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What Is Wrong With Monster Design In The First Place??
Quote from Lunaran about Kiltron's D3SP map:

It still suffers from all of the things I see wrong with the monster design in the first place, however. No SP map can escape that without accompanying coding.

Do you mean D3 or any SP game, Lun??

Either way, what's the feedback from the floor - is monster design in most FPS games (or perhaps just D3) fundamentally flawed?? If so, why/how, and what could be done to improve it??

Bonus points if you manage to discuss something other than just "Improve AI".
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Well Tbh Ssg Gtg Bbw 
I think what Lunaran meant is what was written on his website: http://www.lunaran.com/news.php (In the same news update as Pissboat)
Quoted Relevant Bits:

Needless to say I'm not done with Doom3 yet, spending so much time in the Leaky City, but so far I'm bothered by the same stuff a lot of other people are.

Some of the combat is really cheap. The goal of level design is not to hurt the player however you can, id. It's to put the player in danger of being hurt. Survival should be up to the player's reflex and ability in avoiding that danger. When you leave spring-loaded monsters that cannot be dodged and hitscan enemies that do too much damage for their accuracy, you leave survival more up to luck of the draw. Even if you know all the little surprises and tricks they use in each little scene (especially the oh-so-lovely 'monster randomly shows up behind you while you're shooting something else' device this game beats to death) you still have to play it over and over, quickloading until you're satisfied with how much health you lost.

That, of course, will need to be fixed. When crafting the Byzantine project, I vow to never cheaply spawn enemies directly behind you and not make any noise or anything to announce it. I also vow that should an imp get too close and use its claws, your vision won't be thrown off by a whole fucking radian, just so you can, you know, actually still have a chance of killing it. Also, when they jump at you there will be a slight pause to recognize it, and if you sidestep in time they will jump past you. Remember fiends? Those guys were awesome.


So basically what I think he's getting at is whining that id in their maps used a lot of cheap tactics of having, say, imps lie prone just on the other side of a door so they could spring on you the instant that door slides open. Almost hopeless to avoid unless you crouch up to every door and throw a handgrenade under it and run away.
Lunaran is also a bit put off by the fact that imps can jump at all I recall reading somewhere, but I think it's kewl dud3 ^__^.
Although, I too am a little bit annoyed how insane the damage feedback is; Being nibbled by a trite will make your vision throw back 120� as if the player had some sort of vertical owl mutant neck.

...

In other news, the little test map I've been making for d3 already has a monster spawning behind you. Doom 3 makes baby jesus cry! 
Oh 
Either way, what's the feedback from the floor
!!! 
LOL 
Being nibbled by a trite will make your vision throw back 120� as if the player had some sort of vertical owl mutant neck.

"Vertical owl mutant neck", ROFLMAO!!!!! Funniest D3 quote so far =).

Too true though. The damage thing is mental, basically if you get hit once in close combat by something you're certain to get hit at least 3 times trying to recover your damn FOV from up your arse where it just got knocked. Kinda frustrating but also kinda appropriate, it get's rid of the easy "Oh I'm being torn limb from limb but can still casually aim my shotgun and blow the enemy's nads off" feel of most games.

In other news, the little test map I've been making for d3 already has a monster spawning behind you.

Well, that's YOUR own fault, silly mapper :P.


*******

P.S. If Lun's comments are solely about D3, feel free just to turn this into a discussion about D3 gameplay which could be pretty useful.

******
 
The Game... 
is supposed to be FUM!! That's why it's called a game, not a simulation. I think the quote from Lun mentioned above from:

http://www.lunaran.com/news.php

is quite appropriate. Many of the attack's were cheap shots. I kinda said it before in the Doom is gold thread. And I stand by what I said earlier.

As I see it, when the engine was limited (Quake), it took creativity to give the foreboding(sp) of trouble. You did recoil (fov wise) in Quake. But you did have a chance of recovering.

Now if you use flickering shadows, 5.1 sound, random soumds from hell, really dark corners and a really big fov change when you are hit faster than you can react (and your aim is thrown waaay off iregardless of the strength of the hit while your opponent is seemingly unaffected when you hit them BTW). It IS a cheap shot.

I can't beleve that id didn't test play this. I can beleive that id test played it and mostly ignored input from anyone who was not a hardcore FPS game player. (I am not btw)

That leads me to think that Doom 3 is nothing more than a marketing ploy for the engine itself. They totally ignored the SP player's with Q3 and I think it showed. Now they are trying to go back to their roots but missing the quality gameplay designer's.

It was well over a year after it was released before I bought Q3. Why? I was not interested in the MP game. I wanted the SP game. The MP game was supposed to be the gravy on the meat (as I saw it).

Doom 3 is (game playwise) not really different from Un-Real 2, Halo, hell even Dikatana. Open a door = get hit before you can react. Cheap shot. Cold Cocked.

Stop focusing on the pretty sparkly part's and re-focus on the gameplay!

(I cannot understand why the Q-Map old-timer's accept this piece of crap as "Ground Breaking" when they have made much better maps (play-wise) in the speed-mapping genre) 
Did I.... 
rant enough? 
Great Rant Quaketree! 
I want more! If it includes a discussion of how Id underappreciated the brilliance of American McGee and their SP game play has been souless and mal-directed ever since, I'll sign up for your blog. 
I'm With HeadThump There 
more praise of AM!

Anyway. I also read Lun's update and felt that it had the most balanced and interesting opinion about D3 so far; most else I've heard is either unconstructively glowing praise or uptight nitpicking - both of which may be entirely valid.
But I can well imagine the gameplay trick that, to quote the unibrowed-one "this game beats to death".
This is less to do with monster design and more to do with map design i.e. what monsters are used, where and - most importantly I feel - in what combinations.
Being harrassed by multiple small/weak/fast monsters while one larger-but-slow-moving monster lumbers towards you can be cool. It can induce a sense of panic, even though player-death is actually a long way off. Cacking on the player without any possible means to detect, avoid or at least retaliate against the attack, closely followed by an 3v3n m34n4r m0nst4r is simply using the game as a mechanism to bludgeon player's into submission before the designer's awesome poly-pushing achievements.
I don't know if D3 really is like this all of the time, or most of the time, or some of the time. But I know both pro and amateur designers are guilty of it often enough.

Trying not to give anything away, necros and I have been dealing with these issues extensively for the last few weeks. A lot of this issue relates to the older thread Shamb started: How Hard Is Too Hard. And I reiterate the comments I made then.
The important thing that must remain, however 'challenging' you intend your SP experience to be, is the number of options available to the player. The speed at which they have to deal with a threat can increase, the severity of the penalties if they fuck up can also increase. But the player must always have multiple options as to how to act and react. Telespawning the largest monster you can fit in the corridor immediately behind the player when they're already suffering does not leave them a lot of options :P Severe damage is inevitable, as is the inability to retaliate for a predetermined number of seconds. That's not a game, that's a 3D movie.

I have more to say on this I'm sure, but for the moment I have mappage to map.
It 
It's A Bit Like Any Kind Of Surprise 
I think a good test of any "eek" moment in any context -- film, book, yes, even computer game -- is that when you come across it the second time you go "wow, yes, I should have seen that coming".

Kinda like Sixth Sense (although, I figured that one out the first time through) or Iain M Banks' Use of Weapons (the end of which I certainly didn't see coming).

I have no experience of level design, but I can well believe that this is pretty hard to pull off... 
An Example Of Good Monster Usage Is 
Kiltron's Trite Breeding Facility. I didn't get very far through it, but the flaming skulls at the beginning are fun, and the fight with the 2 mancubi felt really oldschool. I think that map beat the pants off of doom as far as plain old gameplay is concerned.

But trite wasn't trying to propel much of a story. 
Yep, Gotcha Is A Cheap Trick. 
Throwing a few suprises to keep the player on his toes is good, as long as the player has a fighting chance, but what really works -- and DaMaul did this a few times in Beastial Devestation, is to draw the player into a trap and fuck him over in slow motion.

If it is good, the player will salute you while he is sinking into the lava, 'bravo, you magnificent, level design god bastard, -aiiee!!.' 
For What It's Worth. 
All the moaning about surprise attacks behind doors, monsters jumping out and appearing behind you and whatever...

Well. It is cheap in some places, but bear this in mind:

1. It's still pretty easy on Medium. They don't do much damage at all and there's plenty of health and armour around. So you get unavoidably hit a few times, in the end it hardly affects the gameplay.

2. It doesn't happen that often. Really. You tend to remember it because it's a bit more memorably and "surprising", but it's very rare that it's an "unavoidable" shot in the way people are pretending.

3. I think some of the cheap shots can be outwitted anyway. Imps jumping behind doors?? Learn to dodge, duck, or shoot straight away. Monsters appearing behind you?? Check your fucking six, marine. So this makes you more tense and panicked, shooting at shit and glancing around?? That's how it's supposed to be... 
Doom 3 Enemy Design 
Let me say first that from an actual art perspective I think id did a fantastic job with the enemies in Doom 3. The each move fluidly, sound great, and look menacing.

The issue for many is how they are utilized within the game structure. During the first few levels you are subjected to many attacks upon opening the door. The prone imp attack I thought was excuted well for the most part. It only happened a few times that I remember and it never damaged me enough that it was an issue. On Marine setting, as Shambler pointed out, the game is probably too easy and id could afford those "cheap shots" for some surprise.

The issue I ran into time after time was the reward system for fighting monsters. Through out each map there is always a situation where some health and ammo are laying about, and if you retrieve them you are given an imp from behind to deal with. Or an imp is revealed from a door in the wall. Here these cheap tricks ran thin on me because you were never rewarded beyond that.

One example I can think of specifically is in the Alpha labs. You enter a room with a ledge, a ZSec solider runs arross the opposite side of the room, hides behind a box near a barrel and proceeds to use it's machine to try to pin you down. Mean while a room is revealed with a imp and marine to your left. After destroying him, and clearing out that storage room, if you look over the edge of the ledge you see a piece of armor on a catwalk. I knew if I went and got that armor something would happen, and it did. An imp attacks me just as I pick up the armour. The situation was easy enough, and I wasn't damaged but those things kept happening to the point sometimes I just wouldn't pick up stuff. I've read other people doing that as well.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that the actual design of the game doesn't give enough rewards for those cheap encounters all the time. Had I been able to gotten that armor then been forced to take another route it would of broken up the linear structure of the level and been welcomed. Remember there is no monster count at the end of each level so you can afford to have monster's in different sections of maps and not disapoint people. It creates replay value really.

Those complaints of monsters spawning behind you though is more complicated. Sham points out well that the intent was to make you question your surroundings, even rooms you thought you cleared out. I personally never had an issue with them cause I could always hear them behind me. But that is just the issue, not everyone has a 5.1 surround sound setup for their computer. I truely believe this gives those with 2.1s a severe disadvantage and would generally piss those people off.

I know I'm rambling but it's really hard just to say the monster design in Doom 3 specifically is bad. I think it is flawed in some respects, and made worse in a few situations when you are just rewarded with more of the same. I am replaying the game now on the Veteran setting and enjoying the game a lot more. The enemies aren't any faster, and there only might be a few extra monsters in each map. What makes the difference is how much damage they inflict. It really give you a sense of your mortality in the world and makes for a much more tense experience.

Finally as far as the actual screen distortion when being attacked I think it is a great design choice. Without it, those zombie's wouldn't carry near as much weight to the experience. I mean if you get a bite taken out of you by a pinky, there should be some repercussions for letting that happen.

In the end though I think the problems with the foes in Doom 3 are how they were utilized as I said before. As more custom maps come out I think we'll see more varied use and some of these complaints will be forgotten.

Anyways I'll stop here cause I'm sure most of you didn't read this anyways and this is just a jummbled mess of thoughts. Hope someone took something from this post. 
Borderline Spoiler 
People afraid of spoilers have probably long since stopped watching this thread though.

While we're talking about cheap shots, has anyone else noticed that you never get attacked while climbing up a ladder or crawling through a vent. The former is definitely a good thing since you can't even look behind you while on the ladder. I don't know about the latter though. It would have been cool to have hordes of small and none-too-damaging vent monsters. Would have been a great change from the mono-e-mono style which is most of the game.

Also, I didn't have a problem with getting attacked from behind. I do have a 5.1 setup. I don't think that's a coincidence. There's a certain point where you stop supporting old technology though. Hell, you'll soon be able to buy mobos with onboard 7.1. 
Getting Attacked From Behind 
Wasn't really a problem for me either, but I'm only playing on a 2.1 setup (I own a 5.1 system, but no space to set up the rear speakers). There is always some sort of 'cue' when monsters spawn in. The screen shakes, it plays a sound, and if you're standing on the actual spawn location you get damaged a bit and tossed away. If any of these things happened and I didnt' see what spawned, I strafed, turned around and looked for enemies. That trick did have me checking my back often though.

The screen effect when you get hit? Not an issue, really. The only time it really started to 'interfere' with my killing was when I was cornered by 3 or more monsters. Otherwise, I would take the hit, stop firing, and wait till I could line up a shot again, because you almost always get enough time to line up a shot in between hits. Then, the shotgun usually took care of whatever was nibbling on my ankles. All in all, it seems like a good gimmick to have, because it sure as hell kept me from letting those things get anywhere near me if I could help it. 
Vents 
that ticked me off a bit, because mid way through, i figured it out and then the vents just weren't fun anymore because all the suspense and scariness was gone... 
Meh 
1. It's still pretty easy on Medium. They don't do much damage at all and there's plenty of health and armour around. So you get unavoidably hit a few times, in the end it hardly affects the gameplay.

Oh, it does though. Sure, its pretty easy - I played on the medium setting and rarely even had to pick up armour jackets as I often seemed to have at least 90 armour when I encountered them... and of course I'd soon worked out that picking up item = cheap monster spawn trigger bollocks.

Its not the difficulty that's the problem though. Its the feeling that there was nothing you could do to avoid getting hit by some monster that spawned behind you/next to you while you're distracted and whacks you in the back of the head before you even know they're there.

In a world like Doom3 the player should feel powerful, or at the very least capable of dealing with most scenarios that you encounter. The way they spawned in monsters all the time made me feel somewhat powerless and not in control of my destiny in the game world: I had no ability to reasonably predict or avoid a lot of the cheap shots, and my only option was to quicksave/quickload often. Thereby breaking the immersion and the fun.

2. It doesn't happen that often. Really. You tend to remember it because it's a bit more memorably and "surprising", but it's very rare that it's an "unavoidable" shot in the way people are pretending.

It does though. Perhaps you didn't notice because it didn't irritate you as much as it did me. But they constantly spawn monsters behind you and beside you, and often do it seemingly soundlessly (or at least while you've got other sounds and monsters distracting you). So the first indication you have that there's an enemy behind you is when you get clobbered by it.

It gets worse the further the game progresses, too (so perhaps that's another reason you haven't noticed it as much yet, Shambler, if you have not finished it yet). Not only do they start doing it more often towards the end of the game, but you as a player obviously become more aware of it the more it happens, and start to expect it.

And that's when it gets really irritating... when you know they're going to spawn monsters behind you... when you know as you walk in a doorway there will be monsters spawning behind you... when you know that and you try to counter it by running through doors and quickly try to turn around immediately to face the inevitable cheaply spawned enemy... and yet you still get unavoidably hit, either because it just happens too damn fast to react properly, or you get hit once and then your view goes spaz and you're powerless to react properly.

It got to the point where towards the end of the game, I'd quickload in the same spot 5-10 times sometimes just to try to finally avoid getting hit from behind by yet another fucking cheap shot which was all but impossible to avoid. Or at least reduce the damage taken from that annoying encounter. It was spoiling the game for me... and sure, I was spoiling the game for myself, too... but I just could not accept getting hit and losing half my health just because some asshole designer spawns enemies in really annoying spots all the time. Its not fun, its not scary, after the 9999999th time, its just fucked.

Its not even about it being too hard or whatever... the game really was too easy on the medium setting, and getting hit often only took away 5 health or something. That's really not the point. Its the principle of the thing. If I was taking hits from something I didn't see, could not have reasonably predicted and was extremely difficult to avoid, then I'd get incredibly pissed off. What's the point of playing if you can't influence the outcome of situations like monster encounters? So I'd save all the time, and if I got hit by some cheapss spawning tactics, I'd reload and try to eliminate or reduce the amount of damage taken. If it didn't work I'd do it again... and again... and again... until I avoided getting hit, or at least minimised the health reduction. Again, I did that not because it was too hard otherwise, but because I simply could not and would not accept getting hurt by such lame tactics. 
On A Side Note... 
in the Caverns level, while riding the Akira freight elevator down, did anyone else keep expecting to see headcrabs come sliding down from above? I kept turning around thinking something MUST be coming, since that scene in Half Life was so ingrained in my mind. 
Ah, The Argue With Frib Thread. 
Albeit somewhat easier than usual because you're wrong =).

In a world like Doom3 the player should feel powerful, or at the very least capable of dealing with most scenarios that you encounter. The way they spawned in monsters all the time made me feel somewhat powerless and not in control of my destiny in the game world:

No shit Sherlock. Ever thought that's how it's supposed to be?? That you're not supposed to be an omnipotent superhuman rampaging through the base in total control of what's going on?? That you're supposed to feel intimidated, out of control, nervous, unsure what's going on?? That you're a hero not by virtue of being powerful but being a survivor in a situation where you're well out of your depth??

It does though. Perhaps you didn't notice because it didn't irritate you as much as it did me. But they constantly spawn monsters behind you and beside you, and often do it seemingly soundlessly (or at least while you've got other sounds and monsters distracting you). So the first indication you have that there's an enemy behind you is when you get clobbered by it.

Ballsac. I'm taking an objective view on it because my perspective isn't tainted by being irritated. Anyway - the monsters make sounds, their appearance makes sounds. Okay you get clobbered sometimes, but a lot of the time it's avoidable if you're playing with care. I open doors from the side, I keep spinning around me before and after most combats. Do I feel "this is tedious there's bound to be some lame trick here"?? No, I feel nervous and on edge and that I have to continually watch my back (not for fear of dying but for fear of attack). I think that's how it's supposed to be.

BTW, are you playing with mouselook on??

Again, I did that not because it was too hard otherwise, but because I simply could not and would not accept getting hurt by such lame tactics.

Oh boo hoo. So you have to get hurt sometimes. You're on a base that's being overrun by the hordes of hell FFS - they have bestial cunning and the guidance of a malicious intelligence. They're going to lurk, they're going to appear behind you. What do you want, a nice shooting gallery of all the monsters ahead of you (perhaps facing the opposite way, just in case)??



I'm not an evanglist for the gameplay, I'm not saying it's revolutionary or mind-blowing or flawless, I'm not claiming some of the cheap shots aren't a bit boring. What I am saying is that a lot of people moaning about them are quite wide of the mark and not thinking about the overall effect of that gameplay mechanic. 
One More Thing... 
The "Monsters lurking in some random unexplained cabinet or box waiting to get you when you pick up an item" issue.

This is something I think that is a bit different to the normal "shock" mechanic and doesn't fit into what I've written above. It took me a little while to realise that it's a direct tribute to the original Dooms. Whether the nostalgia of that link is enough to compensate for it's artificial feel is open to debate. But at least it has some reason behind it. 
Shamb Vs. Frib = Picmip 0 Vs. Picmip 10? 
Isn't this a matter of what people want from the gameplay mechanic?

Focusing on the unavoidable damage, it's a trade-off between negating the players skill and bumping up the atmosphere. Whether it's a good choice depends on whether you prefer skill or atmosphere. Oui? 
I'd Prefer... 
... to have both skill and atmosphere... This is the "trademark" of best maps...;) 
Metl 
Yes...I was checking both up and down looking for stuff to come flying at me. 
My Thoughts (not That Anyone Cares :) 
When I first started playing Doom 3, I was too impressed by all the graphical goodness going on around me to care about the gameplay that much. Later on, as the thrill of the shadows and bumpmapping wore off, I started to notice how old skool the game is.

At first, I did think that perhaps the monster spawn on ammo pickup and walls opening up, revealing monsters several times were a tribute to the original Doom, as Shambler mentioned. Later on, however, I began to think that perhaps id just didn't have any better ideas, and wanted to compensate for the decrease in difficulty from having 20 monsters attacking at once, to around 6 maximum.

I found that the fact that the gameplay was such a throwback detracted from the imersiveness that id so obviously wanted to give to the game. Finding monsters standing around in dark waiting for me to walk in front of them made remember that I was just playing a game, and that the monsters had been placed by id. Very rarely did I feel that I was on a Mars base being overrun by demons.

I felt that the game was flawed because it wasn't often that I was given the impression that monsters were running around in the air ducts around me, or breaking in through the walls, because they were introduced in these way so rarely. On just a handful of occasions did an imp clamber down from a darkened spot on the ceiling in front of me, or pinky smash through something to get to me. Almost every other time the enemies just spawned in, or a door opened up.

The trites, on the other hand, very rarely spawned in, they crawled out from under machinery, from vents and dropped down from the ceiling. The trites, did, very frequently, scare the shit out of me. Still, I felt that the trites were not used well in many situations. I usually just heard one spawn, located it, and found a safe spot away from the obvious grates were I could easily pick them off as the hobbled toward me.

I felt the accuracy of the chaingun guys was slightly unfair. There was one at the bottom of the big lift in the caverns that seemed to devastate me even though he was a long way off. The chaingunners take a lot of damage to kill and can shoot down rockets fairly easily, so I felt kind of trapped without much cover (I used the lift activation panel) and unable to retaliate without getting hit.

Still, I enjoyed the game generally and didn't feel too let down by it, despite my high expectations. 
Thanbler. 
I felt that the game was flawed because it wasn't often that I was given the impression that monsters were running around in the air ducts around me, or breaking in through the walls, because they were introduced in these way so rarely. On just a handful of occasions did an imp clamber down from a darkened spot on the ceiling in front of me, or pinky smash through something to get to me. Almost every other time the enemies just spawned in, or a door opened up.

I agree with that. So far (just finished HELL), there could have been a lot more done a lot better as far as monster shocks go. More varied monster usage for a start, better monster lurking, more varied attacks, more Imps crawling across the ceiling, more monsters in vents etc etc. However as I'm saying I think the current "shock" gameplay mechanic is okay and works - but yes more could have been done.

The Trites are cool. I like almost all the monsters.

Personally, I have felt like I'm in an overrun base. This game has got me immersed more than most games, which is great. A lot of that is due to incidental things though, rather than convincing monster attacks. 
 
More varied monster usage for a start, better monster lurking, more varied attacks, more Imps crawling across the ceiling, more monsters in vents etc etc.

I think one of the problems is that doing this sort of thing is very heavyweight in terms of art resources - each special Imp attack, for instance (crawling down walls, climbing up ledges, jumping from things) is implemented as its own unique animation, usually suitable for only the single place where it's used. If they made the animations and AI more general purpose and flexible, this sort of thing would have become a lot easier; it's a real pity they didn't.

Oh well. More fodder for the mod crews, I guess. 
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