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Tips On Monster Placement ?

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I've been making maps for quiet a while now but I've never been any good with monster placement and item placement. Can anyone give me any tips on this?

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As a rule of thumb, for every monster I place enough ammo nearby (in a corner or next to a corpse) to kill 3/2 of that monster. That's 3/2, not 2/3.

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Keep a sharp eye on the field of view for both the player and monsters as you place them. If you focus on what the player and monsters can and cannot see, you can plan a lot of fun fights and ambushes this way. It will make it easier to make large outdoor areas fun if you can do without all the monsters seeing the player at once too.



It's difficult to work with what the monsters can and can't hear, so as a newbie mapper, you might want to consider making all of your monsters "Deaf." You can do this by double clicking on the monsters to open up their Thing Properties, and check the checkbox that says Deaf. The negative effect of making monsters deaf is monsters will be able to see the player in all directions while they're inactive, even if they are facing the wrong way. It can be worth it though, because if you're not good at working with sound block lines (like me), your monsters will be activated by the sound of gunfire from just about anywhere on the map.

Krispy's right about ammo. You definitely want to give the player more ammo than he's going to need to kill the monsters. Especially if you're interested in making maps with 300+ monsters in them, you'd be amazed at how much ammo players will use up when faced against overwhelming odds.

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It's worth noting, because this can cause some confusing and unexpected behavior, that "deaf" monsters aren't actually deaf. They intentionally wait until they can see the player, and once they've woken up, not only can they hear normally but they can see all 360 degrees around them in every direction. In the game code, they're referred to as "ambush" monsters.

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I don't understand how that's different. Why does it matter if it can hear if it's already woken up? And isn't it already locked on to you when it first sees you?

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No, the difference is that a monsters marked as "deaf" is not really deaf. It does hear you, except inside of instantly pursuing you, it waits until you are in line-of-sight before waking up, regardless of whether it is facing you are not.

Think of it like this. A "deaf" monsters hears you shoot. Instead of it blindly going off to attack you, instead it's like "oh shit, that doomguy is coming, I'm gonna wait here until I see him, and then pop out and surprise him!" It's literally ambushing you. It doesn't care if you pop in behind it, it knows you're there!

A deaf monster doesn't really exist. Either they hear you or they don't. A monster waiting in ambush will either hear you and be ready for attack, or will not hear you, and just sit there unaware of your presence so you can pop in behind them!

More on topic...

  • Never place monsters symmetrically, unless a situation specifically calls for it. Even in rooms that are symmetrical; don't do it.
  • Use skill flags. Even if you have the same monster in a certain area appear on all skill levels, you can alter exactly where it's at by setting the skill level. This can really throw off a player and really surprise them on multiple playthroughs.
  • Avoid key or item traps with teleporting monsters. Once upon a time this was the cool thing to do, but over time it has become very stale and predictable, especially when you have an area that is big, barren, and contains some special item or weapon. Yeah, totally not obvious what's going to happen when I grab that red keycard...
  • Put traps in the most unexpected places. After having played this game for so long, most of us can identify where all the monster closets are: walls that look like doors, traps not marked with the "secret" linedef flags, demon face murals or other out-of-place textures, and suspicious-looking voids in the automap.

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DuckReconMajor said:

Okay, it "hears" you, but other than the 360 degree view it's just a formality right?


Basically.

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EarthQuake said:

No, the difference is that a monsters marked as "deaf" is not really deaf. It does hear you, except inside of instantly pursuing you, it waits until you are in line-of-sight before waking up, regardless of whether it is facing you are not.

Think of it like this. A "deaf" monsters hears you shoot. Instead of it blindly going off to attack you, instead it's like "oh shit, that doomguy is coming, I'm gonna wait here until I see him, and then pop out and surprise him!" It's literally ambushing you. It doesn't care if you pop in behind it, it knows you're there!

A deaf monster doesn't really exist. Either they hear you or they don't. A monster waiting in ambush will either hear you and be ready for attack, or will not hear you, and just sit there unaware of your presence so you can pop in behind them!

More on topic...

  • Never place monsters symmetrically, unless a situation specifically calls for it. Even in rooms that are symmetrical; don't do it.
  • Use skill flags. Even if you have the same monster in a certain area appear on all skill levels, you can alter exactly where it's at by setting the skill level. This can really throw off a player and really surprise them on multiple playthroughs.
  • Avoid key or item traps with teleporting monsters. Once upon a time this was the cool thing to do, but over time it has become very stale and predictable, especially when you have an area that is big, barren, and contains some special item or weapon. Yeah, totally not obvious what's going to happen when I grab that red keycard...
  • Put traps in the most unexpected places. After having played this game for so long, most of us can identify where all the monster closets are: walls that look like doors, traps not marked with the "secret" linedef flags, demon face murals or other out-of-place textures, and suspicious-looking voids in the automap.


What exactly do you mean by don't place monsters symmetrically?

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Depending on the map you are making, use monsters wisely. Someone people like kill fests where there are 1000 revenants while other people prefer more diverse and well placed enemies.

EarthQuake said:

More on topic...

  • Avoid key or item traps with teleporting monsters. Once upon a time this was the cool thing to do, but over time it has become very stale and predictable, especially when you have an area that is big, barren, and contains some special item or weapon. Yeah, totally not obvious what's going to happen when I grab that red keycard...
  • Put traps in the most unexpected places. After having played this game for so long, most of us can identify where all the monster closets are: walls that look like doors, traps not marked with the "secret" linedef flags, demon face murals or other out-of-place textures, and suspicious-looking voids in the automap.


How about putting a red key on a crusher trap that you have to SR50 through without getting killed only to have a hoard full of Imps and zombies teleport in the moment you cross the line all over the sector and block you in that tiny crusher and on top of that add close wait open doors so you cannot leave the room?

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TB171 said:

What exactly do you mean by don't place monsters symmetrically?

If you have an imp in the right-hand corner of your room, don't have another one in the left-hand corner. If one half of the monsters in your room looks like a mirror reflection of the other, your monsters are placed symmetrically and therefore predictably.

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How do you guys think of interesting gameplay situations? All I can come up with is "Uh, you enter a room, there is some monsters near you and some on the other side of the room. You go and kill them." I also can make obvious traps (like those EarthQuake described), but that's all.

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GhostlyDeath said:

How about putting a red key on a crusher trap that you have to SR50 through without getting killed only to have a hoard full of Imps and zombies teleport in the moment you cross the line all over the sector and block you in that tiny crusher and on top of that add close wait open doors so you cannot leave the room?


Don't forget the random linedefs that telefrag a voodoo doll.

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40oz's advice is gold.

I don't agree with the sentiment predictability is bad. The entire game and genre is based on certain expectations of what things do - you're a roughly human-sized entity affected by gravity, you have guns shooting bullets, you're fighting monsters that groan, bleed and die, etc.. Even if those things aren't quite realistic, they heavily draw from real-world concepts. There is a certain logic to it all, and likewise there is a certain logic to the game itself. You can make utterly undetectable traps, and then the only thing that can save the player on a first playthrough is his twitch skill, removing the strategic element from the game. To me, that is going backwards; but truthfully, I think it's just two different but equally valid schools of thoughts resulting in different maps for different players who like different kinds of gameplay.

I like to think of interesting gameplay situations in terms of architecture. Space, height variation, cover. Tweaking these three things alone you can build a seemingly endless variety of encounters. I generally think of gameplay first and then build a room, or multiple rooms for it - I find it hard to think of gameplay in a vacuum within a specific room, unless it's an especially big room closed off from the rest of the map, and my maps tend to rely around a particular gimmick.

I also find it hard to discuss gameplay with just words, so I'm just going to go ahead and plug one of my own maps - a highly symmetrical slaughter one! Oh joy. ;)

I wanted to have this main, big room that would gradually open up as you went up (which I think conveys a sense of progression). So I put the player start behind a wall, with a rocket launcher and a truckload of ammo, hinting at the amount of opposition he's going to face right away, that ammo scattered so the player has to run all around the square to pick it all up and perhaps notice the soulspheres perched up on the sides and the red key door on the back (indicating he will have to come back to this spot eventually).

Lowering the wall, you've got revenants coming at you from the sides, far away that you get a few seconds to choose what to do but close enough you do have to choose fast. You have enough space, along with four pillars and some curved corners as cover, to tackle these revenants in relative safety with the RL; at the same time a BFG right in front of your likely viewpoint might lead you to make a run for it - at which point it goes up and you have the choice between fall back to a spot you already know but that is crawling with revenants, or eventually keep moving to these stairs.

If you pick that second option you can go on to the left side and find an arachnotron greeting you as well as three of his pals way behind ready to get hot plasma sniping action going while you take care of the first one. You could have picked the right side and trudged through that horde of imps as well; in either choice, with a time constraint if you didn't clear the revenant horde first a few of them might catch up despite the curved stairs and start adding some pressure from behind.

About a fourth of the way in these side corridors two cybies are set loose in their little room, which the player might have noticed with the powerups drawing his attention back when he was at ground level, adding another element of chaos to the whole thing that can eventually be manipulated to provoke infighting with the revenants down there thanks to infinitelytall damage.

Flipping the switches at the end of either corridor reveals a few more monsters and lowers the BFG pillar (left) and opens the door leading to the next area (right). The order in which you'll access these switches will change gameplay drastically, as well as whether you fought the revenants right away, skipped them, killed a little, provoked infighting, or even ran through the whole thing to the next area fighting as little as possible, as you will face them back later on as you come back to reach the red key door.

To me, this is one way gameplay can be interesting, a variety of player choices and a variety of different situations resulting from these choices. I like to attribute loose roles to monsters - a particular one on a heightened platform can be there to harass, an entire horde on the floor can be made to pose minimal threat and merely meant to urge the player to stay in movement; beyond that, Doom got the monster balance right enough I don't feel it's worth it to overengineer scenarios to make fighting fun on a micro level, because fighting is already naturally fun. So, just thinking of how architecture can be used to create different mechanics, and the way monster behavior can be combined to allow for different outcomes, and lots, lots, lots of playtesting, does the trick IMHO.

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TB171 said:

What exactly do you mean by don't place monsters symmetrically?


The reason that was said was mostly because a common trait for mappers who work on highly detailed maps is that they place monsters in weird symmetrical attack formations, like as if they are props. Monsters are not props, and they will immediately start to scatter when seeing the player, breaking the formation, but when a player opens a door and sees the monsters laid out in a symmetrical pattern, it breaks the illusion that the monsters actually "invaded" the area, and instead stood together in weird formations.

If you've ever played The Plutonia Experiment (PLUTONIA.WAD), there are several maps where things like this happen. MAP05: Ghost Town for example, right after the starting room, there are two sets of stairs to go up on both sides of the room. If you go up one flight, there's a revenant at the top. If you go back to the other flight of stairs, there's a revenant up there too. It's unusual and it makes the experience of exploring the map very dull and predictable. If the player wants to see and fight the same things twice, they can just save and load the game whenever they want.

I don't agree with what Earthquake said about not attaching traps to special items or keys. A lot of us, Doomers are at a point in our demon slaying quests where picking up a special item or key or weapon without some kind of consequence is almost annoying. That much is predictable. What isn't predictable is what you (as the level designer) are going to do.

Memfis said:

How do you guys think of interesting gameplay situations? All I can come up with is "Uh, you enter a room, there is some monsters near you and some on the other side of the room. You go and kill them." I also can make obvious traps (like those EarthQuake described), but that's all.


If you can bare with the weirdness of 1994 wads, you can find a lot of interesting monster encounters. Lot's of stuff can be done with teleports for example, but that's best used when you really want to challenge the player. I've played wads where you pick up a key and a monster closet will open up behind you, but as soon as the monsters walk out of the closet they are instantly teleported in front of your face. I've also played wads with "barrel traps" where you fall down a hole, and you're surrounded by barrels, and there's only one barrel where if you shoot it, it will blow up all the barrels just far enough away from you not to kill you; the other barrels cause certain death.

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But wait, deaf monsters really are deaf. Due to their loss of hearing, their sense of awareness is heightened. They can feel the vibrations when you fire your gun, so they know something fishy is going on and wait to pounce. As soon as you are in their line of sight, regardless of what direction they're facing, their improved sense of awareness fully alerts them of your presence and they pursue you. :)

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40oz said:

I don't agree with what Earthquake said about not attaching traps to special items or keys. A lot of us, Doomers are at a point in our demon slaying quests where picking up a special item or key or weapon without some kind of consequence is almost annoying. That much is predictable. What isn't predictable is what you (as the level designer) are going to do.


That's okay, but what I'm getting at is why not make the consequences of picking up said special item less obvious. Say you've cleared out the path leading up to such a trap. Instead of opening doors surrounding the item, or having floods of monsters teleport in, why not do something less predictable, say, open some doors along that path you cleared with monsters waiting in ambush? What about having monsters teleport into somewhere else in the map, for instance an archvile to bring back any slain monsters while you're away on your key hunt?

As a player, what's better?

A) I walk into a grand room with a key situated in the center on some fancy pedestal. I immediately recognize that something big is going to happen. I grab the key, and sure enough, monsters teleport in by the dozens.

B) I walk into a grand room with a key situated in the center on some fancy pedestal. I immediately recognize that something big is going to happen. I grab the key, and... wait... nothing happens... Okay, so I walk out of the room, heading back to the respective locked door and OH SHIT, WHERE THE FUCK DID ALL THESE MONSTERS COME FROM?

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I fully agree with that.

If you go up one flight, there's a revenant at the top. If you go back to the other flight of stairs, there's a revenant up there too. It's unusual and it makes the experience of exploring the map very dull and predictable. If the player wants to see and fight the same things twice, they can just save and load the game whenever they want.

Damn, that's a very good point. Besides, it wouldn't hurt if one of those encounters was Hell Knight, for example.

The entire game and genre is based on certain expectations of what things do - you're a roughly human-sized entity affected by gravity, you have guns shooting bullets, you're fighting monsters that groan, bleed and die, etc..

No no no, entire gaming is based on expectation that you will be able to control your character or influence game in any other way (you know, play), everything else is completely open for change, and change should be encouraged. This is why people like vidiya games, ability to create and experience something new.

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I wasn't talking about gaming as a whole, but even then... How would you build something that doesn't relate in any way to a human concept? The idea of a character, let alone to control it, is already one. Even a game consisting of a single pixel and nothing else would still be the visual representation of something. Beyond that, there are definitely genres and expectations. Genres can't exist without expectations. First-person shooter implies you're expected to experience the game from the first-person view. Remove that expectation and you haven't got a first-person shooter anymore.

In the particular case of Doom you can't deny there's guns and there's monsters, and these guns are clearly meant to emulate the idea of what guns do generally in real life, and these monsters are clearly intended to be threatening in human-based ways, with menacing groans, big claws, teeth, throwing fireballs, and those fireballs being hurtful because fire burns, etc..

To put some arbitrary and loosely defined barrier saying "this is original and this isn't" is actually more restrictive than innovative. Only caring about obvious in-your-face originality is going to make you miss a world of more subtle changes that can profoundly change a game in a near-infinity of ways.

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Phml, your argument is similar to the one I use against people who spew the crap that "realism is killing video games". No, if nothing in a game related to reality/human concepts, if that were even possible, nobody would be able to play it.

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Phml said:

Genres can't exist without expectations. First-person shooter implies you're expected to experience the game from the first-person view. Remove that expectation and you haven't got a first-person shooter anymore.

Although your overall sentiment is one I agree with, I can't agree with this section. An FPS is defined by the fact that it uses a first-person perspective and allows the player to shoot in some way. These aren't expectations, these are defining features. An expectation is that you will have enemies to shoot at who are doing their best to kill you (as opposed to static targets that pose no threat, for example). Free movement (outside of custscenes and turret sections anyway) probably counts as a defining feature too, as without you have a rail-shooter instead.

Memfis said:

How do you guys think of interesting gameplay situations? All I can come up with is "Uh, you enter a room, there is some monsters near you and some on the other side of the room. You go and kill them." I also can make obvious traps (like those EarthQuake described), but that's all.

Personally I'm all about gimmicks and ideas (much like Phml described, actually). As I'm quite fond of ZDoom features and scripting I'm fairly convinced there are no real limits on what can be done, so anything I think of that I like, I'll put in.

I sometimes feel that my Doom maps are essentially programmer art to get gameplay situations and non-linear layouts into a playable state, rather than properly crafted levels for a video game. If I think "Wouldn't it be cool to have monster closets at unexpected times opening up from walls that nobody would expect enemies to be behind?" I'll then go and implement exactly that. Hence one or two of my maps where blank walls are exactly that, whilst detailed walls (like ones with in-set computer panels) will burst open with no obvious provocation.

Basically, any idea is a good one, until you've tested it. Then it's either a successful one, needs work or should be dropped ;)

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dat whole post by Phml

Whoa, what the... i think that you went a little bit to far with human-nonhuman concepts, i was just saying that developers should not limit themselves and just create what gives fun gameplay, like physics in Carmageddon games. Genres were created for easier marketing of games, their rules are not rules of game development. There are no rules, just decisions.

No, if nothing in a game related to reality/human concepts, if that were even possible, nobody would be able to play it.

That's like, the most over-the-top argument supporting Call of Duty games ever made, lol.

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Harmata said:

That's like, the most over-the-top argument supporting Call of Duty games ever made, lol.

You have a very restricted view of what reality entails, lol.

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Well, when people talk about how realism hurts video games, they often mention Call of Duty series, because of its blandness and cinematic (non)gameplay.

First level in Mario Brothers and first level in Just Another Modern Warfare FPS are both based on "human concepts", but which one gives more fun? That's what i was talking 'bout.

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Yes but to blame the problems people have with Call of Duty on realism is a fallacy. Halo gets crap too and it's a hell of a lot less "realistic" than Call of Duty. And what about games like Sim City and Roller Coaster Tycoon? They focus on seemingly more mundane aspects of real life, but manage to be very fun to play.

The problem isn't realism, it's putting realism in front of fun.

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That's what i was talking about in my first post in this thread, before Phml went all metaphysics :).

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For the third time, all I basically said is in Doom, you shoot guns. You seem to have a knack for misinterpreting what people say and running wild with it. Please don't complain about people answering to you if you're quoting their argument and disagreeing with it.

Edit: ???

From my first post (you even quoted that part yourself)

you have guns shooting bullets


From my second post

In the particular case of Doom you can't deny there's guns and there's monsters, and these guns are clearly meant to emulate the idea of what guns do generally in real life


I'm not sure how could I have made my point any more obvious than that. There's only so many ways one can rephrase the exact same thought. Excuse me if I feel I'm being trolled by this point. Let's leave it at that, indeed.

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For the third time? When was the second one, you have only two posts after mine :D.

I wasn't talking about gaming as a whole, but even then... How would you build something that doesn't relate in any way to a human concept?

That doesn't look like "you shoot guns in Doom".

Please don't complain about people answering to you

What, where did i do that? Never mind, lets move forward, clearly someone derped somewhere, but confusions happen so lets not start the second page with our bickering.

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I don`t think symmetrical monster placement is bad. I mean at least not in situations when they instantly see the player and start scattering (right behind a door, raising from the ground etc).
That example from Plutonia - Ghost Town on the other hand, stuff like that should be avoided IMO, but thats also symmetrical mapping, not just the monster placement itself. You basically have to do the same thing twice (or more), and that` not a good thing.

Someone also said that symmetrical monster placement / monsters in formation kind of ruins the feeling of an over run base/fortress/whatever...well, another way to look at it is that the monsters are guarding the base/fortress/whatever, and not just roaming around randomly.

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