What makes a good single-player map?

This is unrelated to the upsurge of "What makes a *** map?" threads, but is something I wrote up for the webpage I'm in the process of making. I figured I'd post it here to see if people think I've got the right idea or if I have my head up my ass.

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What do I look for in a single-player Classic Doom / Quake 1 / Quake 2 map?

The purpose of a map review is to determine how good a map is. So what do I consider a good map?

Above all a map must have good gameplay. If it's too easy, it can be boring and not fun. On the other hand, if it's too hard, it can be frustrating, and not fun. A good map provides a challenge to overcome, not one that is near impossible, but one that provides enough resistance that the player feels they have accomplished something by defeating it. Not only should the map be challenging merely by brute force of enemies, but the best of maps will make the player use their head as well. I'm not saying this in the sense of pointless and frustrating puzzles. A great map allows the player to formulate tactics to overcome a situation. It also includes secrets that the player can hunt down to give them an edge or merely to provide a bonus area to explore and conquer.

Second, the map must have good design. A well-designed map has better gameplay and is more interesting to play. The layout should be interesting, but not confusing. The player should not have to spend long periods of time searching in frustration for the way to progress. The design should aid and encourage fun gameplay by providing an intriguing environment to explore and conquer. The player should never be inescapably trapped. The map should be free of detrimental technical errors.

It is also important for the map to have a good visual appearance. The lighting and texture selection in addition to the architecture should provide a definate feel for what sort of place the map is. A good visual appearance makes the game world intriguing to look at and explore. The visual theme should feel like it fits in with the game, rather than seeming out of place or false. It should not appear bland, ugly, or tacky.

The very best maps excel in all three areas, creating a challenging and exciting whole that is fun to play and replay. While no map is ever perfect, flaws can be minimized to create the best experience possible. A map must be judged on its merit, not on its reputation or the reputation of its author.

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A good single player map is a map where you can play it over and over and over again, without getting bored. Oh, and it should NOT be made with the worlds best Doomers in mind, and should be fun for all skill levels of players.

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Well, you've certainly got it right there - gameplay (makes a map fun) before design (makes a map memorable) before detail (which should fit the design, even if that means low detail). And the last sentence is also spot on. (the mapper(s) reputation should not come into it at all)

But a tactical map is good also, especially if you're starting with a pistol and the design allows for many different ways of getting armed and killing everything. (DooM 2 map 13 is the best of the original maps for pistol starting because of this)

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5hfifty said:

Non-linearity.

add to that originality, good theme, interesting architecture, nice light transitions, and a generally spooky atmosphere and i agree.

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Non-linearity, originality, good theme, interesting architecture, nice light transitions, and a generally spooky atmosphere.

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sargebaldy said:

add to that originality, good theme, interesting architecture, nice light transitions, and a generally spooky atmosphere...

And NOT MADE FOR DM!!!!

Plain and simple.

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5hfifty said:

Non-linearity.

Some of the best maps I have ever played have been fairly linear. So I disagree that non-linearity is a requiremnt. It's a design choice. Either one can be effective depending on how the designer wants things to happen.

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Gameplay > Details

Fast and furious gameplay will rule over all. It's just that simple. Take into consideration most of the older Doom(2, Final, etc) maps and I'd say that most of the id-based ones would be considered of low visual quality these days. Yet the gameplay was rather good, classic. This made up for all of the sins comprised of drap level-making.

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