In the gaming industry, how many masterpieces can you think of that are higher than Microsoft Windows penetration? Thanks to its huge success and continued influence, The Destroyer has been analyzed by the industry for more than 25 years, from technical achievements to level design, and since its release in 1993, the game has more than 15 million players, more than the 95 users of Windows at the time.
As a critical milestone product for FPS, what can action games learn from? Recently, the overseas magazine Stinger Magazine gave an in-depth reading of this, and here’s the details of GameLook’s finishing:
Level Design and Autonomy: New Technologies To Try
The battle of “Destroy Warrior” is to shoot demons as the speed of light moves, and the barrier features often locked doors, hidden ambushes, and secret rooms with extra resources that give the impression of being very open. You can’t look up or down, it also adds a certain degree of automatic targeting, so The Destroyer focuses on walking position and speed. Each new level is more complex than the previous one, and the final level is at its peak.
These levels are the first lesson stoics that action games need to learn. Initially, the Warriors of Destruction were created by game designer Tom Hall, but programmer John Romero found them to be flawed, one of which was that it did not take into account the implementation of technology. Unlike the previous German headquarters 3D, The Destroyer allows different terrains, curved corridors, and therefore requires different lighting, and many similar technical challenges.
3D rendering of E1M1
These elements are one of the reasons why “The Destroyer” is so different, even better than many shooting games today, that the first chapter, E1M1: Hangar, produced by John Romero, is the most famous example. Players start up the stairs of the U-shaped area and pass through the twisting corridors, while you can see what appears to be untouchable outside.
While these designs don’t look as impressive now as they were in 1993, their creative philosophy, especially for action games, is valuable. Most action games offer a huge open space, with occasional corridors in these areas. Terrain often requires people to avoid obstacles or jump over cliffs. New technologies give action games more choices, such as 2006’s Prey, 2016’s “DarkVoid” can fly, and “Wolf only” to catch, but these designs are small tricks that many people ignore, rather than being seen as the focus of game design. With the advance of technology, developers face more and more choices of action design.
As we mentioned earlier, the first chapter was developed by Romero, who was both a level designer and a programmer at the time, because The Destroyer used existing level resources, so all the work could be done by one person. This gives Romero a lot of freedom, the autonomy of the level, and in modern game design, autonomy is often non-existent.
Today, one has to mention that the Destruction Warrior development team has only six people: programmers John Carmack, John Romero and Dave Taylor, artists Adrian Carmack and Kevin Cloud, and game planner Sandy. Petersen (who replaced Tom Hall 10 weeks before the game was released).
We can compare it with today’s game, such as Ghost Bust 5 in early 2019, with a team of 18 game planners, 19 environmental artists, 17 UI designers, 16 character skilled artists, more than 80 people making animations, and more than 30 people doing visual effects and lighting. There are also 26 programmers and 34 engine engineers. There were more staff working in audio, CG or other outsourcing, and this project alone involved more than 130 participants, almost three times as many as the original team of Ghostbusters in 2001, excluding marketing and other departments involved in the project.
Why is this happening? While many people may know it, it’s important to stress that in today’s gaming market, you need a lot more people than you used to if you want to keep up with the times, because 3D games require more complex character rigging, dynamic capture, higher frame rates and resolutions, and more complex code and engines. All of this requires more powerful hardware, and the resulting result is low, and less flexible. For example, the team of “King 13” took nearly 16 months to complete a single role. People are increasingly expecting the visual effects of full-price games ($60), such as Quality Effects: Andromeda, which has come under fire.
As the visual effects increase and the team expands, the game design autonomy is put in the back, and although there are many well-known producers, they are more of a developer guiding the direction of the product than the developer of the specific creative level.
The Destruction Warrior’s 1993 research and development team (left) and the research and development team for Ghost Bust 5 (right)
In the last 10 weeks of the GhostBust5 development cycle, if the game director, Hideaki Itsuno, wants a character to be redoed, it means a lot of work. By contrast, while Sandy Petersen joined the team 10 weeks before the game was released, he had plenty of time to produce 19 of the 27-point total for the Warriors, eight of which Tom Hall had previously written.
So, in today’s action games, looking at the past from a downside perspective, you’ll find plenty of open spaces or simple shapes, and their simplicity is hidden behind excellent artistic design, visual effects, and filled with drama or interesting encounters. As a result, today’s action games rely more on instant play than on the level they’re at.
However, the game design of “The Destroyer” is also flawed, that is, the quality of the level of completion is not the same. Although the first chapter of the level was produced by Romero, the subsequent material filmand and the continuation of the level are mixed with different styles of game planning, and sometimes play to four designer levels at the same time, which is not enough in the consistency of the game.
The Destruction Warrior E1M7 level map (left) and The Ghost Bust 5 Mission 11 (right)
Overall, our first insight is that today’s action games are more about instant play than on where it takes place. Level design requires the help of modern technology to create new types of levels, interesting map explorations, play, or battle scenes. Open areas are very good, but they need to be used with caution.
In addition, technology has become too broad, complex, and too attention-focused to detail, making it difficult for one person to create a level, and today’s action games are more about combat and artistic expression. So, if there are action games that throw away resolution and provide more flexibility in the game design process, there may be better results. In order to ensure the inheritance of game design, and “Destroy Warrior” is not the same, in order to maintain game design consistency, there must be a master plan to detect whether some levels with the other levels in the game.
Enemies, weapons, and matching within levels: making them more creative
However, the real experience of these levels depends on the enemy and the combination of weapons. The monsters in “The Destroyer” run at you and shoot at you in a variety of ways, some even killing the enemy. But that’s not the charm of the Destroyer fight. Pinkie’s attack is just to run next to you and bite, and Imp occasionally fires a fireball at you, which is a very basic setting.
But if Pinkie gets Imp’s help, the fight’s effect changes. Monsters that previously only needed to keep their distance now need you to hide at the same time. If you add a lava pool, there is more change. These simple elements are superimposed to create a number of differentiated levels and experiences.
Each demon in “The Destroyer” has a completely different theme, and when multiple demons gather, it tends to have more fun, and if it’s accompanied by a different weapon, it’s more diverse.
The first task in each chapter will reset your cartridges, and weapons designed for specific missions can further affect the battle, such as in different rooms, and the battle of the three Barons of Hell may be completely different if you are using Plasma Gun and ordinary firearms to bring a completely different combat experience.
However, the battle scenes that follow the game will become very big, and you will face a lot of demonic attacks, especially in chapter 3 and the first half of The Destroyer 2. Most of the enemies appear in the first half of the game, and the next level is more of a “Destroy Warrior” experiment with different demons. While this sometimes works, it can sometimes cause trouble for players and eventually get them out of the game.
Different difficulty modes also affect the encounter, and the ultimate mode of violence adds a Cacodemon to the critical area, and its trajectory is completely different. Demons and ballistics under nightmare difficulty accelerate and resuscitate the slaying enemies after a certain time. All difficulty changes the location of the item and provides a unique weapon pick-up design.
For example, Chapter 4, First Mission E4M1: Hell Beneath, in The Ultimate Violence and Nightmare Mode, removed all medical props, making it the series’ most difficult level; These unique approaches give level designers a lot of freedom to design different goals for each level.
In addition to focusing on core players, The Destroyer also uses difficulty settings to allow new players to play at a lower level, such as fewer encounters, less dangerous or lower-than-HP enemies, or to provide powerful weapons earlier.
So our second lesson is that the basic elements of a great action game are in today’s game, with great enemy design, diverse operations, and interactive ways. In addition to the natural inheritance, today’s action games can also be more ways to fuse these elements, to bring freshness to the player. Put the enemies that don’t need to be in the group together, and if it’s possible to spoil the game’s immersiveness, put these difficult enemies in difficult mode only. If your game is too challenging, it’s easy to pull new by specifically providing low-difficult mode.
Try mixing enemies and weapons, and don’t be afraid to use multiple difficult barriers for beginners to try. At the same time, allowing players to make their own maps, such as Super Mario Bros Maker, brings endless creativity.
Character Movement in Action Games: It Shouldn’t Just Be Away to Avoid
The most critical element in the previously mentioned Battle of The Destroyer is the movement of characters, namely: where you are, where your enemies are, and how to bridge the distance. In addition to regular action, action games often offer other options. For example, the wall-to-head run in “The Ninja Dragon”, the sprint in “Shinobi” and the transmission in “Ghost Bust 3.” One feature of these types of character movements is that they are static, and when the characters attack, they are static.
When Dante attacks, he can’t move, like Windmill Slash in “Ninja Dragon” or Stinger in Ghost Bust, which is often quick to dodge or re-stand when the character sits really moving. Unlike Destroyer, the game’s character movement and standing are important for attack, even now, few action games do.
Some say that giving players too many choices of action makes the game less difficult, while others say it will make the attack look less powerful. While not a particularly important mechanism, more attacks are more demanding for animation, timing, body movement, and enemy response. Attacks on the move also make the animation look less cool and make the combat experience less effective.
So, the third point is not only experience, but also can bring more inspiration to peers:
Too many action games are so focused on static character movement that they sometimes give the player a sudden feeling. Although the original 2D action game was mostly in battle to move, today’s game fights are more important when you start moving after the battle, and many times your position is fixed until defensive measures are needed.
Action games can be significantly helped by character movement in the battle area and different enemy types of play. Character movement should be more of a mechanism in the action game, rather than just a means of avoiding attack, it should play a more role in combat. It’s either a unique weapon, or it’s built specifically around it.
Of course, there’s a lot to learn about the classic Destroyer, such as how to fill a level with hidden secrets with a reward of exploration, how it’s worth while the props in the level pick up, and how Big Fucking Guning’s hidden flare mechanism increases the operational limit of a master player.
Sometimes, we can also learn from mistakes, such as the overlap of certain weapons, the bland boss battle, or the lack of diversity at the Destroyer 2 level. You can even take inspiration from 2016’s “The Destroyer,” for example, when it handles weapons upgrades.
It needs to be added that the above ideas, whether large or small, are from the whole, and can not be suitable for all the games or styles. Older “Biochemical Crisis” games, for example, shouldn’t have a higher role movement in combat, and these experiences don’t guarantee higher sales for your game.
Action games have been around for a long time, but since the release of PlayStation 2, they’ve slowly become the same fixed structure as “Rise Zan,” especially after the success of Ghost Bust. Therefore, this article hopes to bring inspiration to peers, action games can consider more elements, explore how to make the fight more interesting, hope that this category we love, the future can burst more inspiration sparks.
Link to the original text: https://stinger-magazine.com/article/classic-doom/