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Ah level design...

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  • replied
    the image made me smile.all my mates are asking me to make doom style levels.

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  • replied
    You're talking about this article

    I could go on for days about this as I started off making Doom levels for my pals to DM on dial-up back where your modem would call someone else's house and both parties had to explain to everyone in the home that a modem game was going on, DON'T PICK UP THE PHONE!. Good times.

    Because I come from that, I take nothing away from Doom, but with the article itself with the next few points:

    I play Doom, regularly. It's on my steam, install right now, and I have the original disks from back in the day. I've even rebuild Doom levels in UDK. Only for learning purposes and would never release them.

    There is a LOT to learn from Doom level's dynamic complexity. Even recreating the first level of doom requires a hefty amount of moving parts for the level. As it has secret areas within secret areas. This is one thing totally absent from games today. Some of the Doom levels were extremely dynamic, changing all around the player (I'm not talking about monster closets that summed up all of Doom3's gameplay). The complexity of recreating this with a more modern UDK level takes quite a bit of technical skill, as it did back then.

    Now, one thing that is HIGHLY overlook by the top-down map is how lighting worked back then. Today we have the benefits of dynamic and lightmapped baked lighting. In Doom, each section of level you built had a set brightness (no color). Therefore, a single block room was ONE brightness. If you wanted the light to "fade", you had to build another room next to it (that appeared to be the same room) with a dimmer light. This is something to SERIOUSLY think about if you play through Doom again when you see some lighting that looks good. Proper fading lights required building brush after brush at the smallest grid setting next to each other at different brightness settings to achieve any smooth light transition.

    A consideration about design in Doom versus design in (some) fps games. First of all, I feel this image isn't fair. It's an accurate map of a Doom level side-by-side with a BS representation of a modern game. While it's gameplay may be represented correctly, it does not show everything that happens within the level as the doom map beside it clearly shows EVERYTHING (short of monster/items spawns).

    Secondly, look to the speed-run. These are the current play-through times on Speed Demos Archive:

    Doom: 0:19:25
    CoD4:MW: 1:38:59

    [A brief aside concerning speed runs. Even Fallout 3 with possibly hundreds of hours of content is mostly skipable as the current speed-run is a mear 0:30:09. Like with Doom, should you choose to experience all of the content, the speed-run is an invalid argument nevertheless an important consideration for a designer.]

    This is where the comparison starts to becomes apples and oranges. Which may be where the article misses the mark, but more on that later.

    Pacing is the major contributor here. The freedom of doom allows an extremely high paced gameplay, which is part of why Doom can be completed in less than 20 minutes. Another is storytelling. Back then, all story was told through a screen that showed a few paragraphs of text. [Some of] the levels were VERY open because of this. Doom was, by today's standards, also an adventure game because of all the level exploration required.

    In CoD4, you have elaborate intros, in-game cut-scenes, special events, and so on. However, almost all of these levels are borderline rail-shooters since there is only one path. This does not take anything away from CoD4, as [again] it's apples and oranges at this point. Both games are FPS, but so dramatically different.

    If we wanted to get closer we'd compare smaller hits like Serious Sam or Painkiller. Both tons of fun, but again, borderline rail-shooters compared to the complexity of Doom levels.

    Finally, was Doom even right in the first place? These men [id] drove FPS design, and at the times were doing everything right. BUT back then games were hard just because content was a limited resource [SEE Nintendo Hard]. Try playing through the Doom games. Unless you have a good knack for it, you'll find yourself stuck at some point hugging every wall of a level looking for the hidden wall that happens to open to a switch. In modern game design, this is a **** move to make the game harder (not necessarily wrong depending on context). THIS is a major contributing factor to most of Doom's level design. The more lackluster levels just hid the red, yellow and blue keys.

    In conclusion, I feel that the FPS genre simply split up. Some games take the more direct cinematic approach. Others are more open in design. The OP's image is based on an HIGHLY uninformed opinion, especially considering the level design of Bioshock (1) and FEAR (1). Both being recent, HIGHLY explorable, multiple path levels that (for completion) only required a speedy run-through.

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  • started a topic Ah level design...

    Ah level design...

    I thought this was both funny and saddening at the same time:

    Something for us level designers to ponder? I think Doom still has some of the best level design around and it's got nothing to do with graphics.