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Guest mac10

doom nerds and game design advice

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Guest mac10

This was originally a reply to one of the posts in this forum ("DOOM III INFO - PLEASE READ"), but when I read more I felt like broadcasting... (though I snipped a bit of dissing)...

I thought I would be able to read just one post containing "a hardcore fan's home-brewed advice" for Doom 3 without being provoked. I was wrong.

It just reminded me of why quality mindproducts is such a rare phenomenon, be it movies, music, graphics, books or... game design - it's just because most people are useless at making good stuff (before, and/or in case, anyone gets offended - the stats are on my side).

Look at any industry that is dependent on creative minds. The crap/good ratio is usually overwhelming (take a trip to your local video store). The reason for this is that while creativity can be an asset, it really requires some cold analytical thought to direct it. And few people (and even few *teams* of people!) possess *both* abilities.

Your Doom 3 advice just reaks of inability to capture *an essence* and incarnate it in a modern form. Essence goes deeper than "many monsters" and "cool weapons" ("..you just GOTTA have the sniper rifle.." - why? just because you love it in some other game? The whole point is to have weapons that contribute to an overall synergy). Bad sequels are made because people fail to see exactly what made the original successful, which usually is along the lines of a special atmosphere or 'nerve' (that often can be reproduced without copying the exact setting itself!). Far too often they merely reproduce a few superficial elements directly and just 'do more of it'.

Seeing why Doom made such an impression on many of us is a psychological exercise, not a 'gore-on-the-walls' analysis.

Every game element must be seen against the background of all the other game elements. A weapon design has no meaning outside the context of the game. The same goes for 'monsters' and every other aspect of the whole.

Another problem with making sequels, is that they tend to be *overdone* because the creators (or amateur "advisors") feel they have to surpass the original in every way - or want to prove that they are able to 'add stuff' (especially if new people are involved) - the illusion of enhancement. Case in point: The original vs the new VW Beetle. Or a zillion brand building screw-ups in advertising, for that matter. Etc etc.

Not all games require a "hard coded" narrative or storyline to work well, even if several games has done this with much success (like Half-Life, which I loved). Actually, I think THAT sort of narrative is very difficult (and time-consuming) to do *well enough*, and the danger of falling into the 'pathetic category' is significant - where the storyline is just there without actually adding anything of value to the game experience. There seem to be an ugly trend going, where gameplayers and -reviewers 'demand' a good storyline from every new game, just because some games in some genres have "raised the bar" doing it. A perfect example of the confused need to copy isolated *elements* from earlier (successful) products.

I think it is perfectly feasible to create a game in this millenium that has simple premises and goals, and where the 'narrative' is an emergent property of the road in between. Far too many developers get tangled up in or trip over the 'must have storyline'-anxiety, where they would have been better off spending time polishing the basic game mechanics. Why were Pac Man, Space Invaders and Galaxians so popular? They probably appealed to some innate part of our psyche (that was casually, not essentially, linked to the fact that the Pac Man looked like a half eaten pizza or that the space invaders made the noises they did). What is that? Is it the feeling of panic, the dealing-with-a-stressful-situation-and-winning, the beating-the-existing-highscore or what? I think Doom had a lot of fear and panic. I couldn't care less about the storyline (in fact, I don't think I even know what it is - more than a vague idea of space-marines fighting evil), and I happen to think that Doom has a lot in common with those early video games. Fear and panic is not proportional to the innovativeness of your gun or the variety of monsters. I have always hated the nerdy monster designs enthusiatically presented along with new game announcements ("and it has a rocket launcher for an arm!") - as if THAT will make the game good.

As all good designers and story-tellers know, the most convincing way to convey a certain feeling is to do it in a sublime / subtle / indirect way - the real message is not in the words, but between the lines. The reason is simply that it tricks/forces the perceiver into *making the conclusions HIMSELF* (which gives those very conclusions all the more authority!), based on clues given by the story tellers.

I have seen people sweating playing simple arcade games, not because of the physical struggle involved, but the mental stress. You don't always have to identify youself with some in-game character or goal to get 'immersed' or experience real emotional stress when playing a game. Sometimes the hook is just the challenge of you - as a real person - playing the computer game.

That said, the atmosphere itself, as communicated through pure in-game design (both structural, aural and visual), is of course a mighty tool for creating a superior game experience. I have screamed out loud playing Tomb Raider, encountering a simple wolf emerging from behind a pillar. A modest 'monster' for your average FPS, but in that otherwise calm setting it freaked me out (incidentally, another example of a 'push the lever, find the key' sort of game).

If you want the player to feel afraid because he's supposedly all alone in a vast, hell-infested wasteland, you don't have to make an ingame *movie* telling him so. Just make sure he's all alone in a vast, hell-infested wasteland (it would probably work 10,000 times better, too). But do it well. And to do such things well, you probably should have a deeper insight than just blindly creating 'kick ass monsters'.

And why is button pushing and key finding bad? It is only bad if *that is the game*, because then it's boring. However, those mechanics can also serve as a mere framework for leading the player to all sorts of other challenges - where *the latter* is the real game. Like in Doom. Finding the button is neither the problem nor the fun - getting past all the Imps between you and it IS. This is another example of how people dismiss a whole concept based on a few bad implementations...


Martin Wardener
Art Director
No Nonsense Advertising

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Guest Ultron

"This was originally a reply to one of the posts in this forum ("DOOM III INFO - PLEASE READ"), but when I read more I felt like broadcasting... (though I snipped a bit of dissing)..."

How kind of you. Working on damage control now?

Anyhow when you're not insulting people yo do make some good points. Personally I'd like to see a more compelling storyline, and some realism. If I see floating, bouncing weapons which respawn within seconds, during the single player game, I'm shutting the game down.

I think a lot of the weapons used in Q3A would be quite good. Since there will be a DM portion of the game I am assuming the weapons will have to be playable for DM. It would be odd seeing CTF carried out in Doom]|[. But I wouldn't complain if that gametype is added - as long as that's not the focus. Really id is hitting an important nail on the head with multiplay action. So it's only natural that the next Doom feature it.

Cooperative mode would be a no-brainer in the next Doom. That's one of the things that excite me the most about it. Not that it'll replace DM. But there are times when I want to go through the game with others.

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You know something. I think you may just have hit on that elusive quality that Doom has in abundance, and that most new games have none or very little of. I haven't seen it mentioned before in any of the threads regarding this subjuct. PANIC! No game I have ever played has ever made me panic like Doom did (and still does btw). I agree that what the new Doom game will absolutely have to do is emotionally stress the player. Every thing that id does while developing this game will have to be a means to this end. The sound effects and music will have to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The graphics/level design will have to convey a sense of great evil in your surroundings. It won't matter how cool the weapons, monsters, or levels are. It won't matter how advanced the graphics engine technology is. If the new Doom game doesn't scare the shit out of you, then it's just not good enough.

Btw, I don't think you should go around calling people idiots. The guy you insulted actually had some pretty good ideas. Properly implemented, many of those ideas could go a long way in creating an atmosphere of dread.

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Guest Sethsez

You're right. Very right. Doom wasn't scary because of violence or Satan, but because of something unidentifiable. Only two new games have that feeling, and unfortunately, the company that made them is now gone :(. Thief 2 and System Shock 2. Both amazing games. And both can be fucking terrifying.

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Guest SlayeR

Hey, what about Wolf3d and Half-Life? These are the only two games which have actually scared me. (Wolf3d did mainly because I was about 6 or 7 years old...)

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Guest mac10suxass

hey slayer THIS IS NOT WOLFWORLD IT IS DOOM WORLD WHICH RULEZ ASS!!!!!!!!!!!anyway wolf3d was not half scary not even close tell me somthin that was scary 'bout it.

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Guest SlayeR

Ok, calm down!
Jeez. I didn't say DooM was bad! It's only the BEST GAME EVER!
Wolf3d was only scary for me because I was about 5 or so years old when I first played it and it was the first FPS that I played.

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Guest BlackeN

-Doom posseses a kind of darkness... evil, yes - but a subtle "ready to snap at you" evil. Even today, playing the origional Doom, I find myself scared shitless. I know whats around the corner... and I know the maps - yet the game just seems to have the emense replay-ability and continuing horor. An aspect of Doom is the darkness. Not mentaly (yes mentaly...) but physicaly. The game is just naturaly darkened. This works so well due to the goal of the game - find the key... Some of the maps can be considered elaborate mazes. It works well.

Another aspect that has been underated numerous times is the sounds. From the music to the subtle moans and monsterist tones.

-The music is some of the best even today. I cannot find any other FPS that delivers the same type of creepy subtle and beautifuly put together feelings. id needs to bring this back in Doom3. If they fail - Doom3 may be a flop sequal.

-Possitional sounds. Doom was one of the first (counting W3D) to impliment fully 3D possitional sounds. The slight moan of a monster to the right of you makes you hair spring up on your head. The sound of delapitated decomposing guts churning. The small things.

There are essential elements that are critical to Doom3.

-Mind Boggling Theme
-Physical Artifacts
-Physics (gravity - speed - ect.)

All of these NEED to be equivalent to the origional.
No sniper rifles...
No extra weapons...
No extra monsters...
No Quake3 type maps... [id knows this and is avoiding it totaly as we all can see]
No spiffy, jumpy, rap music...
No exagerated sounds...

In other words... what Doom2 is to Doom. A sequal - a good (probably the best game sequal the world has seen) authentic sequal.

My 0.02 cents :)

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mac10suxass said:

hey slayer THIS IS NOT WOLFWORLD IT IS DOOM WORLD WHICH RULEZ ASS!!!!!!!!!!!anyway wolf3d was not half scary not even close tell me somthin that was scary 'bout it.

Iv'e learned to love your flaming dood =)
Just don't take it seriously. Just laugh :O

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Ultron said:

Yea, it would be cool if there were some kind of Built-in Coop system like Battle.net in Diablo , where players can chat, start a "session", wait for players, then start the game when enough players have joined. There should be many ways of playing Coop too, like Full-game, One-map or something....

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