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40oz

Single Player: Yes. Cooperative: Yes. Deathmatch: Yes.

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A trend I noticed in a lot of 1994 wads I've been playing, is that many of the text files state that the wads are playable not just in Single player, but are also playable in Cooperative and Deathmatch as well. Granted each wad usually tends to do one game mode better than the other, (and in some cases, do all game modes very poorly) the mappers usually designed levels to be multi-faceted to different game modes. It's interesting how this trend came about. Making a wad that works in single player, deathmatch and cooperative seemed to be a standard for many doomers around that time period, and that standard started to fade away around the '96 and '97 years as more mappers started to focus more attention on making their maps specialized in one particular area. Why did mappers think they should make maps for all three game modes right off the bat? And more importantly, why did that standard disappear?

It doesn't appear as though we've evolved much since then, as almost all released maps are either strictly deathmatch, or strictly single player, and only sometimes single player and coop. I believe many factors come in to play here. People have grown to be overly critical, especially since technology has improved so much since then. Back in 1994, they probably still saw Doom as the most realistically rendered virtual universe. Any new levels that were created probably weren't even judged. In that era, fueled by imagination, even the most ridiculous and abstract architecture probably appeared believable. If you think about it, It might be difficult to tell the difference between a custom made Crysis 2 level from a level that was actually in the game. You wouldn't know to criticize the level designer for placing the enemies in poor places or rendering the world unrealistically or whatever. But now that we have games the demonstrate how outdated Doom is, we're quick to judge. Mappers have to put more effort into their maps in order to compete with the speed of technology, which probably led to some modern maps being more detailed and more linear.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Mappers have learned a lot from the criticism they've received. I know I have. I would, however, like to see some day, a time when things turn around. Where mappers are making levels that do it all, instead of focus on one area at a time, and get discarded after one playthrough. One can only dream.

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40oz said:
Why did mappers think they should make maps for all three game modes right off the bat?

Well, I've seen a lot of old single player maps that say "no" for deathmatch and "not tested" for cooperative. The amount of people with a good amount of access to multiplayer was less than today back then, so many of the ones that did add multiplayer possibly just did so because they had the IWAD levels as a model or ideal, and these support all modes. Deathmatch mappers may also have felt obliged to add some monsters feeling that otherwise, since few played deathmatch, people would avoid their maps altogether.

And more importantly, why did that standard disappear?

Using all three modes is neat technically because you use every feature the engine allows but, in the end, adding deathmatch to single player and cooperative adds another layer of complexity and problems which increase design time and might produce some limitations. It seems more like something to do to impress mappers with a "hey I tacked all three modes together and they are all fun" than to produce good playability in each mode.

One way to get away with this without creating conflicts is to make a DM area in a disconnected part of the level so as to not compromise the rest of the playing area, especially in a megawad where every map slot is used.

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I think it's a good practice to make a level suitable both for PvE and PvP, because that way you can create a less linear and more compact scenario, which neither does drag for too long.

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If you think about it, It might be difficult to tell the difference between a custom made Crysis 2 level from a level that was actually in the game.


If it is anything like in the original Crysis, it should be actually fairly easy. Most amateurs aren't able to reach the same level of aesthetic quality, and the few that do don't do IA pathways, etc. nearly as well (if at all). Level design? I don't think they even know what that word means. :)

Nitpicking aside, I get your point, and for most people it holds true indeed, because the Crysis modding scene eats up those terrible levels and goes so far as to herald them as masterpieces.

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This is something I noticed, too.
While coop usually doesn't need much more than player2-4 starts to work fine (unless we're talking about sophisticated gameplay tweaks that actually require cooperation to succeed), deathmatch settings are the interesting thing here, in my view.

I think back in the day people added them not only because the iwads served as examples, but also because they actually played levels in that mode. Simply because they could and, more importantly, because they didn't have such a high skill that would make them look for truely competitive play - it was purely for fun initially. For, let's face it, most SP levels, especially in the early years, were not very good for DM. Too cramped, too linear, poor balance, but hell, it was okay for a few matches. With time, players got better and wanted to play properly designed DM maps, so most SP levels became redudant in this respect. So then the idea was why add DM settings in a map that's not meant for it, and furthermore, nobody will play DM in anyway?

Having said that, I for one do add DM settings to my maps for a couple of years, if only for the sake of completeness and a nod to oldschoolness. It's just one more day of work, so no big deal (usually untested, though). Of course I'm well aware that many of them will suck in that mode, and never be played, but what the hell.
In standard Doom it's probably a bit harder to make maps DMable than in other games, but still possible. I made some base map that has additional corridors and teleporters that are inaccessible on single player. They are opened (as well as all doors) by a button and a few linedefs in a locked closet where the first DM start is. Not a perfect solution, but it should work, and, oh well, least I put some thought in it.

So yeah, nice to have them, but unfortunately ultimately useless in many cases. Even if a map is well optimized for all modes, there's still the question if players nowadays can be bothered to give them a try instead for playing E1M1 for millionth time.

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Can you use Skulltag bots to test your vanilla maps in DeathMatch?

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Some oldschool .WADs like Darkeneing 2 had an elegant solution whereby the first set of maps contained the SP/Co-op element, but then had a second set of DM-only maps based on areas from the main episode.

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I suppose there's a few factors involved. Firstly it depends on the definition of "supported" and how that's changed over time. If I chuck in some coop and deathmatch player starts, technically I can claim it supports coop and deathmatch. But in practice, unless I've bothered to actually playtest it and see if it works without problems, then it's not really an accurate description.

Secondly, due to the sheer quantity of WADs available, people aren't going to bother playing a half-arsed attempt at coop or deathmatch, or something that's been thrown in as an afterthought, when it's guaranteed there's going to be something out there designed with coop/DM solely in mind, so it's not worth doing anymore unless you're going to do it properly.

Last factor I can think of would be where the complexity of some levels can actually make them incompatible with coop. For example, if it involves lots of raising or lowering sectors triggered remotely, other players could become stuck in an earlier part of the level, or gain a big shortcut and skip a major chunk of the map. Coop and DM are also pretty hard to combine with scripting in some cases.

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I think that, most likely, it was specialized deathmatch maps that killed off deathmatch support in single player maps. Especially nowadays with the chaos that Doom multiplayer has become - these maps might've been fun with 2-4 guys running around, but they're probably too cramped for the number of players in your average game nowadays.

As for my maps, I always try to make sure there's no place anyone can get stuck and occasionally place more weapons/monsters, but I don't give coop or DM much thought in my designs.

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Back in the day, I don't think anyone really understood that you should make separate deathmatch levels instead of trying to half-assingly rig a SP level to play DM. Even iD Software didn't seem to think so, as they built some of the SP levels, like Map 07, with more of a DM focus than SP. I don't know exactly why; maybe they were still so fascinated by DM that they didn't realize that trying to play it in a SP level wasn't a good idea.

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Well since the start of professional multiplayer Dooming, there has been alot more stress on how to build maps. Back in '94 and '95, maps were very freestyled. Take Single Player maps for example. These maps should flow well, with a balance of linearity and non-linearity. With this immediately, deathmatch is a no-no since linearity unbalances this (some to extreme cases), and that larger single player maps don't work for fewer players. Some one-way traps in single player mode kills off co-op since other players can't get through if one of them's a dick. This all works vice versa as well.

I hope this spasm made sense.

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I tried giving a few '94 wads a run in deathmatch with Skulltag bots just to see what it was like. Without being overly critical, a lot of maps felt very hide-and-seeky in nature, as expected. It mostly became search and destroy missions. The weapons are often pretty well hidden, but so are the deathmatch starts, giving them enough time to scout the perimeter. I'm pretty sure many of Doom's levels played the same way in Deathmatch, which is probably where this style came from.

One map I tried that I liked was TECHNOID.WAD for Ultimate Doom. In single player it is a little linear, but in deathmatch you get all the keys, which makes the layout a little better connected. I would imagine when playing against real opponents, the players would flock to the level's "hot spots" where there are wide areas to move in, a nice weapon to fight for, stairs to run around on, and windows to shoot out of.

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I think it really depends on how you work a layout if you can get it to work for more than one mode. One of the few SP maps I finished is very non-linear and would probably make a pretty decent DM experience. It's probably easier to turn a SP map into a DM map, but on the flip side I don't think I've ever played a DM map that would make a good SP map unless the mapper had that intention from the start and was very creative about it.

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Solo/coop and DM are two very different games that just happen to have the same graphics and rendering engine. They have two very different sets of requirements for a good map. Trying to cater to both modes at once will result in their cancelling each other out, and a lacklustre map. For example:

• SP maps have a direction, a upward slope. You start at the beginning and have to work your way to the exit, which is not immediately accessible (monsters, locked doors, etc. are in the way.) Conversely DM maps are undirected and flat. You can be spawned and respawned anywhere and (almost) all places must be equally accessible by all players from the start.

• DM maps are small, as the player has typically less than 8 opponents as opposed to dozens or hundreds (or thousands...) and the map needs to be small enough so that the players happen upon each other constantly. Duel maps made for 2 players are an extreme subset. Conversely SP maps are much larger and those that are small enough to work as DM maps are going to be finishable very quickly (not that's particularly a bad thing, but sometimes you want to offer something more substantial.) At the very least you have to trap the DM players in one part of the map, in which case you might as well just stop faffing around and make a separate DM version.

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40oz said:

Why did mappers think they should make maps for all three game modes right off the bat?

Well, at a guess it was for the same reason I did - map editors like DEU would flag not having all 4 player starts and at least 4 DM starts as mapping errors. As a result, you'd put them in so that they didn't prompt complaints from the editor. As the starts were there, you'd put a token effort into adding a bit more ammo and a well-placed cyberdemon in for co-op and scattering a few extra guns around for DM. You can then tick all 3 boxes and be happy.

And more importantly, why did that standard disappear?

Because we all realised at some point that we didn't actully need to have these things in and we could much better make maps specialised to one specific kind of play.


Saying that, a lot of my mapping now is geared towards smaller, non-linear layouts with a fair bit of space to move, which would work for all 3 game modes, if not excel at any particular one.

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