I haven't checked them all, but every Freedoom level I've played (map01 to 07 a few months ago and map16 the other day) are very easy on UV by modern Doom standards - and I don't mean "speedrunner" or "slaughter enthusiast" here, even your average ZDoom map focusing on atmosphere and detail tends to be more difficult.
the "hard" level on FreeDoom was only fit for hardened elite players.
Now, how do I compare to other gamers? Let's see: when I play online, I play public games - which is the bottom of the ladder. In these public games, I'm generally a punching bag for kids young enough to be my own; or, if co-op, struggling to keep up with them - definitely not a case of playing below my category. The only way you could possibly think I'm an "hardened elite player" is if you compared me to someone who doesn't play video games.
Inclusiveness is nice, but if you set the bar absurdly low it doesn't make sense anymore. Perhaps you can balance skill 4 for Facebook moms, but do you think these are the people likely to want to play, and insist on playing on the hardest difficulty right away, a free clone of a first-person shooter released two decades ago? More importantly, what of the lower skill levels? Should skill 3 be balanced for people with physical handicaps? Should skill 2 be catering for blind people with both hands amputated?
Months of practice without having ever touched a computer before should let you beat Hell Revealed on UV, with saves. Practicing for months is enough to learn an entire new job or language. No average person, much less average player, should have this much trouble beating a video game; if they do, they have issues stretching beyond video games.
I'm tempted to make the time to attempt a blind playthrough (well, blind save for the maps already mentioned, obviously) of FreeDoom on UV, so I could actually have an informed opinion on the actual thing... No doubt I will die some, but I'm willing to bet the difficulty will come from being lost more often than it will from fighting monsters.
Edit: here's Map01 to 11. Using 0.8 beta 1 (from the link in sticky) for convenience.
Started playing on gamma level 2, but quickly had to raise to level 4 - and eventually used IDBEHOLDL on Map09. People, if I can see the dust on my screen, your map is too dark, period (or it could be too unengaging, because in action-packed maps you're too focused on playing to notice anything else; obviously, as the player it's easier for me to fix brightness than to fix gameplay...).
I quit one death into playing Map12, as going through the start I remember having played it before and that it wasn't enjoyable. While most maps up to that point were decent, the few that are bad are bad enough I don't have enough patience to play this more than one episode at a time.
Now, I'm pretty sure I was wrong and didn't play Map01 to 07 all the way, mostly because if I had powered through the ode to mapping mistakes that is Map05 before, I would have remembered it.
This map has it all. First, it forces you to jump down right away to damaging slime, with two paths, infinitelytall demons ready to chomp at you, and no indication which one is the correct one. On the left path, solid rock, with the exact same texture as every other rock, turning out to be a fake wall, in this realistic earth-looking map.
On the right path, the toxic poo (which is just wrong, btw) goes on for a while in cramped corridors, and the only radiation suits are hidden in small alcoves on the sides, also protected by imps. All the while there's a bunch of demons and imps shooting at you, just incase you got too comfy sitting in corrosive manure.
Pick up blue key, open "secret" wall leading to... Cramped corridor low enough compared to where you're at monsters can take potshots at you while you can hardly do anything.
Moving on to yellow key area. Random unescapable pit near the key, yay. At least it's damaging so you can die and not stay stuck forever. Also in this room, a demon placed in a corner it can't get out of.
Next, going into a room with a switch lowering a pillar holding a red key to supposedly show you it lowered access to the red key somewhere else. Here's the thing... You can hardly see the red key in this room unless you stand at a particular spot, squint up and are familiar with the key graphics, and you have absolutely no indication that key is also somewhere else, it's behind what was previously a solid slimefall.
Oh, oh, oh, I forgot the best part. If you don't find secrets, you have so little ammo you end up not only using your peashooter, but actually fisting stuff. Without a berserk pack.
I littered the map with doomguy corpses in my playthrough. Some people might conclude it is too hard, but that's not it. It's hard in all the wrong ways, difficulty through nonsensical level design, awkward flow, poor balance and engine limitations. It's a flawed map at its core, and little could save it, other than a nuke from space and a rebuild from scratch.
...Looking at it in DB2, I'm guessing this *is* a newbie map, due to linking monster teleports to the map rather than using merged sectors; other hints would be a cheesy secret with the Doom logo spelled out in geometry, and a big red pentagram in the YK room. Sorry to whoever made this to be so aggressive about your first map, but it is that bad.
Other than this map, it was for the most part okay, sometimes a cakewalk, sometimes a few challenging situations. What's perhaps more problematic is some of these tough parts seemed to result from poor mapping rather than smart design, and as a result there's definitely spikes of difficulty all over the place, with certain maps being snoozefests played on autopilot until a particular trap almost kills you (or put you in a very bad spot) instantly.
Edit 2: ok, I'll eat my words, Map12 is definitely too hard. I could probably beat it if I spent ages non-berserk punching hell knights, but eh. It feels like a SSG map with nothing but the SG. I bet there's a SSG in a secret near the start. I hope. Otherwise, this is jokewad material.
Again, the problem isn't difficulty as much as dumb difficulty. It isn't hard to make something difficult, put the player start in a 192x192 unescapable damaging pit with a cyberdemon in front of him. Boom. Hard. Freedoom Map12 is that kind of hard, pitting you in extremely cramped environments against PEs, HKs, revs, cacos and mancs with merely the chaingun and shotgun, and not enough ammo.
No excuses though. You're right when you worry about "elitist difficulty", wesleyjohnson, this map is exactly it. I'll shut up now.
Last edited by Phml on Oct 28 2012 at 17:30