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Everything posted by inventor200

  1. Hi! INTRODUCTION So, this is an idea I've been kicking around with a friend lately. I'm in kind of a really low point in my life right now, so it's really hard to push through enough things and have enough energy left over for Doom modding. I've actually done a LOT of modding for GZDoom for maybe a decade in total, but have struggled to complete a project, mostly because making art assets specifically is really difficult for me to do well. I feel like this idea has a lot of potential, but I don't want it to vanish just because I'm struggling so much to conquer my inner demons and get through trying times. Someone else needs to hear this. There seems to be a LOT of skilled artists and mappers, so maybe--if this interests enough people--a free-to-use resource wad could be started from this. This idea started when I watched this video. A quick summary of it is an analysis of what the Doom textures symbolize and communicate to the player, such as what counts as a door, what counts as a lift, when you should press "use" on something or not, when you need a keycard, etc. The next message in the video was that the textures used in Doom are rather inconsistent in what they communicate. A door that once was used exclusively to mark the start of a level, for example, is eventually used later as a normal door. Hell-themed lifts that use that vertical-lined METAL texture are sometimes just decoration, but if they're 64 units or 128 units wide, then they're a lift, and you can press "use" on it. Also, he pointed out a problem with how barred barriers are used: sometime you need a switch to lower them, sometimes you press "use", and it's basically a coin flip to figure it out. More importantly: if you try to press "use" on bars, and miss the linedef that handles this, then it fails, and the player will likely conclude that a switch is required, and go hunting fruitlessly for it. A lot of these inconsistencies result in confusion and frustration in the player, but more importantly it constrains the map maker quite a lot. Complex and interesting puzzles and level layouts get completely trashed because the player cannot possibly have enough confidence in the map maker, when they're working with inconsistent mechanics. Maps, therefore, have to be smaller, more condensed, and simpler, all to account for failures in communication between a map-maker's hints and a player's discovery and planning abilities. There's an argument to be made that if a map gets too large, then the extra content can be offloaded to a following map. I agree for the most part, but have you ever played a Doom map before that has a LOT of obstacles, each one supporting and calling back to other obstacles that you've conquered before, and the map ends in a massive victory lap into the exit, which shows off the 24+ small switch-and-key puzzles that you've chained together to get there? This is a lot more satisfying and rewarding than forcefully slamming the door behind the player as they go into the next map, where all their previous accomplishments are said to be wrapped up and concluded, and the player now has a clean slate (with exception of collected health, armor, weapons, ammo, etc). Additionally, have you ever wanted to implement side-objectives and bonus rooms, which challenge the player to go off the beaten path for a worthwhile reward? Do you think you could successfully put this in a map without a player thinking it's actually part of the main level progression? Have you ever run around in circles on a map, endlessly looking for the next switch or door for progression, and 30% of your search is spent scouring what are supposed to be bonus side-areas, because maybe that's actually part of the main level path? How would you know the difference? Doom could use a few more textures and flats to better-communicate these hints, as well a few small tweaks to mapping standards to improve consistency of mechanics. IMPLEMENTATION So, here's my idea: Instead of creating a bunch of new door/switch textures, we can instead design a set of border textures and signs to place beside doors, switches, bars, etc to communicate to the player more clearly what role different parts in a level serve. These new hints will allow players to flex their problem solving skills, and plan their moves in much larger and complicated environments. If anyone wants to try their hand at creating the necessary textures, or organizing a community effort, then here are my ideas: Distant Switches Normally, switches should always be kept close to the element that they effect; usually in the same room or visible through a window. This limitation is considered wisdom because keycards are normally intended to unite two distant elements together. Additionally, "switch hunts" are extremely tedious within the current paradigm, and there isn't usually much in the game to allow the player to outline the map and its objectives with distant switches in mind. However, there are only three keys in the base game, and all three are considered required for progression. This leaves us with no convenient way to clue the player into unlocking distant bonus rooms that they can discover earlier in the level. So, my first idea is to create a set of color-coded switches to act as an extension of keycards: Green switches, indicated by an diamond-shaped green icon on either side of the switch, and its corresponding door(s). Orange switches, indicated by an upside-down orange triangle icon on either side of the switch, and its corresponding door(s). Remote bonus switches, indicated by an alternating-yellow-black keycard border (a keycard border being the colored dashes we usually see on either side of a keyed door) Green and orange switches have simple shaped icons for the benefit of the colorblind players in our community, as distinguishing green and orange from red and yellow can sometimes pose a difficulty. The idea of remote bonus switches is to present a locked door with yellow-black dashes on either side for the player to see, and think "Oh! There's fun extra stuff back here! I need to remember this for later when I find the switch that opens this!" These will always be optional only, and should never contain primary level progression. This is so we, as map makers, can boost the difficulty of these areas, and allow the player the confident choice to skip these rooms when they are low on health and ammo, unless they really feel like testing their skill to potentially get the health and ammo back. The player could better-utilize their abilities in risk assessment, and strive for harder challenges if they think they can afford to. It's also worth pointing out that we see distant switches in TNT and Plutonia quite a bit, but these usually require you have a keycard first. Green, orange, and bonus distant switches are not intended to make these older distant switches obsolete, but instead present more options for both the map maker and player. Final-Doom-style distant switches require a 3-step puzzle (locating the door, the key, and the switch), and they're always required. Green/orange switches will not require a key, making them a 2-step puzzle (locating the door, then the switch). Additionally, a really important (and underutilized) niche can now be filled in with bonus switches. New Door Icons Similarly to the distant switch signs, doors will also have some new icons posted on either side. Doors entirely devoid of icons are considered "standard", and open with the "use" button. Dark gray or black keycard borders will indicate that the door opens with a nearby switch or trigger of some kind. The player should not have to travel far to locate it, or the switch should be visible through a window when standing beside the door. This is a tentative idea, as this is easily-deducible by attempting to open a standard door, and concluding that it is switch-operated when the "use" button fails. Icon signs and key borders for the distant switches from the above section (obviously, but repeated here for organization). An "offline" icon, marking the door as decorative. A lot of map maker will never need to use this, if their designs are leaning more towards traditional game environments. However, for those who like to model realistic spaces to crush demons in, this icon can fill out a space for worldbuilding and make it feel more lived-in, but the player won't bother trying to open these doors, and they will also understand that a switch found later will never open them. There's nothing stopping these doors from being an outlet for a secret, which is discovered and entered elsewhere, though... Entrance sign, which will be the opposite of the established exit sign. My tentative idea is a an underscore symbol with a downward arrow pointing into it. There's probably something better, though. This sign will allow map makers to use any door texture, teleport pad flat, or any room design at all, and still announce to the player that they have found their way back to the start of the level, allowing the player to then reorient themselves and begin planning their next move from a root location. This used to be a silver door in the first Doom game, but that started getting used as a normal door later on. Bonus area indicator (if the dark gray keycard border is not used for marking a switch door, then it could work well for this, too). This will signify to the player that they have found a bonus area, away from the main progression of the map, and that they need only press "use" to open it (if the indicator is around a door). This is to differentiate it from the distant bonus switch, and also allow an open doorway to bear this indicator as well. Basically, this bonus area is immediately accessible, and does not require a distant switch to open. (Much like the first bullet point, it's also possible that the player can simply try every bonus area door they see, and if it doesn't open, then the player can conclude that a distant bonus switch must be found) A tripwire icon, which signifies that the door will only open when the player crosses some walk trigger. The player will see this icon, and remember to check back now and then to see if it has opened yet, and will also remember that no switch will be what causes it to open. This could also be a way to compel the player to revisit an area often, which a map maker can utilize for quite a few things, such as turning a room into a sort of hub for a level. Emergency hazard exit icon, which causes the player to make a note of where that lift/door is, in case they fall into the nukage/lava below. Seeing this icon will also tell the player that there's no reason to jump into the nukage/lava to test the door/lift for level progression. The map maker and player can both be in agreement that it can be safely skipped, as long as they don't fall in. (Could be a sneaky place for secrets, though...) Multi-stage switch indicators could be a standardized series of lights beside a barrier. As you hit each switch to fully clear the barrier, a tiny sector inside the indicator will lower (or open) to change its visual state to "another switch has been pressed". Seeing this, the player understands that they are now looking for a specific number of switches to get through. One of these indicator lights can also be placed beside each switch as well, signalling to the player that they found one of the stages. Knee-Deep in ZDoom has something like this, but they also utilize ACS to indicate progress to the player, or use camera screens. I primarily map for GZDoom, but we also need something that works in vanilla Doom. New Door Textures We could also add a few new door textures with a unique appearance, which will signify a few edge cases: Secret door backface: The secret will obviously still be hidden on the outside, but I've had it happen more than once where the secret door closed behind me, and just looked like another secret wall from inside as well, causing me to press every wall to get back into the main level again. It might be nice to have a door texture dedicated to being put on the inner face of a secret door, marking the way out of the secret area. It could look really jank, like the UAC put some simple scaffolding up to hold the secret wall in place. The reason why we would use this instead of another door texture, is that we already remembered that we entered a secret room, so seeing a normal door texture on the way out might not mentally connect to "this was a secret door", and make it harder to find the way out of larger secret areas. This might sound unlikely, but it could definitely happen, and this would also give map makers the option of creating larger secret areas. Telegraphed monster closet: Most monster closets should ideally look like part of the wall, and take a player by surprise. However, what if we want to instill some dread into the player? We could have a unique door texture that is only used for monster closets. A player walks in, sees one of those, and is now imagining all kinds of evil that could be behind this barrier. They now eye every pickup and keycard with paranoia, as something is about to unleash something hostile on them at any moment. New Teleporter Pad Flats More than once, the chaotic symbology of a teleporter pad has thrown me off. Walking onto a teleporter pad can represent a costly endeavor, as the entire space around you could completely change. You also have no way of knowing if you can come back or not, which presents the same problem as level exits: you need to know if you should save items you found for later, or stock up on them now. Then, you finally are ready, and walk onto the teleporter pad and...nothing happens. This was decorative, or is a landing zone for a future monster. It would have been great to know this ahead of time. I feel like the silver teleporter flat might be better for marking specific use cases, but I have a few category ideas first: Two-way teleporter (we usually use the red flats for these, and should probably continue to do so) One-way teleporter entrance/start (I feel like the silver star flat would be better for this, but there could also be a new dedicated flat) One-way teleporter exit/destination (if we use a new flat for the entrance, then the silver star flat could be used here, otherwise a new flat would be good) Monster destination only: A new flat marking something that a player can't use, but will telegraph a future invasion of monsters through this teleporter later. Like the monster closet texture, this would be a fun way to make the player a little paranoid. This was used extremely well in Knee-Deep in ZDoom E1M4, where it was established that mini-bosses would teleport into the map on specific teleporter pads. It only took me two of these encounters before I caught on, and then every time I remembered the room I was in had one of these pads caused me to be full of cautious dread. That was a really effective and exhilarating experience, and it would be excellent to leverage this more in the future. Dedicated level exit teleporter (much like how we have a dedicated exit door texture). This could be redundant, though, if a map maker is good about placing an exit sign well ahead of the walk exit trigger (allow the player to reach and collect any goodies they might have missed before committing to ending the level). Bars Bars should never open with the "use" button, and should always require a switch (to prevent confusion when "use" button misses the bar). Therefore, a "switch-required" indicator (which we have established for doors) should be placed on either side to differentiate it from decorative bars. This also causes the player to mark these bars in memory, and look for a way through. Additionally, a map maker could put the opening switch right beside it, creating a door that can be shot through as well. The Vile Flesh wad does this a lot, which has saved me a lot of hassle with bars, which can always serve as a critical and unique feature in any map. Lift Textures Lifts, for the most part, are fine, but there is a clear problem with how we use textures to indicate their presence to the player. The Vile Flesh wad handles this really well by requiring all lifts (as far as I can remember) to be switch-operated only, in order to completely remove this confusion. However, (especially for Hell-themed maps) map makers could really use a set of extra textures that are uniquely used for the sides of lifts operated with the "use" button, like the techbase's PLAT texture. After all, lift-heavy maps would get a little tedious to make if we all pushed for Vile Flesh's standard, and had switches for every single lift in every map. Gunfire Switch Icon These are really rare in maps, and maybe that's because players never suspect a switch to be shootable. Map makers and players are missing out on a whole genre of discovery, challenge, and solution processes here, because it's so hard to consistently communicate to the player that a switch is intended to be shot. I believe in one of the Final Doom wads, switches with the stone faces on them are usually reserve for gunfire triggers. However, in most cases we almost never see these used, which then reinforces their rarity because players are never thinking to shoot a switch found across the room; they simply suspect there's a way to travel over to it, but they'll never find it. We should have a strictly-dedicated icon beside a gunfire switch (or a whole new exclusive switch texture) which specifically telegraphs a gunfire trigger. There are a lot of really cool puzzles and challenges that could be designed, if only we could earn a player's trust to identify these when they appear. CONCLUSION There's an argument to be made about hand-holding, sure, but we also have to admit to ourselves that it happens quite often that we spend 10 minutes at a time scouring a level for progression, because a switch hunt wasn't communicated well. At that point, I feel like we can easily tell the difference between hand-holding and providing the player with tools to plan around and solve the level on their own, all within incredible new environments and challenging layouts, without running the risk of becoming infuriating. Best of all, this would support vanilla Doom map makers, and not just benefit those of us mapping on GZDoom, who can simply write hints on-screen for the player, or add extra keys into the game. I would love to hear what everyone thinks of these ideas. If anyone wants to coordinate, help get textures made, and/or iron out these ideas, then I would greatly appreciate it. I think we as a community could all benefit from this. It might seem like overkill for smaller maps (and maybe even medium-large maps), but I'm excited to see how this game could be pushed for size! I know that a lot of player navigation in Knee-Deep in ZDoom was at a reasonable difficulty only because of the extra keycards, on-screen reminders, and camera-screen switches, but these kinds of maps should be possible for those outside of ZDoom, too. I'm really sorry that I'm not more active here, but being active in social spaces (even online ones) is really hard for me, especially right now. Otherwise, I would be trying to actively organize a group for this. I've enabled notifications for this thread, and will check in as often as I can to respond. I plan to check back at least every day for the next week or so, but I'm sorry that I don't post more often. I do read a lot of what you all write here, though! If anyone does anything with these ideas, I do not want/need credit; I just want to get the ball rolling, if anyone is interested. I would be ecstatic if these enter Doom map-making convention for at least one map or even a whole wad. Ideally, if these get approved/refined by enough community members, we will have a standard to use for really complex maps, creating a whole new level of challenge for a player's planning abilities, and (more importantly) allowing the player an environment to successfully plan for! One more thing: If anyone has submitted an idea similar to this, or has already achieved this, please link me to them; I wanna check that out! Cheers! EDIT: I would like to clarify that I had intended this idea to be more used in a community map wad, or a one-off project. I do not want to ask that this be enforced on all wads, as that would infringe on the artistic freedom of map-makers, and such enforcement would not benefit Doom mapping culture at all. This would just be a resource for anyone who wanted to use it, because they personally felt it would help them for organizing larger maps. Any mention of "universal" was intended to describe a resource open for anyone to use, so that they would not have to reinvent it themselves, and could have something to use as a common reference.
  2. inventor200

    IDEA: Textures and Standards for Better Map Navigation

    After reading the responses, I feel everyone is right. When I wrote this, I was thinking more of a 10-map-long community pack that would use this, as well as maybe one or two other independent single-map wads. Enforcing this on all wads and map makers would be both impractical and hostile against mapping culture itself. I apologize for poor wording there, and should have realized that error during the second draft. I actually first decided to post this because I am working on a 10-map standalone game in GZDoom, and I wanted to use a system like this to better-support optional bonus rooms and complex secrets. I don't know if this project will ever see the light of day, so that was my motivation to at least post the texture system here. Yeah, after giving it some more thought, I think you're right, honestly. More on that below: Thank you for your well-written post and insight. I agree; this sort of effect is definitely something that would work best in a single project and stay in a single project, to avoid getting a sort of spoiler or hand-holding effect. I appreciate everyone who has replied so far; everyone makes a lot of great points. It seems like this is something better-contained within the project I'm currently working on, so if this makes it to a release state, I'll be sure to make a post about it. It'll be quite a while, though, if it ever happens.
  3. inventor200

    Vile Flesh MIDI zip

    I'm sorry for bumping a thread that is 7 years old, but it's about something very important to me, and I would like to contribute a link for anybody in the future who found this thread like I did. I literally made an account on here just to reply to this; I am aware of the standard etiquette of the Internet on other forums, but I feel that necro'ing this is worth the mild annoyance and eye-rolling of the other users here. When I was maybe 7 years old, my best friend introduced me to Doom. My father (shortly after I was introduced to the game) downloaded a small set of WAD files from the community for me to play, should I want to try other levels. I didn't know who any of these authors were at the time, but I grew up on their content for over 16 years. I hope this helps some Doom authors realize how much impact their work can have. There are a few people on this forum who have contributed significantly to my childhood memories, and I remember their works with the sort of nostalgia that people may remember a childhood home. One of these people is Gwyn Williams, author of my all-time favorite WAD "Vile Flesh", which I have played for years and years. This WAD's position as my personal favorite can absolutely be chalked up to nostalgia bias, and I am very self-aware of that. I thought I might try to contact him to thank him for his work, but it doesn't seem he's active anymore. I found this thread in my search, however, and I still have a copy of the Vile Flesh midi files (which my father probably downloaded on a whim at the time). I have actually been making music covers of these songs for personal synth programming practice for a long time. I re-zipped them here for you. there is no meta-data as far as I can tell, and the Doom Wiki states that the songs were not given names. I grew up on this WAD's soundtrack; it is very important to me because of that, and I hope this helps other people find it. This WAD (and others) inspired me to make my own levels, and it created a love for the game with another close friend of mine, and we would send each other our levels over email to challenge and one-up each other all throughout elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and onward. It's crazy for me to see posts which were written online before I really knew what the outside world was, and when my only concern was who I would talk to in kindergarten class that day, and now I have a partner, have left college, and am moving out to an apartment. I would consider myself incredibly lucky if anything I've posted online has even a fraction of such an impact on others, like how some Doom WADs have had on me.