Should I wrack my brain trying to create the most deviously designed map ever... or should I spend the next four years on it, drawing elaborate details around every window and doorway?


[offtopic] I've always wondered where the heck that italicized saying comes from. It makes very little sense except from the standpoint of a baker selling his goods or twisting words around into such a way it implies that you can have a slice of cake, but not the whole thing.[/offtopic]

Anyway, gameplay over visuals for me. But there is a certain standard of cohesiveness that a map has to have or it becomes painful to play in. Which is why I really like what the 1994 challenge is doing ... and what I contributed to it, heh. For my own maps though, I like gothic and/or hell maps, so I have this kind of weird clash of uberdetailed interior/sparse outdoors going on in some of my maps. But like slayer said, aesthetics != detail ...

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I think good looks are really cool. But, if I like playing a map, I don't care how it looks. I'm not going to criticize a map's looks if I liked playing it, and the looks don't negatively affect my enjoyment. If you've seen some of my maps or maps I like, you know what I mean. Wouldn't you like to enjoy ugly maps? Well, I do enjoy them if I like the gameplay. :P

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Put all your efforts into making your map as fun to play as possible. You can always change/allign textures or add detail afterwards.

All I need aesthetically are neat, thoughtfully chosen textures with enough diversity or standout points to avoid getting lost.

Back to Basics or Needs More Detail are often cited as examples of how to do basic aesthetics without looking bad.

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ArmouredBlood said:

(have your cake and eat it too) I've always wondered where the heck that italicized saying comes from. It makes very little sense except from the standpoint of a baker selling his goods or twisting words around into such a way it implies that you can have a slice of cake, but not the whole thing.


I used to not pay much attention to and dismiss that phrase as random cultural stupidity brought to you by the same people that gave schwarzenegger political power. But after the phrase was spammed at me one too many times, forcing me to give it more conscious attention I realized that 'have cake' can be misinterpreted.

'i am going to have cake' can mean i am going to EAT it.
'i have cake' means i literally HAVE (own/possess) cake, and that phrase uses this meaning (I think).
In other words it means 'own your cake and eat it too', not 'eat your cake and eat it too'.

So 'have your cake and eat it too'.. say you HAVE (own) some cake.. if you eat it, then you will no longer have (own) it.. because you ate it so its gone (you will have it but it will be in the form of energy and slowly forming poop inside you).

--

On topic, its just a matter of opinion but I pretty strongly weigh toward gameplay. Certain visuals increase the fun factor (the gun reloading, the evil looking monsters, etc.. or in punch out when you punch bald bull and his eyes roll around. And sound effects can similarly add. I don't tend to like stuff like cut scenes or being 3d for no worthy reason though which don't add to the gameplay/skill/etc itself.
You can take simplicity to the extreme and replace all doom enemies with a single verticle line, maybe color coded in such a way to give all the necessary information (gonna throw a fireball now, etc) but no immersive graphics. Same simplicity for the 3d world and everything else. That would still be fun to me probably but I'd probably like the visual monsters and stuff a lot better.

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What do you think? Which is more important: eye candy or action?


Ultimately action, but what I think is most important overall is to stop hiding behind gameplay to justify poor aesthetics (which seems to be a trend these days, see Keyblade Master's recent helled threadjack), especially when the action isn't actually that good.

I definitely think good maps can get away with little attention to detail, gggmork's maps use one texture and flat and are a blast to play, for example. However, many (most ?) maps who immediately claim to be focused on gameplay as soon as someone mentions looks tend to suck terribly at gameplay.

There isn't a finite amount of time people have to work on a map, nor do people have the same speed or talent. Some might make four years working on detail alone a single map, some might just need a few months to crank out a good looking mapset that also plays well.

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Of course gameplay matters the most, but I think you're mistaken in taking texture alignment and glitches as part of "great aesthetics." Texture alignment is very basic, mundane stuff that should always have a high priority among visuals-related things, because badly aligned textures "break" the map: Good aligning isn't something that's pretty, rather, bad aligning is a bug. A visual bug.

Still, aesthetics are important as well, since it's them (along with music) that sets the map's theme and atmosphere. A map's visuals can greatly either enhance or hinder gameplay, which is something you should always be mindful of.

Saying that gameplay itself is all that matters is, frankly, bull. Depending on the game it's at most 50 - 75 % of the whole: Visuals, music and sounds are also very important for the whole gameplay experience. You can see for yourself simply by changing all textures in E1 into STARTAN, making all sectors have 256 lighting, replacing all monsters with red blobs and turning off your speakers. The result will be far from the original, despite the core gameplay staying perfectly untouched.

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@Jodwin: I guess that was directed at me :p. Sound, graphics and music are a major reason why I still play doom. I totally agree with you on those things. Doom's blending of art and sound are top notch. Sound, lighting, theme, music are all very integral, I just feel that many mappers' vision of a great level is missing the mark. I guess I just never really felt that uber detail fits doom, or that it's ever really been pulled off satisfyingly. After all the detail, is there really room left for solid layout and gameplay? If I was more talented I'd make maps I wish the talented mapmakers would make. I think all things being equal, time and energy spent on ceiling detail is better spent on improved level design and gameplay. Levels should have a distinct setting, atmosphere and mood, they shouldn't feel like more time was spent on how they look than how they play. I guess my point is less is more. More mappers should try to accomplish more with less--more atmosphere, aesthetics, mood and theme with less ornate detail. I's-a purist. I like to keep it simple. Take Johnny Cash singing Hurt. Simple song performed simply... yet so devastating: doom maps should be this way. Think of Doom, the game, as being Johnny Cash. It has all the raw talent: the art (mostly monsters, and abstract textures), the sound (again, mostly monsters, and music). Johnny Cash wouldn't be any better all over produced with a bunch of supporting band members and hoopla--most would probably argue he'd be worse. Well, I guess that's kinda how I see Doom. It's an old game--a simple game. That's not to say gameplay innovations shouldn't be explored--but they should still be expressed in pure and simple ways. I dunno, I just see too many projects where bland map design is covered up by extravagant detail.

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For abstract stuff like tetris/checkers/cards, the player's imagination can fill in the gaps however it wants, whereas the whole doom universe is mostly set in stone as a particular concept of monsters/etc (instead of mudkips you you shoot wand sparkles at to turn into butterflies or whatever that old lol thread was). Though I think the doom universe is awesome.
When creating the game itself, there might be more creative freedom making something abstract. Like consider some modern realistic racing games.. they tend to be boring imo, like you merely hold one button to accelerate and occasionally press left or right. Trying to be like a realistic car simulation restricts creative possibilities in that case (you wouldn't think of giving the car jumping ability because cars don't jump etc). If you remove the whole 'car' paradigm and just consider it a blob that moves left and right given line cues (the road) then you can add any random stuff that might make that gameplay more fun without fitting it to a specific concept.
One main point of screen visuals is to give the player information to react to, like even if all walls are unaligned whispers of startan they still function to communicate that you are currently in such and such position relative to such and such objects etc. But we're modifying a game that is mostly all coded so the main gun/monster/movement etc visuals are all there.

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I don't play ugly maps. There are just so many maps with good gameplay and good aesthetics (for me that does not mean detail overkill, but the right visual "feel").

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gggmork said:

slowly forming poop inside you


This is more important than eye candy OR gameplay **

Seriously though, I voted "action." I agree that both looks and gameplay can make a map good or bad, but I consider gameplay to be more important. If I load up a wad that looks amazing but the action gets boring (i.e. sitting around for hours shooting barons with shotguns I HATE IT) I will immediately stop playing. If I start the wad and instead I'm presented with horrible retarded looking stuff, I'll say "well it looks like shit" and then continue to play and see if it is fun, which is often true. What I'm saying is, I will endure bad graphics to see if it's a fun map, but I won't endure a boring map to see all the pretty detail :P

Interestingly enough, I personally think that monster placement is one of the easier and more fun things to do in mapping. I don't know why people get hung up on detail and then put in the most uninspired monsters, creating super predictable circle-strafe fights. BLAH

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Fun is definitely the more important factor. I'm always playing doom maps purely for how entertaining they are. Defined detail levels and pretty maps are great but that doesn't stop me from quitting less than halfway through when the map calls for me having to fight a hell baron with a chaingun in a tight corner with random supports jutting out of every wall.

As a mapper, I try to 'sell' my maps through visual appeal. Screenshots are the second best way to get your maps out there (next to credibility/reputation) unfortunately, creating visually appealing maps is the best surefire way to make sure your wad gets noticed.

I usually tend to create a good layout, offering a few different directions to go, wide open hallways and rooms so there is space to move and setting up monster closets and teleport ambushes . I create details secondly, but with strict adherence to how they could potentially interrupt gameplay. I usually keep a lot of height variation on the ceilings and keep floors mostly flat and untouched. Border every computer terminal or wall indents with impassible lines, so that the walls of the room has the same interactive capabilities as a room with no details at all. Then work on lighting, which has minimal effect on gameplay, so I go ahead and change lighting levels pretty liberally. Lastly I focus full attention on the monsters and item placement to create fights that I enjoy.

To your credit though, maps that are made for the immediate fun factor more than anything else are still helpful for me, since it goes straight to the point. I see tons of screenshots of some fabulous looking maps that aren't really of all that much value to me. Mainly because I already know how to make my average layouts look good. It's these maps that focus only on the raw gameplay to save them that I often play for ideas. As I've said before, I've been playing a lot of 1994-96 maps since IMO, that was the peak of doom's gameplay experiences.

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At some point, I turned into a visuals-guy. I don't really know what "innovative gameplay" and such means. For me Doom gameplay is mostly perfect before any Things are even put down in the editor. By that I mean enemy behavior is all done for us and we don't need to worry about scripting patrol paths, animation sequences, what time of day the Imp takes a break to eat, etc. So just plopping down hellspawn and some ammo is usually enough to entertain me.

I realize there are certain different formulas of Doom gameplay, and I have fun with them all. The id style, where ammo is in excess and health/armor is more difficult to maintain. Or the slaughter style, where health/ammo are both in excess to allow the player to deal with all the ledge-snipers and hordes. Then the "survival" style, my favorite, where health/weapons are very limited, and the player may have to run past dangerous situations until they are better equipped, and make every bullet count.

But yeah, I don't notice much variety in Doom gameplay. It doesn't bother me, as I think Doom is inherently fun. So what separates levels for me is often the visuals.

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Clonehunter said:

I say both usually. (No option for that?) In my opinion, both are rather important.


As I said, in a perfect world we'd have both all the time in every map. But personally I think it's unfair for a map or even an entire megaWAD worth of maps to be rejected because "OMG! The texture on that step is not aligned properly!" Sure, I like a level that looks good and has a great atmosphere as much as the next Doomer, but I'm also able to overlook petty little flaws, especially if they are solely visual, if the map is fun and challenging. Nitpicking such little things, IMHO, is exactly that: petty nitpicking.

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gggmork said:

I used to not pay much attention to and dismiss that phrase as random cultural stupidity brought to you by the same people that gave schwarzenegger political power. But after the phrase was spammed at me one too many times, forcing me to give it more conscious attention I realized that 'have cake' can be misinterpreted.

'i am going to have cake' can mean i am going to EAT it.
'i have cake' means i literally HAVE (own/possess) cake, and that phrase uses this meaning (I think).
In other words it means 'own your cake and eat it too', not 'eat your cake and eat it too'.

So 'have your cake and eat it too'.. say you HAVE (own) some cake.. if you eat it, then you will no longer have (own) it.. because you ate it so its gone (you will have it but it will be in the form of energy and slowly forming poop inside you).


The original saying was "eat your cake and have it too". Which makes sense: if you've eaten it, you no longer have it (disregarding "having" as an euphemism for "eating"). Whereas if you have it, you can eat it. (Being able to eat a cake is the entire point behind having it after all.)

But because of the alternate meaning "have" has, and because for some weird reason the order was switched, the saying is now quite stupid.

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A great map can be both a blast to play and look great. I'm not sure why people seem to believe that aesthetics somehow stop a map from being fun.

In fact, in my experience, the vast majority of the great maps I've played, have looked great. Deus Vult, Scythe 2, Alien Vendetta and such classics should show us, that when it's blatant that an author has spent hours attempting to make his map look great, there's also a very good chance that he's done everything he can to make it play well too.

There also seems to be this myth that 'detail'* will somehow magically make a map look ugly and play bad by its mere mention - however, the only times I have ever seen this be the case is within multiplayer maps.

* I'm putting quotes around it because it seems to me that if there was an exact definition to the word detail, in the context of doom mapping, it's been lost or confused. At the very least, it's certainly been demonized.

Edit - To help clarify what I (and likely others) are getting at - I feel that this poll is misguided, because a great deal of the fun, or if you prefer, the pleasure we get from playing various maps, is not just purely related to the combat - it is also what we see as we fight our way to that exit, the sights we see along the way. There is pleasure in that, too.

Imagine, if you will, a great grand cathedral, housing yet another horde of demons for us to blast away, would not a great deal of the fun, the 'gameplay' if you like (I really wish people would stop using that word), is the aesthetic ride. For if the layout was the same, and that great, grand cathedral was just a few simple blocks and lines, would not the amount of fun be lessened? Because it's not only fun to check out some beautiful architecture, it can also lend to the mood of a map and even provoke an emotional response.

Crap, I think my edit just became bigger than my original post. :P

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Gez said:

The original saying was "eat your cake and have it too". Which makes sense: if you've eaten it, you no longer have it (disregarding "having" as an euphemism for "eating"). Whereas if you have it, you can eat it. (Being able to eat a cake is the entire point behind having it after all.)

But because of the alternate meaning "have" has, and because for some weird reason the order was switched, the saying is now quite stupid.


Okay! Okay! Forget the freakin' cake already for chrissake! I'll go back and edit my post to say: "We all wish to consume that which we possess and yet wish to continue to possess it in its original state of being, thus maintaining perpetual possession of that which we have coveted." Sheesh!

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Gameplay and layouts for me, is what separates the good from the bad levels, good looks is just the icing on top of the cake. And I agree with 40oz's opinion that the 90's was the peak of gameplay. :P

I've enjoyed single texture 7 level EPISODES from start to finish in one sitting as they just got me so engrossed and indulged with the cool and creative combat situations (that worked) and layouts that have great depth.

However, I'll avoid standing on a soap pedestal of any kind though because I'm still trying to learn how to make gameplay fun in my own levels. :(

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Jodwin said:

Saying that gameplay itself is all that matters is, frankly, bull. Depending on the game it's at most 50 - 75 % of the whole: Visuals, music and sounds are also very important for the whole gameplay experience. You can see for yourself simply by changing all textures in E1 into STARTAN, making all sectors have 256 lighting, replacing all monsters with red blobs and turning off your speakers. The result will be far from the original, despite the core gameplay staying perfectly untouched.

I'm not sure why we're talking about making monsters into blobs or one-colour squares (though that would be a funny wad), since everyone's map uses the same sprites. The monster sprites and sounds are a given. If a map only uses one texture and brightness, it doesn't stop me from playing it or liking it.

I'm not against detail or good looks or whatever. I appreciate that stuff and I'm sure there are plently of maps that I like to play that also look good. I'm just saying it doesn't bother me if a map is pretty or ugly. And I think criticizing a map for it's looks, and the looks having a negative impact on someone's enjoyment, is kinda pointless.

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I would definitely have to go with game-play. Nothing would be more painful, I believe, than to have a brilliantly detailed level plagued with horrible game-play. Imagine all the wasted hours?

A decent looking map can still be absolutely awesome if it has great game-play. However, a great looking map is just visuals if you can't enjoy playing it.

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Yeah, sprites really aren't what I was getting at. Texture and lighting were really my focus when I originally posted this poll. And I suppose the question ultimately is answered all by personal preference. I mentioned playing maps done mostly in SHAWN2 and liking them, but I generally prefer hell-themed maps. Thus I also suppose that for most of us there's a fine line between which of those two choices we'd prefer, so we try to look for both.

I guess the real purpose of the poll for me is to see what the community overall has to say on the subject before I release a map done entirely in MARBLE1.

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I'd take something like this that has killer layouts and fluent gameplay: http://doomworld.com/idgames/index.php?id=4080

Over a piece of crap like this (that funny enough won a cacoward): http://doomworld.com/idgames/index.php?id=13458 that people fap over because it "has good detail", but has uninspired generic gameplay that was tacked on in the last minute, architecture that gets in the way, and a boring layout that could have been surpassed by a down syndrome retard. (and might I add that I flat out ran out of ammo on this one, and even backtracked through the whole level and still didn't find anything, so it's unbalanced as well as shit).

I do agree with most of the points made in this thread though, and good detail is nice to look at. And a really good author can combine the two to make a great playing experience, but I'd rather play a level that has inspired gameplay and strong layouts than one that has inspired detail and horrible layouts and worse gameplay.

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Good aesthetics and good game play are NOT mutually exclusive. So lets stop pretending it is.

EDIT: And aesthetics is not the same as rich in details. Please try to learn that too while you're at it.

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