What makes a doom map good to play in term of architecture?

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Boomer666
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What makes a doom map good to play in term of architecture?

Post by Boomer666 »

Currently i'm trying to create my own project in UDMF but before i make progress too far, i want to have some good advice from experienced doom mapper about how to make a good doom map architecture. I asked this question because KDIZ (Knee Deep In Zdoom), why? because I thought KDIZ Architecture was very impressive... heck! i even dropped my jaw when i was playing it for the first time and in my thought "Wow... who gonna hate this mod? i'm sure everybody would love this" but NO... I was wrong, many people hated it because of the huge map scale that makes a player to be lost or backtracking so often (especially in later mission).

Also, please don't throw me "Tips for creating a good map" link from doom wiki, i know its fundamental about making doom map but i'm sure there is more valuable advises about how to make a good doom map in high detail.
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Cherno
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Re: What makes a doom map good to play in term of architectu

Post by Cherno »

I think it helps to take a look at certain classic Doom maps, the most well known is probably E1M1.

The starting area has multiple features that helps the playing experience in certain ways, keeping in mind that this is probably the very first time a Doom player plays the game. First of all, there are no enemies in the immediate vicinity; below UV difficulty modes, he or she is free to explore and get used to the controls. there are barrels of toxic sludge which can be used for target practice and it is also learned here that they explode when shot. there are large windows showing the outside and distant mountains and sky, conveying a feeling that the game world is huge and not restricted to isolated underground bunkers as in Wolfenstein 3D. Near the door lie the remains of a dead marine, serving as a warning that from here on, things will get dangerous. As a genreal rule, the Doom maps don't make much sense as realistic locations, no one would build a room like the big one in E1M1 with the zig-zag bridge oder the toxis waste, but is looks cool and plays well. This is something that stems from the early days of Doom development when attemps to recreate real military bases with their boring and drab architecture were thrown away in favor of John Romero's more bizarre constructions. I think a good way to build a map is to think of it as something that is more than the sum of it's parts; each room or similar is distinctive but only together will they make the level interesting. In one room, players could get ambushed from above; in another, a piece of machinery is the centerpiece; another is a series of cramped low-light corridors; yet another one is a sea of lava with islands here and there, connected by bridges, under a hellish sky... And so on.So, in effect, I would advise: Don't think too hard about how to start; just think of a genereal concept for the map, and start mapping your first room. In the process, you will get ideas of how to progress and what other locations will be included, and how to detail them, which monsters and items to place and so on.
Boomer666
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Re: What makes a doom map good to play in term of architectu

Post by Boomer666 »

Cherno wrote:I think it helps to take a look at certain classic Doom maps, the most well known is probably E1M1.

The starting area has multiple features that helps the playing experience in certain ways, keeping in mind that this is probably the very first time a Doom player plays the game. First of all, there are no enemies in the immediate vicinity; below UV difficulty modes, he or she is free to explore and get used to the controls. there are barrels of toxic sludge which can be used for target practice and it is also learned here that they explode when shot. there are large windows showing the outside and distant mountains and sky, conveying a feeling that the game world is huge and not restricted to isolated underground bunkers as in Wolfenstein 3D. Near the door lie the remains of a dead marine, serving as a warning that from here on, things will get dangerous.
True and i believe i already covered most of what you mentioned above in my first map, see the pic below. As you can see, its completely nothing but a calm before the storm, also, there is a PDA nearby corpse which must be picked up before a player can start the action, the PDA itself contain a warning message telling the player to be careful when opening the big gate.
Cherno wrote:As a genreal rule, the Doom maps don't make much sense as realistic locations, no one would build a room like the big one in E1M1 with the zig-zag bridge oder the toxis waste, but is looks cool and plays well. This is something that stems from the early days of Doom development when attemps to recreate real military bases with their boring and drab architecture were thrown away in favor of John Romero's more bizarre constructions. I think a good way to build a map is to think of it as something that is more than the sum of it's parts; each room or similar is distinctive but only together will they make the level interesting. In one room, players could get ambushed from above; in another, a piece of machinery is the centerpiece; another is a series of cramped low-light corridors; yet another one is a sea of lava with islands here and there, connected by bridges, under a hellish sky... And so on.So, in effect, I would advise: Don't think too hard about how to start; just think of a genereal concept for the map, and start mapping your first room. In the process, you will get ideas of how to progress and what other locations will be included, and how to detail them, which monsters and items to place and so on.
What i'm trying to ask is, what makes a doom architecture good to play especially in the middle of the episode when the map start taking huge scale? You see.... KDIZ (Knee Deep In Zdoom) offer high detailed architecture , lots of FX and props making the map very pleasing too watch but many players hate it because they often lost or backtracked in the middle of a progress.
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Re: What makes a doom map good to play in term of architectu

Post by wildweasel »

The main problem with KDIZD's use of detail is that there is detail everywhere - it's like writing your entire college thesis in boldface, and then realizing that you need to emphasize a word but you can't because everything is already emphasized. And when everything's emphasized, nothing is emphasized. If it all stands out at once, the player doesn't have anything to use as a landmark or guidepost, and it's hard to visually draw the player's attention to a door when everything is competing for the player's attention. Not to mention the problems it introduces in regards to movement - there are many "wall divots" that the player can get stuck on because no mind was paid to blocking collision.
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Chris
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Re: What makes a doom map good to play in term of architectu

Post by Chris »

I didn't find KDIZD's use of detail to be a problem, visually speaking. My biggest issues were the levels were too long, had too many useless paths, would have you going back and forth between the same rooms, and just didn't flow. In the first level for instance, after the remodeled entrance you'll find what's normally the first door, but it's locked with a red key and a path taking you in a different direction (this alone would be fine, but we'll come back to it). Going along that direction you'll find a room with a switch for a different door, which if you open alerts some imps in a hallway. The hallway is currently a dead-end since it has three locked doors you can't open. Go back and continue on normally, and eventually you get the red key near a door that brings you to that hallway from another angle (making the switch door largely useless, since it wasn't useful when you opened it and there's no reason to go back now), and allowing you to open the other red-locked door where you'll fight monsters and get the yellow key. This room has another red-locked door that brings you back to the beginning area, which you still have no reason to go back to since there's nothing new (I said we'd come back to it), but the player will probably check it out anyway because why would it be there if it wasn't important. This room also has a blocked path that you can't go through without a mcguffin. So you go back to the hallway and open the yellow-locked door, to fight more monsters and pick up the mcguffin. This room is otherwise a dead-end so you go back through the hallway again for the third or fourth time, to the yellow key room where you just were, and can finally open the path to the next section.

The retreading in that example is absurd, and it's constantly giving you doors and paths at you that you can't do anything with at first or which offer nothing of value. This keeps throwing off the player's focus. This wasn't the fault of over-detailing, just the general design being inefficient. A good rule of design is if you can remove something without negatively impacting the result, you should probably remove it. If you keep it, you're telling the player it's important to your vision of the map.
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Re: What makes a doom map good to play in term of architectu

Post by Graf Zahl »

That really sounds like you got influenced too much by modern games - where everything is linear and anything detracting from the linearity is bad.
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Re: What makes a doom map good to play in term of architectu

Post by Boomer666 »

wildweasel wrote:If it all stands out at once, the player doesn't have anything to use as a landmark or guidepost, and it's hard to visually draw the player's attention to a door when everything is competing for the player's attention. Not to mention the problems it introduces in regards to movement - there are many "wall divots" that the player can get stuck on because no mind was paid to blocking collision.
So your point is... i should pay attention to room space for maneuver while making the map and put more "sense of direction" for the player so they know what to do or what to get in order to continue the progress?
Chris wrote:My biggest issues were the levels were too long, had too many useless paths, would have you going back and forth between the same rooms, and just didn't flow.
Interesting, that is the most frequent issue i ever heard so far and not only for KDIZD. I guess making a map that will make a player backtracked too often will be irredeemable and tiresome or maybe a little backtrack with surprise will be okay? e.g player need to pass specific hallway in order to enter a room to grab a key and then when he/she return, a door(s) in that hallway will open allowing a group of monsters to ambush the player. I know i couldn setup a trap in the key room but that kinda classic and predictable to some degree i think.
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Chris
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Re: What makes a doom map good to play in term of architectu

Post by Chris »

Boomer666 wrote:Interesting, that is the most frequent issue i ever heard so far and not only for KDIZD. I guess making a map that will make a player backtracked too often will be irredeemable and tiresome or maybe a little backtrack with surprise will be okay?
Some backtracking is fine, especially if there's new things in play which mixes up the experience beyond "oh, this path again..". Having new items, or new little side passages along the way that they couldn't access before, beyond simply one now-usable door to the next area. It helps to consider the distance the player needs to backtrack as well.
Graf Zahl wrote:That really sounds like you got influenced too much by modern games - where everything is linear and anything detracting from the linearity is bad.
I'm not sure I'd say that. Actually I'd say a problem with Z1M1 was it had linear gameplay while trying to have the appearance of non-linear complexity. There's no non-linearity in how to progress or find goodies; even if you find a way to a later room early, there's little there and you can't progress in that direction until reaching the other (predefined) path. Leading you back to old rooms where there's nothing new is just wasting your time, not adding non-linearity. Z1M3 did a bit better with having non-linear gameplay but lacked guidance in what actually you needed to do and where to go to do it.

I would point to E2M2 as a good example of "distraction" done right. The map was quite non-linear, but the various nooks and crannies you could find often had goodies; health, ammo, armor, etc. This made exploration rewarding, and you could use things like dead enemies to determine where you've already been. In the beginning warehouse area, you could also run into a couple doors you couldn't open yet. When you later got the key for them it was up to you to remember, and if you did you'd find new weapons and a backpack. This rewarded you for keeping a sharp mind. This is in stark contrast to Z1M1 where you can find locked doors early, but by the time you get the keys to open them you're already on the other side; there was no need to remember them and it gave you nothing for doing so. And if you found a way to certain areas early, you weren't rewarded with anything.

Z1M3's problem was it offered no real guidance. It started you off at a fork to two completely separate large halves of the map, and leaves it up to you to find out what you needed to do, where you needed to go to do it, what you needed to do to be able to get where you needed to go, and where you needed to go to do that. It didn't even do the most logical thing of opening up more and more paths between the two halves as you explored and completed puzzles between them.

A bit of a ramble that ended up way longer than I anticipated:
Spoiler:
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Re: What makes a doom map good to play in term of architectu

Post by Nash »

Deus Ex 1 (2001) was non-linear as heck (basically 5 - 10 paths to solve a level) yet didn't force you into a backtracking fest or dump you into useless rooms like KDIZD did. Any path you take in DX1 is optimized, flows smoothly, and won't leave you bored or feel like you're running in circles pointlessly. It doesn't really have anything to do with "linear == modern design"...
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Re: What makes a doom map good to play in term of architectu

Post by Diode »

I don't think there's a single rule you can apply to all maps, but I think it's good to think about your map topologically and understand where every pathway funnels the player.

If your map is going to be large and complex, think of it as a series of circles and lay them over eachother. Ideally, the important locations are where these circles overlap, that way, if the player just goes running along down one circle, they are guaranteed to end up somewhere they need to be. E3M3 is a really good example of this, as it's a complicated looking layout that is nevertheless paradoxically easy to navigate.
Boomer666
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Re: What makes a doom map good to play in term of architectu

Post by Boomer666 »

Diode wrote:I don't think there's a single rule you can apply to all maps, but I think it's good to think about your map topologically and understand where every pathway funnels the player.
I think there is one golden rule to be honest... "People don't know what you know" which mean, I can't make a map that too confusing or too secret just to finish a level. e.g Doom Map 28 "Spirit World", no one really guess if the switch to open the door to exit is a wall with pentagram skin (not to mention a player have to shoot it instead press use) I mean, what are the odd for a new player without prior knowledge to guess that? and because of it, player will likely use "idclip/noclip" to finish the level.
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Re: What makes a doom map good to play in term of architectu

Post by Graf Zahl »

... or open the level in an editor. This one even gets me occasionally after 25 years.

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