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Melon

Hiding secrets on the automap

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How do people feel about hiding secret doors and the like on the automap? As I'm sure you all know, you can set linedefs with the secret tag so that on the automap instead of showing up as a closed door they show up as a solid wall, or you can also hide secrets by setting the linedefs to not show up at all.

Do you hate this? Are you not bothered? Personally when I explore a map for the first time I tend to quickly bust out the automap during calm periods to check for secrets, but it can make some trivially easy to find.

Just trying to gauge some opinions here. Any preferences?

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I like the use of the 'secret' and 'hidden' flags because I feel that secrets should be somewhat challenging to find. A player should feel as if they outsmarted the mapper when they discover one. It gives a much greater sense of achievement and reward. Just flicking on the automap and saying, "Welp, there it is!" isn't interesting in the slightest.

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I tend to use the "secret" flag to disguise the door of my secrets. I also tend to mark every line beyond the door as invisible. I like the idea of people finding a secret because they spotted it "in the world" rather than pouring over the automap.

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Providing there is some kind of hint like something in front of the door e.g. candle, gibs, slightly different floor, or the door line itself is slightly different e.g. texture offset or slightly different texture or light level, I agree with the previous two members comments.

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Snakes said:

Just flicking on the automap and saying, "Welp, there it is!" isn't interesting in the slightest.

That is, if accessing the secret merely requires humping a wall.

If the secret is easy to discover on the automap, but damn hard to actually access (it requires a switch hunt/timing puzzle/acrobatic maneuvers/whatever), then it being impudently advertised on the map is a good way to taunt the player. "There's a secret. It's right there. Can you unlock its mysteries?"

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While we're on the subject, making secrets look like semi-obvious things helps to create an atmosphere that someone that couldn't make it in the base/area you were in hid some stuff from the dumb monsters and made it obvious enough for a human to see and grab the shotgun he hid to help you, if someone else came along and wanted to conquer that world.

Gez said:

That is, if accessing the secret merely requires humping a wall.

If the secret is easy to discover on the automap, but damn hard to actually access (it requires a switch hunt/timing puzzle/acrobatic maneuvers/whatever), then it being impudently advertised on the map is a good way to taunt the player. "There's a secret. It's right there. Can you unlock its mysteries?"


or do what id did, taunt the player with the item in plain sight but behind a wall or just out of reach (E1M3 soul sphere, for instance)

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E1M3 should serve everyone as an example of well designed secrets. None of them is 'just' a door with some stuff behind.

The misaligned wall type of secret or its close relatives like the candle-in-front-of-the-wall or whatever are just dull. IOW, if seeing the secret on the map means that you just found a way to access it there is something wrong with it.

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I tend to be slightly disappointed when secrets show up on the automap.

On the flip side, being pretty bad at finding secrets, it's sometimes a relief to see the solution spelled out and grab a much needed powerup or ammo boxes.

While we're on the subject, making secrets look like semi-obvious things helps to create an atmosphere that someone that couldn't make it in the base/area you were in hid some stuff from the dumb monsters and made it obvious enough for a human to see and grab the shotgun he hid to help you, if someone else came along and wanted to conquer that world.


Generally speaking I dislike realism in Doom but despite that I have to admit that's a pretty cool way to think about it.

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In view of the way I like to play Doom maps, it doesn't even make sense to use the automap at all.

I take the time to dispatch every monster in my perimeter as I go. The "run and gun" techniques, speedruns and the like do nothing for me unless I'm really getting my arse beat, and even then I'd rather save a thousand times instead. I want to get to know the map, but more importantly, on my own.

Only when I feel like absolutely everything has been killed, will my pursuit of the remaining secrets begin.

In the past I actually used to deliberately waste ammo just to be able to collect what was laying around so...

Just bollocks on the cheaters, I like it the hard way.

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Phml said:

Generally speaking I dislike realism in Doom but despite that I have to admit that's a pretty cool way to think about it.



or rather, survivors of the initial attack hid some stuff for themselves, in locations obvious for humans, but were killed by the demons later, leaving their supplies to doomguy.

anyway, that makes sense. in base maps, actually. as i was progressing through the game, i came up with a theory how those powerups like soul/megaspheres, invis, invuln which were obviously not of human origin were placed so the player might find help: the demons had enemies, who couldn't act freely, but helped the player as they could, testing him with elaborate secrets. guess what, doom 3 had this element, the soul cube.

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I do both. Sometimes I have a hint in the world. Sometimes I have a hint in the automap. Sometimes I got a mixture.

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Enjay said:

I also tend to mark every line beyond the door as invisible.

I hate that. I prefer the Computer Map to be a useful and rewarding find.

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printz said:

I hate that. I prefer the Computer Map to be a useful and rewarding find.



that's true, the map shouldn't be there for nothing.

i prefer finding secrets on my own, it's more rewarding indeed. however, i don't like maps where one spawns in plain sight of the monsters and comes immediately under fire, so if the map is hard and i need some goodies first, i like to take a look at the map with cheats first, without having a tail of 20 revenant missiles. or even better, watch a demo.

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Pirx said:

that's true, the map shouldn't be there for nothing.

Well, of course not. The automap can be very useful for identifying as yet unexplored areas and so on. I personally don't like it as a cheap secret finder though. If the secrets aren't hidden then the moment you pick up the automap powerup, you can see where they all are. I like to think of secrets as a bonus for observant or cunning players. I don't think getting the automap really means that bonus has been earned. When playing, even though I am epically bad at finding secrets, I still find it a bit disappointing to tab to the automap and find all those secret cupboards painted for me in grey. Where's the challenge in that?

With the more cunning secrets like Gez described then perhaps the automap could be used appropriately but even then I might want to hide certain bits of how to solve the puzzle rather than just laying them out in the automap for all to see. I have to admit though, I do need to put more effort into creating those kind of secrets. I do just tend to make the "small cupboard with a funny looking texture on the front" type of secrets.

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The only instance I'm using the tag "hidden" is when I have to make sectors outside the map (ambushes and action affecting).

Wow, cool alliteration over there in da brackets :P

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The way I see it, secrets should have SOME KIND of clue. A wall identifiable in some way, an area you can see on the automap, an area you can actually see in the map with no obvious way to access, a switch whose purpose isn't obvious or a sound triggered by an event. I want to say "I know there's a secret around here somewhere.. how do I get to it?"

- e1m1, the outside area with the rocket launcher is plainly visible for half the level, leaving you (as a newbie) wondering "how do I get out there?" They even could have gotten away without the offset texture.

- e1m1, you can actually hear the elevator in the nukage room when you run over the trigger spot, making you wonder "what was that sound?" You can see the armor at the end of the corridor it leads to.

- e4m6, there is a hidden alcove behind an invisible wall in an area you would likely never end up. The only way to find it is to hump every wall or just randomly happen to run in there while fighting a monster or something. Boring!

IMO the first two are the best kinds of secrets. A randomly textured wall opening up to a room you wouldn't otherwise know is there is fine but not very interesting. Ideally, I think it should be obvious whether or not you've found all the secrets in a level.

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qoncept said:

- e1m1, the outside area with the rocket launcher is plainly visible for half the level, leaving you (as a newbie) wondering "how do I get out there?" They even could have gotten away without the offset texture.


Shoot man, I still have yet to find that! :P

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ok, sure. hence the well designed secret in e1m3: getting the computer map shows that there's another room behind the wall, but just pushing against the walls won't make it accessible. but then you hear something opening when you leave the key room. that's how i found the entrance for the first time, and i felt pretty cool ;)

so a general rule would be "don't have valuable secrets open on a simple push". players see the secret room on the computer map and go push the wall, perhaps shoot or punch it. it's ok if this gets them a minor item, there's no reason to make everything overly complicated. but a major help like a BFG or an invulnerability should require more than humping every wall like in wolf3d.

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Yeah, just to be clear I'm not suggesting that there should be no clues to the location of a secret. I certainly don't want to have to hump every wall "just in case" like in Wolf3D. I'm just saying that I personally prefer the clues to be at the game screen rather than at the map screen, especially if the automap screen is showing me something like this:



And yes, obviously I cheated to get the automap. :P

However, personally I regard that as a nice little, if somewhat easy, secret. The clue for me isn't anything to do with the texture on the door, or how it appears at the map screen. It's the fact that some imps came out of *somewhere* (if you didn't actually see them come out) or opened the door and showed you the secret. If that secret was on a map where the automap powerup was available, IMO it would be cheapened by being visible like it is in my screenshot.

Better IMO:



;)

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True, and I'm not trying to say anything prescriptive. All I'm saying is that, especially with simple secrets, I like to make them completely hidden on the map screen so that the player uses what he experiences at the game screen to find them.

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qoncept, i think it's for giving the player a more interesting, immersive experience, rather than tease and perhaps frustrate him.

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Once in a while I make secret doors whose ONLY clue is that they appear on the automap :D

Otherwise, I always mark secret and hidden lines. Hidden lines are not as necessary but I always get this sort of nostalgic feeling when I look at doomguy on the map and he's outside the walls!

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The secret tag is fine with me.

What I can't deal with is not-on-map lines that are actually in the playable area of the map.

Graf's point about good secret design is well made. The best secrets won't be ruined if they show up on the automap. Though, as a compromise, you could put the automap in a secret area and let whoever finds it also find those random doors with random items behind them.

But either way, if I'm looking at a line on the screen, then it damn well better show up on the automap >:|

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Lüt said:

But either way, if I'm looking at a line on the screen, then it damn well better show up on the automap >:|

On the flipside, I actually like this (and occasionally do it myself) if the line is purely architectural OR is essential for hiding a secret (e.g. behind a non-impassible midtexture). Regarding the former, there are cases where a map gets so complex and detailed that the automap becomes nearly unreadable.

I always try and use the right automap flags for hiding lines that are completely invisible, though, like sky height changes and in-map untextured dummy sectors. Leaving those just strikes me as lazy.

And back to the original topic of hiding secrets: I'm incredibly anal about this, for some reason. Any use of the automap to facilitate finding a secret is a spoiler, and if it's the intended method of finding the secret, it probably needs to be a better-designed secret. :P

[/automapelitism]

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Enjay said:

Yeah, just to be clear I'm not suggesting that there should be no clues to the location of a secret. I certainly don't want to have to hump every wall "just in case" like in Wolf3D. I'm just saying that I personally prefer the clues to be at the game screen rather than at the map screen

The map screen is a game screen.

Better IMO:
(INVISIBLE SECRET)

I suppose that's nicer than flagging ENTIRE MAPS invisible like in some levels of NDCP2. However the "no secret areas for you, peasant!" attitude makes me kind of glad that Metabolist vanished from the face of the Earth, since he was way too fond of secrets that had no special texturing/alignment AND were totally invisible on the map.

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Urban Space Cowboy said:

The map screen is a game screen.

OK OK, I was just trying to use terminology that distinguished the two. :P

Urban Space Cowboy said:

I suppose that's nicer than flagging ENTIRE MAPS invisible like in some levels of NDCP2.

Agreed. I hate that as much as anyone.

Urban Space Cowboy said:

However the "no secret areas for you, peasant!" attitude makes me kind of glad that Metabolist vanished from the face of the Earth, since he was way too fond of secrets that had no special texturing/alignment AND were totally invisible on the map.

I'm not advocating a "no secret areas for you, peasant!" attitude. Not at all. Secrets should must have some clue to their existence; whether it be a funny looking texture, the sound of a door opening nearby, the ability to see the "prize" through a hole in the wall, a semi-concealed switch, whatever. It's just that I personally don't like the way to find them being drawn on the automap for all to see (especially if they are just simple secret cupboard-type secrets).

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