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rdwpa

Megaspheres: How do you use them?

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Megaspheres are one of the riskiest powerups where balance is concerned. If you misjudge a setup's difficulty, you might end up trivializing a good portion of the map to follow. I've played many a map where I was able to preserve most of a megasphere or even defer a pickup until late in an encounter.

I think they make the most sense in encounters that are not only dangerous (ofc) but also consistently attritive. For example a certain multi-vile setup might be quite challenging, but if the outcome distribution will be something like 40% zero damage, 40% death by mass immolation, 20% 2-3 blasts, a megasphere might not be the best choice unless you are cognizant of that and incorporate "megasphere preservation" into the map's overall strategy. A set of soulspheres might work better.

Alternatively, you might not mind the player sitting at max HP/armor, for example in the easier sort of "you're only going to die if you fuck up badly" slaughtermap, or slaughtermaps optimized for reckless BFG spamming. For example in this silly map of mine, I spammed megapsheres so that health/armor wouldn't really be a concern.



Megasphere usage at first seems hardest to balance in the sort of multi-sphere setups that are found in lategame Sunlust, setups are meant to be challenging, maps that are meant to be finely tuned (I think). In general, the difference between two and three megapsheres can be quite significant, and misjudging the right number could make a fight trivial if a really effective approach is found. BUT . . . these setups tend to liberally use monsters such as cyberdemons and archviles, and the hordes of mid-tiers are quite imposing, so mistakes beyond the most minor often cost you a lot of health and armor. In effect, 200% HP/armor becomes the status quo, and the megapsheres are like "recharge powerups" to get you back there. But probably the most important aspect is that the megaspheres are often challenging to get to at short notice, blocked by masses of demonflesh. Having an extra megasphere on the field is a lot different than having one in your inventory. (By the way I'm glad Doom doesn't use the inventory system! Even things like quartz flasks in Heretic feel overpowered when you can stock up on them and spam "use" in a jam.) Taking 200% HP/armor into the very next fight could be a major reward built into the structure of the level, yes, or it could also be a minor convenience, meaning one extra megasphere on the playing field that might be non-trivial to get to when the action breaks out.

Anyway, that's enough rambling for now, let's hear your ideas!

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Unless it's a slaughtermap, i think magasphere should only be placed in very hard to reach secrets as a reward for finding them.
Plus, i think megaspheres should only be put in large maps with multiple difficult encounters. Putting megasphere in a small map almost always makes it too easy (unless, for example, one megasphere is the only healing source in the entire map, but this is an exeption). That being said, i think i'll never put a megasphere in my maps, because i'm not planning on creating large/difficult maps.

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I use the megasphere as a forced pickup right before letting the player teleport onto carefully placed barrels that will drain all of his health but 1% and then bring in a horde of projectile throwing monsters.

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Thing is, this thread immediately goes in with the assumption that everyone who plays Doom is gud. Something like 40% zero damage, 40% death by mass immolation, 20% 2-3 blasts might instead be 5% zero damage, 65% death by mass immolation, and 30% 5 blasts. Sometimes people need some Megaspheres in those situations. As for balance, if you're gud enough to not need it and you know that, then good for you. If you did need it, then the map you're playing just became 50% less stressful.

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Nevander said:

Thing is, this thread immediately goes in with the assumption that everyone who plays Doom is gud. Something like 40% zero damage, 40% death by mass immolation, 20% 2-3 blasts might instead be 5% zero damage, 65% death by mass immolation, and 30% 5 blasts. Sometimes people need some Megaspheres in those situations. As for balance, if you're gud enough to not need it and you know that, then good for you. If you did need it, then the map you're playing just became 50% less stressful.


There's nothing about that description that mandates it being a "quite challenging" setup for a very skilled player; for them it might be ~97%, ~0%, ~3% :D.

The Sunlust examples do position the conversation in "very skilled player land", but idk, sometimes it's not possible for a map to be hard but fun for a very skilled player while simultaneously being at all playable (w/o frustrating amounts of saves/reloads) for someone who isn't. If UV should be hard but fun for a very skilled player, it's better to just implement HNTR and HMP instead of adding lots of superfluous spheres and stuff on UV. And the stuff about proper megasphere balance could still apply to HNTR and especially HMP. Also the maps I'm talking about (map28-map30 of Sunlust) I personally wouldn't bother trying to one-shot on UV unless I felt like failing over and over. :D

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rdwpa said:

(By the way I'm glad Doom doesn't use the inventory system! Even things like quartz flasks in Heretic feel overpowered when you can stock up on them and spam "use" in a jam.)


Hnnnnggg... *bursts a blood vessel*

Spoiler

Heh, nah, but by that same token, managing health pickups in Heretic can become much more strategically involved with that same mechanic. Not every map or mapper will give so many flasks; indeed, many situations are made tougher by replacing 4 of them with a single urn. In addition, it can become a great way to give the player long-lasting supplies, though of course at the same time they have to manage use of the other items, as well as switch between them mid-combat. Thing about items, from the way I look at it, it's an additional layer of complexity to screw up. Coming up with decent pickup locations, monster, weapon and ammo sets can be difficult, but with the extra layer of complexity brought on by items which can be used whenever and from wherever, it's easier to mess up what could otherwise be a good balance. By the same token as the point of switching mid-combat, if I do not already have any flasks in my inventory, (no auto-switch on items either) and I'm really low on health while under heavy pressure, that flask can be a much riskier bet than a vial; though it provides 2.5x the health points, it takes a moment to switch items and therefore isn't instant (it's actually distracting). Sorry for the off-topic prattling, hehe.

I have to agree with you on megasphere use, though; personally, I'd much rather give an SS and a blue armor than a megasphere, simply because I can split up their locations. I also agree with what you said about using them as rechargers to get back up to the par health/armor of 200's. Still, there are situations where I like them and others where I don't, I guess it just comes down to where and how you want to introduce that kind of support to a player. My biggest fundamental problem with the megasphere, though, is the blue armor it gives, which makes a player very powerful when in conjunction with 200% hp. When used in the wrong situations, the monsters cannot hope to stand a chance. As mappers, we should try to look at life through our mobs' eyes and give them a real chance to achieve their only dream in life.

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I think megaspheres are fair game when they precede situations with multiple arch viles. I usually limit them to secret areas rather than free handouts. One hit kill Cyberdemons are lame too so megaspheres around Cyberdemons seem fair as long as the player doesn't have cell weapons. I suppose a map with heavy chaingunner usage at close proximity could be okay when there's unavoidable damage involved.

I personally like how Plutonia goes generous on health kits and green armor. I'd like to use more powerups more often but regular items make for better demos to watch. No one wants to see a supercharged player play ultra-cautiously.

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I like how Erik Alm put 12 Megaspheres in Scythe map 26. The answer really depends on the amount of health you assume the player will have during a specific encounter when you tune the difficulty. For setpiece slaughter/congestion fights where the player is likely to take large amounts of damage, giving an MS before the player triggers the encounter is a good idea. Something like Stardate is a good example where Ribbiks gives you a certain amount of health/armour to work with depending on the severity of the upcoming encounter.

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40oz said:

No one wants to see a supercharged player play ultra-cautiously.


Shame on you. Seriously.

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A player with 25% health or less creates a lot of dramatic tension for the viewer dont you think? I find it pretty exciting when the player seems like he's on the brink of death. Having full health should prompt a player to play very aggressively and recklessly since the consequences for dying are pretty far off (depending on how much unused health is secured on the map and the population density of tougher monsters of course)

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Dunno. In the majority of UV-max runs, of course you are going to be even more aggressive with a lot of health/armor. Unless you need to preserve it, because the map is really hard, which can be fun to watch too. There was a j4rio max demo lately where it was absolutely mandatory that he get to a certain section with near max health/armor, which resulted in the odd but pleasing sight of reality-like playing against hitscanners while nearly topped off, and was quite tense.

If you are talking about FDAs, which is probably the case given that you've posted quite a few times about your distaste for "ultra-cautious FDA play" (lol), idk, whatever. Creating entertaining demos is not what FDA-ing is about. You should get over that. You can explicitly ask for things other than conventional FDAs, like casual playthroughs, or you can hold timed FDA contests.

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