Part 5: The Puzzle of Gameplay
You know, just as my drawing and painting has always been lousy, I've always been just a half-step ahead of the curve on the logical side of things (until I got into that abstract math shit, man I hate that!). One of my favorite things to do is to take a limited set of rules and try to expand in any number of ways possible. My imagination always runs about 800% at night just before I'm going to bed, and normally, it's taking a scenario and unraveling it in as many ways as possible.
Well, when I started making maps, I realized how I could take a single action and use it in so many different ways. There's really only so many basic functions "vanilla" doom can handle - doors opening and closing, floors and ceilings raising and lowering, teleporting, lifts, and finally, some stairs raising. Everything is a basic variation of that. Hell, when you think about it, most of those are just different versions of the same damn thing. What's more, without some clever manipulation, you can't pull off a convincing room-over-room technique. Doom, in all actuality, is a 2D game, with some clever coding to change that.
So of course I'd want to figure how to make those basic things change! Doom is like a puzzle of logic, really. It's like taking a 100-piece puzzle, and constantly rearranging it to come to a new end picture. How can I go about doing it? The methods of mapping change every time. What atmosphere do I want? What textures do I want to use? How can I arrange the items so that the gameplay matches the atmosphere?
I can honestly say that it's fun for me to stare at the screen and think to myself, "How can I do this in a different way than I've done over and over again." Doom's bestiary lends itself to this... Doom 2 especially. There are fast monsters, slow monsters, your standard fireball-throwers, hitscanners, demons running up and gnawing at you... Then those crazy arch-viles. You've got your shock troops in revenants, your tanks with barons, the big badass in the cyberdemon. You can take those monsters and arrange them in an almost limitless amount of ways. What's more, the ability to adjust the height of the floor makes for even more variation. You won't fight a monster the same way if its on even ground as you will when it's above you.
Gosh, then there are the weapons. How can you arrange those to make it a challenge? Cough them all up at the start of the map to say good luck? Put them in a position that will spring some sort of trap? Place them in the center of a room and make the player fight to get to it? Does the set-up of the fight lend itself to the atmosphere? All of these things can run through a mapper's head as he or she constructs their newest effort. It's just part of the craft, really. Same with how you create a map's layout. Linear, non-linear, open chaotic fights or closed quarters... they're all options. You can do what you want with them.
You'd be surprised how differently these 2 play.
Doom's gameplay is, of course, my very favorite aspect of the game. Being able to recreate it in my own style is a pretty fascinating exercise. Finding a new way to manipulate the engine into something it shouldn't (or at least wasn't originally intended) to be puts a smile on my face. If it weren't for the fact that id made it so easy to mod, would I even be playing or talking about this game anymore? Probably not... I'd certain play the original 2 IWADs on occasion, as I do with any great game, but unless I felt like I was really doing something that made me think the way this game has, it'd just be another great game.
So then, I can whole-heartedly say that, from my perspective, mapping isn't just a waste of time. Sure, you can call me a nerd and poke fun at the fact that I still do this. That doesn't bother me. It never will. Telling me that what I'm doing isn't a constructive use of my time, though, will frustrate me. We all have those hobbies that we take part in. I'm sure there's a reason behind whatever it is you like to do, whether it be cataloging your music, watching films, reading... hell, participating with the Comic Con crowd. It kind of makes you feel good about yourself, doesn't it? Doom does that for me, and it's for that exact reason that I'm going to keep on keeping on the way I have been. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some Dooming to do.