Definitive Genres of Doom levels

A lot of times when I'm talking about Doom levels, I have difficulty communicating what makes maps different than one another without going too in depth. Often it will take me a lot of sentences and even a few paragraphs to communicate to a reader what a map is like. I think this community has existed long enough and has sifted through enough styles of maps that we could create some terms or some kinda slang to categorize things so that we can explain to one another what a map is like (and have the other person truely imagine it with some accuracy) in a few short sentences.

A lot of terms I tend to hear thrown around a lot are "detailed," "nonlinear" "fast-paced" and "1994" which by themselves hardly mean anything because of how general they are. One of the few words that really exemplify a certain type of map is when I read "slaughter" or "slaughterfest," which is quite easily a genre of maps in which the player fights against overwhelming odds with lots of strong weapons and powerups. The only other one I can think of right now is "deathmatch," which is already self-explanatory. Other than that, I can't really think of any other Doom words.

Maybe we can work together and throw up some terms that we've read or thought about that don't have a very literal definition, and come to some kinda of consensus to what they mean.

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No idea how to call them but epic hell maps like dv02 or 32 Inch Nails map05 are a genre unto themselves.

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Thrash
Neo-Melodeath
Post Symphonic Industrialcore
Blackened Technical Prog-Rock...

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Well, there's "switchhunt". :)

There's quite a few wads that have personified genres so well that their name is used as the genre title:

Hell Revealed = Sort of the precursor to "slaughterfest" maps, with above-average amounts of monsters.

Scythe = Usually describes a compact well-designed map. There's probably a better way to describe this. X-D

Mockery: Obvious. There's even a Cacoward named after it.

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Another interesting 40oz thread, I've thought about this myself. I hope no useless so-and-so says: good map, bad map...

Some SP map genres

Invasion
Slaughter
Grind
Puzzle
Switch-hunt
Adventure
Run n gun
Concept/Gimmick
Frugal/resource management
Speedrunner

Hopefully these are quite self-explanatory but I'll elaborate if need be. Some may overlap or not fully explain a map and it's hard to put a map into any category unless the mapper has created an angle. The fact the maps gameplay or styles can multi-faceted makes pigeon-holing hard too.

Some obvious prefixes to the genre would be to describe variables that can apply to any genre such as length, detail, theme and difficulty.

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I think switch-hunt would fall under the puzzle category, personally. I think some good genre-like words to describe Doom levels would be as follows:

Episode 1 (E1)
Episode 2 (E2)
Episode 3 (E3)
Episode 4 (E4)
Plutonia
TNT
Slaughter
Puzzle
1024 (not really sure how else to categorize small maps...)
Deathmatch
Vanilla - Sort of the 'alternative' genre of Doom maps along with the other port-specific genres. Such as Limit-Removing, Zdoom, etc...

I may be going about this the wrong way, but this is basically what comes to mind when associating Doom maps with a particular genre. An example would be like Alien Vendetta = Vanilla. No particular IWAD style imitated. Since it falls under the 'alternative' category it does have some slaughter maps, other maps seem a little TNT inspired. Sort of the hodgepodge of Doom genres when referring specifically to a port. Or like Memento Mori would be vanilla because it isn't like any of the other IWADs so it establishes it's own unique style, hence the alternative nature of port-specific genres. I believe the other genres speak for themselves, otherwise.

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Some recurrent themes:

  • Techbase
  • Sewers
  • Catwalks
  • Crates!
  • Poor-ass attempts at mountains/canyons
  • Poor-ass attempts at marshes/sloughs/forests and natural environments in general.
  • Cities
  • Corporate/workspaces
  • Schools
  • "My house" maps
  • Cathedrals/churches/temples
  • Fire and brimstone Hell
  • Water/coastal
  • Gothic'99 style (overdetailed techbases with a lot of metal)
  • Doom 2 abstract style or "scattered toybox" style.
  • Wooden shack/library.
  • Wasteland and gloom <- this is actually my favourite
There are countless others of course, but they often combine some of the above elements, usually in distinct zones within the same level.

I noticed that the OPs intention was more along the play style..in that case yeah, some types of maps tend to be more unique. Most of the "epic" megawads like HR, DV, AV etc. tend to be on the more abstract side. Deathmatch maps are usually verging on the overdetailed techbase side (and are often way too specifically optimized for DM) but they can spawn all styles.

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purist said:

Another interesting 40oz thread


I couldn't resist. Nah, just being silly.

Would "sadistic" count as a genre? A few of my maps fall under this category. =D I'm not talking about large amounts of monsters, more monsters and placed in an unforgiving sort of way. Eternal's maps have these moments occasionally, although he covers a lot of other genres with his maps as well.

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I hope no useless so-and-so says: good map, bad map...


When I think of "techbase" in Doom, a particular kind of gameplay comes to mind more than a visual theme - gameplay I wouldn't be able to qualify personally because I consider it bad, but definitely common gameplay to most of these maps. Think many of the maps in CChests, 1024 projects, Dtwid, BtSX, NDCP, RTC-3057, etc.. In which category of yours would these maps fit?

Going through your list to see if I get the same impression as you intended:
- invasion: skulltag's mode, or any map where you defend a stronghold and/or try to stay alive in a limited area against waves of monsters
- slaughter: high monster density, centered on fighting (or how to avoid doing so) over anything else
- grind: large and long slaughter map, endurance trial of sorts, as in Okuplok's map, Holy Hell map05, TOD's Eternal Doom remix. Perhaps some Sunder maps, the maps Belial mentioned and certain maps by Eternal could qualify as well.
- puzzle: level requiring manipulating the environment to progress, with limited monster use.
- switch-hunt: a certain amount of switches in the map, being placed far away from the doors they open and/or in unintuitive places.
- adventure: going through varied locations with a distinct sense of progression or of working towards something. UAC Ultra (specifically map10), KDiZD, many maps by Eternal, Lunatic, some Vanguard maps.
- run n gun: maps with minimal opposition in which you can blaze through at high speed (perhaps this is where the aforementioned techbases fit? Although I'd argue unintuitive flow, if not forced breaks in pace, ruin the "run" part in most of these).
- concept/gimmick: emphasizing or being built around a few specific features.
- frugal/resource management: low HP/ammo.
- speedrunner: purposefully designed around engine tricks either being required or allowing for much quicker exits.

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There is also this 'exploration' thingie which is usually a mix of above average looks and far below average gameplay.

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I'm really interested in what makes a good deathmatch map, even if I've never seriously played DM Doom (was always more of a UT / Quake 2/3 guy for that). I'd like to do some reading-up on the topic at some point, and make an attempt at a 'good,' or at least 'fun' DM map.

Speaking of deathmatch genred maps, I'm sure there are sub-genres under that label, but I would be at a loss to describe them for Doom specifically. Here's my attempt, though:

Deathmatch Genres:
-symmetrical (where spawns are more-or-less equally close to the good stuff, and spawn position confers little advantage).
-bollards or pillars or crates (cover) everywhere (probably an SSG somewhere). AKA the "peekaboom!" map. >;D
-race to the good weapon/powerup (where the first player to get there dominates (so like most Q2 maps with Power Armour)).
-
-
-
-plus many more, I'm sure...


And then you've got kind of sub-sub genres, like "Duel" maps, that can be any of the above, but I imagine smaller.

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Maes said:


  • Corporate/workspaces
  • Schools
  • "My house" maps


We need a cohesive megawad of sorts that combines these three themes in various ways.

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Tyson levels, albeit rare but emphasize use of the berserker pack for a significant portion of the level.

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There's only 2 types of maps: cacoward winners and the rest. Really only 1 type because the rest don't deserve any sort of acknowledgement.

Now that "slaughtermap" is defined like that, I think its focusing on the wrong thing. I like "challenging/difficult/hard" maps which can and often do have lots of enemies, but not necessarily. Now slaughtermap kinda means bfg only even to the point of infinite cells, and over a half an hour long gameplay, which can be fun too, but maybe emphasizing the wrong thing or something.

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I kinda like easy maps because I can actually beat them in fda. When it gets hard/challenging, it feels like rng dependance or abuse or something.

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kmxexii said:

Tyson levels, albeit rare but emphasize use of the berserker pack for a significant portion of the level.

Make it berserk or chainsaw, and you can add Entryway to it. (I only use the chainsaw when going through Doom II's first level.)

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Gez said:

Make it berserk or chainsaw, and you can add Entryway to it. (I only use the chainsaw when going through Doom II's first level.)


But of course :P

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Rocket arena DM maps, where the one who grabs the RL first wins :-D

There are "BFG arena" and "PL spamming corridor" variants as well. I really don't get the point in those, other than getting easy kills out of frustrated noobs that keep respawning. More seasoned adversaries will simply wait until the rocket/bfg/pl stream is over, before respawning, otherwise it's just free frags for the spammer/camper.

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To be fair, I'd have a hard time classifying my own maps into genres, much less the entire Dooming scene. I mean, if we go into "slaughter" as a genre, are we talking HR, or Nuts? Is each genre a continuum, or does it have sub genres? A lot of maps do several very different things in them (again, my own maps are hard to break up by function, as something like ZPack E2M0 has 4 distinct sections, each with it's own gimmick).

I guess what I'm saying here is that genres would have to be very general and high-level stuff. So "classic" for "like Doom" (breaks down to E1, E2, E3 and E4, usually), "slaughter" for "loads of monsters in big hordes"... I usually just end up comparing maps to popular mapsets that seem similar to me if I have to try and make it have some kind of classification. That seems to work, but it's not something I do often.

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Now that "slaughtermap" is defined like that, I think its focusing on the wrong thing. I like "challenging/difficult/hard" maps which can and often do have lots of enemies, but not necessarily. Now slaughtermap kinda means bfg only even to the point of infinite cells, and over a half an hour long gameplay, which can be fun too, but maybe emphasizing the wrong thing or something.


My lone opinion on what "slaughter" could mean is no definition, your take is just as valid. For this thread to make sense we have to try to find concepts most people can agree with.

I think "difficult" makes more sense as a qualifier than as a genre, though. You can have difficult frugal maps, difficult invasion maps, difficult puzzle maps... You can have easy maps with high monster density as well.

High monster density doesn't necessarily imply long duration. Scythe map26 would fit the profile, with 666 monsters in a 3K * 3K area (actual numbers aren't very relevant anyway, the point is the map is positively crawling with monsters while you play, high-tier monsters - perhaps that could be another thing worth including in the definition, higher proportion of high-tier monsters than usual? I don't think anyone considers a map full of zombiemen, imps and demons slaughter even if there are hundreds in a room, but I don't know), and the average play would be, what, 6-8 minutes? With speedrunners peaking around 3 minute runs. I'd specifically avoid defining "slaughter" as high monster *count* so it doesn't result in the perception it's only about super long BFG maps, but density makes sense, doesn't it?

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How about "neo-classical atmospheric third-wave adventure maps". Thats my favorite genere of Doom maps.

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Yeah, "genres" are basically a crap concept, though slightly useful for taxonomy I guess. I used to put my stupid mp3.com songs in made up genres like "gangster bebop yodeling". Its because to describe something you need multiple variables, not a single "genre" variable. Its not like:
genre = slaughtermap
And that's it. Its like:
difficulty = 9
length = 30:00
heightVariation = 9 HUNDRED BILLION
etc.
Or you can, like, use, like, language and sentences and stuff to describe it. Which is what the OP was trying not to do. But whatever, I don't really care about any of this.
Actually if I did a newstuff review, I'd just list the xy coordinates of every line and monster and their properties etc. which basically means just play it.

Anyway, something similar happened to me with IDM music. My definition involved albums like otto von schirach's 8000 bc and crunch's 1. But then everyone else started defining it to mostly be about simpler music. So I was like if that's IDM, then I guess I don't like IDM very much anymore. I'll just have to call my preferred music "complex organic computer music" or something. That's really the problem- there's too much communication. Everyone should just retreat into their own heads and develop their own private languages so they can't communicate with anyone else. I really don't know what I wrote in this post but I probably disagree with all of it by now.

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@phml: thanks for adding descriptions to my lazy list. I was (and am) posting from a phone so I didn't feel like getting too text heavy. You're pretty much thinking on the same lines as I was.

To answer your question about btsx, dtwid, cc4 etc maps, well I suppose I'd need to consider the maps within the project individually but I know what you're getting at and most would probably be filed under 'run and gun' as would most IWAD maps in my eyes. The fact that some do not play this way due to impeding poor mapflow decisions or otherwise is not really a concern as genre does not account for the success of the author's aims. In film comedies for example are not always funny, thrillers not always thrilling. It is the artist's intention rather than execution that is being examined here.

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If you want genres, you need strict descriptions and that requires some indepth thought put in and in the end others might disagree with you and see the whole matter differently and that's basically good enough argument to counter your point of view and that's why how the whole thing gets sorted is pretty much up to everybody however they prefer to sort it.

If somebody says define slolthermap, I basically see it as something that fits these:

- It should have either RL or BFG and ammo sufficient enough for at least one of those to allow for more than enough missed or inefficient shots.
- Monsters usage should consist of higher than regular amounts of mid-tier projectile monsters (Imp, Demon, Hk, ... ,Archvile) and slightly to higher than regular amounts of bosses (MM, cyb). Light hitscan monsters are prone to taking out each other so their amount and usage depends on situation.
- Infights possibilities, powerups, health, additional ammo, misc.stuff like jumps are distributed based on how difficult author wants the slaughtermap. The less/more - the harder/easier overall difficulty.
- Infighting shouldn't be mandatory to instigate to beat a map, but that's debatable.
- Slaughtermap shouldn't take place in 'claustrophobic' enviroments.


(copypasted from some old thread)

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claustrophobic slaughtermap, ha ha. Eaxt/ chord series maybe?

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This thread isn't quite going the way I thought it would, probably because i didn't initiate it very well, but I think what it really needs is some people to stand up and say: "This is what I think of when I hear x." followed by some word pictures of what kind of maps you see, and how your player behaves when you play, and other significant details that stand out. I don't think it's enough to start naming some words you heard and depend on other people to describe it.

Some of you guys are on the right track though. Sorry I'm not contributing much, but I'm kinda at war with myself coming up with the kinda stuff that would work in this kinda discussion.

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Ahh, semantics...

I don't have any problem with the concept of genres, or nominally labeling things as falling into succinct categories. Most people are intelligent enough to know that not every "First-Person Shooter" is Daikatana, and not every "Romance novel" is something Maes reads in the privacy of his storm shelter. Staggeringly, I've noticed this intelligence translates farther down into subgenres as well, where most people add progressively chunkier grains of salt to the glib labels ascribed to maps that inhabit the sub, and sub-sub genre basements, where things almost defy categorization.

I'm not sure which writer said it, but as an example: when asked to define science-fiction, s/he replied, 'it's what you can point to and say, "that's sci-fi."' So we may disagree, for instance, on which maps are actually "slaughter maps," but we can generally point to the same maps when disagreeing on this very point. Certainly, that shows there is subtlety at work, but it also shows that even when disagreeing we recognize elements of a slaughter map in these non-slaughter slaughter maps. Really, what we're doing here is refining and expanding our labels, not eschewing them completely (although mork's idea for a newstuff might prove the exception).

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There are also Living End/Perfect Hatred-style underground caverns with narrow ledges. I think they're popular enough to deserve the honour of being a standalone genre. I used to hate those, but as my movement skills progressed, I started enjoying them to the fullest.

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Feniks said:

I used to hate those, but as my movement skills progressed, I started enjoying them to the fullest.

I'm almost ashamed to admit that when I first played Doom the zigzag room on E1M1 gave me a hard time. Damn those shotgun shells, teasing me just next to the ledge!

But yeah, nowadays, these (and more advanced) acts of legerdepied are much more enjoyable.

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