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Jayextee

Level builder's ettiquette

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Uhm, just thought I'd ask some of the 'old hands' here, if there's any certain concepts that are frowned upo when editing levels, like overuse of archviles, or something.

I ask because I'm working on a project with the following 'attributes' that seem to violate everything I know;

o; Spider mastermind as early as level four.
o; BFG as early as level five
o; ANOTHER mastermind on level six
o; The first cyberdemon encounter - you meet THREE of them
o; LOTSA archviles. At least one a level.
o; Loadsa vine textures.

Plus, I'm planning on ending each 'section' (seperated by differeing skies) with an Icon of Sin. I know these are generally disliked, but I hope to make a good job of them - they will not be just a picture on a wall.

I had to ask. I'm curious...

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That's no big deal. Lots of WADs have heard enemies early on, and it makes sense to do so. People are better at FPSes than they were in 1994.

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Maybe you should make it so that on easier skill levels you don't get into such hard fights earlier on but leave UV with what you have right now.

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As it stands, I'd say that the first two settings were equivalent to Doom2's HMP and UV settings, HMP equivalent to Plutonia at UV, and UV is harder than that.

PLUS there are hordes more DM-flagged enemies, for co-op games.

I'm working under the assumption that anybody STILL playing Doom is really good at it, as they've been playing for ages.

And don't worry about the difficulty sounding absurd. I test every level to make sure I can pistol-start it at HMP and finish, without saving. UV is just a few more enemies, that's all.

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Using bigger enemies early in the game is not necessarily a bad thing. Of course, with bigger enemies you need either bigger weapons, or more ammo, or other enemies to bring them down or weaken them (crushers work well too). The problem then becomes how to provide a challenge in the next level to a player with big guns and possibly plenty of ammo. I think the challenge in making a *series* of levels (as opposed to single-level wads) is to incorporate the following features:

1. Allow each level to be completed with a pistol-start.
2. If the player wants to continue from one level to the other (i.e., without a pistol start), then make sure that there's just about enough ammo in each level to do the job. That way, the player won't start a new level with too much ammo and have things too easy. Unfortunately, when you have the large bosses (i.e, Spider Mastermind and Cyberdemon) it's difficult to provide precisely the right amount of ammo, as you need to make allowances for missed shots. Still, that's what distinguishes a really good level from a mediocre level.
3. One way to ensure a good ammo balance, is to place the ammo that is needed for a given enemy/enemies near them (even occasionally making the player run past them to get the needed ammo).
4. Have the player make maximum use (at times even forcing the player to make use) of the Beserk and/or the chainsaw. These are very effective weapons against the lesser enemies (and even some of the bigger baddies), and allow you to skimp on the ammo you provide the player.

Vine textures are fine. Just provide some sort of occasional relief in the form of e.g., metal or stone pillars, etc. (Actually this principle of providing texture relief applies to any kind of texture application.) Of course, using vine textures indoors doesn't generally make a lot of sense.

Using the Icon of Sin as a way of separating each "section" could be part of your theme. So, even if you used them simply as decorations you should be fine. Personally, I like the graphics of the Icon, and don't have a problem with them being used more than once in a set of levels.

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On map01 on my wad Stone Stratagems, you immediately start off with a super shotgun, and the hell knight is one of the first monsters you face. The cyberdemon is introduced on map02, the arch-vile in map03, and the spider mastermind in map06.
I haven't heard any negative feedback about it yet, so it doesn't seem to be a problem to put big monsters or weapons on early levels. Besides it's one of the factors that makes SS unique.

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ReX said:

Looks like I'm doing it right, then ;)

1. Each level is possible with a pistol start... in HMP. In UV there are only a few more enemies, but you NEED to be _real_ accurate.
2. Having said this, carelessness at HMP will not aid you any. It's probably better to play this way.
3. I use the 'you'll have to run past me if you need the ammo' trick quite a lot! :)
4. Not thought of this. I suppose, if I ended a level with zillions of demons, and a berserk pack. Enough demons to waste an entire compliment of ammo. Waste ammo on them, or save it? Either way, the pack (One of my favourite powerups, BTW) will be used.

As for the vine textures, they're indoors, over metal surfaces. One of the levels is a 'half overgrown base', complete with doors that don't work correctly.

And the Icon _is_ part of my theme, kinda. I like to personally think of Doom2 as a three-episode game, so these act as milestones.

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