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Louigi Verona

The Wall

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Hey everyone!

The levels I showed you before were old ones. This is a level that I designed within the last 5 days. Still working on some small details, but most of it is ready.

MAP 01. PrBoom compatible.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/iylcwuqgm80dx19/wall.wad?dl=0


I would be very grateful for the feedback. In making this map I tried to take into account all the feedback and advice that I got in the last two weeks.

While I am still working on some details, I decided it would be best to show the map now, so that I can correct things.

Cheers!

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Louigi Verona said:

PrBoom compatible.

Does this mean -complevel 2 (limit-removing vanilla) or -complevel 9 (Boom)? If Boom-specific features were used in the map, it's the latter, if not, it's the former.

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Where can I read about these compatibility levels?

I am sure I did not use any Boom features (my understanding it adds new functionality). Everything on this map can probably be played with vanilla Doom, so complevel 2.

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Not bad, but quite a few of the fights were tedious. For example when all of the cacodemons are released, they funnel towards that little 64-wide flight of stairs where the plasma rifle is and you plink them off with no risk. Then you shotgun the arachnotron while easily ducking back for cover. And then rocket the mancubuses to death before they even get a shot off. It might have been better, for example, if the stairs were bigger so the cacos could actually get into your room, and if the arachnotron were released behind you and the mancubsues roamed the vicinity -- a sort of pincer effect.

My favorite part was the beginning -- having to rocket the chaingunner nest w/o a lot of healing supplies nearby if you took too much damage. I liked the use of darkness too.

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Pretty damn solid map I must say, although I'd recommend you remove the plasma rifle: the map can easily be completed with the other weapons on hand. You could possibly do without the SSG as well if you want to ramp up the difficulty a tad, I didn't find it for a while and was still doing pretty okay.

Also, any reason why you called it The Wall? Just curious.

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Was disappointed that this wasn't the music.

Other than that, not bad. Bit dull at times with a tedious collection of largely harmless Imps, but I've played far worse things. Nice job.

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Louigi Verona said:

Where can I read about these compatibility levels?

Here: http://www.doomworld.com/vb/doom-speed-demos/18410-welcome-to-the-demos-forum-includes-prboom-plus-usage-info/

Now to your map: Here is my FDA, recorded in PrBoom-plus -complevel 2. IMO, you've got the techbase aesthetic right, except texture misalignments here and there. Progression was OK, although I wasn't fond on multiple mandatory nukage runs, that punish the player by draining his health for no reason. At least they were used moderately.

The worst aspect of the map was gameplay and combat balance. However, when I say worst, take it with a grain of salt. It wasn't either terrible, or broken - it was just there, simple, straightforward, allowing the player to win easy, not teasing his skill and making him engaged enough. Honestly, there were just 2 things that I considered truly good about the map's combat gameplay: First, the simple fact that there were enemies at all. Second, the initial fight with a rocket launcher against a barrage of different enemies - that was actually good.

Other than that, I thought the gameplay was very out of balance between threat and reward. For example, a lot of enemies were placed in hordes, simply walking on the ground towards the player, who could defeat them by using the same strategy again and again, often while standing in place. In particular, all the hitscanner legions were easy to snipe with a hitscan weapon from a distance, and the entire imp horde posed little threat and could be eliminated by constant rocket launcher fire into the same place. There was a Baron of Hell and several single Cacodemons / Demons / Spectres, who could have totally be outrunned withou increased risk. Many other areas were empty and boring, their heavily rectangular design didn't help to make them any more interesting to explore. The exit door sequence of fights was just trivial. Also, there were way too many weapons and ammo available in the whole map, so much more than the player ever needed that it made the whole journey unengaging.

IMO, the map lacks specific setups designed to actually challenge the player, and relatively evenly distributed around the map. That's what you could add to improve it. And you would remove a lot of ammo and perhaps even weaponry (the plasma gun had no usefulness in this map), as well as shrink the overgrown enemy hordes, whose threat doesn't work so well despite their numbers.

Lastly - well - the map name literally asked for a map where some big wall would be the central theme and gimmick, but then this generic techbase turned out to be disappointing in this regard. Maybe you could just rename the map.

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Hey everyone!

Big thanks for the feedback so far!

1. Why "The Wall"

Initially there was only this wall with hordes of monsters. But then I decided to expand the map. So the name is historic, so to speak. I agree the name should be changed.

2. Texture misalignment

I am always surprised to get this one back, since I generally spend loads of time trying to align everything. If there are any places in particular, I would be happy to correct them.

3. The challenge

I agree that the beginning is more difficult, then the end. I will also re-think ammo and weapons. Couple of people suggested I remove plasma rifle, I will do so.

But here is the problem that I have - I am not a very skilled player or perhaps it would be more correct to say that I do not enjoy "tough levels". TeamTNT levels, for example, are way too hard for me, I just don't get any enjoyment from them.

I do like original Doom2 maps, many of them are actually not as hard. But I would agree that this map, perhaps, is not too challenging.

I also noted some tedious battles. I will try to get rid of those, although this is not easy, I think mastery is required for this, I am, of course, doing my best to learn.

As for being able to outrun monsters, I must say that many good maps allow for the player to just outrun the map without firing many shots.

And finally, scifista42:

4. "map lacks specific setups designed to actually challenge the player"

Can you expand on this one? What do you mean by setups that actually challenge the player?

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Louigi Verona said:

2. Texture misalignment

I am always surprised to get this one back, since I generally spend loads of time trying to align everything. If there are any places in particular, I would be happy to correct them.

Every single STARTAN wall breaks the natural tiling of the texture, either vertically or horizontally, often oddly. Vertical SLADWALL misalignments (minor issue). The light trims inside a wall at the south-west. The GRAY walls near the exit. Some TEKGREN at the north + at the south end of the central nukage pool. Some bricks at the south-east. Several computers in the start area, but that is kind of a cliche for that particular texture. Also, several times, a wall texture suddenly changes to another texture without a border, which looks ugly in certain cases (CEMENT->GRAY, CEMENT->TEKGREN, COMPUTER->TEKGREN).

As for being able to outrun monsters, I must say that many good maps allow for the player to just outrun the map without firing many shots.

In good maps, such a strategy usually comes with an increased risk of endangerment for the player, whether sooner or later. But it can be so exciting that the player will do it anyway. A different situation is: "Fine, here is a meaty enemy group. I know that I'm supposed to fight them. I also know that I can run away from them, and never meet them again on my way to the exit. Screw it, I'm not wasting time with them." This is not a sign of good design, in my view.

What do you mean by setups that actually challenge the player?

Monster placement taking advantage of particular monster's abilities and traits, as well as of the map's terrain, height differences, available space to move around, etc, in order to efficiently endanger the player, and indirectly force him to put some thought and skill into dealing with them. Maybe also occasional setpiece battles and/or traps.

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Haha!

No, I will attempt to make the "back" of the wall challenging as well, although I am not exactly sure how.

Also, when building this map, I struggled with design. I want to go away from rectangular design, but it is very tough for me. I think in rectangular rooms, but I do see great design that has no dominant of rectangles. Lots of learning ahead!

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Louigi Verona said:

Haha!

No, I will attempt to make the "back" of the wall challenging as well, although I am not exactly sure how.

Also, when building this map, I struggled with design. I want to go away from rectangular design, but it is very tough for me. I think in rectangular rooms, but I do see great design that has no dominant of rectangles. Lots of learning ahead!


A few ideas:

1) Composite shapes.

Begin with rectangles if you want, but instead of just moving onto the next room when you have your rectangle, use additive and subtractive techniques to modify the rectangle and turn it into a more complex shape.

2) Angles and skew.

Once again, begin with a rectangle or any other basic shape that you want, but change some of the 90-degree lines to angles.

3) Curves.

Similar to "angles and skew" -- you can use straight lines as the "root shape".

(#1-#3 have to be done artfully, of course. I don't mean to imply that it's enough to just haphazardly modify some basic structures here and there. Also, it's usually not enough to draw a rectangle and then just bevel or curve the corners.)

Here are a few rooms that use these techniques:



(From map01 of BtSX.)

Notice how it can be interpreted as a complex, advanced variant of this:



A basic rectangle with two smaller rectangles attached to it (technique #1), transformed artfully (#2).

And look at this:



(From map01 of Valiant.)

Once again, the basic shape of this area is pretty simple. But it has been transformed with use of angles and curves, and multiple simple shapes have been combined smoothly to give it a composite shape.

This area also uses the "room-inside-a-room" device, which is deserving of its own category.

4) "Open transitions".

The most natural transitions for beginning level designers are doors and hallways (usually both in conjunction). But there are many other ways to connect rooms: windows; changes in height variation; 128-160 wide openings that are left doorless even thought they could support a door. You could also just put two rooms adjacent to one another without a clear transition at all: what I call an "open transition" because I haven't found an existing name for it.



(Again from map01 of BtSX.)

There are essentially three rectangular rooms here, with some angles on the edges. But the one on the left is connected to the center via a window (what I classify as a "semi-open transition"), and the central room just bleeds directly into the room on the right (in fact the structure in the center, which is a platform rising out of nukage and bordered by impassable gates, is the true transition point -- another "semi-open transition"). As a result, it's perceived as two tightly connected rooms. The Valiant example does something similar, making one room out of three.

5) "Complex rooms".

Imagine a rectangular room, about 768-by-640, with a flat, uniform wooden surface. Now let's think about various structures we can add to it and their relation to whatever fighting we want to happen. A fight with two revenants and an arch-vile, equipped with a SSG? Okay, we can create two columns for cover, closer to the north wall. We want lower-tier monsters to take potshots at the player but without turning the main room into a complete mess? Okay, create a small ledge on the left or right side. We test it, and it seems that moving around is way too easy. Okay, let's turn a section of the floor into damaging blood. We want to add a medkit and box of shells to the room, but we don't want the player to be able to easily access it while the fight is going on? Create an alcove off of the south side of the room, away from the columns, and put them there. This way going for the health/ammo while the arch-vile is alive will be very risky.

Basically, "complex rooms" -- as opposed to flat, uniform rooms -- use changes in floor height variation in meaningful ways. In general, the smaller the room, the more uniform it can and should be (there's just not enough space for much). The larger the room, the worse of it is for being uniform.

I think you had a decent number of "complex rooms" in The Wall.

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rdwpa, big thanks, I appreciate your ideas greately! I will play with this and I will also look at more good maps, including the ones you cited, since I definitely did not play them.

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Intense! I had fun. I loved the sneaky chaingunner at the top of the watchtower lift and the d-day start encouraging you to weave in and out of cover to block hitscanners. Were there any radiation suits that I missed? Having one at the base of the plasma or over by the slime islands could encourage players to advance or backtrack. Overall very enjoyable even if the pacing is heavily weighted towards the frenetic opening.

Ooh also meant to say ran it perfectly in Chocolate Doom for me.

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Pretty nice map. Like the other your map I played this one too has a cool old-school feel. I think Scifista42 already pointed out well on the texture alignment. And for general alignment (and also if you want to make more complex shapes like rdwpa has suggested) I would add to keep attention to the texture size and the line length/sector height where you want to put that texture, check if it fits both horizontally and vertically. The start with the rocket launcher was interesting. Overall I think that some more tough monster would work well as there's a plasmagun too. When the mancubi and the spiders appear they don't present such a threat as the player is plenty of cover and safe spots to kill them. I really liked how there is some non-linearity, and the route to get the red key. Good job!

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I enjoyed playing this one - it felt almost like I was playing an official Doom II map at times, and I had fun for the five minutes it took me to finish. There are some flaws (pointed out by others, so I will not repeat them), but overall, it's a great map and I'd love to see some more from you in the future!

vadrig4r said:

Were there any radiation suits that I missed?

I checked in Doom Builder, and nope, there are none (yet).

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Louigi Verona said:

Guys, do you think it makes sense to just remove the harming effect of the ooze?

I don't know anything about design so ignore me completely, this is just as a player.

I'm generally hesitant to jump into goo blindly unless I see a suit down there or nearby, especially if it's one way such as a high drop. I'll usually exhaust other options first.

On the other hand in the section leading down the watchtower/Hell knight you have good visibility of the path ahead, encouraging the player to advance. In that case I felt the slime damage adds nicely to the sense of urgency and being vulnerable, especially coupled with monsters firing at you from height.

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