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Rook

One Map for Plutonia: Fort Neuro

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A while back I posted my first ever map, which was a Heretic E1M1 replacement. At the time I was working on a Doom II project which I later realised was way too complex for someone of my ability. I actually decided I wasn't going to attempt to map again, but despite my best efforts I keep coming back!

So, here's a single vanilla map for Plutonia, which replaces MAP27. It has co-op starts and difficulty implemented and uses a brick-wood-blood theme - it's also fairly short but hopefully somewhat challenging.

Screens:





Thoughts and feedback gratefully received!

>> DOWNLOAD v2 <<

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In my opinion it's a pretty good map. Looks very nice and I like the unified style of detail. The layout is compact, intuitive and makes sense, on the other hand it's a bit generic (for beginner's work, it doesn't mind).

But you're wrong in the statement that the map is challenging. It's actually quite easy, it would work as a MAP01 replacement for a Plutonia mapset of low challenge. You know, Doom players are used to a fast-paced movement and action, more than you might think. Dealing with a small chaingunner group or an archvile duo are kind of simple exercises, trivial to manage if enough space and the SSG are provided (and I'm personally a rather bad player, playing with a keyboard). The archvile in damaging floor trap was the most malicious part, but turned out to be easy as well, after I stepped back and sniped the monsters from a safe place. Don't let the monsters only approach the player from the front, it doesn't make for an interesting (or challenging) combat.

For your future works, keep in mind to avoid too much symmetry in architecture and thing placement, because it's an undesired repetitiveness, and continuous input of fresh ideas is generally more appreciated. Also don't use mandatory runs through damaging floors (they're generally considered annoying). This map managed to employ them both in a way that wasn't bad - in fact, it worked very well - but you might have a tendency to repeat / escalate it, and I strongly recommend not to. Also, feel free to come up with more interesting and challenging gameplay situations - for example, let the monsters attack the player from multiple sides and heights at once, involve the environment as player's disadvantage (or advantage) during the fight, etc.

I've enjoyed this map, so good job. Keep mapping, you're already doing very well! ;)

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I'm working on a Plutonia-style level myself right now so I played this to take a little break and maybe get some inspiration. Well, I can't call myself a fan of arch-viles suddenly appearing in front of the player in open areas: kind of a cheap and luck-based trap, at least for a first-time player. But apart from that I liked it, it wasn't really hard anywhere but it forced me to move a little. Here is a demo of me playing. By the way, there was some weird switch that couldn't be pressed: not sure what's up with that.

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Thanks for the comments guys. Scifista - yes, I definitely wouldn't want to overuse those elements you mentioned. I'm glad I managed to implement them in a not-totally-annoying way! Symmetry is a major bad habit of mine, and something I'll hopefully be able to slowly get over. What do you find too easy about the map - do you think there are too few enemies, too many items, or something else?

Memfis, thanks for the demo - I've never seen a demo of someone playing one of my maps before so it was quite an odd experience! It's really odd that the switch didn't work for you. I've tested in PrBoom, GZDoom and Eternity and I've not been able to reproduce the problem. I'm not sure what to say, really...

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Oh, that switch uses a Boom action but I was playing in vanilla-compatible mode where Boom actions don't work. Good thing I was able to finish at all while playing with the wrong settings! Next time please tell us the map format. :)

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Pretty cool, here's my FDA

It's not challenging at all though, kind of opposite actually. You attempt to ambush the player a bit but apart from the BK AV and Revs, combat is very much non-threatening. The YK ambush and the final two AVs are even a bit predictable to be honest. Ammo and health is thrown around like candy which allows a very aggressive and fast-paced gameplay, which is not a bad thing at all, but I think you could easily remove a couple of medkits, shellboxes and 10-15 RL ammo at least and still keep the fast pace. I think the FDA is very telling, I was very comfortable with health and would have been even more so if the switch that opens the Mega would have worked properly. Chaingun was rendered completely redundant due to the over-abundance of shells yet I was overflowing with spare CG ammo by the end of the level as well.

Architecture, layout and visuals in general were really excellent though. I actually did like the damaging floors and how it's used in the BK fight. I too noticed the symmetry though, but that's probably a bit of a novice mappers' trait that you eventually grow out of as you get some experience. Some bugs I noticed during playing were that switch (it doesn't work on complevel 4 but it works on -cl 9) and a Spectre stuck in the blood river.

Anyway, good work overall. Enjoyed it and I'd be interested in seeing more from you.

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Rook said:

What do you find too easy about the map - do you think there are too few enemies, too many items, or something else?

Enemy count was alright, I was glad that there was no slaughterfest, as I'm not a fan of the so-called slaughter gameplay. True, there was quite a lot of health and ammo (even rockets, later on). I think the map was easy mainly because of a non-challenging enemy placement, as I've mentioned. The player always has a lot of space to dodge projectiles, and infinite possibilities to camp behind a corner. Mind you, providing a lot of space is a good thing, for the sake of a comfortable movement. But perhaps you could tease the player more effectively, by enclosing him by enemies and restrict his possibilities to happily run away, run past the enemies, or camp.

Note that I'm not criticizing the difficulty of your map. It was "easy" like "pleasantly easy". :) As I said, for a hypothetical MAP01 this map would work great, exactly as it is, and punishing maps would come later.

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Hey Rook, was just wondering to myself the other day if/when you'd be back with more maps.

Another demo: http://www.doomworld.com/vb/attachment.php?postid=1277746

I liked it, style reminded me a fair bit of your Heretic map, in terms of layout, geometry, etc. I wouldn't quite call it easy, but I didn't find it too hard either, though I was pretty low on health at times thanks to some bad manoeuvring around revenant rockets. Not much else to add to the comments that hasn't been said already!

The reason your switch doesn't work in vanilla etc. is because it's a Boom action type.

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Not sure if it might have something with the boom compability I used because of the switch Memfis mentioned but the revenants in the blue key trap woke up pretty early and then one of them also hit the archvile, revealing the whole trap for me. Also one of the spectres in the damaging blood is unable to move.

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Thanks everyone - it is awesome that in this community you can put something like this up and get such useful feedback within just a couple of hours.

I've already made some alterations, and will make some more before uploading a new version in the coming days!

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I like the layout of the map, being able to see areas you'll visit later is always a big plus for me. Designing the rooms/hallways to be less symmetrical would be nice, though.

Most monster encounters are not really threatening at all:
- Demons in the blood pool in the center room don't walk up the stairs
- Arachnotrons in the blue key room can be easily sniped
- Imps in the yellow key room don't walk down the stairs
- Revenants in the SSG room can be easily killed with rockets from the yellow key area
- monsters in the exit room area won't come down the stairs

What's with all the monsters not walking down/up stairs? Why does that happen, the steps should be wide enough and the linedefs are not tagged to block monster movement. Played with a pretty recent version of GZDoom.

[edit] Oh, and the Megasphere secret is so easy to find, it can be hardly called a secret. Way to obvious for such a powerful (and not really needed) item.

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I enjoyed this map, I like that the difficulty level isn't way high - I like to cruise through maps while still needing to concentrate and this map gave just that.

The appearance was really true to the source material. I got the megasphere as soon as my health started to dwindle, but as mentioned, it's a bit much - maybe replace it with a soulsphere?

Other than that, I thought it was just right. Keep it up!

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Doomkid said:

megasphere... - maybe replace it with a soulsphere?

I personally recommend berserk. Even soulsphere would be overly powerful, and berserk also enables the possibility of a satisfying fist combat.

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Looking forward to giving this map a try.

Also, just a heads up, I think the download link for your Heretic map is broken... :)

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I've made a few small amendments, including:

- Removing a few imps which weren't a threat but could break the trap
- Replacing the megasphere secret with a berserk pack
- Replacing a Boom switch action with a vanilla one

The map should now be properly vanilla-compatible. I've also fixed the link to my Heretic map - thanks for the heads-up, Average.

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Now as I've replayed the map (therefore knowing what's going to come), the ammo/health abundance became more apparent to me. Notice how the player gets overstocked with shotgun shells since the very beginning, and keeps being overstocked even if he don't use bullets at all. I'd say that even if you removed every item that comes after the blue doors (both health and ammo), the player wouldn't struggle and balance would be perfectly alright. Of course, an uniform distribution would be better than that - perhaps if you removed most shells from the beginning and increase their distribution before the archvile encounters...

Just for you to know - not that it bugs me and I want you to change it. The map already flows very well and I don't want to sound like I'm still complaining when I actually like it. I only advise to take this balance aspect into account in your future map designing. Specially if you will ever design mapsets of multiple maps meant for a continuous playthrough. ;)

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Well, Mr. Rook, allow me to join the chorus of praise here. I thought this map was excellent, and under no circumstances should you stop mapping. Indeed, you should do a lot more mapping.

I noticed your Heretic map a long time ago during one of the DWMC months you participarted in, IIRC, but it did me no good because I don't have Heretic. So cheers for giving us some Doom goodness.

I tried watching some FDAs, but they all went out of sync even when I launched them from the command line. So much for my efforts to be forewarned. ;D As a result, it seems I was the lone dumbass who failed to find the Zerk. ;) I also decided not to make my own FDA.

Here are my stats; Kills - 100, Items - 93, Secrets - 0, Time - 15:47. Death Count - Zero.

Don't be disappointed by the death count. Since I wasn't making an FDA, I played in my usual save-scumming style, and more aggressively, since I played on GZDoom, which has a better feel to me than GLBoom, which seems coarse, and on top of that, I'm a numpad keyboarder, so when I play on GLBoom I keep accidentally hitting the + key and speeding up the game, thus completely losing control. Bah! And to bore you further, I'd normally play on the Almighty Risen3D, but it wasn't properly set-up for Plutonia and I was too lazy to change that.

All that said, I don't see this as a super-easy map. You have 3 Archies, a bunch of Revvies, Mancs, mostly useless Arachnotrons because they're just ammo sponges in their current position, a fair number of Chaingunners and Sergeants, and so on. Yes, the enemies are mostly all in front of you, but when it's 3 Revvies coming down a hallway, that's still a problem, especially for keyboarders. I'm much better at dodging their rockets than I used to be, but having multiple rockets come at me, as I'm rapidly unloading my own RL in the direction of those bony jagoffs, remains dangerous, and I was hit a couple times. I was made to feel pain by Chaingunners as well, often because Pinkies were forcing me to move. Also, grabbing the RL in the blood pool was no picnic, because you had Spectres down there blocking me, so that I had to shotgun them from above while dodging Manc fire, and once I got there, Imps and Revvies unloaded on me from the yellow door room. I managed to dust them all off with a rocket barrage, but still, the point is, I had to do some dancing to stay alive.

And wouldn't you know, I finished with only 8% health, having used up everything except the Zerk I never found. So for me, this was a pretty exciting map and would be a great Map01 or Map02 for a solidly tough mapset.

As for symmetry, I'm something of an outlier, since I rather like symmetry. Scifista and DoTW keep rapping my knuckles over that. ;D But I really liked the look of this map, the detailing, texture use and lighting. It was all very good.

For future maps, keep Scifista's advice in mind about creating crazier battles by attacking us from multiple heights and directions. If there's a downside to the fights here, it's that many are fairly stiff shooting galleries with all the monsters ahead of you. That can work if the monsters are Mancs and Revvies, but it's not so good for Pinkies and hitscanners. Indeed, you had good "gotcha!" trap possibilities with all the monster closets in the Sector 124 hallway, but you used them for the yellow key return trip. You know, there's nothing preventing you from making those closets 2-deep, so you have an initial ambush when the player first passes through, and a second set of closets for when they come back.

The stairs at the exit were too narrow front-to-back and steep for any monsters except those damned Archies to walk down. This made the opposition up there somewhat toothless, though after I killed the Archies, I was at 18%, and one of the Chaingunners up there dropped me to 8%, so that was a close one! :D

There's also a lot of horizontal misalignments in all the Bigbrik1 and A-Brik textures that you should fix up before release.

So all in all, well-met in Plutoniaville. Keep going!

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Wow SteveD, thanks for the extensive comments and encouragement!

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You're most welcome. And allow me to remind you that NOVA II is looking for new mappers . . . I think you'd be a good addition to the project, if you're so inclined. ;)

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Played V2, here's a skill 4 FDA for you.

Generally speaking I agree with what Veinen and Scifista said, even in this new version that apparently has a berserk instead of a megasphere in the easy secret (still a beneficial switch, mind you--the berserk pack is an excellent 'just for fun' item even where it's not really necessary). It is a patently unthreatening map, which has a little bit to do with thing balance and a lot to do with the simple fact that other than the revs/vile that rise up in your face while you're walking on damage floor, it simply never really tests the player's situational awareness or ability to multitask--maybe just the reflexes in a couple of points. Other than the blood-channel hell knights near the end and perhaps the guys up in the yellow-locked room who can take a potshot at your back when you go for the first rocket launcher (why the redundant weapon placement, by the way?), you almost never face threat from any direction other than straight ahead and on your same plane, and most of the most dangerous opponents can simply be backed away from/chokepointed, either by design (it's really the only reasonable thing to do vs. the blue key guardians, no matter how brash a player one might be) or oversight (most of the opposition at the exit). The biggest threats also tend to be the most predictable (e.g. the yellow key firing squad), while the most difficult-to-anticipate attacks tend to have no teeth (the aforementioned hell knights). The plentiful amounts of health, ammo, and armor, which might not be real issues under other circumstances, only compound the lack of pressure in this case. I actually like how casual you've been with the rockets, though...the RL is one of those risk/reward weapons, and a lot of mappers handle this by either giving only a very minimal amount of ammo for it (thus rewarding highly efficient/timely use), or by making it the primary weapon in situations where it poses some danger to the player. Nevertheless, every once in a while it's fun to just cut loose with the thing outside of a horde-battle scenario, and there's nothing wrong with fun.

Now, I'm not suggesting that every encounter in the map needs to be some highly convoluted multidirectional deathtrap, mind you....as with anything, no matter how clever a trick or design scheme is, if you rely on it too much the player is liable to get wise and then stop feeling engaged. So, predictable/orthodox YK trap, fair enough--basic schemes like monster closets and monster teleports are still used today despite the conspicuously loud sighs of exasperation they sometimes elicit from some players because they work....in moderation. But take the last two viles at the exit. Sure it's maybe a little surprising that there are two, but it's still a very simple fight that can be easily retreated from, so it doesn't really exploit that monster's strengths. Say some bars trap you upstairs--then you might have to actually use that convenient wooden pillar for cover, a lot more interesting while still very straightforward. Or say instead of two viles there are three (and maybe a few trash monsters to keep the player busy for a moment), and two of them teleport away to the ends of the two halls that lead up to the exit area as soon as they see you--suddenly just running away and camping is a lot more complicated, even with monsters not being able to come down those stairs. Stuff like that. It's not all bad, now.....for example, after I pick up the yellow key, you remember to give me some stuff to kill as I make my way back to the yellow door (and for this purpose it doesn't matter that the stuff is mostly fodder), so it doesn't really strike me that I'm backtracking. Even a lot of very experienced mappers seem to forget to do this fairly often, for one reason or another.

Visually, it is pretty damned solid for being your second (released) map. You don't feel compelled to create a chaotic texture salad (which requires a special touch to pull off), the texture combos themselves are tasteful (if tried and tested, granted), and there is simple but effective light variation in a lot of the right places. The whole ensemble strikes me as rather PCorf-y, although I think your geometry actually feels less sterile than his often does, not so much due to the outlines of the rooms/shapes, but perhaps because there's a subtle terraced aspect (e.g. a lot of different height levels with only modest degrees of difference between adjacencies) to them which makes them feel less boxy.

TL;DR: Don't be afraid to be a dick once in a while--there was never a good, nuanced Doom encounter that somebody somewhere didn't try to argue was 'cheap' or 'unfair' or the like. And keep mapping!

Edit: Steve said something about two-deep closets. Yes please.

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Just the kind of exhaustive critique I'd expect from you, DotW! Really complete and insightful comments as usual. I don't think I have played any of Monsieur Corfiatis' work aside from Zone 300 - which I assume isn't too representative, given its constraints - but perhaps if I play more I'll better understand what you mean. Any recommendations?

Happily, I can report that I've (almost) finished the first map in a new incarnation of the Doom II project I was working on a while ago. I've got a much more clear and restrained goal in mind (three maps), so I'm hoping I can wrap it up quickly while the iron is hot, so to speak.

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