DOOM DESIGN DOC 2021 (TRASH ALL OTHERS)
The most important thing to Doom is its gameplay. So, to make retro shooters cool again, such as DooM, it is important for the medium to evolve in concepts of gameplay.
New concepts & metas are invariably curated from the same cloth but with radically different experiences. By taking compelling concepts from Classical DooM and cutting them out to be repackaged, new life can revive a franchise that has otherwise become rather stagnant to the point of poop jokes winning Cacowards.
I have taken the time over the past several years of analyzing and breaking down core gameplay concepts in DooM for the purpose of being intellectually spread. I am of the opinion that a properly mathematically minded individual can grasp these simple and eloquent concepts from which so much of the industry derives its fun and paychecks. I am also of the opinion that a properly analytic DooM experience will demand players to be analytically minded. Correctly processing signs can help separate the vapid mind from institutional propaganda & dogma... and hopefully learn a more authentic understanding of the world beyond the idolatry of sex and violence.
Doomguy is a master at strategy and that is what allowed him to defeat the enemies of heck. Ideally, the gameplay should reflect that experience. He is heroic and brutal and defeats evil in any given year because he is a lot smarter than those who are flesh-minded. This is the medium we have to work with and it is perfect.
The usual mantra of of the medium of game design goes like: "if you can't learn, you are useless.' and I am fairly confident that this mantra will continue to hold weight. Welcome to the future.
MODERN DOOM GAMEPLAY CONCEPTS
A few years back the common term being used was Combat Chess. And this was the idea that monsters in games had specific moves and interactions with the player- and that their unique profile helped signal this. Combat Puzzle is a more recent term that embellishes a series of interactions rather that the individual interaction. Whereas it was once emphasized that particular enemies had a way of being 'solved', now it is emphasized that particular encounters (or groups of enemies) have a way of being 'solved- and this entire theory is based on a different semiotic understanding of the game. For example, we now light-heartedly refer to the Weapon Pickups in DooM as 'tools' rather than 'guns'. And this is part of a different understanding of gameplay concepts.
Traditionally, the study of the use of words/terms/signs/etc. is Semiotics. The signs in DooM are the items and monsters in the world: Ammo, Weapons, Demons, Bosses, Damaging Floors, etc. All these have 'meaning' in a sense because the player reacts to them in rather consistent manner. For example, players will often Chainsaw a Pinky but almost never engage in melee combat with a Baron of Heck. This regularity of interpretation has allowed for meaningful modern level design philosophy.
In essence, Modern Doom Level Design relies on the player properly intuiting gameplay from the placement of monsters and pickups. The level designer must be willing to both comply and with such conventions as well as occasionally break them in an enjoyable manner.
Players are lead through a level by BREADCRUMB PICKUPS and SIGNPOST WEAPONS that reinforce an aggressive playstyle. The player engages in INCIDENTAL COMBAT as well as COMBAT PUZZLES so as to be on their toes and also ready to analyze an arena.
While these concepts are not entirely brand-new, their emphasis and use allows for mappers to communicate with players and for each person to be more engaging. This is the cornerstone of the enjoyable experience we call DooM.
Doom is so great because it has such an amazing visual style that offers up many lightbulb moments and intuits to the player how to reach their goals. Exit doors are placed at the start of maps; windows overlook valuable pickups; secrets have subtle visual hints to help the player; etc. One of the most reliable ways to lead the player is the use of a string of health/armor pickups much like the dots from Pac-Man.
The brightly colored pickups easily catch the attention of the player, and their nigh uselessness means you can never really have too many; and they are almost never associated with traps. Several small collections spread across a map but within visual distance of each other will often get the player to accelerate from one nigh-useless pile of pickups to the next. By expertly placing these pickups, the mapper can easily set the movement pace of a combat arena before any monsters are placed.
You change weapons so slowly in Doom that, without alerting the player ahead of time as to which weapon is optimal, players will often be forced into a defensive gameplay style that does not play to Doom's gameplay strengths. By placing a weapon in an obvious place before a fight or trap, the player will intuit the need to use the Weapon Pickup. This frequently leads to the player feeling prepared and playing aggressively.
The strength of this mechanic is often as a prelude to traps, boss encounters, and ruthless arena battles. The point is not to nullify the difficulty of an encounter or trap, but to give the player the confidence to stand up to the trap rather than simply run away at full speed. It also allows the level designer to place a cache of weapons and ammo and signal a resting place as opposed to a fight, which often is hard to distinguish when mappers haphazardly place ammo boxes.
Non-arena combat was the backbone of Classical Doom. While many people think of this as just corridor shooting, it has a great deal more nuance. Jump scares, roaming monsters, monster lures, suppressing demons/archviles, etc all contribute to incidental combat. One of the biggest challenges as level designers, though, is to keep incidental combat frequent enough and in low enough threat that the player considers the Shotgun their best tool for roaming from one encounter to the next.
The way that incidental combat truly shines is with the use of unique geometry and a few random Imps coming from different directions. The goal is to keep the player ready to swiftly look in some given direction- because visual information is key and these lighter encounters will force the player to rely on their quick skills (and ammo conservation).
The way Doom is set up is that certain weapons counter certain enemies. The concept of the combat puzzle is to multiply the demonic threat so that the player has to engage in an inventory management game. If your ammo is lacking, encounters can be set up such that the player must engage against certain groups of enemies first to reasonably have a chance of winning a fight. And so there is a sequential resources game against the demons. As the Doomguy, you have 4 ammo types. In combat scenarios, you shouldnt be encountering more than 4 types of enemies at once. Visually, the combat puzzle should not be obscure but obvious if you can look past the wave of fireballs closing in on you- be it some ammo placed on the edge of a lift, or platforming to a elevated Key to get to the next area, luring demons into a crusher, etc.
The slow rate of fire of weapons in Doom, coupled with the fast pace of movement, makes for a unique experience in which the player can constantly re-engage enemies from optimal angles. The most obvious example of this is when the player lines up zombiemen with the shotgun to try and kill 2 demons with 1 shell. This adds to the element of the combat puzzle by making encounters akin to a turn based strategy game- expect moving at 125 mph of course. Even with large combat puzzles, it is good to encourage the player to use short, controlled bursts. And so the biggest encounters should never really devolve into a slaughterfest against 1 certain type of demon.
For example, if the player picks up a chaingun and 2 monster closets open, 1 with a dozen Shotgunner and another with a dozen Imps, the most obvious method is to mow down the Shotgunners and then use the Shotgun Ammo Pickups to then finish off the Imps. The player doesnt actually have to do all the math of ammo and priority targets; it should be as simple as Chaingun>Zombie and the step by step process hopefully becomes apparent as the player engages the demons.
The SargeZombie is one of the most powerful enemies in the game and is ideal for dangerous traps. However, the weak ZombieMan sounds just like him, and his profile is almost the same. Mixing and matching these 2 dudes for traps will keep your traps fresh and feeling free from being oppressive, while still keeping the jump scares intact.
IMPS & PINKIES & HECK KNIGHTS
These are the bread and butter enemies that offer up no ammo rewards and can serve vital parts in a variety of combat puzzles. Groups of Heck Knights are susceptible to Rockets; Pinkies can be taken out with melee weapons but with the right placement they can serve as meat walls that require immediate dispatching with heavy weapons; And a group of elevated Imps can be similar to Mancubus but require precision weapons if they are spread out well enough.
These boney dooters are the closest thing to an equal to Doomguy. They move fast and do a variable amount of damage. They should almsot always be able to approach the player and not secluded to cliffs where the player must engage in some sniper minigame with a medium sized demon. The player should have to dodge rockets, not hide behind cover/halls from rockets- as that slows down the pace of DooM immensely. When these are placed on cliffs, the player usually wants to waste rocket ammo and there is almsot no chance of any splash damage feedback.
Ideally, these guys need to just exist on elevated platforms overlooking arenas... or they need to be kept in long hallways without any cover. These guys are ideal over Heck Nobles on ledges because they are more likely to cause infighting.
This monster is also versatile like a Heck Knight. A solo Caco with some zombies demands you just hose it with bullets along with the zombies. But in groups they are futile only against rocket launchers and plasma. There is a lot of nuance in the areas a Caco fits well into- usually a medium sized area neither too big or too small. But they are also great paired with Lost Souls, or chasing players along catwalks, or just being a nuisance in low ammo areas.
BARON OF HECK
This monster is rather unique in the bestiary because he is so uninviting. All the boss monsters are uninviting, but this guy has the weakest attack of any of them. He can be used to guide/chase players though hallways without demanding the player seek cover- as the Archvile so often forces the player to do.
LOST SOUL & PAIN ELEMENTAL
The Chainsaw has a favored spot within combat puzzles for the simple fact that it wrecks both of these monsters better than anything that is not the BFG. Reinforcing the notion that the Chainsaw is for killing Pain Elementals and Lost Souls will help bring the obscure melee weapon into prominence.
I have enjoyed DooM, DooM 2, Final Doom, DooM 3, 2016, and DooM Eternal. I also enjoyed DooM RPG and its sequel. I think platforming-puzzles have a place in DooM because it always has had a place in DooM. Almost 5 years ago I was playing DooM to completion for the first time on a smart phone while taking a break from Candy Crush. I thought it would be cool if DooM could be made into a matching game, what with weapons being counters for monsters. The idea has blossomed into a fast paced, high octane gameplay gimmick that seems to be rather exciting. I think this is a vast new landscape and honestly older community creations dont excite me the way the maps I am making do. But as a kid, Episode 3 was too scary for me to play and I couldnt even get around the first Cacodemon.
I see games like Broodwar still developing new metas and strategies and I think its amazing. So this never seemed that far fetched of an idea to me. Nowadays, games have hardcore sex scenes in them an recharging health and crosshairs. I sometime use crosshairs. But seriously the gaming industry isnt even for kids anymore but it seems ran by perverterd weirdos. I assume the next quakecon wont have a sex-toy booth, but you never know now that M$ made the purchase. Until that happens, I assume loud music, epic difficulty, and huge guts are where the market is. And that some of you, like Doomguy, do not have a flesh-mind.
I am working on Only Static From Jupiter but I feel like there are so many combat puzzle things that could be worked on right now and I dont really want to steal all the limelight. So I will keep making levels and explaining logical concepts and be encouraging. But this really is the new dawn of DooM, whether you believe it or not. And with it comes a lot of new concepts and gameplay mechanisms. Doom Eternal sells. There is no lie in that statement. Welcome to the future.
ONLY STATIC FROM JUPITERviewtopic.php?f=42&t=69209
[By Maniac Jack on January 5th, the Year of Our Lord 2021]
i am thinking of some followup articles and yall are welcome to tell me which sound most interesting:
'analysis of a combat puzzle: [knee deep in the dead/chord/ etc.]'
'demons of doom: combat chess moves for those without a BFG'
'Doomguy doesnt Jump: Combat Checkers or Chess?'
'E1MX: The Best Level Ever'