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beast

Looking for crit on my level

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Hello all,

I am looking for constructive criticism on my level design.

I am a new mapper and likely made a bunch of ignorant errors, so I am here to improve.

Much appreciated!

alpha.zip: https://www.doomworld.com/vb/attachment.php?postid=1550676

Alpha level mapping experience
by wesley werner aka beast
january 2016

Goal
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Build a basic Doom 1 / Freedoom compatible map to learn level design and monster placement.

Tested with
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+ PrBoom-Plus 2.5.1.4
+ doom.wad and freedoom1.wad
+ compatlevels 2 and 9

Tools
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+ Freedoom Phase 1 IWAD, v0.10.1
+ Eureka Doom editor v1.11 (source build)

Limits
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To ensure fewer distractions from the process I invoke these limitations:

    1. No custom textures.
    2. No DM support.
    3. Two skill levels only. Easy and medium.
    4. Designs are not influenced by the level name.

Focus
-----

    1. Avoid too much symmetry
    2. Proliferant ceiling height changes
    3. A height change warrants a text change
    4. Changing textures between neighbouring walls warrants an intermediary texture
    5. Texture doorways even if there is no door.
    6. Prefer monster closets over teleport traps.

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Belongs in the Wads & Mods subforum.

FDA: http://www.mediafire.com/download/vc484fnbcrn7r1b/alpha_rdwpa_FDA.lmp

1) Almost exclusively rectangular room-door-room and room-door-corridor design.

2) I thought the door to the soulsphere room was glitched and was hoping the level wasn't broken. Probably better as a window. The level could use more visual connections between different rooms.

3) More height variation that affects gameplay would be a good idea (the stairs weren't very different from a long flat hallway). The nukage room with ledges is a good example.

4) Lighting variation, too. Seemed like most of the level was a uniform 128, with just a few isolated patches of brightness and darkness.

5) Was expecting a bigger trap at the end of the level. As is, the action deescalates: from one shotgunner battle that probably would have been dangerous to stick around and fight in if I hadn't found the soulsphere, to harmless imps and demons.

6) You can use the "secret" flag on two-sided linedefs if you want to hide e.g. monster closet ambushes, like in the exit room.

7) Nevertheless, it's a functional level and you even specified -complevels, which so many newer mappers omit, which is a plus. The nonlinear aspects are also good.

I would recommend mapping for Doom 2. Making a truly dynamic map with solely Doom 1 monsters is harder than with Doom 2, but not in a "if you master this, you'll surely get Doom 2" way.

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I will be sure to post in the correct forum in the future, apologies for that.

It was very interesting to watch you play that through, @rdwpa. I soon realized my item placement is lacking (especially inside monster closets), and a few extra secrets inside those closets couldn't hurt. All your points suddenly stand out like a sore thumb after watching that FDA. Wow. I will work through each of them.

Cheers!

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Good first effort!

Thoughts:

The level is very flat, and as rdwpa said, consists mostly of room-door-room / room-door-corridor arrangements; height variation and larger, more orthogonal room design would help spice up the map in terms of both gameplay and visuals.

Encounter design suffers greatly because of map layout... all combat except the one nukage room takes place along a single plane.

You have a bunch of traps but you mostly use zombies facing away from the player, so there's no immediate danger and the monsters die very quickly. There's one spot before the red door where you have a monster closet open up right beside the player with zombies facing backwards and they all die in a shot or two. If they were imps or demons they might present a better challenge (still not much of one though).

Considering how much ammo and health there is, there is just a big lack of damage that the monsters can do.

The puzzle room was fine but there was no pressure, and it was obvious. I kind of felt like "why am i doing this, just let me press a switch to do the same thing". it isn't in any way a challenge, just something that takes a bit of time.

When I came back from the soulsphere secret I was hoping that the nukage area would have opened up with some monsters or something. I hate lost souls but they might have fit there if they pop out as you cross back around.

The lighting wasn't amazing but you did use some darker areas well (as you go towards the nukage room).

As you go towards the nukage room down the stairs and the rooms open up behind you, there should be pressure coming from the bottom of the stairs too (and probably more from behind you).

I liked the way you show the player the soulsphere room and don't think it needs to be changed. A partially opened door that is stuck is a pretty common doom convention.

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Here's my FDA for the level:
http://www.mediafire.com/download/493w8mro0zypowa/alpha.lmp

For a first map, I think you did a good job. You can improve it a lot, but the first step is always important :D

People here gave their suggestions and I agree with them. Still, something important: Keep the number of doors at minimum. You should only put a door if it is truly necessary for gameplay/design reasons (separate battlefields, locked doors, etc). You can use soundblock lines or deaf attribute for monsters to control their "awakening" and create more dynamic battles.

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Thanks 7hm and Deadwing, I am taking notes of all your suggestions, and making changes to the map as practice.

It is good to see where both of your FDA's (rdwpa, Deadwing) search for secret doors, a fact definitely noted :)

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Unfortunately I can't record an FDA, but as far as feedback goes I can offer a few thoughts:

I really noticed your focus on asymmetry, even if it was flat throughout you did a good job varying up the types of rooms and core aesthetics and I think with some more practice you'll really find your stride.

I'm not sure how new the monsters are to you, but you did a reasonably good job of mixing their variety and placing them appropriately given the nature of the level. The spectres in the blinking hallway for example were a nice touch and one did make me jump-- silent bastard snuck up on me >_>;;

There's little I can add here that hasn't already been said, I'll mirror a lot of what was said here, they've all got very valid points that I agree with to varying degrees. But for a first map effort? This is great work and you're displaying a lot of potential here, understanding core concepts of mapping and player engagement are going to serve you very well. :)

Also, the transformation of the final room just begs for a boss fight. Maybe a couple of barons or something. You did a great job switching the entire battle space on its head and making it interesting. Keep this up and you'll definitely have a fan in me.

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If you want a playthrough from a player who doesn't care about secrets (unless they're blatantly obvious or visible entrance on the map) or 100%, and who gets lost in all but the smallest Doom levels, I recorded a ZDoom 2.7.1 demo. If you don't have that I will run through prboom when i get home, but it won't be a blind run :).

https://www.dropbox.com/s/s4223ykv09jnfax/roz_alpha_demo.zip?dl=0

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Thanks RottingZombie, I particularly enjoyed your in-game comments. That was a nice watch.

T_Silverwolf, since then I have changed the last room transformation even more, locking the player in the room and limiting access to the exit switch, forcing the player to fight. And yes, there are a couple of barons now too :)

Thanks all, this is invaluable feedback, I am taking notes of all your suggestions (horns)

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Found it to be easy but like the puzzles. I was not expecting the switch to be the exit. You my might want to turn crouching off, I was able jump crouch through a couple of windows.

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Ed_Deth said:

Found it to be easy but like the puzzles. I was not expecting the switch to be the exit. You my might want to turn crouching off, I was able jump crouch through a couple of windows.


I will make those lines blocking, I don't play any jump-crouch ports myself and missed that, thanks.

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Hey, I just played this. Here are some thoughts for you:

I'm impressed with the level of simplicity that you've limited yourself to in learning the basics of level design. I often see brand new level designers hot knee-deep into advanced port features before truly understanding the fundamentals of what makes a great Doom level.

While the level is mostly a simplistic jaunt between rooms of mostly similar height and structure, I see a lot of potential in how you've used such basic shapes to create engaging gameplay. You gave me something to do in each room, and I'm impressed with how well you were able to quickly fill each of the rooms with action by consistently springing more enemies on me with each step.

If this is the first map you've ever made, I think you're off to a good start. Obviously, there are many areas to improve in -- for one thing, most of (I think all) of the rooms were connected together by a single 64x64 door. That's a basic way of composing a level, but if you extend this design too far it quickly becomes boring and can limit you in terms of interesting gameplay scenarios. Too many doors can lead to door fighting with higher level enemies, and scenarios like that usually make me turn off the game.

I think you've demonstrated a decent understanding of how even basic shapes can be used to create interesting gameplay, so try to take it a step further by thinking outside the box on how you connect the level together. It's a start to be able to look into another room through a window, but you can begin to take this concept even further. Don't be afraid to delete a few walls, lower/raise some floors/ceilings, and then ponder what can be done with your newly formed architecture.

One thing that I like to do when beginning a new level is to draw a very simple shape and right away begin extending it in different directions. I like to make this part mostly aimless and free-form because it helps me facilitate cool ideas down the road. You don't ever have to start building the level from the "beginning". I usually fiddle with that first shape by dragging linedefs in different directions, inserting vertices in unusual spots, and then slicing and dicing it up into different sectors, which I then start to raise and lower until I have a basic upper and lower level that I can begin connecting together. From there the level almost starts to build itself, and you can begin to establish the logical flow between areas.

Anyways, good start. Be patient, don't be afraid to experiment, and most importantly: build levels that YOU would like to play. If you can love what you created, then you have already succeeded. Looking forward to more!

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I want to thank everybody for their feedback, I learned quite a lot from this process and made changes to the map with all your suggestions in mind.

This will be the only update as the next map will be from scratch, which (hopefully) takes on a more organic approach.

I play-tested this update numerous times with comp levels 2 & 9, for both doom.wad and freedoom1.wad.

Enjoy finding those secrets!

Download alpha2.zip

Note: zip contains spoilers.txt with the list of changes - open at your peril.

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Oh @Pavera I am definitely going to try that approach of not starting at the beginning. Excellent thanks!

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Excellent first map.
One criticism, on the series of lifts to get to the red key, if you let any of the lifts go all the way back up, you're pretty much just stuck up there. My suggestion would be to tag one of those ceiling walls with a lift switch. Really like the work however.

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I think people definitely bring up valid points with their criticism on the lighting and room layouts, but I think it must also be taken into a account that this is one of your first maps, and it looks a lot better than a lot of people's firsts. Some traps work well and there's a decent variety in textures for the most part. I did notice a door or two without the door track texture. Not sure if it was a design choice or not, but I thought I'd mention it anyways.

As far as other small gripes, I did get stuck multiple times in the room with the multiple lowering platforms (with zombies on them). I believe Schmerr said the same thing, but it is important that there is a way to get down, whether you put switches up there or some other means. I had to noclip out twice just to continue the map.

All-in-all, this is not a bad first try. I think you definitely have some potential. Perhaps we can exchange projects for ideas sometime.

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