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cas1

E1m8c - a study of Romero's E1M8b

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hi everyone,

I'm a bit hesitant to post this work. I know many, including me, are thinking highly of Romero, his legacy and current work.
Watching a slew of review video's of people playing through Romero's recent E1M8b, I learned how many players seem gloss over many things, and are simply in awe. I was looking for a more neutral review, but I did not find any. My impression of E1M8b is favourable, and I must say that it has a lasting quality, it grows on you. Still I felt it was not reaching it's potential.

I was analysing e1m8b with my map testers.
Asking myself, could e1m8b be improved? What would I like to see changed? 3 aspects came to my mind: outdoor environment, general polish, and the boss fight.
Briefly I considered making a youtube review video, but then it would be just an opinion by an anonymous mapper, and I would not be able to really test my thoughts.

What has been done?
- I converted the e1m8b map to the UDMF map format, so I could easily add environment sounds, reverbs and a few dynamic lights.
- Starting elevator. - I call this 'the unveil'. It's like a fade in so the new room is gradually unveiled, and makes a bigger impression.
- Raised a few ledges so the jumping player cannot skip large parts.*
- Added a little elevator in the central courtyard, so the player can trace their way back from the red key to the chainsaw.
- Made several windows to secret area's so people are hinted and teased more to look for them.
- The outside pathway has now a fatal waterfall edge, adding a risk and tension.
- Raised the final red computer building, so it looks a bit more daunting.
- The final room area I changed a lot. I figured with high intensity action around the final rocket launcher, the action in the gates of hell room felt pale. The 'music'/action needed to quiet down first so the final could contrast.
- I also wanted the final to have more layers, last longer, and to be more intense to really mark the end of the episode with a bang.

Included are two links, the first for the map including a few environment sounds and a customised sky. The second file contains the relevant high resolution textures from DHTP, brightmaps and Andrew Hulshult's version of 'Sign of Evil'. Other credits are included in the files.

I recommend using Zandronum and GZDoom with this. (Personally I like the high resolution textures and filtering.)

E1M8c.wad
4.2MB
http://www.filedropper.com/e1m8c_1

E1M8c_HD_pack.pk3
41.2MB
http://www.filedropper.com/e1m8chdpack


Hopefully can share with me what you think of my map study project.

Thank you.

Kars van Kouwen
(The Netherlands)

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cas1 said:

Hopefully can share with me what you think of this map study project.


I'm thinking... what did this guy do to make the file size 10x bigger?

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everennui said:

I'm thinking... what did this guy do to make the file size 10x bigger?


That's the thing with UDMF maps. Raw files are way bigger in this format from what I've seen and experienced myself :)

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The_Trigger said:

That's the thing with UDMF maps. Raw files are way bigger in this format from what I've seen and experienced myself :)

They were intended to be distributed inside .pk3 files, they compress really well; Specially if you are distributing a whole megawad.

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Albertoni said:

They were intended to be distributed inside .pk3 files, they compress really well; Specially if you are distributing a whole megawad.


Oh yeah, I know that. Was just responding to everenui's question ^^

But yeah, putting them in pk3 format greatly reduces the size.

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I will throw out some thoughts/feelings/observations to snack on:

- Critiquing a limit-removing map by adding UDMF features seems like a misguided idea from the start.
- Jumping doesn't need to be considered in a limit-removing map because players shouldn't be jumping.
- The fog effect is actually pretty cool.
- The waterfall edge is actually pretty cool.
- I was still able to use jumping to skip the yellow-key-get flow without much effort.
- I didn't even notice the ambient sounds until I played the map with the original midi, cause the new music track is a bit... overbearing, I suppose. In comparison to the original, at least.

Perhaps it's the curmudgeon in me, but I find that low res textures fit the engine quite well, as do midis. Adding high res textures and hi-fidelity music tends to work against the aesthetics of original Doom, rather than with it. Especially in a level that was designed for neither.

And now that I think about it, Romero's e1m8b doesn't work very well with the original midi for e1m8 either. e1m8b is much more action packed than the original, which was suspenseful and atmospheric.

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With all due respect, your stated changes made me want to shake my head as I scrolled through the list. Not my kind of Doom. Is either of us wrong, in wanting specific things? No, but there's something to that difference of opinion.

Despite the 20 years gap, Romero did well to recapture an often overlooked yet critical aspect of Doom: it's simple. This simplicity is a strong point. It makes the game versatile to many styles of play, and allows for various interpretations of the environment.

Specialization will let you make things better for a particular group of players, but you inevitably lose some of your audience. Sometimes, untapped potential is the ideal outcome. Games are or should be about interacting with the universe in your own way, and for that there has to be leeway for the player to express themself.

Any personal improvement project would do well to emphasize this personal nature. Presenting it as objectively better might antagonize people who aren't sold on your particular interpretation, which in turn might give you less objective replies than you deserve.

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Thank you very much for the responses. It is very educational to me.

Yes Phml, I should have presented it as a more personal improvement. - good point, because it is. - it's also the reason why I stated I'm a bit hesitant to post this.

I know many of you love the 256 color 8 bit aesthetic, and cringe when someone likes the smoother 'HD' look.

Actually I did not change much the gameplay, only at the final which I thought was underwhelming compared to the difficulty and intensity of the rest of the map.
I like the upper ledge and IMPs because for me they add a bit more visual chaos, and later provide a nice view of the beautiful gates of hell. The IMPS force the player to run more. I also replaced the spawning in spectres with deamons, as in the dark spectres are near impossible to see, consequently hampering the fun of using the rocket launcher. I made the floor area a bit smaller, to make the fight harder.

I should have raised the platforms to the yellow key a bit too, to prevent jumping on them too, to be more consistent with the anti jumping measures.

1) How did you like the new small elevator next to the red key, allowing the player to track back to the chainsaw?

2) How do you like the windows I made to see secret area's?

3) How do you like the small visual hints to the secret doors, like 1p texture shift and the slight darkening of a texture?

Thank you again for all the responses.

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I'm pretty much on phml's side here, though there are still some things I would like to point out.

When you look at Romero's e1m8, it has some more modern touches to it, not only because it is limit removing, but also in terms of encounter design. The way I perceive it, Romero actually seemed to intend that his e1m8 fights are not putting the rest of the episode to "utter shame" for lack of a better term. Eventhough Romero's e1m8 uses monsters a lot more liberally, it somehow ties in.

That being said, if one would actually try to make a case study out of this, looking at how Romero's e1m8 fits into the entire episode as a whole, would be a must. It is more modern, a lot more, I feel, but it still does not seem out of place to me, if that makes any sense.

That being said, your aesthetical changes may make sense for you, while looking at that one single solitary map. In the context of the entire episode, they seem out of place again, in my book at least. DOOM has never been as much about "passive-cinematic-reveals", as it was about "active-engaging-exploration". It is the contrast of "watching something appear" in comparison to "making something appear". I am not saying your elevator reveal is all wrong, and I can see why people would like it better this way. That aside, mappers have used elevators successfully, and to great effect, to deliver a sense of scope and depth. Dynamic lighting, as another example, is nice to create atmosphere, as long as it is not too intrusive or distractive.

I have always looked at the DOOM aesthetics from the "road-runner" point of view. You know, that waaaaay old cartoon with the the coyote. When you look at these cartoons, they are very simplistic and rather low on details, as far as the landscape goes, but when the coyote and the roadrunner are on the scene, you don't really notice, because your eyes are on the action between those two guys. That applies to the players eyes in DOOM as well, I think. If you were to increase the level of detail drastically, you might also end up taking the "ooohh and aaaaahh" away from the "really striking vistas". The idea of "less" being "more" at times is very applicable to DOOM.

And just to point it out myself: Of course my point of view is entirely subjective. :-)

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illuknisaa said:

This annoyed me the most:

http://i.imgur.com/86GSpEb.png


Thank you for your screenshots and response!

It's Romero's work. He blocked the window, and did not block the other parts.
In short he did not take jumping into account, following the original Doom rules.

I tried, not thoroughly (my bad) to mitigate some of the jumping / level skipping (near the red key and in the computer building).
I should have made it consistently anti jumping, or not at all. Thanks for the heads up.

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It's a modern version of a classic map so I don't believe it needs to be balanced with jumping in mind since the rest of E1 isn't either.

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Haha I'm wondering now if the very casual players who read about an ultra popular wad on one of those general gaming websites and DL GZDoom end up scratching their heads when they jump and are able to leave a map in like 30 seconds.

cas1 said:

Thank you for your screenshots and response!

It's Romero's work. He blocked the window, and did not block the other parts.
In short he did not take jumping into account, following the original Doom rules.

I tried, not thoroughly (my bad) to mitigate some of the jumping / level skipping (near the red key and in the computer building).
I should have made it consistently anti jumping, or not at all. Thanks for the heads up.


You're not supposed to jump. It's cheating if the map wasn't designed for it, which e1m8b, being a limit-removing remake of an e1 level, clearly wasn't. You can IDCLIP to the exit too if you want, but you aren't supposed to.

People who play on ports with jumping take into account whether the level was designed for that (or should do so, if they don't). After all, it's only your loss if you can ruin the intended progression this way.

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I dunno man. If you make a limit removing map and then act surprised when people take advantage of the removed limits then I think the map designer has failed.
Map designer doesn't have to rely on invisible walls so that people can't jump to unwanted places.

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illuknisaa said:

I dunno man. If you make a limit removing map and then act surprised when people take advantage of the removed limits then I think the map designer has failed.
Map designer doesn't have to rely on invisible walls so that people can't jump to unwanted places.


Do you know what limit removing actually is?

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Nobody really knows what it means, everyone has their own definition. Maybe it only removes the visplane\segs limit, maybe it also fixes tutti-frutti, maybe it also allows ogg music, maybe it also fixes the blockmap bug in huge levels like Memorial, maybe... It's a crap term that should be avoided in favor of something more precise.

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But it's generally understood that "limit-removing maps" are those with "more than vanilla but less than Boom compatibility" and are designed with vanilla game behavior in mind, therefore source port specific features like jumping that affect the game behavior aren't supposed to be used when playing these maps.

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scifista42 said:

But it's generally understood that "limit-removing maps" are those with "more than vanilla but less than Boom compatibility" and are designed with vanilla game behavior in mind, therefore source port specific features like jumping that affect the game behavior aren't supposed to be used when playing these maps.


I don't really see how this excuses a half assed solution especially when:

I recommend using Zandronum and GZDoom with this.


by default jumping is enabled in gzdoom.

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So every single map every now should take into account jumping-? DOOM never had jumping (in the "jump" sense, not running off a platform) in the first place...

Just because a port can "break" a map, that doesn't make the mapper a failure...so you are calling Romero a failure of a mapper? GG

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kuchitsu said:

Nobody really knows what it means, everyone has their own definition. Maybe it only removes the visplane\segs limit, maybe it also fixes tutti-frutti, maybe it also allows ogg music, maybe it also fixes the blockmap bug in huge levels like Memorial, maybe... It's a crap term that should be avoided in favor of something more precise.


As someone newer to the mod scene (in fact only really started paying attention after e1m8b came out), "limit removing" is a term that confuses me a bit since things that are termed "limit removing" usually appear to be more like "bug fixes" since the end result is generally "game no longer crashes if player does X in a map with Y". Things like jumping and free aim feel, to me, more like new features not bug fixes (and so a lot of Brutal Doom sort of feels like a Doom 2.5).

Just my 2 cents for what it is worth.

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kuchitsu said:

Nobody really knows what it means, everyone has their own definition. Maybe it only removes the visplane\segs limit, maybe it also fixes tutti-frutti, maybe it also allows ogg music, maybe it also fixes the blockmap bug in huge levels like Memorial, maybe... It's a crap term that should be avoided in favor of something more precise.

Limit removing means "a vanilla Doom level that could be played in doom2.exe except it would normally crash with a visplane overflow or whatever, but you're not playing it in vanilla Doom so that's no longer an issue"

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FuzzballFox said:

So every single map every now should take into account jumping-? DOOM never had jumping (in the "jump" sense, not running off a platform) in the first place...

Just because a port can "break" a map, that doesn't make the mapper a failure...so you are calling Romero a failure of a mapper? GG


If you make a map for a source port and then the player breaks the map by using the default settings of said source port then yes you are a failure.

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scifista42 said:

But it's generally understood that "limit-removing maps" are those with "more than vanilla but less than Boom compatibility" and are designed with vanilla game behavior in mind, therefore source port specific features like jumping that affect the game behavior aren't supposed to be used when playing these maps.


Interestingly, some of the maps in No Rest For The Living were designed to take jumping into account.

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Urthar said:

Interestingly, some of the maps in No Rest For The Living were designed to take jumping into account.

Didn't the map author play a lot of Brutal Doom too? I assume that he didn't do his testing with it, though. At least, I hope, for gameplay balance's sake.

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Though the OP's GZDoom-edited version of Romero's map could indeed benefit from having "nojump" in the MAPINFO, I'd like to point out that illuknisaa operates under the insane delusion that it's okay to break maps via jumping that weren't designed for it. Said user's posts on this topic are best ignored on sight.

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