Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Sign in to follow this  
Melon

Balancing Coop in Boom format levels

Recommended Posts

I'm working on a wad in Boom format that is primarily designed for single player. However, I feel that if I'm going to go to the effort to make a bunch of levels anyway, I might as well add in that little bit of extra effort to add in coop support.

I've already been trying to design the levels with a nod towards playing well in coop, such as making key doors stay open, trying to interconnect levels so that they never stray too far from the start (all of the levels in the wad will be fairly short anyway), avoiding teleporters where possible and making all of the hallways reasonably wide (if it's too narrow for deathmatch, it's too narrow for coop). I don't think layouts will be an issue, but for me the main stumbling block is thing balance.

While there's obviously no substitute for playtesting, this isn't always terribly easy for me and so a lot of the time the coop balance will either go untested or will be in -solo-net. Here are the main problems I'm having and I'd like to know how other people design for coop.

1) Monster count. Monsters are are lot easier to handle in coop given that two people firing on one monster not only takes them down twice as quickly, but the monster's attacks can only be focused on one player and it's easier to stun lock them into submission, so adding more monsters gets around these issues. But how many monsters does it take until the whole thing becomes overwhelming? Is it better to add a large number of smaller monsters or throw in a few hell barons? I know a lot of people aren't too keen on Cyberdemon spam but they seem to be the only monster that could withstand an onslaught from multiple people.

2) With extra monsters, should more health be added? I'm already trying to spread health out into multiple small caches of stimpacks rather than spread out block of medikits. For small levels even on -solo-net it hasn't felt necessary for me to add any extra health, and with multiple players there's a larger initial health pool. I imagine many people play with respawn on and if they don't, maybe adding no extra health makes things more "tactical"? The same question also goes to armour, should I provide multiple copies for players to share or let most players go unarmoured through the level?

3) Weapons and ammo. I've been trying to be extra prudent on ammo in coop because running out seems to happen a lot in all of the coop I've played before, especially if you pick up a bunch and then die and have to respawn without it. Assuming that people won't be playing with respawning ammo, I've been finding it tough to decide how much ammo is enough. I'm trying to spread out extra ammo and using many small pickups rather than big caches (notice a trend here?) and also add weapon pickups earlier. I'm toying with the idea of adding a chainsaw at the start of every level, but it feels a bit of a cop out as it's not usually terribly useful, but at least it's leagues better than slapping things to death.

Also, I feel that the super shotgun trivialises most encounters on coop and it's hard to limit ammo for it unlike rockets and cells, so I'm wondering how people would feel if I just removed it entirely from coop? It won't be available much in the levels anyway as I think it's incredibly powerful even with just one player.

This post has been so comprehensive there's probably nothing left to add haha, but what do you do?

Share this post


Link to post

Melon said:
But how many monsters does it take until the whole thing becomes overwhelming? Is it better to add a large number of smaller monsters or throw in a few hell barons? I know a lot of people aren't too keen on Cyberdemon spam but they seem to be the only monster that could withstand an onslaught from multiple people.

depends on your map, of course. cybers shouldn't be just thrown into whatever space they fit. when you put him somewhere, he should feel like a threat you can fight (or have to avoid for the time being), not an annoying roadblock you have to wear down with ssgs, peaking from behind a corner. that becomes boring fast and you have to give people plasmas at the least.

barons are good coop monsters, they can take some beating, but fighting them isn't nerve wrecking. on the other hand, i hate revenants in coop, because my fellow marines will always block me when running away from their homing rockets, heh. extra chainers are okay, they're not showstoppers, but they can make people very cautious. surprisingly, PEs are an excellent challenge - put them behind some spectres and they'll become a hard to reach priority. sniper arachnotrons would work nicely too, but finding a good spot for them is harder. oh, yeah.. and archies, you can always spam those. :p

With extra monsters, should more health be added?

absolutely, a crowd of people will play more reckless and much less controlled. in effect there will be much more damage, even accidental. it's true that monsters can only aim at one target, but that target can usually predict the shots and avoid them easily. dodging projectiles _not_ aimed at you is surprisingly hard, because you're used to be the target. also add armors. it's rather cruel if just one person gets the sp armor and the rest stays fragile.

I'm toying with the idea of adding a chainsaw at the start of every level, but it feels a bit of a cop out as it's not usually terribly useful, but at least it's leagues better than slapping things to death.

do it. the added value is rather low, but it doesn't hurt anything at all.

Also, I feel that the super shotgun trivialises most encounters on coop and it's hard to limit ammo for it unlike rockets and cells, so I'm wondering how people would feel if I just removed it entirely from coop?

uhm, unless you design threats of your map specifically for that, you'll make it either too hard or too boring. sg'ing a few barons is arduous even with friends helping. ammo control is actually easy - don't add any coop shells and spam bullet boxes and more rockets instead!

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks dew that's exactly the sort of information I needed. I have played enough of Doom coop for these decisions to come naturally.

dew said:

barons are good coop monsters, they can take some beating, but fighting them isn't nerve wrecking. on the other hand, i hate revenants in coop, because my fellow marines will always block me when running away from their homing rockets, heh. extra chainers are okay, they're not showstoppers, but they can make people very cautious. surprisingly, PEs are an excellent challenge - put them behind some spectres and they'll become a hard to reach priority. sniper arachnotrons would work nicely too, but finding a good spot for them is harder. oh, yeah.. and archies, you can always spam those. :p

I never considered pain elementals, I shall have to keep them in mind.

dew said:

absolutely, a crowd of people will play more reckless and much less controlled. in effect there will be much more damage, even accidental. it's true that monsters can only aim at one target, but that target can usually predict the shots and avoid them easily. dodging projectiles _not_ aimed at you is surprisingly hard, because you're used to be the target. also add armors. it's rather cruel if just one person gets the sp armor and the rest stays fragile.

This is something that just doesn't come across in -solo-net so thanks again. I'll add an extra armour pickup wherever I have an armour. I think things will be better if I try to balance for two player coop primarily.

dew said:

uhm, unless you design threats of your map specifically for that, you'll make it either too hard or too boring. sg'ing a few barons is arduous even with friends helping. ammo control is actually easy - don't add any coop shells and spam bullet boxes and more rockets instead!

I suppose my issue is that in single player I run under the assumption that you can't have too many shells if I want to add extra ammo, treating the standard shotgun as the primary weapon because it works so well in so many situations. This isn't very easy to do if you've got a super shotgun available. I guess I'll tackle it when I come to making the later levels.

Share this post


Link to post

Health is nothing to worry about in coop. You respawn every time you die. Only thing I'd consider health for is if you want your coop levels playable in Nightmare Mode as well.

As far as monster count goes, I'd try to stay away with flooding rooms with monsters. I'd say to include a larger amount than normal, but include many teleport ambush traps with monsters that are only available in coop. With teleport destinations you can make monsters appear in many different directions, avoiding things like doorway fights that only one player can handle at a time.

Given the low health of many of the monsters in Doom (when attacked by many doom marines at once), make do lots of bullets and shells, and avoid rockets and cells. Shotgun, Chaingun and chainsaw are ideal coop arsenal. Rocket launchers are okay if the ammo is scarce. Super Shotguns should be saved for fierce and overpowering battles. Plasma rifles and BFGs just cause a ruckus.

Share this post


Link to post

40oz said:
Health is nothing to worry about in coop. You respawn every time you die. Only thing I'd consider health for is if you want your coop levels playable in Nightmare Mode as well.

coop demos don't allow respawns though, plus online ports have the popular survival mode. even regular coop can get screwed over if the guy with all the ammo dies and everyone has to pistol kill a cyberdemon or something of similar silliness.

avoiding things like doorway fights that only one player can handle at a time.

agreed. typical throttle scenario is a big room flooded with monsters, but everyone is cramped behind a door in a narrow entrance corridor. running inside is either entirely impossible or equals suicide, so players take turns at emptying their ssgs through the door. god forbid there's an archvile in the crowd. the main body of the horde should be released once players are inside the arena, so they get a chance to fight it as intended.

Given the low health of many of the monsters in Doom (when attacked by many doom marines at once), make do lots of bullets and shells, and avoid rockets and cells. Shotgun, Chaingun and chainsaw are ideal coop arsenal. Rocket launchers are okay if the ammo is scarce. Super Shotguns should be saved for fierce and overpowering battles. Plasma rifles and BFGs just cause a ruckus.

i disagree. most levels i've played in coop don't allow this firing squad scenario of murdering everything to bits. arenas will have much more targets and corridors typically won't have enough space for the firing squad scenario - most likely you'll have just 1 extra ssg power and a lot less space to dodge revenant rockets, for example.

i'd say coop sg is ideal for challenge that'd be slightly too annoying for a solo player, but mundane if he got ssg. like crowds of pigs and imps, a revenant or a few cacos here and there. similar with chaingun, but the weapon is actually nuts... even a solo cg can lock a monster in pain state, imagine three.
ssg should be given whenever you start using mid-tier doom2 monsters casually. rev ambushes, mancos for room filler, second wave archies on revive duty. ssg is potentially imba, but coop players are NOT a perfectly synced navy seals squad. half of them probably won't even be familiar with the map and they'll waste their shots, then block their allies' shots (most online coop today doesn't allow friendly fire).
rockets should be emphasized in coop just for the sheer fun factor. your allies are like constantly charging lost souls - they'll jump into your face just as you fire a rocket. hell, some are dumb enough to walk into a steady rocket spam. rl is actually quite demanding to use in coop. :P
people will usually waste bfg ammo hopelessly, but plasma is super strong in coop. it's the weapon most likely to be used against cyberdemons, two to four streams, ghostbusters style. it's easier to use with allies around and it's a great melee weapon against stronger monsters in corridor fights.
chainsaw is 99% useless, unless you're playing coop lemmings.

Share this post


Link to post

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
×