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schwerpunk

roast my map - short, hard vanilla map

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iwad:        doom2
port:        Chocolate Doom
midi:        rob van dam - ECW Hardcore Revolution
size:        small
time:        1:10 (my best speedrun)
diff:        HNTR, HMP, UV
note:        Tested almost exclusively on HMP, but should be sufficient
             ammo and health for UV
d\ld:        DEC21.wad
Looking for harsh criticism. Had a bad day? Take it out on my map.


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FDA recorded in Chocolate Doom, but after I finished it, I replayed the map in my more favorable port and properly got 100% kills, items and secrets. I liked the map. Criticism? Only the unavoidable damaging floor near the end was something I wasn't keen on, otherwise excellent work!

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Thanks for the feedback, guys, although you can be a lot more critical.

Fun FDA, scifista - interesting how your strategy progressed as you went on. Definitely makes me think the end is the weakest part of the map. Also should've made the green armour strafe-jump-able.

PS: you guys are a lot better at Doom than I am lol

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I found this rather easy, though I did straight-up ignore quite a few monsters. Beat it in 1:29 (after a single death) with 59% kills (edit: and no secrets)

Also, Skullguy, I would not consider this to be a slaughter map at all.

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Told to be harsh on a map that has nothing worth getting harsh over, this is directly up my alley.

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I finished it on the first playthrough on UV but I barely killed anything. I played it again a couple of times with the aim of killing more stuff but just ended up dying. Personally I don't like this kind of map - I felt like I was running without ever being in control trying to figure out what to do while being chased by more enemies than I had ammo to kill. That's a personal taste thing though - I don't have a lot of patience.

For my taste I'd prefer if the monsters were introduced a bit more slowly so that I had more chance to figure out the layout of the level before I was running for my life. Initially I didn't feel like there was any point in fighting because I didn't have good enough weapons to kill all the monsters anyway, and by the time I felt like I was ready to begin taking out the hell knights the archvile turned up, and I just couldn't be bothered going through that hoard of enemies with the shotguns and chaingun. Basically I ran around taking out the hitscan enemies and getting a sense of the layout with the hell knights chasing me, then I found the exit.

I liked the layout, and I feel like there's a great level there with a few tweaks. I'd probably stagger the release of enemies a bit more, and let the player find the rocket launcher before getting too crazy. Even though I finished it first try, I felt like I missed out on the level.

I realize my taste isn't necessarily everyone's taste, but I hope this feedback helps.

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@Quineotio it definitely helps. I think we have similar play styles. One thing I'm surprised that I didn't really account for is how accustomed the layout I became, so I didn't feel any of the natural disorientation that would come with loading up the map fresh.

@Skullguy I'd consider it slaughtery, too. It's a pretty high monster count for such a small map. Any higher, and I'd lose the ability to playtest my own map. :p

Thanks for all the feedback, everyone. My main goal for this map was to implement a small setpiece containing optional fights, optional keys, and somewhat-dynamically 'streaming in' higher-HP mobs. With some modifications, I'm confident I could include a setpiece like this into a larger map.

Welp, time to get cracking. Does anyone feel like starting a vanilla community mapping project? I like structure, but don't really have to time to lead a project atm... :/

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First attempt - 3 deaths, 8:08 final, 13:33 total

Good: good layout with space to move and height differences, works well to keep the monster crowd from being herded into the usual clump.

Bad: too dark, invites gamma correction abuse; large parts of level disabled on automap (I really hate invisible automaps).

Disclaimers: Obviously a kill counter HUD, otherwise I wouldn't have gone back for that last hellknight. After that, I used the map cheat to find the last armour bonus; I was fed up with the lack of automap.

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schwerpunk said:

Thanks for the feedback, guys, although you can be a lot more critical.


1) From other comments, it seems like the map is too easy to leave without doing much. The YK rocket launcher is a good idea -- I'm a fan of optional keys -- but it might have been better to make the exit require a different key, or set up a fight in the exit where the rocket launcher is really useful (not mandatory, just tough without).

2) After another playthrough, I found the secret that opens the big hallway and all those goodies. A bit too much space back there, I think; it sort of trivializes the HK swarm. Might have been a good idea to just stuff that area with revs or mancs or something, introducing another vector of difficulty: you can set up infights, but at the risk of adding more dangerous monsters to the plaything field. Or make it a lot smaller, I guess.

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schwerpunk said:

Does anyone feel like starting a vanilla community mapping project? I like structure, but don't really have to time to lead a project atm... :/


Personally I feel like there's already a lot of projects going on, (maybe too many?), and I don't think adding another one to the pile would be a good idea for the time being.

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schwerpunk why don't you contribute to an existing project?

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FDA where I just kinda run around running into things. I played this with the fog based lighting on glboom so I didn't see mobs in the darker areas like the blue trench by the ssg. I realize this was a test map, but some indication of how things open up would be nice. Just going back to the start and fumbling my way into the exit is weird. The armor stairs are kinda awkward too, a little too easy to stair ice off the ledge to the first stair.

As for the gameplay, it was ok, nothing really special. Needed a cyberdemon or 5.

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ArmouredBlood said:

FDA where I just kinda run around running into things. I played this with the fog based lighting on glboom so I didn't see mobs in the darker areas like the blue trench by the ssg. I realize this was a test map, but some indication of how things open up would be nice. Just going back to the start and fumbling my way into the exit is weird. The armor stairs are kinda awkward too, a little too easy to stair ice off the ledge to the first stair.

As for the gameplay, it was ok, nothing really special. Needed a cyberdemon or 5.

Thanks for the honest feedback, I didn't realize a gl port could make it harder to see things than one with a hw renderer. That's unfortunate, as my testing strategy has been 'if it's clear in choco then should be in anything else.'

The exit is kind of tacked on, and definitely could have been implemented better, even if it is just a test map.

VGA said:

schwerpunk why don't you contribute to an existing project?

I've looked around, and don't really see anything I'd be an asset to. Maybe the Ty project, but I haven't played much TNT or AV, so that would require some homework. I'm considering starting another tiny little Monochrome (uh oh) mapset for my own elucidation, but that would eventually require a lot of feedback, and I think the community might still have remnant nausea (ooh, that's a good map name...) from the last MMP.

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schwerpunk, do yourself a favor and play a bit of TNT. There are some stinkers in the mix, but there's also some great designs, fun/difficult encounters and cool sights to see that offered me a lot of inspiration!

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Here's another (skill 4) FDA for you,, if you're interested. I find both secrets and kill everything on the first attempt without too much struggle, despite a misstep or two.

Out of the gate, first thing I want to say is that the gameplay design (which is the most important thing in simple one-off maps such as this) here shows great improvement over stuff I've played by you in that past, that being your map in MMP, where combat/action was sparse to the point of being practically nonexistent, and your repetitive 'apartments' map fragment which appeared in D2INO (in 'Suburbs', I think it was?), largely subsumed by the work of some other mapper. There is much more attention paid to the way monsters are placed and can move to attack the player in DEC21.wad, and taken at face value the core of that action is suitably entertaining. I think the best aspect of this little maplet here is that its layout is highly navigable and decently spacious, which plays well with the fairly large number of monsters you've set up to become active right out of the gate. It's not hard (plenty of space, plenty of ammo and enough healing even without the optional stuff) and is probably pretty exploitable, but it's the sort of design that allows the player to tailor the action to his/her own tastes, and in the absence of some grand conceptual design this is often the key ingredient in a map that's fun to play. That being said, if you want some criticism, here are a few things that came to mind while I was playing:

* I don't think it's conceptually 'wrong' that the player can leave the map while engaging in minimal combat, but the way the optional/mandatory progression dynamic is set up seems off-kilter (which I suspect is a function of the map being totally impromptu more than anything); the mass of monsters out of the cave/blood area at the outset is the only real guiding structure that exists, if they're kited away the map is already over. The YK/Rocket launcher setup is presumably supposed to be used to kill the initial wave of monsters, but the way stuff is balanced it's patently unnecessary (no real snare related to SSG or any of the piles of other ammo), and it's kind of odd that you only ever 'need' the rocket launcher if and only if you take the rocket launcher (or the YK, same diff), which turns loose the one arch-vile and all of those pinkies. I might've suggested having vile/pinkies trigger if the player enters the tunnels early on (i.e. have them spawn in the first big blood pool to chase the player back out of the tunnels if they get cute and just juke around the dumb mass of imps/HKs at the outset), which would much more strongly incentivize the YK/RL setup while maintaining its optional status (i.e. even at that point a clever player could still use the layout to kite/outflank the whole horde and make for the exit without really stopping to fight). An extra barb related to picking up the key might've spiced things up a bit more back there in this light; I was surprised you took the care to make the rising bridge/lifting partition constructs back there, but didn't tie any combat directly to them.

* Remember to be careful how and where you place physically large/wide monsters, and those with idiosyncratic attack behaviors. The arachnatrons in the map are placed to spring at close range in a part of the map where they have very little field of view to attack with, and I believe one of them (the second you see me kill in the demo) is actually unintentionally trapped in his bottleneck, essentially turning him into a 'door with health', as the fashionable expression goes. Likewise, the mancubi at the back of blood cave are similar, behaving more as crass meat-gates than proper monsters, because they can't really move and have limited line of sight for attack. It did occur to me that in this case this was precisely what you meant for them to be (i.e. to discourage players from leaving early), but as said above I think there are many more exciting/elegant ways to achieve the same thing. Finally, the pain elemental is useless where he's placed, I was unsure if this was a port difference (e.g. maybe he can spit the souls through that gap in ZDoom) or something meant to be humorous, but in 'real time' it just struck me as an oversight. On the other hand, I like the way you used HKs, the pinkies, and the arch-vile in the broader setup, all can move/chase in different ways, and all make quite a relevant impact on the player. The imps and zombies are just fine as well, of course, nothing wrong with some quick/harmless filler opposition for flavor/bloodiness. The secret tunnel leading to the ammo cache seemed bizarrely empty to me given its size, but perhaps that's just a taste thing.

* Item placement! Again, you want to be sure that you put down powerups in places where they can make a relevant impact on the game. I like the green armor ledge, it's easy to get chased away from it at the start and have to loop back to it later after waking more stuff up, and the backpack is placed in an easy/obvious place that communicates something very practical about how to fight the monsters. The 'zerk pack, on the other hand, is stuck in a place where it's not likely to be picked up/used until almost everything is dead, and so is arguably a pointless inclusion. The soulsphere is also a bit of an odd duck, as it is found in what is essentially a dead end with only one narrow route of egress, meaning it's very easy to get trapped in there if the player should enter it while many of the monsters are alive, which could cause death, or even worse a scenario where the player has to grind back out of the tunnel through HKs/such one by one with buckshot. And yet, if enough of the monsters have been killed to make this less of a concern, then what need does the player really have for a soulsphere at that point (especially considering this is a one-off map)? In keeping with the nice interconnection of other parts of the map, what I might've suggested for this was to put the sphere closer to the little ventilation grate in that cave (the one I shoot at the PE through during the demo), and have the wall there open up on a walkover trigger as the player approaches, creating a neat and tidy shortcut back out to the main action while rewarding the player for boldness/insight (via the extra 100% health) for venturing in there early.

As for aesthetics, it's quite unadorned and sparse--some might say "classic"--in appearance, but it has enough shape and visual interconnection to give it character, and I appreciate that you were unafraid to use a lot of different light contrasts, including some pronounced dimness/darkness in places (I play in hi-res software mode, for reference, where stuff is pretty DARK when it's dark). This is another taste thing, I guess, but for my part I didn't feel the darkness was offputting or disruptive, seemed reasonable to me, and indeed, probably made a constructive impact on the somewhat basic presentation....the light amp goggles were a risky inclusion, though, as they aren't really necessary and sort of call the rest of the map's visual starkness to the fore if they're found. Texture combinations seemed generally tasteful in a casual/orthodox sort of way, although some of the transitional textures looked pretty bad to me (e.g. the zimmer on the lip between the secret hallway and the ammo room, the dirt on the threshold of the flashing computer screen that opens up into said hallway, etc.). Easy to see that hallways have not been scaled for aesthetically convenient vertical cutoffs (again, pretty evident in the secret tunnel), but this kind of thing's easy enough for many players to digest if you frame the whole presentation in a sort of oldschool idiom. One other thing I wanted to make special mention of was your liberal placement of marine corpses and loose gore props and the like all over the place--this is a fairly rare trait in visual design for whatever reason, but it happens to be one that I personally really like (esp. when dead bodies are used as a sort of convenient pseudo-narrative explanation for why you're finding ammo and such scattered around everywhere), and so I like to encourage it where I see it.


As for wanting to make stuff but not being sure where you might fit in, might I suggest NOVA III? That's a project whose very reason for existing is to let new mappers like yourself develop their chops in a team-based environment where you would receive plenty of feedback and helpful advice, and also one that would not require a massive, weighty commitment from you should you choose to participate (e.g. just one map that is under no obligation to be a massive magnum opus or concept piece).

You might also try making a short episode of solo maps not unlike DEC21 here to continue to develop your skills while trying out different design ideas as they come to you, many mappers past and present have done the same thing and gotten feedback that way. I will say one more thing, in my honest opinion I think the raw gameplay--item placement, route planning, encounter design, things like that--is the one area where you probably need the most practice, and starting a CP (or even a solo project) focused on a very abstract/arty aesthetic concept (like MMP, for instance) is unlikely to provide a very good platform for that type of focus. That's just my two cents, though, at the end of the day you've got to go where your creativity takes you, or you might as well not go at all.

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