Two curiosities about competitive Dooming

1. Why are 100% secrets required alongside 100% kills in UV-Max?

 

I understand this is something the 90s Doom community decided back then and everyone has just rolled with it to avoid unnecessary revolutions and respect the older achievements, but it's still a little puzzling it happened in the first place. The point of UV-Max is to prevent players from avoiding Doom's core gameplay of shooting enemies while getting through the game as fast as possible and it does a great job in this regard. But secrets don't add anything to the gameplay by themselves. Sometimes their selection in maps is arbitrary, sometimes the loot they contain is of dubious or even nonexistent usefulness, sometimes they are a significant detour you would be hard pressed to take otherwise. You could make an argument about them being a rubber-banding mechanic that tends to give you some good healing items like Soulspheres and making them mandatory decreases grinding players have to go through by forcing them to take those heals, but you could just as well argue that it's discriminating against players who can get through the level using their resources efficiently.

 

2. Have there been any attempts at removing damage variance from the game to improve its competitiveness?

 

Let's be honest here - damage randomization is something every speedrunner hates. Enemy behavior RNG is kind of necessary for Doom to function, but all damage RNG does is putting players through extra grind, especially once a level is optimised enough that all improvements come from praying enemies die from less shots than in the previous record. Enemy damage variance is a lesser factor, but still existent, letting you survive hits that would usually kill you or killing you with shots you'd expect to survive. There is a very simple fix one could implement as an optional setting in Boom-like source ports or as a mod in ZDoom - making all randomized damage constant and equal to average of min and max possible damage.

The issue, other than breaking compatibility with past achievements and a revolution most people wouldn't want, is that it would not only make the game more competitive, but also significantly easier because bad RNG does more bad to the player than good RNG does good. Part because the optimal decisionmaking is assuming everything goes average and then correcting based on what goes wrong (you can't predict when you're going to get lucky and base your decisions around that, unless you keep grinding until everything you want to go well does), part because of the sheer amount of highly relevant damage ranges that rarely result in less shots than average, but frequently result in more shots. To give you some of the most glaring examples: 200*N HP enemies have 50% chance of dying to N perfect SSG shots, 20*N HP enemies have 50% chance of dying to N Chaingun taps or N Plasma shots, 400 HP enemies have 50% chance of dying to a BFG ball, 70 HP enemies have 50% chance of dying to a perfect Shotgun shot. If you face 100 of any of those enemies consecutively with those weapons and never manage to carry over some excess damage to another, then on average you're going to have to fire 100*(N+0.5) shots with Doom's damage variance, but 100*N without. In a 1v1 vacuum it makes the game fair, but in a level full of enemies it also makes it a lot easier.

Deathmatch folks would definitely love it though.

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1 hour ago, tchkb said:

1. Why are 100% secrets required alongside 100% kills in UV-Max?

Because that's exactly what the name says. Max, as in max stats, so 100% kills, 100% items and 100% secrets (where possible, there are exceptions for broken maps). Not needing 100% secrets would mean it wouldn't be UV-Max anymore, because that would no longer be the max of all things. You've effectively asked "Why are circles round?", the very thing defines what it is.

1 hour ago, tchkb said:

2. Have there been any attempts at removing damage variance from the game to improve its competitiveness?

To simplify greatly (and ignoring the part that for vanilla doom to remain competitive it has to still be vanilla doom), there is actually part of the reason why Vanilla Doom is specifically the competitive one, in that Doom's PRNG is not only imperfect, but so are its results. It is actually impossible to get perfect or snake-eyes results out of the SSG damage rolls due to the linear order of actions that must take place between each trace, and just the way Doom's PRNG table is constructed. This means that even with the PRNG table in place, you can always safely assume specific results out of the random damage collection.

It's also obviously not as much of a problem with the more competitive runners, who make do on picking the more reliable or "worst-average" (using the lowest outcome as the benchmark) starts to get better results. This also works into deathmatch; nobody playing deathmatch seriously actually cares about the PRNG results in that way, they account for "worst-average" as the expectation and treat anything higher as a bonus or the "best-average" as a reason not to approach opponents in specific ways.

Edited by Edward850
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3 minutes ago, Edward850 said:

Because that's exactly what the name says. Max, as in max stats, so 100% kills, 100% items and 100% secrets (where possible, there are exceptions for broken maps).

Max is usually (as in, most cases): every monster that counts is dead upon exiting (e.g. >=100% kills but with monsters alive due to vile rezzes is not a max), and all secrets, with no requirement for items. 

 

 

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Really? I could have sworn items was a requirement. Come to think of it, now I'm not really sure why, because it wouldn't make for good speedrunning.

Then yeah, in that case it'll just be because changing the category would be changing the meaning of the existing results, which means you still might as well call it something other than UV-Max anyway.

Edited by Edward850

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1 hour ago, rdwpa said:

Max is usually (as in, most cases): every monster that counts is dead upon exiting (e.g. >=100% kills but with monsters alive due to vile rezzes is not a max), and all secrets, with no requirement for items. 

I remember there's post about "how about something resurrected by an Arch-vile spawned by IoS" or something like that. Luckily, PrBoom has smart total. Otherwise, we have no idea whether this is an actual UV Max run for some maps...

 

To OP:

To be honest, RNG is one part of speedrunning of Doom because the game was designed like this. I think removing RNG will unify all runs into a optimal one as everybody will make the same approach of everything, which is very uninteresting to see.

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Before Compet-n and the rise of competitive demo recording¹, there were the Doom Honorific Titles. This wasn't about getting the fastest time but just proving that you could beat the game maps under certain constraints such as "with 100% kills" or "under par" or "on nightmare skill".

 

Many of the titles were imported as Compet-n categories with a few tweaks. In particular, the basic "DOOM Master" title (able to beat any map on UV with 100% or more kills) somehow gained an extra condition requiring 100% secrets, along with later refinements regarding counting resurrections/spawns mentioned by others above.

 

But the point is the original definition of what is now known as the UV max category did not include 100% secrets. Sometimes I wish this were still the case today☺.

 

________

¹ Disclaimer: I wasn't around for all this so I might have some of the details wrong. Paging @Opulent or @Grazza, who both know the history of demo recording much better than I do, for potential corrections.

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I like how I can watch an UV-Max and see pretty much the whole map (unless there is an unmarked "super secret" or something). The secret requirement makes them great educational/walkthrough material. It also adds more interesting choices for the player to make. Sometimes it takes 1 second to activate a secret and 10 seconds to actually reach the bonus items and return. Do you go for the powerup or ignore it and save time? It's exciting to think about. And I don't remember that many maps where secrets are somehow annoying in UV-Max. I think 100% kills being very tricky is a more common problem.

 

2 hours ago, tchkb said:

Have there been any attempts at removing damage variance from the game to improve its competitiveness?

Yes

Edited by Memfis
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Yeah, and of course nothing stops anyone from recording 100% kills speedruns and sharing them, explaining the ruleset used. We will watch that.

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1 hour ago, Memfis said:

I like how I can watch an UV-Max and see pretty much the whole map (unless there is an unmarked "super secret" or something). The secret requirement makes them great educational/walkthrough material.

True but I rather discover all that for myself, it's half the fun of the game. If I get completely stuck I prefer to resort to firstly the automap cheat, or failing that, studying it in a map editor. (I long ago resolved to never watch a demos for a maps I haven't played. You can't appreciate them properly. There's no "wow look how easily he sailed through this bit that killed me repeatedly".)

 

1 hour ago, Memfis said:

Sometimes it takes 1 second to activate a secret and 10 seconds to actually reach the bonus items and return

Good point, I remember appreciating this property of the secrets for dac17-339.lmp: "For 100% secrets here it is helpful that, if you can live without the rewards, you need only to take a couple of steps into each secret area to get credit for it. No need for a time-consuming detour."

 

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I can't enjoy watching a "max" run without 100% items. Treasure hunting should be a part of speedrunning.

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1 hour ago, RjY said:

True but I rather discover all that for myself, it's half the fun of the game. If I get completely stuck I prefer to resort to firstly the automap cheat, or failing that, studying it in a map editor. (I long ago resolved to never watch a demos for a maps I haven't played. You can't appreciate them properly. There's no "wow look how easily he sailed through this bit that killed me repeatedly".)

 

Good point, I remember appreciating this property of the secrets for dac17-339.lmp: "For 100% secrets here it is helpful that, if you can live without the rewards, you need only to take a couple of steps into each secret area to get credit for it. No need for a time-consuming detour."

 

the real best option is not having any goddamn secrets in the first place 👌

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Yeah, watching demos for familiar maps is definitely a lot more entertaining. But sometimes I'm not interested in suffering through the level myself (e.g. hard slaughtermaps) or I just want to relax and watch someone else do the job.

24 minutes ago, ASD said:

I can't enjoy watching a "max" run without 100% items. Treasure hunting should be a part of speedrunning.

Oh man, imagine having to tediously memorize the placement of each armor bonus and planning your route around that. I don't even want to think about it. :D

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3 hours ago, Memfis said:

It also adds more interesting choices for the player to make. Sometimes it takes 1 second to activate a secret and 10 seconds to actually reach the bonus items and return. Do you go for the powerup or ignore it and save time? It's exciting to think about.

 

1 hour ago, RjY said:

Good point, I remember appreciating this property of the secrets for dac17-339.lmp: "For 100% secrets here it is helpful that, if you can live without the rewards, you need only to take a couple of steps into each secret area to get credit for it. No need for a time-consuming detour."

 

This is how I like to approach making secret areas nowadays, I don't speedrun myself but it seems like maps would be more fun for figuring out strategies and routes with secrets designed like this, so I guess when the secret area is more than just a small cupboard with a megaarmor or something, they should always be like this?

 

It even makes sense IMO given that the text flashes up "A secret is revealed!" No point telling us that when we've been running through said secret for the last minute.

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9 minutes ago, Memfis said:

imagine having to tediously memorize the placement of each armor bonus and planning your route around that. I don't even want to think about it. :D

On the other hand, imagine having to plan around picking up an unwanted blur sphere. Spicy!

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2 hours ago, Memfis said:

Oh man, imagine having to tediously memorize the placement of each armor bonus and planning your route around that. I don't even want to think about it. :D

This becomes a problem in maps like Downtown where the player is forced to plan a fixed route for grabbing the scattered items while gunning down monsters. Another downside is corpses blending with health- and armor bonus (the last rooms in E1M7).

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25 minutes ago, ASD said:

This becomes a problem in maps like Downtown where the player is forced to plan a fixed route for grabbing the scattered items while gunning down monsters. Another downside is corpses blending with health- and armor bonus (the last rooms in E1M7).

try UV-Max Collector category :)

Edited by rehelekretep

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9 hours ago, tchkb said:

1. Why are 100% secrets required alongside 100% kills in UV-Max?

I guess the basic idea is "killed them all, seen it all". That aside, I'd like to add that there are secrets which are a little more than just humping a "strange looking wall", some secrets aren't that easy to grab, so it makes sense to incorporate that additional difficulty into a run that calls itself "max".

 

I'd like a category, let's dub it "ubermax" for the time being, which also requires 100% items. Not sure if people will run like that but it might be fun for some maps.

 

9 hours ago, tchkb said:

2. Have there been any attempts at removing damage variance from the game to improve its competitiveness?

The last time I pointed out that doing runs involves RNG, I've been told that there's always -nomo. Problem is, if you don't like -nomo, then you'll have to handle (P)RNG no matter what. The reason I like bullet-hell shmups so much is that they're a lot more deterministic (100% deterministic, at times), which allows designers to push a simple concept really far without (potentially) turning the game into a series of dice rolls at high levels of play (scoring runs).

 

That said, I have a love/hate relationship with RNG, and I tend to find RNG-grinds extremely annoying, which is why I see no merit in improving runs past a certain point anymore. When a map gives me a variance of 30 seconds, or even a minute and more, even though I essentially did the same things in the same order in virtually exactly the same way, I'm not gonna grind it, because I value my actual time too much for that, hence I have no issues settling with a result that isn't ideal.

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10 hours ago, Edward850 said:

It's also obviously not as much of a problem with the more competitive runners, who make do on picking the more reliable or "worst-average" (using the lowest outcome as the benchmark) starts to get better results. This also works into deathmatch; nobody playing deathmatch seriously actually cares about the PRNG results in that way, they account for "worst-average" as the expectation and treat anything higher as a bonus or the "best-average" as a reason not to approach opponents in specific ways.

Good runs don't account for bad rng, they account for good rng and if they get bad rng you restart the run.

 

Making things 100% deterministic would make runs worse (slower), record runs almost always have above average luck. See doom2 map07, the record max kills every manc in 3 shots while the average is 4 shots, or e2m8 max, these are obviously a extreme cases of rng grind but that's where every run gets at some point.

Edited by Ancalagon

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Even if damage was deterministic, there are other areas where RNG will affect runs: monster pathing, timing of monster attacks, prevalence of infighting. Some of that stuff can be manipulated, but manipulation takes time, so an optimal run needs to rely on luck.

 

Embrace the RNG. It's one of the things that makes Doom great and unique.

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Actually some of my most enjoyable runs were those where I just had to keep doing the same thing for hours until I got lucky. I can't do a great 20 minute max because I'm weak and can't play consistently well for such a long period of time. But if the run is just a few minutes long, I can find some podcast, hit play, do this fun mindless repetitive task while listening, and end up with a decent enough demo at the end. It's kinda cool and meditative.

Edited by Memfis
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Once I wondered if it would be possible to create a custom PRNG table that would eliminate randomness in damage calculations but would still allow the game to function more or less normally. This could be done by having a spread of values, but which all ended up giving the same damage after the modulo operation the code does. The problem is that the damage calculations include: mod 3, mod 5, mod 7, mod 8, and mod 10; certain things want a balanced spread of even and odd values; you need a number of 160 or 161 in order to have archvile ever be spawned by an icon of sin; you need values of 3 or less for enemies to ever respawn in Nightmare BUT any values of 4 or less also cause super nukage to damage you through a radiation suit; etc. So in other words it's not really feasible.

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13 hours ago, tchkb said:

Deathmatch folks would definitely love it though.

No, not really. It's been attempted over and over throughout the years, and only recently gained more traction as people needed more things to blame for losing. Here's the most recent topic on it from zan, where hardly any competitive players even remain. The biggest detractor from "competitive" netplay in pvp terms is all major source ports having not-so-great netcode, resulting in half-hitting shots that look fine or shots not connecting well, leading people to blame rng instead of shitty netcode or connections.

 

I asked Devastation (the guy who wrote this) for his input on this and he pretty much said "random is part of the game; don't like it, play another game" and I fully agree with this sentiment.

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The answer to the first question from the OP is the simple answer that it is because DOOM tracked secrets at the tally screen.  Items are usually too incidental to matter as idsoftware used the quality mapping technique of adding health vials and armor bonuses around the map so the player would know where they haven't been yet.  So, the obvious "max" demo was to obtain 100% kills and 100% secrets. 

Originally, the DOOM Honorific Titles were segregated by the difficulties of the individual maps.  To obtain the title, you had to prove your skill over maps of varying difficulties.  The current demo-types(max, speed, etc...) weren't the focus as much as the titles were.  You need to realize this was when DOOM was still new and the competing players were few.  Several of the disciplines have been modified a bit over the years as we derive most of the rules from Widlake/Hegyi's Compet-N rules and descriptions.  For example, Speed used to be Velox or Lightning mode -- you needed to exit under par time, not just as fast as possible for the demo to be accepted.

But back to the original question.  It just seemed logical for a "complete" maxdemo to have 100% kills and 100% secrets, since the game tallied this for you at your scorescreen.  

The second question is interesting, but I think it doesn't have much impact in deathmatch.  It adds some flexibility and unpredictability to the game...  that is one of the hundreds of little details that make DOOM the best game ever made.  Certainly, it makes an impact on single-player, but I don't think there is enough variation in the damage dealt in deathmatch.  DOOM weapons do a lot of damage.   It isn't like there is a railgun that does 105hp or just 90hp damage due to RNG.  Speaking of which, the randomness is built into all of the other Quake games(AFAIK) and all of their derivatives(Half-Life: Counterstrike, etc...).  There are much more significant events that affect the outcome of deathmatch than RNG-manipulated weapon damage -- spawn spot selection, weapon/powerup respawn times, positioning of players during an encounter, latency, weapon reload time, framerate cap, etc... .  

Back to single-player, which I don't see as a competitive sport personally.  If the RNG was removed, then what dictates the damage delivered?  x-distance away gives 100% damage, then 2x distance is 50% damage?  What about weapon spread for turning when shooting or splash damage?  I'm just not sure how easily a non-RNG DOOM could be implemented.  DOOM is also divided into parts.  The player cannot turn to an infinite amount of sub-degrees in the 360 degrees, DOOM autoaims for you(sometimes  :)), the ticker is in 1/30th of a second parts.  Trying to remove the variableness of the game to an exact pixel-perfect interaction isn't really DOOM.

But I like the questions.... and I agree with Memfis, demos with 100 kills(no matter what secrets are found) are always welcome.

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I was bored so I tried making a PRNG table that would even out punch damage but would otherwise more or less not result in any hugely obvious changes.

Spoiler

static const unsigned char rndtable[256] = {
    25, 244, 84, 154, 205, 84, 34, 114, 24, 245, 84, 225, 155, 115, 125, 14, 174,
145, 255, 154, 15, 205, 74, 235, 164, 74, 125, 25, 65, 124, 35, 235, 115, 95,
235, 125, 225, 194, 194, 85, 75, 115, 105, 224, 4, 94, 135, 254, 25, 105, 184,
174, 15, 185, 194, 235, 54, 215, 124, 215, 15, 55, 124, 204, 184, 45, 234, 164,
24, 15, 195, 114, 104, 65, 175, 64, 194, 34, 204, 214, 74, 34, 245, 225, 44,
104, 224, 165, 154, 255, 104, 145, 125, 234, 255, 15, 244, 225, 54, 234, 185,
195, 204, 244, 134, 105, 45, 165, 255, 44, 34, 144, 215, 235, 134, 195, 245,
145, 155, 115, 24, 205, 55, 14, 144, 85, 45, 184, 4, 65, 4, 94, 254, 204, 214,
64, 85, 144, 214, 164, 195, 154, 5, 35, 104, 4, 64, 145, 225, 124, 185, 35, 174,
134, 35, 254, 55, 175, 84, 214, 94, 205, 94, 44, 164, 144, 45, 14, 95, 55, 215,
95, 75, 104, 114, 155, 254, 134, 44, 255, 165, 184, 135, 244, 175, 105, 135, 94,
135, 165, 114, 25, 224, 245, 5, 95, 224, 214, 114, 164, 185, 115, 44, 75, 45,
245, 234, 134, 154, 195, 65, 14, 35, 145, 174, 234, 185, 124, 5, 55, 194, 54,
25, 125, 135, 155, 254, 74, 175, 84, 54, 5, 14, 244, 205, 64, 105, 224, 204,
144, 34, 5, 75, 85, 85, 24, 165, 64, 4, 75, 184, 215, 155, 54, 95, 24
};

 

 

Every berserk punched trooper or sergeant gibbed. Every imp died in one punch (but never gibbed). It was like being God.

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I can't help but feel it would just be better to replace P_Random calls in damage functions with constant values.

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-Fast and everything deals max damage, It gotta be a spicy run!

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19 hours ago, rehelekretep said:

the real best option is not having any goddamn secrets in the first place

I'm sure you're being facetious but in case anyone takes your post seriously: no, that would be tremendously boring, Doom is not and should not be 100% bullet hell choreography puzzle. Slower-paced exploratory maps with lots of secrets are just as enjoyable, albeit perhaps not as replayable once fully solved.

 

19 hours ago, Eris Falling said:

[Placing the type 9 sector at the entrance to a secret] is how I like to approach making secret areas nowadays [...] so I guess when the secret area is more than just a small cupboard with a megaarmor or something, they should always be like this?

Yes. Well, except when it makes more sense not to. It strikes me that introducing "always/never do this"-style doctrine into a creative activity is detrimental to it. Perhaps "do/do not do this if/unless you know what you are doing" :).

 

Quote

It even makes sense IMO given that the text flashes up "A secret is revealed!" No point telling us that when we've been running through said secret for the last minute.

Quite. Well, if you have that awful thing turned on, yes.

 

19 hours ago, Alfonzo said:

On the other hand, imagine having to plan around picking up an unwanted blur sphere. Spicy!

Heh, we can do that already by putting the wretched thing in a 16x16 square sector of type 9 :).

 

Edited by RjY

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19 hours ago, Benjogami said:

Even if damage was deterministic, there are other areas where RNG will affect runs: monster pathing, timing of monster attacks, prevalence of infighting. Some of that stuff can be manipulated, but manipulation takes time, so an optimal run needs to rely on luck.

 

Embrace the RNG. It's one of the things that makes Doom great and unique.

^^^You said here what I was thinking but couldn't put into words. 2 thumbs up.

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I always felt like items should be included in UV-max. If they only want to be kills and secrets it should be denoted as UV-all-kills or UV-all-secrets. UV-max would imply kills, items, and secrets.

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14 hours ago, RjY said:

I'm sure you're being facetious but in case anyone takes your post seriously: no, that would be tremendously boring, Doom is not and should not be 100% bullet hell choreography puzzle. Slower-paced exploratory maps with lots of secrets are just as enjoyable, albeit perhaps not as replayable once fully solved.

i just really dont like secrets. something about the combo between 1) the expectation that i should find them, and 2) the fear of missing out on useful items if i cant work them out just rubs me the wrong way.

when i see Secrets: 0/0 on the hud i am pleased

you can have (and i enjoy) puzzle maps with switches and sneaky bits and wraparounds and shortcuts but i can do without the witholding of useful stuff with a BA-DING ! alert

Edited by rehelekretep

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