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fabian

Definition of "slaughter map"?

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I often read post on this forum refering to "slaughter maps". My question is: What is a slaughter map, how is it defined?

A slaughter map will contain a lot of monsters, that's granted. But how many monsters (or total opponent hit points) does it need to be a "slaughter map"? Is there a definite threshold or is it a smooth transition?

Also, are there any slaughter maps in the official IWADs? Does map32 of plutonia count as one?

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I'm new to the genre, but I think I have a pretty good understanding of them.

Slaughter maps represent a shift in focus for the player, less about the resource-management of ammo (since ample is usually supplied) and more toward commanding a large amount of space that is constantly threatened by burgeoning enemies; usually in hordes.

BFG, plasma and rocket play are primary slaughter elements (although not limited to these) because of the amount of clearance a player can get with these weapons; BFG's tracer behaviour being very effective at clearing out a large area in front of the player (especially of minor and mid-tier foes), the plasma gun offering an incredible rate of fire (again, excellent fodder-cleaning potential) and the rocket launcher's splash-damage potential.

Slaughter maps aren't just about shooting things, but strategy. Maintaining, for example, channels of egress through a horde of monsters becomes more important and instrumental to success than mere accuracy or knowing where the pickups are.

Increase an enemy-count enough to feasibly take up 75% of a player's operational space, but give the player enough supplies to realistically deal with it all (no matter how close a call it is), and that's a slaughter map.

Anyone more experienced is very welcome to come in and amend my rambling attempt at a definition though.

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It's not about the monster count itself, it's about depositing the monsters en masse to create a big, threatening fight, mostly in an arena of sorts. There are all sorts of "usually X, but sometimes also Y", but the most usual case will be dumping all/most of the monsters in at once in a way that surrounds the player or gives him little to no safety. Spamming RL down the hallway on a horde of helpless meat is more lambs to the slaughter than a slaughtermap. It's not about quotas, it's about scenarios.

pl32 and punishr are commonly considered the First True Slaughtermaps from which the genre sprouted to its current form. Going even before that, I'd say it's possible to see the first traces of slaughter in doom2 map16 and the invasion ambush. Protoslaughter, if you wish.

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OK, but how do you tell the difference between a normal map and a slaughter map? I think it depends on the player, on how comfortable he/she feels when dealing with 50/100/500 monsters. If I feel that 150 monsters are too much, then for me a slaughter map will have 200 or 300 monsters. If I feel that 500 are not that much, I might not call it a slaughter map unless it has 800+ or 900+.

EDIT

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I'd say the final map of No Rest for The Living is a little slaughterish at the beginning; especially if you've not acquired the BFG beforehand. Blasting a clear channel of escape through the advancing imps - especially before the Cyberdemon arrives to get a clear shot - is a little bit of what makes slaughter. 'Scenarios, not quotas' is pretty accurate. There could be more imps there, sure. But the idea that you have to forcefully carve out a space, with you back to the wall, is a little of what makes a slaughtermap.

Think of them as extremely-violent puzzles of a combative nature.

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Slaughter Maps, in my opinion, are maps that contain large numbers of enemies, whom are encountered in very large groups. Generally, these groups are in large areas, in the sense that you are not able to just bottle neck them in a hall and fight them in bits.

The challenge mostly stems from managing such a large horde. You need to break open routes of movement or escape, be able to use the larger guns efficiently, and also take advantage of infighting to do the work for you.

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I'd say that any encounter that has more than x number of monsters engaging with you at once is a slaughter, and any map that is predominantly made from these encounters is a slaughter map.

But what number is x? That will depend on the player I guess.

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To me, I know its slaughter once I start having to do "group management" techniques - vast circle strafing maneuvers while timing your disappearance behind columns in order to avoid Arch-vile blasts or to escape the Revenant mega projectile cloud that is following 3 feet behind you.

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dew said:

It's not about quotas, it's about scenarios.


this. Even though I think most people associate the term solely with the number of monsters for me it's a combination of difficulty and the way enemies are presented to the player:

- arcadey combat situations: each cluster of monsters explicitly serves to either restrict movement or be an immediate threat.
- crowd management: space is always a concern, fortunately doomguy is a master sheepdog.
- difficulty: in general the map design is harsh, every area should be able to kill you if ya fuckup a bit.
- ammo management: well placed ssg/rocket/bfg and well coordinated infighting play a large role

To reiterate that monster count isn't everything consider the last room in cs2_02, with a grand total of 3 monsters it still 'feels' like a slaughter encounter to me.

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Quote from long time ago when I felt like bothering to think about it.

- It should have either RL or BFG and ammo sufficient enough for at least one of those to allow for more than enough missed or inefficient shots.
- Monsters usage should consist of higher than regular amounts of mid-tier projectile monsters (Imp, Demon, Hk, ... ,Archvile) and slightly to higher than regular amounts of bosses (MM, cyb). Light hitscan monsters are prone to taking out each other so their amount doesn't necessarily matter. In the end it comes down to individual situations.
- Infight possibilities, powerups, health, additional ammo, misc.stuff like jumps are distributed based on how difficult author wants the slaughtermap. The less/more - the harder/easier overall difficulty.
- Instigating infights through multitasking shouldn't be mandatory to pull off for beating a map, but that's debatable.
- Slaughtermap shouldn't take place in 'claustrophobic' enviroments or force camping, but rather leave enough room for manevuering or even allow handling situations in multiple ways.

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To me it's more a question of scale. Slaughtermaps do not feature small rooms. They tend to be huge and vast, so as to accommodate the massive hordes of enemies. Because of the massive scale, a slaughtermap with good aesthetic design will tend to have epic vistas, as seen in Sunder or Combat Shock 2. It needs to be grand.

Also, the default weapon in a slaughtermap tend to be rocket launcher and BFG; whereas in a "traditional" map it'll be the two shotguns. You don't really get to use the melee weapons, single shotgun, or chaingun in a slaughtermap: they are too slow and too weak. You need weapons that can damage several monsters simultaneously, so SSG, RL, and BFG only.

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TimeOfDeath said:

If a map sucks then it's probably a slaughtermap AM I RITE?

That's discriminatory to non-slaughter ToD maps!

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I wouldn't care much about how it was defined except the "slaughterfest 20xx" wads kind of locked in that term, so now I want to redefine it as "challenging maps that are fun for skilled players" or something, heh heh. Huge architectural scale and walking space often results in bad gameplay imo. Doom design is a puzzle that has to take infighting into account, so restricting doomguy to a bit more claustrophic paths with columns around etc blocks him from seeing everyone at once and causing them to infight (though you do want some infighting typically, just limited to a smaller area around doomguy). And such slightly claustrophobic architecture also prevents doomguy from easily circling around a mass of enemies, which results in simple and repetitive gameplay. Also the "grand" idea of a slaughtermap often leads to 1-4 hour maps, when even 20 min is stretching it for a good demo recording map since hard means many deaths and if you take 30 attempts, and your average is getting halfway through, I'd rather spend 5 hours of attempts on a 20 min map than 60 hours of attempts on a 4 hour map (if I can even do that simple math right).

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Gez said:

To me it's more a question of scale. Slaughtermaps do not feature small rooms. They tend to be huge and vast, so as to accommodate the massive hordes of enemies. Because of the massive scale, a slaughtermap with good aesthetic design will tend to have epic vistas, as seen in Sunder or Combat Shock 2. It needs to be grand.


I'm not so sure I agree with that. In 3 Heures d'agonie there's map27: Sang Innocent which consists of just two, small, connected rooms filled with monsters and (as far as I remember) monsters keep teleporting in at various points, flooding an already insanely cramped area. It has like 300 monsters and by the end of it the whole floor is covered in a sea of corpses. I'd say it's a pretty slaughterish map even though it's really tiny.

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TimeOfDeath said:

If a map sucks then it's probably a slaughtermap AM I RITE?

Any sort of map can suck. Slaughtermaps certainly can suck, but they are not alone.

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Really awesome words in this thread, especially Jayextee, dew, Ribbiks, and gggmork. Would any of you guys be interested in coming to some kinda consensus on this and making a Doom Wiki article on this subject? Maybe with the help of a mediator or something? I wouldn't want this info to get lost.

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That's easy - someone writes up the first draft of the article and posts it on the wiki. Then consensus is made by group edits and article discussion. You just need the brave soul that will take the first step. That said, I may have created a catchy phrase with the quotas and scenarios, but I'm not much of an expert on the matter to capture all the important details, so I'll leave that to our resident slaughterfans. :P

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I really like jayextee's take, but a lot of snippets from the following posts should be injected in there too.

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fabian said:

I often read post on this forum refering to "slaughter maps". My question is: What is a slaughter map, how is it defined?

A slaughter map will contain a lot of monsters, that's granted. But how many monsters (or total opponent hit points) does it need to be a "slaughter map"? Is there a definite threshold or is it a smooth transition?

Also, are there any slaughter maps in the official IWADs? Does map32 of plutonia count as one?


My definition would be: a map that puts the main focus on killing as many enemies as possible, rather than level design.

For this reason I like the first Doom better than the second. I know that's a controversial thing to say, but I like the first one more because it emphasizes level design over the slaughtering of hundreds of enemies. The second Doom still kinda did, but it was already going more into the slaughter map stereotype that a lot of people associate with Doom nowadays.

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Crasger said:

Isn't MAP30 of Doom II a slaughter map?
I'd also like to know if Doomworld likes or hates this type of map.


As far as I can tell, people are divided.

I personally don't like slaughter maps because to me, that's not what classic Doom is about. If I should make a comparison, I would say it is similar to Kaizo Mario World's popularity in the Super Mario World community. Its unbelievably hard, but that's not what the original game's charm was about IMHO.

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Hmm, well, it's an interesting discussion, in no small part because the specifics of where 'slaughtermap' begins and 'everything else' ends seems to be given over to quite a wide degree of personal interpretation. For instance, Ribbiks' own recent mapset, Stardate-20X6 (which I found thoroughly enjoyable, incidentally), has been described by some as a set of slaughtermaps, but to my personal interpretation a majority of it was in a different, very setpiece-heavy zone, with 'obviously' slaughter vignettes becoming more and more common as it reached its final stages (although I think part of what made it work so well was the alternation between different play types in the last couple of maps). I guess what I'm saying is that I personally don't feel that the basic slaughtermap recipe is as simple/generalized as intense violence + high bodycount + lots of high-end ammo, though each of these may be part and parcel for the genre. As to what IS a slaughtermap, fundamentally speaking, a good place to look for answers might be in those WADs that pretty much everybody unanimously agrees to be slaughtermaps--your Sunders, your New Gothics, the majority of the two Combat Shocks, etc.

The one point that's been brought up that I definitely disagree with is the notion that a slaughtermap is difficult/mainly suited for skilled/specialized players by definition. Of course, what is and isn't 'difficult' is to some degree a very subjective issue, and a large number of existing iterations of the style are quite challenging (to say the least), but I think it's more than possible to design a map that features some or all of the gameplay tropes that have been mentioned in the thread thus far with a lot of room for variation in the overall difficulty. For instance, of the few big-name WADs I mentioned above, I reckon that New Gothic pt. I is quite a bit easier than most of Sunder or either Combat Shock, and at least from a very casual perspective (e.g. using savegames and the like) often not a particularly difficult WAD in general, by dint of the extremely generous approach to powerup placement that ArmouredBlood took when designing it. Maybe there's an argument that slaughter-play is really only fun when it's challenging, but of course that's a separate issue.

Of the points I agree with, I think the arena-centric nature of the style is probably utmost. Now, when someone says 'arena', one naturally tends to think of a big open box with stuff scattered around inside of it (and that may be true of many iterations of the genre), but I don't think it's meet to be too literal about the term--we might say 'battleground' instead. I tend to think of slaughter-play as being very heavily location-based, with most of the main action staged in preset areas (the actual potential for variety in the terrain in these areas is quite great, I think) that the player can theoretically navigate around with quite a bit of freedom, though of course in actual play the monster presence tends to place some significant strictures on what is/is not safe/sane to do. By contrast, there's not often a lot of incidental combat in slaughtermaps, and layout traversal, to the extent that it even really exists, does so mainly to take the player from one battleground to another, rather than being a theme of the gameplay for its own sake. I think this generally holds true even for very small slaughtermaps, like the William Huber map from 3 Heurs d'agonie that was mentioned earlier. The question of weapon-bias is pretty interesting, too, and I agree that nearly all slaughtermaps I can think of are heavily skewed (generally for good reason) towards plasma (particularly BFG) and rockets, maybe with a touch of SSG or even Berserk-fisting for cleanup/appetizers; yet, I do wonder if someone might be able to create a real slaughtermap using mainly bullets and shells with some rocket-based vignettes with the right kind of architecture and monster deployment (e.g. scads of former humans, demons, and imps).

To try and add a point of my own, rather than just commenting on things others have said, I'll say that I suspect the way in which the player is compelled to frame the monster presence when playing/making a plan is an important signifier of the style. I've said before that I don't necessarily consider something to feel like a slaughtermap simply because it has a high monster count/fights that throw a lot of monsters at the player at once; I think the point of distinction for me comes when I stop thinking of/reacting to the monsters as individuals or groups (even very large ones) of individuals, and start thinking of them collectively as single cohesive entities or obstacles to be overcome. This might apply to individual contingents of monsters (e.g. different clusters of ledge-snipers, different phalanxes of ground-based 'blockers', etc.), or in some cases it might apply to a whole heterogeneous wave, but the main point is that one tends to look at the opposition and the process of defeating it in a 'big picture' sort of way, rather than as a very long series of discrete skirmishes. Of course, a player with strong fundamental combat/movement skills might be able to make a lot of headway even without looking at the big picture, but again, that's a different issue. This sort of "I'm the general of a one-man army, and they're the opposing army" sort of schtick characterizes the kind of largescale strategic/tactical aspect that gives slaughtermaps a lot of their gameplay appeal......well, it what's what gives the good ones a lot of their appeal, anyway.

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Crasger said:

Isn't MAP30 of Doom II a slaughter map?
I'd also like to know if Doomworld likes or hates this type of map.


Personally I just call that IoS (Icon of Sin) map but that's not universal. Hell Revealed Map32: Mostly Harmful has the Demon Spitter but it's very much a slaughtermap in itself. But most of the time map30 with the Spitter is an IoS map to me because the focus is on killing the IoS. In HRmap32 it's more like an additional pressure.

I don't really like IoS maps in general. They tend to be very gimmicky, easy to screw up and not very replayable. I prefer a good 'normal' map as an ending.

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Touchdown said:

I don't really like IoS maps in general. They tend to be very gimmicky, easy to screw up and not very replayable. I prefer a good 'normal' map as an ending.


I don't like IoS maps. But Eternal Doom's MAP30 was incredible.

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