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PsychoGoatee

Surprise crusher traps, punishing the player for playing. Huh?

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There seems to be a style of mapping where the mapper just kills the player out of nowhere, I guess for a laugh?

"Master Levels" for Doom II has several of these. In Combine.wad there's I think a plasmagun in the corner of a room. The floor texture under it is a little blue square the size of the gun. I go to pick up the gun, oh it was a tiny crusher. I got crushed to death. Turned off that level, will never play another Christen Klie level. Yes, a very dramatic choice. You're tearing me apart Chris! (Like Tommy Wiseau would say)

If that's your idea of mapping, in this reviewer's humble opinion, you don't understand game design. I'm sure somebody will defend that choice. Why not? It's Master Levels for Doom II, I'm sure it's perfect to somebody, and that's fine. But it just makes me throw my hands up and say "Why? WHYYYYYYYYY". I just wanted to play some Doom, maybe something a shadow as good as the original levels. And I paid for this, so it's even worse than a random level.

Dr. Sleep, a guy who has plenty of talent, also did this. You step up to push a button, and before you even push it, just by stepping into the sector, the ceiling falls and crushes you. The ceiling texture is the same as ever, no hint. And the ceiling is so low that when you're pushed up against the wall, you don't see your death coming.

I just can't get in the mindset of a mapper who does this. Where's the advantage of making a player start over? It's completely arbitrary trial and error nonsense. It is the worst game design ever, hyperbole? I don't think so. You're playing Doom, you're in a safe place, you know the rules, you'll probably have some fun. Not this time.

These mean ol mappers kill you as a goof for no reason. Shameful. Shame on both of these "masters", they have made a powerful enemy today. Very powerful. This post is going to go viral, it's going to be on CNN. Crusher traps are a thing of the past now. :P

(Yes this post is done in an intentionally over-the-top style. It's how I express myself against these damn dirty crusher traps)

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AD_79 said:

brb making a map with nothing but surprise death traps

I hope you have a fun fulfilling experience there, mapping can be fun. Just put a warning label on it, do me that favor.

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Over-dramatic presentation aside, I agree with this.

I'm not against the idea of (preferably immediately) killing the player for fucking something up (e.g. walkways surrounded by inescapable slime/lava), but the hazard or threat thereof has to be visible in some form before the player gets to that point, and avoiding it can't be left entirely to guesswork or dumb luck or some other such shit; a pot-luck game of chance involving identical teleporters (where most send you into a small room of barrels and a crushing ceiling while only one lets you continue onward) is abhorrently shitty design for sure. But if there's a subtle hint or clue as to which one isn't a glorified suicide booth*, and it's down to the player to work this puzzle out, then that's fair design and failure is entirely on the player's shoulders.

Look at Evilution MAP30. It gets all sorts of hate for being 'bullshit' and apparently nothing but trial and error, but the torches in the start room are the hint on how to avoid telefragging yourself while crossing the platforms. Admittedly it's very cryptic and not at all what you'd be used to when it comes to puzzles in Doom, but the clues are still there regardless and it's not like you have no choice but to brute-force your way through things.

Much like how I feel about secret areas, hiding shit like this to the point that it simply cannot be detected until it's too late (or without the use of an editor) is just lazy and cheap, and to a degree it's just insulting the player for playing your work.

Fuck, I'd take a string of QTE moments over that sort of sudden and unavoidable death in videogames. And I hate 99% of QTE interruptions!



*A recent game with a similar scenario to this setup is RE: Revelations 2 -- a choice of doors with one being the exit and the other three being disguised meatgrinders, which sounds like total guesswork bullshit at first but it's easy to avoid being turned into hamburger if you actually look around and check out the immediate surrounding areas first.

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BaronOfStuff said:

Over-dramatic presentation aside, I agree with this.

I'm not against the idea of (preferably immediately) killing the player for fucking something up (e.g. walkways surrounded by inescapable slime/lava), but the hazard or threat thereof has to be visible in some form before the player gets to that point, and avoiding it can't be left entirely to guesswork or dumb luck or some other such shit; a pot-luck game of chance involving identical teleporters (where most send you into a small room of barrels and a crushing ceiling while only one lets you continue onward) is abhorrently shitty design for sure. But if there's a subtle hint or clue as to which one isn't a glorified suicide booth*, and it's down to the player to work this puzzle out, then that's fair design and failure is entirely on the player's shoulders.

Look at Evilution MAP30. It gets all sorts of hate for being 'bullshit' and apparently nothing but trial and error, but the torches in the start room are the hint on how to avoid telefragging yourself while crossing the platforms. Admittedly it's very cryptic and not at all what you'd be used to when it comes to puzzles in Doom, but the clues are still there regardless and it's not like you have no choice but to brute-force your way through things.

Much like how I feel about secret areas, hiding shit like this to the point that it simply cannot be detected until it's too late (or without the use of an editor) is just lazy and cheap, and to a degree it's just insulting the player for playing your work.

Fuck, I'd take a string of QTE moments over that sort of sudden and unavoidable death in videogames. And I hate 99% of QTE interruptions!



*A recent game with a similar scenario to this setup is RE: Revelations 2 -- a choice of doors with one being the exit and the other three being disguised meatgrinders, which sounds like total guesswork bullshit at first but it's easy to avoid being turned into hamburger if you actually look around and check out the immediate surrounding areas first.


Totally agree. I love that puzzle in TNT MAP30, it's very much in the spirit of many old puzzle-oriented dos games. It doesn't take much trial-and-error to find out that you need a clue to get through and Hell, you don't even have to do it in the long, drawn-out order they give you; you can skip some by using the revolutionary diagonal movement ;)

On the other hand, Doom 1 E2M6, Balls of the Damned, has a random crusher ceiling that I see kill almost every player their first time through, at least for the few people that I have seen play that map for the first time. A simple door lock or smaller crusher could have circumvented that problem easily.

Then again, it's hard to tell from the outside playing something for the first time what the mapper was thinking; there could very well be a fair clue to that insta-death scenario, though it is upsetting when it occurs seemingly randomly towards the end of a map. That just encourages save swimming :/

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roadworx said:

Surprise death trap megawad, anyone?

If you spend six months working on a massive set of levels completely as a prank, you certainly have my respect. I hope I get a special thanks in the txt file. The irony is I would be completely fine with that, maybe I'd even play it.

The beauty of it is the context robs it of it's annoying power, once you know you're in a death trap megawad it wouldn't be able to annoy you. It sure wouldn't be a surprise. More likely you'd just get bored and stop after a few levels.

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roadworx said:

Surprise death trap megawad, anyone?

It already exists; it's called OCD Doom ;p

Despite what you may be thinking right now, it was actually a lot of masochistic fun.

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Doom has has walkover lines that switch crushers on and off. The way they are used is best shown in maps like E2M2 where they simply switch the crushers off when they are out of the players view, which keeps the map from being too noisy and avoids causing the game to crash when there are too many moving sectors at once. Its a user-created pwad thing to assume those walkover lines were supposed to be used ON the borders of the crusher itself so that it starts as soon as the player steps under it. Pretty shitty to use in a game where fundamentally, you can't look up.

The fun part about crushers is taking the time to observe the obstacle and figuring out how to overcome it. There really isn't much to do with crushers that is actually very challenging without putting the player on some kinda raised narrow catwalk with poison down below and sniping revenants above while trying to get past crushing ceilings, but that's leaning into "fuck you" territory too.

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Everyone makes a surprise crusher at some point of their mapping career. Well, always expect the worst.

I usually place some gibs and stuff under crushers, so the player gets some hint there might be something not right in that area.

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Cleim10.wad and cleim20.wad at some point had a crusher trap with a Plasma Rifle in the middle of a room with a clear "no personnel allowed" sign. If the player was still stupid/bold enough to go and get it despite the dead giveaway, the crusher had a "safe zone", giving the player a chance to survive.

I still remember the crusher traps in another 1994 classic, ForgeX. That map was pretty creative with those: at the very beginning, the player was "greeted" with the barrel explosions generated by hidden crushers in a narrow hallway. Also, at some point, there were 3 identical alcoves with the red key, side by side. Aside from the novelty of seeing the same key more than once in the same map (let alone side by side!), only one of them was "good": the others were crusher traps (sorry, no spoilers ;-). And no, there were no hints, other than quickly walking in and out of the activating sectors. You could even grab one of the "bad" ones and survive, if you practiced, but at usual walking speeds and without suspecting anything...nope ;-)

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trapping

Nothing in that article tells me death traps are meant to be "avoidable". The point of a trap is, surprisingly, to trap someone.

If you can get out of a "death trap", it is not a death trap.

EDIT: little mistake.

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Zed said:

If you can get out of a "death trap", it is not a death trap.


This leads to the question on whether "features" such as inescapable pits or one-time doors/platforms/puzzle switches that leave the player stranded should count as kills.

Some map authors were so lazy that the pits weren't even damaging, and the README said "if you end up in a situation which you cannot escape, consider yourself dead. You lost, restart the map".

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Zed said:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trapping

Nothing in that article tells me death traps are meant to be "avoidable". The point of a trap is, surprisingly, to trap someone.

If you can get out of a "death trap", it is not a death trap.

EDIT: little mistake.


The usage of the word "trap" has a different meaning when used in a game. When you're the level designer, the point of your map is to entertain the player, not to kill the player. The point of a trap in the terms of a video game is to give the player the feeling of being baited into an ambush, then give the player a feeling of adrenaline and relief when they've thwarted the designers attempt to kill them.

Applying the actual definition of a trap to your level designs is a lot like putting the player in a slaughter map with no guns or ammo and justifying it by saying "its a demon invasion, you're not supposed to survive!"

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40oz said:

Applying the actual definition of a trap to your level designs is a lot like putting the player in a slaughter map with no guns or ammo and justifying it by saying "its a demon invasion, you're not supposed to survive!"


And yet, even NUTS.WAD is doable in pacifist style ;-)

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Because I got bored and saw this thread again, this is what I mean by giving hints to avoid being smashed/melted/blown up by otherwise inescapable hazards. Nothing spectacular but just an example where there is enough info present for the player to pick up on and make it to the exit.

But this on the other hand is the sort of guessing-game dogshit that has no place in a map. Seems trivial in this example because of the size and simplicity, but can you imagine trying to get through a map (perhaps recording a demo) where this sort of clue-free fucking nonsense suddenly appears 20 minutes in and you have absolutely nothing to help you work out which route is the safe one?

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BaronOfStuff said:

But this on the other hand is the sort of guessing-game dogshit that has no place in a map. Seems trivial in this example because of the size and simplicity, but can you imagine trying to get through a map (perhaps recording a demo) where this sort of clue-free fucking nonsense suddenly appears 20 minutes in and you have absolutely nothing to help you work out which route is the safe one?


I would like to see a map deliberately designed around making the player's life miserable and triggering all sorts of nasty surprises (or even simply forcing the player through a "bad" route) by using undetectable trigger events, like e.g. cross the "wrong" pixel, pick the "wrong" item, walk under the "wrong" door, etc., and have these actions affect the map's layout, deny access to bonuses, make a route harder by altering the map's layout, enabling traps, releasing harder monsters etc. and make all this so chaotic, that the player will believe the map is all about bullshit luck or jinx...which it WILL be. Better yet, some players will be particularly punished and others will find it a breeze, calling the former "scrubs" ;-)

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PsychoGoatee said:

You're playing Doom, you're in a safe place, you know the rules

Making this *not* be true is a good reason to include all sorts of traps IMO.

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I'm reminded of Ice Hold in HeXen DK, that has a crusher activate directly above you a second or so after you press a switch.

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tnt 30 and cleimos were indeed good examples of traps that can be figured out and are rewarding. i got telefragged of course when i played last call... then i looked at the torches in the starting hall and thought i could follow their order... and found the map really cool, despite being an icon map.

the opposite would be "bullshit traps" that kill the player without warning. no dead doomguy, puddle of blood, archvile laughter, warning signs or torches of different color, just squished out of the blue or dropped into inescapable pits? that's not challenging, but frustrating and dumb, if the player can't use his skills to make the difference.

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Cynical said:

Making this *not* be true is a good reason to include all sorts of traps IMO.

All that does is make people save and load more. And find your level boring and annoying. Well, speaking for myself anyway. That line was a comedic way for me to explain how I was playing Doom to have fun. Are you against fun?

A clever deathtrap is one thing, like examples people mentioned, where you might have to fight off enemies while you see your doom (titular line) coming.

A quick "splat" when you had no way to see it is just, in my humble opinion, terrible game design.

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A key thing to consider when making traps is that people enjoy playing doom, and they don't enjoy not playing doom.

A trap that gives space and time for the player to fight back is giving them the chance to solve the puzzle by playing the game, and they will enjoy that more than a puzzle which first stops them playing at all, and then is no longer a puzzle.

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Coopersville said:

Not all mappers are professionals in game design. Wow. Shocker.

I paid for these levels with cash money though for some reason.

For the record I had good luck in Sierra adventure games, but I did have many save files and saved constantly. Space Quest and Quest For Glory are my jams.

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PsychoGoatee said:

All that does is make people save and load more. And find your level boring and annoying. Well, speaking for myself anyway. That line was a comedic way for me to explain how I was playing Doom to have fun. Are you against fun?

Predictability isn't fun, and too much "playing by the rules" leads to predictability and therefore anti-fun. A good level needs some "dick moves", and should smack you upside the head a few times.

mouldy said:

A key thing to consider when making traps is that people enjoy playing doom, and they don't enjoy not playing doom.

But all they have to do to keep playing Doom is hit the spacebar* after they die?

*It's actually "F" on my setup, but I think everyone will know what I mean.

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