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Solarn

Set pieces vs. flowing battles?

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As I was messing around with a few map ideas in Doom Builder, a thought came to me. Lately, I've been trying to create maps where most of the battles are set pieces, events that aren't part of the normal game flow and are activated by the player. Doom naturally lends itself to a more free-flowing style of gameplay, but I've played a few really good WADs based around set piece battles and I've been inspired by them.

So I'd like to ask the mapping community a few questions. First off, what do you think about set pieces vs. free-flowing gameplay? Which one do you like better? And second, what could make set piece-based gameplay in Doom good?

For the record,I define a set piece in the context of Doom as an event (mainly battles) that
- is activated by the player consciously (pushing a switch) or unconsciously (walking over a line),
- can't be repeated,
- forces you to confront it (taking place in a confined environment that you can only escape after you've dealt with it, for example),
- and alters the flow of the game in some way.

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Set pieces are great for bigger fights, and especially if you use conscious triggers with which the player can stop to take a deep breath before starting the fight. I wouldn't say that having one prevents you from having the other, set pieces just serve a different purpose than having a free flowing gameplay.

From a mapper's point of view, set pieces also give you much more control over what's going to happen, which is nice if you're doing a fight that really needs that kind of mapper's control, or if you're intentionally doing a map that's essentially a chain of bigger, separate fights.

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Agree with Jodders. Free flowing gameplay functions well in itself, and set pieces often complement the free flowing style, but it's fairly specific to the maps requirements and as such doesn't necessarily work the other way round. There are very few maps comprising solely set pieces that I can honestly say function better than free flowing maps. Sunder may be an exception.

Interestingly though, having a map comprising solely set pieces does promote a free flowing style in itself.

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I don't really have much of an opinion either way except for the point that Jodwin made. Really deadly armies of monsters need to be broken up with some user activated switches to allow some calmness in between, while easy maps can become hard by waking up all the monsters at once.

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In my opinion, the more variety a mapper uses for combat situations in his maps, the more interesting it will turn out for the player. Why limit yourself to one technique when you can easily have them all? I can imagine that having a map with only one type of encounter getting pretty boring if you play it for a while.

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