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Memfis

How did id create such good maps if they had nothing to copy?

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Well, how? I mean, they pretty much invented a new genre with Doom. I guess they might have learned some lessons from Wolfenstein 3D, but Wolf is so crude in comparison that it's still very hard to believe that they just went ahead and created this amazing game right after it. When new mappers release their first pwads, they are usually so much worse than anything found in the original games, even though nowadays there are literally thousands of great maps to learn from. Isn't it magical how Romero, Sandy, and others came up with these amazing designs out of nowhere? Are they geniuses?

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3 minutes ago, Memfis said:

Isn't it magical how Romero, Sandy, and others came up with these amazing designs out of nowhere? Are they geniuses?

Yes, and yes.

 

However, I'm guessing that they experimented quite a bit with map design and structure before settling on the maps they finally chose for release.

 

On a side note, it would be great to see what maps they came up with and discarded by the time of DooM's release.

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It's a mix of talent, interest, experience and first and foremost: being a workhorse.

Especially Sandy had a bulldozer mentality that Romero lacked but made up for in some other areas where Sandy was worse(e.g.: visuals and some positive craziness).

Take also into account that these people are multi-dimensionally talented and have the time and will to put in hours honing their skills day in, day out... money's helping too of course.

Many new mappers are people being led to emulate the "coolness" of their favorite gaming moments/heros, which puts them in a bad place to begin with. Add to that a normal schedule, lack of talent, will power or interest and its easy to see why the original, ancient maps have stood the test of time. And never forget LUCK - DoomII's Map01 is a pretty snappy multi-player map without having been designed with former quality in mind.

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The designs didn't come out of nowhere. By the early 90s there was already a large body of game and level design to draw upon, and they were all avid gamers themselves. It's fair to say that in creating Doom, they distilled those ideas into something new, and learnt new tricks in the process. I wouldn't describe them as geniuses, but they had a solid grasp of their craft, and certainly possessed flair and talent.

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I assume because they had constant testing from a team internally. Then just tweak and tweak.

 

Plus if its not bad, then its good.

Edited by geo

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Not just Wolfenstein but all the other games before - Keen, etc. They'd all been making games for years by the point they made Doom and it's naive to assume that nothing transferred. In the case of Sandy Petersen he'd been doing tabletop games for years and a lot of that easily transfers to making Doom levels - ie. drawing out a 2D world and placing monsters.

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5 hours ago, fraggle said:

Not just Wolfenstein but all the other games before - Keen, etc. They'd all been making games for years by the point they made Doom and it's naive to assume that nothing transferred. In the case of Sandy Petersen he'd been doing tabletop games for years and a lot of that easily transfers to making Doom levels - ie. drawing out a 2D world and placing monsters.

This. If you've prepared DnD campaigns as I and many others have, this translates to Doom maps almost 1:1. In fact, I've been working on a project for a while with a map directly from a DnD campaign. even monster setups and traps can be transferred over.

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Hm, the way you guys describe tabletop games sounds intriguing, I'll have to look them up.

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Just about everything you make is some how influenced in varying degrees by your entire background of life experiences. I don't know a whole lot about Tom Hall or Sandy Petersen compared to John Romero but even when he was really young he was obsessed with programming and playing new games. By the time id software started on Doom he probably had accumulated an encyclopedic background of good and bad experiences with games and could deduce what would be fun and what wouldn't. Doom carries and drops a lot of stuff from their previous games too, so they probably had a pretty intimate relationship with the limits of their previous games and how Doom should transcend that.

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They didn't... in my opinion. The levels are very BAD. They don't hold up to me at all, and I don't understand how people can like them. I'd much rather play something from one of the numerous legendary wadsmiths that are so easy to find.

I don't know think of any of the level designers as particularly talented level designers at the time of Doom's release. This changed as they got more experience. Romero is Legendary in my eyes because his levels actually were cohesive and had some semblance of my reality in them. In spite of the limitations of the level editor. They were the first "true 3D" environments that anyone had ever made in the genre, and because of this they didn't have anything to pull from for inspiration. The tech was a lot harder to use than it is now. A lot of the environment had to be translated to 3D in a very abstract way. The graph was where they'd spend a lot of their time.

Doom and Doom II's levels are very different, and in a lot of ways, because of the monster AI, this is perfect for the mechanics of the game, but I think, had they spent another year or more developing the level editor and getting more experience with it, they could have done something really special. I'm probably oversimplifying things. There are other factors like processing power that should be considered, but without any thought to these things and taking it for granted that a telephone can play Doom these days - Doom's levels just don't interest me much.

Something about the game has always made me feel like it was rushed. Especially when you juxtapose a Sandy map with a Romero map. 

Edit: I mean they weren't talented in creating a 3D space. The other games that they made before Wolf/Doom were very nice for their time period.

Edited by everennui

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3 hours ago, geo said:

I assume because they had constant testing from a team internally. Then just tweak and tweak.

If I remember correctly, the designers (or at least Romero) had two workstations in his office and he so his process was basically (not his words, but my summary of what he said):

1. Design something

2. Play it (on the other workstation or somewhere)

3. See what what worked and what didn't

4. Change the design to address the problem(s) found

5. Repeat Steps 2-4 as many times as necessary

 

I think he has also said it was sometimes hard to finish working on the game because everyone at id was playing it.

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19 minutes ago, grouchbag said:

Maybe they all had good imaginations as well?

I think in his playthrough with JP Lebreton, he did said that in the early days, each designer had to rely on his mind's eye when he was creating something.

 

And speaking from the experience of mapping in the 90's without the benefit of a 3D mode, I second @everennui that there was no other way (short of building the nodes and actually running the map).

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What about quality control?

 

They were professionals creating a game, and I'm sure that if the rest of the team didn't think that a certain map or idea would work it would be scrapped. So the focus is on making something that would "blow people away" ...in a relatively brief timeframe. There is also the fact that they were first with making maps for Doom, and that alone makes the maps better. The IWAD is the foundation of all PWADs.

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6 hours ago, everennui said:

Doom and Doom II's levels are very different, and in a lot of ways, because of the monster AI, this is perfect for the mechanics of the game, but I think, had they spent another year or more developing the level editor and getting more experience with it, they could have done something really special. I'm probably oversimplifying things.

Doom and Doom II are different because by the time doom II was made, the people over at id actually had quite a bit of expertise with building maps, and they actually have been playing their own product extensively as well by that time (which is why the new monsters they added fit in so well, for example).

 

I can't quite wrap my head around the idea that their original maps are bad though. First off, people back then were generally not as good at dooming overall, second off, the average person's hardware (or lack thereof) back then was a limitation to keep in mind if you wanted your product to be attractive to a wide audience. Comparing today's maps (be it a GZDoom map with insane detailing, or a boom map with thousands of monsters, just to name a few stereotypes) with the vanilla experience that id provided back then is like comparing apples and berries.

 

EDIT: I mean, just in terms of gameplay the cyberdemon in e2m8 was considered difficult by the standards of the time. When was the last time you felt like a single cybie in a wide open area was a serious problem?

Edited by Nine Inch Heels

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It kind of makes you wonder how many rejected maps were produced in the process. Maybe there weren't many, maybe there was a ton. I don't recall there being anything like that in the file dump Romero did awhile back. 

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9 minutes ago, Job said:

It kind of makes you wonder how many rejected maps were produced in the process. Maybe there weren't many, maybe there was a ton. I don't recall there being anything like that in the file dump Romero did awhile back. 

With so much iteration, I wonder how many rooms and areas were straight up deleted when level creating.

If I make a room I don't think fits, I usually cut it and paste it into a 'dump' map with other unused cut rooms or paste it off to the side of the current map and save it later. I imagine guys ad id just deleted things outright.

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8 hours ago, kb1 said:

We're talking about 386's running at 40 mHz, in machines with 2Mb RAM (yes, Mb),

 

Vanilla needs 4 Mb RAM at least. Won't run with 2 Mb.

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17 hours ago, everennui said:

They didn't... in my opinion. The levels are very BAD. They don't hold up to me at all, and I don't understand how people can like them. I'd much rather play something from one of the numerous legendary wadsmiths that are so easy to find.

This is a weird comment because it's not clear if you're criticising all of Doom's levels or just Sandy Petersen's. I kind of think of it like a spectrum with Tom Hall on one end (real-world, cohesive), Sandy Petersen on the other (abstract, gameplay-oriented), and Romero sits somewhere in the middle. Calling all of Doom's levels bad seems off-base; I'm not really a fan of Sandy Petersen's levels myself but it's hard to argue that Romero didn't demonstrate a lot of talent with the levels he contributed. People still look back to E1 for a reason.

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E1M8 was the perfect code for E1 IMHO precisely because it broke the established mold. As nice as Romero's 21st century maps are, I don't think Doom would have been improved if that was the episode.

Edited by Jon

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Even the worst Doom 2 maps are pretty good. Did a playthrough of the much-hated "Barrels o' Fun" last night and had a blast.

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12 hours ago, kb1 said:

Will you call those those legendary PWAD levels "shit", in 10 years, when much better levels get produced?

I'm not @everennui but I agree with him that the original levels are bad. And by bad I mean by today's standards. And yes I have heavily downgraded my ratings for some legendary PWADs because the state of level making has got so much better. E.g. Scythe was a 5 star wad for me when it was released. Now it's less than four.

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I can see why trolls, troll some times. You can't say anything on the Internet without people losing their mind. What a thrill.

Doom to me has suffered from the, Goldeneye EffectTM. At the time, there was nothing better, and because of this, it was the ultimate experience. Almost 25 years later, the levels don't hold up. They're better than I can do, but they're not better than any of the wads on the, "Doomworld Community Top WADs of All Time" list.

You guys wanna flip what I say and turn it into your own platform to circlejerk each other and I'm just sitting here with an opinion. Doom is great. The levels in the first few years of its life were not very good.

Doom 2 was better from a gameplay perspective, but aesthetically I feel like they went backwards - in general - from Doom, The First. Again, it feels rushed. Considering it wasn't a priority to John Carmack at the time, and he was working on the next big thing... I think there's probably some truth in my claim, but I don't know for sure.

I'm not even saying that any of them aren't talented. I'm saying that they were new to the art, and it showed. My whole little diatribe about Doom's levels mentioned Sandy Peterson once, and it was after saying something like, "All of them were bad, but John Romero's weren't as bad." I'm not personally attacking anyone. I respect all of them as programmers and game designers, but I (capital I) don't play Doom for Doom, I play Doom for FreeDoom. I play it for the pwads. 

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I feel sorry for you folks who have to continually revise your appreciation of things. I seem to have a rare disease where I can still enjoy Doom for what it is (and Goldeneye for that matter). And I haven't played a modern FPS I've liked except the new Wolfs for a very long time.

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4 minutes ago, SP_FACE1 said:

And by bad I mean by today's standards. And yes I have heavily downgraded my ratings for some legendary PWADs because the state of level making has got so much better. E.g. Scythe was a 5 star wad for me when it was released. Now it's less than four.

...and this is a great point. Is it, "OKAY" to do this?
 

I don't even really like Scythe. Scythe II on the other hand.

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