Hello all! First-time poster, long-time listener here.

Breach is a large Doom2 singleplayer techbase map for limit-removing ports (ZDoom, PrBoom+, Eternity etc.) I figure it's far enough along to slap a beta sticker on it and get some proper playtesting feedback.

Download here: http://washboardabs.net/doom/breach/breach-latest.zip (updated 2015-12-28)
Textfile here: http://washboardabs.net/doom/breach/breach.txt
Screenshots: (click to embiggen)





Tasting notes:

- I set out to build something intricate and thoroughly modern using only the stock Doom 2 textures (though I cheated a bit there) and line/sector specials. It's heavily inspired by Essel's stuff, No Rest for the Living, and Metroid Prime.
- The map is fairly linear and has a lot of setpiece encounters (so maybe a little too modern!) It's also kinda cramped in places, because I only got a good handle on scale once it was too late to really let out the seams.
- This is the first level of an eventual two-parter; I split it in half for pacing reasons and because I ran up against the seg limit. (It's no KDiZD though, don't worry.) Playtime is about 45 minutes if you're sightseeing.

So! Detailed, critical, nitpicky feedback would be much appreciated. A bunch of particular questions:

- How is ammo balance? How do the difficulty levels feel?
- Are any areas too dark? Not dark enough?
- Are any areas too cramped for the encounters in them?
- Are the surreal hell sequences 'readable'? Do they feel like they relate to the real-world parts?
- Doomsday can take minutes to load the level, which smells like its GLnode-builder is choking on something. Is this common with complex geometry? How would I go about fixing that?
- I disabled jumping in ZDoom to prevent a couple of sequence-breaks; is that a dealbreaker for many players?
- Are demo lumps still a thing? If so, how do you deal with incompatibilities between ports/versions?
- How important is it these days to have custom music and a custom TITLEPIC? (The wad has neither yet.)

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Looks kinda serious. I somehow got stuck in prboom+, here is a demo (you can watch it with prboom+, just drag-and-drop or "open with").

Noticed some items changing position because of nearby floors moving, it happens when objects are too close to the edge of some sector. Visuals were excellent, obviously a lot of work went into them. UV difficulty seemed quite low to me, with lots of health items and perfectly manageable fights. Haven't yet played the part after the room I got stuck in though.

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Argh, I forgot to test in PrBoom+! Will give the demo a look tonight.

Thanks for the heads-up about items shifting - can you describe particular locations where this occurs?

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Have an FDA demo from me as well, recorded in PrBoom-plus -complevel 2 (=vanilla limit-removing compatibility). The map was beautiful (I like techbases) and well playable too. I've spotted a few errors, you can easily see them in my demo: The first placed shotgun raising above the player, slime trails near the yellow key pedestal, and an inescapable place that forced me to give up (you can't cheat while recording a demo). Aside from that, I liked the map so far. The yellow key surprise was a nice effect - yeah, I understood that it's supposed to show the same place "hellified".

You could have accompanied the map with a custom music track for better immersion (D_RUNNIN is overplayed), but there's no need to have a custom titlepic just for a single map / short mapset. Ammo balance seemed good, difficulty was rather easy due to possibilities to run away and camp from a safe place. Some places were slightly cramped, but I didn't really mind it. Lighting and detailing were great, IMO, variation was also a good thing. While some people complain about disabled jumping in vanilla/Boom maps through MAPINFO, I'm personally comfortable with it, as a good foolproof way to force an intended behaviour. And finally, demo compatibility: Demos recorded in basic sourceports should be cross-port cross-version compatible, PrBoom-plus also has its -complevels, which is a great thing. Advanced sourceport probably won't play these demos properly, and demos recorded in them might be compatible only with the exact version of the same port (ZDoom and such).

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OK, looks like the elevator in that water pit is broken in PrBoom+, hence why you can't get out.

I also see what you mean about the slime trails - there are some really ghastly ones showing up in PrBoom+ that aren't there in ZDoom. Is ZDoom's renderer doing some kind of vertex-massaging to mitigate their appearance? (There are a few other visual differences in PrBoom+, like textures whose vertical alignments differ from ZDoom's; clearly I need to do a lot more cross-port testing.)

Regarding the music, I remapped it for ZDoom/Zandronum/Eternity/Doomsday to D_ROMERO because I never want to hear D_RUNNIN again in my entire life. I guess PrBoom+ doesn't parse MAPINFO music definitions, and to remap it I'd have to override the lump itself? (At which point I'd rather commission some custom music.)

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For non-mapinfo ports you can remap D_RUNNIN to D_ROMERO by adding a DEHACKED lump with the following contents:

Text 6 6
runninromero

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I personally think that the map could use some more distinctive (action?) music rather than the sleep-inducing D_ROMERO. ;)

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Wow, had to have a go at this after those screenshots. Really intricately detailed map, looks gorgeous. Little bit fiddly to navigate in places like you say. Its a shame with all that cool scenery that your nose is pressed up against it, but not much you can do about that. There is a wealth of uneven flooring that can make things a bit slippery and a bit bumpy in prboom. The crampedness of the map isn't such an issue with the kind of gameplay you have, which is fairly simple stuff. Or maybe its because of the limited space that the gameplay was subdued, but anyway its no big deal since its more about the mystery and the exploration.

Those trips to the other world were confusing at first, but i got the idea after a few of them. I was expecting a bit more of a finale but if there is another map to come then its probably fine as it is.

Cool stuff.

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Your damaged and destroyed structures are really impressive considering the stock textures used :)

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A beautiful map, with lots of detail and great atmosphere. Plays well, with some nice secrets, though I'd personally move some ammo to earlier positions in the map, but that's just a matter of taste. In terms of player direction, I found myself at a loss occasionally, but never for very long.

The detailing is too complex for Doomsday though, in parts I was dropping down to 12fps, I averaged at 24fps, and never rose over 40fps. Doomsday's node builder becomes less efficient as a map grows in size and complexity. If you want to aim for 60fps on Doomsday on future maps, then you probably don't want to exceed 1000 sectors or 5000 lines, and keep visplanes nearer to vanilla limits.

GZDoom running Brutal Doom with lights.pk3, brightmaps.pk3, and QeffectsGL had some framerate issues, but didn't seem to drop under 53fps. ZDoom at 480x270 ran at a solid 60fps and was a lot of fun.

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Wow magnificent visuals, unfortunately i also got stuck whilst recording an FDA, i asume it's the same location as the one that scifista mentioned.
Floor detail is sort of an double-edged sword due to bumpiness that makes it hard to maneuver at times, you should consider switching to Complevel 9 and work with Booms fake floors in any future maps.
Hope you'll do some more playtesting in Prboom to get the map fully functional with it, i'll give it another go in Zdoom meanwhile.

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Thanks for all the feedback so far!

I've uploaded a beta2 update that fixes the broken stuff and item-floating in PrBoom+: the level is now playable from start to finish without problems. (Slime trails remain but those seem to be restricted to PrBoom+'s -complevel 2 mode.)

I also took out several health and ammo pickups in UV, and tweaked some encounters to bump the difficulty; hopefully I didn't make it swing too far the other way. A full list of changes is included in the textfile and I've updated the links in the OP.

mouldy said:
There is a wealth of uneven flooring that can make things a bit slippery and a bit bumpy in prboom.

Yeah I got used to ZDoom's air-cushioned ride during testing, and was pretty dismayed to realise how bumpy the level is with the standard movement code :/ I'll tone down the uneven floors a lot for the next map.

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I quite enjoyed this map. For some reason I didn't notice I had the rocket launcher until after I killed the final Arch Vile so I did the whole thing on SG, SSG and CG. Difficulty (on UV) seemed ok to me and there seemed to be enough health to comfortably deal with the ambushes.

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degree23 said:

For some reason I didn't notice I had the rocket launcher until after I killed the final Arch Vile so I did the whole thing on SG, SSG and CG.

You pick up the RL at the top of the elevator in the central chamber (where you hit the switch to open all the doors and bring the ruckus). It's 50/50 that you'll actually see it before picking it up - I was relying on the weapon autoswitch to let you know, which I guess was a bad idea since many players will have it disabled.

Nice to know the map can be completed fine without it though; it was intended more for splattering amusement rather than as a vital tactical tool.

Urthar said:

In terms of player direction, I found myself at a loss occasionally, but never for very long.

I tried to be conscious about guiding player attention, can you remember specific cases where you didn't know where to go next? The two parts to opening the exit door can be tackled in any order, so I expect you could have been at a loss after completing one of those. (Loving the hell out of Way Too Many Dead Guys btw!)

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Cheers, the main one I recall was the pit that accesses the rocket launcher. I wandered around for quite a while before it occurred to me to try that.

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Alrighty, I've updated Breach to beta3: http://washboardabs.net/doom/breach/breach-beta3.zip.

Briefly: UV is significantly more challenging, some areas have been redesigned for better signposting and better run-n-gun mobility, and the nastier slimetrails in prboom-plus have been fixed. The textfile has the full changelist.

If you got stuck in prboom-plus with the first version, or just felt it was too easy, please download this one and give it another spin. I'd love to see some FDAs of the whole thing!

(I won't spam more betas now, don't worry: this will probably be the last one until I've finished the final map.)

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I've played the map again, in Zandronum (it's my preferred port, I actually only use PrBoom-plus for demo recording), and up to the end this time. I really liked it. Not only the sheer amount of well-used great looking detail, but the level design itself is very good. Rooms are more often circular than rectangular shaped and all the non-orthogonal angles are impressive. I've also enjoyed the map's gameplay, it's very well created, balanced, challenging and entertaining in my view. Great job!

Be careful about using lifts that consist of multiple sectors. When the player's head hit the ceiling while the lift is going up, it'll go down again, but only those sectors whose movement has been blocked. This may cause bugs like this one:



It's better to only use 1-sector lifts, and when you want multiple sector ones, make sure that the player's head can't hit the ceiling (or a monster above him, in ZDoom) anywhere.

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scifista42 said:
I've played the map again, in Zandronum (it's my preferred port, I actually only use PrBoom-plus for demo recording), and up to the end this time. I really liked it. Not only the sheer amount of well-used great looking detail, but the level design itself is very good. Rooms are more often circular than rectangular shaped and all the non-orthogonal angles are impressive. I've also enjoyed the map's gameplay, it's very well created, balanced, challenging and entertaining in my view. Great job!

Thanks very much for the feedback, glad you liked it! The gameplay has been my biggest concern, as I'm still getting a feel for robust encounter design (and am not an especially skilled player myself.)

Be careful about using lifts that consist of multiple sectors. When the player's head hit the ceiling while the lift is going up, it'll go down again, but only those sectors whose movement has been blocked. This may cause bugs like this one:

Ouch, yeah - I knew of the dangers of multisector lifts, but hadn't considered monster collision would cause it too. (I was too proud to simplify the lift detail and so just hoped I'd minimised the chances of it happening in practice...) The piston-room lift is the easiest to glitch this way, but I didn't realise you could still do it with the lift you pictured.

Is there a way to improve lift behaviour in that regard with Boom lift types, for ports that support them?

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Viggles said:

I knew of the dangers of multisector lifts, but hadn't considered monster collision would cause it too.

Actually, I've triggered that particular screenshotted glitch by my head hitting the ceiling on the boundary, and I have to say, I did it intentionally. :)

Viggles said:

Is there a way to improve lift behaviour in that regard with Boom lift types, for ports that support them?

I don't think so.

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Hot DAMN!!!! This level is detailed in all the right ways! It plays really well, to boot!!!! More to come once I play it more!

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Beautiful map but areas too small for me. Hell hallucinations very cool.
I played your map with Trailblazer, balance is ok.

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Played the new version and I think I didn't break anything this time, so yay! I think my only complaint now is that a lot of actions are obnoxiously loud because they involve many sectors moving at the same time. If you want to fix that, you can use the sound removal trick: merge a sector with some faraway dummy sector, the sound will then play in the middle of a line connecting them and won't reach the player. Maybe make sure that it won't be heard anywhere in the playable area so that people don't get confused in multiplayer, if you care about that. And remember that for this trick to work in ZDoom you need to use compat_sectorsounds.

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Played the new version and I think I didn't break anything this time, so yay! I think my only complaint now is that a lot of actions are obnoxiously loud because they involve many sectors moving at the same time. If you want to fix that, you can use the sound removal trick: merge a sector with some faraway dummy sector, the sound will then play in the middle of a line connecting them and won't reach the player. Maybe make sure that it won't be heard anywhere in the playable area so that people don't get confused in multiplayer, if you care about that. And remember that for this trick to work in ZDoom you need to use compat_sectorsounds.

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Memfis said:
Played the new version and I think I didn't break anything this time, so yay!

Awesome, thanks for the demo! You're a much better player than I am and it was interesting to see a number of techniques I hadn't considered (like neutering the pain elementals by getting right in their face) and to see you slip the net of a few ambushes.

It looked like the encounters didn't pose much of a threat at your skill level; I'd welcome any suggestions for tightening it up and presenting more of a challenge to good players. I'm half-thinking about shifting the current UV down to HMP and making UV more slaughtery, though the map may not have enough room to do that without getting irritating to play.

Thanks also for the notes about noise; I'm using the distant-sector trick to silence some moving sectors already, but will add more to cut down the noisy bits.

Ezepov said:
Beautiful map but areas too small for me. Hell hallucinations very cool.
I played your map with Trailblazer, balance is ok.

Huh, I hadn't heard of Trailblazer until now! I did briefly test with Brutal Doom but found the level wasn't structured very well for it at all, so I stuck to optimising for vanilla.

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Very impressive, even after all these years, I found some of the Hell parts creepy. I hope you plan to make more like these! I used the lastest SVN release of Zdoom and everything seemed to work.

The only minor gripe I could think of was the yellow key fight - I didn't find the chaingun secret yet when I got to it and I run out of shells very quickly. I then had to run between the revenants and pinkies for some shells, which cost me quite lot of health. Fortunately, I did find the blue armor secret, so it wasn't much of a problem in the end. I played on UV.

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holy sh*t - unfortunately though, the same pos laptop that brought me into DooM mapping has frame rate issues on this with GzDoom.

Edit: Wow once again this is amazing. Inspiring as hell but I can't even fathom how to start a map like this in DooM... I could do something similar in detail in source or udk but hell who can't?? 5/5

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Had a second play through, and was once again impressed by the design and solid gameplay. Looking forward to the next part.

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In general, I'm really liking the level of detail and heavily inconnected design, with the player's path constantly looping back on itself only to reveal that previously-visited rooms have changed to reveal new avenues of progression and release new threats. The areas with irregular sections of MIDSPACE protruding from broken walls, like rebar exposed after a concrete structure's collapse, and the still red-hot remains, are a particularly nice touch - it makes me think I'm exploring the site of a Chernobyl-like disaster in the hours after the event.

A few more specific observations; for reference I'm testing in ZDoom 2.7.1.

  • In the outside area centred on sector 5518 - you enter this area from the south, you look left and see the yellow door, you look right and see the yellow key. Putting the key in line of sight of the door, and leaving it readily accessible (other than the matter of raising the bridge to it with the provided switch) immediately has me going "this can't be that simple" and puts me on guard for a trap or ambush, which makes the ensuing 'hellucination' less effective - the player knows something is coming. You could avoid this by moving the key further away, out of the line of sight of the yellow key door (an intervening room or a corridor with a few twists in it, say) and placing some threats in the path of the player's progression toward it, but this would involve some deeply nontrivial structural rebuilding, and my reaction to this setup probably isn't universal.
  • I don't know quite why it happened, but sectors 325, 326, 328, and 486 did not raise for me during my first playthrough - these are the chaingun sniper areas to the north and south of the yellow door that are supposed to raise up during the player's excursion to grab the yellow key. Both pits remained in their lowered position, though it's obvious from the position of items within that this should not be the case. Looking at the areas in Doom Builder I can see what's supposed to happen, and I'm not sure quite what I did (or failed to do) that caused this element not to work.
  • I found the sectond 'hellucination' sequence, teleporting through a series of cages and telefragging the monsters within, to be more disorienting and confusing rather than atmospheric. While the first and third Hell sequences take the player through what's clearly a hellish version of the environment they were previously traversing (and return the player to that same environment) this one does not - I feel the cages are supposed to be hinting at something that I don't quite 'get,' and it breaks immersion a little. I don't have any clear thoughts on how to resolve this.
  • Linedef 19883, the shootable switch which opens the passage within which the switch itself is contained - it's somewhat easy for a player to send a significant volume of fire in the direction of this switch while fighting the chaingunners in the passage without actually hitting/triggering it, leading the player to assume "I must have hit that at some point during the fight, and the designer wouldn't put a shoot-switch in a position where you're likely to hit it accidentally unless it's part of a trap, therefore it's a press-switch not a shoot-switch," or for a pistol shot aimed at the switch to get caught up on the architecture surrounding it and not actually trigger the switch itself. Maybe consider making the switch larger?

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