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everennui

Designing for continuous play.

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So I have come to the conclusion that probably a huge amount of maps are designed for pistol start. I know I can't be the only to think this. My reasoning for it is that it'd be tedious to test map 01 everyone you wanted to test map 02. After I've thought about it for a moment I think you could make a save point at the exit of the penultimate map and that wouldn't desync(?) your save when you test. ...or you could jot down your munitions and use a console command to recreate how you would have started.

 

I heard someone reiterate my previous thoughts and I felt like I should probably share my new idea regarding this topic.

 

I don't know how I feel about continuous play. Just an idea I had.

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The worry I have about this is that if you end up with an idealized view of what you kept form the previous map, what happens when players have a bad time on the previous map and don't carry over nearly as much as you would have hoped for. Will the map still be fair for them? Or will you run into problems since the difficulty was tweaked around the idea of you having a certain amount of stuff? It'd probably make testing a lot more involved and tedious in order to run all these potential configurations. I've noticed at least a few games where you play continuously try to resolve this problem by explicitly setting your inventory when you enter a new mission, though many do keep your inventory across maps in the same mission. I wonder how those game designers balance that, honestly.

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Just test it's beatable for pistol start. That way if the player is in an unwinnable position carried over from the previous map he can at least have a chance after respawning. You can always throw some med kits in an exit room for a lazy/easy way to accommodate continuous players.

 

 

 

 

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If it's beatable from Pistol Start it will generally play fine continuously, i.e. the IWADs which most of the playerbase went through normally. As far as multi-map balance goes, you can give the player core weapons obtained in previous maps early on, in which case the difference between the two playstyles is ammo management.

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Theres nothing wrong with continuous play, as long as you design your wad to do just that. If you design a wad to have levels that are playable from pistol start, people will play them from pistol start if they want. however, if you design it with only continuous play, it'll be played like that.

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I try to design for both, so if they play continuously, the gameplay is not ruined, but if they die and have to restart with a pistol start (or if they join a coop server, forcing a pistol start), they are not screwed.

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An idea you c ould do, is each level start area place every single weapon you need in that level, that you are meant to use. This way, pistol start and continous play is pretty much the same, they'll get their weapons (But place no ammo!) so they can then move with continous with their ammo, and a slight bit extra, and with pistol start they get the weapons but still have to work for the ammo.

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13 hours ago, everennui said:

So I have come to the conclusion that probably a huge amount of maps are designed for pistol start. I know I can't be the only to think this. My reasoning for it is that it'd be tedious to test map 01 everyone you wanted to test map 02. After I've thought about it for a moment I think you could make a save point at the exit of the penultimate map and that wouldn't desync(?) your save when you test. ...or you could jot down your munitions and use a console command to recreate how you would have started.

Id started this whole thing of pistol starts because they wanted to be able to idclevxx and test a map without having to IDKFA, to make sure ammo distribution and difficulty was in place as intended.

 

If people chose to design their wad for continuous play, sure, why not? The one problem they'll have at this point is that their maps may not be possible to demo properly anymore. That means no visual feedback on gameplay, and no speedruns. Eventhough the latter might be insignificant to most, FDAs and demo-based playtesting are invaluable sources of information for mappers.

 

A problem that comes with pistol starting is that more often than not continuous players will have significant advantages, even to the point of more or less breaking maps from a gameplay perspective.

 

Another point that always confused me about designing for continuous is the merit of it. Unless I make a map in which ammo is not a concern for players at all, the the ammo balance can be put in place by way of IDKFA. You simply look at how much ammo you used during certain parts of the map, and place ammo supplies accordingly, and that work for both pistol starts and continuous.

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Since it's easier to test your maps from a pistol start than it is to test them continuous, I'm not sure what the point is of only balancing for continuous play. The easier and arguably more sensible thing to do is design them specifically for a pistol start, and not worry about what advantages continuous players have. Continuous players want to have those advantages; they want to have a slightly more casual playing experience, and they don't want to have to worry about ammo and weapon management as much as pistol starters do. That's why they're continuous players.

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42 minutes ago, Not Jabba said:

Since it's easier to test your maps from a pistol start than it is to test them continuous,

It is equally easy. To test continuous play, start the map from pistol start and type IDFA.

 

My preferred approach/goal: Balance maps such that they'll be beatable but noticeably hard from pistol start, and casually playable while still somewhat challenging when played continuously.

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One way I used to map for continuous play was to play the previous map 5 or so times, ensuring no secrets were accessed so it's a 'worst case scenario'. I would then average out the ammo & health counts and then add a stash of ammo / weaponry at the start of the next map that is equal to the calculated average. Upon completion of this map's development, I would perform the same tests again in preparation for the next map, then remove the stash at the start and save it.

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My strategy for factoring in continuous play into my maps is a much tighter ammo balance from pistol start. All my maps are designed to be very beatable from pistol start, but in theory if played continuously the player won't have much of an advantage going into the next map. They will definitely have some extra ammo but it won't be abundant so even in the next map they'll need to pay attention to their ammo management.

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3 hours ago, scifista42 said:

It is equally easy. To test continuous play, start the map from pistol start and type IDFA.

and thus, the poor player who only scraped by the previous map gets completely devastated by two archviles the moment they set foot in the next map because the mapper expected you to have a BFG9000, full blue armor, and three hundred cells for the BFG.

 

yeah, you can restrict your usage of the cells and rockets to try to simulate a normal carryover, but this is not "equally easy" as balancing for pistol start, and you cannot ignore the full blue armor in the slightest.

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On 6/26/2017 at 2:14 PM, scifista42 said:

It is equally easy. To test continuous play, start the map from pistol start and type IDFA.

 

My preferred approach/goal: Balance maps such that they'll be beatable but noticeably hard from pistol start, and casually playable while still somewhat challenging when played continuously.

 

 

problem with this is if the map expects you to have 120 bullets (1 box 3 normal clips plus spare), 30 shells (1 shell box), 5 rockets with corresponding weapons and you have a BFG plus 600 cells in addition to all the above, the testing becomes too easy. IDFA is really overkill for a lot of maps here.

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One way to do this in GZDoom would be going in the console and typing, "give shotgun; give shell 3; give chaingun; give clip 2" or whatever you need to simulate a continuous run. Of course, as Dragonfly noted, the best way to do this would be to average out your gear through multiple tests.

Personally, I like to use the ResetHealth keyword in MAPINFO so the player always starts at 100 health so they're never completely screwed over by a poor run in the previous map.

However, this does remove any advantage a soulsphere might grant because the health is reset, so the only advantages a continuous run would have is weaponry, ammo, and armor, and I try to maintain consistent firepower across maps to lessen this as much as possible and just enough ammo for a UV (or equivalent) max run.

 

That's what I do, minus the give console commands. I personally subscribe to one of John Romero's mapping rules: a map should be possible from pistol start.

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On 5/29/2018 at 11:03 PM, Aquila Chrysaetos said:

I personally subscribe to one of John Romero's mapping rules: a map should be possible from pistol start.

In Wolfenstein, players had lives. Id removed the lives and score, and the arcade qualities they provided, but they still needed a consequence for the players if they failed (died during a level). That was why every map is beatable from a pistol start, so that dying is a punishment for the player, but not enough of one that the game cannot be won.

 

On 6/26/2017 at 5:45 PM, InsanityBringer said:

and thus, the poor player who only scraped by the previous map gets completely devastated by two archviles the moment they set foot in the next map because the mapper expected you to have a BFG9000, full blue armor, and three hundred cells for the BFG.

Which is why you shouldn't structure your map in such a way that the player HAS to be heavily armed and armored just to survive the first encounter. If the don't survive that encounter, or if they die elsewhere in the map, then you've just ensured that the player will be doomed to a cycle of death and revival at the start, which will cause most players to stop playing your mapset, and will cause a few to rage quit.

 

This is not to say that you have to make the first half of a level easy and gift the player numerous weapons and armor at the beginning of a level. Requiring a certain level of skill to be able to complete a level from pistol start is one thing. It is a whole different ball of wax to make that level unbeatable from a pistol start because you start off immediately needing full health, the plasma gun and 200 cells, and the super shotgun and 90 shells that the player "should" have from the previous map.

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