Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Grub

Newbie here, getting started with my levels. What do you like and dislike in WADs?

Recommended Posts

I've been playing DooM off and on since I was a little kid on my dad's knee, but I've only recently started getting into level creation in the game (I'm using Doom Builder 2 with GZDoom in software mode.)

I haven't released anything, though.

Right now I'm experimenting with some ideas of my own, and I think they're turning out pretty interestingly, but one of the exciting things about the DooM community is that it's still alive and breathing, and lots of talented modding veterans are all over the place.

So I was wondering: what sorts of things you guys like and dislike in WADs? Whether things you like putting in your own WADs, or things you like seeing in other people's WADs -- Let me know! You might just end up giving me some cool ideas to play with, and help improve my mapping :-)

Share this post


Link to post

Hey Grub. Welcome. :D

Heh. Your question is a pretty broad one, and probably not answerable in a short amount of space. But generally the two things that I see come up again and again are these: Getting the fundamentals of good gameplay, and good mapping design.

In terms of gameplay, getting that balance right is key. Having enough health and ammo so the player can survive and fight, but not so much of either that it removes a sense of threat. And unpredictable monster layout usually works well too. Anyone can make a map really easy (Just put a megasphere every 5 feet, and fill your level with three zombiemen.) Or too hard. (No ammo, no health and 320 cyberdemons.) but learning to walk that fine line between too easy and too hard is crucial.

In terms of map design, that can be a tough one. Some maps just look 'right.' Getting the basics like texture alignment, using upper and lower unpegged correctly, making sure that sectors align to ceiling lighting etc is a good start. Once you have these basics (And perhaps you already do!) then the sky is the limit. Most people won't mind if you make a super complicated set of levels with lots of new features, or whether you make a simple, classic 1994 style level, as long as these fundamentals are in place.

Sorry for the ramble, hope this helps. And good luck with the mapping.

Share this post


Link to post

Make your maps round and open. Add many areas which could be removed but the objective could still easily be complete. Extra areas with maybe some ammo or health/armor bonuses is always cool as those who rush will miss it but those who enjoy looking around will find them. The maps must be doable from pistol start, and there should be enough supplies on the main path to keep a player going (for those who do rush, so it's possible). Even just adding extra rooms is a good thing.

Don't be square. Use rounded areas. These tend to feel better than square rooms as they can be more maneuverable. Vary room sizes and ceiling heights, make each room unique in some way by choosing different textures, but still keeping the same theme (maps that are too colorful can look weird). A map looks good when it consists of more than 5 textures overall.

Balance. Can't be said enough. Make sure if you're adding in a nasty trap such as something spawning behind you, you add in health as the player will not know of this first time. Make sure there is enough health scattered around on the main path for a player to live, and enough ammo so ammo is not tight. Make monster battles fun. Use traps that are clever but not too difficult.

Map design is tricky. This is something that just takes time. If you map enough, you'll get used to making good maps easily. My advice is don't go small areas. Players do not like being confided in a tiny area the entire time. While it can be used strategically, this should be its only purpose. Tiny rooms should only be there to add atmosphere. I wouldn't recommend making an entire map out of them like I did.

Pay attention to structure. Make sure no textures are misaligned, no enemies/objects are in walls, no hall of mirrors (missing texture) errors, etc. These problems can easily be fixed, though, so I wouldn't really worry about them until you're ready to release a map here. Map design is not my forte, but structure detail is definitely my area of work. If something's not working right, I get on it immediately. Half the time I spend more hours beta testing the map than I do making it.

These are all things I've gathered from my map with a little advice of my own. Making maps is by no means hard, just time consuming. Detail is by far the best thing you can focus on, so I'd say that's a great place to start.

Looking forward to playing something of yours!

Share this post


Link to post

KiiiYiiiKiiiA said:
... making sure that sectors align to ceiling lighting etc is a good start.[/B]


Could you explain this a bit more?

Share this post


Link to post

Extravagant ideas like giant rooms with a thousand cyberdemons or hundreds of crazy zdoom features are fun for a short while, but not for long. It really is more difficult just to make a conservative map, but it is much more appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post

Since you're new, my best advice would be to *map*. Just sit down, and jam something out. Keep doing this. Eventually you'll figure things out, and you'll start living up to the expectations you set on yourself.

Even if you don't finish the map (Which admittedly, I tend to do a lot) you'll gain something from it. Don't be afraid to mess up, if you never make any mistakes you won't learn anything. This is true for any creative endeavor.

Edit: Forgot to mention likes and dislikes, lol. Got caught up in my own ramblings.

Usually I'm not that picky when it comes to maps, but some things I like are:
-Visual connectivity. It's nice to see an area then come back to it later.
-Long maps. This is just a personal opinion, and I'm not talking about long as in length of time. For some reason I like it when maps have a snake-like structure to them. It fascinates me.
-Height variation done tastefully. What I mean by tastefully, is don't go crazy with it. Try to use steep inclines and holes to punctuate parts of the level.
-Another personal opinion, but I think it's cool when you can see the exit right from the start, but it takes forever to actually get to it.
-Forcing the player to use the pistol a lot at the beginning or giving the player a really powerful gun at the beginning. On one hand, it's nice to gradually work up to the more powerful weapons, but sometimes it's fun to play a fast-paced level that's centered around the plasma gun.
-Visual gimmicks. I like maps that have a reoccurring visual gimmick throughout, and I always try to implement this in my maps. One of my maps for Interception (Which I'm not quite sure is cancelled or not) does this.

As I said, I'm not picky, but there are a few things that grind my gears:
-Secrets with no hints, or secrets that require you to look at the automap to find them. Please, don't do this.
-Lots of enemies when it doesn't fit the wad. I know there are people that like slaughter maps, and I'm not saying they're bad, but if your wad has lots of low enemy levels at the beginning then suddenly goes HR on my ass, I don't like it. Scythe comes to mind.
-Not enough ammo. Enough said. This is a major pet peeve of mine.

Wow, I think that's the longest post I've written on here. Hope it's helpful!

Share this post


Link to post
Razen said:

Since you're new, my best advice would be to ....

...Wow, I think that's the longest post I've written on here. Hope it's helpful!


Thanks for that big post! :D

Share this post


Link to post

I really like consistency in maps. A consistent theme(s), so I can "feel" the place better, if you know what I mean hehe. It really helps me immerse myself more, and the map/place feels more "believable".

Consistent architecture is also important imo, for the same reasons.

ps: I`m not saying it should be "realistic" though, because "realistic" stuff is on my dislike-list. (beds, cars, fireplaces, generally trying to make irl stuff is no-go for me).

Share this post


Link to post

The most important thing to remember is to map for yourself. Just play around and build up your own style. As long as you enjoy what you create, it doesn't matter what other people think.

With that, play other maps to get a feel for how things work. You can get a lot of inspiration from playing other maps. You get a feel for what you like in a map and you can branch your style off of that.

Share this post


Link to post

If you are going to put in slaughtermaps, at least make sure that said maps are the last maps (or at least towards the end) in any given set as a climactic finale.

Edit: That suggestion is my personal alternative to the dirt-easy Icon of Sin finales.

Share this post


Link to post
Grub said:

Could you explain this a bit more?



No problem. All I mean is that your sectors should align to whatever floor/ceiling flats you are using. eg: You can see here that the lighting fits neatly into the big square sector,



Whereas:



You can clearly see the middle sector doesn't line up with the green circle on the ceiling, nor the smaller green lights around it. (This is a really obvious example, often such errors are at least slightly more subtle than this.)

SO be on the watch for things like this. Doombuilder 2 makes this really easy, as you can overlay floor and ceiling flats directly onto the map itself while you are building, whereas with older editors (Including Doombuilder 1) this was not the case.

Hope this helps.

Share this post


Link to post

The question I've always wanted to explain. :')

Things I like in WADs is speciality. Doesn't matter how detailed or how hard is the map, I want something special. You know: something which makes the WADs different from the usual ones. Consequently, I hate WADs where there's no point to play that. (I'm the only one who think so?)

Here are some examples:

Skillsaw's Vanguard and Lunatic: very nice and detailed maps with great basic design.
Thomas van der Velden's Revolution!: not as detailed maps, but the feeling and the progress is amazing.
Stephen Clark's Super Sonic Doom: also not too detailed, but the greatest storyline I've EVER seen in Doom.
Claustropobia 1024 and sequel: crowded maps, but original ideas and the most detailed maps ever.
Erik Alm's Scythe series: several styles, good gameplay, original ideas.

These are my favourite ones.

Share this post


Link to post

I hate switch hunting. I love everything in Scythe/Scythe 2/Scythe X. They are great data to learn how to make great maps.

Besides, I think that you should have a list of wads you really loved and are close to your own style. It's great to go back at them to understand what you like in a map.

Mine is : Scythe series, Alien Vendetta, Kama Sutra, Speed of Doom, Plutonia series, Deus Vult II, Claustrophobia 1024, UAC Ultra, many wads from Eternal/deadall.

Yet I think playing something else is very important because even maps that aren't fun can have great ideas.

Edit : also, I long had an "unconscious list" of wads that I don't like and that I avoided to mimick, like Eternal Doom. Yet I still play often that one because there are great ideas despite my tastes!

Share this post


Link to post
KiiiYiiiKiiiA said:

All I mean is that your sectors should align to whatever floor/ceiling flats you are using.

Oh, I see! Yeah, aligning flats by building around the larger grids. I understand now :)

BTW, where are those cool textures from? Is there a wad, or do people whip up their own differently colored variations themselves? I've been working on custom textures myself, but I don't know if most material is self-created or downloaded from a source.

K!r4 said:

I hate switch hunting. I love everything in Scythe/Scythe 2/Scythe X. They are great data to learn how to make great maps. ... Edit : also, I long had an "unconscious list" of wads that I don't like and that I avoided to mimick, like Eternal Doom. Yet I still play often that one because there are great ideas despite my tastes!

I've recently had lots of fun with Vanguard! It got kind of ridiculous in the last 3 or 4 maps. I have to admit it was pretty impressive that the guy who made it was still able to keep it all generally fair despite the insane numbers of monsters present. When you literally have armies of monsters stomping about, it can quickly turn into complete chaos.

Share this post


Link to post

Grub: please don't quote the whole of very lengthy posts, and never quote images. Also, make a single post instead of two consecutive ones. See how much more readable and less cluttered your post is now that I have fixed those problems? Please see the forum's FAQ for more tips on good posting practice.

On the thread's main topic: I like any map that encourages the player to use some creativity in tackling the map. Replayability (i.e. you can play it again and in different ways, and have a different experience as you learn more and try new approaches and differing styles) is a major bonus too, and necessary for a map to be a "classic", as opposed to merely fun to play through once. Nonlinearity is normally needed for that, meaning that if the player tackles the map differently, then the gameplay experience should be different too.

Share this post


Link to post
Grazza said:

Grub: please don't quote the whole of very lengthy posts, and never quote images. Also, make a single post instead of two consecutive ones. See how much more readable and less cluttered your post is now that I have fixed those problems? Please see the forum's FAQ for more tips on good posting practice.


Thank you :)

Share this post


Link to post
Razen said:

I like maps that have a reoccurring visual gimmick throughout, and I always try to implement this in my maps. One of my maps for Interception (Which I'm not quite sure is cancelled or not) does this.


Sorry to derail but where did you get the impression Interception might have been cancelled? Is it that the thread has gone quiet or has someone said something? I ask because I've been prioritising MAP08 but will move onto another project if Interception is cancelled or on hiatus.

Back on topic...

5 Things I Like in a WAD

1. Short maps
2. A map feeling like it's part of a place - or part of a story.
3. A strong sense of the authors intentions. E.g. - purposeful thing placement, intuitive mapflow or well executed set-piecies.
4. Fights designed to gradually reduce your health rather than instantly kill you.
5. Simple clean neat texturing.

5 Things I Dislike in a WAD

1. Long or confusing maps. I get lost easy.
2. Speedrun tactics required for normal play.
3. Extended periods of slaughter gameplay.
4. Switch hunts.
5. High HP Monsters placed in a non-threatening way - e.g. Barons on ledges - they take ages to kill without the edge of danger.

You've probably seen by now that we're a contrary bunch so the best advice is to satisfy yourself.

Share this post


Link to post

purist said:
3. A strong sense of the authors intentions. E.g. - purposeful thing placement, intuitive mapflow or well executed set-piecies.


I agree a lot with everything you've said, but this one is especially important to me!

That is, when the author has intentions, regards what might be going through a player's mind at any point, and builds accordingly.

There was a really magical moment in Doom where I was running around at full speed, and I came into a room with lots of weaker demons. Being somewhat low on health and not wishing to get into an immediately dangerous battle (which I knew I could probably win but didn't want to risk receiving further damage at that point,) I decided to skip it and take the other option, which was an unexplored door just nearby --- opening up into a tiny room with a single baron of hell who promptly emerged and chased me around.

I laughed a lot at that. The mapper actually anticipated me being low on health and not wanting to fight the group of little demons, and threw in a baron to surprise me. I love little things that show a mapper consciously thinking about how someone might be playing.

I don't know how many people here have played Super Metroid for the SNES, but a MASSIVE chunk of the level design for the game was like that. They threw challenges at you, but they knew how to speak the language of level design and they knew what you might be thinking at that time. They knew what was fair, what was unfair, and not to abuse the player too much.

Every time you really needed something, or thought about a possibility, it was like the level designers thought about it with you and there it was. It wasn't blatantly obvious either, but completely natural and exciting. These fruits of adventure are, when presented, not handed to you but instead dangled on a nearby vine. It will take effort, but they know you know how to do it and they're confident it won't rip you to shreds getting there.

And that's my kind of level design. When a level is well-thought-out enough, it's like having the mapper right there with you, creating the adventure on the fly. Or for anyone who's played DnD, it's a little like having a silent dungeon master. And there is no doubt about it --- the best doom levels are fun little adventures :)

purist said:

4. Switch hunts.


When you mean switch hunts, how bad are we talking here?

I think it can be entertaining from time-to-time when you flip a switch and you hear (or see) a platform go down close to you, which in turn asks you to run for it before it goes back up (whilst of course giving you a reasonable amount of time to get there.)

Another example is the timed secret-within-the-secret platform in E1M1 of KDitD. You hear the platform go down, and you can race to get there. Sometimes taking expectations of how things work and mixing them up a little to keep things fresh can be fun as long as you don't abuse the tactic :)

Share this post


Link to post

I dislike:

  • Exit doors that are locked
  • mappers who fail to use easy to recognize and remember "landmarks" to help the player stay oriented and know where to go next. (echoing Mr. Freeze here).
  • wide open spaces
  • maps that have poor sense of scale.
  • difficulty to figure out where to go next or how to get a key.
  • maps that don't flow logically one place to the next
  • over use of teleporting in monsters
  • industrial themed maps with excessive use of gray texturing, especially when they are heavily built upon a grid. Not maps like Doom2's Industrial Zone (which I very much like) as it is not at all like the industrial maps I am referring to.
  • When the difficulty does not ramp up in a linear and "predictable" fashion, but instead there are sudden spikes in the delivery of difficulty.
  • When mappers forget to use sprite decorations
  • tongue in cheek stuff that breaks the "third wall"; satire. I like my doom map sets to take themselves seriously! I want to embark on an adventure and not have things in the map reminding me that it's a pwad. Resist such temptation.
  • in real life stuff: (beds, cars, fireplaces, generally trying to make irl stuff is no-go for me) (yes, I stole darkreaver's post and didn't quote since this is a list)
  • map sets that are much harder than doom 2 (a little harder is okay). No, I cannot play on less than skill 4--it is psychologically not possible for me to do this.
  • maps that are too non-linear. Maps that are too linear. Happy medium please!
  • maps where you can see most of the map from any place within the map (with the exception of maps that start an episode).
  • maps with few secrets or uninteresting secret areas.
  • maps that employ a lot of uniform or mono-texturing. Sandy Petersen texturing medley genius please!
  • detailing that is so excessive that it inhibits the possibility for new design concepts and gameplay.
  • detailing that tries to take Doom to another level of realism and immersion. I pretty much prefer detail at the level of the original games, maybe slightly more if done expertly.
  • long, winding passageways
  • mazes.
  • maps that have problems to solve in order to continue that feel very much engineered by humans.
  • maps that don't connect areas in clever and interesting ways.
  • mapsets that overuse the same design concepts or motifs from map to map (ie, maps 4, 5 and 6 of doom 2 all have bridges to the exit in a dark, gloomy atmosphere).
  • keys on 32x pedestals. Somehow this is trite and played out and inexplicably bothersome to me. There are still places where it is implemented well, but mostly it is a turn off.
  • A mapset where you almost always have to do something in order to have the key become available to you, either by hitting a switch to lower a pillar or some other played out gimmick. Half the time you should be able to just pick up a key where it lies.
  • unfair traps.
  • in DTWID I went on and on about organic shapes. But the thing is, I don't like maps that have lots of rounded organic shapes. Someone (and I apologize for not remembering who it was) brought to my attention that E2M2 is very square in design, and yet for me it is an excellent map with great atmosphere and gameplay. So I would say there is a balance to be made between sqaure rooms and organic-shaped rooms. I don't like maps that have lots of curvy rooms and spaces.
  • Any map that doesn't take into consideration my strange, autistic preferences.
  • slaughter maps
  • too many switches--too many doors. Breaking up the action once in awhile is nice, but you don't want to interrupt the flow too much.

Share this post


Link to post

Switch hunting is the activity of pushing a switch, then having to push another switch at the other end of the map, and then seeking again another switch and the cycle goes on until you have finished the level.

Eternal Doom is a good example of that: you often have to push numerous buttons in order to simply open a door that you sometimes didn't even know it had existed.

Share this post


Link to post

Wow, I thought I struggled to explain #3 in my likes but you've nailed what I meant exactly.

For switch hunts I meant as part of normal gameplay - not secrets. I think anything is fair for secrets as long as they're not essential. Specifically, to elaborate, I'm thinking of situations where you hit a switch but have no idea what it has done. You can't proceed so you know it's essential but you need to search the entire level for an opened door or something.

Good ways of getting around this is:

Having the switch within sight of it's target - even through a window on a ledge unreachable from the current position.

Guide a player towards the switches target. Opening up dividing walls, big blinking arrows, releasing monsters in the general vicinity or revealing a teleport to it's destination are nice blantant examples.

Making it obvious to the player where the next point of progression is before he finds the switch so when he does find it he thinks "ah, so this is what raises that bridge."

Share this post


Link to post
purist said:

Wow, I thought I struggled to explain #3 in my likes but you've nailed what I meant exactly.

For switch hunts I meant as part of normal gameplay - not secrets. I think anything is fair for secrets as long as they're not essential. Specifically, to elaborate, I'm thinking of situations where you hit a switch but have no idea what it has done. You can't proceed so you know it's essential but you need to search the entire level for an opened door or something.


Oh! That's horrible! That's like throwing something into the middle of an ocean and telling you to go get it.

All my normal-gameplay-related switches so far have what they're affecting directly within sight within either the same room or visible through a window outside the room.

Share this post


Link to post

If you are designing a level to be very scarce on ammo and health, but just enough for a veteran to get by, you can place additional ammo and health in places in the level that you would not see them otherwise. This is a good alternative to putting said items in secret areas. Instead, if you are desperate for health or ammo, the player who scours each room, looking behind pillars, or a crate or other objects not central to the rooms or flow of the map will be well rewarded. This goes hand in hand with maps that are not too big (roughly the same size and scale as the original doom maps). It is less fun in maps that are very big and have long distances to cover.

Grub said:

There was a really magical moment in Doom where I was running around at full speed, and I came into a room with lots of weaker demons. Being somewhat low on health and not wishing to get into an immediately dangerous battle (which I knew I could probably win but didn't want to risk receiving further damage at that point,) I decided to skip it and take the other option, which was an unexplored door just nearby --- opening up into a tiny room with a single baron of hell who promptly emerged and chased me around.

Do you remember which level this was? If not, care to offer any other details? I'd be curious to know where it was. :D

Share this post


Link to post

Great list. Pretty much agree with all and I will find them useful to bear in mind myself while I map.

Hellbent said:

  • keys on 32x pedestals. Somehow this is trite and played out and inexplicably bothersome to me. There are still places where it is implemented well, but mostly it is a turn off.


  • What do you mean by this? A key that is not on the ground but on a 32 unit high pedestal? If so, not quite sure what the problem is there. It can be grabbed easily enough and I find a key on the floor just looks a bit odd.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Guest
    This topic is now closed to further replies.
    ×