Is Freedoom too hard?

This is a question that I've wondered about for a while now. It seems to me that Freedoom's levels ought to pose a similar level of difficulty to the original games. Fan-made levels are made by fans - who are used to a higher level of difficulty than casual players are. Levels like those in Plutonia or Hell Revealed are great, but I think we ought to be aiming the bar a bit lower for Freedoom. Sometimes it seems like Freedoom's levels are perhaps a bit too challenging.

To try to answer the question I put together a simple script. This examines each level and counts the total hitpoints of all the monsters in the levels. This is the output for the original game:

doom.wad:
E1M1        160     200     900     0.050126 0.032936 0.118861
E1M2        520     1140    2380    0.099810 0.118404 0.166348
E1M3        1450    3090    6140    0.250560 0.272670 0.376429
E1M4        940     2360    4730    0.317383 0.446186 0.631399
E1M5        1020    4790    7700    0.167031 0.427171 0.467617
E1M6        2330    6770    11840   0.304448 0.428214 0.539327
E1M7        1330    3590    6160    0.289118 0.385508 0.487200
E1M8        3680    4580    6680    1.080510 0.731495 0.743040
E1M9        2050    4930    7720    0.814061 1.030712 1.123864
E2M1        830     2860    4440    0.501329 1.049530 1.129719
E2M2        3950    6590    9270    0.629795 0.572523 0.567499
E2M3        2710    5670    9660    0.943212 0.884347 1.149286
E2M4        4680    9720    14190   0.732775 0.817259 0.832705
E2M5        5780    10660   16240   1.225085 1.328382 1.408431
E2M6        4830    10950   18190   0.854928 1.026623 1.188684
E2M7        6990    9630    12580   1.480631 1.074861 0.976857
E2M8        4000    4400    6000    1.096203 0.633589 0.602845
E2M9        8000    8000    8000    4.233163 2.230749 1.551831
E3M1        570     1570    3030    0.398445 0.677928 0.910041
E3M2        5750    8020    10100   1.212108 0.934186 0.867537
E3M3        2330    6350    8970    0.415433 0.621931 0.624504
E3M4        3860    13000   21540   0.525382 0.918114 1.089821
E3M5        4720    9690    16050   0.737837 0.799569 0.919702
E3M6        5920    10710   17340   1.103062 1.053240 1.160065
E3M7        3250    7320    8360    0.816337 1.074754 0.962174
E3M8        3800    4800    4800    7.356357 4.867364 3.407155
E3M9        15690   16690   18150   2.876935 1.676395 1.304205
E4M1        5830    8180    8690    3.228915 2.396332 2.298978
E4M2        10920   19770   28380   1.793645 1.772479 1.771463
E4M3        5990    9690    16170   0.616341 0.555545 0.646581
E4M4        2080    4150    6340    0.502746 0.563328 0.602549
E4M5        3360    5870    7870    0.928587 0.815604 0.696539
E4M6        7440    16200   20500   0.847045 1.053341 0.952872
E4M7        7870    8870    15050   1.850702 1.044834 0.911939
E4M8        7590    13500   22000   0.949752 0.889879 1.009197
E4M9        4990    6890    11040   1.325619 0.965374 1.039401

doom2.wad:
MAP01       220     660     1220    0.165150 0.260999 0.335739
MAP02       1350    2270    3200    0.590737 0.524836 0.513275
MAP03       1770    3410    4650    0.535825 0.544227 0.516030
MAP04       1120    2000    3070    0.706197 0.666296 0.709554
MAP05       2920    5510    8580    0.826783 0.733981 0.828145
MAP06       3810    8400    12450   0.761263 0.919773 0.951988
MAP07       3200    6400    10200   0.478051 0.503373 0.558623
MAP08       27610   33170   40550   5.755393 3.640099 3.098803
MAP09       3530    13080   25470   0.621326 1.093550 1.476542
MAP10       7190    14720   27780   0.929801 0.977859 1.281750
MAP11       2410    12790   17530   0.355749 0.996451 0.948559
MAP12       5680    15800   23420   1.047885 1.401238 1.444021
MAP13       5530    16330   21270   0.718204 1.083276 0.982953
MAP14       2660    5280    5960    0.881390 0.911601 0.807654
MAP15       9860    19010   21560   1.132662 1.154282 0.907832
MAP16       3690    18710   31620   0.621333 1.612418 1.895513
MAP17       8740    14980   19850   0.886978 0.802996 0.738424
MAP18       8430    16430   25240   1.054631 1.084647 1.157500
MAP19       8030    18550   24530   1.208158 1.341120 1.226446
MAP20       16290   20940   24350   2.339495 1.588364 1.296132
MAP21       2160    7380    13150   0.501821 0.906647 1.119820
MAP22       1640    3860    5930    0.748066 0.749264 0.798460
MAP23       6010    17520   23850   1.080857 1.661725 1.540919
MAP24       7270    15920   23110   0.850631 0.960802 0.969165
MAP25       3960    8450    10230   0.841837 0.854264 0.726336
MAP26       8300    17140   22710   1.243543 1.402960 1.340013
MAP27       9410    25550   38100   0.946197 1.281975 1.330002
MAP28       10060   24710   33720   1.410948 1.655163 1.570148
MAP29       10660   21370   25130   1.619283 1.693238 1.366490
MAP30       10000   10000   10300   0.941570 0.496915 0.355506
MAP31       2350    4700    9550    0.609554 0.644204 0.907998
MAP32       4400    4900    5800    1.321099 0.776587 0.638359
Some explanation:
  • The first three columns are the raw hit points of the monsters - the total hit points for "easy", "medium" and "hard" skill levels.
  • The second three columns are more complicated: it's a ratio of the monster hitpoints to the amount of available ammo and health. The idea is that availability of more health and ammo makes things easier. Around 1.0 is an "average" level - less than 1.0 means an easier level (abundant health/ammo for the number of monsters you face). Greater than 1.0 means a more difficulty level (shortage of health/ammo for the number of monsters you face).
You can see that the challenge gradually ramps up gradually at the start of each episode, and in the first level of Doom 2. It's particularly apparent with E1, where the first couple of levels are very easy, and it gradually ramps up to ~0.4, with the final level (E1M8) providing a tough final challenge. There's a similar ramp up in the first levels of Doom 2.

Here's the same analysis for Freedoom:
doom.wad
E1M1        340     520     820     0.187439 0.150944 0.179669
E1M2        2600    4000    5260    2.261106 1.829801 1.677029
E1M3        1410    1410    1410    1.714077 0.904768 0.628325
E1M4        4270    5680    7880    1.304932 0.911687 0.878243
E1M5        10500   10650   10910   1.311294 0.700651 0.516772
E1M6        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E1M7        7080    11640   16470   1.864826 1.611311 1.547630
E1M8        6620    6770    6770    4.075351 2.201354 1.527706
E1M9        14090   16930   20060   1.691192 1.068495 0.874872
E2M1        1400    4000    5340    0.831354 1.254674 1.162365
E2M2        11330   11710   11710   3.035027 1.654018 1.149899
E2M3        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E2M4        11590   15840   19240   2.417585 1.892417 1.560148
E2M5        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E2M6        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E2M7        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E2M8        22330   22330   21330   4.067929 2.137439 1.652720
E2M9        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E3M1        2090    2630    2630    1.632302 1.200826 0.869951
E3M2        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E3M3        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E3M4        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E3M5        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E3M6        17390   18240   18330   3.372194 1.856848 1.303205
E3M7        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E3M8        8360    9300    11240   3.548688 1.681736 0.978625
E3M9        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E4M1        5740    6740    7740    4.663633 2.875059 2.305630
E4M2        2080    2080    2080    1.954887 1.026613 0.716727
E4M3        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E4M4        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E4M5        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E4M6        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E4M7        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E4M8        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
E4M9        0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000

doom2.wad
MAP01       340     520     820     0.187439 0.150944 0.179669
MAP02       3050    4010    4340    0.729435 0.504227 0.380532
MAP03       2500    4190    6940    0.577677 0.510030 0.583138
MAP04       5270    8350    13030   1.271227 1.018074 1.104837
MAP05       4280    6410    10140   0.493829 0.389570 0.432413
MAP06       7870    11920   16210   1.205569 0.962518 0.910280
MAP07       5000    10600   15100   1.289617 1.438396 1.427815
MAP08       6450    6450    6450    5.218447 2.758768 1.912811
MAP09       6600    9350    12640   0.595971 0.542063 0.641952
MAP10       480     600     4900    0.552741 0.321292 1.219160
MAP11       20050   24180   24890   2.209279 1.401742 1.017297
MAP12       22050   33890   45840   1.786328 1.809095 1.937385
MAP13       11850   20820   26990   0.851961 0.776225 0.803341
MAP14       2480    5360    11370   0.969159 1.232617 1.653506
MAP15       12340   18770   26160   1.551631 1.424473 1.284476
MAP16       60880   66260   72170   17.052648 9.491436 6.749793
MAP17       4870    9410    13360   1.496601 1.505410 1.505064
MAP18       12200   16180   16980   2.893903 2.109680 1.478231
MAP19       4110    5190    7370    0.850256 0.567379 0.549177
MAP20       17580   18530   19530   2.506273 1.390379 1.020728
MAP21       8060    14300   24320   0.846621 0.792958 0.936418
MAP22       16650   18690   22710   4.076526 2.401446 2.021200
MAP23       22620   34420   49980   1.100766 1.122971 1.008711
MAP24       11330   11710   11710   3.035027 1.654018 1.149899
MAP25       23230   36430   38820   2.599085 2.251437 1.671049
MAP26       10420   19910   29190   1.927673 1.586761 1.543425
MAP27       83710   87110   92410   3.237516 1.777161 1.310140
MAP28       13480   19820   35560   0.879205 0.718223 0.979355
MAP29       17290   26330   36030   1.667689 1.409757 1.739803
MAP30       32400   33640   41350   1.268837 0.693673 0.628857
MAP31       29100   28200   30600   1.160320 0.590056 0.447353
MAP32       0       0       0       0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
Freedoom 1 isn't complete, but you can see that there's very little in terms of ramp-up. In terms of hitpoints, you have to fight through twice as much raw meat in Freedoom's E1M1 compared to Doom's. The following E1 levels are way tougher - the main thing being that there are far more monsters.

Freedoom 2 is similar - MAP01 is a good start, but after that the difficulty suddenly jumps up without any kind of ramp-up. There are a few levels that seem incredibly challenging - examples are MAP16 and MAP27. In general the difficulty ratios seem to regularly exceed 2.0 or reach 3.0, while in the original games they rarely pass 1.5.

I think we ought to spend some time looking at this issue and seeing if we can address it. Rearranging levels to give a better ramp-up might help, but I think we ought to be looking at modifying the levels just to cut back on the number of monsters.

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The overall trend between Doom and Freedoom is incontestable, but it's interesting to see how it breaks down on specific levels.

The highest scoring, "most difficult" level in Doom2.wad is MAP08 - yet it is actually one of the easiest levels. MAP02 scores low even though it is fairly brutal. E4M6 scores average despite being very difficult. The ridiculously easy E3M8 has the highest score of both IWADS.

...And I'm going to give Freedoom Map16 a go now.

Edit: well, that was actually on the easy side. Health didn't drop below 100 even once. Enjoyable nonetheless. I think I can see why it scored so high - there's a fair number of high-tier monsters. The thing is, they're placed in ways they'll infight each other, and always right in front of you. There's also 7-8 optional cacos shooting at you behind an impassable line. Without finding any secret I ended up out of ammo with 5 monsters left to kill outside of the path to the exit (cacos flying around or chaingunners on balconies, likely), and the level starts with you fighting 6-7 imps with the pistol, maybe that lack of ammo played a role inflating its score too.

Edit 2: hold on, something's fishy here. 72170 HP on Hard, with 101 monsters? That'd be on average 700 hp per monster, and only AVs, barons, masterminds and cybies go over that. I'm not even sure there's any of these monsters in this level.

Ok, opening it up in DB2 I think I get it... There's four Romero heads outside of the map, triggering when you walk over the exit.

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Phml said:

The overall trend between Doom and Freedoom is incontestable, but it's interesting to see how it breaks down on specific levels.

The highest scoring, "most difficult" level in Doom2.wad is MAP08 - yet it is actually one of the easiest levels. MAP02 scores low even though it is fairly brutal. E4M6 scores average despite being very difficult. The ridiculously easy E3M8 has the highest score of both IWADS.

Yeah, I'm not saying that it's anything other than a crude measurement, but it's better than not measuring it at all, and I do think that there is a general issue that needs to be addressed.

I also found the MAP08 example to be an interesting one. Of course the reason it scores highly is the fact that you're up against a number of Mancubuses and Arachnotrons which normally would pose a significant threat. It's really more of a tactical level than other levels are.

I think it raises a significant point though - hopefully this data is helpful, but we ought to use it as a general guide for identifying levels that need looking at, rather than a proscriptive "levels must not exceed X hitpoints and must have Y amount of ammo/health". Ultimately difficulty is subjective, rather than something that can be precisely objectively measured.

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I share the interest in not having FreeDoom get excessively hard, but have the same problem with the numbers. By those numbers I would have to add a few thousand HP of monsters to Map09 and Map13. Hard on Map09 would have to double from 12640 to approximate the 25470 of the original. One problem is that a highly tuned level can tolerate more or less monsters, depending on how it is tuned to make it easier or harder to kill the monsters that are there. There is one opportunity in Map09 where you can mow down 20 monsters with a chaingun.

Then there is Map31 where getting past 8 (12 whatever) revenants at once, in a confined area, is near impossible, because of differences in user controls.

On the other hand, insufficient ammo for the monsters that are present is mostly universally fatal. Excess ammo does not work the same way because you cannot take it with you.

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I don't really want to get too bogged down on the minutia of the calculations - as I've said, they're not intended to be a precise or exact measurement by any means. I'm just trying to get a rough estimate of the difficulty of the levels. Think of it as the 1,000 km view. I'm more interested in discussing whether others also agree that this is a problem that should be addressed, and I hope that these estimates might provide a rough guide in deciding what ought to be done, if anything.

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Skill 2 and 3 definitely need work. I know very little has been done to address those skills.

I tested -skill 4 by making sure I could beat all the maps in less than 12 tries. Pistol start and no/very few secrets. Not the best method, but I felt it worked. 12 tries tuned to one person's skill. I carefully added/removed ammo, powerups, monsters and such until I felt the skill was fairly balanced. The best and most polished maps I did not touch and were relatively well balanced to being with.

Remember when Doom came out. There were basically no other first person shooters. The skill had to be a certain level for the time. By now probably all video game players are familiar with first person shooters and know a few strategies for playing as well as familiar with the controls.

I think Freedoom's -skill 4 should be harder than the original, a good challenge. -skill 3 should suit almost everyone. -skill 2 should be even easier than id's iwad. Skill 4 right now is mostly fine tuned, probably needs a few small adjustments.

Skills 2 and 3 need massive play testing and adjusting. I feel I would be terrible at it. Skills 2 and 3 should not just involve tagging the same items. I like skill balancing by adding weapons, moving keys, changing types of monsters entirely.

wesleyjohnson said:

Then there is Map31 where getting past 8 (12 whatever) revenants at once, in a confined area, is near impossible, because of differences in user controls.


Controls do not matter! That area is pure strategy. I have a demo where I literally do not turn. I face same direction the entire time to kill them. Though I can only shoot once for every lap, since I was not able to aim. I used keyboard only for this demo even though all my turning is strictly controlled by the mouse.
Besides there is that super shotgun hole you can hide in with all the ammo.
http://www.doomworld.com/vb/showthread.php?s=&postid=889470#post889470

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I support the idea of limiting Freedoom's difficulty. This is in accordance with the mission to be a replacement for copyrighted Doom, and a starting place for PWAD and enhancements. It should stay with being a basic first wad with limited difficulty. There are plenty of difficult PWAD to add-on, but limited possibilities in the other direction.

Any statement made about "all" of ANY group is really a statement by the viewer about their self-view, and expresses the limits of their vision.
There are some people who grew up with video games, and some that did not. I cannot find any reason to favor one group over another.

I do not think the "hard" level should be the playground of the Doom elite, nor should it favor any particular playing style. It should be within reach of the average player, with some effort to advance to the next difficulty level (for some this may be considerable effort over months). It should be possible to advance to the "hard" level even for players who play entirely differently than the level author does, with different mouse settings, and a different port. The "hard" level should never look like it was made only for some elitist group. There are plenty of difficult PWAD that the Doom elite can use, which are made just for the purpose.

(The previous is about the chart and about the "hard" level in general, not specifically about Map31. I am ignoring the defense of Map31 in the interest of keeping this thread on topic (for once).)

My previous point was that level layout is a multiplier of level difficulty. We could also measure several other things that strongly affect difficulty.

1. Number of traps.

2. Number and severity of Death Traps, where more than 4 monsters attack, rated by distance, number of monsters, and how much cover there is for the player.
Such as ( <number_monsters> * <surrounded> / <cover> / <distance> )
Where <cover> is:
none in small room = 0.1
none in large room = 0.5
niche or one object as cover = 1
multiple objects as cover that can be moved between = 2
escape hallway = 3
A hallway or cover does not count if the player cannot get to it, or if it is on the other side of the monsters.
Where <surrounded> is:
All monsters to one side = 1
Monsters along one wall = 1.5
More monsters than cover allows hiding = 2
Monsters everywhere in room = 3
The strength of the monsters does not seem to matter as much as the number of weapons firing and number of missiles incoming.
Revenant: x2 because of the homing missiles
Mancubus: x2 because of multiple missiles and difficulty in ducking

3. Number of critical points, which are unavoidable points in the play of the level, where the player has no choice of play style, and they could die.
4. Some reference player's opinion of level difficulty on a scale of 1 to 10.

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Skill 4 I think should be hard. It IS the hardest skill. Skill 2 and 3 should be much easier and as of right now, are not tested or balanced at all.

When I start playing a new different game say, Freeciv and Wesnoth. I am usually terrible at the hardest skill level. I play a lower skill level. I do not just pick the hardest skill and quit when I get beaten constantly. I like the games, so I pick a skill level I can play on.

Also I really hope all games do not make the hardest skill level "within reach of the average player." This negates the need for a hard skill to begin with. This would make most games incredibly boring with low replay value. What does someone do when they get better?

Imagine a skill list,
-Very easy
-Easy
-Less than Average
-Average
-Nightmare?

I loved beating a game in medium skill and then going back and beating it in a harder skill.

For Freedoom control issue, I make sure nothing needs sr-50 or other tricks. I have adjust quite a few things to take care of this. All jumps over gaps can be made running straight forward. No switch is too far away if timed.

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I think the baseline difficulty should be a bit harder than Doom, since the audience, even casual gamers, are more experienced with first person shooters now than they were in 1993. I agree that consistency and some kind of sensible up-ramp is a good idea. How skill levels are used is also relevant.

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I wonder how many of the modern FPS games are as hard as Doom II played on HMP. Even some of the early maps are no joke for someone who never played them before and doesn't know the map intimately and the best tactics for dealing with each monster. And the later maps can become downright brutal for a n00b.

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hex11 said:

I wonder how many of the modern FPS games are as hard as Doom II played on HMP. Even some of the early maps are no joke for someone who never played them before and doesn't know the map intimately and the best tactics for dealing with each monster. And the later maps can become downright brutal for a n00b.

It's actually kind of interesting, I suspect a modern FPS fan who's never played Doom before will actually do better than a Doom player who's never played a modern FPS before. (Modern in this case referring to mechanics like regenerating health/shields and an abundance of hitscan enemies.) Modern FPS encounters are heavily based around the use of cover, which works equally well in Doom, with the exception that Doom's monsters never take cover themselves (eliminating the waiting game aspect). On the other hand, a player who tries to run in gunning in one of those games is just going to have a string of embarrassing deaths because, even with health regen, you just can't tank damage in those games.

I think Freedoom's balance should be on par with Doom 2, for each difficulty. I don't consider myself bad at the game and I still struggle with pistol starting some of the iwad maps on UV. Anything tougher will be off putting for anyone not familiar with Doom.

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Looking at fraggle's hitpoint list, I notice that some Freedoom maps have the same amount of hitpoints for all skill levels, and E2M8 even has less hitpoints for hard than easy and medium.

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Its up to vote I guess. But -skill 4 has been massively play tested and adjusted by me. Lower skills have had little play testing and not much feedback.

Still think we should focus more on the lower skills since they are seriously out of balance.

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That difficulty chart is ridiculous, not representative at all of what I said. I said that "hard" level should be reachable by an average player after having practiced for several months, and that it should not take more than several months practice (don't matter what level they use to practice) to advance from a lower level.

And what they do after they beat "hard" is discover id games repository, where there is no shortage of harder levels, or other kinds of levels.

What I find unreasonable is to expect a player who is done at a medium level to have to go find a medium level PWAD because the "hard" level on FreeDoom was only fit for hardened elite players. I reject expecting them to practice on some few rare medium difficulty PWAD so they can come back and play some FreeDoom "hard" difficulty level that was made too elitist.

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wesleyjohnson said:

made too elitist.


I do not think a majority of the mappers considered they were making elitist maps. All my edits were to make a very few maps easier, except for MAP31 which had no monsters to being with.

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the "hard" level on FreeDoom was only fit for hardened elite players.


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.

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.

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I agree MAP12 is too hard. Mapper abandoned it and only placed monsters with no ammo.

Maybe someone can fix it up.

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I think baseline difficulty is skill 3, not 4. I never play on UV, but then again I"m also keyboard-only player and don't use save games. So you could say I have some handicaps.

I think one of the problems is a lot of players want to always use skill 4 no matter what, and if it's too hard for them they won't try a lower skill and instead just declare the map too hard. But I also think the lower skills should actually be manageable for an average doomer on skill 3, and a n00b on skill 1 (it may take a few tries, but they should be able to get through without too much frustration).

IMO, UV is a skill for people who already mastered the map on skill 3 and are ready for something harder. It should't be almost impossible (that's what skill 5 is for) and it shouldn't be the "default" skill for people who never played that map before. Making it the default waters it down and removes the possibility of additional challenge (I mean reasonable challenge, not NIghtmare crazyiness...)

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Really there are worse problems with a lot of the maps than the balance. Some of them are so ugly and offputting in design that I cannot bear to play them. I know its been hard to get people to map for the project but, I feel like I could generate a random playlist of D!ZONE wads and end up with something more enjoyable.

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Quasar said:

Really there are worse problems with a lot of the maps than the balance. Some of them are so ugly and offputting in design that I cannot bear to play them. I know its been hard to get people to map for the project but, I feel like I could generate a random playlist of D!ZONE wads and end up with something more enjoyable.

Seems a bit harsh. Some of the levels are pretty decent IMO, though there's definitely quite a mix of quality in there. There's definitely a lack of progression or consistency to the levels: it does very much feel like a random collection of levels that has been thrown together (which for the most part is exactly what it is).

Probably my least favorite level is MAP30 - aside from the ugly design, I have a pet hatred for boss levels that make you fight through a significant number of other monsters first to reach the boss (I also dislike Doom's E4M8 for the same reason).

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fraggle said:

Seems a bit harsh. Some of the levels are pretty decent IMO, though there's definitely quite a mix.

Probably my least favorite level is MAP30 - aside from the ugly design, I have a pet hatred for boss levels that make you fight through a significant number of other monsters first to reach the boss (I also dislike Doom's E4M8 for the same reason).

Well, I agree. Some of them are great. The first map is the best example; it feels like a DOOM map. But then there are a few others that feel like "My First Map" and have amateur issues. I feel like it'd be better to have a "NOT FINISHED" map with an exit switch than a few of those type.

I don't mean to be derisive though. And improving the skill balance will help, even the worst of maps in any project could benefit from that.

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I think perhaps the difficulty levels thing is potentially a symptom of a larger problem with Freedoom. It's been my opinion for a while now that the project has hit a wall due to a lack of any overarching creative or artistic direction. The project has been put together from the bottom up (fill as many of these slots as possible and we'll make some vague effort to put things together in a way that makes sense) rather than the top down. It's an approach that works for projects like Wikipedia, where there isn't much dependency between resources, but perhaps it isn't the best approach for something like this.

Compare how Freedoom has been organized with other recent MegaWAD projects, eg. DTWID or KDIZD, which have been far more successful, both in attracting contributors and delivering high quality final products. The difference is that they've had a set creative vision from the start of the project of what they wanted to do and how they wanted to carry things out. It's not really surprising that level authors would rather work on something interesting and exciting like that rather than Freedoom, which essentially has no direction.

It would be nice if we could do some kind of similar project for Freedoom, but I get the feeling it would be a lot of effort to do so. Probably it would be best run as a separate project ("Remake Freedoom") to cut as many ties as possible with how Freedoom is currently run. It would need the right people on board to do it, with complete artistic freedom to do things however they want. I know that I'm not the right person to run such a project, and I'm not convinced any of the regular Freedoom contributors are, either.

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Basically a TC that is BSD licensed.

I still say there should be a vanilla megawad project that also happens to be BSD licensed. Or just persuade people to release more single maps under BSD license.

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BSD is nice and all, but isn't the standard "Authors MAY use this level as a base to build additional levels." text enough? A lot of people already use that, but not many know what BSD is.

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Why? The text I quoted doesn't require giving any proper credit (although that would be the honorable thing to do).

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hex11 said:

BSD is nice and all, but isn't the standard "Authors MAY use this level as a base to build additional levels." text enough? A lot of people already use that, but not many know what BSD is.

I actually contacted the FSF about a year ago to ask whether certain combinations of the standard WAD licensing template might be considered free software. Their response was that some of the wording is ambiguous in its meaning and as such can't be considered free.

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Did they point out exactly what is ambiguous, and how to correct it? So that the PWAD text template can be revised (what's the point of having some text that doesn't actually work like it's supposed to...)

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Maybe an update to UPTEMPL.TXT. Instead of just "wording" those can easily be rewritten under CC, GPL or BSD licenses with a quick summary.

Though of course this wont affect all those previous wads. But if included in UPTEMPL.TXT new wad makers can choose a real license to release their wads under.

Example of what I used for a license:

* Copyright / Permissions *

Do whatever you want, give me credit. 
Freedoom Modified BSD licensed. 
In the future I plan on just copy and pasting the whole license after my summary.

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