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Unwanted preknowledge?

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Gez said:

I think it'd only be possible with some heavy scripting. Randomize enough stuff (what passages are open, where weapons are found, places of monster ambush) that someone who played the map once and doesn't know about the random nature will go "haha, I remember there's a supershotgun in the next room so I should dodge the arachnotrons for now, grab the weapon, and come back to hunt them down with something better than a peashooter" and instead of a weapon he finds a cyberdemon.

Things like that.

Even then, on the third playthrough, he'd know about the randomness and wouldn't be much at a disadvantage compared to playing blind. After enough playthroughs, he'd know the map enough to gain some advantage again. Like "in that room I'll find either a rocket launcher or a trio of cacodemon, but if I go through this corridor first I'm guaranteed to find a few shotgun guys or chaingun guys so I'll have a weapon to handle the cacos if they show up".

Randomness is a very very good idea. Are there any maps till now designed that way?

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serpent.wad for Hexen. Monster packs are unpredictably spawned once you travel from the city to the island and all the various levels branching off from the main hubs. Weapons are hidden cunningly, probably in different places for different character classes.

Also obligatory Deathkings of the Dark Citadel because it was hard to understand anything that was going on there sometimes.

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Memfis said:

I was thinking, is it possible to make a map that would get harder on the second playthrough due to the player learning something about it?

It's definitively possible to make a map behave in an apparently chaotic manner (e.g. certain areas, bonuses or enemies appearing or disappearing at a whim between successive runs) by hiding triggers cleverly and arbitrarily, e.g. deny access to a powerful weapon simply because you touched the "wrong" pixel in the very first room, or you crossed a door from the "wrong" side, make powerups disappear, teleport more monsters etc.

The idea would be that different players would find it completely different in difficulty, appearance and even length for no apparent reason ;-)

Of course it would take some skill to make everything subtle: any triggers should affect remove enough sections of a map as to not give any feedback to the player that something might have went wrong, there would be no hints whatsoever, etc. and of course there would need to be enough forethought/playtesting by the author, as well as many possible "jinxed" outcomes. Also, it should be made in such a way that activating certain features/traps would exclude others.

You can think of that as a "jinxed" map or "malicious secrets" ;-)

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I personally dislike randomness in gameplay functionality. For example: Scripts that replace monsters randomly with some custom ones, monster's spawning / events happening only sometimes (at random), etc. I'm never entertained by these for a long time. On the other hand, I'm comfortable with gggmork-like setups that throw enormous hordes of random monsters with me, because it's a kind of "accounted-for" randomization - I'm just not skilled enough to beat such setups.

I appreciate design that simply honors player's skill (in reasonable boundaries); but actually, I'm comfortable with the fact that foreknowledge and/or practicing on the one particular map can help me beat it.

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Learning that, for every monster you kill, a sexually explicit text is sent to a random person on your phone's contact list.

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Jonathan said:

Learning that, for every monster you kill, a sexually explicit text is sent to a random person on your phone's contact list.

We want the map to get harder, not the player

Macblain said:

I agree that the OP's proposition is logically impossible. Knowledge is always power. I wish more game designers considered this fact and made knowledge a more precious and unreliable thing.

I think the best one can do is to reduce the power of preknowledge.

Interesting point. I think a lot of us mappers (but certainly not all) in the community may have forgotten some very important aspects of challenging gameplay and monster placement. Cheap traps and really difficult scenarios should more often than not be a consequence for something the player did, like obtaining a long sought after key, or a powerup or a weapon. I've been watching many UV-Max demos and it seems pretty often that the player gets tortured with deadly traps just because he walked in a room. Its even more offensive when the map is a 20 minute long slog.

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