How important is swimmable water to Doomlikes?

Yes, I just invented the term Doomlike. A doomlike is basically any old school style fps where the player explores a maze like level to look for keys while accessing new areas hoping to at some point find the exist.

 

The reason I ask is that I am been playing a lot of Quake lately and one of the biggest differences between Quake and Doom other than the 3D element is the addition of swimmable water. But how much of a difference does swimmable water really make from a level design perspective? Sure it looks nice but even Doom had water textures. When I think about it, Quake did not actually do that much with it's water mechanics, they just sort of...there. Most of the time the areas with the water don't even really require you to actually swim. Half-life was the same.

 

Does swimmable water add a lot to Doomlikes or is it just a gimmick?

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Not at all. Fighting (or even simply moving, really) underwater is awkward as hell anyway.

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Water does not belong in Doom unless it's a flowing texture used for detail, that's it. I've seen some of those cool multiplayer mods on Zandronum use it, but even then it isn't necessary. It would definitely get annoying in abundance.

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No. Only a gimmick that should be used in a correct way depending of the theme of the map...

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I think it works well in Quake because Quake isn't a Doomlike.

 

For example, I think it was annoying in Duke3D. It was cool thematically, like in that one flooded city map, or in that map where you swim out of the sub, but the controls are awkward and not very fun. Having to press separate keys to go up and down, rather than just looking up or down and going forward, sucks. Freelook sucked in Duke3D.

 

I think GZDoom starts becoming less and less Doomlike as features like these are used, and GZDoom has nice freelook, so I think it can be fun in projects that are designed to use these features. But I'd say these sorts of projects aren't quite Doomlike anymore.

 

So yeah, swimmable water sucks in Doomlikes.

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Not necessary, but nice to have.  Hey, it's better than water being instant-death.

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I feel like the swimmable water was used very effectively in quake. Almost all the secrets have something to do with water. Maps like Grisly Grotto and the episode hub for the last episode really use it to great effect to help demonstrate the 3D space. Swimmable water doesn't feel natural to me in most other shooters though.

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53 minutes ago, Benjogami said:

For example, I think it was annoying in Duke3D. It was cool thematically, like in that one flooded city map, or in that map where you swim out of the sub, but the controls are awkward and not very fun. Having to press separate keys to go up and down, rather than just looking up or down and going forward, sucks. Freelook sucked in Duke3D.

See the last map of The Birth episode or some of the maps in the third episode........arghthose maps were annoying in water

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Swimmable water is something I would deem undesireable in Doom. Not only does it take away one of doom's most gameplay defining aspects, the speed of movement, it also doesn't work thematically for me personally and maybe to some extent objectively, since doom was supposed to take place on Mars, in hell (with a somewhat clear cut idea of what that particular hell would be like in mind), or on a "hellified" (see I can do new terms, too) earth, none of which invokes pictures or ideas of underwater exploration, doubly so because water is seen as the element from which life as we know it came to be in many cultures, and hell taking over is supposed to be the end of life as we know it.

 

Water works much better in quake, because quake is more about dimensional travel of sorts in terms of theme, plus quake is a game so vastly different from doom (despite being an oldschool FPS by so called modern standards) that it works much better with the overall theme id had in mind when making quake. Had it been any different they would have called quake "Doom3D" instead, or something along those lines. Funnily enough, even in quake there isn't much going on in terms of combat when you're underwater, at least nowhere near the extent that is taking place outside of it. So even back then id seemed to deem underwater parts more suited for explorational purposes rather than combat, and doom is much better suited for combat centric gameplay design solely based on the actually mind bending speed at which players can move (if we ignore outliers like "the given" by Dobu Gabu Maru for the time being).

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1 hour ago, Benjogami said:

I think GZDoom starts becoming less and less Doomlike as features like these are used

Totally agree with this. To me, GZDoom is somewhere between Doom and Quake, and yeah, it has very nice way to mod the game, but if going for pure Doom experience, GZDoom is not a good choice.

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Oh....btw, another gimmick that should be used correctly (or not using it at all), besides water, is gravity...I know few maps that uses gravity and ....oh boy, they don't work well...

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I guess I'm in the minority here but I love seeing map authors utilize advanced features such as swimmable water, 3d elements, and other ZDoomisms. Although I'm inclined to agree with @GarrettChan comment above.

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Marathon 2/Infinity say hi

 

To elaborate, yes, I think if used properly it can add a lot to a map. Verticality always makes things more interesting.

Edited by Blastfrog

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The idea of having a space that allows for a more "fluid" 3D combat experience is interesting. It's the same as flying, essentially, except that there's a visual cue — water — that denotes this space. The problem with it in Doom is that you're far too slow, there aren't any unique monsters that take advantage of this extra dimension, and jumping in and out of water feels clumsy and inconsistent.

 

Make Doomguy move faster, fix that problem and perhaps design some interesting monsters to demand more of the player's movement skill in that area. Arch-vile fishes. Plumes of bubbles filling your screen instead of fire. The horror.

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I've played a number of (G)ZDoom mods that have those swimming sections where you move very slowly and start 'drowning' if you spend a set time underwater. Easily the worst part of any map I've seen them in, full stop. 

 

Edited by rdwpa
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It doesn't strike me as super important, at least for Doom. I think for Quake, Water was a pretty big deal, but a lot of that was because the controls were much better suited for it. For what its worth, I also liked the short bits of swimming in Half-Life and Half-Life 2, much different games than Doom. All of these have the nice thing that you move through water reasonably quickly, which I feel helps a lot. In contrast with ZDoom water feels so limiting a lot of the times, since you swim through it relatively slow.

 

So I guess I like water but make it so that you swim through it quickly

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I don't care either way, but I know water slows things down which could be the intention of the mapmaker.

I love the way it was used in Turok 2 and (I think) Rage Wars, the water could be a vertical wall or even a ceiling you could drop from or jump into and start swimming. Gravity didn't mean shit and it added a cool sort of zero gravity element to it.

Edited by wheresthebeef
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There's currently no real precedent for how it should be implemented, so each port might handle it differently. That's a problem. But, like most things, it depends on how it's implemented. Yes, players might be slower. But, monsters should also slow down. Maybe imp fireballs extinguish underwater, and maybe monsters can drown too. Opaque water can hide ammo drops, but translucent water requires a 3d floor or portal-type implementation.

 

Opaque water is limiting, but the 242 deep water + colormap effect is a nice compromise. Besides, translucent water is slow to render, and color aliasing is awful unless you also implement 32-bit color.

 

Knee-high opaque water may not slow you down, but would still hide dropped ammo. However, it's kinda neat when your feet and legs, and monster bodies are clipped due to semi-deep water, as a purely visual effect. Full depth water can be used to hide a secret passage, but then you might be compelled to add the oxygen mechanic (where the good guy can hold his breath for 15 seconds...what's that all about?).

 

Then there's the sprites: To really implement swimming well, you'd need swimming frames for, at least, the player, and hopefully the monsters too. And, you'd have to allow the player to slip through a, say, 24-unit high passage while swimming, which could also be used for crawling. But, again, you need sprites. (There are some good crouching/crawling player sprites).

 

Also, there's the controls, as mentioned above. Must the player have float/dive buttons, or can it be automated somehow? Or, does mouse-look double as mouse-swim? This could also work similar to Heretic's flying implementation (which is a bit awkward).

 

I actually tried to automate some of this in KBDoom. Basically, swimming into a wall caused you to rise to the surface. From there, you'd continue to swim on the surface, or you could hop out of the water. If you jump into the water from ground level, you'd surface swim. But, if you jump from a higher point, you sink down to the bottom, where you essentially walk on the bottom at a faster-than-swim, but slower-than-normal pace. Mouse-swim and Heretic PgUp/PgDn were also implemented.

 

It worked out ok... not, great, but ok. The extra auto-rise, auto-dive stuff did help a lot. I also added splash sprites/sounds, breathing/out-of-breath sounds with the oxygen counter. Finally, I added monster bubble sprites and sounds (which are kinda cool), as well as stationary bubble spawnners w/ambient sound mapthings.

 

So, in summary: Atmosphere-wise, swimmable water can be very cool, and is very complicated. Gameplay-wise, it doesn't add much, and is inhibiting in a lot of ways. A bad usage has some very non-Doomlike qualities, and arriving at that result is easy to do. Yet, I must maintain that it all depends on context and implementation. If used sparingly and artistically, it can provide a lot of nice atmosphere to a theme mapset, but it must be done very carefully to avoid the pitfalls.

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I'm honestly less interested in the question itself and more in the fact that you coined the term "Doomlike". While I have trouble seeing it become a commonly used term, I'm oddly happy seeing someone coming up with a term like that at the very least.

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Give the player leg propellers or something to make them faster underwater. Maybe remove drowning. Who said water must always be limiting?

 

2 hours ago, kb1 said:

Must the player have float/dive buttons, or can it be automated somehow? Or, does mouse-look double as mouse-swim? This could also work similar to Heretic's flying implementation (which is a bit awkward).

I like it when there are buttons to move up and down. It means you can aim down while rising up, very handy. Quake allows it too (it's actually faster than holding the jump button for some reason).

 

6 hours ago, hardcore_gamer said:

Half-life was the same.

Half-Life is largely about immersion (no pun intended), and water works very well in this context. It provides variety, if nothing else.

 

Also, cage scene.

 

Edited by Da Werecat

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It all depends on how it gets used.

 

I have seen both ends of the spectrum. Many maps use swimmable water in areas that are either optional to enter or just serve as a connection between places and those generally work well.

 

On the other hand, there have been a few occurences of maps that took place nearly entirely or at least to a large degree in submerged areas, and they usually played like utter garbage. If you want to experience this kind of 'fun', there's a few examples in Super Sonic Doom.

 

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My hot take: swimming is good for exploration, bad for combat.

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Can be a nice addition, but not really important. Unless one wants to make an underwater base and let the player explore the surrounding ocean or water area for rewards. switches, or even keys to proceed further into the level. Swimmable water is kinda fun to have in maps imo. Opens up door to newer possibilities.

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I don't see slower movement as a necessary aspect of swimming in FPS games. I wish more mods/games implemented swimming such that the movement would be as fast as normally, or even faster. Similarly, feel free to get rid of air limit and let the player stay there as long as he wants to. I believe that would generally improve gameplay (especially combat) in swimmable areas. Basically, turn them into areas where the player and enemies can fly with all freedom, but only until they leave those areas, making it different from flying enemies or flight powerups that could be used anywhere.

Edited by scifista42
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Probably the same can better be achieved with "low gravity areas" instead of swimmable water.

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Gez and Graf summed it up nicely. If you're using (G)ZDoom, it's nice feature to have, but other than that, I don't feel it's absolutely necessary at all, especially when combat gets really heated.

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"How important is swimmable water?"

In "classic" DooM (which is similar to what the OP is asking about), swimmable water is clearly out of place.

In mods whose intention it is to deviate from the "classic" DooM experience, swimmable water can have its rightful place.

In "DooM-like" fps games, swimmable water can broaden the scope of gameplay (Duke3D, Blood, Shadow Warrior). Personally, I actually liked the water areas in Duke3D, even though they were (in retrospect) graphically cheesy.

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5 hours ago, Angry Saint said:

Probably the same can better be achieved with "low gravity areas" instead of swimmable water.

"Better" in what sense?

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15 hours ago, hardcore_gamer said:

Yes, I just invented the term Doomlike.

Thats strange, because I've heard the term elsewhere before.

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