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Louigi Verona

Small castle: help with gameplay

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Hey everyone!

I have been interested in doing wads for many years, but never really shared them with anyone. I am very happy to share them now.

I understand that doing something without feedback does not let you grow. My map making skills, I hope, are not completely void, but I do need guidance on a lot of things and I would be very grateful if someone can help me with reviews and advice.

With this map I aimed at making a small level, the design of which would be relatively detailed. I am not entirely happy with a couple of connections between rooms, but there are several good looking locations.

But the thing I really am not sure is gameplay. Can this map be made more fun to play? So far I think it is pretty boring. So I would love some advice.

Level: MAP03
Link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9t7nadsilc8fdir/scastle.wad?dl=0

Important note: this map has been updated, taking into account various feedback, read here: http://www.doomworld.com/vb/post/1398802

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I got stuck in the moat and had to noclip to get out of, you might want to make it a bit bigger. The switch in the red key room does nothing, am I right to assume that it is an exit switch? the combat is a bit tight at times but overall fun to play.
Keep at it.

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This map wasn't bad. Not in any of the blatant ways like ugly / broken alignment, or wrong balance, or tedious / unintuitive progression - the map was OK in those regards, relatively nice looking and well playable.

Well, there's a possibility to get stuck behind some stairs in the castle area, you should avoid this from happening.

Then there were just minor problems, but these were enough to portrait the map as "not so great" for an experienced player:

The progression was linear for most of the time, player didn't have much choice of where to go, the map basically dictated progression. This is a problem of layout. You can take some inspiration of what makes a good layout for example here: http://www.doomworld.com/vb/doom-general/73660-a-meditation-on-doom-level-design-and-layout/

There were many needlessly high_HP monsters (Cacodemons and Hell Knights) which prolonged gameplay with minimum threat. Even imps were overused in a way that it was easily possible to skip them / run past them. You should try to place monsters to efficiently threaten the player, don't allow him to simply run away without at least increased risk of getting harmed, but also allow him to kill the monsters quickly-enough to avoid tedium.

Give the player multiple weapons and possible strategies how to handle fighting. Dancing around monsters on plain ground with SG/SSG is one strategy. Utilizing height variations for both the player's and monster's advantage during combat can be a good way to make fights interesting. Bonus points if both the player and monsters can change heights during the fight, for example walking stairs up/down, flying monsters in good terrain to maximize their flight capabilities, etc.

The map was brown a lot. Feel free to play with more colors. On a similar note, the staircase to the castly was relatively hidden (blended with the soil-colored wall), better emphasize it a little (and move it out of the wall), to make the player find it slightly easier.

And lastly - give away hints to find secrets, not just letting the line visible on the automap, or forcing the player to hump every wall in the map. IMO, at least one non-automap-only hint should be there.

Anyway, keep mapping, you're on a good way, I believe!

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Hey everyone, Sicness and especially scifista42, who was kind enough to leave very detailed feedback!

I have taken your advice to heart and here is an improved version of Small Castle:


It is still MAP03.


1. I have made layout non-linear. You can choose your own way of beating the level. Changed connections between rooms a little bit, also adding a cool powerup right in the main room to be snatched.
2. I added the beginning/ending that is not awkward.
3. I made getting to the castle more of a mystery, less direct.
4. Worked on moat, now there is no way to get stuck there.
5. Made the secret area more apparent.
6. Tried to redo some of the monsters to make them more of a threat.

What I think the map still lacks:

1. Garden area with the Revenant is difficult to fill. I like how it looks, but I am not sure what monsters to put in there. Right now there are several zombies and a cacodemon.

Of course, looking forward to some constructive criticism!

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My main criticism would be about the choices of textures. All the area are very similar and the brown brick/stone textures can quickly become tiresome.

The level in itself is perhaps too small, I would have liked to have a larger manoeuvre margin. What I mean is not that the map is too short, but that the map rooms are too small in general. I get it that large rooms or sectors can make a map easier than it should be, but in that particular case that's how I felt about it.
The tower where you get the red key for exemple, I thought 'wow, that's cool going on the remparts, but... can't help but feeling that this tower is too small'. Also the surrounding of the towers feel a bit too enclosed. I mean when you're on top of something that high you'be wanting to see farther than just a few 64mapunits squares I guess.

I like that they are many windows/bars across which you can see other upcoming parts of the level.
Also I think the monsters are not varied enough. I mainly remember imps, Cacos and Revenants; even if this is to be a small level why not make the enemies more diverse ?

But all on all, I think it's cool to be willing to make small levels. People always go for long/large levels but once in a while I like to make small, faster levels too.

Also stupid question but, why Map03 and not 01 ? Is this to be part of something bigger?

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Tyro said:

Also stupid question but, why Map03 and not 01 ? Is this to be part of something bigger?

My guess is he wants to use the music from that map instead of D_RUNNIN. A fairly amateur mistake but I don't blame him.

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Yeah, I want different music. But the mistake is not connected to being amateur (I am actually making maps for many years now, only that I never released it to the public before and thus did not get appropriate criticism). But it is because I am making maps using Doom Builder on Linux through VirtualBox and I did not want to meddle with XWE for now. But in some other maps I have other music inserted through XWE.

Tyro: I do have larger maps and I will post them soon. But eventually my thing is that I love small maps and want to become good at making interesting, but small maps.

Small Castle is more like a learning project. I tried to make it playable, but I am not satisfied. But when making maps I actually never really thought about gameplay, I more thought about the atmosphere. So now I want to learn to make maps interesting to play! ;)

So all your feedback matters.

I also understand what you mean by a castle being small, true. I am unlikely to change dimensions here though, but I will be sure to make larger rooms in new maps.

With this map I am actually satisfied that I could do at least something with it ;)

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I just started using Slade3 this week-end because I was so used to XWE, and boy once you master the few basic things to know about how it works, you can't get back to XWE, it's so much more powerful.
In XWE the software does things for you without telling you, like converting your PNGs/BMPs/whatever in the Doom Palette. It makes the process faster but you can't do anything about it. In Slade3 it actually asks you about such things.
Also, Decorate and lumps texts in general are in colors :p

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I wasn't aware of it until now, but yes, according to SLADE3 wiki - Installation:

The following instructions refer to installing SLADE on modern Windows operating systems. For other systems such as Linux or Mac OS X, you will have to compile SLADE, see this page for instructions on doing so.

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Louigi Verona said:

I cannot find Slade 3 for Linux. Official site has only Windows and OS X. I have to compile it to get it for Linux?

> aptitude search slade
i   slade                                                - Slade Doom resource editor.
I’m sure that it comes from this line in my sources.list:
deb http://debian.drdteam.org/ stable multiverse

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