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scifista42

Frigging PERFECT maps

I honestly believe that a motto of quality design should be:  

31 members have voted

  1. 1. I honestly believe that a motto of quality design should be:

    • "Not shit" is good.
      8
    • Good is good.
      13
    • More is more.
      2
    • PERFECT is perfect.
      8


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How much *perfect* does a map have to be so that YOU give it 5/5 stars?

For me, there are several factors. I will most likely rate a map with five stars if it gives me a strong impression. Either by a surprisingly satisfying gameplay, or by a visual style that shows and wordly "radiates" an artistic skill of the author. But it's not an obligatory condition for me. I would rate a map with five stars if it just proves to be fun to play, and I encounter no horrible mistakes and no design choices that distinctly annoyingly affect gameplay. I'm not even that keen on texture misalignments.

I noticed that some people aren't satisfied with anything less than outstanding, and are highly sensitive to any slightest faults. Even "not outstanding" means a fault for them. I'm not one of these people (yet).

-----

Also, what's your opinion on extreme polish in modern mapping, and the tendency to get rid of every unnecessary vertice, and the belief that every single vertice needs to visibly add to the map's impressiveness?

(Of course I'm exaggerating with "vertices", but imagine like I'm talking about "basic mapping elements" instead of literal vertices.)

I can see the advantages, I can see the reason why to try for a MAXimum possible quality. Only the best can push through the waves of weaker, and become successful. From a principle, I agree, but only to a certain extent. If we were trying to make every piece of work PERFECTLY perfect, we would need to cut it and tweak it and cut it and extend it and in the final result... All artworks of a certain style would become more or less the same. Seeing the individuality of authors through their work seems important to me, and is worth it to not insist on uncompromising polish.


Your opinions on this topic are welcomed.

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If it doesn't molest me or look and play like it came from the dark depths of D!ZONE then it is good enough for me.

EDIT: And as for these modern maps you talk about, I have never made it my mission to make something look perfect (The only time I even come close is terrain, and I just mess around with that to make it look "natural" in the automap) and I personally hate it when a wad becomes a lag fest because somebody was anal about one corridor.

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For me, it doesn't mean the map has to be perfect to rate it at 5 (by the way, I almost never vote), but it should not present any of the following mistakes (of course, I'm not including things like levels that can't be completed):

-Misaligned textures. This is, for me, one of the few instances when a mistake really breaks the gameplay. As soon as you see this, the immersion goes away instantly. Obviously I'm not taking into account the ones used for marking secrets, for example.
-Stuck monsters. I think I don't need to explain why.
-Flawed levels because the author(s) didn't considered infinitely tall actors, for example, making the map a frustrating experience, as you keep getting stuck/killed at "invisible walls".

Those are the three main mistakes which, if present, automatically make the wad lose at least one star (or more, depending on their level of retardation).

Now, of course it depends on everyone's tastes, but I prefer puzzle maps to slaughter-fests, and I prefer big maps over small ones, but of course, there are exceptions.

And, of course, I also like the occasional piece of crap from '94, or a Ruba map. Because they are fun as hell.

Finally, this is very subjective, so we can expect some controversy. And maybe even a visit by Mr. Lade.

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If it's something I would like to play repeatedly it deserves 5 stars. Also, WADs with technical expertise possibly as well.

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... I don't rate maps...

If I want to add a comment to some wad's doomworld/idgames page, I'll rate it at the current average rating so that it'll be a neutral comment rather than a real vote.

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5 has to be perfect, that's why it's a 5. 4's exist for a reason, if you just start throwing out 5's whenever you feel like it you get the modern gaming "journalism" score system.

As for polish? I am totally for it, there is no reason to rush a release of an inferior product when you can take time and make it less shit. I absolutely disagree that polish removes author style at all. For Example: Xaser, Mechadon, Skillsaw, and Alfonzo (of like the 3 things he's ever made outside of Speedmapping/D2TWID and DTWID) all release very polished final products and all have drastically different styles. Not polishing because "originality" or whatever is just an excuse to be lazy.

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Perfection is subjective, so I use 5 for projects that either really impress me or are really fun (or, on those rare occasions where something like Pirate Doom crops up, both). Saying that, I am prone to rating things based on my own definitions of genre, so I may well be going "Well, for a speed map, that was really good, so I'll give it a 5". I do try to leave comments when rating, pointing out highlights and stuff.

As for polish... I think appearances are over-rated in this community, but I'm a man of simple tastes. If I enjoyed it, I'm happy with what I had. I mean, obviously something like Frozen Time is impressive, but I consider it above and beyond what is required to make a good map and all that time on visuals still didn't make it the most fun map I've ever played - in fact, between the hitscanners and frequent narrow catwalks, the sheer adventure and scale of it probably made up for the game play!

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mrthejoshmon said:

If it doesn't molest me or look and play like it came from the dark depths of D!ZONE then it is good enough for me.

Gez said:

... I don't rate maps...


These. I don't care about "perfect" at all.

Also, what's your opinion on extreme polish in modern mapping, and the tendency to get rid of every unnecessary vertice, and the belief that every single vertice needs to visibly add to the map's impressiveness?


I like to get rid of unnecessary vertices in my work. Also I join a lot of like sectors together because I like minimizing my sector count. Pollish whenever possible too.

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i feel it's very hard for me to rate something, especially to give them a perfect score. since my opinions and tastes change with the years, a perfect 5 may not be a perfect 5 some months after that. if i like, or dislike something, i give my opinions and criticism about it. putting a rating on top of that feels kind of tacked on, IMO.

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Yeah, I wish I could just comment on /idgames without associating wads with numbers of red stars.

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Perfect wads? Enjoyable as fuck, great looks, fun fair fights, not TOO easy. Bonus points if it has fantastic memorable music

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Fun to play, texturing that is consistant (doesn't have to be anal - just not ugly!) and good weapons/ monster placement (or DM start placement if we're talking deathmatch) will get a 4 or 5 from me. Atmosphere is great and can be achieved in many ways with many themes, be it a lonely space station or a crowded abstract WAD that makes
players go "ooh, you don't see that too often!" New music that isn't awful and a new, nice looking sky also go a long way.

I guess you could say, if it deserved a 5 in 1996, it will probably still get a 5 from me. I love that authors are making stuff that really deviates from the original Doom style, but generally speaking, those WADs and mods just aren't my cup of tea. But then, there are exceptions. It's hard to really pinpoint this kind of thing, for me at least :)

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I do not rate WADs on idgames, so cannot comment on the first question.

As for 'extreme polish', my suspicion is that in many cases, it makes for differences which would be indiscernible to the player in ordinary circumstances, and so perhaps a case could be made that it's redundant, but - on the other hand, and speaking generally (that is, not simply wrt to DOOM maps) - I tend to be an extreme polisher myself, so can completely understand the mindset. But as for the worry that the upshot is less variety, why think that?

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Fanatical polish can be nice, but I feel a map designed with too much care is also usually not ballsy enough to try anything truly new, and hence, exciting. They just feel too cautious, and I get that old 'design-by-committee' feeling from them. But I love weird maps (like that one that had an emo poem - can't remember the details), so that's my bias.

Briefly: your usual, uncontested 5/5 maps are also some of the most boring maps. Yeah, yeah; it's perfect, but it doesn't exactly thrill, ya know? Exceptions notwithstanding.

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Okay I'll bite. A wad that gets 5 stars from me does not have to be from Poland like everybody else wants. A wad that gets 5 stars from me does not hinge on having aligned textures, or controlled game play. I don't need a sense of immersion, or microscopic details.

My 5 star doom level offers an extraordinary gameplay experience. Something with unique and changing game play scenarios. A non linear design that changes depending on how you play it, with many secrets and optional areas and routes. It can be marginally or drastically different each time. It can take 2 hours to complete, or 45 seconds. It has distinct differences in all skill levels, and considers all game modes. The level or levels would be so good, the player won't even want to exit the level(s).

It needs to be level or set of levels that is timeless. For me, a highly detailed design gets stale much faster than an abstract and barer design that is open to interpretation. Scripted and premeditated ambushes get stale faster than monsters roaming free around the layout, and closing in on the player.

My 5 star doom level needs to exhaust all of dooms capabilities to their fullest potential. Extreme height variation, light contrast, unorthogonal shaped rooms, huge optional secret areas, and monster variety are all part of the equation.

My 5 star doom level tests my skills. And not specifically in monster killing. Health and ammo management, required secrets to find, puzzle solving involving platform jumping, layout memorization, running for timed events, switches that aren't totally obvious what they do, etc. It needs to test my understanding of doom, and treat me not like some guy who's beaten doom and doom 2, but someone who has seen some shit and longs to get somewhere truly alien and remote and challenges me in various fields of doom veteran skills.

My 5 star doom level can't take itself too seriously. Its up to its beholder to be the judge of that. It should take the strangeness and unrealism of the original dooms and early 90s experiments and stress tests, and combine them with the precision and clarity of a modern level designers vision, all while exposing the player to a truly original experience that urges to be played more than once.

Not to say that there aren't any maps that aren't worthy of a 5 star rating that don't meet the qualities in looking for, I'm not sure any one wad has nailed everything, but I've seen all extremes and think its possible for a single wad to harness all that collective energy. These are the qualifications I've set for myself in my own mapping.

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A well-polished level should not be mutually exclusive with "individuality" or what have you. The act of polishing should bring out the best aspects of the map and highlight its purpose, not bend everything to some fictionalized standard of perfection that only accounts for cookie cutter bullshit of how "the community" thinks levels should play or look. There are a lot of things that could be polished or tweaked in a map set and what could stand to be improved is ultimately between the authors and their craft, somewhere between "it's good enough for release" and "it's as good as it can be".

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I tend to rate single maps higher. o34s got a 5 just for immersion, even though I am fully aware of certain design flaws. Then mapsets which I enjoy and replay often, obtic and end1, got a 4. For a 5 they should have only like 1 or 2 out of 17 (18) weak maps, but I found more.

Modern design is often exaggerated: "spent 996 hours on design, 3 hours on monster placement, 1 on playtesting, 'cause I'm too tired now and I want to release it" is just wrong.

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The problem with this poll is that all 4 statements are true.

Not shit is good—it is Doom afterall and shooting demons in a half-assed level thrown together on a weekend is still a hellava lot more fun than most modern games. The gameplay is just that satifying. A mediocre level I will play through until I either finish it or become stuck—if nothing else I learn what not to do in level design.

Good is Good—who cares if the textures are off slightly and the lighting isn't logically applied. It is Doom afterall and still better than most games. I will play through until I finish it; then take a look at it in the editor to see where the secrets were that I missed. If the secrets are clever enough; or a fight memorable enough; then I'll play it again and it becomes just another good map to add to your collection; and there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of these—and there is nothing wrong with that.

More is More—I love huge levels. A well made large map is perfect to spend an afternoon exploring. There is something about the larger maps that just speak to me. I don't know exactly what it is specifically that I like about larger maps, but a well designed larger map is just so much more impressive to me than a smaller or mid-size map. The extra effort required to hold a player's interest is that much greater to me I guess. Larger maps also feel more alive to me, as the monsters have more area to control and move through; and the players have more areas to find and explore. The scale feels right in larger maps—you're just a insignificant human up against all of hell.

For me; Perfect has to be perfect. I have to see that the author(s) has made every effort to deliver a fun and memorable experience for me as a player. I want inspiring architecture, superbly paced fights, clever secrets; with excellent lighting and atmosphere. I want to be awed by the author(s) and humbled by how high the bar has been raised this time. I want perfection.

Perfect is a joy to play, even in its most tense moments; because ultimately, it is fair and possible to complete the map at any skill level somehow. It has been tested thoroughly, using many different players; giving enough feedback to cover almost any situation. Perfect has been given a distinct goal, by the author, to accomplish as a map; with each linedef, monster, or item added bringing the map closer to that goal. Perfection is a deliberate and focused effort towards a single design goal. Perfect is damn hard work and almost never happens. Perfect changes everything following it. Perfect endures...

Outstanding is just shy of perfect. It failed in some small and usually inconsequential ways that collectively brings down its score. The maps are not bad maps; not at all—it's just that they lack that extra effort needed to push it over the top. These flaws tend to be little oddities that crept in and were overlooked or forgotten. It could be something as simple as a shell heavy map with few alternatives to allow for differing tactics; or subpar barrel placement; or odd lighting and texturing; or extremely obscure secrets. It could be anything really. Outstandings end up getting recommended for Cacoawards and people's favorites as they are that good; they're just not perfect...

Polish is required for quality. It just is. Having said that; I can see where everyone using the same brand of polish can lead to a state of sameness in gameplay and visuals; that does get old. Fortunately creative people, come up with new art styles and gameplay trends all the time. It changes constantly and sometimes abruptly.

I think that the Doom community is currently in a reflective and studious period due to the 20th anniversary; so things are somewhat a little too based off of, instead of being inspired by at the moment. I'm sure it will change soon enough.

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A map doesn't need to be "perfect" to garner a 5/5 from me... nothing is perfect. But it should be polished (especially with stuff like texture alignment, texture selection, etc.) and have good gameplay. A map that has those will get a 4/5, but to get that last bit from me it has to have something that really stands out as memorable. It can be a number of things... atmosphere, interesting gameplay scenarios, or even just really awesome, out-of-the-park aesthetics... but being unique and memorable helps.

For example, Doxyamine Moon in Sacrament would probably get a 5/5 from me, just because the atmosphere and aesthetics are top-notch, even though the gameplay is wee bit boring given the paucity of monsters. But, that lack of monsters is necessary for the gameplay, and there's enough other stuff (such as the yellow key quest) to keep me interested.

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FIRST QUESTION

I'm reserving five stars for the truly exceptional.

Those 'fives' may still be flawed in some respects, though, such as misaligned textures here and there, and so on. As long as those faults are minor, and won't derogate from the overall experience... It's still five stars.

For example (possibly a bad one), I'd rate the original DooM episodes at five, and they got quite a few 'flaws' here and there, don't they?

...And for the sake of conversation and death-threats, I'd rate DooM II at four (GASP! THE HUMANITY!), because of the lack of atmosphere and sense of progress when compared to the original.

I still voted Perfect is Perfect, though. It's just that my sense of what's perfect (I'm not bothered by minor issues) might not be what YOU would consider perfect! ...Or vice versa.

To make a long story short:
If something is at an exceptional overall quality (gameplay, visuals, atmosphere, et cetera), it would get five stars from me even if I spotted a single, misaligned texture.


SECOND QUESTION

I think that if something is worth making, it is worth making well.
WADs can be made in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years, but once they're done, they're forever. So why not go over a map a few extra times, to ensure any kinks are straightened out? Quality through hard work shows. As do being sloppy and taking lazy short-cuts.

However, a map made compentently in a couple of hours could easily outmatch one made incompetently over the course of a year. So I guess my answer is: "It depends."

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vdgg said:

Modern design is often exaggerated: "spent 996 hours on design, 3 hours on monster placement, 1 on playtesting, 'cause I'm too tired now and I want to release it" is just wrong.

Hehe... I was like this for some time but I've changed. Well, I still rush to release when I realize that I'm like 95% done, but now I do a lot of gameplay balancing and testing while the map is still incomplete. Just yesterday I started a new map, made like three rooms with monsters in them and I think I've already played it at least 5-6 times.

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scifista42 said:

Also, what's your opinion on extreme polish in modern mapping, and the tendency to get rid of every unnecessary vertice, and the belief that every single vertice needs to visibly add to the map's impressiveness?[/b]

(Of course I'm exaggerating with "vertices", but imagine like I'm talking about "basic mapping elements" instead of literal vertices.)


to me a map is really good if it really shows creativity and is polished really well. i prefer good looking maps over bad looking maps but if the creator used non conservative methods to achieve a certain look, i prefer this over really good looking maps. like, pushing an engine to it's limits or even go beyond. you know, like, trying to create a huge outdoor environment in quake engine which is effectively impossible.

about the extreme polish... i consider myself a perfectionist and i have the bad habit to polish the shit out of my maps. this can lead to some issues though. every designer probably knows this but after a while, you just loose focus and you can't tell, what's good or what's bad. rough example: you see a sector that's 32x32 but would it look better if it was 24x24...? that's an issue i personally have. i created a map from the ground up, know how everything was created, how everything started as a block. i don't see a wall, i see only coordinates and values. but maybe that's just me.

i think the main issue with over-polishing is that theoretically, there is always something that can be improved and polished further. always! you just have to stop at some point and i think feedback by other players is crucial to find the spot where you just have to stop and call your map final.

as a sidenote... when i used the quake engine, i caulked (caulk texture doesn't get rendered) EVERY texture that was not visible to improve performance and to reduce polygons. in doombuilder i look for vertices that are not visible as well. i think my maps just aren't clean when i don't do this. again, i'm a perfectionist.

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A good map for me doesn't necessarily have to have fucktons of detail and all that. Looks are secondary (although a good looking map is still nice). If it's a really addictive map I can play over and over and over again and not get bored then for me it's a good map. A fine example is map nine from Slaughterfest 2011.

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Memfis said:

Hehe... I was like this for some time but I've changed. Well, I still rush to release when I realize that I'm like 95% done, but now I do a lot of gameplay balancing and testing while the map is still incomplete. Just yesterday I started a new map, made like three rooms with monsters in them and I think I've already played it at least 5-6 times.


I find that really enjoying playing a map even before its finished keeps me from ever completing it.

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I only give out 5-star ratings. If I liked playing a wad I'll give it 5, but if I didn't like it I won't vote. I've voted 5 for some extremely ugly maps, and I haven't voted for some extremely pretty maps. The gameplay is the only important thing I use for rating a wad, but I can also appreciate cool architecture, layout, neat design tricks, detail, weird stuff, etc.

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- Classic gameplay.
- Must be beatable.
- It does not matter if its linear or non linear.
- Good architecture and lighting.
- No unmarked key doors.
- Realism, atmosphere, needs to feel like a real place, etc.

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pcorf said:

- No unmarked key doors.


This right here. I shouldn't have to hit every wall for a doorway that's completely un-obvious. Keep that shit for secrets.

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I think Plutonia does a lot of the archetype for PERFECT maps. They can be straightforward, tough , but not annoying or a chore to play through (unless you really haven't gotten used to chaingunner snipers).

They don't overstay their welcome, they can be just be the right length. I mean I really liked Onslaught and Odyssey of noises.

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