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    A Focus On Levels


    Mordeth

    A Focus On Levels has another great interview, this time with Richard 'ZDim' Carlson, currently employed at Looking Glass. An excerpt:

    Nothing inhibits design more than a closed mind. You could still be working in Doom and there are still literally endless things you could do with it. But whoops, it's old technology, and so we're on to Quake, and beyond; so fast that we've barely even scratched the surface.

    Eye candy is the lure. Look at q3a. Hell, look at most of the action game releases of 1999. This has nothing to do with design and everything to do with glitz. Yes, improvements in technologies are good, but not at the expense abandoning game engines like used cars.

    I hear you man :) Thanks to Blue for this one.

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    No kidding! What is happening to society?? Are we all going mad??!! Who the heck cares about graphics?? It's shameful. It's wrong that we're trying to advance toward a state of higher resolution, higher frame-rates, shinier, glossier, greasier graphics, while does it make the game any more fun than others?? People are fools to give in to these proposterous plots!! :-b

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    Guest Anonymous User

    Posted

    No shit man! Some of the most ingenious level designs have came up from Doom! Lots o' optical illusions and whatnot, just have a look at doomsday of UAC (One of my old fav's, and a classic example) You actually have to have brains to figure out a kickass effect in doom! Not only that but it looks 10x kewler =) So, who said limitations were bad? Go DooM!!!

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    Guest Slipgate

    Posted

    Hey Anonymous (the one between the first and third posts), his statement was I believe not about the fact that you can still do eye candy in DOOM. His statement was about design and gameplay, not the eye candy. Every game can have eye candy done in it. Slipgate P.S. Don't get the wrong idea from the nickname, I've just had it so long it's stuck to me like a fly to fly paper.

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    Guest Anonymous User

    Posted

    Half-Life is based on an engine nearly five years, but is still the coolest game I have ever played, even though it can't do all the fancy stuff in Q3A or Unreal. Doom is cool too, but I have to yet to play any Doom levels that offer the shear immersiveness found in the single player Half-Life game.

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    An engine should be based on when it was finished, not when it was started... you could say that the Doom engine is from 1992 when it was first starting to be coded, but to say it's from 1993 is a little more realistic. Half-Life could be said to have been started in 1994 or 1995 when the Quake engine was started, but it is a 1998 engine, since that's when it was released. Sort of like you can talk about how cool the Prey engine was, but it doesn't mean anything since no one saw it.

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    I think companies (yes even the wonderful Id guys) have given in to hype. Those of us who are smart enough to appreciate Doom still know that it's going to remain a great a game even though it doesn't have "true" 3d or whatever. However, much of the people who play these games just want to see those bigger and better graphics and effects to work on their new P3's and graphics accerators, etc. And since all the companies compete, they have keep up with demand. It may suck if they have to sacrifice gameplay or any necessary element, but they'll pay the price anyways. In conclusion: Long Live Doom!

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    Guest Rick Clark

    Posted

    I personaly think that id is in the business of building the game engine, and not really the games. If you look at all the game engines id has produced, someone has taken the engine and extended it and produced games that reach beyond the id games. Raven's Hexen with the Doom engine and Hexen2 with the Quake engine, Valve with the Quake2 engine and now Raven again with the Quake3 Arena engine and the Start Trek game. What id has been doing is to create the technology that other companies can use. I really don't see id as a game company per se; rather a technology source for game companies. I see id games as being the showcase for licenses. As far as the level of immersion a game creates depends in a large part upon the story trying to be told, IMO. HL was so good because it created a believeable world. You can do the same in Doom I believe, especially in ZDoom. I have created several scripted sequences in MB1 very similiar to HL scenes and when I played through them, found them to be very effective and really further the story I am trying to tell.

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    Guest Anonymous User

    Posted

    Yeah, id Software is definitely in the business of making game engines and not games...after all, look at the unfinished piece of crap that is Quake 3...

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    Guest Anonymous User

    Posted

    No kidding! What is happening to society?? Are we all going mad??!! Who the heck cares about graphics?? You people blow me away with you ignorance! You people continually bash & insult Artist's and there work and, feel it not worthy of any thing but a way to bash someone, and then, turn around and Beg for people to do New graphic's for your TC's! then wonder why no one with a talent for it email's you or wants to do anything for you! Take Doom, have any you put out one of your levels without graphics? Give me Fraggen brake! I think more of you punks should take the time to look at the whole picture and not just a small piece of it, and realize without Texture's and Graphics Doom would not be here today! OPEN YOUR MINDS PEOPLE! Thats not to say people that do good level work arn't nessasary to good game play! It takes all of it put togetther in ONE package that makes or brakes a game. There are games that have Killer graphics and poor level design that suck! By the same token there are games that have Killer levels and piss poor graphics and they SUCK! So open your eyes and your minds to the fack that it takes Good Graphics and Good Level design to make a game last as long as Doom has!

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    Guest Stealth

    Posted

    Exactly. You people are not looking at this from a neutral position. Good fun ideas for games now-a-days are hard to come by. So may companies compensate with gfx. There is no denying that better gfx add to the game. But there's a limit where it does not matter anymore. I think the Q3 engine is a bit of a slack-off. What does it add to the gaming community visually? Curved surfaces...yay. I'll tell ya, the curved surfaces add to the gameplay so much!! It's so much more fun now! Fog is cool. But one thing the Q3 engine has is incredible networking speeds. Playing over a lan, 8 people average about 20 ping. I'm sure modem play is good too. But you say id has given into the hype. I say id created the hype. But, what else do you expect id to do? They're the fps demons. Dont expect them to change because there is lots of competition out there. Anonymous is right. You cannot have one without the other. It is just that gameplay weighs more heavily than graphics (or is supposed to).

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    Guest The Archon

    Posted

    IMHO, the problem with today's games is that the hardware is moving too fast. If it were to slow (or stall), then a game company couldn't just throw more ooh-ahh effects into the engine, up the system requirements a bit, and hope that works. Then the gaming companies would go back to making good games, and not "cool" games. As to all this stuff about graphics vs. playability. Yeah, graphics do help the game a bit. But they don't make it fun. You can make a game that's too graphics-intensive (and a drain on even newer machines), but you can't make a game that's too playable or too fun.

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    Guest Anonymous User

    Posted

    Graghics are important, but what really is the final deciding factors that make DooM timeless are as follows: 1: It's damn playable. A nice balance of monster hunt & map solving + deathmatch. 'nuff said here! 2: It's relatively easy to make add-ons for the game. PWADs everywhere!!! 1000's of them. What other game has as many add-ons as DooM? How many of you out there still just play the original id levels? Oh every year or so I'll play "Knee deep in the dead" just for old time sakes. Also has anyone ever had a better experience (With a 1st person shooter) than "Knee deep in the dead"? (I primarily play DooM2 FYI.) But almost all of my DooM playing is with PWADs. When id made this game so easy to hack, they give it the longevity it now enjoys. Another thing about Quake & all of its sister games/wanna-be's, don't have maps that are big & complex. You can't make them that way because of the lack of a computer map. Sure you could make the map complex, but who would have the time to figure the damn thing out? (maybe those guys with TNT-they like making imposible to solve maps.) (No flames intended for Team TNT, they sure make some the most beautiful maps out there, I just don't have the spare 2-3 hours per map to figure them out.) Just food for thought. And to all of us PWADers out there, let's just keep cranking out those maps until no-one plays this game any more!!! Long live DooM!! Long live the PWAD authors!!

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    Guest Anonymous User

    Posted

    (Archon)how can say graphics don't make a game fun? Are you saying Doom would have sold as it did without them? And Blasting an imp or two is not fun? If there were no graphics, there are no Imp's to shoot! You can't have just one or the other and have a game be worth playing. Think Man! : P

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    Guest Stealthy

    Posted

    All I have to say, is that doom is one of the best games ever and has a feel about it that no other game has ever matched... Flashy 3d graphics are not shit when all the maps look the same ( Quake2/3 ) and the game play is boring. How lame is that..? Doom is its own world, a place where you can build and do what ever you can imagine, and that fuckin rules !!!!!

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    Guest Anonymous User

    Posted

    That guy definately is right. I must, however, say that this was about to happen to DooM levels too at a moment. What i would advice level-designers to do is to play their DM-levels solo and see how quickly they got bored and do the same with their SP-levels with -nomonsters. What i also like is dramatic item and monster placement. Like the big bad cyberdemon or whatever appearing in a ray of red light at the altar at the center of the dark cave with all the acolytes (lets say barons) standing in a perfect pentacle around it (exchange monsters with something similar in other games). This was a rather corny example but i think you got my point. The Messiah with a Shotgun

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    Except for Afterglow, cocoon and Linguica. And Rick Clark. And a bunch of other people. Sure, graphics are important. But Q3 is the wrong end of the scale.

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    Guest Levendis

    Posted

    Just let me interject my own POV for a sec:
    Pretty levels with bad gameplay are, in some cases, just art. You can play them to look at the impressive architecture, but eventually I delete them to make room for something else. A great example of this is Gothic99. I was wowed by the level of detail for a while, and I wondered how cool it would be to have this amount of detail in a single-player wad (it's more immersive). Then I deleted it and played through the Warcade series a few times.

    Is it possible to get the best of both worlds? Yeah, in some cases. Dystopia 3, Earth, and Phobos are three wads that are visually appealing (even without minute detail) that I still enjoy playing.

    My suggestion to developers in general is to try to create puzzles or tactical problems independent of levels. The entire sequence of events ought to be mapped out well in advance--you might want to think "Ok, here the player gets sniped at by revenants he can't see, but it's ok because over here is a secret with some health and armor." Architecture should follow. --Levendis

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    Guest Stealth

    Posted

    With DOOM's 2d world, you cannot do and build whatever you imagine. I prefer only true 3d games. The more complexety added to the movement around the levels makes it more fun. But flashy gfx are getting in the way of gameplay. Hopefully someone will redeem id with some cool mod for Q3 engine.

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    Guest The Archon

    Posted

    Anonymous wrote: "How can say graphics don't make a game fun? Are you saying Doom would have sold as it did without them? And Blasting an imp or two is not fun? If there were no graphics, there are no Imp's to shoot! You can't have just one or the other and have a game be worth playing. Think Man! : P " You're not reading what I said. I said they don't make it fun, not that they don't make it sell. I've seen games sell on virtue of their graphics alone, even though they get panned in reviews as playing like crap. As for "no graphics means nothing to shoot", that is just silliness. I'm not saying that playing with the monitor off is fun. You need *some* graphics, just like you need a monitor to display them and eyes to see them, but the quality of said graphics is mostly irrelevant to a good game. Doom's graphics are blocky as hell compared to today's games and IMHO Doom is *still* better than Q3A. Shooting a Nazi in an old German castle in Wolf3D is still fun for me, and those graphics are blockier than Doom's. Tetris is still fun, and that's just some filled-in squares and rectangles. Infocom games are still fun, and those are text only. Books are still fun to read, and those are text only. If the playability/entertainment value is there, you don't *need* 3D acceleration and all that to be fun. You'll keep coming back to it because you *want* to keep coming back to it.

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    Guest Anonymous User

    Posted

    Good Game play! Good graphic's are getting bum rap here. Doom used Excellent game play and good GFX to make a truly killer game, and has stood the test of time! It is not just the level design or good GFX it was a combination of both mixed to make one game. The point in the article is that designers must work on ALL aspects of game building, Not Just one area. Take Batman Doom for an example it is one of the best (if not the best) mixes to make Good Game Play (key thing here) They did an excellent job of mixing All the gaming elements to make a classic wad. Good (not overdone) graphics, and good level design, good music mix and stability. Good graphics do not overpower the player or the game play. Good graphics should blend in with the story and become part of the immersion of the Game Play, and yes if done right, will add to the fun!! Q3a is, I agree over done, in the GFX and levels were sacrificed to accommodate them. Bad move on Ids part. I happen to be one that will totally immerse myself in a game, and the graphics are a big part of that experience, if they are over done or just plane bad, then the GAME PLAY suffers, (Example only) just as if someone adds a picture of say Bill Gates as Cyberdemond and don't bother to clean up the pic. Yet the level itself is the best level ever built it will suck because of his poor graphic's patch. Graphics Do Matter! To say one is more important that the other is silliness, when they should be considered equally in importance. Designers need to look at the WHOLE Picture not just one piece of it. As far as my statement about Imps, yes it was silly, it was meant to be! But it also had a point and you need to see my point behind the silliness ;)

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    Guest The Archon

    Posted

    Okay, I'll add a qualifier to my graphics statement. If there are graphics, they need to be professional. There is a level where graphics do detract from the game, true, but that's a level almost never breached in a professional game. While good gameplay can save mediocre graphics, mediocre gameplay can't be saved by good graphics. I'll agree that there is a point where the graphics in a game can be a detriment, but IMHO they're still not as important as the gameplay.

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    Guest Carnage Galore

    Posted

    I have just one word (or maybe two) to say here... Pac-Man

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    Guest The DooMer

    Posted

    There now I'm not anonymous anymore. I just wanted to add another thing that DooM has that the other games fall short on -- and that's the wonderful ballance of all the weapons. Each weapon has role in the game, yup even that lowly pistol (pea shooter)! Quake2 comes very close in this delicate ballance, and it almost convinced me that DooM was finally dethrowned, but low & behold Quake2 has practically no add-ons for single play. (I understand that they take a lot longer to draw up and compile than a DooM PWAD.) I don't have much fun playing Deathmatch Quake2 (or 3A). Somehow the absolute mahem that occurs(with all the players), along with my usually lousy ping, it's just not fun to play. DooM deathmatch is still very cool though! So DooM still has that special place on my hard drive, that will never be deleted! (I don't care if it's old -it's still fun as hell to play!!!) Long live DooM & the PWADers!!

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