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40oz

Catwalk Style Maps

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A map design style that I've always admired in older Doom maps are ones where the majority of the map is flooded with a liquid, nukage, lava, or just a deep pitfall, and is primarily layed out using tall bridges and ledges.

These are maps like the iconic MAP24: The Chasm, MAP29: The Living End or E4M2: Perfect Hatred. Some maps in Plutonia have this style, such as MAP15: The Twilight, MAP24: The Final Frontier, or MAP27: Anti-Christ Many of Orin Flaharty's maps adapt to this style such as MAP08: And The Dead Shall Rise or MAP12: The Waterway from Memento Mori 1 and 2, respectively.







This style of mapping is perhaps my favorite in any Doom map. I quite enjoy the idea of being threatened by sniping monsters with limited space to move. Unfortunately, it is quite rare, especially into the 2000's. Another unfortunate thing for me is that I have trouble designing maps like this naturally. My go-to method is to design a set of disconnected rooms and interconnect them all together with doorways and corridors and outdoor vistas. Creating a map thats primarily flooded and layed out with suspended catwalks, bridges, and ledges is tricky for me to create. I have trouble deciding if I should start with a giant room flooded with nukage, then build bridges and platforms on it, or if I should design the network of bridges as corridors first than add nukage pits around it and hopefully in will eventually appear to be large expansive cave thing. It seems hard to control the gameplay when all the monsters can usually be seen at once, and you can only use pillars and random walls to obstruct the sight of the monsters or to use as cover. I also don't really like when bridges also double as lifts or when the player has to locate a random teleporter pad floating around in the ocean, but rather when the player finds a secret tunnel with stairs or a lift or a teleport in it. But that's tough to plan your map ahead of time for things like that, at least compared to the conventional indoor techbase type of map.

Does anyone have any advice on how to best go about designing a map in this style?

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40oz said:

I have trouble deciding if I should start with a giant room flooded with nukage, then build bridges and platforms on it, or if I should design the network of bridges as corridors first than add nukage pits around it and hopefully in will eventually appear to be large expansive cave thing.


The former seems more natural. That's what I did in my own catwalk-style maps. The bounding box or circle was sometimes adjusted afterwards to fit the dimensions of the map but usually left alone.

40oz said:

you can only use pillars and random walls to obstruct the sight of the monsters or to use as cover.


You can use a lot more than that. Xaser's flotilla map is a good and surprisingly simple map containing a number of examples: buildings (no explanation needed); height variation in the structures (e.g. if you imagine a two-part platform, one half at 64 mu high and the other at 192 mu, connected by stairs, the lower platform is naturally a safe spot); height variation in the damaging floor itself (likewise).

40oz said:

It seems hard to control the gameplay when all the monsters can usually be seen at once


This style of map design generally lends itself to less control than a more setpiece-oriented map. In most of the maps you listed, the monsters aren't all visible at once -- monsters are occasionally released indirectly, via closets, teleporters, etc.; there are often a lot of structures interfering with LOS in some way; some of them have more closed structures that aren't really that platform-oriented where more typical incidental combat + set pieces can be housed.

Great thread idea. It's fun to talk about mapping theory.

EDIT:

or just a deep pitfall


Do you have any more examples of this? I actually wish more of these maps weren't situated in liquid. This is one of the rare cases where I wish Doom had falling damage (at least as a sector effect).

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Like Map 24 from HR? That map makes me tremble.

Speaking of oldschool tropes, sometimes I miss some of them (as a player), including other things that may be considered tasteless today (like doors, corridors and even little mazes).

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I love catwalk maps. They can make for really striking locales, and the limited movement allows a lot of opportunities for monsters to have the upper hand over the player. It's also a really fun style to build! Like rdwpa mentioned with Xaser's map, you can use adjacent structures of different heights to create cover and separation without completely isolating the sections from each other, which is both great for flying monsters and for providing tantalizing glimpses of where you're going and where you've been.

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A tip to follow if you're concerned about player's basic comfort:

Don't make the catwalks too narrow.

Generally, the more action-focused map, the wider the catwalks should be, in order to not be annoying for the player.

If you do make them narrow, make it either a short-lasting gimmick, or somehow reasonably navigable without posing too much annoyance. The Chasm's catwalk's orthogonality actually helps with precise navigation, and I don't mind that map. If the catwalks were shorter, unpredictably curved and perhaps even inclining/declining up or down, it could be worse.

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I love this map style and am somewhat surprised that I've yet to make something fully like it, though Flotilla is close and I've snagged portions of the idea for other bobs and bits.

There's a BTSX E3 WIP of mine that ought to tickle folks' fancy once it comes out, though. Assuming it doesn't make people put their fist through their monitor.

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Another +1 from me. I love this map style. The higher the pitfalls the better. Makes everything feel huge and epic. Especially when there's lots of height above the player's head as well as below.

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RUSH said:

Another +1 from me. I love this map style. The higher the pitfalls the better. Makes everything feel huge and epic. Especially when there's lots of height above the player's head as well as below.


This.

I have troubles making stuff in this style myself, but I´ve been wanting to for a while. May give it a try again soon.

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nope..... nope, nope, nope
The Chasm has permanently instilled a Perfect Hatred of catwalks for me. I'll pass, lol.
Also, Perfect Hatred is my least favorite/most hated Doom map, but (ironically) not because of the narrow-ish walkways.

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Just like maps that "feature" unescapable pits, one-time doors, puzzles that can become unwinnable etc. "catwalk style" is too easy to get wrong and degenerate into a ragequit-inducing clusterfuck.

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Maes said:

Just like maps that "feature" unescapable pits, one-time doors, puzzles that can become unwinnable etc. "catwalk style" is too easy to get wrong and degenerate into a ragequit-inducing clusterfuck.


^^^THIS.....so much this

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You know, I've always been on the fence about IWAD maps featuring these sorts of things. I think ultimately it was probably a mistake. But it was also 1993 and gaming was more hardcore back then.

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catwalk style maps are okay as long as absolute mouse precision movement isn't involved and certain types of monsters are not around. MAP24 is alright for me, even if I just limit to the keyboard.

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This is a type of gameplay that I enjoy.
Being a lover of the 90s IWAD style of gameplay I've considered making a map similar to a catwalk or a Chasm but held off due to people not liking that style.

I don't get the hate the Chasm gets, it was more of a meh' filler map for me and it doesn't bother as much as it used to.

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I think the worst part in Doom2 Map24 catwalking isn't the ledges itself, it is the lost souls that are stuck to the roof or acid where they bite you. You are unable to shoot them properly, and once you kill one, another comes behind you from the roof, acid or behind another ledge without making any noise.

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I'm surprised to see this map style get so much hate. Doom II's map 24 was a very poor example. That used obnoxiously thin and annoying platforms, so I can understand what the backlash was about there. I'm not a fan of that one either. However stuff like Anti-Christ, The Living End, Waterway, Final Frontier etc are great examples of the art form that are epic, intense and fun to play. This map style requires the highest amount of skill to pull off, for reasons 40oz already outlined. However when done right it can serve as a refreshing change of pace. Works especially well later into the map set to create atmosphere leading up to the final boss. Consequently I think Final Doom E4M6: Against Thee Wickedly is one of the best maps of all time due to the clever catwalk height elements surrounding the cyberdemon at the end. That level was badass.

EDIT: Typo

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I think the style best encapsulates Doom's mapping strengths. Combined with the usage of unusual angles, long distances to emphasize lighting and darkness, dumb monsters with advantageous positioning for difficulty, and extreme height variation, you get a really strong and pure Doom experience that transcends into a unique territory that is rarely shared in other shooter games.

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It's funny; when I first played The Chasm back when I was a kid, I hated it. From the tight walkways, to the confusing layout, to the boring music. But after playing it a few times, I began to like it, simply because I had figured out what was to me, at the time, a confusing, b*tch of a map. Still hated the music until my teens when I began to like stuff like Pantera. I haven't played The Chasm in probably 10 years now... screw it FDA

Ah that brings back some memories :) Memories of reaching that last room and falling, frantically searching for a teleport... good times. It's funny how you can remember certain little things even after so long, like they've been permanently burned into your brain...

Still, after playing it almost 20 years later, I find that I enjoy both the concept and that map in particular much more than I did when I was a child.

But at the same time, as I've gotten older I have less time to sit around and play video games, so my impatience levels have gotten much worse over time with regard to redoing just about anything in a video game. So stuff like that last room can kiss my ass at this point in time, though the rest of the map was highly enjoyable.

For players that like catwalk maps, I remember a pretty fun one in OCD Doom by MathsDevil here: https://www.doomworld.com/idgames/levels/doom2/Ports/m-o/ocd-doom

I forget what map it was, but I will say that it was under a pretty tight timer. Still, I found it to be great fun to play (with a little save-scumming).

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rdwpa said:

This is one of the rare cases where I wish Doom had falling damage (at least as a sector effect).


So all you mappers can tell me what you think of this idea. I've dabbled in mapping a little, haven't released anything. One time I was playing around with a high bridge through a section of a map and I was trying to implement a falling death gimmick. My idea was to have a line you would inevitably cross if you fell off the ledge that would trigger the opening of a wall revealing a trapped demon elsewhere in the map. The trapped demon would then run down a hallway onto a teleporter with a destination on a ragdoll (is this the correct term? I'm talking about the map item that is like a copy of Doomguy and when you teleport something on top of it it instantly kills the player). The key of course was getting the length of the hallway the demon had to run down exactly right so that the demon would teleport and kill you at the same time as you hit the bottom of the chasm.

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What you can do is use a crusher on a voodoo doll with proper timing. It has been done before. Demons won't telefrag you on normal maps.

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rdwpa said:

What you can do is use a crusher on a voodoo doll with proper timing. It has been done before. Demons won't telefrag you on normal maps.


Ah yes, I forgot about that. So my idea would only work on a Doom 2 Map 30 replacement?

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You could simply copy TNT's MAP30 gimmick with the colored torch puzzle -only that you would place the triggering linedefs close to the bridge, but not actually on the ledges, so that the player would experience at least some falling time before being teleported & telefragging his own voodoo doll.

BTW....I wonder what happens in co-op mode? Do all players telefrag the same voodoo doll? Or only the first one dies, and the next ones are simply stuck in the voodoo doll room? Does each player has his own voodoo doll, and all are stuck into each other? Does one player's screwup kill all other players too?

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Face23785 said:

My idea was to have a line you would inevitably cross if you fell off the ledge

This has been done before. The line would usually either crush player's voodoo doll in a dummy sector, or crush barrels around the voodoo doll to explode and kill the voodoo doll and thus the player.

The mere concept of "a line you inevitably cross if you fell off a ledge" is unreliable, though. Perhaps the player will approach the ledge extremely slowly and fall off it while staying extremely close to the ledge's edge - in that case, the line might not be triggered, unless you put it precisely close to the ledge's edge (according to player's radius). But if you do this, put the line precisely close to the ledge's edge, then if the player approaches the ledge slowly, briefly walks off (and triggers the line) but immediately rushes back and steps back up (he can do it, his step height is 24 units, after all - and if there wasn't air control, he could still achieve it if the edge was "curved inwards" and if he approached it under an angle), he wouldn't fall, but the line would already be triggered, killing him.

Basically, it's impossible to do this perfectly. That's also why you don't see the trick used often. Good old damaging floors and teleporters back up are easier to make, always reliable, and convenient for players (as opposed to instant death as a "reward" for curiosity/exploration, knowing that the Doomguy normally survives falling), and that's why they're used far more frequently.

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Yeah that was the problem I kept having. I tested it to see if I could trigger it without falling off, so I had to move the line further from the edge. Then I tested falling off of it extremely slow, and of course I didn't fall into the line fast enough. Then I tried making the fall extreeeeeeeeemely long, so no matter how slow you walked off, your momentum would carry you into the line and trigger the trap no matter what. Then I realized that would just fuck up the timing of having it kill you approximately as you hit bottom, so I gave up.

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Maybe if you place it at 1 px close to edge, or precisely 1 pixel short of the player's radius (16 units, so 16 -1 = 15 units), so any player that falls off the ledge will definitively have to trigger it. Of course, that wouldn't allow for much of a "falling death" feeling: it would barely be different from walk-teleporting right off the edge.

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Maes said:

Maybe if you place it at 1 px close to edge, or precisely 1 pixel short of the player's radius (16 units, so 16 -1 = 15 units), so any player that falls off the ledge will definitively have to trigger it.

Then, as I said, there will (always) be the problem that the player might trigger it without falling down, dying unfairly.

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