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ender7771

Early 3D Games- What made them fun?

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I am making a 3D game in the style of the first Doom/ Castle Wolfenstein 3d. My engine is up and running, today I finalized my methods for adding enemies, and I realized, that I dont know anything about making this game FUN!! I request the help of everyone and anyone who has ever played any of these early 3d classics. I want to know what you loved and hated about these games, especially: 1. Enemy AI: Is it better to have smart bad guys or simple ones that you can start to predict. 2. Level layout: maze-like, or straight through design. SO far, on my test maps, I have rooms connected by hallways which pretty much lead themselves to the exit to each level, but there are numerous side doors you can take to increase your score, 3. Weapons- any weapons that you ever wanted to use in early 3d games? 4. Anything else: If you have any quirks that you have noticed or stuff that just frustrated you to no end, please share. If you wish to contact me in private -> ender7771@yahoo.com

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Original post by ender7771
I am making a 3D game in the style of the first Doom/ Castle Wolfenstein 3d. My engine is up and running, today I finalized my methods for adding enemies, and I realized, that I dont know anything about making this game FUN!!


Well, since you are making a game in the early 3D FPS mold I assume there's something about them that you liked, so there must be something that you, personally, find fun about those games, so make sure you include those elements!

Overall, the old school FPS were an extension of the 2D arcade game mechanics into the new technology field of 3D. You can see this fairly clearly in Wolf3D, with a score on the screen, secret areas, booty to collect etc. If you give your game an action and slightly cartoony feel, I think it will work well.

And you probably already know this, but look at Serious Sam. That's a good revival of the old school FPS mechanics, which went over well because it distinguished itself from all the "realistic" WWII/tactical gunfighting clones out there.

But since you've asked us specific questions, I'll put in what I liked and disliked about those games.

Quote:

I want to know what you loved and hated about these games, especially:
1. Enemy AI: Is it better to have smart bad guys or simple ones that you can start to predict.

Early 3D FPS had enemies that were as dumb as dirt. They compensated by having loads of the things. Since FPSes these days are going down the "small groups of enemies at a time" path, I'd aim for an action theme, and most enemies will not be alive long enough for sophisticated A.I. to really matter.

However, if you are already good at A.I., you might want to put in your own tricks to help make your game stand out.

Quote:

2. Level layout: maze-like, or straight through design. SO far, on my test maps, I have rooms connected by hallways which pretty much lead themselves to the exit to each level, but there are numerous side doors you can take to increase your score,

I've never liked mazes in non-puzzle based games. Keep the action level high in an arcade FPS. Narrow corridors are fine, but don't make it easy for the player to get lost.

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3. Weapons- any weapons that you ever wanted to use in early 3d games?

The weapons will depend on the game setting (futuristic, fantasy, horror etc.) and how you want the game to play, but you'll need a good spread of weapon types. Doom actually has a rather good balance of weapons (maybe id got lucky on that one, because I think they screwed up the balance in the Quake series). The weapons are like the gears in a car; you stick with the lower numbered weapons to finish off weak enemies (ammo is plentiful for these), and save the higher numbered weapons for the strong ones and bosses (ammo is scarce).

The other feature is if you have a good effect, use it to the full! Good example is with flame-based weapons in Blood. About a third of the weapons in that game do flame damage, which was quite entertaining for that style of game (cultists running around in flames screaming etc.). In fact, have a look at Blood for all the weapon types, as I liked the cartoonish fun nature of the game.

Quote:

4. Anything else: If you have any quirks that you have noticed or stuff that just frustrated you to no end, please share.


Music: doesn't have to be great, but must fit the feel of the game. Using arcadey action music will be best for a Wolf3D/Doom style game.

Don't try to make the game realistic! If you've got an old-style gaming look, it won't work well. Look at Wolf3D, the enemies and the hero are all cartoon styled, and the game is just "shoot all the Nazis". That works. If they'd tried to make it like a WWII film, it would have fallen in a heap.

Difficulty level: this might just be me, but if you can't imporove the A.I. as a method for increasing difficulty (hardly anyone does do that as it's hard), I prefer having more enemies than having ones that do more damage and are more accurate. Frustration does not equal difficulty. Also good would be if you changed the levels (added more locked doors, extra objectives etc). Or if you could change elements of the difficulty independently from each other (i.e. play with heaps of spawning enemies that are easy to kill, for example).

Theme: I don't know if you want a story or not, but it is important that you have a theme of some kind, preferably a cartoonish styled theme. That was an element that was great about those games. It should be simple, for example: Wolf3D = Nazi bases, Doom = Martian base/Hell, Blood = Cartoon horror setting. This is the same as good 2D action games as well. Your game world can be simple and not have any backstory, but it needs to have "life" or "soul". A counter example that didn't have this is Quake; the game world in Quake is soulless, dull and boring, which made the game, for me, a lot less fun than Doom.

And that's all I've got. Hope that's of some help.

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Indeed. The common theme to most fun single player FPS's are their pacing. A tricky thing to get right, but Serious Sam, Doom, Wolf3d, Duke... all had great pace. Fast enough to be fun, not too fast to be a burden, or hectic.

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