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hardcore_gamer

How to make levels harder without just adding more/harder enemies?

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What do you think is the best way to make a level harder that doesn't involve merely increasing the enemy count or putting more difficult monsters into the level? This is something I have been spending something like the last half an hour trying to figure out and the only thing I can come up with is forcing the player to fight in a narrow space where mobility is limited, but even that only really works against powerful monsters anyway or large numbers of weaker ones.

 

What do you think the ideal way is to make levels harder without just increasing the monster count and without putting more high level monsters in?

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Posted (edited)

Basically making the environment itself dangerous, using some of the techniques suggested above. I like damaging floors as a means of restricting movement or punishing a player for falling off the map/platform/what have you. Frequent changes in floor elevation can also make things like dodging and moving around more difficult, requiring the player to get a "feel" for the environment before they can effectively traverse it in combat.

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, rdwpa said:

Some basic ideas: 

 

- platforming

- damaging floors

- limited resources 

- platforming

- peripheral turreted monsters with a low angle of incidence relative to the player 

- crushers

- platforming

- obscure progression and puzzles

- platforming

- platforming 

- platforming

 

 

So basically every single unfun thing Doom did that I hate to see in almost any wad ever?

 

I mean don't get me wrong, those things you just listed DO make the game harder. But they make it harder in a way that isn't actually fun. Having to traverse through narrow ledges while being attacked by lost souls isn't fun whatsoever -_-

 

EDIT: I would like to expand on this post a bit. To be frank, I think Doom's environment hazards are just one of those things that have aged extremely poorly and there is a reason you almost never see them in any modern shooter. What exactly is so fun about stepping into a pool of lava and then dying? The fact that the games put hazard suits everywhere so that you can travel through them without dying is itself proof that this has always been a stupid and pointless game mechanic. And crushers, oh man just fuck them. So annoying. And don't even get me started on first person platforming. Oh, and fuck everything about "obscure progression". I hate spending 20 min looking for a switch.

 

Don't take this as a personal insult though. I appreciate your reply regardless.

Edited by hardcore_gamer

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Posted (edited)

-Placing monsters on different heights.
-Using multiple ambushes. As example monsters in current room will distract you, the others from nearby room will breaking in doors and windows.
-Placing monsters on moving floors when they use the "cover" stance while floor raised to hole in ceiling. Or just riding down to next lower floor.

Edited by riderr3

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20 minutes ago, GhoulDesecrator said:

Archviles. With no walls to hide from it. and a bunch of spectres.

There's always the "release archviles into previously cleared spaces" approach.

 

I can appreciate that you may not like platforming, although with the advent of modern source ports that allow you to *look down*, they're less of a pain in the neck than they were at one time.

 

I would tend to agree with the previous posts that, if you don't like environmental hazards, crushers, and platforms, then the best ways to increase the difficulty of  a map would be:

 

Scarcity of ammo

Scarcity of health

Turreted hit scanners (chain gunners on turrets could do a number on Doomguy, especially if you had other nearby monsters to worry about at the time)

Enemies that are released behind you (either my monster closet opening or monsters teleporting in)

Enemies that are released into previously cleared areas that you have to go back through (although you might classify this as "increasing the monster count")

Releasing an archvile or two in your level

 

 

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44 minutes ago, Capellan said:

Nine Inch Heels and I have very different tastes overall, but gotta weigh in to support the value of damaging floors as a game mechanic.  I'm not really interested in Chasm-levels of tightrope walking, but a fight while you're trying to stay on relatively small "safe" areas can be more tactically interesting (as well as being harder) than one with no such constraint.

 

  

Chasm ; _ ;)  

  

Anyways,  when I think of platforming I tend to think of things like Sunder map 5 and map 11, Toilet of the Gods, and variations on 64x64 squares involving fast routes and sometimes uncomfortable turns.  Chasm isn't aiming for speed, it's being as annoying as possible.  Modern platforming tends to aim for speed and pressure which is something I think is a good deal more fun.

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4 hours ago, GhoulDesecrator said:

Archviles. With no walls to hide from it. and a bunch of spectres.

 

And don't forget about that beautiful brown Pain Elemental.

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6 hours ago, rdwpa said:

Some basic ideas: 

 

- platforming

- damaging floors

- limited resources 

- platforming

- peripheral turreted monsters with a low angle of incidence relative to the player 

- crushers

- platforming

- obscure progression and puzzles

- platforming

- platforming 

- platforming

 

 

Add hit scanners to that list. (Former Humans, Shotgun Guys, Chaingun Guys, Spider Masterminds and the secret Wolf SS)

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everyone forgot darkness lol

maybe everyone just gamma nerds it away at this point and it doesn't exist as an obstacle in doom at all

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I think best way is to improve positioning of enemies and synergy they have with eachother/ environment. 

You can also consider making encounter-space less favourable (claustrophobia, traps  lines of sight, making it shift and/or seal exits).

 

 

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7 hours ago, hardcore_gamer said:

What do you think is the best way to make a level harder that doesn't involve merely increasing the enemy count or putting more difficult monsters into the level?

 

- Good and challenging enemy encounters and placements. If they're well placed it doesn't matter much how strong they are, they usually do their job.

- Traps, but definitely not overusing them, that way it'll feel cheap.

- Scarce resources, but just like traps not taken to the extreme, or deliberately not giving you certain ammo just for the sake of forcing you to use or not use a gun. Best to leave that up to the player to decide what to use in an encounter.

- Challenging design. Of course, if the map itself is difficult it'll make progression much more difficult. Confusing design is to be avoided.

- Damaging floors and some crushers.

- Good use of lightning. Seeing enemies firing at you but having no idea where they actually are is going to make your day tough.

- Puzzles.

- Maybe some interesting platforming, I'm personally not a fan of this.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, rdwpa said:

Some basic ideas: 

 

- obscure progression and puzzles

To expand on this, I came across a really cool and simple idea in Mark Brown's video series on Zelda dungeon design: you can make progression more difficult by having the objects that help you progress (in Doom's case, the keys and key doors) further away from one another. A lot of recent Doom mapping has key progression where, once you get the key, the mapper will have you naturally flow through to the nearby corresponding key door. Usually the kind of design where a key door on the other side of a map is shit, but I feel like it's a negative that can be turned into a positive design if handled properly (see: E1M7)

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Posted (edited)

You can use my shitty technique to reinforce difficult while keeping monster count low:

 

- For setpiece-based encounters:

 

1 - Find a way to take the player out of his confort zone: This can be accomplished by forcing one-way passages such as Drop-downs, doors or bars (lame, btw), lifts, teleporters, etc. It doesn't even need to be one-way passage, but if you make it difficult (or unclear) to go back it's enough. If the player is always in safe zone, you won't be able to create difficulty easily.

 

2 - Restrict players movement: By using platforming, damaging floors , crushers and/or high hp turret enemies. Most projectile enemies can be dealt by simply circle strafing, so your focus will be to avoid the player to do this. 

 

3 - Smart monster placement: A cyberdemon in the middle of a big square room is as tough as a Imp to deal with. Try to think which monster you want to be killed first when creating a setpiece. Use turrets, hide some folks away from sight, use linedef actions and/or teleports. Be creative. Hitscanners are also really useful, even former humans. Still, to create difficult without many numbers, you'll want to use mid tiers enemies.

 

4 - Smart item placement: A well placed ammo stash or health can force the player to go where you want him to be, so be aware of this as well.

 

- For incidental combats:

 

1 - Create a complex layout that is harder to read than a room with corridors. Use windows, lots of passages (even if it's a linear map), height differences, platforming.

 

2 - Use and abuse of soundblock linedef, so when you shot, a monster far away wakes up and surprises the player.

 

3 - Use and abuse of ambush flags so some monsters will wake up when the player reach a position and they can surprise him.

 

4 - Place some monsters in sight while hidding anothers (through sound-traps or linedef actions)

 

5 - Lure the player to places where you want him to be by using items or monster that are better killed in closer sight.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, Rosh Fragger said:

Spectres can be pretty challenging to deal with in dark rooms.

 

Especially when you mix one spectre in a group of demons lol

Edited by Deadwing

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If scarce ammo is annoying for you, you can give plenty of ammo but put it behind the monsters where it's trickier to pick up safely.

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9 hours ago, esselfortium said:

I’m really enjoying The Ultimate Troll’s new episode, Thy Time Consumed

lolwut

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Posted (edited)

 - Turn off the lights

 - Platforming with no feet in first person

 - Obscure switch hunts

 - Bigger areas with less to find

 - Exploration / wrong paths that force you into pits and force you to leave the pits

 - Less ammo, health, weapons and armor. Especially armor.

 - Not more enemies, just tougher enemies

 - Worse weapons, like shotgun always shoots diagonally or launches you backward. Short range rockets.

 - Bullshit, broken movement mechanics like you have to move with a sledgehammer or boat mechanics where there is no strafe, since you're a boat.

 - Death pits. Death blocks. They aren't enemies!

 - Enemies can fire through solid looking walls due to 2 way walls

 - Sniper shotgunners and chaingunners from long distance

 - Fire, poison or anything else that drains health along with antidotes to stop them

 - Enemies shoot more

 - Ice floors, and sand floors to slow you down. Even quick sand that will swallow you if you don't jump

 

That's all I have time for.

 

* edit * back for round 2!

 

 - Control panel switches rather than wall switches... wow do people hate these.

 - Narrow hallways with little to no room to dodge.

 - Traps. Open a door, use the door for cover and the floor opens up.

 

Edited by geo

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1) Thin walls fun (The Chasm style)

2) Narrow platforms jumping while being shot by chaingunners and cacos

3) Archviles in dark places

4) Chaingunners in distant dark places

5) Archviles in the distant dark cages with chaingunners

6) Keys in secrets

7) unexpected invisible teleport to dark place filled with spectres

 

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Posted (edited)

So far the best ideas I have heard are turrets, turning of the lights, and limiting health and ammo.

 

As for the other ones, I think a very important thing many of you are missing is that it's not enough for something to just be hard. It has to be hard in a way that is fun. In fact I should probably have mentioned this in my OP. Creating something that is hard isn't difficult, but making it hard AND fun is.

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