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40oz

Detecting Linearity in Map Layout

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If you are having trouble figuring out why everyone thinks your maps are too linear, try this:

Load your map, and do a quick IDBEHOLDA, IDFA, and IDDQD run of your map from start to finish as quickly as you can, going only in areas you are required to go to complete the map. Just before you arrive at the exit destination, open up your Automap and glance at your map. If your map has many gray areas, you're doing a pretty good job. If your entire map has been located and seen by the player, you presented the player with no rooms to explore, plus very few decisions to make, or the decisions the player did make yielded the same consequnces. Another alternate way to check is the number of monsters that went completely undetected.

I did a quick playthrough of my map for DTWiD, E2M2: Cooling towers, and here are the results.



Hopefully this will help.

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It's very possible to have a highly non-linear map that still requires the player to visit all areas of the map. There just need to be different ways to handle them, and for the player to have a variety of ways to deal with the map's challenges, and in most cases this will mean that areas can be tackled in different orders.

If playing a map is a similar experience each time it is played, even if you try to handle it differently or in a different style (or by a different player), then it is (too) linear. Non-linearity means that the player has decisions to make (including things like whether to run past monsters, or stand and fight them), and that these decisions change the gameplay experience.

The height of linearity is a map that traps you in a sequence of tightly controlled set-piece battles with strictly regulated resources made available to the player. Adding a few additional and optional side corridors to a map such as that will not make it a non-linear map.

Summary: If you are having trouble figuring out why everyone thinks your maps are too linear, you need to understand what is meant by linear gameplay, and that this depends as much on thing placement as it does on the map's geometry.

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40oz said:

I did a quick playthrough of my map for DTWiD, E2M2: Cooling towers, and here are the results.


/clap

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They're not pink, they're more like a flesh color. :P

I really like maps where I get to the end and there is still a lot I haven't seen. Maps like that tend to be more immersive, and this is what made the original Doom so great. You were part of a larger story. In many modern games, you are the story, so there is really nothing to get immersed in, it is simply a technical challenge to be accomplished.

But as Grazza said, this is not necessarily a measure of how linear a map is, but simply a particular style of map.

I like the look of your cooling towers map tho. Heh, you got the coveted e2m2 slot. AND I'M NOT SEEING ANY CRATE MAZES IN THERE!!1! Except that small area off to the bottom left looks like it might be a crate storage area.

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So to detect non-linearity in a map, a designer should..play his map. How profound.

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A non-linear map according to me is a map which knows surprise the player by these traps, and for that, it's worth varying the traps, not by using only monsters which appear in front of you by teleportation, or which go out simply of the floor, but by playing with sectors surroundings. I give for example a corridor which is of linear appearance and finished by a door, arrived at the door, surprised, it doesn't open, and instead of that, you have the walls of the corridor which comes down and which create in reality a big room with monsters around you, you have then the choice to investigate this new room and to find how to open this door.. I think that e1m3 is an excellent example of map non-linear. I think too that to play with the height of platforms, which thus allows to vary the movements of the player, affable of non-linearity in the map. And there that calls back me map15 of doom2, another real non-linear map :)

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KiiiYiiiKiiiA said:

I like the look of your cooling towers map tho. Heh, you got the coveted e2m2 slot. AND I'M NOT SEEING ANY CRATE MAZES IN THERE!!1! Except that small area off to the bottom left looks like it might be a crate storage area.


Yup, sadly.

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I ran this three or four times using different routes each time. It always looked like this, though. It told me nothing of the map's linearity... Running around in it did.

Just sayin'

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Well this is a good way. But it DOES NOT always will be true. There are non linear maps, but all of their ways are primary.

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I suppose "linearity" wasn't the right word, I just happened to test it on some maps that were considered linear and yielded the results I wanted.

It's a formula that detects some type of characteristic that is present in almost all of Doom 1 and 2 though, and to that extent makes the maps worth playing more than once, as you are more likely to engage in a different experience seeing places you may have missed during the first play through.

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What about classifying levels instead of just saying they are/not linear?

I'd like to suggest this classification:

M: Maze; lots of sidetracks, but all optional
U: Unicursal; everything in the level is linear
B: Braid; Multiple paths, any single path will do
P: Puzzle; some sidetracks are mandatory (most common type)
H: Hybrid of M+B; Multiple paths with purely optional sidetracks
Q: Quest (no image); multiple levels needed to solve a quest

A combination of some is also possible, like 80%M+20%P. Interpret this as: mostly linear, lots of optional sidetracks,of which some might be necessary, but also a few alternative paths.

I think most DOOM/DOOM2 levels would fall in the category P, and Hexen levels fall in category Q.

If you think of anything that might be missing, don't hesitate to tell us about it.


(white = mandatory//alternative path, gray = optional)

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This method is useless if your map has windows ;-P

edit: "linearity" is a descriptive term, not some quantitative analysis we perform on a map. If it feels linear, it was fucking linear!

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I should try this method with Jenesis. I bet I've done very few maps with rooms that don't actually need to be visited.

Incidentally, I just made this little WAD:
http://jimmy.phenomer.net/wad-files/mappath.wad

Run it with ZDoom. A red trail will appear on the automap, documenting your every movement through the map. You can toggle and clear the trail, and also mark down the locations of the keys. Bind everything in the options menu beforehand.

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you forgot A for arenas. they can mix with other types if fetching keys or flipping switches is involved, but they revolve around (often massive) battles in large open spaces and, well, arenas.

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Jimmy91 said:
Incidentally, I just made this little WAD:
http://jimmy.phenomer.net/wad-files/mappath.wad

Run it with ZDoom. A red trail will appear on the automap, documenting your every movement through the map. You can toggle and clear the trail, and also mark down the locations of the keys. Bind everything in the options menu beforehand. [/B]

I tried your wad and the keys don't work. the key markers just spawn at the player location. It also doesn't work at all when you load it with other scripted wads. I get errors like "ACS: ShotgunGuy is not a valid inventory item.
Imp"
Note that these are strings from my script.

I bet it's useful if you load it with vanilla wads, and want to learn the paths users take. For example, DOOM2 MAP10 can be played several completely different ways.

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This appears to be over-thinking things a bit to me. Linear means there's only one path from beginning to end. This path can cross over itself and involve backtracking to feel less linear, but if it can be described as a list of objectives in order, then its linear IMO.

However this does cover the entirity of Doom, as sooner or later you can just boil it down to "go from start to key x, then use key x to open exit door" (for example). The trick to non-linearity is giving the player multiple routes by which to acheive these linear objectives.

The alternative is to give the player a set of sub-objectives that can be completed in any order.

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Vorpal said:

This method is useless if your map has windows ;-P


Thats not true. In Doom's case, especially in E1M3, you may be able to see places, but you shouldn't be able to see the exact way to get to them.

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Maybe it is not detecting Linearity, it is detecting how your maps are good for exploring or not.

What I think Vorpal said is there won't be gray walls by windows.

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Zom-B said:

It also doesn't work at all when you load it with other scripted wads.

Yeah, that's to be expected. Compiling scripts as a library can help somewhat, though.

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This is awesome! I think this will help a lot of people (myself included) who have difficulty with making non-linear maps as well as those who do not include enough side-areas. Thanks for a great contribution, 40oz!

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Interesting.

As I'm not a very huge fan of dead-ends, I always do maps that require to visit 90% of the areas, but still, nobody have ever complained about them being too linear. I just have a sense for those maps.

But even. Argh. Might try to make something that resembles to E3M4 or whatever maps have lots of areas not needed to explore IOT get through.

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I actually had an idea similar to this (and kinda along the lines of Zom-B's thoughts too), though it relies less on the visibility of the map. I call it the "connectivity diagram."

The idea was to take an automap image and overlay it with a rough 'skeleton-like' frame of lines that represent the general flow of the map. Something like so:







It doesn't work super-well for open-world maps like E3M6, but it's something neat to look at. A color scheme for required/optional/secret paths would be nice, too. That might be something I'll brain up later.

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Good work, but if you turn that E1M1 diagram sideways, it looks like a guy on a unicycle playing a piccolo.

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Never mind. This may teach me a lesson, too.

Hey, E3M4! Don't you know that your level flow looks somehow like a stickman or something? :D
(At least the starting one was partially quite resembling.)

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Cell said:

Hey, E3M4! Don't you know that your level flow looks somehow like a stickman or something? :D

And it's flipping me the finger :(

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I think all this is great, maybe if you just keep adding areas you get good secret mazes, so you kinda have 2 maps in one.

every one loves secret areas and maps I supose :)

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Xaser's line diagram thing is definitely a better way of showing how linear something is.

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