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Memfis

Effort, quality and reception.

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This is going to be a tricky topic but apparently a very important one for many mappers, as I found out from various conversations with them.

So, for example, let's say we have Megawad A, a very high quality work. It was annouced a long time before the release, the authors were teasing the public with screenshots and demo levels, etc. It enjoyed tremendeous success, got high amounts of praise, demos, comments and so on.

And then we have some Episode B, which is a little more peculiar and perhaps appeals to a lesser crowd than Megawad A. The author didn't attempt to promote it at all, just posted it when it was done. It got like 5 times less pages of responses, a lot less comments on the /idgames archive and only two or three demos.

Well, the big and difficult question is... how fair is all this? Is it normal that the author of Episode B got a lot less praise and feedback, even though they put about the same amount of effort into their work? And, more importantly, how should they cope with the fact that they didn't get as much responses as they were hoping for?

Of course, you could say that mapping for recognition is wrong, and perhaps it is, but let's be realistic: most people can't be happy when after 1000 hours of work they get only 10 comments or something. That's just way too discouraging. When you put so much effort into your work, you expect it to result in something significant (lots of positive reactions in our case).

Also, can such people do something to get more recognition? At the beginning of this text I was talking about promotion but I'm not sure if that's what really matters. Skillsaw with his Vanguard appeared completely out of nowhere and he still got so much praise. But why didn't this happen to NokturnuS with his "Can't Run From Evil"? (only 16 votes on /idgames!!!)

What determines success in the Doom community?

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It sucks, but in any medium it's inevitable that some great works will be overlooked while others become household names. There's just too much content out there for everyone to filter through all of it and look under every rock, so people are more likely to pay attention to what they see or hear good word-of-mouth about. In some ways that can be a catch-22 I suppose, but any number of things can cause a wad to get noticed, like a distinctive aesthetic such as Lunatic or Sunder (which is of course just as well-known for other traits as well), or an infamously long and storied development process such as Plutonia 2.

Where it gets weirder, though, is outside of the core community that pays attention to Doom forums. I've seen a number of articles covering Doom mods on mainstream sites, but they tend to be odd, nonsensical choices like Doom:One or Byngu, and usually embarrassingly refer to them as indicative of the pinnacle of modern Dooming. It's a shame because there's generally a lot of 'Oh yeah, Doom, I still love that game! Cool that people are still making stuff for it!' type comments on these articles, and so there's clearly an audience for modern Doom content, and it feels like a shame that with so much quality stuff out there, virtually none of it is getting any outside exposure.

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Honestly, I have no idea how NokturnuS' Can't Run From Evil slipped through the cracks. I didn't even know about it's existence until I stumbled upon it on DoomedSDA. I don't recall seeing a release thread, screenshots, a /newstuff reviews or anything, so I had no way of knowing.

But I think publicity/marketing has a lot to do with it. Posting any wad with all the necessary details, with a short easy-to-read and grammatically correct description, screenshots, maybe a gameplay video, and a big M_DOOM style word-art splash at the top of your release thread does a lot to suggest the 'seriousness' of your wad, as opposed to a project thread with little details, and a giant dropbox link at the bottom.

It helps to have a nice background of good maps to support your case too. :P

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This doesn't directly address your post Memfis, but one problem for mappers is that there's just such a lot of content for Doom. I have like 200 unplayed wads I've downloaded from the archives and the forums, and a lot of times if someone posts a map and I download but don't play it soon it gets kind of forgotten.

I guess that's one benefit to posting WIP shots etc., it makes your project more memorable when it comes out. I know you said before that you don't like endless betas and promotion threads and I agree, but at the same time it can be pretty effective at maintaining interest in your project.

Another thing I've noticed is that some mapsets have pretty small threads here on the forums, but then end up being pretty widely known and liked sometime later, which is nice.

Lastly CRFE is quite good, too bad it's not known more. I don't even remember why I downloaded it. I don't usually go back to rate old stuff unless I really like it though, more out of forgetfulness than anything else.

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If you're mapping for any other reason than personal enrichment/fun, either you should already know with certainty that you're going to turn heads, be getting paid, or else you should instead spend that effort looking for more gainful opportunities elsewhere.

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Tuxlar said:

If you're mapping for any other reason than personal enrichment, either you should already know with certainty that you're going to turn heads, or you should instead spend that effort looking for more gainful opportunities elsewhere.

While this is true, it doesn't mean that spending a lot of time on something and getting little to no response isn't discouraging.

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It's complicated. As esselfortium and plums already pointed out, there's a lot of stuff out there, and not just in the idgames archive: there are almost 50 shovelware CD's on archive.org with literally hundreds of wads not present on idgames, dozens, maybe even hundreds too of works at Wads & Mods also not present in the archive, etc. And closely related to this, there's the issue of time. In some cases, real life doesn't let me play what I want (I just had the chance to play the first episode of BTSX for the first time, and I haven't even finished). Hell, sometimes I don't have the time to even read the damn thread.

Also sometimes, when for example a megawad gets released in parts, and the first part (or "episode") is simply great, it tends to set the bar really high for subsequent parts/episodes, and when it fails to deliver at least the same quality, it tends to get some harsh comments. Another thing, and I'm sure I'm going to sound like a jerk (of course, not my intention): it doesn't matter how much effort has been put into something, if it's not "good enough", it's not going to be well received.

And there's the issue of personal preferences. I know this has been repeated endlessly, so I'll give a recent example, Delaweare:

http://www.doomworld.com/vb/wads-mods/69215-delaweare-release/

That's one style of mapping that I found really interesting, but apparently, not everyone loves it, hence the lack of interest (of course, I'm just guessing that's the reason, but it's just an example). And talking about personal preference, it still puzzles me that there seem to be too much interest in crappy wads. I mean, look at all the videos on youtube dedicated to playthroughs of terry wads. Look at idgames and all the reviews/comments focused on the crap. Or all the recent threads who wish to discuss about "Terry and his colleagues".

Well, I think I'm starting to go off-topic, but that pretty much sums up how I feel about this. I'm sure some will not agree with me, but hey, this is a forum, that's what it's all about, right?

EDIT: I don't know how that asterisk ended up there.

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Memfis said:

Well, the big and difficult question is... how fair is all this?


That's really just a big philosophical question without an easy answer, completely apart from Doom mapping. It depends on how you define "fair" and what factors should be involved.

If you're looking at pure effort, and that's all that matters, then sure, it's unfair. But aside from children's swim team trophies, real life rarely gives back based on effort alone. It has to translate into results.

Another might say that Megawad A appeals to a larger crowd than B, and that alone could make it "fair" that more people played A, gave more responses, etc. This is even assuming the two works are equally high quality.

You can also make a decent argument that posting screenshots, teasing the game, building hype... that's all effort, as well. It's marketing effort, but it's still effort, and everyone knows that as much as we hate advertisements, it creates results. Just seeing something advertised activates subconscious triggers. The #1 tip for finding a job is "network". People won't play stuff they don't know exists. And some of that effort is important... I'm far less likely to play something that someone has posted in a thread that just says "hey I made this WAD, try it out, let me know what you think, that's all" than one with lots of screenshots and information.

Between /newstuff and the /idgames star systems, as well as a pretty liberal posting policy here, there's several ways for an underhyped but truly good WAD to rise to get seen and talked about. It's kind of like comparing indie films to AAA blockbusters... the AAA blockbusters might be in everyone's mind because you see them advertised everywhere, but even the lesser-known gems can get seen and recommended and become cult favorites if they're really good.

esselfortium said:

Where it gets weirder, though, is outside of the core community that pays attention to Doom forums. I've seen a number of articles covering Doom mods on mainstream sites, but they tend to be odd, nonsensical choices like Doom:One or Byngu, and usually embarrassingly refer to them as indicative of the pinnacle of modern Dooming. It's a shame because there's generally a lot of 'Oh yeah, Doom, I still love that game! Cool that people are still making stuff for it!' type comments on these articles, and so there's clearly an audience for modern Doom content, and it feels like a shame that with so much quality stuff out there, virtually none of it is getting any outside exposure.


I don't really want to set off another firestorm, but between the recent arguments over D2INO, as well as something that came up today on reddit/4chan about a non-Doom game, it sticks in my mind that a large factor here is that "gaming journalism" far and wide is pretty unprofessional, and just filled with people blogging about whatever. Trading favors is quite common, and means a lot of stuff getting publicity is getting it because of the personal connections of the author rather than the actual quality of the product. Combine that with the way casual fans tend to be interested in things ("ooh, nostalgia!") and it really sets it up for this type of problem.

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Who said it has to be fair? effort is not necessarily correlated with quality, and each individual's perception of quality is not necessarily correlated with public opinion. It's pwad capitalism! Maps more players are aware of will probably get more responses. Maps that hit the mark on what more players are looking for with respect to visuals/gameplay/etc will probably get more responses. Maps that were in the right place at the right time and appealed to current sensibilities will probably get more responses.

For a hobby like doom modding attention obviously shouldn't be the main goal or motivation. It's nice to hear comments, sure, and there are probably weird ways to maximize community impact if you really wanted to (marketing is indeed effective, curse our monkey brains!). But life sucks and the invisible hand is indebted to no one. Finite time, finite inclination, varied preferences, and a shit load of content cruising through on a regular basis, it's pretty much inevitable that occasionally things will not receive their share of adulation. By all means, be a kind soul and call attention to things you think have been overlooked. An enthusiastic "I can't believe more people don't love this" is more compelling to me than a dozen "5/5 good map, would play again" reviews.

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pretty much the whole reason i started my wad reviews blog was to get the word out. a lot of the time it feels like shouting out into the ether because i have maybe one or two people commenting unless it's something really recent or something like speed of doom which exceeded my expectations as far as who was willing to throw their own two cents in (thanks guys!). my complementary tumblr feels like a much better gauge of opinion as far as how often things get reblogged / liked but it's still telling that people usually throw accolades out for shiny megawads or hybrid stuff like doom vacation or return of the triad, or the sheer spectacle of planisphere 2.

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Started typing stuff. Stopped and looked up. Magnusblitz said it all, and said it better.

That's a good sum up I think. If random forum posters can't even be bothered to read everything in a topic before answering, you can't expect people to try every Doom wad out there and for popularity to happen organically. Even truly exceptional stuff with no direct marketing gets played because some players liked it so much they shared their enthusiasm somewhere, which in turn prompted other people to try it, and so on.

Fair or not, I think you owe it to yourself and your audience to get the word out if you care at all about reception. One WIP thread in here, a couple screenshots a month in the dedicated Doom General topic. It's not a lot of effort compared to the thousands of hours you're going to be pouring into your maps.

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The bar for doom wads is set pretty high by some of the quality stuff released here, so any new project that is posted is statistically more likely to be average. The only way to fight that automatic assumption is to get people aware of your stuff, and being a part of the community probably helps a lot. So not just hyping your own stuff, but commenting on other peoples and joining in with community projects.

Of course none of that matters so much if your stuff is totally amazing, or totally shit.

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It's definitely a better approach seeking fun in making projects for the Doom community, rather than seeking success. I believe most of us create Doom content because we find it fun or because we want to share fun with others, no? Why else would we spend time with this non-profiting activity along with people we don't even personally meet? It can't be "fame".

Memfis said:

What determines success in the Doom community?

In this order, maybe:

1. Quality of your work. (and conformity to player's tastes)
2. Who are you, how you are known for your other works / actions.
3. Luck at catching attention of random people.
4. Promotion. (may, but may not help the point 3)
.
.
.
.
997. Local economy in Papua New Guinea.
998. Weather on Mars.
999. Effort.

Obviously visible things have the most impact, unnoticeable things the least impact. Effort itself isn't perceived by players, so it doesn't matter itself. Of course, effort usually leads to results. This is just one point of view. Effort matters a lot. But it doesn't directly matter to a "mass success".

But I won't try to pretend that I actually understand it, this just sounds believable to me. Heck, I babble so much...

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In all this discussion I'd just like to point out that there isn't just one "Doom community", we have different sections. I'm well known as a mapper on Zdaemon, but probably not as much on Zandronum, and probably not at all on iddqd.ru, for example. It doesnt mean the creative process becomes less fun if i dont get as much feedback as Id like, but it does help to keep me inspired.

I always make sure to "sell" my maps and add a hook in the description/screenshots that grabs my target audience. Different sects have different tastes and I tend to gravitate towards the more OS stuff, but the benefit of being a primarily DM oriented mapper is that if you can manage to get a server up with your maps and a few players in the server, word of your work seems to spread quite fast, and can lead to others hosting your work, which is a greatly satisfying feeling.

There's no doubt, it is a big shame when great maps are overlooked, but I feel at least a small portion of responsibility lies with the author to "push" their maps. Oh, there's also the luck factor! As stated, some threads/servers/etc might just pop up at the right place as time to get big.

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