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Maes

Maps that rely on the random/unpredictable factor?

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I wondered if any maps exist that successfully/convincingly make use of subtle/random/unpredictable events and triggers to influence map progress and events, or that play with the "butterfly effect" concept.

E.g. choose the "wrong" path in a level or step on the wrong -unmarked- tile in an otherwise unremarkable room, and suddenly everything is much harder. More monsters pour in, ammo and health is suddenly scarse and locked out, you're forced to use risky passages etc. OTOH, don't do anything "wrong" and the map is a breeze, but you only realize this later on, and only if you have managed to try both paths.

Of course, Doom doesn't have a true randomizer mechanism for map events (they are highly deterministic) but it's possible to make them depend on so subtle or twisted mechanisms, that they may appear random or arbitrary enough.

N.B., this does NOT include obvious traps e.g. pressing a switch and triggering a very obvious level-wide catastrophe, with the level reshaping itself, all cover being lowered and 1000 chaingunners and archviles suddenly locking into your position, nor literally being put before two doors with one saying "Choose this one if you want to be rectally sodomized!!!", nor teleporter traps and the such.

The effects of the triggers must give no immediate feedback, must be delayed and affect unrelated parts of a level, so that causal relationships are nearly impossible to establish. E.g. walking along an unremarkable hallway on one side may trigger a major obstacle or trap later on in the the map, but it should not be readily apparent, except maybe for a very distant sound cue). Or shooting at the "wrong" wall or through the "wrong" door may trigger a crusher activating for no obvious reason pr alter the path the player is required to take etc.

Also, it must be a deliberate design feature: some maps may -involuntarily- have similar "nondeterministic difficulty" elements if certain traps/linedef events are broken or not thoroughly tested, while others may contain puzzles and/or linedef actions that are not reversible, and thus cut off sections of a level, or even trap the player and make the map unwinnable.

In other words, the map must fuck with you in a way which makes your "misfortunes" appear totally arbitrary, while other players might report a totally different experience.

Edit: I realize that sometimes, such effects and events are used to conceal secrets, but I'm talking about a much wider and malicious use here.

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The first thing to come to mind when I saw this thread was "Magikal". I wonder if he ever made a map following your criteria, 'cause it sounds like something up his alley if you know what I mean. I dunno.

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Having parts of maps randomly become harder than normal is a really cool idea! Although I guess the author who does something like that should ensure that the "extra" monsters get killed by crushers or something like that if they're not triggered, because even if reliable 100% kills would be possible on such maps, it would involve most probably looking into a level editor which sounds kinda extreme.

It also brings to mind the idea of extremely delayed punishments/traps: pick up a unconspicuous box of ammo or a powerup, but if you do you'll have to face a much tougher fight later in the level, or the level geometry'll be altered in a way that's unfavorable to you.

That said, I have some slightly random elements in a megawad I'm making, although they're both insignificant. There's a "scary" effect that has I think a 50/50 chance to work so different players will encounter those at different maps (hopefully), and there's a fight in which you have two bits of cover that last only for a limited amount of time, almost precisely enough to finish the fight, but one is chosen randomly to last for much less, and you have to run to the other one if you happened to choose the unfortunate one initially.

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This isn't really what you are looking for, but one of the better monster randomization tactics I have seen is Nokturnus' level from the 10 Sectors .WAD (MAP29). The geometry of the teleporting monster holding pens (both the room shapes and how they are positioned relative to the actual playing space) is such that I have never had the same experience twice.

I imagine you could take advantage of this by raising/lowering walls inside monster holding pens to throttle or choke the speed at which monsters teleport in and/or the teleport destinations (by exposing more teleporting lines).

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I did something vaguely like this a while back on an otherwise conventional level; about halfway through there was a Cyberdemon that wasn't particularly difficult to avoid, but you also just had the means to kill it and then make it past a bunch of other stuff before the next reasonable stash of items.

If you killed it, then the rest of the map played out as you'd expect; (hopefully) survive everything else, get to the exit, look at the intermission and say hello to boring old Underhalls and D_STALKS.

If not, then the exit would be blocked by a newly spawned, much tougher custom Cyberdemon which had to be killed before the exit would open. By this point you certainly had the weapons and ammunition to destroy any foe, but this new 'boss' was borderline OP with attack speed/explosion radius damage and any slight mistake in movement would usually result in death.

I guess I was trying to punish weenies in an underhanded manner for running away from what had become a standard encounter in so many other maps, but looking back it wasn't exactly implemented as well as it could have been. Still, I quite like the idea in general.

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ACS allows random numbers of course and I made a zdoom map where random items/enemies constantly warp and the goal is to kill 3 viles or whatever.

Then there was a boom (maybe vanilla) randomizer someone made that I don't 100% remember the specifics, and I'd never find the wad example, but worked quite good. It was something like: put a lost soul in a little box with 4 walk over lines.. these probably raise/lower dummmy floors to random heights taking advantage of random lost soul movement as the trigger. The end goal of all of that is to get a line of monsters in a dummy hall that loops (bottom of hall warps to top/vice versa) and the floor scrolls at very randomized speeds, something like "scroll according to height" of those randomized floor or whatever. So its a pseudo random number generator then the monsters all trigger to warp to random spots when the real doomguy walks over some line, but I guess a dummy doomguy could be used instead of monsters to walk over whatever random event line.

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Some of the things you brought up are similar to how I intend to make my levels in UAC Ultra 2 work successfully in all game modes and skill levels.

So far my strategies depend on the player finding secret areas that unlock alternate routes to the exit, permitting the player to bypass a deadly trap or approach it from a better vantage point, or have access to health and weapons early instead of after a deadly fight. This is my recipe for success for creating levels that are equally as fun to play in Ultra Violence as they are in Nightmare. If the player plays in Ultra Violence, he will unsuspectingly trip lines that expose monsters or hide health items that will make it challenging on the first few playthroughs, while finding a secret passage might create pillars to block a pesky sniping chaingun guy or archvile, softening the challenge enough to be beatable on Nightmare.

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Many maps with The Icon of Sin have the random effect in a way. Of course you'll activate the spawners, but random events can change gameplay. You might get Fatsos, Demons, Pain Elementals, Cacodemons, or even Archviles.

You can ACS to increase chances of some monsters, add new monsters etc, even spawn items.

One interesting secret I noticed is the secrets in Shai'tan's Luck - if you push the key switches then some of the IoS spawn spots in the final battle will be blocked which makes the map a lot easier.

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Not sure if this is related as it doesn't have anything to do with maps. In Phocas Island 2, I used randomization in two areas.

Hexen Centaur shields. One problem I have with vanilla Hexen Cenaurs, is you know the exact moment when they will drop their shield. In PI2, I added an element of randomness to it. Now you can't tell when they will lower their shield. They could lower it right away and catch you off guard. Also, when my Centaurs drop their shield, they have much higher chance of shooting a poison dart.

Monster health. In Doom, you can tell how much damage will kill each monster. An imp survives a shotgun shot? A pistol bullet or two will finish it off. My PI2 monsters all spawn with +/- a little bit of health so there is a little bit of a variance. It's not too big to make it unbalanced, but I like how it works.

I'm all for randomness in games. As long as it isn't done so you have to rely on luck to get through.

The idea of 'butterfly effect' maps sounds really good, it would just take a lot of planning to get it to work properly. I might have done it in PI2, but I preferred having many paths open as opposed to future paths based on what you do now.

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I've tried something like this in a few maps, mainly where a room is filled with a mixture of monsters and going certain routes will open a door somewhere else to let them filter randomly into the rest of the map. Another thing I enjoy doing is allowing unkilled monsters left behind earlier in the map to warp ahead of you as a form of karma.

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Generally, I think this would kinda suck - I tend to play a map only a couple of times max, so I would probably never notice that this mechanism existed. And, if it involved extra monsters appearing when the "bad thing" happened, you'd notice that not all monsters were killed...unless you ported some archviles into corpse-infested areas vs. empty areas...hmm could get somewhat interesting after all :)

It would be kinda funny (dickish) for a knowledgable player to submit a demo, in which he/she avoided the "trap", and then challenged others to "beat my awesome par time".

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kb1 said:

It would be kinda funny (dickish) for a knowledgable player to submit a demo, in which he/she avoided the "trap", and then challenged others to "beat my awesome par time".


That's one possible (ab)use of the concept. Usually, that's the case with levels that have marginal ammo balancing and multiple possible paths: only one is the "right" one, all others are a PITA (I'm looking at you, Jodwin). I call those "Stork and Fox" levels, after the famous tale.

You could also say that speedrunners kinda do the opposite of this: the "normal" way of playing a map is for them just a tarpit full of avoidable traps and delays, if one knows what to avoid.

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