DieHard Wolfers Forum Index DieHard Wolfers
A Wolfenstein 3d Fan Community


  Hosted by: MCS & Areyep.com - Designed by: BrotherTank

Original Yahoo Forum - Die Hard Archives

AReyeP HomepageAreyep Homepage DieHard Wolfenstein BunkerDieHard Wolfenstein Bunker Log inLog in RegisterRegister Banlist FAQFAQ Search ForumsSearch

  Username:    Password:      Remember me       

Mods in general: What you do and don't like
Page 1 of 1
DieHard Wolfers Forum Index -> Advanced Mappers View Previous TopicRefresh this PageAdd Topic to your Browser FavoritesSearch ForumsPrint this TopicE-mail TopicGoto Page BottomView Next Topic
Post new topicReply to topic
Author Message
IanFranken
DieHard SS
DieHard SS


Joined: 26 May 2004
Last Visit: 15 May 2014

Topics: 27
Posts: 411
Location: Amerika
usa.gif

PostPosted: Sun Jun 27, 2004 4:56 am
   Subject: Mods in general: What you do and don't like
   [ IP : Logged ]
Reply with quote
Goto Top of PostsGoto Next PostGoto Bottom of Posts

While I'm at it, I thought I'd start up a discussion on what people like and don't like in mods. The primary focus of this document, if I understand, is on level design. However, I think a few sections devoted to explaining how to properly integrate good code changes with good level design, along with a few words on new graphics and sound mods, could also be handy to the budding mod-maker. I think showing some "Good" examples of TCs that got it right would be useful for the newbie to get an idea of what we're talking about in their heads.

Explaining why we prefer atmosphere over krazy-kool-kode-krackz would help some people understand the importance of balancing things out just right in a game so the focus is not shifted onto the code mods, but on the levels and the atmosphere they help generate. Code mods, graphics changes and new sounds / music can also add greatly to the atmosphere, and a game can benefit greatly with a tricked-out set of custom made files with all this cool stuff in them, but only if the levels and playability of the game is good, atmospheric and fun to play in the first place.

Wolf3D fans are a lot more sophisticated and finnicky today than they were even two years ago. They've been weened on games like Spear: Resurrection and Project Totengraeber which integrated good source code changes with beautiful atmosphere and they've come to expect the best. By the same token, many of them also enjoy more classic "oldschool" levels and mods like Schabbs 2000, Assassinate Hitler, Armageddon, Chokage, Operation: Overkill and Conflict In The Fatherland which had few (if any, in some of them) mods which are considered ground breaking today and focused primarily on the levels, atmosphere and fun aspects. I think what people want are those oldschool style mods back, primarily, and if cool new source code tweaks can be thrown in every now and then the majority of gamers would be pleased.

Arming the designer with the proper knowledge of how to balance stuff out properly and how to maintain focus on the level design aspect would better help them please some of these finnicky gamers a little better (Of course, you can't please everyone, and you have to follow your own groove and not anybody else's, but giving the designer a basic understanding of what makes any TC or add-on good would help them find their own niche and unique style).

So...Feel free to post some of your opinions here or whereever :) I'm curious as to what a lot of you think about some of my theories and suggestions, and I'd love to see everyone's opinions on such a difficult subject to explain properly. I don't think doing ten sections on source code theories and discussions would be neccessary for this already huge document, but a basic article summing up most everyone's opinions and views on this would be very cool, I think. Anbody else ?

-Ian
Adhesive_Boy
Bring 'em On
Bring 'em On


Joined: 12 Mar 2003
Last Visit: 30 Mar 2017

Topics: 11
Posts: 134

usa.gif

PostPosted: Sun Jun 27, 2004 3:36 pm
   Subject: Re: Mods in general: What you do and don't like
   [ IP : Logged ]
Reply with quote
Goto Top of PostsGoto Previous PostGoto Next PostGoto Bottom of Posts

I think it's not much the problem that people don't understand the importance of atmosphere (though that is a problem) as much as people don't understand exactly what atmosphere is. It's not something anyone could really directly define as relating to level design - it's more a feeling you get when playing the level. And you get that feeling from playing a lot and understanding what a designer who knows what he/she is doing is trying to tell you in certain situations.

I think a lot of people don't want to think about it and just mess with the code because it's doesn't require any abstract thinking to manipulate a few things; Whereas, it actually takes some unconventional thinking to be able to design well. Here's another little snippet of the guide I wrote that relates to this:

Quote:
Now that you're staring blankly at your map editor with your first level cleared, it's time to start thinking. The worst thing you can possibly do in any kind of design is not think, and the designer not thinking almost always results in a bad level. I know, it's hard to think - it takes a combination of preperation, effort, and knowledge. Some of us (like me) don't like to prepare and aren't too keen on committing and putting a lot effort into something. Others of us don't have a very good knowledge of the levels and how to design in a way that's exciting and visually interesting.

Unfortunately, if you're a member of the first group, there is no easy solution. You'll just have to start planning stuff out and start putting more effort into your work! If you are a member of the second group, though, there is a solution. First, play the original SOD and Wolf, and any other add-ons/tcs that are generally considered to have good level design. I personally recommend Gary Ragland's "Schabbs 2000", Brian Rowan's "Conflict in the Fatherland", Ariel's "The Golden Episodes", ack's maps, and Chris Chokan's maps (along with others I forgot to mention). Paal Olstaad's "The Tower" is also an interesting take on design but is definitely an acquired taste.

The reason I recommend playing a lot of things is because a knowledge of how the player thinks and reacts to certain situations and the knowledge of how to reward a smart player are gained through playing. Some of the best game designers (John Romero is one good example) have been avid game players. I'm not saying it's essential to beat everything and become a great gamer, but it is almost essential to at least know how different people playing through your levels are going to think.


My conclusion here is that many of the people who release bad sets haven't played a lot of maps. Therefore, they lack inspiration and lack the knowledge of what is fun and what isn't from a player's point of view. And since they're so excited about their new code changes, they slap together some levels, not putting much thought into how to implement their changes in the game well. Viola, it's vapourware by next month!

It's a very bad trend - and it's only going to be solved if people start thinking more.

_________________
the goldheart mountaintop queen directory
IanFranken
DieHard SS
DieHard SS


Joined: 26 May 2004
Last Visit: 15 May 2014

Topics: 27
Posts: 411
Location: Amerika
usa.gif

PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 1:34 am
   Subject: Re: Mods in general: What you do and don't like
   [ IP : Logged ]
Reply with quote
Goto Top of PostsGoto Previous PostGoto Next PostGoto Bottom of Posts

Jack,

Very good points indeed. Defining the atmosphere of designing levels for Wolf3D is a nearly impossible thing to do. For me, I think I just "know" when it feels and looks "right". There have been many times where I'll work on a new design and wow, it looks awesome in the MapEdit screen: Everything is placed the way it should be according to every tutorial I've ever read, the decorations are realistically placed, there's tons of traps, I've agonized over getting the wall textures right over hours of work, and so on. Yet, when I fire up the game and check out my new level...It looks like crap! The guard placement is realistic, but not fun at all. The wall textures look fine, but the rooms are too large or too small. The traps might be effective and hard to beat, but they just fall flat sometimes, etc. To top that off, the level does not feel like traditional Wolf3D (which is what I'm going for, 9 times out of 10), and it just feels like yet another add-on level I downloaded last week made by some 8 year old kid who just learned MapEdit.

What I personally strive for (and a lot of respected level designers strive for as well) is the look and "feel" of traditional Wolf3D maps made by Tom Hall or John Romero. Describing that "feel" is something I can't do...But there's a big difference between the original levels of Wolf3D and the levels just slopped out last week by some guy...

As you stated in your previous post discussing realism and entertainment, indeed...Designing Wolf3D levels is about more than just getting everything technically right. There are quite a few maps in the original Wolf3D game that really don't make a lot of sense sometimes...Yet they're perfect, and they often tend to be some of the best levels out of the entire game. You have to strike that fine balance between realism and entertainment / reward. Now, honestly, if we were realistic with Wolf3D, then BJ would be killed the second he tried to enter a heavily guarded Nazi fortress ;) And if he DID manage to make his way into the fortress, he'd be killed the second someone shot him in the head at point blank range (yet BJ can mow down any guard in 3 seconds flat even at a distance, and he gets One-Ups and 9 lives). That's reality for you, and it sucks most of the time and it wouldn't make a very fun computer game now would it ? ;) Overall, the game and plot itself strikes a fine balance between realism and entertainment, and the levels just echo that in a way...

My basic approach to level design, lately, usually starts when I get a flash of a certain part of a level in my head sometime during the day. I might see the walls and how they are decorated in my mind, along with guards posted in interesting ways. I'll think a little more and put in the decorations in my head, trying out various plants, columns, lights, etc. When I have a good start going in my mind, I'll pull up MapEdit and try to get it down the best I can. Once I have it in MapEdit, I might ask myself "Ok, this is the start of the level...What would the next room look like ? What would the Nazis be doing ? What sort of decorations would there be ?" With enough thought and proding, plus experimentation and refining the previous room, I might have the next room figured out. After that, I leave the level alone and walk away from it for a while. After a while of thought and planning, the next room may pop into mind...Either that, or maybe yet another start to a level, and the cycle repeats.

I think it is important to put your levels down for a while sometimes and walk away for a bit. Get them out of your mind, clean slate totally. After a day or two of being away from them, go back and play your game as if it was an all new game designed by someone else, and be ready to critique it harshly and LOOK for flaws (Remember: You yourself must always be your harshest critic). In many cases of walking away and "forgetting" about those levels for a little while, you may start to notice things you didn't notice before (such as bad guard placement, bad color schemes for the walls, traps are too predictable or too easy to escape from, the game just doesn't "feel" right, etc). After that, reflect on what the best way to fix those problems might be... Should you just scrap the whole level ? (worst case scenario...Most levels are saveable) Or can you just change the things you don't like and try it again ? After going through this process over and over again, I find I learn a lot about obtaining the right atmosphere in a pretty short time, and my next levels are usually better as I don't make the same mistakes as often.

-Ian
Martin
I am Death Incarnate
I am Death Incarnate


Joined: 13 Mar 2003
Last Visit: 09 Sep 2014

Topics: 8
Posts: 152
Location: Wroclaw
poland.gif

PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 2:45 am
   Subject: Re: Mods in general: What you do and don't like
   [ IP : Logged ]
Reply with quote
Goto Top of PostsGoto Previous PostGoto Next PostGoto Bottom of Posts

Hmm, Adhesive_Boy's reply made me think about the atmosphere, and I must say I can't agree. For me, the atmosphere of a single level is always dependant on right choices about objects usage and placement, and the usage of walls, too. It's not hard to "catch" the atmosphere you're thinking of into the editor; see original Wolfenstein levels, some of theme have the atmosphere of bunkers, some of prisons, and some are looking like offices, or something like that. It was all about right level design (for example, the prison area will most likely consist of many single rooms with doors, inside there'll be skeletons or textures with cages, etc.). The guard placement is also the part o such prison area; I believe that Nazis would patrol the areas where the prisoners are held, while the rest of them would stay at their posts (and here goes another thing about object placement and design - create guard posts, with ammo, one table, and split it from the rest of the level using doors).

I've read your post replys again, and I see we can define many ways of creating an atmosphere. By level design (narrow/long/short passages, random/not random placement of walls, signs, swastikas and other decorations), by object placement (guard posts, kitchen areas, toilet areas, kennels etc.), by guard placement (guard posts again, walking/not walking), by complication of a single level and so. Totengraeber and Spear Ressurection are focused on such level design to make the rooms and areas look like in real-life. It's beatiful and awesome.

For me, realism in Wolfenstein is everything. I know sometimes it may be hard to create such an atmosphere I was talking about, but the whole level design is based (at least for me). Sometimes it may be hard to combine traps with a realistic area, but it's the matter of changing the layout of one room (the passages to Nazi jewels placeholders, based in castles, will most likely have traps, and such creation combined with [for example] Blue Stone textures, will make a beatiful, dark area). That's what I like, and enjoy to play.

Now, what can be hepful with creating of realistic and atmospheric levels. If we are talking about realism - why not to recall your travels to some bunkers, and areas like that? Imagine how a realistic bunker looks. It has munition storages, kitchens, barracks, toilets, meeting/planning rooms, guard posts. Write it down on the paper. Now, think how those single rooms look like. Assign right textures to the areas. For example:

- munition storages may use grey stone
- kitchens will have grey stone
- barracks will have nice wooden texture
- toilets shall have lighter texture, grey stone?
- meeting rooms? can use plan textures from the light brick
- guard posts, standard, as the rest of the level/as the passages

Write that stuff down, again. Now, think what objects may be there. For example, again:

- munition storages - lots of barrels, boxes, guards staying on post near the doors, ammo
- kitchens - ovens, tables, food
- barracks - beds, tables
- toilets - small baskets can be used
- meeting rooms - tables, place officers in there
- guard posts - ammo, 1 weapon per guard on the floor, can use SS guards

And so on.. I don't know if this helps, but yes, then enjoy the reading Smile.

_________________
Martin
IanFranken
DieHard SS
DieHard SS


Joined: 26 May 2004
Last Visit: 15 May 2014

Topics: 27
Posts: 411
Location: Amerika
usa.gif

PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:23 am
   Subject: Re: Mods in general: What you do and don't like
   [ IP : Logged ]
Reply with quote
Goto Top of PostsGoto Previous PostGoto Next PostGoto Bottom of Posts

Good comments and suggestions, Martin. Indeed, for the most part, I believe that a level should be realistically designed after the specifications you laid down. Then again, we do have to remember that we are designing a "fantasy" world...We are indeed writing a story or poem, and each level is like another verse or chapter to our story. Sometimes it's a short, simple poem without a lot of words, or sometimes it's a grand epic. People don't read stories or play computer games because they want to live out life in the most realistic way...They play games because they want to escape into another world where anything is possible. Unfortunately, for us, we have to fulfill this need with an old game like Wolfenstein 3D!

Most of your rules and suggestions do apply, however. For example, if it's a toilet / restroom area, you don't neccessarily want to have long brown marble halls and pillars draped in regal emblems of eagles and symbols of Germanic royalty with banners placed in prestigious glory around a small, dirty basket for a guard to take a sh-t in ;) Nor would you want to place a dining room in a prison type area with dead bodies and victims of Nazi torture and puddles of blood and muck everywhere, unless you're trying to suggest that the Nazis are now EATING the prisoners! So indeed, I think it's important to plan out what every area would have realistically speaking.

But achieving a fine balance between fantasy and realism is very important. As I stated before, there are some levels in the original Wolf3D games that aren't terribly realistic, but are still fun to play and follow the basic rules of good designing (eg., good guard placement, good decorating and unpredictability). I think these are all the things that we are trying to explain in the document.

-Ian
Adhesive_Boy
Bring 'em On
Bring 'em On


Joined: 12 Mar 2003
Last Visit: 30 Mar 2017

Topics: 11
Posts: 134

usa.gif

PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 12:42 pm
   Subject: Re: Mods in general: What you do and don't like
   [ IP : Logged ]
Reply with quote
Goto Top of PostsGoto Previous PostGoto Next PostGoto Bottom of Posts

I think it's important, when you start out, to make a realistic setting that will carry over for the whole map. I do think you have to focus more on gameplay once you have the basic rules in mind, though. Keep in mind that Wolfenstein itself is not the most realistic game there ever was - it's in a flat 2D environment and designed by 20-something gamers who didn't exactly do an incredible amount of historical research. A lot of things were suprisingly accurate, sure, but I don't think accuracy was their focus: They were gamers, so they probably concentrated most on the gameplay.

The good thing about mapping, though, is people are allowed to have different opinions! I appreciate the contributions so far and hope that some more people get in on this...

_________________
the goldheart mountaintop queen directory
IanFranken
DieHard SS
DieHard SS


Joined: 26 May 2004
Last Visit: 15 May 2014

Topics: 27
Posts: 411
Location: Amerika
usa.gif

PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 6:11 pm
   Subject: Re: Mods in general: What you do and don't like
   [ IP : Logged ]
Reply with quote
Goto Top of PostsGoto Previous PostGoto Next PostGoto Bottom of Posts

I agree with gameplay. Just check out E5L4...It doesn't make really any logical sense, and it's very repititious and has almost no point to it all (I mean, what is the point of this level? I guess it could be a bunker, but it isn't decorated like one really). Still, it's one of my favorite levels of all time and truly genious in design. E6L10 is also another case, with the reoccuring Hans Grosses and Mutants which does not follow the storyline at all. Nonetheless, I don't think anyone here would dare call it a bad level, as it's often regarded as the ultimate secret level. It's also an appropriate episode to place it in, as it is the final "Showdown" episode with Fettgesicht, and it gives the game a proper send-off by shoving all of the best elements in your face for one last blast-'em-up adventure. And of course, don't forget E3L10 with the Pac-Man ghosts which totally breaks the realism of Wolf3D, yet is a fun secret level that's pretty challenging to get to. I think it's important to include the occassional fun level in a set; It lightens the atmosphere after you've been through so many dank, depressing prison / execution areas. And every level should have an overall "fun element" to it, no matter how grim the storyline as we primarily play games for fun.

-Ian
Kuki
Can I Play Daddy
Can I Play Daddy


Joined: 16 Mar 2003
Last Visit: 18 Jan 2010

Topics: 6
Posts: 43
Location: Torun/Olsztyn, Poland
poland.gif

PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2004 2:04 pm
   Subject: Re: Mods in general: What you do and don't like
   [ IP : Logged ]
Reply with quote
Goto Top of PostsGoto Previous PostGoto Next PostGoto Bottom of Posts

About the "fun element". It's sometimes nice to surprise the player with some joke or allusion. Sometimes it should be kind of a "reward" - for finding a secret area, going somewhere where/doing something that nobody goes/does. But not necesarrily.
People quite like "toilet-style" jokes, so maybe if you don't have any better idea, you can put a piece (or a few) of sh*t in the bushes near an outdoor guardpost or a long queue to a toilet and an officer sitting in or sth like that.
References to other games/books/films/mods are also very nice. For example once I wanted to make a labirynth based on the plan from "The Name of the Rose" by Umberto Eco. And in SotGD I placed a reference to original Wolf L1E1 in a secret area. Some references to other wolf mods or original levels can make the game more interesting for experienced players, who may even start looking for them.
Something that makes the player think or say "whew, that's a good idea" is a very good thing from time to time. For example in Wu-Gang there was a level (AFAIR L8E?) where you had to follow a SS guard not killing it, then do some stuff, get back the same way, kill the SS guy, get into the elevator, then into a secret passage that you should have opened before and finally block a horde of nazis coming after you with a pushwall.
Yes, I know, I am talking only about my mods all the time, that's because I remember them best. Sorry...

Kuki
Ringman
DieHard Wolfer
DieHard Wolfer


Joined: 31 Jul 2003
Last Visit: 14 Dec 2016

Topics: 54
Posts: 1165
Location: up my nose
usa.gif

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 9:21 am
   Subject: Re: Mods in general: What you do and don't like
   [ IP : Logged ]
Reply with quote
Goto Top of PostsGoto Previous PostGoto Bottom of Posts

I think trying to give a level a storyline all its own helps with atmosphere in mods. For example in wolfendoom you would start outside the main complex, work your way in, and eventually find a portal that would lead you into a hellish area. This little step by step story guiding is good for boss levels. You could start a level out with gritty dungeon type surrounding and then have an extremely obvious pushwall lead into a more laboratory looking level, then starting having dead bodies of guards around with no enemies in sight for a good while (this can really be creepy as it was done in the Alien Doom mod for doom) and then for the finale throw the ubermutant at em which explains why all the darn guards are dead. The only problem with this is that the level has to be more linear then usual, but it has great atmosphere and the linear quality is fine for boss levels.

_________________
One day I saw upon a stair a little man who wasn't there. He wasn't there again today. My gosh I'd wish he'd go away.
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topicReply to topic Time synchronized with the forum server time
DieHard Wolfers Forum Index -> Advanced Mappers View Previous TopicRefresh this PageAdd Topic to your Browser FavoritesSearch ForumsPrint this TopicE-mail TopicGoto Page TopView Next Topic
Page 1 of 1
Jump to:  

Related topics
 Topics   Replies   Views   Last Post 
No new posts Sticky: a couple things
Author: Adhesive_Boy
0 1275 Fri Dec 02, 2005 2:03 pm
Adhesive_Boy View latest post
No new posts Sticky: All Set Up
Author: BrotherTank
16 3173 Fri Jun 25, 2004 1:58 am
IanFranken View latest post
 
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
   You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Copyright ©2003-2008 DieHard Wolfers
A Modified subBunker Theme by BrotherTank
Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group